Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Troll 2 (1990)

Yes, within a matter of minutes I am going from Gone With the Wind to Troll 2. Easily one of the worst films ever made, it features no actual trolls, horrible acting, dialogue and an erotic scene featuring a corncob and popcorn.

The film follows young Joshua Waits, a troubled young boy who is having a hard time dealing with the death of his Grandpa Seth. Part of the reason is that Grandpa Seth appears to him from beyond the grave to tell him horror stories about Goblins and insist that they're true. In this film, Goblins are vegetarian creatures, who can turn into humans. They use their human disguises to trick people into eating their food, which turns them into half-human, half-plant blobs of goo, which they then eat. Joshua and his family, which includes his father, Mike, his mother Diana, and his sister Holly are going on an exchange. If you've seen the movie The Holiday, you'll know what I'm talking about. Two families switch houses for a predetermined amount of time as opposed to being normal human beings and going on a real vacation.

The Waits family is going to a small town called Nilbog, which just so happens to be occupied by about 25 Goblins. And despite Joshua's urgings, the family doesn't leave, despite Grandpa Seth goading him into peeing on the dining room table to prevent them from eating Goblin food.

Holly Waits is having issues of her own. Her gay boyfriend Elliot has settled in a RV outside Nilbog limits with his "friends" and Holly wants to force him to make a decision between living in a gay orgy in the RV or going into the closet and having a relationship with her. Unfortunately for Elliot, two of his "friends" are abducted by the Goblin leader Creedence Leonore Gielgud (of Ancient Druid Origins, according go her), who essentially looks like a homely librarian and acts like a community theater player who finally had a chance to play the villain and is going to milk that evil teat for all it is worth.

Eventually Joshua discovers that Nilbog is, in fact, Goblin spells backwards, despite Grandpa Seth informing him that Nilbog is the Kingdom of the Goblins, and the conflict between his family and the "Monstrous Beings" (As Joshua calls them) comes to a head in which a "Double decker bologna sandwich" serves as the deus ex machina of the film.

This film is so bad it must be celebrated, it must be lifted to the heavens so that all in the world may come to know its wretchedness.

Seriously, find this movie, find it on the internet, get it from Netflix, buy it for 5 bucks at a dollar store or something, but you HAVE to see this movie. Preferably with friends, and drinking would probably help.

Here is just a taste of what this movie has to offer. And if are not enticed by this, then I cannot help you.

Gone with the Wind (1939)

Sorry I haven't posted anything in a while. My usual method when it comes to posting is to watch whatever movie I have from Netflix, make an entry about it and then do an entry about the next film I get, but it's taken me a while to watch my newest movie (The Lady Eve, for those interested).

So as a way of paying you people back (and celebrating a new subscriber, because I'm a WHORE), I'm going to make an entry about THE Hollywood movie. The blockbuster to end all blockbusters featuring the film Diva to end all film Divas.

Ok, do I really need to go into the plot of the movie. It's the South, Vivian Leigh is Scarlett O'Hara, a prissy southern belle infatuated with the oddly British Ashley Wilkes, but instead Ashley goes all Southern and marries his cousin Melanie. So Scarlett decided to marry a boy of her own, only for him to get killed when the Civil War breaks out. Then she begins a long love/hate relationship with Rhett Butler (Clark Gable).

Really, everyone knows the plot, everyone knows the quotes, and hopefully everyone knows that Scarlett punched that annoying Prissy right in the back of the head.

But really, the film's pretty good once you dispel all the Hollywood legend surrounding it. The sets and costumes all are fantastic and Vivian Leigh is brilliant in the role, as is everyone else in the movie, which goes without saying. Plus, it's full of b*tchery as Scarlett acts like a petty child who HAS to get what she wants.

If there's any major flaw to the film, it's the second half. The first half is great as it involves a Civil War backdrop and is very epic, but then it becomes very closed off and intimate, and pretty much becomes a big soap opera, but it's still a pretty good soap opera (But when am I going to bash the Soap Opera? Just look at the name of my blog).

I know that it's really hard to do a film like this justice when it comes to discussing it, because it's become a huge part of pop culture, but there's not a lot I can say about the movie that people won't already know. They know the movie is great (or people say it is), they know what it's about and so on and so forth. But for those of you that haven't seen it, please do. It's a very important movie that, regardless of it's quality, needs to be seen due to it's impact on film as a whole.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Double Indemnity (1944)

To make up for the last two entries, we have a full-blown noir classic. Nothing obscure about this film, which has rightfully earned its spot on any sort of "must-see" list.

Fred MacMurray is Walter Neff, a insurance salesmen who stumbles into his insurance office, suffering from some sort of injury. He gets a recording device and begins to confess to his part in a murder. The rest of the film is a flashback as Walter recounts the events that led him to this predicament.

It begins when he meets Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck), the wife of a wealthy man who seduces him and together they create a plan to take out a double indemnity insurance policy on her husband (which pays double in the case of accidental death) and then murder him and make it look like an accident. The commit the crime, but Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson), Walter's friend and co-worker begins to unravel the case when it comes to him to investigate the insurance claim.

The acting in this film is superb, with MacMurray playing a bit of a cad who believes that he is truly in love with the woman who is clearly using him and he accurately portrays a man that is slowly being pulled into circumstances that are way over his head. Edward G. Robinson is very good too, playing an actual good guy for once. MacMurray and Robinson have great chemistry together as two close friends who begin to assume a cat-and-mouse dynamic.

But the standout is Barbara Stanwyck who plays Phyllis as a completely cold and frigid woman, totally ruthless when it comes to her husband and others around her. The scene where her husband is murdered is probably the best testament to her acting ability as the camera is focuses entirely on her face as Walter strangles her husband and we see several emotions play on her face: fear, excitement and eventual satisfaction.

The plot contains a lot of twists and turns, which is surprising since we have a general idea of how the film ends because of it's opening (Like another Billy Wilder film, Sunset Boulevard), but it's still able to keep you invested into what happens.

I know I can't really do a film like this justice in my own words, but this film really needs to be seen. It features one of the greatest performances of all time as well as being one of the best films of all-time. So please watch it.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Adventures in Babysitting (1987)

Ok, here's another movie that falls a bit outside the boundaries of "Classic Hollywood", but you know what? I just turned 21 a few days ago, and I found this childhood favorite at K-Mart, so I'm going to make a post about it.

Elizabeth Shue plays Chris Parker, a teenager who takes a babysitting job after her boyfriend cancels their date. Unfortunately for her, this is the night her best friend Brenda decides to run away from home and ends up getting stuck in a bus station in downtown Chicago, so Chris ends up taking Brad (Keith Coogan), a teenager who is in love with her, his Thor-obsessed sister Sara (Maia Brewton), and Brad's perverted next door neighbor Daryl (Anthony Rapp). Once in Chicago, they end up on a string of misadventures, including a one-armed trucker, a Playboy magazine, and a carjacker who looks like Whoopi Goldberg.

The film is pure 80's cheese, don't get me wrong, but Elizabeth Shue actually does a pretty good job in this film. Chris is a smart young woman determined to get out of this situation with all of her kids intact. It never feels like it falls onto the "idiot plot", where the characters stupidly get themselves into mishap after mishap, instead they're forced into their various situations, and Elizabeth Shue does a great job of making Chris appear both capable and overwhelmed.

The film also features some very funny moments where we get to see what Brenda is going through at the bus station, which is populated with drug addicts, criminals, and homeless people.

The film is really one of my favorite movies from childhood, and rewatching it only reinforces my love for it. It's hard to actually recommend it, because the film is overflowing with nostalgia and I doubt there are a lot of people who necessarily feel the same way. But who cares, it's Adventures in Babysitting.

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)

Ok, I haven't lost my mind. I am totally aware that this film is a steaming pile of crap, but you know what? It's a family classic in my house, something that is constantly quoted and revered for being one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Everything about it is garbage, but it's good garbage.

Avoid the first Mortal Kombat movie, because it's just bad bad as opposed to good bad like this film. And to be honest, they give you a recap montage at the beginning of the film to get you up to speed. Not that you really need it, because within the first 3 minutes of this film it begins RAINING FLAMING NINJAS. Apparently, the whole point of the Mortal Kombat tournament is that if Earth people win, then Earth is safe for another generation. Well apparently that fell through, because this occurs as soon as Liu Kang, Princess Kitana, Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage (I would usually list the actors' names, but considering the movie, it doesn't really matter) return from the tournament. Apparently Shao Kahn, a villain from "Outworld" has opened the portals between the realms and basically everyone is going to die. And he's kinda right, because he promptly kills Johnny, sending Sonya into a shallow depression that requires her to occasionally mention Johnny's death in an incredibly cheesy line. Other than that, no one really seems to care anymore.

The group splits up to accomplish different goals, but this is when the story derails into a mass of confusion that I have yet to figure out after 10+ viewings. Ok, so Shao Kahn has resurrected Kitana's dead mother Sindel. And according a legend, once Kitana and Sindel are reunited, the portals will close. So Kitana is kidnapped so that she cannot be reunited with her mother. After she is kidnapped, Liu Kang encounters Jade, a mysterious woman who offers to help him save Kitana. In saving Kitana, they find Shao Kahn's castle and kill one of his generals, bringing them close to saving the world. BUT apparently Jade is undercover for Shao Kahn and that this legend (which is several thousand years old) was a lie to distract everyone, even though in saving Kitana, they find Shao Kahn and eventually save the day.


If Jade hadn't led Liu Kang right to where Kitana was, they would have NEVER found her, because they had no clue as to where she was being held. Plus, how do you set about a plan that involved a several thousand year old legend that you MADE UP? It's like playing Capture the Flag and leading the other team to your flag only to say "Hah, I tricked you!" and run away, but STILL LEAVING THE FLAG.

Not that a coherent plot would have saved the film. The acting, special effects, and writing all suck. Johnny's death is reacted to with the same amount of sorrow one may feel writing their shopping list, and by that, I mean none at all.

There are scenes that attempt to add some level of depth to the characters. Such as giving Liu Kang this deep fear that he will somehow fail his friends, but it's only portrayed in word only. The acting is so bad, that he has to lay on the ground asleep, moving his head back and forth and saying "What if I failed?" for you to actually even become aware of this fear.

But really, the film is awful, but awesomely so. There's a lot of corny, cheesy action scenes, and the some truly hilariously bad lines. It's a perfect combination of corn and cheese.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Little Foxes (1941)

Another Bette Davis movie, but this one features what I believe to be her greatest performance.

When it comes to The Little Foxes, I am going to admit that I am extremely biased, since it's the kind of film that I love. Only a handful of characters, a lot of scheming and backstabbing in order to gain power, very dialogue-driven, and of course it has Bette Davis.

Bette Davis is Regina Giddens, a frozen ice-b*tch from Hell. Due to being a women, her father only viewed her two brothers as his rightful heirs, so while they have financial independance, she had to marry a wealthy man in pursuit of her own fortune. Regina's two brothers Benjamin (Charles Dingle) and Oscar (Carl Benton Reid) are planning on opening a cotton mill, but lack all of the necessary funds to do so, causing Regina to scheme and plot in the hopes of gaining control of the mill.

Let me say, this is Bette Davis' best performance, and that is saying a lot. For those who accuse her of being overly theatrical or hammy, this performance is anything but. She is an ice queen using and manipulating anyone she can to gain wealth and power, and Davis creates so much venom with her eyes that it's a marvel to observe. She is total restraint, yet she eminates power, greed, and corruption.

The rest of the cast is good as well, with Theresa Wright and Patricia Collinge giving Oscar nominated performances as Regina's innocent daughter Alexandra and Oscar's depressed and slightly off wife Birdy.

Another standout is Charles Dingle as Benjamin, who gives his character a sly wit that is a great counterpoint to the deadly serious Regina.

The script isn't as snappy as maybe one would expect, but it handles the backstabbing and trickery well by keeping it fairly low key and never going into theatrics or making the dialogue go too over the top.

This is a brilliantly made featuring some great performances, if you are a Bette Davis fan, you have to see this movie, because she is absolutely fantastic.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rachel Getting Married (2008)

Another recent film, one which explores alienation, family, and the events that can either tie us together or force us apart.

Anne Hathaway plays Kym, the now sober drug addict who leaves rehab in order to attend the wedding of her sister Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt). Kyms arrival brings with it the resurrection of old family wounds and the hurt that some have been keeping inside for years.

What may sound like a shallow plot is actually the vehicle for one of the best films of last year that examines the kind of pain that can exist inside families as well as the strength and love that can keep them together. The film is shot in a documentary style manner by director Jonathan Demme, which makes every argument seem uncomfortably real and the actors do a great job of turning the script into real-life conversation. Speaking of uncomfortable, if you prefer your films to be light and fun, skip this one. While Kym has a lot of sarcastic humor that can bring some laughs, there are also moments where you squirm in your seat as the film delves into some truly awkward and unsettling moments.

The cast is uniformly great, with Anne Hathaway delivering a brilliant performance as a woman who has to be a victim, an instigator, darkly humorous, and haunted all at once, and never once does Hathaway falter, bringing a great sense of realism to her character. Rosemarie Dewitt is equally incredible, playing the sister who has always been shoved to the side. Being the "good sister", she never received the attention that Kym had due to her addiction and misbehaving and this pattern once again sets in once Kym joins the wedding preparation as Kym hijacks the Maid of Honor position and uses her addiction and past history as a crutch to steal as much of the spotlight as she can.

One thing that I enjoy about the film is the amount of love and support shown by the family. While there is a lot of pain and arguing, we never get the sense that Kym is a total victim and that her family just mistreated her. Instead we have a caring family that was rocked by a tragedy in the past, which caused everyone to deal with it in their own way, be it good or bad.

If the film has one flaw, it's that once the actual wedding occurs, it goes on for a bit too long. It focuses entirely too much on people dancing to music and enjoying themselves. But maybe that's the point since there was so much tension and bickering beforehand and the wedding serves as the relief.

But other than that, it's a fine film, full of great performances with a layered and real screenplay that really can hit close to home.


(I decided maybe I should try rating the films I discuss. I dunno if I will stick with it or not, because I don't know if my posts are really in-depth or detailed enough to warrant an actual rating. But I'll just see how this goes.)

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

My first Katherine Hepburn (And James Stewart) movie and it's a star-studden affair with a crackling script.

Katherine Hepburn is Tracy Lord, a Philadelphia socialite who called off her marriage with C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) two years ago and is about to marry the fairly boring George Kittredge (John Howard). However, her wedding is disrupted when Dexter returns, bringing with him two "friends" of Tracy's brother, who are in fact a writer, Macaulay "Mike" Connor (Stewart), and photographer, Elizabeth Imbrie (Ruth Hussey) from Spy magazine, trying to get the scoop on Tracy's wedding. Will she go through with the wedding? If so, who will she end up marrying?

The performances in this film are all fantastic. Hepburn is brilliant as the perfection obsessed socialite who slowly begins to climb down from her ivory tower. She gives Tracy a strength that also reflects some insecurities and fears being held deep inside her that slowly become more and more apparant as the film goes on.

Cary Grant is also in fine form as well. Before the film was made, Grant was given the choice between the two male leads, instead doing with the less showy role of Dexter, and Thank God he did. In the Screwball Kingdom, Grant is king, able to fire off dialogue like a true master, making his verbal sparring with Hepburn crackle with wit and a few dashes of venom.

James Stewart is good as well, playing his character with a bit if intellectual snobbery that allows for Tracy to have someone to relate to. Where Tracy is very critical on anyone who cannot meet her demands for perfection, Mike is a bit if a jaded snob when it comes to the upper class and as the film goes on, we see their views and ideas changing. Stewart actually won the Oscar for this film (though it is generally considered undeserved and that it was a make-up for his loss the previous year). While he isn't given a whole lot to do for the first part of the film, he becomes one of the most entertaining aspects of the film once his character gets drunk halfway through the movie.

Ruth Hussey also deserves mention for her performance as Elizabeth. She's able to see right through everything going on as well as see Mike falling in love with Tracy, but she finds comfort that Tracy is supposed to be married to someone else, thinking it will leave Mike for her. She also gets some of the best lines in the film, standing on the sidelines and offering her imput every so often.

As previously mentioned, the film crackles with wit, and there's a lot of great wordplay and dialogue between all of the characters. It also creates a love triangle that could work on all sides of it, both couples involved make sense and could work.

If I didn't already make it obvious, this is a wonderful film that deserves to be seen.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Youtube Help

In honor of my first follower (thank you so much), I have decided to give the poor girl some help. Unable to find any of the films on this list due to where she lives, I'm going to try and find as many of them on Youtube as I can and post links so that anyone remotely interested can give them a look.

Note: I will only be linking to Part 1 of any available films, because the other segments are usually in the Related Videos section anyway.

Key Largo
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
BUtterfield 8
Of Human Bondage
She Done Him Wrong
It Happened One Night
Anna Christie

If you found a film that I missed, or if the entire film is not available, please let me know so I can edit this post.

Also, there are a ton of great Youtube playlists that feature a lot of older films, such as The Apartment or The Little Foxes, so be sure to check those out at well.

If people like having the option of watching the film on-line, I'll start posting links to the films on-line in my reviews (if available).

Also, if you enjoy reading this blog, please become a follower. I'm not begging for validation or anything, I'd just like to get a general idea as to how many people are reading.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Key Largo (1948)

Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and Lionel Barrymore are held captive in a hotel during a hurricane by Edward G. Robinson in a film that feels like a jumble between The Petrified Forest and Casablanca.

Frank McCloud (Bogart) is a former army officer who makes a visit to Key largo to see the widow (Bacall) and father (Barrymore) of a man who was under him in the war, only to find that their hotel is under the control of Johnny Rocco (Robinson)'s thugs. Things are tense at first, but quickly grow more threatening and dangerous as a hurricane keeps everyone trapped inside, and it falls to Frank to save the day.

The plot of this film plays out as if Rick from Casablanca was dropped into the middle of the diner in The Petrified Forrest. Frank is given the "I stick my neck out for no one" mentality, when we know that deep down inside he's really a hero. That's not necessarily a problem per se, but it does add a lot of predictability to the film since we know that he's going to have saved the day by the end of the film. And Lauren Bacall is totally wasted. As anyone who has seen The Big Sleep can attest to, Bacall is capable of being a great femme fatale, able to add a great deal of intelligence and mystery to her characters, but in this film she's just given a character who is a decent war widow and not much else, in fact, she doesn't even have that big of a part.

The more interesting female character is Gaye Dawn (which sounds like a group of Gay Skinheads), who is Rocco's alcoholic mistress, played brilliantly by Claire Trevor. She isn't afraid to make the character pathetic as she shakes and begs for a drink, even singing for Rocco in the hopes that she will be rewarded with her booze. Robinsoon is good as well, but it's a role he perfected years before.

I'm not trying to say that the film isn't good, because it is. The atmosphere is great and despite what I said, the performances are all top-notch. What's also interesting is the idea of how the world has changed because of people like Rocco and the question is raised if the world will every be the same. It's almost like the main point made in the recent film No Country for Old Men regarding evil in the world.

If you like this film, I really recommend The Petrified Forrest, which has a similar plot and also features Humphrey Bogart, this time as the criminal.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Auntie Mame (1958)

Rosalind Russell gives the performance of her life in a film about a woman who was truly ahead of her time.

It's the 1920's and Patrick Dennis (Jan Handzlik and then later played by Roger Smith) is newly orphaned when his father drops dead. As per his will, he is send to live with his Auntie Mame (Rosalind Russell) who was regarded by her brother as a kook. Mame hosts illegal cocktail parties where the guests range from foreign priests to liberal poets to, according to the IMDB boards "obvious" lesbians, living under the motto "Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death", Mame embraces everything and everyone, changing the motif of her penthouse every few weeks, and dressing in some truly outrageous outfits.

It's hard to go into the plot of the film, because it's VERY episodic, with plot lines introducing themselves and then being resolved 30-40 minutes later. For example, the film begins with Mame trying to keep Patrick in her care after the executor of Patrick's father's will takes him away to boarding school after discovering that Patrick has been enrolled in a liberal co-ed school where the students do not wear clothes, suddenly the plot shifts to Mame struggling through the Great Depression, and so and on so forth culminating in the plotline of a now adult Patrick wanting to marry a very conservative girl from a very bigoted elitist family.

That's part of the main issue with the film, it's length. It's about 2 hours and 20 minutes long, but there are a few scenes that don't really do anything as besides provide for Rosalind Russell to be goofy and whacky. That said, Rosalind Russell owns this movie from start to finish. Mame is larger than life and Rosalind plays it that way, but avoids ever going too far over the top. She hits every emotional note perfectly and creates one of the screens most memorable characters.

The film is witty, entertaining, and actually inspiring, as we hope to emulate Mame and live life to the fullest. But if you're going to see this movie for any reason, it's going to be for Rosalind Russell's performance, which is probably one of the greatest of all time.