Monday, August 31, 2015

13 Going on 30 (2004)

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“I wanna be thirty.”

            When we are younger all we want is to be older. We think by the time we hit about twenty-five we will be successful, be living out on our own in a great apartment somewhere in New York City working a job that we love. Well, that was my dream anyway. I had hoped that by the time I was twenty-seven, which I am now, that I would at least have a full time job somewhere and living out on my own and be comfortable. Instead I am twenty-seven working two shit part time jobs and living at home. I blame that dream on the movies and society. 13 Going on 30 takes a look at what our dreams are when we are younger of being older and shows that being an adult is not really all it is cracked up to be.
            Jenna Rink is thirteen years old which would put her in probably middle school. Middle school and being thirteen is tough especially when all you want is to be popular and look unrealistically perfect and pretty all the time. Jenna has a friend named Matt. They are neighbors and are best friends. But Jenna desperately wants to be friends with a girl called Tom-Tom and her group the Six Chicks. For her thirteenth birthday she invites the group over and also some of the football players that Tom-Tom said she could bring. Tom-Tom manipulates Jenna into doing a homework assignment for her so she will go to the party.
            Before the party starts Matt comes over with his cute gift to Jenna. He made her a Jenna Dream House, similar to a Barbie Dream House. In this house are all the best records and snacks and Rick Springfield. Matt also sprinkles wishing dust on the house. Their moment is broken when the doorbell rings and the Six Chicks arrive along with the football players. Everyone stares at Matt being a dork dancing to a Talking Heads song. Tom-Tom says something nasty to Matt and when Matt tells Jenna he is going to get his keyboard she says the same thing Tom-Tom said to him. Tom-Tom has Jenna go into a closet to play seven minutes in heaven with one of the football players. She is evil and makes it a joke. She blindfolds Jenna, puts her in the closet and grabs some snacks and all the popular kids head out. Matt comes back just as everyone is leaving and Tom-Tom tells him that Jenna is in the closet waiting for him. When Matt holds Jenna’s hands to lift her up she is still blindfolded and thinks it is the popular football player lifting her. Matt gets pissed and Jenna gets upset. She slams the door, sits down, down and starts crying. She rocks against the shelf the dream house is on and wishing dust falls down as she says she wants to be “I wish I thirty, flirty, and thriving.”
            Next thing Jenna (now played by Jennifer Garner) really is thirty. She wakes up in a strange apartment with a strange naked man in her shower! Mentally she is still thirteen years old living in 1987, physically she is tall and pretty with great clothes. Jenna is picked up by her co-worker Lucy (Judy Greer) and they are driven to their job at Poise Magazine. Jenna cannot believe that she is working for her favorite magazine. In her office she sees how successful she has become, she is floored when she sees that she is friends with Madonna.
            As the story progresses Jenna finds that she did not grow up into a very nice person. She and Matt (now played by Mark Ruffalo) have not been friends since her thirteenth birthday party, she has stepped on a lot of toes to get where she is, she is having an affair with a married man, and she was working to bring down her favorite magazine. All of Jenna’s efforts to right the wrongs she did backfires.
            But of course this being a romantic comedy and a chick flick there is a happy ending where Jenna and Matt wind up together.
            I remember clear as day seeing 13 Going on 30 twice opening weekend. I was sixteen. I actually remember my mom dropping me and my friends off at the movie theater the first night it played. When I was sixteen I was massively over the top obsessed with Jennifer Garner and her TV show Alias. I still love and adore Jennifer Garner to no end and even Alias but when I say obsessed I mean obsessed (watch my video review for the movie. There is part where you will see my full blown Alias/Jennifer Garner obsession). I remember the first time I saw the movie and I saw how sweet and adorable Garner was and thinking I am so not used to seeing her be all cute and sweet I am used to seeing her tough and serious and kicking ass. Then after seeing the movie a second time I thought how the hell am I going to watch Alias (when it was on Sunday nights) now I am used to seeing her be all sweet and adorable! If I were to ramble on about my admiration for Jennifer Garner you would be reading about four more pages of this review (as I said watch my video review) so I will just stop here. Actually let me just say that Garner was brilliant she was so fantastic as Jenna.
            The rest of the cast was great. This was the first time I had ever seen Mark Ruffalo in a movie! I never knew who he was before this. Judy Greer was a good not-so-nice character. This was also the first time I had ever seen Andy Serkis outside of hearing his voice for Golem in Lord of the Rings. He was funny I cracked up when he danced to Thriller.
            I have three favorite scenes from this movie that I must mention. The first is when thirteen year old Jenna is reading an article in Poise called Thirty, Flirty, and Thriving and she tells her mom that she wants to be like the models she sees. Her mom responds “Those aren’t people, honey, those are models.” I like this because later on in the movie Jenna makes a campaign for the magazine and says something along the lines that she wants to put models and take photos of people that she would recognize in real life, they would be real people. Those two lines and scenes have stuck with me ever since because that is what I look for whenever I read a magazine. The next scene that I absolutely love is when everyone dances to Thriller. Jennifer Garner just kills it in the adorable department and now when I hear Thriller I immediately yell out “Matty it’s Thriller!” ha ha.
            I know I have written in the past about how much I hate rom coms and chick flicks but 13 Going on 30 will forever be one of only three rom coms and chick flicks I will willingly watch (along with How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days and 27 Dresses). I have such great memories of seeing it when it was released and being totally obsessed with Alias. Even though it put the awful idea in my head that I must be “thriving” and “successful” by age thirty and so far I am not on that path, I still love it and everything it has to say about being an adult. 13 Going on 30 is a chick flick and I will only suggest watching it to those who like chick flicks or who may really, really like Jennifer Garner.

            PS: if you have never watched Alias WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! If you like Agent Carter as both a show and character watch Alias. If you like tough ass female characters you idolize Sydney Britstow. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Silent Sundays: Annabelle Lee (1921)

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“Annabelle to me is the sunshine and beauty of life. I love her! Money can’t buy that love- Money can’t destroy it!”

            A young man named David Martin has a soul of a poet but works as a fisherman in Massachusetts. He lives with his mother in a small house near a very rich Lee family. Annabelle Lee goes down to the Martin’s home to visit David’s mother and she also visits David down by the docks. Their friendship soon becomes more. Colonel Lee, Annabelle’s father, is not happy about the relationship because David cannot provide for Annabelle the way she is used to. They both tell the colonel that money cannot make them as happy as they make each other. The colonel comes up with the idea for David and Annabelle to be apart for an entire year without communicating. The couple agrees because they know their love is strong.
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            David is frustrated with the divide between the poor and the rich. His mother reminds him that his father had gone down with his ship that had valuable cargo on it. He decides to go out and find that cargo. After months of getting a crew together he sets off. Before he left he gave Annabelle a couple of poems he wrote for her. She reads them over and over and even gives them to a publisher she knows.
            While David is away his mother and Annabelle keep a light burning in the window. David is having a bit of a hard time with some of the crew particularly a guy named McGurt. McGurt is a nasty man who is becoming unsettled with not having alcohol and not having been on land in months. The crew feed off his agitation and they mutiny against him. They throw David off the ship along with the Asian cook.
            Mrs. Martin receives a letter that David has gone missing from his ship and is considered dead. Annabelle is heartbroken. She walks down to the cliff side and looks for David. Soon Colonel Lee and Mrs. Martin are encouraging Annabelle to move on. The man who has published David’s poems is in love with her and wants to marry her. Annabelle tells the man that she does like him but she still needs more time to get over David.
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            It is a very good thing that Annabelle waits. Help eventually arrives for David. He does not send a letter home to tell his mother he is alive. He surprises them. Mrs. Martin has moved in with the Lees so he heads to their house. Annabelle and David’s love is stronger than it was when they separated.

            This silent version of Annabelle Lee is supposed to be loosely based on the Edgar Allan Poe poem. It is a poem everyone has heard bits and pieces of. I liked this film I liked the way it was filmed and the story. I really liked how Annabelle’s love for David did not waver. I feel like if this was any other film the girl would have given up and moved on to another man and then there would be this whole big debacle. Annabelle Lee is a very good silent film that I recommend watching if you like silent films. It runs for fifty-five minutes and you can view it in full on YouTube

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Comet (2014)

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 “I feel like I'm in the wrong world. 'Cause I don't belong in a world where we don't end up together. I don't. There are parallel universes out there where this didn't happen. Where I was with you, and you were with me. And whatever universe that is that's the one where my heart lives in.”

            Movies about relationships are usually all the same: boy and girl, they fall in love, they have great times, they have bad times, they break up, and then get back together in the end. Blah. I hate clichés. The only relationship movies I have enjoyed immensely are (500) Days of Summer and Comet. Never heard of Comet? Well you need to it is awesome.
            The story begins with a guy named Dell (Justin Long) waiting on line to get into the Hollywood Forever Cemetery to watch a comet come by. Dell is studying medicine of some kind and he is on the phone with a doctor about his mother who is sick with some kind of cancer. He is a narcissistic asshole who just rambles on and on like he is a know it all. Standing behind him is an annoying guy who just keeps smack talking about things. Dell gets really annoyed because the guy’s girlfriend caught his eye and he can tell that the girl Kimberly (Emmy Rossum) is not enjoying the guy she is with. A few moments later Kimberly winds up saving Dell’s life when she yells at him to watch out when a car comes speeding his way.
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            After that the story skips around over a series of six years through their relationship. In one series they meet at a train station. In another they are in Paris for a wedding. Another they are breaking up. Another they are seeing each other for the first time in a long time. Each of these scenes from their relationship plays out as the movie goes on. The audience sees Dell and Kimberly fall in love throughout a night in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, falling out of love then falling in love again and then out of love again.
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            Justin Long and Emmy Rossum were incredible together as a screen couple and as characters. I loved all their characters’ quirks and personalities. Dell could have been the annoying narcissistic asshole but he was not you kind of feel bad for him because Long played him so well. Emmy Rossum was fantastic I could not get over her performance. She was the best in the second break up segment and the train segment I loved her performance in those.
            The direction was perfect too. Sam Esmail filmed certain scenes from different perspectives that really captured the characters’ emotions. There were certain segments that where the background perfectly matched the emotions of the characters. The train segment was completely CGI-ed and did not try to even look real. The train cars looked like old time trains when they were supposed to be on a train in modern day California.

            Comet is definitely not your typical relationship movie. Dell and Kimberly are not completely likable. They are both eccentric and have their issues. I liked how the segments were broken up where the story skipped around. I loved how the story unfolds with the broken up segments. I have to say I liked Comet from the moment it began. It starts off with Justin Long waiting outside a door all nervous like it was his first date and then the door opens and as if something is trying to break through a broadcast and then cuts to the scene where he is waiting on line. I now consider Comet one of my all time favorite movies because it was original and the acting and direction are fantastic. I highly recommend seeing Comet. It is available to view on Netflix so if you have Netflix go put Comet on right now! 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Notorious (1946)

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“There's nothing like a love song to give you a good laugh.”

            Today is Ingrid Bergman’s 100th birthday. Bergman is one of my all time favorite classic film actresses. Without her I would not be as into classic films and Hollywood as I am now. I remember picking up a few of her films when I worked at Best Buy many moons ago. It was at a time when classic films were starting to come out on DVD. The first of her films I bought were Spellbound, Casablanca, and Notorious. I bought Notorious because I love Cary Grant and so did my great-grandmother who told me about the film. From the moment I first saw Bergman in Notorious I was hooked. In honor of Bergman’s 100th birthday I have decided to review the first ever film I saw her in.
            A German man is convicted of being a Nazi spy in America. The press is abuzz outside the courtroom not so much for the German man but for his beautiful young daughter Alicia Huberman (Bergman). That night she has a wild party at her place and gets tossed. At the party is a man she has never seen before. Apparently a friend of hers brought the man along. The mysterious man’s name is Devlin (Grant) and he is the last one left among the guests at her party. In her drunken stupor Alicia wants to go for a drive and she will be the driver. On the road she gets pulled over but Devlin shows the officer a card and they are free to go. This angers Alicia because she realizes that Devlin is some kind of government worker sent to watch over her.
            The next morning Alicia wakes up severely hung over to see Devlin standing in her doorway. He has an assignment for her. She refuses to do so until Devlin plays her a record of a bugged conversation between her and her father where she professes her love for America. Alicia’s assignment is to get close to a man named Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains) who was an associate of her father’s. Sebastian lives down in Rio De Janeiro where other ex-Nazis also live.
            Down in Rio, Devlin and Alicia fall in love. They share a passionate kiss on a hotel balcony and profess their love for one another. Before they can even have dinner Devlin receives news that Alicia is to get close to Sebastian. Devlin is not happy about this and begins to pull away from her as soon as he gets back to the hotel room. Devlin is told Sebastian will be out riding the following day and that is where Alicia is to catch his attention. Devlin moves their meeting along by kicking Alicia’s horse so Sebastian will ride after her.
            Soon Alicia is invited over Sebastian’s house where he lives with his domineering mother. Also invited to dinner that night are a few of Sebastian’s fellow Nazi sympathizers. While sitting down at the table one of the men nearly has a panic attack when he sees a bottle of wine on a sideboard. After dinner the men sit in the dining room  discussing what had happened before dinner. They decides that the man who saw the bottle must be gotten rid of because he has other slips in front of people before.
            Not long later Alicia announces to Devlin and his bosses that Sebastian has asked her to marry him. She did not answer him right away because she wanted to know what they thought she should do. The boss of the operation thinks Alicia should marry him and so she does. Devlin is still angry with her even though she was assigned to get close to Sebastian and she is angry and spiteful to him because he is the same way towards her. Sebastian and his mother throw a party for his friends to meet Alicia. She has told Devlin at one of their secret meetings that Sebastian is hiding something down in the wine cellar and he has key he keeps on his key ring. Before the party she takes the key off the ring so she and Devlin can find what he is hiding during the party. They do not have long before the champagne and wine run out and Sebastian will have to go down to the cellar. Devlin and Alicia find that Sebastian is hiding a chemical that looks like sand in the bottles. They get out of the cellar just in time but not before Sebastian catches them together. Devlin pulls Alicia close and kisses her and tells Sebastian the kiss was his fault. That night Sebastian comes to the realization from finding his key all the sudden back on his ring and the chemical on the floor that his wife is an American spy.
Notorious (1946).
            Sebastian tells his mother about Alicia. Being the sweet caring mother she is tells her son that something must be done about her and she decides to have Alicia slowly poisoned. The mother’s plan works and soon Alicia is too ill to leave the house to see Devlin. Devlin and his boss become worried about her. He tries to go see her but he is told that Alicia is not to be disturbed. Devlin finally has enough and goes to the house, heads up to Alicia’s room and takes her away. As he is leaving with Alicia, Sebastian comes out of another room where he was meeting with his associates. Devlin know Sebastian cannot do anything. Some of the men come out from the other room and see what is happening. They realize that Sebastian has known that his wife is a spy and has not done anything about it sooner. Devlin is able to get away with Alicia without incident and Sebastian’s fate is left to the men in his house.
            Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant are complete perfection together. Both of them were so outrageously talented as actors that worked so well together. Their onscreen chemistry just oozes out of the film. The scene where they kiss on the balcony is incredible because of their chemistry and because of the fact that the Production Code only allowed for a couple to kiss for three seconds at a time so Alfred Hitchcock had Bergman and Grant kiss then pull away while still in each other’s arms and then kiss again multiple times. That kiss is my all time favorite onscreen kiss. Grant is the epitome of classic Hollywood leading man. He was always so handsome but I do not think he ever was more so than in Notorious. Ian Flemming based the look of his character James Bond off of Cary Grant and you can see why so clearly in this film (although Flemming said he based Bond off of Grant’s character in North By Northwest). Ingrid Bergman was beautiful in every film she made. She was a woman who never needed the flash of costumes or jewelry to help make her beautiful she just naturally was. Her acting in Notorious is fantastic especially at the beginning where she is this bitter drunken woman and also later on when she is spiteful and angry with Devlin. I believe in the hands of a lesser actress Alicia Huberman would not have been convincing or worked as well as she did.

Cary Grant in Notorious, 1946
            Alfred Hitchcock is one of my all time favorite directors because he knew who he wanted for his films and how he wanted his films to look and feel. The man had a knack for picking out the best talent for his films. Besides the kiss scene my other favorite scene is the push up from the upstairs of Sebastian’s home during the party to the key in Alicia’s hand in the foyer. There have been several scenes where it goes from wide angle to a detail within the frame but what makes this scene more interesting and awesome is that there were no camera cranes in 1946 when this film was made. A scaffold-like structure had to be made where the camera could be lowered and as the camera was lowered the lens zoomed out into Bergman’s hand.

Start focusing on Ingrid Bergman. August 29 will mark her centennial.

            Notorious is one of my all time favorite films as a whole and for the actors and directors. The more I watch it the more I fall in love with it and with Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant. I do not think I could imagine a better film to become a fan of Ingrid Bergman’s she was amazing. If you have yet to see Notorious see it as soon as you can and any way you can.

Cary Grant & Ingrid Bergman, Notorious, 1946

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Danny Collins (2015)

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“Hank, I haven't written a song in thirty years. THIRTY YEARS. I'm a fucking joke.”

            When it comes to dreaming about being famous or knowing famous people I am going to guess that we all share two dreams: we wish were the famous ones either actors or singers or whatever and that if we were not the ones famous that our parents or someone close to us in our families was and that they would spoil the shit out of us. Of course the movies and several biographies and tell all books have made sure we know the reality of being famous or being close to someone famous is not all it is cracked up to be. The movie Danny Collins tells both sides of those dreams we have and how unpleasant both lives can be.
            Danny Collins (Al Pacino) has been famous for decades. He is the typical rock star with addictions to alcohol, cocaine, and younger women. He is currently on tour for a volume three of his greatest hits. At a concert one night Danny sees more old people in the crowd than new. He is becoming bored with all his old songs and realizes he really is not that young anymore. Making Danny even more upset is his birthday the following day. His manager Frank (Christopher Plummer) gives Danny something incredible as a present. In the seventies when Danny was starting out John Lennon had written him a letter about how he liked his lyrics and wanted to get together sometime. John gave the letter to someone to give to Danny but the person was an ass and kept the letter knowing that someday it would probably be worth a lot of money. The guy who had it died and another person had it and Frank tracked the letter down to him and he bought it. This letter makes something in Danny’s mind click. The following day he packs his stuff to leave to head to New Jersey.
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            In New Jersey, Danny stays a Hilton hotel indefinitely. He immediately begins to flirt with the hotel manager Mary (Annette Benning) but she does not take the bait for one second. The reason Danny is in New Jersey to try to connect with his son Tom (Bobby Cannavale). Danny was never in Tom’s life. Tom’s mother slept with Danny when she was twenty-three years old and never saw him again after that. Danny shows up at Tom’s house where his wife Samantha (Jennifer) and daughter Hope are. Samantha is shocked to see Danny and worries about how pissed off Tom will be. Tom absolutely hates Danny, so much so that whenever Danny comes on TV he freaks out and shuts the TV off. Tom comes storming into the house and tells Danny to get out.
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            Skipping over some details because I do not feel like writing them out and to also not give everything away… Danny and Tom eventually learn to get along. Danny helps Tom and Samantha get Hope, who has severe ADHD, into a school that is well known for helping out children with learning disabilities. He also helps out Tom who is suffering from leukemia. He also begins to write new music because he has not written any new material in thirty-five years! Then, Danny suffers a little setback but quickly bounces back.
            The cast was really good. I watched this movie for Jennifer Garner. Jennifer Garner is my hero and my idol I will literally watch anything she is in. If you ever want to see me go speechless or rave like a fucking lunatic fan girl just get me started on Jennifer Garner. She was so good in this movie. I really liked her pairing with Bobby Cannavale. They seemed like a real couple you would know in real life. Especially a couple from New Jersey (I mean that in a good way. I live in the good ole Garden State). Bobby Cannavale I think I have seen in a few movies before. I never quite liked him the movies but I liked him a lot in this. Al Pacino was fantastic. I think the only other movies I ever really sat through of his were the first two Godfathers. He was so funny and entertaining as Danny Collins. He was kind of like this old creeper rock star but also a really sweet guy who truly wanted to do something good for his family. Besides Jennifer Garner Christopher Plummer was the best part of the movie. I was dying laughing when he cursed because he is such a proper sweet old man and the cursing sounded so funny coming out of his mouth. Annette Benning was also good. I liked how her character did not give Danny the time of day or take his shit. Shout to Josh Peck who had a small role as the valet parking attendant at the hotel. He was adorable.
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            Danny Collins is a very good movie. I enjoyed it from start to finish. It was entertaining and the story was not completely typical when it comes to self indulged old rock stars and their families. I liked how Danny truly wanted to be there for Tom and was not an asshole trying to force his way into Tom’s life. He did it nicely he was nice to Samantha and Hope right from the beginning. If you can find a way to watch Danny Collins I definitely recommend watching it. 
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