The Bridges of Madison County (1995)

the_bridges_of_madison_county.pngWell this post marks an interesting change because TSPDT just released the 2018 version of the list which means that I’m back to literally square one and now none of my posts are going to be in order. I’m very disheartened, but I’ll pull through it and keep on with my reviews.

When I watched The Bridges of Madison County it was at #985, it has now climbed to #855 so I didn’t watch it for nothing, I just watched it too early. This is one of those movies I’d heard of in passing but knew nothing about. It’s the story of a married woman who spends a weekend with a photographer and falls in love. This is a movie directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, and I will admit that I don’t have the best track record with him. There are movies he’s in that I’ve liked, but generally it’s not because he’s in it. He is usually the one criticism I have about the movies. Because of that I mostly want to talk about his relationship with Meryl Streep and the structure of how the story was told.

I’ll start with the leads’ relationship which, if I’m being entirely honest, I didn’t find that great. I thought Meryl Streep gave an amazing performance as usual, and Clint Eastwood did a good job but I didn’t end up very invested in their romance. Clint Eastwood was very straight faced most of the time and it was hard to really understand what he was thinking or feeling. I hear you’re supposed to cry during this movie, and there’s a scene near the end that I think is the one that’s supposed to do it for you. While I can understand how heartbreaking it is to lose your love, it just didn’t get me anywhere near crying. But one thing I did do more that I expected during this movie was laugh. Meryl Streep is just amazingly funny. Every time she laughed it had me laughing. Hands down, my favorite part of the movie is when he’s handing her flowers and she tells him they’re poisonous so he straight up drops them on the ground then she starts uncontrollably laughing. I was laughing my ass off with her… I don’t know why I found it so funny but I loved it. She truly is one of the greats and can bring you right into the movie. With a different actor opposite her I might’ve been able to connect more with what they were going through.

Then again, maybe not because now I want to talk about the structure of the story which I think helped to lessen the emotional impact it had on me. The story is told through Meryl’s diaries that are being read by her children after she passes away. I believe this drastically reduced the tension and emotion they could have gotten out of the last “will they, won’t they” scene in the movie. You know they won’t because her kids don’t even know about the guy. If they had done the entire movie in chronological order, or even left it ambiguous from the beginning, the story would’ve packed a larger punch. Then again, Titanic did the same thing and I still felt emotions through it, so what do I know. I just needed something extra to get me to that crying place, and this movie didn’t provide it for me.

As an objective viewer, this was a very good romantic drama and it sure does deserve a place on the list. If you’re into these kinds of movies and haven’t seen it yet, you might as well give it a watch. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed because even if it doesn’t make you cry, it’s a good watch for Meryl Streep’s performance alone.

Verdict: 7.5/10 Maybe don’t give away the end of the movie at the beginning of the movie


The Tarnished Angels (1957)

the_tarnished_angels.pngContinuing on with my TSPDT adventure we have #986, The Tarnished Angels. This movie is about a reporter who befriends a family with a daredevil pilot husband and a daredevil parachute stunt woman wife. It’s hard for me to really describe my feelings on this movie… overall I’m left feeling just lukewarm. There were things I definitely thought were great, like the stunt work and effects, and there were some really emotional scenes that stood out. I don’t know if I can pin point anything that I didn’t like in this movie, but not disliking something doesn’t mean I necessarily liked it and that’s kind of where I’m at. I didn’t dislike it.

I’ll start off with the stunt work/effects which blew me away for a movie made in the 50s. I don’t really know for sure which scenes were done for the movie and which ones were stock footage that they were able to splice in, but either way I don’t have many complaints. There are 3 stunts that I really want to explore: the parachute stunt, the first plane race and the final place race. Starting with the parachute stunt which was performed by the wife, LaVerne, in the movie, you could easily tell that it cut back and forth between stock footage and the actress standing on a box or something in front of a green screen. It made me chuckle a little bit, but the stunt she was supposed to be performing was pretty crazy. You’d have to be insane to try something like that… I mean, I can’t even hold myself up that long when I’m only inches off the ground, let alone hundreds of feet in the air. The next two scenes are both of the plane races, and I can’t really tell how they were done. Probably some mixture of stock footage and real stunt pilots doing the shots for the movie. In either case, it all blended in exceptionally well and captured my attention. There were some gruesome parts in each of the races that I have to admit I was a little shocked to see in such an old movie. I was engrossed in each of them though and I found myself yelling along with the announcer to get off the damn field! I guess people weren’t very smart back then… you run away from danger, not towards it.

The next thing that I was impressed with was the emotions they were able to squeeze out of me. I don’t often feel sad in old movies, but this one definitely hit me right in the gut. I wanted to do my best to leave spoilers out of this review but I can’t talk about this part without giving plot points away so go watch the movie then come back. In the last race, when Roger’s plane is going down, his son is on that merry-go-round ride and can see the whole thing taking place but can’t do anything about it. He’s crying and trapped inside that fake plane and all he can do is watch his dad crash his very real plane into the lake. It’s really heartbreaking to watch, and the boy did a great job acting in that scene. Most older movies I’ve seen they don’t really prolong that sadness, but this movie kept it going all the way to the end. You could feel that the family was mourning. The boy would break down crying and run into his mother’s arms. It’s all very sad and excellently accented by the reporter, Burke Devlin’s, final speech in the newsroom. He expertly sums up the love, sacrifice and tragedy of the family’s story and he also relates it to how the news can report the facts, but it can’t ever give you the whole story. You just can’t sum up a person’s life in a 200 word article on the front page. Rock Hudson just destroyed this scene, in the best way possible. This was my first Rock Hudson movie, and I really liked him in it. I hope I get to see some more of his movies on this list.

After dissecting this movie I can start to see how it could end up on a list like this. It can pack an emotional punch and has some interesting plane stunts that you don’t see often. It’s also relatively short at only 90 minutes long so you might as well pop it in and give it a watch. I know I might give this one a rewatch some day.

Verdict: 7.8/10 Clear the field… PLEASE clear the field! Give him a chance to land!!


Le Trou (1960)

le_trou.pngAh, Le Trou, #987 on TPSDT, is quite possibly the best prison escape movie ever made. This is my second time seeing this movie and I loved it just as much as the first time I saw it. It’s ingenious and captivating to watch them enact their daring escape. The ending is perfect and really takes you by surprise.

This is a movie that is all about the escape… they don’t waste time with backstory or PoVs of the guards. You’re thrown in with Gaspard and learn about the plan as he does. Then you get to watch them break through concrete using a metal bar, file through other metal bars, comedically avoid guards by walking around a pillar and so much more. When they break through the floor, it’s all done in one continuous shot and you see the actors actually doing it. You hear the deafening bang of metal on concrete, you feel the tension in your stomach as the guards walk closer to their cell, you hear the grunts and labored breathing of the actors as they exert all their energy before passing the bar off to the next man. When they first start chipping away at the floor I thought there was no way they’re getting through that… then it starts to give way and you get little stones, and bigger stones and dirt, and finally they break through to the other side. It’s amazing to watch and it draws you in completely. They make a lot of tools out of things you wouldn’t expect and it’s so much fun watching their contraptions work like a charm.

I won’t give away the ending, but it was a perfect finale to an amazing movie. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Seriously, this was perfect in every way, there was no other way for this movie to end. After watching them struggle to dig their way out for 2 hours, this was the ending that has the biggest emotional impact on the viewer.

This might be my favorite french movie ever. It drew me in completely and had my full attention. It’s different than most movies of this type by showing you the gritty details, but that’s what makes it so memorable. This is absolutely worth checking out.

Verdict: 9.3/10 Made me hungry for rice pudding… that hasn’t been stirred by a guard with a knife that was just used to cut open a smoked fish…



The Fits (2015)

the fits.pngI don’t know how I can rip apart a movie about a young girl. This is going to make me feel like a real monster but I can’t hide how I really feel. The Fits is a movie about a tom-boy who decides she wants to join the cheer-leading squad right as girls on the squad mysteriously start having cases of “The Fits” which are like these religious experiences that eventually all the girls want to have.

I really don’t understand what The Fits are supposed to be. You hear on the news that it might be from the water but then they prove it isn’t… so what the heck is it? At first it seemed like a real medical condition and I could wrap my logical brain around it, then at the very end it turned sort of supernatural or fantastical. You could make the argument that it wasn’t really supernatural because it was just showing The Fits from the perspective of the person experiencing it. It didn’t work for me though and at the end I was left scratching my head asking “That was it?”. I’m actually surprised that this movie was on a list of 25 best movies released in 2016. I’m not sure what made this so remarkable to have it stand out so much from other movies last year. Royalty Hightower who plays the main character is talented, I’ll give her that. Her performance is the only thing that made this movie tolerable. The acting was good and it seemed technically sound, but story-wise there just wasn’t a lot there and the ending was too anti-climactic.

For only being 72 minutes long, I guess if you want to check it out you won’t be risking much. It’s gotten really good reviews so maybe this is one of those movies I just didn’t get, but you may enjoy.

Verdict: 6.5/10 Watching it gave me The Fits

Movies, TV

Best of 2017

Well 2017 is over and so ends another year of watching too many damn movies. I think my count this year (excluding re-watches) was something like 250 movies so it was a pretty good movie year for me. I had a lot of fun in October with my first horror movie marathon, I got suckered back into watching anime, had my first back to back re-watch ever, and got to see a lot of great female led movies. So here are my top 5 movies released in 2017:

5. Raw

This was unexpected, but damn did I love this movie. A few scenes completely grossed me out. I haven’t really seen this type of story done this way before so I was totally into it.

4. Patti Cake$

You’ve probably heard me rave about this movie enough. An unconventional trio of main characters and great music.

3. A Silent Voice

You’ve also probably heard me rave about this one. This movie got me interested in anime again, it was just that good. It showed me something new for once, and it hit me emotionally on several occasions.

2. Blade Runner 2049

I saw this one in theaters and I thought it was a lot better than the original. The story was interesting and tricked me in a good way. The visuals were gorgeous, the acting was outstanding and the story was perfect for a sequel.

1. Baby Driver

This movie takes the honors of being the only movie I’ve watched twice in a row. I seriously couldn’t get it out of my head I just had to see it again and it was still just as good. I love the music, the cars, the characters… it all clicked for me. This is easily my favorite movie of the year, and now has a place on my top 20 of all time (we’ll see if it holds up over the years or not).

Honorable Mentions: The Big Sick, Logan Lucky, Okja, Wonder Woman, Wind River, Brigsy Bear, A Ghost Story, The climactic fight scene in Atomic Blonde.

As a little afterward, I do also watch tons of TV and found a few amazing series this year. They may not have been released in 2017, but this is the year I discovered them so here are some of my best and worst:

Best Newly Discovered Shows

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Fargo, Billions, The Handmaid’s Tale, 13 Reasons Why, Black Mirror

Fantastic, Awesome, Binge-Worthy New Seasons of my Favorite Shows

Orange is the New Black, Halt and Catch Fire, Humans, Better Call Saul

Disappointing New Seasons

Supergirl, The Walking Dead, Arrow, The Flash

Hopefully 2018 will give way to even more great movies and TV. There are many movies and new seasons I’m looking forward to and I’m hoping to make a larger dent in the TSPDT list.