The Untouchables 1987

The Untouchables
Directed by Brian De Palma
Written by David Mamet based on the book by Elliot Ness and Oscar Fraley
(number 302)

content warning: kids in danger a couple of different times in this movie.

What caught my eye in the opening credits? Wardrobe by Georgio Armani. Fancy! But such a sensible choice when everyone’s going to be wearing suits. Plus this film was made at the height of product placement being a fad in movies. Well, for one of the first times anyway.

Jesus H. I didn’t expect that for the opening. Immediately having flashbacks to the Battle of Algiers which I so didn’t brace myself for. Thankfully I’ve watched enough movies at this point that I predicted what was about to happen…

Awww, itty baby Kevin Costner. The tone of this movie is a bit hard to pick. It starts with a big shock, that’s for sure. Then you have Ness introduced as a lovable do-gooder, a teetotaller who takes no shit and is perfectly happy to bulldoze into a warehouse with a snow plow, just cause it might have smuggled cargo inside. There’s jokes, like with the press photographer. Then we get Capone just… baseball batting a guy to death over dinner. I felt off footed because it was hard to go ‘okay it’s this kind of movie’. Maybe that was intentional? I dunno. It’s jarring anyway.

There’s some very OTT music at points, I gotta say. The soaring Spielberg hero music as they bust the Post Office stash is very discordant to me. Like, yeah, we get it that they’re doing good but lord… we don’t need the ‘Peter Pan remembers who he is’ music to illustrate it. I liked the Opera sequence, though. Added some real gravitas to Malone’s final scenes.

Does it make me love the people? Hell yes. I love Ness right away, I love Malone as soon as he’s introduced and I love their recruits. This could all be my relief for watching a gang crime movie where the cops are actually the heroes feeding into my affection, but still. It’s hard not to enjoy Connery in this role. Super sad when Wallace bought it too 😦 I liked that little guy and then Malone. Yeah, it hurt.

How can you not love Ness when that incredible sequence in the train station with the baby carriage happens? It’s a genius sequence. Really good, really tense.

Bechdel test: Noooo, we have characters who are women and some of them are even named, but they only talk to men and seldom appear in the same scene. Not terribly surprising, but disappointing all the same.

Best line:

Ness: Hey, wait a minute! What the hell kind of policemen you got in this god damn city? You just turned your back on an armed man.
Malone: You’re a treasury officer.
Ness: How do you know that? I just told you that.
Malone: Who would claim to be that who was not? Hmm?

I want to reference the bring a knife to a gun fight moment but the full quote includes racist slurs soooo… knives to gun fights references happen in this movie and I appreciate that.

State of Mind: Didn’t expect to, super enjoyed this film. It’s interesting and kept me hooked on the story, plus the characters were so good. I had a lot of feels. It’s well written, not too dumbed down and not too intellectual or fast talking. Also, I’m one more movie off having watched and blogged the bottom 200 movies off the list! 😀

Watched movie count

Sawdust and Tinsel (1953)

Sawdust and Tinsel
Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman
(number 309)

Content warning for animals in distress 😦

According to imdb, this movie was originally marketed in the States as a sex film under the title “The Naked Night” … so. That’s interesting to know. There I thought it was just an incredibly depressing film about how much it sucks to be in a crappy circus in Sweden.

I mean. It is about that for sure. This is a film which opens with about the saddest story I’ve ever seen being told and acted out. Hit all my anti-bullying feels and put me in the weird position of feeling bad for a clown. It immediately made me think of the Seventh Seal which I found a lot more enjoyable. The bleakness and casual violence also reminded me of that other weird circus film on the list… which was almost certainly influenced by this one.

What’s the appeal of showing harsh human drama, relationship breakdown against the backdrop of the circus? Is it to see behind the curtain of what’s generally considered something fun and lighthearted? Or is to show that these people who you might consider free/carefree/beyond normal actually have pain and suffering in their lives… a sort of a way to prevent people running away to join the circus?

Does it make me love the people? I just… I mean. Sort of because I feel awful every time someone is humiliated, but they’re so awful and somewhat unforgivable. The whole film I was just kind of waiting for it to be over, but at the same time I was quite invested in what happened? so I guess… yes. Yes, this film made me love a whole lot of messed up, mean people. Anne had a really good response to Frans the actor trying to insist he could make love to her if he wanted to, she bit his ear and promised to make mincemeat of his lips if he kissed her again.

Bechdel test: Anne, Alma and Agda. Only women with A names and only in different scenes to each other or only there as background.

Best line:

Albert (drunk and angry): Come to think of it I don’t hate a soul. Not even the policeman on the square today. Not even Anne, although she is unfaithful. You despise me, you despise everyone. But I like people, I want to cuddle them!

State of Mind: The end is so bleak, the whole film is so bleak. I do like the silhouettes of the caravan on the hillside against the sky. Overall though, this is a freaking depressing film and I’m not sure how I feel about having seen it. I don’t think I’ll be watching it again in a hurry and I’m not sure I can recommend this. There’s some clever scripting and yeah, it’s filmed well, but I think Seventh Seal is better.

Watched movie count

Crafts of Christmas past

One neat thing about going home for Christmas is that my mother has still got all the silly little things I’ve made her in the past and I can revisit my old crafts (and see how much better I’ve got.)

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The little bear nativity set. Mostly hand stitched which meant they took ages… very pleased with how fuzzy Joseph bear is. It’s possible I only made two wise bears? The fleecy looking one is the shepherd bear of course. (90s.)

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Little owls. I made these a couple of years in a row and I believe a number of my friends may even still have their little owls. (00s)

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Little cats. I made these out of old t shirts and hand painted with fabric paint, hand embroidered faces. I made this ginger stripey one to look like Mum’s old cat Bilbo. (00s)

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I don’t think I made this angel to look like she was shrugging all the time, but there it is. I can’t recall where I got the pattern, probably from a craft book or a magazine. I’m still fond of her, all made of calico, even the hair, and some little roses on the front of her dress. The eyes are a little lopsided, but she still has a sweet expression. (Late 90s I think)

It Happened One Night (1934)

It Happened One Night
Directed by Frank Capra
Written by Robert Riskin based on a short story by Samuel Hopkins Adams
(number 306)

When I looked up this movie I learned about the Hays Code, and how before it came in (shortly after this film was released) suddenly there was a lot less sex, drugs and strong women characters in the movies. It’s pretty compelling argument for tracking down more pre-code romantic comedies.

In the fine tradition of ‘once it’s old, Romantic comedies are fine’, this is a comedy about a society girl who runs away from her father, has to catch a bus with the hoi polloi and falls in love with a snarky newspaper reporter. It’s a pretty standard rom-com set up and it’s acted charmingly.

Here’s a bunch of current romantic comedy tropes this movie hits: everyone sings for some reason, lovers hate each other to start with and fall in love despite themselves, pretending to be a married couple at a hotel, one rich/high society and one working class, road trip fraught with disasters, gender differences brought to the foreground. That’s… really quite a few tropes you can see in modern movies, isn’t it? It works, I guess.

There’s lots of little illustrations of the depression in this film too. The boy crying on the bus because his mother’s sick and they spent their last money on the bus tickets, Ellie complaining of hunger repeatedly and there’s simply no money for food, the harsh reactions of some of the people they encounter. It’s beautiful, really because it’s never hammered home obviously, just these little touches which you wouldn’t see in a movie from the fifties.

Does it make me love the people? Absolutely. From the moment she defied her father and jumped off the yacht to swim to freedom I loved Ellen. How could you not love the sass? Peter took a little warming up to, especially as he’s very much the ‘do as I, a man, says!” and he spanks her for disagreeing with him at one point. But I absolutely wanted them to work it out so I’ll say it’s a win.

“You think I’m a fool and a spoiled brat. Well, perhaps I am, although I don’t see how I can be. People who are spoiled are accustomed to having their own way. I never have. On the contrary. I’ve always been told what to do, and how to do it, and when, and with whom.”

Bechdel test: No 😦 Agnes the secretary is never in the same scene as Ellen and although Ellen talks to numerous women about the shower situation, and later when she’s thrown out of a hotel she talks to the woman owner, but none of those women are named.

Best line:

Alexander Andrewa: Oh, er, do you mind if I ask you a question, frankly? Do you love my daughter?
Peter: Any guy that’d fall in love with your daughter ought to have his head examined.
Alex: Now that’s an evasion!
Peter: She picked herself a perfect running mate – King Westley – the pill of the century! What she needs is a guy that’d take a sock at her once a day, whether it’s coming to her or not. If you had half the brains you’re supposed to have, you’d done it yourself, long ago.
Alex: Do you love her?
Peter: A normal human being couldn’t live under the same roof with her without going nutty! She’s my idea of nothing!
Alex: I asked you a simple question! Do you love her?
Peter: YES! But don’t hold that against me, I’m a little screwy myself!

State of Mind: I just loved this one. It’s funny and engaging and interesting, lots of different scenery and various minor characters. Plenty of drama at the end too, brilliant pay off. Loved it and will watch it again.

Watched movie count

All the President’s Men (1976)

All the President’s Men
Directed by Alan J Pakula
Written by William Goldman based on the book by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward
(number 305)

The only reason I recognise the Watergate hotel, Hell. The only reason I know anything at all about the Watergate scandal was because of a sweet little, criminally poorly seen movie called Dick. Aside from the potentially off putting name, I assume no one saw it because it was a comedy and it had Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams in it. Also maybe it didn’t have the distribution. Anyway, it’s a bloody good film and really my best context for what this movie is about. I know a lot of details from watching Dick that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

I suspect that like a few others on this list, this movie has lost its impact over time. When this came out it was only two years after the actual events, so it would have been a chance for the general public to actually understand what had happened. I can see that it would have been one of those movies with a big impact at the time – like Farenheit 9/11 or something. But watching it now, it’s a historical piece. And to me, it’s not a particularly compelling one at that.

It’s hard to know if I’d care about it more if I were American or not. I suspect this movie’s on the list due to the historical importance, documenting as it does a big moment in recent American history.

Does it make me love the people? Honestly? I found the movie a little too far on the boring side to care about the characters. That said, it’s mostly just watching a couple of driven guys be pretty good at their jobs. I dunno, I mean. Dustin Hoffman is good obviously, Redford too but I just… ehhh. I don’t care particularly about them or the people they talk to.

Bechdel test: there are a tonne of named women but they only talk to men, they’re almost never in the same scene as each other. They’re just informants and we only see them via Bernstein or Woodward.

Best line: Listen, I’m tired of your chicken shit game! I need names. I need to know what you know.

State of Mind: Honestly I just didn’t care about this movie. I was ready to be drawn into the intrigue but it was a bit too slow moving and a bit too true to life to be exciting to me. Ironic, since I really enjoyed Zodiac? Maybe, or maybe the hunt for a serial killer is just a little more interesting to me than a crappy president. Maybe the crappy president being impeached is a bit too nasty given what’s going on (and not going on) with Trump at the moment.

Watched movie count

Cheery quilt and cat lap pet

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I had one of those days where I just wanted to make something. I don’t know what causes these days, but I’m thankful to have them and when I have the energy to actually follow up on the urge. So I grabbed a set of charm squares I had in my stash and just started cutting them and sewing them together at random. I loved how happy and warm the colours were so I added some fat strips of other fabrics out of my stash which seemed to complement the charm squares. Pinterest got me super into the white sashing so I added some nice thick strips of white, some left over bits of charm square for the corners and extra bits of strips for the border.

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Once it was together I added some cherry blossom inspired flowers appliqued to the white sashing and it really became pretty. I decided to give it to my workmate Aimee around this time, and to make it even more comforting Anna suggested I add a fuzzy cat so you could have it on your lap and pet the cat… instead of making it part of the quilt I made it like a plushie. Really happy how this came out, like a soft sculpture made with machine stitching and some hand embellishments.

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