0131: Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

Only Angels Have Wings.jpg

Rating:  3/10

This is a movie that suffers just because it’s old. Oh God, does that make me agist? Shit. Anyway, the problem with this movie is that the problems in this movie aren’t really problems anymore. It’s about how dangerous pilots have it, how often they might die just from trying to land on the airport at night or whatever. How flying is so dangerous that Cary Grant won’t take women flying because it’s “too scary.” I’m guessing many of the things mentioned in this movie are true of flying in 1939, but today it’s one of the safest ways to travel and you’re statistically more likely to die from chewing gum. I can understand that maybe it was this dangerous to fly at some point, but this idea is just so old that it would make more sense if it was something like trying to fly in times of war and constantly being shot at rather than flying itself being one of the most dangerous jobs in the world as this movie is trying to convince me. Truthfully, it makes it out as if when you go up in a plane your probably going to die and everyone in the pilot’s club is so used to death they hardly do anything once one of they’re pilot’s crashes on trying to land his plane.

Okay, I would have been fine with that if it didn’t feel more like a history lesson of “see how bad they had it” than an actual movie. It makes me feel more like I’m watching an episode of Deadliest Catch: Planes or something than really seeing a movie with a plot and such. It really seems to be the major draw of this movie is seeing pilots as they tempted death every day. This is interspersed with actual stunt pilots going up in planes and cheating death, so I’m guessing every other pilot they sent up for a stunt died from the lessons this movie has taught me, but at least they got their shot!

Anyway, outside of my problems with the “plot” if you can even call it that, the acting was fine though nothing special. The dialogue was just this side of Passable, though there were many segments that were just long and boring. Attention screenwriters: Don’t write a long speech when just a few words will do! In fact, change that rule to: Don’t ever have characters say more than they have to. Develope characters, sure, but don’t put in extra lines just because you want to fatten up your script. It’s totally noticeable and suspends my suspension of disbelief.

At some point this movie devolves into a romance, and then kind of finds a plot but then it devolves again into a melodramatic soap opera and I don’t think I can recommend it to anyone, really.

I’m giving this movie an extra point for this so I think I should mention it. There was a subplot involving a pilot who ditched his plane when it was going down and doing so doomed his copilot so people didn’t like him at the pilot’s club. His subplot is more interesting than the rest of the movie but unfortunately only takes up maybe 10-15 minutes of screentime in a 2-hour movie. Should have made him the main character, would have been more interesting, **grumble, grumble**

Why you should watch it before you die: Because you want to scare your kids away from flying and you are absolutely sure they can’t just look things up on the internet somehow. I guess if your just that big a fan of seeing old planes flying around, as that is the only really good parts of this movie. You could probably also see those planes on YouTube though.

1184: Spotlight (2015)

Spotlight.jpg

Rating: 8/10

The Incredible Hulk teams up with Batman to take on the Catholic Church. This is a fight for the ages, folks. Seriously though, this is a movie where Mark Ruffalo teams up with Michael Keaton to, um, take on the Catholic Church. Based on a true story of the massive cover-up by the Church that was uncovered by the media. Just how far does the story go?

Usually, “based on a true story” movies are things I don’t normally like. I can’t really tell you why. There’s not really one thing that pegs it down, like they all overuse exposition or something. I think many of them just suffer from If-I-write-about-this-subject-I’ll-get-an-Oscar-itis, and maybe this movie suffers from that a little, but it’s so interesting of a story and presented with A+ acting and writing the whole way through, that aspect doesn’t drag the movie down. So, obviously, that isn’t the cause.

This movie suffers, as many do, in that it takes a bit before the story gets going, and though the acting is good, it just isn’t as interesting at the rest of the movie. Though I don’t mind when movies are slow to open, it’s always obvious to me when the movie should have started later than it does. At the beginning of every scene I start think, “oh THIS is where the movie should have begun” and I continue to think that until the scene the movie should have actually started in. A lot of movies have this problem. I think there’s something taboo in Hollywood about releasing a movie less than 2 hours long. I have no idea why.

This movie also suffers a bit at the end of the second act. WE know they’re going to release the article. I don’t think it has to meander quite as much as it does about the “tension,” if you can even call it that, up to the big event. It’s not too bad in this film, just more footage that the movie would have been better for if it was cut.

Still, pretty solid film.

Why you should watch it before you die: Well, if you know nothing about the story at all then you should definitely watch it. If you do know about the story I’d say watch it anyway just because it’s about one of the biggest news stories in recent memory and is also a pretty good flick. It shows what these reporters had to go through in order to get this story out and just how bad it was (and maybe still is…) in the Catholic Church.

0822: Dangerous Liaisons (1988)

Dangerous Liaisons.jpg

Rating: 0.5/10

Period pieces are weird. I think they’re made so historians can watch them and say things like “ah they got that right, they would have used that technique at that time.” or “How dare they?! They stopped eating figs during the Great Centennial Fasting!” as they’re watching. I’m not saying that’s the only reason, sometimes they actually have a point. But many of them fall into this habit of trying too hard to copy the time period. There are many problems with this. 1) the dialogue, because they need to talk in the style of the period, they’re saying things that are often very different from how they’re said now. This makes some actors, for some reason, unable to act. The harder the sentence is to say the less talent they have. I’m looking right at John Malkovich in this movie as I write this. 2) They’re very slow moving. A slow movie can work right if the subject matter calls for it. However, in this case and the case of many period movies, it’s slow simply because they need to show habits and customs of the time period. Sometimes they can do double duty and progress the plot while they do this, maybe with dialogue that is stilted by being too wordy and poorly acted, but you know, they can still do this. Many of them don’t though, and I think the reason for that is the filmmakers think the audience will be sooo interested in seeing how things were. I suppose this was in the days before the internet and people could just research things as they liked. But I still can’t imagine anyone is anything but bored by the opening scene showing many people dressing these rich people. Or these long conversations that don’t really go anywhere or progress the plot. There’s a lesson there to screenwriters. Things should either move the plot forward or develope characters (or both), if they do neither then CUT IT!

Glenn Close is very good in this movie. She can act around the strange dialogue and she does it beautifully. Too bad that John Malkovich is the main character. I usually don’t have problems with his acting but something about him here, with every dry, unemotional line he delivers, just takes me so far out of the movie that it’s hard for me to get back into it. Sometimes scenes will start and it will be fine for a few seconds as other characters talk and I start losing myself to the time period, then he’ll say anything at all and I’m back to wondering why he was cast in this role. I don’t know if it’s just someone told him that people acted like that during the period (the director maybe?) or he just had a problem with acting like someone so evil. Either way, I feel someone else might have done better in the role, but I’m not sure. Maybe it’s just not a very good role. Maybe the part was just beyond his control.

This movie spends too much time to get anywhere. I get it that Glenn Close and John Malkovich are evil but the way they go about it takes so long and it’s so esoteric. They want Malkovich to seduce a woman in order to ruin her fiance’s reputation. Something which is so far removed from this time period I can’t even understand where it’s coming from.

Every scene of this seduction is awful though. I mean, I like Michelle Pfeiffer, I just don’t like this. Malkovich advances on her, she pulls away, he lies to her, she pulls away. Over and over and over again. This goes on in multiple scenes, and they are always the same. And when (spoilers) he finally does seduce her every scene between the two of them gets even worse. Malkovich’s bad acting carries over to Pfeiffer through sexual contact I guess.

While that’s going on John Malkovich pretty much seduces a whole bunch of women. They’re clothes pretty much fall off when they see him. Maybe woman were very attracted to bad acting in those days. If that’s the case, all of Malkovich’s actions in this movie makes sense…

Why you should watch it before you die: Because you’ve been trapped in a time vortex that puts you after 1988 but before the days of the internet and you desperately need to see a naked woman. You’ll see a bunch in here. That’s the only reason. It’s beyond my control.

0587: Serpico (1973)

Serpico

Rating: 6.5/10

Biopics aren’t really my cup o’ tea. They usually have the same problem: The filmmaker is trying to show you an entire lifetime in 2-3 hours, some even longer, and it comes off as unfocused and boring. They spend too much time not-getting-to-the-fucking-point it causes me to conk out mentally and not even know what happened anyway for the first half of the movie because A) it’s totally unimportant: we don’t need to know that a person was born, had parents, or grew up, if none of it is important to the actual point of the movie. If you don’t think the film has a point, you should go back to your script and figure one out. If you can’t do that, you should rethink why you’re writing about the subject of your screenplay in the first place.

This movie doesn’t show any of Serpico’s childhood, thankfully, but the first 20 minutes of the movie, where Serpico is just starting out as a cop, before he goes undercover. Because the plot hasn’t started yet, it’s just showing these scenes to introduce us to Serpico’s character, and the romance between him and THE ONLY WOMAN IN THIS MOVIE (more or less), but since we learn just as much about his character after (even more so when he starts an investigation into his own department) and the romance doesn’t do anything that isn’t totally cliche, I mean it, I don’t care anymore, don’t add things that are just cliches, if you can’t make a romance unique and interesting you should not put it in your movie, but, like I said, she’s the only woman in this whole movie, so I guess I can forgive her for being shoehorned into this, but I can’t forgive the filmmakers or the movie itself. I mean, come on.

What this movie has going for it though is realism. It’s scenes are slow, but in a way that makes things feel all the more real, outside of the first twenty minutes. Those scenes are just slow for no reason.

This tells a story of what some cops can truly be like, something I think we’re all too familiar with now. Just like any person, they can be greedy, corrupt, backstabbing, and basically just a group of psychopaths out to destroy the only non-corrupt cop in the city in order to protect their greedy, psychopathic ways. I think I switched to talking about the movie in there somewhere, but who’s to say?

So, it has a lot of good points, but the negatives drag it down. That’s all I have to say about that.

Why you should watch it before you die: Because you’re a fan of crime-dramas, true stories, or just Al Pacino. Or you just hate it when there’s more than a single woman in a movie. Otherwise, you can pass on this movie.

0061: Frankenstein (1931)

Frankenstein

Rating: 9/10

Why is it that Igor is the one to fetch the brain? He’s not smart by any means and he can hardly read. Why wouldn’t Dr. Frankenstein get the damn brain himself? It seems like the most important part of his creation, he had to have known his hunchbacked lackey would mess it up somehow. That aspect to the story just really bugs me, and truthfully it makes me just want to go on some meaningless rant about incredibly stupid plot points…

Okay, here’s the thing, whenever you put something like that in your story, any story not just movies, it feels like a cop out. You should at least give Dr. Frankenstein a reason to not be able to do it himself outside of “his own hubris” or whatever, and frankly his hubris should be the very reason he would insist on picking out the perfect brain for his monster. The fact that he doesn’t do it, and just lets his lackey do it, and there’s no reason given for this, causes your story to fall apart. People will do as I just did and POKE HOLES IN YOUR PLOT! If the only reason an idea like this is in there, it doesn’t work because your characters aren’t acting like they would act normally and it makes them FEEL FAKE instead of like the real people their supposed to be. And if you can’t think of a reason for the characters to be doing something, but you put it in anyway because THE PLOT DEMANDS IT then you should take it out and think of something realistic instead.

Okay, okay, I just took more time writing that last paragraph than it probably took to film the scene in question. And really it’s more of a pet peeve about this movie than an actual complaint. It’s not nearly as bad as some of the plot ass-pulls some movies try to get away with.

This movie was good though, and something I love about it is that it works even in today’s context. The graphics aren’t over the top so they don’t come off as cheezy, the plot kicks off immediately as Frankenstein and Igor dig up a grave to start their demented experiments and the pace remains quick for most of the movie. There’s a few slower, unnecessary scenes just after Frankenstein performs the experiment where their trying to shove some kind of moral down my throat, but being that this movie is only an hour and 5 minutes long, I guess it’s okay to have these short, slow scenes before the action begins, but it feels out of place considering how fast the pace is before these scenes. Also, I’m not a fan of them because they feel more than a little preachy.

Frankenstein’s monster is one of the most iconic images in the history of movies. I know we aren’t scared of him anymore and he’s mostly just used for comedy today. But he was the first movie monster to really come alive (no pun intended).

Why you should watch it before you die: This movie shows a man gone to the brink of madness trying to play god as he gives birth to an abomination. It was a movie based on a book written specifically to be anti-science. Despite this, the film is essentially one of the best monster movies ever made and will continue to be watched until the inevitable heat-death of the universe.

0206: Black Narcissus (1946)

Black Narcissus.jpg

Rating: 5.5/10

This story is a melodramatic tale of a young nun placed in charge of a church in the Himalayan Mountains. And she has to learn that being a nun in the Himalayas isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I’m both surprised and disappointed to discover that none of this was shot in the Himalayas, or even in Asia. Yup, all of this was shot in a London studio and the surrounding area. Making the art department the real heroes in this film as it all looks as if it’s filmed on location.

This movie loses points because it’s title comes from an Indian dude showing up at the monastery to be taught there, she tries to turn him away but he stays around anway. She smells a fragrance, he explains it is the smell of Black Narcissus. She says to the rest of the nuns later that that’s “what she shall call him” (the Indian dude), another nun comments that the dude isn’t black. Then she replies, “they all look the same to me anyway.” Oddly racist right? And then that Indian dude RARELY SHOWS UP IN THE MOVIE AGAIN! What?! So the title of this movie is an oddly racist comment about a person whose barely even a side character.

Also, there’s a side story in this movie where there’s a woman is dropped off at the church because she can’t find a husband and then meets the Indian dude and they seem to hit it off and then… that’s it. It was wholly unnecessary. Anyway, this movie was titled wrong. It had nothing to do with the Indian guy as the name should have implied and instead should have been called “Nuns with Problems” or something like that.

As far as melodramas go, I’m really not a fan. I think there’s something about movies that take themselves too seriously like this one that makes it kind of funny in the wrong way. I’m laughing because people just don’t act like that outside of soap operas. This movie feels like a soap opera.

The reason it’s on this list is because it opened in America to controversy caused by the incredibly stiff ratings board at the time AND the Catholic church. They were forced to remove many scenes involving nuns falling in love or ever having husbands in the past (even though I’m sure things like that happened all the time). So, it opened to controversy, so therefore you have to watch it before you die? What? This isn’t a good movie, it doesn’t really stand out in any way (outside of the beautiful scenery), is a bit too over-dramatic, and did I mention it’s not very good? I’m not saying that people shouldn’t watch it, or even that certain people won’t enjoy it. Just that I don’t think it should be on a list that EVERYONE should watch. It doesn’t deserve it and, so far, many of the movies I’ve seen really don’t belong on a list like this.

I want to talk about this list for a bit more: Okay, I discovered this list because I wanted to put more movies I haven’t seen on my Netflix DVD queue. I started this blog because I thought, “well, if I’m watching them anyway…” Glancing through the list, I saw many of these movies are historically significant, maybe that’s why their on there? Looking at more recent films (which there are a great deal more of) I thought okay, it’s just because their “good” movies? But going through them in the way I’ve been, I see that’s it’s just a mix of things throughout the years and has no consistent theme. Their just movies, most of which I can’t recommend to watch, whether or not it’s “before you die.” These aren’t necessary viewings, though some I would warrant putting on a list like this, but I think it’s just a case of a “stopped clock being right twice a day” more than anything else. These aren’t the movies that need to be watched. I think whoever put this list together more or less just thought of the movies they liked, realized they only had 13 movies and then started doing Google searches of movies that were “historical” then “controversial” then “made money at the time” and just because people payed money to see something at one point doesn’t mean it stands up to the test of time. It doesn’t mean it was good, or even important. It just means that a lot of people watched it. I mean, is Transformers a worthy movie? No, but it did make a buttload of money (it’s not on this list, thankfully), just as an example of something that shouldn’t be on a list like this. I also discovered that it’s “edited by Steven Schneider” as every IMdb trivia page lets me know for each of the movies I’ve seen so far. Who, aside from “editing” this list, produces horror movies including Paranormal Activity, one of the shittiest things I’ve ever seen. Guess what’s on this list though! You see where I’m coming from here?

So, it makes me think though, what would be worthy of a list like this? Definitely not this movie, or Birth of a Nation, or Forbidden Planet, or Peter Ibetsen or however you spell it. SOME of these are historically significant, but are they worth watching? I’m not against having bad movies on the list, some of them are important in some way and can teach you what not to do when making a film. Some of them are enjoyable just for being so bad, like the Room or Plan 9 from Outer Space. Those aren’t on the list though, but I would definitely put them on my own list. I think they are enjoyable enough and also teach us that something doesn’t have to be good to be popular, though it might fail in every aspect of moviemaking, they are still worth watching before you die.

So, being this is a list for everyone, not just film historians or fans of one particular genre, I think the list needs a rebuff. I think I’m going to start doing “Replacement” articles for movies that should be on this list but aren’t. They need to be movies that teach us something, or show us something we haven’t seen before, or are just that darn good. Movies like this one that fail in the light of movies throughout the ages aren’t deserving of being watched as this list seems to think. People who would like this movie, for example, are ones who like melodramatic stories about the morals of the church versus the morals of an individual, or just soap opera fans. But that’s only a select few people. I’m sure this movie was considered good for its time, but in the light of cinema since then, it ends up lacking and isn’t anything I haven’t seen in a Lifetime original movie. I’m not saying that necessarily makes it bad, and this movie was okay but nothing special, I’m just saying this movie, and many of these movies, aren’t for anyone in particular and definitely aren’t for everyone. If we’re just going through this to see the history of film, I’m sure there’s better lists than that for this. This list though, is meant to be REQUIRED viewings in any person’s lifetime. In that, I think it fails. It has some movies you should watch, but not every movie that deserve it, and some of the ones they do have are just questionable.

Anyway, I’m not going to stop going through this list or doing reviews, and I’m done ranting about it. I am going to start another set of articles of movies you should actually watch before you die which don’t show up on this list. That’s right, I’m making my own list… but with blackjack… and hookers!

0003: The Birth of a Nation (1915)

The Birth of a Nation.jpg

Rating: 1.5/10

This movie is as brilliant as it is racist. I hope this is the first and last time I ever have to say that about anything. This was the first feature-length movie produced in America, which is really unfortunate. And the worst thing about it is how revolutionary it is (I don’t think I’ve ever said that about anything either). It’s cinematography, the close ups, wide shots, pans, zooms, things everyone knows about now because it’s so common in today’s movies. But here not anything like it was ever seen before. Truly groundbreaking stuff, like the war scenes in the first part of the film. At the time I’m sure it would have been pegged as extremely graphic, though from today’s standards quite tame. But the spectacle of it all is quite breathtaking.

Really, if this movie stopped halfway through, I think I would have been fine with it. It would have been a film about the American Civil War done from a Confederate perspective, something you rarely see in films nowadays but seemed to be quite common from this time period and for about twenty years or so after. I guess it’s easier to peg them as the villian now, but they did, you know, treat a race of people as property….

This movie did not need to be 3+ hours long. There are more than a few scenes that just drag on. It loses extra points because, since it’s a silent movie, you don’t need to show extended scenes of people talking to each other. I mean, you want a bit, right silent filmmakers? Just to show that people are talking, but you don’t need them to have an entire conversation on camera since all you’re going to do is explain it in an intertitle anyway. I bet this movie could have been 2 hours long without changing anything about the story. Or an hour long if you got rid of the incredibly racist second half. See the genius of it and none of the historical-revisionist, pro-KKK bullshit.

Also, blackface, never do blackface, or cast a white person in a non-white role. I don’t know why Hollywood does this, like, ever, but it’s still being done. Johnny Depp in Lone Ranger anyone? What the hell? It’s the 21st century but many of us are still stuck in the 1800s with our social mentality. I guess, unfortunately, some of those people also make movies.

The second half of this movie is where the problems start. Though the first half does have some people in blackface and shows slavery in somewhat of a positive light, it doesn’t flat out say anything negative about race or do more than show us a southern family during the Civil War and the horrors of that war. It also has a fairly realistic showing of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln to end it before declaring “end of the first part” in DW Griffith’s signature bordering. Again, if it just said “end of the movie” and that was it, it would have been a pretty good, beautifully shot film film about the Civil War and I would have been mostly applauding it. But it just had to have that second part…

This is where things just take a turn for the exceptionally stupid. As soon as the “Reconstruction” part begins, it starts showing African-Americans as being conniving, backstabbing, lying, rapists. It’s just ignorant. It shows a world where black people start taking over in the government and this is the worst possible thing ever so the Klu Klux Klan has to rise up and be heroes to restore the world for all those traumatized white folks.

For some reason, DW Griffith couldn’t understand why anyone would be upset by his movie. I guess this is just how he saw the world. That’s too bad because he’s an amazing director, despite his horrible racism.

Okay, when it comes to cinematic racism, usually you might think of a movie like Mudbound which shows the horrors and dangers of living in a world like that. Here, it’s not like that. If it was like that, showing the horrors of extreme racism just like it shows the horrors of war in the first part, then I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Here it’s more like it’s showing you a whole bunch of lies about a race of people, presented as fact, to make the audience hate and fear black people. Then it shows the KKK as being the force that protects Southern whites from the “animalistic” blacks. This is racism propaganda meant to harm and frame a whole race of people in the most negative light it possibly can.

I just really hope there’s no other movies on the list like this one…

Why you should watch it before you die: Because you’re a film historian. Otherwise I’d say just forget this racist garbage. Though being well shot and historically significant, it is still just racist garbage. If you do decide to watch it, I’d greatly recommend stopping after the first half. Also, it’s free on YouTube, but since I can’t recommend it I’m not going to provide a link.

0756: Back to the Future (1985)

Back to the Future.jpg

Rating: 10+/10

Doc Brown invents a time machine and Marty McFly inadvertently gets lost in the past with no fuel, Marty breaks up his parents, erases his future, but at the same time has to get back to the future before he’s stuck in the past forever.

On paper, this might sound like the plot of the worst B-movie you’ve ever heard, and then maybe you can understand how it took so long for a studio to pick up the script. Really, that wasn’t the only thing. Everything was working against this movie. Did you know that they filmed three-fourths of the movie with Eric Stoltz playing Marty McFly before they decided he wasn’t right for the part and they fired him. They also almost cast Jeff Goldblum as Doc Brown before ending on Christopher Lloyd. Man, that would have been weird. I’m sure it still would have been good, just a vastly different movie too with Goldblum at the helm.

I thought it was genius to travel to the past rather than the future like many sci-fi movies and books had done in the past (or like the sequel does) this way it makes it a timeless movie, unlike the sequel that correctly predicted nothing about 2015 but was really close about the Cubs winning the world series, which they did the following year. I think this movie can be enjoyed well into the future. A little ironic that when it was made it was as a sort of way of showing people how things were like in the 50s and how different things were but it works well for the 80s now too. Man, did they dress funny.

The only problem I have with this movie are the weird questions I start asking myself as I watch it. Why did Doc Brown make Marty stand in front of the car the first time when he hadn’t tested it yet? What if it didn’t work? They’d both be parking-lot pizza. Also, there’s some indication in this scene that Doc already knows what’s about to happen. Does that mean this has happened already and he knows he’s sending Marty back to the past again? Doesn’t that mean that Marty’s family would already be “cool?” Or is this some kind of quantum flux-point where one has to happen to change the reality in the present? But wouldn’t that mean that nothing of the past had changed and it was more like magic? How did those terrorists find them so fast? Why didn’t this cause a paradox that destroyed the universe? Why the hell do they call him Silent Bob anyway?

I could keep typing questions about this movie until my fingers bled but none of these are really problems with the movie as a whole, just weird questions that always pop in my head as I watch it.

Why you should watch it before you die: This movie is perfectly written. Everything that happens in the first act is called back on or used again by the end of the movie. Every scene is important, has excellent pacing, great dialogue, and nothing is on screen that shouldn’t be there. I guess I’m also complimenting the editing. The acting is also great, but I think the writing on this film is the real star. I think I mentioned before how rare perfect movies are, but I think I can safely stamp that title on this movie, despite the nerdy science questions I always start asking myself.

1120: In the Loop (2009)

In the Loop

Rating: 6/10

I grew up watching episodes of Monty Python and Red Dwarf on PBS. Reruns, of course, I’m not old enough to have been able to enjoy them in their prime. But they showed me the joys of British humor. It’s a very dry, satirical endeavor but can suddenly take the turn into the ridiculous.

This is a mockumentary that isn’t clear that it’s a mockumentary. There’s none of those moments where people are sitting interview style and talking to the camera or sometimes the director, or any voice-over narration. It feels more like “just another movie” that’s shot on shaky cam that does a good job of parodying the politics behind the Iraq war going on at the time.

I’m a fan of British humor, but sometimes it can be too dry. It’s done slightly too deadpan and somehow this makes it horrible. I don’t know, there’s something I’ve never really found too funny about just being awkward, it needs something there to push it into the realm of hilarity that doesn’t quite work when I just feel bad for the characters. Maybe British people really like this humor, but as a personal preference, I just don’t get it. This only happens a few times throughout the film but it really drags down a scene when the jokes don’t fly.

Being that this is a parody of politicians, there’s a lot of politics in it. I think if you’re not at least a bit politically savvy you probably wouldn’t enjoy this movie as much. I’m not entirely savvy myself and there were a few jokes that went over my head but I still enjoyed it despite this.

I like the juxtaposition mosts characters share in this movie between being a politician that you see on TV and what is usually an angry person trying really hard to keep their life from falling apart and not always succeeding. Like most mockumentaries, the characters make this movie. If they weren’t hilarious and fun to watch the film would fall apart. Luckily, the characters are the best part of this film.

This movie is a slow burn, the jokes take a bit to really get going. Most mockumentaries are like this because it relies so much on having good characters that we need to learn all the characters and what they’re like in order to really get the jokes. Sometimes, this makes the first half-hour of a mockumentary funnier on a second viewing but not always. Being this is the first time I’ve seen this movie I can’t really comment on that.

Why you should watch it before you die: Though I did enjoy this movie, and it does do a good job of parodying politicians during the time period, I don’t don’t think this really needs to be watched before you die. There’s just better films in the genre and better movies about the war.

0107: Things to Come (1936)

Things to Come.jpg

Rating: 5/10

This movie was written by H.G. Wells, the screenplay and the story it’s based on. It starts on Christmas, 1936, then a world war is declared and last for 30 years. At the end of which, the air has been so heavily poisoned with… um… poison that everyone who hasn’t been killed is now slowly dying. This doesn’t really show much of the war, and instead cuts 30 years later to when the war ends and shows how humanity has to rebuild itself after the fact. Then, later in the movie, it cuts ahead again to the further-further future.

It’s obvious this movie is written by a book writer. Wells can’t seem to determine the proper way of conveying information on screen. Mostly his way of doing this is to have characters turn to the screen or the character they’re talking to and explain exactly what’s going on. It’s similar to the problems I had to Forbidden Planet in that it has a lot of science-y stuff going on, and in this case political-y stuff too, and their solution to explain this is with as much exposition as possible. Here though, it’s okay in certain scenes but not all. I think that this is why book writers don’t always make the best screenwriters. In books you can basically explain as much as you want for as long as you want. Movies, however, are usually best when you convey as little information as you possibly can and still get the point across. That and you can also expect your actors to be able to, you know, act. If you say, “act like your sad” in your script you then don’t have to have your character say “I am sad.”  The audience will be able to see that they’re sad by how they’re acting. I don’t know, I just expected more from a Wells-written script is all.

Visually this movie is quite stunning. The cinematography was way ahead of its time, and, though I know H.G. Wells wanted to make this movie as a sort of opposite of Metropolis because he hated that film, the visual similarities are clear. There are a few montages in this movie and every time they went through one, I kept thinking of Metropolis and how they show things visually there. In both situations, they have cinematography more akin to modern films, almost never seen at the time of each movie’s inception.

I also think the acting was very good on this movie. Well, enough that it covers up some of the more unnecessary dialogue that probably didn’t have to be in the final cut of the film. But still, solid acting, especially from Raymond Massey and Edward Chapman, who play the two leads in the movie in the second and third part.

Oh, that reminds me, the first part of this movie wasn’t necessary, where it starts on Christmas and then a “World War is declared,” as the news report on the radio describes it. It could have started in the 2nd part with the text crawl explaining what was going on after the war and would have been a better movie.

OH! That reminds me again! There was two text scrawls and at least one voice-over narration in this movie. Pick one and don’t use the other. Or, even better, don’t use either of them! Show don’t tell! Gosh!

Also, this movie was preachy. I’m not even sure what they were trying to preach. That war is bad? Everyone knows that. That the future is scary? Don’t be neophobic. That people shouldn’t start wars for no reason? See the first answer, also Hitler. Maybe if he saw this movie he’d be like, yeah, I shouldn’t take over the world and kill all the Jews. Actually, he probably did see this movie and it confused his tiny brain so much he had to invade Poland to clear himself out. Okay, no more Hitler jokes, but you have to admit it’s a bit coincidental that this movie came out 3 years before the outbreak of World War II: World War 1 Harder. Worst movie ever by the way, lasts 6 years for one thing, and most of the audience involved died. Hell of an ending though.

Anway, um…

Why you should watch it before you die: Well, if you’re a fan of conspiracy theories you might enjoy this movie for the “Predictive Programming” aspects. If not, it has visuals that were 60 years ahead of its time, so if you’re a big fan of cinematography you might like it. Or if your an H.G. Wells fan, definitely check it out. Outside of that though, I would say you can pass on this movie. It just doesn’t hold up to other films in the genre.