Friday, May 22, 2015

The Skeleton Twins (2014)

“Look, it had nothing to do with you.”
“That is bullshit. You're my brother. And we're supposed to be there for each other. And if you don't get that by now, then, I don't know, I guess I'll talk to you in another ten years.”

            Oh, family. They drive us crazy in so many ways. I am fortunate enough where no matter how crazy we drive each other that my family is very close. Whenever I see a movie where families are not close it kind of makes me sad. My family is no way perfect we drive each other up a damn wall more than anything. I am the only girl with three younger brothers. I would rather have brothers than sisters but holy shit it has never been easy with brothers! I feel like I can understand how brothers and sisters and families can drift apart and not talk to each other for years. Over the years I feel like I have become less close to my parents and grandparents. When I was away at school I used to call home and my grandma every day. Now I am just like I’ll be down in the basement working on my blog leave me alone or there are sometimes where I will be out and the only reason I want to come home is because my bed and all my things are there.
            That all got way too deep. This is a movie review not a diary type of blog. No one wants to read those. (No offense if you run one though)
            I was trying to get to a point about the excellent movie The Skeleton Twins. The movie is about twins Maggie (Kristen Wiig) and Milo Dean (Bill Hader) who have not come from the best of family situations. Their father killed himself when he was younger because of depression. Milo has tried to kill himself after his boyfriend broke up with him. Maggie is also unhappy. She was working herself up to take an overdose of pills when she was called by the hospital Milo was taken to. Despite not having spoken to or seen each other in ten years Maggie is Milo’s emergency contact.
            Maggie seems to have it all. She has a very loving husband named Lance (Luke Wilson). Lance is completely head over heels in love with Maggie but she does not feel the same about him. For excitement she has been taking various classes and sleeping with the instructors. Milo sees that Maggie’s life is just as fucked up and dramatic as his life. Neither is really doing what they want or with who they really want to be with.
            Throughout the movie Maggie and Milo realize they need each other more than any other person in their lives. Like any pair of siblings they fight, they cry, they laugh, they have a good time, and they understand each other. They help each other work out their demons and their sadness.
            The Skeleton Twins was fantastic. I liked how no matter how fucked up they both were Maggie and Milo needed each other and helped each other either outright or unknowingly. That is what my brothers and I sometimes to we do little things either purposefully or unknowingly and I love that. Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader were perfection together and as individual actors. Wiig needs to be recognized more for her dramatic roles. The woman has range and it seems all people really know her from is from comedies, i.e. Saturday Night Live, Bridesmaids. Sure comedy is where she truly made her name but she is so incredible in dramas. I have enjoyed seeing her play fucked up characters who do not have their shit together whatsoever. Maybe it is because I kind of feel like a train wreck like her characters feel just not as deeply or as messed up. Bill Hader he is the same. The guy has some good range. I hope to see him in more roles like Milo Dean. Hader and Wiig have such great chemistry that you can believe they could really be brother and sister. I am sure their chemistry is so good because they are great friends off screen. The Skeleton Twins is absolutely worth seeing it is one of the best movies I have seen in a while (**I have actually been saying this quite a bit with the newer movies I have been watching and I am kind of shocked. Maybe I have finally been watching the right modern movies? Or maybe I have had more of an open mind? Either one works for me**)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

White Zombie (1932)

“We’ve uncovered sins the Devil would be afraid of.”

            I have never called a classic film awesome. When I talk about new films I that I really like I will use the word awesome to describe them. But I have never once used that word to describe a classic film. I love and adore them but not one has struck as awesome. That is until I saw the 1932 film White Zombie.  
            Madeline and Neil are a young couple traveling through rough roads in a Caribbean island by stagecoach. As they are traveling the driver stops because there is a funeral happening. The diver tells the couple that the funeral is for a man who had stolen bodies and now he is being buried in the road. A few moments later they come upon someone on the road. The driver becomes scared when he realizes the people walking toward the coach are zombies. One of the figures is not a zombie. He walked up to the coach and took Madeline’s scarf.
            Madeline and Neil arrive at the house of a man named Beaumont. Beaumont had been on a boat with Madeline and he fell in love with her. Unfortunately she was in love with Neil not Beaumont. Despite being rejected he has allowed Neil and Madeline to get married in his mansion on the island. Another guest of Beaumont’s, a Dr. Bruner, tells Neil and Madeline that they should not be there that they should leave immediately. Beaumont seems crazy. He has the appearance of an eccentric man stuck in a science lab for way too long. He tells his butler that his life will suffer if he cannot have Madeline there. Beaumont then asks if another guest has arrived and when he hears that the guest has not he comments that they are a day late.
            The following day Beaumont goes to a mill where actual zombies work. The mill is run by an odd scary man named Legendre (Bela Lugosi). Beaumont longs to have Madeline in his life and Legendre can help but when Legendre tells Beaumont what he has to do Beaumont becomes frightened. All he has to do is put a small drop from a liquid vial onto anything Madeline is to touch or anything she is to drink.
            On the day of the wedding Beaumont confesses to Madeline how much he loves her and wants to marry her. She does not want to marry him. When he gives her a flower the butler goes to send word to Legendre who is waiting outside the house. The zombie wrangler lights a candle he has whittled into a specific shape and placed a cloth around. At dinner Madeline and Neil play a bit of a game. She looks into a cup and gives a fortune. When she looks down at the cup she sees Legendre’s face. Outside Legendre burns the candle in the lamp. Madeline tells Neil and Beaumont she can see death and then collapses.
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            Madeline’s body is placed in a crypt. Neil is beside himself and drinks heavily in a local bar. He hallucinates seeing Madeline all around him and ruins to shadows of people dancing and sitting in the bar. In his delirious drunken state Neil runs out of the bar to cemetery. Beaumont and Legendre are at the crypt to retrieve Madeline’s body. Beaumont wants to be with Madeline forever and he figured the only way he could is if she were to die and come back.
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            Neil finds Madeline’s body has been stolen. When he sobers up a bit he goes to Dr. Bruner. The doctor informs Neil that her body was either stolen for her bones for a certain ritual or she was never dead to begin with.
            Back at the house, Legendre has brought Madeline back from her death. But she is not the Madeline that Beaumont had been hoping for. She is a woman with a blank face and stares off into the distance. Legendre had never planned to give Madeline to Beaumont. He poison’s Beaumont’s drink with the same liquid that had been given to Madeline.
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            Even in a zombie state Madeline is restless. It is as though she can sense something or someone is missing in her life. Neil can see her from a beach. He is still recovering from his heavy drinking and stumbles toward Beaumont’s house. Neil is captured by one of Legendre’s zombie men and placed on a couch. Legendre commands Madeline to kill Neil but she somehow defies the command and runs away. Madeline runs outside and Neil and Legendre follow. He commands Madeline to jump off the cliff but again there is something in her telling her not to. Dr. Bruner, who had been taken away earlier, comes up behind Legendre and hits the man over the head. When Legendre is knocked out Madeline, the true Madeline with life in her, returns. The moment Legendre wakes up and takes Madeline over again. Beaumont has been in the house ill from the poison and the transformation. He comes just in time to throw Legendre off the cliff and command the zombies to follow.
            White Zombie was truly awesome. The story was fascinating to me because there is not a lot of detail. There is little to no background on any of the major characters you are left to fill in the gaps yourself or to create your own story. The direction by Victor Hugo Halperin was phenomenal especially in the bar scene where Neil is drunk. I could not get over the shadows on the wall they added so much to the scene. The shadows almost acted like an add on to Neil’s depression and spiral into insanity. They were in the background to remind him and us of the love that he lost. Another scene that I thought was brilliantly filmed was when Madeline’s coffin being placed into the crypt. It is a shot that has been seen over and over in film where a coffin is placed in the wall but it was somehow different here. I did not focus on the coffin so much as I focused on the faces looking into it. The same goes for when the coffin was taken out my Legendre’s zombies I was focusing on their faces and their actions. White Zombie is a classic film I highly recommend seeing. You do not even need to have an appreciation for classic films to enjoy White Zombie. To me it is timeless and awesome in so many ways. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Dirty Pretty Things (2002)

Image result for dirty pretty things 2002 poster
“The hotel business is about strangers, and strangers will surprise you.”

            Dirty Pretty Things is a movie I have wanted to see for a while. I never had any idea what on earth it was about all I knew about is that Audrey Tautou is on the poster and I had to see it since she is one of my favorite actresses. Based off the title it has a story I definitely was not expecting.
            Okwe (Chiwetel Ejofor) is an undocumented immigrant working multiple jobs in a rough section of London. One of his several jobs is as a concierge and maintenance attendant at a shady hotel called The Baltic Hotel. A prostitute who frequents the hotel comes down one day and tells Okwe that the toilet in the room she just came out of is backed up. He rigs up a clothes hanger to try to get whatever was backing the toilet up down. When the blockage does not move Okwe sticks his hand in and pulls it out. In his hand is a human heart. He knows it is definitely a human heart he used to be a doctor in his country.
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            Sometime later two African men come into the staff room. The younger man is in serious pain. When Okwe takes a look the younger man has a serious wound that has become infected. Okwe realizes that the man has had his kidney crudely removed.
            After these events Okwe’s world in London starts to spiral. He and his roommate and fellow hotel employee, refugee Senay Gelik (Audrey Tautou), are in trouble with immigration services and their boss at the hotel. Their sleazy boss forces Okwe into performing illegal surgery and Senay has had to take another job to stay away from the hotel in order to not be taken in by immigration. Senay is given the opportunity to get out of the country on a fake passport from the hotel boss but she has to give up a kidney and do some sexual things with the boss. Okwe has to perform the surgery. Okwe and Senay turn the tables on the boss by drugging his drink, performing the surgery on him, and getting away with their fake passports.

            Dirty Pretty Things was alright. The story was interesting but to me there were more slow parts than ones that grabbed my attention. The story almost turned my stomach because all the characters were so sleazy and off putting. Dirty Pretty Things is worth watching at least once especially because this is Audrey Tautou’s first English speaking role and she is of course she is just an awesome actress.
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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Silent Sundays: A Burlesque on Carmen (1915)

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“Along the sunny shores of Spain, where men do the dishes- and women smoke cigars there dwelt a band who put the GYP in gypsy.”

            If you know anything about Charlie Chaplin’s films and their stories there is usually a bit of series masked largely by comedy. You can look at a lot of his works such as The Immigrant, The Great Dictator, and City Lights to see there is a message, a sadness, and a seriousness lurking underneath his comedy. In 1915 Chaplin took to parodying the dramatic seriousness of the famous story and opera Carmen. There is no social message like his original material but none the less it is a great take on a silly dramatic story.
            A group of pirates wants to come ashore and sell their goods. They unfortunately cannot get into the city unless they can get through one of the guarded entrances into the city of Sevilla. They send the gorgeous seductress Carmen to convince the head guard to let them him.
            Chaplin plays the one guard Don Jose. In true Chaplin style Don Jose is anything but suave and stoic. He stumbles repeatedly over a rock and tells his guards to kill the bug on the ground. Carmen comes to the guards and all the men are immediately enchanted by her including Don Jose.
Image result for a burlesque on carmen 1915
Image result for a burlesque on carmen 1915
            Other things happen in between the time Carmen comes to camp and when she starts a brawl at the tobacco factory she works at. Don Jose is supposed to arrest her but instead because he loves her he lets her go. At the local the same day he gets into a fight with another officer and kills him. Now that Don Jose is a killer he leaves Sevilla and joins the gang of smugglers from the beginning of the film. He travels with them to another city where he finds Carmen is to be married to a bull fighter. In jealousy he appears to kill her but again in true Charlie Chaplin style, the knife is fake and both he and Edna Purviance look at the camera and smile.

            A Burlesque on Carmen was not bad it definitely is not one of Charlie Chaplin’s best films. In researching the story for this review apparently the version I watched is one that was extended by Essanay and was not the original one Chaplin had released some time previously. Essanay released a version that added a whole other story that did not need to be in the film and provided no continuity and the pacing is not that great. The version of A Burlesque on Carmen on YouTube lasted forty-three minutes but with the slow pacing it felt a little longer. Even though this is not the best Charlie Chaplin film I am not going to say to not watch it especially if you are a fan of his films in anyway. There were some good moments between the slow ones and his style of parody was great.