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The Exorcist (1973)
9/10
"Of course I like him. I like pizzas too, but I'm not gonna marry one."
11 December 2011
"The Exorcist" is the film that I simply adore. The characters are memorable, the setting successfully changes in darkness depending on what's happening on the screen, and its topic is on that's fit for a scary movie adaption. Linda Blair's performance is what makes the movie frightening: Turning from a sweet girl into a something so evil is the best transition I've ever seen on screen. I was expecting a little more from whatever possessed Blair's character, but I'm still psyched over the climax of the film that I think was still worth making these characters interact the way they did. There's no words awesome enough to describe the showdown between the good verses the evil. Both sides seem equally-matched and deliver an ending that not only throws you off, but it solidifies the image of the struggle between two opposites.
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9/10
"And that's the double truth, Ruth!"
11 December 2011
"Do The Right Thing" makes for a great experience, despite the worry of protests and violence that audiences believed were going to happen. The actors are fun: Spike Lee is impressive, it's a blast seeing characters portrayed by Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, and I nearly flipped head-over-heel when I found out the DJ character was played by Samuel L. Jackson. I think the definitive thing that drew me in with this film was the fact that the story was shot over a course of a day, while the camera dropped in on nearly every character in the neighborhood. It jumps around as a constant, but the transitions in it work so well that you could of sworn this movie behaves more like poem than it does a motion picture.
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The Producers (1967)
7/10
"'Gregor Samsa awoke one morning to discover that he had been transformed into a giant cockroach.' Nah, it's too good. "
4 December 2011
"The Producers" is an exceptional first film for Mel Brooks. His direction is spot-on to what we've come to expect Brooks to do in later films, Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder are likable and developed, and Brooks even manages to pull off a few shots I had never seen before in his movies, such as the extreme long shot used when the fountain shoots up. It's a scene that looks so great, that Brooks placed it as the final scene of the end credits. It's really hard to hate a Mel Brooks film, and this is no exception. It's like a pressed lump of gold, flattened paper thin and draped over the projector. He took a great idea with great characters and made it into a great movie. It's that simple.
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The Graduate (1967)
6/10
"Wood or wire? They have both. "
4 December 2011
"The Graduate" is the first film that has ever confused me; Not in its plot or production, but in understanding the underlying message of the entire movie. From beginning to end, I found myself revolting, even hating, Dustin Hoffman's character, who slowly becomes more and more repulsive and frightening. However, when up against a conflict, I'm rooting for Hoffman again, before sliding back into disgust, and then the cycle repeats. The rest of the film is clear as to how much I enjoy it, such as its use of water, montages, transitions, and music. It's just that I can't decipher what I should truly feel about what makes these characters. I'm completely lost for words.
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"'Son, whatever you do, don't sell that cow!'"
20 November 2011
"Bonnie and Clyde" takes the perspective of two of the most notable outlaws in the United States and shares its viewer to a world surrounded in crime and violence. With outstanding actors, glorious sets and locations, and a cameo appearance by pre-Willy Wonka star Gene Wilder, the movie shows a loose interpretation on two incredibly-elusive gangsters. The film can become hard to watch when the Bonnie character becomes aware that her vision of a life of crime is difficult to enjoy with the Blanche character's complicated concern and disregard of law-breaking, but in the long run, it does add to the plot and give it a nearly-accurate representation of the troubles you'll go through when you're a member of a gang.
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"I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over. "
20 November 2011
"2001: A Space Odyssey" is not as much of a film, as it is more of a large-scale art piece. Divided into four acts, the film is blotched throughout with extended scenes which demonstrate most of its impressive special effects and celestial shots of space. Aside from such scenes, the movie uses influitive characters, astonishing long takes, and a soundtrack that heavily distorts any form of distraction away from the movie. In the third act, the HAL 9000 computer, named "Hal" in the film, comes off as a clever and terrifying twist to an old science-fiction cliché. Another thing to enjoy about the film is the beginning act, which ties in an extraordinary discovery made by ape-men in prerecorded history to the way the weapon was first discovered.
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"Oh boy!"
13 November 2011
"The Little Shop of Horrors" is an odd finding in the black comedy barrel. It's a movie that has about as much structure as a Jenga tower; It seems that with every over-the-top moment in the plot and overreaction of the characters, the film gets to the point where you're not certain whether or not it will fall over by the next scene. I'm aware of its B-movie charm, and I've even heard that it took only two days to shoot all the footage, so it's understandable to see actors often rushing and forcing dialogue. It does make for great entertainment, however. The overall goofiness of the entire situation makes it comical in a sense. The script drops a lot of great jokes and lines, too. Jonathan Haze plays a fantastic main character, because it's fitting for him to be two-dimensional.
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The Killing (1956)
"You'd be killing a horse - that's not first degree murder, in fact it's not murder at all, in fact I don't know what it is."
13 November 2011
"The Killing" is proof that not all low-budget films are awful. Stanley Kubrick made a B-movie that dips into the cinematographic lighting and plot of a film noir, but that also isn't afraid to go beyond that and give it inspiring camera work and editing. The characters hold up well, mostly due to the fact that their reasons for wanting to rob the race track are different from one another in terms of how each reason affects its character and how that reason affects the robbery as well. The plot was one of my favorite aspects of the film. It moved at the right pace and in the right direction to build tension and deliver thoroughly. The ending was one that I didn't expect coming, and when it finally did happen, I was blown away.
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"Hello! This is a demonstration of a talking picture. Notice, it is a picture of me and I am talking."
6 November 2011
"Singin' in the Rain" makes you complete forget about how oppressive Gene Kelly was during the making of this film. I love how bright and colorful the sets were, as well as the characters. The songs are also incredibly memorable; 'Singin' in the Rain,' 'Make 'Em Laugh," and 'Moses Supposes,' to name a few, are going to be stuck in your head for days later. Donald O'Conner is probably my favorite actor in the movie, mostly because of his attitude and delivery. He's keeps the beat, executes some fantastic moves, and, for guy who admitted to being afraid of messing up around Kelly, he certainly seems like one of the happiest and care-free characters in the movie. I actually think he reminds me of Stephen Stucker, the bizarre actor of "Airplane!" fame.
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Psycho (1960)
"...With my trusty umbrella."
6 November 2011
"Psycho" is one of the most brilliantly-executed thrillers that I've ever seen. After seeing such films as "Rebecca" and "Sabotage," I can see how different this films appear and feel from other Hitchcock films. It's easy to be swept into its terrific atmosphere and characters, and you never expect what happens next in the plot. The score for the film is also spectacular; I could listen to the opening credits track all day. The infamous shower scene was a well-constructed part of the movie. I like how it was shot, the position of the characters in the shot, and the music during the shot. Alfred Hitchcock hit everything right on the nail and produced one of the most shocking scenes in cinema.
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"I can get away from this shack with its cheap furniture."
2 November 2011
"Mildred Pierce" hits you hard with an unbearable look into the life of one woman who, after years of stress and disorder, is left only an empty shell. For a film noir that waded into the soap opera genre, it's certainly not bad. Lighting and story seems fluent to the image of film noir, and that characters were easy to recognize and easy to figure out what they're capable of. It's the plot that really hits me. A story about a parent struggling to give anything and everything to their child seems alright, but it works at a more interesting take when the child becomes what the parent never comprehends. All the title character wanted to do was live an easy life, but when your child believes that "want" surpasses "need," it becomes a gross display of misfortune and distress. Some of the characters come off as dangerously close to flat, but they always have something on their minds that can seriously affect the title character, either positively or negatively.
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"When you get old like me, you don't care what time it is."
2 November 2011
"Where the Sidewalk Ends" seems like such a simple movie. It has the cop who doesn't play by the rules on a mission to catch a criminal. It's faithfully structured in the film noir category, with neat use of shadows and a gritty plot. You'd think that it's just another movie, but I thought it really stood out for me. In the way Dana Andrews' character strives to free himself from the web he created, and how his personality and actions seem to change right at the start of the film, makes the character seem at its best. Andrews is especially great in scenes where his anger overtakes him; His hatred looms overhead, waiting for him to change from Jekyll into Hyde. He wants to say what's wrong, and at most times he's given the chance to say so, but he never does. This character comes off as another one of those black-and-white heroes where they know exactly how to save their images, but here, Andrews is always caught in his own trap. It's many of these personal traits that make Andrews' character feel so human, and it's these traits that make him recognizable to the audience. Sure, not everyone is a detective, and we may not have the same hair-trigger temper that he has, but we still all end up feeling for this character because we know how it feels to be guilty, or afraid, or wanting fix everything.
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Saboteur (1942)
"Bathing suits looked awfully funny a hundred years ago."
23 October 2011
"Saboteur" shows that in order for Alfred Hitchcock to make great films, he must first make films that are less than spectacular. I had high hopes for this film. It was shot beautifully (This IS a Hitchcock film, after all) and it's great to see Priscilla Lane's character actually DO something to help the main character and herself, which breaks away from that commonly irritable label about damsels in distress. However, the film seems to drop everything that we knew about the characters' personas and identities towards the end. I'm not sure why, but it appears that the characters instantly stop acting the way they have been throughout the entire film, and suddenly become someone different. Lane's very outspoken character begins to act very small around the center of the movie, and then snaps back to her usual self. The police change overtime as well, but it's probably because they cycle between different police departments in different cities. Aside from the bizarre character behaviors, I also felt the ending could use some more work. Without giving anything away, I'll just say this: If the ending to "Sabotaur" could be structured like the ending to another Hitchcock film, like perhaps "Foreign Correspondent," then perhaps it would have been something reflective. Other than that, the film works, but not in the way you think it will.
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"Well how about Hitler? Don't you think it would be a good idea to pump him?"
18 October 2011
"Foreign Correspondent" is best described in the same fashion as one might address the thin line of preforations in a sheet of spiral notebook paper. Even if you try your hardest to remove that slim strip of holes, you still end up tearing the sheet, leaving ugly rips and excess paper bits along its edge. In relation to this movie, the same procedure is executed by Alfred Hitchcock; No matter how much effort he put in this movie, it still comes off as a promising film with distracting imperfections. I find the reactions and motives of most of its characters to be bafflingly unrealistic, and I found myself having to pause the movie a few times to reflect on what just happened in the plot. The movie was saved, however, with brilliant cinematography and gripping suspense that helped Hitchcock become a household name in directing. Just as a side-note, this is my first true interpretation of a Hitchcock film. I have seen "Rebecca," which was released in the same year as "Foreign Correspondent," but that doesn't count, seeing how it was an adaptation of a novel and, according to reviews, wasn't the standard style of Hitchcock's work. I understand that he's an incredible film maker, but I just didn't find "Foreign Correspondent" as stable as I thought it would be.
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Casablanca (1942)
"I love you so much. I hate war so much."
18 October 2011
"Casablanca" is worth the praise it receives, and perhaps more. It's nearly easy to pick up and settle into, and, if patience pays off, you'll be rewarded with mixture of great characters, wonderful atmosphere, and a dramatic plot. Humphrey Bogart comes of as one of the most interesting characters in movie history. He displays both his organization and his corruption. He plays both a winner and a loser, and I think that shows how different he is from the other characters. Ingrid Bergman also shares these traits, but the overall outcome of the story is in Bogart's hands, so all Bergman can do is reflect on her decisions throughout the film. Another character worth a quick shout-out is Dooley Wilson. He wasn't given as much clever or reflective dialogue as Bogart, but that's not to say he's pointless. Wilson is the shadow that follows Bogart: He plays songs for him that can even sometimes reflect on what he thinks about ("As Time Goes By"). He stuck with Bogart from France to Casablanca and continued working for him. In a way, he acts as a symbolic reminder of Bogart's life with Bergman.
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Stagecoach (1939)
"Take my arm, Madame Le Comtesse. The tumbrel awaits. To the guillotine!"
10 October 2011
"Stagecoach" definitely seemed like a flop at the box office: An big budget western starring John Wayne, who had, beforehand, been in less-than-successful films. However, the movie wasn't as painful to endure as producers thought it would be. The locations were gorgeous, the main roles all seemed to contribute one thing or another to each other, and the structure of the plot allows for a great collaboration between characters. Noted, John Wayne can get pretty laughable on screen, and it's often fairly easy to pick him off from the other characters in the story. I think my favorite thing about this movie is in how many different emotions it can fit together in nearly two hours. We end up feeling instances of joy, sadness, and remorse. We end up laughing, gasping, and thoroughly refreshed.
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"I smell spare ribs. Somebody's been eatin' spare ribs. How come I ain't got none?"
10 October 2011
"The Grapes of Wrath" probably could of been advertised as a documentary, had it not been for its narrative-style story-telling. The historical context of the movie's setting, characters, and conflict makes it seem like a genuine account of a farming family surviving after the Great Depression. At first, you're not sure if this will be a good movie, mostly because of the behaviors of Charley Grapewin and Zeffie Tilbury's characters, who come off as some sort of senile comic relief pair. Later on, however, you realize that the movie is shaped around the struggle this family encounters as they go West. Henry Fonda makes for an incredible lead role, mostly because of the fact that he's a criminal and the last thing you'd expect for him to act like a generic "momma's boy." It's his rebelliousness that also makes this character likable, seeing how we could of acted the same way if we were in his shoes. The dialogue is memorable, the shadows and sound effects really draw in the atmosphere of West, and the final speech(es) of the film tie everything together spectacularly. After watching this film, there's a cleansing feeling you get from seeing this film, as if all the worries of the world momentarily drained out in the past two hours.
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Frankenstein (1931)
"Look! It's moving. It's alive. It's alive... It's alive, it's moving, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, IT'S ALIVE!"
4 October 2011
"Frankenstein" may not be loyal to the book it was a adapted from, but it certainly gave us something very enjoyable. The only knowledge I had of Frankenstein's monster was through Mary Shelley's book, but watching this movie at long last, I feel like I just discovered Frankenstein again. Boris Karloff was a phenomenal monster and really sold the film for me. I can't even imagine what it's like to feel in the monster's position; being constantly unaware of the world around you with no way of communication or knowledge of common sense. It's easy to feel pity for this big brute, and it almost makes me regret laughing to comical characters designed to parody him, such as Herman Munster from "The Munsters." The shadows worked wonderfully in every shot, the reveal of the monster was spectacular, and the characters seemed were either likable, believable, or both. I also love how actors Edward Van Sloan and Dwight Frye return to the screen straight after filming "Dracula" in the same year. I'm almost wish Frye would act as silly as he was as when he played Mr. Renfeild.
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Dracula (1931)
"Flies? Flies? Poor puny things! Who wants to eat flies?"
4 October 2011
"Dracula" is a film that works against the normal standard of how a monster can be scary. Bela Lugosi's performance as the count Dracula makes for an excellent performance as you watch his suave and intellectual behavior guide him to the streets of London. It's the way he retains his mental appearance that makes him terrifying. He acts so human that we could of forgotten that he's the villain, had it not been for that devilish smirk he often displays. I loved this movie for its chilling atmosphere, use of lighting and camera transitions, and, of course, Lugosi himself, but there's still something that sort of anchors the movie. That anchor is none other than Edward Von Sloan's character, Professor Van Helsing. To be fair, Sloan is a really tough supporting character; he's dedicated to exposing the vampire and works to keeping the other characters from falling victim to him. The only thing about his character, though, is in his dialogue. Looking back at his speeches, they seem jumbled, as if Sloan's lines were written solely from a few great lines and lots of facts on vampires. I remember a part in the plot where David Manner's character asks him a serious question, to which Sloan opens his mouth and spits out more vampire information.
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Oh! Money, money, money! The Frankenstein monster that destroys souls!
25 September 2011
I love this family. The Bullocks household is filled with characters who are often outrageous, obnoxious, or oblivious. And then there's William Powell's character, a smooth, fast-talking, intelligent man, who's stuck in the middle of it all as the family's new butler. It's a fast comedy with lots of neat camera angles, sensational dialogue, and a soundly-structured plot. I like how Godfrey interacts with each character in the same sophisticated manner in his voice, while his emotions towards each person is different. I also like how he swoops in and out of scenes where other people are talking and he's not even part of the initial conversation. It makes Godfrey seem just as mysterious as people make him out to be.
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I'm Woodrow Wilson. Go to bed!
25 September 2011
"Arsenic and Old Lace" isn't a perfect screwball comedy, but it's definitely something fun. It does have a lot of irritable flaws (such as Raymond Massey's character switching between a serious role and a comedic role), but overall, it's definitely a movie worth watching. When the set goes dark, tension builds and shadows are put to great use, especially around Massey, and when the lights come on, nearly every character in the film contributes to a rather silly story. I still can't decide who's my favorite actor; Cary Grant's character is hilarious (and loud) when takes bad news, the two aunts are both hysterical, I wish I could of seen more of Peter Lorre, and every time the brother Teddy is on screen, I can't tell whether the scene is going to get chaotic or goofy, but which ever it ends up being, he definitely delivers.
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"Boy, I'd take Mr. Hamburger by the hand and say, 'Pal, I haven't seen you for a long, long time.'"
18 September 2011
"I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang" is a film that continuously grinds and abrases Paul Muni's character, James Allen, until it shows the tortured nature that he's feeling as he stays linked to the chain gang. It's horrible to see all the things that go wrong for this character in just the beginning of the movie alone. Muni's facial expressions are the best forms of acting I've ever seen in a long time. The way his face just contorts when he's angry or at the brink of tears is phenomenal. Also, the fact that he's a soldier really makes it hurt to watch, because despite the fact that he's a hero, he gets treated like he's just another homeless man, and then gets treated WORSE when he gets arrested. The scenes in the chain gang are haunting; sometimes they're filled with the sounds of chains or pickaxes, and then at other times, they're nearly dead silent. The abuse that the criminals take both out in the quarry or in their own quarters shows us what Allen is forced to endure for months overtime. You want to keep watching just to see what happens to Allen, and it makes for a great reason to watch this film. It's a film that shows just how far one man will go to live a normal life in a world that constantly throws chaos in his way.
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Scarface (1932)
"This fellow's got ideas I don't like."
18 September 2011
"Scarface" shows just how far pre-code movies can go to tell a story. The tale of an underdog's rise and fall makes for a great film. Different shadows and lighting work for each scene appropriately, and the scenes with the mobsters give a sense of how deep the city is in crime. Best of all, there's a scene where Boris Karloff is bowling. I think if he was wearing his "Frankenstein" monster costume that he wore a year ago, that would have been one of the greatest movie moments in the history of cinema. The reveal of Muni's character, Tony Camonte, was pretty neat. At first, you don't pay much attention to the guy under the towel in the barber's chair (which reminds me of the barber shop scene Muni played as James Allen in the movie "I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang"), but as soon as the towel comes off, you know there's more to this character than just a murderer.
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The General (1926)
It's a shame this wasn't successful back then...
11 September 2011
Aside from the droning track-changing scenes, the slapstick is hilarious, the plot is easy-to-follow and executed well, and even as they're moving back and forth on trains for the most part, the cast never breaks their characters, especially Buster Keaton. It's a great film!

I'd say that the highlight of the film was seeing the scenes where Keaton is piloting the train. In these parts of the film, he begins such antics as running across the boiler, leaning back on the cow catcher, and hopping in and out of the cabin, all while the train's in motion. Everyone who's seen this movie loves to point out how dangerous most of the railway scenes are, but the way Keaton is jumping out and around the moving locomotives makes it see like harmless slapstick. I can't get enough of it!
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The Circus (1928)
The first full-length Charlie Chaplin film I've ever seen
11 September 2011
I had high hopes before the film even started and by the end, it definitely delivered. Charlie Chaplin and Joseph Plunkett brought us a film that had a seemingly simple, yet enjoyable, premise with a excellent cast and a leading role that the audience can immediately become attached to from start to finish. You got to give a lot of credit to Chaplin in this film, though. Despite everything wrong that seemed to happen to him at the time of the movie's production (a studio fire, his divorce, and his mother's death), Chaplin still goes on with the show. He stays in his Tramp character, with the same good-natured, gentlemen-like behavior he was known to act as, regardless of the disasters occurring in his real life. This kind of acting is one I've rarely seen, but I'm convinced that it was tough trying to stay in character with all this stress going on. I had such a wonderful time watching this film, even if Chaplin didn't.
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