Tuesday, April 29, 2008

film noir aka ladies who screw men over

Chinatown is easily one of the greatest movies I've ever seen. It has well developed characters as well as plot. The word to describe it is crazy. Even when things get too crazy to believe the viewer is still transfixed. It's not stupid crazy like in Out of the Past. A daughter made by a father and daughter is crazy believable, unlike a box that blows up the world. I bet I can come up with at least ten reasons why Chinatown is so ballin in less than a minute.

1. Gittes slaps around the femme fatale
2. Gittes doesn't get screwed (figuratively) by the femme fatale
3. It shows the corruption in government
4. A nose gets cut
5. An eye gets shot out
6. Jack Nicholson almost is attractive
7. The color film doesn't detract from the movie
8. There are some sweet-ass car chases
9. The whole smashing out a tail light and following
10. "Forget about it Jake, its Chinatown"

God damn the movie is fantastic. Up until the last twenty minutes you think its following the classic film noir path until the femme fatale gets shot and Gittes gets to simply walk away. The only thing that really sucked about the movie was the fact that the rapist corrupted murduring SOB father got off scratch free, but that's life. Dickheads with money run the government. Gittes is a clever guy and I wish I was as cool as him. He is always on his toes and knows exactally which cards to play when, even when it appears all is lost he manages to fool everyone once more and turn the table. The last scene was the absolute greatest when the last shot is fired and the car stops with the horn blaring. In that instant the audience immidately knows she was killed and its a great way of inferencing to what happened rather then showing a close up of the blood and nastyness right away.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

romantic comedies vs. screwball

Telling the difference from romantic and screwball comedies isn´t all that challenging. In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind we saw ¨relations¨ that would have never occured in a screwball. The quick witted responses in His Girl Friday were in place of ¨relations¨ that couldn´t be shown on screen (or anywhere for that matter) durrin the time period. Screwball comedies are all about leading you on to believe rather than assuring the facts visually as in a romantic comedy. As for the debate over if screwballs were a genre only existant durring the time period of the 40s and early 50s I´m really not all that sure, and honestly don´t care. The classification of a movie doesn´t determine its greatness. When it comes down to which I prefer its screwball hands down. With romantic comedies they´re either totally predictable or when they throw you for a loop and don´t have everything be happily ever after you´re left disappointed. Screwball comedies on the other hand are less predictable and no matter what happens whether you´re left disappointed or not it at least gave you the chance to think. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was really great in an odd way but I wouldn´t classify it as romantic comedy because it was far to dark and complex. Romantic comedies are all about knowing the ending from the very begining, which didn´t happen. Only a dickheaded concided genius like Stephen Hawkins could claim to know what was going on, but nobody cares about him because hes a total dickhead.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

the western

Stagecoach (directed by John Ford) is considered to be the classic western that brought back popularity to the genre. Most westerns made during that time period were low budget films made in a few days and were meant to be an opener in double features. It had everything one would think about a western. There was a southern bell, a comedic drunk, some Indian chases, love, and a big hero cow boy. Without Stagecoach westerns very well could have essentially disappeared off the scene and revisionist along with modernist and parody westerns may have not occurred in such mass. A good example of a revisionist western is Unforgiven (directed by Clint Eastwood) it too had much of what comes to mind with a cliché western but was much darker and cold. It also had a song that played sporadically through the film when the farm of William Munny (Eastwood) was shown at sunset. Unforgiven shows the not so glorious side of rebel coy boys and refrains from giving the audience a perfect ending with a love story and everything working out. John Wayne and Clint Eastwood both played the rebel cowboy in very different ways. The Ringo Kid (Wayne) was a good boy who wanted to bring the justice that the law couldn't give. William Munny on the other hand was said to be a drunk killer who'd had his ways changed by his wife. Munny also had twenty years on Ringo. He was a retired drunk killer who decided to go out on one last killing to be able to provide for his two motherless children.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

film review #3

Some Like It Hot directed by Billy Wilder is renowned not only for its obscure and hilarious nature, but its picture perfect acting. The film focuses on three main characters. Joe and Jerry played by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon are two musicians from Chicago who after finding themselves witness to murder by the mob book it out of town to find a new band. Problem is, the only band looking for a tenor saxophone and bass is an all girls band heading for Florida. So as not to become the next headline reading ‘Mob kills two witnesses’ the boys shave their legs, throw on a couple dresses and head on their way to Florida as Josephine and Daphne. Sugar Kane (played by Marilyn Monroe) who is in fact not a man in drag sings and plays the occasional ukulele for the band. When Joe (in drag) as Josephine falls for her, and a billionaire falls for Daphne (Jerry/Tony Curtis) it creates quite the ordeal. Add to that the fact that the mob is still looking for the two men and you’ve got yourselves the perfect screwball comedy.

It’s hard to imagine with a cast of Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon that they weren’t director Billy Wilder’s first choice of who should portray Joe, Jerry, and Sugar. Wilder first wanted Mitzi Gaynor for the role of Sugar Kane. After working with Monroe on The Seven Year Itch when the idea of placing her as Sugar, Wilder reportedly said, "I'll never work with Monroe again". He talks more about it in an October 1999 issue of Vanity Faire, focusing much attention on how difficult it was to work with her. “When I heard that she had read the script and she would like to do Some Like It Hot. I wanted to have Mitzi Gaynor or somebody like this. It's wonderful that Monroe wanted to do the part". As he had expected Monroe was a pain on the set, most days not showing up before noon. At the time of filming she was in a disappointing marriage to Arthur Miller, in the midst of an ongoing battle of addiction, and pregnant; making life for all else involved with the film that much more difficult. Aside from her princess status and attitude on set Monroe was known for her diverse acting skills. She could play daring vixen as well as naive not very bright showgirl, the one constant that remained the same was her voice and beauty which was played up to her advantage in every film she made. Some Like It Hot was among one of the last films Monroe completed before her death of a drug overdose in august of 1962. Her fame began as a child and continued on in countless films including The Seven Year Itch, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, There's No Business Like Show Business, and Don't Bother to Knock.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

film review

The Film is Harold and Maude and everything about it is wonderful. Despite the fact that upon release in 1971 it bombed at the box office, it is now regarded to as a coveted cult classic. With Ruth Gordon and Bud Court as the leads, and a fitting musical score supplied by the one and only Cat Stevens the movie was destined for greatness.

Harold is a young man (boy really) who has an infatuation with death. Maude is an old woman with a young soul and true zeal for life. The seemingly opposite characters meet at a funeral and soon become each others counterparts. Taking place all around San Francisco with Maude pulling such stunts as stealing cars, posing for a nude sculpture, and smoking from a hookah; the film is far from realistic, but that’s not what it’s all about. It is often forgotten that film is an art form and art is what it is. Harold and Maude doesn’t follow your typical dark romantic comedy route or even drama, it is in a league of all its own. It’s about love, life, and how amazing the relation between two people can be.

When we first meet Harold he in a large room ornately decorated with classical era tapestries and furniture. As “Don’t be Shy” by Cat Stevens plays the viewer is caught off guard when Harold proceeds to hang himself. Contrary to common thought he is not dead, and the opening scene is the introduction to Harold’s pseudo-immolate behavior.

Harold and Maude is tricky because it’s more of a “read between the lines” type of film and can be interpreted in infinite ways fitted to each individual viewer. To the indifferent somewhat callous viewer Harold and Maude is nothing more than a disturbing love story between a seventy-nine year old woman and nineteen year old boy. Others may disagree and believe it is about finding love in life regardless of the trivial details of age, society, and time.

The photography (directed by John Alonzo) is a perfect fit to the quirky characters. Most shots were long and used a lot of panning to follow the characters and show the detail of what was going on. Sound too (directed by William Randall) was key to the poetic beauty of Harold and Maude. Cat Stevens music played nondigetically throughout the majority of the film until the final scene where Randall showed his true genius and mixed up the digetic and nondigetic sound. The sound drove home what was appearing on the screen in such a way that brilliance doesn't even begin to describe.

Hal Ashby's direction of Colin Higgins work was spottless. The roles of Harold and Maude fit Court and Gordon like a glove and the unexpected chemistry between the two was undeniable. A film whose profits were dismal at the box office and yet lasted thirty something years without loosing it's poetic beauty has got to be a film worth seeing at least once wouldn't you think?

Monday, February 11, 2008

critique the critic

It seems everyone except for me has seen "Juno", and raved about it. After checking out a review by Ty Burr I want to see the movie even more so than before but also feel like I’ve already seen it.

Burr credits the actors for putting on a spotless performance and director Jason Reitman for excellent screenplay. He is a big fan of Ellen Page's attitude and amazing character portrayal as Juno. He even went as far as saying,

"Page lets the character keep tripping until she has to look down; in a way it's as insightful a portrait of a kid stumbling toward adulthood as Dustin Hoffman's in "The Graduate"

With words like that this movie is either fantastic, or this reviewer doesn’t know his left from his right (I’m betting on the first one). The man's details are endless. He goes on and on about all the little details in the film and how each and every part pulls itself together to create this seemingly perfect dry comedy.

I think Ty Burr did a good job in describing the film in an exciting way to make one want to go see it, but in the process he gave away too much about the characters through over description of their attitudes. In a single paragraph the man tells you all about the would-be adopting family and it’s too much.

“Juno decides to have the baby and give it to the nice childless couple whose advertisement she finds in the Pennysaver, next to the exotic bird ads. They are Mark and Vanessa Loring (Bateman and Garner), living in yuppie splendor in a nearby McMansion sub-development, and just when both the girl and we have pegged the wife as an overwound power-tripper and the husband as a totally cool dude, the ground shifts.”

The point of going to a movie is to review it for yourself with fresh eyes and ears. I wouldn’t pay eight dollars to see a movie when it seems I’ve already read the script. Big pockets of information regarding the plot were given away too easily and now when I finally get around to seeing "Juno" I'll be waiting for these certain events to occur rather than enjoy the film.

After reading this review I have more of a desire to see the film but feel there will be less shock value. I still am going to go see it, but it kind of sucks that a reviewer would give away too much information. All in all I found this review enriched with unnecessary big eloquent descriptive words that basically gave away the entire plot. Ty Burr should probably stick to reviewing crappy films because it’s not like anyone would be willing to pay eight dollars to go see “Good Luck Chuck” after getting the low-down from one of his reviews.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

film blog deal

Movies are good like many other things in this world. Trees are probably better but this isn't Art of Tree. Harold and Maude is a pretty bomb ass movie, so is Alice's Restaurant. But that's mainly because I'm partial to the likes of Arlo Guthrie and Cat Stevens. There are a shitton of factors that make a movie 'good'. Not only do the screenplay and actors have to be good but so does the crowd you're viewing the film with. Take Mr. and Mrs. Smith; the first time I saw it was on a laptop with my moms friends kid of whom I'm not too fond of and I remember the movie sucking, but the second time I saw it was with a bunch of bomb-ass kids up at Menogyn on a projector sprawled across the floor and the movie was ten times better. Everybody is entitled to their own ideas on what makes a movie good and that's just fine by me. Being out in the wilderness is still better though. ten fold. absolutely no comparison.