Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Searchers (1956)

Director: John Ford
Writers: Frank S. Nugent (screenplay)
Alan Le May (novel)
Starring: John Wayne

Basic story: John Wayne comes back after the Civil War. His family gets killed or taken captive by Comanches. He and his "nephew" track them. Eventually they are able to rescue one of his nieces. Check out the full synopsis on IMDB if you get a chance.

Dan doesn't really watch westerns, so to him (and Nick) nothing seemed to stand out as to why this one was great. Everybody agreed that the cookies we had were good, as was the cheese dip.

Kristen thinks it is interesting in this movie how much everyone would sacrifice to try to recover one girl. A big contrast to modern ideals.

It was also odd how the director juxtaposed comedy with the drama. One moment, someone would be getting scalped, then a few minutes later it is almost slapstick.

Aaron thought it was interesting that people say this movie influenced many modern movies, including Star Wars. The scene at the beginning when they come back to the burned out farm is much like Tatooine. And then the characters spend the whole movie trying to track down and get revenge on the warchief Scar...aka Darth Vader.

Nick: Didn't love it...didn't hate it...kind of like pork chops.
Kristen: Will I watch this again? "That'll be the day."
Dan: Watch Dances with Wolves instead.
Jen: Umm...never really seen a western...not a bad one to watch.
Cheryl: Has nothing to say.
Aaron: If you're a fan of westerns watch it. Otherwise, not so much.

Overall Recommendation:
If you are a John Wayne fan, John Ford fan, or a fan of the genre, check it out. Or if you like movies that can't decide if they are comedies or dramas.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)

Director: Robert Mulligan
Written By: Harper Lee (novel), Horton Foote (screenplay)
Starring: Gregory Peck, Robert Duvall, Mary Badham, Phillip Alford


Now, personally, this is one of my all-time favorite movies. Probably because it has a strong father figure, which so many movies and TV shows don't these days. The basics of the plot are these:

In the south, before desegregation and the civil rights movement, a white, widowed lawyer named Atticus Finch (played by Gregory Peck) defends a black man that was unjustly accused of raping a white woman. The story centers around the lawyer and his two young children, Scout (a girl), and Jem (a boy), as well as their summertime neighbor, Dill.

I won't go into details, because I hope you'll watch this movie. It has a lot to say about equality, standing up for what't right, and the power of your parents in setting your moral compass. There's a lot to the movie I won't even touch on, but I have to tell you about my favorite scene.

During the trial, the whites are sitting in the floor-level seating of the courtroom, and everyone else is relegated to the balcony. Scout, Jem, and Dill are also in the balcony, specifically sitting with the local black reverend.

At the end of the trial, Atticus is the last one to leave the floor of the courtroom. As he starts to leave, everyone in the balcony stands. The kids had been sitting on the floor looking through the railing. The reverend says, "Miss Jeannie Louise (Scout's real name). Miss Jeannie Louise, stand up."

"Why?", Scout asks.

"Your father's passin'," is his reply.

That simple exchange encapsulates the black community's feelings about Atticus, and I think for the first time makes Scout realize that her father isn't just her dad, and that he has a greater role outside of their home. I had a similiar realization about my own father and the way he was viewed in my hometown. I'll probably blog about that on my personal blog soon.

Anyway...To Kill A Mockingbird. If you haven't seen it, you should!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Citizen Kane (1941)

Director: Orson Welles
Written By: Orson Welles & Herman J. Mankiewicz
Starring: Orson Welles (Charles Foster Kane), Agnes Morehead (Mary Kane)

Nick: I highly recommend this movie! Read the review below to see why!


So I guess I'll get this party started.

First of all I'll say that I enjoyed this FAR more then I expected to. Maybe it's because after hearing everyone call it the "greatest movie of all time" I was a little skeptical. I didn't think it could be THAT good could it? Turns out it can. Beyond all the different technical achievements that I'm not qualified or know enough about to talk in detail, the story is one of the best told stories I've seen in cinema.

The story centers around the life of a man named Charles Foster Kane, a man who inherited a large sum of money and decides to buy a struggling newspaper as his own. The movie is told from the perspective of a reporter trying to find out the significance of Kane's dying word...Rosebud. Through flashbacks with family and friends we learn a tragic story about a man searching for love and acceptance from the people around him, and doing whatever he can to gain that love.

I think the reason that this movie has endured for so long as a classic is due to the timeless struggle of mankind, the struggle of true love, of acceptance and of trying to find our identity through people we love and people we want to love us.

This is a theme that is prevalent through all of Scripture. From the Fall onward, mankind is constantly trying to find our identity with all manner of things. Sex, money, relationships, stuff we can buy, anything we can find to give our life meaning. For Kane that was doing whatever he had to do to get the masses to love him, to use his newspaper and his position to gain the respect and adoration of everyone in the country. In reality all this did was cover up his emptiness and longing, much like how in our lives the things we try to fill our lives with only cover up our emptiness and doesn't actually fulfill us, no matter how much we lie to ourselves, as Kane continued to lie to himself during the movie.

Overall this was a very good film with some timeless truths about us as human beings. Technically this movie apparently was the first film to use a variety of filming methods, such as different camera angles and things of that nature that, again, I'm not really qualified to explain in detail. I'm glad we watched this film and I encourage anyone reading this blog to do the same, it's very thought provoking about the human condition.

Finally at the end of each of my reviews I'll be adding some fun trivia facts about the movie, as pulled from Check out IMDB for more facts, goofs and other information for any movie you watch since I'm only pulling a few trivia facts instead of all of them.

The camera looks up at Charles Foster Kane and his best friend Jedediah Leland and down at weaker characters like Susan Alexander Kane. This was a technique that Orson Welles borrowed from John Ford who had used it two years previously on Stagecoach (1939). Welles privately watched Stagecoach (1939) about 40 times while making this film.

Despite all the publicity, the film was a box office flop and was quickly consigned to the RKO vaults. At 1941's Academy Awards the film was booed every time one of its nine nominations was announced. It was only re-released for the public in the mid-1950s.

Orson Welles always claimed that this picture was not the biography of one specific individual, but a composite of characters from that era in America. Though universally recognized as based on the life of William Randolph Hearst, there were also elements in the story that applied to the life of Chicago utilities magnate Samuel Insull (1859-1938).

In 2007, the American Film Institute once again ranked this as the #1 Greatest Movie of All Time. This film was previously the #1-ranked entry on the AFI's previous list of 1998.

The movie's line "Rosebud." was voted as the #17 movie quote by the American Film Institute.

The movie's line "Old age... it's the only disease, Mr. Thompson, that you don't look forward to being cured of." was voted as the #90 of "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere in 2007.

William Randolph Hearst was so angered by the film that he accused Orson Welles of being a Communist in order to keep the film from being released.

When asked by friends how Kane's last words would be known when he died alone, Orson Welles reportedly stared for a long time before saying, "Don't you ever tell anyone of this."

During filming Orson Welles received a warning that William Randolph Hearst had arranged for a naked woman to jump into his arms when he entered his hotel room, and there was also a photographer in the room to take a picture that would be used to discredit him. Welles spent the night elsewhere, and it is unknown if the warning was true.