Wednesday, December 30, 2009

You're a Big Boy Now (1966)

Post-teen virgin moves to New York City, falls for a cold-hearted beauty, then finds true love with a loyal girl. [imdb]

Nominated for 1 Oscar:

Best Supporting Actress: Geraldine Page

I have seen this gradually at work, when I got some free time. For those curious, it's available on Youtube, because otherwise it's very hard to find. It's the first serious film of Francis Ford Coppola, allegedly for his master thesis at film school. It does have a beginner feel to it, but even so: he managed to gather a highly respectable cast: Geraldine Page, Rip Torn, Julie Harris, Elizabeth Hartman and this is also the 1st film of Karen Black.
You're a Big Boy Now is a goofy project, an exagerated comedy with a very shaky screenplay. The key of it all stands in the direction, which is meant to surprise and look inovative. I'm sure it was cool for that era and there are small direction elements that stand out without being obvious. But for the most of it, it remains an experimental film school project, with a certain immaturity attached to it. It's easy to watch, but not fully satisfying. Julie Harris is funny and Geraldine Page memorable, even though it's hardly a deserved Oscar nomination...
My rating for the film: 5.5/10. I just hoped for a good ending and it didn't deliver.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ordinary People (1980) (2nd time)

The accidental death of the older son of an affluent family deeply strains the relationships among the bitter mother, the good-natured father, and the guilt-ridden younger son. [imdb]

Nominated for 6 Oscars:

Best Picture (WINNER)
Best Director: Robert Redford (WINNER)
Best Actress: Mary Tyler Moore
Best Supporting Actor: Judd Hirsch
Best Supporting Actor: Timothy Hutton (WINNER)
Best Adapted Screenplay (WINNER)

I hadn't seen Ordinary People in about 4-5 years. I didn't think much of it back then, even though I admited some scenes to be very well written & acted. The second time around, it felt much better. The screenplay is very good, minus the cheesy flashbacks; and what I did notice this time is how real it feels, how perfectly set are the uncomfortable scenes of human interaction.
And I had forgotten how excellent Timothy Hutton is. The acting is good all around, but he's the star (and the leading character, for that matter); a terrific performance, especially considering it's a debut role and the character could've been played in so many wrong ways. This is the closest Donald Sutherland ever came to an Oscar nomination and Mary Tyler Moore is perfectly cast as the cold mother (I'll write more next week on the other blog). Robert Redford's direction is mostly subtle, reassuring; he probably didn't deserve the win, considering competition from Polanki, Scorsese & Lynch. And I won't mention anything about the Best Picture Oscar, as I haven't checked the other major nominees in a very long time.
My rating for the film: 8.5/10. Because it really is a great family drama, simple and honest. And a very cool emotional ending.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Gone with the Wind (1939) (5th time?)

The biggest epic movie & love story of all times, a turbulent love affair in the American south during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Nominated for 13 Oscars (+2 extra technical awards):

Best Picture (WINNER)
Best Director: Victor Fleming (WINNER)
Best Actor: Clark Gable
Best Actress: Vivien Leigh (WINNER)
Best Supporting Actress: Olivia De Havilland
Best Supporting Actress: Hattie McDaniel (WINNER)
Best Writing, Screenplay (WINNER)
Best Music, Original Score
Best Cinematography, Color (WINNER)
Best Editing (WINNER)
Best Art Direction (WINNER)
Best Sound
Best Special Effects

Christmas Day proved to be the perfect opportunity to revisit THE classic; seen it all at once today, the whole 4 hours... It was the most pleasant marathon :) What can you say about your favorite movie? Not much... It's so good and I have the most respect for it. I'm also aware it's a very subjective choice because it's always the most pleasant sit-through. I am not gonna search for flaws.
The direction, screenplay, technical part and especially Vivien Leigh's historical performance: all there. You need to see one of the many making of documentaries to realize how perfect Vivien's casting was. Truly one of the best female performances ever, and the juiciest role an actress could get. It's a character that had a big influence on my emotional development over the years (it's true, and I'm actually not saying it was a good influence) so I feel deeply connected to it.
In case you were wondering why no costume nomination, it's because the category didn't exist back then; cause GWTW offers some of the best costume design seen on film... those Scarlett dresses: movie magic... There no point in me talking more about it, praising it. Those who've seen it and like it, know what I mean, the charm that takes you over; it's like a secret whose full elements I'm keeping for myself.
My rating for the film: 10/10. Obviously; and it stays there as a solid no. 1 for me. This really is the biggest epic movie and also the 12th Best Picture winner. That's why it's time to recap all the Best Picture winners so far in a ranking:
Special Best Picture Ranking
You might know of my slow attempt to see (or see again) all Best Picture winners. And because now I'm done with the 20s and 30s, it's time to rank the first 12 winners before moving on:
from Best to Worst, here they are:
1. Gone with the Wind (1939)
2. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
3. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
4. It Happened One Night (1934)
5. Wings (1927-28)
6. You Can't Take It with You (1938)
7. Grand Hotel (1932)
8. The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
9. The Life of Emile Zola (1937)
10. The Broadway Melody (1929)
11. Cimarron (1931)
12. Cavalcade (1933)
The movies ranked from 9 to 12 are totally useless winners, a shame in Oscar's history. The winner was very easy for me, because of obvious reasons. But the next 4 movies were very hard to rank, each with scenes/elements making them unique and special: either the class acting from Mutiny, the dramatic touch of Western Front, the comedic easiness of Happened One Night or the surprisingly stunning visual of Wings. You can find my comments on these movies just by going down the page or to the labels on the right.
I will slowly drag myself through the 40s in the next months :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

La dolce vita (1960)

The film is a story of a playboy journalist's week in Rome, and his search for both happiness and love that will never come. [wiki]

Nominated for 4 Oscars: [as a 1961 film]

Best Director: Federico Fellini
Best Original Screenplay
Best Art Direction, Black-and-White
Best Costume Design, Black-and-White (WINNER)

It's always a problem when you feel like criticizing the classics. uuuuhh... Can I say something bad about a film that people think is one of the best ever?! Well: yes. It's not that it's not a special movie; it is!!! La dolce vita is very stylish and sexy and well directed, but... it's also 20-30 minutes too long and it has what i'd call fake substance. As in: no true feelings.
The first hour is a delight, but the last part is redundant and too much of the same thing, which takes away from the originality of it. All the nominations are worthy and, to a certain degree, its fame is well-deserved: cause I guess it depends a lot on the time context and La dolce vita might've really been a door opener for 1960... It's fun in the first half, but I would never adventure seeing the last hour again. The screenplay is good, but not constantly. To my knowledge I've seen just 1 (full) movie of Fellini's before this: and it was the best - La notti di Cabiria. I'll probably try to slowly get familiar with his work (and not just his reputation).
My rating for the film: 7/10. It IS overrated. But everybody needs to see it, at least for Anita's scenes.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Gloria (1980)

A gangster's girlfriend goes on the run with a young boy who is being hunted by the mob for information he may or may not have. [imdb]

Nominated for 1 Oscar:

Best Actress: Gena Rowlands! I cannot believe it!!! wow. It's much worse than the Sharon Stone 1999 version. It did win the Razzie for Worst Supporting Actor (the kid) and I must say it was the most deserved Razzie ever given. This is one of the WORST child performances ever and it also fatally damaged Gena's acting. The screenplay is so bad as it is presented, that the whole 120 minutes action could've been summed up in 25 minutes.
It just goes in circles with stupid plot holes. The direction is totally ignorable (what was Cassavetes thinking?!) and the ending is hilariously pointless. Gena Rowlands is hot and the only good (or at least decent) performance in the film. But how much can she do with a terrible screenplay and a robotic-kid as a scene partner... Too bad. She was nominated for this and not for Opening Night? Ridiculous.
My rating for the film: 2/10. It hurt.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cinderella Liberty (1973)

A lonely Navy sailor falls in love with a hooker and becomes a surrogate father figure for her son. [wiki]

Nominated for 3 Oscars:

Best Actress: Marsha Mason
Best Original Score
Best Original Song

I've wanted to see this movie for a very long time! Why? Because of the spectacular Marsha Mason! :) I was right: she is terrific in this too. I'm not saying she deserved to win (hard to tell), but it's definitely a great achivement. [imo, she deserved to win in 77 and 81]. So I was excited when I finally got my hands on this.
But I was not expecting it to be a classic. And it's not. It's just well-told story, with good performances. Nothing amazing and the ending did not please me that much. James Caan gives a quiet, solid performance, but it's Marsha who, despite not being the true leading character, steals the show. The other 2 nominations are rather forgettable, as I don't remember anything from the Original Score (even though it's John Williams).
My rating for the film: 7/10. Nice effort.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Resurrection (1980)

It tells the story of a woman who survives the car accident which kills her husband, but discovers that she has the power to heal other people. [wiki]

Nominated for 2 Oscars:

Best Actress: Ellen Burstyn
Best Supporting Actress: Eva LeGallienne

What the hell happened in the last 20 minutes of it? It's true what they say: the ending can make or break a movie! I had seen half of this a year ago, and now I watched it all from the beginning for the other blog. It was going fine, until the screenplay went crazy all of the sudden: unjustified actions of the male character and a naive ending.
But it did have potential until then. Ellen Burstyn gives a strong performance, especially in the first hour and Eva LeGallienne's honorary nomination (a theatre star for more than 60 years) made sense, especially as the two actresses worked well together. It also deserved a nomination for Original Score, as the music is haunting and adequate to the film. But nothing close to Oscar wins and... wow, did it blow it away! I was actually hooked to it for the first hour.
My rating for the film: 4.5/10. Missed opportunity.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Stage Door (1937)

A boardinghouse full of aspiring actresses and their ambitions, dreams and disappointments. [imdb]

Nominated for 4 Oscars:

Best Picture
Best Director: Gregory La Cava
Best Supporting Actress: Andrea Leeds
Best Writing, Screenplay

I have accidentally seen this film; I didn't expect to, or at least not last night and not all of it at once. I planned to watch it for Andrew's Kay Hepburn blogathon. I had never seen it. I was charmed.
2 reasons to see Stage Door: Ginger Rogers and the screenplay. Ginger is excellent and very funny in the first hour of the film. Once she fades away from the screen, the movie loses a lot. Her charisma is not to be doubted and she perfectly delivers the sharp dialogue. A nomanition would've been in place. The actress who actually got an Oscar nom gave one of the worst performances of the film; uninteresting, unoriginal, useful just as a plot device. The rest of the nominations are well deserved; and the movie is way better than The Life of Emile Zola, who won.
My rating for the film: 7.5/10. It lost the funny in the 2nd part. I'll probably write about Hepburn on the other blog, on Dec 11th.