What I learned about life in the 50’s from watching The Day The Earth Stood Still:

Women scream and fall down when confronted with danger

Day The Earth Stood Still

In an emergency, army men ignore women entirely and let them get away.

If a spaceship lands in Washington DC, it’s okay to leave it guarded by two men and some police tape

Scientists necessarily have frizzy hair.

When you ask a US general to summon representatives from every country, the only one they’ll contact is Russia, whom they know will say “no” anyway.

Saying “klaatu barata nikto” can help in a lot of situations, not just when retrieving the book of the dead.

Day The Earth Stood Still

Even aliens believe in God. Lady: “He has the power of life and death” Klaatu: “No, that power is reserved for the almighty spirit”.

Kids say “golly” an awful lot.

The cold war was pretty serious stuff.

Aliens are well-mannered white men.

Day The Earth Stood Still

“The decision rests with you”

Not a good movie to watch when depressed, obviously. Patiently explains why the Iraq war and all the other countries we’ve had military dealings with since WWII are symptoms of the “unwarranted influence” of “the military-industrial complex” that Dwight Eisenhower warned against in January 1961.

Why We Fight

GW Bush and Cheney and Halliburton whatever. Saddam Hussein whatever. 9/11 whatever. A man whose son was killed and wrote to ask his name be written on a bomb dropped in Iraq. A woman who works at a bomb factory. Eisenhower’s descendants talking about Eisenhower. We’re all gonna die. Too bad I watched this, cuz now I can’t see Al Gore’s “An Undeniable Truth” without fucking killing myself.

Why We Fight

The movie Carol Reed made between Odd Man Out and The Third Man. I’d never heard of it before it opened outta nowhere at the Landmark.

The Idol in question is Baines, the butler, and the Idolizer is Phillipe, a typical shrill young movie kid who says “Baines” a whole damned lot. Baines doesn’t kill his wife, but she falls down the stairs and dies. At the end, I’m not sure if the kid is covering for Baines, “growing up” by claiming to be telling the whole truth while consciously not mentioning that he thought he saw Baines kill his wife… OR if the kid is smart enough to realize he didn’t actually see Baines kill his wife, and to trust Baines even though he realizes Baines has lied to him in the past. So the kid’s either learning to lie or learning to trust despite others’ lies… either way, that’s what the movie’s about.

Baines is having an affair and preparing to leave his wife, and shows no grief at all when faced with his wife’s death in front of the cops. One of those movies where you can see that everyone’s problems come from hiding something important and that all their troubles would clear up if they’d just stop being so secretive. A lotta movies like that.

But then, also one of those movies where everyone (except the dead wife, who died quite by accident so let’s not worry about her) gets away without trouble, where the movie doesn’t force any undeserved consequences on its characters to teach us a harsh life lesson… not all “Quai des Orfevres” feelgood, but nice nonetheless.

Cool looking part when the kid runs through the streets, terrified of Baines and the death, meets a cop… just the right mixture of low angles and shadows. Gets very tense towards the end, with Baines pulling a gun alone in the basement, threatening to kill himself over the false murder accusation.

Good enough picture but low, crackly sound made it hard to understand dialogue. Glad I saw it, but not gonna be a repeat fave. Movies with shrill British kids as protagonists never are.

Totally enjoyed it. Jim compares it to Neil Young: Heart of
in how the performances look + feel, and that’s about right (except
without the harsh video look of NY:HoG). Lotta performances and backstage
musings about life, death and endings. Except for the Tommy Lee Jones
part, it’s almost done mockumentary-style. If I didn’t know a little bit
about R Altman, I’d think they shot three times as much material and put
the thing together in the editing room. Tricky to make a fully-scripted
movie seem so free, but he always manages.

I don’t listen to the radio show and wouldn’t have recognized Garrison
Keillor’s voice before seeing the movie, so can’t comment on how it treats
the legacy of his show. Very well, I’d imagine, since he wrote it and
co-stars. I’ve read negative comments about Kline, Jones, Lohan and
Madsen’s characters, but I ate it right up… enjoyed all of them. Way to
combine humor with horror. I felt it was worth the ticket price right when
the opening credits started… all those names of some of my favorite
actors together up on screen. I’d happily call it Altman’s best film in a
decade, but I have sort of a soft spot for Cookie’s Fortune.

Not optimal viewing conditions – I wasn’t paying strict attention and the sound on the tape was no good. Anyway, a lot more humorous and lighthearted than I’d expected, until the end when it all turns bad for everybody.

Georgie is a spoiled kid who grows up and thinks he can marry a girl who doesn’t seem to like him too much. Meanwhile, his dad dies and his mom’s ex tries to win her back, which would be extremely easy if not for meddling Georgie who spoils everything for them and for himself. Family fortunes are lost and family names are forgotten.

An easily watchable, entertaining movie, well acted and shot… no reason not to like it. Will have to watch it again sometime for it to stick, I guess. That goes for all the other Welles movies too! Wonder which scenes were cut out.

About what I’d expected, really. Maddin slowed down the pace of his editing to accomodate Isabella’s writing style I guess. Not much to it – She plays herself, her mom (Ingrid Bergman), David Selznick, Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin. Talks to her dad’s giant belly. Short, good. “My dad was a genius. I think.”

In The Future, political dissidents in the USA are given a choice between long jail sentences or four days at “punishment park”, a desert training ground for law enforcement officials. If they can reach a target before the cops catch them, they’re free… if caught, they go to jail anyway.

Movie has two settings… one group at punishment park, and the tribunal for the next group to be sent… flips back and forth between them. The group in “court” (a tent with card tables) is modeled on Abbie Hoffman and the Chicago Seven, with one member ending up bound and gagged. Someone in the group at the park manages to kill a guard, and after that, it’s vengeance time… the whole group is gunned down as they are caught, with the camera crew first standing by, then trying ineffectively to help.

Punishment Park

Not as interesting as The Gladiators, I think, but a lot more straightforward. Can’t decide if I really liked it. Covers a lot of facets of 60’s radicalism, the straight world’s reaction to it, and the direction the country was going politically. Useful as an alternate-history lesson, maybe.

More likeable than I’d expected. Don’t know why I thought it’d be a boring movie. Maybe just soured on the whole “western” thing after seeing The Wild Bunch and not liking it.

Anyway. Matthew “Willis” McConaughey is an alright thief with his explosives-expert partner, but could use a few more dependable men, so calls in his brothers Skeet “Joe” Ulrich, Ethan “Jess” Hawke, and eventually Vincent “Dock” D’Onofrio. They rob a whole ton of banks successfully, and finally pull off the biggest railroad heist in history, getting away with some millions of dollars and five bullets in Dock, who I couldn’t believe survived it. Eventually all get caught after the railroad job and get off with light sentences and live to a ripe old age.

Newton Boys

Completely fun, convincing movie that just gets better as it goes on. Great court scene, great ending and credits, lovely antiheroes, everything that Ocean’s Twelve wanted to be – a crime movie where the criminals are having such a good time that the audience gets caught up in in too. Don’t know why it’s got such a bad rap on the IMDB (5.7). I’d see it again.

Newton Boys

Not as Altmanesque as I’d first considered… just a lot of easily distinguishable characters in an ensemble piece. Should be easy, but hardly anyone can pull it off.

Dazed and Confused

I was barely two when the seventies ended. Avoided this movie for so long because I thought it was meant only for stoners and/or seventies kids wanting to relive their stoner and/or seventies days. But not having lived through that era myself, I can still tell this is a damned brilliant movie. Captures the high-school experience yes, but captures so MANY experiences, and character types, and so well, it’s almost an unbelievably good movie, one for the ages. Better even than most Linklater movies. I think. Better watch it again before making any sweeping declarations (“best movie of the nineties, better than Dead Man, etc”).

Dazed and Confused

No real point in outlining plot, since story wasn’t the point. No real point in outlining characters… just see it again sometime. Wiley Wiggins was great. Now I feel bad that I’m the last person to see this movie… somehow got it mixed up with Reality Bites or something. Now I wonder if I’d like Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Or Rock and Roll High School.

Dazed and Confused