FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1965)

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Elizabeth

Chris and I watched The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly the first day we started dating, so all of these movies are dear to my heart (even though I haven’t seen them all). Now, I liked The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and I wasn’t really expecting to. I kind of thought it would be boring and/or hard to follow. But it wasn’t at all! But I still went into For A Few Dollars More thinking the same thing, but again, it wasn’t like that all . . . even less so.

This movie has everything: bromance, beautiful cinematography, a revenge killing, etc etc. Once the story was kind of established, that Manco (Clint Eastwood) and Colonel Mortimer (Van Cleef) are bounty hunters after the same guy, Indio (Gian Maria Volonté), I said (out loud), “They just need to team up and work together!” And about 5 minutes later that’s exactly what happened. The whole movie went exactly the way I wanted it to go. That’s not to say it was predictable, because I didn’t really think it was going to go the way I wanted. It was just great!

It’s just really hard for me not to see Manco and Mortimer as totally in love. I know that sounds crazy and I’m not talking about homosexuality. I’m talking more about this mutual feeling of respect, admiration, and LOVE (yes!) as well as having mostly the same goals. First of all, let’s talk about their meetcute:

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Amazing.

For a while, like many cinematic couples, Manco and Mortimer are just sort of bitchy to each other – they push each other’s buttons and test each other’s loyalty (both passing and failing at different times). But once it comes out that Mortimer is after Indio not for the bounty but because at one time Indio murdered Mortimer’s brother-in-law (or his sister’s partner or some kind), raped his sister, and basically was the cause of her killing herself mid-rape, shit gets serious. They don’t really test each other anymore – they’re on a mission. Manco wants Indio for the money and Mortimer wants him for revenge, but they both want him bad. The only real difference is that Manco doesn’t care who kills him and Mortimer does. In the last scene Manco and Mortimer sort of team up against Indio, except it’s really Mortimer vs. Indio, with Manco watching from the side, gun drawn toward Indio. Manco didn’t have to do that . . . he could have not risked it or he could have just stolen the money Indio had and ran off, leaving Indio for Mortimer. But, instead, because Manco fucking loved Mortimer, he stays behind for the sole purpose of making sure Mortimer gets his revenge. It’s beautiful, really.

Also, can we talk about Lee Van Cleef for a second? This came up before when we watched The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance but I truly don’t understand how Lee Van Cleef was able to be totally fucking sexy while also totally looking like a rat. How is that possible?? It should be a Wonder of the World, really. But in general, Lee Van Cleef and Clint Eastwood were so comically better looking than literally anyone else in the movie’s universe that it would have been distracting if the movie wasn’t so good. I do love how whenever they show up, if there’s a woman around, you better believe she’s swooning and/or staring. Who could blame them?

Christopher

When looking at the trilogy that falls into I absolutely love The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly the best. I feel like it’s so rich in story I get something out of it each time I watch it. However, For A Few Dollars More was always my second favorite by far. I was never that into A Fistful Of Dollars but I do love Yojimbo

The reason For A Few Dollars More was always my second favorite in the trilogy was definitely because Lee Van Cleef was in it. I really think he’s  a fantastic actor and I always get excited when he shows up in stuff. I really need to watch some of those westerns he’s solely the main character in…I’m kind of not sure why I haven’t done that yet.

This movie builds such a romantic world to me. I mean, it’s not something I would necessarily like to live in but everyone just looks cool to me. It makes this movie so easy to watch even though I feel like people would find parts boring. The movie has such a nice build and of course ends in a deadly showdown.

One of the funniest things about this movie to me is the fact that Klaus Kinski has a very small role as a hunchback. When I first knew this movie I definitely had no clue who he was but when I first saw Aguirre in high school I knew I had seen him somewhere. 

AMERICAN SNIPER (2014)

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ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS

  • Best Picture – Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper and Peter Morgan
  • Best Actor – Bradley Cooper
  • Best Film Editing – Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach
  • Best Sound Editing – Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
  • Best Sound Mixing – John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin
  • Best Adapted Screenplay – Jason Hall

Christopher

When I first saw the trailer to this movie I have to admit I was kind of excited about watching it. In my mind I thought it was going to be a kind of like The Hurt Locker, only directed by Clint Eastwood. Once the film came out and it became apparent that the people were split on whether they liked the movie or not I realized it was probably not going to be something I was too into. Unfortunately I was right; however, I didn’t dislike it as much as I thought I was going to. I mean, it was still a better Oscar movie than something like Silver Linings Playbook.

To me, watching this movie was like watching an anime. Chris Kyle in this film is man above most men. He never really has any flaws, other than dealing with his home life. Once he’s on the battle field he becomes more than a man and everyone around him just drives home that point in each scene. I expected Kyle to be floating around with lightning bolts coming out of his eyes by the third act. As the movie moves along Kyle just keeps getting stronger and better at what he does in each scene. It has a very comic book feel to it.

Not the best movie and I would not recommend this to anyone but at least it was easier to watch than The Theory of Everything.

Elizabeth

I don’t wonder how American Sniper got made, the way I do a lot of movies. What I wonder about American Sniper is if we saw the same movie that everyone raving about it saw. Because I don’t care what country you’re from, the bottom line is that American Sniper just isn’t that great of a movie.

Bradley Cooper plays Chris Kyle, whom is already called a legend within probably the first 30 minutes of the movie because of all the people he’s killed by being a sniper. Everyone in the military seems to know his name, and his number of “confirmed kills” rises, along with everyone’s admiration for Kyle, as the movie goes on. Okay. Now, other than Christopher’s family, I have no personal ties to the military. Other than my grandfathers, no one in my family has been involved in the military. I’m not ever going to try and pretend to know what it’s like to be in the military, or to have someone you love in the military, or in a warzone. I can’t imagine the kind of crazy shit that goes along with being a sniper in a war situation the way Kyle was. But. The way Kyle was presented to us is that, especially as a sniper, he can do no wrong. He never makes the wrong decision. He never kills the wrong person. He never has any second thoughts about anything he’s doing. So maybe he was a great sniper, and maybe he really never did kill the wrong person or make the wrong decision, but that doesn’t make for an interesting character either way.

One of the biggest issues I had was with another character, Mustafa (Sammy Sheik). He’s presented to us pretty early on as a former Olympian who is now a seemingly impossible-to-catch sniper for the insurgents. It’s clear that Mustafa is going to be someone Kyle will have conflict with. We see Mustafa pick off American soldiers around Kyle. And that’s hard to watch, for sure. But are we supposed to just totally ignore the fact that Mustafa is essentially the Chris Kyle for the bad guys? Mustafa is just presented to us as a silent, almost ghost-like evil force. But he’s picking off Americans in pretty much the exact manner that Kyle is picking off insurgents. Obviously that’s bad from an American standpoint, but this is a fucking narrative movie, not a dry documentary on recent American military and political history. The connection between Kyle and Mustafa could have been really complicated and interesting, without changing the actual events of the story whatsoever. Why bother having Mustafa as a key player if he’s just another essentially anonymous Iraqi that we’re just going to watch Kyle kill?

I will say that American Sniper did a really good job of showing you the pull the war had on Kyle. Whenever Kyle was at home between tours, instead of wanting him to stay home, you really felt for him and his desire to go back to the war and do what he was obviously good at. But just like so many Oscar movies this year, the role of Kyle’s wife, Taya (Sienna Miller), was next to useless. Her entire story involved meeting and marrying Kyle and either waiting for him to return home or waiting for him to return to “normal” until he dies. Obviously they couldn’t write out this guy’s wife, so that’s understandable. But I never understood why they got married in the first place and so I wasn’t really shocked/upset when they had inevitable issues. Her character definitely seemed more like a symbol than an actual character.

I rushed us into watching this before the Oscars because I was really scared it was going to win everything, or at least Best Picture. So at least I don’t have to wonder how American Sniper tricked the Academy, either.

DIRTY HARRY (1971)

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Elizabeth (spoilers!)

Dirty Harry might be as nearly perfect as you can get when it comes to badass cop movies.

Fortunately, I really didn’t know much about the movie before we watched it, and we got to see it at a special screening in theaters, so that was awesome. The story follows cop Harry (Clint Eastwood) while he tries to track down and catch a serial killer, Scorpio (Andy Robinson). That’s really all there is to the plot, but let’s dig deeper, shall we?

I love Harry because he’s steely while still being sympathetic. I don’t like movies about seemingly invincible cops, or cops who seem just as cold as whomever they’re trying to catch. Harry comes off as fairly cold, but he’s really not. He’s constantly risking his life for other people, some he knows, some he doesn’t. When someone is murdered, Harry feels it. When the bag is lifted from the head of a young boy whose face was shot off, Harry doesn’t just stare back at the body coldly; he flinches, he’s disgusted, and he’s angry. He’s like Liam Neeson’s character in Taken, except he won’t just kill everyone who gets in his way (even if maybe he wants to). He has morals and rules, even if they’re sometimes just forced on him by the police force. But still, they’re there. Also, Harry single-handedly foils a bank robbery with one gun while eating a hot dog. FUUUUUUUUCCCCCKIN COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!

I also love how Dirty Harry keeps you guessing, but in an unexpected way. Even though we don’t really know anything about Scorpio, he’s revealed to use pretty early on in the movie. So the first half of the movie is about Harry trying to catch Scorpio, even though we know who and where Scorpio is. So when Harry does catch Scorpio not too far into the movie, I wasn’t really sure what the plot was going to be after that. Which I loved! Because then the movie became a broader version of the original story; Harry caught Scorpio, but without a warrant and Scorpio is let go. So now Harry has to try to keep Scorpio from killing, all while trying to abide by the rules of the police force, which is not as easy as you would think. Harry’s character is really shown to us in this second half, because he takes it upon himself to stop the killer, whether the police department is going to help him or not. And he does stop the killer, of course, and it’s awesome.

Dirty Harry is also really funny and super scary. I’m really glad I didn’t watch it when I was younger. What makes Scorpio so scary is that he seriously doesn’t give a shit about whom he kills: men, women, children, black, white, gay, straight, even a priest . . . it doesn’t matter who he’s going for, just that he’s going to kill someone. And of course, he also kidnaps, rapes, and murders a 14 year old. We don’t see any of that, just the aftermath, but that’s bad enough. Poor Andy Robinson. What a total creep. But to counter that, the movie is really legitimately funny and it mostly comes from Eastwood. Harry does not give a fuck, for better or for worse, and it’s entertaining no matter what.

I’m sure most people have seen Dirty Harry, but it’s worth watching either way. SOOOO GOOOOOOOD!!

Christopher (spoilers!)

This is the third time I’ve watched Dirty Harry and even though some of the plot was difficult to believe, I still think this is such a great cop film. I remember watching this when I was really little, I’m not sure why my parents let me even watch it actually because the killer horrified me. There were many sleepless nights due to him. Then, I ended up watching this movie again in high school and from that experience I remember thinking that it was such a 70s film because of all the shakey zoom in/out shots. Watching it as an adult I think what I loved most about the film is how it’s kind of in two different parts. The first half is the killer doing his thing, killing, and Harry trying to catch him, but after half the movie, the killer is caught by Harry but allowed to be free because of Harry’s “do as he pleases” attitude. From there it’s all about Harry trying to catch the killer mess up.

This movie will be a classic forever and I feel rightly so. I’m not sure if they are supposed to be good, and I feel like I have seen at least one other, but I think the plan is for Elizabeth and myself to watch the sequels soon. We’ll keep you posted.