Watched: January 12 2022 during our first ever 1000 Films Blog Movie Night™
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter, Leonard Rossiter, Margaret Tyzack, Robert Beatty, Sean Sullivan, Douglas Rain, Frank Miller
Runtime: 2h 29min
Ok, let’s face it, we cannot possibly hope to say anything new and interesting about one of the world’s most celebrated pieces of cinema – Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. So we’re not even going to try, but we will give a brief summary of the plot for the three readers who have never seen the movie.
What we learned: In space, no one can hear you have an existential crisis.
Joanna and Mark Wallace (Hepburn and Finney, respectively), a disillusioned and sniping couple, are going on a road trip to St. Tropez. The story of their 12 year relationship is told through flashbacks juxtaposed with more current events as we examine how they ended up in their current, seemingly loveless, marriage.
Travel permeates their relationship – at least most critical events appear to have happened while they’re on the road. They met in Europe and fell in love while hitchhiking together, and from there on out most developments occur on other trips they take, alone or together.
Our favourite might be their ridiculous road trip with Mark’s ex Cathy (Bron), her overbearing husband Howard (Daniels) and their obnoxious and unruly daughter Ruthie (not her fault – her parents are useless). The fact that Joanna and Mark have kids after this is mindblowing.
We’re in two minds about this movie. We love the non-linear storytelling and the wardrobe, but the relationship doesn’t quite work for us. Audrey Hepburn is lovely as Joanna, but frankly we’re not sold on Albert Finney in this, and we don’t quite see their chemistry.
At times it seems as though they’re going for the loving bickering of Nick and Nora, but while she is charming enough, he often comes across as a douche. Why on earth would they get married? They’re a perfect example of how squabbling and negging does NOT a cute couple make.
Sure, they have some good times – their express tourism is fun, and the continuous gag about his passport is cute, but overall our impression is that they should have been a holiday fling. Not building a life together. Especially as they fall into the classic trap of “sure, my partner and I have agreed on a life goal together, but I’m sure they’ll change their mind now that I have!” Then again, maybe that is the point of the story..? In which case: well done to all involved!
We have a fondness for Cathy though – just the way she talks is enough to make us want to hang out with her. And we’d pay good money to see a crossover show with Cathy and Howie befriending Mortitia and Gomez Addams! Or Nick and Nora Charles. If anyone wants to develop that show we’ll take 10% of all proceeds, including merchandising, please and thank you.
What we learned: Who travels in a vinyl outfit? Have fun with the thrush…
Dr Sidney Schaefer (Coburn) is recruited to be, as the title suggests, the President’s psychoanalyst. And boy does the President need it! Schaefer is conveniently moved to a new home with a secret tunnel connecting it to the White House, meaning that his new patient can call on him at all hours of the day and night. And he does.
Cushy or not, the job is top secret and totes private, so Schaefer cannot vent to anyone about the stress and pressure of his new position, and this soon starts to tear on his own psyche. He begins to see conspiracies everywhere – even suspecting his new girlfriend of spying on him.
Turns out he’s right all along! There are a whole bunch of agencies out to get him, such as the CEA, the FBR, the KGB and, worst of all, the TPC! How is a poor psychiatrist supposed to get out of this mess?
This movie is hilarious. Ok, it’s very, very silly, but if you’re in the right mood it’s great. The sixties are truly swinging in this comedy/thriller/sci-fi, and Coburn is swinging along. Despite his strife, he seems very jolly and happy all the time – he handles everything thrown at him with ease. He appears to be especially delighted during his stint as a gong player in a hippie band while on the run.
The quintessential American Family™ the Quandrills are also among our favourites, but what we enjoyed the most about this movie were all the different agencies and their relationships with each other. The agents and spies from the FBR, KGB, TPC, CSS, CEA, etc. tend to bump into each other so often that they’re all old friends – especially Masters (Cambridge) and Kropotkin (Darden), CEA and KGB, respectively. Their scenes together are easily the best parts of the movie. We also enjoyed the piles of dead assassins and spies. Mass murder is hilarious (in the right context)!
What we learned: Are you paranoid if they’re actually out to get you?
Walker (Marvin) is double-crossed (by his wife and best friend, no less!), shot and left for dead during a heist at the abandoned Alcatraz prison. He somehow survives and escapes, and is now determined to get his $93 000 back from “the Organization.”
He kills his way through a bunch of crooks and crime bosses, outsmarting them at every turn, all the while repeating his mantra of “I want my money.” Which, spoiler alert, he never gets. But he manages to fuck enough shit up that the people who stole from him won’t be able to enjoy it either. Which is a sort of a win itself, we guess. Although not a very satisfactory one.
We loved the sort-of-non-linear storytelling, Lee Marvin’s strong silent man routine, Angie Dickinson’s… Angie Dickinsonness, Lynne’s monologue when confronted by her “late” husband, and of course we’re suckers for a good revenge story.
Our pet theory: Walker is a terminator. His escape from certain death, glitches in memory/patchy, non-linear thinking, and single minded determination to achieve his agenda are all testimony to that. Or, he is possibly just a very goal-oriented man. Either way Point Blank makes for a very entertaining watch, with its noir and French crime film influences and bad ass protagonist.
Lucas Jackson (Newman) is given 2 years for destruction of property after a drunken sabotage of parking meters. He’s sent to a chain gang where he first gets off on the wrong foot with his fellow prisoners, particularly Drag (Kennedy), before ultimately earning their respect for his cool manner, egg eating ability, and utter lack of fucks to give.
Luke’s prison stay seems to go all right considering the circumstances. That is, until his mother (Fleet) dies. The guards are sympathetic and make arrangements for him to get a day’s leave to attend the funeral. Just kidding! They lock him up in their torture device “the box,” which is exactly what it says on the tin – a tiny wooden box where he is forced to spend his days/nights until the burial is over. The reason: he might be tempted to escape to go see his dead mother.
After his stint in the torture-box, Luke, who seemed content enough to do his time when he sort of flew under the radar, has had enough. His new goal is to get out, and to cause as much disruption for the guards as possible. So he escapes. And is caught. And put in chains. And escapes. And is caught. And given even more chains. And then tortured physically and mentally to his breaking point.
Like most prison movies (we’re thinking The Hill, The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Great Escape, etc.) Cool Hand Luke is infused with a distinct sense of dread, even through the scenes which are pleasant enough like the poker playing and the tarring of the road. You just know that this cannot possibly end well.
It’s also a fantastic cannot-hold-me-down-movie with a hero who is quietly rebellious and awesome throughout. And though his lack of self-preservation is a bit frustrating for sensible Norwegians, we recognize the defiance and opposition of Luke. We share those traits – we’d just break a lot sooner…
Also, we absolutely loved the gratuitous scantily-clad-woman-washing-car scene. Whether it’s the result of the sex starved imaginations of the prisoners, or a woman desperate for “safe” attention (they can’t really do anything), it’s hilarious.
We open on a series of illicit affairs and romances all taking place in the same building, and the scene ends in a shot. In the dark. And then a dead chauffeur. Enter Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Sellers).
The incompetent and clumsy inspector is the only one convinced that main suspect, the beautiful maid Maria Gambrelli (Sommer), is innocent, and he sets out to prove this. In the course of his investiation, the bodies keep piling up and his superior, Commissioner Dreyfus (Lom), is gradually driven mad and homicidal by Clouseau’s apparent bungling of the case.
There are so many things we adored in this movie. We particularly loved Kato and his sneak attacks, the lethal (and multicultural) date night, all Clouseau’s disguises, and the synchronising of the watches. However, the gags are too numerous to list, and the entire movie is just a masterclass in slapstick and physical comedy.
We were slightly traumatised by Sellers using our dad’s old guitar to cover up in the nudist colony (we swear it’s the exact guitar!) but otherwise we had a blast with this movie. Often, we become frustrated and annoyed with bumbling, incompetent characters and farces, but Sellers is so damned good that in this case we were just charmed instead. Well done, Edwards and Sellers!
New York City, some time in the 1950s. The Jets, possibly the least intimidating gang in movie history, are out jazz dancing and generally being a minor nuisance. When they bump into the equally graceful Sharks, it culminates in an epic dance-off.
After the two gangs’ confrontation, former Jet Tony (Beymer) is asked to accompany Jet leader Riff (Tamblyn) to a dance, in order to challenge their rivals to a rumble (which apparently was 1950s slang for a dance battle, possibly involving weapons). Tony has turned his life around and left his gang for a job, but has sworn allegiance to Riff “from womb to tomb” and thus agrees to come.
At the tense dance, Tony meets newly arrived Puerto Rican Maria (Wood), the sister of Sharks leader Bernardo (Chakiris), and the two instantly fall in love. But while this could have been a golden opportunity for the two gangs to put aside their differences and join forces, the romance is not accepted by either side and the lovers are forced to part.
Based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story is a fantastically colourful and energetic musical version of the classic play. We absolutely love the dancing, the transitions, the music, the colours, the humour, and the costumes. And Anita (Moreno), Bernardo’s feisty girlfriend.
It’s a tragic love story, but it also points out different forms of racism in the USA. In fact, the gangs might be bad news, but the real villain of the piece is racist Lieutenant Schrank. And discrimination in itself.
We love all the music in West Side Story (in fact, some of these songs make the perfect soundtrack when you clean the house), but our favourite songs are probably the one the gang sings about Officer Krupke, and I Feel Pretty. The latter because it’s the first time we see any real personality in Maria, who is often a fairly bland character. She does show some industry in the end though, which redeems her somewhat.
In the days of the Roman Empire, Spartacus (Douglas) is born into slavery and sold to a gladiator school after exhibiting some disobedience. Batiatus (Ustinov), the owner of the school, sees some promise in him and provides him with training and a prostitute – anything he could possibly crave.
One day, a bunch of rich bitches come by and demand a fight to the death. One of the chosen fighters is our hero, but when he loses the battle, his fellow gladiator refuses to kill him and charges the spectators instead.
After Draba’s death, and the continued mistreatment of the gladiators, Spartacus leads a rebellion and marches on Rome, freeing and recruiting more slaves on the way. Their plan is to amass enough riches to hire pirates to take them all back to their countries of origin. However, the Roman leaders are furious that someone dares defy them and set out to capture and/or kill them all, particularly Roman Braveheart Spartacus.
Spartacus is an epic not unlike Ben Hur, and apparently it was Kirk Douglas’ response to not getting the part of the Judean hero. Clocking in at well over 3 hours each, we’re grateful to Edgar Wright and the list for finally convincing us to watch them because they are fantastic.
We loved the political games, the old slave couple, Batiatus (for some reason, ’cause he’s a bit of a bastard. We think it was the actor who saved him), the humour, all the men looking for consent from the women before sexy-times (as a powerplay, but still!), and the epicness of it all. If you have 3+ hours to spare, Spartacus is the way to go. It’s impossible to dislike a story of people who are mistreated and repressed and who fight back.
Now, we are sorry to end this blog entry on a sad note, but one of the reasons it has taken us two weeks to update this time is because our beloved doggo Dewin had to be put down last weekend. He was our trusty film watching partner, and the bestest boy, but he was old and sick, and in the end we had to do the only humane thing for our wonderful friend. We will always remember his enthusiasm when watching anything with animals, particularly westerns with lots of horses, and (for some reason) Ingmar Bergman films. He loved Bergman. He was a better and more sophisticated man than us. Thank you for the good times, Dewin. We love you.