Wednesday, August 29, 2012

M (1931, GERMANY)

Fritz Lang’s M is considered by many to be the greatest of movies to come out of Germany during the pre-Nazi era. It’s difficult for me to not look at the story of a serial child murderer without thinking how it foreshadows the ascension of the most prolific serial killer of the century.

The film works as a police procedural of sorts, though the audience knows who the killer is long before the authorities do. The great conflict in the film is the competition between the police trying to find the killer and those in the criminal underworld who want to find the murderer for their own reasons.

The “kangaroo court” scene where the child murder is put on trial by criminals is truly the highlight of the film.

And let us not forget Peter Lorre’s memorable defense of himself before this tribunal of criminals:

Do you all want to kill me?
You just want to wipe me out?
But you can’t murder me just like that!
I demand to be handed over to the police!
I demand to be brought before a real court of law!

M will most likely be playing soon at a college film class near you.

Friday, August 24, 2012

VIVRE SA VIE (1962, FRANCE), MASCULIN FEMININ (1966, FRANCE)

Le bloc en cinq tableaux

Tableux cinq: Confronting one’s self about Godard

The 1001 blogger has decided to watch as many films as he can from New Wave French director Jean Luc-Godard. This is his third therapy session since he has begun watching these films. He notices his latest doctor has his chair turned away from him as he enters the office..

1001 blogger: Hello doctor. I've had a couple of rough sessions here.I hope this will go better. I don't think I've seen you before.

(The doctor spins around and the blogger gasps as he notices that the doctor is...himself.)


Doctor: Are you sure? Don't you own a mirror? Sit down in my chair. And I will sit in the patient's chair. Then you will know what its like to stand in someone else's shoes. Or sit in someone else's shoes anyway. Oh, nevermind. Since I am you. I don't think that will really be necessary.

1001 blogger: (Holding head) I'm really confused now. I was feeling bad all week about striking out with Dr. Baxter.

Doctor: Oh, the Bardot look alike. Boy, those chances don't come around often. You must feel awful.

1001 blogger: Ah, never mind. Just tell me what I should do now. You know me better than anybody.

Doctor: I think you should read The Age of Reason by Jean Paul-Sartre.

1001 blogger: I have read it. I didn't really care for it.

Doctor: That's OK. Not everyone understands it.

1001 blogger: I didn't say I didn't understand it. I said I didn't like it.

Doctor: I see we're at an impasse, number six.

1001 blogger:Don't call me that. And don't ask me to read any Moliere either.

Doctor:Come on you like to be called number six. You know I know you better than anyone. Stand up and give the prisoner speech.

1001 blogger:Well Ok, but what has this to do with Godard?

Doctor: That's the point. By having nothing to do with Godard, it has everything to do with Godard. You get it?

1001 blogger: (Nodding as he stands, clears his throat and points at the doctor). I will not make any deals with you. I've resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered! My life is my own!

Doctor:(Applauding)Bravo. Bravo. I don't think you'll need me anymore. (The doctor disappears)

(Finally feeling a sense of relief, the blogger goes up to the office wall mirror and watches himself trace his lips with his thumb. He departs)

FIN


Thursday, August 23, 2012

CONTEMPT (1963, FRANCE)

Le bloc en cinq tableaux

Tableaux quatre: Becoming even further confused about Godard

The 1001 blogger has decided to watch as many films as he can from New Wave French director Jean Luc-Godard. He is in his second appointment with his regular analyst Dr. Berger, though as he enters the psychiatrist’s office he notices that Berger has been repaced. A vouluptuous blonde comes up to the blogger and shakes his hand.

Dr. Baxter: Good afternoon. I’m Dr. B. B. Baxter. I will be taking over your case. Dr Berger is…well he said something about visiting the Outlands. I have no idea what that means. Anyway, I have familiarized myself with your case. Have a seat.

1001 Blogger: I’m just taken a bit aback. You look just like…You look like a young Brigitte Bardot.

Dr. Baxter: Tell me about it! It’s really made it that much harder for me to be taken seriously.People say they imagine me sunning nude on an Acapulco beach and not in a stuffy office. Can you imagine?

1001 Blogger: Vividly. I mean...you don’t say!

Dr. Baxter: Which is funny that your file says you have been watching Godard films. Have you seen Contempt yet?

1001 Blogger: Yes. As a matter of fact that was what I watched last week. It’s weird that I see the only film I have ever seen with Brigitte Bardot and now I have a new analyst that looks just like Brigitte Bardot.

Dr. Baxter: Not as much a coincidence as you might think. It’s like reading a book and seeing the word tunnel as you go through a tunnel. Not that much of a coincidence really. Or overhearing someone say the word hole at the very moment you trip over a rabbit hole, or-

1001 Blogger: I get it. I get it.

(Dr. Baxter crosses her perfect legs which fall gracefully underneath her short skirt and the 1001 blogger attempts unsuccessfully to avert his gave.)

Dr Baxter: It’s kind of hot in here. Don’t you think?

(The doctor unites the ribbon holding her hair. She shakes her hair, her blonde tresses flowing wildly.)

1001 Blogger: I’m a little distracted at the moment. What did you ask me again?

Dr. Baxter: I didn’t ask anything...yet. But we were talking about the movie Contempt. What did you think about it?

1001 Blogger: I’m just thinking about that opening scene where Bardot asks her husband what she thinks of her body parts.

Dr. Baxter: Yes! I think I know what to do now.

(Dr. Baxter turns off the main room light and a flourescent light comes on in its stead. Mood music begins to play. Dr. Baxter sprawls out on the polar bear rug directly in front of her patient. She reaches into her dress and pulls something out in the direction of the blooger.)

Dr. Baxter: Here. Speak directly into my dictaphone.

(The 1001 Blogger can only nod.)

Dr. Baxter: So tell me Mr. Blogger. Do you like my hair?

1001 Blogger: Uh…uh…

Dr. Baxter: I said do you like my hair? Do you want to be cured or not?

1001 Blogger: Yes. Yes. I like your hair.

Dr. Baxter: Do you like my face?

1001 Blogger: Yes. Yes. I like your face.

Dr. Baxter: My legs. Do you like my legs?

1001 Blogger: Yes. Yes very much.

Dr. Blogger: And my breasts. Do you like my breasts?

1001 Blogger: Uh..uh..

Dr. Baxter: Come on now. Do I have to actually show them to you? All right. (She begins to unbuttoned her shirt)Here..(Noticing her patient wavering in his chair)Hey, what's wrong?(Dr. Baxter comes up to him, but before she can reach him, he has passed out onto the floor.)

Dr. Baxter: (speaking into her Dictaphone, after testing his pulse and determinging that he has merely fainted.) Patient 1001 seems to be having difficulty coping with reality. Was unable to complete treatment to full climax. When patient regains consciousness, recommend session with more advanced specialist. I will be heading to Acapulco for a couple of weeks for some aquatic and tanning therapy of my own. Baxter out.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

ALPAHVILLE (1965, FRANCE), PIERROT LE FOU (1965, FRANCE)

Le bloc en cinq tableaux

Tableux trois: Seeking help about being confused by Godard

The 1001 blogger has decided to watch as many films as he can from New Wave French director Jean Luc-Godard. This endeavor has proven a challenge to his emotional and intellectual well-being. He has made an appointment with his regular analyst Dr. Berger, who bears a striking resemblance to actor Judd Hirsch, to guide him through the rocky patches.


(The 1001 Blogger enters Dr. Berger’s office)

Dr. Berger: Come in. I was very worried about you when you called me. Please have a seat.

1001 Blogger: (Sitting) Thank you. I appreciate you seeing me.

Dr. Berger: And don’t worry. Since I got your message about your issues with the films of Jean Luc-Godard, I did my research and watched as many of his films as I could.

1001 Blogger: I’ll say this, you're thorough.

Dr. Berger: So tell me what’s going on.

1001 Blogger: Well, I picked this woman up at the local Dollar General and took her home.

Dr. Berger: And did you have intercourse with her?

1001 Blogger: No. Nothing like that. I just made her watch Godard’s Weekend.

Dr. Berger: And how did she react?

1001 Blogger: She through a baggette at me, cursed me and my entire lineage and stormed out.

Dr. Berger: What did you do then?

1001 Blogger: I shook it off and watched more Godard films. Alphaville and Pierrot le Fou.

Dr. Berger: Ah, Genre films. I caught those.

1001 Blogger: But they don’t fit neatly into a genre. Is Alphaville a sci-fi or should it be defined as hard boiled detective? Is Pierrot a criminal film? Pierrot is like Badlands on acid. But it was made before Badlands or Bonny and Clyde for that matter. So it had kind of a reverse derivative effect on me. Do you see why I’m so confused?

Dr. Berger: (Moving to the closet where he removes something) This might help. Role playing. I’ll put this general’s uniform on. And here’s a coolie hat and you can be the Vietnamese village girl…

1001 Blogger: Uh, no. I appreciate that you’ve studied these films and want to recreate scenes, but that’s just too weird. Of course, I don’t have any better suggestions at present.

Dr. Berger: In life one can only know the present, No one’s lived in the past or will live in the future,

1001 Blogger: I don’t really know the present either…at least at the present, you might say.

Dr. Berger: Have you seen A Beautiful Mind yet? I love that film.

1001 Blogger: Yes, but what does that have to do with the price of tea in Marsielle?

Dr. Berger: Sorry, I was daydreaming for a minute.

1001 Blogger: Yes, doctor. But what about Godard?

Dr. Berger: I think we’re about out of time.

(A siren goes off and Dr. Berger begins to caresses the walls as he feels his way to the door.)

1001 Blogger: What are you doing? We can't be done yet!

Dr. Berger: Sorry. I’m most helpless. Alpha 60 is calling me! Alpha 60 is calling me! Come back next week! Show yourself out...

(Dr. Berger leaves the room. The 1001 blogger eventually gets up and leaves as well, realizing he is in even worse condition than we he came in.)


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

WEEKEND (1967, FRANCE) & TWO OR THREE THINGS I KNOW ABOUT HER (1967, FRANCE)


Le bloc en cinq tableaux

Tableaux deux: Being confused by Godard

DOLLAR GENERAL: A CHICKASAW LOVE STORY

MY HOUSE 6:52
I looked at my black television screen after my viewing of Jean Luc-Godard’s Weekend.

How was I supposed to react? How was I supposed to feel? I barely knew who I was.

The only thing I knew was that I was hungry. Hungry for Mayfield Neapolitan Ice Cream.

Hunger was the one thing I knew I could deal with on a rational level.

Dollar General. I had never been to the new Chickasaw Dollar General up the road.

It was time to change that.

I got into my car and drove slowly. I rolled down my window on the way looking for accidents.

No bodies lying on the side of the road. No burning wreckage on the side of the road.

Part of me was disappointed at how uneventful my forty-five second drive to Dollar General was.

At the store, I was overwhelmed by the sheer capitalism.
Tide. Twix. Quaker State. Wrangler Jeans.

How should I allow myself to be brainwashed and subsequently how should I act the rest of the day? Oh, that’s right. I remember now. Mayfield Ice Cream. Mayfield Neapolitan Ice Cream.

I went to the frozen food and reviewed my choices.

Mayfield Chocolate. Mayfield Vanilla. Mayfield Neapolitan.

One box left.

I reached in and touched the ice cream at the same time as another person. I hadn’t seen her. She withdrew at the same time I did.

“Oh, I’m sorry you can have it,” she said to me.

I wouldn’t call her pretty exactly, but she had very long hair and her teeth all appeared to be intact. Of course, I wasn’t sure what the definition of pretty was at that moment and why was I thinking that anyway?

“We can share the ice cream. I’ve got two bowls.” It wasn’t a great pickup line, but I wasn’t trying to pick her up. I was sincere. I really did have two bowls.

We talked. I’m sometimes awkward in these circumstances, but a couple of helpings of Godard will loosen you up quicker than a bottle of TJ Swann.

“Do you live in Chickasaw?” she said.
“Where else would I live?” I said.
“I work over at the Whataburger next door,” she said.
“Oh, did you drive here without accident?” I asked.

She looked a little confused at some of my responses, but not enough to deter her from coming home with me to share my ice cream.

“My name is M…” she said.

“My name…my name is Laszlo Kovacs.” I didn’t want to use my real name.

“When I saw you come in I thought you might be married, Lasslo,” she said.

I didn’t understand the relevance of her inquiry. I asked her if she thought that marriage was a bourgeoisie concept. She laughed nervously and didn’t pursue this line of questioning further. I’m not sure if she understood what bourgeosie meant.

I went to the checkout and a pleasant looking dark skinned lady with long purple fingernails took my ice cream.

“Are you in a film or in reality?” I asked the dark skinned lady.

“That will be 4.99,“ she told me.

I guess she didn’t hear my question.

Neither did my longhaired companion. Either that or she was too worried about making sure that her hair was sufficiently fluffy to have heard me.

On the way home, I saw a man on the side of the road. He appeared to be putting motor oil into his car. I elbowed M… and pointed at the man, but she didn’t seem to know why I was so affected.

MY HOUSE 7:52
M… looked unsure of herself as she sat on the sofa next to me.

“I want you to know I don’t normally do this,” she said.

I laughed. I wasn’t sure why I was laughing.

“Would you like a cigarette?” I asked.

“I would love one,” she replied.

I nodded slightly and looked forward.

Her look conveyed expectation.

“I don’t smoke. I was just wondering if you wanted one.” I said.

“Oh,” she said.

She seemed disappointed and confused.

I was tongue tied before I saw her running her fingers through her long hair.

I smiled at her and she returned the smile.

“I’ve been letting it grow out. I like that it has so much body. Do you like long hair?” she asked.

I sensed that she was searching for a compliment.

“Your hair looks positively Chekhovian,” I said.

It didn’t appear this was the response she was looking for. Once again her face showed disappointment and confusion.

I excused myself to go into the kitchen before returning with two full bowls of ice cream.

Two spoons as well.

I started to place her bowl on the floor in front of her, but sensed she would be more appreciative if I handed it to her.

“Neapolitan,” I said. “Originated in Italy. Though most good ideas come from France. Not all of course, like Neapolitan Ice Cream. Three flavors… One bowl. Oh that reminds me.”

I went back into the kitchen and brought back to her a large of French bread.

“Boy, this feels really hard,” I said as I felt it.

She appeared to be blushing, but I wasn’t sure why.

Perhaps I was talking too much. It was time to make my move.

First, I asked her if she had read Faulkner’s The Wild Palms, but she told me she hadn’t.

I cleared my throat. “I want you to watch a film with me.” I said.

“Oh, I get it. I’ve seen movies like…that before. I’m an adventuresome gal.”

She inched a little closer to me.

“This is called 2 or 3 Things I Know About You."

No response.

"Jean-Luc Godard.”

Still no response.

Her face brightened when a moment of recognition appeared to set in.

“I’ve seen 10 Things I Hate About You. Is it like that?”

“No, M… This is French.”

“Oh, French. My goodness.”

This appeared to impress her.

After I put the movie in and sat down, she put her hand on my knee.

I turned on the film via remote control.

MY HOUSE 8:52
I noticed her eyes were wide open as she stared at the film. She hadn’t commented or reacted. I was worried she wasn’t impressed.

I pointed my finger up in the air to her indicating I needed to use the restroom. I shut the door half way and stared into the mirror.

I whispered to myself. She hasn’t commented or reacted to this film. I worry that she is not impressed.

“Who the hell are you talking to?” She asked from the other room. She appeared angry.

I guess my soliloquy was too loud.

“No one.” I replied.

I came back out and sat next to her. She inched away from me and didn’t say another word for the remainder of the film.

After the final fade out of consumer items resting in the field turn into FIN, I got up and turned the television off by hand.

I turned to make a comment, but before I could say anything, I felt the French bread crack against my skull.

I plummeted to the ground. She tore aprart the French Bread into smaller pieces and threw them at my head.

Then the yelling started. “What the hell did you just make me watch, Lasslo? I think I know what you are! I’ve heard about you people. You’re a Socialiss aren’t you? I don’t want to be with no Socialiss! I’m glad I didn’t let you do anything to me.”

By the time she had finished yelling, crumbs of French bread encircled me as I heard the door close behind her. I closed my eyes to fall asleep to hopefully forget about all the injustices in the world and dream only about what items I might need to purchase the following day.

When I awoke, I decided to lay off the Godard films for awhile.

Monday, August 20, 2012

BREATHLESS (1959, FRANCE)


Le bloc en cinq tableaux

Tableux one: Introduction to Godard

Everything seems so inconsequential, yet so substantial and full of meaning.

I apologize. Jean-Luc Godard’s landmark French New Wave film Breathless has left me totally confused and resonating with clarity.

Or does it?

I am indeed breathless.

But is it a good breathless or a bad breathless?

Breathless has the feel of a documentary, but some of the contrivances and unnecessary film edits never let you forget it’s a movie.

Is he trying to say something about the duality of man?

Godard tries to make his film different than anything that came before it, but he openly embraces traditional Hollywood films.

Round up the usual suspects, but ignore them.

Important plot points, like the killing of the police officer that has the main character on the run are rushed through and scenes with inconsequential small talk linger and linger.

What is he running from again?

This film is now fifty years old. Has anybody really figured it out yet? A lot of people have, but nobody has.

I’m in a morass of confusion. I am not ready to commit an opinion on this.

What does Ebert say? What did Gerald Mast say again? What does the blogsophere say?

No, No. Forget all that. I’ve got to work this out on my own.

One film isn’t enough.

I've got to see more Godard.

Which is good.

And bad.

I’m honestly in a quandary. Have I already said morass?

Everything seems so inconsequential, yet so substantial and full of meaning.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

CASABLANCA (1942)


This is CNN….

Nancy Grace: Tonight on Nancy Grace we have an exclusive live feed with the kidnappers from the story you’ve been hearing about all day. That, of course, is the abduction of acerbic film critic Simon Johnson. As you can see behind me, we have an exclusive CNN feed coming through now to the kidnappers. Sir, could you please state your demands?

Rick: (An overweight man with a ill-fitting trench coat and a snap brimmed hat walks in front of the camera) Hello, Nancy. Thank you for giving us this forum. I’d like to introduce my colleague here, who you can just call Captain Renault.

A short man in what appears to be a homemade military uniform clicks his heals together and bows to the camera.

Rick: Me, you can just call me Rick.

Nancy: Okay, boys. I can see Simon Johnson tied up behind you. Is he unharmed?

Rick: He is unharmed. Not very happy, but unharmed.

Rick and Renault step aside so the camera can get a good shot of a figure who is tied, gagged and blindfolded.

Nancy Grace: Please, what is this all about? What is it you want?

Rick:It’s very simple. On the internet movie review site www.rottentomatoes.com, the critical consensus has a 99 % fresh rating for Casablanca, the greatest movie of all time. For those in your audience unaware of what that means, freshness means a positive rating. But why is it not 100%? I’ll tell you why! It’s all because of one man. One reviewer. Simon Johnson!

Nancy Grace: Are you kidding me? This whole kidnapping is because of a negative movie review?

Rick: Not just any negative review. A negative review of Casablanca... Casablanca!
What did this so-called reviewer say about it again, Renault?

Renault: (Holding up a laptop and reading from the screen) “Casablanca is perhaps the most overrated movie of all time. Its murky plot and clich├ęd characters I would call forgettable if anyone would ever give me five minutes to forget about this balderdash.”

Rick: Balderdash? He actually refereed to Casablanca as balderdash!

Renault sneers at Johnson who squirms in his seat.

Nancy Grace: My God! Don’t people have the right to a dissenting opinion? For the record, I for one love Casablanca, but I’m not going to abduct anyone who disagrees with me!

Rick: It’s not for us we do this Nancy. It’s for all the young people out there who may see that Casablanca didn’t get a 100% rating and perhaps decide to pass on it and watch The Evil Dead instead. The Evil Dead 100%, Casblanca 99%. Don’t you see a disconnect from reality there? And the younger generation will some day regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of their lives.

After reciting this line, Renault and Rick give each other a high five.

Nancy Grace: The main disconnect from reality that I see is you two guys. How old are you guys? 35? 40? I think spending your adult life living in your parents basement has driven you plain crazy.

Rick: I’m going to ignore your little barbs, Nancy. We are fighting for a greater cause Listen to the evidence (Motioning to Renault)

Renault: (Reading from a notebook)
“Play It Sam, You Know the One I Mean.”
“Round up the usual suspects”
“Here’s looking at you kid”
“The problems of a couple of people don’t amount to a hill of beans.”
“Louie, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Rick: (Holding up hand for him to stop) Thanks, that’s enough. And that’s from one movie! And there’s more. Read the names Renault

Renault walks to the back of the room and puts on a LP on what appears to be an old Victrola behind Simon Johnson. He walks in front of him and begins reading a list as we can now hear a scratchy La Marseillaise playing in the background.

Renault: Humphrey Bogart…Ingrid Bergman…Sydney Greenstreet…Peter Lorre…Paul Henreid…Dooley Wilson…Claude Rains…Michael Curtiz…Philip Epstein...Julius Epstein.

Rick: (Holding up a hand for Renault to stop) He could read more, but I think we’ve proven our point. What do you say to that?

Nancy Grace: (Exasperated) Oh, my. Oh, my. For once, I don’t know what to say. Just what is it that you want?

Rick: Our demands are simple. Remove the offending review off of Rotten Tomatoes. I want the world to be whole again.

Nancy Grace: And then you will release your Mr. Johnson? What if your demand isn’t met?

At this question, Rick and Renault turn to each other with a look of confustion on their faces. Three seconds later, the feed to the scene is lost.

Nancy Grace: Damn it. We’ve lost the feed. We’re out of time for this segment anyway. (Looking directly in the camera) Well, you’ve heard these demands, exclusive to CNN, from these two Casablanca fanatics. Will www.rotten tomatoes.com drop the review from their website? Is the first amendment itself at issue here? And will Simon Johnson be released if the ransom demands are met? You can bet we will be tracking this story in the days to come. In the meantime, (reaching down and holding out a book for the camera) don’t forget to pick up a new copy of my latest book, Fifty Shades of Murder. You’re going to love this one. Grace Belladonna, our intrepid cable news host/sleuth is on the job again. Will she be able to solve the case of serial S & M murders? (winking) I wouldn’t bet against her.

This is Nancy Grace. Goodnight.

End credits to Nancy Grace role as the song As Time Goes By Plays in the background.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A TRIP TO THE MOON (1902, FRANCE)

Certainly any list like the one from 1001 Films You Must See Before You Die(as well as any academic history of film class) has to begin with George Melies’ 1902 A Trip to the Moon.

The basics of this fourteen minute landmark film can be summarized as "a group of professors/wizards confer to send an space expedition to the moon. A group of space travelers is organized and proceed to land on the moon where they encounter hostiles who take them to their leader. After finding a method of disposing of the moon men, by an umbrella touch that makes them explode, they successfully return to earth."

How many movie firsts are in this film? Science ficion, surrealism, a narrative story line, special effects and other innovations often list A Trip to the Moon as its oldest ancestor. Who could possibly say anything bad about a Trip to the Moon? I’ll bet even curmudgeonly film critic David Thompson can’t think of anything bad to say about Melies. In his Biographical Dictionary of American Film, he says,

“Melies needs to be restored to his role as stage conjurer who designed so many of the illusions available to the filmmaker-no longer regarded as the father figure of cinema of the imagination.”

Ok, everyone except David Thompson agrees.




Saturday, August 11, 2012

THE MATRIX (1999)


Husband: I’m a little lost at what to say about The Matrix. What say you give this one a go?

Wife: I’m not sure what to say about it.

Husband: Well, you’re the one that made me go see it in the theater twice! And the first sequel, which was very loud.

Wife: So you didn’t like it?

Husband: The first time I saw it, I thought it was pretty good. You didn’t know what world where Neo was in or where the plot was heading. But once you’ve seen it once, it loses something without the elephant of surprise.

Wife: Did you say elephant of surprise?

Husband: No..Well maybe. I’ve just seen too many films lately. So why do you like watching this so much. The forum is yours.

Wife: OK...It was so original. I had never seen anything like it before. Special effects were stunning. Really, it was just really cool.

Husband: I'm sorry, I wasn't listening. Are you done yet?

Wife: I'm definitely done.

Husband: OK. It still loses something the second time around.

Wife: And like there’s any “elephant of surprise” when you see the horses head scene from The Godfather.

Husband: You aren’t allowed to talk about The Godfather in disparaging terms on this blog.

Wife: All right. Are we done yet?

Husband: Let me do the word count...Yep, we're done.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

INDEPENDENCE DAY (1996)



I realize this big budget 1996 aliwn invasion movie has its fans, but if I were pressed on this issue, I could probably come up with at least twenty alien invasion movies that I'd rather watch before Independence Day. So I checked that scholarly source called Wikipedia and made my list.

Alien/Alien Invasion Movies I'd rather watch than Independence Day that aren't in the 1001 movie book from that scholarly source called Wikipedia.

25 Plan Nine From Outer Space-All-time classic Ed Wood bad film that really is must viewing for any well rounded movie fan.
24 Zardoz-This 70's film with Sean Connery is just plain weird. People seem to either love it or hate it, but I'd still watch it over Independence Day.
23 The Creeping Terror-Best viewed on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
22 It Came from Outer Space Saw this during the 80's as part of a 3D spectacular double feature with The Creature From the Black Lagoon!
21 Robot Monster-The movie that prevents Plan Nine from being the worst movie of all time.
20 Teenagers from Outer Space-Raging hormones and aliens are just a bad mix.
19 Fire Maidens From Outer Space-Yet another, MST3K listing.
18 This Island Earth-This in fact was the film used for the MST3K feature film.
17 The Blob-Killer ooze creeps under the door and the world can only be saved by a young Steve McQueen and the lady that played Helen Crump!
16 Moster A-Go Go-My personal choice for the worst film of all time, but I'd still have more fun watching it than Independence Day.
15 Without Warning-Think it is interesting that Martin Landau and Jack Palance survived this monster mash to later win Oscars. Haven't seen this one in awhile, doubt if I'll get around to seeing again. Not listed in the Wikipedia list. Got to make a note to add this one.
14 Fire in the Sky-Straightfoward country folk who try to get the authorities to try to belive that aliens have landed. Can't say why, but I kind of like this one.
13 The Man Who Wasn’t There-Good movie. Coen Brothers. Only problem is that it is listed with the alien invasion movies and it isn't an alien invasion movie! The title character really is there! His invisibility is just a figurative allusion. He isn't Claude Rains invisible! Damn you Wikipedia!
12 2010-Underrated sequel to the Kubrick classic.
11 Predator-I would have given this Arnold adventure the 1001 nod over Independence Day, but nobody asked me.
10 Invaders From Mars-50's classic that was remade as a fair 80's remake. I'll go with the original for this list.
9 Liquid Sky-Heroin! Lesbians! Aliens! What's not to love?
8 Little Shop of Horrors-And I'm going with the musical version, because the original from American International isn't very good.
7 Cloverfield-Has the hand held camera film become passe? I did like the way it was used here.
6 Cocoon -I'm a little surprised this isn't on the 1001 list. Maybe they left it out because Steve Guttenberg's in it, I don't know.
5 Contact-Good adaptation of Carl Sagan's novel.
4 Brother From Another PlanetUnderrated 80's Indie Sci-Fi.
3 Repo Man-A real cult film if there ever was one. Also of interest that it was produced by ex-Monkee, Michael Nesmith.
2 Star Trek II or IV-The 1001 editors really need to pick at least one Star Trek movie for the 1001 list. I mean all three Star Wars movie are there! How bout some love for Spock!
1 Superman II-Still probably my favorite Superhero movie.



Friday, August 3, 2012

VERTIGO (1958)


Alfred Hitchcock is definitely the favorite director of the 1001 movies list, with close to 20 entries!

I remember in the 1980’s The Screening Room in Atlanta showed several re-released Hitchcock movies, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Rear Window, Rope, The Trouble with Harry and Vertigo. I believe I went to see them all at the time. Four of these films star Jimmy Stewart and Vertigo may be the most critically acclaimed of the bunch today. (Though I need to see Rear Window again!).

Seeing it again now in a restored version it is a meticulously plotted, suspenseful film, built nicely to a dramatic climax. If you think about the plot too much, the setting up of the acrophobic Scottie Ferguson through the death (?) of the woman he loves might be a little far-fetched, but it hardly ruins the movie.

When Scottie finds someone who resembles his lost love, he tries to recreate her to look or be like her. Is he being a bully? Obsessive? Or is it actually his lost love? Scottie’s recreation of Judy is one of the best parts of the film.

William Goldman mentions in one of his books that he finds Vertigo an overrated film, but doesn’t say why. My guess is that he’s not buying into the plot.“1001 Movies” also mentions that the plot contrivances caused the film to not be a critical success at the time of release.

Overall, I got caught up in the film this time as much as I have during previous viewings. Few films show off a city better than this film shows off San Francisco. And few directors utilize music better than Hitchcock (through Bernard Herrmann’s score).

Interesting supporting performance from a young Barbara Bel Geddes as Stewart’s frustrated gal pal Midge.

Note: The most recent edition of the ten year Sight and Sound poll lists Vertigo as the greatest film of all time, supplanting Citizen Kane in the number one spot for the first time in fifty years, so I'm guessing any Vertigo plot holes didn't bother the Sight and Sound panel.