Wednesday, September 17, 2014

If I Stay (2014)

“Isn't it amazing how life is one thing and then, in an instant it becomes something else. Like here I am, Mia, the girl who thinks about the cello and Adam, and whether I get a stupid letter or not, and just like that...”

Four years ago I studied abroad in London for a month. It was the first time I was ever away from home for so long and the first time I was in a foreign country. I missed my family terribly I kept thinking about them and all the things each one would have liked to have seen and done. One day I was in the Imperial War Museum (one of the absolute best museums I have ever been to. Definitely go if you can) and my friend were walking through the Holocaust section. It was the first time I had ever seen anything related to the tragedy. The one part I will absolutely never forget for the rest of my life was hearing an interview of a survivor. The survivor was a woman and she said at the time when she was taken to a camp she had been separated from her brothers and father. Her mother was with her. She went on to say that if she had to she could possibly imagine life without her father and brothers but she could never imagine living life without her mother. After hearing this I got so choked up. I missed my mom the most and I even missed my dad even though he drives me up a wall. I missed my three younger brothers too mostly because I knew they would have been having a ball in London. That part of the interview hit me right in the gut. I could never imagine my life without my family no matter how we may argue or grate each other’s nerves we still love each other unconditionally. I remember going back to my room that night and emailing my mom about the interview. I nearly cried writing that email.  
Now you might be thinking what does a line from an interview with a Holocaust survivor have to do with the new movie If I Stay. It has everything to do the main character’s struggle of wanting to let go and wanting to live.
Mia Hall (Chloe Grace Moretz) comes from a family who loves her unconditionally. Her parents, Denny and Kat (Mireille Enos), are very into music especially rock music. Mia on the other hand loves classical music and plays the cello extremely well. She loves her parents but she is in no way like them and feels like the odd duck out.
School is canceled one day due to snow. Denny and Kat convince Mia to come out with them to spend some time together. With some bribery and guilt tripping from her parents and her younger brother, Mia agrees to go. Unfortunately tragedy befalls the family when their car is struck head on by a truck on the icy, snowy roads.
Mia is now left in limbo. She can see and hear everything that is happening around her. Her physical body is taken to the hospital where she is operated on for hours. A nurse tells her on the operating table that her whole fight, whether she survives or not, is up to her. Mia now has to choose to live or not. She thinks over her life with her parents and her brother and how her world will be nothing without them. She especially thinks about Adam, her boyfriend and the love of her life. Mia has to think now that there is no one there for her besides her grandparents if being alive just for Adam and to go to Juilliard to play her cello will be enough.
I must confess I only went to see If I Stay to see Mireille Enos. A few weeks ago I saw Chloe Grace Moretz on Live with Kelly and Michael and the clip that was shown for If I Stay was one with her and Enos. I loved the scene. I got super excited to Enos because I thought she was incredible in the TV show The Killing. After seeing Enos in If I Stay I think I like her even more. I was not expecting to see her in a role like Kat Hall, this rock chick who was all carefree, after watching her be so serious in The Killing. Two of her scenes were my favorite of the entire movie. Enos was fantastic. Moretz just killed her role she was amazing. The girl can only get bigger and bigger she has such a great talent for acting. I have seen her in several other movies (she will always be the little girl from the Amityville Horror remake to me) and this was my favorite of hers.
If I Stay was completely heartbreaking yet excellent. The entire cast was perfect. The story was good. I was not thrilled that Mia chose to live for a boy but  for her Adam was her true love and someone that was so important she wanted to live for. Right now in my life I only have my family that I would want to live for. That was my point with the interview from the Holocaust survivor from the Imperial War Museum. I could never live without my parents and my brothers. I wanted to and still want to cry just thinking if, God forbid, anything like what happened to Mia ever happened to me and my family. I know I would never be able to get over their loss and I would feel such pain and ache and want for them every day. But I know they would have all wanted me to move on and live my life. I know they would always be with me and watch over me and love from wherever they had gone to.
I absolutely recommend seeing If I Stay. It is such a good gut wrenching emotional story with great acting. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Silent Sundays: The Perils of Pauline: A Watery Doom (1914)


“Save me Henry! I’m afraid!”

            In this sixth episode of The Perils of Pauline entitled A Watery Doom…
            Koerner enlists the help of some local gypsies to help get rid of Pauline so he can have her fortune. The lead gypsy brings Koerner into a building and tells him Pauline will be placed in a basement where water will come through a wall they will blow out with dynamite. Koerner laments that Harry, Pauline’s fiancé always comes to her rescue and ruins everything.
            Pauline and Harry have just returned from a drive. A call comes through for Harry that one of his plants is on fire and he must hurry down. The caller was one of the gypsies.
Pauline goes with Harry just as Koerner planed.
            On the way down to the plant their car is stopped by the gypsies and both of them are dragged out of the car and tied up. Of course almost as soon as the bad guys put Harry and 
Pauline in what should be their demise, the couple managed to become untied. They cannot get out through the door above them since the gypsies have blocked it with furniture.
            Soon water begins to gush in. Pauline and Harry are unable to stop the flow and the room quickly fills with water and even worse, rats. Harry finds that they can climb up the chimney. When they are on the rooftop the gypsies see them and begin to shoot and chase after them.
            Back at the house, Koerner began to celebrate his success and wealth. He fired all the help. Before the help could leave Pauline and Harry come home. When Koerner sees the couple alive he runs out of the house terrified.
            A Watery Doom is back on form with the suspense and the action compared to the episode before this. Harry is the hero in this episode leaving Pauline with nothing really to do. Still, The Perils of Pauline, was of course, entertaining and enjoyable. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Arthur Newman (2012)


Have you ever wished you can up and leave the life you are living and start a new one with a different name, a different outlook on life, and a different personality? I think we all have wished that at some point. I definitely wish I could. I would want to be someone stronger who is not so emotional and attached. I would want to be like the character Rosa Diaz from Brooklyn Nine-Nine who is like this total bad ass who could melt your soul with one look. I would mostly want to just live my live. I feel like I have not lived that for all of my twenty-six years on earth I have been afraid to let go and just do things. I have always felt stuck and it is killing me to no end.
Arthur Newman takes two people from two completely different backgrounds and brings them together through their want to be someone they are not.
Wallace Avery (Colin Firth) feels stuck in his life. He is a manager of a Fed Ex with a girlfriend who kind of likes him but just puts up with him for the most part and a son who does not even want to speak to him. Wallace buys a new identity and decides to fake his own death. He tells his girlfriend that he is going on a camping trip that will end with him on the beach. On the beach Wallace throws a few beers around, takes off his socks and shoes, and leaves his wallet in one of his shoes.
Wallace takes off on the road as his new identity Arthur J. Newman. In one town he drives through he sees a group of cops have blocked off part of the road. They are trying to get a young woman (Emily Blunt) out of a car she has stolen. Arthur does not think anything of it until he sees the girl at the same motel he is staying at. She is sitting incoherently on a chair beside the pool. Arthur sees something is not right with her at all and takes her to the hospital. Trying to get her checked in he finds her ID and finds her name is Michaela and she snaps back that she wants to be called Mike. Sometime later a doctor tells Arthur that Mike overdosed on cough syrup with codeine and needed her stomach pumped.
The following day Arthur waits for Mike so he can give her a ride. He did not want her to go along with him but they get to know each other. They find out they are both trying to run away from their responsibilities and from being who they originally were.
Colin Firth and Emily Blunt were great together. Their roles were corky for them or at least they seemed so to me. Arthur and Mike were darker roles for Firth and Blunt than I am used to seeing them in. Both Blunt and Firth did a fantastic job with their characters. They were both so uncomfortable and unhappy with themselves that they make you feel kind of uncomfortable watching them. I like those kinds of characters and they only really work if the acting is good.
      Arthur Newman was a good movie. I remember wanting to see it when it was originally released. I had no clue what it was about but I just wanted to see it because I really like Emily Blunt. She did not disappoint and neither did Colin Firth. The story did not disappoint either. It was unlike most movies that are released today. The characters were not very likeable and the story ended in a not so typical way. I like untypical endings very much. I liked how this showed that running away and becoming some else is not all it is cracked up to be, there is no real happily ever after. Arthur Newman is a movie I suggest seeing

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)


“Look at that tree. See where it's coming from. Right up outta that cement! Didn't nobody plant it. Didn't ask the cement to grow. It just couldn't help growing so much it just pushed that old cement out of the way.”

            There have been moments in my life that have left an impact. One moment that has had an impact on me is something so simple. I work at a library shelving books. The library receives a lot of donations from people cleaning out their book collections and we sell them for the Friends of the Library. A perk of being an employee I get to take home any donations or discarded books for free. I remember clear as day as though it only happened yesterday and not over a year ago that I walked passed one of the carts and saw a copy of Betty Smith’s book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I think I took it only because I had seen a poster for it in Barnes and Noble and figured it had to be a great classic novel. I am a voracious reader and I am currently trying to read as much classic literature as I can (in between doing grad school homework and worrying about life in general). I started reading the book that night. It is a story I will always treasure and love because it gave me hope and encouragement that no matter how hard life is no matter what hardships I go through there will brighter, better days ahead. I will always be thankful to the person who brought A Tree Grows in Brooklyn to be donated. I almost feel I was meant to find it.
            I found out there was a film version of the book through being a Joan Blondell fan. Of course after reading the book and knowing Blondell was in the film I had to see it. The film is one of the best book adaptations I have seen.
            The story is told through the perspective of Francie Nolan (Peggy Anne Gardner) a ten year old girl growing up in turn of the century Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She has a younger brother Nealy and they live in a small apartment with their parents Katie and Johnny. Katie is a hard worker and realist while Johnny is an alcoholic, a sometimes singing waiter, and a dreamer. He also loves Francie unconditionally and encourages her dreaming. The family has very little money but they make do and seem to be happy.
            Katie has a mother and a sister named Sissy (Blondell). They come by for little visits. Katie is nothing like her older sister. Sissy has been married countless times and has remarried again but this time, she tells Katie, he is the one. Their mother bought the children a Bible when they were small so they could read from it every night and become smart. Johnny bought them a book of Shakespeare and they read that too every night.
            At Christmas time Katie tells Johnny they are going to have another baby. She cannot depend on him to get a steady job and she plan on taking Francie out of school to work somewhere. Johnny had just gotten Francie into a better school he sees how much she loves school and how it would break her heart to leave. That night he goes out into the cold to look for a job. For weeks Katie cannot find him. A nice beat officer in the neighborhood named McShane comes to the apartment to tell Katie that Johnny has been found dead in a doorway waiting for work. He died from pneumonia not from drinking.
            The family works hard. Francie and Nealy get jobs working at a restaurant where their father used to go. Katie literally works until the day she has the baby.
            A few months later, Francie and Nealy graduate from school. McShane has liked Katie for a while. He asks her to marry him. Francie and Nealy discuss how nice it will be for their baby sister not to have to grow up as they did struggling for everything and having to worry about the small things. Nealy says she will not have as much fun as they did growing up though.
            Now there is a lot more to this film and obviously there is so much more in the book. But the film was great it stayed very close to the book. The ending was a bit different but that was fine it fit very well.
            Joan Blondell was perfect as Sissy. As soon as I found out who she played I knew she would be fantastic and Blondell was the definitely the perfect choice. Blondell always played those tough wisecracking, take-no-crap women in the Pre-Code era and that is how Sissy was only her character set way before Pre-Codes and the 1930s. Although Blondell is not in the film that much this is one of my favorite roles I have seen her in.

            A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is such a wonderful story. I chose to watch the film now because I am having a rough time with money and life at the moment. If these people who lived in the early 1900s in a poor neighborhood and could barely get through their days could survive and eventually be happy then why I can’t I. I needed that reminder to just keep going. Better days are ahead all I have to do is work hard and not lose sight of things. The book and the film came along in my life when I needed them, when I needed a story like this to pick me up and remind me of my goals and also how much my family means to me. I absolutely recommend watching, as well as reading, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It is a story that will always stay with you.