Friday, June 26, 2015

Bye Bye Birdie (1963)

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“Bye Bye Birdie I’m gonna miss you so; Bye Bye Birdie, why’d ya have to do? No more sunshine, It’s followed you away; I’ll cry Birdie, Till you’re home to stay.”

            If there has ever been a film that speaks to me in the deepest of fangirl feels it is Bye Bye Birdie. At twenty-seven, I fangirl over things like I am a damn teenager. If it is something I like I will get super into it and become obsessed and want every piece of merchandise that accompanies it (shout out to Orphan Black and YouTube’s Holy Trinity). I was doing so well for a few years with keeping the fangirl feels at bay until I got back into watching TV shows last winter. It started with Leverage and Orphan Black and now I am full blown fangirl about everything I get into lately. When I was younger if there was a hot guy on a TV show I liked or was a member in a boy band I listened to forget it I would beyond fangirl over them. I related a little too much to the girls’ obsession with the character of Conrad Birdie in Bye Bye Birdie and me relating to them made the musical so much more enjoyable and funny to watch.
            Singer Conrad Birdie has been drafted to fight in Vietnam. Girls all across America and the world are in mourning. In Washington DC girls even get together to picket the White House with signs saying to take them and leave Conrad alone.
            In New York City, a failed songwriter named Albert Peterson (Dick van Dyke) may be the only male in the country that is upset to see Conrad go off to war. He was hoping to give his management a new song of his. Albert is also really upset because his mother’s dreams of him becoming a famous songwriter have come crashing down. First of all songwriter was his mother’s dream not really his. Albert has a degree in science. He is also upset because his secretary and fiancé Rose DeLeon (Janet Leigh) has gone off to the Ed Sullivan Show. He thinks she is jumping ship since his business tanked. Rose is really over at Ed Sullivan to make a deal. She pitches the idea to have Conrad on the show to do a farewell segment to a new song that Albert will write and after he sings the son Conrad will kiss a girl who will represent all his fans. Ed and his show runner love the idea and let her set up the whole thing.
            Rose and Ed decide that a girl from Ohio will be the perfect choice to be the one to get a kiss from Conrad. Rose goes to the Conrad Birdie fan club and picks out a file on a girl named Kim McAfee (Ann-Margaret). Rose tries calling Kim but the line is busy. Kim is on the phone with her friend to tell her that her boyfriend Hugo has given her a pin as a symbol that they are going to steady. She feels like now that she has a steady boyfriend and she is sixteen she is becoming a real woman and is ready to do grown-up things. Kim sings her feelings about being a woman in a little number all the while she changes into jeans, a baggy sweater and a baseball cap. When she goes downstairs there is a call from her from Rose about Conrad. Kim is in total shock that she has been chosen to receive a kiss from her number one crush.
Image result for bye bye birdie 1963
Image result for bye bye birdie 1963
            Back in New York City, Rose tries to explain to Albert her plan but he just keeps going on and on in such a negative way she cannot get a word in for a little bit. When she is finally able to reveal her plan Albert loves her all the more. Their tender moment is interrupted by his pushy, annoying, coddling mother. Next to the definition of “Mama’s Boy” there would be a picture of Albert and his mother. Albert and Rose have been engaged for six years and have never told his told his drama queen mother and it is starting to bother Rose that her fiancé chooses his mother over her.
            On the day Conrad is come to her hometown, Kim’s boyfriend Hugo and all the boys in town become insanely jealous. Hugo is worried that Kim will not want him anymore and no matter how many times Kim explains to him that he is the only one for her Hugo does not really listen. When Conrad rides into town on his motorcycle the girls lose their freaking minds and literally fall to the ground when he points at them. Kim’s father comes home in an uproar over Conrad being in town. Mr. McAfee and some of the other townspeople want Conrad and Albert and Rose out immediately. Mr. McAfee’s routine has been thrown off a bit and his home has been slightly taken over which makes him mad. Rose and Albert hear all this and decide to play to Mr. McAfee who runs a fertilizing plant. Albert realizes that the McAfee son has created a concoction with his chemistry set. The concoction can speed things up such as animals and plant growth. He tells McAfee is that if the concoction works on animals and they can market and sell the product they can go into business together but just as long as Kim can get into the show. The father agrees to go along with the plan only if he can get on the Ed Sullivan Show to which Albert agrees to do.
Image result for bye bye birdie 1963
Image result for bye bye birdie 1963
Image result for bye bye birdie 1963
            Other things happen to Kim and Hugo and Albert and Rose that I will spare you the details on. Just know that Albert and Rose end up happily ever after and his mother is taken out of the picture and Kim and Hugo make up when she realizes that Conrad is not all he is cracked up to be.
            I am not a Janet Leigh fan normally I find her so annoying but I cannot even tell you how much I LOVED her in the film! Oh my goodness she was fantastic! First of all, where did her acting come from? I usually think she is quite crap but in this she was acting so well! Second, she had black hair instead of her insanely bleached hair and she looked amazing. Third, she was singing and sounded great. Fourth, and final, she was dancing and did a great job! Seriously, it was like watching a totally different Janet Leigh. She made the film for me. Ann-Margaret I believe I have only seen in the movie Tommy up to this point. She will forever be Tommy’s mom singing “Tommy can you hear me?”. She was good I liked her. There was this big dance number for all the young kids in it and her dancing skills were incredible. Dick van Dyke usually drives me nuts too but I really liked him in this. I loved his number “Put on a Happy Face”.
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            Bye Bye Birdie was so much to watch. If I had to pick who I am hardcore crushing on at the moment it is Arthur Darvill who played Rory Williams on Doctor Who. If he were to come to my town and had to plant a kiss on me for a TV show I would faint just like all the girls in the film did! Actually the one actor who if he were to come by and just say hey let’s go, would be Carmine Giovinazzo (Formerly Danny Messer from CSI:NY). I am not even going to go into detail about my love for that man because I would sound like a pathetic lovesick girl. The musical numbers were a great time. I will now most likely have Ann-Margaret singing “Bye Bye Birdie” stuck in my head for the rest of the week along with “Put on a Happy Face”. You do not have to know what it feels like to be a fangirl to enjoy Bye Bye Birdie. Everything about it is entertaining and silly and fun making it a definite watch.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Barely Lethal (2015)

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“She better bring fire! She better bring thunder! She better bring hell!... Just tell her to bring it before 10:30, I've got a curfew.”

            Most girls, when they are little, dream of being princesses and finding their prince charming. As teenagers, they dream of going to prom in pretty dresses with the most handsome guy in their class and having a great time just like the movies. I was not that kind of girl. I never have been. When I was little I dreamed of playing basketball for the WNBA. When I was a teenager I was hardcore into the TV show Alias and, without actually wanting to be in the real CIA or espionage game, dreamed of what it would be like to be a romanticized version of a spy like Sydney Bristow where I would snag myself a hot man like Michael Vaughn and be super brilliant. At twenty-seven and just above slightly more mature than I was at seventeen when Alias went off the air, I have that romanticized spy fantasy running through my head when I get bored. Oh Alias and Sydney Bristow and SD-6, my life has never been the same for over thirteen years.
            Since my hardcore Alias watching days I have loved any kind of show or movie that deals with espionage (at the time of this writing I have yet to see all the Bond movies. Relax, I have seen a few of them though). I love all the bad ass kick assing spies in movies and shows do and I love how brilliant they are made to be. So it should be no shock that I have watched the movie Barely Lethal which is about a girl who is a spy, even if it is a movie geared toward a young adult audience. Remember what I said in the last paragraph, I am just slightly more mature than I was at seventeen in many ways. Plus Hailee Steinfeld plays the main character and I am working out my girl crush feelings for her at the moment.
            Number 83 (Steinfeld) has attended Prescott School since she was a little girl. From her name alone it should be known that Prescott is no ordinary school. This school is run by a man named Hardman (Samuel L. Jackson) and he trains girls to become no nonsense assassins. Number 83 begins to questions her life and wonders what more there is to see and experience. While on missions she watches all the teen movies she can get her hands on and is even caught reading a teen magazine during a meeting.
Image result for barely lethal 2015
Image result for barely lethal 2015
            During a mission Number 83 is shot down into a lake. She is not hurt and comes out a little shaken up. Hardman calls for her on the coms but she does not answer. She sees this as an opportunity to disappear into a life of being a normal teen. Eighty-three takes the step to being a normal teenager by answering an ad for an exchange student. She creates the name Megan Walsh for herself and moves in with Mrs. Larson and her daughter Liz who is Megan’s age and her young son Parker who believes he is a real life ninja. Liz is not too happy about having Megan around because, one, Megan is a little weird, and two, Liz is totally jealous.
            At school Megan is introduced at an assembly and everyone makes fun of her right away. It only stops when the hot, brooding guy Cash gets up on stage with his band and performs a song. Not taking the hint that the “popular girls” are pulling a typical high school move on her they tell Megan to try out for the mascot. She does, she is the only one who tries out, and gets the gig. While at practice out on the field in front of the whole school someone comes up behind Megan and tries to grab her. She has been noticing a van circling the school and thinking it was someone from Prescott or someone she pissed off Megan attacks the kid full force. The kid is from the other school and is pulling the prank of stealing the school mascot. Someone unfortunately gets the whole incident on video and plugs it straight to YouTube which leads to Hardman finding her.
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            A load of other crap goes down and Megan, with her special ninja skills along with her new friends and family, saves the day.
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            Seriously I am not in the mood to go into anymore of this story and, if I am being completely honest, I got a little bored with it and zoned out. I know I definitely zoned out because the story started to turn into a typical teen movie with girls getting jealous over guys and guys taking shit the wrong way because they do not know how to handle girls and are pussies.
            Hailee Steinfeld is adorable. If I was a teenager I would most likely be one of her biggest fans. After this movie she would have been my absolute idol ha ha. Sophie Turner from Game of Thrones is in this. She is a character that I did not mention because I did not catch all of her lame story. I know her character Number 84 considers Number 83 her rival and brings that rivalry into Megan’s new world. Turner was pretty bad ass and awesome as a spy. I give her a lot of props. Jessica Alba also played a character I did not mention because again her story was lame. The character and her story made somewhat sense to the part of the plot I left out. I feel bad Samuel L. Jackson was in this movie. He played a much watered down version of Nick Fury.
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            If Barely Lethal came out when I was a teenager when I was super into Alias and all that spy shit I would have lost my goddamn mind. It would have become one of my favorite movies ever. But I have watched Barely Lethal as a twenty-seven year old who has not watch an episode of Alias in maybe a few months (or maybe a year… I am at the point in my life where all the days and weeks and months just kind of blur together now) and have realized maybe my brain has matured a little. Barely Lethal is a cool movie. It is one of those movies that I really did not mind sitting through but once was enough.  
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Monday, June 22, 2015

High Noon (1952)


 “You risk your skin catching killers and the juries turn them loose so they can come back and shoot at you again. If you're honest you're poor your whole life and in the end you wind up dying all alone on some dirty street. For what? For nothing. For a tin star.”

            Until I watched High Noon I had yet to find a western that felt intense. To me there just never seems to be any tension because they all seem the same. There is a small Midwestern town in the middle of nowhere where the sheriff has to save the day from some outlaws and bandits. That is pretty much what goes on in High Noon but told differently, artistically, and brilliantly.
            Will Kane (Gary Cooper) has just married Amy Fowler (Grace Kelly). He is the town’s sheriff but he had planned to leave the position to become a storekeeper. From the train station the stationmaster runs into town to warn Will that Ben and Frank Miller have been released from jail and along with two other outlaws Jack Colby and Jim Pierce are set to come into town on the noon train.
Image result for high noon 1952
Image result for high noon 1952
            Upon hearing the news Will immediately leaves with Amy. When they are a little ways out of town Will stops the wagon and tells Amy that him running is exactly what Frank Miller wants him to do and if he were to run it might not be good for the townspeople and they would also try to hunt him down wherever he goes. Will turns the wagon around and heads back to town. As the time ticks down Will struggles with what to do. He goes to the local saloon to try to gather up special deputies to help fight the outlaws. No one there wants to help because most of them are friends with the Millers and others have changed their minds about him as a sheriff. Will then interrupts church services to gather people. Several of the church members do not want to help him either mostly because he was unable to keep the brothers behind bars and now they may come and hurt their children and destroy their town.
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            In the meantime Amy has given Will an ultimatum. He either leaves with her or she leaves on her own on the noon train. Will decides to stay and finish what needs to be finished.
            The time and train come into town. Everyone is indoors waiting and protecting themselves for whatever may come. Amy was on the train when she hears gunfire erupt. She rushes off the train and to the Marshall’s office.  Will has the outlaws chase him to the edge of town to barn. They have him trapped for a moment as they try to burn down the barn Will is hiding in. Will manages to kill one of the outlaws from his perch until he is forced down from the fire.
            Hiding in the Marshall’s office Amy sees one of the outlaws. She finds a gun and shoots the man dead. The last outlaw left alive is Frank Miller. He finds her and drags her out of the office. Frank tells Will to come out or he will kill Amy. As soon as Will shows himself he throws Amy to the ground and begins to shoot. Amy attacks Frank and Will is able to shoot the outlaw dead.
            Immediately following the end of the battle the townspeople come out of their homes and businesses. Will throws his badge on the ground and he and Amy finally leave the town for a new life.
            What I liked about the story with High Noon is that you know the outlaws are coming to kill Will but it is the build up and anticipation of the coming fight that creates this great tension. We see Will all tense with anticipation and helplessness. I also really liked how Will is shown to be a good man but from what everyone else says to him about him and them not wanting to help you see that maybe Will Kane is not a very good man. Like, he has tried to do his best but he either was not up to the task as much as the people would have liked or he just did a lousy job protecting the town. Adding to the tension was the direction. Several of the shots were from below or just level with the actors in the scenes where their anxiety is building. The direction I felt was artistic and different for a Western. I like artistic-ness when it comes to certain films. I never would have thought that combined with a Western that style or effect would have worked so well. I liked how there was very little action and it was more of a story of a man with conflicting morals and emotions than all action.
            High Noon is a very good classic Western that is worth watching. 
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