27, 28, 29, 30- movie project

Ordinary People (1980) :  Mary Tyler Moore’s character is the opposite of her TV personas and she really showed her chops as a dramatic actress.  She plays the mother of a family who has lost the oldest son in a sailing accident.  Her younger son (played by Timothy Hutton, who won Best Supporting Actor) was with his older brother when he drowned, so he tries to commit suicide and spends time in a psychiatric hospital.    The father, (Donald Sutherland), seems bewildered, trying to keep his family from falling apart; the mother seems mad at her surviving son for surviving.  She just doesn’t seem to love him at all;  only cares about appearances and keeping everything “normal”.   The surviving boy, Conrad, also sees a psychiatrist, (played by Judd Hirsch, also nominated for Best Supporting Actor) and he pretty much saves him, helping him realize that he has to forgive his mother in some very powerful scenes.  When he tries to hug his mother, telling her he loves her, she doesn’t even return the hug.  Later, when her husband is crying and telling her they All need counseling, she decides it’s easier to ditch them than to admit she has any imperfections.   I cried.   Side note:  Elizabeth McGovern is in this movie, playing Conrad’s friend, and she is so pretty.  She is currently playing Cora, Countess of Grantham, on Downton Abbey.

Next up was Chariots of Fire (1981):    This is about 2 Brits who run fast.  One is a Scottish Christian missionary running “for the glory of God”  and the other is an English  Jew trying to overcome prejudice.   They both end up competing in the 1924 Olympics.  Really, I don’t understand British accents very well and I don’t understand British universities at all.   I guess I just don’t get British men, when you think of it;  they seem very effeminate.  And where are the women?  Not that it matters…   I was not impressed.  In a year that brought us “On Golden Pond” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, I would not have voted for this one.   The music, by Vangelis, was excellent.

What an unexpected pleasure it was watching Gandhi (1982)!  I have read his autobiography and he was so good that he was boring.  The movie is too long (191 minutes), but hardly boring as it packs in history, showing life-changing moments in Gandhi’s life from 1893, when he was thrown off of a train in South Africa for being “colored”  to his assassination in 1948.   I was fascinated watching the history  of Indian independence and the subsequent partitioning of Pakistan in an attempt to stop the violence between Muslims and Hindus.  Gandhi was not in agreement and felt all religions need to be recognized and respected in order for there to be  peace.  His ideas on religious tolerance resulted in his assassination.   Ben Kingsley is wonderful as the Mahatma, but I wish he’d been more brown.   You can bet I got in some reading whilst “watching” this movie.

Get out your hankies for  Terms of Endearment  (1983) .  Aurora (Shirley MacLaine) and her daughter Emma (Debra Winger) have a close relationship with the usual mother-daughter arguments.  Emma marries Flap right out of high school and the marriage goes badly.  In the meantime, Aurora meets up with an aging alcoholic astronaut  (Jack Nicholson) and the scenes where they are courting are great.  However, Emma turns out to have a terminal disease (after having her 3rd child) and dies.  Flap, her asshole husband, has been messing around on her and can’t even take his children, so Aurora and the astronaut end the picture prepared to raise them.  That’s it in a nutshell, but I love the movie, even though I cry and cry.  MacLaine and Nicholson both won Best Acting  (his was for Supporting) that year.

We’re on to Amadeus tonight…!




I’m not only watching movies, actually…I visited the Collector’s Carnival Antiques Show at the 4H last Saturday and bought these lovely old books…  Remember when I bought Josephus’ Antiquities last October?  That guy always gets a booth in the exhibition hall and I met up with him again to buy some Eudora Welty books.  He and his wife are writers, publishers, retired teachers…  They clued me in to an Antiquarian Book Show up in New Harmony 2/9 and Lana and I will be there…

24, 25,26 movie project

I just don’t think that Annie Hall (1977) was all that great, not great enough to beat out “Star Wars”.  Sure, sure, Diane Keaton dressed cool and the dialogue was quick and mostly funny, but for me a little bit of Woody Allen goes a long way.  Back in the early 70’s I had seen a bunch of  his movies: ” Take the money and run”, “Bananas”, and they all just seemed the same gag and gag-lines overandover,     The Academy did like them some woody that year, awarding him with Best Director, and Best Screenplay, as well as nominating him for Best Actor—-That was Acting????   Diane Keaton won Best Actress…(lucky for her they didn’t nominate Princess Leia).  But it was kinda cute and easy to watch…

Unlike The Deer Hunter (1978)…a movie that horrifies me with its dark brutality.  I lucked out and had to order it held at another library branch; picked it up today…but I don’t know if I can really watch it.  It’s just too much for my gentle spirit.  Husband will be happy to see it, though, and I’ll just check in from time to time.  From the minute I saw this one on the list, I knew I could not bear to see that russian roulette stuff…I accidentally saw it many years back and…I just can’t watch it.   Sorry.  Since I had to wait for it, we moved on to

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) last night.  It’s a heart-warming show, though I always felt the plot was contrived.   The little boy was the youngest nominee for Best Supporting actor in the Academy’s history and he was good. Dustin Hoffman won Best Actor, Meryl Streep Best Supporting Actress in a year that saw Sally Field win Best Actress for “Norma Rae” (but she didn’t know we really like her then).      The movie was up against “Apocalypse Now”, so I’m relieved I didn’t have to watch that;  it also beat out “All That Jazz” and I wouldn’t have minded re-watching that again.

I’m finally to the 80’s now, must keep on…

20, 21, 22, 23…

Isn’t The Sting (1973)  great?  I remember seeing it for the first time and felt completely conned…  Paul Newman and Robert Redford were as good-looking as at any time in their lives. When I visited the Santa Monica Pier carousel where the movie was filmed, I somehow got the impression that the movie was actually set there.  I did figure out, about the 3rd or 4th time I watched it, that it takes place in Chicago…  The soundtrack is as famous as the movie with its Scott Joplin ragtime-y music.  It was a good year for Marvin Hamlisch:  he won 2 Best Music Oscars, one for the score/adaptation in The Sting and one for original score in The Way We Were.

The reasons I really like The Godfather, Part II (1974) better than part I:  1) I like the era that Vito came through Ellis Island to the USA, when millions of Europeans immigrated to our country in pursuit of liberty, etc.  It is faithfully depicted in the movie.  I like all of the flashbacks, partly because Robert DeNiro as the young Vito is really, um, good.  2) The action in Cuba and subsequent machinations prove that Michael is the coolest Godfather ever.. 3) Kay finally gets slapped…should have happened in part I.    I would have made a great mob wife…seriously.

I sooo resisted watching the movie of  One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)  because I was faithful to Ken Kesey’s book and he didn’t like the changes that were made for the screenplay.  Despite the fact that the film swept the Oscars, setting a record  for winning Best Picture, Best Actor (Jack Nicholson), Best Actress (Louise Fletcher), Best Director (Milos Forman), and Best Writing, I held out.  In fact, I really liked  the contender “Dog Day Afternoon” and still would advise you to read Kesey’s book and watch Al Pacino  in DogDay.  A decade after its release, I caved in and  realized that it is a wonderful movie and I learn something every time I watch it…  (one of my co-workers calls me “Nurse Ratchet”   and I have no idea if that’s a compliment or…)    The book is from a different point of view and when you think of it, we need to look at things from several aspects.

Can you believe that I had never seen Rocky (1976) ???  I did not realize that he was Retarded.  I know we’re not supposed to use that word now, but back in 1976, we still called it retarded and he was it.  Huh.  I knew the gist of it, just never watched it from alpha to omega.  Talia Shira sure had some big brown eyes, didn’t she?  Overall, I liked Rambo better…and I didn’t like it much.

movie project, ongoing

Tonight we’re watching Dora, The Haircut…you guessed it, Olivia is here for her bi-weekly sleepover.   We’ve been out for dinner and now she’s settling down for the night.  Sort of.  But she will…

Tuesday evening we watched The French Connection (1971).  I had only seen “parts” of this movie on TV and it never made sense to me, so I was looking forward to figuring out what the heck was going on.  I watched it all, even re-ran the ending and it still doesn’t make sense to me.  Sorry.  The end, especially, when “popeye” Doyle kills the wrong guy and then runs into the warehouse after the bad guy (the french connection)  puzzles me.  You hear one shot and then the screen immediately fades to black.  As the credits roll, it reads that the french guy actually got away;  Doyle and his partner got kicked off the narcotics squad….   Who or what did popeye shoot?   Anyway, all the way through it was complicated.  Gene Hackman won the Oscar for best actor that year;  his partner was Roy Scheider, the guy from “All that Jazz” (and others) and it was fun watching them together, buttttt…..  Not one I would watch again, unlike

The Godfather (1972), which I could watch over and over.   This movie changed our world, didn’t it?   What did we do before Don Corleone made that offer we couldn’t refuse?   As much as I love this one, I love Part II a little more, which we’ll be watching tomorrow night.  Tonight (after Dora) it’s The Sting, another movie I can watch repeatedly.

This week we celebrated (from afar) the birthdays of my NYC grand-daughters:  Emma turned 7 and Eliza turned 2.  I sent off books and love.  Tonight Olivia and I called and sang “Happy Birthday” to Emma.   It’s sooo cold— here and there— that I’ve been a little worried about the girls little hands freezing off…  I wish we could all be together, snuggling in front of a fire with hot chocolate while I read aloud, with expression…   Lovelovelove the grandkids…

15. 16. 17. (movie project moves on)

I was out of order, you know, when I watched Oliver! (1968) before In the Heat of the Night (1967) and it was just jarring to go from that frolic to the gritty, darkness of Sparta, IL.  Actually, I didn’t know that the town was in Illinois—I naturally thought Georgia because surely asshatbigots like those could not be living right next door…could they?  Sidney Poitier was having quite a year that year as “Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner” was also nominated for BP, (also “The Graduate”).  Though its blatant bigotry is (hopefully) dated, it showcases early forensics and good sleuthing, thanks to Mister Tibbs.  .  Rod Steiger with the gum-chewing won Best Actor that year, beating out Paul Newman in “Cool Hand Luke”—not sure I agree with that, Academy.

Next up (now back in order) was Midnight Cowboy (1969), a movie that is high on my list of favorites.   When I saw it back in the day, a lot of it was lost on me;  I still am mystified by some of the dream sequences, and I feel like I’m really tripping when they’re at that psychedelic party.  But the loneliness of Joe Buck and Rico Rizzo (not ratso, please), the desperation of their hope, always chokes me up and makes me Think…   Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight were both nominated for Best Actor and if I had been voting, I would have made it a tie;  but what does the Academy do?  Gives the award to John Wayne for True Grit…

I did not want to watch Patton (1970)…I actually saw it at the movie theatre and hated it then, still do…but I forced myself to watch Most of it.  Patton was a madman, a narcissist (I’m trying to be kind);  the heroes are the folks who died and/or put themselves in harm’s way during those awful battles of WWII.  The battles are pretty carefully reconstructed for this movie;  I’m just not interested in war—it’s not happy stuff.  The nominees that year were mostly lame, though: “Love Story”,  “Airport” “M*A*S*H*”, and “Five Easy Pieces”.

Tonight it’s “The French Connection”—I don’t think I’ve ever seen all of it…  Later…

(Movie Project) 13, 14

The Saturday night movie was A Man for All Seasons  (1966).  I did a little research on this one, since it’s a historical, mostly-accurate story of Sir Thomas More, a religious cleric in the court of King Henry VIII.  Seems the king wants him to betray his conscience and swear an oath regarding the divorce issue;  Sir Thomas is very careful to not condemn the king, but he won’t support him or swear the damn oath.  There’s a lot of philosophical dialogue about integrity, doing the right thing.  He gets put in prison, still won’t sign;  finally he is beheaded.    The movie follows the play, in that there is narration by The Common Man, who also plays several roles from valet to executioner.  It is a smart play and a smart movie;  I had to pay attention.    I don’t think the whole thing was worth dying for, but his arguments were eloquent.  Paul Scofield played Sir Thomas and I think his performance went far to keeping me interested.

This morning I cleaned house while watching Oliver!  (1968).  I skipped over the 1967 winner, “In the Heat of the Night” because I knew that Casey wanted to watch it with me.   I figured Oliver! would be finished by the time Casey got home, but he arrived in time for the last parts.  I actually saw this at the theatre and it’s a good show.  That’s been 4 musicals that won Best Picture in the 60’s and the next time one wins is 2002 (Chicago).

Right now we’re taking a break to watch the Inauguration festivities….