Movie Resolution: Week #52

This bitch of a resolution should have been done this week, but no, I still have to watch three more movies and review them. I’ll always love movies, but I have a newfound respect for critics and what must be their mountain’s worth of patience. I don’t think I could do it professionally. I’ll tell you about that in the review of the review blog. Let’s get this over with.

December 22: Cairo

Bored–make it stop! Why do all the pictures that sound like they’re going to be amazing have to suck so much? A film about stealing the jewels of King Tutankhamen should be thrilling, not mind numbing. An unpleasant fellow named the Major comes to Cairo after being released from prison to carry on his nefarious lifestyle. He enlists some other hoodlums and they successfully steal the jewels of the pharaoh. Afterwards, though, the real trouble starts. Police are sniffing about, illnesses, annoyance, blackmail, it goes on and on. They try, not so subtly, to imply that all these fellows are suffering because of the alleged “Curse of the Pharaohs,” a lovely plot element that could have really helped boost the fun in this movie–but, alas, no, it was only hinted at and increased my annoyance of this very tedious, awfully unpleasant film. Don’t seek it out. (Also, why was the Egyptian woman shouting in English in the middle of a village? Those people are going to be speaking Arabic, dummy! This annoyed me more than anything else about the film.) [My Rating: 1/10]

December 23: Akeelah and the Bee 

I always thought this film looked sappy and I don’t think I like sappy. STOP EVERYTHING! I JUST REALIZED THAT AKEELAH IS OLIVIA FROM JOYFUL NOISE! Back to the review. We watched this yesterday as a reward for the students at work and I was looking forward to it. I’ve come to learn that movies geared towards younger audiences are ones that I enjoy. I don’t know what this says about me. Probably that I’m underdeveloped emotionally or something. So what, who cares? The film was completely predictable, but that was okay. Not every film has to have a shocking ending or unsettling emotional issues. Sometimes something can be heartwarming and prove to be more than good enough. The movie is about a young girl named Akeelah. She has the potential to be an excellent student, but her school sucks in so many ways. The students are unmotivated, they can be violent, the school itself is dilapidated–poor Akeelah is a product of her environment. If she had been lucky enough to grow up in a nicer district like the friends she meets from Beverly Hills, she could have been even greater. Oh well, that’s not the point. Akeelah has a passion for spelling that she got from her murdered father. Weird, I know. Because of this, the administration takes notice of her and basically force her into a spelling bee. Good though it was to show off her talents, they were basically whoring her out for publicity. This wasn’t addressed in the movie, which surprised me. Akeelah moves up and up and up through the spelling bees, becoming more passionate about them and sure of herself as she goes on. She meets new people, like Javier, who all the kids in the audience were swooning over, and starts taking her talent seriously. There was never any doubt of her succeeding, so it was no shock when she was able to go to the National Spelling Bee in Washington. Also, predictably, she is in the final two with her arch rival–not really, he’s just not very nice. He could be, but he’s been drilled too hard by his coach to be kindly. Of course, he wants to be nice. Yawn. So, they win together and both take home the trophy. Very sweet. I approve wholeheartedly of it’s sappy plot and expected outcome. See this one. Plus, it was so cute to see some of the kids discussing the word “pulchritude” afterwards. [My Rating: 9/10]

December 24: The Queen of Versailles 

queen-of-versailles-trailer-565x423

I silently sobbed throughout this film. It could have been because I had a cocktail–one of my creations, a Nicky on the Rock–but I think there was something more. I really related to the people that were being filmed. Even though I’m not rich or affluent and I haven’t any kind of power, I feel that the Siegal family and I have so much in common. I want to have the kind of life they once led. They were dripping, just dripping, with money and would spend it just because they had it. Why not? There’s no actual point in money, you know? It’s just paper and numbers. Use it! That’s my thought on the matter. But, the Recession came along and they lost so much. They didn’t lose it all, they were still well of, but they no longer were able to have the kind of life they had become accustomed to. Some people might get annoyed at the exceedingly rich and perhaps they have reason to, but I never have. I’m a super liberal democrat and I support taxing the rich highly, but I never really understood why people have such burning hatred for people who got lucky someway. Not everybody earned it, that’s true, but not everybody deserves to be poor. That doesn’t make much sense, but I had a strong cocktail. At first, it seems that the documentary is going to be a lighthearted look at the family’s attempt to complete the largest house in the United States which was based on the Palais de Versailles in France and the Paris Las Vegas Hotel. I was all for it. There were thirty bathrooms (!!!), staff quarters, an observation platform where they could watch the fireworks at Disney each night, a storage unit held five million dollars worth of gorgeous Chinese marble, a magnificent skylight dominated the massive ballroom–it was heavenly. It wasn’t done, yet, and never would be because of the financial crisis we are still going through. The Siegal family business was timeshares and was based on access to easy money. Of course, that was no longer possible in this economy and the business began to fail and worsen. The house had to be put on hold and eventually on the market, but who would buy a house for seventy-five million dollars that wasn’t even finished? The majority of the documentary dealt with how they responded to this unexpected tragedy. One line that seemed like a parody, but was said with total honesty was, “[The kids] might have to go to college now.” I wept. I had heaving, choking sobs at that point. I don’t know why it struck me so much, but that was just the saddest thing I’d ever heard. Well, that was until the nanny showed us around the playhouse by the pool that the kids never used. All she ever wanted was a house of her own. That’s how she qualified success in life, owning your own place. She asked Jackie (the wife) if she could use it, to which Jackie consented, and now she has a tiny little house of her own. It was tragic. The film deals in schadenfreude in the most brilliant way, because while some of the things this family does and says are awfully out of touch, you can’t help but love them. Jackie has always had pomeranians, and when they die…she taxidermies them. I LOVE THAT BITCH! One is in a glass display case, the other was skinned and is draped elegantly over the grand piano that nobody seems to play. One of the dogs has puppies and she shouts out, “I’ve lost the puppies. I need to find them or else the python will eat them!” That was real life for these people. I’m beyond obsessed. I loved everything about this movie, from the kitchen with the two islands and three gorgeous stainless steel refrigerators lined up, to the unfashionable children with horrid ombré hair, to the dead lizard that nobody knew they had, to the echoing empty halls of Versailles, and, oh god, it was all fabulous. You’ve got to see it. The film was a modern triumph and an excellent narrative on the America we all live in today showcasing the dark side of the American dream. [My Rating: 10/10]

December 25: Interview With the Vampire 

Anne Rice is one of my very favorite authors and another of those people that I have an imaginary friendship with. (It’s always me, Beyoncé, Martha, and Karl chatting away. We don’t see much of Bey with her Super Bowl rehearsals right now, but we’ll all catch up soon.) For years and years I was a fool and thought that her vampire books were going to be crap. I don’t know why. Probably because most contemporary vampire novels are shit. Twilight…really? But these novels weren’t. They were rich and elegant and absolutely beautiful. I adore them and luxuriate with each that I read. I don’t want to read them all in a row, so I’m spacing them out so that I won’t feel the gaping loneliness of no longer having them when I do. This film starring Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Antonio Bandares, Kirsten Dunst, Christian Slater, and more big named celebrities was a gorgeous and faithful adaptation of the sensuous novel of the same name. The story is about the melancholy and sadness that Pitt’s vampire, Louis, suffers. He is not a murderer or lustful, he hates that he has to kill to live and perhaps punishes himself far too much. Cruise’s Lestat, on the other hand, revels in his “dark gift” and indulges in every sadistic pleasure he can. I’d be somewhere in the middle, I suppose. I wouldn’t like killing people, but I would like wearing lots of velvet and lace. Anyway, they create a child vampire named Claudia, played by the very young Kirsten Dunst. She was fabulous. What a talent! Louis and Claudia need to escape from Lestat because they are afraid of him and don’t understand him. So, they try killing him a couple times and they sail for Europe where their existence becomes ever more depressing when they meet a troupe of Parisian vampires. It was a great movie, darkly humorous and visually arresting. It is one of the most beautiful movies I’ve seen in a long time. And, many of the male leads wear capes, which gives me a fashion-gasm. I adore capes and think they’re due for a return. I’d wear a cape all the damn time. Also, the glasses Christian Slater wears are the most beautiful glasses I’ve ever seen and I need them sitting on my face. (Giggle.)

A great film, but because it comes from such rich source material, you’re left with the distinct impression that something’s missing. [My Rating: 9/10]

December 26: When In Rome

This probably should have been a movie I liked, but I just could not get into this one. It was about an ex-con who steals the identity of a priest during a Jubilee. He wants to evade the police, but becomes close to the priest he stole from and starts wanting to repent. He does so and goes on a kind of pilgrimage with the permission of the priest who has persuaded the police to leave him alone while he does this. The criminal goes to a monastery where all the monks have taken a vow of silence and he is enraptured by this place. Here he can ponder the future and doing good and he has no desire to ever leave. The priest catches up to him and through the written word he explains why he has found such contentment here. The priest agrees to return and visit him in 25 years when the next Holy Year Jubilee will be held. It was sweet, but it wasn’t altogether very interesting. I don’t understand why the police just gave up and I didn’t really understand the criminal’s motive. It was billed a comedy, but I didn’t laugh. This might be one of those pictures that you see again in a few years and find yourself loving–but that’s not this time. [My Rating: 3/10]

December 27: Undercurrent 

Katharine Hepburn was, of course, an exceptional talent and a fascinating woman, but her movies weren’t always as good as she was. This was one of those times. Undercurrent tries to be too much like other movies and doesn’t let itself develop into anything but a melodramatic parody of Rebecca and Suspicion–two films Hitchcock did much better. Katharine’s character, Ann, is a somewhat dowdy scientist who marries Alan, a successful businessman who seems to run a company full of inventors. That thought intrigued me. I love inventors. I’d like to be one. So, Ann is over the moon happy, but soon her marriage starts giving her something to worry about. Alan has a brother that he never brought up named Michael, whose very name seems to cause a panic in those around her. She’s reasonably curious about this fellow and seeks out information, which pisses Alan off. She soon begins to suspect that he isn’t the Prince Charming she thought he was. She thinks, rightly so, that he plans on killing her. In what I would consider the only deviation from the films it seems to base itself on, Alan dies after a horse tramples him to death in a scene I found to be hilarious, high camp. Katharine’s facial expressions were gavulous and the horse looked preposterous. Good fun, that. I wanted to like this movie, but I just couldn’t. It needed to have a life of its own, but that was something it never had. A soulless film, truly. [My Rating: 4/10]

December 28: The Monte Carlo Story 

This picture has been on my Netflix queue for years now, and I finally took a moment to watch it. I wanted to love it. I should have loved it. I love Marlene Dietrich. I love the time period. I love Monte Carlo. In my life, I have had several happy moments roaming around the stunning streets and boulevards of that charming little country. It’s a magical place that doesn’t seem real. It’s too beautiful. The Musee Oceanographique jets out into the Mediterranean and the water is too blue. I miss it terribly right now. What I’d give to walk along, smelling the flowers always in bloom instead of sitting in the middle of Iowa in the middle of a snowstorm. Le sigh. Marry me, royal family! Did you know my grandparents have friends that are close friends with the Monacan royals? I go weak in the knees when I think about it. I make a lot of shit up, but that’s true. I really can’t believe it myself. Anyway, the movie was awfully dull. Marlene’s character is broke and tries to marry a man she thinks is rich, but is really poor, and he’s trying to marry her because he thinks that she is rich. I’m exhausted thinking of the complexity. The only good thing was the costuming. Stunning, gorgeous costumes. Instead of watching this, why don’t you just go to Monte Carlo? Or, do as I did, and scroll through www.poormichelle.com the entire time and laugh your ass off. Whoever created that website was a freaking genius. Another amusing thing, Marlene looked exactly like HIStory era Michael Jackson. Like, they could have been twins. I was transfixed and delighted by that. Avoid the movie, though. [My Rating: 4/10]

FILM of the WEEK: no question about it, the title goes to The Queen of Versailles. You’ve got to see it.

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