I know what you’re thinking. Trust me, I know. That I’m being careful not to challenge myself too much. Well.. it’s not that I’m being careful, but I’m not gonna lie to you either – I sucked at watching these films in the last few weeks. First of all, I spent 8 days in Spain (more on that later) where I watched no films whatsoever. But even before that, I can’t exactly be proud of myself. Frankly, I was just getting too distracted by too many things. And the fact that none of the ‘challenge’ movies I watched in the past 30 days has inspired me very much, did not help either. So, I thought, I’ll just give you a quick sum-up of what I have seen, so you know I’m not a total loser. And also so you know what films you don’t have to stress about too much if you feel like your final day is coming 😉
Fish Called Wanda (1988) – I was looking forward to this particular one. Being it a John Cleese film, and with Jamie Lee Curtis on board, I thought that good kind of ridiculous fun. But I was disappointed. It seemed.. too ridiculous. Just a little too much. Most of the time I caught myself thinking, ‘oh, this was supposed to be funny’, but didn’t get much further than recognizing the actual jokes, not laughing at them. Which is what I call a comedy fail. But to be fair – there are some great moments. And if I had the chance to see it in the original sound and not dubbed into Czech (although the Czech dubbing from these days is generally real good quality), it might have made a difference, too. After all it’s John Cleese and the iconic British humor we’re talking about here. So not quite translatable. But still, it was just a little too much with the same thing over and over again, making me want to fast forward some of the scenes, that seemed way too long and boring.
Cabaret (1972) – I have always wanted to see the famous Cabaret! But somehow it was always escaping me. Now in this case, I cannot say it was disappointing. It was completely different from what I was expecting. But I totally get why it has become so glorified and one of the must see films. It’s just kind of revolutionary for its time by both the style and the story, which must have created quite some indignation back then. For that alone it does deserve its place on the list. But would it be on my list? Of my personal favorites? Erm… not sure. My trouble with the film is actually its greatest asset – Liza Minnelli. I have never been a fan of Liza’s and the type of American culture she represents. Just not my thing. I don’t like her singing (same as her mother’s) so beloved in the US. I adore Liza Minnelli the person though! I have seen an interview with her (on Graham Norton I believe) few years back and I found her absolutely hilarious! So, it’s not a personal thing at all. It’s that type of culture I can’t identify myself with – maybe simply because it is not part of my culture and what I grew up with. However, all of the actors’ performances are absolutely amazing and if you do like Liza’s singing and all that cabaret style, you’re gonna love this! And even if you don’t, you should still watch this one!
The Producers (1967) – As you can see, after overloading myself with some serious topics at the beginning of my challenge, I was being more wise and investing my time into some lighter fun! But The Producers turned out to be a little like Fish Called Wanda to me. A bit too ridiculous. Although, much much better than Wanda. In this case, it wasn’t failing to make me laugh. It’s absurd and has some really good points. If you accept that absurdity, you’re gonna have a great time! Cause the idea behind the story is great. And it is supposed be absolutely ridiculous, that’s the whole point here. It just seems all little too extreme for my taste. But don’t get me wrong – I do love some ridiculous fun! I love Hot Shots for example. Best thing ever! Absolutely genius in its ridiculousness. Which by the way, should definitely be on the list!! It sure will be on mine 😉 (damn, I really need to start working on that list!)
Notorious (1946) – Here I went back to a bit more serious fun. And this was fun – a typical Hitchcockian fun, if you can even call it that way. Not much more to say here though. Hitchock‘s film noir with the beautiful Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant. Wouldn’t make it on my list, but definitely not a waste of time.
Get Carter (1971) – Now we’re getting real serious! If you want a lesson in the evolution of action hero movies, this is for you. If you wanna know where the type of hero, who is charming enough that he makes you forgive him being actually more of a bad guy than a typical good guy, and just makes you love him for exactly what he is (and for the fact that he doesn’t give a shit), have their origins, this is the film to watch. Yes, that type of thing where Daniel Craig as James Bond doesn’t give a shit about his behaviour – that has started in the 70’s with Michael Cain‘s Carter. Forget the old Bonds, this is the type of character Ian Fleming had in mind. For a genre lesson it really is a great eye-opener and will give you a lot of the aha moments. However, if you’re not interested in film history or the evolution of this particular genre, skip it. Because you’ll be super bored. From today’s point of view it’s just not interesting enough.
Meet Me in St. Luis (1944) – This much beloved American classic, which I’ve been wanting to see for a long, long time but similar to Cabaret, somehow never did, has two things for which I could never put it on my list. The cute children type of thing which I find extremely annoying and too much of the American family values. It’s just… too much. Too much of everything. Too much of kitsch. Too much cuteness. Too much of the family values. Everything is just SO exposed. So pushed on you. Gah. No way. I’m not buying it. It is an excellent product of its times, a lesson in American history and the mood of the society of that time. And for that it surely deserves its place in this book given the criteria for the films that were included. But I think you can easily go and die without ever seeing it. Especially, if you are not an American. (And just on the sidenote – who the hell doesn’t want to move to New York? I mean… c’mon!! 🙂 )
Shoot the Pianist (1960) – So, as a rebound from too much of an exposure to the American values, I went with a French film instead. Sadly, I don’t have much to say about this one. Other than that the difference between the French film noir and the American is striking and fascinating. But not even this one would make it to my list.
Beau Travail (1999) – This was another try with using the French cinema as a medicine for the American overload. I love Claire Denis. I’ve seen quite a few of her films (Chocolat, White Material, No Fear, No Die), and always found them fascinating. But not this one. I have to confess – I did not even finish it. And that happens once in a million times to me. I always refuse to give up. But with this one, I didn’t feel like there was anything I was actually giving up.. I love films where not much is going on, but here there’s nothing at all going on!! Or I’m just missing it big time. .
Willy Wonka & Chocolate Factory (1971) – Chocolate fun! Unfortunately, I’ve seen the Tim Burton‘s version first, and still being a Johnny Depp die-hard fan back then, I thought nothing could possibly be better. So, I did not care about the original that my friend kept raving about. Nowadays, I find the Tim Burton‘s version incredibly boring and so I thought it’s time to watch the original! However, Burton‘s remake is really just a remake. Meaning the story is pretty much the same – surprise, M! Which is the reason, why I found myself bored with the original, too. However, if I imagine never seeing the Burton‘s version, I would have probably loved this! Because what was way more surprising to me was that I absolutely loved Gene Wilder‘s Willy Wonka. Gene Wilder is totally charming, funny… just magical. He’s the Willy Wonka you would love. He’s not such a strange weirdo as Johnny Depp‘s Wonka. He’s just perfectly funny. And the chocolate world here looks much more tasty than the CGI one! If I imagine myself watching this as a kid, I’m sure I would absolutely love it. Because this Wonka’s factory is so damn magical. Even from nowadays point of view, it makes me wanna go there and I feel sorry it doesn’t really exist. Unlike the Burton’s world.
So that’s it for today guys! Have you seen any of these films? Are any of them your personal favorites? Let me know what you think! And I shall report again on how I’m doing with the challenge soon 🙂