Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cinéma à trois: A Thanksgiving Day at the Theater

Four Christmases (Seth Gordon, 2008)
This movie was as bad as I was expected, but as long as the screenwriter was going to make it suck, at least they had enough decency to make it terrible in a way I didn't expect.

Transporter 3 (Olivier Megaton, 2008)
Rating: 72/100
Knowing that this movie couldn't be worse than Transporter 2, and hoping it would be better than Four Christmases, but not having any expectations after lukewarm reviews, this film surprisingly delivered.

A shirtless Jason Statham? Check.
Great action/chase scenes? Check. One was even so good I clapped!!
A cute yet harmless twist that keeps the movie going? Check.

So there's this government guy that is threatened by the bad guy. And the government guy finds out the bad guy's name is "Johnson" right? And in the next scene, Jason Statham's phone (who can only receive and dial to the bad guy) says JOHNSON on the caller ID. Now, the bad guy wouldn't want Jason Statham to know his name even if the government guy and the audience does. But the audience isn't stupid. We know the only call he's going to get is from Johnson aka THE BAD GUY. So this seems to be a weird flaw. The other thing is when the "girl" won't tell Jason her name throughout the whole entire movie. And suddenly he starts calling her Valentina.

Those are the only problems I had with the movie. The rest was great. I didn't even realize till the end credits, but it was co-written with Luc Besson! Great stuff here. And it was a pleasure to watch.

Twilight (Catherine Hardwicke, 2008)
Rating: 73/100
And then came the vampire movie. This was better than I was expecting. The cool thing to say is that only 14 or 15 year old girls will like this movie. I suppose I could be an emotionally held back adult who enjoys stuff meant for 15 year old girls, but that's besides the point. The movie was crafted well, was fun, and had good acting.

Yeah, Edward Cullen sort of looked effeminate and goth. I mean seriously, was that lipstick he was wearing the whole time?

But everyone knows that vampires aren't supposed to go into the light and that the sun burns their skin. This movie kind of turns the vampire genre on its head, inventing new rules.

I had even forgotten my initial excuse for seeing the movie by the time the film was over: a woman directed this. Catherine Hardwicke of Thirteen fame. In addition, a woman wrote the screenplay and a woman wrote the book this film was based on. Whoa, whoa! Estrogen overload! All in a very good way.

So don't go see this movie unless you're a 14 year-old girl. Because unless you become like a child, forget it!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Beröringen / The Touch (Bergman, 1971)

Saw it Saturday night. Bibi Andersson reminded me of lots of women, including an older version of herself in Persona, Juliette Binoche, Mia Farrow, Jane Fonda, and even my mother (only with blonde hair). I saw these women in her and it was creepy. It wasn't a boring movie, but looking at her and seeing different people in her kept me pretty occupied.

In the movie, she and Elliott Gould are attracted to each other and they have this nice but violent relationship. I don't want to spoil it...

But Ingmar Bergman described how he felt after the death of his father, and a character in this film goes through the exact same emotions in the exact same scene Bergman described to the journalist. The affair between Elliott and Bibi also happened to Ingmar Bergman in his own strange life.

Elliott Gould was there for a Q&A. Iin fact he donated his print of the film to UCLA, and we watched his print of it. And he said, "I don't do impressions, but..." and proceeded to do an impression of Ingmar Bergman and how Ingie called Elliott "My leetle brothah" in a deep voice, with an accent that sounded more German than Swedish.

Elliott was charming and even said he wouldn't leave until the last person in the theater left. I did stay for a little bit and listen to some fans introduce him to their wives and parents. He was very gracious, but I didn't want to talk to him and make a fool out of myself.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cadillac Records Premiere

I attended the Cadillac Records Premiere Monday night, because I thought maybe Beyonce would be there.

I saw these people walk the red carpet:

-Rachel Roberts (yeah, who? I happened to know who she was and so did the photographers, but a lot of people were saying 'Rachel, who?')
-Gabrille Union (who was in the movie)
-Adrien Brody (someone next to me said his girlfriend looked like a "new" Natalie Portman, but her face reminded me of Scarlett Johanssen)
-Some guy with an unfamous girlfriend. She said her name was Tynee and spelled it out for the photographers. When you have to do that, you know you're not famous.
-A very beautiful African American young woman named Lauren London.
-Someone said this chick was Anika Noni Rose (She was in Dreamgirls with Beyonce), but it is actually Sanaa Lathan per Reuters.
-Then Jeffrey Wright was there (actually I couldn't tell who he was in the movie, because he completely transformed into Muddy Waters. He has an incredible gift for being unrecognizable, if only because he is incredibly adept, WOW!!!)
-Then Etta James arrived. Beyonce plays her in the movie. She had long gorgeous hair with highlights and she was standing up! I actually saw her live March, 2002 and she was in a wheelchair, so I didn't expect to see her standing up.
-Then actually Beyonce showed up. She was looking very gorgeous with her hair pulled back. Her mom followed her shortly thereafter. About her performance in the film: I will be very surprised if she isn't nominated for an Oscar. She was absolutely amazing. And I say that as a person who isn't very easily impressed (Heath Ledger's turn as the Joker anyone? Yes, quite a joke).

All in all it was a very exciting night, even if I had to do a lot of waiting around.

Review of Cadillac Records:

Rating: 7.5/10, 75/100, 3/4 Stars

Cadillac Records has a lot of potential for Oscar season. It had everything Walk the Line had, only multiply that by five. We are not talking about one story, but stories centered around about five top blues artists from the fifties period.

Some people would say it's about Leonard Chess, since "Chess Records" gave out Cadillacs to its artists. That is probably why the movie is called Cadillac Records. The movie seems to center on Muddy Waters, before also exploring the careers of Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf, Etta James, and Chuck Berry.

In the beginning it started out well. But when some of the musicians were supposed to be playing, the camera focused on the actors' faces, then it cut to a close-up of fingers on guitar, and no wide shots, meaning that not all actors were actually playing the instruments. Even in a movie like School of Rock, they got kids that could play their instruments! However, that became a non-issue after Beyonce as Etta James became part of the movie. She was emotionally moving and I would be surprised if she wasn't nominated for an Oscar.

The music in this movie was especially good, and I wouldn't be surprised if a whole new generation of "kids" came to love these old blues artists because of the attention brought to them by this movie.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I want to know if Meryl Streep is an evil bitch that is dead set against anyone without 50 years experience in the church or if she is a martyr fighting against a man who is doing unquestionably bad things to children?

I love the part where Streep gives her vicious speech in the preview where she is almost screaming. I wouldn't be surprised if she was nominated for an Academy Award for a fifteenth time, blowing Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis' records out of the water. Not that Streep is a better actress than Bette. Maybe she's just had better opportunities.

Also I want to know why they wear the little Amish costumes, but then a boy has an iPod in the movie? That almost takes me out of the stern coldness of the film, but at the same time it intrigues me. I hope to see it ASAP. If there isn't an advance screening, then I have opening weekend marked on my calendar!

In addition, I just found out about this juicy sounding French film today:

Le Code a changé
Great cast & director! Now if I can only figure out what it's about. Oh yes, great poster too.

Monopoly - the movie!

Ridley Scott has been developing Monopoly the movie for over a year now. I have to question what's taking him so long to figure everything out, because I came up with a solid summary for the movie.
You know the funny thing is that I see exactly how Ridley Scott should make Monopoly. He should base it on the plot to Transformers. Instead of good and bad transformers they could be good and bad real estate agents. And Shia LaBoeuf is like "omg I got all these monopolies and now I have Park Place. I've just gotta get Boardwalk." and Megan Fox the hot chick could be like "omg I don't know how we're going to get it against Donald Trump." And Shia's like, "well he may have money and smarts, but we have determination." And they're like about to make an offer on Boardwalk but Donald Trump sends his assassins out to get them. they elude the assassins Bourne style and then they're about to close the deal when they have to hide out at Shia's Mom & Dad's and grab a few beers and stuff. And Megan keeps acting hot and beating up the assassins, and there's a cool freeway scene Die Hard 4-style.

And then after some James Bond poker style rant that Shia gives that makes no sense but sounds way too cool to be wrong they some how snag Boardwalk and live happily ever after. They donate their purple properties to charity and sail off in their yacht going out into the sunset.

But now that everyone foresees that Megan Fox won't be hot after Diablo Cody's new script proved to be sucky, they'll get Evan Rachel Wood. And now that Shia broke his hand, they'll get some douche like Jim Sturgess. Oh shoot, that's the cast for
Across the Universe. Oh well, modern day audiences will eat crap like this up. Maybe we can throw in a few musical numbers and it will be the next Moulin Rouge...
Maybe it's not fair for Ridley, because my background is in screenwriting and I just happened to be listening to Donald Trump's book-on-tape Think Like a Billionaire (not to mention that Monopoly was my favorite board-game growing up because I was kind of a geek). But whatever the case, it shouldn't be taking Ridley Scott this long. I wonder if I should offer to help him out?

Oh, and if anyone begs me, I will write and post the Shia/James Bond/Monopoly speech. I might write the movie anyway and change the character names and of course infuse my own originality into it, and no one would ever know... because unfortunately, I am not Pamela Pettler. I can't believe someone else was hired to write the script!! Oh no.
The Bad and the Beautiful (1952, Vincente Minnelli)

Rating: 3.5/4 stars, 8.5/10, 88/100
Rank: #50 (Top Favorites)

If you don’t like movies about Hollywood, stay away from this one. If you do, this movie is composed of three stories of people who were screwed over by Hollywood. The last story is by far the weakest, but still memorable. All three stories are tied together in a nice bow, justifying the choices that the characters make.
Les Demoiselles de Rochefort/Young Girls of Rochefort (1967, Jacques Demy/Agnès Varda)


Rating: 3.5/4 stars, 8.5/10, 88/100
Rank: #49 (Top Favorites)

Great music, great dancing, great sister act! Highly recommended.
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961, Blake Edwards)

Rating: 3.5/4 stars, 8.5/10, 88/100
Rank: #48 (Top Favorites)

Weirdly enough, when I saw it the first time, I didn’t like it. A rewatch at my grandmother’s house proved that this movie is charming, classic, and a must-love!
Gilda (1946, Charles Vidor)

3.5/4 stars, 8.5/10, 88/100

Rank: #47 (Top Favorites)

I’m all for melodramatic film noirs (there aren’t many, in fact this is an animal of its own). Add Rita Hayworth to the mix and viola, a hit! No wonder those prison guys in Shawshank Redemption went crazy over this movie. Lots of great quotes too.
My Man Godfrey (1936, Gregory La Cava)

Rating: 3.5/4 stars, 8.5/10, 88/100
Rank: #46 (Top Favorites)

A movie that makes fun of class distinctions can also portray social matters in a very disturbingly truthful light. Carole Lombard and William Powell were a delightful couple; too bad they didn't last. Hmmph!

: 2, each one delightful

The Graduate (1967, Mike Nichols)

Rating: 3.5/4 stars, 8.5/10, 88/100
Rank: #45 (Top Favorites)

When I was 19, I didn’t see this play in London like everyone else, because the plot disgusted me. However, this fine film was made so well – it’s hard to find a better film than this. I have since seen a play version. Not as good, but what can you do.
I Heart Huckabees (2004, David O. Russell)

Rating: 3.5/4 stars, 8.5/10, 88/100
Rank: #44 (Top Favorites)

Who knew existentialism could be turned into such a riveting film? Well, my favorite acting part is between Isabelle Huppert/Talia Shire. Two great actresses going off on each other. Apparently actress Lily Tomlin went off on David O. Russell during filmmaking (look on Youtube). Too funny.
Blue Velvet (1986, David Lynch)


Rating: 3.5/4 stars, 8.5/10, 88/100
Rank: #43 (Top Favorites)

The first couple times I saw this, I didn’t really like it very much. However, it grew on me quite a bit. The story is extremely well put together. The movie has great music and it is also extremely quotable.
Tideland (2005, Terry Gilliam)

Rating: 3.5/4 stars, 8.5/10, 88/100
Rank: #42 (Top Favorites)

I don’t care about beautifully shot movies, but this movie is exceptional. It’s about a little girl lost in a fantasy world. Done the wrong way it could be boring . However, Jodelle Ferland is such a great actress and the movie is made with such tender loving care. YES! I LOVE IT!
Amores Perros/Love's a Bitch (2000, Alejandro González Iñárritu)

Rating: 3.5/4 stars, 8.5/10, 88/100
Rank: #41 (Top Favorites)

This movie is intense, well-balanced (heck, what else would you expect from Guillermo Arriaga), and bloody. Okay, so maybe you were expecting nothing like me, because this was the first movie from Arriaga/Iñárritu which sparked two more wonderful collaborations also dealing with connections.

May I say it? Gael García Bernal is hot.

L.A. Confidential (1997, Curtis Hanson)

Rating: 4/4 stars, 9/10, 90/100
Rank: #40 (Top Favorites)

Once again, great directing and good story, but the actors shine above all else.
(Nuovo) Cinema Paradiso (1988, Giuseppe Tornatore)

Rating: 4/4 stars, 9/10, 90/100
Rank: #39 (Top Favorites)

A full range of emotions, literally: laughing, crying, etc. Then the kissing montage. Just everything is great.
Au hasard Balthazar (1966, Robert Bresson)

Rating: 4/4 stars, 9/10, 90/100
Rank: #38 (Top Favorites)

Speaking of masterpieces, I always liked Bresson, but it wasn’t until I saw this movie that I was convinced he was a genius. Looking at something from all angles, by showing one angle. I can only aspire to be this great.
Quai Des Orfèvres/Jenny Lamour (1947, Henri-Georges Clouzot)

Rating: 4/4 stars, 9/10, 90/100
Rank: #37 (Top Favorites)

I’m addicted to the music in this one, just about as much as the music from Cleo from 5 to 7. When you have a singer that’s involved in a murder mystery and has the Clouzot touch (the original “French” Hitchcock), you’ve got a fun masterpiece.
Ensayo de un crimen/The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz (1955, Luis Buñuel)


Rating: 4/4 stars, 9/10, 90/100
Rank: #36 (Top Favorites)

A little delusional boy grows up into a monster of a man. Add a magical music box to the mix and you have yourselves a hit. Too bad this one is pretty much forgotten.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

La Fille sur le pont/The Girl On the Bridge (1999, Patrice Leconte)

Rating: 4/4 stars, 9/10, 90/100
Rank: #35 (Top Favorites)

Such a beautiful movie. What’s great is that I saw it in the morning and by night time it hit me. It was one of those movies I had been wanting to see forever and it didn’t disappoint. In the same vein of Angel-A or 4 Nights of a Dreamer – the fact that bridges play a huge part in the plot.
Jeux d'enfants/Love Me If You Dare (2003, Yann Samuell)

Rating: 4/4 stars, 9/10, 90/100
Rank: #34 (Top Favorites)

After two viewings, you have to admit that there is nothing new about this film, yet it is endearing and well made. The two actors: Marion Cotillard and Guillame Canet were made for each other.
Casablanca (1942, Michael Curtiz)

4/4 stars, 9/10, 90/100
Rank: #33(Top Favorites)

I expected this to be a tear-jerker, but in fact it had me laughing! With some of the best dialogue ever on film, it’s 100% amazing.
Memento (2000, Christopher Nolan)

Rating: 4/4 stars, 9/10, 91/100
Rank: #32 (Top Favorites)

This film revived interest in short-term memory loss films. With all the tattoos, trickery, and top-direction, this film deserves a special place in my heart.
Witness for the Prosecution (1957, Billy Wilder)

Rating: 4/4 stars, 9/10, 91/100
Rank: #31 (Top Favorites)

Watching this movie was an enjoyable experience. It was one of the films that went along. I thought it was great, but not superior. Until the end. That sealed the deal and made this one of the most brilliant films of all time. See it!
Camille Claudel (1988, Bruno Nuytten)

Rating: 4/4 stars, 9/10, 92.5/100
Rank: #30 (Top Favorites)

This is one of the most emotionally charged films I have ever seen. Once again, Adjani and Depardieu are in top form.
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994, Mike Newell)

Rating: 4/4 stars, 9/10, 92.5/100
Rank: #29 (Top Favorites)

Every time I watch this (and I usually don’t rewatch films a lot), this one makes me laugh so hard. If it were any funnier, I’d be dead by now.
Cet obscur objet du désir/ That Obscure Object of Desire (1977, Luis Buñuel)
First viewing: 6/10
Second viewing (9/15/08): 4/4 stars, 10/10, 93/100, 9/10
Rank: #28 (Top Favorites)

It was the third Bunuel I ever watched (around 2003 or 2004). After I saw it, I decided I wanted to see ALL the films Bunuel ever made. And I was so fortunate to have seen most of them.

Lying home sick in bed, I started craving That Obscure Object of Desire. And wow, what a difference a few years makes!

The first rating was probably due to being unsettled and not quite sure about the two actresses. I wanted to figure out why Carole and Angela were the Conchitas they were. Now that I knew that Angela Molina pulled out of production, leaving Bunuel to decide to film the rest of the scenes with a completely different actress after partaking of two dry martinis. Although at the end, it seems that Angela and Carole's scenes almost become intertwined (there are at least two bits where they're wearing the same outfit even), maybe Bunuel had a hand in which scenes he chose for Carole to act in. The way that the scenes switch off with the actresses seem like Bunuel was doing this on purpose. I want to say that maybe he re-filmed one or two scenes with Carole Bouquet on purpose.

When the character of Conchita realizes her power and holds it above Mathieu (Fernando Rey) by screwing another guy in front of him, no offense to Kieslowski, but it is more powerful and less revolting than in White. What I mean is, in White, I wanted to strangle the Julie Delpy character for being so worthlessly low, while in Object, I felt sorry for Conchita. After all, she was the immigrant, the one in the lower class that Mathieu was exploiting and easily, so. When she gets the chance to throw him a curveball, it may not have been smart, but it was all too satisfying.

Fun trivia: Luis Buñuel has a sister named Conchita. Creepy, but interesting.
M (1931, Fritz Lang)

Rating: 4/4 stars, 10/10, 94/100
Rank: #27 (Top Favorites)

It was really obvious that I was watching a special movie right from the beginning. It’s amazing how such subject matter was tackled way back when and would probably be considered too offense to make today.
My Life Without Me (2003, Isabel Coixet)

Rating: 4/4 stars, 10/10, 94/100
Rank: #26 (Top Favorites)

Coixet will be hard-pressed to surpass this effort (although she comes dangerously close with Elegy). The story is beautiful(ly sad) and the actors are great. You will cry, cry, cry.
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003, Quentin Tarantino)


Rating: 4/4 stars, 10/10, 95/100
Rank: #25 (Top Favorites)

It may rip off every French, American, and Asian movie in the book. But I love the characters: The Bride, Go-Go, Sophie Fatale. The sequel kind of disappointed me as it seemed slower and never told what happened to Sophie Fatale. If QT ever makes a Kill Bill 3 (and he better!), I want to know what happens to Sophie.
Confidences trop intimes/Intimate Strangers (2004, Patrice Leconte)

Rating: 4/4 stars, 10/10, 96/100
Rank: #24 (Top Favorites)

Another great performance by Sandrine Bonnaire, not to mention Fabrice Luchini. Neither actor could be more brilliant. This film should have been called “Sexual Tension”. With all their lies and juicy secrets, this is one of those films that is a true gem.
All About Eve (1950, Joseph L. Mankiewicz)

Rating: 4/4 stars, 10/10, 96/100
Rank: #23 (Top Favorites)

Buckle your seatbealts…it’s going to be a bumpy ride! Bette Davis in one of her finest roles.
Vivement dimanche!/Confidentially Yours (1983, François Truffaut)

Rating: 4/4 stars, 10/10, 96/100
Rank: #22 (Top Favorites)

This is my favorite Truffaut film. It was the second Truffaut film I ever saw. I tried to figure out if Fanny Ardant was in the movie because she was a good actress or the director’s girlfriend. After seeing the Shakespeare scene, it was evident that she was a good actress. In French films, it is not unusual for the main chick to have to pretend to be a prostitute in order to solve a case. Gotta love the French.
A Star is Born (1937, William A. Wellman)

Rating: 4/4 stars, 10/10, 96/100
Rank: #21 (Top Favorites)

This is one of those masterpieces that touches me down to my very core. A girl tries to make it in Hollywood as an actress and gets more than she bargains for. Janet Gaynor is superb.
Todo sobre mi madre/All About My Mother (1999, Pedro Almodóvar)


Rating: 4/4 stars, 10/10, 96/100
Rank: #20 (Top Favorites)

This movie breaks all the rules and incorporates elements of all the greatest movies over the years. Penelope Cruz in her first and last decent role until Pedro Almodóvar gave her another chance in Volver.
Dangerous (1935, Alfred E. Green)


Rating: 4/4 stars, 10/10, 96/100
Rank: #19 (Top Favorites)

My favorite Bette Davis movie. I think All About Eve is listed higher, but please ignore that. This is Bette when she’s best.
Vertigo (1958, Alfred Hitchcock)

Rating: 4/4 stars, 10/10, 96/100
Rank: #18 (Top Favorites)

This movie is so superb. Dealing with issues of identity, fidelity, madness, and … vertigo! Only Hitchcock could create such a masterpiece.
Trois couleurs: Rouge/Three Colors: Red (1994, Krzysztof Kieslowski)


Rating: 4/4 stars, 10/10, 96/100
Rank: #17 (Top Favorites)

I love this movie because it made me fall in love with French movies, even though it’s set in Geneva and is by a Polish director. The dog, the judge, Michel, the photographer who tells Valentine to “think of something sad” – it’s all good.
À bout de souffle/ Breathless (1959, Jean-Luc Godard)


4/4 stars, 10/10, 96/100
Rank: #16 (Top Favorites)

Jean-Paul Belmondo keeps on calling Jean Seberg a scumbag throughout this movie. And Jean Seberg takes it until she can’t take anymore. Perfectly brilliant movie. All the elements come together for what is one of the greatest movies of all time.
Goodfellas (1990, Martin Scorsese)


Rating: 4/4 stars, 10/10, 96/100
Rank: #15 (Top Favorites)

William Goldman turned down the opportunity to write the script for The Godfather, because he didn’t want to glorify gangsters. Bravo! Goodfellas is a non-glorifying tale of gangsters that will scare you out of your seat, and will make you dream of becoming a gangster but will make you glad that you aren’t one and that you never will be one.