Friday, 18 July 2014

Final Best Picture Ranking

So now that I'm officially done this project, I knew I had to update how everything ranked for me. I know, this probably has a lot of controversial opinions (The Godfather Part II doesn't crack the top 10, and neither does Lawrence of Arabia). I've always tried to balance how well the movie is made, how "good" it is critically, and just how much I enjoyed watching it. Keep in mind, a lot of these films I have only seen once, so these positions could definitely change upon more watches. Even since the last time I've posted, things have shuffled around a little bit, either because of rewatches or simply because they've aged better upon me. However, this is how we stand as of now.

Feel free to leave comments on how much you agree/disagree.

88. Cimarron- 49/100
Boring, racist, and more boring.

87.  How Green Was My Valley- 55/10
Again, pretty boring. At least it was well acted this time, though.

 86.  West Side Story- 56/100
I'm sorry, street gangs who dance ballet while trying to stab each other, all while singing. Plus it's a "modern Romeo and Juliet". Just not my thing.

85. Tom Jones- 59/100
Cheesy, hokey and just not good.

84.  Crash- 59/100
Really overt and preachy. Ludacris was my favourite though. 

83.  The Last Emperor- 60.5/100
Just so... irrelevant? This was really bizarre and strange. The little kids were cute, at least.

82.  Braveheart- 61/100
Terrible, terrible. So innaccurate and so romanticized. Plus Mel Gibson is so miscast

81. The Broadway Melody- 61.5/100
Not terrible for such an old film. At least I recognized some of the music!

80. Around the World in 80 Days- 61.5/100
Had a fun start, but didn't change pace much, and it got old, fast.

79.  The Greatest Show on Earth- 62/100
The circus scenes were admittedly impressive, but they didn't need to show all of them, in full.

78.  American Beauty- 62/100
Sex movies just never go down well with me.

77.  All The King’s Men- 62/100
Well acted, but rather dry.

76. Hamlet- 63/100
Shakespeare is Shakespeare. At least we had Laurence Olivier (and the woman who played his mother was 11 year younger than him. Doesn't get better than that)

75.  Cavalcade- 63/100
A "highlights" of the first 25ish years of the 1900's. Not much character development.

74. The Great Ziegfeld- 63.5/100
Like The Greatest Show On Earth, the musical scenes were incredibly impressive (and the first few were great to watch). But essentially watching an entire stage show a few times over gets a little old.

73.  Shakespeare In Love- 63.5/100
I mean, it's a nice chick flick. It's cute and historically innaccurate. It's fun. But Best Picture? really?

72.  Out of Africa- 63.5/100
I love Robert Redford and Meryl Streep, but this movie was just a little too "romantic epic" (lacking the epicness)

71.  Rocky- 64/100
Wow, overrated. Slower and more dull than you'd think.

70.  Going My Way- 64.5/10
I like Bing Crosby, but this film was very safe, so also not so interesting.

69. From Here to Eternity- 64.5/100
Well acted and interesting, but it's one of many wars films, and just a little too "romantic" for my taste. The Pearl Harbor scenes were great, though.

68.  Patton- 65.5/100
As a Canadian, I have little appreciation for American flag-waving films. This was very flag-waving and very American. At least George C. Scott gave a fantastic performance.

67.  Midnight Cowboy- 66/100
Controversial film, and kind of rightly so. However, it's another sex movie (for part of it anyway) and I'm just not overly interested in that.

66.Terms of Endearment- 67/100
I love Shirley MacLaine, and this had some nice moments in it. But overall was just kind of whatever and blah. Not bad, not great.

65.  Forrest Gump- 68/100
One of the most overrated films ever. Especially when comparing it to great films like Shawkshank Redemption or Pulp Fiction 

64. Gandhi- 68.5/100
Ben Kingsley was phenomenal as Gandhi, but the film itself wasn't so much. It took a rather on the fence view of the man and didn't really have much to say. For 3 hours.

63.  The English Patient- 69/100
Gotta love Ralph Fiennes, but another war/romance movie. I'm a little tired of both.

62- Mrs. Miniver- 69/100
This had some interesting moments in it and had they focused on those, it could've been a lot more interesting. However, it was well acted but a little safe. (Plus more war!)

61.  Ordinary People- 70/100
I honestly don't much remember how I felt about this film. Mary Tyler Moore and Donald Sutherland were great, and it had a good message about depression.

60. Grand Hotel- 70.25/100
A fun movie with a whole slew of stars of the time. While it's been a little overdone these days, it was definitely fun to watch.

59.  Dances With Wolves- 70.5/100
Faster-paced and more interesting than I expected. But not quite worthy of Best Picture.

58.  Rebecca- 70.5/100
I thought there would be ghosts and was disappointed that the new Mrs De Winter was only haunted by memory and not anything else. Still, very taut and thrilling.

57.  All Quiet On the Western Front- 70.5/100
Ages really well for being so old. I initially first watched this film in high school (and thought it was a bore) but the messages in the film are fascinating.

56.  A Man For All Seasons- 72/100
A Christian film that the Christian community loves. It had an interesting story for sure, but was a little slow. 

55. Wings- 72/100
Held up extremely well for it's age. The only authentic silent film to win, and it's aerial fight scenes are still so good.

54.  In the Heat of the Night- 72.5/100
I love a good crime/mystery movie, and this one was interesting, but definitely not the fast pace my generation is used to.

53.  Chariots of Fire- 72.75/100
So much running. So little chariots. Acting was good, story interesting, but aged music and slow pace bring it down.

52.  The Life of Emile Zola- 73/100
Could've been so much better than it was. The Dreyfus Affair is so interesting but the film was just alright.

51. You Can't Take It With You- 73.5/100
Quirky, fun, cute, romantic comedy. Guy from upper class, proper family falls for girl from an absolutely crazy and artsy family. Plus Jimmy Stewart is only 20 in this film!

50. Mutiny On The Bounty- 74/100
Interesting for sure, and I do love Clark Gable. But it was a little preachy, and definitely biased.

  49.  Gigi- 74/100
I'm a sucker for 60's musicals sometimes.

48.  The Artist- 74/100

It's a fun little movie and I adore the ending (both the gun scene and the tap-dancing) but I can't believe such a fluffy film would win Best Picture. 

47.  Driving Miss Daisy- 75/100
I don't care, I enjoyed this movie. My views could change on where this stands if I rewatch it, but for now, I really enjoyed it.   

46.  Gone with the Wind- 75/100
Long, but really fantastic. The visuals and stunning and Vivien Leigh is kind of the best. So is Clark Gable.

45.  The French Connection- 75/100
Another cop film, which was interesting. But car chase scene was definitely the highlight.

44.  The Godfather Part II- 76/100

Yeah, sorry guys. Really unpopular opinion here but, compared to Part 1, I really didn't care for this movie. I found Al Pacino's character not interesting at all, and though Robert De Niro stole the show

43. Unforgiven- 76/100
A great Western, and Clint is still grouchy as usual. But thrilling and has some awesome moments.

42.  Million Dollar Baby- 76/100
I cried like an absolute baby. I had no idea what was coming, and was glad for it.

41.  The Departed- 76/10
(Updated ranking: 3/4/2016) The Departed is a very entertaining thriller, with lots of twists and turns. The acting is fantastic and while it is much more commercial than a lot of other winners, it's still a smart movie. 

40.  It Happened One Night- 76/100
Another cute romantic comedy, and so much fun to watch. Plus Clark Gable again!

39.  Slumdog Millionaire- 76/100
Good movie, but not that good. I could've done without Dev Patel and had the whole movie about the little kids, they were so good.

398The King’s Speech- 76/100
I know it's not the best made film, but I do love it and Colin Firth is so great.

37.  Rain Man- 76.5/100
Dustin Hoffman, okay? He is pretty much everything.

36.  Lawrence of Arabia- 77/100
Too many camels! And was just too long and slow for me. 

35.  One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest- 77/100
Jack Nicholson is great and the ending is devastating.

34.  An American In Paris- 77.5/100
I just love Gene Kelly and tap-dancing. It's a little overlong and not nearly as good as Singin' In the Rain, but I do still enjoy it.

33.  Chicago- 77.5/100
This was just a lot of fun to watch.

32.  Marty- 77.5/100
I really loved the message of the film. It's such an interesting piece and so different from anything else that's won.

31. Platoon- 77.5/100
Fantastic anti-war messages but just a little heavy for me. Plus Charlie Sheen is kind of off-putting.

30.  A Beautiful Mind- 77.5/100
I know it's not historically accurate and almost trivializes mental health, but it's still a fascinating movie and I really didn't see the twist coming!

29.  Amadeus- 78/100
The music is fab (obviously) and the performances great. Still, a little too long.

28.  The Lost Weekend- 78/100
So interesting, and so well made.

27.  Oliver!- 78.25/100
I grew up with this movie so sorry haters, but I'm openly biased on this one. The music is just so good!

26.  Kramer vs Kramer- 78.5/100
Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep makes a perfect movie for me.

25. Spotlight- 78.5/100
A good winner, but it wasn't the best of the nominees. 

24.  The Gentleman’s Agreement- 78.5/100
Gregory Peck is another awesome person. And while the views of the film were limited, it was also really interesting.

23.  Lord of the Rings: Return of the King- 79/100
I am a mild LoTR fan... The Fellowship of the Ring was the best of the three and if any should've won it should've been that, but I see the reasoning.

22.  Argo- 81/100
I had a great time watching it. Sure, it's a bit of a weak win, but it's a heck of a good and thrilling movie. It was a good balance of not being too serious or too funny.

21.  The Sound of Music- 81/100
Another film I grew up with. Plus Julie Andrews is the best.

20.  My Fair Lady- 82/100
I wouldn't necessarily call myself an Audrey fan (I think this is her only film I've seen). But like I said, 60's musical.

19. Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)- 84/100 
While not necessarily my favourite film of the year, this is something very different to win Best Picture. It's solidly acted and well-written with a really interesting commentary on modern cinema, blockbuster films, actors and going through a mid-life crisis. 

18.  The Best Years of Our Lives- 84/100
Portrayed such realism about coming home from war. All the performances were so great, and everything felt so authentic. This is a film that feels ahead of it's time. 

17. The Deer Hunter- 84/100
The Vietnam scenes are so incredible. I don't care if they're controversial, it made for good cinema. 

16. The Apartment- 84/100
Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine are so great together. Again, darker than I expected it to be, but still so great.

15.  Gladiator- 85/100
Yeah, unpopular but I love this movie. And I cry every time!

14.  The Hurt Locker- 87/100
This was my kind of war film. Similar to Platoon, but corrected all the mistakes Platoon had.

       13.  No Country For Old Men- 87/100
Javier Bardem. Just go see it for him. It's a great film, and a deserving win (both for Bardem and the Coens)

12. The Silence of the Lambs- 89/100
Yep, 2 awesome baddies in a row. But the eye acting of Anthony Hopkins (see gif above) is so good, and Jodie Foster is awesome!

11.  12 Years A Slave- 90/100
This film is phenomenal and the most deserving win in a long time.

10. Titanic- 94/100
Yeah, I love this movie. Can you blame me for being a girl sometimes?

9. Ben-Hur- 94/100
Originally my number 2. The chariot race is great and I thought Charleton Heston rocked it.

 8. The Bridge On the River Kwai- 91/100
A war film that had very little battle scenes. I loved this one.

7.  The Godfather- 91/100
All for Marlon Brando. Maybe that's what I didn't like Part II as much. Brando is the best part.

6. Casablanca- 91/100
Need I explain anything? Romantic and thrilling!

5. Annie Hall- 92/100
Hilarious and poignant. I love this film.

4. The Sting- 92/100
Higher than most people rank it, but I loved this film a lot. Paul Newman and Robert Redford are such a perfect duo and the twist is excellent.

3. All About Eve- 95/100
I love how female-centred this film is. Bette Davis is a powerhouse.


2. Schindler’s List- 97/100
Devastating and beautiful. Everything about this movie is horrible and perfect.

1. On The Waterfront- 97.5/100
Yeah, I love Marlon Brando. Plus Eva Marie Saint is perfect. Just see this film, it's perfect.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Wings + Final Best Picture Review!

Guys, guys, guys! This is my final Best Picture Winner Review!

I finally watched my last Best Picture winner over the weekend, and I thought I'd end with the very first winner. All in all, it's been an extremely rewarding project to work on, even if it took way longer than it should've.

I started this project in October of 2011, back when I was 19 and still in college. Now over 2 and a half years later, I'm 22, married and working full time. It's strange to think how far I've progressed since starting this project. Each year following this I tried to watch every Best Picture nominee of the current year, as well as making my way through the previous winners.

I'll be posting a final list of how everything ranks sometime this week, but in the meantime, here's a photo of me finishing it off!

Wings, 1927
Directed by William A. Wellman
Nominated for 3 Oscars, Won 2

Wings tells the story about two men going off to war. One rich, one middle class, and both in love with the same woman. The rich one, David, is loved back by Slyvia, but Jack is not, though he is under the impression that she does. However, his next door neighbour, Mary, has been in love with him her whole life, but is constantly rejected by Jack. WWI starts and the two men who start out as rivals, become best friends while in training in the air force. 

Wings, honestly, was really not bad! It's over 2 hours and silent, but the film went at a decent speed, constantly had things happening and did try to develop it's characters. Especially worth mentioning is the special effects for all the aerial battle scenes. They were really fantastic for the time period, I was quite impressed! 

However, this movie wasn't perfect. With a film this old, you do get a lot of exaggerated acting, and some of the story line was a little ridiculous and unbelievable. 

I don't really have much more to say about this. I'm excited to have finished this! This film is so old but was quite well done that I don't have a lot of complaints about it that aren't a result of it's time period. So I'll just give you my rating!

Acting- 7.5/10 
Directing- 8/10 
Screenplay- 7/10 
Visuals- 9/10 
Music- 7/10 
Emotional Connection- 7/10 
Entertainment- 7/10 
Rewatchability- 5/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 7/10 
Overall Package- 7.5/10       

Total: 72/100

Friday, 11 July 2014

No Country For Old Men (Updated Review)

No Country For Old Men was the very first winner I watched when starting this project in October of 2011, 2 and a half years ago. I felt I gave it an unfair review and have watched since then. My initial review complained that the DVD box had claimed this was to be an action packed thriller. I'd like to clarify that I am remembering this wrongly and that it mentioned psychological thriller. So many of my comments and indeed my attitude going into was affected by this. So I felt a second watch (and sometime soon, a third) was needed.

This Coen's Brothers film is incredibly tense and masterfully filmed. The action is fantastic and is filled with moments to keep you on the edge of your seat. However, it's not a typical thriller. This one is very contemplative and intuitive. There's a lot of symbolism going on here. The balance between action and calmer moments is almost perfect. However, my only complaint about the film is that we have a very sudden change with about 10 minutes left. It's abrupt and doesn't seem to fit the rest of the film. It feels almost like a false ending, a trick, but never turns out to be.

However, as anyone will tell you, the acting is pitch perfect in this film. Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, and especially Javier Bardem. Bardem is beyond incredible in this film and his win is extremely deserving. Did he really even have much competition that year?

Either way, this is a solid film, though it definitely isn't a film for everyone. It's a little slow moving, but is never boring. However, slow movies aren't exactly the fair for the general audience these days, it seems, between all the superhero films.

Anyway, I just thought I'd give a quick update of status and ranking, and give some updated comments to better reflect how I now feel about this film (my comments 2.5 years ago were a little unfair.) I still stand that the cinematography was gorgeous, the acting impressive, the directing good, but wanted to update my personal thoughts on it.

Acting- 9.5/10 
Directing- 8.5/10 
Screenplay- 8/10 
Visuals- 9/10 
Music- 7.5/10 
Emotional Connection- 7/10 
Entertainment- 8/10 
Rewatchability- 7/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 8/10 
Overall Package- 8.5/10       

Total: 81/100


Platoon, 1986
Directed by Oliver Stone
Nominated for 8 Oscars, Won 4

In case you were wondering, this is my 85th Best Picture review! Aka, I only have one more to watch after this! How exciting is that? Anyway, I'm not exactly sure why Platoon got left this long. It just got lost in the shuffle of war films that have won and I've tried to space them out as best I can. However, here we go with my 2nd last BP review!

Chris Taylor has given up college and volunteered to fight in Vietnam. However, upon arrival, war isn't quite what he expected it to be. He's pretty much non-essential and inexperienced, meaning the others within his platoon tend to look down on him because he doesn't know how things work and hasn't felt the effects of the war like they have. Two of Chris's non-commissioned officers take opposite sides against each other after an illegal killing in a village raid. The men within the platoon seem to take sides and soon they are almost all-out fighting each other and Chris finds himself struggling against what's right and what's wrong and for his own survival.

Platoon reminded me of The Hurt Locker in several ways. The layout of the film is quite similar. We have a new officer who doesn't quite fit in with the pre-existing platoon, and it's just about experiences that happen to them and the psychosis behind it. Both are very much about the psychology of the soldiers in the war.

I didn't really feel one way or the other about Platoon. Oliver Stone himself is a vet from Vietnam and used a lot of personal experiences to make the film. The film did feel authentic and I did enjoy the anti-war message. It was quite stronger (stronger than The Hurt Locker had). It's strengths lied in it's realness behind the people. No one ever really felt fake, and while maybe some of the characters had been exaggerated a little bit for film, they still felt like the kind of people you would find in the army.

However, while I know this was realistic (most likely), it got very tiring watching a film about misogynistic and macho manly men in the army. A lot of weed smoking, beer drinking, chest pounding, sex jokes, and the like. The film made a point of showing that it was often the "bottom of society" who ended up in the war, and I suppose this type of personality would fit the stereotype, but it got very tiring to watch. I know Stone made a point of showing the flip side, that when it came down to it, it was a bit of a mask or a shield and in the end they were all broken. But it was still quite tiring to hear their jokes and watch them think so highly of themselves. I understand the point, but it was still not overly enjoyable.

The film did have very strong messages. And they were only shoved in your face a little bit, as opposed to a lot, which I did appreciate. The voice-over narrative given by Charlie Sheen that are posed as letters to his grandmothers are a little hokey, but do provide insight to the film that it doesn't visually show, or if it does, it doesn't really explain. And while again, we aren't seeing the side of the war from any Vietnamese people, I was happy that characters did try to cry out that "they're people too!" I know I've mentioned I know virtually nothing about the Vietnam war (though this film was a tweak more informative than the Deer Hunter, but that's not saying much really). However, the war to me seems very frustrating and stands for everything I hate about war (yep, I'm a pacifist). But I felt we had a good balance of characters. We had the bad kinds, who did illegal killings and beat up random Vietnamese people with no good reason, and we had the other characters who tried to put a stop to it. The characters trying to put a stop to it never felt overly preachy or do-good, they were balanced out by their misogyny. The head to head of Tom Berenger (as Sgt. Barnes) and Willem Dafoe (as Sgt. Elias Grodin), the bad vs good, is where the film did some great work. Dafoe was a kinder and more cooperative NCO, but still tough and someone to listen to. Berenger, on the other hand, was ill-tempered and intolerant. Both were fantastic in their portrayals, especially Dafoe, who was quite tragic in the end.

I know this review is rather rambling, but I'm just not sure what I made of it. I did enjoy what it had to say, but it was so heavy-handed and kept most of it's characters at a distance that it was sort of hard to really connect with them. Conversely, the Hurt Locker got us into the main 3 characters heads quite indepthly which was one of the strengths of that film, and also would've work wonders here. However, this was not the case. I think being held at a bit of a distance from the characters I'm supposed to care about and I'm watching so much about is minorly frustrating. Platoon was on the verge of being really great, but I felt it was also just a few steps back from that point.

Acting- 8.5/10 
Directing- 8.5/10 
Screenplay- 7.5/10 
Visuals- 8.5/10 
Music- 7.5/10 
Emotional Connection- 7/10 
Entertainment- 7.5/10 
Rewatchability- 7/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 7.5/10 
Overall Package- 8/10       

Total: 77.5/100

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs, 1991
Directed by Jonathan Demme
Nominate for 7 Oscars, Won 5
Wins Include: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Lead Actor, Best Lead Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay

The Silence of the Lambs is a movie that was hyped up for its gore and horror. It's a film I heard described by middle school friends as the film that kept them up all night at sleepovers, and when mentioning I had to watch to for this project, everyone always seems to be like "oh boy, have fun...that movie is scary!" So this is kind of why it's the 3rd last film I've watched. People hyped it up and made me think I was going to be terrified by this film. Part of that was the fact that I like to go in without too much knowledge of what the film was actually about. I had no idea that it was more of a crime/mystery film rather than a straight-up horror. I really should've known better, I suppose.

Clarice Starling is a young FBI agent, and still a student, who is asked to help with the case of Buffalo Bill, a man who kidnaps women and skins them. She is asked by her boss to enlist the help of Hannibal Lecter, a man who is also a psychopath, but was also a brilliant and respected psychologist. Hannibal doesn't plan it easy though. He doesn't talk much to anyone but seems to take a liking to Clarice. However, things get more complicated and the countdown is on when Buffalo Bill kidnaps a Senator's daughter, and Clarice must gain Lecter's confidence if they want his help.

Admittedly the film was sometimes graphic. But it was never overly graphic or unnecessarily. Most of the gore is seen at a distant or is seen in FBI crime evidence photographs (whatever those are called). Every so often we do come in closer, but it's never really gratuitous, which I did very much appreciate.

 The back and forth between Clarice and Hannibal are the films most interesting parts, as you know they are both brilliant but both are willing to play games to get what they want. Both are driven and focused, but in different ways. Jodie Foster as Clarice was so fantastic. She was so nuanced and precise and really encapsulated all of Clarice. She lets emotions through the cracks but expertly never fully reveals herself until near the end. Anthony Hopkins, on the other hand, was absolute perfection as Hannibal Lecter. While his role may have been someone tarnished since 1991 with the amount of copycat characters, Hopkins delivered this role to absolute perfection. He was quiet and reserved but you could always seem something going on behind his eyes. So much of his acting came from the eyes and from expressions. In fact, pretty much everyone involved gave some good performances here. Often, when you have hostages with small roles, they aren't the best performances but even Brooke Smith as Catherine Martin put out some solid work with her limited material.

The film was very tautly filmed and had the perfect level of intensity and edge of your seat action. A favourite scene was the very end, right before the FBI are about to raid the house. If you've seen the film, you know exactly what scene I mean. This was expertly edited and was such a fantastic moment in the film that it leaves your heart beating really fast for a moment, especially when you realize exactly what has just happened. The ending of the film in its entirety is especially heart-pounding.

Overall, I didn't find this movie scary. Books like these, or similar, are the ones I love to read. The weirder the crimes the more interesting it is, even though it's all pretty creepy and gross. However, while movies that are like this aren't necessarily up my alley, this one was very well done, well filmed and was just really good. The acting was spot on, the story was incredibly interesting and perplexing and the back and forth between Clarice and Hannibal made it all the better. While this film wasn't perfect, it was definitely quite a thrill and was expertly made.

Acting- 9.5/10 
Directing- 9/10 
Screenplay- 8.5/10 
Visuals- 7.5/10 
Music- 7.5/10 
Emotional Connection- 8/10 
Entertainment- 8/10 
Rewatchability- 7/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 8/10 
Overall Package- 8/10       

Total: 81/100

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Around the World in 80 Days

Around the World In 80 Days, 1956
Directed by Michael Anderson
Nominated for 8 Oscars, Won 5
Wins Include: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography (Colour), Best Film Editing, Best Music (Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture)

Around the World in 80 Days is a story in which I'm quite certain would definitely work better as a novel. Indeed, it is adapted from the novel written by Jules Verne, and I'm sure it's quite a delightful novel. And while the film adaption is certainly an ambitious one, I'm not sure it was overall a very good film.

The story is quite simple. Phileas Fogg, an upper class English gentleman takes on a bet from some friends that, using all the new technology and advancements of the world, he can travel around the world in 80 days. And of course, the film is about his time traveling, trying to make the deadline and going on some grand adventures in between. However, the film is three hours in length, and the plot is as described above. Stretching this out over 3 hours is quite bloated and unnecessary but is done anyway.

The main thing this film had going for it was it's cinematography, which was definitely a well deserved win. The film takes us around the world, and it's in the moments that it's showing off the landscape of our new location is when it hits it's best. We get high up views when in the hot air balloon, and almost GoPro type views of cameras sitting atop trains.

However, this is the best we get from the film, by far. The character are very caricature, and there are tons of racial stereotypes and whitewashing within. The Americans are shown as cowboys and we then have savage native Americans attacking the train with bow and arrow. All the Spanish do is dance and bull fight and the Indians are riding on elephants and about to sacrifice one of their princesses. And said Indian Princess is played by a white woman- Shirley MacLaine.

The movie wasn't wholly uninteresting though. While it didn't have more of a plot than the title expresses, Phileas and his valet (and later on adding in the Indian Princess) do get into all sorts of trouble while travelling. The train they're on reaches the "end of the line" a little too early, they haven't constructed the whole line yet. Not to mention, there is a robbery of the Bank of England mentioned at the beginning of the film and Phileas is the main suspect, so the police are after him, though he is unaware. So we also have a police chase going on. My favourite part of the film was their landing in Spain and having an extended scene of the Spanish people dancing. They were very talented dancers and it was very fun to watch. However, there extended "ethnic" scenes came along a little too often and stayed a little too long.

Overall, the film is not overly terrible. It has some fun little moments but is by far too long and definitely overstays its welcome, especially with the racial stereotypes (though they aren't as bad as some other films and probably can point the finger toward the source material). However, the acting is not overly interesting and the main characters seem too caricature to be really bothered with getting to know. Had the film been an hour or so shorter (or even 45 minutes shorter) the film would've moved along at a better pace and would've been more fun. However, thus is not the case.

Acting- 6/10 
Directing- 6/10 
Screenplay- 6/10 
Visuals- 9/10 
Music- 8.5/10 
Emotional Connection- 5/10 
Entertainment- 6/10 
Rewatchability- 3/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 6/10 
Overall Package- 6/10       

Total: 61.5/100

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Women In Film: My Favourite Female Character

So John over at Hitchcock's World is doing another great Blogathon and I thought I'd participate. The topic was Women In Film, and to write about a good, strong, female character that we love. Below are the rules laid out: 
  1. The female character in question should have qualities that make her strong. That doesn't necessarily mean better than the guys, just well-written; we're trying to promote equality here, not reverse misogyny.
  2. Unlike my previous blogathon, I'm going to be a bit stricter here and say that each entry should only focus on one character. However, if you like you can write multiple entries examining different characters.
  3. If you can, do try to find less obvious choices. There are a few that I can expect are likely to get picked: Ellen Ripley, Sarah Connor, etc. If you decide to write about any the "obvious" choices, I encourage you to at least try and find something new to say about them.
  4. You are allowed to pick characters from any film from genre or time period you like.

I definitely had a few people in mind before picking my choice. Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada immediately came to mind. Others like Katniss (too obvious a choice), Hermione Grainger (I love her, but movie-Hermione is not nearly as great as book-Hermione) and Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice (I think I write about that movie too much). And as I recently did a similar post about my favourite films starring women, I selected a different one off the list, one I hope is not nearly as obvious. I chose Jenny Mellor from An Education

Those of you not familiar with An Education, Jenny Mellor is our main character. She's sixteen years old and fervantly studying to get into Oxford. She's obsessed with  the French; french films, french music and speaking french. She's also living in the 60's and is just trying to get through high school so she can be free of her parents and do what she pleases. Then she meets David, a much older man who takes a liking to her. Her father (who is the one pressing her to do everything she can to get into Oxford) is immediately taken with David, as is Jenny's mother. And while they want the best for her, in the end, you need a husband anyway, and what a better one than David? 

The 60's were an interesting time for women. While an education is valued, it's definitely not necessary and it definitely isn't frowned upon to do nothing past high school. So when David waltzes into her life, she finds she has found a ticket out of her education. Her parents who supported her studying and "joining" so strongly are very quickly taken by David and seem to be fine with the lack of studying and their interest in seeing Jenny go to University wanes very quickly. 

Jenny is an incredibly interesting female character to me. She's incredibly smart, incredibly driven, but she also is thrilled with everything David shows her. David takes her to parties, to art auctions and to Paris (the place of her dreams). Jenny is definitely not a stupid person, but she does make some poor decision, but they're all decisions we could potentially see ourselves making, in a similar situation. Jenny is incredibly relatable, or at least I thought so. She's quite innocent about most things, but does have a lot of passion about the things she loves. She's sixteen and can't wait to move away from home and to see the world. When Jenny meets David she is swept away... but is hesitant to miss band practice or class or studying to be with him, at first. Jenny seems the value in her education, into making a life for herself, until David shows her that you don't need an education to become rich, well-dressed and happy. 

Jenny learns a lot during her time dating David. Lots good and lots bad. Like the title suggestions, she has to learn the value of her education. Jenny lets herself become swept away by David, his friends and his world. It's "perfect" and Jenny stops questioning what's going on around her. She sees David and and his friend Danny steal art, but doesn't really question it too much. And when she does, David charms her right back. Jenny is not only swept away by David, but his two close friends Danny and Helen. Helen is also much older than Jenny but plays an interesting contrast. Helen has no education, is not all that smart, but is gorgeous and rich and happy. Helen convinces Jenny to wear better clothes and dresses (often lending Jenny clothes, which she ends up being able to keep), she loans her night clothes and does her hair for her. Helen also tells Jenny not to ever question what David or Danny do, but just to keep reading the magazines and talking about clothes and Paris. 

But once Jenny learns a secret about David (I won't spoil it!) Jenny must clean up this mess she's made for herself. She's been skipping school, not studying and missed taking her university tests. She won't get into Oxford, and her education is all she has left. 

What makes Jenny so wonderful is all the stages she goes through. She is complacent and naive to her "boring" life before David. Then she meets David and he shows her the world, she barely feels as if she lived at all before she met him. And after David, she brings great poise and grace while putting her life back together. Jenny comes full circle, going through all the stages and learning so many things that we all do learn, in all different ways. Jenny is just like us. 

After David, she has a lot of people to apologize to, a lot of work to make up, and a lot of sacrifices to make if she wants to go to University (Oxford, or anywhere!). Jenny's perfect life gets yanked away from her when she finally looks around and questions what's going on around her. It is when she dismisses her education is also when she stops looking around and just blindly accepting all that goes on around her. 

This may make Jenny sound weak, but on the contrary she is a great encapsulation of the average sixteen year old girl, and not a weak one. She has not been made "masculine" in any way, but is a girl who lets her fantasies run away with her for too long and she must now pay the price. She is smart, inquisitive and passionate. Jenny is someone who takes in everything around her and learns from it. Jenny may have made a lot of mistakes, but wouldn't we have made similar ones as well? Who needs to go to boring high school classes when you can go to French Art Auctions or Paris with a man you love and you think loves you too? Being in love is definitely not a weakness, if anything Jenny's experience made her much stronger and smarter than she was before this. 

To be a strong female character doesn't mean they have to be more macho, more impenetrable or cold. In actuality, Jenny is strong because of her ability to pick up the pieces. How could someone ever be strong if they never had to face a bad situation or any sort of problem? Jenny lets herself feel all the emotions she is capable of; love, hurt, anger, boredom, forgiveness, sadness and absolute happiness. Jenny is strong because she embraces it all, in good times and bad. She also knows there are always consequences to her actions, and she definitely learns this the hard way. Not that Jenny ever rushed into something like this. Jenny was initially quite hesitant with David, but he showed her a life better than she could've imagined, and who could resist?  

Jenny is an interesting character to me because I can relate to her. I remember being sixteen and being excited to finally leave school. Admittedly I was not nearly as driven as Jenny, but I definitely had a passion to experience life and travel and do what I want. And while I didn't make the same mistakes as Jenny did, I have made some of my own and have learned from them all the same. Jenny is so well-rounded and a complete person. She is incredibly believable and easy to relate to. This, to me, is what makes her such an awesome female character.