Movie #94: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

Director: Jay Roach

Starring: Mike Myers, Elizabeth Hurley, Michael York, Mimi Rogers, Robert Wagner, Seth Green, Faviana Udenio, and Will Ferrell

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“Au contraire baby, you can’t resist me.”

1967, Dr. Evil (Myers) goes into a cryogenic freeze to escape his arch nemesis and British Secret Agent Austin Powers (also Myers) hoping to return later and fulfill his plans for world domination.  Powers also goes into a cryogenic freeze to be thawed once Dr. Evil returns.  Fast forward to 1997 in a world that is nothing like the one from 30 years ago.  Powers, with the help of Vanessa Kensington (Hurley), the daughter of his former partner Mrs. Kensington (Rogers), acclimates to the 90s where free love and widespread drug use are no longer the norm.

Although I had decided to review films that have won Best Picture Academy Awards, I just needed something light-hearted where I could more or less shut my brain off, hence watching and reviewing Austin Powers.  This film was moderately successful in its theatrical release, and only gained a widespread cult following after it had been released on home video.

Short, sweet, impactful, and to the point, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery does a wonderful job of giving the audience member a hilarious release from reality while poking fun at spy movies.

Oh who am I kidding?  This movie is full of great one-liners, many from Powers, and it’s just fun.  It’s been years since I had seen it, but it’s funny enough to remain entertaining.  I’ve seen this one and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, and I just feel like from this to that one it was beginning to become more formulaic and Goldmember just seemed like it was taking that further and had become tedious.   This film does great at being unapologetic and irreverent with its humor, and at the same time not going far enough to alienate major demographics.  While I wouldn’t recommend this for younger audience, the humor still has wide-ranging potential with audiences.

This film was released in a time when Mike Myers was still funny and hadn’t gotten stale, boring and predictable.  Like a few other comedic actors in the 90s (Adam Sandler, David Spade, etc.), Myers was still funny, and he does a great job in this film as both the hero and the villain.

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This whole movie is just fun.  Dr. Evil pokes fun at the classic spy villains in an over-the-top way that’s funny without being annoying.  The addition of Mini Me in the second film was funny, but again, I feel like it probably became tedious and boring by Goldmember.  That’s merely my speculation though since I hadn’t seen, and probably won’t see, the movie.

austinpowersferrell austinpowerselizabethhurleyThis was one of the first films for both Will Ferrell and Elizabeth Hurley.  Ferrell had made a name for himself on Saturday Night Live, and Hurley was both a model and at the time was High Grant’s girlfriend.  Vanessa Kensington is probably Hurley’s most famous film role, and she complements Myers 60s mentality as the quintessential 90s woman (until she has too much wine and falls for Powers of course).  Despite his limited screen time Ferrell’s performance is one of the most memorable and hilarious in the film.

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Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery is entertaining, funny, and enjoyable.  Mike Myers was still relevant, and does a great job as the charismatic over-the-top Austin Powers and Dr. Evil and complements a great supporting cast.  The humor may be more juvenile, but it’s fun as a comedic release.  I do recommend it, it’s funny and hilarious.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

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Movie #93: The Last Emperor (1987)

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci

Starring: John Lone, Joan Chen, Peter O’Toole, and Tao Wu

Academy Awards (1988):

Best Picture: Jeremy Thomas

Best Art Direction: Ferdinando Scarfiotti, Bruno Cesari, Osvaldo Desideri

Best Cinematography: Vittorio Stararo

Best Costume Design: James Acheson

Best Director: Bernardo Bertolucci

Best Film Editing: Gabriella Cristiani

Best Music, Original Score: Ryuichi Sakamoto, David Byrne, Cong Su

Best Sound: Bill Rowe, Ivan Sharrock

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium: Mark Peploe, Bernardo Bertolucci

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Plot Summary: The story of the final Emperor of China. (IMDB.com)

Puyi (Wu/Lone) became the Emperor of China at age 3.  The Last Emperor begins in 1950 with Puyi’s transfer to a Chinese prison as a political prison and war criminal.  Exploring his life through a series of flashbacks, Puyi’s story unfolds through his ascension and abdication of the throne, his education with Reginald Johnston (O’Toole), his marriage to Wanrung (Chen), installation as Emperor of the Japanese puppet state Manchukuo, and capture by the Soviet Union.  Following his re-education, Puyi becomes a peasant gardener in Peking, and visiting the Forbidden City late in life.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching this film the two times I’ve now seen it.  Though it runs nearly three hours, the story engages me throughout and Bernardo Bertolucci uses the life of Puyi as the “prism through which to address a national’s history.”

The various actors who portray the Emperor do a great job of conveying each stage of life.  At age 3, Puyi continually asks when he can go home.  At age 8, his wet-nurse, and only real friend, is taken from him, and Tsou Tijger portrays the broken heart the young Emperor has over this loss.  Tijger also does well with the antics of an 8-year-old child who is denied nothing.  Tao Wu does great in expressing the conflicts and awkwardness of adolescence as Puyi gets married to an old girl who is 17.  All of these actors possess both the character traits of that particular age, but also the inner turmoil that exists with feeling like a prisoner in the Forbidden City.

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John Lone continues elements of the man who was Emperor, became a commoner, but keeps the desire to be ruler again.  It’s interesting to see how blinded by power he is to assume the role of puppet leader, despite the objections from virtually everyone in his inner circle.  Lone’s portrayal of Puyi from early adulthood to his final years is also commendable.  The progression through his re-education and eventual contentment as a gardener in Peking is interesting in contrast to the bratty spoil child his character started as.

The Last Emperor was filmed entirely in the People’s Republic of China.  It was also the first film that the Chinese government gave permission to film in the Forbidden City.  Though the city is composed of over 250 acres and 9,999 rooms, there is a balance of being both grand in scale and intimate in content by focusing on the life of Puyi.

the-last-emperorotoolePeter O’Toole does a great job in this film.  His character is both personable to Puyi while also being a realist and stern with the young Emperor.  As with many of his other characters, O’Toole’s demeanor and film presence gives a sense of professionalism and proper-ness.

The Last Emperor tells China’s history through the eyes of the final Emperor, Puyi, from the early to mid 20th century.  The grand scale of the film is made personable by looking at this history through Puyi’s perspective.  Though it’s not one I’ll probably go out of the way to see again, the historical content and engaging portrayal have made it enjoyable to me, and of course I’d recommend it.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Movie #92: The English Patient (1996)

Director: Anthony Minghella

Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Kristin Scott Thomas, Naveen Andrews, Colin Firth, Julian Wadham, Jurgen Prochnow

Academy Awards (1997):

Best Picture: Saul Zaentz

Best Director: Anthony Minghella

Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Juliette Binoche

Best Art Direction-Set Direction: Stuart Craig, Stephanie McMillan

Best Cinematography: John Seale

Best Costume Design: Ann Rother

Best Film Editing: Walter Murch

Best Music, Original Dramatic Score: Gabriel Yared

Best Sound: Walter Murch, Mark Berger, David Parker, Christopher Newman

Academy Award Nominations:

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Ralph Fiennes

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Kristin Scott Thomas

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium: Anthony Minghella

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“Every night I cut out my heart. But in the morning it was full again.”

On a more personal note: this film has special significance to me.  When I first started this project, it was simply to watch all 501 movies.  I had seen between 80 and 90 previously, but The English Patient was one of the first films I watched as part of this project.  For that reason, I’ve looked forward to reviewing this one more than most of the others.

Plot Summary: “A burn victim, a nurse, a thief, and a sapper find themselves in each others company in an old Italian villa close to the end of World War II. Through flashbacks, we see the life of the burn victim, whose passionate love of a woman and choices he made for her ultimately change the lives of one other person in the villa. Not only is this film a search for the identity of the English patient, but a search for the identities of all the people in the quiet old villa.” via IMDB.com

I had originally planned on making this the final review for Valentine’s, but it just didn’t happen.  It works though since I was going to review Best Picture winners until the Oscars on March 2.

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There are a lot of levels to this movie, and though I think it could have been shortened up, it still works for me.  Moving from the current time, where Count Laszlo de Almasy (Fiennes) is severely burned and under the care of nurse Hanna (Binoche), back to Laszlo’s affair with Katharine Clifton.  Hanna has taken a romantic interest in one of the soldiers.  David Caravaggio (Dafoe), a Canadian soldier who lost his thumbs in Cairo, blames Almasy of betraying the Allies and helping the Germans by giving them maps of the region.   The first time I watched The English Patient, I was a bit confused with everything that was going on.  This time around, I’ve been able to appreciate the complexity of the story though.

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I appreciated how there was a good balance of flashback and present-day screen time.  Once Laszlo and Katharine’s (Thomas) affair started, I felt like that part of the story stagnated until the final half hour or so of the film.  The burn victim makeup on Ralph Fiennes was very well done.  There’s just enough of Laszlo in the look and mannerisms to know who he is, but at the same time being a completely different person.

Juliette Binoche is fantastic in this film.  Though we see her lose people close to her, she still conveys a strong demeanor.  She balances the passion yet reservation Hanna feels for Kip (Andrews), the strength to stand up and be taken seriously, and her devotion to taking care of Laszlo.  One of my favorite scenes was when Kip took her to see the paintings in the church was a really good way for her character to open up.

Others considered for Caravaggio: Sean Connery, Richard Dreyfuss, Bruce Willis, John Goodman and Danny DeVito

Others considered for Caravaggio: Sean Connery, Richard Dreyfuss, Bruce Willis, John Goodman and Danny DeVito.

 It goes without saying that I enjoyed Willem Dafoe’s performance here.  He exhibits just enough rage without being too over the top.  Also, he comes to realize and appreciate Laszlo’s plight and gets the facts straight on why Laszlo gave the Germans the maps.

The love story between Laszlo and Katharine was nice throughout the film, but what made it great was the final half hour or so when Geoffrey Clifton (Firth) crashes his plane and mortally wounds Katharine.  The aftermath and the great passion that both Fiennes and Thomas show when Laszlo goes to leave, Katharine writes out the final journal entry, and Laszlo carrying her out to the plane lift this love story above the rest.

The English Patient benefited from what I think was a pretty weak Academy Award field.  I don’t think it would have won as many Academy Awards in another year.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great film, I just don’t think it had much competition.

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Revisiting The English Patient has been enjoyable for me.  I don’t know if I would watch this film again, perhaps if I could watch the first 20 minutes then skip to the last hour.  The passion and love shown both in the flashback and present day scenes is touching, and Anthony Minghella created a nice gem of a romantic film.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Valentine’s 2014. Movie #91: An Affair to Remember (1957)

Director: Leo McCarey

Starring: Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Richard Denning, Neva Patterson, Cathleen Nesbitt, Robert Q. Lewis, Charles Watts, Fortunio Bonanova, and George Winslow

Academy Award Nominations (1958):

Best Cinematography: Milton R. Krasner

Best Costume Design: Charles Le Maire

Best Music, Original Song: Harry Warren (music), Harold Adamson (lyrics), Leo McCarey (lyrics) for the song ‘An Affair to Remember’

Best Music, Scoring: Hugo Friedhofer

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“If you can paint, I can walk; anything can happen, don’t you think?”

Plot Synopsis: Charming handsome Nicky Ferrante (Grant) and glamorous nightclub singer Terry McKay (Kerr) are on the same cruise from Europe to New York where they will both be meeting up with their fiances.  However, it’s love at first sight for Nicky and Terry.  They spend every wonderful moment together and, when they stop off in the south of France, Terry even visit’s Nicky’s grandmother Janou (Nesbitt) with him.  Before they reach their destination, they decide to test their love.  They will meet at the top of the Empire State Building in six months time and, if they are still in love, they will get married.  However, fate stops Terry getting there on time.

This was Leo McCarey’s second go around with this story, as he had originally made it as Love Story in 1939.  I haven’t seen that version, but from what I’ve read it’s fairly similar.  An Affair to Remember has been remade a number of times, and there are elements of the story that have been replicated in other films.  Love Affair (1994) is a retelling of the story with Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, and Kathatine Hepburn.  Mann (1999) is also a Bollywood remake.  The Muppets spoofed this film in the Muppets Take Manhattan (1984).

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What is it about this film that makes it so appealing?  Though the story itself by today’s standards is pretty typical of a romance film, An Affair to Remember is original and unique in the time it was originally released.  Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr set a golden standard for these two types of characters.  Each of their acting abilities are undeniable: Grant had that strong swagger and had complemented the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and many others throughout his career, and Kerr had already been nominated for 3 of her 6 Leading Actress Oscars by this point.  Of all the films I’ve seen Cary Grant in, I think this one is his best performance.  Though he’s certainly a great actor, most of what I’ve seen him in has been screwball comedies, which for whatever reason I just haven’t been able to get into or enjoy.

There is a good balance of story and settings in this film.  There’s just the right amount on the boat, visiting Nicky’s grandmother, and then in New York.  There is also a certain amount of realism in this film after each character parts ways with their original fiance.  Nicky wants to be a painter, and ends up having to do commercial billboard paintings to pay the bills.  Likewise, Terry returns to singing in a nightclub in Boston after breaking up with her rich fiance.  The romantic appeal of meeting at the top of the Empire State Building, and how Terry wasn’t paying attention and got into her accident, makes sense in a way.

An-Affair-to-Remember-1  Some of the most powerful parts of this film, in my opinion, took place at Nicky’s grandmother’s house.  The romantic connection, though perceived to this point, is really brought to light, and in a way I’m a bit surprised that Cathleen Nesbitt wasn’t nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.  I like the characters who act as a voice of reason and a respected outside observer adding that layer of perception and discernment.

The final scene when Nicky realizes why Terry didn’t make it to the Empire State Building, is very touching and well done.  It’s not too drawn out, and though the audience knows everything, and can probably see where the story will go, Grant and Kerr complement each other nicely.

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An Affair to Remember does a great job of making a somewhat predictable story seem interesting.  Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr complement each other well, and keep the story interesting without making it too sappy.  I’d probably watch this every once in a while, and I’d definitely recommend it.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

And just as another layer of influence this film has had, compare An Affair to Remember‘s poster with Sleepless in Seattle:

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Valentine’s 2014. Movie #90: Titanic (1997)

Director: James Cameron

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Bill Paxton, Gloria Stuart, Frances Fisher, Bernard Hill, Jonathan Hyde, David Warner, Victor Garber, and Ioan Gruffudd

Academy Awards (1998):

Best Art Director – Set Decoration: Peter Lamont (art director) Michael Ford (set director)

Best Cinematography: Russel Carpenter

Best Costume Design: Deborah Lynn Scott

Best Director: James Cameron

Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing: Tom Bellfort, Christopher Boyes

Best Effects, Visual Effects: Robert Legato, Mark A. Lasoff, Thomas L. Fisher, Michael Kanfer

Best Film Editing: Conrad Buff IV, James Cameron, Richard A. Harris

Best Music, Original Dramatic Score: James Horner

Best Music, Original Song: James Horner (music), Will Jennings (lyrics) for the song ‘My Heart Will Go On” performed by Celine Dion

Best Picture: James Cameron

Best Sound: Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson, Gary Summers, Mark Ulano

Academy Award Nomination:

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Kate Winslet

Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Gloria Stuart

Best Makeup: Tina Earnshaw, Greg Cannom, Simon Thompson

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Treasure hunter Brock Lovett (Paxton) finds a drawing of a young Rose (Winslet) while searching for ‘The Heart of the Ocean,’ a diamond that supposedly sank with the RMS Titanic on April 15th, 1912.  Rose Dawson Calvert (Stuart) is flown out to Lovett’s boat and proceeds to tell her story on the doom maiden voyage of the Titanic.

17 at the time of Titanic’s voyage, Rose DeWitt Bukater is a young socialite engaged to Cal Hockley (Zane).  Feeling trapped by a controlling mother, and seeing her life as a prisoner within, Rose considers jumping off the back of Titanic and committing suicide.  Jack Dawson (DiCaprio), a third-class passenger who won his ticket in a poker game, stops her, and the two fall in love.  Their love blossoms and is described throughout the fateful iceberg crash and sinking of the doomed ship.

titanicjackroseThe story of Titanic’s sinking is one that has been told time and time again.  What is it about this movie that launched it into the record books as the highest grossing film of all time (until Avatar of course), tying Ben Hur for the most Academy Awards with 11 wins?  Though this isn’t something I’ve lost sleep over, it’s a question I’ve asked myself a few times over the years.  I must admit that it’s been a long time since I’ve watched Titanic, possibly a decade, and I think this viewing of it helped me understand why this movie was as successful as it was.

At its core, this is a love story told through the backdrop of Titanic’s tragedy.  I don’t think I was able to appreciate that at a younger age.  The romantic elements of this film were cheesy in my opinion.  Both DiCaprio, 23, and Winslet, 22, were young when this film was released, and seeing them in more grown up roles has helped me appreciate their acting talents.

James Cameron has created a true masterpiece with Titanic.  Investing his own money and having a passion for shipwrecks, Cameron brings the audience into the state rooms, dining rooms, cabins, the engine rooms and helps create a complete picture of this boat for the audience.  And then it sinks.  The combination of build up and the following detail as the ship slowing approaching its fateful plunge to the ocean floor.

Telling a story like this, and adding the love story between Jack and Rose, requires acting leads that work well together and come off as believable, albeit unlikely lovers.  DiCaprio and Winslet pull this off flawlessly.  Though I used to see this part of the film as cheesy, their quick progression as lovers with deep passion for life and adventure is both believable and endearing.  The only problem with doing a film like Titanic is that you get the sense that these two could never work together again.  I watched Revolutionary Road a few years ago, and it just felt like Jack and Rose Married with Children rather than its own movie apart from Titanic.

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Though DiCaprio and Winslet carry this film, there’s a lot to be said about the supporting cast.  Kathy Bates has always been hit or miss for me.  She nailed Molly Brown in this film.  Her quick wit and strong will make her memorable and enjoyable.  Billy Zane portrays the jealous and overly confident Cal to perfection.

A number of the crew members do great, but two stick out in my mind.  Bernard Hill’s portrayal of Captain Edward James Smith is one of tragedy as this competent capable leader tries his best to maintain order as the ship sinks.  Though it was a small role, I enjoyed Ioan Gruffudd’s portrayal of Fifth Officer Harold Lowe.  It’s not that Gruffudd was far superior to the other crew members, it’s more that I didn’t realize he was in this until my most recent viewing.  It also helps that he was the only one who went back to try to save the passengers in the water.

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As I said before, Titanic is at its core, a love story set in the tragedy of Titanic’s maiden voyage.  James Cameron’s attention to detail in bringing the audience into the ship and bringing out the emotional connection as the ship sinks make this film great.  Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet’s chemistry create that emotional romantic connection that can appeal to a wide audience.  Titanic is a film that I could watch every once in a while, possibly another decade like it’s been before this viewing.  I think it’s once that anyone who hasn’t seen it should at least see it once.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Here’s a funny video that sums up this movie in 5 seconds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuSdU8tbcHY

Valentine’s 2014. Movie #89: Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

Director: Blake Edwards

Starring: Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen, Martin Balsam, Jose Luis de Villalonga, John McGiver, Alan Reed, and Mickey Rooney

Academy Awards (1962):

Best Music, Original Song: Henry Mancini (music), Johnny Mercer (lyrics) for the song ‘Moon River’

Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture: Henry Mancini

Academy Award Nominations:

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Audrey Hepburn

Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Colour: Hal Pereira, Roland Anderson, Sam Comer, Ray Moyer

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium: George Axelrod

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“I’ll tell you one thing, Fred, darling… I’d marry you for your money in a minute. Would you marry me for my money?”

“In a minute.”

“I guess it’s pretty lucky neither of us is rich, huh?”

Holly Golightly (Hepburn) is a young woman from Texas living a lifestyle in New York City in large part from the generosity of men.  When Paul Varjak (Peppard) moves into her apartment building, the two fall in love, though Holly wouldn’t admit it, preferring to get involved with men for their money.  Paul, a struggling writer, is also supported by another person, Emily Eustace Failenson or 2E (Neal).

Audrey Hepburn, in probably her most famous and influential acting role, almost didn’t get the part of Holly Golightly.  Truman Capote, author of the book Breakfast at Tiffany’s, prefered Marilyn Monroe for the part.  Luckily for Hepburn, Monroe was in the process of changing her image, and her playing the role of a call girl wasn’t in the cards.

The opening scene in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, where Holly stands in front of Tiffany’s eating a pastry and drinking her coffee, was a brilliant scene.  The simplicity and calmness in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the United States, balanced with the instrumental track for “Moon River,” I think, is one of the best scenes in the film.  I would imagine, though, that it was a pain to shoot given the fact that it’s a busy part of a very busy town.

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There is a good balance of acting in this film.  Paul’s down-to-earth approach is a good balance for Holly’s more free-spirited ways.  In a bit of gender role reversal, he provides more emotion while she’s more pragmatic and suppresses her emotions.  While Holly asserts that she doesn’t get too close to anyone, she definitely seems torn when Doc Golightly (Ebsen) leaves to go back to Texas without her.

Though a small role, Buddy Ebsen makes great use of his screen time and does a lot to humanize Holly.

Though a small role, Buddy Ebsen makes great use of his screen time and does a lot to humanize Holly.

The set pieces throughout the film were very well done in my opinion.  There’s a good cross-section of the world Holly and Paul lived it, and it just seems like classic New York City.  The scene where the two are in Tiffany’s getting Paul’s Cracker Jack prize ring was entertaining to say the least.  I liked how the clerk stayed classy and professional despite the clearly limited budget of his clients.  I also liked the integration of ‘Moon River’ throughout the film.  It’s sprinkled, either an instrumental track or with singing, throughout the film at just the right times.

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I don’t know what to think of Mickey Rooney’s portrayal of Mr. Yunioshi.  I know it was probably in large part a comic relief role, but to a certain degree it seems unnecessary.  His scenes are funny to a degree and over-the-top, and Blake Edwards directed a lot of comedy films.  Still, the argument that this character was a bit offensive has some validity if you ask me.  Plus, if you’re going to have an Asian character, it’d be smart to have an Asian actor, but that may just be me.

As I watched this film, I went back and forth with whether this role was right for Hepburn.  As an introvert, playing an extreme extrovert like Holly Golightly must have been a major challenge for Hepburn.  As with many of the other films I’ve seen of hers, she seems more in her element in dignified and classy roles.  The fashion elements of Holly’s character seemed more suited to Hepburn, but I just don’t know about Holly Golightly the person matched up with Hepburn’s acting talents.  On the other hand, I can’t think of anyone who probably could have done the part better, perhaps Monroe.

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s has some of Audrey Hepburn’s most iconic images.  Could you imagine anyone else wearing the Givenchy dress with pearls and huge sunglasses, complemented by the oversized cigarette holder?  Of course not.  Though the love story in this seems a bit predictable, it was still engaging enough for me to enjoy.  Breakfast at Tiffany’s is entertaining, and I could probably watch it now and again, but it’s probably not one that I’d go out of my way to see.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Valentine’s 2014. Movie #88: Ghost (1990)

Director: Jerry Zucker

Starring: Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg, and Tony Goldwyn

Academy Awards (1991):

Best Actress in the Supporting Role: Whoopi Goldberg

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen: Bruce Joel Rubin

Academy Award Nominations:

Best Film Editing: Walter Murch

Best Music, Original Score: Maurice Jarre

Best Picture: Lisa Weinstein

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Sam (Swayze) and Molly (Moore) are very much in love.  Sam is shot and killed by a mugger, however, his ghost is still around because he has unfinished business to take care of.  He later learns that his murder was a set up by his friend Carl (Goldwyn) because Sam was about to uncover Carl’s criminal activities.  Molly is in danger, and Sam finds help in Ola Mae (Goldberg), a pseudo-physic who he can talk to and through which he can save Molly.

Though this movie is by far more fantasy than realistic, it works.  I found the story enjoyable, though slow at times.  I suppose with as much to cover and as much story to unfold, that can be expected.  Special effects-wise, the film was a good reflections of where special effects (primarily the ghosts) were at the time.  When Carl and Willie Lopez are killed, the ghosts who come up from hell, I don’t know, it just seemed a little cheesy, but I’m not sure how they could have improved it.

Moore and Swayze have great on-screen chemistry.  Ghost is probably one of the biggest films each of them did, and it came at the strongest points of each of their careers.  Both the physical and emotional chemistry come through.  Demi does a good job of remaining both the budding skeptic and grieving girlfriend.

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And of course, the clay pot scene is iconic in its own right.  Here are a couple of my favorite parodies of the scene as well:

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ghostwhoopiWhoopi Goldberg is both annoying and brilliant and Old Mae.  She always seems like a toss-up for me as an actress, perhaps it’s because she’s more of an over-the-top type of actress that can be very off-putting, but here that type of character works,  She deserved the Academy Award for her performance.  This is a film where she can play to her strengths as an actress.  She does a nice job of going from the reluctant and annoyed helper to someone fully invested in helping Sam and Molly.

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Ghost is a tender, loving, somewhat out there type of film.  I wasn’t entirely sure if I’d like it or not.  Though I felt at times that it could have moved faster, the acting chemistry, strong lead and supporting performances, and loving romantic finish were all reasons why I enjoyed this film.  I may or may not watch this one again, though I would recommend watching at least once.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.