Things I Love Thursday

Adulting – I have spent the first few weeks of the year doing stuff I really want to put off but know I should do. Dentist, mole removal, smear, all the crap. Today I got a filling and the dentist said not to worry about coming back for another 9 months, my lip’s still a bit numb but eh, it’s the numbness of knowing I did the right thing. I wish it wasn’t so expensive though!

Anna is lovely and I love her ❤ We talk and laugh and cuddle and go to shows and shopping and it's good.

Shows! We went to see Phantom of the Opera on the weekend and it was incredibly good. Great costumes, great leads and exciting special effects.

Editing, it’s been pretty full on – this latest edit is time heavy but good lord I can see how much tighter and better the manuscript is for it! I spent about 4 hours around work editing yesterday, big plans for spending most of the weekend editing as well.

Honourable Mentions: rewatching New Girl and realising Winston is the best character, jugs of lemonade raro, takeaway roast dinners, playing Dance Central, soft comfy Peter Alexander pj pants, Captain America singlet, weird dreams and writing inspiration.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Written by Jeffrey Boam based on the story by George Lucas and Menno Meyjes
(number 315)

NB: What I like to do with movie trilogies in this list is post them together, but I actually can’t with this one. Because of my decision to post the top 100 films in descending order… and apparently the first Indiana Jones movie is number 2 greatest movie of all time and out of the three, this is the lowest ranked. (I actually far prefer this one…) But I did watch them in chronological order, so this review references the other movies, but I’ll post the reviews of them later. Make sense? No? Oh well. Read on anyway.

This is the Indiana Jones film I have the most love for. I remember seeing it at the movies when I won tickets to it at the tender age of eight years old. Very exciting, I don’t know if I’d ever particularly won anything before so it was very exciting.

My sister had a massive crush on River Phoenix, and well she might, he’s adorable in this. I really love the opening sequence with young Indy and the scout troupe, the dashing grave robber who Indy clearly obsessed about for years – still wearing his hat and dressing like him when he goes adventuring. Plus the very succinct and telling introduction to Henry Jones, Sr.

I find the script in this one much tighter all round. There’s less racism, less nasty shit happening than the previous two and I find the jokes more fun as well. Maybe I’m just more forgiving of this one since I remember it from my childhood where I don’t remember the other two.

I think probably the best moment is Indy actually managing to keep a handle on his shit when meeting Hitler and accidentally getting his autograph on the all important Grail journal.

Does it make me love the people? Much more than the previous movies. The youthful intro to Indy immediately gets me on side (as well as the conflict with his father) and of course it’s impossible not to love the senior Mr Jones when played so well by Connery. I actually have quite a lot of sympathy for Elsa too, she’s misguided but she’s interesting and passionate.

It’s nice to see Salah again and to see more of him than we’ve seen previously.

Bechdel test: Elsa Schneider is a great character, interesting, no nonsense, takes none of Indy’s shit, smart as a tack and vulnerable to temptation. Does she ever speak to another woman with a name? The answer is no.

Best line:

Indiana Jones: [steals a flower for Elsa] Fraulein, will you permit me?
Elsa: I usually don’t.
Indiana Jones: I usually don’t either.
Elsa: In that case I permit you.
Indiana Jones: It would make me very happy.
Elsa: But I am already sad, by tomorrow it will have faded.
Indiana Jones: Tomorrow I’ll steal you another one.

Henry Jones, Sr: First, is the path of God: Only the penitent man shall pass. Second, is the word of God: Only in the footsteps of God, shall he proceed. Last is the breath of God: Only in a leap from the lion’s head shall he prove his worth.

State of Mind: I do genuinely like this one more than the previous two Indiana Jones films. The script is tighter, there’s way less racism, the bad guys are Nazis who, generally, it’s easy to code as evil and there’s lots of great jokes and the relationship between the Joneses is believable and easy to invest in. It’s a pity that the only woman is again a love interest.

Watched movie count

The Great Silence (1968)


Directed by Sergio Corbucci
Written by Vittoriano Petrilli, Mario Amendola, Bruno Corbucci and Sergio Corbucci
(number 395)

The story of some really evil bounty hunters, a silent heroic…. dude, and a lot of nasty deaths in a frozen landscape. Utah Winter is an unusual setting for a Western and does allow for some very beautiful shots, the soft snow falling through the standard men posturing scenes.

The bleakness of the snowy landscape suits the storyline well. The tale of the final winter of legal bounty hunters and the horrible acts of violence and murder that these men did, under a thin veil of ‘it’s the law’. It’s pretty sickening. Especially when you’re used to the tropes of Westerns with the over the top bad guy generally getting his come-uppance and the laconic (in this case entirely mute) hero winning the day and saving the innocent.

The intro to Silence was pretty cool – the fast shooting and showing that unless he is sure of being shot he won’t shoot to kill, it’s not terribly often you get a pacifist hero in a Western after all. Taking the ‘man with no name’ paucity of words to the extreme, Silence is totally mute after a wound he received as a boy. There is some great eyebrow acting from him.

Does it make me love the people? I… I dunno. Silence is pretty cool, but I don’t know that I love him. Rather this film makes me hate all the bounty hunters, so in a sense it makes me sympathetic to everyone victimised by them. Sort of an element of empathy won by repulsive characters rather than courageous ones.

Bechdel test: Regina and Pauline do speak but it’s about bringing food to the bandits, who are all men so … I don’t think that’s a pass. Plus the women are very two dimensional, Pauline is pretty much only a damnsel in distress/love interest.

Best line:

Not exactly a line but… this was very powerful.

The massacres of 1898, year of the Great Blizzard, finally brought forth fierce public condemnation of the bounty killers, who, under the guise of false legality, made violent murder a profitable way of life. For many years there was a clapboard sign at Snow Hill which carried this legend: MEN’S BOOTS CAN KICK UP THE DUST OF THIS PLACE FOR A THOUSAND YEARS, BUT NOTHING MAN CAN EVER DO WILL WIPE OUT THE BLOOD STAINS OF THE POOR FOLK WHO FELL HERE.

State of Mind: Maybe I’ve seen enough of these Spaghetti Westerns now to not care too much or maybe I wasn’t in the best mood when I watched this. I’m not sure. At any rate this movie was pretty boring to me, and I found the level of violence to be brutal and upsetting, the end was too bleak. I have to watch something nice now. Thank goodness I watched this when Anna was out! Not the least because it opens with a horse dying 😦

Watched movie count

A Man Escaped (1956)

A Man Escaped
Directed by Robert Bresson
Written by Robert Bresson based on André Devigny’s memoir
(number 424)

How shocking this movie must have been when it came out, so soon after the end of the war, and so raw and honest in its portrayal of what happened.

I am really bad at watching war movies, I’ve put this off and put this off. Finally a remote borrowed it from Aro St Video and forces myself to watch it while Anna as out at singing. I wrapped up in warm clothing and a blanket so as to be in as comfortable a position as possible. I also set myself up with creaming soda and chocolate chip Farmbake cookies as those are even more comforting to me.

It’s as it says in the title, an escape movie, and there’s a small bit of comfort in knowing that the lead does escape to write his memoir. But I find it so hard to watch because of the high death rate potential of basically every other character in the film. Plus the knowledge that the situation and the conditions and this horrible treatment of real humans really happened is so freaking depressing.

François Leterrier does an incredible job, as for the most part the scenes are just him working away, looking gaunt and pensive, with his gentle voiceover explaining what’s going on. He’s very methodical and logical, immediately he gets put into the upper floor’s cell that he starts to plan his escape. He does what he can to gather resources, to be quiet but dogged.

The young man who is put in the same cell as him, close to the end is incredibly pretty – very like River Phoenix and instantly relatable because he looks so very young compared to the other prisoners. There’s some suspicion of him, but of course Fontaine has to take him with.

But ultimately it’s all about the escape sequence, right? The slow, careful movement through the compound, building up to the inevitable murder they have to commit to get past the guard and out. The crunch of gravel suddenly becomes deafening, the ringing of bells seems like a great distraction to get something done. The whistle of the train that sounds so much like a scream… it’s tense stuff, brilliantly done.

Does it make me love the people? I immediately felt for Fontaine yeah. I think that’s the obvious reaction to seeing someone arrested and beaten to bleeding at the start of the movie. It’s also tiny things that he does, such as giving a pencil to the distraught rabbi who was recently arrested, and tapping messages to his neighbours in the next cells or scrubbing out the ‘no food and excercise’ note on his neighbour’s door on his first sortie out of his cell. Little acts of kindness which make him loveable.

Bechdel test: There are no named women in the movie. There is a moment very early on when an anonymous woman sends him a pin and the note ‘good luck’ but that’s pretty much all we get. It makes sense, as it is a very small story just around Fontaine and his escape, he’s in the men’s part of the prison after all.

Best line:

Fontaine: Is there anything I can do to help you?
Blanchet: Nothing
Fontaine: there’s always something.

State of Mind: Overall, this movie wasn’t as harrowing as I thought it might be, and I enjoyed the careful, measured way the story is told. The cinematography is lovely, black and whites and lights and darks all seem very artfully arranged. But I am still really keen to watch something fun like New Girl to move on emotionally from the setting of the movie.

Watched movie count

The Breakfast Club (1985)

The Breakfast Club
Directed and written by John Hughes
(number 377)

Breakfast Club came out the year after 16 Candles, so Molly Ringwald and John Hughes were already big I think. This film is essentially a box – all five main characters are trapped in a room with the antagonist teacher who is clearly shown to be just as bored about being there as the kids. There’s only one other character – the janitor and although they’re credited, the parents who are in the cars are pretty negligible really.

There are so many iconic moments in this movie: the dance sequence, Alison stealing Bender’s knife, the moves in the dance sequence, the rawness of the sharing family secrets in the pot circle, the quirky girl makeover to make her beautiful to the jock, Bender sneaking through the vents and of course punching the air at the end of the movie.

I’m kind of fine with the makeover sequence and I think it’s because I find makeovers pretty fun. Plus it’s really easy to imagine given the chemistry between the two actors that once she was done with Alison’s make up Claire kissed her and they made out. It was like a warm up before she went to find Bender and sent Alison to wow Andrew.

Does it make me love the people? Yeah, definitely. Big favourites are Alison and Bender but you definitely care about the others as well. Brian’s revelation that he was contemplating suicide is very intense but also kind of handled brilliantly. The others just sort of point out how silly it is to kill yourself over grades and you kind of get the idea that he’s been accepted as well as realising that he has so much of his life ahead of him. Well, I hope that’s what happened anyway.

Bechdel test: Yes, Alison and Claire talk about sex and whether or not they’ve had it. It includes the gorgeous and horribly still true double standard teen girls are put up to:

Claire Standish: Look, I’m not going to discuss my private life with total strangers.
Allison Reynolds: It’s kind of a double edged sword isn’t it?
Claire Standish: A what?
Allison Reynolds: Well, if you say you haven’t, you’re a prude. If you say you have you’re a slut. It’s a trap. You want to but you can’t, and when you do you wish you didn’t, right?

They also talk about make up during the makeover and eye each other up right before it.

Best lines:

Andrew: We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.

Bender: Screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place.

Bender: Hey, how come Andrew gets to get up? If he gets up, we’ll all get up, it’ll be anarchy.

State of Mind: Fun every time, I really like the everything in this film. It’s a classic for a reason, great music, awesome acting and relatable characters.

Watched movie count

Fargo (1996)

Fargo
Directed and written by Joel and Ethan Coen
(number 206)

Coen Brothers movies really make me want to play Fiasco like hard out. And it makes me think of awesome Fiasco games I’ve played in the past.

Fargo, to me, is slow to get started. I like it a lot more once Frances McDormand’s character comes on the scene. Although I do love the Minnesota accents all the actors are putting on, and it is a fantastic cast – especially William H. Macy and Steve Buscemi getting their big breaks, which if it didn’t exactly put them on the A list, this movie put them into people’s heads. Well, maybe just my head, they’d both been working before this obviously.

It also sort of reminds me of The Guard but told from the other direction. Certainly the Guard couldn’t have been made without this one first.

There are a lot of beautiful, iconic stills in this film. The man in the red parka dead in the snow with the turned car in the foreground. The birds eye view of Jerry’s car in the snowy carpark with black square planters. Beautiful thought put into the framing and style of some of the shots. There’s also a lot of thought given to the setting, the kitschy interiors and bleak exteriors. Beautiful.

The relationship between Marge and Norm Gunderson is really lovely. I find it hard to think of many examples of truly devoted married couples in media, ones where their relationship is never in question but they just always are secure in their relationship while other stuff happens. It’s one of the reasons I love the book Dracula so much.

The plot of this film is a huge spiral of things getting worse, which is par for the course for the Coens. I find it very hard to believe that as it claims, it’s based on real events though.

The absolute charm of this movie is the incidental characters. There’s so much politeness and warm small talk in this fascinating Minnesota accent. Contrast with seeing Steve Buscemi, covered with blood and counting money in a car and it’s really striking. Bad things can happen even in nice towns, but the contrast does make the villainous characters into caricatures of villains.

Do I need to talk about the woodchipper scene? It’s the blackest of black comedy. Leading to such imitators as Tucker and Dale vs evil and making me vaguely fear woodchippers even though I’ve never seen one in real life. Also makes me want to see In China They Eat Dogs again, because that’s my favouritest, blackest comedy.

Does it make me love the people? Yes. Marge Gunderson for lyfe. She’s a magical character of magic, she’s smart, she’s excellent at her job, she educates her partner without being condescending and she tells it like it is. I adore her. If only there were more characters in this film which were women, but the other characters are pretty great too. In some scenes you feel sorry for Jerry and in some you just hate him. It’s very realistic character writing I feel.

Bechdel test: Marge has a brilliant talk with the two hookers, but they are credited as hooker 1 and 2, and they talk about the men – the suspects in the case, so that’s a fail.

She talks to Valerie over the phone but… sadly it’s mostly about Scotty, so that’s a fail too. Pretty much the classic – only include other women besides the lead if they’re there to talk about men 😦

Best line:
Marge: And I’ll tell you what, from his footprint he looks like a big fella… [bends over]
Lou: See somethin’ down there, Chief?
Marge: No, I just think I’m gonna barf.
Lou: Geez. You okay there, Margie?
Marge: Yah, I’m fine. [stands up straight] It’s just morning sickness. Well, that passed.
Lou: Oh yah?
Marge: Yah, now I’m hungry again.
Lou: You eat breakfast yet, Margie?
Marge: Oh yah. Norm made some eggs.

State of Mind: This film is good and smart and fun and I enjoy it a lot. It’s held up well over the years, aided I’m sure by setting it in a specific year which was already dated when the film came out. Strong performances, strong direction, strong script. Two thumbs up, will definitely watch again.

Watched movie count

Flying High (1980)

Flying High
Written and directed by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker
(number 376)

This is another of those movies I must have seen bits and pieces of in my life but have never sat down and watched right through. I gotta say it hasn’t dated well, the pop culture references to Bee Gees, Blue Lagoon, Jaws, funk culture, it’s an example of how stuff like Shrek is going to look pretty dated and weird when another 20 years have passed. That said I did have some snigger moments but it was from the really obvious silly cartoon jokes – like his plane ticket literally smoking or Elaine playing the trombone when it was set up like she was going to be stripping to the music. But overall I was watching jokes happen rather than laughing.

Another way it’s clearly dated is the demonstrated gender roles (Elaine showing the tribal women tupperware and Ted showing the men basketball) and the racism. All the black tribal men are instantly awesome at basketball? Translating the black men’s slang on the plane? I mean, racist as fuck right? Pretty sure there was making fun of the Spanish language as well.

Also there’s an ongoing joke with the captain asking the little boy visiting the cockpit if he’s ever seen a grown man naked, likes gladiator movies, Turkish prisons etc… basically the joke is he’s grooming a small child for a sexual relationship? Yeah, I have issues with laughing at that stuff. Haha rape of a minor? Yeah, not so much.

Is that Harrison Ford as one of the Buddhist monks? It really looks like him… According to imdb this was Leslie Nielson’s first comedic role so that makes it a bit more interesting film milestone-wise, but I’m still not exactly convinced that it needs to be on the 500 list. Is it another one of those films which people love because they grew up watching it? Is it beloved because of the subversive satire and random naked ladies? The way Monty Python is/was?

Does it make me love the people? ehhhhh… I guess it’s hard not to care about Elaine, but this movie’s purpose is jokes not examining the human condition. There are certainly comedies which do this but I don’t think this movie is one of them.

Bechdel test: Yes, I think so. Elaine talks to Shirley about how sick she’s feeling:
Shirley: I haven’t felt this awful since we saw that Ronald Reagan film.

Also the other steward, Randy talks to the sick girl Lisa and her mother about the flight, how Lisa needs to rest and also sings them a song so that does pass definitely.

Best line: Every time Ted demonstrated his drinking problem, which isn’t exactly a line but whatever. That sort of nonsense is what I like.

State of Mind: Pretty much, thank goodness this is over. I’m glad I hired it from Aro St video, I feel like the more I can hire from them the more they’ll stay open but meh. I can see the appeal of this film would have had when it came out, but it’s dated so far. I did laugh though, which is more than I can say for some other comedy films I’ve seen.

Watched movie count