A few weeks ago I guest starred on About to Review’s podcast and we discussed “classic” films that the three of us had somehow missed throughout the years. It’s a two-part episode, part 1 we discussed which films we’d all be watching; John and Tim each had 4, 2 selected by me, whereas I was given twice as many films as my male counterparts, 4 of my 8 were recommended by the boys. #patriarchy
My list was the following:
- Annie Hall
- Schindler’s List
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- The Graduate
- Creature From The Black Lagoon
- Chasing Amy
- The Thing
Well, this week we were back in the studio to discuss how we felt about them, green to declare the film was “worth the wait” and red denoting that it was “too late”; there is no middle ground, even if I was only so-so about a film, it can only be one or the other. Rather than make this a 30-page essay on all of our feelings about all 16 films, I stuck with my feelings for each of my 8 films, giving a brief synopsis of my overall feelings about each of them.
Annie Hall is a 1977 romance film following Annie (Diane Keaton) and Alvy (Woody Allen), in which Alvy analyzes the pit falls of their relationship by examining everything from his childhood to his early-adult years, repeatedly breaking the fourth wall and expressing his discontent to the viewers. This idiosyncratic film is a love story focusing on two quirky characters that are just trying to figure their place in life. My favorite aspect of this film is that dialogue is EVERYTHING, in fact most of the movie is just walking and talking; these conversations that reveal more about character motivations through mundane conversation. Another thing I loved about it is that Annie doesn’t change her ADD, charismatic, chatty self for Alvy; that despite the fragility of his male ego, Annie refuses to sacrifice her sense of self to merely be Alvy’s muse.
Schindler’s List premiered in 1993 but takes place in 1939, as World War II hits the city of Krakow, Poland. As I admitted on the podcast, because I chose to break up my emotional rollercoaster into smaller bits, I did not have a chance to finish this film (hence why it only got a half green highlight haha). Summary wise, it is the story of Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a businessman with a spotty past, who hopes to make his fortune on the backs of Nazi soldiers. While staffing his manufacturing plant with Jewish workers, because they worked for cheaper, he comes to the realization that he’s saving lives. I am eager to finish this film, I only have about 45 minutes left in it, but so far I’m calling it a worth the wait.
2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 space epic film by acclaimed director Stanley Kubrick and is often heralded as one of the best science fiction films of all time…I would heavily disagree. Now, I will give credit where credit is due: the visuals are absolutely stunning, the score is beyond beautiful, and AI technology might not be what it is today without this film. However, this was the “slow burn” of all slow burns; the movie never really picks up, is full of hard scene cuts, and left me with A LOT of unanswered questions. I’m not asking for a jam-packed action thriller but I was pretty much counting down the minutes until it was over and praying that it didn’t put me to sleep. I understood the overarching metaphor for evolution over space and time, so the themes were not lost on me, just the delivery wasn’t what I wanted from the film.
The Graduate is the 1967 story of Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), a fresh college graduate who’s figuring out his next steps while staying at his parent’s house. At his graduation party, he is seduced by his neighbor, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), and their affair continues night after night until his parents pressure him to take the Robinson’s daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross) out for a date. Long story short, he falls in love with her and becomes creepily infatuated with her, much to the anger of Mrs. Robinson who punishes Benjamin by telling her husband and daughter than he raped her. When Elaine refuses to see Benjamin anymore the stalks her back to her college campus and after Elaine screams at him for about a minute then quickly forgives Benjamin only to fall back in love with him. Disaster strikes when Benjamin finds out that his love is engaged to another; instead of letting her go he, once again, stalks her straight to the alter, breaks up the wedding and the movie ends with them riding off on a bus full of strangers before their new reality hits them. I think it’s pretty clear how I feel about this film but overall Mrs. Robinson is a creepy borderline rapist who practically forces herself onto Benjamin regardless of the number of times he said, “no”. I can understand why this film was enjoyable and considered a classic, especially for its time, but it does not work for 2017.
Casablanca is the story of Rick (Humphrey Bogart) who owns a nightclub in Casablanca, Morocco at the height of World War II. His old lover Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) and her husband Victor (Paul Henreid) end up stuck in the city, eager to find transit papers to make it to America. I love old black and white films and this one was no short of magical; I loved the inner struggle you see Rick go through of selfishness or selflessness, Ilsa is a terrible person who cheated on her husband with a man she still loves and abuses his lingering feelings for her to obtain illegal papers, and her husband Victor is a hero for the resistance and continuously fights for love and honor.
In keeping with my love of old black and white films, Creature From The Black Lagoon is the 1954 story of a group of archaeologists who discover the remnants of a strange prehistoric beast in the Amazonian jungle. This relatively short film is a cute story about how we don’t choose who we love, the Creature falls for Kay (Julie Adams) and despite being captured repeatedly, poked, prodded and shot by these scientists he returns for Kay before ultimately slinking back into solitude.
Chasing Amy is the story of comic-book artists Holden (Ben Affleck) and Banky (Jason Lee) that are best friends until Holden falls in love with another artist, Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams) who just happens to be a lesbian. As with other Kevin Smith films, this movie is filled with humor and ambitious commentary about societal standards. The humor isn’t in the falling in love, like with most romantic comedies, but in the interactions between friends that depict real life. This movie depicts how the ignorance of true sexuality and desperation behind the fragile male ego. This feeds into a toxic mental state where if you don’t know how to deal with what you’re feeling you attack the person, instead of dealing with the fear propelling your self-consciousness.
The Thing was the finale to my list and fellow guest star Tim’s favorite movie (seriously, he was giddy with the idea of me watching it). This 1982 film takes place at a research facility in Antarctica where a team of scientists discovers an alien creature that can clone and become whatever it touches. The movie’s journey is the process of elimination between what is human and what is alien, as well as what will drive a person to do things that may haunt them forever. The movie isn’t one of depth or reflection, nor is it one that I’ll be telling my children’s children about, but it was an entertaining sci-fi film, full of 80’s style special effects, and a dramatic ending that left me wondering if the thing truly is gone.
Overall, I will continue my quest to watch more “classic” films, either by my own choosing or by the recommendations of others. I love to see how cinematic expectations and social commentary have changed over the years and I’m eager to see what the future holds for the silver screen.