Cinema {ish} With Jennifer: The Last Picture Show

AFI # 95 The Last Picture Show (1971)

Last Picture Show DVD cover

The Last Picture Show 1971

I will begin each review with a “What I know, or What I Think I Know…” intro. These intros were all compiled before I set out on this journey, and can be read in their entirety (HERE).

What I “Think” I Know

A washed-up movie star begs for a role to prove she still has “it” gets the role, but to critical reviews. Takes her life but not before she reflects on her illustrious career and dreams about what it “could” have been. (Once again…my guess is nowhere near close)

The Real Review

Movie follows the lives of several hormone driven teens living in a small Texas town that is on the brink of desertion.”

We are 6 movies in, and I feel like I’ve hit a bit of a rut in terms of movies that I don’t care for and I am having a hard time writing about them. I liked Ben Hur (which was surprising) obviously I love Toy Story it being a child hood favorite and Yankee Doodle Dandy was another surprising movie in the “win” column for me. But then we hit a stretch of movies that I either didn’t “understand” didn’t care for or don’t see myself watching again. This is one of those movies. Maybe I lack the critical thinking required to truly see these movies for the master pieces that AFI pegs them as. Maybe these movies just really are not my cup of tea. Who knows. What I do know is that this movie, The Last Picture Show, is not a movie you want to watch with your mom…Yikes! Lots of hormones and a lot of “Mrs. Robinson” type moments.

One thing I will say is they did a great job of showing the death of small town and the struggles of those who inhabit it as they try to figure out what’s next. They do this in such a way that you start to realize the town is dying the same time town and in the same way that the main characters do.

When I started this project, I had high hopes of discovering new movies each week that would be sure to be a great addition to my movie collection. So far we are 3 for 3. Next week we are watching Pulp Fiction. I’ve seen this movie (a long time ago, but I’ve seen it) and I don’t remember particularly caring for it then. Maybe with age I will appreciate it more. Here’s hoping!

Looking for a serious review of this movie and the rest of movies on AFI’s greatest 100 list? Check out the The Confusing Middle and read his thoughts!

Are you a fan of The last Picture Show or want to watch along with me? Click HERE to read my scene by scene reactions while I watched this movie for the first time. You know you want to!

6 movies down, 93 to go. Next up, Pulp Fiction!

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Cinema {ish} With Jennifer: Do The Right Thing

AFI # 96 Do The Right Thing (1989)

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What I “Think” The Movie is about

A group of kids spend the whole movie trying to get ahold of the answers to a hard mid-term. They are successful in their quest but decide at the last-minute to “do the right thing” and take the test. Some pass, some fail, but they all learn a valuable lesson. (once again, my guess was not even close)

The Real Review

Brooklyn is deep into a heat wave and tension, like the temperature, is rising among the neighborhood. An Italian owner of a long-standing pizzeria upsets a local patron, when he sees that the pizzeria’s “Wall Of Fame” displays only white/italian actors and celebrities. The patron believes a pizzeria in a black neighborhood should showcase black actors, but the owner disagrees. The wall becomes a symbol of racism and as everyone reaches a breaking point. A fight and riot breaks out leaving 1-person undeservedly dead at the hands of the authorities. 

Dear Diary,

It has been 5 days and 7 hours since I watched “Do the Right Thing” and I am still having a hard time coming up with a satirical approach to this movie, I mean, that is kind of what we do here on ‘The {ish} Adventures.’ “Jennifer’s the name, satire is my game.”

I’m having an even harder time writing a responsible and thoughtful response on race relations then and now. This movie officially has me speechless, and that does not happen often. What could I, a 30-year-old woman, originally from west-central Indiana with little exposure to diversity or adversity, have to say on this subject that someone hasn’t already said? Well, I’ve been trying for 5 days and I’ve got nothing.

I liked this movie. It made me feel uncomfortable but in a critical thinking kind of way. I haven’t had to work this hard at a decent organized thought since high school or college. In fact, a part of me wants to say that the feeling of ‘uncomfortable’ is a good emotion to have, or at least it’s a start. What if I had genuinely sat down to watch this movie and had no other reaction other than comfortable? What would that have meant? Does it mean that we’ve just accepted that this is how it is going to be from now on so just get used to it? I hope not. I hope this type of injustice and violence doesn’t become the “norm”. Although, this movie did come out 30 years ago and yet it feels like it was just written yesterday, the script ripped from last years headlines. So, maybe it has become the norm. I don’t know. I don’t magically have the answer for racism after watching this movie, I wish I did, but I don’t.

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Are you a fan of Do The Right Thing and want to watch along with me? Click HERE to read my ‘live’ scene reactions while I watched this movie for the first time.

Also, are you looking for a serious review of this movie and the rest of movies on AFI’s greatest 100 list? Check out the The Confusing Middle and read his thoughts!

5 movies down, 95 to go. Next up, The Last Picture Show (1971)

 

Cinema {ish} With Jennifer: Blade Runner

AFI # 97: Blade Runner 1982

Blade Runner movie poster

What I “Think” The Movie is about

Space age super hero, Hans Solo Harrison Ford, stops bad guys while wearing roller blades. (close but no cigar)

The Real Review

“A former police officer trying to enjoy his time away from the grind, is forced to go back to work to capture 4 human-like robots that the government created. 1 by 1 the robots, with shiny eyes and bad attitudes, meet their demise but not before killing those who stand in their way, proving once again, that no one wins when humans attempt to create life from scratch”

Where to begin on this movie review? I think a poem sung to the tune of “Folsom prison blues” is a good place to start (sing along in your head please).

“I hear the cars are hovering, they’re flying over men, and there hasn’t been sunshine, since I don’t know when, I’m stuck watching Blade Runner, and time keeps passing on. If this movie doesn’t end soon, someone shoot me with a gun.”

Ok, that was a bit dramatic, I know, but I’ve been trying to come up with a way to honestly and fairly review Blade Runner. After two days I still have nothing. I hated this movie. I knew we were headed for trouble when, even my husband wanted out after just 20 minutes.

It’s easy to say, “but Jennifer, it’s just not your type of movie, other people really enjoy this genre.” This sentiment doesn’t surprise me, I mean there has to be a reason this movie is on this list, right, or did AFI put a bunch of movies on a dartboard, close their eyes and throw?

If that’s the case, I noticed Steel Magnolias is missing from this list, I think a swap is in order.

So, what to do with a movie you paid 10$ for and never want to watch again? You post it for free on Craigslist (see listing here) and see if someone is crazy enough to want it.

Update: Posting has been up for 2 days, and while it was removed once by Craigslist (they must not be fans of this movie either,) some brave soul claimed it on LetGo!

Update 2: Brave soul who claimed movie stood me up during pick up. (sounds about right) Movie is still up for grabs.

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Are you a fan of Blade Runner (why?) and want to watch along with me? Click HERE to read my ‘live’ scene reactions while I watched this movie for the first time.

Also, are you looking for a serious review of this movie and the rest of movies on AFI’s greatest 100 list? Check out the The Confusing Middle and read his thoughts!

4 movies down, 96 to go. Next up, Do The Right Thing!

Cinema {ish} With Jennifer: Yankee Doodle Dandy

AFI # 98: Yankee Doodle Dandy 1942

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What I “Think” The Movie is about

A biography of the life of The great Babe Ruth, his time with the New York Yankees and the rest of his historic 35-year career.

The Real Review

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Is he a leprechaun or Pilgrim?

“A man named George falls in love with a girl named Mary and meets an angel named Clarence. Wait, different George, wrong movie, let’s start again. A man named Cohen..I mean Cohan is nervous when the President of the United States Donald Trump  Franklin Delano Roosevelt summons him to the oval office. While there, Cohan is presented with a Medal of commendation and has flashbacks with the President about his time as a struggling tap dancing leprechaun all the way to his Broadway staring days. Cohan is very thankful to the President for the recognition. His mother is thankful, his father his thankful, his sister is thankful, and I’m pretty sure his hamster, Atriums is also thankful.”

                         Wrong George and Mary          Right George and Mary

      Wrong (Cohen) and President              Right (Cohan) and President

This movie surprised me in many ways. This was a musical and NOT a baseball movie as I had hoped it would be.

Also, it is a true story and based on a real person. I didn’t know that! This discovery was made when George mentions his sister as “Being gone now.” I asked myself, “Where did she go? Did she die, did she go to market, to the salon to get her nails done?” I need details George. After consulting the great and powerful Wikipedia, I began to see facts on what I thought was a fictional character only to realize that these people were REAL!

Another surprise was the music! With the exception of a few songs, I was very familiar with most of the tunes. Give My regards to Broadway, You’re a Grand Old Flag, and my favorite (thanks to the Golden Girls) Over There.

I enjoyed the movie, but I must admit I had to watch it twice to fully understand what was going on (I’m not stupid, I swear). The flashback didn’t help, then I kept confusing George’s sister for his would-be wife. I asked my husband 3 times “Now is that his girlfriend or his sister? Oh, they are kissing, I hope it’s his girlfriend.”

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The dancing is what really caught my eye! When I saw the name ‘Cagney’ in the opening credits my mind immediately went to great, it’s a “tough guy film.” When I saw it was a musical I then became worried because “surely this guy can’t dance.” WRONG! He sang and danced through-out the whole film and it was wonderful! In fact I replayed several scenes over and over again almost because I was so taken with his skills. So taken in fact, I tried to copy his moves at home. I’ll let you know when I find my knee caps again. Thankfully I don’t have access to a stair case, I probably would have broken my neck!

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Are you a fan of Yankee Doodle Dandy and want to watch along with me? Click HERE to read my ‘live’ scene reactions while I watched this movie for the first time.

Also, are you looking for a serious review of this movie and the rest of movies on AFI’s greatest 100 list? Check out the The Confusing Middle and read his thoughts!

3 movies down, 97 to go. Next up, Blade Runner!

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Cinema {ish} With Jennifer: Toy Story

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AFI # 99: Toy Story 1995

As always I begin each review with “What I Think I Know”. These descriptions were all compiled before I set out on this journey, and can be read in their entirety (HERE).

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What I think I know

“Toys live their daily life in constant anxiety worrying about when their owner is going to replace them with something new and better. The Cowboy forgets to take his Xanax and has full blown panic attack and gets lost with his laid-back space friend. Astronaut and Cowboy spend the rest of the time trying to get home”

 The Real Review

I could go on and on spewing fun facts and memories about a beloved movie that we’ve all seen a million times, but a large elephant sat in the room with me as I watched Toy Story today. That elephant has a name and that name is Sid.

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Buzz and Woody spend half the movie trying to escape from Sid’s dark chamber of torture. His room is nothing more than a bed lacking sheets and a blanket, a grungy green carpet that I swear I can smell just from sight, and a door with one less deadbolt than those at a maximum-security prison. (at least the bolts are on the inside and not on the outside. This would be a completely different article if they were.)

Can someone please explain to me where Sid’s parents are? (check the cellar) Are they concerned at all that their precious baby boy is showing at least 5 of the 7 classic signs of being a child psychopath? (he is…I googled it…).

Is your child a psychopath

Animal cruelty

While we don’t see it on film, (psychopath or not this is still a Disney Movie) Scud is shown as violent and aggressive. If he isn’t chained up in the backyard he is terrorizing the toys and Sid’s Sister. (Hannah retaliates by slamming the door in Scud’s face…Sid is obviously training brainwashing her.) Scud is clearly a product of his environment.

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Poor guy doesnt stand a chance

Bullying

Speaking of Hannah, Sid bullies her. He steals her doll(s) throws it in a vice grip, rips her head off and replaces it with a dinosaur head then lies when Hannah runs to tell mom. I grew up with an older brother. This isn’t how we played.

Blink twice if you need help Hannah

  Arson

Sid wins best in show in this category. The first time we meet Sid he is in the backyard blowing up a Combat Carl. Later he receives a package. What’s inside you ask? Oh, a good old fashion rocket. Who is this kids explosives dealer? Its 1995, I doubt he is logging on to AOL to buy them. Is there some type of catalog that caters to pre-teen pyros that I don’t know about? If rockets and fireworks weren’t enough to suggest an arsonist in the making, might I present to you exhibit B. A tank of gasoline and matches hanging out on the work bench, more matches in the back yard and matches on his night stand. He has also learned to harness the sun to start fires as well. No biggie.

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Extra! Extra! Read all about it….

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Enuresis

In other words, wetting the bed at an age where it is not expected. I have no real proof of this as it is not addressed in the story (Disney doesn’t tackle the tough topics)  but I will point out that his bed is in shambles with no sheets or blankets. Coincidence? If I’m ever granted an interview with Pixar you better believe this is one area I will demand an answer to.

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A tweet to Pixar will have to do, for now.

A Loaner Attitude

The second time the audience meets Sid is when he ‘wins’ Buzz and Woody at Pizza Planet. He is alone at the arcade and arrives home alone. Hey, I’m all for independence, but what 9/10-year-old hangs out at pizza arcade without supervision or friends…

Honorable Mentions

While not recognized as an official red flag, it needs noted that he is in possession of a “Improvised Interogations Handbook.” Either Sid is really an undercover FBI agent sent to monitor Andy’s mom (do we really know why they are moving?) or he is gearing up for future battles. You decide.

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Yep. This is normal reading material for a child

So there you have it, a brief case study on Sid from Toy story. Active imagination or pre-teen psychopath in training? I encourage you to watch Toy Story again with an open mind and decide for yourself.

(as always if you are a fan of Toy Story and want to read my live reactions while watching today’s movie, click here)

Cinema {ish} With Jennifer: Ben-Hur

AFI Ben Hur

AFI # 100: Ben-Hur 1959

I will begin each review with a “What I know, or What I Think I Know…” intro. These intros were all compiled before I set out on this journey, and can be read in their entirety (HERE). Let us begin with # 100 Ben-Hur.

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What I know or what I think I know

  1. There are chariot races.
  2. This features Charlton Heston (what kind of name is Charlton?)
  3. This is a long movie, it required 2 VHS tapes to watch and we all know what that means.
  4. I know that this movie has some sort of cultural significance to a town about 25 minutes from where I grew up. Crawfordsville, Indiana.

My Guesses

This movie is about Roman gladiators, and the main character is a slave/prisoner and is trying to win his freedom by racing chariots.

The Real Review

“Jewish prince is betrayed by friend and faulty roof tile. Prince turned prisoner joins competitive rowing team only to be adopted by his wealthy boss after winning a close game of battle ship. Prince comes back with new-found fame and title and kills backstabbing “friend” in a chariot race (unknown tile man remains at large). Mysterious water boy comes and goes through out the story but graciously saves the life of the Prince, his family and every person who accepts him for all eternity. (John 3:16)”

Ok, this isn’t exactly what happened in Ben-Hur, but I tell you what, if MGM had put that synopsis on the back of the box, chances are I would have attempted to watch this a lot sooner! The point is, I made it! The movie was 3 ½ hours long ( I swear 40 mins of it was overture, credits and intermission) but I watched all of it. (turning on closed caption helped me keep focus, #adhdprotip)

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30 mins of my life I will never get back

This movie was not what I expected at all. I mean, I got the little things right, there was a chariot race, and while Ben-Hur was at one time a prince, he was also made to be a prisoner and a slave. But for a film from 1959, I was impressedat how real the boat scene and chariot races appeared. I consulted my old friend IMDB and read through the trivia section (read it here) and saw that MGM paid 15 million for this movie, a gamble for this time, but they earned over 75 million for their troubles. The chariot scene alone cost 4 million and took 10 weeks to shoot. I can see why they won 11 Oscars.

The biggest shock for me was its parallels to the Bible. I had no idea. I know this is a work of fiction and Ben-Hur himself does not appear in the Bible, but from the birth of Jesus to the rise of Pontius Pilate, sermon on the mount to the crucifixion, it’s all there. I had no idea! It was a big box office reminder of the power of God’s Grace and how precious his promise is.

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Oh, I mentioned earlier there was a cultural connection close to my home town. Upon further research, the movie is based on a novel: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ  by Lew Wallace. Wallace was born in Indiana and spent much of his adult and retired life (including death) in Crawfordsville Indiana. Read more about him and his life Here. #themoreyouknow

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Are you already a fan of Ben-Hur and want to read my scene by scene reactions while I watched the movie, click HERE to read along. You know you want to!

 

1 movie down, 99 to go. Next up, Toy Story!