Friday, January 20, 2012

Classic Films in review- PART 1

Lately, I've been able to watch a lot of classic films. Some of them I'd seen before, most of them I hadn't.
Here are short reviews for all the classic films that I have been able to watch so far.


2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

2001 is considered to be the definitive science fiction film. Before I watched the film, I wondered if that could be true. After watching the film I still don't know if that is true. 2001 is quite possibly the weirdest film I have ever seen. It has no real plot line and goes off into some crazy directions. I was thinking about it a couple days after watching it. It's different and very philosophical. I have one huge problem with the film. It's slow. It moves so slow that even though you're supposed to thinking about the film and contemplating it, you can't stop thinking about how slow it is. I had to stop it multiple times because I was bored. Another thing that might frustrate people about 2001 is that it has no clear plot line. Basically, it traces human origins back to the prehistoric ages and we keep finding these black monoliths. So, Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) and another astronaut (Gary Lockwood) go out to space to find these monolith things with HAL 9000. Then HAL goes crazy and takes over the ship. The ending is really weird and you don't really understand why they're on the Jupiter mission until there's about 20 minutes left in the movie. 2001 is a great movie, but not a fun one to watch. I plan on watching it a few more times to truly understand it. THE FINAL GRADE: 8/10





AIRPLANE!

Hands-down, one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. Airplane! is the hilarious spoof of '70s disaster films and it is awesome. It has some of the funniest lines in the history of movies. The story is that Ted Striker (Robert Hays) chases after his love (Julie Hagerty) and gets on an airplane. On the plane, several passengers get food poisoning and it's up to Striker to get them safe. Airplane! delivers rapid-fire laughs including great lines like this:

"We need to get her to a hospital."
"A hospital? What is it?"
"It's a big building with sick people. But don't worry about that right now."

And perhaps the most famous line from the film:

"Surely, you can't be serious!"
"I am serious. And don't call me Shirley."

All in all, Airplane!is a can't miss comedy classic. FINAL GRADE: 9/10





THE BIRDS

An excellent Hitchcock thriller that focuses on a small California town that is attacked by birds. The story follows Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hendren) as she visits the Brenner family. Then the birds start acting strange. And then they attack the town and start to murder people. The Birds isn't Hitchcock's best thriller, but it still is very good. Some people think that the film starts slow, but I was never bored. I think that unlike his other horror film, Psycho, this one is strictly a thriller and not necessarily scary. But thrilling it is. THE FINAL GRADE: 9/10



CASABLANCA

#3 on the American Film Institute's list of the100 greatest films is Casablanca. Casablanca stars Humphrey Bogart as cafe owner Rick Blaine. One night a Czech freedom fighter named Victor Lazlo (Paul Henreid) comes into the cafe. He is under pursuit by the Nazis and needs two letters of transit the Rick has. One for him and one for his wife Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), who is Rick's former love. Casablanca is a beloved American classic and it definitely is good. I thought it was sort of slow in some places but it definitely is a good film. THE FINAL GRADE: 9/10



CITIZEN KANE

The #1 film of all time according to the American Film Institute is Citizen Kane. Kane is a simple story. A reporter tries to discover the meaning of the last words of dead newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane. His last words: rosebud. Kane is not a complex story but it is a ridiculously interesting one. The only time I wasn't interested was during a short lag in the middle. Otherwise, I had my eyes glued to the screen. Citizen Kane was a revolutionary film at the time, but now it's nothing more than a great story. Citizen Kane is an American masterpiece. THE FINAL GRADE: 10/10




CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND

When people think of Steven Spielberg, they think of Indiana Jones, Jaws and E.T. and maybe Schindler's List or Saving Private Ryan. But if people learn more about Spielberg, they'll discover that there is another masterpiece waiting for them in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The story is about Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) who has a close encounter and becomes obsessed with aliens. Meanwhile, people all around the world are seeing UFO's in the sky. Watching this film now, I discovered that my favorite film of 2011, the fantastic Super 8 draws a lot from this film and I thought it was cool to look at the similarities. Close Encounters has a sheer sense of wonder that isn't quite as present in some of Spielberg's other films. The bottom line is that you shouldn't overlook Close Encounters of the Third Kind because it is truly a great movie. THE FINAL GRADE: 10/10





DANCES WITH WOLVES

Filled with great performances, breathtaking action, and a beautiful setting, Dances with Wolves is one that you can't miss. Kevin Costner directs and stars as John Dunbar, a man who is sent to protect a base from the Sioux Indians. Soon, Dunbar befriends the Indians and begins to live like them. When the US army comes back to drive the Sioux out, Dunbar must decide what path he will take. Dances with Wolves is about three hours long, but its almost never slow. The story is fantastic and it has been copied by films like The Last Samurai and Avatar. My only problem is that the ending isn't exactly happy and it's sort of anticlimactic.But besides some minor problems, Dances with Wolves is an excellent film. THE FINAL GRADE: 8/10





E.T. THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL

A great film that is one of director Steven Spielberg's best. Out of all his films, E.T is the most human story that he has made so far. If you haven't seen the film already, here's a short synopsis for you: A young boy befriends an alien who is left by his family and just wants to get home. A kids classic that is equally beloved by adults, E.T. will be remembered for generations to come. THE FINAL GRADE: 9/10



FOOTLOOSE

This 1980's classic is ridiculously corny. It's also a lot of fun. Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon, in his breakout role) moves to Bomont, Utah and tries to get rid of the ban on dancing that has been made a law by the town preacher (John Lithgow). Footloose was recently remade by Paramount. Kids and teens should also check out this film which is fast paced and has an awesome soundtrack. My only complaint is that some of the stuff with the preacher seems too much like a TV movie. Overall, Footloose is a lot of fun. THE FINAL GRADE: 8/10



KING KONG (1933)

The original monster movie is one of the best. King Kong stars Fay Wray as Ann who is picked off the street by Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) to be an actress in his movie. They go on an expedition to Skull Island where they encounter savages and the eighth wonder of the world........King Kong. The special effects on Kong are poor but its still a lot of fun to watch toy models fight. The story is told very fast, so that it's easy to keep up with the pace and not be bored. King Kong is one of the best thrillers ever made. THE FINAL GRADE:10/10





THE MALTESE FALCON

This Humphrey Bogart classic is a film where I think that his acting is a negative thing to the film. Sam Spade (Bogart) is a private eye who investigates a murder case that all leads to the object that "dreams are made of", the Maltese Falcon. There wasn't much I liked about this film. Bogart and most of the actors are annoying. The plot is sort of hard to follow and not much happens in the end. One of my least favorites so far. THE FINAL GRADE: 4/10




NORTH BY NORTHWEST

North by Northwest is an exciting Hitchcock thriller but it's also long and once it gets to the climax, it becomes hard to follow. The film follows Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant), a businessman who gets tangled in a web of murder and spies. This film is full of action but is overlong. Eva Marie Saint and the other supporting actors are pretty good and the action sequences are spectacular, even by today's standards. THE FINAL GRADE: 8/10




PSYCHO

Alfred Hitchcock's best thriller is the terrifying Psycho. Psycho follows Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) as she takes a trip to the Bates Motel after stealing some money. At the Motel, Marion meets Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), an odd man who lives with his mother. There are plenty of creepy and memorable sequences in this film and Hitchcock packs each film with a ton of tension. The ending is the scariest ending I have ever seen in a movie. Don't miss the best horror film in film history. THE FINAL GRADE:10/10



REAR WINDOW

Rear Window is one of Alfred Hitchcock's slowest moving films. The film starts slow and doesn't pick up towards the end. But the whole film is held together by the sense of mystery Hitchcock packs into the film. There isn't much suspense until the end, but it's very suspenseful. The film follows Jeff Jeffries (James Stewart) and his girlfriend (Grace Kelly) as they spy on their neighbor who they believe killed his wife. I wouldn't say this is the best Hitchcock film but it's still a classic. THE FINAL GRADE: 7/10



ROCKY

The best underdog story ever. Rocky follows the title character (Sylvester Stallone) as he fights the champion, Apollo Creed. Rocky is such a great underdog story, and you want Rocky to win every time. The film has plenty of great action sequences in one of the greatest boxing movies ever made. THE FINAL GRADE:10/10







VERTIGO

Out of the five Hitchcock thrillers I watched, this was my least favorite. I know Vertigo is considered to be his best, but I found it weird and confusing. Vertigo stars Jimmy Stewart as Scottie who is told to watch his friend's wife (Kim Novak) but is eventually tricked into a murder plot. The first hour of Vertigo is fantastic. It has many entertaining sequences. But then the more it developed into a love story and Judy (Novak's other role) is introduced, I found it boring and disappointing. Novak's acting is very stiff but Stewart is pretty good. I plan on watching Vertigo again to see if I like it but I did not enjoy the film after my first viewing. THE FINAL GRADE: 5/10




That's it for now but check back soon for more of my reviews on classic movies.

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