Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

Well, we have Wes Craven to thank for this one. The undisputed horror auteur put out this cult classic in the year of my birth, and it has since spawned a couple of sequels and a gritt(ier?) re-boot. The plot follows a middle-class family during an ill-fated road trip that lands them in redneck cannibal country. The film is often described as "exploitation-horror," which means not so much your subtle psychological thriller and more your gory grossness. Sigh. Almost makes you nostalgic for the French horror movie with "eyes" in the title.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Chat: Eyes Without a Face

Tracy: So did you want to chat the creatively titled Eyes Without a Face?

Natalie: Sure! My first comment: how does one have eyes without a face? I understand the skin was supposedly gone but . . . And, second comment: how does one lose all of the skin off of one's face in a car accident without damaging the eyes?
Or breaking her nose or cheekbones or something.

Tracy: Or any other part of her body, presumably! And was I the only one who thought she looked like Mia Farrow on Botox in that mask? I have to say, I was (unpleasantly) surprised by the gruesomeness of the surgery scene.

Natalie: Right?! And, nope, she looked just like Mia Farrow on Botox in the mask, especially with the short hair and the swingy nightgowns. At first I was ok with the surgery scene, thinking that the scalpel was just a pen but when they started cutting muscle . . . ugh.

Tracy: Yeah, it was cringe-worthy. What do we think of the assistant/former face-transplant recipient? What happened to her? And is she meant to be evidence of the thrall of the creeptastic surgeon? Also, poor dogs.

Natalie: I'm not sure what to think of her. She seemed a little automaton like but with glimpses of free will. I think my main complaint with this one is the lack of character development. I can guess the wacko motivation of the surgeon but we get next to nothing on the assistant, daughter, daughter's fiance, the cops, the girl the cops almost got killed . . .

Tracy: I agree. I could see a feminist version of this movie, where it's all about the surgeon dad pretending to be altruistic but really just furthering his own self-aggrandizment (best surgeon ever!), but it doesn't really let you get there, because for a movie that's allegedly so horrifying, it's remarkably low-key in performance and filming. I think it's actually pretty mean to the girl who almost gets killed. She seems like such a moron through the whole thing.

Natalie: It doesn't really let you get anywhere. It's very systematic in its not-quite horror. It's a step in the right direction from the other French horror we've seen but without the character development and without more investment in the characters and the plot, I wasn't really interested in what happened. I didn't care about the faceless girl so I really didn't care if she never got a face. And they didn't play up the sci-fi aspect enough for that to grab me (besides the fact that doctors totally do face transplants now).

Tracy: And the mask wasn't really that bad! Here's what the book says: They seem to read it as a mad scientist/monster movie, which is actually sort of interesting. But then ends up saying "This is what gives the film its meaning: we are the 'monster' for whom Doctor Genessier commits his horrible crimes." Not so sure how that works. Also says it's a mixture of high and low cultural tastes. Eh.

Natalie: The mask worked out just fine. I'm sure it would be a tad creepy but grow some bangs and toss on a hat and you're good to go. As a mad scientist/monster movie I would have been more interested in the whole thing. But I needed more. And, no, there is nothing to suggest that we are the monster. If they added how society would have or did shun her, we could be the monster. But it seems he just locked her away and started skinning girls. Eh. I don't hate it but I'm not in love. I'd happily keep it if we can ditch most of the other French horror/suspense.

Tracy: Yeah, I didn't hate it. There was a sort of Grand Guignol creepiness about it. Seemed more like a short story than a movie. I'd keep it too, if only because it seems like it's the only horror film this studio made.

Natalie: It WAS more like a short story! Good comparison. So, ok, a "sure why not" keeper.

Tracy: Yeah, a lukewarm keeper.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Eyes Without a Face (1960)

Nope, not the Billy Idol song. Yep, the French horror film. Sounds like a nice mad-scientist flick in the vein of Hawthorne's "The Birthmark," except creepier. A brilliant surgeon kidnaps young women with the purpose of grafting their faces onto his daughter's, who was disfigured in a car wreck. Doesn't that sounds promising? However, it is French, so we're all bracing ourselves for the promising premise to be drained of all emotional or visceral impact. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Chat: The Golden Coach

Tracy: Let me get my Golden Coach notes. They are sparse, seeing as the title pretty much tells you a bunch about the movie.
  In that there is a Golden Coach.

Natalie: Ha! Yeah, I have no notes.

Tracy: Okay, my first is "Slaves! Awesome!" so this is sort of where I'm operating.

Natalie: HA! Oh dear. This movie. I kept trying to wrap my head around the nationalities involved. So it was an Italian-style story with an Italian troupe of "actors" in a Latin American country of no name (although Wikipedia says Peru--I don't remember that) where they all spoke English except when a joke was being made about there being a language barrier and all directed by a French dude?

Tracy: I know! My second note is, and you know how unusual this is for me, "this shouldn't be in English." It seemed like a really strange mix. And some stuff was just too obviously a SYMBOL. Like, for instance, the golden coach. It did teach me a lot about commedia dell'arte, though. I looked it up after, and I guess it was associated with the rise of the actress as a profession, and the attendant possibilities for power, money, self-sufficiency, etc. So I guess that makes sense thematically. Because though this is another woman who is obsessed with jewelry and bad at having an affair, at least she doesn't take it so seriously.

Natalie:  I know! I was surprised that there were no subtitles. It felt strange. So, re: golden coach. Is this just a retelling of the Golden Goose fairy tale? And, huh, re: commedia dell'arte. I wish this were a more interesting movie about those things. Because, YES!, goodness, how many movies are we going to see about women who are terrible at affairs? Although with this past week's news about Petreaus' mistress . .

Tracy: Oooh. Remind me of the Golden Goose fairy tale. I thought the c d'a was angle was the most interesting, as it also appeared to be extremely racist. But yes! Maybe people are just terrible at having affairs and movies are reflecting that! What did you think of the "stage-iness" of the movie itself? The way the curtain kind of opened at the beginning? Reminded me of Wes Anderson a bit.

Natalie: The Golden Goose per wikipedia (because I couldn't remember the specifics): "The hero is the youngest of three brothers, given the nickname Simpleton. His eldest brother is sent into the forest to chop wood, fortified with a rich cake and a bottle of wine. He meets a little gray man who begs a morsel to eat and a swallow of ale but is rebuffed. The eldest brother meets an accident and is taken home. The second brother meets a similar fate. Simpleton, sent out with a biscuit cooked in the ashes of the hearth and soured beer, is generous with the little old man and is rewarded with a golden goose. The goose has been discovered within the roots of the tree chosen by the little gray man and felled by Simpleton.

With the goose under his arm, Simpleton heads for an inn, where, as soon as his back is turned, the innkeeper's daughter attempts to pluck just one of the feathers of pure gold, and is stuck fast. Her sister, coming to help her, is stuck fast too. And the youngest, determined not to be left out of the riches, is stuck to the second. Simpleton makes his way to the castle, and each person who attempts to interfere is joined to the unwilling parade ranging from the parson, his sexton, and two laborers.

In the castle lives the King with the Princess who has never laughed. But the despondent Princess, sitting by the window and glimpsing the parade staggering after Simpleton and his golden goose, laughs until she cries. Some versions include an additional three trials. Simpleton succeeds in all with the help of his little gold friend and finally wins the princess, living happily ever after."

J walked in at one point and said "Is that a dude in black face?!" Because one of the players had a mask on that did, in fact, give him a black face. Sigh. And, yeah, everything about the Latinos was racist. It didn't remind me of Anderson then but I see what you mean now. At the beginning it was kind of interesting; at the end it was just, really?

Tracy: I can see some parallels there--this thing that stands for riches being coveted by everyone. So, according to le book, apparently :this is the first in Renoir's loose theatre trilogy." I'm sure we'll have to watch the other ones eventually. Most of it is summary, but at the end it says "The movie's surface frivolity and farcical plotting camoflauge a mature, even melancholy film about the fraught relations between love, art, and life." I guess. Francois Truffaut called it "the noblest and most refined film ever made." That I'm not so sure about.

Natalie: Three?! Sigh. At least it's a "loose" trilogy. Apparently one is a French musical and the other has Ingrid Bergman--both already sound better than this one. I see the melancholy (more so than the frivolity really) but not anything noble or refined. Eh. I wouldn't keep it.

Tracy: Me either, since I know we're going to watch more Renoir before this project is over.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Golden Coach (1952)

I don't normally write these intros but our intrepid intro writer is *already* on her Thanksgiving vacation-- Sigh. We won't talk about how jealous I am of that little fact--so I figured I'd give her a break and just write something sub-par and we'll get back to our usual tasks after the holiday.

This little French film about an 18th century Italian commedia dell'arte troupe in Peru was filmed in Rome, is apparently one of three of a loose trilogy, and was based on a French play. If you can wrap your head around all of those nationalities, toss in a golden coach (yep, an actual coach made of gold), a few would-be lovers of the female lead, and the fact that the French director is Jean Renoir (the son of THAT Renoir) and we're in for an interesting view.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Chat: All about Eve

Natalie: I can chat All about Eve if you want.

Tracy: Sure! So I think it's sort of appropriate that we're doing it this week, since watching it this time I kept thinking how much like a horror movie it was.

Natalie: It WAS sort of like a horror movie. There were a lot of "knowing" camera shots on Eve's face. Kind of like a horror movie might do with the killer.

Tracy: Yes! And this creepy liar, insinuating themselves into your life and into your house and nobody else being able to see what a monster they are. What did you think of how she is eventually brought to heel? I was sure that critic was gay.

Natalie: And the terror of the person being, well, terrorized while no one believes her. Total psychological thriller in some places. Yeah, eh, I was sure he was gay. While I liked her being put in her place and her lies being brought to like, I didn't like the rape-y force with which it was done. He wouldn't have done that if he were exposing a man.

That reads wrong--I meant Yeah, eh about the bringing to heel, not the gayness of the critic.

Tracy: It was totally rape-y! And doesn't something about the ending suggest that all professional women--or at least actresses--are replaceable parts, and that the only way for women to get real meaning is to get married? In some ways, the movie is so great for women because of the wonderful roles (including Marilyn Monroe's!), but it's retrograde too.

Natalie: The ending totally suggests that. As does Margo's retirement really. Not that she can't retire but she doesn't need to retire ONLY because she's getting married and dude will be there at 6am. I love the Marilyn cameo, well, not really a cameo since she wasn't famous yet; so, bit part. I agree--the plot movie does a lot to dispel the aging actress idea that says 30 and 40 something women can't be on stage but then it plays right into that. And, we don't get a married woman who works or does anything but meddle. Karen is a great character but she's the only married, educated woman we see and she does nothing but lunch and cause trouble.

Tracy: And take back her cheating husband! I know the movie isn't totally interested in whether they had to do any work to repair what happened with Eve, but Jesus. So do you think that Eve's name also is sort of anti-feminist? THIS is the essence of women?

Natalie: Do we actually know he cheated? I thought it was just Eve's lies. It seems like they would have had to do quite a bit of repair work. And then a lot of maintenance. Ooooh. Her name is a touch problematic. The move does nothing to say that her character is an abnormality and the end suggests it's completely normal for actresses at least.

Tracy: I guess we don't--I just assumed she was successful with him since she failed with Mr. Margot--and gay critic dude seemed to think so too. And I don't know--when he ran to her during the fake breakdown . . . but it is ambiguous. And yeah--I think the actress thing is important, which makes Marilyn's bit part important. It seems like there's no other way to be successful other than to instrumentalize yourself in that way, and that encourages the kind of lying (acting?) that Eve does.

Natalie: There's a strange look between him and Karen in the bedroom but I think that's all besides Eve's questionable info. Oh, yeah, gay critic dude. Interesting. Marilyn seems the more benign version. She knows what she's doing but she's not trying to destroy other people in the process. But, I guess Marilyn has the body to do things that way.

Tracy: True. I do have to say, like I said on the phone, I so love Bette Davis in this role (pre-taming of the shrew). She's so magnificent in her snarky rage.

Natalie: I LOVE Bette Davis in this role! I love her face and all of the close-ups. She has a magnificent control over her body and the way she shows emotion. Was she in Taming of the Shrew?

Tracy: Not that I know of--though she would have been GREAT--I just mean after she decides to get married, it seems like that great body and voice deflate a bit.

Natalie: Oh! That makes sense! But, Taming of the Shrew related, she and Elizabeth Taylor shared an amazing ability to portray anger on film--Taming and Who's Afraid for Taylor, especially.

Tracy: Yes. And not make it seem hysterical or weepy, but rather like a righteous storm. Incidentally, book reminds us that this film holds the record for the most female acting nominations (4!). The rest of the info is about how its a great movie about show business, witty screenplay, etc. Also says "its only flaw is Baxter" (Eve). I thought she did a decent job with a pretty impossible role.

Natalie: Absolutely--anger in a way that makes you uncomfortable and back away from the screen a bit. Hooray for female acting nods! How is Baxter flawed? I thought she did a pretty good job. I mean she's playing opposite Davis. Who's going to do that with as much force as Davis?

Tracy: Sounds like they had a problem with the character--"ambition in a womanly form" or something. But that seemed to be the point, yeah?

Natalie: Huh. Yeah. That seems the entire point. She looks innocent and sweet and therefore you don't expect the vitriolic conniving from her. And that makes her ugly in a way her face can't. It also shows a transition between the slightly problematic high school girl, Eve, and Margo.

Tracy: And what's interesting is that there doesn't seem to be a drop-off in talent. No one accuses Eve of being a hack, just a liar. Wonder if the problematic high school girl is any good either?

me: That's true. Eve is apparently incredibly talented and, now that she has an award, she won't have trouble getting roles. Maybe that's some of the commentary, too. That women HAVE to do this sort of thing in order to get into the game. Eve didn't have a prayer otherwise--the way Marilyn was pushed over by Eve and her connections.

Tracy: I think so. And I wonder what Margo had to do to get where she is.

Natalie: Right? It MUST have been a lot because her parents were ... farmers? shop owners? Something that wouldn't get her theater connections.

Tracy: Maybe that's why she cottons on to Eve before anyone else (that and she's trying to steal her man). So now I'm coming back around to thinking the movie IS feminist.

Natalie: Yeah, to give Eve a chance but Eve isn't interested in the slow apprenticeship and gets dirty to speed things up. That way it does seem more feminist. I think what it is is a lot more complicated than it seems. Which is interesting in an of itself. Also, we don't see the male oppressive machinery so much. We know the men are the playwrights and directors and producers and generally in charge but the guy with the money is malleable (just not reliably so), the playwright is a little flaky and attached to his wife's opinions, and the director is devoted to Eve. But what we see is how these men help the women they love/like, not how they oppress them...

Tracy: That's true. They might be clueless, but they certainly don't disrespect or devalue women. The way some people do. On Facebook.

Natalie: HA! I can't imagine of what you speak :) So, does that respect and value (the director and the writer, probably the producer, too, all know that it's the actress that makes their work famous) make it more feminist?

Tracy: For me, it's more the equal footing on which the women stand that does. So I guess the respect more so than the value. Because if it's just that the actresses add value to the product, that could be objectifying or dehumanizing, but it's more that everyone is co-creators in the artistic product, and everyone is taken seriously. Then people fuck up as people do, but at least it's not because "oh she's a woman and hysterical." I don't think anyone accuses Margo of that, even when people haven't realized the truth about Eve yet.

Natalie: That makes sense. No, I don't think anyone accuses Margo of being hysterical. The director does about his fidelity but that's a different matter.

Tracy: Yes. Which is really refreshing. So verdict = feminist and list-worthy for me. You?

Natalie: Me, too! I'm happy we got to see an enjoyable one!

Tracy: Yes!

Monday, October 29, 2012

All About Eve (1950)

"Fasten your seatbelts . . . " Say it with me, everyone, "it's gonna be a bumpy night." This rightly famous, and righteously sassy, line, comes from Bette Davis's aging, put still potent, actress Margo Channing in this classic film about women, show business, and ambition. The movie is loaded with juicy parts for women--the cutthroat manipulator Eve, Margo's good intentioned best friend Karen--even Marilyn Monroe makes an appearance! The film looks at what it takes for women to make it, and survive, as actresses, in a business run by (largely progressive and kind-hearted) men. It cleaned up at the Oscars, winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor for George Sanders as narrator and take-no-prisoners critic Addison Dewitt. But the main attraction is Davis's Margo, whose anger and snark takes up the whole screen.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Chat: Gangs of New York AND Brokeback Mountain

Natalie: Wanna chat whatever movie we're supposed to chat next (and remind me what that movie is)?

Tracy: Sure! I'm thinking it's Brokeback/Gangs?

Natalie: Right--that sounds right

Tracy: So want to take Gangs first? I was excited to watch it again, and was taken with the first fifteen minutes, and then any part that Daniel Day Lewis was in.

Natalie: Ha! I did not watch Gangs again because I'd just watched it for the first time pretty recently. I liked it just fine but I'm beginning to suspect that I'm just not a Scorcese sort of girl.

Tracy: It's funny--I'm not a huge fan either, but there was something about this one that I was really taken with (along with Age of Innocence). It seemed a lot more lush and expressive than stuff like Taxi Driver or Raging Bull. Maybe I only like him when he's doing the past of New York?

Natalie: That's interesting. I tried to watch Age once when I was a teenager and just couldn't do it. I should try again (is it on the list?) now that I've read and liked the book. I liked the look and feel of the film for the most part but a lot of it felt really overindulgent to me, on Scorcese's part.

Tracy: (I'll go check.) Yeah, it was definitely flawed. There was too much Diaz, for one thing, and it tried to cover too much time. But it sort of played into some of my favorite literary tropes. You have these two men who are clearly living by an outdated system of honor, trying to settle their blood feud the way their fathers did, and that just doesn't work in the modern world. Also, it reminded me a bit of Faulkner--these huge Shakespearian/ancient Greek themes played out amongst these marginalized people in a relatively small community.

No Age of Innocence, btw.

Natalie: Those parts I liked and I very much liked the idea of it. Maybe if another director had done it . . . or with a crueler editor? Diaz needs to not be in movies. At all.

I'll just have to watch Age on my own I guess.

Tracy: It's also overindulgent, but beautiful, I think. And also has DDL! Plus, no Diaz! Apparently Gangs was a movie MS had wanted to make his whole career, and I could tell how much he loved it, but it still has these big problems. Accents being not a minor one.

Natalie: Oh the accents. Sigh. That MS wanted to make it his whole career makes sense and I can see it in the film. It's hard to tell your baby or have anyone tell you about your baby that it's imperfect or a touch too much.

Tracy: Exactly. So I like the spirit behind it, made me like it more than a much more accomplished film like The Aviator, but still, there's a reason I bought it but then didn't watch it until now. I'm not surprised or angry that it got dumped for Brokeback, and it's funny/interesting that yet again, we get two movies that sort of speak to each other, and about gender!

Natalie: Yeah, and why I didn't watch it again. We do have a lot of gender chatting going on this week! A lot of testosterone swirling around.

Tracy: Hold your nose! :) Brokeback was just as heartbreaking and lovely as I remembered. It had been awhile since I had seen this one as well, but again, we have these two men who are not in the right time, but in this case, they were too early.

Natalie:  HAHA! I remember seeing Brokeback in the theater but I don't remember it impacting me as much as it did with this viewing. Maybe it's because I was getting ready to go to the wedding of two gay men or the prevalence of the issue in the news or whatever else but, goodness, those two not being able to be together killed me. But I'm also always killed by people who love each other but can't be together--Guess Who's Coming to Dinner kills me even more because they're playing at being together.

Tracy: It's excruciating, especially when they turn on each other. And it sucks because Ennis has a point about the danger of their relationship, as proven by the possibility of the "real story" behind Jack's death, so they literally have no options, and their unhappiness radiates outward, particularly in Ennis's family. It's mean and unfair and really hard to accept. I guess just in terms of the movie as movie, do you feel the passage of time was handled well? Especially in terms of actors' makeup and such?

Natalie: No options at all and all of that juxtaposed against the daughter's engagement at the end--that she can have who she chooses. I didn't notice the make-up or anything else in a negative way but perhaps there needed to be a bit more. Those men were cowboys for some or all of their lives and would have been a tad more weather beaten I think.

Tracy: Yeah, and poor Jake always looks twelve, whether you slap a mustache on him or not. Oh! And it also got me with Jack's parents at the end.

Natalie: He does. They can't do much to age him. Ugh. The parents. The mother especially got me with her knowing looks and nods and just wrapping up the shirts to put in the bag like she completely understood. And I think she did--and accepted him anyway and loved Ennis for loving her son. Which was interesting because none of the other characters did that. Anne Hathaway's character may have had a clue at the end or maybe even before but we don't get much from her, much less compassion.
Tracy: That's true. It seems like the mom might have been the only one who would have accepted them, and we can all see how much power she has. Yeah. It's a tough one. But so gorgeously filmed. And featuring not-crazy-yet Randy Quaid!

Natalie: Gorgeously filmed. This is a good example of a film that loves and lingers on the landscape but doesn't over-do it. Ha! Randy Quaid--I skimmed right over the fact that that was him.

Tracy: Probably best! The book is mostly summary--talks about the "gay Western" aspect (and notes that Lonesome Cowboys did it first in 1969, but we won't be watching that). And then calls it "heartbreaking, honest, and refreshingly matter-of-fact" as well as drooling all over Ledger. Pretty typical. Although that 1969 thing reminds me of something fairly related--did you see/hear that story on NPR about a new book or article that says there's a difference between gayness and homosexuality, the former being a culture (Stonewall, ACT-UP, etc.) that is being lost? I just saw it on my newsfeed and meant to go back but haven't yet.

Natalie: That seems on par with everything else the book says. I haven't seen that article yet. That's interesting. I can see how there's a point but I might think that the culture aspect has just evolved because it doesn't have to do the same things it needed to do then--does that make sense?

Tracy: Yeah--1hJ and I were talking about it last night--again, out of both of our asses because I had read a 30-word summary and he hadn't heard of it at all--but right, that sort of up-front political activism might be fading now (though I'd be curious to hear his take on marriage equality). But if he's saying there's a right or wrong way to be gay, then that's troublesome--like current gay people are in straight-face or something? And it also leaves out lesbians and transgenders entirely. But again, I have no idea what he actually says.

Natalie: And the political culture has changed dramatically--because of that foundation there's no need to be the same culture. When the President says you're ok and he thinks you should be able to get married... But, yeah, I'd have to actually read the article.

Tracy: Me too. Just sort of a tangent. But are we for Brokeback bumping Gangs?
Natalie: Related tangent at least. I'm for it. I'd rather bump something else that was actually terrible instead of just indulgent but I do like Brokeback much much better.

Tracy: Agreed. And I guess it's not a one-to-one thing anyway, but I'm cool with Gangs not being in there. I have to do a lot of work to like it.

Natalie: Yeah, ditto and ditto.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Gangs of New York (2002) and Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Another head-to-head match-up, this time centering on two respected directors taking on masculinity and history. Gangs of New York was a pet project of Martin Scorsese's for years, and his look at the birth of modernity in New York City didn't light the critics on fire, but it did nab several Academy Award nominations, including one for a scene-stealing Daniel Day Lewis as Bill the Butcher. It also marks the beginning of Scorsese's love affair with Leonardo DiCaprio. Brokeback Mountain is auteur Ang Lee's adaptation of an Annie Proulx short story. Though mainly known as the "gay cowboy" movie, it says much about love, compromise, and two people meeting each other at the right place in the wrong time. It snagged best director for Lee, and many wailed that Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams were robbed for not winning in their respective categories. Should Gangs have gotten bumped? Does Brokeback deserve a spot? What are our feelings on Cameron Diaz? These questions and many more will be answered in our chat!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Chat: All the President's Men

Tracy:  So--ready to discuss non-denial denials and Deep Throat?

Natalie:  Absolutely! I've heard a lot about this movie--basically just that it's excellent--and, while I didn't dislike it, I was a tad underwhelmed.

Tracy:  Really? I was interested to hear what you thought coming to it the first time. I don't remember a time when I hadn't seen this movie, so I don't think I'm really objective. Did you think it was boring? Paced weird?

Natalie:  I guess part of it was that it felt more like a documentary in that I knew what was going to happen but it wasn't as revelatory as really good docs can be--with those gasp moments where you think "I didn't know that" or at least "I didn't think of that in that way." Maybe because everything was played at the same tone? I didn't dislike it but I wish I'd come away from it with something more than I knew/felt before--even if just about the actor's performances (I already knew those guys were great).

Tracy:  Yeah, I can see that. I wonder what it was like to watch it when it first came out--if there were those kind of revelations. I think I'm really in love with the idea of it. It seems to me like the perfect movie to watch on the Fourth. Like, these two dudes brought down a corrupt president, in a completely bloodless way, just by being curious and determined. And I LOVE Ben Bradlee/Jason Robards, who I'm convinced is the same person. "We stand by our story." I don't know--there's something about the actual history that is so moving to me that I love the movie just because it reminds me of it, I guess.

Natalie:  Yeah, I think that part you love the idea of is part of why it didn't quite work for me in reality. I, too, love the idea of taking down a powerful guy whose done serious wrong just because he's done wrong, not because of a political affiliation or vendetta. But I guess I didn't quite feel the passion--even if it were just for reporting--or the urgency of the situation that I like in other news-y movies/shows. And I know the passion/urgency was there--otherwise there would be no visiting people repeatedly when they couldn't get the whole story or freaking out about bugs in that great scene with the typewriter. I don't know. I think it's a great story to tell and one that needs to be told but it didn't quite catch me.

Tracy:  It is really subdued--even in palate, soundtrack, etc.. Did you see Zodiac? And if so, did you get the same sort of sense that it was lacking in passion/urgency? For some reason, I think of these two movies as being similar (though one group was successful and the other not), in that they're really dramatic stories told in a subdued way, where the focus is more on the workaday sort of process of doing this exciting thing.

Natalie:  Hmmm. I did see Zodiac. I guess I felt more urgency there because people were dying. I don't know. It's strange--on paper, this is a movie I like a LOT. Maybe if Paul Newman had been in it.

Tracy:  Hah! That helps with most any situation. Even though it wasn't a favorite, do you still think it should be in the book?

Natalie:  I would keep it because it seems important in the newsroom genre and while I know what happened, we're getting so far past the situation that people younger than us are getting a little vague on the facts. And, I do like that this version made it about the reporters, made those guys the focus and the heroes, as opposed to focusing on the villainy of the situation alone. And, it was well-made and acted and etc.

Tracy:  That's true--I love the way the news footage and stuff is marginalized by the constant typing of the dudes churning out the stories. On a non-movie note, I was really glad a) to have finally found out who Deep Throat was (not Hal Holbrook!) and b) that he got to be recognized for what he did before he died.

Natalie:  Ha! He wasn't Hal Holbrook?! I liked that aspect, too. It is a really nuanced film when I think about it. Anyway, the book is vague only giving some summary info and this: "The ultimate in investigative journalism pictures…continually pleases for the entertaining intelligence at work. It is among the most gripping, deft, and utterly compelling of thrillers, and this despite being based on well-known facts whose conclusion is never in doubt."

Tracy:  That is a non-review review!

Natalie:  I know!

Tracy:  What is "entertaining intelligence"?

Natalie:  I don't know. It took me reading that three times to figure out they meant work as a verb not a noun. Strangely written sentence.

Tracy:  Do you think the movie would be as lauded if it were about something not real? Same actors, cinematic choices, everything, but about a fake scandal? Something in me says no.

Natalie:  Hmmm. Yeah, I'd bet no. It seems an artsy choice when it's about something we already know about, and a folk-hero lauding choice when we already knows tons about the bad guy(s). Without the real-life widely-known info . . . it probably gets a little vague.

Tracy:  Yeah--then I think all the stuff you mention about the lack of urgency would become more pronounced. We the audience bring a lot of urgency with us simply because we know (hopefully!) what was at stake. Makes me want to ask my students to summarize Watergate for me tomorrow, just so I can be really depressed.

Natalie:  HA! While you're at it, toss in some 80s and 90s trivia so you can feel really depressed. They're super young.
They were playing NIN at IHop the other day. I guess it's "retro" and safe the play in public now?

Tracy:  Oh, that's just too upsetting. I heard Nirvana on the oldies station the other day.

Natalie::  HAHAHAHA! That's really terrible. But, true. Sigh.

Tracy:  So yeah--I guess we're both on board with keeping AtPM. Wonder if there are any other newsroom flicks it influenced. I mean, this was certainly not at all like His Girl Friday.

Natalie:  Yep, on board. That's an interesting question. It's not at all like His Girl Friday or anything from that period, I'd imagine. And everything that I know of that's contemporaneous or newer seems to operate on a faster pace and the urgency of the immediate story rather than the slow hard work of research without immediate gratification.

Tracy:  It seems almost anomalous as a newsroom movie, and it's not quite a political thriller either. Documentary-esque is probably the best way to describe it.

Natalie:  Yeah. It's strange that no one has copied it that we can think of. You'd think someone would.

 Tracy:  Yeah, especially since it's so acclaimed. So we've got the Brokeback vs. Gangs of NY face-off next, yes?

Natalie::  Not quite. Senso is up first.

Tracy:  Oh, right! My version of Ambien!   Have you watched it yet?

Natalie::  I have not. Maybe I will tonight and I'll get a good night's sleep

Tracy:  Hah! Will be anxious to discuss it with you.

Natalie:  We'll have to see how long it takes me to watch it depending on how many naps I have to take in the middle.

Tracy:  I'm telling you, it took me the better part of a day. But that was a no-coffee day, so maybe that was part of the problem!

Natalie:  AH. I'll make sure to load up on caffeine and sugar then.

Tracy:  Yes. It's a must.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

All the President's Men (1974)

This is one of those movies that has somehow squirreled its way into my DNA. I never remember a time when I hadn't seen it, and I've rewatched it countless time. It was even the inspiration behind an ill-fated journalism class I took one summer in high school. Less a frenetic newspaper movie and more a detective story, it slowly--very slowly--and methodically traces the painstaking reporting and investigative work Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (Woodstein!) accomplish to bring down a president.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Chat: Senso (The Wanton Countess)

Natalie: Are you busy or chattable?

Tracy: I'm doing some grading, but it's definitely not capturing all my attention! How's your morning? Want to talk Senso?

Natalie: Morning is fine. I'm getting frustrated with my shirt not cooperating under my cardigan but that's the worst of it. But, yeah, I can chat Senso

Tracy: Hah! That is frustrating. So my thoughts on Senso were pretty much contained to "pretty dresses" and "yet another movie where people don't know how to have an affair."

Natalie: I can add in "I like how her pretty dresses match the sets at certain points" like when she's running through the street early on in a greyish beigeish dress the same color as the stone. But, otherwise, it was terribly drawn out and melodramatic. I couldn't finish it. I got to the point where he talks her into paying the doctor--and it was painful to get that far--and I'd pretty much figured out what was going to happen (confirmed on wikipedia).

Tracy: I know. Another note I wrote was "She's getting played!" You've seen/read a lot more Williams than I have. Did you see any of him in this?

Natalie: Oooh, um. Well, Williams examines these sorts of relationships but I feel like he does with a lot more economy and truth. And not so much melodrama. His stuff is more raw than soap-y. Did someone say Williams was connected?

Tracy: He and Paul Bowles contributed to the script. I thought it was just the "English" version, but their names were in the credits, so I guess they were involved in polishing this one as well? And that's true--more raw than soap-y, even though the plot might be similar.

Natalie: Huh. I didn't know that. I see more Bowles if only in the sprawling aspect. I would think with Williams involved it would have been more explosive. I know Williams spent a lot of time in Italy...

Tracy: Yeah, and maybe the political stuff, which I was also underwhelmed by. It's like the entire war just existed to make this affair more of a transgression for the countess, but they forgot to really contextualize why her political allegiance mattered for her country or family or whatever.

Natalie: I'm seeing that Williams and Bowles did dialogue for a 94 minute English version--but if they were credited in the Italian one. Strange. Anyway, yeah, the war was just a backdrop. Kind of like Gallipoli. Every now and then they go, "Oh! We're at war!" and it's an excuse for dude to wear an improbably white ginormous cape while flinging himself on street grates and grass and whatnot.

Tracy: Hah! That cape was a character in and of itself. So yeah. I don't know whether we should feel like his execution was ultimately a good thing--that he deserved it for being a dick or for being Austrian--or if we were supposed to judge the Countess for being stupid and then acting out in revenge. The political plot and the love plot just didn't go together.

Natalie: No, it didn't go together at all. I guess I can be on board with his execution because he did violate his terms of military service what with the bribery but it did not fit with the love story at all.

Tracy: Even the book doesn't seem to really have a reason for liking it. It was apparently a departure for the director, both in style (color) and content (aristocracy rather than working class). They call it a "distinctly high-class melodrama" and give props to Farley Granger for "letting it rip with his self-loathing." Ah. The director usually directs operas. That makes sense.

Natalie: oooooooh. Yeah, it is operatic I suppose and there is the opera at the beginning. Although all I could think during that part is "who takes a bayonet to the opera." Yet another example of how the war wasn't contextualized.
Tracy: Hah! I guess you never know when you might have to skewer someone. As an aside, Farley Granger is a pretty fun name. But yeah, you couldn't finish, I kept falling asleep--do we think it belongs in le book?

Natalie: Ha! Farley Granger is an excellent name. Sounds good for a muppet-furred dog. I wouldn't keep it in le book. You?

Tracy: I don't think so. Let me see if any other films from this director are in there.

Natalie: Good question.

Tracy: Oh, there's a ton: Ossessione, Rocco and his Brothers, and The Leopard!!!! I would definitely boot Senso. We have enough from this dude, and The Leopard, though I also thought it was way too slow, was better.

Natalie: Oh wow! I was thinking maybe if this dude normally does working class that's why this one felt so odd but the Leopard is totally aristocracy and it didn't seem odd. Too long but not melodramatic and thin.

Tracy: Maybe this was the transitional movie? Rocco looks working class from the picture. I guess we'll see if the previous two are better, but I feel safe saying no to Senso.

Natalie: Yeah. Hopefully we don't see for a while. So, boot Senso!

Tracy: Arrividerci.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Senso/The Wanton Countess (1954)

The creatively rendered translation of this title ("senso" in Italian means without) is a heads-up for the melodrama that awaits viewers of this film. The movie follows an Italian countess, who, wanton or no, falls in love with precisely the wrong man (an Austrian soldier) at precisely the wrong time (during Italy's nineteenth-century war to oust the Austrian occupiers). A beautiful and powerful woman undone by love? It's no surprise that Tennessee Williams and Paul Bowles had a hand in writing the truncated English-language version.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Chat: Gallipoli

Tracy:  So I kept waiting for the war to start in this "war movie."

Natalie:  Me, too. I just grabbed the book and it starts "Peter Weir re-created the tragic and notorious World War I debacle of Gallipoli--a blundered campaign that sent thousands of Anzac soldiers to slaughter in 1915--with  atmosphere and harrowing action." I know we don't normally start with what the book says but that seems emblematic of the idea of this film; that it's a war movie that shows the folly of war. That's really hard to do when most of the movie is a bildungsroman that happens outside of all war action or even military company. And, very little of it was fighting. I didn't so much get the idea of waste or folly because there wasn't any context for me to grab on to.

Tracy:  Exactly! It was more sort of about these two dudes and their friendship and then how it was sucky that they had to go to war. If this was supposed to be about how futile the campaign itself was, that didn't come through. The battle itself did look fairly horrible, but there wasn't enough context to really be like why god why.

Natalie:  Yes! I told you earlier that I looked down for a bit and looked back up to see pyramids and had an honest moment of asking "are there pyramids in Australia?" I know there aren't but the film seems to foster that sort of confusion. There is no background on anything. I still don't really know where Gallipoli even is--I'm as confused as all of the Australians reading the newspapers who couldn't pronounce the place. It's as if Weir wanted to make a grand gesture hidden in a simple friendship story but he chose too obscure a cultural context to make that happen. I'm sure Australians know more about this--but this was a US hit.

Tracy:  Yeah--I only know about it because my dad is obsessed with the History Channel. And there were these weird comedic moments as well, along with some fairly racist treatment of the Egyptians, I thought. The battle undoubtedly was tragic and wrong, but the movie didn't earn the tragedy. Probably because Rupert Murdoch was involved.

Natalie:  HA! Rupert Murdoch. Agreed on the strange comedy and racism. My only note for the film? "bad music & 80s game sound effects."
Also agreed on the lack of earning the tragedy, of course.

Tracy:  Oh My God. That soundtrack was ri-diculous. Do you think it's just because Mel Gibson was in it? Like the same reason people still watch Mystic Pizza?

Natalie:  Ha! I've never seen Mystic Pizza. Apparently this is the film that made Mel Gibson the "serious" actor because he wasn't just being Mad Max (which I find MUCH more entertaining). The book tries to make it bigger, of course: "Weir distinguishes himself by creating a strong sense of time, place, culture clash, and intimate human drama while imbuing even simple acts with beauty and mystery, finding magical images that evoke excitement, high spirits, fear, and grief” and “But the film’s last image is a freeze-frame of Lee—Weir’s homage to a famous photograph taken by Robert Capa during the Spanish Civil War” which I assume is this one. That reference also seems confused. Not the same war, dude. Which reminds me! Apparently Weir took quite the poetic license with all of this and drastically changed some points.

Tracy:  Yeah. I guess he made the British a bit worse than they were. And it also annoys me when people are like "this war is just like this war." The only part I found interesting (not to say I wasn't entertained--just that it wasn't as complicated as I thought it was going to be) was the class distinctions between the cavalry and the infantry. But that just sort of gets mentioned sometimes and then dropped.

Natalie:  Apparently, the British wouldn't have been as involved in that particular aspect. I'm only going off of what I found on the ever-reliable wikipedia. I wish it were just a simple, coming-of-age story that focused on these two boys with only running in common who become friends out of some sense of loyalty (to nation in one case, and the friend in the other) and left out the attempt to make it about how silly war is. I think it could have been a much better movie, that might have actually said something about the absurdity of war because we'd have been attached to the pair and heartbroken when they died. The attempt to make it more conceptual and bigger ruined it for me--mainly because it wasn't pulled off but I think the simpler story would be better than the more complicated were it successful

Tracy:  I think you're right. As is, it's this sort of weird blend. For a while it's a picaresque road movie and then, fuck, we're in the shit.

Natalie:  Right? But no context for the shit so we don't know how bad or not the shit is. The walking across the desert alone seemed more dangerous to me.

Tracy:  Right! But that was played for laughs. As was, and this really bothered me, when they went and tore up that Egyptian's shop for cheating them, and then the dude was all, "oh, wrong shop." What a dick.

Natalie:  I know! And it was 1981, time to not be racist about Egyptians--as you pointed out before. I didn't hate it but it seems mediocre rather than a "must watch."

Tracy:  Yeah. I think it must be the Gibson factor. I'm on the fence about booting it, just because it seems everything deems it one of the Big Two of Australian cinema. Sort of like why we had to watch The Cow.

Natalie:  Well, at least it was miles better than The Cow. I don't really care enough about it to boot it, especially when there are much worse on the list. What's the other of the Big Two?

Tracy:  Agreed on all counts. The other is Breaker Morant which is basically a filmed play about a court martial in the Boer War. I liked it a lot better than this.

Natalie:  Huh. Is that one on the list?

Tracy:  Not sure--might not since it was a teleplay?

Natalie:  I don't see it--since I figured out as I hit "enter" that I could just look.

Tracy:  It streams though, if you're ever bored and feel like watching a court martial about the Boer War. For some reason.

Natalie:  I'll remember that if I ever have that thought

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Gallipoli (1981)

This Peter Weir film detailing (sort of) the disastrous Australian bayonet charge on Turkish machine gunners in WWI is famous, from what I can tell, for two reasons: it's one of the Big Two of Australian New Wave cinema (the other being Breaker Morant), and pre-crazy Mel Gibson co-stars. It was nominated for a Golden Globe and is generally critically acclaimed, but really, I think it's the Gibson factor that nabbed it a spot in the Big Bad Book--it's certainly not that bizarro soundtrack.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Chat: The Seventh Seal

Tracy:  So want to talk dour-faced Swedes?

Natalie: Yes! Dour faced-Swedes. My experience with Swedes is that they're much nicer that Bergman wants to let on.

Tracy:  If not the hour before. Yeah--the one Swede that stayed with us when I was in high school just wanted to drink Akvavit and sing loudly. Not so much ruminate on death. Or Death, as the case may be.

Natalie:  Ha! Right. Death. So, this is one of the very few--like I can't think of another one but I'm just going to assume it's happened--foreign movies where I've had to watch it with the English dub rather than read the subtitles. But I had to so I could multitask or I was going to be asleep before Death showed up the second time.

Tracy:  Like I said in the blurb, all I ever knew about this movie was the chess scene, so I didn't understand how it was possibly going to be as long as it was. I literally just thought they would play chess, talk about philosophical things, von Sydow would presumably lose, the end. Sort of like My Dinner with Andre except My Chess Match with Death. So the other stuff the witch, the actors I could never really get with.

Natalie:  Yeah. I might have preferred just a chess game with Death and some sort of uber-philosophical debate between the two. It seemed like the rest of the people just muddied the waters and then that the pure, faithful, hard-working, young family got to live just made it all silly. If you're going to have a profound commentary about Death with a capital D, I think you have to talk about how random and unfair it is; not how predictable and simple everything is that it would take the cheaters and villains and old and leave the faithful pretty young.

Tracy:  Especially when your context is the plague! I mean, talk about random and unfair! I guess the fact that the artist's visions ended up saving them was supposed to mean something, but it seemed a little overdetermined. And why did their kid never wear pants? I did think the squire guy was funny at times.

Natalie:  Yes! I'd almost forgotten about the plague and the self-flagellants! Totally unfair but we don't see much of that. That did seem a little overdetermined--the artist and his painting and whatnot. YES! That kid totally needed pants of some variety. The squire guy was funny sometimes. But, also, what was up with the "witch"? She seemed just tossed in there too. Overall, it seemed a Monty Python approach to the plague: let's toss EVERYTHING in there--but not funny like Monty Python and, ultimately, less of a commentary, I think.

Tracy:  Hah! I'm not dead yet! Yeah--I very much got the sense that it was supposed to be a philosophical commentary, but I honestly have no idea what it was supposed to be. And what of the reference to the apocalypse? How does that fit? And are Death and the Devil the same thing?

Natalie:  I have no clue at all. Apparently, it was based on a short story by Bergman? But now I can't find where I read that. It seems like Bergman gets it but, like a Freshman paper, he hasn't filled us in on all of the jumps he's made in his head.

Tracy:  No kidding! I predict I will never read that short story. Does the book drool all over it?

Natalie:  Nope--I was wrong-ish; it was a play. I'd read it on the super reliable (but this time well-cited) Wikipedia: "Bergman originally wrote the play Trämålning (Wood Painting) in 1953/1954 for the acting students of Malmö City Theatre. The first time it was performed in public was in radio in 1954, directed by Bergman. He also directed it on stage in Malmö the next spring, and in the autumn it was staged in Stockholm, directed by Bengt Ekerot who would later play the character Death in the film version." So the book . . . . "The image of a black-robed, white-faced death . . .playing chess on the beach with a weary, questioning crusader . . . is as deeply ingrained in the collective memory of moviegoers as King Kong atop the Empire State building, Humphrey Bogart spurning Ingrid Bergman . . ." Really? I'd never seen a clip of this before. I know you had. But as big as King Kong?

Tracy:  And in all seriousness, I didn't remember it was on the beach, anything. I just remember it because of Bill and Ted. And I cannot IMAGINE this as a radio play.

Natalie:  And, then, after bemoaning that that scene has become emblematic of the movie (when they just promoted it as such, too): "Actually, The Seventh Seal, although rooted in the big themes of Bergman's great period, is a very playful, frequently comic picture, a medieval fable influenced by Bergman's enthusiasm for the samurai movies of Kurosawa and as concerned with celebrating simple pleasures as indicting complicated torments." We didn't mention that dude was a Crusader. That adds unexplained complications to the film, too.

Tracy:  Celebrating simple pleasures? I don't remember that part. And yeah--the Crusader thing is a thing, which the movie only really dealt with through that weird rapey guy.

Natalie:  I agree but the book, concludes: "Bergman is always angry and saddened by human evils, especially when sanctioned by supposed religion, but the film also celebrates physical and spiritual love, communal artistic expression, food and drink, and natural beauty." That sounds like a better movie than the one we watched.

Tracy:  I know! That's twice in a row that they've described a movie in a way that obliquely references a movie we saw, but in no way resembles it in practice! I get why it should be in there--Bergman, Death, etc.--but I didn't enjoy it.

Natalie:  Right? I get the inclusion--if only because it is referenced and spoofed so much--but we can't make it more grandiose than it is. He just didn't make an argument, or even really pose a question. He just presented all of this stuff and said "here, and the 'bad' guys are gonna die."
It reminded me of La Strada, actually.

Tracy:  Me too! And we all know how I felt about La Strada.

Natalie:  Yeah, ditto the feeling. So, keep it for Bergman? We did already have Fanny & Alexander and I thought that was much better than this--if much longer.
But register our discontent

Tracy:  I also preferred F&A. But yeah, I say keep it because it is influential, and it's nice, well, "nice" to see the context, but I am not content.

Natalie:  Agreed. And NOW we get to watch pre-crazy Mel for the next entry!

Tracy:  Yes. Watched it today since the mother and aunt are coming tomorrow. Looking forward to discussing whether we can see the latent crazy lurking in Mel's eyes.

Natalie:  HA! I bet we can just a little . . . . 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Seventh Seal (1957)

The only thing I knew about this movie going in was the infamous scene where Max von Sydow plays chess with Death. Full disclosure: I knew of the scene in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey where the eponymous duo play, among other things, Twister with Death. Been awhile since you watched that 90s classic? Take a look at the clip. It's worth the full four minutes.

I guess the existence of this reference alone makes The Seventh Seal book-worthy, but there's also the many best-of lists on which it appears. And the whole Bergman thing.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Chat: The Earrings of Madame de . . .

Tracy:  So. The Earrings of Madam Whoever.

Natalie:  Yeah. We could have at least gotten a good shot of the damned earrings at the center of all of the trouble.

Tracy:  I know! And they didn't even look that cute from what I could see. I never got a good hold on what this movie was about? A tragic melodrama? A punish the lying woman movie? Are we supposed to like Madam?

Natalie:  I know! I didn't either. It's obviously supposed to be about a certain level of anonymity but, um, everyone knows who she is. I don't know if we're supposed to like her or not. I didn't care one way or the other about her. I wanted her to stop it with the earrings already.

Tracy:  Yeah. She was such a bad and unnecessary liar. And I didn't really feel bad for her not being able to be with the military dude because I didn't know if we were supposed to be rooting for that.

Natalie:  And we never really know why she needed the money in the first place. I don't care about her problem that causes her to sell the earrings in the first place if I don't know what that problem is. And, yeah, I don't care who she's with or isn't with because she seems to actually be with everyone in her strange open but not marriage.

Tracy:  Yeah. For a while it seemed like a comedy or a sex farce or something with the jeweler selling the earrings back over and over. But then there was the big drama at the end.

Natalie:  I thought it would be SO MUCH better as a rom com or a sex farce. But, no, we have to pretend this is serious business. And what ever happened to the chick in the casino? Was she the husband's mistress? Were we supposed to think she's pregnant? Why else is he sending her away?

Tracy:  Yeah, I assumed that she was the husband's mistress, but I didn't consider pregnant. I guess I thought he just got sick of her? Either way, ew, and then we're supposed to feel bad that he got cuckolded? You know, when I was watching it I thought it was pleasant enough if not genius, but the more we talk about it, the more I'm thinking it was a failure.

Natalie:  I got pregnant because he mentioned another guy who sent away a girl (or got sent away himself) because of a similar "situation" or something. And I probably wanted a better explanation than he just got sick of her. But, the movie relies on those sorts of explanations. I just didn't like it very much. I didn't care about the characters or the earrings or the supposed themes whatever those are. And the 1950s is a touch late for fainting women films. Anyway, so the duel. What sort of duel involves the "offended" just getting to shoot first?! Especially since dudes who fought duels would be gentlemen which means they hunt (or are freaking military generals or whatever) and will just kill the other dude. I know guns were unreliable but not THAT unreliable.
The phrase "I got pregnant" in that sentence is strange. Maybe, "I got to her being pregnant" would be better.

Tracy:  I know! You just stand there and let someone take target practice at you? How is that a duel and not just murder? And Hah! That would be a strange way to get pregnant!

Natalie:  I don't know how it's not just murder! That's what a firing squad is--just minus the extra dudes--and as the "offender, you're just supposed to show up and say "shoot"?! That would be a very strange way to get pregnant   AND, he wasn't even really cuckolded. Nothing that can cause pregnancy actually happened and it seemed they were both MASSIVE flirts anyway--he said he didn't want to have dinner with "her suitors" after the opera. That's a slippery slope to your wife having an affair, dude; no fair putting on the breaks when it actually starts to happen especially when we assume HE had an affair.
Where on earth did I get "dudes" in my head?

Tracy:  You're right--I forgot about those little boytoys who were always following her around. Everyone seemed fine with the arrangement and then he decided to get all self-righteous and trigger-happy about it. And we've got to do something to make this easier to relate to. It's like a bad Russian novel.

Natalie:  Right! So she can't fool around because she sold some earrings and lied about it? Why not try to find out why she sold the earrings? It is like a bad Russian novel. And, like a bad undergrad, the book declares: “Few films establish so much, on so many levels, with such stunning economy. . . . Louise is  . . . anonymous, typical of her privileged class. . . .Ophuls [director] will never let us overlook the underpinnings of this wealthy world: the flows of money and debt, the ubiquitous servants on call, the etiquette of preparation before public appearances. Even the journey from bedroom to front door becomes an elegant sociological exposé. After home and the pawnshop, there is the church (site of bourgeois hypocrisy) and the opera, where all is show . . . Madame de . . . is, by turns, brittle, brutal, compassionate, and moving. Ophuls delineates this world with Brechtian precision, yet he never discounts the strength or significance of stifled, individual yearnings. Even as the characters writhe in their metaphoric prisons or shut these traps on each other, their passions touch us; supremely when Andre closes the windows on Louise like a jailer as he declares, half whispering in secret: ‘I love you.’”

Tracy:  Um, first of all, anonymous typical of her privileged class? Money buys you power and an identity. And the book seems to be making an awfully big deal out of people getting dressed and walking around the house. I think that could have been a place where a critique could have been made, but the movie didn't seem interested in doing so. And no one stifled their yearnings! Their yearnings were all over the place! What movie did the book watch?

Natalie:  Yes! The title of the movie makes her anonymous as does the one contrived shot blocking out her last name on the place card but, otherwise, she IS named. Her first name counts. If they only called her "Madame" the whole film, that might make her anonymous. Meanwhile, everyone knows her, she has people clamoring after her, it's her reputation that allows her to sell the earrings, etc. And we have no comparison; you don't get to make these declarations without showing us the opposite. When the movie centers upon her and identifies her at every turn, she can't be anonymous. And, if you're going to have a critique, you have to make an argument. Having servants doesn't mean you're bad. Being selfish in church/prayer doesn't mean you're rich--or really hypocritical since she is just asking for what she wants and isn't cursing the church or anything. And the opera IS a show! It could have been all of those commentaries but it wasn't at all. I'm pretty sure the book watched a better movie.

Tracy:  Exactly. They are importing A LOT of meaning into scenes that I think were pretty tangential to the story the movie wanted to tell--about this weak sauce love triangle. Just wanting those scenes to mean something isn't enough--you have to show me where that argument is being made. And it wasn't. Just wasn't.

Natalie:  AND, Andre OPENS the window when she's being all distraught and HE says she should go out but she's cancelled all of her engagements. Jailer my ass. Nope. No argument was made. I say ditch it.

Tracy:  Hah! You're right! He's not the jailer! I think he just probably wanted her to be more, like, good at having an affair so he wouldn't have to straight-up shoot a guy. Toss it overboard!

Natalie:  HA! Totally. Gone and gone. So, next . . . Gallipoli. Pre-[publicly]-crazy Mel Gibson!

Tracy:  Oh, but we can't forget chess-playing Death in The Seventh Seal!

Natalie:  Shit! Why can't I keep these movies straight? We JUST talked about me watching that movie!
I left my brain in a prostitution arrests chart at work methinks.

Tracy:  Hah! That's the best excuse I've ever heard. And in an ideal world, we would skip over The Seventh Seal.

Natalie:  It's a pretty good one if I do say so. You've already watched it so I won't skip it. And THEN we'll watch Mel.

Tracy:  Yep! Lucky us!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Earrings of Madame de. . . (1953)

No, I didn't run out of space on that title. The surname of the heroine of this film is concealed. Scandalous! Do you know her? Probably not. The movie is considered a masterpiece of 50s French cinema by acclaimed director Max Ophuls, despite mixed reviews when it first came out. The plot revolves around, you guessed it, a pesky pair of earrings that are meant to expose the foibles and infidelities of the French upper class. Also obvious from the title should be the film's concern with material culture, a preoccupation that was recognized when the film was nominated for best costume design.

Chat: 42nd Street

Tracy:  So . . . this was my first Busby Berkeley musical, and I was surprised how racy it was!

Natalie:  Hmmmm . . . .I don't know if I've seen one either . . .

Tracy:  I always enjoy musicals about putting on musicals--it makes the breaking out in song element a lot easier to take.

Natalie:  Ha! That's true. No one wonders why you're breaking out into song or dance when you're practicing an act. But I do wish there were more song and dance numbers and that I could have
discerned what the final fictional production was supposed to be about.

Tracy:  Oh my god! Pretty Lady? It was the most bizarre play ever. Like, wasn't Gandhi in it or something?

Natalie:  What? What part?

Tracy:  During the play? I took a note that reads, "Gandhi? What is this play about?" Maybe it was a random Indian man? I also have a note that it was a wee bit racially problematic.

Natalie:  I totally missed Ghandi. Huh. There was the racially problematic train dance number at the end.

Tracy:  Yes. The play was just strange. And the plot itself was pretty predictable. Young ingenue, etc. But parts of it did make me laugh. I thought the way the Depression figured in was also interesting.

Natalie:  The plot was pretty predictable--but has spawned every song&dance, film, broadway show . . . etc. movie since. There are echoes of it in The Artist even. A lot of it made me laugh. I loved Ginger Rogers as "Anytime Annie" and a lot of the costuming was fun--I liked the regular stuff better than the play-in-the-play outfits. And, yeah, they brought in a lot of pertinent social issues of the time. And they were butting right up against movie code and all of that drama so the raciness was even more cheeky.

Tracy:  Yeah--I was audibly surprised at Anytime Annie. But the whole thing was really frank about women's sexuality and how they choose to use it and not at all judgmental. The director's despair was funny and  poignant and totally tied to when the "play" was taking place. His franticness trying to prepare the new lead was one of my favorite parts.

Natalie:  I did like that about the film--Anytime Annie was just doing her thing and that was ok; and it wasn't a scandal that Dorothy had a man on the side to fund the production, or that she was only with him for the money. It really gave women the upper hand and made the men look foolish rather than scorning women for their sexuality.

Tracy:  Yeah! She didn't care that people were calling her that--it wasn't an insult. And I liked the moment between Dorothy and the ingenue before the performance (I'm blanking on her name now). It was also nice to be able to put "Shuffle off to Buffalo" in context!

Natalie:  Peggy--I liked that moment too because it was honest and let women talk to each other frankly without being catty and only shallow. Part of it was shallow but it let Dorothy acknowledge that and then explain and be an actual person about the situation. Staying on women for a second--the film also used their bodies in some pretty explicit ways with all of the shots between the legs and whatnot in the dance numbers. But it didn't seem to cheapen the women. And, of course, it's always interesting to see the body type that was preferred in the 30s.

Tracy:  That's really true re: the body stuff. And I also liked how they made that focus on the female body part of putting on the play. Everyone knows what the audience (of the play and the movie) were interested in seeing. But you're right--the women are so in control of the way their image and bodies are presented that it doesn't feel exploitative.

Natalie:  Yeah, way to go, 42nd Street. I just looked and, random tidbit, when this opened on Broadway it starred Jerry Orbach.

Tracy:  HAH! The Law and Order guy?

Natalie:  Yep.

Tracy:  It would be fun to see it on stage, I bet.
Who should be Anytime Annie if we were casting it now?

Natalie:  I bet. I didn't know he did stage stuff. Oooooooh. Emma Stone.

Tracy:  YES. Genius. I was thinking Katy Perry (for some reason), but I like Emma Stone better. And I want Oliver Platt as Daddy Warbucks.

Natalie:  HA! Oliver Platt would be genius as Daddy Warbucks. Let's see who gets to be Dorothy?

Tracy:  Hmmm. Someone sassy and wise.
I think Drew Barrymore is too sweet in the face.

Natalie:  Anne Hathaway? She can sing and dance. Meanwhile, Katy Perry? That's completely random for you.
Oh, right. Dorothy should be a touch older

Tracy:  I just read about her fling with John Mayer so she was on the brain.

Natalie:  HA! Who hasn't had a fling with John Mayer.

Tracy:  No kidding! Let's pray they never duet.

Natalie:  Ick.
Marion Cottiard?
That's missing a letter or two I think

Tracy:  Oh, she'd be great. She even looks like she's from the era. So Peggy the Ingenue? Zoe Kazan (who is on my brain from Ruby Sparks)?

Natalie:  Super! So, now we just need Tom Hardy and Ryan Gosling and Joseph Gordon Levitt to fill in some boys

Tracy:  And I will see this play every night.

Natalie:  Me, too.

Tracy:  And RDJ as the depressed director.

Natalie:  OOOOOOOH! I knew I forgot someone! YES! Brilliant. Done and done. Who do we call?

Tracy:  I know! We really need to be in charge of this. And a lot of other things as well. What did the book have to say?

Natalie:  Well, yes, we should just be in charge in general. The book is flaky and basically says it's the best musical about a musical with all the cliches. But it doesn't say anything quotable or disagreeable or smart about it. Sigh.
Our Hindu Floaty Thing is not especially smart.

Tracy:  Hehehehe. That's the problem with the Hindu Floaty Thing. So I'm thinking we're both on board for this staying on the list?

Natalie:  Sure, I'll keep it! It's fun and good for girls--hooray

Tracy:  And next . . . another movie that is about well, a woman.

Natalie:  Oooh, you're being mysterious about one you've already watched and I have not. Tricksy hobbitses.

Tracy:  Oh, have you not seen it yet? Then I shall say no more!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

42nd Street (1933)

I've heard a lot about Busby Berkeley musicals, but have never actually seen one. This film is also one of my favorite genres--the backstage play. We're in the Depression, and two producers are putting on a musical called Pretty Lady (terrible title). They hire a drunken and depressed director desperate for one last hit, and the leading lady is stringing along the show's main benefactor while seeing another dude on the side. Oh, there's also a young and idealistic ingenue in the chorus. Wonder what's going to happen to her? The film was nominated for Best Picture, and includes the classic numbers "You're Getting to Be a Habit with Me," "Shuffle off to Buffalo," and, of course, "Forty-Second Street." And just revel in that rad poster, why don't you?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Chat: Amelie and Black Swan

We're back! And we've got a (hopefully) workable plan to keep posting more regular.

--Tracy:  All right! Two movies that I don't seem to like as much as everyone else in the world does. Though one MUCH less than the other.
--Natalie:  Ditto. So, the lesser of the evils first?
--Tracy:  Okay. Amelie. It struck me as Wes Anderson-esque in its twee-ness. Which is a good thing--but it struck me as a little too long.
--Natalie:  I thought it was a little long this watch too. I don't know if it's because I'd seen it before and some of the magic was gone but it did seem long. I guess it's a little Wes Anderson-esque but I probably would like it better if it were a little more self-consciously intellectual a la Anderson. I'm ok with twee but I wanted something a little more from it.
--Tracy:  I only really care about the love story. Like the dude with the box she found? Didn't really care. And yeah--it's not intellectual at all. Something that did strike me this time around was Amelie's introversion. Having just read the Quiet book, did you think this movie was successful in depicting shyness?
--Natalie:  Oh, it's absolutely about introversion. Quiet talks a bit, if I remember right, about introverts devising intricate plans just to talk to someone--whether it's as simple as writing out notecards or as complicated as Amelie's plan. So I did like that aspect--how a severely introverted person manages the world and finds love for herself. But I wanted more of that and less of everything else. And just more something. Like it seemed to not quite commit to anything. Just a little of this and a touch of that and a strange effect here but we're not going full blown surreal.
--Tracy:  Yes! When she gets the dude to the cafe and is literally feet from him and can't look at him--oh I've so been there. But yeah--I like the little surreal touches, but I don't understand why they're there. Is it the friends/fantasies Amelie constructed for herself because she was so shy? Or are we in some magical version of Paris? There's a lot about the movie that I really love, but there's too much that just distracts from that for it to be a full-blown favorite for me.
--Natalie:  I've been there, too, so, yeah, that felt real to me. And, I agree, the surrealist parts detracted because they didn't DO anything. I'm on the same page about this one. I want to like it more because I do like Audrey Tatou but I also think she's better in some other roles and this one gets her typecast a bit.
--Tracy:  It SO does. She's an adorable pixie! So, on to the cover girl of our latest version of 1001?
--Natalie:  Well, first, the book says about Amelie a whole lotta nothing and plot summary and this tidbit of psuedo commentary: “Using a remarkable array of playful (and often playfully literal) effects, Jeunet transforms contemporary France into a beautiful and surreal reflection of reality, in which the wide-eyed and idealistic titular character spreads love and happiness to the frowning faces all around her. . . As fantastical as the world may be in Amelie, you never get the impression the film is about anything other than the way two hearts beating on opposite sides of a vast metropolis can somehow find a way to interlink and beat as one.”
--Tracy:  Oh right--the book. Well, yeah, the movie is about that, I guess. And that is a sweet sentiment which I totally am for. But the "fantastical world" detracts from the good story. It's like when Lucas put all that crap into the new versions of Star Wars.
--Natalie:  HA! Exactly. Ok, so now the other movie. Sigh.
--Tracy:  I have made my feelings on Black Swan known on our Occupy 1001 post, but just to reiterate--yeah, it's interesting but I ultimately HATE everything it has to say about how femininity, ambition, and art intersect. And the more people loved it, the more I started to hate it.
--Natalie:  And, me, too. Black Swan has the opposite problem as Amelie in one way. Whereas Amelie needed more, Black Swan needed MUCH less. The lesbian scene for example. That does not a damned thing for the movie but get it press. BUT, on the other hand, it has the same problem as Amelie in that it needed a healthy kick in the ass of intellectualism. I needed something smart and interior from that movie and all I got was shiny surface followed by bloody cracked glass. It parades around as a psychological thriller but psychology relies upon a brain and Black Swan didn't have one.
--Tracy:  Yes! How dare they call it a psychological thriller? The movie couldn't be less interested in the main character's interiority. It's very interested in her body and how the male director manipulates it. The male director, who though odious, the analysis of which the film endorses in every way. I liked the scene where she transforms into the Swan, but I hated what they ended up doing with it. Do you think Portman deserved the Oscar?
--Natalie:  Yes--and so DO something with that examination of her body. Make a point about that. But, alas, it really didn't. I liked the ballet parts--mainly because I wanted this to be more Center Stage than a lobotomized Mommy Dearest--but I don't think Portman deserved the Oscar. She didn't DO anything. Yeah, dancing is hard but Oscars are for acting. Except when they're given out for the most talked about movie that's "risky." And that's why she won. Who else was nominated that year?
--Tracy:  Annette Bening (The Kids are All Right)
Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)
Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone)
Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)
Let's see--I would have gone with Williams.
Because you're right--she just looked uncomfortable for the entire movie. That's not acting.
That's face-making.
They didn't give an Oscar to Elijah Wood for looking wide-eyed and scared for 12 hours.
--Natalie:  I've not seen Blue Valentine but I think that would be my pick. And, actually, that's the year Christian Bale won for The Fighter. That's a one-to-one comparison in a lot of ways. Physical transformation required. Sport/art. Portrayal of pain. And Bale stomps her in every category. HE acted. And she--hilarious by the way--only made faces, you're right.
--Tracy:  Yes! And it was a better movie! It looked at the relationship between his ravaged body and his damaged mind. That performance was amazing. The Wrestler was a better movie. I think Aranofsky has a problem with women. Not like he's a misogynist, but he doesn't capture them in his (admittedly, sick and twisted) worlds as poignantly as he does men. Same thing with what's-her-face in Requiem for a Dream. And he had to make Weisz a dying angel in The Fountain.
--Natalie:  Oh, good God, Requiem for a Dream. I always forget he did that because I try my hardest to forget it exists. But, yes, Aronofsky has problems creating women that have interior lives. So, You bring up The Wrestler and the book does too. The book, actually, is just a big 'ol name dropper in this entry: “Aronofsky’s unique vision implies that there can be no true greatness without touching the darkest parts of existence, and he makes this all too clear through highly subjective storytelling reminiscent of . . . Rosemary’s Baby (1968). . . While lacking the honest inner dialogue of its predecessor and companion piece, The Wrestler (2008), Black Swan’s mix of psychological torments and classic horror elements will be sure to haunt you long after the curtains close.”
But, the book agrees with us re: lack of interior life which, to me, would mean I excluded it from the list. But the book loves to include an Oscar winner.
--Tracy:  How dare they compare it to Rosemary's Baby! For shame. RB is intimately concerned with a woman's experience of her own body, and how (evil) patriarchy seeks to interrupt and distort that relationship. And yeah--they're admitting it's shlock horror in pretentious clothing. But you're right--they totally pander to the Oscars. I definitely think Amelie, with all its shortcomings, deserves inclusion more than Black Swan.
--Natalie:  Agreed and agreed. And I'd rather a list include a movie that is just liked even if they can't quite come up with a reason than include one that they have to apologize for and only include because a shiny gold dude told them to.
--Tracy:  Hah! Yes! The tone is totally apologetic. So next, another movie about performance--but with a slightly different tone.
--Natalie:  Right, which is . . . . Sigh. I watched it but totally forgot
--Tracy:  42nd Street!
--Natalie:  RIGHT! I definitely watched that!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Summer Holiday

We didn't mean to take a break but life happened and we did. Life continues to capital "H" Happen (all good happenings!) so we'll be gone for a bit longer. But, when we return we shall chat French girls and musicals and make a better plan for posting so we don't get caught so unawares and unprepared again!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A guest post on Amelie

To get things rolling for our upcoming chat on Amelie, my friend Eric, Amelie connoisseur extraordinaire, gives us some food for thought.

Why does the movie Amelie appeal to me?  Amelie is a mentally ill loner who is better able to (anonymously) help others and push them into action and happiness she wishes she could do for herself (and yes, her torment of Colignon (sp?) the grocer ends in happiness for his assistant).  She receives vicarious joy through others but is incapable of experiencing it for herself first hand.  She is finally able to do so, appropriately with a nice little boy freak (with the help of The Glass Man).  Why would I not love every second?  Honestly I'd have been much happier with the story if her breakthrough had been with the help of more people - more of a community effort to return the favor(s) so to speak - and hadn't been with something so common as a "man" but at least he was also a freak like her (I love that he works at a carnival and at a porn shop).  Favorite scene: walking the blind man down the street and painting a mental picture of the goings-on for him.  Least favorite scene: all of the extreme close-ups.  Excepting most of the close-ups of Tautou whom I could watch at close proximity all day, that shit otherwise gets old.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Amelie (2001) and Black Swan (2010)

This week brings two films that star pixie-ish women which Nat and I have both seen before. One we will be re-watching. One? Not so much. If you remember the Occupy 1001 post from a few months back, you know that my skepticism about the greatness of Black Swan, despite Portman's Oscar win for her performance as a ballerina slipping into madness (or is it liberation?) was seconded by Natalie. That, plus the grossness factor (I have a problem with fingernail stuff), is leading us to skip a re-watch, but we will be discussing it along with Amelie. That movie, on the other hand, we *will* be viewing again. The small French romcom blew up big and made a star of Audrey Tatou. The film is pretty much a cinematic definition of whimsy, and a super sweet love story between two misfits. Plus: a traveling gnome and a killer soundtrack!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Chat: The Big Sleep

Tracy:  Ready to talk dames and private dicks.
Natalie:  There were quite a few dames in this one--bookstores, cabs . . .
    Tracy:  I know! "Night is better . . . I work during the day." Wonder if Faulkner wrote that line. Like you, I thought I had seen this movie, but I don't think I actually had (maybe read it with Forter?), but I really loved the look and feel of it. The central mystery didn't concern me much, but the clothes and the banter was so entertaining.
Natalie:  I remember the car garage scene but I don't remember having seen the rest of the film so maybe I saw a clip. Who knows. But, yes! The look, the clothes, the steamy but not lusty/obscene romance. Although, "What's wrong with you? Nothing you can't fix." would probably have been a little risqué/suggestive. And the clothes. Sigh. I love movies from the 40s.
Tracy:  And I couldn't help but pay attention to the way Marlowe (Phil?) was portrayed since I'm working on that Angel paper about hard-boiled masculinity, and I thought this (even more so than Maltese Falcon) sets up different versions of men that Marlowe bests--we've got the "General" in the wheelchair, the effete type that Marlowe himself impersonates, the cops, the DA, etc. And unlike Maltese Falcon, we get a romance that isn't a disaster. The "femme fatale" in this movie is dangerous, but Marlowe sees through her right away, and his actual match is not a danger to him at all.
Natalie:  Yes! And his actual match not only isn't a danger but also isn't just a wallflower or completely naive/innocent either. She's got serious vices. But, he only has to save her from the mess he dug up/wouldn't leave alone so it's not about "saving" her so much as undoing what he did himself.
Tracy:  That's totally true. It's a really interesting dynamic. I loved how they both immediately were in on that sort of prank call. MAD chemistry. Book says they were married six months after the movie wrapped. And Jesus, Bacall was so pretty in such an interesting way.
Natalie:  The prank call was so funny! You can see how easily they managed that whereas it might have been a struggle if the real-life people weren't so well matched. She was! And the actress cast as her sister was just similar enough around the mouth to really look like her sister.
Tracy:  And there was a lot of attention paid to that mouth! So here's why the book says we should like it. After an anecdote about how Chandler himself said he didn't really understand the twists and turns of the plot (sounds like bullshit, but whatever), "The Big Sleep is a reference to death, and indeed death pervades the  movie. This is a film noir masterpiece missing several standard film noir tenets. There are numerous femme fatales, but no flashbacks; chiaroscuro lighting, but no voice-over. More important, Bogart's Marlowe seems not lost in a world of lies and deception but utterly confident and in control at all times. He's a droll antihero, cool in the face of cruelty, unfazed in the face of wanton sleaze, and always appreciative of a pretty face." So I agree with the last bit, which is what we were sort of saying, but I'm not sure death "pervades" the movie--there's a lot that's funny and the romance is life affirming. And I don't think most of the women count as for real femme fatales. What do you think?
Natalie:  Ok, so yes, the part that we were already basically saying but, no to the femme fatales. A woman in a noir isn't automatically a femme fatale. What makes a femme fatale a femme fatale is her ability to actually ensnare the man--there's only one woman in the movie who actually does that. He sees straight through Carmen, isn't fooled by the devious bookstore girl, just has an afternoon tryst with the cute bookstore girl (we suppose--he could have just had a drink), and has little to no interaction with the cab driver, the girls at the casino, or Mars's wife. So, yeah, if they are femme fatale's they're not very good at it. And, no, I don't think death pervades the film either. It's a crime drama so of course people die but it's not like there are a lot of dead bodies at the end of the film. And I don't think he's unfazed or he could have walked about without trying to find the missing guy.
Tracy:  Exactly. Femme fatales spread death wherever they go. Hence the fatale. It's just Carmen, and she's sort of bad at it. And yeah, "unfazed" implies he doesn't care, when he clearly does care about the mystery (even after he's done what he was hired to do) and the Bacall, and he felt bad about the little guy who got poisoned, which is also uncommon for a hard-boiled detective. So I found it really fun and surprising to watch, though I cared less about the mystery then Marlowe did! I say keep it if only for the sparkage and how key that relationship is to the legend of golden age cinema, but the movie itself is also interesting in lots of other ways too. So an enthusiastic yes from me
Natalie:  Agreed all around. I enjoyed watching it (and that's always a HUGE plus with films on this list) and I think it says interesting things about gender and noirs. Plus, I always love movies where you can obviously tell the two real people are madly in love; Guess Who's Coming to Dinner kills me for that reason.
Tracy:  GOD I love that movie. Is that in this book? And yes! Enjoyment is such a nice treat! Yay for Bogie and Bacall. Hope we get a few more of those.
Natalie:  Me, too! It's NOT in the book?! What?! That makes not a damned bit of sense at all!
Tracy:  I KNOW. Another tragedy.
Natalie: I can't imagine why that's not on the list and some of the nonsense we've seen is. It's kind of a landmark race film whereas Silver Lode is nonsense.
Tracy:  I know! Silver Lode over Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. They're madmen at the 1001 book office. But it looks like against all odds (literally) we'll be enjoying two movies in a row. I don't gush all over Amelie like some, but I do find it charming.
Natalie: Madmen. Hooray! I like Amelie better than most of the movies we've seen so far. And I find it watchable which I can't say of some of the films that I thought were ok to have on the list. Speaking of, we can roll again if you like.