Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pete'n'Tillie (1972)

Pete (Matthau) and Tillie (Burnett) meet, dislike eachother, then they get married and try to survive as a couple through infidelity and personal tragedy.

Nominated for 2 Oscars:

Best Supporting Actress: Geraldine Page
Best Adapted Screenplay

This generally-unseen movie was wrongfully promoted as a comedy. It really is a drama with some comedy touches due to a heavy sarcastic screenplay. There are moments of smart dialogue, but the final result doesn't rise as a whole from the pile of average dramedy movies.
The casting was a problem. Walter Matthau is way too old for the role and he looked more like Carol's father then her love interest. TV star Carol Burnett is right for the part, but there are scenes in which she really doesn't rise up to the challenge. She underplays a role which is quite juicy at times. And then there's Geraldine :D This is another of her wacky performances (and unexpected nominations) just like You're a Big Boy Now was. Even though it's always a pleasure to see her on-screen, THIS nomination is really silly and justified only by a big cat fight scene :P
My rating for the film: 5.5/10. A forgettable dramedy, saved a bit by a couple of smart lines.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

8 1/2 (1963)

A troubled movie director retreats into his memories and fantasies. [imdb]

Nominated for 5 Oscars:

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

I've actually seen this on Sunday, but caught between The Lovely Bones and Up in the Air, I didn't get to post about it. But I don't have much to write about 8 1/2 anyway. It's another classic that almost left me cold.
The direction is fine and Fellini really is a visionary in many ways. Anouk Aimee gives the best performance as Luisa, and Marcello Mastroianni is good as always, but doesn't get that much to do. Because this is a one-man show and that man is Fellini, who's direction almost chokes the movie. There are plenty of good ideas in it and philosophically nice, but the message just didn't reach me. I found no connection to the movie or the story, even though I smiled often and admired many times. Best scene: the first Saraghina scene, of course.
My rating for the film: 7/10. The rating is almost randomly chosen. I just don't want to think about it.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Cousin, cousine (1975)

Two cousins by marriage meet at a wedding banquet. Over time, a close friendship develops between them, but their spouses begin to think that they are more than just friends. [imdb]

Nominated for 3 Oscars (as a 1976 film):

Best Actress: Marie-Christine Barrault
Best Original Screenplay
Best Foreign Language Film: France

I dare to say that this is one of the most shocking/unexpected Best Actress nominations EVER. It wouldn't have happened today and that's exactly why the 70s were so great. Who saw it coming? An unknown French actress in a French movie, not a masterpiece but a romantic comedy, directed by an unknown and with a very subtle non-dramatic performance, not even nominated for the Cesar?
With so many legendary French actresses never nominated (Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider, etc.), she managed to get it. I had to see it for myself: and to my surprise there is NOTHING flashy, Oscar-baity, big Oscar scene about this performance. It's just a sweet romantic role, not even a comedy one. So I still cannot explain the nomination. Other than that: I enjoyed the film. It's very light, but I smiled and even laughed a couple of times. It's not meant to be a comedy in an obvious way, but it's well directed and there's a lot of subtle humor. So it was an enjoyable view, even though I never looked at it like as a very smart film.
My rating for the film: 7.5/10. Were you ever tempted to see it just because Marie-Christine was up against Sissy Spacek (Carrie), Faye Dunaway (Network) and Liv Ullmann (Face to Face)? PS: yes, I know; it's not easy to find.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Private Benjamin (1980) (4th time?)

A sheltered young high society woman joins the army on a whim and finds herself in a more difficult situation than she ever expected. [imdb]

Nominated for 3 Oscars:

Best Actress: Goldie Hawn
Best Supporting Actress: Eileen Brennan
Best Original Screenplay

Nice way to go into the new year, right? I've seen it last night, before and after midnight. This is one of my childhood favorites, they used to show it a lot on tv. But I hadn't seen it in years, and it felt much shorter this time (even though it really isn't). It's probably one of Goldie's (LOVE HER) best comedies, next to Overboard and Housesitter. She really did redefine this wacky genre.
The movie is really really funny in the first 45 minutes or so. There's plenty of situation comedy and Goldie does give an excellent comedic performance. She's so sweet and perfect for this role. The second half, however, gets more romantic/serious, so we miss a lot of the silly comedy from the beginning. But even so, it's always a pleasure to watch. I think all the nominations are worthy, and the acting is fun and adequate for this type of movie.
My rating for the film: 8/10. It's a lot, I know, but it really is an underrated comedy (it has just 5.8 on imdb, which is absurd)!