By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Fri, July 01 2011 - 3:21 pm
***movii parvae et interrupti**
We have been watching some BBC made-for-TV mysteries and American shows (Dexter) which I haven't been writing about, so the pickings are a little slimmer - not even almost daily offerings anymore.
I don't know if these nuttyshells are helpful to anyone, but I'll keep writing them because we can refer back to the list if we are confused about what we have seen!
So, welcome to the land of minimalist movie description! No plots revealed!
July 2, 2011 The Green Zone: God, another war flick. A good one, but I'm sure glad these guys think they know what they're doing because I sure don't. Too dark. Can't see. Everyone looking black except - oops, I said I wouldn't do that.
July 3, '11 Sabrina: Lighthearted and improbably romantic, and who could not succumb as usual to Audrey Hepburn? Sigh.
July 5, '11 Primal Fear: An example of a movie kind of ruined by the previews, even though we saw them months ago. I like to have my mysteries preserved, thank you, until the official unveiling. Still very absorbing and we thought it brought up a bunch of issues.
July 6, '11 Spellbound: Spelling bees abound! Interesting to see the different ways these children prepare and are prepared for regional and national contests. The best thing about it, considering spelling isn't a final goal in life? Discipline, sure, but a trip to Washington, D.C.! What a great way for young people to feel a connection to the government and be exposed to another part of the country.
July 9, '11 The Notorious Bettie Page: Straight-told slice of an American life, it doesn't arouse a lot of emotion. A semi-precious gem, perhaps.
July 10, '11 Gasland: Can You Light Your Faucet on Fire? In this part of Indiana we are not threatened by this danger so much as many states, but it is hard to believe that the whole country would not be affected by this. Whenever I see one of these eye-opening documentaries, I wonder why we spend so much time watching sports and mysteries. We traveled last month through Pennsylvania, New York - the very land threatened by these gas-harvesting activities. Fracking - the new F-word!
July 12, '11 Made in Dagenham: Film from a true story - quite convincing, and if I had only studied English as a second language maybe I could actually understand what the actors were saying!
July 13, '11 Biloxi Blues: Also based on truth, supposedly. Base camp as experienced by Neil Simon. Rich in humor.
July 15, '11 Support Your Local Sheriff: The silliest Western I ever slept through!
July 17, '11 Ellie Parker: A slice of the life of an aspiring actress. Such struggles! Such need! Such laughs! Well done, Naomi Watts (as always - why can I never recognize her?)
July 20, '11 3 Backyards: The music occupies a place equal to the cinematography and the characters. It occurs to me today that each backyard (which I really could not distinguish or count - seems to me there might have been more) might have had its own musical motif. In my case, hindsight is probably imagination!
July 21, '11 Pan's Labyrinth: An idea reminiscent of the idea that Alice in Wonderland (or originally, underground) comes up into the world then has to return as in The Lookinglass Wars. In this one, though, the real world is Nazi-ridden. I'm sick of the depictions of humans torturing one another. Dialogue uninteresting in translation, visuals a lot of fun and sometimes gross.
July 22, '11 State and Main: A comedy about making a movie in a small town. A little old-fashioned, I guess, and we enjoyed it very much. Verbal rather than physical comedy.
July 24, '11 The Maid: How to make the seemingly mundane fascinating. A wonderful story about how one - oops - I'll stop before I give anything away. Not supposed to be a thriller, but.
7-29-'11 Potiche: In translation, Trophy Wife. This is a great women's lib film, but very compassionate also. A pleasure.
7-30-'11 Inside Job: Well, you will have heard a lot of this story, but I'm sure if you see this documentary, you'll learn something you didn't know before about the financial collapse of 2008. And if you are already a know-it-all, this film will crystalize your perception.
7-31-'11 A Delicate Balance: Personally, I'm tired of the existentialist blah blah but this, of course was well done for what it is: a stage play made into a movie.
8-2-'11 Absolute Power: Good old-fashioned entertainment er, well not exactly the set-up is pretty wild but I willingly suspended by disbelief until... well. Everyone has their own limit and this was good for whiling away an hour or two.
8-4-'11 Fahrenheit 9/11: So unfair! So funny! So sad! So exposing! So true! And it even has a plot or two to inspire the conspiracy theorists. Now I guess to be good we have to see the conservative response. Oh, they always want the last word!
8-5-'11 Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story: Funny, but not funny enough to justify itself - or keep me awake! Read the book in high school, though. Obviously I need to read it again.
8-6-'11 Dear Lemon Lima: For the very young, but with an intriguing little touch of Alaskan tribal culture. I wish it had been a documentary about one or more of those tribes.
8-7-'11 Biutiful: A real movie. A rough film about a well-intentioned and desperate man in Barcelona.
8-8-'11 Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: Remake of the original movie of 1953. I found the behavior of the impossibly young people in this movie just too stupid. Now I have to look at the old one to see if I feel the same way. The flick does have its moments though.
Body Heat: Still stupid (or is it? - what a mystery to enjoy!) behavior on the part of the characters, but this movie is done with power, polish, and panache!
8-9-'11 Scarlet Street: I never heard of this one made before I was born, but it is definitely worth seeing. Rich in irony.
8-10'-11 Flight of the Phoenix: This is the newer version with Dennis Quaid and it was properly exciting. No danger of going to sleep during this one! Heart attack from stress and tension, maybe. Hard to believe anyone could fall in love with that - but no, don't want to ruin it for you.
8-11-'11 Mao's Last Dancer: Oh, oh, if you only watch one DVD this year, make it this one!
8-12-'11 Crash: A great movie about a bunch of people, most of whom seem to expect better behavior from everyone else than they are offering themselves. Interesting juxtaposition of good and bad actions and their consequences.
8-13-'11 Cape Fear: Does it really take stupid behavior to make a plot? Oh, well this is a good old thriller in black and white anyway. Anyone believe in that 15-year-old? Well, she really is - oops! Must not tell!
8-14-'11 Cross My Heart and Hope to Die: What a summer this young'un has! Several once-in-a-lifetime experiences that I have been happy to do a lifetime without. This film grabs you, though.
8-15-'11 Confessions of a Shopaholic: Superficially fun, but the eternal question emerges - why lie so much? Are lies really that funny? Maybe so. Where there is a lie, there is pain, and where there is pain, there are the laughs? Maybe so.
8-16-'11 All the Pretty Horses: One of McCarthy's border stories, grim as usual but wishes it could be romantic. Or maybe it is, in the unattainability of it's - whoops! See it.
8-17-'11 Blow Out: It's fun to watch this movie sound-man put it all together, but oh, such irresponsible driving!
8-18-'11 The Road: Powerful, and powerfully dismal.
8-19-'11 House on the River: Beware the waters of a river that feeds an estuary. This evildoer is convincing!
8-20-'11 Hi-Lo Country: This and the following movie are about triangles, but what a world of difference, althought the male leads in both are... oops, don't want to ruin it for you.
The Age of Innocence: Beautiful to look at, but fails to carry off much difference between the two lead women besides one has dark hair and one light. His feelings about them are different, but so what? Very much a monograph of a triangle, interesting nonetheless as character studies.
8-21-'11 About Schmidt: This one needed great actors to carry it off, and got 'em. Low-key humor or just plain realness sometimes results in laugh-out-loud guffaws. I was kind of disappointed he didn't stretch more - if ultimately Schmidt does, I would like to see a sequel!
8-22-'11 Conspiracy Theory: Absolutely insane and absolutely absorbing. Escape escapades. Which is crazier, the conspiracy theories or the conspiracies?
8-23-'11 Goodbye, Lover: Making murder funny. I wonder if Ellen and Patricia enjoyed working with each other as much as we enjoyed them!
8-24-'11 Copycat: Almost enough to make a person believe in the death penalty, but talk about theories, causes, the virtue of studying - what? No, I'm not going to ruin such a wonderful thriller for you!
8-26-'11 The Upside of Anger: This was an okay movie, but the lead character is such a pain in the ass it feels like a waste of time. I don't mind so much that she is an angry bitch - it is that she is such a drink-addled stupid angry bitch. I'm not convinced by the upside argument, either.
8-27-'11 Where Angels Fear to Tread: On the whole beautiful but one scene was intolerably sententious. Awful! Maybe if it were blocked differently....
8-28-'11 Last Life in the Universe: I enjoyed watching this one. It was interesting to see the interplay of languages; when they couldn't understand each other, we couldn't either. Sometimes they had to use English. What was real and what was in the characters imagination? You got me!
8-31-11 Pride and Prejudice: This is the one with Donald Sutherland as the dad, and what a wonderful job he did! The bucolic scenes and life-style glimpses are vividly portrayed. Only thing I missed from the Masterpiece Theatre version was Colin Firth.
9-1-'11 3 Idiots: Don't be put off by the title of this film - it was India's favorite - and one of ours, too! Long and full of laughs with a little tragic tension. Who says East and West never shall meet?
9-5-'11 Sense and Sensibility: This is the one with screenplay by Emma Thompson, and wonderful it is.
9-6-'11 Jefferson in Paris: I saw the previews in the mid-nineties and expected it to be wilder. Interesting how a reporter in the late 1800's could have been digging into Jefferson's activities but we in high school in the 1960's never heard a whiff of it.
9-7-'11 Somewhere: Nowhere, I'm afraid.
9-8-'11 Emma: Such a silly young woman! Which one? Indeed! Lots of fun.
9-9-'11 Clockwork Orange: Never saw this before, and much slicker than I imagined it. Or should I say polished? Am I depressed because I watched this or because it is September or because it is raining? All three, probably.
9-? Vanity Fair: Don't know which version this was, but I think it was a BBC production - I know I have seen at least part of it before. From a William Thackery novel and certainly as much fun as the novel. Except with movies, the pleasure is over quicker, alas.
9-26-'11 Barry Lyndon: A combo of the director of Clockwork Orange and the author of Vanity Fair. A good marriage, actually. They both seem to possess a good dose of humorous cynism!
9-27-'11 From Here to Eternity: Watched this to get the background for the sequel filmed at the Central Hotel in Madison, IN. Of course this one is probably the more significant. Some original footage of a very important moment in our history, with a lot of testosterone-laden male moments. Was/is the kind of behavior portrayed here really typical? Well, not very complimentary to the ladies either. Sigh.
9-28-'11 Adam's Rib: What a wonderful comedy - rich in affection and attempted equality (among other attempts!) Shows what a number the fifties did on social rights in the good old U.S.A. I want one of those licorice - but no, I can't ruin it for you!
9-29-'11 Slaughterhouse Five: Great movie, but I'm really glad I read the book first.
9-30-'11 Goodbye, Berlin: Gets downright silly sometimes but is still interesting. Hmm... when it comes to putting your money in the bank it seems like you are damned either way - but that is just a little teeny part of the whole thing.
10-1-'11 No Estas Tu, Soy Yo: No, claro que esta el! Ay, yi, yi, no me gusta! I didn't watch it to the end, but don't know how to say so in Spanish.
Into the Arms of Strangers: A++++ What a gem! A documentary that will not lull you to sleep.
10-3-'11 Some Came Running: We watched this to be sentimental about Madison, IN, but you should come running for Shirley McClaine's breakout role. Super!
10-4-'11 Shall We Dance?: The American version. Full of loveliness and delight and laughs, too. Looking forward to seeing it all over again in the original Japanese version soon.
10-5-'11 The Count of Monte Cristo: All about revenge and very little about all the supposed good works. Oh well, imaginary evil is more interesting than imaginary good.
10-6-'11 Ten Questions to ask the Dalai Lama: What a nice combo of landscape and social commentary and cultural ethnicity and good advice from an obviously lovely person. His commentary on human difficulties? "Too much emotion. Negative emotion." Right on. I'm beginning to learn that, and I'm how old? Never mind!
Queen Margot: French, La Reine Margot, a dramatic knock-out. What was I doing that I didn't hear about this film? Too explicit for the Puritan U.S.? Where was I when this movie came out? Busy pursuing my economic salvation via a fifty-hour-a-week work ethic? Beyond belief intrigue, and at least partially true! Aaaaaaaaaaaaa. Freaky. Those folks should have had the Dalai Lama advising them.
10-7-'11 The Man in the Iron Mask: Some nice comic relief in this one, but not quite enough tension to need release from. Somehow lackluster.
10-8-'11 Lebanon, PA: So we can all go back to small-town U.S.A. and be bored. Not the characters, us. Forgive me if I can't rhapsodize over mowing the lawn, yawn. Or to local hate, relate.
10-9-'11 Lady Chatterly: French version of Lawrence's alternative story line to Lady Chatterly's Lover. Let us eat cake! Sweet! But why do they keep talking French? Heh.
10-11-'11 From Prada to Nada: Inspired by Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility and sooo much contemporary fun!
10-12-'11 The Duchess: Depressingly truthful portrayal of what life could be for the rich and privileged woman. Really I was quite pissy after watching this film.
10-13-'11 Becoming Jane: Reading Jane Austen's novels really does inspire you to wonder about her own life, and this one answers a lot of questions. (A good one to watch right after The Duchess. Becoming Jane is as affecting and sad, but not nearly as extremely infuriating and sickening as The Duchess.)
who knows when?
Last Tango in Paris: Never saw this one before, but remember some reviewer commenting, "Those middle class girls know how to take care of themselves." Well, not well enough, evidently, but better than... oops! Don't want to ruin it for you! Very passionate.
Tom Jones: Not the one that came out forty years ago (or whenever) which I also liked very much. Too much fun! Too naughty!
We have been watching a lot of BBC Masterpiece Theatre pieces the last few weeks. Bleak House, Little Dorritt, Jane Austen novels dramas. We have enjoyed these so much! They are really scrumptious.
10-28-'11 The Silver Stallion: Really for the very young. Enjoyed it for the beauty of the scenery and horses, but otherwise, please.
The Crucible: Crushing. Maddening. Terrificrying. Took me a day to get over it even though I had already seen a black and white version on TV I think and read the play.
10-30-'11 Synecdoche, New York: Oh, I'm not saying it is not well done. It is well done, overdone, burnt. It should be called Anger Leading to Boredom, or maybe How to Be Jerks and Still Get People to Waste Two Hours on You (Was That All the Longer It Was, Really?), or maybe Fear, Death and Death, etc. Well, hell, it had one virtue. Got me writing in my mini movie column again.
11-9-'11 The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone: This works on many levels and works sooo well - goes way beyond boo hoo poor me I'm getting old and wrinkled....
11-10-'11 The Decline of the American Empire: Oh, please spare the poor old U.S.A. although such literary types should realize they are talking about two continents with the word "American." You think we are degenerate? Speak for yourselves! I never thought I could be so bored with sex and talk of sex.
11-11-'11 The Serious Man: Very dismally mildly amusing, but no comedy.
11-15-'11 Women in Love: Incredibly sensual - a strange combination in a way with all the extreme and cruel talk. What isn't cruel is often nonsensical from a present point of view. Well, from my personal point of view. Definitely not one to pass over just because it dates from the sixties.
12-4-'11 A Month at the Lake: At first I thought these characters pretty nutty and goofy, and they are. They are also very charming and generous in their treatment and forgiveness of each other. The film won us over!
12-5-'11 For Whom the Bell Tolls: Even the romance in this palls. Lovely Ingrid Bergman - still too much of a gorgeous thing. Must be my age. And all the war intrigue put me to sleep, too. Literally. Either the movie is dated, or I am, or both. Unfortunately probably the last option. (When in doubt, choose "all of the above"!)
12-6-'11 Sweeny Todd: Honestly, what a subject for a musical! Still, somehow it works. Must be the actors. Never saw anything bloodier, though. Eeeuw!
12-7-'11 The Mikado: A 1982 production, still more recent than my original Valparaiso University experience with it in the sixties which was absolutely delightful. On the whole I liked it, but the female lead just couldn't seem to give all her notes the diaphragm support needed to keep her from going a little flat, and honestly I think Gilbert and Sullivan does best with a lighter approach than heavy-duty opera. Poobah had a wonderful voice. Some others sacrificed clarity of diction for character emphasis - well who could blame them for that, besides me?
12-8-'11 Easy Virtue: From the title on, a very clever and wonderful piece of work. Not always easy, but enjoyable.
12-9-'11 Cousin Bette: On this second showing (for us) we perceived it as less horrifying and more comic. Black comedy, to be sure.
12-10-'11 How to Marry a Millionaire: Sheer fun throughout.
12-12-'11 Hot Coffee: Know what a tort is? It is not a piece of cake (torte) to eat with your hot coffee. This documentary is another horror story about the results of power-mongering for profit in the U.S. - in this case meddling with legislation and the court system. Required viewing.
12-13-'11 Don't Bother to Knock: First stumbled into the middle of this one on TV - "Is that Marilyn Monroe?" And what a performance this is! Why had I never heard of this movie? Got to see it all this time. Worth repeated viewings.
12-15-'11 Justice for All: Title heavily ironic. Ah, the self-destructive seventies!
12-16-'11 Freakonomics: Read the book and it was great to have this review, plus: the book sure didn't have all those squirming, struggling movies of sumo wrestlers! My advice - read the book and see the movie!
12-18-'11 A Chorus Line: The chorus line grabbed me but the story line didn't.
12-19-'11 Celebration: Why are Scandinavian films always so dark? They're not? Name one and I'll watch it. This one was really good, though. The mother did not have the right, though, to - ooops! Don't want to ruin it for you!
12-20-'11 Beckett: The one made in the sixties. I slept through more than I saw. Good actorszzzzz...
12-21-'11 Four Rooms: Bizarre comedy directed by Tarantino and that fact says it all!
12-30-'11 Freakonomics: Read the book, too. Interesting, but oh, enough pictures of the Sumo wrestlers! Talk about obsession.
12-31-'11 Company: Very adult modern entertainment, compared to the musicals I knew as a child. Gee, thank God for not too many friends!
1-3-'12 Hope Floats: Okay, but just okay, I guess. I don't really like the way she lets her kid deal with problems, but I saw this movie a long time ago when I was a lot closer to that stage of life, and don't remember being so critical.
1-4-'12 On Golden Pond: Interesting. He can be a negative complaining grouch, but let the daughter... oh well, don't get me started. It has its redeeming features.
1-5-'12 The Magic Mountain: Pretty much of a mystery. Can't pretend I really get it, but then I read the book and was engrossed. Just interesting, I guess.
1-6-'12 Doctor Faustus: from the novel by Thomas Mann. Beautifully done.
1-7-'12 Death in Venice: We are, obviously, on a Mann kick. Oh, the wide screen would have been nice for this one! Lots of repressed passion.
1-8-'12 Arms and the Man: Well, of course I love Bernard Shaw even if some people think he is too much talk and no action. This version with the very talented and amusing Helena Bonham Carter won't put you to sleep - even if no blood runs.
1-9-'12 The Tree of Wooden Clogs: Stunningly beautiful. Do country peasants really talk so little?
1-10-'12 Horrible Bosses: The funniest movie I have seen since Borat. At least a little more politically correct. Well, way more, but I spent a lot of this movie laughing aloud.
1-11-'12 Get Shorty: Elmore Leonard comes off as sooo cold in print, but in the movies - well, still cold but it seems warmer. Not fuzzy, no. Great flick.
1-12-'12 Great Gatsby (2000): This one was more moving than the one we last saw. Maybe it was the fact that this one had a narrator.
1-13-'12 A Little Night Music: Sondheim, Diana Rigg and Elizabeth Taylor make great musical.
1-30-'12 Merci por la Chocolate: At least the first and last words in the title are accurate. I don't remember the exact French. It can't matter much; the English subtitle said, Nightcap. Whatever. I guess this is what the Collective Fantasy (old movie house in Santa Fe) would have called "a neurotic French film." The symbolism fairly entangles you in more ways than one, and the poor potential victims only get -oops! Don't want to ruin it for you! The musical talk makes it worth watching anyway.
1-31-'12 The Assassination of Richard Nixon: It is really too bad that the real-life perp (as represented in this movie) didn't read the I Ching instead of watching the news. It would have been full of good advice for him. But of course, so were his associates and his mental breakdown couldn't allow him to listen to them. Did anyone tell him to get help? Well done and very effective at depicting an ineffectual individual,but dismal.
2-1-'12 Spellbound: The Alfred Hitchcock one. How come, after popular movies like this one, does psychiatric treatment still cast a pall over a person's life? And too bad analysis doesn't yield such quick results! Oh, well. Fun, but today's actors probably think that the actors in the old days really had it easy! The skiing scene does not come close to convincing those who have seen the Winter Olympics on TV. Still - ah, romance!
2-3-'12 The Last Picture Show: We both saw this forty years ago, so of course it was almost like seeing it for the first time. I only remembered one scene from it (with Ellen Burstyn.) We really like that the only music is from the radio and TV soundtracks. Moody!
2-4-'12 Be Cool: Sequel to Get Shorty seemed just as cool to me, though now we have gotten more familiar with some of Chile Palmer's tricks and endearing virtues. Still, some quintessentially cold Elmore Leonard touches of humor and brutality. Oh, well, those bad guys deserve it, huh?
2-6-'12 Texasville: When I read the book I thought it was teeming with life and brilliant. Still do, but the color of the movie cannot really match the clamor of the imagination. And, as usual, my favorite (and sole remembered) line from the book did not make it to the screen. Dang!
2-7-'12 Out of Sight: My guest commentator today is my partner: "Ha ha ha boom boom boom." Typical Elmore Leonard.
2-8-'12 The Arrangement: Lots of good actors, but it is "disjointed." (My partner again.) My comment? Dated. Hard to believe someone would have to go through hell just to... whoops! Almost gave it away!
2-9-'12 Broken Arrow: A cool Western with Jimmy Stewart that portrays the falsehood of racially based beliefs in good and bad. Well, technically not cool, and too bad they couldn't hire more Native American actors, but at least it shows how far the movie industry has come since then (1950) in more ways than one! I wanted to see this movie because I have seen part of Broken Arrow twice and wanted to see the whole thing. Oops! What I saw must have been the TV show.
2-10-'12 Get Low: This film just doesn't deliver what the beginning promises and is ultimately unsatisfying.
2-11-'12 Gingerbread Man: If I ever did, I no longer enjoy watching someone thrashing around making an ass of himself. A lawyer being so credulous?
2-13-'12 Marty: Oh wow, those old-time families! A cautionary tale, and a loveable one.
2-17-'12 Rashomon: First saw this decades ago and never forgot it. Beautiful cinematography and fascinating witness to the same crime through different participants' testimony. Weird, though, I remembered one piece of action that wasn't in the film! Guess I just imagined it because of something I read about - oops! Don't want to get you confused!
2-18-'12 Cat Ballou: Great for the young'uns, I guess. Lee Marvin is hilarious.
2-19-'12 A Midsummer Night's Dream: 1999 with Kevin Klein, Michelle Pfeiffer, Calista Flockhart, et wonderful cetera. This is one of my all-time favorites. Charming, except maybe for the mud - but oops! Don't want to ruin it for you!
2-20-'12 The Big Trees: One of those romantic Hollywood lies, but the setting would be awesome on the big screen.
2-21-'12 Sea of Grass: A depiction of a marriage and conflicts in old New Mexico both social and personal. Hepburn and Tracey!
2-26-'12 Little Children: Contemporary dilemmas very well-portrayed.
2-27-'12 27 Dresses: Light and loveable, but not all blanc.
2-28-'12 Black Is, Black Ain't: Documentary about the double challenges of race and unconventional sexuality.
2-29-'12 The Savages: Try sitting through this two-hour movie about dealing with an older parent. It's not too hard, because it is well done, but then try living with it day in and day out for years. This is a taste.
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