Home alone for the night, I took the opportunity to watch a few movies. The first was Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which made for good background while I ate and looked at baseball scores. I remembered not thinking it was so great when I first saw it and its weaknesses were even more apparent on second viewing. It's okay, just very uneven and not all that funny. Of the Freaks and Geeks crew, it's amusing that Seth Rogen would be the no-doubt leading man at this point, with James Franco and Jason Segel better as supporting actors (yes, Franco is a better actor, but he's really great in ensemble or supporting roles like in Pineapple Express or Milk).
Second was the film Girlfight, which won the Grand Jury prize at the 2000 Sundance Festival. It's about a troubled high school girl who finds solace in the world of amateur boxing. It has everything that's good about indie films and is paced by a powerful performance from Michelle Rodriguez. Very good movie, particularly of note are the opening and closing shots -- it opens on Rodriguez with a menacing look in her eyes and closes on her eyes again, but this time as they are filled with emotion. Good acting job.
Finally, I am ashamed to admit it, but I had never watched Casablanca all the way through. Yes, that destroys what little credibility I may have as a self-appointed movie buff. That was remedied tonight, as I caught it on Netflix's Watch Instantly. What is there to say? I'm an idiot for never having the patience to stick with it before and it is... iconic. You know a movie had an impact on culture when you've never seen it yet you can basically recite all of the lines anyway. I don't think it has the best quote of all time -- AFI had "Here's looking at you, kid" as the #5 with #1 (with which I agree, given the context and delivery) being "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." It doesn't have the greatest last line of any movie -- "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship" -- because, I think, the line isn't as powerful as "We'll always have Paris," and I prefer a number of others including, ironically (considering where the movie's title came from), The Usual Suspects' "And, like that, he was gone." It probably does have more great quotes than any other movie, befitting of its iconic status. It's hard to fit this movie into any category -- I think I would still consider An Affair to Remember the foremost romance film because it is just that and nothing else -- but it certainly belongs near the top of any movie list.
I'm a fan of scenes, the sort of scenes that stick with you for a long time as tiny pieces of a film and help you remember a movie. It's Bogart's monologue at the end of The Maltese Falcon; Crowe's revelation of who he is in Gladiator; Bardem stalking Brolin in the hotel in No Country For Old Men; Shaw, Dreyfuss, and Scheider drinking and singing in Jaws. I think this might deserve its own post. Anyways, you want a great scene and great acting? This is it, right here. Bergman delivers the line and then that wistful look in her eyes, leading up to Bogart storming in and then seeing her. It freaking melts me. I'm ashamed I had never seen this.