DOG DAY AFTERNOON (1975)

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Elizabeth

I had always wanted to see Dog Day Afternoon, but after seeing a little bit of it on TV when I was young, I was also a little scared to see it. The idea of a bank robbery-hostage situation was just really scary, plus I thought Al Pacino and John Cazale were really freaky looking.

Seeing it now, though, as an adult, I see how really not scary it is, at least not in the way I thought it was. The robbery itself isn’t all that scary, especially when Sonny (Pacino) and Sal (Cazale) seem more intimidated by the hostages than they do of the robbers. What’s scary is seeing New York in the 70’s, hot and grimy and full of police that no one seems to trust. New Yorkers end up rallying around Sonny, and it’s not totally clear if it’s just because he’s suddenly become famous or if there’s just a mutual hatred of cops, but I think it’s probably a bit of both, which is freaky. Sonny’s feeling of having nowhere to turn is scary, too: we find out about halfway through that although Sonny is legally married to a woman, he’s also unofficially married to a man, Leon (Chris Sarandon) whom he considers to be his true wife, as Leon is trying to get a sex change operation. And that’s why Sonny is robbing the bank to begin with, to pay for Leon’s operation. I wish I could say I know things are better now, but as someone who was without health insurance for about 2 years when I was unemployed I know that when it comes to money and medical treatment, things have not gotten better.

I’m not a diehard Pacino fan or anything, but he’s really good here. And really, the whole movie is just so great, especially the way it’s shot and the feeling that we get inside the bank as opposed to outside. When the robbers and hostages are finally transported out of the bank and taken to an airport, it makes you really uneasy that they’re out of the familiar bank surroundings, even though the goal the whole time was to get out.

Dog Day Afternoon is just great overall in the way it portrays feelings, whether it’s the realistic feelings of love in a homosexual relationship (which seemed to be handled pretty gracefully considering it was 1975) or the feeling of heat and anxiety of being held hostage inside a bank. It’s just . . . great.

Christopher

I was obsessed with this film when I first saw it in high school. I loved pretty much everything about it, even the opening sequence which has my favorite Elton John song. I also really liked Al Pacino at the time.

This movie is also one of my earliest memories of coming across a homosexual character. For whatever reason homosexuality was never something I really thought about until college. I think movies are what really formed my view of it before then though, in a good way. Largely from this movie and My Own Private Idaho, another film I remember watching on multiple occasions both by myself and with friends, and no one was ever weird about it which was great.

A Dog Day Afternoon is a film I think I’ve seen around ten times or so, so when Elizabeth said she had never seen it I was very excited to watch it for her first time. I think the dialogue is great, and I think it keeps you very invested, even though it pretty much takes place in one room and the street outside.

If you have not seen this movie watch it right now!

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LA MOUSTACHE (2005)

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Christopher

I saw this movie trailer a while back, I guess when it came out but Elizabeth recently mentioned it and we happened to come across it at a local library. It’s so weird but I found it to be kind of relatable. If I saw this as a kid it would have completely freaked me out. Now, this movie doesn’t really have an ending, a lot of it is kind of up to you to figure out but I liked that since the movie was about going crazy.

Since the movie is about a guy cutting his mustache and no one noticing, I decided to cut mine off too. I was thinking about it anyway but this seemed like the right time to do it. I used to look one way and now I look another but unlike the movie pretty much everyone mentioned it. I’m glad though because if people didn’t feel comfortable talking to me about it at work I would have been a little disappointed.

This movie was fun but I don’t think I would watch it again; I might read what other people thought about the ending though.

Elizabeth

Ever since I saw Tree of Life, I always thought it was a perfect example of what a pretentious art house movie was. Anytime I’ve seen an exaggerated parody of an art house movie, it’s been strangely similar to Tree of Life, which is just an example of why I think it’s an awful movie. La Moustache is similar, I think, because it seems like a stereotypical French art house movie. But it’s still better than Tree of Life.

La Moustache is weirdly stressful given the pretty simple plot: Marc (Vincent Lindon) has always had a mustache and then, on a whim, decides to shave it off. But once he does, his wife Agnès (Emmanuelle Devos) never notices, and neither do their close friends or Marc’s co-workers. When Marc confronts Agnès, she tells him he’s never had a mustache, which everyone around him agrees with, and then the stress begins.

At the start, La Moustache is pretty great because there are times when it seems clear that Marc is going crazy and times when it seems clear that Agnès is going crazy. Old pictures of Marc prove that he did have a mustache, and strangers on the street confirm this in pictures. But things begin to unravel further when we find out that Agnès has no idea who Marc is talking about when he mentions their old friends, and Agnès tells Marc that, unbeknown to him, his father had died years ago. The further along La Moustache goes, though, the looser it gets with the plot, I guess so it becomes more and more open to interpretation. But by the time the movie ends, you really don’t know what happened, who went crazy, or if any of it happened at all. I’m all for ambiguity in a movie, but on this level it seems like it’s ambiguous because the filmmakers aren’t sure what happened, either.

I think La Moustache is definitely worth seeing, if for no other reason than it’s pretty unique. Just know that once you start to get antsy about what’s going on, that feeling isn’t really going to go away.

I CAN DO BAD ALL BY MYSELF (2009)

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Elizabeth

We really have a habit of watching movies about awful people whom we are not supposed to think are awful. Case in point: I Can Do Bad All By Myself, another horror from Tyler Perry. But because the character of Madea is such an awful person, this isn’t really uncommon for Tyler Perry. But what makes I Can Do Bad All By Myself particularly stand out in awfulness is the fact that it’s a musical.

“I didn’t know it was a musical!” You might be thinking to yourself. Well, that’s because it’s not a musical in the traditional sense, where songs are integrated into the story and, ideally, help the story along. I Can Do Bad All By Myself is just a regular movie that happens to include 7 full-length songs performed within it. It’s not an accident that Mary J. Blige and Gladys Knight are randomly in the movie for no real reason. These song sequences are so fucking boring that it’s hard to watch. I’m not the biggest ever fan of musicals, but a good musical is good. A shitty movie with awful full-length songs is just a really really really shitty movie.

And, once again, Tyler Perry displays here the conflicting idea of having superior black actors (in this case, it’s Taraji P. Henson) in terribly written, terribly shot, terribly produced movies. Henson is not bad in this movie because she’s a really good actor. But she falls into the same trap that Idris Elba found himself in in Daddy’s Little Girls, along with Kathy Bates in The Family That Preys, Blair Underwood in Madea’s Family Reunion, Angela Bassett in Meet the Browns, and most of the cast of For Colored Girls: how much good can even a good actor do in such a terrible movie? The answer: not much.

Although I Can Do Bad All By Myself is often unbearable, it still has the violence-without-consequences, child-abuse-by-Madea, random rape, melodrama, sexism, and racism that we all know and love about Tyler Perry movies. So, there’s that!

Christopher

Since it was not only my birthday but also Elizabeth’s and my anniversary, we decided to revisit the holy entity that brought us together in the first place. Tyler Perry. I Can Do Bad All By Myself is one of his films I had yet to watch but Elizabeth and our friend Ben have always mentioned it as one of the craziest (For Colored Girls is still my favorite though) and they were absolutely right, it’s insane.

The one negative I would give it is the main negative I have about TP’s plays, there are so many fucking songs, in full length. And you really don’t have to know too much to guess that he really is an awful songwriter.  Every song sounds the same and they all deal with people just yelling. So this movie had 7 full songs, probably 40 minutes of the movie.

Great movie to watch but have a cup of coffee to help you through the singing.

SERENITY (2005)

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Christopher

I watched this with my dad when if first came out in theaters and I had no idea what it was, but that I loved it. Immediately after, my dad bought the DVDs (or Netflixed them?) and we watched through it all. I have a distinct memory of watching the trailer on the Apple website and thinking who would go to a movie with absolutely no well-known actors, I’m glad my dad decided it was something we should go see.

I think Firefly is great and is a show that makes you feel good. Serenity is a little sadder but all the characters are still people you like to root for. It still kind of blows my mind that absolutely no one picked it up for a second season. So much of the first season is obviously set up for future story lines and revelations.

The other week was my birthday so Elizabeth and I went to the Drafthouse because it was showing this movie the night before so it seemed obvious that we had to go. She hadn’t seen anything Firefly-related before but she knew I liked it. So once she caught up, both by watching and reading detailed wiki synopses, we both really enjoyed it.

I think this was my third time seeing this movie but I think it’s been my favorite viewing so far. So much of the storyline seemed more interesting to me and I didn’t have that bad taste in my mouth that this was going to be the last time I saw anything new from the Firefly universe.

Watch the show and this now! It’s all on Netflix.

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

Okay, full disclosure: I have not seen every episode of Firefly. I’ve seen the first and last episode, and four in between. In preparation of seeing Serenity in honor of Chris’ birthday, I read the Wikipedia articles on all of the episodes, which I’m sure would make some people mad, but WHATEVER.

Anyway, the biggest complaint I had with Firefly is how everything got resolved so easily in the span of an episode. If someone died, they came back before the episode ended. If they were gravely injured, they were all mended before the episode ended. Etc etc. I try not to be too hard on Firefly for this because there was clearly a lot of set up that never got played out when the show got cancelled. And so I would imagine there to be more conflict in later seasons that have more of an impact.

That being said, Serenity pretty much tossed that “no consequences” idea out the window. Which you would think I would like, given how I felt about Firefly. But the flipside is that I learned to trust that bad things didn’t really happen in Firefly, so when bad things happened in Serenity, it was really jarring and upsetting. The biggest, most obvious of these would be Wash (Alan Tudyk) getting killed in a second, right in front of his wife Zoe (Gina Torres) and Mal (Nathan Fillion), the captain. I was shocked when that happened, but it really wasn’t until the very end of the movie where they show Wash’s grave that I realized that he really was for real dead. And that’s awful! Wash was so great, and he and Zoe’s relationship was so great. Wash dying nearly ruined the movie for me, honestly.

But that aside, Serenity definitely has the most interesting and well-played out plot than any of the episodes and was pretty interesting. I think it would still be pretty interesting without having seen Firefly, which is a good sign.

I’m sure if you’re into Firefly you’ve already seen Serenity, especially since they’re both on Netflix. Buuuuut be forewarned that the movie is not nearly as forgiving as the series.

BROADCAST NEWS (1987)

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Elizabeth

Broadcast News was another movie that I saw at summer camp and loved. Even though it was about adults doing broadcast journalism (something I never had an interest in), I thought it was really relatable. And seeing it again, I still think that’s true but I also realized how sad it kind of is.

But what I think makes it great is that the characters are pretty multi-dimensional; no one is ever just awful or amazing, especially Holly Hunter. And Holly Hunter is just great anyway. I really related to her character the first time I saw it, which would have been the summer after 9th grade. I still feel like I’m similar to her now, but without the massive sadness and anxiety her character carries, although that was definitely present for me in high school.

I also really love the scene where Aaron (Albert Brooks) reads the news for the first time live on air. It’s sort of painful to watch, because you want him to succeed, but it’s still pretty funny while being very tragic.

Christopher

I had never heard of this movie before and when I mentioned that when I came across it at the library Elizabeth made me sound insane. SO based off of her reaction I really had to watch it! I definitely liked it more than I thought I was going to. But I’m a big William Hurt/Holly Hunter fan and it was a nice surprise to have a somewhat cameo by Jack Nicholson.

This movie is very interesting and clever and Holly Hunter is super cute and funny in it. [Editor’s note: Chris kept saying “Helen Hunt” instead of “Holly Hunter” throughout his post, further evidence of his Helen Hunt crush] What I liked the most was how realistic the ending was. Not everything is going to work out the way you want it to and not everyone stays in one city/state for their whole life (something I can’t imagine not doing).

SEX AND THE CITY (2008)

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Christopher

I’ve been trying to watch this movie for months now but Elizabeth was never in the mood. Finally I found the right moment, 6 o’clock on a Saturday, where there were absolutely no reasons to not watch this over two hour movie that moment! Unfortunately the wait was not worth it though. This movie was pretty funny in its awfulness but I really didn’t like most of the characters, especially Sarah Jessica Parker who really is distractingly unattractive to me.

Everything really is against me not liking anything about this though. I’ve never seen the show, whenever I think of this show I think of Jim Gaffigan but according to Elizabeth he was only in one episode, and it’s very insane how rich everyone is. The one thing I was not expecting was that a few of the characters got naked. I know this is a movie with sex in the title but I really had no clue that the main characters were among the people taking off their clothes, I’m not sure why I thought that. Except for SJP of course but I think that’s really a blessing if nothing else.

I’m not really sure what I thought of this movie other than the fact that it was kind of boring, there were so many characters you kept jumping from storyline to storyline, SJP voiceover seemed very unnecessary, and didn’t everyone have a happy ending in the show, what was the point of having this movie where pretty much everyone has something awful happen to them? Even with all of that I’m ready to watch the next one soon!

Elizabeth

Well, the fact of the matter is that the TV show of Sex and the City only really works if you just accept from the beginning that it’s a fantasy show. If you do that, you don’t get hung up on how the characters have so much money, so much sex, so much everything, without many bad things happening. And that was okay when watching 30 minute installments of the TV show. But with the movie version of Sex and the City, you have to sustain that belief for nearly two and a half hours . . . and that’s difficult.

I’ve seen every episode of Sex and the City so I was disappointed in the way that so many of the characters’ stories played out after the show ended. But that aside, as a movie, it’s just really hard to give a shit about characters who apparently don’t have to go to work (or can at least take an extravagant trip to Mexico at the drop of a hat) and have endless money and whose personalities have morphed into caricatures of themselves. Yeah, Samantha likes sex, Charlotte is proper, Miranda is a hardass, and Carrie is just kind of stupid, but there was always more to their characters than that in the show, at least for most of the seasons. But that’s all they’re pretty much reduced down to here, and it gets boring fast.

I don’t know if seeing this movie would be better or worse if you’re a fan of the show. But if Chris is any indication, it’s just not good either way.

ELIZABETHTOWN (2005)

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Elizabeth

Well, I guess the bottom line of Elizabethtown is that it doesn’t really make a ton of sense and the main characters are awful. Orlando Bloom plays Drew, a shoe designer who has somehow lost his company $972 billion. How did he do this? All we know is he designed a shoe that is somehow flawed. Why is one man, a designer, taking all the blame for that kind of loss? And why is the company even losing that much? Don’t waste your time wondering these things, because you’ll never find out. Because of this, Drew wants to kill himself, but before he can, his dad dies and he must travel to Elizabethtown, Kentucky to get the body. Drew is the only passenger on the flight, and so his flight attendant, Claire (Kirsten Dunst), decides to sit with Drew and talk to him the whole time. Because I’m sure that’s what all flight attendants really want to do.

So Drew is really narcissistic and Claire is really annoying and possibly psychotic. But what might be the worst element of Elizabethtown is how much meaning it tries to have but totally fails at having. Instead of flying back to wherever he came from, Claire convinces Drew to take a solo (with his dad’s ashes) road trip. She makes Drew a giant present filled with mix tapes and maps and all kinds of cutesy shit. The most absurd moment is when Drew visits the place of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, for a really long time I might add, and has like, a total moment. Or at least that’s how I imagine we’re supposed to think of the situation. Why do we need to see this? We don’t. Which is pretty much what you can say about the entire movie.

Christopher

I was really excited to watch this movie! It became something that I wanted to see for a while, when it was added to Netflix and the fact that Elizabeth is in the name. It ended up being exactly what I was hoping for, pure shit. I didn’t realize how artsy it tried to be. I think I was expecting something along the lines of The Wedding Planner but instead I got a Garden State knockoff, another unbearably awful movie!

There are too many scenes in this film that make you cringe and feel embarrassed for everyone involved. I honestly don’t remember a ton though cause the movie is over two hours long and it was kind of difficult to pay attention to.

I say check it out but don’t expect it to keep your interest throughout.