Battleship Potemkin

Battleship Potemkin. Mosfilm 1925.

Before watching the movie:

While this is Soviet propaganda, it’s also considered a highly influential piece of cinematography. It got mentioned in my film studies class and we saw a clip of some metaphor-driven editing, but the main thing I remember is that it was briefly mentioned that this movie doesn’t have a traditional protagonist, but is focused on the collective actions of the crew, and because of how steeped I am in individualist Western hero narratives, and especially American big damn hero narratives, I have a hard time imagining how such storytelling can work. But after a lot of “one man in the wrong place at the right time” action movies lately, I’ve developed an interest in seeing what a movie that refuses to put any one person in the spotlight looks like.

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Congo

Congo. Paramount Pictures 1995.

Before watching the movie:

So much as I thought I knew what this was about, it seems I completely misunderstood this movie. I had the idea this was some kind of action drama about conservation, like fighting poachers or something. Maybe a military operation in the jungle.

What this actually seems to have something to do with is a new species of killer gorilla and also a signing gorilla, and the preview I saw looked a lot funnier than I expected. So I’m completely at a loss for what to expect now, besides Tim Curry and Ernie Hudson being in it.

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The Toy

The Toy. Rastar 1982.

Before watching the movie:

I’ve seen many stories about an obscenely rich person obtaining living characters as a personal plaything for themselves or their children, but I doubt any of them were direct references to this story so much as just yet another commentary on how rich people live in a completely different world.

I think Jackie Gleason is primarily known for playing a decidedly blue collar guy, so it seems like an unusual choice to cast him as the eccentric millionaire. However it seems like most of Richard Pryor‘s movies in the 80s were about him reacting to finding himself in impossible situations, so the dissonance of agreeing to something bizarre he doesn’t believe in because he needs the money fits that pattern.

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Under the Same Moon

Under the Same Moon (la Misma Luna). Creando Films 2007.

Before watching the movie:

I didn’t know this movie existed before I watched it, so all I had to go on was that a lot of it is in Spanish, it’s about border crossing for family and Eugenio Derbez is in it. And I seriously can’t come up with more to say about it.

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War of the Satellites

War of the Satellites. Santa Cruz Productions 1958.

Before watching the movie:

I probably know about as much about this movie as Roger Corman did when he decided to make it. Earth is about to start launching satellites and aliens disapprove, and it’s all very “hey, remember Sputnik?”

It sounds more interesting to watch than to write. The effects and action sequences will probably be hilarious but also the best part. It looks like even though the United Nations is standing in for the United States, they still manage to let the United States be the most American part of the Earth.

I like going into movies completely blank on them until I have to write about my nonexistent preconceptions.

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Fools Rush In

Fools Rush In. Columbia Pictures 1997.

Before watching the movie:

I very vaguely recall a movie with this title being around back then, but I don’t remember anything about it. I didn’t even remember it was one of the movies they tried putting Matthew Perry in.

I see it’s another movie titled after a song they can easily license. It could be a direct reference to the proverb, but as it’s a love story, it’s going to be a reference to the love song.

I definitely did not know this is about a rushed relationship between an American guy and a Mexican woman and the problems created when their lives and families catch up with their choices until now.

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Enter the Dragon

Enter the Dragon. Concord Production 1973.

Before watching the movie:

This is lauded as possibly the best martial arts movie of all time, but I’m looking for something about the story to interest me and it seems like the barest excuse plot. British Intelligence goes to a martial arts instructor and points him at a crime lord. Oh, I guess there’s a tournament he’s going undercover in to get close to the bad guy. That’s a bit better than them just saying “go fetch”, but it’s still a pretty thin plot.

I would say the fights need to be exceptionally good to make up for the sketchy plot, but of course they are. That’s what everyone already cared about with this movie. I feel like I’m being weird for asking it to also have a story.

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Under Siege

Under Siege. Alcor Films 1992

Before watching the movie:

Though the log line is essentially “Die Hard on a battleship”, the Navy setting somehow gets me thinking more of Jack Ryan. Thanks to the movies, I think of Jack Ryan as a civilian CIA bureaucrat, but a moment’s research turned up that he’s ex-Marine. So maybe Seagal’s character here is closer to Jack Ryan than I thought, but I was more interested on my initial discovery that Seagal is serving as a cook than when I found out he’s an ex-SEAL. It takes away from the appeal of an underdog for me the more prepared that underdog is for the challenge they face in the movie.

The fact that the terrorists are led by a disgruntled CIA operative intrigues me. Most 90s bad guys are generic terrorists, but they’re usually Eastern European, maybe with a specific ex-Soviet flavor. The head terrorist being rogue CIA opens up a possibility of critiquing American policies rather than just wrapping the good guys in the Stars and Stripes and painting the bad guys as whatever the top enemy of the US government is at the time. Though since this probably required extensive cooperation with the US Department of Defense in order to be able to use the battleship setting, I doubt it would be all that forward thinking.

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The Devil Wears Prada

The Devil Wears Prada. Dune Entertainment 2006.

Before watching the movie:

I think the main reason I was never especially drawn to this movie was because I’m not that into fashion, but then movies can be themed around anything without requiring intimate knowledge of them. And maybe it was also something that didn’t appeal to me because it’s a women-oriented movie and I wasn’t as interested in those in 2006.

I do vaguely recall it being among the movies that I first got a real glimpse of what’s interesting about it at the Academy Awards that year, but like most other movies that I never really considered until the Oscars showed me more than any trailer did, I never really followed up.

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My Best Friend’s Wedding

My best Friend’s Wedding.
Predawn Productions 1997.

Before watching the movie:

I’ve been dimly aware of this as a relatively standout romantic comedy for a while, but I never really looked into it much. The idea of having to watch an old flame get married and how one copes with that is interesting, but as a romcom I don’t know if it’s going to have the kind of message I think would be more appropriate or if the old flame is going to leave the bride because true love.

Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz are like two different generations of romcom royalty and it’s a little odd they’re cast opposite each other. Dermot Mulroney is a name I’ve seen around from time to time but even looking over his filmography I cannot remember seeing him in anything, and he looks like a stand-in for whatever more recognizable actor they actually wanted. I guess I’ve seen Rupert Everett in things other than Inspector Gadget, but that’s the only thing I ever think of for him.

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