Animal House

Animal House (John Landis, 1978)

At a 1962 College, Dean Vernon Wormer is determined to expel the entire Delta Tau Chi Fraternity, but those troublemakers have other plans for him.

In my quest of watching every film on the list of the 1000 Greatest films of all time of the always pertinent folks at They Shoot Pictures Don’t They?, and my big interest in comedies it was about time that I watch John Landis’ Animal House. Starring the gone too young John Belushi, a very young Kevin Bacon, Donald Sutherland in a small role, and other lesser known actors like Tom Hulce, Stephen Furst, Karen Allen, and many others.

Written by Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney, and Chris Miller Animal House sets the standard of everything a College party comedy would have. It gave multiple follow-ups and rarely better and often worse teenage comedies involving drinking, sex, partying, etc. From Porky’s to American Pie, every College comedy must give credit to Animal House. Many comments on the film criticize the lack of laughs and the unoriginality of the whole thing. One must remember that it has been so many times replicated and every joke has been reused so much that they are practically worn out.

The story is quite simple and the situations are built up leading to jokes and moments. Set in 1962, the film doesn't has a vibe of being in the past and this is probably a quality. It is also set in fraternities, something I did not experienced in my College or University years but I could relate to some behaviors of my time at the College. It is sad that for a first time viewer in 2012 many scenes seem to felt flat.  While other moments were probably very funny at the time they are so predictable because Landis and his comedies have forged the comedy of today and as viewers we can see where they are going.

The best moment is the Otis Day show with the song Shout. It is during the biggest party of the movie and the moment almost make me got up in my living room and scream the lyrics out loud in front of my TV screen. It is also very interesting that Landis let the moment and keep the scene long without any other action than the music and the people singing together.

Animal House is one of the films listed on AFI’s 100 Laughs, and having only seen 46 of the 100 listed I’ve decided that I could sometime try to tackle and complete this list of classics. Since I am working on many lists, TSPDT 1000 Greatest films aforementioned and some titles are on both lists I could actually try to complete more than one tasks at a time. However, being on the 1000 GF list at number 683 I thought that the heritage of the movie might be the main reason why it is listed there. Because, I liked Animal House but I feel that it is a surprising entry when compared to Abbas Kiarostami’s The Wind Will Carry Us (#682) and Ernst Lubitsch’s Angel (#687) or Akira Kurosawa’s Red beard (#691). This movie is worth a look.


My Most Wanted List of Films For 2012

Last year circa September, I’ve made a list of films I wanted to watch before the end of 2011. For some reasons I did not achieve the list. While browsing into my Archives I found it and decided to complete it and maybe add one or two titles in the way while scratching the ones I managed to watch. Those could be regarded as my most wanted list of films.

Since were at the middle of 2012 already, taking a look at what might be coming in the next weeks might seem a little bit too optimistic and I’m sure I will add many other films on this list but so far it is pretty much that.

The Servant being my most wanted film.

1. Madame de… (Max Ophüls, 1954)
2. Battle of Algier (Gillo Pontecorvo, 196-)
3. Nanook of the North (Robert Flaherty, 1927)
4. Husbands (John Casavetes, 1972)
1. 5. The Servant (Joseph Losey, 1963)
6. Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich, 1953)
7. The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich, 1971)
2. 8. Shadows (John Cassavetes, 1959)
3. 11. Le Corbeau (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 19--)
4. 12. Y Tu Mama Tambien (Alfonso Cuaron, 2000)
13. Irréversible (Gaspar Noé, 2001)
6. 14. Ali : Fear Eats the Soul (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 197-)*
15. Les yeux sans visage (Georges Franju, 195-)
7. 16. The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (Peter Greenaway, 1989)
17. Land of the Pharaohs (Howard Hawks, 195-)
8. 22. Dersu Uzala (Akira Kurosawa, 1975)
9. 23. Black Moon (Louis Malle, 1975)
24. Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954)
10. 25. Bigger Than Life (Nicholas Ray, 195-)
11. 26. They Live By Night (Nicholas Ray, 1948)
12. 27.
The Lusty Men (Nicholas Ray, 196-)
L’année dernière à Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1958)
Duel (Steven Spielberg, 1971)
L’enfance nue (Maurice Pialat, 19--)
14. Los Olvidados (Luis Bunuel, 1950)
15. The Docks of New York (Josef Von Sternberg, 1928)
16. Morocco (Josef Von Sternberg, 1930)
17. You Only Live Once (Fritz Lang, 1936)*
18. Satantango (Bela Tarr, 1994)
19. Gimme Shelter (Maysles, 1970)
20. Close-Up (Abbas Kiarostami, 1990)

* R.W. Fassbinder and Fritz Lang are two directors I want to watch more films and especially Lang can come up here many more times.

These viewings have been postponed to October 2012:

9. The Innocents (Jack Clayton, 19--)
10. Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978)
21. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1975)
29. The Devils (Ken Russell, 197-)
30. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Don Siegel, 1956)
32. Cat People (Jacques Tourneur, 19--)
33. I Walked with A Zombie (Jacques Tourneur, 19--)
34. Night of the Demon (Jacques Tourneur, 19--)
35. The Haunting (Robert Wise, 19--)
36. Doctor Phibes Rises Again (Robert Fuest, 19--)
37. The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy, 19--)
38. Scream (Wes Craven, 1994)

These viewings have been postponed to December 2012:
18. Colossus of Rhodes (Sergio Leone, 196-)
19. Cleopatra (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 196-)
20. Cleopatra (Cecil B. DeMille, 192-)
39. A Christmas Story (Bob Clark, 1983)
40. 3 Godfathers (John Ford, 1948)
41. Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (Paul Schrader, 1983)

What do you think of those films? Which one should I watch first? Any other recommendations?


The Best Films of the Province of Québec

Celebrating the St. Jean Baptiste, June 24th, in Québec is like our 4th of July for Americans or our Bastille Day for the French. For this event, I wanted to give you a list of the most respected films made in our North-eastern Province of North America. The feature Je me souviens that I’ve been pursuing for the past months, in fact it is more on hiatus than anything for now, celebrates the films of Québec. In the nest months I will be continuing my travel into the heritage of the Cinema of my home. Completing those lists will be one of my blogging goals of the second half of 2012.

Here are three lists of the best films made in the Province of Québec (click on the links to read the reviews of the films):

The public’s list
  1. Le déclin de l'empire américain (Denys Arcand, 1986)
  2. Jésus de Montréal (Denys Arcand, 1989)
  3. Un zoo, la nuit (Jean-Claude Lauzon, 1987)
  4. Mon oncle Antoine (Claude Jutra, 1971)
  5. L'homme qui plantait des arbres (Frédéric Back, 1987)
  6. Les bons débarras (Francis Mankiewicz, 1980)
  7. Léolo (Jean-Claude Lauzon, 1992)
  8. J. A. Martin, photographe (Jean Beaudin, 1976)
  9. Being at Home with Claude (Jean Beaudin, 1991)
  10. Les ordres (Michel Brault, 1974)
The critics’ list
  1. Mon oncle Antoine (Claude Jutra, 1971)
  2. Les ordres (Michel Brault, 1974)
  3. Les bons débarras (Francis Mankiewicz, 1980)
  4. Le déclin de l'empire américain (Denys Arcand, 1986)
  5. Pour la suite du monde (Pierre Perrault, Marcel Carrière et Michel Brault, 1963)
  6. À tout prendre (Claude Jutra, 1963)
  7. Jésus de Montréal (Denys Arcand, 1989)
  8. Le chat dans le sac (Gilles Groulx, 1964)
  9. Au clair de la lune (André Forcier, 1982)
  10. L'eau chaude, l'eau frette (André Forcier, 1976)
The Quebecor critics’ list
  1. Mon oncle Antoine (Claude Jutra, 1971)
  2. Le déclin de l'empire américain (Denys Arcand, 1986)
  3. Les bons débarras (Francis Mankiewicz, 1980)
  4. Jésus de Montréal (Denys Arcand, 1989)
  5. Les ordres (Michel Brault, 1974)
  6. Un zoo, la nuit (Jean-Claude Lauzon, 1987)
  7. Léolo (Jean-Claude Lauzon, 1992)
  8. J. A. Martin, photographe (Jean Beaudin, 1976)
  9. Pour la suite du monde (Pierre Perrault, Marcel Carrière et Michel Brault, 1963)
  10. Au clair de la lune (André Forcier, 1982)
Source: Les Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois.

 What do you think of those lists? How many films have you seen? Which ones?


Top 10 Performances of Arnold Schwarzenegger by LMdC

This is my contribution to the LAMB Acting School 101 of June 2012. In the case here, I like the fact that they named it 101 because Schwarzie should have failed his 101 acting class and take some English lessons. However, having been born in the 1980’s his films are part of my childhood memories and even his worst ones were widely popular. So this is a Top of his better performances but also the films I appreciated the most from his filmography.

Without more ramblings here’s the list:

1. Last Action Hero
2. True Lies
3. Total Recall
4. Predator
5. Commando
6. Kindergarten Cop
7. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
8. The Terminator
9. Twins
10. Batman & Robin

What do you think of this list? What are your favorite films starring Arnie?



Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock, 1964)

Mark marries Marnie although she is a habitual thief and has serious psychological problems, and tries to help her confront and resolve them.

Starring Tippi Hedren as the title role and Sean Connery has Mark the man who falls in love with her and wants to “cure” her, Marnie is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most psycho sexual Freudian challenges. Lately, I’ve had a conversation with John LaRue of The Droid You’re looking For about Hitch’s misogynist approach to women. As an explanation of this conception of Hitchcock I recalled many elements that may have inclined him to be that way. As John recalled me he mentioned the mommy factor which is omnipresent in the films of Hitchcock.

With Marnie, we rediscover lots of recurring themes of Hitchcock’s obsessions: the cold blond woman stealing from her bosses and escaping (Psycho), the private detective who looks into the past of the woman (Vertigo), the final confrontation with the mother (Psycho again). The character of Mark is very interesting in the fact that he thinks he can cure Marnie, love her, and make her love him back. By forcing their marriage and the consumption of it Mark thinks Marnie will be “normal”. But the simplicity of his interventions can’t pair the deep psychological scars she wears.

While the Freudian analysis are used as plot points it accentuated the flaws of the film and the second half mainly represents the view of Hollywoodian simplicity on psychoanalysis. Hitchcock wanted so much to master the Freud material that he got caught up in his strange film. The setting of the first half and the tension of the opening evokes something that the story doesn’t finally delivers. Hopefully, Hitchcock handles like the master he is the elements aforementioned that he is comfortable with. On the down side, it’s once again the Freudian themes that fails on him just like his other film Spellbound.

Following a masterpiece like The Birds isn’t an easy task. It was even harder since the 1963 film was a genre movie and Marnie felt more on the psycho drama of Hitchcock revisiting is recurrent themes. However, the over atmosphere and feeling around Marnie is pretty unique and far from being a bland film from Hitch it is still one his finest approach to melodrama and the repressed problems of childhood.

On a more gossiping note, it is widely known that after Grace Kelly left the show-business to marry Prince Rainier of Monaco Hitchcock was looking for her replacement because the lady Kelly has been the perfect Hitchcock blond. When he discovered Tippi Hedren, Hitchcock supposedly felt deeply in love with her. She however, repelled him because she wasn’t interested at all. It is also a fact that Hitchcock told the bird trainer that he needed the birds to practically attack Tippi to get the most genuine feeling of fear from her. It was a revenge from Hitchcock who was re known to be a strong practical joker. So the story of Marnie, a woman who repels men and won’t have sex with them otherwise being forced might represent a subconscious desire of Hitchcock after his previous humiliation from his star.

Finally, this lesser appreciated film has somewhat earned its letters of noblesse amongst the Hitchcock enthusiasts including this reviewer. It takes rank number 17 (not intentionally here) in my personal top of Hitch's films I think this is an interesting Hitchcockian melodrama. I recommend this film.
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