New Site (same as the old site)

I’ve decided, mostly on a whim, to upgrade this blog into an actual website. Here’s the address: 1001moviesreviewedbeforeyoudie.com

You might notice it’s very similar, and soon every link or page here will lead to there and you won’t even know the difference!….I just have to figure that out first.

I’m still learning the ins and outs of running your own website so I’m still not sure what I’m doing entirely, but I at least got all the links to work 🙂 check it out now if you like but soon you’ll just have to! But it’s exactly the same, so it should be okay?

0075: 42nd Street (1933)

Rating: 7/10

A producer is looking to make one last play. An actress is trying to get her first gig. An actor is in love with that actress. It’s a movie about romance, music, and finances for fun and profit. Oh wait, that’s another musical…

For a musical, this actually doesn’t have a whole lot of songs. It’s maybe 20 minutes in when we hear any singing. But I suppose it’s more about making a musical than actually being a musical. There’s more songs towards the end but it takes a while to get there. Maybe they thought music in musicals should be like the shark from Jaws? You don’t want to show the whole shark until the end.

The best part about this movie is its humor. It’s very dry and can catch you off guard throughout the whole film. It can be a bit corny at some points, but this is actually something I appreciate in classic musicals such as this.

What this film has in humor, it completely lacks in plot. I mean, there’s not much there to tell. It’s all about the production of this play and there’s a few side stories going on but there really aren’t a whole lot of stakes overall. It’s still an enjoyable movie, but it’s a fairly forgettable one, unfortunately.

SCORING:

+7: A fairly silly musical that’s a fun watch

-1: somewhat forgettable due to lacking much substance

+1: Good humor throughout

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. s2e20: Scars

Air Date: May 5, 2015

Rating: 6.5/10

As Shield and the Inhumans try to stand on common grounds, it turns out someone might have different plans.

This episode had a weird quality of going back and forth between very tight, story-driven, often-action-packed scenes and very slow sequences that don’t go anywhere. It ends strong though, and makes me want to see what’s coming in the proceeding episodes. But, if this is the transition into this season’s third act, it’s a bit wonky. Hopefully it gets better with the final episodes of the season.

I still have a problem really caring about most of the characters emotional problems. I like Skye, I guess, and Colson, sort of, but it’s barely about them in this episode and their characterization isn’t really what I like about them. I think these scenes of deep emotional drama doesn’t do it for me. I think I’ve mentioned before that these moments have to be earned and this show still has yet to earn it.

SCORING:

+7: Has a lot of good parts

+1: A great ending involving a false flag operation

-1.5: I just don’t care enough about these characters to want to know about their personal lives

Flowers and Trees (1932)

Rating: 7.5/10

The first cartoon to win an Oscar, this is a film about one tree who loves another tree, but then a jealous tree tries to burn down the forest!

This is a short and about 8 minutes long, so forgive me if I don’t have too much to say about this one. Anyway, there is no dialogue in this film, just music that’s done as well as you’d expect from this era of Disney films: passable, but nothing special. The animation is really good, something you expect from Walt Disney even this early in his career.

I’m only a tad disappointed that the bad tree is especially ugly. He looks dead already, rotten from the inside out, but because of that I don’t even think he’d be able to move around due to being a dead tree, let alone set fire to the forest. Then again, most trees can’t move around…

SCORING:

+8: A very enjoyable short from start to finish with good animation and decent music

-0.5: dead tree should be dead

WandaVision Episode 2

Air Date: January 15, 2021

Rating: 8/10

In an attempt to fit in better in the neighborhood, Wanda and Vision perform a stage-magic show. However, Vision swallowing something which ends up “gumming” up his robotics.

If the previous episode was an homage to 50s television, this is definitely referencing TV of the 60s. It even has an animated opening in the style of Bewitched. If that’s what’s going on, and we’re going through the TV stylings of each decade with each episode, I really appreciate that and it’s something very unique unto the MCU as a whole and for television in general. I want more things like this that are willing to think outside the box. I have high hopes for the other Marvel shows coming out this year simply on how originally this one presents itself.

However, the initial WTF feeling I had with the first episode is mostly wearing off now. I still enjoyed the episode but I also think that it’s definitely taking its time on showing us what’s really going on. I’m really starting to wonder where is Scarlet Witch and whether Vision is alive or dead, as he definitely died in the films but maybe this is an alternate universe where Vision still exists and this is a gateway to the other Marvel Universes as the X-Men and the like come into the fold. This is just speculation as this episode doesn’t really give us any answers yet. It’s still enjoyable but I’m aching to know what’s really going on at this point.

SCORING:

+8: I’m still very invested but the initially trippy-ness has worn off from the first outing and I just want to know more (something this episode does not provide is answers)

Svengali (1931)

Rating: 5/10

This film was only nominated for Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography in the 4th Academy Awards, but it was also the only film I could find on a streaming service from this era (Amazon Prime).

John Barrymore plays the title characters Svengali, a musician who hypnotizes women he loves to sing for him in his concerts. When he captures a young lady named Trilby, the man who loves her tries to break her out of Svengali’s grasp.

This was a weird movie. It was a film that did not seem to have a genre pinned down for the entire run of the film. For the first half of the movie, I honestly thought it was a comedy because of how Barrymore acts like a creep, but in a way that’s so over the top it comes off as a comedic character, at least by today’s standards. I suppose in the 1930s he might have been horrifying in the same way Bela Lugosi’s Dracula was or the like. But I think it’s just how John Barrymore plays the character, Svengali tends to come off as a funny persona moreso than a creepy one, though I’m sure in 1931 this would have been considered a horror movie, today, the horror feels very removed from what is otherwise a lighthearted film with dark undertones.

Okay, aside from time shifting genres around, the acting in this was very good. I guess the initial talkies having strange formulas is over as this felt solidly in 3-act structure, despite that not being a thing yet for films. John Barrymore especially is very interesting as the title character. I think one of the reasons he’s meant to be scary is because he’s so eccentric in the film and, the worldwide population only being 2 billion at the time, I think creepy, weirdo, recluses were much less common at the time and this might actually have been a scary film to some people. By today’s standards, I think many people would agree with me that this is more a dark comedy than anything else.

SCORING:

+4.5: The first half was quite enjoyable as a dark comedy, the second half was mostly boring as a weird thriller about a hypnotist that kind of falls out of reality and into a strange fantasy that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in all honesty

+1.5: The acting is very good throughout the movie, this is a very rare thing for early talkies

-1: What genre is this movie?

WandaVision s1e1: Episode 1

Air Date: January 15, 2021

Rating: 10/10

Wanda and Vision are two superheroes living in a 1950s sitcom and while Wanda tries to figure out what to do on their anniversary, Vision has to prepare for a dinner with the boss and his wife!

Throughout this entire episode I had the craziest smile on my face as I watched Scarlet Witch and Vision figuring out how to deal with living like two normal people in the style of I Love Lucy, complete with a laugh track. There’s a hint at the end that something else is going on, but up until that point I wasn’t sure what I was watching, and I’m still not sure. It’s a very trippy experience considering this is the first thing since Spider-Man Far From Home and really nothing like I’ve ever seen before from the MCU. Actually, that’s a good thing. I’m glad they’re confident enough to break so far away from what’s come before and make something totally new. But it’s also something absolutely bonkers in its own right.

For sitcom humor, this is actually pretty good, but I really appreciate when it breaks away for a moment and does something particular dark in tone towards the end of the episode. Something that once it passes all characters go back into sitcom mode as if nothing had happened. It’s an especially trippy experience and I’m curious to see what’s next for our super-powered couple.

SCORING:

+10: I love it! Or I finally lost my mind! One of those!

Bulldog Drummond (1929)

Rating: 7/10

“Bulldog” Drummond is a bored, retired WWI veteran who is looking for a little adventure. He takes out an ad in the newspaper claiming as such and when he finds out a damsel is in distress, Bulldog is on the case!

This movie was a tad weird for me, only in that it wasn’t until it was over that I realized I enjoyed the movie more than I thought I did. It’s a detective-comedy, and actually is the third one in the series. But because it was the first talkie in the series, hence the “all talking” part of the poster above, the story was rebooted. So it is an early Hollywood reboot, which I personally think is good enough it deserves to be rebooted again. The story is well-presented and the comedy, though some of it is a tad overdone, is hilarious.

The problems I have arise from this being an early talkie. There’s at least three songs in it which stop everything else in the movie so we can listen to the music. Showing that talkies in their infancy were more than a bit gimmicky (The Jazz Singer had a lot of music after all). It makes the movie feel bloated and does nothing but bog down what is otherwise a quick paced film.

SCORING:

+7: A very early talky deserving of a remake but is still quite good in this form

-1: bogged down by gimmicky songs and scenes

+1: Very good acting and comedy, Ronald Colman was deserving of the Best Actor nomination

Alibi (1929)

Rating: 4.5/10

I thought I was going to give up the search for a 2nd Oscars film but then I found this on YouTube. I wouldn’t recommend the edition I watched though as the sound was more than a little messed up and the video was a tad grainy.

Based on the play “Nightstick” this follows the story of a gangster named Chick as he tries to find an alibi and get cleared of a murder he probably committed.

This was a melodrama-noire movie made in the pre-code era. The emphasis definitely being more on melodrama than anything else. Everything in this movie is over-the-top, trying-to-get-you-to-really-feel-something dramatic that it just forgets about everything else. Why have a plot when our characters have so many emotions!? Why have scenes that follow each other or work well together when we can nail in the audience’s brain exactly what everyone is feeling at all times!?

It’s exhausting, to say the least, and I think what comes through is more often unintentional comedy than the actual emotion they were trying to convey. The best example of this is when a man reveals himself to be an undercover cop, gets shot by Chick, and then spends the next ten minutes of screentime giving a speech on how tough it is being a cop, and then dies to the soundtrack of an angelic chorus. It. Is. Hilarious! Unfortunately, this is more the exception than the rule and mostly what I felt was frustration as I waited for most of the movie’s incredibly long, mostly boring scenes to end.

SCORING:

+3: I was captivated for about 15 minutes before I realized exactly what I was watching, then it was a complete tonal mess with very little to enjoy from that point on

+1: I didn’t mention above, but Mae Busch, the actress playing Chick’s girlfriend, does a very good job in this film, unfortunately, she’s not in it nearly enough

+0.5: Some of the unintentional comedy makes it almost worth watching…almost

The Circus (1928)

Rating: 7/10

I thought, with a hundred (ish) days until the Oscars, I’d go through and watch a movie from every year since the Academy Awards began. Also as an excuse to set-up the pages I set-up for that. And, as sort of a game, I’m searching through the five streaming services I have: Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and now HBO Max, which is what I watched this on, to see which Oscar movies from each year are available (to me). There are a lot of movies every year, even with fewer categories like here, but we’ll see if I’m able to find a film every time or not. Sorry for this long intro.

Charlie Chaplin reprises his role as the Tramp who escapes from the police by joining the circus. There he learns about comedy and tight-rope walking while helping a young girl who, ironically, wants to run away from the circus.

Though I enjoyed the film, I felt it had too much plot considering the story was more a gimmick to set up the slapstick comedy that follows. And the comedy was pretty funny it’s not nearly as good or as clever as I expect from Chaplin. I read that he was going through a lot of personal problems as this film was being produced, and perhaps that’s part of it, but it still feels like more of a downer than what one expects from the lovable Tramp.

I read that this is more autobiographical than most of Chaplin’s movies. And that the final scene of the film, as the circus leaves Chaplin behind, originally used the song made famous in the Jazz Singer but more as a somber funeral march. As if the world was moving on as Chaplin stayed stuck in the silent era. The music was changed in the late sixties when this film was re-released but I wonder if the original soundtrack exists somewhere.

SCORING:

+6: Tonally very different from most of Chaplin’s other work, but the comedy that works is still very enjoyable

-1: Too much story, or maybe just the story isn’t as funny as it should be, something…

+1.5: a terrific tight-rope walking sequence that Charlie Chaplin actually did 40 feet off the ground involving monkeys and losing his pants

+0.5: The Tramp’s sad ending, but he will be seen again (in Modern Times)