The Week That Was: November 23 – November 29

Monday, November 23, 2015

1) The Pursuit of Hippo-Ness (2015)

Why I watched: My friend Alan Franks made a film and I was invited to screen a rough cut of the film and give him some feedback.

Impression: Focused on a unique community founded on an obsessive love of hippopotami, this film is a great exploration of how we relate to other people, and the commodification of nature. It’s a fun look at obsession and how it can unite like-minded individuals. 3 stars.

2) The Decline of the American Empire (1986)

Why I watched: Included in the book 1001 Movies to See Before You Die.

Impression: It wanted to be a grand, eloquent statement about sexual relationships in the western world, but it’s a little whiny. These are all upper class individuals, who value their own needs and desires above their partners. They approach relationships for the most part with the mentality of what they can get from the other person. Focused on short-term gain, mostly sexual gratification, they don’t invest and work on their relationships.

Some of it has an intellectual, talky vibe it, but for the most part they seem like smarter versions of Sam Malone, a character motivated almost completely by his libido. The conversations were nice and occasionally illuminating, but mostly they were just trying to get in each other’s pants. 2 1/2 stars.

3) Pride (2014)

Why I watched: Nominated for Best Musical or Comedy at the 72nd Golden Globes ceremony.

Impression: This was a great film about how hearts and minds are changed and how political alliances are about emphasizing common interests. Politics is almost always a trade-off; if you support us in this, we’ll support you in this, etc. I liked so many of the cast in this film, Dominic West, Andrew Scott, the always fantastic Imelda Staunton and Bill Nighy. The only real problem I had was the film’s downplaying of the communist ties of LGSM founder Mark Ashton. His political activism and specifically his championing of labor rights were obviously tied to his communist activities. A brief mention would have given the movie more credibility. Leaving it out, opens the film up to criticism it was trying to mislead.

One of the interesting things about the film is it casts gay and lesbian rights as a specifically political movement. This film makes it clear, it is not only about acceptance but about having political power and clout.

Most films about sexual issues tend to focus on the underlying humanity of the characters, and while this is certainly at play here, the underlying theme of the movie is political power. 3 stars.

4) Streets of Crocodiles (1986)

Why I watched: MUBI’s films of the day.

Impression: It’s a twenty-minute animated homage to loneliness. The Quay Brothers are some of the most famous stop-animation and the film is visually impressive, but it didn’t engage me. 2 1/2 stars.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

5) Ask Father (1919)

Why I watched: Trying to watch at least ten movies released in every year of the twentieth century.

Impression: I’ve said it numerous times before, but Harold Lloyd is my clear number three of the silent film triumvarate. This is one of my favorite of his shorts. It’s clever and inventive. He wants to marry the daughter of an important businessmen, but every time he tries to get through to see her dad, he’s blocked by the lackeys and yes men. His inventive disguises and their inventive attempts to block him are great. And the end, while it seems sudden and unexpected, is a great statement on the way life often takes unexpected turns. 2 stars.

6) The Corporation (2003)

Why I watched: Included in a list of the 1000 best reviewed films of the 21st century.

Impression: This documentary traces the evolution of the corporation as an institution. In the mid-nineteenth century, there were very few corporations in the western world. Including comments from people on every side of the political spectrum, including former prominent businessmen, it’s an illuminating view into how much our world has changed and where the real political power lies. The idea that corporations can patent any biological life is disgusting and frightening. The stories of fights over rainwater are disturbing as well as the origins of Fanta and IBM’s potential profits from the Holocaust. I’m a capitalist, but maybe capitalism and corporatism are not exactly the same thing. 4 stars.

7) Elizabethtown (2005)

Why I watched: Jamie Porter’s Pick of the Week.

Impression: It started off promising, and the scenes with CEO Phil DeVoss (Alec Baldwin) and down on his luck shoe designer Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom) are great. The meet-cute between Drew and Claire Colburn (Kirsten Dunst) is every cliché of romantic comedy films rolled into one. Their chemistry is so so at best, although I appreciated the all night phone call segment. But from the impromptu stand-up routine from Hollie Baylor (Susan Sarandon) at her husband’s memorial until the end of the film, it picked up tremendously. The central relationship and their courtship was lackluster, but the scenes with emotion around the passing of Drew’s father are well done. The musical road trip was really fun and I wish the film had featured more of this. Sadly Jessica Biel and Judy Greer are absolutely wasted in roles which could have easily been eliminated from the film. The good parts were really good, and the bad parts weren’t horrible as much as unoriginal and boring. I walked away with a favorable impression of the film. 3 1/2 stars.

8) Tower (2012)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day.

Impression: Derek is a loser. Not in any really definable way, but he just floats through his life. He obviously believes he’s a loser himself and gets super defensive quite frequently. He’s compelling at times, but not enough to merit a full hour following around the would-be animator. 1 1/2 stars.

9) Spectre (2015)

Why I watched: Only James Bond film I hadn’t seen, and it’s one of the top grossing films of 2015.

Impression: It started off slowly, but once Waltz came on as Blofeld, the film really kicked into high gear. I loved the attempt to tie all the Craig-era Bond films together with a single-thru story. This sets his films apart from the others. Waltz is a perfectly cast and when he receives the characters signature scar, it’s much more effective than I thought. Not a great movie, but one of the better Bond films. 3 stars.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

10) From Hand to Mouth (1919)

Why I watched: trying to watch at least ten movies released every year of the twentieth century.

Impression: This was one the best shorts featuring Harold Lloyd. He stars as a poor vagrant who gets mixed up in a kidnapping plot of a young heiress. His attempts to get the attention of the policeman of the city are really funny. It’s really striking watching this nearly 100-year-old film demonstrates there has always been a certain distrust of police and authority by people on the lower end of the social spectrum well before “Black Lives Matter” and Michael Brown entered into our lexicon. 3 stars.

11) Song at Midnight (1937)

Why I watched: Included in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

Impression: This adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera adds a political / historical element, placing it as a part of the tumultuous period of Chinese history at the beginning of the twentieth century. In this version, the Phantom is a victim as well as an aggressor. By sacrificing some of the character’s mystery, it makes the film more accessible. 3 stars.

12) Viy (1967)

Why I watched: Included in the book 1002 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

Impression: Adapted from a Russian folk tale, Khoma, a young seminarian, is seduced by a witch, but refuses her advances then beats her to death. Then, h’s unknowingly tasked to watch over her body and pray for her soul for three consecutive nights. It’s a bizarre film with an odd approach to theological and spiritual questions. The special effects, especially as Khoma is harassed and haunted by various demonic spirits during his nighttime vigils are amazing. 3 1/2 stars.

13) The Bothersome Man (2006)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day.

Impression: Andreas Ramsjfell wanders around Norway. Depressed by the seeming meaningless of his life, he lies down on a train track to die, but instead he finds himself working in an office building. His life in this world is even more meaningless. The only thing that provides any glimmer of purpose is a desperate materialism. He tries to escape, but cannot. Finally, he finds a crack in a basement which seems to lead to a promising world beyond, but his elation is short-lived. He’s caught trying to reach the other world and banished.

This is darkly comic look at the meaninglessness of most things in life. The way in which we assign meaning to things in a desperate attempt to provide purpose to our lives. It’s a dark and depressing look at the world, but it’s compellingly told. 2 1/2 stars.

14) Nothing Sacred (1937)

Why I watched: Nominated for AFI’s 100 Years 100 Laughs list.

Impression: Newspaper reporter Wally Cook (Frederich March) is embarrassed when his latest big story is revealed to be a fraud. Demoted to writing obituaries. When he discovers the story of Hazel Flagg (Carole Lombard), a woman dying of radium poisoning, he goes to interview her in Vermont. He’s convinced her compelling personal story will be the hit important story which will help him sell newspapers and get his career back on track. The only problem, Hazel was misdiagnosed and is actually perfectly healthy.

This is an odd film. Part screwball comedy, part biting satire of the news industry. Sometimes it goes for the easy, romantic comedy laughs, sometimes it goes dark and uncomfortable. First Flagg is upset she’s dying, then she’s upset she’s not dying. She goes along for the ruse and enjoys the attention she gets in New York, but then she feels bad because she knows she’s living a lie. She decides suicide would be an honorable way to get out of her situation, but then can’t do it. Finally, city officials and the management at the newspaper decide to fake her death to avoid embarrassment.

The strange mixture makes it a very unique and enjoyable film. Carole Lombard was the perfect screwball comedienne. Frederic March is a little stiff and out of his element, but somehow this only makes the film more charming and enjoyable. 3 1/2 stars.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

15) Rush Hour 3 (2007)

Why I watched: I’d seen the first two, and it’s one of the highest grossing films of all time.

Impression: The plot of the film is incidental. The film is an excuse to showcase the delightful chemistry of Tucker and Chan. The choreography is nice and well executed. But everything hinges on Tucker and Chan. While the pair is really just another riff on any number of classic Hollywood pairings (including Gibson and Glover from the Lethal Weapon series), the cultural and language barriers between the two of them make it even more compelling. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. 3 1/2 stars.

16) Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)

Why I watched: One of the highest grossing films of all time.

Impression: I’ve never read the books. Prior to the film, I had a vague idea of the basic idea: orphans get taken in by a nefarious relative. However, this film is so much more than that. The cast is great, with Carey shining as Count Olaf, but also including Timothy Spall, Meryl Streep, Billy Connolly, Catherine O’Hara, Luis Guzman, Cedric the Entertainer, and Jennifer Coolidge. Streep and Connolly are particularly good as temporary guardians of the three Baudelaire children.

This is a very good, entertaining film. 4 stars.

Friday, November 27, 2015

17) Boy Meets Girl (1984)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day.

Impression: Leos Carax’s first film as a director features many of the trademarks which make him such a fascinating director. Long takes of meandering conversations pepper the film. It’s an odd film about a pair of hopeless, hapless would be lovers. Carax’s muse Denis Lavant is here. There are some nice moments, especially the climatic conversation between Alex and Mireille, but the film feels a little forced, unsure if it should conform to expectations or subvert all of them. Carax was emboldened by the reception of this film, freeing him to pursue his artistic vision more completely in films like Holy Motors (2012). This was a step in that direction, but not quite enough. 2 stars.

18) Bridge of Spies (2015)

Why I watched: Spielberg + Hanks, plus it’s a possible nominee for the Academy Away for Best Picture.

Impression: When insurance salesman James Donovan (Tom Hanks) is recruited to represent captured Soviet spy Rudolf Abel, he initially only plans to provide an adequate defense, but his principles and his burgeoning friendship with Abel compel him to fight the case as long as he can. Because of his association with Abel and the lengths he went to in his defense, when American pilot Francis Gary Powers is captured behind Soviet lines, Donovan goes to negotiate an exchange: Abel for Powers. However, things are complicated when Donovan learns about an American student who is being held prisoner by the East Germans.

Working from a script by the Coen Brothers, Hanks and Spielberg do something very difficult, they make international diplomacy exciting and compelling. It was a little annoying the film never wanted to take sides and insisted on operating in such a gray area with regards to the two spies, but it was great to see a movie which unashamedly shows how dire the situation was in East Berlin in the early 1960s and dared to dramatize the complex political realities behind the Iron Curtain.

In the end, this was a movie about how principled action can lead to positive results. Spielberg’s recent work in Lincoln and here explore the intersection of politics and real world consequences, the limits of ideals, and the importance of fundamental principles. Spielberg, the wide-eyed storyteller of E.T.,  and Close Encounters of the Third Kind has given way to a grizzled moralist in Amistad, Munich, and War Horse. 3 1/2 stars.

19) Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons (2013)

Why I watched: Included in a list of the highest grossing films of all time.

Impression: A cross between Pan’s LabyrnithThe Host, and the Scary Movie series. It’s silly and ridiculous one minute, then batshit crazy intense the next. Somehow it manages to strike the perfect balance between these disparate elements. Based on one of the Four Great Classical Novels, this is a fantastic entry point to understanding the rich cultural history of China. Despite its Chinese pedigree, the humor struck me as very Western and accessible. 3 1/2 stars.

20) Divide and Conquer (1943)

Why I watched: A part of Frank Capra’s seven film series about World War II, which is included in the National Film Registry.

Impression: Directed by Frank Capra, this was an interesting, in depth examination of Hitler’s strategy and objectives during World War II, but it didn’t really cover any new ground. 2 stars.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

21) You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man (1939)

Why I watched: Nominated for AFI’s list of the 100 funniest films.

Impression: Larsen Whipsnade (W.C. Fields) is the owner of a shady carnival. He’s constantly avoiding his creditors and frequently fails to pay his performers. When the ventriloquist in his company, Edgar Bergen, falls in love with Whipsnade’s daughter, it forces the craft curmudgeon into action.

Having seen several films featuring W.C. Fields, this is one of the better ones. He’s not quite as cranky and mean-spirited here as he comes across in some of his other work. Edgar Bergen was very funny, especially his interplay with Fields. Although there is a very uncomfortable scene when Bergen paints his famed dummy, Charlie McCarthy, in blackface.

Overall, this had more enjoyable moments than cringeworthy ones. 3 stars.

22) Pan (2015)

Why I watched: I’m a sucker for anything Peter Pan related.

Impression: They wanted to given Peter Pan an origin story. So they imagined he was a WWII era orphan, kidnapped and enslaved to hard labor, by the nefarious Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). Peter’s father was the Fairy Prince, but when his mother rejected Blackbeard’s advances, she abandoned Peter to the orphanage to protect him. Of course, there’s a prophecy about how a flying boy would usurp Blackbeard from power.

In this version of the story, Hook and Peter are bother slave laborers who strike up an alliance. Tiger Lily (controversially played by white actress Rooney Mara) is influential in aiding Peter’s rebellion and has a romantic relationship with Hook. Smee is Hook’s friend, but really a loyalist to Blackbeard.

The problem is the reimagining got away from them. Barrie’s original play was staged in 1904, so it doesn’t make any sense to set it forty years later during the war. And while I like the idea of Hook and Peter having a more complicated relationship, I don’t believe they established Hook with the potential to become Peter’s archnemesis. Hook was too kind and good-hearted. There needs to be some sense of the danger and evil lurking underneath. The Hook / Tiger Lily relationship was also ill-advised and poorly developed.

I don’t mind using reliable and established character as a template for new and different ideas, but I don’t particularly like films which seem hostile to the reasons people love the characters in the first place. 1 1/2 stars.

23) The Battle of Britain (1943)

Why I watched: A part of Frank Capra’s seven film series about World War II, inducted into the National Film Registry.

Impression: In the United States, we tend to see World War II as all about our involvement. To be sure, the US entry into the war was a turning point which led to the downfall of Hitler’s plan. However, we sometimes forget how important the defiance and resiliency of Great Britain thwarted Hitler and held him off long before US assistance was assured. This documentary keeps the memory of the British resistance alive. 3 stars.

24) The Male Animal (1942)

Why I watched: Nominated for AFI’s list of the 100 funniest films.

Impression: English professor Tommy Turner (Henry Fonda) becomes the center of controversy when he plans to read a short letter written by Bartolomeo Vanzetti at his sentencing. The school threatens to fire Tommy if he goes through with the reading.

The stress of the situation reveals cracks in Tommy’s marriage to Ellen (Olivia De Havilland). This is further exacerbated when Joe Ferguson, a former football legend at the university and one-time suitor of Ellen returns to attend the school’s upcoming game.

The triangle of Tommy, Ellen, and Joe bears many similarities to the screwball comedies of the era, but the anti-censorship main plot involving Tommy’s efforts to teach the Vanzetti letter is the anchor of the film. The love story is just for padding and diversion. Tommy’s struggles with the conservative school board and the personal attacks and threats hurled at him for refusing to back down prefigure the ugliness of the McCarthy era by a decade.

In the climax of the film, when Tommy defends his decision and right to read the questionable material to his class, he effectively links this to the most fundamental concept of America. In the end, the very people who were criticizing him for reading anti-American propaganda are now celebrating him as the paragon of American virtue.

The love story is entertaining and hold up fairly well, particularly Turner’s simmering frustration and jealousy, but the film’s political content is outstanding and reminds us of the malleability of politics. 4 stars.

25) Flightplan (2005)

Why I watched: Included in a list of the highest grossing films of all time.

Impression: Kyle Pratt (Jodie Foster) is returning from Germany to the US with her six-year-old daughter and the body of her recently deceased husband. During the flight, her daughter inexplicably disappears. As her desperation to find her daughter increases, Pratt questions her sanity, especially when the flight attendants cannot find any record of her daughter getting on the plane and suggest the girl died with her father.

Finally, we learn Pratt is a victim of a large conspiracy to frame her for acts of terrorism, but we never fully learn the motives of the conspiracy, or if we do they don’t really make sense.

The first 1/2 is a slow burn which really build a great deal of suspense. Foster does a great job slowly unravelling as she fears the worst. But once the true nature of the threat is revealed, the film falls apart. It was interesting when we thought Pratt might be insane, but when she gets into a shootout with the corrupt air marshal, it was pretty lame. Still the first part was good enough and Foster was excellent, so I enjoyed it more than I would have otherwise. 3 1/2 stars.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

26) The Arbor (2010)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day.

Impression: I have never heard of British playwright Andrea Dunbar. She made a minor impression in the 1980s with her largely autobiographical plays about her life in a slum area on England. Despite her literary talent, her messy personals life (including three children bu three different fathers before she was twenty), and her alcohol dependency led to her death of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 29.

Her eldest daughter, Lorraine, the product of a biracial relationship, had a similarly rough upbringing and developed a heroin addiction. Lorraine’s child died when he overdosed on methadone which she was taking to combat her heroin addiction.

The story is sensational, but the devices Clio Barnard used to tell the story make it really special. The actors in the film are lip syncing to audio recording of the people involved, including Dunbar herself, her children, and her family.

And a few times, she stages scenes from Dunbar’s work in an impromptu stage in a real neighborhood similar to the one Dunbar lived. The characters would be sitting on sofas in the courtyard and going through a scene, such as when Dunbar announces her relationship with a Pakistani to her family.

It’s a haunting story about the prison of poverty and culture and how difficult it can be to escape or choose a different life. Many people are not born with choices and survival is the only option available to them. Even immense talent can only get you so far. Dunbar had talent, but by choosing to write about the only thing she knew, life in the slums, she alienated herself and her family.

This was a powerful and moving film. 4 1/2 stars.

27) The Battle of Russia (1943)

Why I watched: A part of Frank Capra’s seven film series about World War II; now a part of the National Film Registry.

Impression: This portion of the documentary series was an incredibly informative film about Germany’s eastern front during the war. The first half is a short history lesson about Russia and the long history of conflict with people in Europe who desired the rich resources of the country. It’s fascinating because the film was made during the ascendancy of the Soviet Union and many of the component parts of “Russia” are not independent nations. The second half is not as eye-opening, but still pretty interesting account of Hitler’s attempted invasions of Russia, from the north, from the south, etc.

The history of the Western-Soviet alliance during WWII is a wonderful case of the old axiom: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. 3 stars.

Best film I saw this week: The Arbor (2010)

Worst film I saw this week: Tower (2012)

The Quest — Episode 5

Sorry for the long delay between episodes, but sometimes things can’t be helped.

The good news, while other podcasts slow down or take a break over the holidays, Ben and I are coming back with a vengeance with a full slate of podcasts coming at you over the next several weeks,

So today, while you’re fighting the after effects of a turkey induced coma, sit back and enjoy the ramblings of Ben and I.

The Week That Was: November 16 – November 22

Monday, November 16, 2015

1) Demon Seed (1977)

Why I watched: Facets was supposed to send me another disc, but sent me this instead.

Impression: Dr. Alex Harris develops an artificial intelligence program which predictably takes on a mind of its own and wants to create a child with his wife, Susan (Julie Christie). The comparisons to 2001 are inevitable and the film suffers because of it. There are a lot of films which do a better job with the same material.  2 1/2 stars.

2) Limite (1931)

Why I watched: Included in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

Impression: A silent, experimental film about a couple in a row-boat. Through flashbacks, we get a glimpse of how they arrived at this moment. It’s pretty, but it’s hard to follow and probably about thirty minutes too long. 2 1/2 stars.

3) The Cure (1917)

Why I watched: Still trying to watch at least ten movies released in every year of the twentieth century.

Impression: I’m a fan of his longer work, but Chaplin’s shorts are not as endearing. In this one, Charlie is an alcoholic who goes to a spa to dry out. 1 star.

4) Joan the Woman (1916)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day.

Impression: The timeless story of Joan of Arc is motivation for British soldiers in World War I. Cecil B. DeMille does an excellent job with the venerable story, but I prefer the later adaptation by Carl Th. Dreyer. 3 stars.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

5) The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008)

Why I watched: In the top 1000 films according to IMDB.

Impression: This was what The Book Thief wanted to be, a look at the ugliness of war and the self-delusional ways the Nazis rationalized their “work.” It’s a bit uneven, and David Thewlis was miscast, but the end is chilling and effective. 3 1/2 stars.

6) Tales from Earthsea (2006)

Why I watched: Trying to watch every film released by Studio Ghibli.

Impression: Boring and long. I’ve never read the source material from Ursula K. Le Guin, so I have no idea how faithful it is. In interviews, she’s indicated a dissatisfaction with the work. I’m going to assume a lot of the issues can be attributed to director Goro Miyazaki (son of famed Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki). At any rate, it’s not very good. 1 1/2 stars.

7) Oh, Doctor! (1917)

Why I watched: Trying to watch at least ten movies released every year of the twentieth century.

Impression: I love Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and I adore Buster Keaton, but this is not their best effort. A doctor loses his money gambling and is tempted to cheat on his wife. I think it’s supposed to be a comedy, but there’s nothing funny about it. 1 star.

8) Small, Beautifully Moving Parts (2011)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day.

Impression: Sarah Sparks is so in love with technology, it threatens to push out her ability to connect and interact with actual people. When she finds out she’s pregnant, it forces her to reevaluate her priorities and leads to an existential crisis. She confronts her anxieties by trying to reconnect with her long estranged mother.

With a quiet steady gaze, it explores how technological advancements have fundamentally changed human relationships. 4 stars.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

9) Flowers in the Attic (1987)

Why I watched: Jamie Porter’s Pick of the Week.

Impression: Corinne fell in love with her uncle. They married and started a family. When the uncle dies, a chastened Corinne takes her four children back with her to live with her parents. The grandmother (Louise Fletcher) locks the children in the attic, while Corinne goes back to her former life.

Corinne abandons her children to their fate and even poisons one of them. She wants to forget they ever existed, so she can inherit her sick father’s wealth and start her life over.

Based on a popular novel by V.C. Andrews, this sad film offers a dim view of humanity. Corinne is easily one of the most horrifying characters of all time, a horrendous mother with apparently no conscience. Her mother isn’t much better.

It’s a celebration of the worst of humanity. 1 star.

10) Walking Tall (1973)

Why I watched: The main character, Buford Pusser, was nominated for AFI’s list of the 50 greatest heroes in film history.

Impression: The true story of Buford Pusser who took on the Dixie Mafia is fascinating, but this movie is too schlocky, closer to Smokey and the Bandit than Dirty Harry. 2 1/2 stars.

11) The Butcher Boy (1917)

Why I watched: I want to watch at least ten films released in every year of the twentieth century.

Impression: This was the first of several parings between Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and his young protegé, Buster Keaton. Because of scandal, Buster would soon surpass what Arbuckle was able to accomplish in his career. This is a decent romp, but its slapstick lacks the sophistication and wit of Buster’s later work. 1 star.

13) Peter Ibbetson (1935)

Why I watched: In the book 1001 Movies to See Before You Die.

Impression: English boy Gogo grows up in Paris, but when his mother dies he’s taken back to England and given a new name, Peter Ibbetson. Prior to his departure, he had been friendly with a neighbor girl, Mimsey.

Years later, an adult Ibbetson (Gary Cooper) is unknowingly hired to work on Mimsey’s estate. Although Mimsey is married, the two fall in love before realizing they were childhood sweethearts before his departure. When Mimsey’s husband discovers the unconsummated relationship, there’s an altercation and Ibbetson murders him in self-defense.

Despite his protestations, Ibbetson is convicted and sentenced to life in prison. The two would be lovers are however, so spiritually connected they can communicate through their dreams. They continue to visit each other nightly on the astral plane, until they pass way.

The childhood separation of Peter and Mimsey was contrived, and I didn’t particularly care for the way the film handled Mimsey’s marriage to her first husband was all about money. However, the last act of this film is a very sweet, moving testament to the possibilities of love. 4 stars.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

14) The Edge of the World (1937)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day.

Impression: I like Michael Powell’s films quite a bit, particularly his collaborations with Emeric Pressburger. This film, one of his earliest, was inspired by an evacuation of the remote Scottish island of St. Kilda. It’s an interesting portrait of an isolated population and how this isolation can lead to a false sense of pride. How do isolated cultures react when forced to negotiate the modern world? It’s a beautiful film shot on location in the Scottish Isles. I had a slight problem relating to and investing in the characters in the film, but I enjoyed it. 3 stars.

15) The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress (1944)

Why I watched: The film was inducted into the National Film Registry.

Impression: William Wyler directed this documentary about the men who served on the Memphis Belle during WWII. It’s a pretty cool look at the massive amount of manpower and skill involved in manning such a large plane. 2 stars.

16) Are Crooks Dishonest? (1918)

Why I watched: Trying to watch at least ten movies released in every year of the twentieth century.

Impression: I like Harold Lloyd fine, but attempts to place him on par with Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin as the triumvarate are misguided. This is a cute film, but there are just not enough laughs or depth to the story. 1 1/2 star.

17) Things to Come (1936)

Why I watched: In the book 1001 Movies to See Before You Die.

Impression: I like H.G. Wells, but this pseudo science fiction tale was too preachy. After a chemical weapon in a future war decimates the planet, society evolves into a cold, authoritarian society ruled by technocrats. And according to the film, this is the best possible outcome. A few nice scenes can’t hide what a bummer the film is. 2 stars.

18) Out West (1918)

Why I watched: My continuing attempt to watch at least ten movies released in every year of the twentieth century.

Impression: Another short featuring Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and Buster Keaton. As the name implies, this takes place in the Wild West. It was marginally funny, except an unnecessary and uncomfortable seen at the saloon when a black patron comes in and everyone shoots at his feet to get him to dance. 1 star.

19) Barren Lives (1963)

Why I watched: In the book 1001 Movies to See Before You Die.

Impression: This depressing look at the abject poverty of rural Brazil was too languid and slow to capture my interest. 1 1/2 stars.

20) The Exiles (1961)

Why I watched: It’s in the National Film Registry and in the book 1001 Movies to See Before You Die.

Impression: This film about Native Americans living in Los Angeles in the middle of the twentieth century is a pretty good exploration of the difficulties of maintaining cultural identity. 2 1/2 stars.

Friday, November 20, 2015

21) The Sinking of the Lusitania (1918)

Why I watched: Trying to watch at least ten films released every year in the twentieth century.

Impression: This animated recreation of the sinking of the ship was pretty cool. It’s obviously one-sided, but it’s very well done. Windsor McCay was a towering figure in early 20th century comic strips and animation. This work, unlike his previous more comedic and surreal material, was painstakingly created and is an important step in the evolution and realization of animation as a serious art form. 3 stars.

22) Why Pick on Me? (1918)

Why I watched: Trying to watch at least ten films in every decade of the twentieth century.

Impression: I’m not a huge Harold Lloyd fan. His films don’t have the pathos of Chaplin or the subtlety of Keaton. This is a forgettable short. 1 star.

23) Heimat (1984)

Why I watched: Included in Empire‘s list of the top 500 films.

Impression: Initially airing as a miniseries on German television, this thirteen hour film traces the history of a small German town from World War I through 1982. Focusing on one family’s experience, it’s an approximation of the way most of us experience history. It’s a brilliant look at the way location and origin impact our lives in ways we are not always cognizant. Long, but worth it. 4 stars.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

24) Let the Bullets Fly (2010)

Why I watched: MUBI’s films of the day.

Impression: Part gangster film, part martial arts. This movie set in 1920s China feels like a Chinese history lesson taught by Quentin Tarantino. It’s uneven and shift dramatically from farce to serious drama in the final act. 1 1/2 stars.

25) The Hitch-Hiker (1953)

Why I watched: MUBI’s films of the day, also included in the National Film Registry.

Impression: Inspired by the actual murderous rampage of Billy Cook, this is a rare, vintage film noir directed by a woman, Ida Lupino. When two men pick up a hitchhiker on a way to a fishing trip, they never suspect they’ve invited a psychopath. Edmond O’Brien is a B movie all-star who specialized in roles like this, and William Talman (who would later go on to star as Hamilton Burger in Perry Mason) is phenomenal as the murderous Emmett Myers. 3 stars.

26) Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015)

Why I watched: Among the 600 highest grossing films of all time.

Impression: The first film in this series was okay, but felt derivative and unoriginal, but this film was really good. I like the film’s star, Dylan Thomas. I’m ashamed to admit I watch (and occasionally enjoy) his work on the TV show Teen Wolf, but the rest of the teen cast is unexceptional. I’ve loved Giancarlo Esposito since he was in Homicide: Life on the Street (not to mention his outstanding work in Breaking Bad). Aidan Gillen has been a dependable HBO mainstay in The Wire and Game of Thrones; he’s due for a breakout film role and does a good job. Patricia Clarkson is okay in a cameo as the cliched evil mastermind. Alan Tudyk and Barry Pepper round out the talented cast. I went in with low expectations, but this was a lot of fun and I’m actually a little excited for the third film in the series. 3 1/2 stars.

27) Bear Story (2014)

Why I watched: Shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short.

Impression: A few cute images, but this story of a mechanical bear didn’t do much for me. 1 1/2 star.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

28) Terminal Island (1973)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day.

Impression: The concept was spectacular: when the death penalty is declared unconstitutional, a remote island off the coast of California is turned into a penal colony. Every convicted murderer is sent to Terminal Island and left to their own devices. I wish the film were as cool as the concept. Although it was fun to see a young Tom Selleck, watching it reminded me of watching The Purge: it could have and should have been a lot better. 2 1/2 stars.

Eleven years before the first NBA game, a look back at 1935

In 1935,

Bruno Hauptmann was convicted of kidnapping Charles Lindbergh Jr.,

The first canned beer was sold in the United States,

Parker Brothers began selling Monopoly,

The famously loyal dog Hachiko died,

Porky Pig debuted,

Persia was renamed Iran,

Fibber McGee and Molly premiered,

Sun Myung Moon claimed to experience a vision where he is chosen to complete the mission of Christ,

The first nighttime baseball game was played between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Cincinnati Reds,

Babe Ruth played in his last Major League Baseball game,

Alcoholics Anonymous was founded,

The first parking meters were installed in Oklahoma City,

President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act,

Will Rogers was killed in a plane crash,

Carl Weiss assassinated Huey Long,

The Nuremberg Laws stripped German Jews of their citizenship,

The Melody Inn opened in Indianapolis,

Haile Selassie I was named Time’s Man of the Year,

Floyd Patterson, Elvis Presley, Bob Denver, the Amazing Kreskin, Gene Vincent, Sonny Bono, Jimmy Swaggart, Judd Hirsch, M. Emmett Walsh, Mahmoud Abbas, Herb Alpert, Dudley Moore, Charles Grodin, David Prowse, Jack Kemp, Donald Sutherland, Ron Paul, Frank Robinson, Ken Kesey, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Mathis, Julie Andrews, Bruno Sammartino, Luciano Pavarotti, Jerry Orbach, Peter Boyle, Bob Gibson, Woody Allen, Lee Remick, Paul Hornung, and Sandy Koufax were born,

While Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Jane Adams, Alfred Dreyfus, T.E. Lawrence, and Ma Barker died.

The following is a list of my favorite films released in 1935:

Continue reading Eleven years before the first NBA game, a look back at 1935

The Week That Was: November 9 – November 15

Monday, November 9, 2015

1) The Little Deputy (2015)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day

Impression: This short is an effective look at regret and missed opportunities. It’s a clarion call for saying the things you need to say to those you love before it’s too late to do so. 3 stars.

2) Cross Creek (1983)

Why I watched: Rip Torn was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and Alfre Woodard was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Impression: Based on the memoir of Majorie Kinnan Rawlings, this film has a few worthwhile moments, but never finds an identity. Frustrated novelist Rawlings leaves New York to run an orange grove in Florida. Inspired by the people in rural Florida, she writes her most important novel, Jacob’s Ladder and The Yearling. Steenburgen, whom I normally love, is not believable as the rugged, determined novelist. Rip Torn is great as an alcoholic father, but I would have liked to have seen more of him. Alfre Woodard does a fine job as a poor black woman befriended by Rawlings, but their chemistry was not very good.

The film implies it was Rawlings independence which led to her becoming a successful novelist, but undercuts this with her marriage at the end. The romantic plot was an unnecessary diversion. The film is simultaneously about female empowerment and reaffirming traditional views. Never a good mix. 2 stars.

3) Throw of the Dice (1929)

Why I watched: Included in the book, 1001 Movies to See Before You Die.

Impression: Two Indian kings, Ranjit and Sohan, play a game of craps to decide who will marry Sunitra. Sohan uses loaded dice to rig the game. but when Sunitra discovers the deception and she winds up with the honorable Ranjit, who she loves.

It’s a very pretty film which captures the exotic beauty of the Indian countryside, but it’s an awfully flimsy film, and its straightforward narrative doesn’t really care very much for creating memorable characters. 1 1/2 stars.

4) Shen nu (1934)

Why I watched: Included in the book, 1001 Movies to See Before You Die.

Impression: A despondent young woman turns to prostitution to provide for herself and her son. She sends her son to school so he can have a better life, but when other parents learn her profession, they force her to withdraw her son. When she learns her paramour has stolen the money she had been hiding for herself, she kills him and is imprisoned. She arranges for someone else to raise her son and asks he never be told about her.

It’s a powerful film about the cruelties of a harsh view of traditional morality. The star of the film, Ruan Lingu, became massively popular in China. Sadly, after unrelenting tabloid press regarding her personal life, she took her own life one year after this film premiered. She was 24 years old. Her life story retroactively imbues this story with a far greater poignancy. 3 stars.

5) Fatty and Mabel Adrift (1916)

Why I watched: I want to watch at least ten movies in every year of the twentieth century.

Impression: Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and Mabel Normand had a very real and easy chemistry. This was far better than I anticipated, and the image of the two of them in a house that had been set to drift in the ocean is indelible. Very funny. 3 stars.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

6) Lancaster, CA (2015)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day.

Impression: A meandering waste of ten minutes. It was just video of two guys in a car with one of them possible admitting to some embarrassing things. 1/2 star.

7) Panic Room (2002)

Why I watched: The only film directed by David Fincher I hadn’t seen.

Impression: The premise was a little too convenient. A freshly divorced woman (Jodie Foster) buys a home with a panic room and moves in. At the same time, the designer of the room in question (Forest Whitaker), breaks into the home to steal a substantial amount of money hidden in the panic room.

During the break-in, she goes to the panic room and locks herself and her diabetic daughter (Kristen Stewart) inside. There’s a tense standoff.

David Fincher knows how to make his films visually arresting and can create tension from even mundane situations. However, Jodie Foster has gone to the “peaceful woman forces to take violent action to defend herself” well too many times. Jared Leto was good as the grandson of the former owner, and Dwight Yoakam was fun as the member of the arresting group with the most violent tendencies. However, the most interesting thing about the film was seeing a young Kristen Stewart before Twilight-mania had turned her into a household name.  Fincher’s a good enough director, his homage to claustrophobia wasn’t a complete waste of time. 2 1/2 stars.

8) The Exorcist III (1990)

Why I watched: Included in the list of the top 500 horror movies of all time.

Impression: I’m a huge fan of The Exorcist. This sequel is a capable continuation of the original film, but does not quite capture the spiritual unease of its progenitor. I did like George C. Scott, taking over the role of Lt. Kinderman from Lee Cobb in the original film. This film reveals Father Karras survived and has been living for eleven years in an insane aslyum. Now, he’s possessed by the same demon which possessed Regan McNeil. Every night, the demon possesses another one of the patients in the war and kills someone in the style of the Gemini Killer.

I enjoyed this film, but wish it had been a little more tightly edited. I was happy they chose to foreground some of the spiritual questions which made the original film such a great one, but despite a great performance from Scott, it lacked the passion and fire of the original. 2 1/2 stars.

9) Black Mass (2015)

Why I watched: Johnny Depp’s supposed return to form.

Impression: Johnny Depp does a good job transforming himself into White Bulger. It is the most unrecognizable he’s been in a very long time.

However, the movie should have focused on John Connolly and his rationalization of the evils Whitey committed. The movie comes close to this and Egderton and Depp are essentially co-leads, but because of Depp’s star power, the film gravitates back to him a little often. The more interesting story is the corruption of the FBOI agent and how he was able to keep his enabling of Whitey a secret for so long. Solid, not great film. 3 stars.

10) Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

Why I watched: I’ve seen the other four films in the series, and it’s one of the highest grossing films of 2015.

Impression: It felt like a remake of the previous film in the series. The credibility of IMF is at stake and Ethan Hunt must act quickly and decisively to uncover the conspiracy. I like Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Alec Baldwin, and Tom Cruise. Some of the action pieces were very well put together, but overall, I just can’t pretend to care. 1 1/2 stars.

11) Chasing Tyson (2015)

Why I watched: A part of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series.

Impression: Evander Holyfield is now best remembered as the man who got his ear bitten by Mike Tyson. This documentary reminds us he was a pretty good boxer as well. In fact, he is the only person to win the heavyweight belt on four different occasions, but because he was not as charismatic as Tyson, his career is often overlooked. Which raises an interesting question, what qualities do we use to determine success? According to this film, charisma and personality are at least as important as talent, and the film speaks to the power of the press to develop a narrative, to define individuals in the public consciousness. I wish it had explored these issues more, but that wasn’t the purpose of this film. 3 stars.

12) The Mouse that Roared (1959)

Why I watched: I love Peter Sellers.

Impression: When the tiny duchy of Grand Fenwick is faced with bankruptcy, their leadership decides the best way to remedy the situation is to declare war on the US, then immediately surrender, anticipating the US will offer an aid package comparable to the Marshall plan or its rebuilding of Japan. Despite their very small military force, their invasion goes much differently than planned.

Peter Sellers is hilarious in multiple roles as the Grand Duchess Gloriana XII, Prime Minister Count Rupert Mountjoy, and Tully Bascombe. It was intriguing to see First Doctor William Hartnell in something else. I’m fascinated this was directed by Jack Arnold, the guy who made a living directing classic sci-fi in the 1950s like The Incredible Shrinking Man and The Creature of the Black Lagoon. A sophisticated political satire does not appear to be in his wheelhouse, but he did a great job.

The complexity of the mysterious Q bomb and its ability to destroy a continent reminds me of Ice-9 in Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle which helps put a smile on my face. 4 stars.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I didn’t watch any movies.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

13) The Imposter (2012)

Why I watched: Jamie Porter’s recommended film of the week.

Impression: Frédéric Bourdin is a genius and a very sick man who’s spent much of his life impersonating other people. This film documents an incident when he impersonated Nicholas Barclay, a Texas child who had disappeared at thirteen. Bourdin didn’t resemble Barclay at all, but the child’s family was either fooled or willing to go along with the charade until a private investigator and the FBI uncovered the truth.

The film is a little frustrating because it implies someone in his family murdered Nicholas, but never really pushes or explores this, instead choosing to focus on Bourdin’s deception. Because of this, it feels somewhat incomplete. Bourdin is fascinating, but by bringing up the possibilities of what actually happened to Nicholas and the family’s bizarre behavior, it left me with more questions than answers. 3 stars.

14) Police (1916)

Why I watched: Still trying to watch at least ten films released every year of the twentieth century.

Impression: A tamed down version of Charlie Chaplin’s zaniness. With a few exceptions, most of his shorts don’t hold up as well as his later feature-length films. In this one, Charlie, released from prison, hooks up with a career criminal who convinces him to help in a robbery. There’s just not enough going on to really recommend this. 1 star.

15) Storm Over Asia (1928)

Why I watched: Included in the book 1001 Movies to See Before You Die.

Impression: In this Soviet film about cultural colonialism, British officials use a descendant of Genghis Khan to advance an anti-Soviet agenda. It’s brilliantly, subversive and a ballsy piece of propaganda. In actuality, the British were never in Mongolia, and by all accounts the Soviets were the ones doing the very things alleged of the British in the film. Now, we’re all hyper-sensitive to diverse cultures and bend over backwards not to misappropriate them in any way. This nearly ninety year old film shows a unique awareness of these underlying issues and a deftness in exploiting them. 2 1/2 stars.


16) Land Without Bread (1933)

Why I watched: Included in the book 1001 Movies to See Before You Die.

Impression: Luis Buñel is one of the most versatile directors. From the radical surrealism of Un Chien Andalou (1929) to the sexual politics of Belle du jour (1967), his works defy easy characterization. Here, he makes a documentary about the Las Hurdes region of Spain, renowned for the intense poverty of its inhabitants. However, in typical Buñel fashion, it’s not enough to show the brutal conditions of these people. By utilizing a flat and disinterested narrator, he reminds us of Western indifference to the suffering of marginalized people. It’s an odd, almost comic effect, but draws attention to the stark difference in his tone compared to the images of suffering. 3 stars.

17) Gigante (2009)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day.

Impression: In this Uruguyan film, a security guard stalks a cleaning worker, before working up the courage to approach her. It’s boring and meandering. 1 1/2 star.

18) Tose (2015)

Why I watched: Part of ESPN’s umbrella program 30 for 30 shorts.

Impression: Somehow, I’d never heard of Leonard Tose before. He purchased the Philadelphia Eagles in 1969 for $16 million dollars, then was forced to sell the team in 1985 for $65 million to pay off his substantial gambling debt. He freely admits to losing as much as $1 million in a night gambling. Tose was an extremely generous man, who’s personal excesses led to a humiliating fall. The love of his former players and associates is obvious. This short was a passion project for Eagles fan Mike Tollin. He wants to make a feature film about the life of the flamboyant owner and this is presented as a pitch. I hope he’s able to see his passion project come to pass. 3 stars.

Friday, November 13, 2015

19) The Dragon Painter (1919)

Why I watched: Included in the National Film Registry.

Impression: Sessue Hayakawa stars in this silent film with his wife Tsuru Aoki. He plays an artist who’s convinced his fiancée has been transformed into a dragon. The pain he feels as a result of his loss provides him inspiration to become a great painter. When he meets Ume-ko and is told she is his lost love reincarnated, he loses his inspiration. Without the pain, he is incapable of creating his art.

This film suggests all creative inspiration is derived from pain. I’m not sure I agree with the premise, but it’s a fascinating concept. 2 stars.

20) Cujo (1983)

Why I watched: In a list of the top 500 horror movies.

Impression: The first three-quarters of this film are a boring domestic drama that I couldn’t have cared less about. Then the big bad monster is revealed: a rabid dog which traps the world’s most annoying mom in a beat up Pinto with her equally annoying son. The film took way too long to get to the “horror” portion of the film and then forgot to make it scary. 1 1/2 stars.

21) Who is Harry Kellerman and Why is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me? (1971)

Why I watched: Barbara Harris was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for he performance in the film.

Impression: In this noble attempt to emulate the literary technique of stream of consciousness, Dustin Hoffman is George Soloway, a music composer who spends the day reflecting on his life. It’s too disjointed and the attempts at dark humor are cringe worthy. Hoffman gives it everything he has, but it’s not enough. 2 stars.

22) Los Bastardos (2008)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day.

Impression: Two illegal immigrants are hired as contract killers. The first 80 minutes are dull and boring, but the final ten are among the most intense I’ve seen in some time and help make the film slightly more interesting. 2 1/2 stars.

23) Hell’s Hinges (1916)

Why I watched: In the National Film Registry.

Impression: This early western starring William S. Hart as Blaze Tracy is a brutal film which, apparently, took Thomas Hobbes’s admonition that life was brutish and short to heart. A weak minister, Rev. Bob Henley, arrives at Hell’s Hinges with his sister, Faith. The local gangs resist his attempt to evangelize the community and manufacture a scandal with a local prostitute to discredit him. Inexplicably, the distraught pastor aids the outlaws in burning the church. During a gunfight, the pastor is killed and the entire town burns. Blaze and Faith leave behind the destroyed town to start a new life.

It’s just a tad shy of total nihilism and fascinates me that a move like this could have been made one hundred years ago. 3 stars.

24) Love and Anarchy (1973)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day.

Impression: When his anarchist friend is killed before he can assassinate Benito Mussolini, Tunin (Giancarlo Giannini) offers to finish the job. Salome, a prostitute, helps him plan the attack, but when he falls in love with another prostitute, Tripolina, things get complicated. This is a beautiful film about the intersection of life, love, and politics. This Lina Wertmüller films really surprised me. 4 1/2 stars.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

25) The Seduction of Mimi (1972)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day.

Impression: Mimi (Giancarlo Giannini once again) is a poor laborer who’s coerced into voting for a mafia candidate. When he refuses, he’s fired and flees to Turin. While attempting to find work, he becomes reluctantly involved in communist politics, and has several affairs. However, when he learns his wife is pregnant with another man’s baby, he seduces the wife of her lover as revenge. Lina Wertmüller continues to impress. While not as great as Love and Anarchy, this is a very good film which compares sexual politics to actual politics very effectively. 3 stars.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

26) Story of My Death (2013)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day.

Impression: Albert Serra mixes two prominent 18th century semi-historical figures: Casanova and Dracula. It’s a slow, dimly lit film and often features extended philosophical arguments about the nature of love and desire. Casanova dominates the first half as he articulates his worldview and motivations. In the second half, Dracula arrives. This version of the famous vampire is close to a mountain man in appearance. There’s little sexually appealing about him in a traditional sense, and his attacks are blunt and straightforward almost matter of fact. Not everyone will enjoy this strange, melodic film, but I did. 3 1/s stars.

27) Crimson Peak (2015)

Why I watched: I like Guillermo del Toro.

Impression: This gothic romance looked good. The costumes and the sets were dazzling. Sadly, the plot was paper-thin. Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) is courted by the nefarious Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and must deal with his equally nefarious sister Lady Lucille (Jessica Sharpe).

The supernatural elements to the film felt forced, and the tension produced by the various romantic entanglements was virtually nonexistent.

I respect del Toro as a filmmaker and I’m a huge fan of Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth. In those films, the amazing visual effects serviced an intelligent and well crafted story. Here, they’re just eye candy to distract us from the nonexistent plot. 1 1/2 stars.

Best movie I saw this week: Love and Anarchy (1973)

Worst movie I saw this week: Lancaster, CA (2015)

The Week that Was: November 2 – November 8

Monday, November 2, 2015

1) Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)

Why I watched: It is on a list of the 1000 best reviewed films of the 21st century.

Impression: A very good movie about the horrendous treatment of Aborigines in 20th century Australia. 3 1/2 stars.

2) Mabel’s New Hero (1913)

Why I watched: I’m trying to make sure I’ve seen at least ten films released every year of the twentieth century.

Impression: I like Fatty Arbuckle and think his story is one of the greatest tragedies in early Hollywood, and Mabel Normand is very good. Other than some nice set pieces with a hot air balloon, this was one of their least inspired collaborations. 1 star.

3) If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle (2010)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day.

Impression: A part of the Romanian new wave. This film about a trouble youth and his stint in a correctional facility was okay, but not particularly memorable. 1 1/2 stars.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

4) Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)

Why I watched: In a list of the top 500 horror films; one of the few Spielberg films I haven’t seen.

Impression: The prologue with Dan Aykroyd and Albert Brooks is interesting because of who they are. The first segment, directed by John Landis is decent, but takes on a macabre quality when you know about the death of Vic Morrow. The other three segments are more directly inspired by episodes of the acclaimed TV show. The Spielberg segment, “Kick the Can” is cute and sweet, but feels like it’s in the wrong movie. The Joe Dante segment “It’s a Good Life,” is where the film picks up, a weird mash-up of vintage cartoons and Village of the Damned. The final segment, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” directed by George Miller is the closest to horror offered in the film and is an effective, atmospheric set piece anchored by a phenomenal performance from John Lithgow.  Overall: 3 stars.

5) Aliyah (2012)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day.

Impression: French drug dealer Alex get a job in Israel and has to tie up loose ends before he moves. It was fine to watch, but forgettable. 3 stars.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

6) The Ladykillers (2004)

Why I watched: One of the few films from the Coen brothers I hadn’t seen. Also Tom Hanks.

Impression: The first quarter is really uneven and the racial tensions are uncomfortable. But at the half way point, the Coens find their groove, right the ship, and turn this into a really fun, dark farce. JK Simmons and Hanks are excellent. The weakest part of the film is Marlon Wayans, but this is expected. 3 1/2 stars.

7) The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)

Why I watched: In Empire’s list of the 500 greatest films.

Impression: The plot could easily inspire an episode of Law & Order. A few detours make it worth watching, including the slightly bizarre scene with an enigmatic artist. The end is a let down and the mental illness explanation seems trite. Worth watching because you can see its influence all over modern horror films, but it doesn’t hold up well. 2 stars.

8) Intolerable Cruelty (2003)

Why I watched: One of the few Coen brothers films I hadn’t seen.

Impression: George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones have amazing chemistry. The scene where they first go to dinner together is amazing. I love Richard Jenkins, and he’s great as a witless divorce attorney. The structure and plot are pretty generic romantic comedy stuff, but the fantastic chemistry of the leads and a dash of patented Coen dark humor elevate the material. 3 1/2 stars.

9) Free Men (2011)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day.

Impression: I’m not sure how I hadn’t heard of this film. It’s an amazing story of how Si Kaddour Benghabrit, a prominent Parisian Muslim, worked to save Jews from the Nazis in World War II. He falsified records to indicate and went so far as to fake a funeral plot to “prove” one of his wards was of Muslim heritage. One of the men he saved was Salim Halai, a world-famous Algerian Jewish singer. At a time when we believe all Muslims want the extermination of every Jew, it’s astounding to see a story about compassion between the two groups. It reminds me a great deal of Schindler’s List. This story of faith and decency and doing the right thing deserves to be told. 4 1/2 stars.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

10) The Gospel According to Mac (2015)

Why I watched: A part of ESPN’s excellent 30 for 30 series.

Impression: Bill McCartney is a controversial figure and it’s odd for ESPN to produce such an optimistic portrayal of him. It doesn’t shy away from his more controversial positions and statements, but it doesn’t disassociate from them either. McCartney’s work turning around the Colorado football program is legendary and his efforts to bridge the significant racial gap from white liberal cocoon of Boulder with the realities of inner city black kids is inspirational. The film glosses over his later career work with Promise Keepers and other conservative religious groups, but it’s being made for a sports network. A fine documentary, but, considering the subject matter, it could have been more probing. 3 stars.

11) Paris, je t’aime (2006)

Why I watched: The Coen brothers directed one segment.

Impression: This film, inspired by the 20 different arrondissements of Paris, contains 18 short segments, each directed by someone else. Two of the films didn’t make the final film for some reason. The Coens segment, featuring longtime collaborator Steve Buscemi is okay, but some of these segments are excellent. I loved the one where the boy tells how his mime parents met. The segment featuring Bob Hoskins acting out an argument with his long time wife in front of a prostitute was intriguing. Wes Craven directed a lovely segment with Oliver Wilde (played by fellow director Alexander Payne) giving love advice from beyond the grave. It was nice to see older and underrated actors Gena Rowlands and Ben Gazzara getting a chance to work together again. And the final segment, directed by Payne, features one of my favorite character actresses, Margo Martindale acting like a typical American tourist, including speaking in choppy, awkward French. There’s more good than bad here. 3

12) Circle (2015)

Why I watched: Recommended by my friend, Jamie Porter.

Impression:  Aliens are apparently conducting an experiment to determine human values. Fifty people wake up in a room surrounding an odd device in a circle. Every two minutes one of them dies. Eventually, they discover they can vote on who is next. If they don’t vote, it’s random. The dialogue is clunky in places, and the characters are more archetypes than people, but it does a good job hashing out real world implications of firmly held beliefs. How do we determine the value of an individual? The film raises some interesting questions and in the end and deserves kudos for not pulling punches. None of us are saints, and in a high stress situation, fighting for our own lives, our ugly qualities will come through. 3 1/2 stars.

13) The Book of Life (2014)

Why I watched: It was nominated for a Golden Globe, and I’m a sucker for animated films.

Impression: This was a fun, sweet family movie. Riffing on the Mexican holiday, The Day of the Dead and incorporating Mexican traditions such as La Muerte and Xibalba, this is an excellent way of introducing Mexican cultural traditions to a wider audience via a story of lost love. 3 1/2 stars.

14) Desistfilm (1954)

Why I watched: Released by the Criterion Collection.

Impression: I’m not a huge fan of Stan Brakhage’s work. I understand why experimental film is important to expand our knowledge of what cinema can be, but I don’t like this. 1/2 star.

15) Wedlock House: An Intercourse (1959)

Why I watched: Released by the Criterion Collection.

Impression: Slightly better than Desistfilm, but not much. This is apparently meant to invoke a wedding night conjugal incident, but feels like the negatives of a very poorly produced home porn video. 1/2 star.

16) Watchtower (2012)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day.

Impression: A brutal film about two people facing unbelievably difficult circumstances. Nihat’s family was killed in an accident and he’s withdrawn from society to work in a remote forest tower. Raped by her uncle, Seher hides her unintended pregnancy as long as possible and then gives birth alone. She’s going to abandon her child, until Nihat intervenes. The pair form a tentative friendship, demonstrating how important human contact is and how crucial it is for healing. 3 stars.

Friday, November 6, 2015

17) Child’s Play (1988)

Why I watched: In a list of the top 500 horror movies.

Impression: I was very familiar with the concept, but had never seen the film. It’s a ridiculous, but it’s actually pretty good. I had no idea Catherine Hicks (from 7th Heaven) was the mom. 3 stars.

18) Salem’s Lot (1979)

Why I watched: In a list of the top 500 horror movies.

Impression: I like Stephen King and director Tobe Hooper. Sadly, This collaboration did not live up to my expectations. It has some nice moments, but I was confused why Fred Willard was in it. I love James Mason and he does what he can, but he can’t rescue it from mediocrity. There’s enough good things that it’s not one of the worst movies, but not enough to make this updated vampire film recommendable. 2 1/2 stars.

19) The Act of Seeing with One’s Own Eyes (1971)

Why I watched: Released by the Criterion Collection.

Impression: This is not for everyone. Stan Brakhage went to a morgue in Pittsburgh and filmed the procedures. It’s graphic, brutal, and uncompromising. But it possesses a sort of poetic beauty to it and serves as a reminder of how fragile our hold on life is. 2 1/2 stars.

20) 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1916)

Why I watched: Attempting to watch at least ten films released every year of the twentieth century.

Impression: Good adaptation of the Verne story. I liked the additional back story to Captain Nemo which gave him a motivation. Impressive camerawork for the time period. 3 stars.

21) Cosmic Scat-tastrope (2015)

Why I watched: It was shown before The Peanuts Movie.

Impression: It was cute and made me chuckle once or twice, but I don’t find the continuing adventures of Scrat very interesting. 1 1/2 stars.

22) The Peanuts Movie (2015)

Why I watched: I wanted to make sure my son grew up with Snoopy. Plus, he’d recently seen the Snoopy Thanksgiving episode at school and thought it was funny.

Impression: It was cute and really funny in a few places. My five-year old laughed out loud several times (apparently he has a deep love of slapstick). However, it felt like a greatest hits compilation and offered a lot of the same material we’ve seen in several other Peanuts specials. Good, but could have been great. 3 1/2 stars.

Saturday November 7, 2015

23) Cat’s Cradle (1959)

Why I watched: Released by the Criterion Collection.

Impression: Random images of a cat and its owners. 1 star.

24) Tu dors Nicole (2014)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day.

Impression: Recent college graduate Nicole returns home to an empty house for the summer. Listless and rudderless, her friend, Veronique, to go to Iceland, but these vague plans are derailed by an unexpected infatuation. This film captures the anxiety and fear of transitioning to adulthood. It’s a close approximation of the realities of young adult indecisiveness in the 21st century. 3 1/2 stars,

25) Censored (1944)

Why I watched: No real reason. It aired on Turner Classic Movies.

Impression: Chuck Jones directed this short cartoon commissioned by the army during WWII to get instructional points across. This is about the importance of not telling secrets to loved ones. 2 stars.

26) Red Road (2006)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day.

Impression: While driving Jackie recognizes Clyde, the man who killed her husband and child in an accident. Furious he’s been released from prison, she plots an elaborate scheme to extract revenge. This film is tough to watch and there’s a particularly graphic sex scenes which is extremely disturbing, but the end (if you can make it through) is a nice statement about the power of forgiveness and the fallacy of revenge. 3 1/2 stars.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

27) Window Water Baby Moving (1959)

Why I watched: Released by the Criterion Collection.

Impression: Experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage filmed a birth and the immediate after effects. It’s graphic and gross, but fascinating. I will never watch this again, but I’m glad I watched it once.  2 1/2 stars.

28) Mothlight (1963)

Why I watched: Released by the Criterion Collection.

Impression: Another short by experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage. This is getting more abstract and less connected to reality. 1 1/2 stars.

29) The Wold Shadow (1972)

Why I watched: Released by the Criterion Collection.

Impression: Yet another short from Stan Brakhage. This is basically a static shot of a forest. 1/2 star.

30) The Garden of Earthly Delights (1981)

Why I watched: Released by the Criterion Collection.

Impression: Another abstract piece by Brakhage which consists of random images. Apparently, it was a big deal when he starting scratching the film and writing directly on the film stock in his movies. 1 star,

31) Kindering (1987)

Why I watched: Released by the Criterion Collection.

Impression: As close as we’ll get to a Brakhage home video. He shows his children and glimpses of his life with them, albeit in a highly stylized and impressionistic way. 1 1/2 stars.

31) I… Dreaming (1988)

Why I watched: Released by the Criterion Collection.

Impression: Brakhage attempts to show us inside his mind. It’s cool in places, but a little pretentious. 1 star.

31) Halloween II (1981)

Why I watched: The only film featuring Michael Myers I hadn’t seen and in a list of the 500 best horror movies.

Impression: A weak entry in the series. Stuck between the low-budget grungy aesthetic of the first film and the slick, gore-filled Friday the 13th series. They don’t really explain why or how Michael is seemingly immortal. 1 star.

32) Trust (1990)

Why I watched: Included in the book 1001 Movies to See Before You die.

Impression: It riffs on many of the tropes of the romantic comedy genre. Clearly we’re not supposed to like or sympathize with the characters. The problem is, I didn’t feel anything for them, they were too boring. I really like Martin Donovan and I’m sad Adrienne Shelley was murdered, but this was not very interesting. 2 1/2 stars.

Best film I saw this week: Free Men (2011)

Worst film I saw this week: The Wold Shadow (1972)

Welcome to the Atomic Age, a look back at 1945

In 1945:

FDR was inaugurated to his fourth term as US President and died soon after,

Harry Truman became the 33rd US President,

Anne Frank died,

The Yalta Conference took place,

The Battle of Iwo Jima occurred and the famous photo Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima was published,

The Academy Awards were broadcast on radio for the first time,

The Arab League was formed,

Sylvester the Cat debuted,

Benito Mussolini was executed,

Adolf Hitler married Eva Braun and committed suicide the next day,

The United Nations Charter was signed,

Winston Churchill resigned as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom after the 1945 general elections,

The United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki,

Mahatma Gandhi demanded all British troops leave India,

Women were allowed to vote in the French legislative election for the first time,

Ebony was published for the first time

The first cartoon featuring Casper, the Friendly Ghost premiered,

The Nuremberg Trials began,

The world’s first general purpose electronic computer, ENIAC went online,

Pippi Longstocking was first published,

In a radio program, Superman met Batman for the first time,

Stephen Stills, Rod Stewart, Tom Selleck, Bob Griese, Bob Marley, Mia Farrow, John Heard, Micky Dolenz, Pat Riley, Walt Frazier, Eric Clapton, Peter Gammons, August Wilson, Rita Coolidge, Kurt Loder, Bob Seger, Keith Jarrett, Pete Townshend, John Fogerty, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Helen Mirren, George Pataki, Brenda Fricker, Carly Simon, Debbie Harry, Burt Ward, Dean Koontz, Jim Davis, Steve Martin, Vince McMahon, Van Morrison, Jose Feliciano, Phil Jackson, Don McLean, Dusty Rhodes, Brian Doyle-Murray, Neil Young, Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, Chris Matthews, Ernie Hudson, and Diane Sawyer were born,

While Eric Liddell, Ernie Pyle, JohnS. McCain Sr., Bela Bartok, George Patton, and Theodore Dresier died.

The following is a list of my ten favorite films released in 1945:

Continue reading Welcome to the Atomic Age, a look back at 1945

The Week that Was: October 26 – November 1

Trying something new.

I still intend to write more lengthy reviews and post my best of lists, but those take a lot of time. In order to stay current, I’m posting a weekly update on what I’ve seen, why I watched each film, and my short initial impression.

Monday, October 26, 2015

1) Empire of the Sun (1987)

Why I watched: Included in the IMDB top 1000; one of the few Spielberg films I haven’t seen.

Impression: Young Christian Bale is great. I love Miranda Richardson, but she’s wasted here. Malkovich is good, but doesn’t do anything spectacular. This film is too ambitious and tries to do way too much in two hours. 3 stars.

2) Decasia (2002)

Why I watched: In the National Film Registry.

Impression: Nice metaphor, using decaying silent film footage to comment on the passage of time, but it shouldn’t have been so long. 2 stars.

3) Joe Dirt (2001)

Why I watched: Have heard a lot about it, finally bit the bullet.

Impression: Exactly what you’d expect. Spade w/o Farley is not able to carry a feature film. There are a few moments, but not nearly enough. 2 stars.

4) The Son of the Sheik (1926)

Why I watched: In the National Film Registry.

Impression: Valentino is fine, but I prefer The Sheik (1921). 2 stars.

5) Back in Time (2015)

Why I watched: Netflix recommended + I love Back to the Future.

Impression: Great for fans of the movie. A few interesting tidbits. Fun to see how obsessed people can be. 3 stars.

6) Somers Town (2008)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day.

Impression: This film about modern British life with the realities of multiculturalism didn’t do much for me. 2 1/2 stars.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

7) Last Days (2005)

Why I watched: In a list of the 1000 best reviewed films of the 21st century.

Impression: The concept sounded great: Gus Van Sant doing a film inspired by the final days of Kurt Cobain’s life, but it was really boring. 2 stars.

8) The Fog (1980)

Why I watched: In a list of the top 500 horror films

Impression: Way too cheesy. I love Hal Holbrook, but that wasn’t enough. 2 stars.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

9) The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call, New Orleans (2009)

Why I watched: In a list of the 1000 best reviewed film of the 21st century.

Impression: Cage is deliciously, uncomfortably evil, but two hours of Nic Cage being evil does not make a great movie. 2 1/2 stars.

10) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

Why I watched: In Paramount’s vault available on Youtube

Impression: I was surprised how much I loved the original, and was semi-excited for this. I was really disappointed. The energy of the original is completely missing and it feels derivative of the 80s horror like the Friday the 13th and the Nightmare on Elm Street series which were themselves derivative of the original. 2 stars.

11) Insomnia (2002)

Why I watched: One of the few Christopher Nolan films I hadn’t seen, and Robin Williams.

Impression: Bleh. It’s decent, but there’s not enough going on to keep me interested. 2 1/2 stars.

12) Antares (2004)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day.

Impression: While I liked director Spielman’s later work in Revanche, this was not particularly exciting. 1 1/2 stars.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

13) Down Argentine Way (1940)

Why I watched: In the National Film Registry.

Impression: Don Ameche is very underrated. Betty Grable is fun. Carmen Miranda’s debut film showcases her tremendous charisma, and any excuse to see the Nicholas Brothers in action is worth taking. Solid, but not quite spectacular film. 4 stars.

14) The Adventures of Shakrboy and Lavagirl (2005)

Why I watched: Netflix recommended.

Impression: A cute concept, but poorly executed. I can’t believe this was released to theaters. It feels like a Disney special. 2 stars.

15) The Errand Boy (1961)

Why I watched: In Paramount’s vault on YouTube.

Impression: As a director, Jerry Lewis shows a sophistication and experimental streak you wouldn’t expect. This bizarre film is a pretty scathing attack on Hollywood. I liked it more than I thought I would. 3 1/2 stars.

16) Every Day (2015)

Why I watched: ESPN 30 for 30 short

Impression: I’m a sucker for anything with elderly people in it. The story of Joy Johnson, who took up running at 59 and went on to run in 25 New York Marathons, was pretty cool. I loved it, but not sure others will. 3 1/2 stars.

17) Frankenweenie (1984)

Why I watched: On TCM, I like Tm Burton, and enjoyed the 2012 remake.

Impression: Really fun seeing vintage Shelley Duvall and a young Daniel Stern, but I understand why Disney was upset with the final product. There’s just not enough going on to recommend. 2 1/2 stars.

18) Tulpan (2008)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day.

Impression: A nice film about life in Kazakstan, but nothing spectacular. 2 1/2 stars.

19) Vincent (1982)

Why I watched: On TCM, I like Burton, and curious to see his early stuff.

Impression: Unlike Frankenweenie, this was full of personality. This love letter to Vincent Price may be the best view into the mind of Tim Burton. 3 1/2 stars.

Friday, October 30, 2015

20) Enter the Void (2009)

Why I watched: In a list of the 1000 best reviewed films of the 21st century.

Impression: The concept of a soul wandering between time and space observing his own past and the future of those he loved is great. The first half was worthy of the concept, but the second half was puerile and made sex boring. 2 1/2 stars.

21) Bright Star (2009)

Why I watched: In a list of the 1000 best reviewed films of the 21st century.

Impression: I’m not a huge fan of Jane Campion, but this film about the unfulfilled love affair of John Keats and Fanny Brawne was excellent. 3 1/2 stars.

22) Tess of the Storm Country (1922)

Why I watched: In a list of the top 300 silent films.

Impression: It’s so steadfastly old-fashioned, it feels older than it is. 1 1/2 stars.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

23) Requiem for a Vampire (1971)

Why I watched: MUBI’s films of the day.

Impression: Jean Rollin’s work is interesting, and his efforts to blend erotica and horror have been influential, but this film is a little too graphically sexual for my taste. 1/2 star.

24) Mr. Holmes (2015):

Why I watched: I love Sherlock Holmes. I love Ian McKellen.

Impression: This was very good, and the idea of an elderly Holmes reflecting back on his life is fantastic, but this film probably spreads itself too thin. 3 1/2 stars.

25) Archangel (1990)

Why I watched: In the 1001 Movies to See Before You Die list.

Impression: A noble attempt to appropriate a genre to comment on a historical situation, but I never connected to it. 1 1/2 stars.

26) Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015)

Why I watched: I heard great things. I grew up with Nirvana.

Impression: A fantastic job using archival footage to let Cobain speak for himself. This is a wonderful examination of the life of music a legend and made me appreciate Nirvana even more. Only caveat, Dave Grohl’s absence was obvious and left a hole in the film. 3 1/2 stars.

Sunday November 1, 2015

27) Her Name is Sabine (2007)

Why I watched: MUBI’s film of the day.

Impression: A poignant film about the horrendous way we treat people with mental health issues and our inability to adequately address their needs. 3 1/2 stars.

28) The End of The Tour (2015)

Why I watched: I loved Infinite Jest and am fascinated by David Foster Wallace.

Impression: Eisenberg is adequate, but Jason Segel is phenomenal as the enigmatic author. This felt like a 21st century version of My Dinner with Andre, which means I loved it. 4 1/2 stars.

29) The White Balloon (1995)

Why I watched: In the 1001 Movies to See Before You Die list.

Impression: This sweet domestic film is proof to the Western world that life in the rest of the world is not incredibly different from life here. 3 stars.

Best film I saw last week: The End of the Tour (2015)

Worst film I saw last week: Requiem for a Vampire (1971)

Before Elvis and his gyrating hips ruined everything

In 1955:

Marian Anderson became the first African-American to perform at the Metropolitan Opera,

The USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine, launched,

60,000 non-white residents of Sophiatown were evicted as a result of the South African policy of apartheid,

The short-lived Baghdad Pact was signed,

US President Dwight Eisenhower sent the first US advisors to Vietnam which would eventually lead to US involvement in the Vietnam War,

Jim Henson built the first version of Kermit the Frog,

Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks were arrested in Montgomery, Alabama for refusing to abide by laws regarding segregation of the city’s buses.

The Broadway musical adaptation of Peter Pan debuted on American television,

6,000 people rioted in Montreal to protest the suspension of the Canadiens star player, Maurice Richard,

Eighty year old Winston Churchill resigned his second term as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom,

Richard J. Daley won his fist election as Mayor of Chicago, a position he held for the next 21 years,

The  Salk polio vaccine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration,

Ray Kroc opened the first McDonald’s,

The $64,000 QuestionGunsmokeAlfred Hitchcock PresentsThe Mickey Mouse ClubThe Honeymooners, and Captain Kangaroo debuted on American television.

Ruth Ellis was the last woman executed in the United Kingdom,

Disneyland opened,

Hurricane Diane struck the northeastern US, causing over one billion dollars in damage,

The first edition of the The Guinness Book of Records was published,

Argentinian President Juan Peron was ousted in a coup,

James Dean was killed in a car accident,

Emmett Till was murdered,

Lady and the Tramp premiered,

Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial novel, Lolita, was published,

The world’s population was 2.7 billion people,

Rowan Atkinson, J.K. Simmons, Kevin Costner, Eddie Van Halen, US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, John Grisham, Greg Norman, Kelsey Grammer, Jeff Daniels, Steve Jobs, Penn Jillette, Gary Sinise, Bruce Willis, Moses Malone, Reba McEntire, Earl Campbell, Brendan Gleeson, Michael Rooker, Barbara Kingsolver, Dodi Fayed, Judy Davis, Kate Mulgrew, Donatella Versace, Tom Bergeron, Chris Berman, Mark David Chapman, Jack Morris, Debra Winger, Bill Paxton, Chow Yun-Fat, Dana Carvey, Sandra Bernhard, Tim Berners-Lee, Laurie Metcalf, Jimmy Smits, Willem Dafoe, Iman, Billy Bob Thornton, Wayne Knight, Peter Gallagher, Mike Huckabee, Yo-Yo Ma, Darrell Hammond, Bill Gates, Maria Shriver, Roland Emmerich, Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Nye, Howie Mandel, Billy Idol, and Jane Kaczmarek were born,

While  John Mott, Sir Alexander Fleming, Charlie Parker, Albert Einstein, Cordell Hull, Wallace Stevens, Carmen Miranda, Cy Young, Dale Carnegie, Shemp Howard, and Honus Wagner died.

The following is a list of my ten favorite films released in 1955.

Continue reading Before Elvis and his gyrating hips ruined everything

The thirteenth year of the reign of the second Queen Elizabeth

In 1965,

Lyndon Johnson unveiled a series of domestic programs known as the Great Society,

The Canadian Maple Leaf Flag premiered,

Joan Rivers debuted on the The Tonight Show,

Martin Luther King Jr. and others organized a series of marches from Selma to Montgomery to protest the treatment of African Americans in the United States,

The United States passed the Voting Rights Act,

Russian cosmonaut Alexey Leonov became the first person to walk in space,

The Astrodome opened,

Richard Hickock and Perry Smith were executed for the 1959 murder of the Cluttler family, inspiring Truman Capote to write In Cold Blood,

Bob Dylan went electric and released Highway 61 Revisited

Lyndon Johnson signs legislation creating Medicare and Medicaid,

The Watts riots take place in Los Angeles,

The Beatles performed at Shea Stadium

After 55 years, Casey Stengel retired as a professional baseball manager,

Sandy Koufax pitched a perfect game,

Hurricane Betsy landed in the United States,

My Mother the Car and Days of Our Lives premiered on NBC,

Supermarket Sweep and The Dating Game premiered on ABC,

Pope Paul VI visited the US,

Poppin’ Fresh, the Pillsbury Doughboy debuted,

Great Britain banned the death penalty,,

The total world population is just over 3.3 billion,

Rob Zombie, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Diane Lane, Brandon Lee, Dr. Dre, Paul W.S. Anderson, The Undertaker, Sarah Jessica Parker, Piers Morgan, Rodney King, Robert Downey Jr., Jon Cryer, Kevin James, Suge Knight, Owen Hart, Trent Reznor, John C. Reilly, Brooke Shields, Mick Foley, Elizabeth Hurley, Alex Winter, Connie Nielsen, Stuart Scott, Shawn Michaels, J.K. Rowling, Sam Mendes, Kyra Sedwick, Shania Twain, Charlie Sheen, Bashar al-Assad, Kyle Chandler, Scottie Pippen, Steve Kerr, Steve Coogan, Bjork, Ben Stiller, Nicholas Sparks, and Heidi Fleiss were born.

T.S. Eliot, Nat King Cole, Malcolm X, Felix Frankfurter, Stan Laurel, Amos Alonzo Stagg, Edward Murrow, Spike Jones, Judy Holliday, David O. Selznick, Adlai Stevenson, Moonlight Graham, Albert Schweitzer, Clara Bow, Dorothy Dandridge, Henry Travers, Winston Churchill, and Somerset Maugham died.

The following is my list of the top ten films released in 1965:

Continue reading The thirteenth year of the reign of the second Queen Elizabeth