Friday, April 29, 2011

#70 A Clockwork Orange (1971)

So I skipped ahead a bit on this one. Of the movies I had already added to my Netflix instant queue, it was the one that Trav wanted to see with me at the time.

I had seen the first third of this movie when I was about 18. (See my "bad habit" in the post about #85: I fell asleep for the rest of the movie but acted like I hadn't.)  This portion of the movie shows the main character Alex, an inherently evil and violent man, breaking into strangers' houses, raping women, and actually getting enjoyment out of torturing people. On one of their "adventures," a woman calls the police and between the time of the call and the arrival of the police, he accidentally kills her. His friends leave him, he's arrested and then of course, has to serve jail time.

After serving a bit of time, he agrees to participate in an experimental "aversion therapy" to shorten his jail sentence. His therapists force him to watch movies of disgusting, violent acts until his body has a Pavlovian response to the sight of violence and he becomes physically ill. Unfortunately, the movies he's forced to watch are accompanied by the classical music he adores, and this is used against him when he again meets the husband of a woman he raped.

I read Roger Ebert's review, and his was incredibly negative, mostly criticizing Kubrick for glorifying Alex and "celebrating his nastiness." I don't think that's what Kubrick was trying to do, though. I think he wants the viewer to see through that and still be able to recognize what is good and evil, and I feel that most viewers would have the same reaction that I did, which was utter disgust.

If an indicator of a good movie is that it affects you somehow, this movie is incredible. It gave me nightmares.

Rating: 8/10

Big Names: Malcolm McDowell

Thursday, April 28, 2011

#80 The Apartment (1960)

This movie has made lists of the best comedies of all time. I must be missing something because while this is a great movie and a sweet romance, I don't at all think of it as a comedy.

Jack Lemmon plays a complete pushover who lends his apartment out to executives at his office to spend alone time with their mistresses. He seems to be getting something out of it, though, like a raise and a new office, so it doesn't bother him until he realizes that one of his bosses is fooling around with the girl he loves.

Lemmon and MacLaine are talented actors, the story is very sweet and well-written, and I did enjoy watching this one, but I wonder if I'm watching too many great movies in a row and becoming accustomed to this new level of movies. None I've seen in a while have stood out to me as significantly better than others (besides Titanic... tease me for my taste if you must.)

Rating: 7/10

Big Names: Shirley MacLaine, Jack Lemmon

Friday, April 22, 2011

#81 Spartacus (1960)

I had very high expectations for this movie. I loved Ben-Hur, and this is ranked almost twenty spots higher, so I expected that this would be my new favorite on the list. It was an excellent movie, but there was at least a full hour that was just dull. (I actually fell asleep during that lull last night and had to finish it this morning.) Another reason I just knew I would love this was that it was directed by Stanley Kubrick, and his version of The Shining is fantastic, and even though it's disturbing, A Clockwork Orange was done very well. Only a few moments of the movie looked like his style, though, or at least what I think of as his style, so that was a bit of a letdown.

Set in 70 B.C., Spartacus is the epic story of a slave who is sold to a master who trains men to become Gladiators. When the Gladiator-trained slaves are asked to fight to the death simply for a Roman general's amusement, together they turn on their master. They then add thousands more slaves to their cause and form an army who revolts against the Roman empire.

The last hour of the movie has some very powerful scenes. I especially love the moment when the Roman general demands that Spartacus identifies himself out of the group of prisoners, and promises that if he does, the other imprisoned slaves' lives would be spared. Every single man identifies himself as Spartacus; they all give their lives for him.

Rating: 8/10

Big Names: Kirk Douglas (Michael Douglas's dad who looks just like him), Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons

Big Lines: I'm Spartacus.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

#82 Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)

My first silent film!! I actually was not at all excited about this one. The Netflix cover told me that this was going to be a 3-hour movie, so I was going to allow myself to watch this one in segments so I didn't die of boredom. Luckily, though, Netflix counted the two different versions on the disc when it calculated the runtime, so it was only an hour and a half. This thoroughly confused me about 80 minutes in, when everything was coming together, and I had no idea how they were going to fill in another 90 minutes.

Since I feel very confident that no one who reads this will ever see this movie (except you, Sabrina!), here is the story: A married farmer (btw, none of these characters have any names.... not even on the credits) is seduced by a woman "from the city" who's staying in their little town on vacation. The woman from the city convinces him to drown his wife and move with her to the city. When he attempts the murder on a little rowboat in the middle of a lake, his wife begs for mercy, so he comes to his senses and grants her mercy. Once they get back to land, she runs from him into the city, understandably scared of him, which upsets him and inspires him to win her back. Later in the day, they are back in love and happy as ever (one heck of a day). They decide to take a lovely moonlight cruise back to their home, when a storm comes out of nowhere and flips their boat. He swims to land, but she disappears. Obviously distressed over the apparent loss of his wife, he goes out and attempts to then strangle his mistress since it's definitely her fault. In the middle of the strangling, a neighbor walks up with his (live) wife, and all is well! He loves his wife again, and obviously is done with the woman from the city.

When I told Trav the story, he didn't understand how I got all of that from a silent film. I guess the story is so obvious and direct that I never even questioned it. In fact, this movie only had a few title cards so the story's almost exclusively expressed by actions. When the plot line is clear, and the acting is done well, dialogue can be unnecessary. Think of Tom Hanks in Cast Away. That movie did really well despite the fact that it had hardly any dialogue and only had one main character. Tom Hanks is awesome.

I'm apparently in a rambling mood today. In summary, this movie was not at all painful to watch, it held my attention and evoked some emotions, but I'm glad it wasn't a three-hour silent film.

Rating: 7/10

Big Names: George O'Brien, Janet Gaynor

Big Lines: nope :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

#83 Titanic (1997)

How exactly this movie is only one spot ahead of Easy Rider is mind-boggling. Yes, I know that it was maybe over-advertised when it came out. I actually remember reading girly magazines like"Tiger Beat" when I was thirteen (a full two years before the movie came out), when they had already cast Leo, and he was all OVER the covers. :) And I'm pretty sure everyone was tired of it by the time it came out on video, but it was #1 in the box office for 15 consecutive weekends. That's the longest of any movie, ever. Everything about this movie was huge. The actors, the timeline, the length of the movie, the number of extras, the sets, and I read that the cost of the movie ($200million) was actually more than what it would even cost to rebuild the Titanic today ($150million).

In my first post on here, I mentioned that the definition of a good movie, to me, is that it is one that affects me somehow. As soon as the movie started, I was already tearing up. And hours after the movie was over, I was reading all I could find online about the Titanic sinking...  Apparently many of the characters on Titanic were real people (not Jack & Rose, though), and their stories were real. The older couple lying in bed cuddling as the ship sank were Isador & Ida Straus, co-owners of Macy's. They both were offered spots on a lifeboat, but he turned it down since not all women and children had been saved. She decided that she didn't want to leave him, so the two stayed on the boat together. (Sigh.) John Jacob Astor IV, the man with the young, pregnant wife, was truly the wealthiest man on the boat, and they were finally returning from their long honeymoon abroad since his divorce and new marriage were so scandalous.

There's just so much history surrounding this tragedy, and Jack and Rose's story is so beautiful and moving that I have to say that James Cameron knew exactly what he was doing. This movie deserved all the credit that it received. Such a well-made tribute to the horrific tragedy.

Rating: 10/10

Big Names: James Cameron, Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, James Horner (I read somewhere that Cameron first wanted Enya to do the music, so that's why so much of the music sounds dreamy and Enya-like)

Big Lines (or at least my favorite):
Jack: I'm king of the world!

Rose: I'd rather be his whore than your wife.

Cal: You're a good liar.
Jack: Almost as good as you.

Man on Carpathia: Can I take your name, please love?
Rose: Dawson, Rose Dawson

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

#84 Easy Rider (1969)

This was easily my least favorite movie on this list so far. I had to restart it three times because I kept falling asleep in the first fifteen minutes of the movie.

It's the story of a couple of hippie bikers riding across the United States from L.A. to New Orleans for Mardis Gras, hoping to figure out how to live their lives. While the movie had interesting segments and a bizarre/disturbing ending, I think my favorite part was the music.

Rating: 3.5/10

Big Names: Jack Nicholson (the best character... a drunken lawyer), Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper