As Cool As A Fruitstand

…and maybe as strange. A movie blog.

Archive for the ‘Old’ Category

Apocalypse. Now.

Posted by Hedwig on December 31, 2009

Francis Ford Coppola: it’s hard to deny he’s a great director. But between a movie-watcher (or critic, if you want to use fancy words), as important as admiration is a factor I’ll call “chemistry”. Me and Francis, well…. I just don’t know if we click. Not that I don’t admire the Godfather, or the Conversation. Of course I do. I used to really like The Rainmaker in my Matt Damon-crush days (aka. when I was 17). In drunken honesty, I’ll admit that I kind of loved Youth without Youth. But there’s a reason I still haven’t watched all of The Godfather, pt. II. There’s a reason I avoid getting dragged into conversations about The Godfather altogether, to be honest. There’s a reason why, until today, I’d seen only the first 2/3rds of Apocalypse Now, and hadn’t taken the time to watch the mythical Kurtz part.

I’m still not entirely sure what the reason is, but finally seeing Apocalypse Now in its entirety (the original version, not the redux) did crystallize my feelings a bit. I was really impressed with the film, and I imagine that I would have been absolutely in awe, had I seen it in the cinema instead of on a snowy TV, interrupted by commercials.


Maybe it’s just my aversion to war films. What’s the quote again? “It’s impossible to make a movie about war that doesn’t glorify it” or something like that? I beg to differ. War movies sicken me, and I have a hard time seeing glory in any war – even justified ones. But it’s not just that. It also… well, it’s not exactly subtle, is it? Not that I require subtlety (I heart Baz Luhrman, after all), but after a dozen shots of faces half in shadows, half lit, am I the only one who feels like shouting “ok, ok, I GET IT” at the screen?

The movie is full of absolutely amazing shots, that I’d love to see in better quality some day. It’s majestic, yes, and there are a number of unforgettable sequences… But the line between majestic and just plain bombastic is very thin indeed. Marlon Brando is brilliantly cast, but having him quote T.S.Eliot? A little over the top, perhaps?

Of course, the movie wouldn’t work at all if it were subtle. It’s truly the work of a madman, and it thrives on the grand symbol, the swelling Wagner, the blood and madness. War IS excessive brutality, and a brutal assault on the senses is, thus, the only honest way to portray it. The over-the-top-ness is necessary to illustrate the absurdity of war. Again, I admire the film, I’m even planning on seeing the redux version (in, hopefully, better quality) soon.

But the click? Still missing.

Readers: help me out. Should I wattch Tetro?


Posted in 70s | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Paris, Texas

Posted by Hedwig on August 3, 2009

The boyfriend and I are currently at my parents’ place for a few days. He has a thesis to finish, and this was the only way we could have a sort-of holiday together. On Saturday evening, after some delicious home-made sushi, I sent him upstairs to finally get some work done, while I sat down in front of my parents’ large HD flat screen, and put in the DVD of Paris, Texas I had rented.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 80s, Reviews | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

In a Lonely Place

Posted by Hedwig on July 22, 2009

Inspired by this great video essay by Matt Zoller Seitz and Kim Morgen, I recently re-watched In a Lonely Place with the boyfriend, who’d never seen it. I loved it, even more than the first time, for all the reasons mentioned in the essay, and had to wipe away a tear or two by the end.

The boyfriend, however, was lukewarm. This made me think, since his two main points of criticism made quite a bit of sense. First of all, he deplored that Gloria Grahame’s Laurel Gray, who starts out the film as a self-possessed, assertive woman who knows exactly what she wants (and doesn’t want), turns into a loving, subservient pillow-fluffer overnight, whose happiness depends entirely on the mood of her man, and who is scared of him to boot. His second problem with the film was that he had a hard time empathizing with Dixon Steele, because of his violent temper.

See why I love him?
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 50s, A Cinematic Education | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

The Road Warrior (aka. Mad Max 2)

Posted by Hedwig on May 5, 2009

wezfaceoffSome-no, let’s make that many- movies need an ideal setting to thrive in. While Casablanca is nice on the big screen, it’s even better while snuggling on the couch with a lover. I recently saw Singin’ in the Rain in a cinema, on a slightly rainy Sunday morning which had cleared up by the time the movie ended, and that was pretty much perfect. And I can’t imagine a better setting for a first watching of The Road Warrior than a slightly grungy place in Amsterdam, where smoking (including pot) is not just allowed but even encouraged, with a rambling but fascinating introduction by a true movie enthusiast, director Martin Koolhoven.

It was pretty much awesome.

Even more awesome? His introduction of the “surprise movie” that prompted the inclusion of Mad Max 2 in this movie night, the theme being “sequels better than the original….by George Miller”. It was this one, which I’ve been very curious about since reading this. Alas, I could not stay (had to get home, and had work the next day), but I’m planning on watching it with a few of the b/f pothead housemates sometime soon.

As for The Road Warrior, I don’t really have much to say about it, beyond that the costumes are hilarious, the direction is over-the-top but perfectly suited to the theme, and that I wish today’s mindless action movie (eg. Wolverine) had as much panache. Oh, and go read this.

(I know, not quite back to insightful, in-depth reviews and analyses. Getting there though. Give me time.)

Posted in 80s, Reviews | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Trouble in Paradise & To Be or not To Be

Posted by Hedwig on May 3, 2009

Ok, so I got a bit distracted by twittering. But here goes:

On our holiday in France, the b/f and I watched To Be or not To Be. We didn’t really know much about it, aside from the director and genre… and we were blown away. Maybe I should have known, having enjoyed The Shop Around the Corner and chunks of Ninotchka, but I didn’t expect it to be so raucously funny, from the inaugural “Hail myself” moment to the many impersonations, with the snappy interaction between the two main actors as a cherry on top.

Back home, we watched Trouble in Paradise, with just as few ideas about the plot, but this time grand expectations… and of course, it disappointed. Not that the robbing-each-other scene in the beginning isn’t charming, or that the repartee isn’t delivered aptly, but the movie moves much more slowly than TBorTB, and the middle sort of drags.

The power of expectations, eh?

Seen, not yet written about: Singin’ in the Rain, The Man Who Knew Too Much (’34 version), The Road Warrior (aka. Mad Max 2)

Posted in 1927 - 1940, 40s, Old, Reviews | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

10 things I hate about you

Posted by Hedwig on April 26, 2009

We ended up watching this movie at the ladies’ night… and no, I’m not gonna attack it. In fact we watched it from my very own DVD of it, and it’s by far my favorite high school rom-com.

I’m not quite sure why I kind of love this movie, despite not being a fan at all of its genre. Maybe it’s because it treats making you laugh as a main goal instead of an afterthought. Maybe it’s because the main character doesn’t get a make-over, or become popular – and that it’s not her goal, either. But to be honest, it also probably has a lot to do with the fact that when I first saw it (about 8 times), I was a non-conformist outsider in high school, and I had a much prettier, much more popular younger sister.

Posted in 90s | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Starship Troopers

Posted by Hedwig on October 21, 2008

Seriously: how could anyone miss this was meant as satire? 14-year-old boys who think that Fight Club‘s message is that punching each other is cool, that I can still kind of understand. But this movie’s so out there that it’s impossible to imagine anyone taking it at face value. It’s pulp at its best. 

So yes, I found it enjoyable. Highly enjoyable. Good, however? That I’m not sure of. It’s glossy, shallow look, and the corniness of the lines: of course it’s all fully intentional. But it does make for a rather empty viewing experience: you think “whoa, cool!” and “ew, gross!” on a regular basis, but the romantic drama gets very tiresome after a while, and killing off so many main characters isn’t brave if your audience gets no reason to care for them.



Ok, I’m sure there’s more to say, but since I can’t think of anything, I’ll leave that to you – it’s not that I’m suffering from writer’s block, really, but more that lately I can’t think of anything interesting to say. Also: I’ll be interviewing Laurent Cantet, director of Entre Les Murs/The Class, this Friday, and suggestions for questions are very welcome, since what I’ve been coming up with so far can’t exactly be called original.

Posted in 90s, Reviews | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Posted by Hedwig on October 7, 2008

My apologies for my prolonged absence. Last week I had an excuse – I was blogging about the Dutch Film Festival here in Utrecht over at filmtotaal – but now I really don’t any more, especially since I have much to write about. 

For instance, as a tribute to the fantastic actor and human the world was recently robbed off, I re-watched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid last week, and in the process introduced the b/f to it (I need to find a nice nickname/acronym for him here, suggestions are welcome). Oddly enough, I think it was more a discovery for me than for him. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 60s, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , | 10 Comments »


Posted by Hedwig on September 25, 2008

Relationships: they’re all about give and take. My darling boyfriend watched Casablanca and quite a few others with me… the least I could do is watch Commando with him.

And you know what? I actually thought it was pretty cool. Strike that. I thought it was legen – wait for it! – dary. (yes, HIMYM started up again, and it’s still brilliant).

I mean: it’s got Arnie, all oiled up and bulgy. It’s got Allyssa Milano as his young daughter, who he feeds deer with (I’m not kidding). It has possibly the highest body count outside of a war movie. And it’s pretty awesome. It starts with a few scenes which end with a gruesome killing, and it only gets better from there on.

There’s not really much more to say, is there? I could go into the whole homo-erotic subtext, of course, but that’s been done before. Suffice to say that it’s lean, mean, and thoroughly entertaining, with Schwarzenegger delivering his lines in a dry tone of voice that suggests he doesn’t even understand the pun he’s making. It’s the epitome of bad 80’s action movies, and in its genre, it’s pretty much perfect.

(just a note, unlike Stella in HIMYM, I’m not faking, and the b/f’s devotion to Commando is, luckily, not as extreme as Ted’s to Star Wars. Which is, incidentally, a great movie, wookies and all.)

(oh, and totally off topic, I acquired today a biography of Paul Verhoeven autographed by the man himself, including a rather lengthy dedication encouraging me about the strange combination between physics and film. A combination he knows all too well, having studied physics (and maths) himself. I wrote a more-or-less professional piece about his book presentation for filmtotaal, but here I can revel in my inner geek and just go: squee!)

Posted in 80s, Reviews | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Du Rififi Chez Les Hommes (Dassin, 1955)

Posted by Hedwig on September 22, 2008

They observed it on filmspotting, and it’s absolutely true: nobody does “cool” like the french, maybe because they don’t even seem to try. Tony (dit: le Stéphanois) isn’t cool at all if you hear the description: he’s just spent 5 years in jail, he has a nasty cough, he beats his former girl with a belt (ouch), and during the magnificent, achingly tense heist at the center of this movie, his forehead is glistening with nervous sweat.

But cool? That he is, indubitably, maybe even because of his all-too-obvious humanity. He’s cool because even when he’s so stressed out, he never pauzes to wipe the beads of sweat off, and he never succumbs to the temptation to talk, make a joke, whatever: like in the heist scene in Le Cercle Rouge, not a word is spoken. Everyone knows exactly what they should do when, and while it takes longer than they had planned, they just keep on working. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 50s, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »