295 of 1001 Movies: Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Full Metal Jacket is disturbingly intriguing and real, but that defines a Stanley Kubrick movie. Released a couple of decades after the Vietnam war, I’m sure it still resonated vivid for many, including R.Lee Ermey who played Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, and was also a real U.S. Marine Drill Instructor during Vietnam. This movie puts everyone on the same feelings while watching the movie. There are many points within in the movie, and within the points themselves, but ultimately this isn’t a patriotic movie nor one anti-war, it’s about being human.

Summary: During 1967 in the Vietnam War, new recruits are arriving at Parris Island for basic training. Upon arriving most the guys are young, and excited to explore. They haven’t recognized what they got themselves into though. After several weeks of training together, and even graduating the first cracks in sanity are beginning to show among some of the men, and one, Joker, witnesses it firsthand. The rest of the movie conveys the men in Vietnam fighting for a cause even they seem confused about.

The first half of the movie involves the training. Most might note this as their favorite part. Hartman provides many memorable liners, though I would hope I would never hear any of them repeated around me. In keeping with the realism of it though, Ermey ad libbed many things he had said as an actual drill instructor. Kubrick directs well in conveying the breakdown of one character nicknamed, Gomer Pyle.

The scene building up to the break of Pyle could easily be noted as one of the most memorable. While it was intense and kept me on edge I couldn’t help but think of earlier works like The Shining or A Clockwork Orange. It’s always done well when he conveys the breaking of the psych, but also I felt there were more unique moments and realizations in the movie. I think the oncoming breakdown of Pyle is obvious, but what it does to Joker not so much, who witnesses it firsthand.

I don’t think Pyle’s scene where he breaks is as much as it is about what happens to Pyle as it is what happens to Joker when he sees firsthand what he is already signed on to do, and the effects it will have on those around him. He stands loyally by his friends, but he approaches the leadership with skepticism. He embodies many feelings people had about the war, and shows they were also rising in those fighting it.

Joker perhaps justified what he was doing with a light and protective attitude regarding his friends, but he never becomes inhumane. I think seeing what can happen early on keeps him the most levelheaded though he is damaged.

The range of other characters make for an interesting mix up to the story. You have some who seem to have justified their acts in various ways. None seem to be quite patriotic anymore.. Most are fighting back in revenge, because they believe the Vietnamese are unthankful, some who seem to enjoy killing, and others who are just trying to survive. Whatever the reason the whole thing is a bad situation, and in their own human ways everyone is trying to cope. It’s not as much about the war as it is about the depths a human might plunder into without good reason to stay afloat.

294 of 1001 Movies: Force of Evil (1948)

There are things to like about Force of Evil, and to not be so much into. It was only an hour and a half film from the 40’s though, so the story can leave a bit to be desired, especially considering it flaunts a lot of ladies and scenes on the poster that don’t really make a difference to the movie, except for one, and guess what? It’s the lady who has two short scenes he has his arms wrapped around flailing a gun out with. The posters for these movies can be a bit comical, and at least make me thankful we don’t market movies like this anymore.

Summary: Joe Morse is a lawyer dealing with some big time gangsters. He has the idea to consolidate all the small number rackets into one operation. His brother, Leo, is one of the small racketeers who wants to stay that way, and now that Joe has convinced the gangsters to become involved, he must convince his brother Leo to do the same. Ben Tucker has no patience for Leo though, and this puts his brother in danger of a tide he has set in place.

The main two faces in this movie are Leo and Joe. It works especially with the correlations with Cain and Abel, even if East of Eden beat them to the punch in a much better story. Anyways, the actors do good with their stories though, and we at least grow to care about these people. Who can help but like the bad boy gone good, after meeting a girl and caring about his brother scenario?

The ladies in this movie take a huge back seat though, and while Beatrice provides a nice dynamic of romance, and him making a leap away from his affair with the gangster boss’ wife. I have to say the affair was so poorly indicated I didn’t realize it was an affair till my husband noticed a called this a film-noir, and he asked did it have the ingredients of crime and an affair? It’s my fault for missing the fact she was in her robe in one of two scenes with Joe the lawyer though. Ladies aren’t wearing robes in these movies, unless their up to some funny business.

There are some remarkable achievements that put this movie on the 1001 list, and kept it compelling for me to watch. One of these things was the usage of the poetic dialogue. It rings with more emotion, and kept with the time and the personality of the characters. It’s worthy of people repeating the lines as quotes in their day to day life.

Another part of the movie that is stand out, is the usage of real life scenery from the city instead of other backdrops. You have a lot of wide shots that don’t only focus in on the characters, but it brings element and depth to their surroundings. This cast the mood better as well.

Force of Evil is a good film noir movie. It has a lot of basic elements there, it keeps you caring about the people, it’s well shot, and it has suspense. It lacks a bit in developing the story itself, especially when it cuts off at the end, but that is what you get on short time. I felt some of the ideas they were trying to encompass needed more depth though.

292 of 1001 Movies: Enter the Dragon (1973)

I’ve heard about Enter the Dragon my whole life. I decided to finally watch it and also found out my husband is a fan. I can see why. Bruce Lee choreographed the fight scenes very well, and they did shape an intriguing story around the scenes that not only show off the skill, but give you something to follow. Truly this movie is for the 70s action fan or a martial arts enthusiast.

Summary: Lee is a Shaolin martial artist from Hong Kong. He also has philosophical insight that helps his skill. He is recruited to visit an island as a spy to investigate Mr. Han. Mr. Han was a former Shaolin student until he was expelled. Now it is alleged he running a drug and prostitution ring. The arrival of Lee is very warm from Mr. Han, but as suspicions begin to rise on the island so does the comfort of blending in. The other people who are coming to the island to fight are Roper and Williams, both con men. Even their comfort is threatened among the growing concerns a spy has come on the island. Without the jurisdiction of the government thy could be in a lot of trouble.

The movie does have great fighting scenes, and if nothing else you’ll be intrigued by what the human body is capable of. I think in some ways this might take forefront over the story, which isn’t really a bad thing.

Bruce Lee also seemed to want more in the original, and it has since been rereleased, as stated by his then wife at the beginning of the movie. The version I watched was the version he was hoping would be released. I like how Lee wanted to use this as a tool to introduce people to his culture and the philosophy of it. As said, the story itself might take away from some of that.

Now I did enjoy this movie. There are some actors who struggle though, even though they are small, and there are a bunch of sound effects. What does work is the soundtrack.

There were several sound options you could choose from when beginning the movie. You could choose just the English format, one without speaking and just the soundtrack, or one with commentary. The soundtrack is very catchy, and it adds a lot to the scenes. Plus it immerses you in the 70s culture, and an interesting blend of Chinese instrumentals.

Robert Clouse does a good job at directing, but I think the well captured fighting shots may have been more so Bruce Lee’s part. There are some moments it seems the scenes end awkwardly, and there are some moments that flow long, but overall it’s an entertaining movie, and the lead actors get us to care about them.

291 of 1001 Movies: Fanny and Alexander (1983)

I was unsure of what I would be embarking on when I rented Fanny and Alexander from Swedish director, Ingmar Bergman. This autobiographical tale gives us the view of an adult world, mostly through the eyes of a child, and it’s disturbing to say in the least what the experience is. It appears to be almost eventless on the service, but the deeper layers of mental abuse are frightening.

Summary: Fanny and Alexander’s family is close, and it is captured by opening with a scene of the family at Christmas. Fun is of most importance when they are together, but apart much of the family is having their own struggles. Whether is finance, promiscuity, or working too hard everyone is going through something. After Fanny and Alexander’s father dies they are spurred into a completely opposite direction. Their mother is taken away from the theater she works for, and marries a priest who is overbearing and imposing. The children’s life is also drastically changed, and it seems almost unimaginable to them all how much this will affect them.

The film is intriguing because it combines different elements of what people experienced in their lives, including the actors to make a film that is telling many tales, but what takes the forefront is the one about Fanny and Alexander.

I thought everyone did good in their portrayals of their roles. No one had to over express to make you feel what they were feeling, even the kids. The movie seems lighthearted at first with serious undertones. I do wonder about the other dynamic in the families we didn’t seem to return to like the one uncle in financial troubles with the theater company? I felt everyone’s story and voice was given proper attention though.

This movie in it’s own way has a timeless quality too. The shots and color are vivid, yet the pale tones keep it only settled to the time it’s based in. It doesn’t feel like you’re watching an 80’s movie.

The story becomes more surreal as the story moves on, and I think this also depicts the child mind of Alexander well, and how he is perceiving these serious issues. You ask about the reality of the ghosts he sees, and you wonder about the encounter he had with Ismael more in an adult way than how maybe his imagination was taking it in?

Fanny and Alexander is an arthouse movie, and if you’re a lover of those movies then this is one to watch. The story is a hard one to forget, and you can’t help but question the lines of right and wrong with this one.

290 of 1001 Movies: Groundhog Day (1993)

Groundhog Day is stranger and wackier than I thought it would be, and this turned out to be a good thing. Only Harold Ramis, the director, and Bill Murray could have brought it to life in the way they did. There is something valuable to be taken away from this movie as well about living in the moment, and trying to approach each day with a pleasant demeanor, that seems to particularly resonate around this time year. With it being Groundhog Day I bring you my thoughts on the movie.

Summary: Phil is a weatherman, who is moving on to bigger and better things after he fulfills his last day on the job after covering Groundhog Day. He also sadly has the same name as the groundhog he is covering. Phil will find out this isn’t his last day on the job after he wakes up to find it is the same day again and again. With no help from his fell crew, Rita and Larry, he decides to make the most of his days on repeat, including trying to pursue a relationship with Rita. The ultimate question is Phil trapped to repeat everyday, or is there a way out of it?

This movie seems light on top, but underneath there seems to be much for the reader to read into. There are also many things that make this movie intriguing, and surprisingly not a science fiction or fantasy. It’s only a comedy. There is no rhyme or reason to how Phil got into this, nor how he will get out. I liked this, and it made the movie unique.

Bill Murray is also the only guy who could play Phil. He’s a very unlikable guy, but Murray has us relating and feeling like him. He does everything that a person would do or imagine doing if this happened.

What does puzzle me is how Andie MacDowell had the acting career she did in the 90’s?  I thought maybe the character was poorly written in Four Weddings and a Funeral, or she was miscast, but she is bland. Perhaps she is just an under actor, and that isn’t my thing? When paired with the expressive Billy Murray though it feels unevenly matched. She isn’t memorable in anything yet plays quirky women, you would think you would remember.

The direction of the movie is good though, and Ramis keeps it moving so it never can boring. At first I was a bit baffled by the silly humor, and the sudden change of events, but it works because Ramis never gives us too long to focus on it, and more so directions our attention to the purpose of the movie. This guy ultimately has to learn to live in the moment without the next big thing to happen he’s looking toward.

If you’re at home this Groundhog’s Day then you might want to grab this movie. It feels like the long months after Christmas in the winter, when you’re waiting on spring.

289 of 1001 Movies: Pulp Fiction (1994)

Filmed in Los Angles, this movie is an epic, long, dark, and comedic ride. With a lower budget than one might expect, Tarantino took this film and wired into his dream. This movie seems like Reservoir Dogs 2.0. I do like Pulp Fiction though, and while a controversial director, I think Tarantino ranks as one of my favorites officially now, since I can’t think of a movie I’ve disliked from him. I’ve so far loved them.

Summary: Three stories are featured that are all connected. The first follows Vincent, a hit man for the mobster Marsellus. After fulfilling a hit, he is asked to take Marsellus’ wife out, Mia. An accidental drug overdose sends their evening into a tail spin though.
The next story is about Butch. who has accepted a large sum of money from Marsellus to take a dive in his next match. After he wins though he takes off with the money that he has won. The getaway for Butch is filled with chaos, and unexpected violent events.
The last part of the movie is about Jules, who does hits with Vincent for Marsellus. The hit that the movie begins and ends with changes Jules life after he believes a miracle has happened.

This is one of the most ambitious movies I’ve seen. I enjoyed it, but it doesn’t place above some of my other favorite Tarantino movies like Inglorious Basterds or Kill Bill Vol. 1. The movie has great direction, but I love the directness of the others better.

The most memorable aspect of the movie is the interaction between Vincent and Jules. John Travolta has one of his most memorable and signature performance as Vincent. I haven’t seen Travolta in a lot, but this showed his range. There is also Samuel L. Jackson as Jules. Between these two a lot of awkward and dark comedy ensues. I don’t know how I feel about laughing out loud at some of their scenes together.

If only Uma Thurman could always score roles as she does in Tarantino movies. Tarantino always writes unique and catchy female roles. Thurman brings to life the mysterious nature of the females’ he writes, and it sets them apart from many feminine roles in movies I’ve seen. Thurman’s character Mia is no different, and I don’t think anyone else could have brought this character to life.

I wish there would have been more of her character in the movie. It would have been extended by another hour, but it might have been worth it. I was so curious about the life she led as the life of a wife of a mobster in this setting. There are other noticeable faces though like Bruce Willis as Butch. This is one of the few Willis roles I’ve enjoyed. I’m still not sold on Willis, because it was more so the writing that carried it, but he brought it to life well in a suiting character for him.

Pulp Fiction is a classic and a stand out for the time of 1994. It doesn’t scream that it’s a 90’s movie, and it intentionally looks ahead of it’s time. It throws in random elements like the 50’s restaurant and dance scene with 70’s inspired music to transform the time into one that transcends over generations.

288 of 1001 Movies: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

It was a random decision to finally watch Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and I didn’t regret it. So far the 1940’s had proven a strong time for movies, but the 1950’s had a liveliness and upbeat nature that came out of the 40’s. On top of that, the popularization of technicolor was taking flight, an it makes a film pop so amazingly. I’m a fan of technicolor. This movie provides some of the most memorable song movies of all time like, “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend.” Not only that but it has tons of memorable song and dance scenes, and the undertones definitely make it at least PG-13.

Summary: Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw are showgirls who have different perceptions about love. Lorelei believes you need to marry rich to be comfortable to focus on love, and Dorothy Shaw wants to find a passionate love despite the circumstances. Lorelei finds herself in trouble after she becomes engaged to Gus, a rich heir, and boards a cruise ship with a wealthy man who owns a diamond dynasty. The temptation lands her in trouble, and her friend Dorothy caught in an interesting triangle between a friend and possible love.

The movie stars Jane Russell as Dorothy, and Marilyn Monroe as Lorelei. I think the two actresses balance each other well. Russell has the charm of Katharine Hephburn. Unlike many movies at the time both sexes seem to mock and have fun with the stereotypes in the 50’s culture, and even turn the tables while Dorothy’s character admires the Olympic sports players who have boarded a ship with them.

The movie seems to make light of, while also giving thought to how women are known for marrying men with money, and men are known for marrying women who have looks. Dorothy’s character wants in on known of that, but Lorelei is all about that.

The movie never becomes too deep, but it does analyze what has brought these characters to these conclusions as well. Lorelei only slightly indicates the hurt she has had in the past that makes her more reliant on diamonds and money for happiness than men, even though she seems to find a balance by the end.

What is most likable about the movie is how this seems to be a buddy comedy for women though. It’s rare, especially for this era, to draw out women’s friendships like this that will stick by each other as these two do. Many times we see women pitted against each other over men and vanity, but in this one they stick to one another.

By the end the movie calls out many double standards, and even ones that still exist today. It’s impressive that Howard Hawkes has the range he does to direct the variety of movies he has brought to the screen.  While the topics have serious undertones, the movie itself always stays light. Some may like the fairy tale, and some may not, but considering this was the 50’s it was set in, it’s not exactly surprising. Regardless, this is at least a fun movie that catches the attention.

287 of 1001 Movies: Once (2006)

This is my second full viewing of once, and I love it as much as the first time I viewed it. It’s a movie I enjoyed so much  want to see the musical show, which I’ve heard good things about as well. I also recently watched, Begin Again, so this stirred my curiosity to rewatch Once with my husband since he hadn’t seen it. I did enjoy Begin Again, but after watching Once, I couldn’t help that they both seemed to focus on the same type of story. Not in a bad way, but you would have to not be overly critical of that to enjoy.

Summary: A guy and girl, whose names remain unknown, have a chance meeting on a street, after the girl stops to admire his street performance. From there they form a friendship that is tied together by their interest in music. Together they begin collaborating on music and seeking to make him a demo record he can showcase. The week in Dublin, tells their love stores inadvertently through the songs they write and perform. Their complicated pasts must be dealt with first. In the end it will have to be decided their meeting will lead to a once in a lifetime type of romance, or a once upon a time week.

The movie was shot on a low budget, but the passion that John Carney puts into his movie by far makes up for the budget. They use their money wisely on highlighting the best parts of the movie, like the emotions from the music and hiring talented performers to perform them. You don’t need to try to over do glossing the music, if you have performers who can achieve much of what needs to be done without help.

The set is also a beautiful location for the movie. The clouds and Dublin setting suit much of the vibe you have from the characters throughout as they deal with difficult decisions they have to make. While romantic, this casts the feeling they have over their budding romance.

Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova also have enough chemistry to fill a room. I rarely see this much authentic chemistry between two on screen leads. Hansard is pouring his heart out through the music, and Irglova is patiently voicing her concerns. The balance winds up with a real on going love story. You can’t help but what may happen for these two as the story doesn’t feel over even when it ends.

The music is what gave the movie all the notice and rightfully so. They would receive an Oscar win. I find the music to be so good, it ranks as one of my top favorite albums. It’s never grown old.

If you’re looking for an independent movie to check out, I highly recommend this one. The R rating is the only oddity that stood out misplaced for this movie. It has no violence nor even sexuality in it, yet it garners a worst rating than much more disturbing images I’ve seen. While you’re at it go ahead and check out Carney’s other one as well, Begin Again.

286 of 1001 Movies: Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

I’ve watched many coming of age movies from the 80’s. I can’t think of any I disliked, but I was also thinking how can you top The Breakfast Club? I’m not sure that question is answered. Fast Times at Ridgemont High sits at the top of some of my favorites though like the mentioned one and Say Anything. Cameron Crowe differs from John Hughes in a lot of ways though. Crowe offers a portrait of teens that looks at them more as people with the same burgeoning questions of adulthood, but still perceived as kids. Amy Heckerling is the director though, and if you’ve seen Clueless then you are familiar with her work.

Summary: Brad and Stacy Hamilton are two siblings experiencing two different struggles with their high school years. Brad is bored with his girlfriend and tired of his job. Stacy is worried about beginning a relationship, and with the popular, Linda, as her friend it brings out other insecurities as well of what she may not be aspiring to do. She finds herself perhaps in a love triangle with two brothers though.There is also Jeff, who is living a carefree life of surfing and weed. When he is assigned the strict, Mr. Hand, their differing personalities collide.

My favorite character was Jeff, but every character fits into this movie well, and to some extent I think all their high school woes can be felt. Sean Penn is in one of his best roles here though. He embodies what Jeff is all about, and makes him the least unlikable guy there is. You can’t help but wonder how Mr. Hand can’t cut this guy a break?

Brad, portrayed by Judge Reinhold, is a guy that is perhaps the most easy to relate to though, at least job wise if you’re not a teen anymore.  He has been responsible for a teen, but now he’s feeling the stir of wanting to get a bit adventurous as he nears the end of paying off his car. When things fall apart he seems to be reconsidering just how adventurous he wanted to be though. His younger sister, Stacy now offers some of the harsher scenarios in the movie. Jennifer Jason Leigh does a good job of presenting it in a way that the audience can take in and try to understand as well. The issues she encounters with trying to fit in, and even deeper events of the results of trying to fit in are ones that still seem present today.

Along with the very memorable story lines, there is also one of the most iconic scenes in movies that the movie depicts. If you were watching National Lampoon Christmas Vacation this past season you probably noticed a very similar dream sequence scene. Not only would it spawn that scene, but also a hit soundtrack and a television show.

I didn’t have any complaints with this, but the reason this show seemed so easy to inspire a television show with is it follows so many people it creates many stories that are stories you want to follow.  I also recommend giving the soundtrack a listen. It adds something extra to the movie, and truly sets you in the time of the 80’s. Not only that, but for the time the issues conveyed and dealt with are quite edgy.

285 of 1001 Movies: Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)

From director Mike Newell, and famed screenwriter, Richard Curtis, comes one of the most British films there is, Four Weddings and a Funeral. I have to admit I didn’t overly enjoy Love Actually, but I really loved About Time from Richard Curtis. Maybe he just needed to dump Hugh Grant finally? I think overall I enjoyed the story, but I’ve never been huge into this specific type of romance, and the acting left something to be desired.

Summary: The movie centers on Charles and his group of friends throughout the duration of four funerals and a wedding. Charles is a good guy, but he’s also a bit awkward when it comes to expressing his feelings. He meets Carrie at a wedding, and he finds out that if he really wants to win over love then he might need to become better about expressing that then. Carrie doesn’t waste time though, and through four weddings and funerals not only does a lot change in their own lives, but the lives of those that surround them as well.

The two main leads are Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell as Carrie. I don’t think neither were bad in their roles, but also they didn’t hit in making the memorable impact that the screenplay seemed to showcase they could. Actually, Grant is fitting for his character here. As a guy who wasn’t who he is now there isn’t an energy of being uptight that is in this role that transcends into his other ones. I’m still not a huge Grant fan though. The character seemed capable of a lot more. Now MacDowell might have spoiled the movie for me, or at least the vibe of it. I don’t think she is a bad actress, but not particularly suiting for the role. More so, my confusion was what laid in the motives of her character? Was she making the choices she were because the possibility of taking a chance with Charles scared her? MacDowell’s portrayal left me unaware of what emotions the character was experiencing.

There was one character that I was transfixed by, but in a huge array of characters takes a back seat. Kristen Scott Thomas was Fiona in the movie, and the character that most intrigued me. I also enjoyed her in The English Patient as well. Seeing the chemistry that Hugh Grant had with her, sort of makes me think it wasn’t him that he was wrong for the role, but more so the pairing with him, Andie MacDowell. Thomas seemed to have real emotions going on with her character that pulled her in, but the movie is trying to handle a lot, which I admire Newell for, but also it is too much to develop.

I can see why the movie is a charming one. For a time when the romantic comedy was thriving in the 80’s and on, this movie brought in a new element with romantic movies. Not only was it trying to handle the two leads romance, but also the intertwining relationship of a group of people as this is all happening. It was like the Friends of movies for the time. I admire it for what it embarked on, but there was some heartstrings I wanted pulled that weren’t. Then again I find the two leads personalities very unattractive.