Well its that time of the week once again, where I give you all afew movies to view in hopes of broadening the horizons of each and every one of you just alittle more then i did the week before.Because you know, I'm cool like that. Atleast thats what I think, but then, i do have a high opinion of myself most seem to say. Anyway lets get down into this...
Always: This is one of my all time favorite films, infact it just barely missed being in my Top 30 films list, its a modernization of a rare but loved by those that have seen it world war 2 melodrama "A Guy Named Joe", where in a pilot comes back as a ghost to mentor a young pilot, only to find the pilot falling in love with the dead man's girlfriend. Instead of a being set during the height of world war 2, like every movie between 1941 and 1945 were, this film is set in 1989, the year it was released, and follows the story of a group of aerial firefighters who fly around putting out forest fires using surplus world war 2 era planes to drop their fire retardant slurry on wild fires. Its really the story of Pete Sandich, a sort of hotshot pilot who will often risk his life doing some thrilling but dangerous stunt while dropping his slurry, this often gets him in trouble with the other pilots, but he doesn't care, as long as he's having fun, thats all he cares about. He spends his time with his best friend Al Yackey and his girlfriend Dorinda Durston, they support him and how he does business, though in truth they don't feel he's being safe, and eventually talk him into taking a job training fighter pilots at a facility near where they are. Paul eventually agrees, after stating he wants to do just one more run before he goes. Paul does his normal in the air theatrics, but this time, one of the engines to his plane catches fire, and before his friend Al can warn him about it through the flood of other pilots radioing him, Paul's plane explodes. The next thing he knows, Pete is getting his hair cut in a beautiful forest setting, although six months have elapsed in the real world. His barber, Hap (Audrey Hepburn in her final screen role)—who is actually an angel—explains Pete's new role. Just as he was inspired when he needed it most, now he in turn is going to provide Spiritus ("the divine breath") to others. As she puts it, “They hear you inside their own minds as if it were their thoughts.”, Pete is assigned to a young pilot who is sent to work with his friends, and guide him, eventually realizing his job is to not only make this young man the best pilot he can, but to guide him to Dorinda to make her happy. Its really a beautiful and often forgotten film, that is notible as the film John Goodman did after the first smash hit season of his series Roseanne was on the air, which alot of people at first questioned, but would later praise as a wise move for him, and as stated above its the great Ms. Audrey Hepburn's final film role.
Annie Hall: Here is the plot: The film is set in New York City and Los Angeles. Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) is a neurotic comedian, attempting to maintain a relationship with the seemingly ditzy but exuberant Annie (Diane Keaton). The film chronicles their relationship over several years, intercut with various imaginary trips into each other's history (Annie is able to "see" Alvy's family when he was only a child, and likewise Alvy observes Annie's past relationships). In the first flashback showing Alvy as a child, we learn he was raised in Brooklyn; his father's occupation was operating a bumper cars concession and the family home was located below the Thunderbolt roller coaster on Coney Island. After many arguments and reconciliations, the two realize they are fundamentally different and split up. Annie moves in with Hollywood record company executive Tony Lacey (Paul Simon); Annie likes California, but Alvy hates it. Alvy soon realizes he still loves her and tries to convince her to return with him to New York. He fails and, resignedly, returns home to write a play about their relationship, recycling the conversation just exchanged but ending with him winning Annie back. Later, with Annie back in New York, the two are able to meet on good terms as friends, now with different lovers. Alvy ends the film by musing about how love and relationships are something we all require despite their often painful and complex nature. I've always found this to be one of the few films of Woody's that I didn't get bored with half way through, a common issue with his films, with me atleast, that alone makes this abit of a gem for me.
Dreamgirls: A period piece set in the 1960s and 1970s with a primarily ensemble African-American cast, Dreamgirls is adapted from the 1981 Broadway musical of the same name. The musical was based on the history and evolution of American R&B music during the eras of doo-wop, soul, the Motown Sound, funk, and disco. In addition, the stage musical contains several allusions to the lives and careers of Motown Records act The Supremes, a connection the film version expands upon. Dreamgirls follows the lives of Effie White, Deena Jones, and Lorrell Robinson, three young women who form an R&B singing trio from Detroit, Michigan called "The Dreamettes". Thanks to manipulative agent and record executive Curtis Taylor, Jr., the Dreamettes become famous as the backing group for soul singer James "Thunder" Early. Conflict arises when Curtis transforms "The Dreamettes" into the pop-friendly "Dreams," particularly when he has Deena replace Effie as both lead singer of the group and as his romantic interest. As you can guess this film is basically the story of Diana Ross and the Supremes, but told through the lives of others instead. Its a great musical in an era when the musical has been dubbed completely useless and not culturally relevant anymore.
Easy Rider: Two young "hippie" bikers, Wyatt and Billy sell some dope in Southern California, stash their money away in their gas-tank and set off for a trip across America, on their own personal odyssey looking for a way to lead their lives. On the journey they encounter bigotry and hatred from small-town communities who despise and fear their non-conformism. However Wyatt and Billy also discover people attempting 'alternative lifestyles' who are resisting this narrow-mindedness, there is always a question mark over the future survival of these drop-out groups. The gentle hippie community who thank God for 'a place to stand' are living their own unreal dream. The rancher they encounter and his Mexican wife are hard-pushed to make ends meet. Even LSD turns sour when the trip is a bad one. Death comes to seem the only freedom. When they arrive at a diner in a small town, they are insulted by the local rednecks as weirdo degenerates. They are arrested on some minor pretext by the local sheriff and thrown in jail where they meet George Hanson, a liberal alcoholic lawyer. He gets them out and decides to join them on their trip to New Orleans in time for Mardi Gras. This is one of the most iconic films in american history, and infact started a revolution in hollywood, leading to the era of change from the old moderately dirty and sleazy backroom deals and casting couches that ruled hollywood from its early days, until the revolution in how business is done that started with this film and ones akin to it. It truly is an important part of american, and by proxy via films it inspired, world history in so many ways.
I Walked with a Zombie: RKO producer Val Lewton seemed to thrive upon taking the most lurid film titles and coming up with pocket-edition works of art. Saddled with the studio-dictated title I Walked With a Zombie, Lewton, together with scripters Curt Siodmak and Ardel Wray, concocted a West Indies variation on Jane Eyre. Trained nurse (Frances Dee) travels to the tropics to care for Christine Gordon, the wife of seemingly abusive Tom Conway. At first, Dee merely believes her patient to be comatose. But as the drums throb and the natives behave restlessly, Dee tries to bring her patient back to life by jungle magic. Conway is racked with guilt, believing himself responsible for his wife's condition; his guilt is stoked by Conway's drunken brother James Ellison, who has always loved Gordon. Utilizing very limited sets and only a handful of extras, director Jacques Tourneur manages to evoke an impression of an expansive tropical island populated at every turn by voodoo worshippers. Many of the sequences, notably Frances Dee's first languid stroll into the midst of the native ceremonies, have an eerie dream-like quality that pervades even the most worn-out, badly processed TV prints of I Walked With Zombie. This is one of my all time favorite films from the early days of hollywood, it makes me just amazed at how well its done, truly a thing you can't live with out seeing. Oh don't mind the low seeds, there are some, not many but they are fast.
Well thats it for this week, I hope you all enjoy these as much as i have, so, until next week... enjoy!