I won't go into a plot breakdown (as usual), but I will touch on a few highlights. Michael Mann's direction is typically amazing, and I really like that there is virtually no exposition and you have to come to the film with some prior knowledge of Ali, Malcom X, boxing and the late Sixties/early Seventies in order to follow along. I also enjoy the fact that it's not really all that easy to like Muhammad Ali after watching the movie, even though Ali comes across as a generally affable fellow in interviews and clips and things. All in all, it was a very well-done film, but Michael Mann is the clear winner in this case. I'm glad I got to see it during this interesting experiment, as I would never watch it on my own accord. This is also one I probably won't seek out to watch again, but I wouldn't turn it off if it was already on or someone else wanted to watch it.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Ali: The second DVD in the collection that I had not yet seen. Why had I not yet viewed Ali, you ask? That is an excellent question. First, it is a boxing movie. The only movies about boxing I have ever really enjoyed are: Raging Bull, because it's amazing; and the Champ, because I was 6 and in LOVE with Ricky Schroeder. Second, it was released in December of 2001, and I am pretty sure I was having a nervous breakdown right around that time, and didn't have much interest in watching movies or being around AMC in general at that time. Third, it stars Will Smith, and even though he does end up doing a terrific job portraying the titular titlist, he doesn't do much for my personal box office, if you catch my drift.
Aladdin: One of my favorite Disney movies! Yes, I like Disney movies. I like Walt Disney World, too. No, I don't care that Disney is an evil conglomeration that wants to take over the world. Nope, don't care that Walt was an alleged communist, fascist, racist and anti-Semite. I don't think he was any of those things, but more likely an opportunist who would do whatever he could to make some money, by whatever means necessary.
ANYWAY....I believe Aladdin was one of the best animated films to come out of the mouse's house in at least 10 years when I saw it in the theater back in 1992 (I was not a big fan of the Little Mermaid). I believe Mermaid jump-started the animation house into a new era, and Aladdin cemented Disney's return. Both were overshadowed by the Lion King, which to this day remains their crowning jewel of traditional animation (at least in my opinion). Aladdin works for me because the genie is iconic, the songs are catchy as hell, the animation is gorgeous, and Aladdin & Princess Jasmine are hot. That's all I need for a heck of a good time - and it holds up remarkably well - 17 years....waitaminute - it's been 17 FREAKING years? Damn, I'm old.
Akira: One of the first DVDs in the collection that I had not seen yet. Not being a huge anime fanatic, I wasn't totally looking forward to it, but I was intrigued. It is a genre I need to get to know better. I've dabbled, however (the Cat Returns is off the chain) but it is a little daunting to start to immerse oneself in. I had a few preconceptions of the movie due to just looking at the cover - I was thinking pure action because of the slick bike and the red/blue tones, as well as the lone figure wearing biking gear. Could not have been more mistaken. Sure, there is action, but is overshadowed by the science fiction. This is sci-fi, and it is FUCKING WEIRD. Really, really, really strange. In fact, I'm not going to break it down for you, because you either know all about it, or you know nothing about it and will go watch it now because I have proclaimed it's weirdness. The most disappointing thing about it was finding out that it came out in 1988, and would've been an excellent addition to my litany of drug movies I watched during my high school/college years, had I only known about it. Sadly, these days are behind me, but the movies are a fun reminder of the days when I could explore the farthest corners of my brain. Sigh.
Akeelah and the Bee: Oh, Akeelah. Such a good movie, such a great cast, such an amazing premise. Why did I dread watching you again? Perhaps it wasn't dread so much as apathy - I've seen this movie many more times than the actual one viewing I had last year. You see, I've seen Stand and Deliver a few times already, as well as Bad News Bears, Educating Rita...blah blah blah. Local girl beats the odds and rises above her station in life by using that noggin she's been blessed with, just doesn't know how to use just yet. What saves it? An amazing cast and great acting. Fishburne and Bassett, even though Bassett's character was narrow and frustrating. It's a good movie, just really formulaic and predictable. Oh - did I mention that the community comes together to help her and root her on? Yeah - even the gang leader that is poaching her big brother for fun and profit. Seriously?
Helvetica: I loved this movie. Another little-known documentary, and quite a niche work at that. This is an homage to the ubiquitous font, ye olde Helvetica. The doc is mainly for the graphic design set, but anyone who is interested in words, fonts, or just good design in general will find it fascinating. It starts with showing how the font is used everywhere (seriously...EVERYWHERE), and how it was a refreshing change in the advertising world in the sixties from the old messy script styles used in cheesy ads back in the day. I remember ads from the seventies using a nice helvetica and a period for emphasis.
The new Volkswagen Rabbit.
Hop to it.
Or something to that effect....except that example has to be in Arial, the shitty Microsoft bastardization of the real deal. I fucking hate Microsoft. So...anyway...the film goes on to follow the inevitable backlash against the type - it is used by American Airlines and other large, evil corporations, hence it is bad. The font stands for all that is wrong with the world, and must be destroyed. And here come the saviors! The 90's grunge designers who use dirty, diffused and chaotic lettering for everything...until the backlash experiences its own backlash, and the new millennium is dedicated to honoring the font, wallowing in the 'retro-ness' of it all, and finding it cute and anti-establishment yet again. Confused? Yeah, me too. At any rate, I love the font, and loved the doc.
Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock?: Now, please keep in mind that I do, in fact, know who Jackson Pollock is. I love Ed Harris, after all. I also love little-known independent documentaries. So I felt like this may be an interesting choice to watch on my time off. It was interesting, and most of the film was spent wondering if it was a mockumentary, but it was the real deal. It turns out that this curmudgeonly old lady trucker found a huge splatter painting at a yard sale and bought it as a joke for her friend who liked art. Someone saw it and mentioned that it could be a Pollock, and she suddenly saw dollar signs instead of paint splatters. Oh, art....you bring out the beast in all of us! Anyway, the film focuses on how the woman goes about trying to prove it's a Pollock, and everyone from Guggenheim art directors to shyster art dealers gets involved. Ultimately, the woman is offered $9 million or so for the painting, but holds off for more money, since the artists' works go for about 30 - 50 million dollars, or some such rubbish. Considering she paid like 8 bucks for the thing, she clearly should've taken the money and run, but she got a little greedy and probably has nothing after all the pain and humiliation she's endured. An interesting, yet ultimately frustrating film.
The Rage in Placid Lake: I watched this movie just because it was the next one that looked interesting, and I didn't remember exactly why I added it to my queue. I knew it was a quirky indie flick, and that I would either love it or hate it. Surprise - neither! There were some real laugh-out-loud moments, and I'd never really known who Ben Lee was, so getting to know him was nice. But all in all, it seemed like it was trying a bit too hard to be something it just wasn't. However, it is an Australian film, and there are times when I don't get that humor as much as I dig British humor. I would recommend this one to people who like unusual films about underdogs and subculture, but not to my mom or my sister. They definitely would not get it.
Airplane! ("Don't Call Me Shirley!" Edition): Voted one of AFI's funniest movies of all time (#10, I believe - though it should have been higher, IMHO), and probably one of THE most quoted movies of all time, this is a must-watch, must-buy, if-you've-never-seen-it-and-admit-it-in-public-you-will-surely-be-ridiculed-hey-don't-call-me-Shirley.
There isn't much to say about this Zucker/Abrahams collaboration that hasn't already been said, so I'll just share my favorite bits with you guys. The Red Zone/White Zone bit, the religious zealots bit (though the youngsters may not get the humor - airports used to be overrun with Moonies and Hare Krishnas, spreading love and literature to annoyed vacationers), and the 'drinking problem' bit. Oh..also, how the little prissy girl takes her coffee, the gratuitous boobs bouncing in front of the camera, the 'I speak Jive' genius cameo by Mrs. Cleaver....I could go on and on. Which, naturally, speaks to the genius of the movie. You should go re-watch it right now. :)
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Air Force One: Here we go again...biased, because my favoritest actor in the whole wide world plays the baddie. It's not a very good movie in that it doesn't hold up and it's very Michael Bay-ish and of the popcorn variety, but it is fun to watch and Mah Boo looks good in a goatee with a Russian accent.
An Affair to Remember: It's true. I had never heard of the movie before watching Sleepless in Seattle, and it makes me very sad to have to report such news. However, I really didn't care for the Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks/Rita Wilson opus (because, let's face it, Rita is SOOOO smokin' hot that she commands every screen she's ever been on...ever), but the movie gave me two things...An Affair to Remember, and a molar cavity. Also - a hate for Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks/Rita Wilson. Even more depressing is the fact that I already was a huge fan of Cary Grant, but in my knowledge at the time, AATR wasn't one of his better-known works. I was more of a 'That Touch of Mink' kind of a gal, and I still prefer Mink just for the campiness of it, as well as Gig Young. But I digress. 'Affair' is a smart romantic comedy with a complete re-watchability, and a cute kid that gave me one of my favorite quotes of all time: "Well, whaddya crabbin' about?". Nothin', kid - it's pretty much perfect.
The Age of Innocence: One of my favorite movies of all time, period. Scorsese period piece? Check. Daniel Day Lewis not chewing scenery? Check. Tortured Love That Can Never Be? Check, check, check. I love it, and no one can ever tell me anything else about it to the contrary. Also, completely quotable, though nobody will ever know what I'm quoting. "Well, that explains it, then." "What?" "Why they are so influential...they make themselves so rare." Only 1% of the population will ever know that I'm talking about the van der Lydens. And I'm okay with that.
Whoops! This leave of absence has been going by much faster than expected, and every day is taken up with the minute-by-minute dealings of having a newborn. Excuses over - let's rock:
As a movie that pretty much serves as the gold standard of comedy in the 90's, and a film that I pretty much know by heart, we decided to save time by skipping this one and moving on to the next DVD in the bunch. Not that much time was saved, and we're still many weeks behind. I'm going to leave this entry with three words: Finkel and Einhorn.
The Addams Family/Addams Family Values: MY LOVE FOR RAUL JULIA WILL NOT BE DENIED. Addams Family was the first movie I ever went to solo, and I would do it again repeatedly, if only to watch Raul smolder, simmer, and ignite the celluloid while freaking the Tango with Morticia, perfectly played by Anjelica Houston. I love Anjelica in this role, and I love her even more in Woody's Crimes and Misdemeanors - she is so blocky and awkward, as opposed to her slinky gothic grace as Morticia. Christina Ricci as a young Wednesday = just about perfect casting, combined with a very adept big screen representation of the classic television show, and you've got a fun popcorn flick that holds up.
I am having issues posting pix and moving them to where I want, so...sorry about the haphazard arrangement of the dvd covers.