What I Watched

What I Watched, What You Watched: Installment #89

More Hepburn and Tracy and a Spielberg I hadn't seen

Two flicks this week and, as promised, one is another entry from the Tracy and Hepburn filmography.

Keeper of the Flame (1942)
QUICK THOUGHTS: This is the third film from the "Tracy and Hepburn the Definitive Collection" DVD set and like Adam's Rib and State of the Union it wasn't a bad film, but seeing how this was the second film Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn starred in together it's not like one of their later efforts that takes advantage of their chemistry. In fact, once I got to the film's finale the only actor I could think of delivering the lines Tracy has in this film was Humphrey Bogart. Hepburn was fine, but her performance here reminded me several times of a ventriloquist's doll as she seemed very stiff, often delivering lines like a statue with only her lower jaw moving.

This collection also has the duo's first film together, Woman of the Year, which I am now more interested in seeing primarily because it is a romantic drama, which makes me think it will be the one to show off a bit more of that chemistry that's so evident in their later films.

The story deals with the passing of an iconic industrialist and Tracy plays a journalist who admired the man and seeks to tell the story of his life. He soon runs into the man's sheltered widow (Hepburn) and the story gets a bit dicey from there. Like Adam's Rib, George Cukor directed this one as well and unfortunately, I couldn't find a trailer or even a clip online to give you a preview.

Buy It Now
Amistad (1997)
Amistad
QUICK THOUGHTS: I had never seen Amistad and I've had it on my coffee table since the beginning of February and with the Cannes line-up announced I needed to get this one back to Netflix so I could check out a few other films in preparation for Cannes.

As for Amistad, I wasn't too impressed and it amazes me Anthony Hopkins was nominated for an Oscar considering I found his performance to be incredibly exaggerated. However, he isn't exactly working with the greatest of material. All I could think of while watching his opening argument toward the end of the film was to wonder why Spielberg decided to play music over the entire thing. Nothing can make a lengthy speech seem less significant if you need to use music for emphasis. Then again, this speech needed something, perhaps a shot of adrenaline.

The story of Cinque deserves to be told again and it's too bad Djimon Hounsou is probably too old to play the role now. He was the best thing about this feature, which often felt like it was trying too hard.

Buy It Now

Now it's your turn. What did you see? Did any of you go see Scream 4 or Rio? Or perhaps check out Hanna, still the best film of 2011 in my opinion.

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  • The Jackal

    Amistad may not have been a brilliant masterpiece, but it was still a very effective examination of race and slavery. Spielberg pulls no punches in showing the realities of the Antebellum slave trade and the story is handled pretty good, with a few missteps.

    The scene where Cinque simply repeats "Give us, Us Free!!" over and over again gets me everytime - I actually cried when first I say this scene as a lad of 14.

    I spent my time at the theater this week, catching a great film, a mediocre but nostaligic one (in a manner of speaking) and a curiosity piece.

    1. Hanna
    What a great film - definitely deserves to be considered come awards season, for Best Original Score and for Best Actress for Ms. Ronan (until five other ladies coem along and deliver better performances)

    2. Scream 4
    A rather mediocre film; however, it wasn't much different from the previou Scream films which actually was fine by me. As a child of the 90s it brougth back a lot of memories

    3. Sympathy For the Devil (1968)
    This is a rather curious that was directed by none other than Jean-Luc Godard. It focuses on The Rolling Stones as they craft the song "Sympathy for the Devil" in their London studio. This film is great simply for the footage of Mick, Keith & Copmany (including a rather sullen looking Brian Jones - a few months before his death) doing what they do best.

    However, its the rest of the film that doesn't quite work. Interspersed between the footage of the Stones a few short vignettes regarding Black Power, Marxism, Fascism, and other anti-establishment ideas. Most of it is gibberish, especially the narrator's constant reading from a Marxist pornography novel. The film of the Stones gets an A+, the rest gets a C- for "Confusing as hell"

    Thems the facts

  • m1

    Freedom Writers-I thought this was a solid film that got a little bit preachy. Hilary Swank, the supporting players, and the unknowns all did solid jobs with their performances. I would've liked to see the ending dragged out a little more. I was surprised to find out that the screenwriter also did one of my most anticipated films of the year, Water for Elephants. I am fairly confident that it will be a good film as well. (7/10)

    Tangled-This was lovely. Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi gave fantastic voice-over performances, and the animation was absolutely stunning. One of the best blind-buys I've ever done and it gives Toy Story 3 a run for its money. (9/10)

  • VMarsFTW

    Scream 4- It really lived up to my expectations. I thought, as a slasher, it was a ton of fun and as a meta- comedy it was also very entertaining. Most of the actors gave decent performances including the original trio and Hayden Pannetiere who, in my opinion, stole the film. The dialogue, for the most part, was clever and I loved the opening scene. The few things I didn't like were that there were too many new characters, I thought the Stab-a-Thon scene could have been done better, and a few of the actors (like the guy who played Jill's ex boyfriend) were disappointing. All in all, I liked it a lot. I just hope they don't screw it up all now with a 5th film. To me, this is the perfect ending. A-

    That's all I got to watch this week, but I'm on spring break now so I'll be watching a LOT of movies for next week!

    • VMarsFTW

      Oh, and I totally agree with your thoughts on Amistad. We had to watch it in school and I just found it all really, really mediocre.

  • criterion10

    Nights of Cabiria -- One of the few Fellini films I've seen but I absolutely loved it. The ending is sad, yet hopeful at the same time. I really need to check out his other work. A

    The Double Life of Veronique -- What a beautiful film! There is much symbolism and symmetery and other plot elements I'm sure I didn't pick up on, but strictly going on the experience, it was surely incredible. A+

    Atlas Shrugged: Part I: I kind of summed this up on the other post. As a film, it was poor. However, I still kind of enjoyed it since the story and characters are very interesting. C- (and that's being generous)

  • Leandro Dubost

    Rewatched "The Orphanage" last night.
    Damn, it still is frightening!

    I also saw "Taking Woodstock", mediocre, nothing wrong with it, but nothing special.

  • Alana

    Malena - loved it. Can't imagine how hard it would be to make a movie like that. A lot of emotions.

    Bouquet final - expected a comedy, nonetheless it was a good enough movie, nothing i'd go wow about, but still nice to watch.

    The Tree - i think the little girl who played Simone was the best thing about the movie, she as perfect.

    The Other Woman (Love and Other Impossible Pursuits) - i kind of new it wasn't going to leave any mark in my mind, but it was truly BLAH.

  • Mason Williamson

    I had a fantastic week for film, now that my Netflix has finally been activated.

    The 400 Blows (Les Quatre Cents Coups): I saw this one was available and it was your review from months ago that persuaded me to give it a shot. For that, I thank you. This is a fantastic and truthful film about finding your place in the world, and one of the most honest depictions of adolescence I've ever seen. While it may occasionally drag, it is nevertheless a beautiful and heartbreaking film. 9.5/10

    Psycho: This was one of the classic films that I had never quite got around to seeing. I finally gave it a watch on Wednesday, a decision I am quite happy with. I was admittedly underwhelmed up until the point where Norman Bates showed up, but from there on in it was a truly captivating experience. While I did predict the twist, that was only because of how many times the film has been ripped off by now. However, the final scene, especially the final line, was positively bone-chilling, a term I'd use to describe the film in general. 9/10

    Happiness: Yet another nearly perfect film I checked out on Netflix for the firs time this week, 'Happiness' is a more obscure film from 1998 that I don't even believe is on the RoS database. It received generally positive reviews upon its release, but it did spark a fair bit of controversy. This is understandable, as the film is probably the darkest comedy of all-time. This, however, is just my style. Some scenes are truly hilarious, but the film is also shockingly moving and effective. The subjects it deals with are incredibly disturbing, but they are handled very poignantly, and no punches are held. Fantastic, underrated film. 9.5/10

    Lined up for me this week is: Koyaanisqatsi: A Life Out of Balance, The Player, On the Waterfront, The Elephant Man, and Fellini's 8 1/2, all first viewings.

    Ordering Netflix was the best decision I ever made.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ishar-Kar/670090937 Ishar Kar

      I also saw the 400 blows, truly shows adolescence in a brilliant way. French wave starts here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ishar-Kar/670090937 Ishar Kar

    Pi- Brilliant first effort from Darren Aronofsky and one of the best scores of all time.

    Dead Man- Quite slow, good performance from depp though.

    Pan's Labyrinth- Hauntingly beautiful

  • Sean

    I watched Magnolia again for the first time in over a year, and that movie gets me every time. Top 10 material.

    • Mason Williamson

      Greatest film of all-time.

  • Winchester

    In cinemas -

    Scream 4 (2011) - Brad's review was very on the mark. I fucking lapped this film up with glee from start to finish. Hands down it's the best Scream films since the first one back in 1996. Witty, laugh-out-loud hilarious at times, it also managed to surprise me a bit, even if (like some of the previous films) it's not necessarily terrifying.

    At first because the cast seemed so huge I wondered how they would all fit in but as at least four were just cameos it worked. I would disagree with Brad that you got enough to 'care' about ALL the characters in the film, there were several who had just too little screen time to get there. The meta sections and the killers (I kinda got their identity but more out of trying to figure out how they could twist it rather than because there were any clues, like the first, it could have been anyone at several points in the film) and the whole cinema I was in cheered at Sidney's line about remakes during the finale!

    The upshot is this is the most FUN I've had in a slasher/comedy-horror in literally years and I think it immediately makes you (or made me) realise how piss-poor and abysmal the likes of the Friday the 13th/Elm Street etc remakes really and truly are. It's a real shame that it probably won't kick-start a new franchise, because it's so much better than even I thought it would be.

    At home -

    Rope (1948) DVD Rewatch - A favourite film of mine amongst Hitch's CV. I'd love to see it if Hitch had been able to film it as truly the one continous take he wanted to. Intelligent and gripping, it's a little gem.

    Scream (1996) DVD Rewatch - This week I managed to do what I intended to last week and watch the trilogy. This is just a terrific thrill ride from the expertly built-up and paid off opening kill, through the whole film to the climax. Again, with a knowing wink in it's eye, laughs, chills and plenty of blood spills it's still the best of the whole bunch...........

    Scream 2 (1997) DVD Rewatch - ...........but this always did a creditable job of being almost as good. With some tremendously good set-pieces (the campus quad, the crawl over Ghostface in the car) and twists it's a sequel I think is not at all shabby.

    Scream 3 (2000) DVD Rewatch - And this is where the series went off plan I think. With the loss of Williamson, the replacement of Kruger (who just isn't in the same class and ability level when it comes to this genre anyway) it shows. The kills are too quick and bloodless, the jokes are more laboured and less witty, the backstory is clunky and there's just more a sense of parody in it rather than a good film itself. Scream 4 is a much more welcome conclusion to the story now.

    What Lies Beneath (2000) DVD Rewatch - A film that I just sort of enjoy, even though it's nothing very special. I love Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford and I think their combo here is a big part of the attraction. It's a decent enough haunted house story and it's well done as it's essentially a two-hander for the most part. I like it.

    That's all for me this week.

  • Alex G

    Only one this week.

    Insidious - Wow, this movie is scary! I don't ever get scared by horror movies, but damn, this one is something else! I was mortified the entire time. It starts out slow and builds up to an ending that may be a little contrived. Nonetheless, Insidious is entertainment at its finest. Watch out for that twist in the last minute! A-

  • MajorFilmFan

    Rio- This is a colorful, vibrant, and hilarious animated movie, and one of the best times I've had at the movies all year. Not to mention one of the best animated movies I've ever seen, as well as Blue Sky's best. 10/10

  • Destiny

    I'm hoping to see Rio or Scream 4 this week!

    Here are my recently watched films...

    Mulholland Drive - I'd like to think that I'm not the only one who didn't get this. Believe me I tried my best to make sense of it, dreams, parallel universe maybe but I guess there's really no way to tell what just happened in this film. Still I actually liked it!

    Hachicko: A Dog's Story - a very touching story. It's amazing to actually witness a dog's loyalty and love towards it's owner. I cried like a baby.

    The Cell - wow a feast for the eyes. Love Tarsem's visually stunning work, not as great as The Fall but it's still good.

  • Travis

    Satan Met a Lady - Doesn't come close to matching Bogart's Maltese Falcon, but this adaptation (written by the screenwriter who collaborated on the '31 pre-code Maltese Falcon) has a lot of fun as a variation on Hammett's masterpiece. Bette Davis is strong (although her performance would fit tonally better with the more serious adaptations), and Warren William is great in the role Bogart later played, there is a scene where he and Arthur Treacher have a great back-and-forth that is worth watching the movie for in itself. Again as a film it isn't even in the same ballpark as the '41 film, but it doesn't try to be, is a lot of fun. B

    Cinema Paradiso - I can see why people love this film, although I thought it was very good, I liked the first section with the kid a lot more than the rest. Having seen Amelie first- which I imagine was possibly inspired by this film- I naturally compared the two (more in tone, love of cinema), and this film falls short in many areas, an ending which I imagine is emotional for many fell flat for me. B

    Terminator Salvation - I figured I'd finally watch this one- as I loved the first 2, liked 3- to see if it was as bad as the reviews had me believe. It is, Bale (and everyone else) have no acting to do, for a big budget sci-fi action film the action scenes were utterly boring, the story was disappointing, and the whole thing was rather depressing, colorless. C-

    Why Worry? - The film follows Harold Lloyd as Woody Allen-ish character (except that he's a millionaire, the character develops) who decides to go on vacation, brings along his personal nurse who helps him deal with his various neuroses. Once he gets there the country is at the beginning of a revolution, we watch as Lloyd, a giant whom the revolutionaries have imprisoned try to stop the revolution so that Lloyd can have a peaceful vacation. It is very funny, though not as good as Safety Last!, Girl Shy (the only other Lloyd features I've seen to this point), it definitely shows why Lloyd was the number 3 silent comedian. B+

    Love and Other Drugs - Very disappointing, it received mixed reviews, but I really like Gyllenhaal, in the right roles Hathaway is very good, and really liking Jerry Maguire (which Brad compared it to) I expected more. The leads are good enough, but it followed the Jerry Maguire plot points too closely, though it has a few moments, it didn't have any top notch moments, whether comedic or dramatic, just felt okay from start to finish. C+

    2012 - Another one I decided to finally catch up on. Was a little like The Day After Tomorrow meets Mars Attacks! meets Titanic, written and directed by Roland Emmerich. The effects are good but not great, the John Cusack story line is a little odd in that it is very comedic for the nature of what is happening (although without it the film may have been very depressing). The positive would be that like TDAT Emmerich finds a way to make it scientifically seem possible, but the film like Bad Boys 2, many other Hollywood films seems to care a lot about the characters it follows (the scene near the end where Cusack takes a while to get back after unjamming the door), not so much for those that would be dying all around them (some of the comedic scenes with Cusack in the limousine, plane as thousands of people die in the background). It's a decent enough popcorn flick, but I just can't get past that last point. C+

  • C138

    I actually thought that Anthony Hopkins' performance was the strongest aspect of Amistad and that he stole the show, especially with the 10 minute monologue he gives at the end. I wouldn't rank the film as one of Spielberg's very best, but I thought it was pretty good. Anyways...

    New stuff:

    Nine - It was better than I expected it to be after having heard so many negative reviews. It's just a more flashy and razzle-dazzle version of Fellini's film, and inferior, but still pretty entertaining. 3.5/5

    The Alamo (2004) - I thought this was an underrated film. I liked it a lot and thought it had some solid performances and the climactic battle for the Alamo at the end was well staged and photographed. 4/5

    Your Highness - Such a bizarre movie on so many levels. To be fair, I didn't think it was the total train-wreck that I had been expecting it to be for all these months. At the same time I wouldn't go calling it a good movie, either. 2.5/5

    Fair Game - A solid and well done movie with strong performances from Naomi Watts and Sean Penn. 4/5

    The Steel Helmet - A pretty good film with some powerful moments, although I'd have to say I think I like The Big Red One more. Still, considering the time that it was made it is a pretty gritty portrayal of war. 3.5/5

    Bottle Rocket - An odd and funny movie with some really hilarious moments. Although I haven't seen Rushmore yet, I'd say this is so far my favorite Wes Anderson film. 4/5

    My Blueberry Nights - I know this is another movie that got dumped on when it was initially released, but I actually liked it. It had great visuals and I thought Norah Jones did a pretty solid job in her acting debut, and I found David Strathairn's story to be rather tragic. I thought it dealed with some interesting themes such as love, loss, loneliness, trust, moving on, etc. 4/5

    The Majestic - A good film with equally strong performances by Jim Carrey and Martin Landau, but the biggest fault of the entire thing is the pace and length. It is way too long and takes forever to develop. Regardless of it's faults, it's still worthy of a recommendation. 3.5/5

    Fitzcarraldo - A fascinating and bizarre film. Just watching a 300 ton steamboat being pulled over a mountain with Klaus Kinski going insane is always a fun time. My favorite Werner Herzog film to date. 4.5/5

    Re-watches:

    Days of Heaven - One of the most beautiful looking movies ever made. Sam Shepard is truly haunting in his screen debut. Not my absolute favorite Terrence Malick movie, but is a terrific one. 4.5/5

    The Thin Red Line - After having watched Days of Heaven, I was in the mood for some more Malick. This is my favorite Terrence Malick movie, and I've watched it tons of times within the past year. I'm sure I will watch all of his films again next month as it leads up to the release of The Tree of Life. 5/5

  • Tom Beet

    Have watches quite a lot of movies last week. Here's the list:

    True Grit (2010) *second viewing* 4/5
    One of the most beautiful movie of 2010. I just fell in love with it. The Coen brothers rarely have disappointed me.

    The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou (2004) 3/5
    Being a fan of Wes Anderson, I enjoyed this movie a lot. Not his best film though. It's a bit unrealistic, but it's stylish and Murray gave a good performance there.

    In a Better World (2010) 3.5/5
    Honestly, I enjoyed After the Wedding more than this movie. Don't get me wrong, this movie is solid, good acted and meaningful, but it's a bit uneven and I think Incendies was more deserving to win Best Foreign Language last year.

    Possession (1981) 3/5
    One weird film. Too weird in fact. I think it's an art film so we don't need to understand what the movie means, but experienced it. And hell, What a worthy movie to experience. Good acting here also.

    Tokyo Godfathers (2003) 3.5/5
    Having enjoyed all the Satoshi Koi's movies, and heard many good things from this movie; I decided to watch it. And I was not disappointed. The movie is just "simple" plot (compare to his other movies), but it's a warm, smart-laugh movie. All the characters have many flaws, but they're so lively and we feel them like a real people. Highly Recommended!

    Mother (2009) 3.5/5
    First thing I want to say, the movie basically got it all: The screenplay was well-written, with a witty dialogue and many logic twists. The acting was excellent, Kim Hye-ja handled the difficult role with such convincing. The directing is top-notch too. Bong Joon-ho Knew what he was doing and controlled the movie quite well. So why is this rate? I think the problem was I do not like how the story goes. And especially I found the first part (before Won Bin's character ask his mother why she wanted to kill him when he was young)was not interesting like the second part, as the Mother was not active at all. Overall, the movie is worthy to view it again and again.

    Au Hasard Balthazard (1966) 4.5/5
    It is the movie that hit me hard this week. The movie is quiet, subtle, yet meaningful. How can he use the story about the donkey to tell the story about human so perfectly? How can everything just seem so happy in the beginning feels so sad at the end? Robert Bresson gave a donkey his soul, and his little life became really relevant to us, people.

    The Emperor's New Groove (2000) 3/5
    Okay. This movie is fresh. The animation is different than what we know about Disney before. The story is funny and original. But the one thing I disliked about this movie is the character Pocho is too 1-dimensional. But all in all I enjoyed watching it.

    Open Your Eyes (1997) 3/5
    I must said, this movie started promisingly but honestly I found the scifi ending ruined its premise. Maybe because i'm not a fan of sci-fi, or maybe because I'm looking for more surrealism style. I just don't engage for any character at the end of the movie. But the beginning and middle were really good and interesting.

    The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
    Another entry from Wes Anderson, actually I enjoyed this one more than The Life Aquatic. This movie contained all of Wes Anderson's trademark: The main characters, the relationship, the dazzling visual, the slow-motion... Hoping for more Wes Anderson movie.

    Beowulf (2007) *second watching* 3/5
    I liked the visual in this movie. The film also successful to deliver its message; A HERO IS JUST A HUMAN. The final fight scene was the highlight of the movie in my opinion.

    Hopefully will watch some movies from Asia this week: particularly The Host, Thirst, Poetry from Korea and Still Walking, Tokyo Sonata, Nobody Knows from Japan.