Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Torch Song Trilogy (1988)

“Give yourself time, Arnold. It gets better... But, Arnold, it never goes away.” 

            Not too many movies have ever left an emotional impact. Sure plenty have left an impact with their artistry or storytelling or direction but never really emotionally. Well, I should not say “never” I recently really connected emotionally with The Giant Mechanical Man. For the second time I have emotionally connected with a movie with Torch Song Trilogy.
            Arnold Beckhoff (Harvey Fierstein) is a female impersonator. He is a man with deep feelings who love fiercely and just wants someone to love him back unconditionally. After a show one night he feels he has found the man he has been longing for in Ed. But it turns out Ed is not as comfortable with his sexuality as Arnold is. Ed has never told his parents or his roommate that he is bisexual. When Arnold confronts him one night and makes him choose and Ed decides to go the way the world wants him to go.
            Arnold is left heartbroken for a while until he meets a young man named Alan (Matthew Broderick). Alan is the man Arnold has been waiting for. He loves Arnold and unlike Ed is comfortable with himself and comfortable with Arnold. They plan on spending the rest of their lives together and put in to adopt a child.
            Just when Arnold’s life seems to be going how he imagined it everything gets taken away from him. Ed comes back into his life as a friend and even asks to get back together. His mother (Anne Bancroft) has never embraced his lifestyle and sees it as blasphemous that he mourns for Alan when she had been with his father for thirty-five years before he died. Arnold has it out with his mother once and for all.

            There is a lot more to the story. It is very emotional and sentimental. There was not one weak moment in the entire the movie. Harvey Fierstein wrote an incredible story. You can feel all of Arrnold’s hurt and heartache and love. I watched Torch Song Trilogy for Anne Bancroft (and let me tell you she does not in any way disappoint she was flawless. And for the first time ever I did not like a character she was playing! She was that good!). I had no idea what the story was about. Even if I did read the back of the DVD before hand or looked up the plot it would not have stopped me from seeing it. But I am glad I did not know the story. I am glad I just went into this movie without knowing anything about it. I had no preconceived notions or expectations for it (For quite a few of the movies I have been watching lately I have had no idea what their plots were and they have been so much more enjoyable to watch) and I believe that made me connect to the story and characters a bit better than I would have.  
            Torch Song Trilogy has a story that resonates today. I feel terrible for men and women in the LGBTQ community who struggle with who they are because of society or their families. I felt terrible for Arnold how he only ever had one person in his life who fully accepted him for who he was. I am not part of the LGBTQ community and to feel for Arnold and his situation and his want of love and relate to his story you do not have to be. You just have to be human. If you are human or even if you simply enjoy a well written and well acted movie absolutely watch Torch Song Trilogy

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Night Must Fall (1937)

“That's the kind of fella I am. I make my mind up about something and then I do it.”

            Stories about old ladies who get taken advantage of by a strange but charming man have been used over and over as plot devices in books and movies. The guy is usually a big time creeper that the old lady cannot seem to see but someone, and usually just one person, sees the man for who he really is. That is basically the plot of Night Must Fall unfortunately.
            The film begins with a night scene. The camera pans over a misty wooded area and stops at a man placing something under a tree. The man is stopped in his tracks by another man who is walking in the woods and yells out to him. The man under the tree runs away in flash before the other man can get any closer. The following day the police are all over a small English country town.
            An old woman named Mrs. Bramson lives in the small town. She is a crotchety old woman who claims to be an invalid and bosses everyone around. The two maids Dora and Mrs. Terence follow the woman’s orders with an eye roll. Olivia Grayne (Rosalind Russell), Mrs. Bramson’s niece, also works at the house as the old woman’s secretary. Dora comes into the house one morning all in a tiff because her boyfriend Danny (Robert Montgomery) will not marry her even though he keeps telling her he will. Mrs. Bramson wants to have a talk with this young man so her help will stop being a pain.
            The police come to the house to ask Mrs. Bramson and the people of her house questions concerning a murder of a woman. The woman was not from the town she was always seen with an older man. No one in the house ever really saw the missing woman before even though they had all heard of her. Olivia’s imagination, hungry for excitement and a sense of escape, comes up with a scenario for where the body could be and how it could be found.
            Dora brings Danny to the house. He is a very soft spoken man and very kind. He can tell Mrs. Bramson is very well off and right when he meets her he sweet talks her and makes her feel like all her problems and her life are very important. She asks Danny if he will marry Dora but he says he cannot because he does not have the money. Since he has been so kind to her like no one else in the house is, Mrs. Bramson hires Danny as a companion.
            Mrs. Bramson’s lawyer, Justin, is not happy about the old woman keeping so much money around the house from the tenants on her estate. She is not bothered it whatsoever. She asks Justin how much she has left to Olivia in her will. He tells her that she is always changing it he thinks she has left two hundred pounds for Olivia. Mrs. Bramson tells Justin to cut that amount in half even if it does leave her with barely anything to live on. Justin leaves and she puts the money away in a box in her desk and locks the desk. As she does this, Danny comes back to the house and he can see what she is doing through a window.
            Olivia is still not sure about Danny. She finds him exciting and that is attractive to her. As an excuse to be near him and talk to him Olivia brings Danny his hat he can casually placed on a hat rack. He tells her she would look nice without her glasses on. A bit later she takes off her glasses and looks into a mirror and adjusts her hair. Danny catches Olivia performing this act. Olivia feels like Danny is hiding something about the missing woman because he knew so many details about her. She takes Dora and Mrs. Terence into Danny’s room to look over his things. They find an envelope filled with photographs of other women and even a note. One of the photographs is of the missing woman. They come upon a hat box but Danny before either woman can see what is inside Danny comes back and calls them out for snooping. Olivia begins to harp on Danny by talking about the murder trying to get him to confess to it when all of the sudden they hear Dora scream from the backyard and look out the window to see she has fainted. Dora had stumbled upon the body of the missing woman. She is missing her head. The detective who came around the first time comes to ask Mrs. Bramson and everyone more questions.
            That night Olivia cannot sleep so she goes to the kitchen. Danny hears her and goes in as well. In a way he corners her and tells her how she seeks excitement in her life and has found it in the house with him being there and the murder. She runs away from him because everything he has said is true.
            Later on Olivia begins to question Danny on where he was the night of the murder. He tells her he cannot sleep and has not been able to for quite some time. The detective comes around yet again and asks Danny the same question Olivia did. He goes into Danny’s room to look around. Olivia can see Danny is anxious and about to jump out of his skin. She goes into the room and takes the hat box informing the detective that the room used to be where they kept all their boxes and she must have left in there when the room was cleared. When the detective leaves Danny collapses.
            Olivia cannot bare to be in the house anymore. She calls Justin to ask if she can stay with his mother. Now Danny is all alone with Mrs. Bramson. He deliberately makes the old woman go crazy by leaving her alone for a few minutes as he walks Dora and Mrs. Terence into town. When he comes back he gives Mrs. Bramson some alcohol to calm her nerves and slow her down. He places her back in her wheelchair and brings a pillow to her face. Olivia comes back. He asks her if she came back for him and she replies that she did and it is only because she knows he killed the other woman. Danny threatens to kill her to keep quiet about the woman and her dead aunt so no one will able to find him. Olivia tells him she is not frightened of him because he was a form of escape for her until she realized how mad he was.
            Justin and the police come in before anything could happen to Olivia. Danny is arrested.

            Night Must Fall was not that great. Both Rosalind Russell and Robert Montgomery were excellent despite their bland characters. Montgomery is always so put together in his films and plays such a gentleman that seeing him as Danny as this conniving, thieving man with an Irish accent was very interesting. I was actually a little surprised that Montgomery played the bad guy since he was such a draw for MGM and one of their leading actors. Usually an actor like Montgomery would never have been portrayed as a bad guy. Russell I am used to seeing in comedies such as The Women and His Girl Friday. She definitely did have a range. I will only say to watch Night Must Fall to see Rosalind Russell and Robert Montgomery in unconventional roles other than them the story was boring and way too long. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Sweeney (2012)

There are a few types/genres of movies that bore me to tears but none more so than cop dramas and war dramas. These two types of movies I feel like if you have seen one you have basically seen them all. I am not saying there are not great war movies or great cop movies it is just there are so many. Cop movies especially drive me a little nuts. With cop movies there are like three kinds of stories: a good cop who gets caught in a bad situation and has to fight dirty to clear his name; a fellow officer is killed in the line of duty and that officer’s partner is determined to find out who killed him; a few guys in the department are crooked and it is up to one officer to bring the bad guys or bad guy to justice. Ugh, how boring. The Sweeney kind of follows the second type of story but it was nothing really different from others and was not that great.
            The Sweeney is a unit of the British police squad that does not exactly follow usual protocol. All the officers fight dirty and take drastic and physical measures to ensure they bring down the bad guys. One Sweeney unit is lead by an older, bad ass, take-no-shit guy named Joe Reagan. The team includes about five other people but Reagan counts on Nancy Lewis (Haley Atwell) and George Carter. For Nancy he counts on sex mostly. George is like a son to Joe and trusts him with everything. Reagan constantly has the boss of the group, Frank Haskins (Damien Lewis), down his back as well as Nancy’s husband, Ivan, who works for Internal Affairs and is looking for an excuse to shut the unit down for being harsh among other things.
            The unit is brought in a jewelry store robbery. The robbery was odd. The store was small but not everything was taken and a girl in the store was shot execution style for what seemed like no reason. This robbery rubs Reagan the wrong way. He sees a pattern in the way the safe was broken into and come across a known criminal named Francis Allen. Reagan viciously goes after Allen until it is proved that Allen was not in the country at the time of the robbery.
            Another robbery occurs this time at a high end bank in Trafalgar Square. The Sweeney responds to the call. Haskins told Reagan to pull back from the pursuit of two of the robbers but does not listen. He pursues the robbers with Nancy to an underground car park. Nancy back up to a car but she does not see one of the robbers in the back. The guy takes her and the other tries to speed away. Reagan manages to get close enough to shoot the robber holding Nancy. She jumps out of the car but lands weird and cannot get up. The driver of the car comes back and shoots Nancy dead.
            Now Reagan is on the warpath to find whoever committed the jewelry store robbery. Ivan suspends the unit. He puts Reagan under twenty-four hour watch and takes away his badge and freezes his accounts so he cannot go after people on his own. That does not stop Reagan. His inability to stop lands him jail for a bit.
            The Sweeney was alright. I am gonna be totally honest and say I watched this for Hayley Atwell because I have such a massive girl crush on her right now (AGENT CARTER!!!!). Of course I was very pissed when her character died (I knew it was going to happen, though, as soon as she went with Reagan after the two robbers). The woman is totally bad ass! The opening scene was pretty cool when everyone was going after some robbers in a warehouse. Atwell looked like a boss roughly taking down some guys. Atwell’s character’s relationship with Reagan was really weird. I could not get behind that because it was just odd. He looked like he could have been her father for crying out loud! Hearing Damien Lewis with a British accent was so weird! I am so used to seeing him either on Homeland or Band of Brothers where he was playing an American. After a while the story got boring and a bit confusing. I thought the idea of The Sweeney being a group of bad ass cops who go in guns blazing and kick the shit out of people was pretty awesome at first but then it fell flat. To me there seemed to be plot holes or some things were just not explained. But that could be down to me not really paying as much attention to what was happening as I should have. Or maybe it was because my damn Netflix in my room was having a fit with the crappy wifi in my house is so damn terrible and it kept stopping for minutes at a time to reboot! Anyway, The Sweeney was not like God awful to where I would say never see it. Just know that it kind of plays out like a typical cop movie and the character of Joe Reagan can get a little annoying after a while.