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What makes a film great - #5

So yeah, I realize that the last time I tried to do a multiple part blog series it didn't go so well. But this time I'm confident I'll finish it.

What makes a film great #5 - Acting

The Browning Version

Michael Redgrave in his mindblowing performance asProfessor Crocker-Harrisin The Browning Version

Acting helps a movie a lot. It sucks us in and helps us become attached to the characters when an actor plays his part well. When an actor plays his part poorly however, the film loses its sense of realism and the plot, no matter how good it is, will fail if the characters aren't beleivable. Before an actor can play his role well he must 'get into character' and almost believe that he is the character. Sometimes actors have even lost their mind and truly thought they were the fictionalindividual in the story. Despite the psychological risks, good acting is very entertaining and can raise an otherwise uninteresting movie from obscurity up to blockbuster status. Michael Redgrave is the only reason the movie: The Browning Version is worth watching. Redgrave's performance almost moved me to tears in one scene, if it had been a less excellent actor playing the part of Crocker-Harris the scene would have been much less emotionally charged. I won't reveal anything about the movie, since it is easily accessed if you are a Hulu Plus subscriber, just have faith in me when I say it is excellent.

I bet you're wondering why acting is at the bottom of my 'What makes a filmgreat' blog series. I find that a movie can survive without it, take Carnival of Souls for example, an indie 50's horror movie shot on a low budget. It featured all local talent pulled together from the town in which the movie was shot. The acting is god-awful, but the movie is surprisingly enjoyable. It just goes to show that a movie can still be good if it lacks a few of these five components.

Next blog: #4: Music

Now, I will leave you with a scene in one of my favorite movies, involving one of my favorite actors.

Can you guess the actor and the film?

Kudos if you can guess the movie and the actor! (This one's a no-brainer)

Why today's HollyWood blockbusters are terrible, most of the time.

You walk into a theatre. BOOM. POW. FLASH. VIOLENCE. ROMANCE. OBVIOUS PLOT TWIST. THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER. THE END. You walk out of the theatre and go home. Maybe you'll buy it on DVD or BLU-RAY when it's available, maybe you'll just forget about it and watch another HollyWood movie. Most of you will find the absolute disgust I experienced when I watched James Cameron's Avatar confusing. I had my fingers crossedthrough thetorturous three hours, hoping and praying that the aliens would be wiped out in a well rendered explosion and the humans would win, suck the planet's resources dry and move on in a horribly relevant climax. But alas! I was forcefully spoon-fed a 'happy-ending' in which blue people with sharp sticks and bows route a high-tech military force.

This deserves an academy award. Not.

Speaking of which, did I mention that this movie's storyline is terribly similar The Last Samurai's? Replace the samurai and Tom Cruise with taller, bluer, people, and the Meijigovernment with future westerners, and you have the same movie. Don't let me make you think that Avatar is all bad, it has some nice special effects. BOOM. POW. FLASH. There's no substance, however, and nothing to suck you into the movie, except the CG aliens, which are well rendered yet look so ridiculous at the same time. I made me wonder how you can even become emotionally attached to the Navii.

It's depressing really that movies can have a bad plot and an uninteresting premise and get away with it if enough money is shelled into the CG department.

Top Ten Favorite Movies #5

Yojimbo (1961) - Akira Kurosawa

Ah yes, Yojimbo, a clas*ic nameless protagonist' film. The film follows the experiences of Sanjuro (literally 'thirty-year-old') a ronin who wanders into a basically empty town with two rival Yakuza gangs inhabiting it. The two gangs realize thata samurai of Sanjuro's skillon their side would allow them to easily destroy their rivals. Sanjuro works for one gang and then flips to the other at the tip of a hat as if he has a motive behind acting as a Yojimbo for these gangs. It turns out that he's trying to help the few remaining townspeople by destroying the gangs from the inside.

Woah, sorry about the large image folks!

The movie has many many sub plots and they are fairly important to the rest of the story, but they won't be mentioned in this blog. As far as filmography goes, it's a typical Kurosawa film with few camera shots that really stay with you, but it has some good acting in it. The movie was influenced heavily by the western film genre. This is apparent in the final showdown when dust is blowing around and Sanjuro approaches hisadversaries on a main road in a clas*ic gunslinger st*le sequence. There's even a yakuza gang member who has a revolver circa 1800's. If you like bad-ass samurai dudes and good movies you'll be doing yourself a favor by watching this.

RANDOM UPDATE: Totally PSYCHED that Final Fantasy X is being remade for the PS3 and the PSVITA! Also watching the anime 'Captain Harlock', can you say best anime ever?

Top Ten Favorite Movies #6

Sorry about the delay.

Permanent Vacation (1981) - Jim Jarmusch

Let's see, what can I say about Permanent Vacation...well, it's weird. There ya go, that's the entire movie in one word. It's so freakishly weird that it's almost unexplainable. There is no real plot here, no rising action, no climax, none of that, just some hipster wandering around Manhattan and meeting crazy people along the way. He chats about his own hallucinations to a psychotic Vietnam war veteran, listens to a druggie tell a sadistic joke about a saxophonist, listens to his insane mother say something about him stealing his father's eyes, steals a car, and dances to music for about forty seconds of screen time.

Again the constant theme of saxophone is shown again in Permanent Vacation

I'm still not sure why I liked this movie so much, it was just some skinny dude wandering around a strangely empty city. It was good and eerie at times, such as when the hipster wakes up on a roof and mutters something about a legislative gun, and stands up and starts spinning around. The use of music was excellent as well, the only original music was what sounded like church bells chiming in a creepy rhythm which added a lot to scenes where you wondered whether or not the main character was sane. Overall, if you can take a dose of weirdness, try it out, you'll probably love it, and if you're a Jarmusch fan, watch it also since Permanent Vacation is somewhat referenced in most of his other movies.

Top Ten Favorite Movies #7

Okay so I missed a blog yesterday, but I'm only human, right?

M (1931) - Fritz Lang

M, a German epic of mental illness and human nature, centers on a series of murders in Berlin, all the victims being young girls. The murderer isn't even shown until ten minutes into the movie, however the viewer identifies him with the tune 'In the hall of the mountain king' since he always whistles it when he finds a new victim. There are no real main characters in the film, unless you count the serial killer or Commissar Lohmann, the story is mostly told through phone calls at the police station or through the conversations of nameless citizens. A manhunt of biblical proportions begins, and citizens and ring leaders of an organized crime syndicate start their own manhunt. What ensues is incredible suspense. Not surprisingly, the murderer is captured, but not by the police, the crime syndicate gets him, and sets up a kangaroo court for him. He pleads guilty due to insanity, babbling about the voices in his head forcing him to do what he does, but the citizens and gangsters don't have a fair trial in mind. The police rush in at the last minute, but the murderer's sentence is left ambiguous.

A citizen confronts the murderer at the mock trial with a picture of a victim, his own deceased daughter.

A citizen confronts the murderer at the mock trial with a picture of a victim, his own deceased daughter.

Fritz Lang puts reflections to good use in M, we are assured the murderer is insane when he makes faces at himself in his mirror, and when he does the same in front of glass windows. This film was the first, and probably the best, psychological thriller to date. It's message is obvious: should we give those who are criminally insane the death penalty?

Top Ten Favorite Movies #8

Oh yeahhhhh, I'm actually staying comitted to writing a blogevery singleday. Plus 8 EXP.

Black Sun (1964) - Koreyoshi Kurahara

Black Sun is different to say the least. It's a fever dream of epic proportions. The story is pretty original, a Japanese drifter who loves jazz meets this African-American GI who has just shot another soldier and is being tracked down by the MP's. The GI, whose name is Ghil, has been shot in the leg and is for some unexplained reason trying to get to the sea. Mei, the Japanese drifter, has never seen a black man before and, being obsessed with jazz which is a music genre that is primarily preformed by blacks, is totally amazed. Mei has envisioned all black people to be able to sing and dance with unparalelled ability. However, Ghil can't carry a tune, which causes Mei to lose respect for Ghil. Soon Mei is slinging racial slurs like a pro and Ghil is threatening to shoot him. They both get on the wrong side of the law eventually, and they have to overcome a language barrier. Mei soon realizes Ghil wants to get to the sea and obliges him by taking him to a bombed out town. Ghil is saddened to find that the water thereis polluted, and begins to cry. Mei storms off, only to hear Ghil singing as he leaves. Mei stops and goes back, and they both overcome their differences, it dosen't end there though.

Mei and Ghil display some humorous faces as they fight over a loaded gun

Yeah, there are some epic faces in this movie, but this was the best picture I could find.

Mei once again attempts to find the sea for Ghil, albeit, a less polluted one this time. In the haunting climax, Ghil lashes himself to a weather balloon on the rooftop of a building surrounded by MP's, Mei shoots the rope after a few minutes of hesitation, and Ghil floats off towards the sea as Mei weeps and is captured by the MP's.

Okay, so that was a weird one, lots of things are left unexplainedand the film has an extremely broken message about racial-profiling, orat least, that's how I interpreted it.The radical filmography is excellant, such as thestill imagesspliced into the reel at appropriate times, and the camera focus on the posters of Jazz singers while Mei and the local prostitute spend an evening together while up-beat jazz music plays.It will definately stick with you after you watch it.

Favorite line: (Heavy Japanese accent) "Go home Ghil! Go home to your mama!!"

Top Ten Favorite Movies #9

A'ight, here's numbernine of my favorite movie blogs. If you wanna read number ten check out my previous blog posts.

Seven Samurai(1954) - Akira Kurosawa

It's tough to put this film atnumber nine, it's one of the best movies I've ever seen, yet it has a major flaw. Length. It's over two hours long, that's just inexcusable. The storyline is excellent however, and you will stay interested until the end, probably. It's about this village that gets attacked by bandits every year, so one year they decide to hire ronin to protect their village. They then wander around the closest town for several days looking for ronin samurai. Most samurai refuse their offer, because the villagers are poor and only have food to give. In the end they are only able to recruit six ronin, however, a seventh drunk/insane samurai (played by the amazing Toshiro Mifune) joins of his own accord. They go back to the village, and prepare for the imminent invasion of the bandits.

Seven Samurai

The ending is fairly tragic, however, it is very fulfilling. If you have not seen it, I could not recommend it enough to the more patient of you. However, if patience is something you lack, maybe you should stay away from sword-dramas in general.

Top Ten favorite movies anyone? #10

Well, I was reccomended to make a favorite movie blog, (you know who you are:P) and I decided to make a whole top ten. I plan on doing one each day and going into a fair amount of detailon each movie. Disclaimer: I'm a movie-buff, I like old foreign films, get over it. :D Arright' here we go!

#10 A King in New York (1957) - Charles Chaplin

My favorite Chaplin film, it's about the king of a small European monarchy whose government is overthrown in a coup. The king flees to the US, bringing what was in his treasury with him. He eventually becomes something for American media to talk about, so he soon becomes a person of interest. After much extravagance, he realizes he's almost broke, so he begins to appear in television comercials marketing products for some extra money. The movie is a comedy, so of course a whole bunch of crap happens along the way, such as bad plastic surgery, choking on whiskey during a live commercial, and sheltering a communist.

A King in New York

Strip away the comedy however, and your left with a once relevant view on communists. Not surprisingly, asmost Chaplin's films have some sort of political slant.

Yes, this will all be short and sweet and to the point. That's all for now, see ya tomorrow with #9!

I swear, it feels like it's been years...

Dang...it's been a loooooong time. Sorry about how long it's been since I last blogged, but you know how it is, ya get lazy, and ya never touch the site again for months. :P But, what I really wanna know is what you guys have been doing over the summer. Also, any of you gotsuggestions for what I should blog about in the future?

P.S. I got a steam account! :X My user is: unbentonslaught (no surprise there) Add me and we could play Terraria or TF2,most of the other games I have on there are single player.

A Permanent Lull in my GS Blogs

I'm afraid I've lost the patience to write blogs on Gamespot, I'm afraid I won't be on here again for a while, and sorry for starting that blog on my favorite video game heroes and just leavin' ya hangin' for all that time.

Have a great day and I might see ya later on here!