mandag den 9. august 2010

1923 - (16) Heksen

I saw screenshots from this movie in an encyclopedia as a child. Never thought i was ever going to watch this though. Also, this is a part Danish. I'm a Dane, making this even more interesting for me.

Title: Heksen, Häxan, The Witch, who knows...
Director: Benjamin Christensen 
Year: 1923 
Runtime (My version): 87 mins.
Seen: 2009

How i got this:, and I was extremely surprised to find this there.

Plot Outline: This is a pseudo-documentary, part shock-movie, that describes how people saw witches as something very real in the old days, showing dark rituals and interrogations, and even a nunnery running amok. All of this being wrapped in a frame narrative, telling us how all of this crazyness was probably caused by prejudism, fear and ignorance.

First impression: I really have NO idea about what this movie will be like.
But on second thought: There was NO way I could have figured out what this would be like beforehand.

General comments: Sometime in the future I will have to watch a movie called "Pink Flamingoes" it is supposedly made to shock people. Now, this movie must have been kinda' like watching "Pink Flamingoes" back in 1923. The scenes are very surreal and a lot of crazy outfits and decorations makes this movie borderline disturbing, and in any case very unusual even today. The acting in this movie is somewhat secondary to the details of the masks, outfits and models of the various demons and rituals. I find it hard to judge this movie because it is so unlike anything I have ever seen, and probably ever will see.

In any case this MUST have caused quite the stir when it was released. It involves ass-kissing, human sacrifice, and scenes that would make Freudian people run amok in "I told you so".

Music: I really can't remember.

Pictures: These are what mainly carries the movie, and they manage to do so by being well-shot, shocking and obscure.

Essentially this is: Undefinable, provoking and generally hard seeing the point in.

Why you should see this: This is so obscure, that it might be work bragging about if you are the artsy type.
Why you shouldn't see this: There really isn't that much to carry the story.

Honorable mention: The demon with the tongue in the womans nightmare. He is genuinely peverted. Really, he is a dirty dirty guy.
Final rating: 62/100, yeah, this was not really for me.
BTW: I don't think anybody will be able to put this movie in a box.

1922 - (15) Nosferatu

And here comes the first movie that I was actually a bit afraid to watch.

Title: Nosferatu
Director: F.W. Murnau 
Year: 1922
Runtime (My version): 94 mins. Apparently, there are some different versions out there, I believe mine was a bit shorter, but it nonetheless felt complete.

Seen: 2009

How i got this:

Plot Outline: A young man from Bremen is sent to help an obscure count in the Carpathian mountains with some juridical problems. He discovers that his host is a vampire, flees back to Bremen, but is followed by the count, who know sets his sights on the young lawyers wife.

First impression: This is scary, I bet it's scary.... (I saw some vampire-themed episode of a series called troldspejlet as a kid, and never really recovered from the shock.)
But on second thought: This was scary back in the day, must have scared people shitless.

General comments: Oh yeah, this was a nice horror movie, and being as old as it is, it didn't manage to scare me. There aren't that many characters in the movie, but that really helps you to feel the story up close and personal.

The acting is good, especially Max Schreck is doing an awesome job portraying the vampire Nosferatu. Right from the beginning this movie makes you feel that something is wrong, and when Hutter, the protagonist, goes to see count Orlock aka Nosferatu, things take a violent turn for the worse.

To make this movie really work, a lot of special effects are used, and it just kicks ass. I wouldn't like to have been forced to watch this in 1922, and then having to ride my bicycle home through a dark forest.

Music: Mine had a soundtrack that I think is newer than the movie itself, a kind of spooky distorted horror-jazzy theme, but for me it worked excellent.

Pictures: Very very well-shot movie, and on top of that the special effects are clever, and not overdone.

Essentially this is: What made you scream in the 1920's

Why you should see this: Because this does everything right.
Why you shouldn't see this: Although this was made in 1922, it maybe should have been able to scare me a bit. Also, if you are 5 years old, this might cause a heart-attack.

Honorable mention: The scene where Nosferatu stands up stiff in his coffin, like if he was made of wood. Now that must have haunted some peoples dreams the last 90 years.

Final rating: 85/100 A true classic, go see this.

BTW: Nosferatu will return in a newer version. In maybe 10 years or so... I'll probably get the review ready in 2022...

fredag den 6. august 2010

1922 - (14) Nanook of the North

From protothriller to protodocumentary, huah!

Title: Nanook of the North
Director:Robert J. Flaherty
Year: 1922
Runtime (My version): 79 mins, in perfect agreement with the book.

Seen: 2009

How i got this: Torrent, but it is also on the Archive, so it does seem perfectly legal.

Plot Outline: We follow Nanook on his everyday exploits in the cold and unforgiving plains and ice shelves of the north. He lives a life that may end tomorrow, being totally dependent upon his ability to feed himself and his family.

First impression: Eskimoes are boring
But on second thought: You had me at hello!

General comments: I saw this on a train, and right from the start, this movie had me smiling and just staring in awe. Some people dismiss this movie by pointing out that some scenes are staged. But for me it is impressive to catch a seal with a harpoon whether you are asked to do so or not. And I don't think any of the scenes in this movie shows something that wouldn't take place from time to time out there on the ice. Nanook is more badass than most protagonists. He even beats Bear Grylls AKA Survivorman from Discovery Channel if you ask me.
This movie just feels so genuine, it made me feel lucky to be able to watch it. It is a snapshot of a time that will probably never come again, perhaps it is best that way, but one can't help but feel a slight sting of remorse when you see Nanooks apparent joy over his way of life.

If this was on TV today I would watch it almost over anything else that was on.

Music: The music is secondary in this movie.

Pictures: Beautiful, thrilling and touching. Nice quality on my version too.

Essentially this is: Quite a surprise, and a must see.

Why you should see this: Because it's a must see.
Why you shouldn't see this: If you have a fear of eskimoes, this might just be best to avoid.

Honorable mention: Nanooks wifes, yes he had two. They would have to trust him so bad.

Final rating: 88/100 Made me glad I started this project.

BTW: Nanook vs Chuck Norris... Nanook just might stand a chance, after all he allegedly slayed several polar bears with just his spear.

torsdag den 5. august 2010

1922 - (13) Dr. Mabuse, Der Spieler

German protothriller is next on this long menu.

Title: Dr. Mabuse, Der Spieler (Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler)
Director: Fritz LAng
Year: 1922
Runtime (My version): 195 mins. 3½ hours, as the book also says.

Seen: 2009

How i got this: Torrent, I believe. I was not able to trace this copy, but it seemed legal.

Plot Outline: The movie follows the exploits of a young detective, as he tries to bring down the criminal mastermind Dr. Mabuse.

First impression: This is too long. I am not going to like this.
But on second thought: An okay thriller, but still a long movie.

General comments:So, this is the thriller anno 1922, it is better than Les Vampires from 1915, but still has a lot of things in common with its forebear with regards to people using disguises and operating under alter egoes. It is, however, clear to see how the movie as an artform has matured greatly in 7 years, and what we have in this movie is suspense being built up, and some secrets remaining secrets for quite a while, maintaining the viewers interest in the movie. The antagonist in this movie is both charismatic and cunning, but doesn't seem very real or scary. It seems to me that so far, none of the movies in this book has made me forget that this wasn't reality, and really make me believe thorougly in the story. It all still just has a strong feel of being staged.

Music: Yes. Well, I don't remember it as something special.

Pictures: Fine, some special effects in the end, not going to blow your mind.

Essentially this is: Thriller 0.2, where Les Vampires was thriller 0.11 beta.

Why you should see this: Because this is good and fresh for its time.
Why you shouldn't see this: Thrillers come more thrilling today.

Honorable mention: The protagonist. He really does have many alter egoes.

Final rating: 65/100 It didn't really get me.

BTW: Nudity in this one too. Yes, anything to make money, even then.

tirsdag den 20. juli 2010

1922 - (12) La Souriante Madame Beudet

More of the french stuff.

Title: La Souriante Madame Beudet (The smiling Madame Beudet)
Director: Germaine Dulac
Year: 1922
Runtime (My version): 38 mins. The book and says 54 mins. I don't know what to say to that. My version told the story described in the book, and had all the elements described in the book as well, so maybe my version was a bit fast forwarded? Who knows?

Seen: Summer 2010

How i got this:

Plot Outline: A lady is bored and frustrated in her marriage with her dominating and indifferent husband. She ends up trying to kill him, but fails even at that.

First impression: This is short - ergo will I be able to sit through it no matter how bad it might appear.
But on second thought: This was not for me, not even for me in 38 mins.

General comments: Supposedly this is a ground breaking movie, that deals with the issues of patriarchal society, and shows us the feminine side of such a society. I say that the messages this movie has to tell us have already been told in movies like "The Phantom Carriage" and perhaps "Way Down East" and "Within Our Gates".

Then if this movie is not groundbreaking in its message it has to be groundbreaking in some other way, or really good at telling us its story. And this movie fails to do or be so. The actors are doing an okay job, the music is plain and not something you notice. It's just a plain movie, nothing else.

Music: It's there, and that's about it.

Pictures: Some creative use of pictures on top of pictures fading in and out, but nothing that spectacular.

Essentially this is: French, the sad and kinda boring way.

Why you should see this: Because you might learn to make out attempted murder when it comes around.
Why you shouldn't see this: There might just be something funnier to spend the evening doing...

Honorable mention: The way the husbands co-worker/business partner is bullyed by his wife.

Final rating: 50% This is not what i would call good, nevertheless it was the early days of film, and I don'r want to be too hard on it.

BTW: French... Lucky for them they have the Tour de'France...

søndag den 9. maj 2010

1921 - (11) Orphans of the Storm

An evening with lots of french decadence by good old D W...

Title: Orphans of the Storm
Instructor: D. W. Griffith
Year: 1921
Runtime (My version): 2 hr 30 mins approximately..

Seen: Spring / Summer 2009

How i got this: Torrent, no copyrights I know of. This is on the archive too...

Plot Outline: Two girls, born under different circumstances grow up in the same middleclass family. They lose their parents to the plague, and one of the "sisters" ends up blind. They go to Paris to seek a cure for her, but end up caught in the maelstrom of the French Revolution.

First impression: Too long, too melodramatic and besides, France is boring. I am not going to like this movie.
But on second thought: Well, D W got me again.

General comments: This is a very good movie. It is also a D W Griffith movie, for better or worse. It is melodramatic, and possibly over-acted, but it manages to remain interesting throughout, and though not as epic as Intolerance, the sets and the scenes are extremely impressive and detailed.

The movie makes you feel the indignation the Average Joe in pre-revolutionary France must have felt, due to the indifference and extravagance shown by the aristocracy.

The acting is good, especially by the Gish sisters. I hope to see more of Lillian Gish although I am done with the D. W. G. movies...

Music: Well fitting, sometimes dramatic.

Pictures: Crazy costumes, palace extravaganza and angry mobs, this movie has it all, and portraits all of these very well.

Essentially this is: Another D. W. Griffith movie.

Why you should see this: Because what it sets out to do, it does quite well.
Why you shouldn't see this: It somehow just feels a lot like any other D. W. G. historical movie to me...

Honorable mention: The evil manly woman, who bullies her son. Man that's one nasty old hag.

Final rating: 65% Yes, it is good and impressive, but the freshness is somewhat lacking.

BTW: France is still kinda boring... And the next movie is French... 

mandag den 29. marts 2010

1921- (10) The Phantom Carriage

Yeah dudes, I'm 1% there.

Title: Körkarlen (The Phantom Carriage)
Instructor: Victor Sjöström
Year: 1921
Runtime (My version): 1 hr 46 mins

Seen: Spring / Summer 2009

How i got this: Torrent, no copyrights I know of.

Plot Outline: Alcoholic David Holm dies New Years Night, and his soul is picked up by the phantom carriage. Whose driver is the reaper of souls. With him, David Holm is confronted with the evil deeds he has done through his life, and all the suffering and death he has caused.

First impression: Might be spooky.
But on second thought: Yet another example of how old movies can carry a message as relevant today as ever.

General comments: Adressing issues as alcoholism, abuse, responsibility and forgiveness this movie throws up some heavy balls, but manages to catch them all safely again. The mood in this movie is sad, almost turning desperate at times, and Victor Sjöström delivers an excellent performance as David Holm.

Seeing how one man can cause sorrow to the lives of so many people makes you wonder how some people can be as emotionally detached or simply ignorant as is the case with David Holm. In the scenes where the full extent of the consequenses of his livelihood becomes clear to him, one can only wonder how he keeps sane.
The overall message of this movie is, that it's never too late to make a change, and that is something that should be a relief and an inspiration to all of us.

Music: Eerie, sometimes going on spooky.

Pictures: This movie is brilliantly made, with lots of spectacular visual effects, with pictures laying on top of eachother and that kinda' stuff. I think the right word may be double exposure... The scenery and decorations fit the mood of the movie well, and overall, the movie is visually very succesfull.

Essentially this is: A reminder that our actions have consequences, influencing those around us.

Why you should see this:  Nice theme and special effects, what's not to like?
Why you shouldn't see this: The ending might be too romantic and forgiving for some of us, only some.

Honorable mention: The part where David rips his jacket to pieces out of sheer spite. Oh! And the part where he cuts through the door!

Final rating: 74% This is a good movie, but still I feel something is missing to create a complete masterpiece.

BTW: If alcohol was presented as a new drug today, it probably would be outlawed...