Archives for the month of: July, 2014

I’m really trying to like “The Godfather” films. I mean, two of them are at the top of ImdB and they all have scooped heaps of awards (perhaps not so much the third one). But I just don’t get what the fuss is all about.

On top of it all, if you didn’t already think that number 1 lasted long enough, the sequel is even worse, dragging on for a whole 15-20 minutes. Now was that really necessary?

Perched snugly in the top 5 of the ImdB top 250, and scooping in a significantly higher number of Oscars than its predecessor, people seem to think “The Godfather Part II” is genius. I’m here to tell you it’s not!

Michael Corleone has now become The Godfather

Michael Corleone has now become The Godfather

***NO SPOILERS***

What is this film?

The Godfather Part II (1974) is the second instalment of the trilogy about the italian mafia family Corleone. Michael, the guy who didn’t really want to join the illegalities of his family in the first movie (aka the guy played by Al Pacino) is now the head of the family.

We also follow Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando in “The Godfather“, Robert De Niro in this one) and find out how he gets from Sicily and becomes the most feared and respected mobster in New York.

 

Why do people think it’s good?

I think people fell in love with the Corleone family, so when you give them some more insight into that family and the life of the mafia, of course they will love it.

This is pretty much the reason why we are wading around in sequel after sequel and remake after reboot.

Once people love some characters, they will come back for more.

Throw story and quality right out the window.

 

Do I think it is anything against The Godfather?

The biggest problem I have with “The Godfather Part II” is that it’s not one movie, it’s two. Basically you have your standard sequel and the prequel smashed haphazardly into one.

I’m not saying this couldn’t work, it really could work brilliantly. The issue is that the stories are 100% separate. They don’t inform one another or dramatically play off each other. For instance, I don’t need to know anything from Vito Corleone’s past to understand Michael’s current predicament.

And I find that weird.

It’s like they wanted to make a sequel, but was afraid of not having Vito Corleone in it because audience surveys had shown that he was the most beloved character.

So, apart from the fact that it has some of the same good qualities that “The Godfather” had, like a consistent tone and visual style, the story in the sequel is not as compelling and suffers greatly by jumping back and forth in time seemingly without purpose.

(By the way, if any of you has seen some purpose in this crosscutting, please enlighten me!)

 

Is this movie historically significant?

It was the first sequel to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. The only other sequel to win is “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (although technically “Silence of the Lambs” as a sequel although no one knows about that one).

Another Academy Award fun fact is that the character Vito Corleone is the only character to have won an Oscar twice played by two separate actors.

And as always, Godfather movies are significant for their many, quotable lines. This one has brought us:

“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer”

and

“If history has taught us anything, is that you can kill anyone”

“The Godfather Part II” is also one of the first numbered sequels and definitely the first US release to sport numbers. Those were the days.

 

Does it stand the test of time?

I’m a bit bias because I am not particularly fond of the 70s look, and although there are some great movies from the 70s, I generally am left unvowed by the drab colours and the wishy washy, unsharp and washed out visual style.

I’m a fan of contrast and bold colours.

And I’ll give “The Godfather” trilogy that, it does have more contrast than other 70s movies, and thus is visually a little more appealing.

But then the long, boring takes start stacking up and my attention span just wanders to a corner of the room and bangs its head against the wall. I get ADHA from watching stuff like this.

I bet you could easily cut this movie down 20 minutes just by removing some seconds at the beginning and end of each shot.

So, no, I do not think “The Godfather Part II” stands the test of time.

To be quite honest, I don’t understand why it is at the top of Imdb Top 250 list at all!

 

What mood should you be in?

You should be patient. That is all you need to be.

 

Further Watching

There are loads of mafia- or gangster movies out there worth a watch. As a person who don’t instantly fall head over heals when it’s a mafia film (I love musicals…we are all different) I can recommend these gangster movies that I actually find entertaining:

  • “Usual Suspects” (1995) Bryan Singer (the one with Kevin Spacey and you shouldn’t know anymore before you watch it)
  • “Reservoir Dogs” (1992) Quentin Tarantino (the one that made it all cool again)
  • “Snatch” (2000) Guy Ritchie (nothing like some epic British humour with loads of violence…and Brad Pitt without a shirt on)

 

Subscribe and get a notification for my next blog post. Next week, I will get my ass to the cinema and watch a new release so I can tell you whether or not it is worth the money to go 😉

 

Robert DeNiro as the young Vito Corleone

Robert DeNiro as the young Vito Corleone

 

Who am I?

I do not work for ImDb, I just have a nerdy need to make sure I watch all the movies people claim to be good. In this way I can make up my own mind about whether or not they are a hype. This is not a per se recommendation from the ImDb Top 250 list, but rather a statement about the movies on it that hopefully will make you want to watch the movies again, or watch the movie and make up a mind of your own 😉

Or avoid it a movie like the plague.

 

Why do I think I can talk about movies?

With an over average interest in movies since watching Star Wars as a 8 year-old, and with some background in the industry, I know at least a little bit about what it takes to get a movie made, and have loads of opinions about what makes them great.

But no matter my merits, it is whether or not you agree with my taste in movies (or my boyfriend’s, whose opinion will be noted if opposing my own) that will make these reviews beneficial to you.

 

Where can you find the film?

They actually have all three in the Godfather trilogy on Netflix. But if you are like everyone else, that is you love these movies, you might as well just buy them. They come fairly cheap in Blu-Ray collections these days.

Once a month I will review the top 250 movies on ImDb and determine whether they still deserve to be on the list or not. Have they stood the test of time, or are they just there out of habit or historical significance (which does not a good movie make). I start from the top because there is less change in the top films than at the bottom of the list.

Look here for my judgements on #1 on top 250 ImDb “Shawshank Redemption” and #2 The Godfather.

Other Fridays of the month, I will look at “New Releases – is it worth a cinema ticket”, “Guilty Pleasures” and I will also be “Unearthing the Best Movies on Netflix”.

 

I have used several sources in writing this post among them ImDb trivia and some film history and art books in my possession.

Sign up with your email and get a notification next week so that you don’t miss the next blog post or my next ImDb top 250 review. Next month we will have a look at “The Dark Knight”!

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I don’t even know if this is qualified as a Guilty Pleasure, given that it was nominated for 13 Oscar and won a whooping 7 of them, including Best Picture.

The ridiculously great thing is that this movie is so overdone and pompous, like a musical without songs. It is the prose and poetry that is the music, representing or mirroring the feelings of the characters around it.

And I love it!

Shakespeare in Love with all its amazing characters :D

Shakespeare in Love with all its amazing characters 😀

***SPOLIERS*** (you don’t watch this for the story, you already know the story of Romeo and Juliet)

 

What is this movie?

“Shakespeare in Love” (1998) was the big sweepstakes movie of the 71st Academy Awards, beating war movie “Saving Private Ryan“, who only received five awards.

This is an epic, and (notably) fictional, account of William Shakespeare and the forbidden love that inspired and fuelled his most famous work “Romeo and Juliet”.

Will is played by the dashing Joseph Fiennes (no, not Ralph Fiennes, but his brother) and his love interest is found in the form of Gwyneth Paltrow as Viola (the Iron Man woman). She actually won a “Best Actress” Oscar for this portrayal.

 

Why is this movie any good?

This is the case of a solid, although a bit sappy, script getting the correct treatment (it doesn’t take itself too seriously) and a perfect cast.

The story feels real, incorporating famous contemporaries of Shakespeare, like Christopher Marlowe and Webster. There is a danger is representing fictional history this well because that some people, those who don’t Google quickly to figure it out the opposite, will believe it to be true.

But given that we don’t know too many solid facts about William Shakespeare, there is even a theory that he was not one but several writers, I am inclined to choose to believe that the story in this movie could have been true. Maybe.

Because I want it to be true.

And that makes it a good movie.

 

Why do I like this movie?

The movie wallows in its own self-importance, much like many of its characters who wallow in their own genius. It also talks about love in a very old-fashioned, poetic and idealised way. And by doing all of this in an exaggerated fashion, it makes fun of idealised, fictional love while coupling it with a sad, romantic ending.

It is this serious fun, the silly/real characters and the perfect balance between prose and facts, fiction and reality that makes this film strike a chord with me.

It is one of those rare movies that actually has a thoroughly strong female lead. Viola makes active choices to try and change her life, and she doesn’t sit by quietly as she is sold like a horse (literally, just listen to the language they use) to Lord Wessex (a man of no poetry in the shape of Colin Firth).

Viola is the one who decides to dress up like a boy and go to the playhouse, knowing fully well that females on stage is strictly forbidden. She defies everyone, but is forced by tradition and circumstance to submit to the wills of her parents and Lord Wessex in the end.

But there stands great respect for daring to do anything at all in such a society.

Anyone who takes this movie historically serious needs to watch it again. This is not about facts, it is about fiction. Revel in it!

 

Why do I watch it over and over again?

I still get a butterfly sensation in my belly at when Shakespeare and Viola have clandestine kisses during rehearsal and a tinkling flutter down my spine as they perform “Romeo and Juliet” for the very first time.

And obviously, any film with an actual strong female lead is worth rewatching at times when the world seems impossible and cruel.

But above all this film belongs to its supporting actors, four of which I will mention here:

 

The Story of Mister Fennyman

The character who charms me the most is Mister Fennyman, or “The Money”. He goes on a lovely journey from hard-eyed moneylender and businessman, to an all out theatre groupie and first-time actor.

I love the scenes and snippets where he is desperately rehearsing the two lines of dialogue he has been given in the play as the Apothecary. And oh how important that role becomes in the play (to him).

A true actor at heart.

 

Ben Affleck’s Best Performance to Date

Mr. Affleck can be faulted for many of his career choices (of which there are too many to mention), but in him there is a great actor, and that great actor blooms in this part as Ned Arreyn, the headline actor at the Rose and leader of the Admiral’s Men.

Ben Affleck’s portrayal as the self-important actor, turned impatient director (since his character, Mercutio, dies early in the play) doubles perfectly will Will Shakespeare’s equally self-important characteristics.

The beautiful thing is that they both know how to deal with each other’s egos, and how to squeeze the best out of their creative minds in tight situations.

It is a testament to how good “Romeo and Juliet” is when Ned Arreyn, instead of nagging Shakespeare about the early death of his character, rather advices him on the title.

Even this ego has been tamed.

Sneaky pic of Ben Affleck as Ned Arreyn

Sneaky pic of Ben Affleck as Ned Arreyn

Mr. Henslowe and his motto

One of the most important lessons of this movie, a lesson that can be applied both to theatre, film production, and probably other creative arts as well, is this:

The natural condition [of the theatre] is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.

– Henslowe (Geoffrey Rush)-

So what is there to do about this? “Nothing”, Mr Henslowe, always says. “Stragely enough it all turns out well in the end.”

“How?”, you may ask, at which point Henslowe will tell you: “I don’t know, it’s a mystery”.

This fact saturates the world of “Shakespeare in Love”, and it’s what makes us accept many of the amazing, miracle fixes during the film.

However, the genius is that this story rule does not apply to the love story between Will and Viola. This enhances the feeling that their love story is real, not in the realm of the theatre and fiction.

 

And of course, Judi Dench as Queen Elisabeth

There are no words to express this performance. A woman in a man’s profession, Viola’s wish embodied. Her snarky remarks and fierce independence needs to be experienced.

 

What mood should you be in?

Although I would name this a comedy, because I laugh a whole lot while I watch it, it does have a fair amount of lovey-dovey scenes, both on- and off-stage where sequences of Shakespeare prose is being read simultaneously. You have to be in the mood for this.

In the mood for love and aged poetry.

But just remember, for every verse of prose, you get to see a fun or interesting back side, either particular for the time period, or a stick in the ribs to the current state of affairs. For example, there are boat men bragging about having had Christopher Marlowe (rival of Shakespeare) as a passenger, a typical trait of contemporary cab drivers.

 

Further Watching

For a modern take on the story of Romeo and Juliet, drag out the tear-jerking “Romeo + Juliet” (1996) by Baz Luhrman. This movie is a genious reinvention of the original play, using the original dialogue, but set in a modern-day Verona, with guns instead of swords and the big, puppy eyes of Leonardo DiCaprio.

Another modern remake of a Shakespeare story (of which there are many) I would recommend is the teen-movie “10 things I hate about you” (1999).

It is American high school movie version of “The Taming of the Shrew with a young Heath Ledger (The Joker), a baby-faced Joseph Gordon-Levitt (not Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception) and a sour-faced Julia Stiles (that woman in the Bourne-trilogy) who really hates everyone.

Want to keep it in the Elizabethan era? Another top contender for “Best Picture” in 1999 was “Elizabeth” (1998) with Cate Blanchett as the queen herself. Judge yourself who does the best queen. Judy Dench won an Oscar for her 6 minutes on screen.

Notably, Joseph Fiennes also plays a man cheating on his wife in “Elizabeth”, this time with the queen herself.

Does anyone know a modern remake of “Hamlet”? I have never managed to get through the old fashioned ones, so I would love some tips on that 😉

 

Follow my blog and get an email when I go to the cinema and check if one of the New Releases is worth a cinema ticket! 😀

 

Judi Dench as the fierce and fabulous Queen Elisabeth I

Judi Dench as the fierce and fabulous Queen Elisabeth I

 

Who am I?

I a freelance writer who likes to watch movies. Sometimes I will even watch some movies again and again and again. Those movies, that you can watch on repeat forever, are some of the best movies. They are Guilty Pleasures.

In these Guilty Pleasure blog posts, I will explore the movies I find myself turning back to again and again for comfort.

I initially thought of Guilty Pleasures as only bad movies that it is embarrassing to admit that you like, but I am broadening my perception to include any movie you watch again and again.

They alight certain emotions in us that we enjoy, for good or bad, and regardless of their production quality, they need to be acknowledge for their power to make us feel. Whether it be because the actors are hot, we don’t have to think to enjoy it, or the story is actually compelling.

 

Why do I think I can talk about movies?

With an over average interest in movies since watching Star Wars as an 8 year-old, and with some background in the industry, I know at least a little bit about what it takes to get a movie made, and have loads of opinions about what makes them great.

But no matter my merits, it is whether or not you agree with my taste in movies (or my boyfriend’s, whose opinion will be noted if opposing my own) that will make these reviews beneficial to you.

 

Where can you find the film?

In these days of cheap DVDs and Blu-Rays, why not treat yourself to a movie you know you will watch again and again. Don’t be at the mercy of the Internet or streaming services. They can take it away as soon as they put it up.

I have owned “Shakespeare in Love” for years and will continue to drag it out and force my boyfriend to watch it (he always seem to forget that it is actually funny) 😉

Don’t feel like giving them your money? You know what to do 😉

 

If you like what I write, please give me a shout in the comments or sign-up to read my next blog post 😉

Next week, I will go to a random movie at the cinema and tell you whether or not it was worth the cinema ticket. In the mean time, check out last months Guilty Pleasure movie here!

With “22 Jump Street” hitting the cinemas, and actually collecting some rather respectable reviews, it is time to reveal that its predecessor “21 Jump Street” has long been waiting for you in the vast cache of Netflix.

I was doubtful. How can two boy-police fumbling around a high school pretending to be students be anything less than pathetic?

Somehow they managed to avoid it!

The non-fit fit of a couple

The non-fit fit of a couple; Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum

***NO SPOILERS*** 

What is this film?

Originaly, “21 Jump Street” was a TV-series from the 80s, with the young, heart-throb Johnny Depp and not-quite-so-famous Peter DeLuise. Watch out for their fleeting appearance towards the end of this reboot.

The concept is the same. We follow a part of the police, who headquarter at 21 jump street, and specialise in youth crime. The officers of this division are picked out for their youthful looks which can help them go undercover and infiltrate high schools.

Excellent set-up.

In this movie though, the two officers, Schmidt (Jonah Hill, that guy who loves Russell Brand in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall“, 2008) and Jenko (Channing Tatum, that torso in “Step Up“, 2006), are punished (for being inadequate police officers) by being transferred to 21 Jump Street. And the two of them don’t really get along either.

It’s all set up for loads of quality comedy action.

 

Why is this film any good?

“21 Jump Street” takes a fresh, new look at the high school we have all loved and stereotyped to death in teen-movies since forever. It is not the sports jocks nor the cheerleaders who rule the high school in question. It is the vegan-loving, hard-studying hipsters, some of them dealing drugs on campus to their fellow students.

This, somehow, fits real life in a satisfying way. Indeed the world is ruled by the intelligent and merely repopulated or entertained by the jocks and the cheerleaders. The power should lie with the smart. Doesn’t mean they aren’t teenagers and behave like utter douchebags. Power will do that to spoiled and self-centred youth.

There is something about the chemistry between goofy Jonah and hottie Channing together that actually works really well. They fullfill each other comically and continuously ruin each others efforts to do some good work and get back into the good graces of the “proper” police.

Their visual- and character differences are given an excellent obstacle by accidentally swapping fake identities at high school, giving Jonah the chance to be the popular jock and Channing the challenge of surviving as the nerd. This is handled gracefully by the writers who never resort to the cheap ways out of difficult situations, rather choosing the weird and wonderful directions to lead the plot.

 

What mood should you be in?

If you want a brain teaser, this is not the crime fighter series for you.

But if you want something brain dead, that is destined to make you laugh and which will leave you feeling good about yourself and your own job, then this is the movie for you.

I have not seen the sequel, “22 Jump Street” (2014), yet. But if it is anything like its predecessor, I know I am going to laugh. And that is all I would want from a movie like this.

 

Further watching

Quality, crime-fighting, police partners are found in abundance and you should have enough to choose from in any kind of genre.

For some more films to tickle your funny-bones, try the UK comedy, Pegg/Frost flick “Hot Fuzz” (2007).

For a more action-filled classic, go for “Bad Boys” (1995) with a young Will Smith and a loud mouthed Matthew Lawrence. That was probably the first R-rated movie I ever saw.

Good times.

If you are out to watch some real quality. Rest easy and pick up the ultimate police partners in crime movie, “Lethal Weapon” (1987). It has as many as four sequels with varying quality, but once you get into the lovely and interesting relationship between Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, the quality of the story really doesn’t matter anymore. It’s like Jack Sparrow in the Pirates movies. You just want to see more of that thing they do!

 

Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill sitting on the boot of a car with disheveled white suits. Jonah Hill leans on Channing Tatum's shoulder like a girlfriend does. It is late night and there are city lights.

Don’t they make a lovely couple?

 

Who am I?

I’m a freelance writer who likes to watch movies. I watch Netflix a lot and sometimes there is a long way between the really good movies, whether entertaining or meaningful.

So that you can avoid watching all the crap I have had to endure, I will give you some hidden gems or best movies of Netflix right here every month. Want another good Netflix movie? Check out the documentary “Blackfish” here!

 

Why do I think I can talk about movies?

With an over average interest in movies since watching Star Wars as an 8 year-old, and with some background in the industry, I know at least a little bit about what it takes to get a movie made, and have loads of opinions about what makes them great.

But no matter my merits, it is whether or not you agree with my taste in movies (or my boyfriend’s, whose opinion will be noted if opposing my own) that will make these reviews beneficial to you.

 

Where can you find the film?

All movies in this Netflix-series can be found in the Norwegian Netflix Catalogue, which is the one I have access to. If you can’t find it on your local Netflix? File a complaint, they really should have it 😉

 

If you like what I write, please give me your favourite movie in the comments or sign-up to read my next blog post 😉

Next week, we will do another Guilty Pleasure movie. Do you have a movie that you watch over and over again, and you know it’s not the best quality, but for some inexplicable reason, you still watch it again? You do? Tell me which one! I will tell you another one of mine next week.

 

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