The Lady Eve (1941)

The Lady Eve
Directed by Preston Sturges
Written by Monckton Hoffe based on the story by Preston Sturges
(number 365)

Here’s another movie I went into knowing very little about. It’s an old romantic comedy as it turns out, and very charming indeed.

The basic set up is con-woman falls in love with the mark and then is dumped when he finds out she’s trying to con her. Then she pretends to be someone else to mess with him and ultimately they end up together. It’s a funny movie, sweet ultimately but I enjoyed some of the standard roles being reversed. The naive, trusting and more vulnerable one was the man and the knowledgeable, sarcastic player was the woman. It sort of reminds me of Meg and Hercules in Hercules, I wonder if this was one of the inspirations for that relationship?

It’s all black and white, mostly filmed in interiors, some of them very lush. I can’t think of anything much to say about how it was filmed, so I’ll just go with it was good but didn’t blow my mind.

It’s one of the older films which still feels quite like a stage play in terms of how scenes are set up and how the actors relate to each other, but that’s neither here nor there for how much I enjoyed it. The costumes were great, just because it was such an elegant era.

Does it make me love the people? I love Jean, it’s hard to feel too much for Hopsie, because he’s so very bland. Like a Ken doll walking and talking. I did enjoy the sequence where he lost a snake and Jean freaked out.

Bechdel test: I don’t think so, actually. Jean is named, and there are some very minor other women who may be named… but I suspect she only talks to them about Hopsie, if she does talk directly to them. I might be wrong, but I checked on the Bechdel Test website and they don’t think it passes either.

Best line:

Jean: are you always going to be interested in snakes?
Charles: snakes are my life

State of Mind: Enjoyable, mostly sort of hard to write about… It’s a sweet romance, very standard sort of rom-com where there’s miscommunication and falling in love when you didn’t mean to – like 10 Things I Hate About You and…. basically every Shakespeare comedy play come to think of it. I’ll definitely watch it again, it was pretty funny, enjoyable watching Jean be so snarky and full of attitude.

Watched movie count

Bridesmaids (2011)

Bridesmaids
Directed by Paul Feig
Written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo
(number 368)

This movie was a smash when it came out. Possibly because it was the first time Hollywood did a big ensemble comedy with gross out humour and stuff but starring women and not men? I mean, we’d had lots of Hangovers and stuff, but all women and actually written by women? And it did well, so it showed the movie studios that there is an audience for this kind of thing.

I’ve seen it once before and I think I only paid half attention because very little of it is familiar when I rewatch. I love Kristen Wiig, I love her in Girl Most Likely and I’m looking forward to her in Ghostbusters (edited later: LOVED her in Ghostbusters). Plus Rose Byrne is gorgeous and I love Melissa Mccarthy so it’s a great line up.

Waching this with Anna opened my eyes to how awful this movie is when it comes down to what they do and say to each other. These are some pretty cartoonishly awful people. Kid’s swearing at their step mothers who just kind of laugh it off.

Having said that, I also really love the baking sequences. There’s something so soothing and beautiful about watching skilled people creating food. It’s not the main focus of the film or anything but it reminds me of Waitress, Julie and Julia, No Reservations, movies like that. I love food. I love watching good photography of food.

Does it make me love the people? I love Annie, and I feel a lot for her because she’s so hard done by and fooling herself about how bad her relationship with pretty pretty John Hamm is. I also love Megan, because Melissa Mccarthy, and she’s so good and down to Earth, calling people out on their bullshit and shaking Annie out of her slump.

Oh and I love Nathan, he’s the genuine nice guy but he isn’t a doormat. He’s thoughtful and sweet, maybe not as sexy as John Hamm but that’s okay too.

Right after Anna said she liked two of the minor bridesmaids, I said I’d love it if they’re just kiss, and then they did! So that was pretty awesome. Rita and Becca..

Bechdel test: Yes! Many times. Just in the first few minutes Annie talks to her best friend Lilian about stealing private trainer time, and later talks to her flatmate Brynn about her new, free, hideous tattoo. But it passes over and over, which is lovely.

Best line:

Drunk and stoned!Annie: Whatever you say ‘Stove’.
Flight Attendant Steve: It’s Steve.
Annie: ‘Stove’ what kind of a name is that?
Steve: That’s not a name. My name is Steve.
Annie: Are you an appliance?
Steve: No I am a man, and my name is Steve.
Annie: You’re a flight attendant.

State of Mind: Overall I enjoy is film, even if it is a bit heteronormative (a woman needs a man to be happy), if only Rita and Becca could have ended up together. Anyway, the nastiest stuff pretty much happens in the first half. In the second half things start being a bit sweeter and a bit funnier to me. I love the sequence where Annie and Helen repeatedly drive past Nathan, doing various things to get his attention.

Watched movie count

The Long Goodbye (1973)

The Long Goodbye
Directed by Robert Altman
Written by Leigh Brackett based on the novel by Raymond Chandler
(number 363)

Marlowe is introduced to us waking up in the middle of the night to feed his cat, who disdains the food offered so he has to go out and buy the nicer stuff. I mean, anyone who’s ever owned a cat knows that feel where the cat decides not to eat what’s offered. It’s a really cute ginger cat too. This sequence, and Marlowe’s grumbled complaints as he goes about doing exactly what the cat wants are what made me love him straight away.

The movie is a very low key Noir, bit different because of how it’s in the seventies. The tropes are totally familiar, the beaten down P.I. helping out a friend in the middle of the night, getting arrested, getting a bad feeling after hearing that his friend has killed himself after killing his wife and a long line of investigative stops.

I’ve loved mysteries in a low key way since L.A. Confidential blew my mind back in 1997. It’s not a passionate love I have for them, but a casual thing. Every now and then I’ll do something like read a classic Noir pulp novel or watch something like this. I enjoy the hardened characters so much, they’re so much fun to play in a roleplaying game which gives me an in to loving them a bit more.

The film is beautifully shot, especially the sequences in Mexico where the lushness of the landscape is shown off. The luxe interiors and the more claustrophobic crappiness of Marlowe’s own apartment.

Does it make me love the people? I love Marlowe. It’s hard to care too much about the other characters, because they’re generally fleeting, awful people or terrible dames. Dames makes me think of Sadie Doyle making fun of Franks’s friend Pterodactyl Jones who is a walking cliche based on characters like Marlowe. Good times. Movies like this both create and perpetuate these tropey stereotypes and dedicate themselves to them.

Bechdel test: None of the women talk to anyone but men.

Best line:

Harry: Those girls that live next door to you, you know what I think? I think they’re a couple of lesbians. That’s what I think.
Marlowe: well, what makes you say that?
Harry: Well, look at them up there, doing all those contortions together, and with no clothes on.
M: oh, they’re just doing yoga, I dunno what it is but it’s yoga.

Marlowe: Why don’t you go get a couple of sandcrabs and go stick them up your nose?

Marlowe: Nobody cares but me.
Terry Lennox: Well that’s you, Marlowe. You’ll never learn, you’re a born loser.
Marlowe: Yeah, I even lost my cat.

State of Mind: I dunno, I do love this kind of story but perhaps because of the familiar tropes it felt a bit predictable and was a bit on the slow side as a result. It’s good enough that I’ll watch it again though.

Watched movie count

Suicide Squad (2016)

Suicide Squad
Written and directed by David Ayer

I’m trying a thing where I review movies which *aren’t* on the 500 list, because apparently people are reading these reviews and enjoying seeing my perspective, so… the first one you get is Suicide Squad. Some minor spoilers ahead…

This movie came out over halfway through a year stuffed with big superhero movies. We’ve already had MCU’s civil war, an epic X Men film and Batman Vs Superman. A lot of people I’ve spoken with have a certain amount of boredom with superhero films, it’s just been so thick and fast. I, on the other hand, feel like this is my time. I’ve been reading and loving superhero stories since I was given a second hand Xmen comic as a kid. As a teenager my friends and I would go and hang out at the comic shop and stand around and read comics without buying them (teenagers, am I right?) To me, the sudden popularity of superhero films makes it feel like people are making movies just for me, and I like that.

I’ve seen Suicide Squad twice: first on opening night at the Heroes for Sale special screening at Sylvia Park and second time at a sold out screening full of children and young teens at St Lukes. I enjoyed the movie both times. I am unsure why children under 10 were at the screening but hey, I’m not their parent.

I know there’s been a tonne of writing online about the portrayal of Harley Quinn in this film. Here’s my perspective. She one hundred per cent doesn’t need to be wearing tiny sparkly panties as her costume. Booty shorts would have been better, long shorts, her signature two colour leggings, all of these would have been better. For sure, especially because none of the male characters get the similar skimpy/fan servicey treatment. That shit needs to stop. And I’m not at all a fan of her using the word ‘pussy’ to tell guys they’re being cowardly. There’s a lot of baggage to that word. BUT having said that, I was super happy with the way Harley is shown in this film. For one, her relationship with the Joker isn’t abusive at all. He is as devoted to her, as obsessed with her as she is to him. She chooses to be with him, she chooses to jump into the acid and become like him. She also isn’t ever shown to be afraid of him, even when he’s about to torture him she just says “I can take it.” That’s huge. That’s a huge change to their relationship from almost all the source material and to me, that’s a brilliant change. If Harley’s going to be on the big screen I’mover the moon if it’s not a crappy 50 Shades style woman-with-no-agency situation.

Her fight scenes are awesome, she’s repeatedly shown to be capable and cool, and Margot Robbie plays her as charming and warm. There’s some problematic sexualisation, as I said, and some weird ‘crazy is kooky and cute’ stuff, but to be fair that’s pretty normal for Harley as a character.

I like the way the backstories are handled, I love seeing Bat-fleck show up a few times and I jumped up and clapped seeing Ezra Miller’s Flash speak. I like the way Deadshot’s tech worked, I liked the colour saturation and the soundtrack was off the hook – great theme matching to featured characters, and the action sequences all had real stakes, made sense to watch and were fun and interesting to watch.

The story is relatively small, especially compared to the other superhero movies released this year. It’s pretty much assemble the squad and have them run a single mission which goes a bit wrong. The villain is acting directly because of events in the movie/activation of the squad and there’s a cool Hell Boy 2 kind of aesthetic happening there. It’s a solid choice for an ensemble cast where every character will be relatively new to the majority of the audience.

I have some issues with Jared Leto’s Joker – not the least because of I have some issues with Jared Leto. But setting that aside, I didn’t think he had enough weight to him. As an actor Leto doesn’t have the gravitas that I want for the Joker. They didn’t put him next to Batman and I think that’s a good thing because I feel like Batman as played by Affleck could knock him over with a flick of a finger. He wasn’t scary… he wasn’t even particularly unhinged. At every point he had a plan which made sense and you could understand. I’m glad he wasn’t in more of the film just a background character, because if he’s going to go up against Batman I think he needs recasting.

Does it make me love the people? Harley, yep. Amanda Waller: hell yes! Slaaaaaay. Killer Croc, yeah.

I wasn’t expecting to love Diablo or Deadshot but the film gives them depth and humanity. I loved them both. Deadshot as a somewhat grudging leader of the team and his instant loyalty to the team is lovely. Diablo is haunted, a man who knows the extent of the power he has and is unwilling to weild it, like Luke in Return of the Jedi, sorta. Plus, the special effects when he does let loose are so freaking cool. Love.

Bechdel test: Yes, over and over. Harley talks directly to Amanda Waller and Katana (she talks to Enchantress as well but I think mostly about the Joker), Amanda Waller talks to June and Enchantress. Yeah, we’re so good. And in terms of representation how great is it to have a super team with three women on it (counting Waller on the side of the ‘good’ guys), and how cool is it to see a woman be the big bad in a superhero film? and how great to have a superhero team with a black guy AND a Latino guy AND an Asian woman AND a native American guy AND another black guy as a massive bad ass crocodile with good self esteem. The people with the most power in this movie are Waller (woman of colour), Deadshot (man of colour) and Enchantress (woman). Good times.

Best line:

Diablo: Don’t touch me.
Deadshot: I’m touching you! I’m touching you! Whatcha gonna do?
Diablo: You wanna see something? YOU WANNA SEE SOMETHING?
Deadshot: YEAH!
[Diablo goes berserk and shoots fire everywhere]
Deadshot: …I was trying to get you there. No hard feelings, right? We good?

Deadshot: Here’s to honor among thieves.
Katana: I’m not a thief.
Deadshot: Oh, she’s not a thief.

State of Mind: To me the backlash against DC movies is out of proportion to the films. Sure, they’re flawed but so are Marvel films. I am especially suspect of people slamming this film which is one of the first to have outstanding representation for gender and race. That aside, I find this movie genuinely fun and engaging, it flashes by with no dragging moments, but at the same time has room to breathe and down time which makes sense. I’m tempted to go and see it again, to be honest.

Un Chien Andalou (1929)

Un Chien Andalou (an Andalusian Dog)
Directed by Luis Buñuel
Written by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali
(number 360)

A surrealist short film (around 20 minutes) with Dali as one of the writers… well, this was always going to be strange. I have to say the initial images of eye violence immediately put me off, but there was some interesting stuff later on.

The movie skips around in time, seemingly at random and without any internal consistency, which I’m sure is a deliberate choice to say something about how time is a flat circle or something. The film is a Freudian free association story, much like that of a dream where things just seem to happen and aren’t questioned. Watching it I am compelled to find meaning in it though, which I’m sure means I’m watching it wrong. If the movie isn’t supposed to have meaning and I look for meaning am I interpreting images that are supposed to have weight or just imposing my own narrative instead. I feel my art history skills trying to rear up as I watch it.

The bit which was most compelling/confusing was probably the man pulling pianos with dead donkeys on top, and then it’s revealed that also on the ropes attached to the pianos are priests, looking confused (one of which was Dali, I think.) I mean. How do you get more surreal?

It’s made very beautifully with different filters, pretty use of images fading together and various different settings. There’s lots of references to classic art – people reading books with familiar classic paintings shown, recreations of paintings as well. The final images really reminded me of one of my favourite surrealist paintings The Uncertainty of the Poet, which was painted 16 years earlier. It could have been a reference, or it might not have, who knows?

Does it make me love the people? I… I guess I really liked the androgynous woman who is poking the severed hand in the street. I dunno. No, I’d say this isn’t about human condition in the way I mean when I ask this question in relation to films.

Bechdel test: No, there’s no audible dialogue in this film and no characters are named.

Best line: No lines in the film. Best moment? Uhm. When the woman leaves the apartment and outside the door is a beach.

State of Mind: Well.. I’m very glad it was so short. I suspect some of those images will stick with me, but I can’t say I particularly enjoyed the film

It looks like you can watch it yourself here:

Watched movie count