Rashomon (1950)

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There isn’t much else I can say other than this movie has messed with my head. I wasn’t really too interested in it for the first 20 minutes or so, then I started to realize what the plot was about and began enjoying it more and more with each version of the story that was told. This was like Life of Pi but with even more versions of the story. Normally I don’t like being lied to or tricked in a movie cause usually it’s done in a cheap way to throw some twist in because the writers got lazy. In this case, the trick/twist/lie was that the guy with the axe that found the body didn’t tell the story as it really happened. I pretty much assumed that it happened how I saw it on screen, only later did I realize that the whole movie was about as accurate as a friend telling you a story about something amazing they did 20 years ago or a 5 year old telling you how your new 60″ TV screen was cracked. People have a tendency to lie to cover their asses or make themselves seem better than they are. This movie really played with that and by the end had me scratching my head. Maybe one version was right, maybe none of them were right. I feel like the woman’s story was more accurate because she admitted to killing someone which I don’t think a lot of people would do in court… especially if everyone else was saying how she didn’t do it. Although, if everyone is saying it wasn’t her then maybe her saying it really was her is a lie and she really didn’t do it. Or maybe the movie was saying that men lie and women tell the truth, but that they’re cold blooded killers. Quite the puzzler and is worthy of a repeat viewing down the line.

Now, if I may, as is tradition I will go into the things that I somewhat disliked. The laughing was incredibly over the top and actually pretty annoying near the end. I suppose in everyone’s version of the story they may have embellished things a little to make Tajomaru seem more insane and evil, but that doesn’t really explain why he laughed like a madman at the court. Perhaps he is just a madman after all, it doesn’t make the laugh any less annoying though. I was also not too impressed with the court scenes. I guess this movie was 12 years older than Harakiri, but I loved the talking scenes in that movie so much more. In this one it was very one sided… almost as if we were the judge… woah. You know what, that was actually kind of awesome. And the “judge” never asked the questions, it was always the one telling the story that sort of repeated the question and then answered it. It was like we were in the movie the entire time! Ok I guess I can’t say anything bad about that, but this next part I really didn’t like, I promise. The scenes like when the guy with the axe was walking through the woods reminded me a lot of a silent movie. Exaggerated movements, no speech and constant music. I will admit here that I am not a fan of silent movies. I’ve seen 3 or 4 of them and it just didn’t do it for me. A lot of the comedic elements in this movie didn’t really do it for me either. Maybe you had to live in Japan in the 40s to truly get that kind of humor, but I didn’t and it pulled me out of the movie whenever it happened.

It took quite a bit of pondering to write this post and as a result of that and of my mid-sentence realization I have decided to give a better verdict to this film. For a 1950 movie, I think the story was excellent and the camera work was just as fantastic. I can see why this movie is on so many top lists now. It wasn’t my favorite old Japanese movie, but it definitely makes me more interested to watch the others I have on my list.

Verdict: 8/10 AHAHAHAHAHA

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

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A James Bond movie, how can you possibly go wrong with that? Well, the answer is simple, you sort of can by having a completely insane plot. But let me discuss something else before I go down that road because there is something positive I would like to say about this movie. Replacing Sean Connery with George Lazenby was a good move for my enjoyment. I never liked Connery as Bond, maybe it was just because of the decade it was made but he was a real jerk to women. I mean the woman says no I don’t want to have sex with you and then he pretty much does it anyways… I think that’s called rape. But he’s Bond so we let that slide I guess. Hard for me to get past that. Not to mention, I didn’t find him attractive in the least so it wasn’t believable to me that he got all those women. Lazenby was sort of weird but he was at least a likeable guy. He wasn’t as smooth and cool as the other Bonds I’ve seen though, he seemed too nice at times but then he’d throw some guy off a really tall cliff to his snowy death… there was a little give and take there. I liked the direction they were heading in this movie away from how Connery acted towards women, even if another guy did knock a woman unconscious so she would get into the helicopter.

Now to talk about something that really turned me off from this movie in the first half. Bond was undercover as a gay genealogist named Hilary and wore a kilt. Maybe in the 60s this was the epitome of suave cool manliness like Bond is supposed to be, but… uh yeah not doing it for me. The whole “I only sleep with men” thing seemed entirely unnecessary since he almost immediately slept with 2 different women on the same night he got there. Fine, I can excuse that as long as the rest of the movie is reasonably plausible. Nope, he is at a clinic that tries to cure women of their allergies. At dinner everyone was eating the food they were allergic to, like the one woman with a plate of corn on the cob or the girls that were allergic to meat, and were suggestively eating it in front of Bond. Is that supposed to be some kind of innuendo, like “look at me, I love eating meat, isn’t this so sexy?” One of the women’s reason for coming to the clinic was because she worked at a chicken farm and was allergic to chickens… did the woman allergic to corn work on a corn field too? They should have saved time by making all the women allergic to men then they’d have to eat Bond at dinner and we wouldn’t need to suffer through all that nonsense. I will say though, the idea of Bond getting married was sweet, and Lazenby was really good in those scenes. I leaked some sort of clear fluid from my eyes at the end, made a doctor’s appointment to get that checked out. I will also mention that I liked the bobsled fight scene and even some of the skiing. The green screen was obviously hilarious and fake, but still much better than a CG fight scene where you can’t even tell what’s going on.

The first half was just awful but I liked the second half more and I would have liked to see Lazenby in another movie over Connery. Connery’s Bond movies had a better story, but Lazenby was a more likeable guy. Because of the ridiculous story, I was going to give this a pretty low score but I did like that ending so I have no choice but to raise it up a little bit.

Verdict: 7/10 Needs less men named Hilary and women with chicken allergies

Cool Hand Luke (1967)

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Well it’s been awhile, the past 2 weeks have been pretty crazy and I haven’t had too much time or desire to watch or review any movies. But this is a very special post because it marks my 700th watched movie. I feel this weird mixture of pride and shame, but nonetheless it is a milestone movie. I picked carefully from my list of movies in queue and I thought I had a winner on my hands. However, for a movie so well liked, what Cool Hand Luke had was a failure to communicate with me. I faded in and out with this one and just couldn’t seem to stay invested. The biggest hurdle to me enjoying this movie was that I wasn’t too interested in the characters. Since this is mostly a character driven story revolving around Luke, I’d say that’s a problem. Luke was interesting, but everyone else I honestly couldn’t care less about. To me they were just a bunch of nameless prisoners who liked to play poker and watch a woman provocatively wash her car, both of which I am not that interested in.

There were some scenes that I really enjoyed watching, particularly the egg scene. The first time I saw this scene was on Malcolm in the Middle where Francis tried to eat 100 Peeps on a bet and I had no idea it was a spoof of this movie. The scene was entertaining enough and one of the more memorable moments in the movie. Aside from that scene, I enjoyed the last 45-ish minutes of the movie when Luke really started breaking out and getting caught. I found this is where it picked up and I became more interested in the characters. I thought the entire movie would be more like the last 45 minutes but they spent so much time building up the characters and setting the stage that it just didn’t work for me. If they had flipped the structure around and had 45 minutes of character setup and then an hour and 20 minutes of the parts I found more interesting well I think I’d be inclined to give it a better verdict than what it has now. Maybe this was one of those guy movies and I just didn’t get it.

For my 700th-movie post, I wish I had more to say. I picked a middle of the road movie where there wasn’t much that I liked and not much that I could really dive into and complain about on a high level. I have literally had this post open in my browser for 2 weeks trying to pick my brain for something even remotely intelligent to say other than “Meh.” Did I accomplish that goal? I don’t think so. Did I make it over this hurdle so I can move on to other movies? You bet!

Verdict: 7/10  Meh