Crazy Movie Lady 34

September 13-19, 2009
I'm obviously still way behind but pretty unphased. I have work to do. While watching films is important, I'm graduating in May and have a demanding assistantship. Movies get pushed to the side.
515. Nothing But A Man. Awesome Motown music in this 1950s film inspired by the early Civil Rights Movement about a man tired of bowing and scraping to white men who all call him boy. It tries to tie in some fatherhood issues but misses that a bit. There was some verité-style photography as in it seemed more documentary-like. I'm very lukewarm about this film. 3 stars
516. Blue Vinyl. Documentary inspired by the filmmaker's concerns that the vinyl on her parents' house was not sustainable and might be toxic. Very annoying voice. As a result, I found it difficult to trust the things coming out of her mouth. It also didn't help that she didn't even have confidence in her own abilities to interview. Silly film with an attempt at a serious message. Needed more focus so it wouldn't feel 3 hours long. 2.4 stars
517. An Affair to Remember. Some fabulous clothes in this Cary Grant film about two people who fall in love on a ship, but both are already involved with others. Cary Grant can make a root canal look good. He's so awesome he makes medicine sick. Heeeey Cary wherever you are, heaven I'm sure. To be clear, I'm only open to an affair if it's with him. Lolol. Some of the musical breaks were way too long. Still I thoroughly enjoyed it. 4.2 stars
518. Scarred Justice: The Orangeburg Massacre 1968. Documentary had a strong start with very compelling pictures. Some great archival footage but not enough of the biggest and most dramatic events. Presented Orangeburg in a light I'd never considered: with two HBCUs, there was a highly educated black middle class which of course makes the town ripe for conflict which erupted into an incident which left with 3 dead black students and at least 25 injured in the 1960s who are rarely talked about. The re-enactments were cheesy. I know why they used them-- it's difficult to see the impact of the event with just descriptions. Claflin was introduced early on but then the film appeared to focus almost solely on SC State. Some of the best quotes were not on camera, though the ones leading up to it were. The story line felt haphazard when instead of focusing on Orangeburg, it lost focus when describing what was happening in the rest of the nation. Some of the most powerful images and words happened at the end which is unfortunate. 3.6 stars
519. Stevie. Documentary about the filmmakers little brother from the big brothers program who he came back to check on after I believe more than a decade later and found the man was accused of child m.olestation. Very engaging film. Well-edited, some nice photography. You could see, feel and hear the filmmaker's guilt about possibly exploiting the man who was once the lonely, abused 11-year-old boy he wanted to help. Nice story arc. I enjoyed the film as much as you can enjoy a film which deals with such heavy subjects with such openness from those involved. 4 stars
520. Billy Elliot. British film about a boy who decides to take up ballet instead of boxing to the chagrin of his father, a striking miner. To be a review cliché, he danced his way into my heart. Loved this movie. So cute. 4.5 stars
521. I'm No Angel. Did she just say, "Beulah, peel me a grape"? AND call her "Shadow." I can't. 1930s movies always rub me the wrong way because of the bending and scraping servant roles for blacks. "Yassum! Yassum!" I'd rather they had no roles than those demeaning ones. Mae West plays a performer in trouble with the law. She was a bad actress. You could FEEL her acting and this is the 2nd time I've seen her play essentially the same role in the exact same way: purring and moaning "kittenishly." They shouldn't even say Mae West & Cary Grant because he doesn't show up until the movie is more than halfway over. (It was early in his career.) Only mildly interesting slow-moving plot. 2.8 stars
522. 12 Angry Men. Film about a jury deciding on whether an 18-year-old accused of murder is guilty, which would send him to death but they all have other things to do than worry about a little murder. Henry Fonda bizarrely passed his looks down to his daughter. It's pretty creepy. Some very quality directing and photography. This made me again want to become a court-appointed attorney to save some of those innocent people getting horrible court-appointeds. But I have no desire to go to law school so some of you should go ahead and make that happen. I was really into this movie. Some ridiculous melodrama at the end which brought the rating down some but still 4.3 stars
523. Steal a Pencil for Me. Documentary about a Dutch man who wrote letters with his wife and girlfriend during the Holocaust, both of whom were in the same concentration camp with him. Though mostly in English, it was heavily-accented so I wish there were more subtitles. Some good archival footage. Very intriguing story because this story is rarely told from the Dutch perspective and because it's also a love story. Some really nice photography as well. The end got a bit off track because of the moving back and forth through time periods already covered but still a beautiful story. 4.4 stars
524. The Closet. French film about a man trying to connive his way into keeping his job-- by posing as a h.omosexual. "Light-hearted" music was heavy-handed in the beginning. The early plot evolutions and "twists" were way too obvious. I found the plot unbelievable though it got amusing toward the end. 3.3 stars
525. Sweet Charity. Shirley MacLaine shouldn't sing. She sounds terrible. It's not really even singing, but more like talking to music. They "Hey Big Spender" musical number (which was performed sans Shirls) was AWESOME!!! Someone also tell me the point of the audio slide moment where it was basically a picture montage of Shirls around the city. Lame. Indiscrimintate scene changes not apparently to advance the plot, but just because. I definitely see why Bob Fosse is considered such a great choreographer. But why are old school musicals so indulgently long? Sammy Davis, Jr. is hilarious. This made me want to watch everything he was ever in and that he hadn't died so early in my life. There was a scene with endless confetti... I'm gonna need that at some point in my life! I love confetti!! But let's do it at your place so I don't have to clean it up. Very unexpected ending I was shocked by and yet liked that I was shocked by it. That ending wasn't enough to make up for the length and Shirls' singing. 3.4 stars


San said...

Jameil, now I know some movies NOT to put on the queue at netflix. BTW, I am in agreement about Billy Elliot.

Saw a good one last night. The Secret Life of Bees. I loved that book and was afraid the movie wouldn't "get it." It did!

A documentary I was a little disappointed with a coupla nites ago--The Devil and Daniel Webster. Or something like that. About a somewhat talented musician who went nuts. Some of the music was good, some was ho-hum. I felt that those who sympathized with his mental condition elevated the quality of his music. Clearly, the filmmaker found him a riveting, talented person. What do I know anyway?

Jameil said...

San, glad I could help! I liked both the movie & book of 'Bees' too despite the movie's flaws. You know how that doc made you feel! That's the whole point of it. I get the feeling a lot of time that filmmakers get so enamored w/their subjects that they forget they're making these films for someone other than themselves... OR maybe they really are just making it for themselves. In which case they shouldn't bother to distribute them. Why waste the time of all the rest of us? Glad to know what I shouldn't put on my list, too!

Rashan Jamal said...

Nothing But A Man was aiight, but like you i felt it was lacking something

I couldn't stand Blue Vinyl, and couldn't finish I'm No Angel.

I liked The Closet alot more than you did, and Sweet Charity was just not my kind of movie.

I want to see Scarred Justice now.

Jameil said...

rj... def. something lacking. blue vinyl was grating. no angel got better at the end but it wasn't great anyway. mae west seems to only hit one note-- "me so strangely manly sexy." scarred justice was good in the sense that it told an untold story but it left things to be desired technically and how the story came together. still a worthwhile story.