Groundhog Day (1993)

Groundhog Day
Directed by Harold Ramis
Written by Harold Ramis and Danny Rubin based on a story by Danny Rubin
(number 267)

I’m sure I must have, at some point seem a bunch of this movie. Like, it used to be on TV a lot in the nineties. I’m sure I’ve seen the start of it anyway. But I’ve never sat down and watched the whole thing. I seen a whole lot of media that riffs off this though. The most notable being the Mystery Spot episode of Supernatural.

Phil is your typical eighties yuppie, wanting everything to be about him, wanting to be noticed, and bored with the cutesy human interest story. Honestly? He’s not that bad. Sure he’s a little impatient with people but on the scale of garbage people he’s not particularly evil. I think if this got made again it’d probably have him being quite a lot grosser or unforgivable. But as it is, I guess it’s meant to be pretty gentle all round.

It’s pretty fun to watch him learn things about the town and the people in it. The way he tries out a few things: drinking, seducing women, dressing up in cowboy outfits, dying, etc.

He has enough days repeated that he learns how to play the piano really well. That’s kind of a horror movie thing right? He must’ve had thousands of that same day. According to this website he was stuck there for over eight years doing the same day over again, but it was initially meant to be ten thousand years which is pretty intense. A bit too many days, a bit much on the horror side.

Does it make me love the people? Sure. Rita is a sweetheart and Phil learns to do good deeds and get out of his trap. I dunno if there’s enough screentime for any of the others to really get to know them. In terms of loving the human condition it does make you think about what you would do if you were stuck in that situation. Learning a musical instrument does seem like an excellent use of time. I reckon I’d read lots and lots of books as well. I could get through this whole 500 list in one day!

Bechdel test: No, Andie Macdowell’s Rita and in fact, all the other women, only talk to Phil.

Best line:
Phil: Do you ever have déjà vu, Mrs. Lancaster?
Mrs. Lancaster: I don’t think so, but I could check with the kitchen.

State of Mind: totally fine, enjoyable Romantic Comedy with a bit of a sci fi twist. Pretty fun! I may even watch it again on a sick day or something. Watching this movie did give me a whole lot of nostalgia for the various comedies I watched on network TV with my family in the nineties. Things like Joe Vs the Volcano and Ghostbusters and Four Weddings, which all have this same kind of cynical veneer over a very sweet and gentle heart.

Watched movie count

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The Hangover (2009)

The Hangover
Directed by Todd Phillips
Written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
(number 271)

It wouldn’t be wrong (or exaggerating) to say I was dreading watching this movie more than I dreaded watching Se7en. Here’s my assumptions about this movie: a bunch of privileged, self assured white dudes do a whole lot of terrible shit that we’re somehow meant to applaud because masculinity is toxic and gross. The women will be sex symbols or nagging love interests (also white and privileged) and I’ll have to look at Bradley Cooper’s face, which I hate doing.

So right away during the answerphone messages we get ‘text messages are gay’ so.. off to a great start there. (also that makes zero sense). Then we have the classic ‘tailor touching junk’ freak out, immediately followed by a hug with the guy who freaked out about the junk touching wearing only a jock strap or something and I just. Okay. Either they’re framing him as closeted gay or he just had a total personality switch in three seconds. Let’s see.. Ohhhh funny, he has some kind of child based conviction where he’s not supposed to be near schools. So funny.

Oh cool, Bradley Cooper is a teacher who steals from the kids in his class, great.. I guess he’s not quite as privileged as his friends, except then he immediately is a total asshole to both his students and his friends so. Great. More homophobic language :/

And the old feminist controlling wife who has to be lied to. Yep, so far this movie is not changing my expectations. And of course this is the one who married a stripper and then freaks out hard about it.

Okay so this movie is almost exactly Dude, Where’s My Car but more adult. I.. somehow didn’t expect that.

Does it make me love the people? … I loved Mike Tyson. Okay I kind of loved Alan. Like, he’s a loser, and there’s a lot of stereotypical loser stuff, but him singing the three best friends song was super cute.

Bechdel test: let’s see. It’s hard to find the names of the women, it’s not something that they use much when there are women. Jade is probably the main woman and she is constantly referred to as a whore even though she’s a sort of great character.

Best line: ehhhhh have this one.

Phil: Stu, we don’t have time for this. Look, let’s go hook up with Doug, and we’ll deal with the baby later.
Stu: Phil, we’re not gonna leave a baby in the room, there’s a fucking tiger in the bathroom!
Phil: It’s not our baby.
Alan: Yeah, I gotta side with Stu on this one.

Or… tigers love pepper, they hate cinnamon.

State of Mind: I am confused about how much people said they loved this movie. Like, I guess the mystery solving – unravelling the stuff that happened the night before was sort of interesting but… I did not enjoy this film, and I will not be watching it again, or any of the sequels. This is one of the movies on the list I dreaded watching. Why is the wedding singer so aggressively sexual? Why is Bradley Cooper so happy with his wife and kid when they get home? Whyyyy….Okay but yay it’s over.

Watched movie count

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Written by Steven Spielberg and Ian Watson based on the short story by Brian Aldiss
(number 274)

I saw this at the movies when it first came out, and probably once or twice again since. I had put off watching it due to being traumatised by the Flesh Fair sequence.

Ah yes, the advanced future where everyone wears grey all the time, the homes are filled with ceramics and chrome and wives stay at home all day doing housework while the husband goes off to work.

As soon as Martin is introduced the abuse starts. The first thing we see him doing is picking up Teddy by the ear as he says ‘Martin, no’, then he makes Teddy choose between the two of them. The way Teddy is animated makes this sequence pretty heartbreaking, although undercut with a laugh when Teddy very wisely chooses to follow Mommy out of the room. Mommy’s casual, amused ‘are they torturing you?’ seems to be a foreshadowing.

Monica’s choice to abandon David in the woods rather than return him to the factory he was made in is supposed to show her humanity, her inability to destroy something she cares about, but ultimately is the most monstrous choice she could have made. She even seems to know it, telling him ‘I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about the world’ before driving off. She had to know that things would be hard for David out there with no one but Teddy.

The Flesh Fair sequence remains horrid. Is it a coincidence that the first thing they destroy is a clearly coded black man? However maybe because I was prepped for it, or maybe because I watched so many horrid things since I last saw this movie, it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared. Plus, Brendan Gleeson! Still not pleasant to watch though. The joy in the destruction of others… horrible.

The story is somewhat meandering. It’s a very long running time for a film which only really has four settings and not too much story. It needs a bit of an edit, although the SFX have held up remarkably well for something seventeen years old. The not quite real make up job on Joe is fantastic as well.

Does it make me love the people? Hayley Joel Osment does a fantastic job in this role. It’s very hard not to feel for him even as he’s being creepy and appearing noiselessly or dangerously getting something wrong. I also really love Jude Law as Gigolo Joe and Teddy – the actual humans in the movie are a lot harder to care about, but ultimately it’s not a film about them.

Bechdel test: No, although there is Monica and a handful of other named women almost all the speaking roles in this film are men. Weird really… no need for Martin to have only friends who are boys, or for every scientist to be male… now that I think of it the women are only in two roles: Mothering (Monica, Blue Fairy, the nanny at the Flesh Fair) and sexual (Gigalo Jane, the women hiring Joe.) The only exception is the little girl in the flesh fair who is supposed to be David’s mirror I think.

Best line:

Gigolo Joe: She loves what you do for her, as my customers love what it is I do for them. But she does not love you, David. She cannot love you. You are neither flesh nor blood. You are not a dog a cat or a canary. You were designed and built specific like the rest of us… and you are alone now only because they tired of you… or replaced you with a younger model… or were displeased with something you said or broke. They made us too smart, too quick and too many. We are suffering for the mistakes they made because when the end comes, all that will be left is us. That’s why they hate us. And that is why you must stay here… with me.

State of Mind: It remains an enjoyable movie but I feel like these themes and ideas are being explored better in TV now, notably Humans and Black Mirror. I understand Westworld as well but I haven’t watched any of that yet. This film is a moment in time, and no doubt was influential and important for the genre of sci fi and AI movies. I feel like yeah, there’s better out there now.

Watched movie count

Das Boot (1981)

Das Boot
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen
Written by Wolfgang Petersen based on the novel by Lothar G. Buchheim
(number 272)

It’s pretty interesting to see a German film about the crap that happened during the second World War, so I can see how this is the massive film hit that it is. Plus, yes. I have heard that this film is claustrophobic and I can see it as soon as they’re on board the ship. The sets are so close, and there’s so many people and things everywhere. What a hideous existence.

Urgh the food getting worse as the movie goes on D: D: horrorrr…

That one navy officer did a great Josephine Baker impression though. I knew exactly what he was doing and he looked the part.

I can see why this movie is as long as it is.. The way you are made to feel the dreariness of the waiting around, and the sudden bursts of action, or the staying perfectly quiet while the ships are searching for them. You couldn’t do that in a movie with quick cuts and a short running time. It needs time to play out, time to feel. Time to watch the faces of the sailors as they do these things.

I have seen a lot of rough scenes in war movies. a lot of images that will stick with you… but the sequence with the burning ship.. holy christ. It’s one of those things where I guess I’d never thought it through. Of course a submarine cannot take prisoners, there’s barely enough room for the crew. But I’d never considered it. Not until it was shown like that.

Does it make me love the people? Yes. It’s a horrible situation they’re in. Not only at war, but stuffed in together in horrible conditions with heavy machinery all around, no room to move your elbows without hitting another man and none of them able to wash or clean their clothes. The food slowly going off as the voyage continues and then… yeah, the British have stopped making mistakes, so here’s a boat full of young men writing letters to their loved ones and I’m pretty sure they’re all going to die.

There are a lot of moments when I’m pretty sure they’re all going to die. Then there’s the fake out ending where I got very excited about how they had an unexpected happy ending and return home but of course… no. No, there’s still a war on.

Bechdel test: No women on the boat, don’t be silly.

Best line:

It’s better to take photos after the mission, on the return home.

or maybe “AALLLAAAAAAAAARM!!”

State of Mind: I genuinely enjoyed this movie although I didn’t expect to. It is without a doubt a rough, horrifying movie and I suspect pretty close to things that happened. I may even watch it again at some point! I’m sure I missed some stuff when I forgot I should be watching the screen for subtitles. The battle sequences are great, the quiet sequences are tense as fuck and it’s brilliantly acted. Nice work, classic movie!

Watched movie count

Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)

Crimes and Misdemeanors
Written and directed by Woody Allen
(number 275)

Okay so I’ve only watched Woody Allen movies because of this list, and I’m already seeing a lot of repeated themes. It’s kind of funny watching this movie after seeing a discussion online where someone wrote that people shouldn’t bother with forced diversity in their fiction. I wonder what Woody Allen would say that that – if you assume that showing Jewish people and customs is diverse and not the norm.

Anyway, it’s actually a pretty compelling movie. I dreaded it being like Love and Death but it’s not actually a parody which was a relief. Instead it’s an overly intellectual sort of romantic comedy. If people in rom coms talked like existential philosophers and cheated on their partners with no remorse. That makes it sound like I didn’t enjoy it – I did. The characters are all interesting and have a little depth to them, the story is twisty and unexpected and I enjoyed all the references to old movies.

Does it make me love the people? Woody Allen’s character is pretty off putting, Clifford, much like Harry in When Harry Met Sally, makes everything that happens around him about him. His sister has a horrifying hookup through a personal ad and he makes it about his failing marriage. The girl he’s into (outside his marriage) gets a great career opportunity and he goes sad sack because he won’t get to see her for four months. This character’s only redeeming quality is that he’s lovely to his niece.

I liked Angelica Houston, not that her character is groundbreaking but she is played by Angelica Houston so there’s a gravitas and a charisma there. Mia Farrow’s Halley is pretty adorable even if she exists in a world where men just lust after and adore her and try and ignore that she has stuff she wants to get done. Alan Alda is the jerky jerk but he’s so charismatic as well.

Bechdel test: Yes, there’s a tiny interchange between Jenny and Wendy where Wendy says ‘don’t you have homework to do?’ and Jenny says ‘yes’.

Best line:

Lester: Comedy is tragedy plus time!

Professor Levy: You will notice that what we are aiming at when we fall in love is a very strange paradox. The paradox consists of the fact that, when we fall in love, we are seeking to re-find all or some of the people to whom we were attached as children. On the other hand, we ask our beloved to correct all of the wrongs that these early parents or siblings inflicted upon us. So that love contains in it the contradiction: The attempt to return to the past and the attempt to undo the past.

State of Mind: Its not the joyful nostalgia of Radio Days, and it’s not the cringe-fest of Love and Death. This is a good middle ground kind of Allen film. I’m not sure it’s one I’d seek out to watch again, but I didn’t hate it the way I feared I might. It’s got some interesting things to say about the human experience and decisions and how we define ourselves, but I kind of wish Allen would get out of his own way and let the script breathe a little rather than being SO intellectual ALL the time. Good soundtrack.

Watched movie count

National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)

National Lampoon’s Animal House
Directed by John Landis
Written by Harold Ramis, Chris Miller, Douglas Kenney
(number 287)

Content warning for animals in distress, animal death, rape jokes, sexual abuse in this movie.

Okay so I have seen a movie like this before, Monsters University. Which was a weird movie for Pixar to make TBH, since it’s basically this but for kids. And this movie is one of those classic gross out/sex/slapstick comedy about a bunch of dudes.

Kevin Bacon plays a bad guy – a pledge for the ‘fancy’ frat house, John Belushi as the stereotypical drunken lout and Donald Sutherland as the coolest professor in the world. (Has a great cat, writing a novel, gives his students pot).

I guess a lot of my feelings about this film are covered in my review of Dazed and Confused where I basically don’t understand why it’s fun to watch people bully each other and treat them like crap. Or why is it funny to kill a horse? I just.. urgh.

Oh and… attempted rape. Like, very near miss date rape. How… funny? with his little angel and devil on the shoulder and the devil calls him a homo for not raping her? And there’s a lot of things like that later in the movie with other characters too. To be honest it was just gross.

Oh hey, there’s lots of references to this in season three Veronica Mars as well aren’t there? I guess that this film must’ve been influential. Is this the front runner for stuff like The Hangover? Road Trip? All those kind of stoner comedies? I don’t know if that’s a film family tree that needs celebrating.

Does it make me love the people? I… don’t think so.

Bechdel test: There’s a tonne of girls talking to each other in the sorority with their bras off, about how they’re having a pillow fight but only Mandy is named. And then she immediate is peeped on by Bluto as she gets undressed. He even gives us a little knowing eyebrow raise so we’re complicit in his peeping. So that’s just great. Mandy and Babs are the ‘nice girls’ and then there’s Katy who’s the ‘cool girl’ (please watch Gone Girl for the definition of this) and then a few other women who only speak to men.

Best line:

No more fun of any kind!

State of Mind: I kind of want Bluto’s shirt which just says “college” but overall. Nah. Nah to this movie. I want to question why it’s on the list but.. so’s a whole lot of other crappy male centred comedy so I dunno. This kind of film makes me want to give up this list. I won’t, because I have found a bunch of gems in here as well but…urgh.

Watched movie count

A Place in the Sun (1951)

A Place in the Sun
Directed by George Stevens
Written by Harry Brown and Michael Wilson based on the novel by Theodore Dreiser
(number 278)

I should have guessed from this movie being based on a novel called ‘an american tragedy; that it wasn’t about to be a happy fun time watch. It’s pretty bleak. I had thought it would be a kind of commentary on the classes and how one man is trying to find his way… but actually it’s about falling in love with two women and then killing one to be with the other. Rough.

This movie has some dark themes: abortion, misguided love, murder, accidental death and classism, but that said it didn’t grab me as a film. I wasn’t super invested in the lives of these people. I can’t help thinking it might work better as a play as it was before the film.

Elizabeth Taylor is charming in her role as rich girl Angela, she’s probably the highlight of the movie although her character is pretty flat. The main character was a bit slimy, really. I didn’t particularly care for that performance.

Does it make me love the people? Not particularly. I didn’t feel much empathy for our main character, George. Angela is kind of sweet but vapid and Alice was kind of sweet but annoying. Maybe I need to really watch it again to connect to them, but I don’t know. I didn’t connect.

Bechdel test: Yes, early on Angela talks to Hannah Eastman, briefly. But its only that one moment.

Best line: This one isn’t terribly impressive but I feel like it’s been copied and paraphrased a lot since:
George: I love you. I’ve loved you since the first moment I saw you. I guess maybe I’ve even loved you before I saw you.

State of Mind: It fell flat for me. Maybe it’s just that I had a bad cold when I watched it. Maybe it’s just that the story’s no good. I’m not sure. And I’m not sure I want to watch it again to figure that out. I don’t feel too bad about not loving this movie since it’s actually not a black and white classic that I’ve heard of before. Maybe one of the other Liz Taylor movies will be more better? Let’s hope so!

Watched movie count