Epic Film Quest: ‘Gigi’ and (ugh) France

Posted in Epic Film Quest! on April 16th, 2014 by Nick

AmericanGigiPosterIf a friend or reader was going to try to follow my footsteps in the trek to watch every single Best Picture winner in the history of forever, I would probably advise that they sell their TV, slap themselves in the face, and run away from home. Regardless, this blogger is trudging forward and probably isn’t any better for it.

The latest Best Picture winner I watched: Gigi, the winner from 1958. The film is set in turn-of-the-century Paris, France as a young girl, Gigi, is trying to find her bearings among high society. She’s sent to her Great Aunt’s swank pad to learn etiquette and charm, so that she can eventually marry a rich man and be his arm candy. Gigi starts keeping the company of a family friend (token rich guy) Gaston and YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, OMG!

Despite the life that Leslie Caron brought to the role of Gigi, I’m indifferent to the film. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. And these are the worst movies to write about! Because nothing is more fun than ripping apart a movie you loathe (Out of Africa) or raving about one you loved (All About Eve), but these middle-of-the-road-types? Meh.  I will say, though, that Gigi is a musical and every single song is entirely forgettable. So there’s that. What else? Oh, yeah. FRANCE, UGH.

There are two themes/settings I struggle with in film – one is period pieces, and the second, France. Which isn’t to say that I despise all period pieces – I don’t. But something about France rubs me the wrong way, even in film. Maybe this feeling stems from going there and it sucking. I fully intend on never visiting France ever again. Sure, I’m glad I’ve been to the Louvre and saw the Eiffel Tower and yada, yada, yada, tourism stuff, but there is absolutely no reason to return. Because Italy. If you love being treated like garbage because you don’t speak French and are in a strange city, you should totally check it out. It sucks when stereotypes become reality, and I won’t generalize here, but the French people that I personally encountered for that week of my life were less than friendly. (The few late night strolls and boat rides we did around the city were pretty amazing though.)

Sorry for that aside. It’s just that there is nothing even remotely interesting about Gigi to discuss except that the music sucked…and so does France.

Grade: C-

Almost every movie I have left on my quest is at least seven hours long. Things are about to get bumpy. If there’s a REALLY GOOD Best Pic winner that I haven’t covered yet, please send me your recommendations. I could really use an upper right about now, chased with a nice tall glass of motivation.

Next up: Gandhi and The Deer Hunter

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Kevin Costner Dances (Naked) with Wolves

Posted in Epic Film Quest! on March 12th, 2014 by Nick

dances-with-wolves1The latest stop on my quest to watch every single Best Picture winner involved some Kevin Costner butt. A LOT of Kevin Costner butt, actually.

In Dances with Wolves (directed by The Bodyguard, himself), Costner plays Union Army lieutenant John J. Dunbar who travels to the American frontier to find a military post after narrowly escaping a leg amputation and a suicide mission. He gets into it with some wolves and some Native Americans and later, befriends them both. Surface level: Wow, I can’t believe I watched that for three hours.

Digging deeper, Wolves was enjoyable, and I dug it for everything it did right and even for its sillier moments, i.e. Costner’s voiceovers. When you’re watching a film where one character is isolated in the middle of nowhere (here, the undeveloped western frontier), hearing a character provide a voiceover is like listening to someone narrate his or her entire day. It can get pretty tiresome, to say the least. He talks about the possibility of other military folk finding his post. He wonders if he’ll stay in the frontier forever. He questions whether he remembered to set the DVR to record The Amazing Race. If Dunbar existed today, he’d be that annoying, oversharing Facebook friend you have (Which one, amiright?).

But throughout the course of the film, we find out that Dunbar is a likable guy. He’s even a lover of animals. We castaway533watch Dunbar attempt to feed a wolf. Then he tries again. And again. And then they’re besties. On paper, it sounds horribly boring, but at least his new friend wasn’t a volleyball with a face painted on it, right?

It’s far easier to poke fun at this, so I guess that’s the direction this review is taking. Cue Costner’s ass. If I was alone in the frontier in 1863, you can almost guarantee that I’d be walking around in my birthday suit. Dunbar, I don’t blame ya, pal! I’m just thankful that Costner spared us on the full-frontal – because not everything has to be done “for the art.”

The relationship Dunbar ends up forming with the Sioux Indians is palpable and nice and makes you happy. He learns their language and they learn a little of his. Then he starts shacking up with Stands With A Fist, the white adopted daughter of the tribe who also turns out to be President Roslin from Battlestar Galactica. They’re both white, so they have RELATIONS, naturally.

In all seriousness though, there’s a beauty in Dunbar’s newfound relationships. Definitely with the Native Americans, and less-so with the wolf. But again, the wolf is NOT a volleyball, so I guess I can get down with it.

The lesson here: Be kind to people who are different from you. Get to know something or someone outside of your comfort zone. (But for realsies, I probably wouldn’t try to talk to the wolf that keeps chasing your dog or eating your sheep. It probably won’t go well.)

Let’s talk shop: Dances with Wolves was the first Western film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture since 1931′s Cimarron (still on my list). It was also nominated for a slew of other awards; notably, Costner won for Best Director.

Also, my countdown doesn’t decrease this time! We have crowned a new winner since I last wrote about The Quest. Sadly, I haven’t seen 12 Years a Slave yet, so my number remains this time.

Sorry this was long.
Grade: B+

Signed,
Eats With Nutella

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‘On the Waterfront’: Brando at His Most Brando-iest

Posted in Epic Film Quest! on February 11th, 2014 by Nick

brando_waterfront_shop_dvdThe 1954 Best Picture winner was the crime drama On the Waterfront starring Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Lee J. Cobb (12 Angry Men), and Rod Steiger (In the Heat of the Night). And damn did Brando bring out his major Brando-ness.

I mean, Holy Brando! The dude can just stand there being all Brando-y and it’s like 99.975 percent certain that he can kick my ass without even uttering a single word or raising one measly finger. And this is way before his turn as Vito Corleone.

In this movie, however, Brando plays Terry Malloy, an up-and-coming boxer who had it all until his brother Charley instructs him to deliberately lose a fight he could have won at the will of Johnny Friendly – a crimester, mob-boss baddie who has a lot of money on the fight and ends up controlling both of the brothers from there on out. Terry then unbeknowingly (not a word) coaxes a popular dockworker Joey Doyle out to an ambush and Friendly and his crew end up whacking the guy so he can’t testify against the boss who’s trying to control the waterfront and all of its dockworker peoples.

Doyle’s sister (Saint) comes out of the woodwork to try to find out who killed her brother and why, and then we have the makings of the best movie 1954 had to offer.

Did I mention it had Marlon Brando in it?

Cobb was great, too, and also nominated despite losing the honor of Best Supporting Actor to Edmond O’Brien for The Barefoot Contessa. I haven’t seen that movie, but Cobb losing is stupid. (I’m a super-serious film critic in the making, you guys!) Steiger was also nominated for Supporting and lost out. Bummer.

In full, Waterfront was nominated for 12 Oscars and it swept 8 of those categories, including trophies for Brando (OBVI) and Saint.

The 50’s was such a great era for film. Everything starts to come together in this decade – directing, acting, writing. Not to discredit anything before this, but this movie was in the zone. The perfect trifecta of classic cinema. With on point pacing and a nice twist before its climax (which wasn’t so surprising thanks to the stupid box art), On the Waterfront is worthy for any crime film fan or Brando aficionado.

Completely useless and irrelevant fun fact: Listening to Rage Against the Machine while trying to do anything productive is extremely distracting.

I mean, oh, the grade. This one’s an A-, kids.

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Oscar Nominations 2014: Gravity, American Hustle, 12 Years A Slave Lead the Pack

Posted in Movies on January 16th, 2014 by Nick

american-hustle-posters-sonyThe nominees for the 2014 Academy Awards were announced this morning, making me realize that holy hell am I behind. Gravity, American Hustle, and 12 Years A Slave lead with the most nominations (and lets be serious – they’ll dominate the ceremony this year.)

There’s a lot of expected hits on this list, but I’m just really happy that Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke scored a nod for Before Midnight. (More people should love the Before Sunrise trilogy.)

And sadly, no love for Fruitvale Station or Short Term 12? In a year full of some stiff competition, I guess not even Sundance or SXSW could’ve helped these little indies.

So who else is in the running for the golden statues? The nominees are:

Best Picture
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
Her
Nebraska
Philomena
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Director
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Actress
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Best Actor
Christian Bale, American Hustle
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Best Supporting Actor
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Best Supporting Actress
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska

Best Adapted Screenplay
Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight
Billy Ray, Captain Phillips
Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, Philomena
John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
Terence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Original Screenplay
Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, American Hustle
Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine
Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack, Dallas Buyers Club
Spike Jonze, Her
Bob Nelson, Nebraska

Best Original Song
“Alone Yet Not Alone,” Alone Yet Not Alone; music by Bruce Broughton, lyrics by Dennis Spiegel
“Happy,” Despicable Me 2; music and lyrics by Pharrell Williams
“Let It Go,” Frozen; music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
“The Moon Song,” Her; music by Karen O., lyrics by Karen O. and Spike Jonze
“Ordinary Love,” Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom; music by Paul Hewson, Dan Evans, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen, a.k.a. U2; lyrics by Paul Hewson, a.k.a. Bono

Best Animated Feature
The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
Frozen
The Wind Rises

Best Documentary — Feature
The Act of Killing
Cutie and the Boxer
Dirty Wars
The Square
20 Feet from Stardom

Best Foreign Language Film
The Broken Circle Breakdown, Belgium
The Great Beauty, Italy
The Hunt, Denmark
The Missing Picture, Cambodia
Omar, Palestine

Best Original Score
John Williams, The Book Thief
Steven Price, Gravity
William Butler and Owen Pallett, Her
Alexandre Desplat, Philomena
Thomas Newman, Saving Mr. Banks

Best Cinematography
Philippe Le Sourd, The Grandmaster
Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity
Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis
Phedon Papamichael, Nebraska
Roger A. Deakins, Prisoners

Best Production Design
Judy Becker (Production Design); Heather Loeffler (Set Decoration), American Hustle
Andy Nicholson (Production Design); Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard (Set Decoration), Gravity
Catherine Martin (Production Design); Beverley Dunn (Set Decoration), The Great Gatsby
K.K. Barrett (Production Design); Gene Serdena (Set Decoration), Her
Adam Stockhausen (Production Design); Alice Baker (Set Decoration), 12 Years a Slave

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews, Dallas Buyers Club
Stephen Prouty, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny, The Lone Ranger

Best Costume Design
Michael Wilkinson, American Hustle
William Chang Suk Ping, The Grandmaster
Catherine Martin, The Great Gatsby
Michael O’Connor, The Invisible Woman
Patricia Norris, 12 Years a Slave

Best Film Editing
Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten, American Hustle
Christopher Rouse, Captain Phillips
John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa, Dallas Buyers Club
Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger, Gravity
Joe Walker, 12 Years a Slave

Best Visual Effects
Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould, Gravity
Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick, Iron Man 3
Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier, The Lone Ranger
Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton, Star Trek Into Darkness

Best Sound Mixing
Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro, Captain Phillips
Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro, Gravity
Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland, Inside Llewyn Davis
Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow, Lone Survivor

Best Sound Editing
Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns, All Is Lost
Oliver Tarney, Captain Phillips
Glenn Freemantle, Gravity
Brent Burge, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Wylie Stateman, Lone Survivor

Best Documentary — Short
CaveDigger
Facing Fear
Karama Has No Walls
The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

Best Live Action Short
Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)
Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)
Helium
Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)
The Voorman Problem

Best Animated Short
Feral
Get a Horse!
Mr. Hublot
Possessions
Room on the Broom

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Film Quest: These ‘West Side Story’ Gangsters Aren’t Very Thuggy

Posted in Epic Film Quest! on January 14th, 2014 by Nick

west_side_story_xlgI feel it may be sacrilegious to admit that I didn’t care for West Side Story, but, uh, I didn’t. Like God might smite me or something. My mom loves the film though. Maybe I should’ve made her write this blog. (If only she knew what a blog was…)

The dancing and choreography were top notch, kiddos, OK? I won’t deny that these “thugs” can shake it. They frolic around as if they’re floating on air and held up by wires (which I bet if this movie was remade nowadays, it’d be supported by wire work. Or maybe the first-ever CGI Musical! I’ll take “Bad movie ideas” for $500, Alex.)

What was I saying? YEAH – dudes can PRANCE.

I didn’t connect with anything else. The music was entirely unappealing to me. The love story is completely ripped off from Romeo and Juliet (and many of the characters are even counterparts to specific R&J characters). I’m not a huge Natalie Wood fan (She didn’t even SING in the film! It’s a musical. Did. Not. Sing.) I’m not a huge Richard Beymer fan either.

Rita Moreno was a little firecracker though! Moreno played Maria’s closest gal-pal Anita (and also Bernado’s lady). Not only was this little sexpot super saucy, but she was a scene stealer, too! She added a lot of appeal to a 2.5 hour film that I was desperately struggling with.

Also, for being a bunch of gangsters, these guys were pretty sissy, man. I don’t know many gang members, but I can almost guarantee that they rarely break out in song. JUST SAYIN’.

(Oscar fun fact: West Side Story has won more Academy Awards than any other musical film, unless you count the Honorary Award given to Maurice Chevalier for Gigi in 1959. Then, the two films would tie at 10 wins each.)

Oh, Oscar fans, Epic Film Quest followers, Musical geeks – this one let me down in a major way. Or maybe it was I that let it down. Either way, it just wasn’t my cup o’ Earl Grey.

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Bingeing with the Epic Film Quest and ‘The Lost Weekend’

Posted in Epic Film Quest! on October 16th, 2013 by Nick

The_Lost_Weekend_posterI fully realize that my last post was a review of a mid-80’s Italian Horror flick about a demon epidemic that takes over a small movie theater and later THE WORLD, so perhaps it’s super strange that I jump back and forth between black-and-white Best Pictures from the 1940’s and…well, that. But I’m going to do it anyways because I am a lover of all moviefilms. Viva movies! Though I do wonder how many members of The Academy have seen Demons. I’m guessing slim-to-none.

This Best Picture from 1945 recounts the life of an alcoholic New York writer, Don Birnam, as he attempts to give up drinking…but instead rages on a weekend alcoholic binge despite the good intentions of his brother and girlfriend. The movie, directed by Billy Wilder and starring Ray Milland and Jane Wyman, was based on a book of the same name written by Charles R. Jackson.

The movie starts with Don pretending to pack for a weekend trip with his brother. Rather than making sure he has his cell phone charger and iPad (or whatever was the 40’s version of those were), his brain is completely focusing on the bottle he has tied to his window sill, hanging outside over the window’s edge. (OK, if I was going to hide a bottle, that’d probably be the last place I would put it. I would take an Iced Tea container, dump out the tea, and put Jack Daniels in it. Then just put it in the fridge. I probably wouldn’t tie the JD to a rope and hang it outside. Probably would not. Just don’t offer your guests “Iced Tea.”)

Don dodges his brother and gal pal by sending them off to a show, leaving him alone just long enough to start his weekend bender. We see how others react to him, specifically a bartender at a local watering hole. Basically everyone thinks he’s Andy Dick. But what’s amusing about this film, from a modern perspective, is how literal Don is with his words…and how introspective:

“It shrinks my liver, doesn’t it, Nat? It pickles my kidneys, yeah. But what it does to the mind? It tosses the sandbags overboard so the balloon can soar. Suddenly I’m above the ordinary. I’m competent. I’m walking a tightrope over Niagara Falls. I’m one of the great ones. I’m Michaelangelo, molding the beard of Moses. I’m Van Gogh painting pure sunlight. I’m Horowitz, playing the Emperor Concerto. I’m John Barrymore before movies got him by the throat. I’m Jesse James and his two brothers, all three of them. I’m W. Shakespeare. And out there it’s not Third Avenue any longer, it’s the Nile. Nat, it’s the Nile and down it moves the barge of Cleopatra.”

I can assure you that I don’t speak as…uhh…”competently” as Don does when I’m hammered.

Even Don’s “hallucinations” are literal and old school – they certainly don’t mirror anything we’ve seen in Requiem for a Dream, that’s for damn sure. Once again, this film quest is kind of like seeing the world through a 1940’s kaleidoscope, both in terms of viewing society and its characters, but also in terms of filmmaking and filmmakers of the time. Even though at times Don and his problem were somewhat humorous because of the unrealistic dialogue (again, by today’s standards) and techniques, The Lost Weekend still gave us a great character to sink our teeth into, and an even better performance by Milland.

Grade: A-

The film is a short 99 minutes, so if you’re looking for an easily digestible classic to peruse, The Lost Weekend is a great place to start.

I have 30 Best Pictures left! Baby-stepping it to the 20s…

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‘Tom Jones’: Banging Chicks and Being a Douchebag, 1700s Style

Posted in Epic Film Quest! on October 3rd, 2013 by Nick

51CEFQZVKZLThe Best Picture winner of 1963 was this British Adventure Comedy set in the 1700s called Tom Jones. It follows the life of the title character, a bastard in both the literal and slang sense. He’s a rambunctious little bugger who runs around getting laid, causing a raucous, and embarrassing his foster-father, Squire Allworthy.

Tom falls in love with Sophie and she’s a proper lady who has a dad who’s all stuffy and junk, so he tries his best to make sure a more suitable companion marries his daughter instead. That suitor is Squire Allworthy’s sister’s son, Blifil, who then tries (and succeeds) in getting his competition, Tom, expelled from their town or village or whatever. But there’s a secret to Tom’s heritage that only Blifil knows after intercepting a letter written by his dying mother to Allworthy, and this secret could change Tom’s life forever.

DUN DUN DUN!

This all sounds so dramatic in text, but Tom Jones was enjoyable, lighthearted and fun, especially for its time. Albert Finney rocked the lead role, coyly breaking the fourth wall to wink at the audience from time to time. I mean…who did that in 1963!? No one, my friends. Props.

The movie even started with a silent film sequence setting up Tom’s abandonment and adoption by Squire Allworthy in a classic British-silent-picture sort of way. A lot of the comedy and style of this Best Pic were totally ahead of its time and that’s something to appreciate as a modern-day viewer. (Shoutout to director Tony Richardson – well done, I say! I’m sure he really needs my validation. Oh bummer, he died in 1991. This shoutout just turned into an homage. This is a really long aside.)

In sum, man-whores existed even way back in the 1700s. And even though I claim ol’ Tommy was a douchebag, he was a loveable douchebag…kind of like a modern day Hank Moody from Californication. Is that show on yet? Doesn’t it start soon? Someone remind me.

Tom Jones brought my Epic Film Quest tally down to 31…but wait a sec…it’s actually 30! Because I watched another one before I even wrote this post! Almost under 30, kids.. I really liked this one and give it a solid B+…and there’s another great, great flick to follow!

I should write more and be more speedy.

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‘How Green Was My Valley’ Mysteries Revealed, Movie is Not a Porn

Posted in Epic Film Quest! on February 12th, 2013 by Nick

how-green-was-my-valley-8Before our viewing of the 1941 Best Picture winner How Green Was My Valley, my lady mentioned that it sounded like the title of a porno. Although the movie turned out to be your run-of-the-mill 1940′s film (bummer, man), I stopped to think about the many possibilities: In the movie’s bizarro porn version, would the miners get laid every time they returned home from work, covered in soot and ash? Would there be lots of shower scenes to make up for their gross grime? Or maybe some of their ladies met them below the surface for some underground lovin’. Did porn even exist in the 40′s!? A guy has to wonder.

I think we singlehandedly mocked and destroyed one of the most beloved movies of all time. And I’m talking, like, in the history of modern day cinema.

Oh, well.

I didn’t love this entry of the Quest, but I didn’t hate it either. This is one of those that sort of felt like a mere check off a list. It’s really fun to write about stuff I absolutely lose my mind over or things I loathe more than pickles, but when the result is somewhere in the middle I’m rather mum. I think my preconceptions got the best of me on this one – I was expecting more and wasn’t significantly moved with regard to the miners’ struggles, families, unions, etc. The socio-economic snapshot of poor coal miners wasn’t completely lost on me, I just didn’t fully connect with it. I don’t fault the film for this, though. It just didn’t happen. Can’t love everything.

From a modern day viewpoint, it’s unbelievable that this one beat out Citizen Kane for the title. But according to Wikipedia (it MUST be true if it’s on Wikipedia!), people were boycotting Kane. Since the film was based on William Randolph Hearst’s actions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, he naturally was a huge sissy about it and wanted people to claim libel against Orson Welles. He even tried to get the film banned. Trying to ban a future classic – way to go Hearst! There’s more to this story but I got super bored while reading about it.

What was this post about? Right. How Green Was My Valley is not about the sexual adventures of a bunch of Zoolander-esque coal miners. Instead, it’s about their struggles in society, both at work and at home, and about a little boy who gets beat up all the time and tells their stories and stuff. It was a good enough movie that didn’t really grab me the way I had hoped.

Grade: C+

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How ‘Chariots of Fire’ Nearly Ruined My Life

Posted in Epic Film Quest! on February 7th, 2013 by Nick

chariots-of-fire-dvd-cover-60To start out this here review of 1981’s British historical drama Chariots of Fire, I’d like to grade it first and discuss it second.

Grade: F

Ouch. And I don’t mean the grade. I mean the snoozefest about two athletes in the 1924 olympics. I can honestly say that I gained absolutely nothing from watching this movie, and instead, lost two quality hours of my life that could have been better spent watching Reality TV, eating peanut butter from the jar with my hands gorilla style, or video taping my cat being all cat-like.

As if “stuffy British film” was ever a trite term, take it from me people: Chariots of Fire is the definition. So Eric Liddel and Harold Abrahams are both runners. One is a Scottish runner who runs for God’s glory or whatever, and the other is an English Jew running to overcome prejudice. (As if, “Holy shit, you won that race, and I fucking love Jews now!” would actually have happened and alleviated some asshole’s misconceptions). But they run. And run. And run some more. Even around their college once, attempting to beat some record. This is important because SPORTS.

If only I could look as cool when I run.

If only I could look as cool when I run.

Here is perhaps an area in which I am extremely biased. I enjoy playing sports, I enjoy watching winter Olympics, and I played like crazy as a youngster. But I don’t like the business of sports, and often claim that football, baseball, and insert-sport-name-here simply exist in our modern world in order to sell Miller Lite, and well hey, props to Miller Lite because beer is delicious. It’s just that sports and sports movies have a tendency of getting super preachy. And did I say stuffy yet?

Other thoughts:

If I was an actor, I’d probably look for roles that didn’t require running. Maybe running from a serial killer, or running to my car so I could be involved in some sickass chase scene, or maybe even running from the cops after my character’s involvement in a heist, but running just to run? I’d probably avoid that.

The most notable thing about this movie is its super-amazing score, which made me feel both incredibly stupid, yet also enlightened. It was the uber-“THAT’S WHERE THAT COMES FROM???” moment. Now, I’m 28 and not that young or old, but I think if I polled a sample of my peers, they wouldn’t really know the origin of this music either, so yeah, I guess I’m pretty OK with admitting my shock and amazement. Chariots of Fire’s score was done by Greek composer Vangelis, who won the Academy Award for it, naturally. Hear it below:

RIGHT!? Mind blown. I will feel even more moronic the next time I watch the decathlon scene from Old School. I’m sure I’ll gloat about knowing where the music comes from though, because hey, my horse is high. “You mean you don’t know?!” Look, I’m watching every single Best Picture winner in the history of forever. I’ve got to get props from somewhere, right? Even if it’s mostly from patting myself on the back.

In closing, I loathed this movie. More so than I loathed Out of Africa. That’s saying a lot, in my opinion.

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‘Going My Way’: Bing Crosby’s Got Mad Skillz

Posted in Epic Film Quest! on January 16th, 2013 by Nick

going-my-way_1.240x340A church, a broken window, some piano playing, singing, and two priests not getting along so much. That about explains the 1944 Best Picture winner Going My Way, starring Bing Crosby, and it was JUST AS EXCITING AS IT SOUNDS!!!!

Crosby plays Father Charles “Chuck” O’Malley, a young up-and-comer (if priests can even be referred to as “up-and-comers”) heading to a new congregation for his new post. Father Fitzgibbon (Barry Fitzgerald), the old school Elder Priest or something, disagrees with O’Malley’s ways, which really just includes real, grounded friendships, playing golf, and teaching children how to sing (The horror!). Fitzgibbon’s disapproval doesn’t really make any sense, but neither does religion sometimes. OH SNAP! A scandalous blog I lead, I know. Other characters float in and out, like a girl who ran away from home, some kids O’Malley teaches to sing, and a few others, but they don’t really matter too much because there isn’t really much of a plot and the film’s pieces rarely connect the puzzle. The movie was well-paced though, (which as you know by now is so crucial to me when I’m watching older, black and white films), and enjoyable enough.

Fun Fact: This movie won a helluva lot of Academy Awards (7!) and was the first and only time an actor was nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. Fitzgerald lost to Crosby for Actor, but then snagged the Best Supporting trophy.

But before I start sounding like a Negative Nick about Going My Way, we should all hail the mighty Crosby – whose trademark bass-baritone made him a star on screen, in the recording industry, and on radio (he has three stars on the Walk of Fame to prove it). Some of these old-timer films simply exist as a vehicle for a super-mighty-talented guy to show off his super-mighty-talented talent, and Bing Crosby is “a dreamboat,” as one of my Facebook friends leisurely commented one day. The guy has mad skillz and no one can argue with that. Listening to the movie’s songs make it worthy of a watch, but negative points for yanno, the stuff I said above. The relationship between O’Malley and Fitzgibbon does progress nicely though, and by film’s end it’s kind of nice. Said the worst description of a movie ever.

To conclude with this conclusion, Going My Way is to Bingy as An American in Paris is to Gene Kelly: The movie was just OK for me, but the talented singing man keeps it out of C-territory.

Grade: B-

37 of 84 movies remain in the quest. Baby steps.

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