Monday, 30 September 2013

Gone with the Wind

Gone With the Wind, 1939
Directed by Victor Fleming (as well as George Cukor and Sam Wood as well, kind of...)
Nominated for 13 Oscars, Won 8
Wins Include: Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography (Colour), Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Writing Screenplay

Gone With the Wind is an incredibly iconic movie. Even if you don't really know what it's about you know there's romance, and it's in the South. While I wouldn't exactly brand this movie as romantically specifically, it is indeed a "romance" and is set in the South, taking place pre-, during and post Civil War. Scarlett O'Hara, a young girl with a rich family, owning a large cotton plantation in Georgia, she is beautiful and is stealing the hearts of all the men in Tara. But the one she does love has just become engaged to another girl, his cousin. While the film isn't really about this (though continually focuses on Scarlett's love and longing for the man she loves- Ashley Wilkes), it is just a small part. The movie spans the young man being excited for war, during the war, and rebuilding from the war.

I had a lot of ideas about what this film was going to be about, and early on it seemed as though my expectations were going to be right. It would be about Scarlett, getting together with Rhett, eventually. And it would take them 4 hours to do so. But this movie had a bit of a different layout.

Vivien Leigh was fantastic as Scarlett. Having only seen her in later films and seen photos of her when she's a bit older and more of a "star" than she was for Gone with the Wind, it was incredibly pleasant to see her early work. Leigh really captured Scarlett's vivaciousness and passion, and at the same time was able to capture how ready to please she is and how sweet.

Clark Gable was as charming and handsome as always, playing the suave Rhett Butler. The man no one is really sure who he really is or exactly where he stands, Rhett always seems to be there just when Scarlett needs help. Spending most of the movie dropping in and out, Cable's part, at first, is a little of a one-line, but eventually gets a little meatier as the film moves along.

The scenery is gorgeous and the costumes are exquisite, huge dresses and sharp suits (whether dress suits or army uniforms).

Overall, the story was not overly memorable. It glosses over a lot of what the Civil War was truly about and was sentimental. The ending, I found, was the same as the ending at the end of the first part, a little underwhelming. And was literally the same ending. The movie didn't really end up the way I thought it would, and didn't give us much of a clear ending really.

While I understand why it won all the awards it did and I did enjoy the first half very much so, the second half is what drew the film down a bit. While the story of Scarlett trying to survive through the Civil War and care for herself was very well done, the second half which consisted of her whining about Ashley Wilkes, and then about Rhett Butler become a little tiresome and what brought me to like the film a little less than I had.

Acting- 8/10 
Directing- 7.5/10 
Screenplay- 7/10 
Visuals- 8.5/10 

Music- 8/10 Emotional Connection- 6.5/10 
Entertainment- 7/10 
Rewatchability- 6.5/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 7.5/10 

Overall Package- 8/10     

Total: 74.5/100

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The Last Emperor

The Last Emperor, 1987
Directed By Bernando Bertolucci
Nominated for 9 Oscars, Won 9
Wins: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Sound

The Last Emperor tells the story of Pu Yi, who becomes emperor at age 3. He is also the final emperor of China. Documenting his entire life. 

I know very little about Chinese history. Correction, I know nothing about Chinese history. Seriously, like at all. Fortunately, the aforementioned history major that is my husband, did take a Chinese history class last year, and thankfully generally had answers for my numerous questions. 

This film was... odd. I'm not sure there's another way to put it. While it's a very serious topic, which is handled quite seriously, there were many really head scratching moments that made me not able to take this film seriously. Anyone know what I'm talking about? 

In the midst of the odd moments (such as child Pu Yi sucking on his wet nurse's breast, hiding a mouse in a small pouch attached to his belt, etc), there was some good acting. Point out for me would be the 3 year old Pu (he was incredibly adorable and seemed very natural running around where he wasn't supposed to, and standing and slapping his sleeves around on the throne), and the 8 year old Pu. Both were very good in their roles, and I sort of wish they had stayed around longer. 

Another thing I wasn't so keen on in this film was the lack of explanation. Events in the film feel a bit poorly explained, and I asked my husband a time or two to reassure that I knew exactly what was happening, or just straight asking him why something was happening or why it was a big deal. 

It seems a very irrelevant movie to win best picture. I'm not saying that a film about Chinese History shouldn't win the top prize. But the film seems to have very little appeal to people who don't actually know the story or Chinese History, especially since this is one that took little to no time to explain what was happening. 

Overall, not a bad film per se. Well acted, and it looked incredible. The costumes and make-up were fantastic. But this movie really wasn't for me, and was a bit uneven. 

Acting- 7.5/10 
Directing- 7/10 
Screenplay- 6/10 
Visuals- 8.5/10 

Music- 8/10 Emotional Connection- 4/10 
Entertainment- 5/10 
Rewatchability- 4/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 5.5/10 

Overall Package- 6/10     

Total: 60.5/100

The Godfather

The Godfather, 1972
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Nominated for 11 Oscars, Won 3
Wins: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominations: Best Supporting Actor (x3), Best Costumes, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound

"Don" Vito Corleone, head of a mob family, and known as the Godfather, is aging. His son Michael, just come home from war, is adamant that he will not become part of his family's notorious business. As Don Corleone is getting older, and the ways of the mobs are changing, Michael is finding himself stepping up to take the place of his father. 

Well, that was an extremely brief synopsis (and probably not overly well-written) of what is a quite long, and slightly complex movie. The Godfather is truly a classic film, that has always been hailed as one of the best films (and Best Picture winners- if not bested by the sequel) ever made. It's the ultimate "guy film", with lots of killing, and blood, and back stabbing. Macho, you know. 

As a young woman, I wasn't sure how this film would go with me. Not that I'm a lover of chick-flicks. And I do have the occasional "guy film" that I really love (Gladiator, etc) but I was interested walking into this one. I knew I would probably come out with respect for the film, acknowledging that yes, this is a well-made film, but i wasn't sure how much I would actually enjoy it. 

While it isn't my favourite film or anything, this film was definitely well made, well acted, well everything. It was also intriguing and interesting. Marlon Brando is an extremely fine actor. While his last win (and the only other film I"ve seen him in) was On The Waterfront, 18 years earlier, he still manages to completely immerse himself in the role. Brando was extremely convincing as the aging Italian patriarch, the one everyone both respects and fears. Having not done anything worth-while in several years, and losing cred as an actor, this film turned things around for Brando. At only 48 years old when the film came out, almost considered "too young" to play the part, Brando snagged his second Oscar for the role. 

On the other hand, we have Al Pacino, newcomer, who beat out people like Robert Redford and Warren Beatty for the role of Michael. Pacino plays Michael very subtly. Very carefully, giving him a very subtle growth in what Michael becomes. By the end of the film I wondered how we had gotten from Michael, innocent young man come home from war, to the new "Don", head of the Corleone family. When did that happen? It came on so slowly and so perfectly that it never seemed rushed or forced. This earned Pacino a Best Supporting Actor nomination (to which Pacino boycotted the Oscars that year, insisting he was the lead role). 

Overall, this is a well-made film. It looks authentic and wonderful. Between the backdrops of grungy 1940's New York, and the beautiful lands of Sicily Italy. The acting, and not just Brando and Pacino, was well done. Hence 4 different men being nominated in an acting category, and nominating the Best Supporting Actor category (though not winning). The music was beautiful and the perfect mix of old Italian style and New York mob. While, in parts, I found the film a little long, I did find the film interesting, and am interested in what makes people say the Godfather Part II is even better 

Acting- 9.5/10 
Directing- 9.5/10 
Screenplay- 8/10 
Visuals- 8/10 

Music- 8.5/10 Emotional Connection- 7.5/10 
Entertainment- 7.5/10 
Rewatchability- 7.5/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 7.5/10 

Overall Package- 9/10     

Total: 82.5/100