Monthly Archives: June 2011

Casablanca (1943)

Goal Progress: 81/485

“I think this may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

I wish I could say that about Casablanca. Instead I’m saying it about my new library card and my discovery that the local library system has free access to half of the movies that I have to see. It was a good day in that respect.

But back to Casablanca. Anytime a new “Best Films of All Time” list comes out, Casablanca is inevitably right at the top alongside such classics as Gone with the Wind and The Godfather. Having said that, when I put the movie in, I was expecting a film of the highest quality. Unfortunately, it looks like my expectations far overshot the reality of my experience with the film. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a terrible film. There’s a reason that it’s survived the ages, but I’m not sure it deserves the pedestal that it get put up on.

The film is set in, where else but, Casablanca. Rick, an American (Humphrey Bogart), owns a nightclub in the city, where he famously doesn’t stick his neck out for anyone. One night, Czech resistance leader Victor Laszlo shows up in Rick’s club with his wife, who is no other than Rick’s onetime Paris love, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman). In Paris, the two fell in love (“Here’s looking at you kid.”). It seems that when the Nazis invaded Paris, Ilsa had told Rick that she would run away with him to avoid the Nazis, only to disappear from his life, leaving only a note. Unbeknownst to Rick at the time, Ilsa was already married to Laszlo. Laszlo tries to no avail to get from Rick two letters of transit which would allow for him and Ilsa to escape the Nazis in Casablanca. After a romantic reunion with Ilsa, Rick decides to use his letters of transit for himself and take Ilsa with him. Or so he tells Ilsa. His real plan is to help Laszlo and send her away to be with her husband. After a tearful goodbye (“Here’s looking at you kid.”), Ilsa gets on the plane with Laszlo just before the Nazis arrive.

Here’s what I didn’t really like about the film. 1. I found it really boring. Not much of anything happens and when it does, it take forever and a day. Most of the movie is set in Rick’s club. There’s lots of dialogue and sometimes its hard to determine all the characters different motivations and their relationships with each other. 2. I didn’t really find any of the characters to be particularly likeable. I didn’t really find myself caring about Rick and Ilsa’s relationship because she was kind of a bitch to him in Paris, and he was just an ass to everyone in the rest of the film.

The only part I really liked was the last maybe 20 minutes, where everything came together and the “lovers” had their goodbye (“Here’s looking at you kid.”).

What I (being a history major) found interesting about Casablanca is that it’s a film that was made during World War II and was also SET in in World War II. It was made without any knowledge about whether or not the Allies would free France, Casablanca would fall to the Nazis, or if the Allies would even win the war! It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a point in time when it was not clear that the Axis Powers would be defeated.

So in conclusion. Casablanca. Not a terrible movie. But maybe not as good as everyone says.


Winter’s Bone (2010)

Winter’s Bone was the random movie thrown into the nomination list this year that nobody has ever heard of. It was an acclaimed indie that made its way through the festival circut and won a bunch of awards. However, that doesn’t change the fact that nobody had ever heard of it. That being said, people should hear about it. The film was very well done and without a doubt deserved it’s nomination.

With an absent father and a withdrawn and depressed mother, 17 year-old Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence in an Oscar-nominated role) keeps her family together in a dirt poor rural area. She’s taken aback however when the local Sheriff tells her that her father put up their house as collateral for his bail and unless he shows up for his trial in a week’s time, they will lose it all. She knows her father is involved in the local drug trade and manufactures crystal meth, but everywhere she goes the message is the same: stay out of it and stop poking your nose in other people’s business. She refuses to listen, even after her father’s brother, Teardrop, tells her he’s probably been killed. She pushes on, putting her own life in danger, for the sake of her family until the truth, or enough of it, is revealed.

The performances in this film are incredible. In the next few years, with X-Men First Class coming out now, Jennifer Lawrence is going to be a force to be reckoned with. The supporting cast is great as well.

Winter’s Bone is action-packed and keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat until the end, when all is finally revealed.

Toy Story 3 (2010)

Goal Progress: 80/485

So here comes the task of trying to play catch up with all of the films that I’ve already seen. I don’t know where else to start so I might as well start with this last year’s nominees and take a look at who won, and who I think should have won.

Let’s start with an easy one….Toy Story 3.

Toy Story 3 was easily one of the best movies that I’ve ever seen. It was brilliantly done. It has it all…great cast…great music….great visuals…..literally, everything. Additionally, it is the only movie to date to make me cry (I’m not talking a little tear, which I’ve been known to do….I’m talking about full out crying).

I feel like if you didn’t want to know what happens in the movie, you wouldn’t be reading this, but in any case, spoiler alert ahead.

We pick up with our favorite characters probably around ten years from when we last saw them. Andy has grown up and has, as we all have, stopped playing with his toys. He’s getting ready to go to college and his former playmates are all in a tizzy over what is going to happen to them. They decide to sneak into a box of old toys that is being donated to a local daycare so that they can get played with. Unfortunately, upon their arrival at Sunnyside, they become subjects of an evil regime, led by the pink and fuzzy Lotso (short for Lots-o-Huggin’ Bear, voiced by Ned Beatty). Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), and the rest of the gang must formulate a plot to escape and get back to Andy’s before he leaves for college.

The final scene in the movie is without a doubt one of the best in the entire film, and really, one that took me by surprise. I had already cried my eyes out during a previous scene, so I thought my heartbreak was over. Oh how wrong I was. I’m not going to go into the ending, just in case anyone hasn’t seen the film or doesn’t know the ending, because I really think it’s something better experienced firsthand.

But I really think it was the perfect end to the trilogy. I can’t imagine Pixar going forth with any plans for a Toy Story 4. Any continuation of this story would serve no purpose and would only be done to milk the franchise for more money. I know that Disney and Pixar are in the business to make money, but there are other franchises for that (Cars 2, for example) and I think they know that. I just hope that there is no possible way for George Lucas to get a job at Disney and get his hands on this series.

San Francisco (1936)

Goal Progress: 80/485

Walking out of the theatre, my friend Erin said “Well that was entertaining, though probably not for the reasons the studio intended.”

Oh Erin, how true….how true. The movie is very funny today, much funnier I’m sure than when it premiered in 1936. Some films from this era age so gracefully that they might have been made a week ago (see future blog entries on Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz). Sadly, San Francisco is not one of those films….(and yes, I did say theatre…a local movie theatre has a summer classic film series so I got to experience this film on the big screen from the balcony of an old theatre).

The story involves club owner, Rhett Butler Blackie Norton…. (played by the handsome Clark Gable) signing a new talent, the pure and gentle Mary Blake (Jeanette MacDonald), who dreams of being an opera star. Eventually, she is noticed by a man who owns a theatre and he wants to buy her contract from Blackie. The problem? Blackie loves Mary and doesn’t want to lose his star. Eventually, he lets her go to be happy (a la Beauty and the Beast), only to have her return to him, just to leave again when she is persuaded that he is taking advantage of her for her talent. She gets engaged to the opera owner….blah blah blah….somewhere in there she has a discussion over whether its better to settle for love or money…..blah blah blah….theres a scene about choosing love over a successful career in there too somewhere….blah blah blah….San Francisco earthquake….blah bl….wait what?????

Yes, the main selling part of the movie (besides the stars). The last fifteen minutes involve the Great Earthquake of 1906. I have to say, that for a movie that’s 85 years old…..there were some damn good effects. Legend says that survivors of the real event attended the film’s premiere and that the accuracy of the scene literally made them sick. The film is worth watching for this scene alone.

Afterwards, Blackie walks around the rubble for days (literally….without stopping) looking for Mary. Eventually, he finds her, and the whole city sings “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and they rebuild the city. The End.

I only recommend seeing this movie if you’re trying to watch all of the Oscar nominated films. If not, just watch this clip of the first part of the earthquake sequence and you’ll be set for life.

New Blog?

So here I am…starting a blog….unsure if anyone is ever going to read it. Whatever…I don’t care. If no one else reads it, at least I’ll have a record of what I’m doing here.

What am I doing here? I’m on a mission….a mission to see every movie ever nominated for the Best Picture Oscar at the Academy Awards…..yes……I’m that crazy.

Currently, there are 485 movies that have been nominated….of those 485….I’ve seen 80.

This blog is to help document my thoughts on each of the films. I hope to have a blog post for every film eventually, but that’s going to take some time playing catch up, but I’m sure I’ll get there one day.

Am I in over my head?……Probably.

Am I going to go crazy trying to find all of these movies?……Most likely.

Am I going to curse myself everytime I get stuck watching a movie that I hate?….Absolutly.

Am I going to watch it anyways?……Unfortunately.

So with that, here we go!