Friday, September 25, 2015

A Knight's Tale (2001)

IMDb plot summary: After his master dies, a peasant squire, fueled by his desire for food and glory, creates a new identity for himself as a knight.
Directed by Brian Helgeland. Starring Heath Ledger, Rufus Sewell, Shannyn Sossamon, and Paul Bettany.

I was 15 when this came out, and a LOT of my peers saw it and really loved it, but somehow I missed that train and never actually sat down to watch it until today. And... eh. It's fine. It's a cute little story, but it's definitely a little long for the amount of substance it has, and the romantic plot is not even a little bit interesting. By far the most interesting/entertaining part of this whole movie is Paul Bettany as Chaucer. His charismatic character far overpowers everyone else, with the possible exception of Rufus Sewell as an almost hilariously villainous villain. I would watch those two in their own movies. Overall, it's not a *bad* movie, just an unimpressive one.

2.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
A Knight's Tale < No Highway in the Sky
A Knight's Tale > How to Lose Friends & Alienate People
A Knight's Tale > Side Effects
A Knight's Tale > Milk
A Knight's Tale > A Dangerous Method
A Knight's Tale > House of Flying Daggers
A Knight's Tale < Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
A Knight's Tale < North by Northwest
A Knight's Tale > Deceiver
A Knight's Tale > Where the Wild Things Are
A Knight's Tale > Apocalypto
Final spot: #1217 out of 2378.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Swing Time (1936)

IMDb plot summary: A performer and gambler travels to New York City to raise the $25,000 he needs to marry his fiancée, only to become entangled with a beautiful aspiring dancer.
Directed by George Stevens. Starring Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Victor Moore, and Helen Broderick.


I watched this for week 2 of the Letterboxd season challenge, for 30s musicals week. Overall, this movie was pretty entertaining, though, as with all Astaire/Rogers pics (and most musicals from this time period), the story winds up being pretty thin and really only serves to provide great dancing scenes -- which are lovely and really spectacularly done. And, really, the first 2/3 of the film has a pretty decent script too, with some very funny moments and clever set-ups for dances. But the motivations of Astaire's character are REALLY unclear until the final moments. Has he fallen for Rogers? Is he just playing with her? Does he realize how much she cares? Does he intend to leave his previous fiancee? We really have no idea until he casually announces it toward the end of the third act, at which point, the movie pretty much falls apart anyway. With both Astaire and Rogers engaged to the wrong people, the movie frantically tries to finagle them back together, but the pacing is weird and we get about 10 minutes of characters giggling madly at nothing in particular before cheerfully announcing new relationship statuses. It's strange and abrupt and unsatisfying given the previous buildup. Most of this movie would earn 4 stars from me, but the incredibly odd ending would get a 2, given how sloppy it feels. So let's land it in the middle.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Swing Time > The Sunshine Boys (1996)
Swing Time < Rurouni Kenshin
Swing Time < Nothing in Common
Swing Time > To Rome With Love
Swing Time > Splash
Swing Time < Suspicion
Swing Time > Nine Lives
Swing Time < Seven Chances
Swing Time > Adam
Swing Time > A Separation
Swing Time < Lyle, the Kindly Viking
Final spot: #939 out of 2377.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Westworld (1973)

IMDb plot summary: A robot malfunction creates havoc and terror for unsuspecting vacationers at a futuristic, adult-themed amusement park.
Directed by Michael Crichton. Starring Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, James Brolin, and Alan Oppenheimer.

I do have a pretty strong fondness for cheesy sci-fi, and this fits that perfectly. It's a pretty short film that spends a LOT of time on build-up before getting to a place where anything happens, but the world of realistic robots is interesting enough that I didn't mind exploring it for awhile. The menacing character of the Gunslinger is cited on IMDb as being an inspiration for both Michael Myers and the Terminator, and you can definitely see that. There's no real reason that he's hunting the protagonist down, even in the early stages of the film, and that makes his unending determination to get to him all the more unsettling. This film definitely looks and sounds pretty dated, and there's not really any character development to speak of, but the story is still a fun one, and it certainly doesn't overstay its welcome.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Westworld > The Sunshine Boys (1996)
Westworld < Planet of the Apes
Westworld > Hugo
Westworld > Synecdoche, New York
Westworld < Girl Shy
Westworld > Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella (1997)
Westworld > A Chorus Line
Westworld > Happy Feet
Westworld > Evita
Westworld > Bridesmaids
Westworld < Primer
Final spot: #670 out of 2376.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

IMDb plot summary: A distant poor relative of the Duke of D'Ascoyne plots to inherit the title by murdering the eight other heirs who stand ahead of him in the line of succession.
Directed by Robert Hamer. Starring Dennis Price, Valerie Hobson, Joan Greenwood, and Alec Guinness.

I didn't even realize when I began watching it that it's based on the same story as the musical A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, along with the same gimmick that every member of the rich family is played by a single actor. Overall, this is a really entertaining movie. The juxtaposition of the dry, understated British humor with the morbid and absurd murders is frequently hilarious, and the protagonist is delightfully void of ethics. It does move a little slowly, and because the character is a bit too much of a sociopath for me to care about how he does, the more dramatic moments are lost on me and go on a little long. But overall this was an enjoyable watch, and I'm glad we picked this for the first movie of the Letterboxd season challenge.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Kind Hearts and Coronets > Monsters University
Kind Hearts and Coronets < Rurouni Kenshin
Kind Hearts and Coronets > Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Kind Hearts and Coronets < Synecdoche, New York
Kind Hearts and Coronets < The Devil's Backbone
Kind Hearts and Coronets > Dan in Real Life
Kind Hearts and Coronets > Secret Window
Kind Hearts and Coronets < The Minus Man
Kind Hearts and Coronets > Don Jon
Kind Hearts and Coronets < The Inn of the Sixth Happiness
Kind Hearts and Coronets > Stage Fright (2014)
Final spot: #828 out of 2375.