Blogathon

First impressions of…Psycho (1960)

PsychoPosterWe all know that iconic shower scene accompanied by that specific music…don’t we? And we all know which movie it comes from. Yet…until this weekend I’d never dared (yes, “dared” because I’m scared of horrors…but how bad can a 1960s movie really be? And Hitchcock? Why am I such a scaredy Cat??? (no pun intended for those who know me…ok, ok, fine, I couldn’t resist).

So, with The Janet Leigh Blogathon I decided to tackle this one. In that way, it would go from my To Watch List to my Watched List because I’d obviously need to watch it. And it is another case of …why did I wait so long?

Absolutely excellent. The opening credits, or more so, the music sets the scene (gosh, I’m doing well today 😉 ) for a brilliant Hitchcock work. And off course, the symbolic music, those screeching strings have finally made an impact…I’d learnt about how they are the perfect horror music accessory but this movie really shows their ultimate usage. One thing is for sure, I’ll never be quite comfortable in a motel shower again. Ever. I’ll probably also check behind every picture too.

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Oh, the story. I won’t go too much into it. I think you’d best discover it yourself. Let’s just say that Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) ends up at the Bates Motel one rainy night. Run by Norman Bates, the creepiest guy out such a lovely, polite man. And well, the rest I won’t give away. I never knew the story until now, so will leave you in as much suspense. Just go watch it.

Moving on to our Blogathon subject…I’d never seen Janet Leigh before (bar the shower scene stills) and was really impressed. I absolutely loved her in this Oscar and Golden Globe nominated role as Marion. Even though we are introduced to her in what is a secret tryst, somehow she is still a sympathetic character from the start. So much so that, knowing the shower scene was coming, I was hoping that, having never seen it, she’d come out of it alive. And, spoiler alert (sort of), what she does to get the story going in the first place, is therefore totally unexpected. Janet Leigh‘s depiction of her inner turmoil is absolutely convincing yet there are moments when you wonder if she’s not a little psycho herself. Yet, somehow you really feel for her. Especially once she checks into the infamous motel (oh, that’s another thing that I “knew” of this movie but really didn’t, if that makes sense…amazing how popular culture impacts us). But somewhere, at the back of my mind, the unfair thought that she ended up in this situation because she wasn’t quite innocent crept in. Would any of this have happened had she gone to the bank?

Fascinating, yet disturbing, is the explanation/reasoning behind the shower scene. The personality/ies of Norman. It somehow reminded me of the movie I’d reviewed a while back, Peacock.

JL banner - Evil 1It isn’t only Janet Leigh who makes this all come together. Hitchcock‘s amazing imagery, the music, the actors, the story, everything just works so well together to present us with the perfect movie. Absolutely worthy of a watch. Maybe even a second or third.

Love Letters to Old Hollywood has more Janet Leigh post right here.

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Brilliant…The Last of Sheila

Last_Of_Sheila_(movie)I’d forgotten the sheer brilliance of The Last of Sheila (1973). Or rather, I think when I watched it last, as an early teen, I didn’t appreciate it. Or maybe, it was just that on the Super 8 reels my parents used to own, the sound wasn’t clear and I missed half the dialogue. Irrelevant…what’s important is now…how excellent it is. And how wonderful it is to re-watch after soooo many years…and only remembering who did it at the moment the culprit is revealed (again).

The opening scene, set by that perfect, almost stereotypical mystery music, has Sheila running from a party to be hit (and run) by an out-of-control car not a few minutes later. Fast forward a year to 6 guests, invited by Clinton (Sheila’s husband, played by James Coburn), onto his yacht for a few days of time out and with a mystery game. These 6 guests were all present at the party the night Sheila was killed. And Clinton’s game isn’t really a game…it hits all too close with those supposedly random secrets he allocates to each person (at his insistence that it is just fun). When things go wrong, as they usually do, the whole thing unravels…or, comes together.

the-last-of-sheila1973-lobby-card-3I must say, to come up with such a clever story requires close on genius. Every action, every line of dialogue is critical to the story. You won’t notice many of the things on first viewing but on round two (or more), you’ll discover just how it all fits perfectly right in front of your eyes…with you barely noticing. Ultimately you’ll have it spelt out for you and you’ll go “ah, of course” or “duh, so obvious”. Followed by Clinton’s response to “I like any game where you don’t have to move” of “Well, you don’t have to for this one…if you’re smart enough”…little do you realise just how true it is. It is all right there in front of you…if you’re smart enough.

Now, I won’t go into many more details because this is one you just have to watch. At least twice. I’d hate to spoil anything upfront because anything I say will give it away.

Directed by Oscar nominee Herbert Ross, and written by Oscar winner Stephen Sondheim and nominee Anthony Perkins…the stars are of course James Coburn with Raquel Welch, James Mason, Ian McShane, Richard Benjamin, Dyan Cannon and Joan Hackett as his 6 suspects friends…well, probably not suspects as I think he knows all along who the killer is.

Here’s the trailer:

 

Enjoy!

And for some more mysteries…head on over to Pop Culture Reverie (here) for the Mystery Mania Blogathon.

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Northmen: A Viking Saga…a saga so bad that it’s not bad at all…

Northmen…yep, you read that right. What? Yes…many of you might think that it is such a saga to watch the first few minutes of this movie. I think it isn’t that bad. Don’t you have one of those movies that is actually not brilliant but somehow it just hits a spot…that weak spot?

Coming in at 34% Audience Score and no Tomatometer or Critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, it at least gets a 5.4/10 on IMDB. In my personal rating system…I’ll bump it up to 6.5, maybe even a 7.

Basically, we have a group of Vikings who get stranded on the South African Scottish coast, behind enemy lines, and need to make their way to the closest Viking settlement. However, they pick up a valuable hostage and so the chase begins by German/Swiss some mercenaries.

I mean, let’s be honest…the story isn’t that great but somehow I got smitten by Inghean (Charlie Murphy) jumping out her captive wagon to attack some brutish (not really) Vikings…lead by Asbjorn (Tom Hopper) who can’t even hide his smile in the serious moment. In general, the acting is quite stiff and sometimes the story not quite as smooth as it could be. But you know what? Who cares? If you can fill in the gaps yourself…the story half-way works.

Northmen3Conall (Ryan Kwanten) comes across uncomfortable in his role swinging some mean stick to take out a band of thugs. As for the enemies…boy does the Scottish King send one huge army and waste one massive amount of arrows on a few little Vikings. Somewhere along the line, Inghean and Asbjorn fall in love even though it is never properly shown (oh what a pity)…but, my romantic fix is fulfilled.

Northmen2So…is it bad? Yes. Is it good? Yes. I skip through parts of it but regularly find myself watching it. If only for the “You came back for me?” line by Inghean to Asbjorn. And that bit where she patches up his wounded arm with a herb that just happens to be growing at the exact spot where he crumbles in pain. And the cheesy (or offensive) compliment he makes her while waiting out the enemy.

Bring on the stunning, yet obviously South African (Cape Town) scenery pretending to be Scotland…and well…what more do I need to say?

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So…that’s my bad entry into the So Bad It’s Good Blogathon hosted by Taking Up Room. For more of these entries…head on over here.

 

My (slightly different) favourite meet-cutes…

…well, if you’re expecting the typical romance genre meet-cutes, sorry. Not going to happen. I have a weakness for romance in those movies deemed anything but romance (the main genre that is). Nothing better than watching two people fall in love when you don’t expect it on first viewing. So…without further ado…here are my personal favourites (in no particular order):

(Beware…spoilers…)

Centurion

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I absolutely love the interaction between Centurion Quintus Dias and Arianne during their first encounter:

“It’s ok. It’s ok”

pause

“We don’t want to hurt you”

“Who are you? What do you want here”

Little do they know at this stage that it is more than purely food and shelter and refuge from the Picts he will find.

The Last of the Mohicans

How could my favourite movie not make it onto this list? The moment Uncas and Alice meet…you can just see it in their look:

No words needed to express this scene. In fact, their relationship is almost entirely shown and not spoken.

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Cora and Hawkeye have their meet-cute somewhere too but they are just not the couple to show it.

Yellow Sky

I think this is deemed the meet-cute. Oh how I love the way “Stretch” and “Mike” meet and find their love:

“We’ve just come in across the sink. We need water…bad.”

“There’s a spring here. But you’ll never make it”

“You just point it out. We’ll make it”

MeetCuteYS2

Plunkett & Macleane

How could another of my favourites not make my list?

“You are not a gentleman.”

“I’m sorry?”

“No gentleman would stare at a lady like that in public.”

“I do beg your pardon. Captain James Macleane. At your service.”

“Oh, so you are a gentleman.”

“Yes?”

“What a shame.”

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But I consider the “real” meet-cute, during the highway robbery:

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Robin Hood

Ah, another one I just love, especially seeing the Marian is such a strong woman who holds her own against Robin. Here they meet for the first time:

“Girl.”

“Girl?”

Pause.

“Either you’re going blind. Or you’re looking for charity”

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So there you go…my favourite meet-cutes.

For some more post on this topic, head on over to Phyllis Loves Classic Movies for The First Annual Valentine’s Day “Meet-Cute” Blogathon. Happy reading.

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Unexpectedly…great…

unexpected41Yes, so, well, isn’t it strange how the movies you nearly pass by often end up being in your favourites list? Not sure if it comes down to expectations…or, rather, the lack of expectations? Or, simply the nature of things? Whatever it boils down to, I guess, doesn’t really matter…what counts is that they become your own personal greats and unexpectedly so…thus making their way into Taking Up Room‘s The Unexpected Blogathon.

Now, because I couldn’t make up my mind on which unexpectedly super movie to write about, I thought I’d just tell you about a three that immediately come to mind. Here they are in no particular order.

Vir Altyd (2016)

I’d done something we shouldn’t do…pre-judge. And I’d pre-judged South African movies. Until recently I only had some dodgy comedies to go on and that Oscar winner looked like it would hit home too hard, so I avoided it. I just couldn’t be convinced. Until, somehow I had Afrikaans movie Vir Altyd showing. And I totally fell in love. After getting used to the South African accents (I’m not used to hearing my own accent on the screen) I simply savoured every moment of this one.

We have Nina (DonnaLee Roberts) about to walk down the aisle on the day that her closest childhood friend Hugo (Ivan Botha) comes back to town for the first time in years. Circumstances on the wedding day (no, he has not come to break up the ceremony) have these two embark on an adventure which is absolutely delightful to watch.

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I can’t believe it took me so long to catch on to these Afrikaans movies. Didn’t expect to have this one amongst my favourites. With Pad na jou Hart, another teaming up of DonnaLee Roberts and Ivan Botha, close on its heels.

Centurion (2010)

2852-FINAL_CENTURION 70x100op 50 %.inddI clearly remember walking into the local Video Store (remember those?) to find something to watch. I had no idea what I was in the mood for. By this stage, however, the store owner had gotten to know me and pulled out Centurion. “No way” (or something along those lines) is what I told him. I didn’t feel like some random action movie. I can’t remember how but convince me he did (I do know he just checked it out for me at some point and told me to trust him)…I walked out the store with soon to be one of my favourites.

Centurion, yes, it is an action movie and a very simple one. A game of cat and mouse. A small band of survivors of Rome’s famous Ninth Legion find themselves on the run, behind enemy lines. But, the dynamics within the group fleeing for their lives together with those they encounter make this an interesting one.

Oh, and of course, being me, I just can’t resist that understated romance…*sigh*…I have a weakness for these romantic moments in “non-romantic” genre movies.

Michael Fassbender leads the flight to safety with Olga Kurylenko being one mean Pict (well, technically Roman) tracker who never once eases up on the relentless chase. We also have Dominic West, Imogen Poots, JJ Feild, Lee Ross, David Morrissey, Liam Cunningham, Noel Clarke and a whole lot more join in.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

This one utterly and truly blew me away on first viewing. Oh my! I was in this daze for days (ha ha – that wasn’t intended). I couldn’t function…all I had was “car” chases, dust, bizarre masks, blood bags, electric guitarists and such going round and round and round in my mind. It was like I’d stepped into another dimension. The night I’d watched it was totally sleepless…or, rather, it felt like I was awake but obviously not because I was in the Mad Max world. Basically, this one was such a warped, wonderful, weird visual trip that just couldn’t be switched off with the credits rolling. It had caught me so by surprise…it needed lots and lots of processing.

MadMaxPosterOnce again one I’d no intention at all, ever, EVER to watch it. I mean, “everyone” told me that the Mad Max movies were such a load of rubbish. Yet, as is human nature, the more I was told it was a waste of time, the more I was in some way intrigued. Especially given the fact that I’d never seen a Mad Max movie before. All I knew was one of the posters with Mel Gibson on it. That was it. One evening, I was like a kid…I’d just peek at the first few seconds…huh, fat chance…I watched the whole thing and could have gone for round two.

Hmmm, I’ve just realised that this is another “chase” movie with Furiosa (Charlize Theron), against the dictatorial system in a futuristic wasteland world, on the run with Max (Tom Hardy), just trying to stay out of the system he’s escaped from. Joining their cause in an attempt to restore humanity and order are Nicholas Hoult,  Zoë Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton  and with Hugh Keays-Byrne  leading the tyrannical world.

Thinking of it…I need another “Mad Max fix”…I know what I’m about to start watching again. And ooh, ooh, I believe there is a Chrome version – that must be absolutely gorgeous.

So, that’s it for now. The three movies amongst my favourites that totally unexpectedly ended up there.

Head on over to Taking up Room for more entries in her Blogathon.

And here are the trailers:

Thank You (and one more entry)- “Non-English” Language Blogathon

I’ve got another post to present to you. The entry by Silver Screen Classics has you holding your breath from tension in the French film noir, Rififi

Rififi

What a wonderful 2 days of “non-English” language movie posts we’ve enjoyed. It has been a pleasure reading all of the posts and I’m in me element with a whole stack of movies having come to my attention. So, without rambling on and on…all I want to say to the Blogathon participants, readers, likers etc is a great big…(in no particular order of language…I’ve gone totally random)

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Děkuji Aitäh Çox sağ ol אדאנק Cảm ơn bạn Daalụ Vielen Dank Gracias Þakka þér fyrir Dankie Mèsi ကျေးဇူးတင်ပါတယ် Gratias tibi Matur nuwun Salamat kea leboha Thank You Ngiyabonga Takk skal du ha Köszönöm Diolch धन्यवाद Баярлалаа

In case you missed all the wonderful posts, head on to the first day entries here and the second day ones here.

It’s Blogathon Day 2!

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Ah, the wonderful “non-English” language movies that have come my way are fantastic. That ever growing “to watch” list of mine has lengthened since yesterday. Here are some more wonderful entries…here they are. (For yesterday’s contribution, click ici (here))

Incubus Realweegiemidget Reviews introduces me to a language I honestly didn’t know existed with her review of Inkubo (Incubus), a 1966 horror movie where a language called Esperanto is spoken.
Aguirre.jpg Moon in Gemini takes us on an expedition in the Andes with her post on the 1972 movies Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes. Here a ruthless leader heads off to find a non-existent place called El Dorado in the hopes of finding riches.
FannyAlexanderjpg MovieRob gives us a multiple Oscar winner and nominated Bergman movie (including Best Foreign Language Film) with his post about siblings Fanny and Alexander in Fanny och Alexander.
La_Nuit_oscar The Wonderful World of Cinema presents La nuit américaine, a movie by Francois Truffaut about movie making with an exquisite soundtrack and clever dialogue.