AIRPLANE! (1980)

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Elizabeth

This wasn’t my first time seeing Airplane! but I think I liked it more this time than when I first saw it in high school. I sort of feel like Airplane! is what Family Guy tries to be (but fails at 90% of the time).

Airplane!‘s plot sort of gets lost sometimes in all of the gags, but I really feel like it’s okay in this situation. The plot pretty much only acts as a vehicle for the gags to happen anyway. Airplane! just has a unique sense of humor about it, but it’s so simple. If Mitch Hedberg, one of my favorite comics, had made a movie, I think it would be something similar to this.

Christopher

I saw this movie multiple times as a kid. I always found it extremely entertaining and funny and I still feel that way. It’s fantastic! It is pretty outdated and a lot of the jokes are racist and sexist but I think it’s done in such a good nature it doesn’t really take you out of the movie.

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THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS (1992)

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Christopher

This is a movie Elizabeth loves so it was nice to finally watch it together. I remember buying this movie in middle school when I was going through my go-to-Best-Buy-and-spend-all-my-money-on-movies,-especially-ones-I-had-never-seen phase. I remember watching it and not really thinking much of it. I’m glad I watched it as an adult because I do appreciate it more now.

The worst thing about this film to me is really just the time period. I don’t really find this part in history very interesting, very important maybe, but it’s not something I think about too often. The thing I love about this movie is easily Daniel Day-Lewis. He’s such an incredible actor it’s hard not to want to see everything he’s in. What I think he did best in this film is his accent. It’s extremely convincing.

I now think of this movie in a different light, thanks to Elizabeth, and it might not be something that I’m dying to see again, it certainly was a nice experience the other night.

Elizabeth (spoilers!) 

Okay, what can I really say about The Last of the Mohicans? It’s my favorite movie. It’s not my only favorite movie . . . but it’s tied with several others. If you don’t count whatever animated kids’ movies I watched over and over as a kid, I honestly think that I’ve seen The Last of the Mohicans more than any other movie. And that’s totally fine, because it’s the greatest film ever made.

I know that’s a lofty statement and I’ll get a lot of disagreements, but I DON’T CARE BECAUSE IT’S TRUE. I don’t think there’s another movie out there that makes me cry from the opening solely due to the music and the opening scenery. Yeah, the opening of Up will make you cry, but it looks like cheap heart tugs compared to The Last of the Mohicans.

Let’s start with Nathaniel/Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis), perhaps the greatest male on-screen character I’ve ever seen. He’s so goddamn masculine. But not in that scary, awful Raging Bull sort of way . . . I mean that he’s so strong, so capable, but so loving and caring. Adopted as a baby by Chingachgook (Russell Means) after the death of his family, Nathaniel is part of a strong, 3-man family unit, along with Uncas (Eric Schweig) that really don’t want much to do with conflict, whether it’s between different tribes or with white people. They fall into the pretty much unavoidable French and Indian War, but the side they take is based on the people they’re helping rather than politics or trade. I really love this family: Chingachgook is the strong, wise, understanding, calm father. Uncas is the quiet, strong, sensitive, easy-going brother. And Nathaniel is the strong, outspoken, skilled, loving, sensitive PERFECT MAN. I’m not even going to talk about how fucking hot Nathaniel and Uncas are, because words can’t do them justice anyway.

But what’s also so great about The Last of the Mohicans is how strong the supporting cast is. Cora Munro (Madeline Stowe) is one of my favorite on-screen ladies because she’s a total badass. When we first see her, she’s a pretty prim and proper woman. But we get a hint at her personality when she gently turns down her childhood friend Duncan (Steven Waddington)’s marriage proposal because she doesn’t love him as more than a friend. She’s a maternal figure to her younger sister Alice (Jodhi May), and at the first sign of trouble is able to hold her own. The Munro sisters, along with Duncan and a bunch of English soldiers, are on their way to meet up with their father, Colonel Munro (Maurice Roëves) while being led by Magua (Wes Studi). When Magua betrays the party and leads an attack against them, the Mohicans catch up with them (after tracking the war party with their amazing tracking skills because they are AWESOME) and save Duncan and the Munro sisters from being killed. Duncan nearly shoots Nathaniel, but Cora stops him because she knows the Mohicans saved them. Does she also stop him because she is instantly insanely attracted to Nathaniel? It probably helps. When they all come across the home of the Mohicans’ friends to find all of their friends murdered, the Mohicans instruct that they need to leave everything intact. Cora doesn’t hesitate at all to yell at Nathaniel, thinking it isn’t right not to bury them. Nathaniel also doesn’t hesitate to sort-of-yell at Cora and they leave their bodies. That night, Cora takes it upon herself to find out why they left them there, leading to a conversation about Nathaniel’s origins, etc etc. When a war party approaches, Cora immediately grabs the gun she stole from a dead soldier, and Nathaniel hands her some gunpowder that she loads with ease. Now, I can’t say for sure that this is the start of them falling in love, but the way Cora fearlessly handles a gun obviously signals to Nathaniel that this woman is certainly his speed. Throughout the whole movie, Cora and Nathaniel match each other in brazenness, bravery, empathy, and loss.

But there’s also Duncan, who is so great and tragic. Few movies have a supporting character that realistically changes as much as Duncan, I think, because in the end, he doesn’t really change. He just loves Cora. His love for her leads him to speak against Nathaniel out of jealously, but also to sacrifice his own life so that Cora and Nathaniel can be together.

And that leads me to my next point: there are so many good scenes in The Last of the Mohicans that I don’t know if it’s fair to call one the best or to have a favorite. But I will say that things start to get really real in the famous scene behind the waterfall that includes Nathaniel’s slightly horrifying speech to Cora. There’s not many good guys left at this point, the Mohicans, the Munros, and Duncan (who’s in a gray area at this point in terms of being a good or bad guy). They’re being tracked down by Magua and his crew, they’re out of gunpowder, they’re outnumbered, and they’re trapped. Cora tells Nathaniel to save himself, because at least if only one of them dies, the other will still have their memory. Nathaniel immediately tells Cora no, that she has to stay alive. Why is this so scary? Because he doesn’t say it, but what he’s really warning her against is rape. He tells her to submit, not to fight back, because if she just submits she might not get murdered. The look on Cora’s face when he tells her this is great (in terms of acting): she’s horrified, sad, desperate.

LUCKILY . . . Cora does survive, and helps the Mohicans track them. Nathaniel figures Magua will take them back to his tribe, so they meet up with them there. And this is the scene that is seriously one of the most tense and saddest scenes in any movie ever. Magua presents the Munro sisters and Duncan to the tribal leader as symbols of him being a war hero. He wants to sell Duncan to the French, keep Alice as his wife, and burn Cora alive. Nathaniel comes in, and has Duncan translate Nathaniel’s words into French, a language Duncan, Magua, and the tribal leader all understand. Nathaniel successfully convinces the tribal leader that Magua is a bad guy, but Alice is still going to have to be Magua’s bride and Cora will be burned at the stake. Alice is taken away, which Uncas sees from afar, and he goes off to save her. Nathaniel tells Duncan to tell the tribal leader, “Take me!” so that Nathaniel will die and Cora will live. Instead, Duncan tells the tribal leader to take him, that as a British officer in exchange for a woman, it’s a good trade. Nathaniel doesn’t realize what he’s said, and Cora hears Nathaniel pleading, “Take me!” So when the tribal leader nods and the film’s score starts up again, Cora starts yelling and crying until the tribesman untie her and hand her off to Nathaniel, while taking Duncan. Nathaniel repeats softly, then loudly, “I said to take me,” but Duncan yells at him to get Cora out of there. Running from the tribe and to safer, higher ground, Cora and Nathaniel see Duncan raised on a stake, burning and screaming. And here’s why Daniel Day-Lewis is amazing; for the whole movie up to this point, we’ve seen Nathaniel as an expert marksman, not letting anything distract him. But when he raises his gun at Duncan to shoot him so that Duncan doesn’t have to burn alive, there’s tears in Nathaniel’s eyes and he can’t stop himself from crying as he pulls the trigger. It’s completely gut-wrenching and oddly beautiful.

The same can be said for the climactic scene on the edge of the mountain, where Uncas has tracked Magua and his men taking Alice. He fights Magua to the death, except he’s the one that dies while Alice looks on, crying. At this point, Alice must assume everyone she loves and/or would be able to save her is dead: she must assume her father is dead, Cora has been burned at the stake, Duncan has been sold, Nathaniel has been killed by the tribesmen, and she just watched Magua kill Uncas. So when Alice carefully steps in front of Magua with her back to the side of the mountain, she has the most blank, lifeless look on her face already. Magua tries to coax her from the edge, but with Uncas’ blood dripping down his fingers, he’s not exactly convincing. So while Cora helplessly looks on from afar, she jumps from the mountain and kills herself.

So in the end, it’s just Chingachgook, Nathaniel, and Cora. They’ve all lost so much at this point, but they still have each other, and as corny as that sounds, the way they all look at each other and look at the sunset really makes you think that they’re going to function well as a family.

The Last of the Mohicans is not only visually beautiful, it has an insanely amazing score that will make you want to cry and never stop listening to it. I guess I just can’t find anything really wrong whatsoever with The Last of the Mohicans, and if you haven’t seen it, I’m already disappointed in you.

And if you read that whole thing, you certainly deserve to watch this.

THE ACT OF KILLING (2012) – WITH SUPER SPECIAL GUEST POST!

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We saw The Act of Killing with our friend Ben. Here’s what he had to say about it:

Ben

The Act of Killing is a documentary about real human beings who committed inhuman acts, and the ways in which they continue to justify their atrocities and cope with the unpunished consequences of those acts. What is most frightening about The Act of Killing is not necessarily the acts these men committed, but the thought that all of us, as fellow human beings, have the potential to commit such acts, and the potential to twist ourselves into grotesque knots in justification.Though there are glimpses, there is no real redemption here. For these men to admit the weight of their crimes would be for them to unravel their entire construction of themselves, like pulling a thread and watching a tapestry unravel, they would be left with nothing. The Act of Killing is a stunning, visionary movie.

Elizabeth

I’m not even sure what to say about The Act of Killing. It’s similar to something like Schindler’s List: not enjoyable, but amazing and important. I’m glad I saw it but at the same time wouldn’t mind forgetting that I saw it. I pretty much knew I had to see any documentary supported by Werner Herzog and Errol Morris, and I can see why they (especially Morris) were probably so drawn to The Act of Killing, if based on nothing else than the premise and weird structure of the documentary.

After seeing this, I’m at least slightly convinced that director Joshua Oppenheimer might really be a genius. How do you get evil people to face the evil acts that they’ve done? In this case, it’s by asking them to recreate their evil acts for a film, using different genres. Because the perpetrators do not believe they’re evil or what they did was necessarily wrong, this method is probably the closest they’re ever going to come to facing some kind of truth.

The Act of Killing is terrifying. I found it very hard to wrap my mind around what the subjects had done (the main subject, Anwar Congo, murdered an estimated 1,000 people suspected or accused of being Communist or Chinese), because the acts were hailed in the media and in their home country. The best way I can think of to describe it, is if everything in the Holocaust had happened exactly how it did – except everyone thought the Nazis were right in their actions. It’s insane, but that’s how it is in this case. A television show host casually mentions exterminating Communists and their genius methods for doing so. It’s completely insane and totally scary.

If you have a chance to see The Act of Killing, you really should. But expect to feel shitty about humanity afterward.

Christopher

This was the scariest movie I have ever seen in my life. It was absolutely horrifying. In the end though, I’m very glad I watched this. What was interesting was how differently all the “killers” involved have coped with what they did. Anwar Congo, the main guy, has terrible nightmares and is kind of just thinking that what he did was wrong, one guy thinks it was all okay and that everyone else are fools to question what he did, and the other (who looks exactly like Yajirobe from DBZ) is just really doofy and doesn’t really look like he’s really ever questioned it.

What makes this film so scary is that even though what these people did was years ago it is still very clear how much power they have today. The killers have ordinary villagers act in their movie but even though the main people are acting it is very obvious that the ordinary people acting are shedding real tears.

This movie is extremely powerful and if you have the stomach to sit through it I highly suggest you see it.

THE TRUMAN SHOW (1998)

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Christopher

There are a lot of flaws with this movie but even with all of that, I find it to be extremely interesting and enjoyable. I also forgot how much I love the score. Considering it’s about a character that everyone has supposedly fallen in love with over his life, this film does a very good job of making us feel for him and wanting to escape his sea town prison.

Elizabeth

The Truman Show is so good because the concept is so good and seems so looming. A 24/7 reality show that follows a man from birth without his knowledge. Doesn’t that just seem like it’s probably going to happen in the next 10 years or so? I really think that any problems The Truman Show has as a film makes up for it for being so good in concept.

What’s most interesting is how Truman (Jim Carrey) interacts with everyone around him throughout the movie and how everyone treats him. Though he’s around 30, everyone, from the actors in his universe to the creator of the show, Christof (Ed Harris), to the viewers of the show, treat him like a weird man-child. It’s like the entire world treats him as if they were the parent and he was the child because everyone saw him grow up. Truman starts to get more fed up with this the more he becomes aware of his surroundings, and the fact that everyone sort of just treats him then as a rebellious teenager is pretty interesting.

I just love The Truman Show because it makes you think about so many things while it’s happening. There’s all kinds of comparisons you can make, predictions you can make, wondering how this would play out in real life. It’s a pretty great experience.

THE LITTLE GIRL WHO LIVES DOWN THE LANE (1976)

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Elizabeth (spoilers!)

So, The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane is pretty weird, but not really in the way I expected. If you read the description on Netflix or the taglines of the poster, you know the gist is that Rynn (Jodie Foster) is a 13 year old girl who lives alone and has something up with her cellar. So, I was expecting the whole movie to pretty much be about Rynn being crazy and either keeping her parents locked up in the cellar or just killing people and keeping the bodies in the cellar, with the climax of the movie discovering exactly what was going on down there. But that’s really not what the movie is about.

From the first scene of the movie, it’s clear that the main conflict isn’t that Rynn is crazy/possibly a killer, it’s that she lives alone and is getting stalked by a super creep pedophile, Frank (Martin Sheen). I wasn’t really expecting that. Frank is the son of Mrs. Hallet (Alexis Smith), who owns the house that Rynn, and presumably her father, are renting. So in the small town that they live in, everyone apparently knows that Mrs. Hallet is awful but she’s too rich for anyone to do anything, and subsequently everyone knows that Frank is a pedophile but the cops can’t do anything because of his rich mother. So Mrs. Hallet sucks and constantly barges in on Rynn’s house (although to be fair, Rynn never seems to keep the door locked until the end of the movie for some reason) and is suspicious that Rynn’s father isn’t actually there. Rynn also desperately tries to keep Mrs. Hallet out of the cellar, but once Mrs. Hallet finally breaks through and gets down there, she screams and on her way back up from the cellar, the door hits her on the head, pushing her down the stairs and killing her. While trying to figure out how to get rid of Mrs. Hallet’s car, Rynn meets Mario (Scott Jacoby, who I thought looked distractingly like Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig). Once they meet, the plot takes another unexpected turn. Rynn tells Mario everything: what happened to her father (he died of an illness), what happened to her mother (Rynn unknowingly poisoned her per her father’s instructions), what happened to Mrs. Hallet, and what she’s done with all the bodies (in the cellar, obviously). So Mario helps her bury the bodies and now that we all know that Rynn isn’t totally crazy, and we know what’s happened to all the missing characters, the movie then becomes about A.) Rynn and Mario falling in love, B.) Mario helping Rynn keep everything a secret, C.) Rynn trying not to get raped/possibly murdered by Frank.

It’s WEIRD. It works, though. Like with Spring Breakers, this is another rare case where I’ve found that the movie is nothing like what I thought it would be, but it ends up being a good thing.

Also, just be warned that’s there’s a scene of animal abuse that I thought was really disturbing and sort of messed me up. So just be aware of that . . .

Christopher

I was expecting to have to trudge through this movie. But this movie ended up being pretty weird in a great way. There was some pedophilia stuff in it but nothing too crazy and the pedophile was Martin Sheen so it wasn’t that uncomfortable since I like him. Also, there is a scene where the 13 year old Jodie Foster gets naked but Elizabeth looked it up and it was a body double, luckily. So those are the weird things about the movie but the cool things are that Jodie Foster plays a 13 year old girl that drives this movie with her superb acting. The story is basically a what’s real, what’s not kind of thing and Foster plays her part with such a straight face so convincingly, you can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next. I mean for the most part the story is basically straight forward but the journey to get there is bizarre.

This is on Netflix and I highly recommend you watch it!

SPICE WORLD (1997)

Film Title: Spiceworld.

Christopher

The big thing I’ve noticed about watching movies that I saw as a kid, when I watch them now, they all look so cheaply made. I used to think that movies like this were high budget, made for the movie theater cause they put their heart and soul into every scene. Now, it’s very apparent that this was not true. The movie had so many unnecessary scenes I haven’t felt this way since I watched Teeth in college.

I imaged this movie being a bit like Metalocalypse. Where the movie is set in a world that the Spice Girls have complete control and dominance. But, unfortunately it was just about the Spice Girls in real life and that’s pretty much it. There are scenes of them just tickling each other, they start a plot that’s the movie within the movie, and there are a ton of (music) celebrities in this film.

Elizabeth

So, obviously, I most definitely saw Spice World in theaters when I was 10. How many 10 year old girls didn’t see Spice World in theaters? But I really have no recollection of my thoughts on it or what it was about. Which isn’t the best sign . . .

So yeah, Spice World sort of sucks, but does it suck for what it is? Not really. It’s a goofy, pointless, child-friendly musical group movie that reminded me of Help! in a lot of ways. I feel like there’s not many movies made now starring musical groups as themselves that aren’t documentaries. That’s probably for the best, but it’s definitely weird and sort of interesting to see a movie from a pretty much dead genre.

I think what made Spice World somewhat enjoyable was all of the crazy British actor cameos, including Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, who comes out with a pretty amazing burn on Hootie and the Blowfish. It also got a nice mix of Spice Girls songs stuck in my head, which is both bad and good.

Also, in case you thought otherwise, watching Spice World was entirely Chris’ idea. In fact, all week when I would ask him what he wanted to do, his answer was “Watch Spice World.” So, yeah.

RAGING BULL (1980)

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Elizabeth

I’ve been wanting to see Raging Bull for a really, really, really long time. In fact, it was #3 on my “Movies I Want To Rent/See” list that I started in 2000 when I was in 7th grade. It’s also on The National Film Registry along with a million other movie lists. But I just didn’t really enjoy it that much.

It pains me to say that. I thought Raging Bull was going to blow my mind. But I just thought it was sort of . . . boring. The plot was pretty much divided into scenes of Jake LaMotta (Robert de Niro) boxing and scenes of Jake LaMotta’s horrible personality. I actually enjoyed the boxing scenes more; though I thought the movie was boring as a whole, the way the boxing was filmed was really very beautiful. But the plot just didn’t do it for me. I didn’t think the relationships were complex enough to be interesting: Jake is continually psychotically jealous and possessive of his wife, Vickie (Cathy Moriarty) and fights with his sort of awful/sort of okay brother, Joey (Joe Pesci). And that’s about it. I didn’t find that his character particularly stood out from other similar characters (including most of those from Goodfellas).

I was sort of amazed at the makeup and de Niro’s famous physical transformation, though. Despite his character, I always found de Niro as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver to be prettyyyyy good looking. Taxi Driver was made only 4 years before Raging Bull, and though for most of it de Niro has a similar physique, his face looks soooo fucked up and unattractive. I don’t know how they did it. Maybe a prosthetic nose? Something, though. It was pretty effective.

But yeah, I feel ready to take a little break from movies that revolve around brutes.

Christopher

I watched this movie in high school but all I remembered about it was that John Turturro was in it as an uncredited extra. It’s really bizarre but cool. After seeing this again, and so close to watching Goodfellas, I feel like I like Raging Bull more. The camera work in that film is so great and the story about this somewhat cool but mostly awful guy/athlete is so great. I don’t think Elizabeth liked it but I was totally engaged with it from start to finish. But I also think that boxing is a pretty great sport.