Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Longest Ride (2015)

“I don't know what the future holds but I know there is no future without you.”

            Didn’t I just go on a rant, as usual, about how much I hate chick flicks? (re: Sleepless in Seattle and from last year The Vow). And what kind of movie am I reviewing yet again? A goddamn chick flick! But I must admit that this time I was not really tortured. Yes, the plot of The Longest Ride is typical the guy and girl get together in the end despite all the obstacles thrown in their way. But there were a few things that made me somewhat enjoy it. First, Scott Eastwood… have you taken a look at that man?! Second and third, Oona Chaplin and Jack Huston play a couple. And last but not least, it has a little something to do with art history and I am a sucker when it comes to art history in movies. Let me regale you with the chick flick monotony for a bit before I go on a fan girl tangent about Eastwood, Chaplin, and Huston.
            Luke Collins (Eastwood) is a bull rider. Years before he was seriously hurt and almost brain damaged after being kicked by a bull in the ring. Now he is back riding despite not being one hundred percent. At his latest show he gives his hat to a girl in the crowd named Sophia (Britt Robertson). Later she tries to give him his hat back but he lets her keep it and gives her his number. For a few days Luke tries calling her but she never picks up the damn phone. Her thinking is she will be leaving at the end of the summer for an internship at a gallery in New York City so she does not want to hook up with a guy only to have to leave in a short time. Well that does not work. She finally picks up her phone and she and Luke go out on a date.
            On their way home from their date it is raining. They see the guardrail around a bend has been hit and find at the bottom of a hill. Luke and Sophia get out of the car in the pouring rain and pull the man out of the car. The man deliriously says “the box” and Sophia realizes that he has a box in the car so she grabs it. They drive the man to the hospital. Sophia stays to see if the man is alright while Luke takes off. The man is Ira Levison and he pulls through. While Sophia is in the waiting room she looks into Ira’s box and sees letters. She reads one of the letters which is from Ira to his wife Ruth from the 1940s explaining how he felt when he first saw her when she moved to his small town.
            When Ira comes to and Sophia is brought into the room. She brings Ira his box and tells him she read one of his letters. He tells her he has not read the letters both from his failing eyesight and because Ruth is no longer with him. Sophia offers to read the letters to him and for a few days comes back and reads the letters to him.
            As Sophia reads the letters she realizes and the audience sees that her life with Luke reflects some of the struggles and life of young Ira and Ruth. Each couple has had to make sacrifices for love in order to be together.
            Definitely typical chick flick story but I have to say that I enjoyed because of the cast. The cast made the difference all of them were excellent and made the characters a lot better. Oona Chaplin and Jack Huston were perfection together. They are both such fantastic actors you can tell they enjoy what they do and have incredible talent. You can feel all of Ira and Ruth’s joy and pain. Scott Eastwood I had never seen in a movie before. Hot. Damn. I could go on and on about how gorgeous he is but that would not be very professional so I will stop there. He is a pretty good actor. I would not mind watching more of his movies both for his acting and looks. Britt Robertson is a good actress she has the potential to be a staple in Hollywood if she keeps working at it and getting the right parts. I never mind seeing her in a movie or even a show (anyone remember the show she was in called Life Unexpected? I really liked that show and that is where I originally know her from). I am not really a fan of Alan Alda there is something about him and the characters he usually plays that are annoying. I actually really liked Alda in this role he was very good.
            A few months ago my mom read the book The Longest Ride. She told me I would like it because some of it takes place in the 1940s and it had a little bit too do with Art History which I love and have a degree in. I have not read the book yet so I do not know how much of Art History is in the book. The movie had a decent amount and what was in it was very interesting. Sophia wanted to work in a gallery selling paintings. She explains that she had always had a love for art both learning about it and creating it. Luke asked her if she had ever been to this place in North Carolina called The Black Mountain College. Sophia gets all excited because she is doing her college thesis on it. The college is a liberal arts college where a lot of famous contemporary artists studied and a lot of famous people visited to lecture. In the flashback Ira had taken Ruth there because she was passionate about art and when she first arrived in North Carolina from Vienna before World War II she told Ira that she loved the art and culture of her country and missed it. I never heard about the Black Mountain College before this movie I am looking forward to researching it and maybe even visit it some time.
            The Longest Ride is not bad. I was not bored at all watching it which is something new to me with chick flicks. The story was not too terrible even with having typical chick flick clichés. I liked how despite the time period of differences Ira and Ruth and Sophia and Luke the story of love and sacrifice is the same. Sometimes parallels of time periods in movies does not always work and they can get cheesy but in The Longest Ride it was done very well. I can only suggest watching The Longest Ride if you do like chick flicks or if you like the actors. Honestly Oona Chaplin and Jack Huston’s scenes are worth sitting through alone they were so perfect together… and Scott Eastwood also helps. 
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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I'm No Angel (1933)

 “You were wonderful tonight.”
“Yeah, I'm always wonderful at night.”
“Tonight, you were especially good.”
“Well... When I'm good, I'm very good. But, when I'm bad...
I'm better.”

            Why can’t there be more women in the world like Mae West and more films and characters like her films and characters? Oh, I know why, because West not only starred in her own films such as I’m No Angel but also wrote the story, screenplay, and all the dialogue (citing the opening credit), and because the types of women she played were “loose” and “immoral” and today would be considered the horrid wicked word “slutty”. West and her film I’m No Angel I am sure are dreams of screenwriters and actresses. What female would not want to be full of confidence either sexually or in themselves in general? I would kill to have West’s characters all around confidence. Plus if I had her curves on top of that confidence, dear god what I would not do! I would definitely want to be like West in I’m No Angel (minus the prostitute aspect. Nothing wrong with it I just could not do it).
            West plays a circus entertainer named Tira. She riles all the male attendees with a seductive song and dance. After her performance Tira goes to the circus fortune teller. The teller predicts she will meet a tall handsome wealthy man. Tira kind of takes it seriously and kind of doesn’t because as he makes his predictions she makes a few cracks.
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Image result for i'm no angel 1933
            In her dressing room Tira shows another female performer a chest she has of all the clothes and jewelry she has been given by former lovers. Tira remembers which man gave her which present. That night she gets to go on another “date” with a new man. She meets this guy in an apartment. He tells her he is a politician from Dallas. The whole “date” is a shame to make money that was set up by a guy called Slick. Slick hits the guy over the head and thinking he is dead tells Tira to get her things together because they have to skip town. Unfortunately for Slick the guy comes to and tells the police what happened, Slick is then arrested. Tira, however, is fortunate enough not to be arrested. Tira goes to the circus owner Big Bill Barton (Edward Arnold) and says that she is willing to work harder to make some money even going so far as to put her head in a lion’s mouth. The whole head-in-the-lion’s-mouth bit was just a joke but Big Bill sees this as an opportunity to make some serious money.
Image result for i'm no angel 1933
Image result for i'm no angel 1933
            Tira’s joke soon makes the circus and herself very popular and very rich. A wealthy young man named Kirk Lawrence has been to the circus quite a few times just to see Tira. His fiancée Alicia is very jealous that he is making a big deal out the circus performer. Kirk and his two friends with him go backstage to meet Tira while Alicia stays outside the dressing room. Kirk and his friends find Tira very lovely and charming. When the visitors leave the dressing room Tira hears Alicia outside the door making remarks about her. Tira takes a swig of her drink, opens the door, and spits her drink on Alicia for being a bitch.
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            Soon Kirk is completely ignoring Alicia and lavishly buying Tira jewelry and clothes. Alicia thinks she is going to be the bigger person by going to speak to Tira about Kirk. Tira just sees Kirk as a good time there is nothing serious between them so whatever Alicia says to her Tira does not take seriously. Alicia tries to bribe/blackmail Tira by taking her black book and threatening to publish it. Tira has enough of Alicia’s crap and literally kicks her out the door.
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            Kirk’s very rich cousin Jack Clayton (Cary Grant) tries to talk Kirk out of seeing Tira. He is mad at Kirk for seeing a circus performer and straying from Alicia who is more respectable. Jack goes to speak to Tira himself. Of course he becomes charmed and captivated by her. She flirts with him relentlessly and he does so right back.
            No big surprise, Jack falls in love with Tira and wants to marry her. When Tira tells Big Bill that she wants to leave the show he gets pissed that his money maker wants to quit. Slick has been released from jail so Big Bill calls him in for a favor. Jack was to meet Tira at her apartment. Slick plays the same thing he played with the politician from Dallas when Jack walks in. Jack is upset and calls off the engagement.
            Tira loves Jack but feeling jilted she decides to sue him for breach of promise. Tira is a smart cookie and defends herself. She makes Slick look like an idiot and makes her maid answer everything honestly. Jack’s lawyer tries to make her look terrible but Jack does not want to contest the case he says he will give Tira whatever she wants.
Image result for i'm no angel 1933
Image result for i'm no angel 1933
            In the end Jack comes up to Tira’s apartment to tell her he still loves her and wants to be with her.

            I’m No Angel is a really great Pre-Code. My summary in no way does it any justice, in fact I think my summary makes it sound like a silly, typical romantic drama which is absolutely not the case. There really is not a completely dramatic moment in the whole film. Mae West’s comedy and confidence are in full force and non-stop. Alec Baldwin co-hosted a program on TCM with Robert Osbourne and discussed I’m No Angel. Baldwin perfectly summed up West and her performance by saying she had a “comedic cockiness.” You can see her “comedic cockiness” from beginning to end. I think West’s performance is a mix of cockiness and confidence. You can see the woman knew what she was doing that she had a handle on the character and was totally comfortable with whatever she wrote for herself. I’m No Angel is now one of my favorite classic films and one of my all time favorite Pre-Codes. I absolutely, one hundred percent recommend watching I’m No Angel… or any Mae West film for that matter. If you are a woman and Mae West does not inspire you to be a more confident woman than you are not watching or appreciate her performance like you should and you are missing out on a great role model.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

She Done Him Wrong (1933)

“Haven't you ever met a man that could make you happy?”
“Sure, lots of times.”

            Ever since I got into films and TV shows all my favorite characters and occasionally actresses have been feisty kick ass women with loads of attitude and snark. I am a shy introverted person lacking in confidence and those types of women with attitude and sass who say the wittiest snarkiest lines and just exude confidence from the screen were women I have always wanted to be. In times of self doubt and nervousness I occasionally ask myself what a certain character would do or say. A new actress and her characters I now will forever look up to for inspiration as well as hilarity and sass is Mae West. I will forever adore her and her film She Done Him Wrong.
            In the 1890s the Bowery in New York City was a place of sin, corruption, and wonderful drunken nights and entertainment. Men would crowd the dancehalls to drink and see half naked women on stage sing and dance all for their pleasure. One dancehall in the Bowery is pretty popular for its owner and main attraction Lady Lou (West). Despite being a singer in a dancehall and a woman of loose morals everyone adores her. Underneath her tough sexy exterior she is a kind woman willing to give a helping hand.
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            One day a young girl named Sally comes into the dancehall all distraught and in shambles. She goes into a room and tries to kill herself but she is stopped by one of the workers. Lou hears all the commotion downstairs and has the girl brought up to her dressing room. She talks to Sally asking her what has caused her to want to kill herself. As Lou puts it a man has “done her wrong” which is the same story she always hears. Lou has to go on stage so she leaves Sally in the care of Gus and Rita. When Lou leaves the room the two start grilling Sally about what happened and if she would be willing to work a job they would give her.
            Lou hears her old boyfriend Chick wants to see her. He has been in a jail for a while so she has to travel to him. As Lou walks the cell block all the men call out to her since she had once gone around with all of them. Chick just wanted to make sure that Lou stays faithful to him or he will kill her. Lou promises but you can tell the promise is not genuine especially since she is falling for a new guy named Captain Cummings (Cary Grant) who works at the mission next door to the dancehall. Lou has got it bad for Cummings because he did not look at her the way other men do. He really does like her for her. She wants to help out the mission next door for Cummings after she hears it might be closing down. Lou meets with the building’s owner and strikes up a deal without her name being on any papers.
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            A cop named Flynn comes to speak to Lou after one of her numbers. He tells her that there is a cop in the police force simply known as The Hawk. No one knows who he is but he has been cleaning up all the corruption in the Bowery. Apparently this Hawk knows all about Gus and Rita’s side business that makes them a lot of money. Lou claims to have no knowledge of their other business and none too pleased to hear that if Gus goes down she will go down him.
            That night Chick climbs through the window. He has escaped from jail and wants to take Lou away with him. When she refuses he tries to choke her to death but he cannot go through with it. Chick then spends his time behind the alley stalking Lou.
            Sometime later, Sergi (Gilber Roland), Rita’s new toy, goes to Lou to try to seduce her. Lou had flirted with him before and just sees him as another good looking man to get with. Rita comes barging in the room and becomes infuriated with jealousy. Sergi leaves the room and Rita goes after Lou with a knife. Lou manages to grab the knife. She did plan on doing anything with the weapon. Rita comes at her again and accidentally runs into the knife that Lou was holding at her side. With the worst timing ever the police come by looking for Gus. Since Rita collapsed in the chair Lou pretends to be brushing the dead woman’s hair out and the police suspect nothing. Lou has a guy named Spider get rid of Rita’s body.
Image result for she done him wrong 1933
Image result for she done him wrong 1933
            Before her performance that night Lou has Spider tell Chick to meet her in her room. As she performs she spots Flynn in a balcony seat and signals Chick’s location. When Flynn walks in Chick opens fire and shoots the cop. Soon the dancehall is in chaos and the police come in full force. Cummings storms in gun in hand. Turns out he does not work for the mission and is in fact the notorious Hawk. Cummings makes it appear as if he is arresting Lou and taking her to the police carriage with the other criminals. He actually hails another cab where he asks Lou to marry him.
            There are no words to express how much I adored Mae West in this film. This is the first time I have ever seen West in a film before! I know bad me. From the moment she came on screen with this unbelievable confidence I was a fan. Every line that came out of her mouth and every movement she made was perfection. West was one of the writers of the story which makes her character and the story that much better. Cary Grant was a baby he was so young and ridiculously gorgeous. The more films I see Grant in the more I am convinced the man could have had this crazy sexual chemistry with a broom and I would love it. That would be incredibly weird but you get the point the man was just beautiful and extremely talented. There is a scene where West and Grant were flirting on the stairs… if I watch that scene again anytime soon it may be my official cause of death because it was so hot! Gilbert Roland was also a drop dead sexy human being. He also had a very sexy scene with Mae West that was hot as hell. Owen Moore played Chick. I may have seen him in a film before and it was mostly likely a silent film because he was married to Mary Pickford and they were quite possibly in a film together (the lazy ass that I am has no desire at this time to look through my blog to see if I have watched that film). He was a decent actor he was perfect as Chick.
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            She Done Him Wrong is without a doubt one of my favorite Pre-Code films and now one of my all time favorites. And that is all thanks to Mae West. You can feel all her sexuality and her attitude through the screen. She Done Him Wrong is funny and at times dramatic and they worked together wonderfully. It is such an entertaining film. She Done Him Wrong is a film I highly recommend especially to those women who need someone to up for inspiration for confidence and for those that love Pre-Code films.
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Big Fish (2003)

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“A man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories. They live on after him, and in that way he becomes immortal.”

            I love a good story. I love reading literature where the story is so good and fascinating that I cannot put the book down. I love a movie that has such a great story I cannot stop thinking it about and want to watch it over and over again. My favorite kinds of stories are the ones where normal people do extraordinary things or have lived such a full life traveling or doing fun things. I long to have an interesting, full, entertaining life like the people I read about or watch in films or even of the real people I have read about in memoirs. I want to be able to say I did fun thing with my life. I long to travel the world and make new friends and create stories people will want to hear or be inspired by. Right now I am flat broke which means I cannot even go out to a local bar with friends or meet people and I live down the Jersey Shore where nothing fun ever happens and is far away from New York City(if you even think about Seaside and the beach… let me tell you it is completely overrated).
            I unfortunately do not have an imagination that lets me create stories to live vicariously through and let me escape. Well, maybe I do not need an imagination to live vicariously through and escape. Watching movies of various genres with all the talented directors and actors and actresses creating fantasy worlds and romance and adventure is my escape. For however long the movies run for, I am living in a world not my own and vicariously through the characters. One of the most perfect movies I ever sat through that let me escape to an imaginative world with colorful characters was Big Fish.
            Ed Bloom (Albert Finney) is dying of cancer. He and his son Will (Bill Cruddup) have not spoken in three years. Will does not like that Ed makes up these incredible stories about his life because he cannot find any truth in them leaving him to know nothing of who his father really is. The story that finally put Will over the edge was how his father caught a large fish in the river that no one else could ever catch the day he was born. He was so sick of Ed telling that story that he finally up and left.
            Will still struggles with his father’s exaggerated tales of adventure. His wife Josephine (Marion Cottillard) sits down with Ed one night and listens to his stories. Ed recalls how he met his wife at a circus he came across and all the things he did just to learn about her and find out where she lived and the story about how he won her over. Josephine and Will’s mother have no problems listening to Ed’s fantastic tales.
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            Since Will is a journalist he checks on one of his father’s stories dealing with a woman named Jenny (Helena Bonham Carter). In stories she was once a witch when he was a small boy and her one eye revealed how they were going to die and how she became a woman in the 1970s who was Jenny’s mother and he helped to make her house habitable again. He realizes with this Jenny that his father’s stories have truth in them and that he needs to see past the exaggerations.
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            As Ed lay dying in the hospital Will tells him a story about how they escaped the hospital and where they go to and how they got there. Will’s story is exactly like one of Ed’s.
            I know I did not go into explaining each of Ed’s wonderfully colorful stories but they would be too long to go into detail and me trying to coherently write them down would have been a nightmare for, not just me, but for all of you reading this. Also, the way Tim Burton created these scenes is so beautiful I would not want to spoil any of it for it in any way.
            I remember not really wanting to ever sit and watch Big Fish. The only reasons I sat through it were for my friend who is obsessed with Ewan McGregor and because of Marion Cotillard and Helena Bonham Carter. I adore both actresses and before looking up the cast I shamefully had no idea they were even in it. I also shamefully did not realize Tim Burton had been the director. I liked everything about Big Fish. I love the imaginative world Ed chose to live in and wanted to tell and how all of them had some truth. He did not make himself look like a completely good guy either. I liked how Will wanted to know the truth about his father and how he was frustrated by the tall tales. I think his frustration was down to the fact that he did love his father and wanted to know more about him besides the stories.
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            I absolutely loved sitting through Big Fish. It made the world feel less small and brighter. It made me feel like I could go out and accomplish anything no matter how big or small. It opened up my eyes and my mind to the endless amounts of stories that could be told to make you feel better and help you make sense of the world around you. Creating stories in the way that Ed did can also help you cope with the world around you. Big Fish is a movie I cannot wait to sit through again. I cannot wait to be brought back into a world I can perfectly vicariously live through and be happy.
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