171/365: Tiny Furniture (2010)
About a recent college grad who returns home while she tries to figure out what to do with her life.
Director: Lena Dunham
Writer: Lena Dunham
Stars: Lena Dunham, Laurie Simmons, and Grace Dunham
After Lena Dunham’s popularity, I was interested to see what all the fuss was about, and the movie that got Judd Apatow interested. It was a very interesting movie, but I found it quite flawed. Overall, I enjoyed it, but here were my issues below. Beware for spoiler alerts…
170/365: Marie Antoinette (2006)
The retelling of France’s iconic but ill-fated queen, Marie Antoinette. From her betrothal and marriage to Louis XVI at 15 to her reign as queen at 19 and to the end of her reign as queen and ultimately the fall of Versailles.
Director: Sofia Coppola
Writer: Sofia Coppola
Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, and Rip Torn
I have been obsessed with Marie Antoinette since I was a little girl, and I don’t like Kirsten Dunst very much, as well as I’d heard not such great things about this film, so I avoided it. I watched it now, because I saw Jamie Dornan was in it, and thanks to Once Upon a Time, I’m a fan of his. The movie wasn’t as bad as I was expecting, and Kirsten Dunst played mostly a sympathetic character, which I appreciated. I hated what Coppola did with the scene demonstrating decadence in which they had the 80s song “I Want Candy” play with all of the expensive items, and along with the shoes of the time, they slipped in some pastel colored Converse shoes. That annoyed me a lot. I don’t like when filmmakers blend modern and historical times (for example, Moulin Rouge to some extent, but even more-so Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet). Making a modernized version of something, doesn’t bother me, and I think it can be quite interesting, but juxtaposing the two just isn’t my cup of tea. Anyway, on the whole, the movie was interesting, and the fashions were beautiful, which was what I had been told I would appreciate.
169/365: Our Idiot Brother (2011)
This was cute. I love Paul Rudd, so he made it worth it. In all honesty, I waited too long after watching it to write this so I don’t totally remember how I felt by the time it was over. I seem to remember liking it more than I thought I would, though.
168/365: Bright Leaf (1950)
In 1894, Brant Royle shocks the aristocratic tobacco growers of Kingsmont by planning to mass-produce cigarettes.
Director: Michael Curtiz
Writers: Ranald MacDougall (screenplay) and Foster Fitzsimmons (novel)
Stars: Gary Cooper, Lauren Bacall, and Patricia Neal
I naturally only watched this for Coop, but I really liked it! If he hadn’t been in it, I wouldn’t have given it the time of day, but it really kept me interested, with good story, direction and acting! I highly recommend it.
167/365: Her Cardboard Lover (1942)
A wealthy woman, trying to discourage a former boyfriend from pursuing her, hires a young songwriter who needs money to pay off his gambling debts to pretend to be her boyfriend…
Director: George Cukor
Writers: Jacques Deval (play) and Valerie Wyngate (play) …
Stars: Norma Shearer, Robert Taylor, and George Sanders
Missed the very beginning of this, but thoroughly enjoyed it! Very cute, and just the type of movie I enjoy. Robert Taylor was so endearing in it!
166/365: The Girl (2012)
A look at the relationship between filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock and actress Tippi Hedren.
Director: Julian Jarrold
Writer: Gwyneth Hughes
Stars: Sienna Miller, Toby Jones, and Penelope Wilton
Really didn’t like this. I thought it would be more interesting to me since I adore Hitchcock and know he was pretty insane. It just wasn’t surprising really, and while he was a jerk, it was sort of I don’t know, unimpressive, I guess. I feel like a terrible person saying that since the way he treated her was awful, but I don’t know, the movie just didn’t do it for me. Maybe because I already knew how he treated her. I’m not sure. The way certain things were handled was also confusing. For example, the passage of time was unclear.
165/365: L’Appartement (1996)
Max is on his way to Tokyo. He lives in Paris and likes to flirt but has decided to get married. By chance…
Director: Gilles Mimouni
Writer: Gilles Mimouni
Stars: Romane Bohringer, Vincent Cassel, and Jean-Philippe Écoffey
Being theoretically fluent in French (double major in college, but I’m usually too shy to speak it, though I understand it very well, not too gloat…), after watching Wicker Park and deciding the French version must be better, I found it without subtitles on youtube and watched it. Initially, I preferred it. Even some of the dialogue in the American version was the same, which annoyed me, for some reason, which is unfair of me, because I am sure that if they changed it drastically, I would be really annoyed that they didn’t stay true to the original. There’s no winning with me, apparently. Anyway, I thought this was directed beautifully and the flashbacks were handled much better. The actors looked significantly changed in the flashbacks to two years prior and this helped be less confusing for me. The one thing I preferred in the American version (well, the first thing I preferred…) was when Alex takes her stage makeup off and they obviously reverse footage of her putting it on, which just has a cool effect. Additionally, turns out I am more of a romantic and more American than I had previously thought, because I preferred the American ending to the French ending, by far. This is totally unusual for me and I hate when endings are changed, but this time, I don’t know. I was for it. I won’t spoil it though if you haven’t seen it.
164/365: Wicker Park (2004)
A young Chicago advertising executive believes a woman he sees in a café is his long-lost love. His conviction leads to obsession, as he puts his life on hold to trail her.
Director: Paul McGuigan
Writers: Gilles Mimouni(film L’Appartement), Brandon Boyce(screenplay)
Stars: Josh Hartnett, Diane Kruger, and Matthew Lillard
The entire time I was watching this, I was thinking, “I bet the French (original) version is so much better.” I really didn’t like this stylistically and found parts of it confusing, but it was a very interesting story. The direction and editing confused me, with the overlays of different scenes at one time. It’s a complicated plot and I think they overcomplicated it by making the effects complicated too. They should’ve just relied on the story. It also felt to me like the director and editor were trying really hard to be French stylistically and that annoyed me especially since I don’t feel they succeeded in that. (Stay tuned to see what I thought of the French version…)
163/365: Ira & Abby (2006)
A hastily married couple quickly devolve into a life of affairs, meddling parents, and therapy.
Director: Robert Cary
Writer: Jennifer Westfeldt
Stars: Jennifer Westfeldt, Chris Messina, and Jason Alexander
I really like Jennifer Westfeldt’s movies, and I find her generally likeable. This movie was no different. Her love stories are nuanced and interesting and different from the norm. I thought this one came down a tad hard on marriage, but besides that, I really liked it!
162/365: Ceremony (2010)
Two friends are off on a weekend outing. Marshall thinks the trip is to re-establish their friendship, but Sam has ulterior motives in mind as he crashes the wedding of a woman he still loves.
Director: Max Winkler
Writer: Max Winkler
Stars: Michael Angarano, Uma Thurman, and Reece Thompson
Wasn’t sure what to expect from this when I stumbled upon it on Netflix, but it was really well done! It kept me interested and besides Lee Pace’s questionable English accent, it was very good. The characters were pretty real, flawed, but relatable. A girl I went to school with was even in it, which was a treat! The direction was good and I loved the soundtrack.
161/365: The Elephant Man (1980)
A Victorian surgeon rescues a heavily disfigured man who is mistreated while scraping a living as a side-show freak. Behind his monstrous facade, there is revealed a person of intelligence and sensitivity.
Director: David Lynch
Writers: Christopher De Vore (screenplay), Eric Bergren (screenplay) …
Stars: Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt and Anne Bancroft
While I felt this took ~13 minutes to get started, it was very touching and difficult to watch. I was deeply invested in Merrick’s character, and as stupid as it sounds, it is always difficult for me to watch people be demeaned, and this was no different. The sounds he made at the beginning reminded me of my old Pug, which made me sad enough to start with, and just the treatment of the poor man, and then Treves’s kindness was just lovely. I only know a little bit about his real life, but it seemed they kept fairly close to the real story (with artistic license, obviously). Wonderfully acted, written and directed. I knew well of the part where he shouts, “I am not an animal. I am a human being,” and I knew the ending, but had never seen it from start to finish before.
160/365: With the Marines at Tarawa (1944)
Documentary short film depicting the harrowing battle between the U.S. Marines and the Japanese for control of the Pacific island of Tarawa.
Director: Louis Hayward
Stars: Alexander Bonnyman Jr., John Borich and Merritt A. Edson
I watched this solely because it was made by Louis Hayward. To be honest, I don’t really like watching things about wars, and certainly not documentaries, but this was short. It was moving, and a little hard to watch, but well done.
159/365: Stardust (2007)
In a countryside town bordering on a magical land, a young man makes a promise to his beloved that he’ll retrieve a fallen star by venturing into the magical realm.
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writers: Jane Goldman (screenplay) and Matthew Vaughn (screenplay) …
Stars: Charlie Cox, Claire Danes and Sienna Miller
I watched this only for Ricky Gervais’s like 2 scenes, and he was funny as I had hoped, but Robert De Niro really stole the show! The only thing worse than Claire Danes’s English accent is Michelle Pfeiffer’s English accent. This was enjoyable in the end, with a sweet love story. I wasn’t a huge fan of the main character to begin with, but somehow after he got a makeover, I liked him a lot better with long hair… shallow. It also seemed quite long for a children’s movie, but it held my attention. Not sure what this proves since I’m not technically a child…
158/365: Mulan (1998)
To save her father from death in the army, a Chinese maiden secretly goes in his place and becomes one of China’s greatest heroes in the process.
Directors: Tony Bancroft, Barry Cook
Writers: Robert D. San Souci (story) and Rita Hsiao (screenplay) …
Stars: Ming-Na, Eddie Murphy and BD Wong
I can’t believe I’d never seen this. This was the first big Disney movie I didn’t go see in the theaters (the last one was The Hunchback of Notre Dame). This was cute, and I liked that she was tough, but I wanted a lot more out of the love story, although they did leave that open, which was nice. I think I’m probably expecting too much out of a kids’ movie, but oh well.
157/365: The Princess and the Frog (2009)
A fairy tale set in Jazz Age-era New Orleans and centered on a young woman named Tiana and her fateful kiss with a frog prince who desperately wants to be human again.
Directors: Ron Clements and John Musker
Writers: Ron Clements (story) and John Musker (story) …
Stars: Anika Noni Rose, Keith David and Oprah Winfrey
I liked this. I preferred Tangled, but it’s not a competition. I liked that it was about a normal girl not a princess, and that it was predominantly African American. The message was really good, too: that you have to work for what you want, rather than older movies where magic wishes grant your heart’s desire. This had magic, but also taught that you shouldn’t take the easy way out.