Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Airport '77 (1977)

Art thieves hijack a 747, hit fog and crash into the ocean, trapping the passengers under 100 feet of water. [imdb]

Nominated for 2 Oscars:

Best Art Direction
Best Costume Design

First of all, let me mention the Oscar nominations, because they put a smile on my face and I really need one today. :) Can you believe this competed with Star Wars for Art Direction and Costumes?? I can accept the Art Direction to a certain point (although in the end it's just an airplane under water), but costume design?! We are talking legendary Edith Head (the only element to justify the nomination), but seriously: all of the wardrobe could've been bought from the mall in half a day! Ridiculous.
And now let's name the famous actors showing up in this silly disaster movie: James Stewart, Olivia de Havilland, Joseph Cotten, Jack Lemmon, Lee Grant. It's because of such cast and because I wanted a fun disaster movie I got to watch this. And let's face it: it's a flop and the acting isn't great either. Lee Grant is doing her routine hysterical stuff trying for an Oscar nom and Miss de Havilland, though touching, hardly gets a decent scene. The underwater stuff is pretty ok, but who could believe the story???
My rating for the film: 3.5/10. I am prepared to watch soon the first Airport film, which I haven't seen in a very long time.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

All About Eve (1950) (4th time?)

An ingenue insinuates herself in to the company of an established but aging stage actress and her circle of theater friends. [imdb]

Nominated for 14 Oscars:

Best Picture (WINNER)
Best Director: Joseph L. Mankievicz (WINNER)
Best Actress: Anne Baxter
Best Actress: Bette Davis
Best Supporting Actor: George Sanders (WINNER)
Best Supporting Actress: Celeste Holm
Best Supporting Actress: Thelma Ritter
Best Writing, Screenplay (WINNER)
Best Cinematography, Black-and-White
Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture
Best Editing
Best Art Direction, Black-and-White
Best Costume Design, Black-and-White (WINNER)
Best Sound (WINNER)

Many things can be said about this all time classic. It has got to be one of the best known Best Picture winners, especially here, among bloggers. The film also holds the record for most Oscar nominations: 14, a distinction shared with Titanic (1997). It's a movie about actors and actresses, it's also the only film I ever bought on VHS, which makes it even more personal. I don't remember what made me choose it, but boy was I pleased and the film itself influenced my existance, my way of thinking, because I was at such a delicate age (12? 13?).
Bette Davis gives my favorite performance ever, the screenplay is one of the best Hollywood has ever seen. You need to pay attention to fully understand the dialogue and although it's not a perfect film, All About Eve is a story so well told and very interesting for anyone who loves actors. It all fits so perfectly in the end and it was so influential and very responsible for all the back-stabbing movies from then on.
It's hard to explain why I love it, I just know I'm always fully into it. It should've had more major Oscars in its bag: for my darling Bette of course, but also, I think, for Celeste Holm who was just as fabulous in my opinion (better than her Oscar-winning performance in Gentlemen's Agreement). Thelma Ritter is as fun as always and the direction is subtle, but terrific.
My rating for the film: 9.5/10. It's probably a 9 for someone who doesn't have this much history with the film as I have. More on this when I'll talk Bette's performance on the other blog.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Born Yesterday (1950) (2nd time)

A million dollar tycoon hires a tutor to teach his lover proper etiquette. [imdb]

Nominated for 5 Oscars:

Best Picture
Best Director: George Cukor
Best Actress: Judy Holliday (WINNER)
Best Writing, Screenplay
Best Costume Design, Black-and-White

Born Yesterday is a mostly relaxing film with two interesting aspects about it, in my opinion. First, there's the acting which is top class with 3 wonderful performances. Then, there's the strange structure of the film, which goes from a silly, standard (but quite great) comedy to a moralistic drama, very talkative but less fun.
Judy Holliday's Oscar win was a bit of an infamous one even in its era considering competition from Bette Davis and critical darling and assumed winner Gloria Swanson. As time went by, the performance drew more and more fans and I myself find to be an excellent comedic demonstration. But the men are just as great: Broderick Crawford should've received a supporting actor nomination for his energetic Tony-Soprano-like performance and William Holden, I dare to say, was maybe nominated for the wrong film, as his acting here is I think better than in Sunset Blvd.
If the film would've kept the same comedy feel for the entire movie or just a bit longer than it did, it would've really been a winner for me. I understand why they shifted to drama, I just wish it hadn't been that fast as the last minutes of the film make you loose interest a bit.
My rating for the film: 8/10. Some scenes, like the Gin Rummy one, are pure gold. And also it should've won Costume Design, as it had weak competition there and fabulous dresses on-screen.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bull Durham (1988) (2nd time)

A fan who has an affair with one minor-league baseball player each season meets an up-and-coming pitcher and the experienced catcher assigned to him. [imdb]

Nominated for 1 Oscar:

Best Original Screenplay

I don't know what was I thinking when I imagined I'm gonna enjoy this more the second time around. I am blaming the film bloggers who keep saying how underrated Bull Durham is + those critics groups giving it a Screenplay win all around. I had first seen it yeeeears ago and it felt decent, but this time it was a bit painful and so boring at times.
I'm sure I'd enjoy it more, if I'd have any idea about baseball. In Europe we breathe soccer and that's it! But putting that aside (cause the film is more about the love triangle), it's still flawed and it loses even more in the second part. The actors however are pretty good: Tim Robbins is right for the part, Susan Sarandon is ok (not as incredible as some are shouting around), but the best performance comes from a young Kevin Costner, who probably delivers a career best.
My rating for the film: 5.5/10. I think Oscar did well, not getting tricked by the critics. It was a 5/10 before I changed my mind.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Interiors (1978) (2nd time)

Three sisters find their lives spinning out of control in the wake of their parents' sudden, unexpected divorce. [imdb]

Nominated for 5 Oscars:

Best Director: Woody Allen
Best Actress: Geraldine Page
Best Supporting Actress: Maureen Stapleton
Best Original Screenplay
Best Art Direction

There are lots of interesting details about this film, for example: Woody getting inspiration from Ingmar and Woody wanted Ingrid B to play the mother, but instead Ingrid chose to do her only film with Ingmar, both Geraldine and Ingrid got nominated and lost to Jane Fonda. Sounds confusing right? :D Unless you are a true Oscar buzzer :P and then it sound clear and familiar. I like Interiors because it's one of the most stylish films I've ever seen. Every frame is perfect, every actor great and what a wonderful homage to the great Ingmar Bergman! If only Woody would try again incredible dramas like this one!
I know many people don't enjoy Interiors, especially its lack of humor and the slow burning direction. I really enjoyed the screenplay, the acting and most of all: the direction and the cinematography! It's all so subtle, so cool, so chic and, while it would never have the depth of Autumn Sonata, it has enough style to fit my taste and keep both the style and the substance.
A wrong campaign stopped Geraldine from getting the Oscar (she is supporting and would've won in that category). Maureen Stapleton is wonderful and just like a ray of sun; she takes the film to another mood level and it's great. Maybe she deserved to win (I don't know, I haven't seen Meryl in Deer Hunter). Diane Keaton is fascinating and in any other year she could've received a Best Actress nomination and Mary Beth Hurt gives a great performance also.
This is not the typical Woody Allen film and, while it resembles Bergman, it's still different in a fascinating way and the mood of it (the direction, the editing, the cinematography) just makes me excited and passionate about Interiors and movies in general. Not perfect, but damn interesting.
My rating for the film: 9/10. One of the best final shots EVER. I need 1970s Woody Allen to come back.

P.S.: I can't believe Heaven Can Wait won Art Direction and not Interiors or any other film.