Monthly Archives: July 2013

#204 The Hangover

(2009, Todd Phillips)

“Why don’t we remember a god damn thing from last night?”

I’ve mentioned before how much I hate reviewing comedies. If a comedy makes me laugh, it’s good, and if it doesn’t, it isn’t. Plus analysing comedy just makes me feel like a dull human being who needs to get out more. I do need to get out more, but that’s beside the point. Anyway, let’s try and do this thing. Here’s The Hangover.

The Hangover is about a group of guys attending a bachelor party in Las Vegas. The groom-to-be is Doug (Justin Bartha), accompanied by his friends Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Stu (Ed Helms), as well as Doug’s socially inept future brother-in-law, Alan (Zach Galifianakis). However, the morning after, Doug is missing and the other three guys don’t remember a thing about the previous night. Also, Stu’s missing a tooth, there’s a tiger in the bathroom and a baby in a cupboard. It’s up to the trio to find Doug and figure just what the hell they’d got up to.

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#203 His Girl Friday

(1940, Howard Hawks)

“You’re wonderful in a loathsome sort of way”

You know, I have no idea why today’s movie is called His Girl Friday. Aside from not making much grammatical sense, there’s no girl called Friday, the movie doesn’t explicitly state that it’s set on a Friday (nor would that be important), and the words are never uttered in the movie. It’s an adaptation of a play called The Front Page, which is a title that makes a lot more sense. So what’s it actually about?

Hildegard “Hildy” Johnson (Rosalind Russell) is a writer for the Morning Post in New York, and the ex-wife of its editor, Walter Burns (Cary Grant). She announces to Walter that she’s quitting the newspaper business and getting married to insurance salesman Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy), a fairly bland and mild-mannered man. However, uncomfortable with this, Walter sends her on a new assignment, to cover the upcoming execution of murderer Earl Williams (John Qualen). Cue a series of mishaps involving Walter trying to get rid of Hildy’s fiancée and keep her with the paper while she attempts to cover the rapidly developing story.

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#202 Once Upon A Time In China

(1991, Hark Tsui)

“No matter how good our kung-fu is, it will never defeat guns”

Once Upon A Time In China is mentioned in the 1001 Movies To See Before You Die as being a grand celebration of Chinese history, a meticulous, breath-taking masterpiece which revitalises Chinese folk history and is a milestone in Hong Kong cinema. Which is interesting, because that doesn’t feel like the film I watched.

Once Upon A Time In China is about Chinese folk hero Wong Fei-hung (Jet Li), as he begins to recruit members for a militia group designed to fight against the invading foreigners from Britain and America. There’s a local gang involved in human trafficking, a mysterious martial arts master named Iron Fist Yim seeking to battle Wong to prove his strength, and a battle against the American invaders with their new-fangled guns and stuff.

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#201 District 9

(2009, Neill Blomkamp)

A while back, I reviewed Monsters, an alien invasion movie that acted as a clear allegory for US immigration policy. Well, it wasn’t the first movie of its kind, because only a year before, District 9 was released, and this time an alien invasion acted as an allegory for apartheid in South Africa.

In 1982, a gigantic spaceship descended over Johannesburg and suddenly stopped. An investigation team was sent in, discovering a large group of sick and malnourished aliens, who were immediately detained in a government camp known as District 9. After numerous conflicts between the aliens, derisively known as “prawns”, and the human population, the South African government sends in a private military contractor, led by bureaucrat Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley), to move the prawns to an internment camp.

However, a prawn named Christopher (mo-cap by Jason Cope) has been working on something by collecting fluid from the spaceship’s debris. When Wikus comes in contact with this fluid, it has adverse effects on him, and he begins to see things from the prawns’ perspective.

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#200 Happiness

(1998, Todd Solondz)

“I wake up happy, feeling good, but then I get very depressed because I’m living in reality”

From its title and poster alone, Happiness looks like a nice, comfortable romantic comedy, but the truth is, it isn’t. Happiness is one of the least appropriately named movies ever made. Happiness is not a happy movie. But it is a comedy, so it may put a smile on your face. Or horrify you beyond belief. It could seriously go either way. Let me explain.

Happiness revolves around three sisters in the Jordan family, each with their own story and misadventures. Joy (Jane Adams), the youngest, is overly sensitive and unhappy in both her romantic and professional life, and attempts to meet a decent man and leave her telephone sales job to work as a teacher in an immigrant education centre.

Helen (Lara Flynn Boyle) is a successful writer but she’s disillusioned and wants more excitement, and she also receives unwanted attention from her socially awkward neighbour Allen (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), a man who likes to call random numbers in the phone book and masturbate to any woman he hears.

The eldest sister, Diane (Elizabeth Ashley), seems to live the perfect suburban family life, but her psychiatrist husband, Bill (Dylan Baker), is secretly a paedophile who is developing an obsession with their son’s friend Johnny.

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#199 Spartacus

(1960, Stanley Kubrick)

“I’m Spartacus! I’m Spartacus! I’m Spartacus!” (etc.)

Oh good, a big three hour historical epic. I love these. I love movies shot at wide angles with so many characters that none are ever really introduced properly so you don’t care about anybody. I love movies about ancient civilisations filmed with a self-important pomposity that you just beg for it to end. Oh, wait, Spartacus is actually entertaining? Really? Let me see this.

Spartacus is about Spartacus (Kirk Douglas), as redundant as that sounds. He’s a slave to the Romans, and has become so uncooperative in slavery that he’s forced into servitude as a gladiator. During his training, he rebels against the Romans, leading the other gladiators to stage a revolt. He then heads out on a mission to free all the slaves and lead them to a new life.

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#198 The Color Purple

(1985, Steven Spielberg)

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the colour purple in a field and don’t notice it”

Steven Spielberg has appeared numerous times on this blog before, and based on what we’ve seen, many would be able to guess the types of films he makes – either over-the-top blockbuster movies (usually with a science fiction aspect) or movies about World War II – so it may come as some surprise to find that he once made a drama about the trials and tribulations of black women in the South.

Based on a highly-acclaimed novel by Alice Walker, The Color Purple is also Whoopi Goldberg’s first major movie role. She plays Celie Harris, a young black woman living in the South of the United States in the early 20th century, not really the best place and time to be a black woman, as the movie proves. Regularly sexually abused by her father from a young age, she ends up forced into a marriage to a wealthy widower named Albert Johnson (Danny Glover), who she just knows as “Mister”. After Albert cuts her off from her sister, Celie becomes withdrawn and subservient.

However, over time two stronger women enter her life. Albert’s son Harpo (Willard E. Pugh) marries an aggressive woman named Sofia (Oprah Winfrey) and Albert openly attempts to pursue an affair with jazz singer Shug Avery (Margaret Avery), both of whom Celie develops friendships with. These two women have a profound influence on Celie, helping her to discover an inner strength she never had before.

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