Saturday, November 22, 2014

Movie – Wuthering Heights (1939)

Wuthering Heights is based on the 1857 novel of the same name by Emily Bronte.  I have not read the book, so I cannot compare the two.  I checked and apparently this film adapts only the first half of the book.  It concentrates on Heathcliff and Cathy and removes all plot related to the second generation that followed them.  I knew none of this when I saw it so I had no expectations.  I was able to go into it not knowing what was supposed to happen and I feel that allowed me to enjoy the film more.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Movie – The Rules of the Game (1939)

The Rules of the Game, despite being so acclaimed by critics, actually has a pretty simple premise that has been copied many times – show a group of people, many of them unlikable, from different social strata interacting with each other.  Off the top of my head other films like this one include Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), The Big Chill (1983), The Decline of the American Empire (1986), and Gosford Park (2001).  What puts The Rules of the Game at or near the top of so many film critics’ “Best of…” lists?  I have a couple of theories that I will share on that.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Movie – The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is based on the 1831 Victor Hugo novel of the same (translated) name.  I have not read it, but it’s my understanding that this film adaptation differs from it in several ways, including the ending.  If that is the case then perhaps it is for the better because this film has one of the all time great closing lines in film history.  I will not spoil it here, but anyone who has seen the film knows what I am referring to.  And if you saw it and was unmoved then you must be made of stone yourself.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Movie and Book – The Wizard of Oz (1939)

What can be written about The Wizard of Oz that hasn’t already been said in any of the many, many extras and stories and documentaries on the making and history of it?  Those have covered everything from the happy (impact on children) to the sordid (Garland being on drugs to make it through the long working hours) to the ridiculous (Pink Floyd’s album Dark Side of the Moon supposedly being written to sync up with it – it wasn’t).  There’s no way to top those, especially the Pink Floyd one, but I can write about the personal aspects of it.  I can also write about the far less well known book upon which it was based.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Great Year for Movies - 1939

Scarecrow: I haven't got a brain...only straw.
Dorothy: How can you talk if you haven't got a brain?
Scarecrow: I don't know, but some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don't they?
Dorothy: Yes, I guess you're right.

                                                                       --- The Wizard of Oz

If you stop to think about it, the movies that came out in 1939 were released 75 years ago.  Many of them have been forgotten, some justly, some unjustly.  And some of them are among the all time classics in movie history.

In honor of their 75th anniversary I am going to be recommending my five top rated films from 1939, along with the ones from the 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list that received three stars from me.

Why am I doing this category?  Why this year?  It is because I consider 1939 to be the best year for movies in all of cinema history.  1994 would be second, in case you are curious.  I discussed that year here.  By the way, 1954 and 1974 are also standouts. 

I won’t be reviewing them now, but so that these good films at least get some notice, here are other 1939 movies that I would recommend:  The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, Dark Victory, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Young Mr. Lincoln, and Of Mice and Men

Here are the 1939 movies I have seen that I would not recommend: Destry Rides Again, Gunga Din, and Babes in Arms.  All are 2.5 star movies, which means they were okay, but not good enough to recommend.

There are some notable 1939 movies that I have not seen.  If you have a particular favorite among them, please let me know:  The Four Feathers, The Women, Son of Frankenstein, Gulliver’s Travels, The Roaring Twenties, Buck Rogers, The Story of Alexander Graham Bell, Beau Geste, Drums Along the Mohawk, and Midnight.  I have not seen Love Affair yet, but since it is a Best Picture nominee I will watch it eventually.  I am pretty sure I have seen both The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, but I am not positive.

As I post the reviews, I will come back and add links here for those posts:

1.  Mr.Smith Goes to Washington – (posted May 6, 2012)

On to the reviews…

Saturday, November 1, 2014

October Movie Status

After watching only 8 movies last month I got back into the swing of things and watched 34 new movies in October, along with a re-watch of the sixth season of the TV show Castle. 

With various goals that I knew were achievable I made good progress on the They Shoot Pictures Don’t They list.  I’ve now seen all of the 600 highest ranked films on the list.  I finally managed to get almost all of the Netflix Very Long Wait entries, either from them or from other sources.  This meant I was able to complete all entries that are more than three hours long, with the exception of the very longest – Heimat.  I still can’t get the first disk of it from Netflix.  Without it there’s no point in getting the other five disks which are all readily available.  Counting Heimat, I have only 5 entries longer than 2.5 hours left, but I have to rely on Netflix for all of them.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book – Wild Storm

Note: This is part of my ongoing reviews of the Castle television show’s seasons, the books written by “Richard Castle”, and some events related to the show.  For the parent post with links to all of these, please click here.

This is the second real Derrick Storm novel to be published under the author’s name of Richard Castle – the fictional character on the TV show Castle.  When the show opened Richard Castle was the popular author of a series of thrillers that all had the main character of Derrick Storm.  He was just publishing his final Storm book, though.  He had killed off the character since he was bored with him.  He soon got an inspiration for a new character of Nikki Heat, an NYPD detective based on the Detective Beckett character he was working with on the TV show.  During the course of the show we have seen the Castle character write six Nikki Heat novels.