The Resident Bitch's Movie Log

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How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (Dean DeBlois, 2019)
Imdb

Date Watched: 3/10/19
Cinema or Home: Theater
Reason For Watching: Because How to Train Your Dragon
Rewatch: No.


I took a break from Pixar to watch the latest from Dreamworks Animation.

The original How to Train Your Dragon is among my absolute favorite movies ever and I thought the first sequel was a really solid effort so I went into this with high expectations. I was not disappointed. Smiles, laughter, and tears came in quick succession and repeated many times from the opening scene to the conclusion.

The scenes of Toothless's clumsy courtship of the Light Fury - and her cat-like responses to his antics - were especially endearing. But it was Hiccup's selflessness in the end that really moved me. A very worthy follow up and one that should not be missed.

+



"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."





Up (Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, 2009)
Imdb

Date Watched: 3/14/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: Pixar Hall of Fame, nominated by me
Rewatch: Yes


"A squirrel walks up to a tree and says, 'I forgot to store acorns for the winter and now I am dead.' Ha! It is funny because the squirrel gets dead."

Of course it's impossible to talk about Up without talking about its incredibly moving opening sequence (which leaves me in tears - like "ugly cry" kind of sobbing - every single time), but as magical as the love story of Carl and Ellie might be, I consider the rest of the film to be just as masterfully crafted.

Full of rich color and detail, endearing characters (Dug is too cute and I'm not even a dog person), and an exciting and imaginative story, Up is a film that is just so easy to fall in love with. It also balances out its touching moments with a significant helping of humor. Romance, tragedy, comedy, adventure and just a touch of fantasy - It's the perfect blend of just about all the things that make me love movies.






Mary Magdelene (Garth Davis, 2018)
Imdb

Date Watched: 4/21/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: Joaquin Phoenix
Rewatch: No


Full Disclosure: I am an atheist. I was not raised with religion and I have never read any version of the Bible. I cannot speak to how faithful or unfaithful this film was to the original story.

When I first heard that Joaquin Phoenix would be playing Jesus, I was less than enthusiastic about the news. But I thought "Well, if any actor in the world could make me give a **** about Jesus, it would be Joaquin. Right?"

Yeah, no. Don't get me wrong, I don't have any gripes with his performance or that of any of the other capable cast members, but the film as a whole just failed to engage me. As a non-believer, I carry no inherent emotional investment in Jesus, Mary, Peter, Judas or any of its other characters. I didn't care about them when it started and that hadn't changed at all by its conclusion. Its 2 hour run felt closer to 5 hours and by the time of Jesus's crucifixion I was so utterly bored that I was on the verge of praying for the film to end.

I will give some credit where it's due: As I said, the performances were fine. I also thought the cinematography was good though not especially impressive. But my praise - if you can even call it that - ends there. I think this may be one instance where I forgo my usual insistence on purchasing all of Phoenix's films on DVD or blu-ray. I don't think I could handle another viewing.



P.S. This is actually not the first film I've watched since my last log entry. I rewatched Mandingo a few weeks ago but didn't bother to write it up again because I didn't have anything more to say about it. It's just entertaining trash. I also watched the short film Lou, but didn't write it up because it's like 12 minutes long and nothing really happens.





Big Hero 6 (Don Hall and Chris Williams, 2014)
Imdb

Date Watched: 5/17/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: a friend came over to watch a movie and she picked it
Rewatch: Yes


Damn Disney, was it really necessary to kill this kid's entire immediate family?

Big Hero 6 is a fun and cute movie that pays homage (rips off?) a lot of other super hero movies, but each time I watch it I come away feeling a little... empty. Don't get me wrong - the animation is gorgeous, the character designs are great, it's got some funny scenes, and the story is interesting enough - but when it comes to the emotional stuff it just feels like it tries too damn hard and that emotional punch it's going for just feels like a light poke.

+





The Professor (Wayne Roberts, 2018)
Imdb

Date Watched: 5/18/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: Johnny Depp
Rewatch: No


Despite a really solid performance from Johnny Depp, The Professor - a tale of a man that gets a little unhinged after receiving a diagnosis of terminal cancer - never manages to rise above mediocrity. It tries to offer insight to the value of life and living it to its fullest, but there isn't anything new here. It's entertaining enough, but this isn't a film that will stay with me or that I'm likely to revisit.

+





Tombstone (George P. Cosmatos and Kevin Jarre, 1993)
Imdb

Date Watched: 5/26/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: The 19th MoFo Hall of Fame, nominated by Citizen Rules
Rewatch: Yes


Tombstone has been a favorite of mine since I first saw it back in the 1990's. It boasts exciting shootouts, badass one-liners, great sets, and strong performances. Unfortunately, it's also very much a film of its time in terms of style. I still had a really good time with this film, and certainly it'll rank high on my Westerns ballot whenever that countdown comes around, but I must admit I found myself rolling my eyes at its over the top theatrics. The narration, slow-motion camerawork, and overly dramatic - and often intrusive - score took me out of the film a bit and kept me from loving it nearly as much as I once did.






Open Range (Kevin Costner, 2003)
Imdb

Date Watched: 5/27/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: The 19th MoFo Hall of Fame, nominated by edarsenal
Rewatch: Yes


One of the things that I've always disliked about Westerns is that all too often they focus too much on machismo and swagger, without letting us in on the inner depth and humanity of the characters. Open Range doesn't do that. Don't get me wrong, Charley and Boss are hardened, manly men with plenty of grit, but when Charley says the two of them are "like an old married couple," he's not kidding. They're not just riding partners, they're family - and so are the two younger men and the dog they travel with. The love and respect the men have for each other is palpable in every scene. And, of course, the strength of that partnership comes from the fine performances of both Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall - though I might be a bit biased when it comes to the former, since I've been a fan of Kevin Costner for about as long as I've been a fan of movies. But to Costner's credit as a director, I also love that these men are presented with subtlety. There are no overly heroic scenes. No badass one-liners. And the slow motion is kept to a minimum - though I'd have preferred if it was absent entirely.

On the other side of my relationship with the Western genre, some of the things I've always loved about it are the cinematography, the gorgeous landscapes, and the shoot-outs - and here the film is not lacking. Now it's nowhere near as breathtaking as Costner's masterpiece Dances With Wolves (a previous general Hall of Fame winner) but it still holds its own as a solid piece of cinema in that regard.

I think this is only the second time I've seen this film, and for the moment I'll give it a conservative but still very positive rating, but I suspect that this one might make a future top 100 favorites list, should I ever choose to redo it.

+





Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980)
Imdb

Date Watched: 05/28/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: 19th Hall of Fame, nominated by jiraffejustin
Rewatch: No.



When I sit down to watch a film, I ask only one thing of it: that it makes me give a damn. Raging Bull failed to engage me on any level. It viewed as little more than a two hour long montage of chauvinism and douchebaggery. Now don't get me wrong: Normally I'll take a testosterone soaked film over an estrogen soaked one any day of the week, but this thing barely even had a discernible story and La Motta was so completely one dimensional that it rendered the movie unrelentingly boring. The last time I reviewed Rocky, I called its protagonist a "dim-witted brute who can't ever seem to the shut the **** up" but damned if La Motta doesn't make Balboa look like a sophisticated intellectual by comparison. I hated Rocky too but I was at least engaged enough to want him to fail. I didn't give a damn one way or the other here.

Now there are things about Raging Bull that I might have been impressed by had I actually given even a fragment of a **** about it. De Niro made quite the physical transformation for his role (though that prosthetic nose was distracting) and the remainder of the cast did well and bravo for that, I guess. Whatever.

Looking back again at my last Rocky review, I ended it with "Screw this movie." As for Raging Bull, SCREW THIS MOVIE EVEN HARDER.

-



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Gaslight (Thorold Dickinson, 1940)
Imdb

Date Watched: 05/31/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: I f***ed up
Rewatch: No.


I was supposed to watch George Cukor's Gaslight for the 19th MoFo Hall of Fame. So I checked it out from the library not realizing that the DVD contained both Cukor's Gaslight and this version from 1940 - one on each side of the disc. Guess which side I had it on when I put it in the player?

I guess I might as well write it up anyway, though I don't have much to say. On the whole, I enjoyed it. I found the concept and the story to be really interesting. It also has a decent amount of tension and atmosphere. The sets and costumes were beautiful as was some of the camerawork, particularly the scene of Bella staring into the music box. I do have to say though that I didn't much like any of the characters - due in no small part to the often overly theatrical acting that is common in old films like this - but I was never bored by the film.

It'll be interesting to see how it compares to the version I was actually supposed to watch.

-





Gaslight (George Cukor, 1944)
Imdb

Date Watched: 06/01/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: The 19th MoFo Hall of Fame, nominated by Siddon
Rewatch: No.


Well, I've got some mixed feelings on this one. I realize that my task in this Hall of Fame is to compare this film to the other nine nominations but after my little mix-up it is of course impossible not to compare this film to the 1940 version.

First I'll talk about its strengths. I thought the performances were much stronger here. They felt a little more natural than in the earlier film and I had an easier time buying into the charm of Charles Boyer's "Gregory Anton" than in Anton Walbrooks's "Paul Mallon." I also felt more strongly for Ingrid Bergman's "Paula" than for Diana Wynyard's "Bella." (I see what you did there with the names, writers.) Paula seemed far less frail in the beginning than Bella and so her husband's efforts to break down her mind felt more tragic. I also think it was smart to change it from the husband being the nephew of the previous owner to the wife being the niece and heir to the house, rather than a random victim with money enough to allow the husband to buy the house.

Now to its big weakness: the length and pacing. I felt less engaged with this film than with the earlier version and paused it a few times to take some breaks. I'll allow that part of my struggle with it was the familiarity with the basic plot, having just watched the other version the previous day, but mostly it was the unnecessary padding of the story. There was no need for us to actually see the romance between Gregory and Paula and those scenes only made the opening drag and made a story that took 84 minutes to tell in 1940, plod on for nearly 2 hours. I was also rather irritated with Miss Thwaites - the utterly pointless and annoying nosy neighbor character whose scenes also padded out the film.

Overall still a very good story and a strong film, though I can't say for certain which version I liked better.

-





Safety Last! (Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor, 1923)
Imdb

Date Watched: 06/02/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: Pre-30s Countdown
Rewatch: No.


The list of comedy films that I like is rather short. The list of silent films that I like is even shorter. The list of silent comedies that I like is... well, you get the idea. I am not at all enthused about the upcoming pre-1930s countdown. I explored silent film quite a bit on my own several years ago and I can count the number of silent films that I actually like on one hand. As in there are exactly five of them.

But I decided to watch a film today and couldn't quite convince myself to watch any of the remaining 19th HOF nominations - including my own, which is just too damn depressing for the mood I'm already in - so I decided to give a silent comedy a shot. Despite its status as an icon of silent cinema, Safety Last! was not among the titles I'd already seen in my previous explorations.

And... I didn't like it. The comedy just didn't work for me. I think I kind of chuckled once the whole time (at the coat gag while avoiding the landlady), though I suppose that's more than can be said for many of the other silent comedies, including every Charlie Chaplin film I've ever seen. The stunts were good, but I was far more impressed by those I've seen in other films, such as Buster Keaton's The General. I didn't care for the characters and the story wasn't particularly engaging.

I'll give credit where it's due but all in all this was just a very middle of the road experience for me.

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The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
Imdb

Date Watched: 6/2/2019
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: 19th MoFo Hall of Fame, nominated by KeyserCorleone
Rewatch: Yes


This is the third time I've sat through this movie and, honestly, I hope it will be the last. I hated it when I watched it the first time back in 2014. I didn't care about the story and I didn't care about the characters. I was bored nearly to tears and felt like it wouldn't ever end. I had to watch it again last year for the Best Picture Hall of Fame and was surprised to find that I didn't hate it. I respected it. The performances were strong, the story was engaging (though I'm not convinced it really needed 3 hours to tell it), and the film looked great, but I still felt nothing for its characters. I also came away with the feeling that perhaps a second rewatch might push me over the line from respecting it to actually liking it.

My feeling was wrong. My experience tonight was really no different than it was last time. I still think the performances are strong, I still think the story is engaging, I still think the film looks great, and I still don't really care about any of its characters. I am once again coming away from this film with a feeling of respect, but not one of fondness.

+





The Virgin Spring (Jungfrukällan) (Ingmar Bergman, 1960)
Imdb

Date Watched: 06/04/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: The 19th MoFo Hall of Fame, nominated by rauldc14
Rewatch: Yes.


If my count is correct, then I've seen eleven of Ingmar Bergman's films. For the most part, I've enjoyed his work and the few I haven't liked I've at least respected (with the exception of The Passion of Anna, which I hated so much I couldn't finish it). The Virgin Spring, which I've seen before, falls into that latter category - but only barely.

As with all of the other Bergman films I've seen, it looks good. The costuming, sets, and cinematography leave nothing to be desired. Unfortunately I can't say the same for the performances or the story. It all felt very contrived. The character of Ingeri in particular felt both poorly written and poorly acted. She was more caricature than character. At no point in the film did she feel like a real person. The bridgekeeper was even more ridiculous, but his role was mercifully small. The remaining characters also seemed artificial, though to lesser degrees. The whole thing just felt irritatingly like I was watching a stage play that had been filmed, which is especially frustrating because I know just how moving a Bergman film can be.

+





Angel Face (Otto Preminger, 1953)
Imdb

Date Watched: 06/06/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: The 19th MoFo Hall of Fame, nominated by neiba
Rewatch: No.



Whenever I sign up for a general Hall of Fame, I do so in the hopes of being introduced to something new that I really enjoy. Unfortunately this time it hasn't panned out that way, at least not so far.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing really wrong with Angel Face, it's just that it does nothing for me. The film looks good and the performances are fine, but I disliked both of the leads - and didn't find either particularly interesting. She was selfish and spoiled. He was a douche. Both got what they deserved. Unfortunately though that fate was something I predicted long before it happened. When that car went careening over the cliff as I expected, all I felt was a sense of mild disappointment. There was no real suspense to the whole thing and no real surprises.

If I were to sum up my viewing experience in a word, I think I'd choose underwhelming.






Cinema Paradiso (Nuovo Cinema Paradiso) (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988)
Imdb

Date Watched: 06/08/19
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: The 19th MoFo Hall of Fame, nominated by John-Conner
Rewatch: No.


I wanted to like this film. I really did. Honest.

I did really like the character of Alfredo, especially in the first half of the film, and the way he took over as a father figure for Toto. I also liked the basic idea of the film - essentially a love letter to cinema and to the art and passion that goes into every aspect of it. I also thought it was beautifully filmed. The final scene, too, was quite poignant.

Unfortunately my appreciation stops there. I really disliked Toto and found the townspeople to be rather irritating. I also didn't care at all for the film's particular brand of whimsy and quirk, which at times felt like a less extreme version of the work of Jean-Pierre Jeunet. I didn't care at all for Toto's romance with Elena - and found some of his behavior to be far more stalker-like than romantic or endearing. The second half of the film also really dragged for me and I struggled to maintain interest.

Ultimately, I respected the film for what it tried to do but mostly just found it disappointing.

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