Saturday, October 14, 2017

Jokerman

Films: Toni Erdmann
Format: DVD from Northern Illinois University Founders Memorial Library on rockin’ flatscreen.

When I finished the 1001 Movies list, I thought that I was done with really long foreign language movies. In the four years since finishing, there have been a few pretty long movies added, but only Leviathan approached the 150-minute mark and wasn’t in English. That’s until Toni Erdmann showed up. At 162 minutes, Toni Erdmann was a daunting undertaking. I won’t say I didn’t want to watch it, but I did have to check it out of the library twice. When I’m particularly busy with work, non-English movies are harder for me. I generally have to wait for a day off (I don’t get many as a teacher) or the end of a term. Since I want to complete the current 1001 additions before the end of the year, I bit the bullet.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

You'll Want to Escape, Though

Films: Escape Me Never
Format: Internet video on laptop.

When I drop back into the earliest years of Oscar, I generally know a couple of things. One thing I know, at least with a movie like Escape Me Never is that I’m watching a movie that probably no one reading this blog has seen. There is a version of this from the 1940s starring Errol Flynn and Ida Lupino that is much better known, but the version that was nominated for an Oscar for 1935, so that’s the one I watched. I think it’s safe to say there’s a reason that not a lot of people have seen this.

Oh, Escape Me Never isn’t terrible. One of the real problems is that it desperately needs to be restored based on the version that I was able to find online. At one point early in the film, we’re shown a letter that I’m sure is important to the plot, but there was no way in hell I could read it because of the blurry nature of this print. It’s a shame, and as I say whenever this happens, I do my best not to let something like technical difficulties do anything to affect my overall opinion of the film itself.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Wednesday Horror: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Films: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Format: DVD from Mt. Morris Library on various players.

I remember when Kenneth Branagh’s version of Frankenstein, sometimes called Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was released. I was interested in it because I like Branagh as a director and liked him in 1994 as a director. This was the guy who appeared on the directorial scene with Henry V, the most bad-ass version of Shakespeare’s most bad-ass history. I liked Dead Again probably more than it deserves. And here he was directing a classic horror tale with Robert De Niro as the monster. How could it be anything but awesome?

And then the reviews came in, and most of them were disappointing to say the least. So I never got around to it. I was married, had a wife who didn’t (and still doesn’t) care much for horror movies, and a job that took up a ton of time, so I essentially forgot about it. And then, boom, here it is, several decades later and Frankenstein falls into my lap. I remembered seeing the previews. I remembered the poor critical reception. But this blog is all about figuring these things out for myself at some point, so why not check it out?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Be Fruitful and Multiply

Films: The Seven Little Foys
Format: DVD from Northern Illinois University Founders Memorial Library on laptop.

I’ve checked out The Seven Little Foys from the local university library a couple of times and never pulled the trigger on it. I’m not sure why that is aside from the fact that it was a movie I didn’t desperately want to watch. But, I knew I had to get to it eventually, so it made sense to finally knock it out today. I mean, how terrible could it be, right?

The truth is that it’s not that terrible, but it’s also not that great. It’s a semi-biography of stage comedian/vaudevillian Eddie Foy (Bob Hope) and his, well, seven children and how all of those children wound up in his act. What I find interesting here is that, while this was made in 1955 and is thus a part of that Hollywood era that whitewashed a lot of bad behavior from the focus of its biographies, The Seven Little Foys isn’t really that flattering to Eddie Foy.