Getting to know you

Around this time, last year, on Tumblr I reblogged a post that suggested making a list of the top 10 films that, right now, would let someone get to know you. ‘not necessarily your ten favorite movies but the ten movies that you, as a person existing currently, feel would help people get to know you’. You can see what I posted back then here.

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Red Desert (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964)

I’ll admit that, while I love the idea, it’s a little abstract for my general way of thinking. While there is a great deal to learn about someone from their interests, I tend to struggle making the connection of what exactly it is I can glean from it. So, my way of choosing films was perhaps different than how others chose films. (Then again, it may not have been). For instance, I mostly chose films that had characters I thought reflected aspects of my personality or to whom I felt a deep connection (other films, like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, were chosen because I’ve loved them for so long I felt they left an indelible mark on me).

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Carnival of Souls (Herk Harvey, 1962)

But I love making lists, especially ones that challenge me, so I thought it would be interesting to revisit it. Most of my current choices are the same, so this post may be redundant but I did swap out The Philadelphia Story for Stoker, and removed The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I spent a long time thinking about what I would change, but I honestly feel like I’m in such a similar place, now, as I was last year that there isn’t much point changing most of them.

Red Desert (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964)

Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff, 2001)

Muriel’s Wedding (PJ Hogan, 1994)

Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach, 2012)

Amélie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001)

Muriel’s Wedding (PJ Hogan, 1994)

Muriel’s Wedding (PJ Hogan, 1994)

Les Amours Imaginaires (Xavier Dolan, 2010)

Secretary (Steven Shainberg, 2002)

Carnival of Souls (Herk Harvey, 1962)

Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (David Mirkin, 1997)

Stoker (Chan-wook Park, 2013)

Stoker (Chan-wook Park, 2013)

Stoker (Chan-wook Park, 2013)

I was going to write a little from each film about what I connected to, and why I picked it, but I feel like it’s more interesting to let them speak for themselves. I will say that I think these films say that I’m still feeling a bit lost and uncertain about life. And maybe that I find it difficult to connect (to others). This is a far more personal post than I am accustomed to, but I just liked the idea so much, and I felt like I needed to revisit it. It would be interesting to see what others would choose!

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Top 5 | Comic Book Movies

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a top 5 post so, keeping in theme with my last movie review, here’s my top 5 (live action) comic book movies! (Keeping in mind these are personal favourites, rather than necessarily the ‘best’ I’ve seen).

Barbarella directed by Roger Vadim, 1968

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An angel does not make love, an angel is love.

Like Barabarella would not be in my top 5. It’s nearly everything I could want in a film. The lush colour and dreamy soundtrack! The ridiculous number of costume changes! Jane Fonda’s magnificent hair! Kitschy and/or camp films are basically my favourites, and there’s something very appealing about ’60s science fiction costumes and sets, which all adds up to I love Barbarella. Plus there’s a lot to be said for Fonda’s comic timing/delivery.

Favourite moment: so hard to pick one! I do like the whole exchange with Barbarella and Dildano (David Hemmings) quite a lot.

Ghost World directed by Terry Zwigoff, 2001

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This is so bad it’s gone past good and back to bad again.

Ah, Ghost World. Does it make me a bit of a cliche to love this so much? Do I really care? I saw it at the cinema when I was 15 (with my one and only ever boyfriend). I had no idea what it was about before going in (I’m pretty certain I thought it was a paranormal film about actual ghosts) but I know 15 year old me fell in love with it straight away. A lot of people consider Enid to be a fairly awful person, now, but I still relate to her in a lot of ways. I think that’s not something I should admit as an adult, but I do. I could write a whole post on it (and I probably will, one day) but it made a huge impact on me. And with the sarcasm and deadpan humour, it still appeals. Plus, it lead to me reading Ghost World (which was one of the first graphic novels I ever went and bought for myself so yay for that.)

Favourite moment: Mirror, Father, Mirror.

Batman Returns directed by Tim Burton, 1992

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As I was saying, I’m a woman and can’t be taken for granted. Life’s a bitch, now so am I.

It was difficult to choose between this or the ’60s Batman movie but Tim Burton wins out by virtue of being the Batman of my childhood. Plus Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman?! She’s magnificent. Although Adam West is my favourite Batman, Batman Returns is my favourite Batman film, and I think it’s probably the best (live action, anyway). Burton’s unique visual style fits the characters of Batman and Gotham perfectly and Michael Keaton is so great, isn’t he?

Favourite moment: The scene where Bruce and Selina each realise who the other is? My god, it tears my heart out. And, of course, Catwoman’s simple, deadpan ‘meow?’ before the department store explodes. Ugh. Fantastic!

Flash Gordon directed by Mike Hodges, 1980

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I knew you were up to something, though I’ll confess I hadn’t thought of necrophilia?

One of the most visually appealing films I’ve seen in my life. The costumes and sets are gorgeous (and, well, Timothy Dalton in tights isn’t exactly difficult to look at). Plus, the score by Queen is hardly a detriment. The Orientalism is rather on the nose and is probably the only thing about the film I don’t like. Remember when I mentioned the lush colours in Barbarella? This definitely gives them a run for their money, so to speak.

Favourite moment: I’m kind of stuck on Timothy Dalton in tights.

OK, they're not exactly tights but close enough!

OK, they’re not exactly tights but close enough!

Josie and the Pussycats directed by Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan, 2001

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Dujour means crash positions!

Words cannot express how much I love this film. I have watched it so many times. Not surprisingly, this was another film I connected with a lot as a teen. And I still find it very enjoyable as well as quite clever (if a little obvious in its satire). I’m actually planning on writing a post about satire in movies aimed at teen girls, one day, so I’ll leave most of my thoughts on this film for then. But this film is absurd and funny and heartwarming and I really enjoy the soundtrack. In fact, I am listening to it, as I type! It’s definitely one of my ‘comfort movies’. And any film with Parker Posey and Alan Cumming is ace in my book!

An honourable mention must go to The Shadow – I wasn’t sure whether to include it as The Shadow originated in pulp novels before migrating to other media. But if we count it as a comic book movie then my top 5 would be The Shadow five times because I love it so much. And the first version of this list had Superman II and Dick Tracy (that gorgeous pallette) but Josie and the Pussycats and Barbarella replaced them (originally it was Tank Girl and Barbarella, but then I remembered Josie and the Pussycats).

After I finished this I thought of a bunch more films that were based off of comic book characters so I made a more extensive list here.

Top 5 Thursday | Audrey Hepburn

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Audrey Hepburn is probably a lot of people’s favourite actress and sometimes I feel that, amongst all the ‘oh, she was soooo elegant’ comments her talents get overlooked (then again, this is hardly an uncommon occurrence when it comes to women in any field). But it really bugs me when she is solely admired for being stylish or classy or that she is either loved or hated for her thin body. This little ranty quote I reblogged on Tumblr quite a while ago sums up why it bugs me so perfectly. That aside, many people just don’t think she could act at all – I’d love to say they are wrong but an opinion is an opinion, whether or not I agree with it and acting styles can leave some people cold whilst enrapture others. Aside from some awkward roles, I am in the enraptured camp when it comes to Audrey Hepburn.

She has been my favourite actress since I was a child (along with Doris Day) and I grew up watching many of her films (the most watched being Charade) then discovered more as I grew up. And so I’ve compiled my top 5 of the films I’ve seen so far from her acting credits (I’ve seen about 15, which is roughly half of what is listed on IMDB) – I usually like to write a bit about each film but I can’t seem to find a lot to say, this time. Eep.

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How to Steal a Million directed by William Wyler, 1966

This movie is like a heist film meets romantic comedy and it’s a whole heap of fun. Which is a quality I value a lot in movies. Plus there is Peter O’Toole! Dreamy. And, as an art lover, the concept tickles me greatly.

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Paris When it Sizzles directed by Richard Quine, 1964

There is something slightly offbeat about this film that I enjoy (seen especially in the scenes of the film William Holden’s character is writing like this one with Tony Curtis) and, yes, it’s another film that’s a lot of fun! If somewhat exasperating at times. William Holden is always great as the playboy type and plays the lazy screenwriter, Richard Benson, very well. Oh, and Noel Coward is in it, too! Just like How to Steal a Million I think it shows that Hepburn did have some comedic talent.

Charade directed by Stanley Donen, 1963

I know I’ve already used this film in my top 5 all-time favourites post but it is one of my top five favourite Hepburn films, as well, so it gets a second look-in! I don’t really have anything else to say that I didn’t write last time but do yourself a favour and see this film if you haven’t.

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Funny Face directed by Stanley Donen, 1957

I love musicals so at least one had to make it to this list and it certainly wasn’t going to be My Fair Lady (don’t even get me started on how much I loathe Henry Higgins…ugh) so Funny Face it is. Any film that starts with a song extolling the virtues of the colour pink is OK in my books. It’s probably not one of Astaire’s greatest roles and Hepburn’s voice is not exactly suited to musicals (though I think she had a lovely, airy singing voice that is very pleasant to listen to nonetheless) but damn it, this film makes me feel good. Plus, that dance sequence in the cafe is pretty iconic (…right?) and it’s nice to see Hepburn’s dancing background utilised a little.

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Sabrina directed by Billy Wilder, 1954

First things first, I think we can all agree that the costumes (by Edith Head and/or Givenchy…) are more than drool worthy. I find Hepburn so damn charming in this role – from pre-Paris Sabrina to the brightness of her character when she returns home, she just lights up the screen. And then there is another favourite of mine, Humphrey Bogart. This film is somewhat of an anomaly in Bogart’s career and as most of us know, he wasn’t the first choice for the film. I wonder if there are any people who think the role doesn’t suit him? I know Bogart felt like he didn’t at the time but I really like him in this role. Sabrina is kind of a lovely film but some of the characters are pretty awful. Sabrina is naive, to say the least, and though she certainly changes a lot in Paris still somehow loves David? (Not that this makes her awful – just frustrating for a while.) Then there is David, who is an asshat and completely unappealing. Linus is stuffy but that’s the point. He’s also not very nice to Sabrina (which is also the point). But nevertheless I love this movie.

Honourable mentions: Wait Until Dark and The Children’s Hour, both of which show off Hepburn’s dramatic capabilities well (though it is Shirley MacLaine who really shines in the latter, though. Gosh, she is magnificent in that movie).

Any other Hepburn fans want to weigh in on their own favourites?

Top 5 Xmas | For Scrooges

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Note: When I first started writing this post I was feeling very bitter about the holiday season. I’m still not excited about it but feeling decidedly less Grinch-y (& have since watched some classic Christmas movies that didn’t make me gag from the schmaltz!!!) than I was but I figured I’d post this list, anyway. And some of the films do have nice endings! I also want to apologise for my writing in this post – I ended up doing most of it last minute and without a lot of editing.

After my top 5 Halloween appropriate films for scaredy cats, I thought I would do a post of my top films set at Christmas for people who don’t want to watch something overly schmaltzy and feel-good (as a lot of holiday themed movies are). I will admit I’ve not seen a lot of Christmas movies, partially, I think, because a lot of them make me want to throw up a little but also because they’re almost all set in the Northern Hemisphere and winter movies don’t feel like Christmas movies to me. So these movies aren’t actually for Scrooges (pre-Christmas spirit visits) but I couldn’t think of anything else to call the post.

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The Long Kiss Goodnight directed by Renny Harlin, 1996

Any movie with Geena Davis playing an assassin with amnesia has got to be great, right? Well, I’m sure not everyone thinks so but it also stars Samuel L. Jackson as a not-particularly-great private detective who ends up being in over his head. Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson. What more could you ask for? It just so happens to also be set at Christmas, hence its place on this list. Oh, and it does have some great one-liners…fun aside, I could probably analyse some aspects of this film a bit more (the portrayal of women being an obvious one) but I sort of left this list to the last minute so I’ll leave it ’til I rewatch the film again. It does have a fairly traditional ‘happy ending’ so doesn’t entirely escape the ‘feel good’ category, I guess?

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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang directed by Shane Black, 2005

As a full-time lover of film noir/detective movies and a part-time lover of pulp novels (often the source novels for aforementioned films) this film is right up my alley. It draws inspiration from these sources and incorporates the tropes and devices into the plot but sort of…turns them on their heads, I guess? The most obvious device is RDJ’s voice-over narration but I love that it’s not perfectly narrated and he keeps having to go back over things and forgets bits and pieces (which is a perfect illustration of how the tropes and devices are twisted around a bit). And it doesn’t veer into spoof territory, either. Plus, Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer are hilarious and play off each other so well (all that banter!). And, of course, Michelle Monaghan rounds out what is, to me, a perfect cast. It’s another film that has a lot of quotable one-liners, too: “Don’t worry, I saw Lord of the Rings. I’m not going to end this 17 times.” The first time I saw this film I was actually in tears because I laughed so much so, whilst not exactly a traditional Christmas film, it’ll at least make you feel good (unless you’ve just eaten a big Christmas lunch/dinner…all that laughing could just get awkward after lots of food.)

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Black Christmas directed by Bob Clark, 1974

I’ve only seen this film once but, boy, did it stick with me. A lot of what I read on it online pans it for not holding up to modern horror standards. But we all know by now that I’m a scaredy cat so it disturbed the heck out of me. Besides, I generally go for the whole ‘what you don’t see is scarier than what you do’ idea (did Stephen King say something like that?) and this film definitely works into that. Plus, whilst I was watching it I was alone in the house and the phone actually rang. How ridiculous is that? (For anyone who doesn’t know, it works on the babysitter urban legend and was one of the first – if not the first? – films to do so.) I don’t want to give anything away but with the creepiness and tense atmosphere of the film coupled with the ending, this is definitely one of the most unsettling films I’ve seen. And it certainly won’t instill a sense of holiday cheer in the viewers, I should think (well, I should hope a movie about young women being brutally murdered wouldn’t cheer anyone but that’s possibly a post for another time).

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Batman Returns directed by Tim Burton, 1992

Aside from my love of Adam West (what a babe!), I’d say that Michael Keaton is probably my favourite onscreen Batman. Burton’s adaptations are so iconic and are the perfect blend of camp and something a bit darker. As much as I love 1989’s Batman, I think this one is my favourite of the two…mainly because Michelle. Pfeiffer. I’ve been somewhat obsessed with her since I was a small child (in part thanks to her Catwoman but mainly due to her portrayal of Stephanie Zinone in Grease 2) and her interpretation of Catwoman is brilliant. The moment when she and Michael Keaton both realise who the other is, is one of my favourite scenes. Beautifully acted. Plus, we also get Danny DeVito as the most disturbing Penguin, and Christopher Walken who is always amazing.

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Brazil directed by Terry Gilliam, 1985

Another one that I’ve only seen once but it also stuck with me. I had actually forgot this was set at Christmas until I was googling for ideas for this list. I don’t even know what to say about this film but it wasn’t exactly what I expected when I set out to watch it. I loved it, though. The sets, the cast…the story in general. Wow. Another one that isn’t going to get you in the ‘holiday spirit’ but so very worth the watch. I need to watch it again as I think I didn’t manage to process it all after the first viewing and it’s probably been long enough now that it won’t be too fresh in my head for a good rewatch.

Anyway, as I said, it’s not don’t like every single feel-good holiday film (and some of these still have at least somewhat happy endings, anyway) but I enjoy these films more than more traditional Christmas films, I guess. And watching movies with lots of snow and everyone wearing cute sweaters just feels weird when it’s 40 degrees celsius and the thought alone of roasted food is enough to make me sweat. And hopefully anyone reading will realise any lines about wanting to vomit were made in good fun.

Happy holidays to anyone still reading!

Top 5 Halloween | For Scaredy Cats

I love Halloween (even though it’s not much of a ‘thing’ over here in Australia, but getting bigger I think) and I love the idea of scary movies at Halloween time. But the fact of the matter is I’m a big scaredy cat! I can watch scary movies but I can rarely watch them alone and/or at night and I can count on taking a lot longer to get to sleep for a week or so after I’ve watched a film that’s scared me…so I’ve made a list of (practically) scare-free films to watch at Halloween if you’re a scaredy cat like I am. Well, I’ve made a list of some of my favourites, anyway. You all don’t have to like/watch them. Also, ‘scary’ is pretty subjective when it comes to films but, trust me, I scare easily. Now, onto the list…

1. Clue directed by Jonathan Lynn, 1985

Not only is Cluedo my favourite boardgame (I was always Miss Scarlett) but Tim Curry is one of my favourite actors! Add the fact that I adore murder mysteries and clever, fast-paced comedy and this is pretty much a perfect movie for me. With a fantastically talented cast (Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean and the fabulous Madeline Kahn, et al) and a witty script I think this film is quite underrated, overall (though making more movie-loving friends online I’ve found a lot more fans.) Plus, the setting of a spooky old house on a stormy night makes it pretty much perfect for the Halloween season! (Even if it is Spring in the southern hemisphere…) If you have it on DVD you can watch it with one of three endings at random or, if you’re particularly daring, all three endings one after the other! I have lost count of how many times I’ve watched this film…sometimes I want to press play again as soon as I’ve finished watching it.

2. The Addams Family directed by Barry Sonenfeld, 1991

I am fairly certain that I saw this film at the cinema when it was released – despite being a little girl who loved Barbie and pink and all those sorts of things, I think I have always had an affinity with ‘spooky’ things, as well. I love how this film takes the essence of The Addams Family, twists it, prods it, even makes fun of it a little (with love) to make it into something a little different but, in my opinion, retaining the soul of the original show. I also enjoy how it emphasises the sexual relationship between Gomez and Morticia and just how much they love each other. And I like that there was a little more tension within the family than there was in the show (I mean, aside from being a little ‘weird’ The Addams family was still a very functional mostly traditional family unit, not unusual for the time the show was created and aired, of course) but that it’s still a very strong, loving family. Plus, this is one of those films I can watch over and over and not get sick of. And Wednesday Addams is always a good costume to fall back on for Halloween.

I’d also like to add that I love The Addams Family Values equally, (no small thanks to Joan Cusack…) and you can count that as 2.5 on this list, if you like.

3. Hocus Pocus directed by Kenny Ortega, 1993

OK, this one is a bit obvious but, honestly, how could I leave it out? It is utterly brilliant for Bette Midler’s performance alone (then again, when is the Divine Miss M not amazing?) but it’s really just a fun film. It doesn’t push any boundaries or anything (it is Disney, after all) but you can tell a lot of fun was had, no one takes themselves too seriously, the costumes are great and we get to see Bette Midler sing I Put a Spell on You. And there’s a talking cat! (Voiced/played by a pre-NCIS Sean Murray). Oh, and is there some kind of rule that stipulates any stories involving three women must have a blonde, brunette and a redhead?

4. Beetlejuice directed by Tim Burton, 1988

Ah, Beetlejuice. What can I say about this film? As much as I love Keaton’s Batman for Burton, I think I have to say that his Beetlejuice could possibly surpass that performance for me. He’s just so vile. And Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis are so sweet as the newlydeads! Then there is Burton’s incomparable visual style that was still so fresh and slightly left-of-field at this point (sure, he took a lot of queues and inspiration from other sources, not least being German expressionist cinema but as it’s only his second feature it’s fair to say this style was still very different at the time.) I mean, Delia Deetz’s transformation of the house is astonishing! Plus, the scenes in the ‘waiting room’ are pretty great (Miss Argentina!) And who hasn’t quoted Lydia Deetz at some point (‘my whole life is a darkroom…one big dark room’ etc) or wanted to dress like her?

5. Death Becomes Her directed by Robert Zemeckis, 1992

I grew up watching this movie, having always loved Goldie Hawn, and it’s another film that I can still appreciate. Hawn and Streep are fabulous as nemeses turned ‘frenemies’ fighting over the pathetic, shallow Bruce Willis and eventually having to put up with each other for eternity. There is a lot to be said about this film, I think, but for now I’ll just say that the dark humour and supernatural elements make it a perfect non-scary Halloween flick for me.  Plus it also features stormy nights and strange, if not entirely scary, mansions. And Isabella Rossellini being a weird babe.

I have to say, though, I do greatly dislike the (internalised?) misogyny and girl-on-girl hate which is really the driving force of this film (as it is the driving force of many films but maybe that’s something for another time.)

An honourable mention must go to Mad Monster Party which I have written about here but I left it out in favour of Death Becomes Her.

What are your favourite not particularly scary but Halloween appropriate films?

(Note: I’ve decided, for brevity’s sake, not to summarise films in my top 5 posts – if you are unfamiliar with any of the films please just click through to the IMDB pages I’ve linked.)