Sunday, February 26, 2006

monty python's life of brian

Life of Brian is the second Monty Python movie i watched. So i had quite some expectations from it, and the movie surely didn't let me down. I had quite a laugh, but not the sort of stupid laugh i sometimes get from silly American comedies or comedy/romances. Nope. Life of Brian uses English humour as a perfect tool to critisize excessive religiosity, as well as hypocrite and manipulative religion. In other words, as Wikipedia characterizes it "a sacrilegious film "deserving censorship". The movie presents the life of Brian Cohen (played by Graham Chapman), a young man born nearly the same time as, and right down the street from Jesus.
What I liked the most was the way in which psychology of masses is portrayed. I remember one person asking at a certain point: "How shall we fuck off, oh, Lord?" and i found that terribly funny. And then, there were many scenes which seemed to take place in one of today's churches, with people having come to listen to Jesus preaching who end fighting and arguing and insulting each other.
All in all, in 2000, "Life of Brian" was voted the greatest comedy film of all time by readers of the Total Film magazine. In 2004 the same magazine named it the 5th greatest British film of all time. And i do not believe that this happened for nothing.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

the purple rose of cairo

if i take into consideration how much work i have to do, i'd have to skip movies for quite a while; and i just couldn't take it any longer.
So, here i was watching "The Purple Rose of Cairo". Indeed "inventive, funny and magical" as announced in its launching poster, this movie makes me simply love Woody Allen a bit more (despite being among the few in which Allen doesn't act himself). The thing i like the most about Allen is his excellent writing skill. His dialogues simply keep me fully focused all the time, in a very enjoyable manner. They entertain me and enchant me, through a certain natural way of being able to go so deep into things, without requiring the intense implication of the viewer. Just like in the case of "Annie Hall", i feel like i need to mark down quote after quote, cause i could use it sometime, but, on the other hand, i don't feel like skipping parts of the movie while writing those quotes anyway.
What i'm trying to say, through all this complicated mummbling is that i loved this movie. Its idea is simple: we have a New Jersey waitress, with a jerk of a husband, who doesn't respect or love her, and whose only, but great escape from quite a miserable life are her nights at the movies. Together with the entire cinema world, which fascinates her and which she knows by heart. And then, we have the premier of "The Purple Rose of Cairo", the latest romantic story brought to the theatre. She falls in love with the movie, and one of the characters falls in love with her, so he just decides to leave the screen and go after this real woman he's mad about. There are no attempts to sabotage the story itself by getting into scientifical explanations of how the character did it. As one of the viewers says, "It's New Jersey, anything can happen". And things do happen. And twists and turns occur. And the feeling with which i remained is that cinema can indeed change lives; and this is neither good, nor bad; it's a form of therapy like any other forms of therapy, maybe a little more magical, because it focuses around stories in which situations solve, and there are people you can count on and then, there are all the little things, the minor details which real life doesn't spoil real people with.

Friday, February 24, 2006

ed wood

Ed Wood is the type of movie that i adore because it forces me to find out a lot of other things, starting from the story it presents. So, i am not going to focus on the fact that i could never think that the combination between a black and white movie, Tim Burton as a director and Johnny Depp in leading role might possibly fail to provide something worthy.
Instead, i am going to talk a little about the real Edward D. Wood Jr.. Possibly the worst male director of all times (as tagged by the majority), he still remains an extraordinary model of determination. His debut? In 1953, he directs Glen or Glenda, based on the Christine Jorgensen sex-change, having the courage to expose an unusual subject for a 50s movie. Now, i haven't yet watched any of his movies, but voices say that they are indeed of no good and the only thing which turned them into cult movies today is precisely their combination of the director's exquisite lack of talent, his tendency to resort to stock footage of lightning during dramatic moments and the terrible acting from his bunch of untalented actors. However, he never gave up his passion for directing and his dedication enabled him to further produce movies, such as Bride of the Monster (starring Bela Lugosi) and Plan 9 from Outer Space, which is said to be the Worst Film Ever Made. Plan 9 is available for download from Public Domain Movies, so i will probably watch it soon enough to state my own opinions. Until then, i will always admire Wood for his ability to go on shooting out of nothing, and to follow his dream to the end.
But, as i was saying, details on Ed Wood were not the only ones to come out after watching this movie. It turns out that there also is director often referred to as the "female Ed Wood.". This would be Doris Wishman, "grand dame of American sexploitation films", as characterized by Senses of Cinema in an extensive review of her career. "Most of her 30 films were sexploitation films. Her directing, editing and marketing skills were self-taught and almost all of her films were self-produced. They often featured hand held tracking shots that would be interrupted by cutaways to shots of ashtrays, bric-a-brac, and characters' knees, hands, and feet. " (via wmmna)

Monday, February 20, 2006


during the weekend, i (re)watched Taxi Driver, Ed Wood and The Conversation, as well as "The Wizard of Oz" and a coloured and cut version of "Angels with dirty faces" (which was awful in comparison with the original black and white masterpiece, which i possess :D). However, i am really busy, therefore i will return with some considerations on the movies a little later.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

sunset boulevard

Sunset Blvd (1950) is perhaps the darkest noir Hollywood story, as well as my favourite Billy Wilder movie.
Detailed review, synopsis and discussion of the film here.
There i go, finally up-to-date with the movies i watched.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

the elephant man

The elephant man brings the great combination of David Lynch, as a director, and young Anthony Hopkins, playing Dr. Frederick Treves. Therefore, the fact that the movie is a success is not such a big surprise. Gradually introducing The Elephant Man, a character whose both physical and psychological profile are revealed step by step, the movie presents various sides of a "a freak show". From a cirsus attraction, John Merrick becomes a London high-society attraction, never actually being able to defeat human prejudice, fear and disgust by convincing the majority he is a human being on top of everything else.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


yes, i finally got my hands on M. Directed by the brilliant Fritz Lang in 1931, the movie is a masterpiece from all points of view. Sixty years before Hannibal, Peter Lorre offers us the perfect profile of serial killer Hans Beckert, offering a sample of amazing acting. I had seen him before, in The Maltese Falcon and in Casablanca, and i liked him each time, but his performance in M really blew me away.
This movie is so well paced and directed, so well driven and articulated that it makes a shame of many attempts of psychological serial killer thrillers produced recently. Just like with Metropolis, Fritz Lang proves to be way ahead of his time. I adored the way he fixed some frames - which would have made great black/white photos - keeping the camera focused on them for several seconds.

Hans Beckert: I can't help what I do! I can't help it, I can't... Criminal: The old story! We never can help it in court!

Hans Beckert: What do you know about it? Who are you anyway? Who are you? Criminals? Are you proud of yourselves? Proud of breaking safes or cheating at cards? Things you could just as well keep your fingers off. You wouldn't need to do all that if you'd learn a proper trade or if you'd work. If you weren't a bunch of lazy bastards. But I... I can't help myself! I have no control over this, this evil thing inside of me, the fire, the voices, the torment!

Schraenker: Do you mean to say that you have to murder?

Hans Beckert: It's there all the time, driving me out to wander the streets, following me, silently, but I can feel it there. It's me, pursuing myself! I want to escape, to escape from myself! But it's impossible. I can't escape, I have to obey it. I have to run, run... endless streets. I want to escape, to get away! And I'm pursued by ghosts. Ghosts of mothers and of those children... they never leave me. They are always there... always, always, always!, except when I do it, when I... Then I can't remember anything. And afterwards I see those posters and read what I've done, and read, and read... did I do that? But I can't remember anything about it! But who will believe me? Who knows what it's like to be me? How I'm forced to act... how I must, must... don't want to, must! Don't want to, but must! And then a voice screams! I can't bear to hear it! I can't go on! I can't... I can't...


i really have tones of things to do these days, so i don't really have time to write my posts properly. Rashomon is the first Akira Kurosawa movie that i watch and i must admit being impressed. The plot is built around several accounts of a murder mystery [which reminded me of "Twelve angry men", but this might be juts me] which drive to several considerations on life and people and stuff. Pretty much the usual Japanese type of story, with the associated bits of wisdom and tradition. However, i appreciated the way the movie was directed quite a lot, so i can hardly wait to watch some more Kurosawa films. Seven Samurai and Yojimbo will probably follow.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

crash (2004)

I think that Crash is a breathtaking movie from all points of view. I couldn't actually find any flaws able to shadow the experience of watching it, despite several comments and reviews i've read. The directing is great, the acting just the same, while the soundtrack helps building a threatening atmosphere. It's that kind of thriller which actually makes you shiver, not necessarilly because it frightens you, but because it makes you realize your helplessness in such a painful manner. It gives you chills just because it makes you realize you are part of a world and of a society which allows such things to happen. Which doesn't give much on humanity or dignity. The movie goes up and down, and somehow forces you to place yourself in the shoes of the characters. Or at least it should appeal to you that way. It makes you think twice about yourself, your morality, your friends, your neighbourhood, your social whereabouts. It makes you wanna change things, but it also induces a question like: "can things actually be changed?".
Graham says:"It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something." Officer Ryan expands: "You think you know who you are? You have no idea."
Crash initially reminded me of "Requiem for a dream", with the observation that the experience of Crash is far more complex, covering so many both social and psychological aspects. One can visit the official site and "explore the film", and will be granted some design sketches derived from the personal interpretations of several scenes. The movie has 6 Oscar nominations this year, for Best Achievement in Directing; Best Achievement in Editing; Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song; Best Motion Picture of the Year; Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role; Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

walk the line

i finally got to watch "Walk the line" (2005), and i surely didn't waste my time. The movie is the chronicle of music legend Johnny Cash, and i think that if i were to summarize my impressions in just a few words, i'd simply quote a member of the audience, who said "so sad, and yet so great". I loved the performances of Joaquin Phoenix and of Reese Witherspoon, and i wouldn't dismiss that of Ginnifer Goodwin either. They all manage to recreate the atmosphere of a real drama and it's almost impossible not to enjoy the 136 minutes of pain, morality, music and redemption.

planner spots. some ideas. There is a conversation in the beginning of the movie between Johnny and his brother, Jack, when Johnny admits how much he admires his brother for knowing all the stories in the Bible. And Jack replies that he wants to be a good preacher (if i remember correcly) and help people, and that you have to know all the stories in order to know which story to tell a person in order to help him/her. A very important aspect for a planner as well. The more you know, the more stories you acknowledge, the more likely you are to deliver the right one to the target, the one that gets to them. Maybe i'm being a litte absurd, but that's what i thought at the moment.

And then, there was another conversation when Johnny first auditions for a recording studio. And he and his band first play a very common gospel, and the head of the recording studio stops them and ask Johnny whether that very common gospel, that people could hear daily on the radio was the song that he would have wanted to sing, if he was to sing something for the last time in his life, something that should communicate to people all the feelings he has had along his life. Cause that was what people wanted: that special touch of feelings, of experience. And my guess is that this applies to brands and ads. That's the thing in which the success of Honda resides. Different from the ads we all grew so fed up with, different from the same type of advertising we are exposed to daily, this brand managed to capture bits of human feelings and transmit them.

monty python and the holy grail

i've just finished watching "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", which is good for three reasons: i got some entertaining Friday time, i got to watch yet another movie from Top 250 and i got an idea which is hopefully going to work, namely to mark the connections with my job, planning, communication, brands and stuff that i make at each movie. some planner twisted plan :)).
The movie is a cult British comedy, a parody from its opening to its closing, written, performed, and directed by Monty Python, an English comedy group, during a gap between the third and the final series of their popular BBC television series Monty Python's Flying Circus. One has to watch it in order to get a glimpse of it, therefore i won't get into plot details or anything of the kind, since the links provided cover these areas quite satisfactory.
planner's corner: somewhere at the end of the movie, there is this dialogue:
Bridgekeeper: Stop. Who would cross the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, ere the other side he see.
Sir Lancelot: Ask me the questions, bridgekeeper. I am not afraid.
Bridgekeeper: What... is your name?
Sir Lancelot: My name is Sir Lancelot of Camelot.
Bridgekeeper: What... is your quest?
Sir Lancelot: To seek the Holy Grail.
Bridgekeeper: What... is your favourite colour?
Sir Lancelot: Blue.
Bridgekeeper: Go on. Off you go.
Sir Lancelot: Oh, thank you. Thank you very much.
Sir Robin: That's easy.
Bridgekeeper: Stop. Who would cross the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, ere the other side he see.
Sir Robin: Ask me the questions, bridgekeeper. I'm not afraid.
Bridgekeeper: What... is your name?
Sir Robin: Sir Robin of Camelot.
Bridgekeeper: What... is your quest?
Sir Robin: To seek the Holy Grail.
Bridgekeeper: What... is the capital of Assyria? [pause]
Sir Robin: I don't know that. [he is thrown over the edge into the volcano]
Sir Robin: Auuuuuuuugh.
Bridgekeeper: Stop. What... is your name?
Galahad: Sir Galahad of Camelot.
Bridgekeeper: What... is your quest?
Galahad: I seek the Grail.
Bridgekeeper: What... is your favourite colour?
Galahad: Blue. No, yel... [he is also thrown over the edge]
Galahad: auuuuuuuugh.
Bridgekeeper: Hee hee heh. Stop. What... is your name?
King Arthur: It is 'Arthur', King of the Britons.
Bridgekeeper: What... is your quest?
King Arthur: To seek the Holy Grail.
Bridgekeeper: What... is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
King Arthur: What do you mean? An African or European swallow?
Bridgekeeper: Huh? I... I don't know that. [he is thrown over]
Bridgekeeper: Auuuuuuuugh.
Sir Bedevere: How do know so much about swallows?
King Arthur: Well, you have to know these things when you're a king, you know.
and it's funny cause it showed how important it is to pay attention to all sorts of tiny details, and to know all sorts of trivia information, such as this one with the swallows, which came from an earlier dialogue between arthur and some guardian. these silly considerations are probably de to me being really sleepy, so that would be enough for now.

Friday, February 03, 2006


a friend of mine recommended a movie i can hardly wait to watch: Tzameti, directed by Géla Babluani.

the apartment

Billy Wilder's "The Apartment" (1960) won five major Academy Awards out of ten nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best B/W Art Direction/Set Decoration, and Best Film Editing, Jack Lemmon for Best Actor, Shirley MacLaine for Best Actress and Jack Kruschen for Best Supporting Actor. It was a triple win for Wilder as Director (Wilder's second directing Oscar), Producer, and Screenplay author.
The movie is the cynical story of an average clerk who lends his apartment to different superiors for their various sexual escapades in exchange for them helping him get a higher position within the company. The plot complicates the moment when he realizes that the woman he fell for is the very lover of his married "big boss", who also uses his apartment rental services.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

meet me in st louis

Apparently, Meet me in St Louis (1944) is the second Judy Garland musical i've watched this week. Enjoyable, full of romance, songs, dance and puns, the movie undoubtedly proves Judy Garland's qualities.