Saturday, April 30, 2011

My review of Coraline

I must say, I never thought that I would watch a movie on my laptop wearing 3-D glasses but I just have. I am also writing some of the review with the glasses on..long story on that one.

Well, as anyone who has seen this movie knows, this movie is not for kids. In an upcoming video review of mine, I reference this film a bit and compare it to the film I will soon post a video review of.

Acting/characters: Good voice acting here. Dakota Fanning played Coraline so she had to carry the whole film. If you pick a bad Coraline, the whole film goes to pot. But, she did a very good job so it was incredibly good. The second voice actor that they needed to cast that needed to do a good job was the mother/other mother. Teri Hatcher did a very good job with it. If Coraline and the Other Mother are cast well, that's 90% of it right there. Both did a good job. The rest of the cast did well too, but I liked them the best. 9/10

Plot: Not for kids. It wasn't dark so much as disturbing. Very disturbing. Not a kids film in any way shape or form. Just because it it animated, that doesn't mean that it is for kids. Now, I think this one may think that it is for kids, but it is too disturbing to be a kids film. Aside from that, it was a very well done and original plot (based off of a book) that I enjoyed very much. They did very well bringing the plot to life in a good way. The moral isn't so original; "Be careful what you wish for" but that is hardly a bad thing. It was very well done. 9.5/10

Screenplay: Like the rest of the film, it was very well done. It was nice to see a good one for a change. It did a good job complimenting the plot as opposed to some other movies where the screenplay just takes it and makes it worse. but this one was very well done. 9/10

Likableness: It was a very likable film once you got past the fact that it isn't a film to bring home to your 8 year old. You know, I think that animation might be the last true artistic form of film that may be above the rest of the money grubbing that other films do. Animated film, for the most part, is above all of that. It will be nearly impossible to remake stuff like the Pixar films. With the exceptions of animated sequels, animated films are generally original and so the makers put more effort into them. They actually try to craft it with care. In the case of Pixar, they love making the movies and they care about the finished product so we love to watch them. Coraline is an artistic film with amazing visuals. It was made to be more than just quick cash (it takes too much work in a film like this to be just quick cash) it had heart to it. Props to that. 9.5/10

Final Score: 37/40 92% (N)

TRIVIA TIME: 1. At one hour and forty minutes long, this is the longest stop-motion film to date. Also, it is the first stop-motion animated feature to be shot entirely in 3-D and this film marks the first time that a stop-motion animated morphing sequence has ever been accomplished. The sequence runs for 130 frames, or nearly six seconds.

2. The original sweater the design team had designed for Coraline's father sported a big maize-and-blue University of Michigan logo. However producer Bill Mechanic decided to change the design in favor of his alma mater - Michigan State.

3. The 'Ranft Bros. Moving Company' that moves Coraline's family into their home, are based on real-life brothers Jerome Ranft and Joe Ranft. Both brothers did work on The Nightmare Before Christmas with Director Henry Selick. The mover at the front door (who is given the $1.00 tip) is modeled after Joe Ranft.

4. The band They Might Be Giants wrote 10 songs for the movie, but a change in tone from a musical to more dark production meant that all but one was cut; a scene in which Coraline's other father sings along with a piano features John Linnell's voice. The band has said they will release the other songs created for the movie in other projects, including albums.

5. Mr. Bobinsky is wearing the Russian Hero Medal for Service at the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster on April 26, 1986. Which reads on the front "Participant in the clean-up campaign" The "4A3C" indicates "Chernobilskaya Nuclear Power Plant." This medal is unique as it is the only medal in the world awarded for participation in a nuclear clean up. That might explain his skin complexion and odd behavior.

6. The face on the dollar bill given to the mover for a tip is director, Henry Selick.

7. The Coraline shoot lasted over 18 months, following 2 years of pre-production.

8. To construct 1 puppet of Coraline, 10 individuals had to work 3-4 months. Overall, for the character of Coraline, there were 28 different puppets of varying sizes; the main Coraline puppet stands 9.5 inches high.

9. In a deleted portion of the table scene where Coraline's (real) father sings to her, he laments, "I think I have a virus." Coraline's father is voiced by John Hodgman, perhaps more famously known as "PC" in Apple's "I'm a Mac" advertisements, where he often complains of being susceptible to viruses.

10. One crew member was hired specifically to knit miniature sweaters and other clothing for the puppet characters, using knitting needles as thin as human hair.

11. The model of the Father was based on Ted Raimi

Dude what the.....
Remember, this is a kids film...NOT!!!


Friday, April 22, 2011

My review of Requiem for a Dream

If I ever made a list of films that I saw that I'm glad that I saw but have no intention to see again, this film would be on the list with such films as A Clockwork Orange. I saw it. I'm glad I saw it but I will not do so again. at least not for a very long time. That, and I sure as f*** am not going to do drugs that's for sure. So, this movie succeeded in what it wanted to do with its audience.

Acting/characters: As anyone who has seen this one knows, Ellen Burstyn is absolutely amazing in this film. I personally would have given it to her as opposed to Julia Roberts for Erin Brockovitch. But Burstyn had already won in '74 if memory serves so she didn't get it. But her performance was easily the most memorable in the film. The other 3 principal actors did very well too. But Burstyn stole the show. Incredibly talent was displayed here and Jennifer Connelly went on to win Best Supporting Actress the year after this. Jared Leto had previously done Fight Club and American Psycho so good stuff there. Marlon Wayans went on to do the Scary Movie films and Norbit and Marmaduke. Multiple Razzie noms and wins. Too bad. The cast did an amazing job. Easily the best part. 10/10

Plot: FUBAR. Very FUBAR. it definitely shows what drug addiction can do to someone. It starts out great and the characters had everything going for them. But as I'm sure you know even if you haven't seen it, it all goes wrong. And by does it go wrong. It is very powerful and depressing. If you are looking for comic relief with your deep movies, turn back now for there is none. It was a very powerful and moving experience. It shows how drugs not only ruing you, but everyone around you is affected. Like I said, after seeing this one I will not do drugs. I doubt anyone has done drugs after this one. It was incredibly powerful and I felt that it had great success in getting across its message. Props to Aronofski for this one. 9/10

Screenplay: To me, the real screenplay was the music. The absolutely amazing music. This film would not have worked with different music I feel. If they didn't have Lux Aeterna (eternal light) in here the film wouldn't have worked as well. As for the script, It was good too. But I felt that the words were almost incidental sometimes and it was the music that really got the message across and set the tone and emotions for everything. This is not a burn against the script which was still excellent, but I felt the music was what really kept it going. 9/10

Likableness: I don't know if this is a film to 'like' so much. You can appreciate how amazing it is, you can be moved by its powerful message, you can invest yourself in the characters so much that you feel what they are going through, but it isn't a film to like. This film was not meant to entertain. It was meant to tell a powerful and incredibly important message. It did just that. It did that very well. 9/10

Final Score: 37/40 92% (N)

TRIVIA TIME: 1. Most movies contain 600 to 700 cuts. Requiem for a Dream contains over 2,000.

2. Director Darren Aronofsky asked Jared Leto and Marlon Wayans to avoid sex and sugar for a period of 30 days in order to better understand an overwhelming craving.

3. During Ellen Burstyn's impassioned monologue about how it feels to be old, cinematographer Matthew Libatique accidentally let the camera drift off-target. When director Darren Aronofsky called "cut" and confronted him about it, he realized the reason Libatique had let the camera drift was because he had been crying during the take and fogged up the camera's eyepiece. This was the take used in the final print.

4. In addition to having a camera mounted to her for certain sequences, Ellen Burstyn, spent four hours every morning being fitted with prosthetics, wearing four different necks (both fat and emaciated), two different fat suits (a 40-pound and 20-pound suit), and nine different wigs.

5. Jared Leto lost 25 lbs and befriended real heroin junkies from Brooklyn to prepare for his role as Harry Goldfarb.

6. The Tappy Tibbons material was shot in one day, with Christopher McDonald improvising a good deal of his material. At the end, the SAG extras for the audience and the crew all gave him a standing ovation.

7. The man peeling the orange (and the orange truck) in the scene where the characters go to receive a new shipment of drugs not only indicates their next destination - Florida - but also serves as a nod to the Godfather films, where the presence of oranges indicated disaster.

8. The overhead shot of Marion in the bathtub followed by her screaming underwater was an exact replica of a shot in the Japanese animated thriller, Perfect Blue. Darren Aronofsky bought the remake rights to the film just to use that one sequence.

9. When Sarah Goldfarb is on the subway and she is telling strangers that she is going to be on TV, a man tells her "You are whacked". That man was Darren Aronofsky's father.

10. To get into the character of Marion, who is a dress designer, Jennifer Connelly started making clothes for herself, and ended up making most of her own wardrobe.

11. Hubert Selby Jr. The author and co-scriptwriter makes a brief cameo as one of the prison officers supervising Tyrone (Marlon Wayans).

My review of Sharktopus

I watched this at the behest of Irukandji.

So, I don't know how to describe Sharktopus other than to say that it doesn't take itself seriously in any way. acting, plot, special effects, yeah, none of that here.

Acting/Characters: The characters in this film are so generic of other films like this, I have to wonder if they weren't spoofing other films of this nature. The horribly humorous nature of their acting had me laughing which I'm sure is what was the intended result. One of the more major characters chose to do this one after his role in The Dark Knight as the mob boss Maroni. But you know, I have to imagine that a film like this is incredibly fun for actors to do once in a while. Not all the time of course, but occasionally it would be fun to do. They looked like they were having fun with it. The acting was incredibly cheesy but that's what the whole point was. It was really fun. But, they made the #1 faux pas that any film with a killer anything can make: KIDS!!! There is akid that might be killed by the sharktopus. Whatever I know the kid isn't going to be killed despite the fact that he is incapable of moving a half inch even though the sharktopus isn't near him and is focused on something else. Thankfully they only make this mistake for about 5 minutes but gall darnit that's 5 minutes too many in my book. 5.5/10

Plot: Well, a killer sharktopus is terrorizing people off of the coast of Not to mention that a lot of the kills were foreshadowed a few minutes before they actually happened if that. It was a cute plot overall that the untrained eye (and I mean that in the sense that you would never have to have seen a film to not get it) would say that this film was trying to come off as serious and maybe even scary. Yeah, not remotely. Maybe a 5 year old kid would be scared by it but I highly doubt it. It is meant only to be a fun film that you watch only once in your life and then move on. The plot did drag on occasionally, but it was overall decent. They could have cut a bit though. I know, the film only had a 89 minute running time, but it was still dragged on. 6/10

Screenplay: eh, in a film like this, the screenplay is more or less incidental. You have some occasional cheesy lines that you laugh at that you could maybe pick out later, but overall it was forgettable which in this case is good. It was bad, but still so bad it's good for the most part. The stupid lines wore off in comedic value after a bit, but it was okay. Like too many films, it was the weakest part. 5/10

Likableness: I highly enjoyed watching this through most of it. It got boring by the end but it was engaging for the most part. It was stupid and over the top but it was likable. Cheesy dialogue, generic plot to spoof, tons of Jaws references (including a variation of the music of course) and stupid characters who can't fire guns right. It was fun overall. So, I've seen it, I'm glad I saw it because it was fun, but now...moving on. 6/10

Final Score: 22.5/40 56% (D)

TRIVIA TIME: 1. A "Sharktopus" is mentioned in the SyFy series Sanctuary, in the episode "Requiem". When Will and Helen come upon a field of mangled mermaids while in their submarine, Will theorizes it could have been a sea creature, like the Kraken. When Helen scoffs that the Kraken is a complete myth, Will mutters that he is glad he did not say Sharktopus.

2. In the episode "Under the Pea Green Sea" of the DePatie-Freleng cartoon Here Comes the Grump, Princess Dawn, Terry Dexter and the Grump encounter a "Sharktopus".

3. "Sharktopus" appears on a list of creatures to rescue from a dying planet in the Futurama episode "Love's Labours Lost in Space".

4. Producer Roger Corman has a cameo in the film.

5. The design of the Sharktopus was done in pre-production.

You can tell they had the effects budget of Avatar...but they put more thought into the storyline than Avatar.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Shot by Shot analysis of American Beauty

I did a shot by shot analysis of a scene from American Beauty for my film class. here's the scene:

Here is the shot-by-shot analysis

The last chance of the American Beauty marriage
            In a lot of movies, a character is given one last chance to turn things around before things spiral completely out of control.  The scene between Lester (Kevin Spacey) and Carolyn (Annette Benning) is that scene for American Beauty (Sam Mendes, 1999). Both of them are at a point where they are happier than they’ve been in decades and their happiness and relaxed air finally comes to a moment where it meets. Both are given a chance to fix things and use their happiness to make everything right between them and save their marriage. But it fails and things go drastically downhill from there. Many aspects of Mise-en-scene are used here to indicate how what the scene will be like. Lighting is often used in the scene to portray mood and costuming and props are used to portray what kind of people the characters are during the scene.
            Lighting is used to great effect here. In the beginning when Carolyn is singing to herself the sun is shining brighter than it has the entire movie showing how Carolyn is happier than she has been in decades. When she pulls into the driveway, she sees Lester’s new car and it is in shadow showing that it is not a good thing for her that this car is here. It is something for her that she knows will lead to confrontation because she does not want it to be there. When the camera goes inside the house, it is darker but it still is using natural lighting from the sun outside. The softer light in the house is used to represent Lester’s relaxed state.  
            Costuming is also used here. Carolyn is wearing a dress like she would wear to work showing that she is really formal and is still keeping up appearances. Lester, on the other hand, is wearing his pajamas and is barefoot with his feet on the table. He clearly isn’t concerned at all about appearances and is in a total state of relaxation. Not even Carolyn demanding an explanation about the new car fazes him.
Props are also a big part of the scene. When Carolyn enters the house after seeing Lester’s new car, she sees Lester playing with his new toy car and childishly running her over with it. The fact that he has a toy car shows that he is fully relaxed and has not a care in the world almost like a child. Also, there is a lot of trash on the table that he has his feet on such as wrappers and empty beer bottles. He is clearly not concerned with keeping his area clean. The most important prop in the scene, is the couch. It is because Carolyn is worried about Lester spilling beer on the couch that she snaps out of their romantic moment. The couch is something that it seems is all Carolyn’s. Lester probably had no say in buying the couch because it probably isn’t something he would care much about. So, Lester spilling beer on a couch that Carolyn needs to keep her image of a normal and well-to-do lifestyle brings her back to reality. The fact that she does that kills the last chance that Lester and Carolyn have of using their newfound leases on life to work together and fix their nearly useless marriage. One prop in the scene that is a motif in the rest of the film is the American Beauty roses that are on the table. The thing with American Beauty roses is that they are pretty on the surface but inwardly are rotting in the core. Their placement in this scene represents that on the surface level, life for Lester and Carolyn is going pretty well. They are both happier than they’ve been in years. But despite their happiness, which is unstable, there is something dark that is going to happen to shatter their happiness.
            Most of the sound in the scene is diegetic. The scene opens with Carolyn singing to a song that she has playing on the radio. The rest is talking and the sound of Lester’s toy remote control car as he is playing with it. But when they are on the couch together, there is some non-diegetic music in the form of soft music playing that fits with the semi-romantic aspect of their time on the couch. However, the music stops once Carolyn snaps out of their romantic moment to point out that beer is about to spill on their four thousand dollar couch. Their romantic moment has ended with the music and Carolyn abruptly snaps back to her reality and her image.
Shot #1-5 seconds.
Deep focus with everything in focus.
High key lighting. Few shadows.
The camera is at eye level.
The shot changes with a cut in to the car.
The camera pans right to keep up with the car when the car passes the camera. Tracking shot. It starts as a long shot with the car in the distance getting closer to the camera.
Sound is diegetic with the music coming from the radio.
Mise-en-scene-nice neat neighborhood and Carolyn’s clean well-kept car.

Shot #2-5 seconds.
Medium shot at eye level.
High Key Lighting. Shadows in the car but still bright outside.
Camera is still throughout the shot
Sound is diegetic coming from the radio
Mise-en-scene-Carolyn’s well-kept car and nice neighborhood outside of the car.
Scene changes with a cut out. To outside the car.

Shot #3. 8 seconds
Starts with a long shot of Carolyn’s car in the distance and the car is moving towards the camera. Tracking shot panning left to follow the car.
Sound is diegetic with music coming from the radio.
High Key Lighting. Very bright light outside. Virtually no shadow.
Shot changes with a cut in to Carolyn in the car.
Long shot at eye level.
Mise-En-scene-bright outside. Well-kept neighborhood and organized garden with a white picket fence.

Shot #4-9 seconds.
Still camera Eye level Medium shot.
Sound is diegetic coming from the radio.
Natural lighting coming from the sun outside, there is no other light.
Camera is still and doesn’t move.
Shot changes with a cut to inside the house.
Mise-en-scene-More of the neighborhood and the inside of her car. There is a bright new car in the driveway with heavy shadow over it

Shot #5. 2 seconds.
High angle shot of the floor and Carolyn’s feet.
Shot changes with a cut.
Sound is diegetic but no music.
Natural lighting
Mise-en-scene- Carolyn’s nice shoes and Lester’s red toy remote controlled truck

Shot #6. 30 seconds
Camera is lower. At eye level with Lester. It doesn’t move. It is a long shot with deep focus. It has Carolyn in the background and everything in the shot is in focus. Carolyn is in the doorway with her arms spread trying to assert dominance but because she is in the background she isn’t very threatening
Shot changes with cut to Carolyn
Sound is diegetic but no music
Natural lighting
Mise-en-scene-Lester is wearing his pajamas and he has a lot of trash on the table. There is a vase of American Beauty roses on the table continuing the motif of the roses. Toy car in the background showing Lester is being childish. Except for Lester’s little space, everything else in the shot is very well organized and clean

Shot #7-3 seconds
Low angle shot of Carolyn. She is trying to be dominant and in control of the situation. But she is still far enough away from the camera that she looks diminutive and not very powerful
Diegetic sound but no music
Natural lighting
Shot changes with a cut to Lester
Mise-en-scene-well-kept and organized house

Shot #8. 2 seconds
Medium shot. Camera is at eye level with Lester His feet are in the foreground but his head is in the background indicating he is relaxed. Carolyn is in the foreground to the right still trying to look dominant
Diegetic sound but no music
Natural lighting
Shot changes with a cut to Carolyn
Mise-en-scene-Lester in his Pajamas and his messy area with the American Beauty roses

Shot #9. 8 seconds
Long shot with Lester in the foreground with Carolyn in the middle ground
Shot changes with a cut to Lester
Carolyn sits on the couch in the background and the camera tilts down to keep her as the focus
Diegetic sound but no music
Natural lighting
Mise-en-scene-more of Lester’s messy area but outside of that we have the clean house such as the perfectly organized pictures on the wall.

Shot #10. 3 seconds.
Diegetic sound with no music
Long shot with Lester’s head in the background but his feet in the middle ground, Carolyn is in the fore ground to the right.
Natural lighting
Shot changes with a cut to Carolyn.
Camera does not move.
Mise-en-scene-Lester’s messy area with his pajamas and the clean house in the rest of the shot

Shot #11. 5 seconds
Lester is in the foreground with Carolyn in the background. Long shot with deep focus.
Shot changes with a cut to Lester and Carolyn sitting next to each other.
Natural lighting
Camera does not move.
Diegetic sound with no music.
Mise-en-Scene. Another shot of Lester’s space and the rest is the clean house.

Shot #12. 7 seconds.
Non diegetic sound. Music is playing in the background.
Natural lighitng
Shot cuts with a shot/reverse shot with the next shot.
Camera does not move. Medium shot at eye level with Carolyn and Lester.
Mise-en-scene. Lester’s pajamas and now he is holding a beer. Outside of that, it is still an organized house.

Shot #13. 27 seconds
Non diegetic sound with music playing in the background
Natural lighting
Reverse shot of the last one. Cuts to reverse shot.
Camera does not move and is at eye level with Lester and Carolyn. Medium shot.
Mise-en-scene-it doesn’t change from the last shot.

Shot #14. 35 seconds.
Non diegetic sound with music playing in the background
Natural lighting
Camera is at eye level with a medium shot but it zooms in to get a close-up of Carolyn and Lester.
Cuts to a shot of Lester
Mise-en-scene-no changes from the previous shot.

Shot #15. 3 seconds
Natural lighitng
Diegetic sound with no music
Camera is at eye level with Lester. Medium shot. Deep focus. Lester is in the middle ground with Carolyn in the foreground to the right. No camera movement
Cuts to a shot of Carolyn
Mise-en-scene-well-kept house and Lester with his beer

Shot #16. 8 seconds
Natural lighting
Camera doesn’t move. Eye level shot with Carolyn. Carolyn is in the middle ground while Lester is in the foreground to the left
Diegetic sound with no music
Cuts to a shot of Lester
Mise-en-scene-The couch

Shot #17. 5 seconds.
Natural lighting
Camera is at eye level with Lester. Lester is in the middle ground with Carolyn in the foreground to the right. It doesn’t move.
Diegetic sound no music.
End of scene.
Mise-en-scene-The clean house and Lester’s space.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My review of Scream 4

I have been praying for a year that this film would be good. Or should I say, whenever my love of the scream trilogy and my knowledge of #4 coincided. Well, I loved it.

Acting/characters: Well, it had the cast that we all know and love. Plus some additional members like Rory Culkin. The acting was almost as good as it was in the original two for me. Well, at least it was once it all got going. The start of the film went a little too slow and wasn't as well done as the rest of the film but once it got going I highly enjoyed it. The big three lacked a little of the original charm that they all had in the first one, but I still enjoyed their characters. The rest of them were okay. You could kind of tell who was going to get it and when but that's an unavoidable part of the slasher genre. Nothing you can do about that. Unfortunately, they still kind of went for Ken and Barbie with a lot of the characters. But, I wasn't incredibly distracted by that once it all got going. 8/10

Plot: It had what the third one didn't and what the first two nailed: satire. I really loved the satirical elements of the film overall. Like I said earlier, the whole thing had a slow, not very well done start, (past the first 10 minutes or so) but it's kind of the ending that counts because that's what you remember. It had some good jumps in there but it didn't completely rely on them like so many other slashers of the Third Age. But it did very well in satirizing the giant remake and reboot craze that is going on. Well done there. But it was kind of predictable at moments. But like I said, it's nearly impossible to make the whole thing a surprise with a genre like this. But it did well for me overall. 8/10

Screenplay: Like most slashers, this was the weakest part. I did not like some of the lines that Wes Craven put in there. But it wasn't all completely horrible. It just started out that way. I suppose that once the action got going I didn't really care what they were saying because I was engrossed in who Ghostface would butcher next and how. It was overall good and fit with the story nicely. Not perfect though. It needed some tuning. 7.5/10

Likableness: If I had the money, I would go out and see this one again. And again. I loved it. I had a grand time watching this one and while it wasn't quite what the first one was, I would put it roughly on the same level that the second one achieved for me. I had a blast. Good thing I went through that modern slasher phase of my slasher marathon or I wouldn't have gotten a lot of the jokes and references that they made. Of course, there are still a lot of references to the good old original ones. I will buy this film as soon as I can. I really loved it. 9/10

Final Score: 32.5/40 81% (N)

TRIVIA TIME: 1. Scout Taylor-Compton and Shane Dawson auditioned for roles in the movie.

2. At a table read on June 25, 2010, the actors were told to stop reading at page 75 to prevent those already cast in the film from knowing the climax.

3. With four installments, this landmarks the Scream franchise as being one of the only horror franchises to have its main characters return for all its sequels.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My review of Triumph of the Will (Triumph des Willens)

I got about 1/5th of the way through Mein Kampf before I just got so bored I had to stop. It was just about the socio-economic status of Germany leading up to Hitler's rise to power. Plus, Hitler wasn't a particularly good writer. But, I've heard of this film a few times during my history class so I decided to watch it.

I don't see how I can give this one a rating, I mean, it's the most infamous Nazi propaganda film ever. I don't see how I can give it a positive rating. But, on the other hand, I don't see how I can give it a negative rating because it's a very important film that is well done. So, I won't give it a rating.

Now, on to the actual review:

This film...sickened me. All of those happy Germans cheering on someone who is arguably the most evil man in history. Cheering him like he is their savior. Although, for all intents and purposes he was. He stabilized their economy (the worst economy in history. more than 13 trillion German Marks to one US dollar. No I'm not kidding). But watching kids who could have been no more than 6 or 7 at the most doing the Nazi solute was hard to watch.

The film opens with Hitler riding through Germany in a car like a conqueror. People are cheering him on like he is a god. In another scene, 52,000 German workers who are about to build the Autobahn are reciting to Hitler and it almost seems like they are brainwashed. Later, there are a bunch of kids about 10-13 years old I suppose who are playing instruments for Hitler and Nazi saluting him. There are a lot of military marches and Sieg Heils (which means Hail Victory in English). That, and I have never seen so many Swastikas in one place before. Watching the military parades, I'm reminded that out of the 7 million soldiers that Hitler had fighting for him during WWII, 5.5 million of them were killed. 5.5 million German soldiers were killed fighting for a madman. A sobering thought.

A lot of people have asked me if I would kill Hitler as a baby knowing what he would become. My answer to that is no. While Hitler was taking over Austria, in an operation known as Anschluss, where he rode through the streets of Austria like a an open car...meanwhile I'm on the roof with a high powered sniper more Mr. Mustache. And if Goebbels was in the car too that's even better.

i cannot really bring myself to give this a rating. It is an incredibly well made film but it is still Nazi propaganda. But, as a historian I can tell you that it was absolutely fascinating seeing the fanatical devotion of the German people to their insane Fuhrer. If you're bored by movies like this, ignore this one. If you can stomach almost two hours of Nazi propaganda and you are a history buff than this is a film that is almost required viewing...kind of. It's not a film that I particularly enjoyed watching. Now that I've watched it I can only conclude one way: "My name is Lieutenant Aldo Raine and I'm putting together a special team..."

TRIVIA TIME: 1. Only one scene, the review of the German cavalry, actually involved the German military. The other formations were party organizations that were not considered part of the military.

2. Hitler himself praised the film as being an "incomparable glorification of the power and beauty of our Movement".

3. Clips from this film were used in an Allied propaganda short (reportedly the work of a Canadian film editor) set to the British dance tune, "The Lambeth Walk". The legions of marching soldiers, as well as Hitler giving his Nazi salute, were made to look like wind-up dolls, dancing to the music. Nazi propaganda chief Josef Goebbels is reported to have seen a copy of the short film and was outraged beyond reason, leaving his screening room kicking chairs and screaming profanities.

4. The film spent 6 months in the editing suite. The two hours running time represents approximately 3% of the footage Riefenstahl shot.

5. Leni Riefenstahl directed an earlier film for the NSDAP entitled Der Sieg des Glaubens (1933), which was of an earlier rally, but all known copies of the film were destroyed after Ernst Röhm, who was featured in that film, was suspected of participating in a plot against Hitler and was executed. Rohm was head of the Nazi "brownshirts" and all published references to Rohm were ordered destroyed in an attempt to erase him from history. This film was produced to replace "Der Sieg des Glaubens", and only one complete second-generation copy of that earlier film has ever been found.

6. Riefenstahl had been given carte blanche by Hitler in the making of the film: effectively, the party rally was the first produced-for-camera event. But at the beginning the word hadn't gotten through to officials at the airport and in the parade. Riefenstahl's cameramen were pushed away from the plane carrying Hitler, which is why we see only one out-of-focus shot of Hitler descending from the plane and why the taxiing of the aircraft is repeated and out of sequence. During the parade, a shot of the camera car passing the limo carrying Hitler reveals a dirty look from one of the passengers. Riefenstahl spoke to Hitler at the hotel about the way she'd been snubbed and from then on had no problems.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My review of Do the Right Thing

This is another one that I watched in my Intro to Film class. This film is a racially oriented films.

Acting/characters: Spike Lee stars in and directs in this film. He did a great job overall. The characters were so different and seeing them interacting on screen was really great to watch. I particularly liked the guy with the giant boom box and the Night of the Hunter style brass knuckles. Fight the power that be. They were all really interesting to watch and each one brought something new and original to the film. The best one was probably Senior Love Daddy. 10/10

Plot: Like I mentioned before, it's a film about race. In fact, you have a whole 2 or 3 minutes where a bunch characters just spew racial slurs to the camera. The Setting is in a New York suburb and it is over 90 degrees out and the characters have to deal with the heat. Man, it looked hot enough out there that I remembered traumatic experiences in Palm Springs, California where it had a 105 degree low and a 118 Degree high. I feel that as opposed to other race films, this one asks all races to look inside of them. A lot of race films only point out how racist whites can be towards other races. This one shows how everyone can be racist. But, it does so without being overtly preachy which is a fine line to walk: ask questions but don't preach. I feel that this film did that very well. 10/10

Screenplay: This film was nominated for two Oscars and one of them was for Spike Lee's writing for this film. Spike Lee was younger than Orson Welles was when he made Citizen Kane. He did an absolutely amazing job writing the screenplay (It lost out to Dead Poet's Society in the end). Again, it asked a lot of the right questions without being preachy which is a testament to Spike Lee's writing for the film. 10/10

Likableness: I highly enjoyed this film. It is one that I would have no problem watching again. I would suggest it to anyone who has not seen it. I personally feel that it should have replaced Born on the Fourth of July as a Best Picture nominee and it could have even won that year (Did anyone else feel that Born on the Fourth of July was kind of a weak film that was just Tom Cruise complaining a lot of the movie?). This was an excellent film that deserved more than it got Oscar gold wise (which ended up being 0-2). I would suggest this one. 10/10

Final Score: 40/40 100% (N)

TRIVIA TIME: 1. The opening line is "Wake up," while the closing line in Spike Lee's previous film, School Daze, was also "Wake up."

2. Radio Raheem's (Bill Nunn) description of his four finger rings (Love and Hate) is a homage to Rev. Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) in to The Night of the Hunter

3. Spike Lee originally wanted Robert De Niro for the role of Sal. But De Niro turned down the part, saying that it was too similar to many of the parts he had played in the past.

4. The key scene when Danny Aiello and John Turturro talk alone approximately midway through the film was partly improvised. The scripted scene ended as the character Smiley approached the window. Everything after that until the end of the scene was completely ad-libbed.

5. This film was inspired by an actual incident in New York where some black youths were chased out of a pizzeria by some white youths in a section of New York known as Howard Beach.

6. All of the scenes of the "Corner Men" Robin Harris, Paul Benjamin, and Frankie Faison were improvised.

7. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama reportedly saw this movie on their first date in 1989.

8. The title comes from a Malcolm X quote: "You've got to do the right thing."

9. The scene in which Sal (Danny Aiello) and Buggin Out (Giancarlo Esposito) argue about there being no African-Americans on the wall of the restaurant - only "American Italians" - is somewhat ironic, as Giancarlo Esposito is an Italian-American.

Coincidence? I think not!!!

my review of Run Lola Run (Lola Rennt)

This is one that I saw for my Intro to Film class. It is a very...different film.

Acting/characters: Pretty good. it was generally what it needed to be. This movie was really low on dialogue (or at least comparatively to a lot of films) The characters were all really interesting and you got a feel for a lot of who the characters were even though Lola just runs by them and they only say a few words. The girl who played Lola had to be the best because 99% of the screen time was focused entirely on her. The characters were really interesting to watch and they all did a great job. 9/10

Plot: Well, rarely, if ever, have I found a more apt title of a movie. The whole movie is Lola running. But don't let that turn you off to it. It's really a great film with an incredibly engaging plot that does a lot to make it interesting. The way the plot is structured is incredibly original to me. I have never seen a plot structure quite like this (but I know there are other plots out there like this one). It was really well done and really interesting. 9/10

Screenplay: Pretty good. It was all in German originally so I don't know if anything was lost in translation there. I doubt it but you never know. In English though, I thought that it was very well done. Nothing particularly outstanding but it was good. 9/10

Likableness: This movie is not your typical movie. It defies the laws of what a normal movie should look like. Some movies fail when they try that but this one hit it out of the park. I highly enjoyed it. It was incredibly well done and I would highly suggest it to anyone who has not seen it. You won't be disappointed. It is not your typical movie. If that's your cup of tea then see this one. If not then you still need to see it and break the norm for you. I highly enjoyed it and I would have no problems with watching it again. I would pick up on more stuff I'll bet. 9/10

Final Score: 36/40 90% (N)

TRIVIA TIME: 1. During shooting, Franka Potente could not wash her hair for seven weeks because the red hair color was very sensitive to water and would have got lighter with every washing.

2. Tom Tykwer hated the empty space on the wall and asked production designer Alexander Manasse to paint a picture of Kim Novak as she was in Vertigo. But Alexander didn't remember what she looked like, so Tom suggested he painted her from behind. Alexander completed the picture within fifteen minutes.

3. The two sentences at the opening ("The ball is round" and "The game lasts 90 minutes") are famous quotes by German soccer coaching legend Sepp Herberger.

4. The shot where the roulette ball lands on 20 was not a trick shot - the crew simply filmed the ball dropping into the wheel, and it hit 20 on one of their first takes.

5. Hans Paetsch, who speaks the narration at the beginning, is Germany's most popular fairy tale narrator. His characteristic voice is easily recognized by anyone who grew up with fairy tale records in Germany.

6. It took nearly five weeks to persuade a supermarket in Berlin to allow them to shoot the robbery sequence.

7. In the film, Manni needs 100,000 marks. In 1998, the exchange rate for marks was 1.789 making this sum equivalent to $55,897.15 in the US.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My Best Picture Winners

I have a general rule that when I choose Oscar Best Picture mistakes, I only choose from the nominees. I am ignoring that rule today. Here are the films that I think should have won Best Picture. Nominee or not. 



 1929-Blackmail. My first change. Originally The Broadway Melody won. That film was horrible and the critics will tell you the same thing. This was Britain's first 'talkie' film. It is only fitting that the first talkie would be made by the master himself Alfred Hitchcock. But, this film was not nominated.

1930-All Quiet on the Western Front 

1931-M To be fair I haven't actually seen M. But anything has to be better than Cimarron. I will see M ASAP.

1932-Grand Hotel

1933-I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang. Cavalcade is nice, particularly for a history buff such as myself, but This one is much better and is capped off by an outstanding performance by Paul Muni.

1934-It Happened One Night. Duh

1935-Mutiny on the Bounty. 

1936-My Man Godfrey. While The Great Ziegfeld is nice and certainly excellent to look at, it lacks all of the charm and heart that My Man Godfrey portrays with ease.

1937- The Life of Emile Zola.

1938-You Can't Take it With You

1939-Gone with the Wind. Again, duh.


1941-Citizen Kane. This is another one that is a 'duh'. How Green Was my Valley was nice. But I mean come on, this is Citizen Kane we're talking about. Best movie ever? No. One of the best? Definitely.

1942-Mrs Miniver.

1943-I have an RT friend who would get mad if I didn't agree with this film's win. But as it just so happens I totally agree with the win.

1944-Gaslight. Going my Way was a decent film with good performances, but this one was a better film with better performances.

1945-The Lost Weekend

1946-It's A Wonderful Life. I know why The Best Years of Our Lives won. It was a WWII coming home film the year after WWII ended. It still isn't a better film than It's A Wonderful Life which everyone has seen. It's aged better than Citizen Kane in some respects.

1947- Miracle on 34th Street. is it an odd choice? Yeah probably. But it was a nominee so it is fair game for a pick. Call me a fool but I just liked this one better than Gentleman's Agreement.

1948- The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Hamlet was well acted by Olivier, but this one was still a much more entertaining and a far better film to watch.

1949-All the King's Men.

1950-All About Eve

1951-This is another example of a spectacle winning over the better film. An American in Paris was nice and pretty to look at, but let's be honest here, this film won 3/4ths of the acting awards. It was a far superior film.

1952-Singin' in the Rain. Once again we have a spectacle beating out a far superior (and in this case un-nominated) film. You can't look at the cover of this film without thinking of the song...or A Clockwork Orange, whichever.

1953-From Here to Eternity

1954-On the Waterfront

1955-The Night of the Hunter. This film wasn't liked when it first came out, but today we know it as one of the best films ever made. Rightly so. It's better than Marty at least (no shame on Marty which is still a superb film)

1956-The King and I. This and Around the World in 80 Days are both very visually excellent films. But, this one has amazing performances (particularly bu Yul Brenner) Around the World does not.

1957- The Bridge on the River Kwai

1958-The Defiant Ones. Gigi just doesn't have that much to it. It's a fluff film. The Defiant Ones is excellent and is also topped off by two great performances by Poitier and Curtis.


1960-Psycho. The Apartment is a good film don't get me wrong, but I would still give it to Psycho which is by far a superior film. The Apartment didn't start a whole new genre and have some of the most recognizable music in history. Psycho did. I know the Academy would give Picture and Director to Hitchcock for this one if they had a do-over.

1961-West Side Story

1962-Lawrence of Arabia

1963-The Great Escape. This film is incredibly well made. Tom Jones is just flat out dumb. 

1964-Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. My Fair Lady was a decent film. But almost everything it won it robbed from this film.

1965-The Sound of Music

1966-A Man for All Seasons

1967-Bonnie and Clyde. In the Heat of the Night was a very well made film, but this one was better. Plain and simple.

1968-The Lion in Winter-Oliver was a nice fluff film, but it doesn't even come close to matching the outstanding performances in this film.

1969-Anne of 1000 Days. Midnight Cowboy was well made and it had some solid performances, but man, this one was way better. Watch it before you disagree.


1971-The French Connection

1972-The Godfather

1973-The Sting

1974-The Godfather Part II

1975-One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

1976-Taxi Driver. Rocky was a great film in its own right. Taxi Driver is just better that's all.

1978-The Deer Hunter

1979-Apocalypse Now. Kramer vs. Kramer was a great film with a powerful message, but Apocalypse now really beats it in every way.

1980-Raging Bull. Ordinary People is nice (you notice how the Academy goes for 'nice' films?) but raging Bull is a fantastic film and De Niro rocked in this one.

1981-On Golden Pond. Chariots of Fire was a very good film, but On Golden Pond was far superior particularly when it comes to Fonda and Hepburn's amazing Oscar winning performances.

1982-Blade Runner. Ben Kingsley in Gandhi is one of the best performances I have ever seen. But Blade Runner is still a superior film. No shame on Gandhi.

1983- Terms of Endearment

1984-The Killing Fields. I know that I have some RT friends who have Amadeus as their favorite film. Before you disagree, watch this film. It is absolutely fantastic.

1985-The Color Purple. Out of Africa has little merit and critics today don't even like it. The Color Purple is an utterly amazing film that didn't deserve to go 0-11 with its Oscar noms.


1987-Hope and Glory. The Last Emperor was a visually amazing film, but once again it lacked the heart and character that this film had. 0-7 in Oscars. It's one of my favorites and more people need to see it.

1988-Rain Man

1989-Dead Poets Society/Do The Right Thin. These two are interchangeable. I would have been okay with either one winning. Driving Miss Daisy was good, but it was the weakest of all of the nominees with the exception of Born on the Fourth of July which was not a good film.


1991-The Silence of the Lambs 


1993-Schindler's List

1994-Pulp Fiction. I debated a bit for this one. If you feel that Forrest Gump or Shawshank deserved the win that's fine too.

1995-Braveheart/The Usual Suspects. I just couldn't decide which one. So, you determine for yourself which one of these two is better.

1996-Fargo. With the exceptions of a few of the performances, The English Patient was a kind of bland film. Fargo was hilarious and had some exceptional performances.

1997-Good Will Hunting. Debate this if you want, but I think that Good Will Hunting had more quality to it than Titanic. Don't worry, Titanic still deserved all the technical awards and was a great film overall. I just felt that this was better.

1998-Saving Private Ryan. I think that this film's loss to Shakespeare in Love was the worst mistake in Oscar history, you all voted this film's loss as the worst mistake in history, we all know that Shakespeare in Love isn't even close to the same level of quality that this film has. If Shakespeare hadn't won, we would forget its existence within a few decades. We still may. Saving Private Ryan will be around forever.

1999-American Beauty


2001-The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Within 7 years, This film was ranked by the AFI as one of the best films ever. Aside from Crowe's stellar performance, A Beautiful Mind pales in comparison.

2002-The Pianist. Once again Mirimax took away Best Picture from a WWII film that won Best Director. However, this time the film that took best Picture was actually really good. Chicago is an excellent film. But, The Pianist is far better.

2003-The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

2004-Million Dollar Baby

2005-Crash. Before you argue with me on this one, look deep into your heart and ask yourself if they had replaced Jake Gyllenhaal with Maggie Gyllenhaal and gave you the exact same story, nobody would care. And before you bash Crash for being 'emotionally manipulative' ask yourself what that truly means. if you watch Airplane! and you laugh and your emotion changes from whatever it was to really happy, isn't Airplane! being 'emotionally manipulative'? Just think about it.

2006-The Departed

2007-No Country for Old men/There Will Be Blood. These two are interchangeable for me. If either one had won I wouldn't have been upset. 

 2008-The Dark Knight.  Since I'm ruling the world here, I will give it to The Dark Knight. Were films like Milk better? In some ways yes. Did this film deserve a nomination at least? YES!!! I mean The Reader? Come on, not even Hugh Jackman who was the host for this year bothered to see it. The critics weren't a fan of it either.

2009-The Hurt Locker

2010-The King's Speech

There you have it, the films that I agree with winning, or should have won, Best Picture. Please let me know what you think!