Sunday, November 30, 2014

Silent Sundays: Daydreams (1922)

I've come to ask for your daughter's hand in marriage.” 
 “How will you support her?”
“I don't know. I'll leave for the city to make good. If I'm not a success, I'll come back and shoot myself.” 

“Splendid. I'll lend you my revolver.
            The story to this Buster Keaton short film, Daydreams, is simple.
            A Young Man (Keaton) asks for The Girl’s (Renée Adorée) hand in marriage. The father asks how he will support his daughter. The Young Man does not know but he is willing to go to the city to find a job to make money. If he does not succeed, he tells the father, he will kill himself.
            The Young Man goes through several jobs. He writes to The Girl that he is working in a hospital and performs several surgeries a day. He is really working at an animal hospital. He has to leave after he mistakes a skunk for a cat. The next job he has he writes to The Girl that he is cleaning up on Wall Street. He’s cleaning up alright but it is not money. He is a street cleaner on Wall Street. Of course this job goes bust. His garbage bin has a hole in the bottom so none of the dirt gets cleaned off the street. He gets out a hose to clean the dirt and it is too powerful. The water hits a parade that is going by. Next his writes home that he is going to use his artistic side to become an actor. He is an extra who totally bombs just being a Roman soldier who has to march in place in the background. He leaves the theater still in his costume. A police officer sees him and chases after him because his clothes are not appropriate. The Young Man evades the police for a bit outside a second hand store. He changes his clothes to the ones on sale but does not have the money. That is until he reaches into the pocket the pants and finds a wad of money. When he walks away the pant are too big and he loses them. His last note home to The Girl is that his performance was not too good and now he has to be followed around by the police. He has caused so much trouble with his shenanigans that the entire police force in the city is after him.
            The Young Man manages to make it back to The Girl by have the mail truck deliver him. Of course he was not successful so the father gets out his revolver. The Young Man misses and misses again and again.

            Daydreams was alright. It is not as funny or entertaining as some of Buster Keaton’s other films but it did manage to give me a good chuckle every now and then. I pretty much watched it for Renée Adorée. I like her very much so, as with any actress/actor I like enjoy, I try to watch as many of her films as I can find. She was not in it for the most part and she really did not have too much to do. Still it was great to see Adorée in a film. Keaton was of course adorable and great with his comedy. Daydreams is only twenty-one minutes long. Watch it if you like Buster Keaton, Renee Adorée or have the time for a short silent film.

Friday, November 28, 2014

God Help the Girl (2014)

Music has a lot of meaning. The songs themselves have meaning but the meaning I am talking about is what a song means to the listener. It could evoke a memory that is either good or bad, it could remind the listener of fun time they had, it could help pull someone out of a rut, etc. Florence + the Machine’s “Shake It Out” will never cease to make me feel better (I love the song so much I have the line “It’s always darkest before the dawn” tattooed on my arm in the font from the Lungs album). Whenever I hear Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” I think of my twenty-first birthday when I had really listened to it and how I heard it endlessly at the bars in Hoboken when my cousins took me out. Most importantly I believe music is a great form of escape. Songs have stories and I like to imagine what it would look like if it was played out in a music video. They take me to a better space in my head. When I listen to music all my worries disappear I just focus on what the singer is singing to me.
I love music so much. As of this writing I have 8,504 songs on iTunes. I am constantly finding bands and singers to add to my collection. My collection ranges from Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Cher, Kelly Clarkson, Kimbra, Haim (their song “If I Could Change Your Mind” is my most played song at 243 plays), Fleetwood Mac, Gerard Way, Black Sabbath, Shane Filan, Tegan and Sara, Billie Holiday, Caro Emerald, The Delays, The Colourists, Cheryl Cole, Taylor Swift, Pat Benatar, Blondie, Jim Croce, and countless other artists. If it sounds good to me I add it to my iTunes.
In the movie God Help the Girl music means different things to each of the three main characters but they are brought together in how music acts a form of escaping from the real world. Music is their hopes and dreams.
Eve (Emily Browning) is in recovery from an eating disorder. Her life is depressing her she wants to leave the facility and live her life again. Eve leaves the care facility she is recovering at and heads into town to a show. At the show she meets James. He was one of the acts performing but his band could not get together to play the song and he got into a fight with the drummer. James and Eve become friends bonding over their love of music. Sometime later Eve leaves the care facility and moves in with James.
James plays the guitar. He has been teaching a girl named Cassie how to play. Cassie is not really into learning the instrument she just wants to write songs. James tells Eve that Cassie is missing something with her writing. Eve helps her by having Cassie explain her day and they put it into a song. All three plan on creating a band.
Things go well for Eve for a while until she spirals into a depression. This bout of depression started when James went away for a while and did not tell her where he went to. She tries to kill herself with her medication and alcohol. After this incident Eve realizes she needs to leave the town and her surroundings. She gets accepted to a music school in London. She tells James she has to go be around older people who will support her the way she needs to be supported.

God Help the Girl was a very good movie. My summary does not do it any justice but I do not want to give too much away. It was very hipsterish from the music to the costumes to the filming style. I actually did not mind that it was hipsterish because the story was decent and, to me, it did not feel like it was trying to be hipsterish. I forgot to mention that it is a musical and the characters do break out into song. I swear it is not cheesy at all. The songs have a very late fifties/early sixties feel and I loved that. My favorite songs are “The Psychiatrist is In” and “I’ll Dance With Cassie.” Everything in this movie just works out perfectly. I enjoyed it from beginning to end mostly because it is so different from what has been released lately. God Help the Girl is definitely worth seeing especially if you love music and can relate to how it moves you through life.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

“Come find me when you wake up!”

            What if you could live your day over again? Imagine you had an embarrassing moment and you do something and you relive that moment and do it all differently. Or imagine you were in a difficult situation at work such as your boss or manager just laid into you for something stupid and they did not get a chance to defend yourself before they dismissed you and you could go back and tell them in a nicer more diplomatic way to shove off. I think we would all like to relive certain moments in our life where we made mistakes and we could fix them. Edge of Tomorrow takes that concept of reliving moments over and over again and applies them to fighting a war and to a man who was the first time a coward. What unfolds is something original and nail biting.
            Years in the future aliens have invaded the earth. All major cities have fallen. The people of the world are oppressed by these strange creatures. Battles all around the world take place to try to hold the aliens back. World leaders and leaders of armies try to sell this war as hard as possible. They find their seller in a woman known as the Angel of Verdun who was able to attack the aliens with what seemed like ease. One of these sellers is Lt. Col. Bill Cage (Tom Cruise). He travels to London for conferences. He meets with a British commander. The commander tells Bill he is to go into battle the following day. Bill has no battle experience he was part of the ROTC in college. He tries to run out of the office but he is captured and drugged. When he wakes up he is in a boot camp and treated like crap. He is put into a group with the lowest of life.
            The day of battle Bill and the rest of the troops are put into these metal robotic fighting machines and then placed into a plane. Before the plane can land on the beaches of Normandy it is shot at. Bill manages to release himself and land hard on the ground. The scene is chaotic. His head swims with the blurred images of men, machines, and sand flying around him. He has no idea how to use his mechanized body weapon. Bill manages to avoid some the aliens coming towards him with his gun. He gets to a certain point on the beach, he sees the Angel of Verdun. She stands and stares at him longer than she should have and is killed. A huge alien comes after Bill. He manages to shoot and kill it but whatever the alien is made out of splatters into Bill’s eyes and mouth. This matter from the alien burns and kills him.
            Before we can blink Bill is back to when he wakes up at the camp. He is reliving the day over. He relives the beach a few times before he meets the Angel of Verdun and she tells him to find her when he wakes up.
            When Bill wakes up he finds the Angel of Verdun whose real name is Rita (Emily Blunt). She reveals she once had the ability to relive the day over until she was given a blood transfusion. Now she works with Bill to train him and make him better so they can find where the lair for the aliens is.
            I had wanted to see Edge of Tomorrow when it was out in theaters a few months ago but unfortunately did not have the time. I did not have any expectations for it and I really had no clue what the story was about. I did not know that Emily Blunt would be an awesome fighting badass and that made watching her and her character that much more fun. I liked not knowing too much about it. The story was very unique even if it did have some used storylines such as Tom Cruise playing a guy who was a jerk and then became almost like a heroic super soldier. I am not a huge Tom Cruise fan but I did enjoy him in this. Edge of Tomorrow is one of the better Sci-Fi movies I have ever seen. The story takes a What If situation and one that is contemplated all the time and brings both situation and contemplation to a new level. I have to admit there were moments where I grew tense and I always love it when a story can do that because it does not happen very often with new movies for me. Highly suggest seeing Edge of Tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Neighbors (2014)

“You called about your neighbors?”

            I was not the type of person to go out and party and still not. I am sure you can tell just by looking at how many posts I have done in the past few years on this blog.  The whole staying out late and getting so shit faced all you can see is blurry lines is not my idea of having a good time. I know a lot of people who like to party and have a good time. I can remember telling myself before I went away to school that I would open up and go out and party to meet people. I did go out twice because my roommate/friend was like that. At one time during our three years rooming together she was dating a frat boy. Well, technically he was not a frat boy because the frat he belonged to got kicked off campus for something totally stupid his past frat brothers did at a parade. But anyway, the frat had a house way off campus. It was an old house that was falling apart. It was so old that it had a tunnel leading under the basement to somewhere in the mountains in New Jersey because it was once part of the Underground Railroad. It was so big that at one point in its history the front portion of the house had been a doctor’s office. All the equipment was gone but you could totally tell it had been a medical office at some point. I did go to the house a few times. I was bored out of my mind. I am not the flirty type and I kept getting hit on by one of the guys all the time. If it had been a better guy with a goal in his life besides partying and looked like he had taken care of himself then I would have given him the time of day.
            Sometimes I feel like an old fart. All I want to do most of the time is come home from work and watch something on Netflix. On the weekends I love staying in my sweats and marathoning movies and working on this blog. Yes I know what a thrilling life I lead. I also have a degree in Art History and my ideal date is going to a museum and I can talk your ear off about the brilliance of Orphan Black all day long. If you are looking for a good time I am the right person to have a good time with ** I say sarcastically**. Eh whatever I am happy with myself and if I was looking to do something fun I would go looking for it.
            I am not big on movies that have to do with frat houses. Well I will say Animal House is hysterical and one of the greatest comedies ever. Then it was just all about sex and drinking and partying. Maybe they are still like that today but there is just something about the frat movies that are made today that just suck. So, why you may be asking yourself, did I even bother to watch Neighbors. I will tell you it is because of the cast and I must say I found it funny and very entertaining.
            Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogan and Rose Byrne) are a young couple with a new baby. They have just bought their dream house in a nice quiet neighborhood. A house next door to them has just been put up for sale. They see a nice gay couple looking at the house and are excited to see a couple with a baby like theirs possibly moving in. A few days later they see a moving van pull up in the front of the next door house. It is not the gay couple moving in. It is literally a nightmare for all parents. The truck opens a load of frat boys and sorority girls swarm around it and start moving stuff out.
            Mac and Kelly are immediately worried about all the noise the frat will be creating that will be keeping their baby up all night. They do not want to get on the wrong side of the boys so they try to act really cool and just ask if they can keep their partying down. Kelly and Mac speak to Teddy (Zac Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco) the president and vice president of the frat. The guys seems nice enough with Teddy telling them to call and talk to him if they are ever being too loud. That night Teddy and the frat throw a party. Kelly and Mac go to the party and wind up having a good time.
            A few parties later Mac and Kelly do not like all the partying going on anymore. They are kept up all night with their daughter crying. Mac calls the police but the police officer makes it worse by pointing out to Teddy that they called. Soon Teddy and Pete and Kelly and Mac are in a war with each other. They sabotage each other in certain ways off and on. It is a battle of the young vs. the “old” throughout the rest of the movie.
            I absolutely loved the cast. I cannot lie I mainly watched it for Rose Byrne. Byrne is one of my girl crushes. I adore her as an actress because she has played so many different roles and has been fantastic at all of them. I was dying laughing with her in this movie she was hysterical. I loved hearing her Australian accent to me it made her character funnier. Byrne paired with Seth Rogan was awesome they looked good together and had great chemistry. Rogan was hilarious he was not over the top like he can get in some of his movies he was perfect. Zac Efron was very good. The guy is just so much fun to stare at. I am going to pull my girl card and say I was mush when he came on the screen he is just so damn hot. Dave Franco is not that great of an actor (I am in no way comparing him to his brother this is just a general observation) but he is a piece of eye candy. A lot of comedic actors show up in the movie: in a flashback scene Andy Samberg is one of the founding members of the frat, the guys from the show Workaholics are supposed to be the ones who invented Beer Pong, Jack Johnson is also in a flashback scene but I cannot remember exactly what he did, Lisa Kudrow is the dean of the school.

            I had a great time watching Neighbors. It is definitely not one of the greatest comedies ever but it was a good time. Sometimes in life I need a stupid movie and this was one of them. The cast was great I was not disappointed with them whatsoever. It definitely made me hate frats even more. Maybe I am getting “old” like Kelly and Mac! I would definitely be like them I would be the crotchety “old” person telling those young bastards to turn down their music and stop throwing shit on my lawn!  Partying is just so not me especially nowadays there is no way you could get me in a place full of people under twenty-five (holy shit I just made myself look old. I will be twenty-seven in a few weeks!). Neighbors was a fun movie. There were a lot of lines and scenes I was laughing really hard with. Watch Neighbors if you are looking for something silly with some great eye candy. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Silent Sundays: A Reckless Romeo (1917)

Silent comedy films are genuinely funny. There is no feeling of the actor trying to be funny. They just were. In 1917 the movie industry was still young stories were still new and exciting. They were meant for audiences to come and watch and throw their everyday cares away. As much as I like dark and ridiculous humor that is most of the times vulgar I immensely enjoy early silent comedies because they are innocent. For however long the film is you suspend belief that a big oaf like Fatty Arbuckle could have a nice loving wife and a great big house with servant even if he is a bumbling drunken fool like he is in A Reckless Romeo.  
            The Husband (Arbuckle) comes stumbling into his house a drunken mess at three o’clock in the morning. His wife and mother-in-law are given a shocking wake up when they hear him downstairs. The Wife scolds The Husband for waking her up and tells him to go to bed. He hysterically takes off his clothes. He thinks his suspenders are snakes and beats them when they fall on the floor. The butler has gotten a both started. The Husband gets in the bath in his pajamas and falls asleep.
            In the morning The Husband apologizes to The Wife and the mother-in-law. He takes his wife and mother-in-law to Palisades Amusement Park for a fun day on the rides and play the games. The Wife and the mother-in-law go into a building where there are babies in incubators (which was considered an attraction). Instead of waiting nicely for them The Husband gets distracted by a pretty girl. He begins to try to flirt with her and then her boyfriend comes over. The two men get into a knock out drag down fight rolling around on the grass and funnily try to outwit each other. As they are fighting a cinematographer looking for background shots to film sees the men fighting. He films it since he finds the whole fight entertaining. The Husband, even though he is large and his opponent much smaller in weight, loses the fight. His eye is purple and his clothes are a disaster.
            The Wife and the mother-in-law, not being able to find The Husband, go back home. He returns home sometime later bruised eye and all. When asked what happened to him he tells a lie that while he was walking home he stopped a blind man from being robbed by fighting off a group of thugs and also a police officer.
            That night The Wife, The Husband, and the mother-in-law go to a theater. The girl from the amusement park is there and so is her boyfriend. A film clip comes up. It just so happens to be the clip of The Husband and the boyfriend’s fight from that afternoon. Everyone is laughing. The Wife does not even seem to notice that her husband is the one being laughed at on the screen. He tries to get up so she will not get mad at him and also because the boyfriend has spotted him but The Wife will not let him go. Eventually The Husband is chased out of the theater by the boyfriend.
            I got to see A Reckless Romeo this past week as part of a program for an exhibition called A Celluloid Story: New Jersey’s Filmmaking History. This exhibition is currently on display at the Walsh Gallery on the campus of Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ. It was created by two of my fellow classmates in the Museum Professions Program. They helped me to get my internship at the Fort LeeMuseum in Fort Lee, NJ over the summer. As part of my internship I helped my friends find objects for their exhibition. A Reckless Romeo was played after a lecture on New Jersey’s film history by film historian Richard Koszarski who is a specialist on silent films made in the state.
            For those of you who may not know, Fort Lee was where the movie industry really began. Fatty Arbuckle was one of several famous silent film stars who made their pictures in the studios of Fort Lee including A Reckless Romeo. It was amazing to see Palisades Amusement Park in the early 1900s (pop quiz: the Schenk brothers ran Palisades Amusement Park. They would eventually run the business end of MGM). Even more amazing was the scene where The Husband tells his wife that he was beat up. In that scene there is a stone wall where I believe a monastery used to be. Every weekend when I did my internship I would drive past that wall. The monastery is long gone replaced by high rise apartments but the wall is still there. It was incredible to see how quite that stretch of road once was. Now it is a congested nightmare since the George Washington Bridge is literally straight ahead.
            A Reckless Romeo was hysterical. It was so funny to see this big guy bumbling around all over the place and being cheeky trying to flirt with a girl. That what Fatty Arbuckle was in this film, he was cheeky. I enjoyed the film more because I was watching it with people who do not watch films like I do they are not versed in classic films like I am and they were laughing. The laughs were so genuine you could hear they found it funny. The laughs were not awkward because the comedy was not awkward. Like I said the comedy is innocent. If you can find A Reckless Romeo please take the time to watch it. It will make you wish comedies today could be made like this.

            If you live in New Jersey and have a chance before the exhibit closes on December 12 please go check out A Celluloid Story: The History of Filmmaking in New Jersey at the Walsh Gallery at Seton Hall University. I had a lot of fun helping my friends out and they did a fantastic job displaying the objects (which include original posters, fan memorabilia, film props, and even a piece of an old studio). 
Another friend of mine her boyfriend and his friend created an original score to play along with the film screening. 

Also please visit the Fort Lee Film Commission's website for  more information about New Jersey's role in film history.