Announcing The Fondathon!

HenryFondaJanePeter

The Fondas are an acting dynasty headed by patriarch Henry Fonda (1905-1982) who’s children Jane and Peter Fonda, granddaughter Bridget Fonda and grandson Troy Garity all became actors.

-For this blogathon please write about any film or TV show starring any of the Fondas or any topic relating to them.

-No more than two duplicates on any film or TV show will be allowed.

-To participate please comment along with the URL and name of your blog, and the subject you wish to cover of course. Or if you desire you can email the same details to me via mmallon4@gmail.com. Once your topic is approved please take one of the banners below and add it to your blog.

Date: February 1st – 3rd, 2019. Please submit your entries on these dates. I look forward to you joining in February!

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The Roster:

Sat In Your Lap: The Electric Horseman (1979)

The Pure Entertainment Preservation Society: Jezebel (1938)

Silver Screenings: My Darling Clementine (1946)

In The Good Old Days Of Classic HollywoodThe Story of Alexander Graham Bell (1939)

portraitsbyjenni: Yours, Mine and Ours (1968)

The Story Enthusiast: Sunday In New York (1963)

Realweegiemidget Reviews: Futureworld (1976)

Dubism: Mister Roberts (1955)

Thoughts All Sorts: Once Upon a Time In the West (1968)

The Wonderful World of Cinema: 12 Angry Men (1957)

It Came From the Man Cave!: 9 to 5 (1980)

Movierob: The Tin Star (1957), Klute (1971) & Ulee’s Gold (1997)

The Midnite Drive-In: Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974) & Race with the Devil (1975)

Critica Retro: Tall Story (1960)

Musings of a Classic Film Addict: Let Us Live (1939)

The Flapper Dame: The Big Street (1942)

Overture Books and Film: Rings On Her Fingers (1942)

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Film Criticisms and Movie Review Tropes Which Irk Me

The following points primarily focus on film criticism but some of them can also apply to the reviewing of other forms of media. I am guilty to some of the following during my early attempts at writing movie reviews but eventually saw the error of my ways, and became increasingly aware of and irritated by the following. I may add more in the future.

 

Describing the Plot of a Film in Detail:

There was once a time I looked at reviews people had written and being impressed by big paragraphs of text, until I would actually read the review and find a large portion of it, sometimes majority of the review is a description of the film’s plot, essentially filler to make a review look longer than it actually is. If I have seen a film then I already know the plot so why would a read lengthy description? If I haven’t seen the film then I want the film to contain surprises and don’t want to know the plot in detail, and if I do want a summary of a film’s plot then I can just read a synopsis on IMDB or Wikipedia.

 

Labeling a Film “Outdated”:

I believe the term outdated can be aptly used at times; a friend of mine felt The Wages of Fear was outdated because he considered the remake Sorcerer to be superior, ok fair enough. The majority of the time, however, I feel it’s just used as a lazy way of writing off an old movie that someone didn’t enjoy. I didn’t enjoy the film, Little Caesar, as much as I’d like to as I’m a big fan of the Warner Bros gangster movies of the 1930’s; so should I just write it off as “outdated”? No. I’m sure I would have the same reaction to the film if I watched it in 1931. Instead, I’ll examine the movie for why I don’t like that rather than just calling it “outdated”.

Other times reviewers will label something as outdated as if it’s supposed to be a bad thing. “The special effects are outdated, the acting style is outdated, the politics are outdated, the music is outdated”. Yeah, that’s one of the reasons I like old movies. It’s a world away from our own and they offer an insight into the world at the time.

 

Being Overly Apologetic For Your Opinion:

It goes without saying that snobbery is looked down upon, but I do find the other extreme end to be annoying. I am guilty of this myself in the past, being afraid to put forth an unpopular opinion (i.e, my thoughts on Rocky V), which ultimately I believe leads to a misrepresentation of your true opinion. For example, In the review James Rolfe posted on his site Cinemassacre for Batman Begins as part of his Bat-a thon series of reviews (not to discredit the man as he is a huge inspiration on me), he spends most of the review criticising aspects of the film but only to say at the end he enjoyed the film overall.

I feel like there exists this fear of one being labeled a fanboy or fangirl for constantly praising something they like, and having to justify it by pointing out that they don’t love everything or even dislike pieces of work form an artist or franchise; talk about a first world problem. Someone on the internet called me a fanboy? So what, big deal; I like what I like.

 

Criticising a Film as Historically Inaccurate:

Movies are pieces of entertainment, not documentaries. Alfred Hitchcock said “drama is life with the dull bits cut out”. Do you really expect a film based on historical events to be entertaining and emotionally engaging if it’s 100% accurate to the known accounts? Unless we’re talking about a glaring anachronism which takes you out of the film, then a certain amount of artistic license is fair game. I find cinema can be a gateway to history; I watch a film based on a historical event and it may make me want to research said event, which I might otherwise not have known about.

 

Not Having Anything Unique to Say:

In the past I tried to review It’s a Wonderful Life, it’s one of my favourite movies however I couldn’t find much to say about it which has not been echoed by people in the past, so I simply didn’t write a review for it. How tiresome is it read/hear a review which just states the commonly known reasons why a particular movie is beloved or disliked (Or God forbid hearing that dreaded review opener “What can I can I say about this film which hasn’t been said before?”). Film critic Mark Kermode for example gave the Twilight movies positive reviews. I certainly don’t agree with him but it was refreshing to hear an alternative opinion rather than hearing the same old reasons why The Phantom Menace sucks for the millionth time.

 

Criticising the Use of Plot Holes:

If a film contains a plot hole and it simply doesn’t bother me, then it’s a testament to how great a film can be unless the plot hole hurts the story. The worst film reviewers will point out plot holes as a means of acting snarky. When a person or a group has invested several years of their lives towards the production of a movie they are certainly going to be aware if the script contains plot holes. Do you ether make changes in the script which will affect the flow of a film just so it can be more realistic or do you disguise the plot holes, which itself requires skill.

 

Complaining About Academy Awards:

I have a rule when writing reviews not to talk about Academy Awards because I feel it is so redundant to do so. “How did this beat ‘x’ picture?”, Why didn’t ‘x’ get an Oscar nomination?”; such tiring statements. It’s no secret that the Academy awards safe film choices and movies which don’t deserve to win throughout its entire 90 year history. There is no rhetoric employed by the Academy Awards to determine what makes a film awards worthy, so why is there always uproar or shock over their choices?

 

Criticising a Movie For Being Sentimental:

There doesn’t seem to be any word more dirty than sentimental. Unearned emotions? What does that even mean? Stories have been manipulating people’s emotions since the dawn of time. Pulling of effective sentimentality is a skill, and I have not come across a single good reason as to why it is a problem. This is the one film criticism which has annoyed me so much in the past it’s actually been bad for my mental well being. Give me the swooning love scene with the over the top music or the death scene in which the emotions are in full gear. I won’t feel guilty about being moved by it, not one bit.

 

Criticising a Movie For Being Melodramatic:

Another word which has become dirty for no good reason. Melodrama is a style of storytelling and there’s nothing wrong with it in and of itself; it can be done well and it can be done badly. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but unless a film is overly melodramatic or has misplaced melodrama, then more than not it’s another cop-out criticism.

 

I Like It Because I Grew Up With It:

I’d be willing to give some leeway on this one as maybe some people can attach a strong nostalgic bond to a movie (or another piece of media) and enjoy it largely or entirely on that even if the media in question is not very good. Although I’m not fully convinced and see this as a possible cop-out answer rather than giving a movie a legitimate examination as to why you like it, not just because you grew up watching it. I feel that movies which fall under this banner are often those which people are embarrassed to admit they like. Which segue ways into my next point…

 

Describing Films Not Held In a High Regard as a “Guilty Pleasure”

Embarrassed to admit you like a movie? Then just say it’s a guilty pleasure and never have to defend your opinion. Ummm…no. I prefer to judge movies on an equal playing field. It doesn’t matter if you’re American Pie or The Seventh Seal. Why should I feel guilt for something which gives me pleasure? What are you? The Roman Catholic Church? What even constitutes as a guilty pleasure? I’ve some lists of so-called Guilty Pleasure movies which contain some surprising entries.

Sherlock Jr. (1924)

Silent Perfection

I’m not a silent film aficionado, I’m more of a tourist when it comes to this era of filmmaking. Sherlock Jr. is the only silent film I’ve ever awarded a perfect five-star rating and I doubt I will ever come across another silent movie as fun, thrilling, inventive or as mind-blowing as Sherlock Jr.; in my view Buster Keaton’s crowning achievement. Most of Keaton’s silent output is great but even by his impeccable standards, Sherlock Jr. goes beyond the call of duty. It’s more surreal and avant-garde than his other work with Keaton plays a wannabe detective who gets to go into the cinema screen and live out his fantasy as a great detective. Like an audience member watching a movie, Keaton’s character gets to escape the real world and be what you can’t be in real life. Sherlock Jr. captures the magic of cinema like few other films have and at an economic length of only 44 minutes, it’s a film you can pop on any time.

The special effects on display here blow my mind every time. Just how did he do that stuff? Part of me doesn’t want to know in order to keep the mystery alive. Perhaps a special effect isn’t so special if you look at it and can and immediately know who they did it. CGI can take a back seat! These are true special effects. Keaton’s trademark of physical humor and stunt work is on full display here with the film’s climactic chase sequence being nothing short of astounding. It is my second favourite high-speed pursuit in a movie after the final car chase in The Blues Brothers. The gags and stunts in this film never cease to amaze me and always take me by surprise no matter how times I watch the film. I also must give props to the fantastic jazzy, noir-like score of the Thames Silent’s print of the film, and is it just me or is that James Bond music at exactly 39 minutes and 56 seconds in?

You know all the cliché terms people throw around in movie reviews: “timeless”, “classic”, “ahead of its time”. If there was ever a movie which completely deserved them then this is it.

Cinema Paradiso (1988)

The Ultimate Movie Lover’s Movie

***This Review Contains Spoilers***

Cinema Paradiso perfectly captures the obsessive and domineering power cinema has over its dedicated fans and their lives. Just like how our main character Toto becomes enchanted and engulfed by the movies, Cinema Paradiso is a movie which succeeds in doing just that. The movie follows the relationship of a child, Toto, with Alfredo, a projectionist at the local cinema, who becomes a father figure for Toto. Alfredo himself is very much a mythical character; he has no backstory or even a surname, yet he succeeds in being one of the most unforgettable characters in film history, wouldn’t we all want an Alfredo in our lives? Although he is a man who appears to have never made much for himself in life, ultimately a bit of a loser. This is one aspect of the story which really punches me in the gut; Alfredo prevents Toto from going down the same road as him but as the cost of never having to see him again. It works and especially in the director’s cut in which we learn Toto has become a famous filmmaker.

Cinema Paradiso is my favourite foreign language film and what a rich experience it is. The music, scenery and vibrant architecture of Sicily immediately draw me in; I simply enjoy the essence of being there. Like the stamp of any truly great film, Cinema Paradiso is a movie which you don’t want to end. I recommend wearing a life jacket while watching this movie or you will drown in your own tears. This is one few films that give me teary-eyed goosebumps even thinking about it, or by listening to Ennio Morricone’s score. In fact, it has just been brought to my attention that scientists have proposed a new theory that rising sea levels aren’t caused by melting ice caps but rather by people watching Cinema Paradiso.

For the original Italian release or director’s cut, the film had a run time of 173 minutes, for the international release it was cut to 124 minutes. I have to say however I greatly prefer the cut version. The director’s cut examines the romantic relationship between characters Toto and Elena in much more detail, turning what is a subplot in cut version into a main focus of the story and while interesting to see the loose ends and the explained justification for Alfredo’s actions, it does cause the movie to drag and in turn creating a version of the film with less emotional impact, whereas the cut version is a perfectly paced film. It also takes away some of the mystery posed by the shorter version, showing that some stories are best left untold, not everything has to be explained. I still feel the longer version is worth watching, it has made me dubious of director’s cuts.

Anyone passionate about cinema can’t afford to miss Cinema Paradiso (that being unless you’re a hardcore cynic, then this film will send you into a fit of rage) but aside from being a tribute to cinema, the film is full of emotions for nostalgia of childhood and youth, love and the losses we have to deal with during our lives. The cut version of Cinema Paradiso is Cinema Perfecto.

International Cut – 10/10

Director’s Cut – 7/10