The Shining

the-shining-posterAmerican psychological horror from 1980.
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Writers: Stephen King, Stanley Kubrick, Diane Johnson
Bechdel test: Fail

Exposition

Jack and Wendy Torrance, with their small son Danny, move to a giant hotel up in the mountains to look after it for the winter when it is otherwise without staff or guests.

Reactions

I have seen “The shining” several times before and was a little less scared this time, simply because I know what comes next, but it is still plenty of scary. For me seeing it again made it bearable to watch, rather than too scary. The first time I saw the movie I turned away or watched through my fingers. (Which is stupid, I now, but still somehow a little more comforting when a movie is frightening.)

The movie mostly mostly takes place in the hotel, but there is a long setup where we get to know the family and why they’re moving to this isolated place. The part of the story that takes place at the hotel is told in sequence.

Contemplations

The footage is pretty and people are often filmed from their face height while they walk along the halls of the enormous hotel. It gives an closeness to the characters and not getting an overview of the scenes and seeing what they see is even more scary.

The hotel itself is very much decorated in the 70’s, and the costumes are from the same time. It is nostalgic and does not mark the movie as dated. It has held up very well and everything from the 70’s makes it seem like a movie about that time, rather than from that time.

The acting is brilliant and so is the direction. The music is a good underscore to the frightening mood, but the opening sequence has some seriously weird music that I could not make sense of. I do not know what that was supposed to mean, or what mood it was supposed to set.

The story in “The shining” is solid and builds quite slowly to a dramatic climax. The tension between the members of the family could have been reduced to a simple family drama, but I defy anyone not to be scared while watching “The shining”.

Judgement

I think “The shining” gets better every time I watch it. There are many little details that makes the movie rewatchable.

Epilogue

I would recommend “The shining” to anyone adult. It is one of the most scary films I know, and it is a really good date movie.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “The shining” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

51 movies down. 314 to go.

If you want to get “The shining” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?

Tomorrow’s movie is “Princess Mononoke” (“Mononoke-hime”). Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

Song of the little road (Pather Panchali)

pather-panchali-posterIndian black and white Bengali language drama from 1955.
Starring: Kanu Bannerjee, Karuna Bannerjee, Subir Banerjee
Director: Satyajit Ray
Writers: Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, Satyajit Ray
Bechdel test: Pass

Exposition

Durga and her younger brother Apu, grow up in an impoverished family with their mother as the caretaker, their old auntie as a dependent and their father as an inefficient breadwinner. What will happen when their father goes away to earn money?

Reactions

All the descriptions I have read about this movie, claims that it is about Apu, but all the action centers abound Durga and her mother Sarbojaya. These descriptions might be in deference to the two subsequent movies in the trilogy, which is about Apu’s later life.

Also, the name of the movie is sometimes given in English as “Song of the little road”, but it seems to be mostly referred to as “Pather Panchali”. I have used both names.

The action in “Pather Panchali” takes place in the 1910’s and we see a few hints of influence of the British in the movie, such as tattered old uniforms on a brass band, but it is not a feature. Most of the action takes place in the courtyard of the families house, and the woods just outside. There is plenty of evidence that the family is dirt poor, both in action and surroundings. Their house is almost falling down, their clothes are worn to rags, and they struggle to have daily food. One dream is to have several meals each day.

Contemplations

“Pather Panchali” is beautifully made, with plenty of scenes that makes me wish that this wasn’t a black and white movie. The audio was a bit crackly on the copy that I saw, but that’s not necessarily true for all copies. The music set the tone for the region, and underscored what was dramatic, fun or everyday quite well. I also liked the songs of old Auntie Indir.

The acting of the female characters are amazing, and they inhabit their roles in such a way that I have a lot of empathy with the women in the movie. That is partly due to the story, but the acting is still on another level than what I’ve seen in other movies about poverty in the third world this month, such as “A river called Titas” and “Manila in the claws of light“.

The direction and the story is also of much better quality than these two movies. The imagery is strong and underscores the difficulties the family faces. This might stem from the book the movie is based on; “Pather Panchali” by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, and I am interested enough in this story to put the book on my reading list.

The story is powerful and simple; the struggle to survive while being the poorest in the village and the breadwinner is more of a dreamer than an earner. The women have little recourse but to accept his decisions.

Judgement

I am glad to have seen this movie, and I would not mind seeing it again. I will try to find the time to see the two following movies in the Apu trilogy; “Aparajito” and “The world of Apu”.

Epilogue

I would recommend this movie to anyone. It is a difficult story to watch at times, but there is also a lot of joy over being a child and playing.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “Song of the little road” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

50 movies down. 315 to go.

If you want to get “Pather Panchali” from Amazon (with English subtitles), here is a link for that. They only have the movie as part of the whole trilogy about Apu, but that might not be the worst idea. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?

Tomorrow’s movie is “The shining”. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

The Celebration (Festen)

festen-posterDanish language drama from 1998.
Starring: Ulrich Thomsen, Henning Moritzen, Thomas Bo Larsen
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Writers: Mogens Rukov, Thomas Vinterberg
Bechdel test: Pass

Exposition

During Helge’s 60th birthday party his children and friends holds speeches, drinks a little too much and must face difficult truths.

Reactions

“The celebration” is a Dogme movie, which means it doesn’t use any technology or special effects and rather tries to focus on story and acting. There is a focus on the acting and the story, but weather that would have been diminished by more light during the evening or breaking some of the other dogme rules, is difficult to say.

“The celebration” has a good story and spectacular acting, so there might be something to this.

This is probably one of the most I have cringed while watching a movie. It was on purpose on the movie makers side, and not because it was badly made. They made a set of horribly embarrassing scenes, and put together they form an important story. So, if you’re gonna watch “The celebration” get ready to blush, feel uncomfortable and awkward, and in my case at least, also shocked.

Contemplations

The footage and audio reflects the “back to basics” idea of the dogma movies and served to tell the story and convey the acting, but no more. There was nothing spectacular, but also nothing unprofessional or low quality. It was all just a way of conveying the story to the audience.

The acting was the storytelling in “The celebration”, and there was a lot of close and personal filming of raw emotional reactions, and it was painful to watch. There were many personal tragedies in this family, and they all come to the front in this birthday party.

The story is important and made me reflect on the topic, and I presume that is the intent of the movie makers. I have not seen this topic tackled in such a way before, and it was well done, both how the story was constructed and how it reflected the subject matter.

Judgement

I like “The celebration”, and it was a well made movie, however, I will not watch it again anytime soon. It was just too painful to watch.

Epilogue

I would recommend “The celebration” to anyone adult. It is an original movie about an important topic.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “The celebration” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

48 movies down. 317 to go.

If you want to get “The celebration” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?

Tomorrow’s movie is “Man on wire”. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

Manila in the claws of light (Maynila: Sa mga kuko ng liwanag)

manila-posterFilipino Tagalog language mystery from 1975.
Starring: Hilda Koronel, Bembol Roco, Lou Salvador Jr.
Director: Lino Brocka
Writers: Edgardo Reyes, Clodualdo Del Mundo Jr.
Bechdel test: Fail

Exposition

Julio travels from the countryside to Manila to search for his girlfriend who has moved there but has not written home for quite some time.

Reactions

The main part of the movie takes part in Manila where Julio tries to make a living and find time to look for his girlfriend. Julio is among the poorest in society and in order to survive he takes on a variety of jobs. We meet his friends and colleagues and see how they all try to get enough to eat and pay rent. The movie is about poverty and the lowest rungs of Manila society.

“Manila in the claws of light” is just as important as yesterday’s “A river called Titas“, but not equally good. It feels like Julio’s story is staged to have him travel through a variety of different disenfranchised groups and then have some character he meets explain how this or that particular group suffers and what laws could be amended or enforced in order to fix the problem.

“Manila in the claws of light” was not tested on the Bechdel test site, but I could not find any scenes where two named women talked to one another, so I put the movie on the fail test list. For more about the Bechdel test, read my post about women in movies.

Contemplations

The visual and audio of “Manila in the claws of light” is unimpressive, but that might be a consequence of a very low budget, and if that is the case, the movie is much more impressive. There are no problems with the audio or visuals of the movie that in any way disrupts the storytelling, unlike “A river called Titas” witch might be a natural movie to compare this one with. They both appear to be stories about poverty in the developing world told by people from these two poor regions. However, “A river called Titas” had much more impressive and professional footage, although in black and white, while “Manila in the claws of light” lacked the strange and overly long focus on an actors eyes during dramatic developments.

The story in “Manila in the claws of light” seems staged and a tad naive, but still important and it does reveal a several surprising difficulties in Filipino society. I was quite outraged by several injustices after watching the movie.

Judgement

I don’t regret watching “Manila in the claws of light”, and I hope at least some of the injustices the movie portrays were left behind in the 70’s. I will not watch the movie again.

Epilogue

I think it would be valuable for most adults to see this movie once in order to learn more about developing nations difficulties.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “Manila in the claws of light” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

45 movies down. 320 to go.

If you want to get “Manila in the claws of light” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie other places too.

Tomorrow’s movie is “Waiting for Guffman”. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

A river called Titas (Titas Ekti Nodir Naam)

a-river-called-titas-posterBangladeshi Bengali language family drama from 1973.
Starring: Rosy Samad, Farid Ali, Fakrul Hasan Boiragi
Director: Ritwik Ghatak
Writers: Advaita Malla Burman, Ritwik Ghatak
Bechdel test: Pass

Exposition

A young woman marries a visitor from a nearby village, but on the way to his village she is kidnapped and forgets all details about her husband. Ten years later she remembers the name of her husband’s village and travels there.

Reactions

The beginning of this story was confusing to me, the young woman got married without any preamble, and there was nothing leading up to the wedding. We saw the bridegroom talking with his friend, and through the conversation we learn that he is clearly single and has no particular plans for marriage. Then some people talk about fetching him, and then; a wedding.

After that the story moves from one scene to the next without anything that seems like a hole in the story.

Most of the movie is set after the young bride comes to her mystery husbands fishing village, and we follow many of the people she gets to know there. The story moves from one family and gives a look at their problems, to the next family or person. No one is the sole focus of the story and we see many heart breaking and touching little episodes, all made difficult by the extreme poverty in the village.

A large driving force in everyone’s life is food. They all live from hand to mouth and the river, Titas, where they fish is their source of food, and a little income when they have something to sell. “A river called Titas” shows the choices and struggles made necessary by having little or nothing, and the destruction of village society. A new time is ushered in with no place for village people.

The movie paints what I think is a stark and realistic look at poverty, but not really having experienced a lack of anything, I have had to rely on other’s evaluation of that aspect of the movie.

The stories are touching and even if we don’t get to know all the characters equally well, we do come to care for them. I think the writer of this movie, and the others behind it, must have known the region well and cared for it’s people.

Contemplations

The technical aspects of “A river called Titas” is surprisingly good, and the camerawork can rival many modern high budget movies. Some parts of the film seemed to be overexposed or something like that, but that could be age damage. The only strange thing was a long close up of people’s faces when they had a dramatic moment.

The Bechdel test was not performed for “A river called Titas” on the Bechdel test site, but I think it passes the test. An example of a scene that has two named female characters talking about something other than men, is near the end where Basanti and another woman discuss the past and their fights as youngsters. (For more about the Bechdel test, read my post about women in movies.)

Judgement

I liked most of the movie, the beginning was as mentioned somewhat strange, but the rest was a hard look at poverty and how privileged I am. That is not something I wish to do often, but being a little shaken out of my bubble is good for the soul. I am glad I watched “A river called Titas”, but it will be a while til I watch it again.

Epilogue

“A river called Titas” can be watched by anyone as a look at poverty and touching stories, but it is not light entertainment. For an evening where a few good jokes does not seem enough, this is a movie I can recommend.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “A river called Titas” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

44 movies down. 321 to go.

If you want to get “A river called Titas” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They might have the movie other places too.

Tomorrow’s movie is “Manila in the claws of light”. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

There will be blood

there-will-be-blood-posterAmerican historical drama from 2007.
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Ciarán Hinds
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Writers: Upton Sinclair, Paul Thomas Anderson
Bechdel test: Fail

Exposition

Daniel Plainview starts an oil company around the year 1900 and will do most anything to secure drilling rights where he believes there is a good find. His son, HW Plainview, goes with his father on all these adventures.

Reactions

This is a drama about one man’s relationship to his family and other people around him. It seemed to me that this man needed to be in control of these relationships and he had difficulties with trusting pretty much anyone.

We follow Daniel Plainview from his first wells to larger finds where he wants to also build pipelines for transporting the oil, and further in his oil adventures. When he does not get the respect, deference and deals he desires, he is uncompromising. It reads to me as machismo, and as such, not very interesting.

Contemplations

“There will be blood” is a movie of substantial quality; the footage is amazing and shows of both landscape and the good acting beautifully. The sound and music underscores the story with it’s sometimes loud and sometimes very subtle little sounds. This duality also reflects the acting, which is sometimes large and clear, while other times more quiet and reflective.

The actors are brilliant, and the two main Plainviews; Daniel and HW have a very physical closeness that is common for many fathers and sons in real life, but is more rare in movies. How close the two seem is important in the movie, and all the work the actors has put in to that is clear. There are also many other examples of great choices in the acting.

Sadly, where this movie falls a little short for me, is the story. It is to some extent interesting to see the growth of an oil company during this pioneering time in that industry, but that part of the story becomes more of a backdrop to the personal drama of the Plainviews. And that is much less interesting. If not for that choice in focus for the story, this movie would have gotten full marks from me.

Judgement

“There will be blood” is entertaining for an evening but no more then that. The pigheaded decisions of Daniel Plainview is difficult to empathize with and from fairly early in the movie, I cared little about what happened to the characters.

Epilogue

I don’t think I will recommend this movie to anyone, but it is very well crafted and maybe some people will enjoy that aspect of the movie enough to spend an evening taking a peek at “There will be blood”.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “There will be blood” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

42 movies down. 323 to go.

If you want to get “There will be blood” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?

Tomorrow’s movie is “The princess bride“. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

Selma

selma-posterAmerican biographical drama from 2014.
Starring: David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth
Director: Ava DuVernay
Writer: Paul Webb
Bechdel test: Pass

Exposition

The black population of Selma, Alabama is prevented from voting by the racist practices of voter registration officials back in 1964. Dr Marin Luther King, Jr and other members of the non-violent Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) travel to Selma in order to help organize passive resistance to these voter registration denials.

Reactions

Watching “Selma” was a bittersweet experience. We all know what happens to Dr King a few years after the Selma to Montgomery marches, and we also know that the struggle helped black voters.

Seeing a dramatization of events we all know from history books could become a bit tensionless, but the movie takes us behind the scenes enough to make us curious about how the marches actually helped. We see that the negative publicity from the marches is leveraged against politicians who are initially unwilling to act, and how the leaders who do this pressuring is an essential part of effecting change. In addition to being a lesson in political work, it also creates the tension in the movie. What is it that is going on behind the scenes in this monumental moment in US history?

The movie begins with Dr Martin Luther King, Jr receiving the Nobel Piece Prize, an award that can help to put political pressure on an issue. The SCLC then chose a place to next put their attention based on what visuals the chosen site will create, and Selma is the winner.

The movie then follows the Selma to Montgomery marches linearly, with a closer look at how pressure is put on elected officials and the personal struggles of Dr King. We get to know a man without any polished image of who he was, and this gives us an affinity for the character that creates part of the bitter sorrow when watching “Selma”. He becomes a real person that we know has little time left. The casualties of the civil rights movement that we actually see injured, or worse, in the movie is of course also a bitter part of this story.

Contemplations

“Selma” has a stark choice in colors that creates an image of a dramatic and tragic story. The visuals are strong, and there is none of the crispness and lighthearted mood of the civil rights movie from a few days ago; “The Help“.

The acting was good in every scene and I detected no weak performances in any role, which is quite nice in a movie with this large a cast present in many scenes. Especially brilliant was David Oyelowo as Dr King. His performance is an important part of why this movie is good.

The choice of telling the story this way, with an insight into how these marches worked and stopped the racist practices of voter registration in Alabama, makes this movie more then just a telling of this one struggle. This is an important lesson in political processes and the forth estate. Maybe something we all should know and see, both in general, and especially now when the media sometimes is referred to as fake news.

Judgement

“Selma” is both a good and important movie. Next time I think it’s a hassle to go and vote, the struggle of the people in this movie will stop any such contemplations quickly.

Epilogue

I think everyone should Watch “Selma” at some point. Not a movie for children, though. I think many of the excerpts of speeches by Dr Martin Luther King, Jr also rings true today and the movie will show just how brilliant his insights into people was. Just sit back and enjoy.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “Selma” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

41 movies down. 324 to go.

If you want to get “Selma” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?

Tomorrow’s movie is “There will be blood“. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

The Help

the-help-posterAmerican drama from 2011.
Starring: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer
Director: Tate Taylor
Writers: Kathryn Stockett, Tate Taylor
Bechdel test: Pass

Exposition

Skeeter Phelan returns from college to Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960’s. She wants to be a writer and decides to tell the stories of the maids of  her affluent family and peers.

Reactions

“The help” shows many sides of the 60’s, some bad and some more neutral; segregation, Kennedy’s funeral, the amazing dresses, old fashioned women’s norms and smoking everywhere. In spite of all the negative, “The help” feels less heavy then it sounds. The lives of white and black woman are contrasted, but the focus of the story is such that I felt hope the whole time. And a few well placed jokes always helps.

Contemplations

The story shows to separate sides of society; rich white women on the one side and their maids on the other. The story of the privileged is told from the side of Skeeter who tries to write a story about the maids in her surroundings. We follow her as she tries to find the way in her life and she slowly begins to see the full consequences of segregation and unfeeling white people.

The story of the black maids is shown through the stories of Aibileen and Minny. They both try to find a way to conduct their everyday lives in the midst of increasing racial tension during the civil rights movement, and to find a way to have a job with dignity despite their employers hardly treating them as humans.

This is also a story with heroes and villains. And the good feeling when the bad guys get a little bit of what they deserve is quite satisfactory.

The men in the story play minor roles, and often their actions happen off camera. This story is all about women. It is the story of two groups that we rarely hear much about during the civil rights movement, and the changes they can effect even if they aren’t on the front lines.

The acting was exciting and when the main villain says, in her eternal upbeat and cheery voice: “You know, separate but equal” I felt like throwing something at the screen. All the parts were well portrayed.

The images and music were crisp and colorful in a way that signaled that this is a happy movie. The lawns were bright green and the sky was clear blue.

Judgement

I like this movie, and it was well worth watching I wouldn’t mind watching it again at some point. I would even like to read the book that gets written in the movie. I am more then a little curious about those stories.

Epilogue

I would recommend this movie to anyone. It is a nice tale of injustice and a slow movement towards change. Something we all need to see at times.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “The help” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

39 movies down. 326 to go.

If you want to get “The help” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?

Tomorrow’s movie is “The secret in their eyes” (“El secreto de sus ojos”). Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

La vie en rose

la-vie-en-rose-posterFrench language biographical movie from 2007.
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Sylvie Testud, Pascal Greggory
Director: Olivier Dahan
Writers: Isabelle Sobelman, Olivier Dahan
Bechdel test: Pass

Exposition

Édith Piaf grew up in extreme poverty in in 1920’s Paris and Normandie but ended up as one of France’s most loved singers. Sadly during her short life Édith had several sorrows that broke her heart and body.

Reactions

There were many remarkable features of “La vie en rose”, but none more so than the music. The movie used tapes of Édith Piaf where that was avaliable, and other singers such as Jil Aigrot and the young girl below; Pauline Burlet. Marion Cotillard who portrays the adult Édith lip syncs. Luckily she does it well. Well enough so that I could not tell, at least. In the mean time, enjoy the scene where we hear the young Piaf sing for the first time.

Contemplations

The audio is of course important in a movie about the life of a singer, but they do it well, and the songs are placed in the movie at good intervals and accents the story well. The songs are well integrated.

Visually the use of the stage before Piaf goes on is especially powerful and we get to feel the joy, anticipation and passion of performing. There is also other pretty and strong visuals in “La vie en rose”. Well crafted cinematography.

The story is told in several timelines intertwined and we get to see defining episodes of her life rather than a linear story from birth to death. Sometimes we are also presented with a back and forth between scenes in different timelines.  This could have been messy, but often it showed reasons for her actions and a connection between events in her life. The movie had few enough unnecessary elements and lines to handle the movements in time and space.

The star of this movie is, even more than the songs, is the acting. Marion Cotillard shows such raw emotion that I was in tears through half the movie and the Academy award was well deserved. The other actors were also a credit to their profession.

Judgement

I definitely do not regret watching this movie. It showed me love and life. This is the best movie I have watched so far in my experiment.

Epilogue

I recommend that everyone see this movie.

In addition to everything else, Édith Piaf is sometimes called the soul of Paris. In my opinion, that is most evident in this song. Enjoy.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “La vie en rose” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

38 movies down. 327 to go.

If you want to get “La vie en rose” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?

Tomorrow’s movie is “The help“. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

Once upon a time in America

once-upon-a-time-in-america-posterAmerican crime drama from 1984.
Starring: Robert De Niro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern
Director: Sergio Leone
Writers: Harry Grey, Leonardo Benvenuti, Piero De Bernardi, Enrico Medioli, Franco Arcalli, Franco Ferrini, Sergio Leone, Stuart Kaminsky
Bechdel test: Fail

Exposition

Five boys grow up together as small time criminals in New York, and as adults during the prohibition they run a speakeasy. What will they do when prohibition ends? Many years later one of them reflects on their decisions.

Reactions

This movie tells it story in a combination of different flashbacks and parts mixed together.

One of the boys reflects on his past in the early 60’s, and tries to find out what happened 30 years earlier. What makes this part work much better than usual is that there is actual action in this part of the story as well. It is more than a setting for flashbacks.

Next we have the story of how these boys grew up together and became friends and criminals.

Finally we have the prohibition era speakeasy story where the boys have become young men and no longer live in poverty.

All these parts of the story mixed together and shifting between them several times could have been a bloody mess, but it actually works. Little confusion and a good way of presenting the parts of the story so that the climax or end of both the speakeasy story and the story from the 60’s comes near the end of the movie.

However, the very beginning was a bit too wandering in the story parts, and includes some opium fueled flashbacks and a phone ringing between times. That bit didn’t work for me, even if the imagery of the chiming phone can be quite easily defended. It was a little lacking in subtlety.

The same is true for the imagery of the main characters often looking at the world through holes, bars, photos and similar. Although, that is beautiful to watch.

Contemplations

The visuals in “Once upon a time in America” are stunning and a love letter to the story, the times when it takes place, and to New York. Sadly, this is one of the very few redeeming qualities of the movie. If the movie makers had made a series of still images of the pretty scenes and asked the viewers to make up their own story instead, I think that would have been a lot more interesting.

The background music in the movie was simply annoying, and had little to add. There were some themes that reoccurred at what was defining moments for the characters, I believe, but it was simply too annoying. It took away from the acting and action. Well, that was maybe not the worst that could happen.

The acting was far from stellar in many scenes. The actors are all well renowned, and I have seen them all give good performances in other movies, but they were all wooden and unconvincing at times. Both surprising and distracting.

I have so far not commented much on the dialogue of the movies I have seen, but in this instance I must. There words seemed unnatural and obvious in several conversations. Many lines were simply unnecessary.

The most damning quality of the movie though is the part women play in the lives of these boys and men. None of the women have a personality, although two of them have a few personality traits. All women exist only as sexual beings and objects of desire in the story. Worst of all though are the two rape scenes. One is horrible and pitiless with all the naked horror one would expect from rape. The other one, well there is no excuse. The woman likes it and the plot is picked out of the worst of porn movies. The woman ends up climaxing and dates the guy for a while. No excuse!

In addition to all the bad qualities of this movie, it just keeps going. It lasts for 3 hours and 49 minutes with an intermission when there is about an hour left. I really felt like there was no end to this boring and annoying tale of pointlessness.

Judgement

I hope I never have to watch this movie again, and I feel the people that have put it on a “best of list” owe me an apology.

Epilogue

I will never recommend “Once upon a time in America” to anyone. It is simply dreadful. In stead enjoy these still images from the movie and make up a nice story about them.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “Once upon a time in America” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

36 movies down. 329 to go.

If you want to get “Once upon a time in America” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?

Tomorrow’s movie is “Annie Hall“. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.