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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Playing Catch Up!

Wow, it has been a long week, and now I’m totally behind in my movies.  OK, so in order to be able to keep up, I will forgo my previously chosen movies, and give you the “short, short” version of a handful of flicks I have seen before.  Tomorrow, I should be able to give you a legit post…

I count The Fighting Sullivans as a movie, since I recommended it and all on Sunday.  So, that was #357.  Up next…

#356: Summer Magic (1963).  This was a Disney Haley Mills vehicle, and boy is it fun!  It’s about a family, the Carey’s, who lost their patriarch and are forced to move to a tiny little apartment across town (Boston), but little schemer Nancy has already written to the Postmaster of idyllic Beulah, Maine, about a house they once saw while on vacation, affectionately known as “The Yellow House”.  The Postmaster (played brilliantly by Burl Ives) tells a little lie (as does Nancy – actually a TON of little lies to get the house) and lets them live there.  There’s city slicker-turned-country mouse hilarity, as well as genuine heart and, yes, schmaltz.  The songs are from the Sherman Brothers, so you know they’re awesome.  Check it out - it’s a harmless little piece of fluff.  This is my favourite song from the movie: (couldn't find a clip of the actual scene, but the song is a gem, and I want it played at my future wedding!)

#355: Truman (1995).  This made for HBO Biopic about US President Harry S. Truman (played by the always brilliant Gary Sinise) probably could have been a theatrical film.  Then again, HBO is known for its excellence in movies.  It’s a pretty straight-forward biopic, and does show Truman in a fairly favourable light, but then again, he was a pretty decent guy to begin with.  There’s not much on his life as a youngster, but then we would have had a John Adams length series, and this was before Tom Hanks teamed up with HBO.  The only weak link casting-wise I can think of is Amelia Campbell, who plays Truman’s daughter Margaret.  But her role isn’t really that big, so it doesn’t really take away from the rest of the movie.  It should be noted that this biopic is based off of David McCullough’s book Truman, which is why it’s so damn good.  Check it out, even if only for the greatness that is Gary Sinise.


#354: Isn’t She Great? (2000).  No, she really isn’t… This is another biopic about the late, great author Jacqueline Susann.  Susann is most well-known for Valley of the Dolls, also my favourite book.  Don’t judge.  It’s awesome.  Anyway, the biggest problem here is that Susann actually led a crazy interesting life, most of which is glossed over.  The movie is cartoonish at the beginning, but calms down a little as the film progresses.  Even Susann’s breast cancer is handled with a seemingly light touch.  The thing that kills me is that Susann is played by Bette Midler, who I know is a terrific actress, but the overall tone of the film just doesn’t work.  She over does it in almost every scene.  Yes, Susann was a character, but she wasn’t the cartoon character created here.  It doesn’t help that Nathan Lane plays her manager/husband, Irving Mansfield.  Susann deserves better, so I say hold off until they make a more fitting film about her.


#353: The Love Letter (1998).  OK, just to clear this up: there was an utterly charming movie called The Love Letter that came out in 1999 starring Kate Capshaw and Tom Selleck.  This is not that movie.  I am saving that movie for a full-on post, because it is just that awesome.  No, this version is a made for TV Hallmark movie.  It’s about a guy named Scott who buys a Civil War-era writing desk, and discovers a secret compartment with an old love letter written by the desks previous owner, Elizabeth.  Elizabeth lived during the Civil War.  On a whim, he writes her back using vintage paper, ink, and even a Civil War-era stamp.  He even mails the letter from a post office that was in existence back then.  His letter time travels to Elizabeth, and they begin writing.  Oh, and Scott’s totally engaged to a very nice, but obviously not meant for him, woman.  So, yeah, he’s carrying on an affair with a woman who’s been dead for about a hundred years.  Scott works in publishing, and Elizabeth is a writer, so he finds and publishes her poems and stories, thus able to make her dream of being a published writer come true.  There is a happy ending, but I don’t want to spoil it for you.  This really is a charming movie, I say check it out.

Tomorrow: a real post!  WHEEEE!  That’s a wrap, folks!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day Memorium

I missed yesterday due to the fact that I was exhausted when I got back from work on Friday night, and didn't watch the movie ahead of time, and worked about 11 hours yesterday.  Hopefully, I will be back to normal blogging at some point today or tomorrow.  In the meantime, Happy Memorial Day, and thanks to all who served and have given their lives...

For those of you who are not history geeks like me, these 5 guys are the Sullivan Brothers.  They were all on the USS Juneau, which was attacked November of 1943.  Only 10 out of over 800 servicemen survived.  None of them were from the Sullivan family.  This is the reason why the military is hesitant to station siblings together.  There was a movie made in 1945 called The Fighting Sullivans.  I highly recommend you check it out.  I only saw it once when I was, like, 10, but the story still sticks with me. (Guess this counts as an entry since I recommended a movie to y'all...)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pretty Persuasion

Welcome, film lovers!  I have started an insane project!  It’s called 365 – I will watch a movie a day for a year and write about them.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?  So, sit back, relax, and place your bets on how fast I give up on this thing…

358: Pretty Persuasion (2005)


The Players:

Kimberly Joyce: Played by Evan Rachel Wood.  Our main precocious teen.  She wants to be an actress, and talks like screenwriters think intelligent teenagers talk.

Randa: Played by Adi Schnall.  Randa is new to the private school our precocious teens attend.  She is Muslim, and quiet.

Brittany: Played by Elisabeth Harnois.  Kimberly’s best friend. 

Percy Anderson: Played by Ron Livingston.  English/Drama teacher at the school the precocious teens attend.  He is all kinds of gross.

Grace Anderson: Played by Selma Blair.  Poor thing is married to the gross teacher who is accused of being inappropriate with his students.  In Selma Blair fashion, she is cluless and kind of clunky.

Emily Klein: Played by Jane Krakowski.  The news reporter who desperately wants to get out of doing fluff pieces and is covering the story.

Other people of note: James Woods is the asshole, racist father of Kimberly; Jaime King is his poor wife who puts up with way more than I ever would.

The Rundown:

We begin at an audition in which fifteen year old Kimberly has to do a sexy dance in stripper shoes, pretend to be a French exchange student who drops a baguette and has to bend over.  Subtle. 

Kimberly attends Roxbury Academy, where she meets new girl Randa, who is Muslim.  She takes Randa under her wing, and while she is explaining the way of the world to her in English class, their teacher (Percy Anderson) gives them detention.

Kimberly introduces Randa to her BFF Brittany, and they go check out the cast list for the school production of The Diary of Anne Frank.  They both want the lead, but Kimberly lands it over Brittany.

Detention: Mr. Anderson appears to be making inappropriate advances on Randa.  Kimberly observes this.

Dinner at the Joyce household: Precocious sexual remarks, anti-Semitic rantings,  brief phone call with distant mom. 

Dinner at the Anderson household: Gross man buys poor wife gray skirt, like the ones the girls at the school wear.  Ew.

We discover that Brittany has also had some inappropriate dealings with Mr. Anderson, and the girls decide to have a little get –together, during which they… smoke cigars, eat Twinkies, and watch porn?  Yeah, cause that’s what I did when I was fifteen…

Abruptly, Kimberly decides that they need to get back at Mr. Anderson for all of the bad things he supposedly did.  They come forward, and the trial is on!  During the trial, we discover that some of what we’ve seen is not so accurate, and some is worse.

In a flashback, we see that Kimberly didn’t really care about justice.  She cares about her future acting career.  *eyeroll* Well, color me shocked!  Brittany caves, and spills the beans on the stand that this was all made up.

Kimberly is pretty much the devil, as we quickly discover through her brief relationship with the reporter covering the events. 

So, the girls are kicked out of school, Randa’s parents are beyond displeased with her, Brittany’s boyfriend dumps her.  Randa comes to school to get her things, and just when you think she’s going to play to stereotype and bomb the place, she kills herself, after writing “We are all sinners” in Arabic on the blackboard of the room in which Mr. Anderson humiliated her.

Kimberly is sad at home.  Her dad pretty much hates her, and who can blame him?

But, wait!  The assholes at the audition at the beginning of the film decide to cast her in the French whore role.  And… Mrs. Anderson leaves Mr. Anderson.  Why?  The girls admitted they were lying…

Brittany pays Kimberly a little visit and finds out that Kimberly fixed the trial so that Brittany would crack.  Why?  Why did she do all of this?  Because once upon a time she was dumped by Brittany’s boyfriend.  SERIOUSLY?!  OH.MY.GOD.

Brittany calls her a psycho a couple of times, and thanks, sweetie, we figured that out ourselves. 

We end with Kimberly clicking through channels, tears streaming down her face once she realized what she really has done.  But it’s too late for sympathy, honey.  You are a sociopath.

            This movie takes itself way too seriously.  It feels like it is supposed to be a black comedy of sorts, but it tries too hard.  There are better movies out there about precocious teens who do horrible things to get ahead (Election comes to mind), but this was a bit much.  There was no message, either.  It’s like the film is just… there. 
            Evan Rachel Wood did a good job of keeping me guessing, though.  I had a feeling towards the end that this was all about a stupid boy, but was hoping she would prove me wrong.  Up until then, though, I was wondering “Why the Hell did she do this?”  The teacher was disgusting, but it is still up in the air as to whether he did anything beyond having perverted fantasies about the girls (aside from making Brittany simulate masturbation in front of the Anne Frank cast after she took over the role from Kimberly).  So, there were slight twists and turns, but not enough for it to pay off in the end.  Eh, take this flick or leave it.

And that’s a wrap!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Lonely Guy

Welcome, film lovers!  I have started an insane project!  It’s called 365 – I will watch a movie a day for a year and write about them.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?  So, sit back, relax, and place your bets on how fast I give up on this thing…

359: The Lonely Guy (1984)

            In honor of the fact that Steve Martin was recently in my neck of the woods with his bluegrass band (sadly, I did not get to go!), I give you one of his lesser-known comedies: The Lonely Guy. 

The Players:

Larry Hubbard: Played by Steve Martin.  Larry is a writer who works for a greeting card company in New York City.  He gets dumped, and becomes a “Lonely Guy”.

Warren Evans: Played by Charles Grodin.  Warren is also a lonely guy, and takes Larry under his wing.  He is the ultimate “Lonely Guy”.

Iris: Played by Judith Ivey.  Iris is sort of a “Lonely Guy” groupie who meets Larry, and gives him her number each time they run into each other (he keeps losing it).

Danielle: Played by Robyn Douglass.  Danielle is the woman responsible for Larry’s “Lonely Guy” status.  She’s kind of a whore.

The Rundown:

Larry thinks he’s on top of the world, gets dumped, and poof: he’s a “Lonely Guy”.  While contemplating his next move, he meets Warren who is the Lonely Guy guru.  He tells him to befriend his apartment, get a plant, walk dogs, etc.  Larry tries jogging and meets Iris in a diner.  Her ex was a lonely guy as well, and she takes pity on Larry, giving him her phone number.  He, of course, manages to lose it.  He runs into her again when he goes out to dinner (alone!  *gasp*!) but manages to lose it again. 
            While Larry is making an effort to break free of his lonely status, Warren stays at home and plays chess with a robot.  Yeah, you read that right.  Finally, Warren decides he’s going to jump off a bridge, and leaves Larry a message on his answering machine.  On the subway, Larry sees Ivy again, and gets a message to her to meet him at the bridge from which Warren is going to fling himself.
            Apparently, this bridge is popular with the “Lonely Guy” set, as Larry passes a bunch of jumpers on his way to save Warren.  He talks him off the ledge, as Ivy shows up.  Warren wanders off to get pizza while Iris and Larry go out for dinner and sex.  Only, the sex never happens.  See, Iris has been married six (!) times, and is afraid of getting hurt, so she leaves him.
            Distracted by his heartbreak, Larry’s greeting cards aren’t so hot.  He gets fired, and tries to work on a novel (a romance novel - some serious smut right here, I’d totally read it!), and becomes inspired to write a guide book for Lonely Guys.  It’s a hit!
            He gets super famous, and is living the high life.  But, amidst all of the fame, fortune and friends, he misses Iris.  During a party at his swingin’ new apartment, Iris comes by, and they reconcile.  The sex scene is pretty funny, actually, as Larry helps Iris search for a missing orgasm (put it this way, you’ll never look at sneezing the same way again…)
            Unfortunately, this is too much for our poor, damaged Iris, and she runs off.  Again.  Larry runs away on a cruise.  Of course, Iris is on the ship as well, and they once again meet up at a masquerade ball.  But it’s not all sunshine and roses, as she’s still afraid of love, and latches onto a man dressed as Prince Charming (Jack, a friend of Larry’s). 
            Larry reverts to his “Lonely Guy” lifestyle, complete with plants and cardboard cutouts in his apartment.  He finds out that Jack and Iris are getting married.  After a pretty hilarious fantasy sequence in which he sees his lame, sad ending, a fire gets lit under Larry’s ass, and he goes after his beloved, broken Iris…
            He gets to the church just in time, and delivers his Oscar-bait speech… Oops!  Wrong church!  Gee, didn’t see that one coming…
            He gets to the right church… but it’s too late!  Iris and Jack are married.  Back on the cruise ship that they met on, Jack and Iris are starting their honeymoon.  But when Jack sneezes, and Iris feels nothing, she realizes Larry is the only one for her…
            We see poor, defeated Larry on the Lonely Guy bridge, where Warren tries to talk him down from his suicide attempt.  You see, Warren (yes, sad, lonely Warren) has found someone.  While lamenting the fact that he is alone, Iris falls from her own Lonely Lady jump into his arms.  And they lived happily ever after…

            This is pretty much what you would expect from early Steve Martin.  Not really as laugh out loud funny as I’d like, but still quirky and zany.  There are a lot of funny lines and sight gags, but I wouldn’t want to ruin all the good stuff, now would I?  I say check this out if you like Steve Martin and depressing comedies that are actually pretty funny…

And that’s a wrap!  Tomorrow?  Well, you'll just have to check back and see!


Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Welcome, film lovers!  I have started an insane project!  It’s called 365 – I will watch a movie a day for a year and write about them.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?  So, sit back, relax, and place your bets on how fast I give up on this thing…

360: C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005)

In my last semester as an undergrad, I took a course in Quebec Cinema for funsies.  I got to see a lot of really great movies that are either unavailable or hard to find in the US.  One of those movies is C.R.A.Z.Y.  I had no idea what this movie was about, and I just fell crazy in love with this film after we watched it in class.  (See what I did there?)

OK, the players:

Zachery Beaulieu: Played by Marc-André Grondin.  He is our main protagonist.  Zac was born on Christmas, and has hated the holiday ever since.  He has supposed healing powers and as he grows up, may or may not be gay.  He has a strong bond with his mother, and has difficulty connecting with his father or his three older brothers.

Gervais Beaulieu: Played by Michel Côté.  He is Zac’s father.  He’s pretty much your typical conservative Catholic Quebecois father.  He has an obsession with music, tends to sing the same song every year as a “performance” at Christmas parties, and takes issue with his son Zac being… well… different.

Laurianne Beaulieu: Played by Danielle Proulx.  She is Zac’s mother.  She believes in her son’s ability to heal, and loves and supports him no matter what.  She is a quiet strength in the movie, and has a strong bond with Zac.

The Brothers:

Christian: Played by Maxime Trembay; Antoine: Played by Alex Gravel; Yvon: Played by Félix-Antoine Despatie (for the bulk of the movie, he’s also played by Gabriel Lalancette earlier on); and Raymond: Played by Pierre-Luc Brillant.  Christian and Antoine are more or less just “there”, while Yvon has a special bond to Zac, and Raymond is the counter to Zac.


Michelle: Played by Natasha Thompson.  She is Zac’s girlfriend for most of the film.  She’s pretty cool, seems to really care about Zac.  Is mostly just “there”, as well.

The Rundown:

Zac is born on Christmas, and hates the holiday.  The one thing he loves?  That he gets big presents to over-compensate for this fact.  Unfortunately, when he is a little boy, his father buys him an air hockey table instead of the baby stroller he really wanted.  His mother tries in vain to get him one, but his father makes her return it, saying that boys don’t play with such things.  Zac and his mother are so close that, one night when Zac is at camp, there is a thunderstorm.  Thunderstorms apparently cause yellow showers in his bed, and both Zac and his mother wake up, afraid of what inevitably happens.  It’s a short scene, but important in showing the bond between them.

After Zac is born, there is one other kid that comes along, Yvon.  In church one Christmas Eve, Yvon is colicky.  Zac takes him, and he stops crying.  After this, his mother takes him to a psychic who tells him that he has a gift of healing.  Sure enough, every family member with ailments calls the house, asks for Zac to think of them, and they are healed.  Neither Zac nor his father is happy about this, but his mother eats it up.

As we watch Zac grow up, we see that there is way much more going on with this kid.  He decides that he is an Atheist (but still goes to Christmas mass to make his mother happy), and becomes obsessed with his flashy cousin who has the groovy boyfriend, and they dance in discos like they’re Jon Travolta and his chick in Saturday Night Fever.  Now, whether he is more into his cousin or her boyfriend is still left up in the air at this point…

Eventually, Zac makes friends with this kid who he wishes he could do naughty things with, but he suppresses it because of his family.  He finally makes a choice.  He goes to his sort-of girlfriend, and commits to a life enclosed in a beautiful, David Bowie-filled closet…

But this can’t last for long, and he ultimately outed at his brother Antoine’s wedding.  His father condemns him, and he takes off for Europe, stopping in Jerusalem on the way, because his mom would like it.  While there, he comes across a copy of a Patsy Cline record his father once owned, that he broke when he was a boy.  He had been searching for this his whole life, and buys it for him, with the hope of making peace with his father.

Also, while in the Holy Land, he gets carnal for the first time with a man.  Then he… wanders off into the desert?  Ok…

Throughout the movie, we also see his brother Raymond go from being a basic pain in the ass to a drug addicted man-whore, who is still forgiven and loved by his father, because at least he’s getting high and having sex with women.  He finally winds up dying in the hospital, which results in a now longer lost in the desert Zac to return home. 

Zac is now comfortable in his own skin, tries to make amends with his father (which, they sort of do?  They reach an understanding anyway), and he sort of apologizes to his long-time girlfriend for lying to her all those years.  Mom is happy to have her son back, and loves him no matter what. 

While this movie doesn’t end on a happy note, it ends on a satisfying one, with father and son taking a drive together, but never really talking about their differences.

This was an incredibly watered-down recap of this movie because the co-writer and director, Jean-Marc Vallée, just has so freaking much going on (and that’s not a bad thing – trust me, it’s great) that you really have to watch it to get it.  It is in French, with subtitles, but really don’t ever let foreign language films scare you off, or you will miss out on awesomeness such as this.

Jean-Marc Valee
Seriously, friends, check this movie out in all its awesomeness, you won’t be sorry.  And when you’re done, try to get a hold of Vallée’s Café de Flore.

Tomorrow, a little something from that wild and crazy guy, Steve Martin!  That’s a wrap!

The Avengers

Welcome, film lovers!  I have started an insane project!  It’s called 365 – I will watch a movie a day for a year and write about them.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?  So, sit back, relax, and place your bets on how fast I give up on this thing…

361: The Avengers (2012). 

Time for a little math…

Joss Whedon + Marvel Superheroes + Samuel L. Jackson = …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………


The End.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Running Behind...

So, not even a week in, and I'm already behind!  :(  It has been a long, exhausting week, so I will do two movies tomorrow, as it is my day off!  Then it'll be back to the schedule.  In the meantime, enjoy this delightful trailer for a movie not coming anywhere near you...

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Majestic

Welcome, film lovers!  I have started an insane project!  It’s called 365 – I will watch a movie a day for a year and write about them.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?  So, sit back, relax, and place your bets on how fast I give up on this thing…

#362: The Majestic (2001)

In honor of the fact that I am currently working almost fulltime at a movie theatre, and it was both Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart’s birthdays this past week, I have decided my next flick is the greatest Capra movie that isn’t a Capra movie.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: The Majestic.

The Players:

Peter Appleton: Played by Jim Carrey.  Peter is a Hollywood screenwriter in 1950s McCarthy era-Hollywood.  He gets “named” (if you don’t know what that means, google “Hollywood blacklist” and take a history class).  He loves being a screenwriter in Hollywood, and has a pretty blonde B-Lister girlfriend.

Harry Trimble: Played by Martin Landau.  He lives in the small town of Lawson, California, and owns/runs the town movie theatre The Majestic.  His wife has gone to that box office in the sky, and his son, Luke, died in WWII.  Or did he??

Adele Stanton: Played by the lovely Laurie Holden.  She is a new-millennium woman in the 1950s.  She just took the bar exam, with prospects of being a lawyer, and is made of enough spit and vinegar to out-do Jean Arthur.  She is the local doctor’s daughter, and  was once engaged to Harry’s son, Luke.

Doc Stanton: Played by David Ogen Stiers.  He’s the doctor who buys Peter breakfast the morning he lands in Lawson, and is Adele’s father.  He’s also skeptical about the whole situation with Peter.

Irene and Emmett: Played by Gerry Black and Susan Willis, respecitively.  They are the Majestic “family”.  Irene runs the candy counter, and Emmett is the main usher.  He makes sure the movie always starts on time, and he also is the first one to figure out Peter’s secret. (For some reason, I can't seem to find a picture of Susan Willis...)

Luke Trimble: Played by Matt Damon (voiceover).  He is Harry’s son and Adele’s love, and a beloved son of Lawson.  He died (or did he??) in WWII.

Cameos: EVERYONE.  The fun thing about movies dealing with Hollywood is that everyone is in them.  From the producers off-camera, to the HUAC Board (again, Google it, because I’m not explaining it for you).  They include Rob Reiner, Garry Marshall, Sydney Pollack, Ron Rifkin, Hal Holbrook… the list just goes on and on. 

The Rundown:
Peter Appleton loves his Hollywood life, even if off-screen Hollywood execs take his tear-jerker, poignant movie and change it so much it barely resembles itself.  He’s a working screenwriter with a beautiful B-list actress girlfriend.  His first movie is premiering (Sand Pirates of the Sahara).  Life is sweet.  Until, that is, he gets blacklisted because he got named by some chick he tried to impress in college by going to a Communist party meeting.  Depressed because his career is over, his girlfriend dumped him, and he has been incorrectly labeled a communist, Peter gets wasted, and drives his car over a bridge.  He lands on a beach in northern California, where he is discovered by some old guy walking his dog.  Peter has no idea who he is, or where he came from. 

The old man takes pity on Peter (say that three times fast!) and brings him into the perfect small-town of Lawson.  But, it’s eerie quiet there, with lots of memorials in the windows for sons lost in WWII.  Apparently, the town gave up a record number of lives, even has a statue to prove it.  The town motto: Lawson: We Will Sacrifice ALL our Sons.  The old man keeps stating that Peter looks “familiar”.  When they go into the diner, Mabel (who runs the diner?  Head waitress?) says the same thing.  As does Doc Stanton, who graciously pays for Peter’s breakfast upon the realization that his wallet has gone missing. 

Also at the diner is Harry Trimble, who, upon seeing Peter realizes why he looks so familiar.  He rushes to the Sheriff, and exclaims “It’s Luke!”  See, Peter bears a striking resemblance to his supposedly departed son, whose body was never found, but was declared dead (huh?). 

Harry goes to the doctor, where Peter is being checked out, and is adamant that Peter is actually his long-lost Luke.  He takes him home, to the apartment over the movie theatre The Majestic, which has been closed since Luke “died”, but now can re-open.

In the meantime, we are introduced to Adele, who has just returned from taking the Bar Exam.  She also has an endearing quirk of getting the hiccups when she gets nervous (Laurie Holden manages to demonstrate this adorably and not at all obnoxiously).  She meets Peter/Luke in the diner, and they head off to stroll down memory lane in an effort to restore Peter/Luke’s memory.  They go to places that are memorable and special to them, and when, in the lighthouse, she gets nervous hiccups, he cures them by kissing her, just like Luke used to to.

So, eventually, Peter/Luke agrees to reopen the Majestic, and embraces the possibility that he might be Luke.  The audience even begins to question whether or not he’s actually Luke.  Until the theatre shows Sand Pirates of the Saharah, and as “Luke” dies, so does Harry.  Peter realizes that he is not Luke afterall, and breaks it to the town after Harry’s funeral – also, when the HUAC people come after him.  They’ve been trying to find him throughout the film.

In his “Jimmy Stewart” moment, Peter takes on the HUAC and wins (sort of), and heads back to Lawson, fully embraced as himself by both the town and Adele. 

This is pure, old-school Hollywood schmaltz.  It is as though Frank Capra rose from the dead, or possessed everyone affiliated with this movie, and if you love Capra movies, you will love this one.  I love this movie, because I’m a sucker for Capra, it’s stunningly beautiful (seriously, the cinematographer is brilliant!) the performances are all dead-on, and I am also a sucker for movies about film history.  This does a great job of teaching about a real event and its repercussions in Hollywood, and also touches on a very delicate subject – the glorification of WWII.  The propaganda was so strong in the US, and the time is so often looked at with such rose-tinted glasses, we forget just how much was sacrificed in that war. 

If you don’t like Capra schmaltz, then run as fast as you can.  But if you’re anything like me, and you haven’t seen this movie yet, then you really, really should.  Also, Jim Carrey does a wonderful job playing it totally straight.  That alone is kinda worth checking it out.


EDIT: Just watched the trailer, and yes, that is the score to Little Women.  The actual score for this movie is beautiful in its own right, but hadn't been completed at the time of this trailer.

Tomorrow, heck if I know.  For now, that’s a wrap! 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lady and the Tramp

Welcome, film lovers!  I have started an insane project!  It’s called 365 – I will watch a movie a day for a year and write about them.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?  So, sit back, relax, and place your bets on how fast I give up on this thing…

#363: Lady and the Tramp (1955)

This is the first of, I am sure, many Disney movies to make this blog.  It is a classic, and I love it.  I also have the blu-ray handy, as the rest of my movies are still in storage in Keene, so there ya go…

OK, if you haven’t seen this movie, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!  Also, get thee to the Netflix!  This is Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnson’s masterpiece.  For those of you not in the know, Frank and Ollie were part of the “9 Old Men”, the guys who pretty much are the reason we have Disney.  They truly excelled at giving animals human traits and personalities, as well as extreme adorableness.  This is the best of the best right here...

The Players:
First off, I know most of you don’t really care about the voice actors, since they aren’t big-time movie stars, but they deserve their credit.  That is all

Lady: Voiced by Barbara Luddy.  She’s the adorable cocker spaniel that most likely caused a surge in cocker spaniel sales.  There’s no proof, but I know I wanted one when I was a little girl after seeing this movie.  Anyway, Lady is just that – a lady.  She is a good and dutiful dog to her people, and her other dig friends.  She is a little (read: completely) sheltered and stuck up, but eventually she lets her hair (ears?) down  and learns how to have a little fun.

Tramp: Voiced by Larry Roberts.  He’s… well… the tramp.  A stray mutt who relies on the kindness of random families for his supper, and is always dodging the dog catcher.  He wanders into Lady’s yard, is rebuffed, and eventually helps Lady out of a sticky situation, and falls in love with her.  He becomes the hero.

Jock and Trusty: Voiced by Bill Thompson and Bill Baucom, respectively.  They are neighborhood dogs, and Lady’s best friends. 

Peggy Lee: She voices a whole bunch of people, including “Darling”, the Siamese cats, and Peg the dog who sings “He’s a Tramp”.  So, she gets a “real” credit.  Oh, she also wrote all of the songs. 

OK, so here’s the rundown:

Jim Dear and Darling are celebrating Christmas, and Jim Dear gives Darling an adorable (seriously, the cute factor on this movie is ridiculous) cocker spaniel puppy who she names Lady.  After a futile attempt to keep Lady in the kitchen (it’s because she’s a female dog – if she were a he, he’d be in the living room or den or something…), Lady winds up sleeping in the bed with her people “just for the night”.  Which turns into months or something, of course. 
We see that Lady has a good relationship with her people.  They sing her praises, play with her, buy her a beautiful new collar, until they suddenly act all weird.  Darling snaps at Lady, even strikes her bottom (ANIMAL ABUSE!) and Jim Dear ignores her (typical man…) and Darling is humming weird little melodies to herself.  They’re pod people!  POD PEOPLE!!  No, Darling is just “in that condition” known as knocked up. 
As Lady discovers this, the Tramp wanders into her back yard, and talks about what a pain in the ass babies are.  Mostly because they take the attention away from the dogs.  Fair enough.
The baby is finally born, and shortly after, Jim Dear and Darling take a little vacation, and leave their baby and Lady in the hands of the evil Aunt Sarah, who brings her two eeeeviiil Siamese cats.  This is the only time I hate cats.  Even though they are kind of adorable themselves…
Well, they cause all kinds of problems, resulting in a trashed house, so of course Aunt Sarah goes to get Lady a muzzle.  Lady escapes, and runs into the Tramp who helps her get the muzzle off, then they spend a romantic evening on the town together, in the most famously romantic scene of all time:

It is implied that something less than honorable went down that night, but it’s so subtle, we’ll just leave it at that.
So, Lady winds up in the dog pound after a morning of chasing chickens, where she meets Peg who sings about the Tramp.  Lady is so embarrassed.  She got played, yo.

Eventually, Lady winds up back at her house, but in the back yard, chained up because Aunt Sarah is a cat-loving bitch.  She spies a rat headed to the baby’s room, barks her head off, and the Tramp comes to the rescue!  And Jim Dear and Darling return from their mini-vacay, just in time to find the Tramp in the baby’s room!  To the pound with you! 
BUT!  The rat!  They discover the rat, and Jock and Trusty run off to stop the carriage taking the Tramp to his fate.  Trusty gets run over, and we all think he’s dead, but this is Disney.  Only mothers die in early Disney flicks.
Flash to the next Christmas, where we see that Tramp has gotten himself some permanent digs and a shiny new collar, and he and Lady have been busy… gettin’ busy.  Adorable puppies everywhere!  And Trusty in a cast!  See, I told you he wasn’t dead!  And they all lived happily ever after.

This is one of the most charming movies ever made.  It holds a very special place in my heart.  It is stunning.  The animation, the colours, the music, all of it.  Perfection.  The whole thing is told from the point of view of the dogs, so few humans show their faces.  There is some great stuff about the class issues of the time (early 1900s Americana is the setting), and the music is spot-on.  Get over the fact that the Siamese cats are borderline racist – they are fucking hilarious. 

Mad props must be given to Peggy Lee, who is most famous for her sultry song “Fever”.  She co-wrote all of the songs, and voiced Darling, both the cats and Peg.  This really was kind of her baby, and I guess there were some royalty disputes in the ‘80s when home video took off.  Not sure if Disney settled, but really, she deserves it. 

So, again, if you haven’t seen this, DO IT. NOW!

That’s all she wrote… hopefully something good tomorrow! That’s a wrap!