Backlog, Part 5: This isn’t even all of it

The SaintMar 7th, 2012Posted by The Saint on
1001 Movies

As the title mentions, this does not clear me of the backlog I have on movies that I have watched, but not written about. But since I have these already written, I might as well as post them.

The Wall
A musical experience that depicts a society that is being alienated and controlled. Think of it as Fantasia, but with more drugs and loud rock & roll. The soundtrack only has small deviations from the track list to the corresponding Pink Flyod album. The movie is primarily live action, but does have a number of animated scenes done by Gerald Scarfe. The piece works very well because the idea for doing the movie along with the album was hatched ever before recording started of the music.

Judge Priest
It is almost the end of the 19th century and William Priest is the judge in a small Kentucky town. Priest has his own way of running his court room. For example, he reads a newspaper during the first trial before he interrupts and has a conversation with a few of his war buddies who make up the entire audience. We do see that he has a good heart as he continually finds creative ways to help his nephew spend time with the young girl who lives next door to him. While the intent of the movie is always goodhearted and humorous, the African-American roles follow stereotypes to the line. The male character barely speaks broken English and the female character is a made who is always singing gospel songs. This speaks more to the state of the world in the 1930s than it takes away from the film.

City Lights
Charlie Chaplin does what Charlie Chaplin does best. The primary source of antics in the film is a wealthy drunkard who befriends Charlie after a night on the town, but continually forgets him upon sobering up. Additionally, Charlie falls in love with a blind girl who sells flowers on the street. He makes huge sacrifices in order to get her to see him for who he truly is.

A study on religion and living a religious life. Morten is an old widower who has three sons. The oldest is married, has a daughter and another child on the way, and has lost his faith. The youngest is attempting to woo the daughter of a man from town who often feuded with Morten about religion. The middle son studied theology, but then began thinking he was Jesus Christ and denouncing those around him for not having true faith. As the family goes about their days and deals with conflicts, they reflect on the choices they have made and where that has brought them.

The Long and Short of It

The SaintJan 18th, 2012Posted by The Saint on
1001 Movies

This film tells the story of John Reed. Reed was a communist and journalist who wrote a book documenting the Russian Revolution. This epic tale details Reed’s life, relationship with Louise Bryant and the effects on communism in Russia and America. The thing that stands out the most in the film is that it includes interviews with people that lived during that time. Some of them were even directly connected to the story being told in various ways. These interviews are generally used to help a transition into a new scene, helping to frame it with other context. That being said, I felt that in most cases, they pulled me out of the story. Rather than see the collective as a narrator providing insight, they seemed to me as extra characters. Additional people that I should be thinking about, but never really learn much about.

Brief Encounter
A married woman and a married man briefly meet at a train station in a chance encounter. However, they agree to meet again in a week. This weekly meeting leads to another, and things escalate from there. The story is told as a flashback with the woman recounting her experiences as if she were telling her husband. The film was well down, with a few shots that I liked, but the story did not grab me. I was going along for the ride, but did not care how things would end.

Why can’t we all just get along?

The SaintJan 8th, 2012Posted by The Saint on
1001 Movies

After pissing off everyone with the release of Birth of a Nation, D. W. Griffith made Intolerance to show that he was not actually racist1. Like Birth of a Nation, Intolerance is a 3 hour epic and a silent film. Intolerance is actually four parallel stories (Babylonian, Judean, French Renaissance and Modern-day America) that depict tales of people being discriminated against. Of the four, the Modern and Babylonia arcs are the most gripping and, towards the end, I found myself hoping to return to one of those stories when the Judean or French stories were on screen. The Babylonia story features a massive sets and thousands of extras. There is also a battle scene that reminded me of the final battle in The Two Towers with a huge fortress being attacked en mass with large siege towers. Intolerance was unable to make back the estimated $2 million (~$40 million with inflation) it cost to produce, which lead to the sale of the production company.

1. That was not the only reason the film was made, as the modern story arc was planned before Birth of a Nation was started.

A Year in Review: 2011

The SaintJan 1st, 2012Posted by The Saint on
1001 Movies

At the end of 2010, I summarized all the movies I had watched that year. Now that 2011 has come to an end, it is time to look back on my year in movies.

This year was busier than last year, so I was only able to watch 155 movies (18 fewer than last year). This means I watched a movie every 2.4 days. However, it can still be considered productive. I watched 48 movies from the list, beating last years record by 3 movies. Something I didn’t point out last year is that these numbers do not count movies that I re-watched. Those are harder to keep track of as I generally not using Netflix when re-watching a movie. So the total count is higher, but not by a substantial number.

Here is the list of all the movies I watched in 2011. Same set up as before, but for those that need a refresher: The ratings are on a 5 point scale with no half points. Within the rating group the movies are alphabetical. List movies are in bold and movies released in 2010 are italicized.


13 Assassins (2010)
A Tale of Two Sisters (2004)
Barbarian Invasions, The (2003)
Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
Descent, The (2005)
Dinner Game, The (1998)
Drive (2011)
Exiled (1907)
Get Low (2009)
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The (2009)
Gone with the Wind (1939)
Good, the Bad, the Weird, The (2008)
Graduate, The (1967)
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)
Hole, The (1960)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Ip Man (2008)
Killer Inside Me, The (2010)
Like Stars on Earth (2007)
Misery (1990)
Muppets, The (2011)
Omen, The (1976)
Paris, Je T’aime (2006)
Peeping Tom (1960)
People Under the Stairs, The (1991)
Persona (1967)
Rabbit Hole (2010)
Rope (1948)
Shutter (2004)
Sin Nombre (2009)
SLC Punk (1999)
Terribly Happy (2008)
Thin Blue Line, The (1988)
Toy Story 3 (2010)
Wait Until Dark (1967)
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)


2046 (2004)
American Zombie (2007)
Attack the Gas Station! (1999)
Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)
Ballad of Narayama, The (1984)
Beauty and the Beast (1946)
Best Years of Our Lives, The (1946)
Cape Fear (1962)
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Catfish (2010)
Cloverfield (2007)
Color of Money, The (1986)
Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop (2011)
Cook, Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, The (1989)
Creep (2004)
Dances with Wolves (1990)
Day of the Dead (1985)
Dead Snow (2009)
Delicatessen (1991)
Doctor Zhivago (1965)
Fantasia (1940)
Felon (2008)
Fighter, The (2010)
First Snow (2007)
Four Lions (2010)
Ghajini (2008)
Good Hair (2009)
Grapes of Wrath, The (1940)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011)
Heathers (1989)
Hudsucker Proxy, The (1994)
Hustler, The (1961)
Jackie Brown (1997)
Jerk, The (1979)
Kick-Ass (2010)
Kids Are All Right, The (2010)
Kontroll (2004)
La Belle Noiseuse (1991)
La Jetée (1961)
Le Samourai (1967)
Last Picture Show, The (1971)
Man in the Iron Mask, The (1998)
Man with the Golden Gun, The (1974)
Manic (2001)
Messenger, The (2009)
Moneyball (2011)
Natural, The (1984)
Network (1967)
Nine Queens (2000)
Ocean’s Eleven (1960)
Once (2006)
Pandorum (2009)
Paris, Texas (1984)
Piano Teacher, The (2002)
Prodigal Sons (2008)
Pusher (1996)
Rachel Getting Married (2008)
Ratcatcher (1999)
Restrepo (2010)
Sans Soleil (1983)
Up in the Air (2009)
Winter’s Bone (2010)
Woodsman, The (2004)
X-Men: First Class (2011)


American Pie (1999)
Atlantic City (1980)
Babes in Arms (1939)
Babette’s Feast (1987)
Bad Santa (2003)
Barefoot Contessa, The (1954)
Belle de Jour (1967)
Birth of a Nation, The (1915)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Days of Being Wild (1990)
Days of Heaven (1978)
Dreamchild (1985)
Election (2005)
Femme Fatale (2002)
For Love of the Game (1999)
Friday Night Lights (2004)
Hangover Part II, The (2011)
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
Home (2005)
In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
Last Year at Marienbad (1961)
Local Hero (1983)
Long Goodbye, The (1973)
Manhattan (1979)
Moonlighting (1982)
New York, I Love You (2008)
Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)
Prince of Darkness (1987)
Rebecca (1940)
Red State (2011)
Scanners (1980)
Secret Agent (1936)
sex, lies, and videotape (1989)
Soldier’s Girl (2003)
Sucker Punch (2011)
Table for Three (2009)
Thor (2011)
Ushpizin (2004)
Withnail and I (1987)
You, the Living (2007)
Zero Kelvin (1995)


Band Wagon, The (1953)
Black Dynamite (2009)
Double Take (2009)
Easy A (2010)
Exit Wounds (2001)
Expendables, The (2010)
Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)
Mortal Kombat: The Movie (1995)
My Dinner with Andre (1981)
Over the Top (1986)
Parking Lot Movie, The (2010)
Return of the Living Dead, The (1985)
RoboCop (1987)
Sleepaway Camp (1983)

No movies were rated 1. A step in the right direction, despite there being more movies ranked 2 or lower than last year.

Backlog, Part 4: The Big One

The SaintDec 31st, 2011Posted by The Saint on
1001 Movies

It’s been a while since I posted any movie summaries. However, that does not mean I have not been watching movies on the list. Therefore, in order to keep my resolution to do a writeup on every movie I watched from the list, this post will catch me up through the end of the year.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
As the title suggest, the movie is about a serial killer named Henry. Michael Rooker provides a haunting depiction of a man that kills without remorse and without reason. The film was done with a small $110,000 budget with produces a raw depiction of violence and abuse.

Nine Queens
A day in the life of two con artists that happen upon a job that will make them both rich. Juan is a young independent who runs smaller spontaneous scams as opportunity presents itself. Marcos, on the other hand, works bigger jobs and has a number of conspirators who can help him out in bit parts. Over the course of the movie, the two get a feel for how the other works and band together to make the job a success.

The Last Picture Show
It’s small town Texas in the early 50s. High school seniors are attempting to figure out what they will do with their lives when they graduate. Since getting out of the little town is a hard feet to accomplish, the kids they look at their relationships and where that will lead them for the rest of their lives.

Last Year at Marienbad
A french film from 1961 that paints a picture of three people at a resort hotel. A man pleads with a woman to convince her that they had met a year ago at the same hotel and had a love affair. Another man is also at the hotel and repeatedly beats the first man in a series of logic games. That description may make it seem like everything is straight forward, but the plot is far from that. The entire film has a dream-like feel in which any scene may not have happened. The possibilities of false-memory, lie and dream sequence are all options. The first act is tough to watch because there is so much ambiguity. However, as things progressed, I got a feel for how things were being presented and what the point of the movie might be.

The Thin Blue Line
A documentary about a man convicted for a murder and sentenced to die for a murder he did not commit. Over the course of a number of interviews, the story is told that described all the events that lead up to Randall Dale Adams being convicted of killing a police officer. The documentary features a number of reenactments of the crime. As new information is presented to the audience, the reenactment is presented again with minor alterations based on details that have come to light.

The Hole
A prisoner is transferred into a new cell with a number of men who are planning an escape. The men have no choice but to include their new cellmate in the plan. As the men dig to freedom, they must rely on each other to watch their back and keep the guards at bay.

The sky has been blacked out, crops are scare and meat is a privilege only the rich can afford. That is, unless, you are willing to partake in some of the world’s less used meats (mainly human). The film follows a butcher who is willing to take such steps and his tenets that live in the apartments above his shop. The film was Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s debut, of Amélie fame. In the same vain, the film features quirky antics and unusual relationships between the cast of characters.

Withnail & I
Two unemployed actors live in a rundown apartment as they wait for their big break. Eventually, they hit a boiling point and Withnail decided they should take a vacation at his uncle’s cottage in the country. The vacation is far from restful as neither man is used to the country life and feel at odds with a colorful cast of characters living in the near by town. Things only escalate from there when Withnail’s uncle joins them and has taken a liking to Withnail’s friend.

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover
A theatrical depiction of a gangster who has made a lavish restaurant his place of business and entertainment. The thief is an oaf and is at odds with his wife, the chef and many of the other patrons on the restaurant. Tired of being berated, the wife begins a love affair with another regular guest of the restaurant. All of these actions begin to build up and lead to the eventual conclusion of the patterns depicted earlier in the film.

The Beautiful Troublemaker
A retired artist is convinced to return to work and attempt to complete his masterpiece that he had given up on years ago. However, this is not an easy process as tries to use a woman who has never modeled before as the inspiration for his painting. The two must come together in order to achieve the full potential of the work. The film is quiet long, as it includes a number of extended takes the just show the artist’s hands as they sketch or paint. Another aspect of note is that the model, played by Emmanuelle Béart, does not wear any clothes for the majority of the film.

Days of Heaven
Bill is a poor labor who travels to Texas with his younger sister (Linda) and girlfriend (Abby) to work harvesting for a rich wheat farmer. Bill and Abby claims to be brother and sister in order to prevent gossip among the field hands. As the farmer watches over the harvest, he begins to have feelings for Abby and unforeseen tensions arise. The movie has a distinctive feel as little artificial light was used and a number of scenes were shot during the magic hour (after the sun has set, but before darkness takes over).

The Grapes of Wrath
The Great Depression hits the Midwest and farmers all over have been pushed off their land. Tom, having just been paroled from prison, find his family just before they head to California in look for work. The story stays fairly close to that of the book, as the audience follows the family as they struggle to stick together and survive.

Brandon and Phillip are educated young men and former classmates. Being men of character, they decide to commit a murder to prove that they could get away with it. After killing another classmate, they hold a party with the body still hidden in the room. The film is edited in a way so that each scene is a long take (with most of the cuts being hidden by having the camera move behind an object in the room).

Doctor Zhivago
The epic tail of life, love and war in Russian in the early 20th century. Yuri Zhivago is a doctor and a poet. His medical skills keep him occupied during the wars, but his poems are scene as a threat during the rise of communism. The film is similar to Gone With the Wind in a number of ways: opening to a still image and music, extended running time and following a tale of romance during years of military unrest.

Zero Kelvin
Two men (Randbæk and Jakob) work as trappers in a remote part of Greenland when a they are joined by another man (Henrik) in order to achieve the increased demand for the next year. Living in isolation and harsh conditions, the men must find a balance as they must survive together over the next year. Henrik and Randbæk clash with each other immediately as Henrik aspires to be a poet and Randbæk has been hardened by years in the arctic.

Business Trip

The SaintSep 19th, 2011Posted by The Saint on
1001 Movies

The Hustler
Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) is on a mission to prove he is the best pool player there is. The one person that stands in his way is Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason). After a short introduction scene of Felson and his partner Charlie, the film moves directly to an epic battle between players. The interplay between the two characters is great as they size up the other man and play the game in their own way. Just as I was surprised to see the match so early, I was surprised to see where the film went from there. I won’t go into more details so other who might not have seen it can also enjoy the progression as I did.

Joan Fontaine plays a young and innocent woman who is a paid companion to a rich woman, Edythe Van Hopper. While together in Monte Carlo, they meet Maxim de Winter, a rich widower. While Edythe tries to gain favor and Maxim, his interests turn instead to the younger woman. They are wed and return to Maxim’s estate where the new Mrs. de Winter learns that the previous Mrs. de Winter (Rebecca) is still very much a part of Maxim’s life and the care-takers of the estate.

Alfred Hitchcock is one of my favorite directors. I like the way he shoots scene and how he is very deliberate in building tension during a scene. And I enjoyed how he did that in this film. However, my issue is with the plots points that occur as part of the climax and the scenes following. So much of it is a twisted tail explaining all the events that lead to the current situation. I don’t mean twisted in the scenes that disgusting. Instead I mean we are lead in one direction, then there is a turn in a different direction. This repeats a number of times so that when you get to the end, you are trying to see how everything pieces together and what the run around added to the story.

Note: As I prepared for the business trip, I made sure to have a number of movies I could watch while traveling to keep myself occupied. In addition to these two, there was one additional film that I brought with me. However, that film was in French. That by itself is not an issue, but the fact that I did not attach the subtitles to the video file when compression from the DVD made my efforts to watch it futile. My review for La Belle Noiseuse will arrive when I have time to watch it with the English subtitles.

Not a Word

The SaintSep 6th, 2011Posted by The Saint on
1001 Movies


An actress has been hospitalized because she has stopped speaking, despite not having a diagnosable ailment. A young nurse is assigned to take care of the woman. Based on the doctor’s advice, Elisabet and Alma head to a beach house so Elisabet can rest and recover. Despite the conversations being heavily one-sided, we learn a lot about the two woman and watch as their relationship changes while at the beach house.

The film is very minimalist. There are only a handful of characters, few props and the costumes are either white or black. All of this comes together to provide a very powerful package. Despite a lack of flashiness, I enjoyed the movie a lot and was struck by a few of the shots. My favorite was when Elisabet slowly walks in to the bedroom from the darkness, but that moves to another room that is washed with light.

Backlog, Part 3

The SaintAug 31st, 2011Posted by The Saint on

Birth of a Nation
Lets be honest, this is not a film for everyone. It is a 3 hour silent film that depicts the KKK in a non-negative way. Just one of those points is enough to turn many people off from watching a movie. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed the movie, but it was very interesting to watch and think about what it said about the time that it was depicting and the time it was made.

The Piano Teacher
Erika Kohut is piano teacher at a music conservatory. While there she starts teaching a young male student and the two of them become obsessed with each other and explore their fantasies together. Going into the movie, I knew that it was going to be a little twisted, but didn’t know much about it. After watching it, I realized it was by Michael Haneke and everything made a lot more sense.

The Long Goodbye
Philip Marlowe is a classic private eye. There is only one small difference. He lives in LA during the seventies. The story line is much line many others of the film noir genre, the the time and setting allow it to present a different picture. Marlowe spends the film trying to find out what happened to his friend. The police say he killed his wife and then killed himself in Mexico, but Marlowe does not believed it.

A great commercial success and a re-evaluated masterpiece

The SaintAug 6th, 2011Posted by The Saint on
1001 Movies

The Best Years of Our Lives

Three men return from WWII and head back to their families they left behind. Each of them were in different places in their lives at the start of the war and have their own issues to deal with now that they are back. While the film does seem long, running almost three hours, this is due to the depth of the story. It would have been possible to make two separate films, but allowing Homer’s struggles to intermingle with the story about Fred and Al makes a better package. The Best Years of Our Lives won 7 Oscars including Best Picture, Director and Actor.

Peeping Tom

Mark Lewis works for a film studio, but wants to do more and make his own films. He also has a hobby that no one knows about. He films people as he murders them and watches the footage afterward. This psychological thriller builds immense tension as the audience watches Mark (often through the lens of his own camera) try to live his life and control his urges from taking over his life. The film was controversial when it was released, however after a cult following for years, it is now seen by many as great and appears a number of to 100 horror movies.

Contrary to belief, the 20th century wasn’t that bloody

The SaintJul 14th, 2011Posted by The Saint on
1001 Movies

The Barbarian Invasions

Despite the title of the movie and this post, the movie has very little blood. Rémy is a professor of history, a man who cheated on his ex-wife multiple times and a man dealing with terminal cancer. His son, Sébastien, is a successful financial analyst and strongly dislikes his father.

As the film progresses, Rémy and Sébastien are forced to spend time together as Sébastien works to get his father the best care possible. The film is all the audience learning about the characters’ histories and seeing them interact in the current situation. At times some of the conversations get a little heady, but Rémy and his friends spent their lives pursuing knowledge, so it is not surprising that they would still talk philosophy now. In the end, we watch as a dying man presents ideas on how to live life and it comes together well.

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