Sunday, June 26, 2011

Predator (1987) (2nd time)

A team of commandos, on a mission in a Central American jungle, find themselves hunted by an extra-terrestrial warrior. [imdb]

Nominated for 1 Oscar:

Best Visual Effects

For every heavy film, one must see a predator - either to appreciate the previous heavy film if that's the case OR just to relax his mind with something so silly it's entertaining. Predator was easy to watch, unfortunately it was far from being as good as I remembered it. The problem is not the excessive bloody-mood, but the ridiculous choices in the 2nd part.

Truth is: there should've been more Die Hard in the story. Predator starts out well, but it sure loses focus along the way, especially when Arnold is the last man standing. There were some really stupid choices in the screenplay, the monster walked like a guy in a costume and the screenplay solutions are above what's imaginable or partially reasonable. But guess what: even then it was easy to watch & captivating at times.

My rating for the film: 6/10. Mindless fun. But that Oscar nom: quite undeserved, the visual effects don't impress.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

7th Heaven (1927)

A street cleaner saves a young woman's life, and the pair slowly fall in love until war intervenes. [imdb]

Nominated for 5 Oscars:

Best Picture
Best Director, Dramatic Picture: Frank Borzage (WINNER)
Best Actress: Janet Gaynor (WINNER)
Best Writing, Adaptation (WINNER)
Best Art Direction

It's true, I might've had high expectations for this film, because people tend to write only good things about it, and it's easy to see it came very close to winning Best Picture on Oscar's 1st edition. As it usually happens, the film just didn't do it for me. It started nicely, with a good story and character introduction and the first half an hour or so really worked. But after that, for me it turned uxpectedly boring.

The problem is in the screenplay, which goes silly in the 2nd half: in one continuous scene Chico asks Diane to marry him, someone comes and tells Chico the war has just started and they have to leave in 15 minutes :))), Diane puts the wedding dress on, Chico informs Diane he has to go, they change vows, Chico leaves, 30 seconds later Diane is attacked by her abusive sister, Diane wins. All this in 15 minutes :D kills believability like you can't imagine and turns from romantic and easy-going into soap-opera that's hard to rally behind.

Janet Gaynor turns the little she has to do into something nice, but this is yet another Frank Borzage film that sinks in misogynism and often poor choices. It has its charm, that's for sure, but the story lacks consistency and I just can't justify the Writing & Director wins. I'm very happy Wings won Best Picture, because it's a far superior film.

My rating for the film: 6/10. Why do the fans ignore the major flaws?!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hey, guys! I'm on twitter now, because I'm tired of reading so much stuff and not being able to reply! :)

So tell me: who else is outthere. Let me know! :D

If interested, you can click on the right or just go at my link here:!/AlexInMovieland

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sadie Thompson (1928)

Sadie Thompson arrives in Pago-Pago on her way to a new life, but extremist missionary Davidson lashes out against her lifestyle. [imdb]

Nominated for 2 Oscars:

Best Actress: Gloria Swanson
Best Cinematography

The film seems to be considered today a great classic from the silent era. That's of course because of Gloria Swanson, and the much-deserved popularity that Sunset Blvd. has nowadays. I'm not gonna say Sadie is not a good film in some ways, and Gloria truly is wonderful to look at, but this is hardly a classic.

The attraction towards the film must come from the 2 leading performances. As I said, Gloria is quite likeable and gives a strong performance (she might've won had it not been for Janet's 3 different films) and just as intriguing is Lionel Barrymore, veteran Hollywood actor, very convincing as the fanatic missionary. Those who've seen it might recall that unforgettable devilish look in his eyes.

While it doesn't really have to do with judging the film, you might know that the last 8 minutes of Sadie Thompson are completely lost, and what they did was to recreate the ending using the screenplay and some production stills. It's a pitty, considering it was the ending above all and Gloria seemed to look smashing in the photos of the final scenes. But putting that aside, the ending itself is disappointing and doesn't live up to the tension created up to that point.

My rating for the film: 6.5/10. It has its good, intense moments, but misses opportunities just as often.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

All the King's Men (1949) (2nd time)

The rise and fall of a corrupt politician, who makes his friends richer and retains power by dint of a populist appeal. [imdb]

Nominated for 7 Oscars:

Best Picture (WINNER)
Best Director: Robert Rossen
Best Actor: Broderick Crawford (WINNER)
Best Supporting Actor: John Ireland
Best Supporting Actress: Mercedes McCambridge (WINNER)
Best Writing, Screenplay
Best Editing

I would've probably not have seen this again, had it not been for my desire to catch up (again) with all Best Picture winners and write about them here. It's been a very VERY slow project, but it's rewarding in its own way. For example, I discovered that All the King's Men is not as ok as I remembered it to be: it's actually messy and inconsistent in many ways.

The highlights are the 2 Oscar winning performances, especially Crawford's - he's very energetic and convincing in the role, a scene stealer and way above his acting company. Mercedes is also fine, though seeing all nominees from her category, I might say one of the ladies from Pinky would've made for a worthier winner.

The lowest points in this film come from the screenplay which has no focus on dialogue or character motivations and, of course, the acting of some of the cast members. John Ireland is actually a co-lead and he was nominated for an Oscar here, but it's gotta be one of the WORST acting nominees I had ever seen. He brings nothing to the character, nor to the film, he just floats around with no ability for emotion. Also, the actress playing Anne Stanton: awful.

My rating for the film: 6/10. The beginning is much much better than the second half; and someone should've taken the Costume Designer aside: I've never seen such poorly fitted clothes in a film.

Special Best Picture Ranking

Once every film decade, I update this list. I hope it will go a bit faster from now on. :) In bold, the Best Picture winners of the 40s. Some predictable love (Casablanca), some very low-ranked shockers (Best Years... , Hamlet). To get to them, look for the film's name on the Tag list on the right.

There we go:

1. Gone With the Wind (1939)
2. Casablanca (1943*)
3. Rebecca (1940)
4. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
5. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
6. Mrs. Miniver (1942)
7. Wings (1927-1928)
8. Gentleman's Agreement (1947)
9. It Happened One Night (1934)
10. You Can't Take It With You (1938)
11. The Lost Weekend (1945)
12. Grand Hotel (1932)
13. The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
14. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
15. All the King's Men (1949)
16. How Green Was My Valley (1941)
17. Going My Way (1944)
18. Hamlet (1948)
19. The Life of Emile Zola (1937)
20. The Broadway Melody (1929)
21. Cimarron (1931)
22. Cavalcade (1933)

Is there anyone who doesn't think Casablanca is the best of the 40s winners?!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

She Done Him Wrong (1933)

New York singer and nightclub owner Lady Lou has more men friends than you can imagine. [imdb]

Nominated for 1 Oscar:

Best Picture

This film was a delight and it opened my appetite for Mae West and her work - unfortunately, she didn't get to do as many films as she would've wanted. Boy, was she something; no one came close in matching the combination of outrageous and classy and feminine.

Of course, she was a better writer than an actress and that applies to She Done Him Wrong too. The film is just 66 minutes long (making it the shortest film ever nominated for Best Picture), so we don't get to see enough of Mae. But when she's on screen, it's hard to match that dialogue. Her lines are always funny, smart, seductive.

I didn't care too much about the supporting cast, Cary Grant included - trivia break: Mae discovered him while looking through the window and she cast him in this film, his big breakthrough. The direction itself is shaky. But I can't be tough on this film, it's ahead of its time in many ways.

My rating for the film: 7.5/10. Why don't you come up some time and see me? I'm home every evening. :))

Outside the Law (2010)

A drama about the Algerian struggle for independence from France after WWII. [imdb]

Nominated for 1 Oscar:

Best Foreign Language Film: Algeria

There are so many bad things to say about this film, I have to take a deep breath before starting. First of all, allow me to be shocked that THIS made the list of 5 nominees for Foreign Language Film - do we need a bigger proof the system is flawed? Who from the committee sat through 135 minutes of this film and thought: I want Outside the Law to be nominated because it's so good?!

Don't get me wrong: it's not Country Strong bad, which takes the crown by far. But at least there was some unintentional humor with that one and I was curious how bad the screenplay will continue to be... With this one is pure boredom. Maybe one good scene, but boring boring boring.

Its biggest sin: it takes itself too seriously. Also, it's completely narrow in perspective, anti-French till it becomes ridiculous, historically inaccurate, old fashioned and not in a good way, filled with silly writing, directed in an amateurish way, cheesy and much more. Ok cinematography and maybe one good performance, but otherwise from messy to mediocre.

My rating for the film: 3/10. Too generous am I. The nomination is a sad shocker.