THE VIRGIN SUICIDES (1999)

the-virgin-suicides-3

Christopher

I wanted to watch this cause I just finished reading the book. I loved the book! It’s definitely written in a way that I’m excited to read more Jeffery Eugenides books. I saw this movie in 9th grade I think so I really didn’t remember a lot. I thought the movie did an incredible job representing the book. It hit all the key plot points but also had a bunch of little things that are just mentioned or even just shown in the movie, where in the book they have big back stories dedicated to them. READ THE BOOK!

Elizabeth

I don’t know how many times I’ve read The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, but I would guess I’ve probably read it more than any other novel. I first read it back in the sixth grade, which probably sounds a little too young, but considering I didn’t stop there and continually re-read it in middle school and high school, it really was perfect. I had never read a book before (or since, really), that I felt so close to and identified with so much.

Subsequently, I don’t know how often I’ve seen the movie version of The Virgin Suicides, but I’ve definitely seen it a lot. It’s by far one of my favorite (and I think most faithful) film adaptations I’ve ever seen, because it so successfully distills the book down to a more manageable amount of information for the movie, without losing anything. There’s all these references in the movie that tie back to elements of the book, like how Trip Fontaine (Josh Hartnett) wears the shell necklace in the movie that he wears in the book, where we receive a whole back story to the necklace, like how it was given to him by the older woman whom he lost his virginity to. That kind of side story doesn’t really fit in the movie, but by keeping the necklace on Trip, it maintains true to the character.

One of the best things the movie accomplishes is keeping the feeling of the novel completely intact in the movie. The feeling of the novel is so distinct and yet so vague, maybe partly because I’ve read it so many times, but it’s this sort of bright, yet hazy, sad and nervous feeling. The movie sometimes goes back and forth between being dimly lit and filled with bright sunlight, which matches the novel perfectly.

You certainly don’t have to read the book to enjoy the movie, but if you’re really into one, you should definitely see/read the other. It’s beautiful and made me really jealous that both Sofia Coppola (I’m not counting her acting here) and Jeffrey Eugenides could make their big artistic debuts with something like The Virgin Suicides.

Advertisements

HISTORY OF THE EAGLES (2013) – WITH SPECIAL GUEST MOM POST!!

HISTORY OF THE EAGLES

Elizabeth’s mom was in town this past week and watched a couple of movies with us. Here’s what she had to say:

Sandy (aka Elizabeth’s mom)

It was so much fun watching the Eagles documentary with Elizabeth and Chris!  It seems that Chris wasn’t all that familiar with the group or their music.  Not sure how that happened but he is now sufficiently educated!  I’ve always loved their music and heard many things about the personality conflicts.  This seems to cover everything from their most early configurations to the current group.  Some of it was crazy, some of it was funny and some of it was sad.  One thing the documentary makes clear is that from 1972 to 1980: sex + drugs + rock n’ roll = Eagles!

Thank you to Elizabeth and Chris for inviting me to be a guest reviewer on their blog!

Elizabeth

My mom was in town last week, and since it’s because of her that I have any knowledge of The Eagles whatsoever, it was only appropriate that we watch the long and expansive documentary with her. I’m usually nervous about watching documentaries on artists I like, especially musicians, because there are some things I just don’t want to know about. Like how Harry Nilsson was a shitty father and sort of sabotaged his own career by knowingly messing up his voice with cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol. Luckily, though, I was pretty much aware of the alpha male personalities of Eagles members Don Henley and Glenn Frey, so not much of the documentary was very shocking to me. It was, however, very interesting, considering I’ve listened to The Eagles pretty much my whole life and know most of their songs pretty well. I always love the smaller stories that come out of music documentaries, like how The Eagles discovered their band name and overall sound after taking peyote in the desert. I could have maybe guessed that’s how things came together, but it’s entertaining to hear it firsthand. I also wasn’t aware how many members came and left the band; I only knew the lineup as they were when they first broke up. That was a little sad to hear, but the big personalities that can make a band so great usually end up coming at a cost. But let’s just say I have a whole new respect for Timothy B. Schmit . . . poor guy.

History of The Eagles is actually in two parts, both parts together clocking in at over 3 hours, so if you’re not already into the band, this isn’t the documentary you can casually sit down and watch. But it’s cool and reminds you of how many awesome songs The Eagles have, which is always a plus.

Christopher

I’ve never really been a big Eagles fan but we watched this because Elizabeth’s mom is a big fan. I thought the information in the movie was interesting, the filmmaking was just alright, and I was not expecting it to be over three hours. I have to say that I know more about the Eagles now then I thought I ever would but I’m glad I watched it and Elizabeth’s mom did watch a lot more basketball with me than she was probably expecting to.

THE UNTOUCHABLES (1987) – WITH SPECIAL GUEST MOM POST!!

The-Untouchables

Elizabeth’s mom was in town this past week and watched a couple of movies with us. Here’s what she had to say:

Sandy (aka Elizabeth’s mom)

I’ve always liked this movie!  Kevin Costner and Andy Garcia look so darn young!  Sean Connery was in his Last Crusader-prime.  Patricia Clarkson was as beautiful as ever (I used to bake cakes for her Mom in New Orleans!).  There are several iconic lines and scenes (Kevin Costner & Andy Garcia in the train station for one) and I enjoyed sharing them with Elizabeth and Chris.  I had forgotten how violent some of the scenes are.  I had to look away when Robert De Niro picked up a bat and walked around the dinner table….that’s never a good sign.  My only complaint was that the soundtrack didn’t seem to go with the movie and was WAY too loud.  Or maybe I’m getting older.

Christopher

I think this was my third time watching this movie and I think I enjoyed it the most upon this viewing. For some reason this is a movie I knew so many people loved but I never really got it. What I remember the most about the first time I watched this was that there wasn’t enough Robert De Niro. I remember him only being in one scene but now I see that he’s in it a little bit more.

Although I did enjoy the movie more this time what really sticks out to me as not good about this movie is the soundtrack. It’s funny cause I love Ennio Morricone from all the great western movies but the music in this film is just kind of awful. IT’S SO FUCKING CHEESY! The scene where they are all riding together and the music swells up telling us “these are the best days of their lives” makes you kind of feel like the movie’s almost over.

I wonder if Brian De Palma wanted the music to be so obvious.

Elizabeth

So, The Untouchables is just one of those movies that I had never seen before and, after seeing it, I’m really not sure how I managed to not see it before. It’s really good; the story is good, the direction is good, the acting is good, and everyone looks good (especially Kevin Costner . . . damn). The music was surprisingly not very good, considering it was done by Ennio Morricone, but I guess he gets a pass because of all the other amazing stuff he’s done.

I guess the two scenes that stick out the most to me would be, first off, when Eliot (Kevin Costner) and Stone (Andy Garcia) go to Malone (Sean Connery)’s house, only to find him shot up and dying. They see the trail of blood where Malone dragged himself across the house, and Eliot assumes the dying Malone needs comfort. Malone reaches his hand toward a chain he always keeps with him that has a saint on it and Eliot puts it in his hand, assuming he wants to die holding it. Up to this point, Malone has been a pretty take-no-shit, use-violence-when-necessary, get-the-bad-guy-at-whatever-cost kind of guy. So, it’s not a surprise when Malone tosses the chain aside and keeps reaching, and Eliot realizes he’s reaching for a paper. He gives the paper to Malone, when Malone tells Eliot that it’s the train schedule that will lead them to Al Capone’s bookkeeper, the last piece of the puzzle that will allow them to arrest Capone, whom they were after and was responsible for the death of their other partner, Wallace (Charles Martin Smith) and is about to be responsible for Malone’s death. Malone dies, and Eliot and Stone are pissed and upset. I knew Sean Connery died in The Untouchables but I didn’t know he died in quite such a bloody way, but considering his character up to that point, it was a pretty badass and funny (at least when he tossed the chain aside) way for him to go.

The other memorable scene for me is the shootout in the train station. For being a shootout, it’s really incredibly elegant. It’s also appropriately tense, with Eliot eying a woman struggling to get her baby carriage up the stairs while keeping an eye on the doors as he waits for the bookkeeper. While the woman and her baby don’t end up ruining anything, I thought that this scene had a potential for going in our Kids Ruin Everything movie bank, but I guess they didn’t (this time) . I was also really struck by how awesome/crazy Andy Garcia was; he stops the baby carriage at the foot of the stairs while armed and aimed at one of the Capone guards. He shoots the guard in the head without missing a beat, and I know I’m not a gun person, but the way he was able to hold his arm up in the position he was in without flinching seemed pretty impressive.

When ensemble pieces are good, they are so good, and The Untouchables really is just so good.

KNUCKLEBALL! (2012)

Mets Cardinals Baseball

Elizabeth

When Knuckleball! first came out, I saw R.A. Dickey as a guest on The Daily Show and sort of fell in love with him, in a baseball player sort of way. I thought he was really well-spoken (for an athlete) and was really intrigued by this whole knuckleball thing, which I hadn’t heard of up to that point. This was around post-season baseball time, so I didn’t get to see R.A. Dickey pitch at all, so I was still intrigued/confused by the knuckleball.

Chris and I had been meaning to watch this for a really long time, but then it finally came out on Netflix and between that and being in the mood after the MLB draft, it was hard to pass up seeing this. And it’s really cool. I love a good sports documentary, and I just thought this was great. It goes into the mechanics of the knuckleball, which is a pretty important element to a viewer like me. I’ve since seen R.A. Dickey pitch, so I’ve seen the knuckleball in action, but still didn’t quite understand how it worked. This documentary goes into all the reasons the knuckleball is great and awful; how it can bring a career back from the dead and then abandon a player when he needs it most. I’ve decided I don’t like watching games where the Blue Jays (R.A. Dickey’s team) play the Orioles (Chris’ team and my team now) when Dickey pitches, because it just sort of kills me when he does badly, but if he does well . . . it’s against the Orioles and that’s not great, either. Caring about sports feels like a full-time job sometimes.

But Knuckleball! is also great if you’re not a huge baseball fan, because it explains what needs to be explained and tells compelling stories about Tim Wakefield (a since-retired knuckleball pitcher) and R.A. Dickey’s careers. See this for suuuure.

Christopher

It took us forever to watch this movie. It wasn’t ’til Netflix put it on Instant Watch did we finally sit down to see it. I’m glad we did ’cause this documentary was great. For some reason, growing up, I don’t think I ever understood that Tim Wakefield was a knuckleball pitcher or that there were even pitchers that only threw knuckleballs. I really feel that this is a movie that everyone should see, even people that don’t feel that into baseball. It really helps you understand the struggles of professional sports. Though this is about a specific kind of people, it walks you through the struggles of sports. No matter how good you are there will be times you struggle and sometimes it takes completely reinventing yourself to stay in the game! Please watch this.

PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES (1987)

planes-trains-and-automobiles-original

Christopher

This is a film my parents rented for my sister and I when we were younger and left us with the babysitter. I believe I enjoyed it but never really thought of it beyond a nice comedy. As an adult I’ve watched this movie multiple times and it is pure genius. IT’S SO GOOD!! And I have to say John Candy is a genius. I think what’s so nice about this movie is how clean and simple the jokes are but it’s so funny. It’s also insanely tragic in multiple ways but what are you guys reading this blog right now for? GO WATCH THIS MOVIE RIGHT NOW!! It’s on Netflix for goodness sake!!!

Elizabeth

Even though Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a comedy, and a good one, anytime it comes up or comes to mind I always think first of how sad it is. Because, really, Del Griffith (John Candy) is a sad character. And it’s kindly John Candy, so you don’t want to see him being a sad character. It’s just rough at times. But I guess everyone can sort of identify with parts of his character, which probably makes it sadder.

Since Chris and I recently took a long trip together, I was kind of struck by how similar Chris can be to Del and how similar I can be to Neal Page (Steve Martin). Chris is a very mellow, take-things-as-they-come, happy-go-lucky traveler. I’m a very nervous, easily-irritable traveler. Neither of us are really that much similar to either character, but it’s just funny to see.

I also love seeing and hearing Steve Martin say “fuck.” It just never gets old to me.

FACE/OFF (1997)

face off cage travolta

Elizabeth

Chris was in the mood to watch a legitimately good action movie, and the first thing that came to my mind (that neither of us had seen) was Face/Off. I think Chris was sort of surprised that I thought it was supposed to be legitimately good, but we both wanted to see it so we went for it. A pretty good decision all-around.

What kind of struck me about Face/Off is how so many elements at play in the movie would never work now. It came out almost exactly 16 years ago, even though it doesn’t seem like it was that long ago. First of all, the public (and theatrical) personas of Nicolas Cage and John Travolta have changed so much, I don’t think anyone would take them seriously if this movie came out now. This was back when Nicolas Cage could still be a badass, rather than just being a weird knockoff of a badass. He does a great job of being scary and funny, something he desperately still tries to pull off now but just can’t anymore (thanks largely in part to the shitty projects he chooses now, though). And maybe it’s just me, but I just can’t look at John Travolta without seeing his weird plastic surgery and Scientologyness. This was also one of John Woo’s first big US productions, so things like having a gunfight in a church among white doves flying around was probably a lot less cliche in 1997 than it looks now. At least I’m assuming so, because it definitely looks a little silly now.

I will say that Face/Off deserves a lot of credit for not being confusing. The synopsis of the movie from IMDb (“A revolutionary medical technique allows an undercover agent to take the physical appearance of a major criminal and infiltrate his organization.”) makes it sound like it’ll be extremely hard to follow, but it’s really not. And considering how many simply-plotted movies we’ve seen that are super confusing, I think that’s definitely an accomplishment.

So, I still stand by Face/Off being a legitimately good action movie. I mean, it’s no Taken . . . but still definitely worth watching.

Christopher

I’ve been wanting to see this movie since I was a kid. I know I’ve seen parts of this, some of the prison scenes looked familiar, but I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy watching it as much as I did. I think the difficult thing about watching this movie now, is that we know how weird both John Travolta and Nicolas Cage are. In no way does anyone go out of their way to watch any movie with either of these actors now.

A big part of this movie journey with Elizabeth has been loving when a movie says its title in its own film. Face/Off does this often. And with a movie like Face/Off I would think that that would be difficult. But John Woo knows what he’s doing I guess.

OFFICE SPACE (1999)

office_space_peter

Christopher

I wanted to see this movie for two reasons. One, it was filmed in Austin, and two, I now have an office job of my own. The last time I probably saw this movie was in middle school and I was nervous that all the jokes I loved back then would fall flat now. Fortunately I was completely wrong! And this movie just adds to how much I love Mike Judge (I just looked him up and found out that he has the same birthday as I do!!!!!!!) The plan is to watch Extract next, hopefully it’s okay. I need to start watching interviews with him cause if I ever saw him walking around Austin I don’t think I would recognize him, maybe.

You can never watch this movie enough. I wish I had a neighbor like Peter does in this movie.

Elizabeth

I’ve always loved Office Space, but I had been wanting to watch it again since starting my current corporate-y office job. Luckily, I love my job and my co-workers and our office is much more relaxed than Initech, but some of the jokes definitely mean more to me now.

I think my two favorite characters are Michael Bolton (David Herman) and Lawrence (Diedrich Bader). They both have such great one-liners, and I love the fact that Michael is a skinny, meek white guy into gangster rap. And Lawrence’s thinking is so straightforward, he’s almost wise. Great stuff.