Monday, August 13, 2007

I'm feeling ambitious today

Very slow day today, so I'll continue with the updating.

The next two movies on the list weren't my cup of tea. There were two movies where again I see the significance, but I wasn't entertained by them and I could've lived a happy and full life having never seen them. Strike was brought to me by Netflix, it's about a Russian factory going on strike and about the revolutions in Russia during the early 1900s, some interesting effects but just not my kind of movie. Next was Greed, which happened to be aired on the Fox Movie Channel, so I recorded it. I was surprised by it's length, but I guess when it comes to Erich Von Stroheim, you come to expect a lengthy picture. The story was fairly interesting and shows what happens when people become overcome with greed, but for some reason this film didn't resonate with me. It was slow and was easy to zone out during. Perhaps this is due to being from the MTV generation, but I think I have a high tolerance for movies that are any length, as long as it's interesting, and I guess this just wasn't for me.

The next two films on the list were infinitely more engaging to me, both from Netflix. The Last Laugh was kind of a ridiculous story of a very hard working doorman who was demoted, due to his age, to a washroom assistant and who's pride wouldn't let him tell his family and friends what had happened, he then comforts a wealthy man as he dies in the washroom and inherits his fortune. The filmmakers don't take themselves too seriously, with a title card saying how the story should end with the poor disenchanted old washroom assistant living out his days in embarrassment, but instead this is made-up so we allow him to inherit a fortune. And the film then concludes with him as a happy wealthy man, who is proud again. I was very impressed with the lead actor, who carried the film, Emil Jannings.

I also very much enjoyed the next movie, Seven Chances, this was another Buster Keaton film, as I've said before I really, really like Buster Keaton movies, and this one was no exception. The plot is a little silly, a struggling businessman stands to inherit his grandfather's fortune, but only if he's married by 7pm on his 27th birthday, and wouldn't you know it, the movie begins on his 27th birthday. As you can imagine hilarity ensues, from women rejecting his proposal, to a fleet of upset brides chasing Buster.

After these 2 lighter films comes the much darker 1925's The Phantom of the Opera, starring the magnificent Lon Chaney. I didn't know what to expect from this film, I have seen the 2004 version of the movie, as well as the Broadway show, so I definitely knew the story. And I had heard how scary Lon Chaney's make-up had been at the time. And I have to admit, it's still scary by today's standards. I was impressed by this film, mostly with Lon Chaney, but also because I was surprised that the emotions and the intrigue would be able to come across in a silent film. What's important to note is the ball scene which was filmed in color. I tried to read up about it, but I can't be certain that it was the first use of color film, and I couldn't find out why it was used for just that one scene.

That's enough for now, more to come.

Some More

So, I'm not the best at updating, but I've been pretty good at movie watching.

Since my last update I've seen 23 more films from the list. I didn't stay in strict chronological order, cause sometimes after watching a netflicked movie I'd want to watch something else and did want it to be from the 1001 list so I'd watch a movie I'd recorded with my DVR from TCM.

And I'm also now not sure of the best way to post about the list. Would it be best to just go in chronological order of the whole list even if I've seen the movie months ago or years ago, or should I should just mention the movies I've seen recently? I can't really decide which would work best. I'm leaning towards doing what I did with the last post which was make the bulk of the post about recent viewings and then touch on the previously seen films, or films I've skipped over for various reasons. Well I'll keep posting like that and see how I like it.

The first new movie I saw since my last post was La Souriante Madame Beudet. A French film from 1922. After I discovered that it wasn't available on video or DVD, I did a google search to find out more about it and saw that I could view the whole film on google video. Which was quite surprising. The quality was decent enough, the only problem was that there were no English subtitles, the title cards were in French. But I think I got the gist of the film from the acting and images. Seemed like an early film about feminism and women's rights, which I'm all for.

Next were a bunch of movies from Netflix. First up was 1922's Nosferatu. I had an interesting experience with this film. I put the movie in the DVD player and I first noticed something was amiss when the background music started to sound like a cat meowing. It then changed to the main theme music from Home Alone. I thought there must be something wrong here, usually silent movies come with their own soundtrack, but it's usually music that was arranged and composed from that time period that was played in the movie houses with the movie. Not contemporary music, certainly not meowing and the song from Home Alone. I decided to double check the menu to see if there were any clues to what was going on, checked the physical disc and discovered that I had in my possession the 'Gothic & Industrial Re-mix of Nosferatu. I wasn't really too into that, so I reported the mistake to Netflix and then the next day got the original version of the film. It was more enjoyable with the original music, very creepy film, just take a look at that guy.

Next was Haxan, from 1923. I honestly didn't enjoy this film too much, it felt like a documentary at first, with odd images and quotations about witchcraft and less than savory activities. Then once the action got started, it just seemed like weird imagery for the sake of weird imagery.
Next up from Netflix was Foolish Wives, directed by and starring Erich Von Stroheim from 1923. This was another film that didn't really do anything for me. It felt very long and epic, but the story didn't warrant so much hub-bub. It was just about a man who was a con artist and got money from various women, but interesting to see Erich Von Stroheim's earlier work.

Next, was my first exposure to Douglas Fairbanks, in 1924's The Thief of Bagdad. At first I couldn't get over how similar Aladdin was to this movie. I guess it's because it's a common story, or part of Arabian folklore, but sometimes I resent the fact that I don't get to see these stories for the first time. I can't help but compare older movies to movies that came after them, rather than the other way around. Once I kind of got over the similarities I started to appreciate the movie on it's on and found it to be a fun adventure.

The movies that I have previously seen or skipped cause it was unavailable:
  1. Nanook of the North, I rented from Netflix a couple of months ago. It was a pretty entertaining documentary, although some of the scenes and elements seemed staged or manipulated, I read more about it and discovered that this is a common belief. Either way an interesting documentary on an interesting group of people, and I really liked seeing how an igloo is built!
  2. Our Hospitality from 1923 is a wonderful! Buster Keaton movie. I absolutely adore Buster Keaton and this movie was the first one of his I watched. I saw it a few months ago and was completely surprised by how funny silent comedies could be. The physical comedy is just great.
  3. According to IMDB, The Wheel is not availble on video or DVD. But I'll continue looking for it.
Well, this is starting to turn into a very long post so I'll stop now, more movies next time.