Rashomon (1950)

Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Written by Akira Kurosawa based on stories by Ryûnosuke Akutagawa
(number 297)

Rashomon is a classic, and it’s one that’s had influences over many tv series and movies since, you’ve probably seen a version of it without realising the roots. I think the first one I saw was on the X-Files where when Scully described the local sheriff he was handsome and charming, but when Mulder described him he the actor was played with ugly make up and seemed stupid. Supernatural did a really good one where Sam and Dean get more and more insulting of each other as they go. It’s the story where the events are recounted later by different people and there’s subtle and not so subtle differences each time. It’s highly entertaining.

The movie is beautifully acted and it’s filmed in very beautiful Japanese countryside and ruins/buildings. The costumes were great, the make up…I don’t know what much else to say about it honestly. It’s a great film.

Does it make me love the people? I mean… kind of? I don’t know that you get enough time getting to know any of them to really love or care for them, and they’re all pretty much assholes so. Maybe not really but I can see that this movie is a pretty damning summary of human condition all round. I could definitely do without the rape scene and the general fall out of the rape.

The big sword fight was highly entertaining. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sword fight between people who were so afraid of being in a sword fight before. Worst samurai ever, just saying.

Bechdel test: No, only the one woman in this story.

Best line:

In the end, you cannot understand the things men do.

State of Mind: I pretty much enjoyed this, and I think I’d like to watch it again. The third storytelling was very unexpected! Very impressed. Probably need to rewatch it a couple times to get the nuances and the details which I didn’t quite catch. I might not watch it again soon, mind. Great film, great director, good watch. Do it.

Watched movie count

Ran (1985)

Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Written by Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni and Masato Ide based on King Lear by William Shakespeare
(number 291)

First of all let me say the costumes in this are off the hook awesome.

I watched it with Ellen on a partially foggy, partially sunny Saturday afternoon after we’d failed to find a copy of La Maman et Le Putain with English subtitles. Realising this is one the based on Lear we agreed to watch this instead. I had for some reason, imagined this was a much older film than the 80s so I was surprised by the lush colours of it. It’s gorgeous, the long shots of people on horseback at the top of a hill, or the interiors lit up by the bright kimono of one of the wives.

Lord Ichimoji wakes up and looks out the window to see his third castle is under siege, many warriors and horses and things burning.
Ellen: uh oh!
Jenni: yeah, that’s no good, I wouldn’t want to look out the window and see that.
E: If I woke up and saw that out my window I’d be more surprised than anything.

It’s a fantastic battle sequence though, beautiful music and fantastic staging. The burning castle was a real castle they build on the slopes of Mt Fuji and the fleeing had to be done in one take since they’d really burned their set. Full on. I can see how this movie was Kurosawa’s most expensive.

Does it make me love the people? Sure. Right at the start when the elderly Lord Ichimonji falls asleep, Saburo cuts the branches of a tree to set up a little shade for him, it’s very sweet. Much like with Lear, you feel sympathy for the old man while knowing he basically brought it all upon himself. The fool is awesome too, love a fool.

Ellen wondered where this was filmed and I found out some astounding stuff on the wikipedia page. An $11 million budget in 1984, all the uniforms and armour handmade over two years, Kurosawa’s wife died during the filming and they paused for one day to mourn her and then he just kept on filming. I’m pretty inspired to read up more on Kurosawa after this movie.

Bechdel test: There are named women, but they’re just wives of the sons and never in the same scene. Sue does talk to an older lady over who should go get the flute but the older lady isn’t named I think, and they’re talking about getting a flute to make a man happy so… I don’t think it counts.

Best line:

“all we did, was speak the truth”

Fool: must be nice, having no idea what’s going on.

“Lady Sue must have been a fox in disguise!” – this whole sequence was golden, remind me if anyone ever charges me with bringing them a head that I have to use the fox head trick and then be as surprised by it as the recipient.

State of Mind: Very impressed, not just in the elegant translation of Lear to medieval Japan but with the production and the way it managed to keep my attention even though it’s not the shortest movie. Stunning stuff, Ellen was also impressed. Highly recommend and may well watch again at some point.

Watched movie count

La maman et la putain (1973)

The Mother and the Whore
Written and directed by Jean Eustache
(number 300)

(the last of the bottom 200 from the list!)

So. Three + hour black and white seventies film from France about a guy with a wife and a girlfriend. And it’s talky. And Alexandre is freaking awful and annoying, pushing and pushing at Gilberte for the first half hour. He reminded me of so many impressed with their own intelligence guys I met at university. Like just because you can spout philosophy doesn’t mean every woman should sleep with you. This approach also feels very much like he’s the poster boy for the nasty culture of coercion that gets idolised as romance in the world but particularly in France. The problem is I don’t think this is meant to be off putting, I feel very much like this is Eustache’s mouthpiece for how awesome he is.

He literally explains the women’s lib movement to Veronika, who thinks it’s sad because if she loves a man she would want to bring him breakfast? Urgh, the seventies.

In some ways the movie is sort of brilliant, because you as the audience are forced to listen to Alexandre and his interminable monologues about his feelings or his beliefs. About how sad he is for no apparent reason. You become one of the people who has to sit there and nod along, just like the girls in the movie.

Is it a relief when a couple of hours into the movie other people start monologuing about random stuff? Not really. At least its not all the one guy but by this point the film had lost my interest. It’s a very long film and there really isn’t much of a storyline.

Does it make me love the people? I’m more inclined to love Veronika and Marie onmly because I feel for them having to listen to Alexandre all the time. I cannot stand him. He actually has the gall to say, while out with Veronika that he feels bored. All he has been doing is talking. Talk, talk talk talk talk while she meekly listens, and then he says he’s bored. FFS. Finallly he asks her some questions, and she has a lovely voice and I like it a lot. When they finally get to the point where Veronika, Marie and Alexandre are all in bed together he’s sulky and annoyed. Like… if you can’t handle this level of emotion you need to fucking sort your shit out.

Bechdel test: Yes, Veronika and Marie talk, first just to say hi to each other, mostly about Alexandre but also about Marie’s looks. Also it’s a French film so of course we see women naked from the waist up.

Best line:

Veronika: I’m often in love. I get involved with people quickly, and forget quickly. People don’t matter.

State of Mind: Shipping Maria and Veronika ditching Alexandre and going to have a lovely life together. Glad it’s over, annoyed with men. Poor Marie. Yeah, I pretty much hated this movie and certainly will not be watching it again. I skipped ahead a few times, bored, and how is it 3 and a half hours I just. Ehhhhhhh. Why have Veronika denounce her own behaviour like that?? There is no love unless it’s for reproduction? Uuuurgh. Was Eustache a menanist? and What the fuck is that final scene??? bleeeeehhhh.

Watched movie count

Solaris (1972)

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
Written by Fridrikh Gorenshteyn and Andrei Tarkovsky based on the novel by Stanislaw Lem
(number 296)

Went into this film knowing only two things: it’s a science fiction movie and that it was remade a few years back.

It’s amazing how quickly this movie grabbed me, a great script based on some fascinating ideas, acted well. It’s a movie with almost no soundtrack which made it a little disappointing that my next door neighbours chose to play a lot of loud jazz while I watched it, so… I guess the soundtrack of this movie was eclectic jazz.

The movie is filmed in the manner of a slow burning arthouse film and the space station is designed very much in the vein of the designs in 2001, just gorgeous. zDFfffffffffffffffffffffffffffffe… that was Mochi walking across the keyboard. The retro-future stuff is just so funky and good. He’s in space and he’s wearing monogrammed brown cotton pajamas? Love it.

It’s great to watch this as over the last few months Anna and I have been watching a lot of ‘cerebral’ science fiction movies. The quiet dramas set in space which address big questions, like Arrival or Interstellar. This is one of the seminal precursors to that film, and I can see why. The moral conundrums. The strangeness which cannot be explained by humans. The implications of a planet with a massive, unknowable sentience that has poor ideas of how to communicate with a human.

Does it make me love the people? Yeah for sure. Kris gets you on side with his family connections and his desire to help people out. It’s rough when he tries to fridge Hari but given the circumstances… I can’t blame him? and then when she returns he’s immediately accepting, protective and loving of her. The others on the station are a little harder to feel sympathy for but for a movie which constantly questions and interrogates what is human? what is love? what is the meaning of life? It definitely invest you with the love for humanity as you ponder.

Bechdel test: No. Although Hari is a fascinating character, she only speaks to men.
Hari: It doesn’t matter why man loves. It’s different for everyone.

Best line:

Dr. Snaut: Science? Nonsense! In this situation mediocrity and genius are equally useless! I must tell you that we really have no desire to conquer any cosmos. We want to extend the Earth up to its borders. We don’t know what to do with other worlds. We don’t need other worlds. We need a mirror. We struggle to make contact, but we’ll never achieve it. We are in a ridiculous predicament of man pursuing a goal that he fears and that he really does not need. Man needs man!

State of Mind: Very impressed. I love this kind of science fiction movie, and it even sparked a couple of story ideas which is pretty awesome but I’m also a little overwhelmed with fiction ideas at the moment. I think I’ll watch the remake with Anna, since it’s hopefully going to be a little shorter and a little easier to follow being not in Russian and all. The soundtrack seemed to imply the ending was terrible/scary but I felt it was a pretty uplifting ending given the circumstances.

Watched movie count

On the Town (1949)

On the Town
Directed by Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
Written by Adolph Green and Betty Comden based on their stage musical
(number 285)

One of those movies which I feel like I probably should have seen already, given how much I love High Society and Singin’ in the Rain. It’s the same kind of shiny, big white teeth, randomly breaking into tap dance thing and it’s a good, interesting comedy as well. There’s no dull moments, a somewhat twisty story which keeps you engaged and of course – brilliant performances. I do love me some Gene Kelly.

Just another unrealistic standard for women to live up to..

I quite enjoyed the sexual freedom of the modern man/prehistoric man song and dance up until it got racist. Thankfully that bit was over pretty fast. But how cool is it that this is a movie from 1949 which not only shows a woman keeping her war job post war (“I never give up anything I like”) and has a woman who knows she’s into men and then sings a whole song full of double entendre about how she loves ‘bear skin’ and ‘tom toms’.

The ‘You’re awful’ song is quite a lot like negging, It’s like ‘you’re awful…’ bad reaction from the girl “…ly pretty.” But I dunno, it’s pretty cute at the same time? Damn crooners making everything sound good. Plus her little stripey dress and yellow jacket combo is A++ gorgeous. Also helps that she had verses where she insult/complimented him back.

Does it make me love the people? Hells yes. Poor old Gabey with his love at first sight obsession, not too sure why Chip rebuffs Hilde at first since she’s so awesome and Ozzie… well, Ozzie doesn’t so much have a personality but Claire is awesome and she likes him so. They’re all musical characters, they don’t do too much wrong. There’s a little making fun of Lucy but Gabey’s telling her at the end of their date that he isn’t that into her was very sweetly handled and I appreciated that.

Gabey: You know, somewhere in the world there’s a right girl for every boy. I guess I found the one for me before I even met you. I tried, but I ca

Bechdel test: hrm, yes Brunhilde talks to her roommate Lucy about her illness and how she should be at work. Also Claire and Brunhilde sort of trade lines when the police are searching for Ozzie, sort of. also this..

Claire (having just kissed Ozzie): I was just doing a bit of research.
Brunhilde: Dr. Kinsey, I presume.

Best line:

Claire: You oughta feel proud that three sailors from the United States Navy got off the ship for one day, and what did they do? Were they thirsty for hard liquor? No. They were thirsty for culture. Were they running after girls? No. They came running to the museum to see your dinosaur. For months out at sea they were dreaming about your dinosaur.

State of Mind: Why didn’t I watch this with Anna? I mean really. Now I’m going to have to watch it again! It’s good fun, some unexpected innuendo, some excellent songs and dances and some poor choices which are about right for the time it was made (blackface? :(). It’s a great piece of tourist advertising for New York, I really want to go there now. I hear it’s a wonderful town…

Watched movie count

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