Monday, February 29, 2016

The Hideaways (1973)

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“One of the greatest adventures in life is to know something that nobody else knows. Something that makes you different, where it really counts: inside yourself.”

            The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of my favorite places in the world. Sure, it may be totally elitist and snobby but whenever I go there I feel reinvigorated and mentally stimulated. I have a degree in Art History so I just love museums in general. Since the Met has never been want for money they have an incredible collection of art spanning thousands of years. My favorite galleries are the 19th Century European Paintings and Sculpture, the Egyptian Wing, the Greek and Roman Galleries, the American Wing, and European Paintings. I know that place like that the back of my hand. It is a comfort to be to go there every time, it has never become boring to me. I can never get sick and tired of seeing my favorite painting Madame X by John Singer Sargent, she is stunning, sassy, gorgeous, and full of attitude.
            I have loved museums ever since I was little. My parents used to take me to all kinds of museums because I was so into history. I cannot really remember the first time I ever visited the Met but I knew I loved it because I can remember getting excited when we had to read the book From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler when I was in elementary school. The book has always stayed in my mind and heart since it dealt with two kids basically living in the Met for a few days. That was (and is still) my dream to live in the Met! (or any museum for that matter haha). When I found out that the book had been made into a movie called The Hideaways and it starred my favorite classic film actress Ingrid Bergman, I HAD to see it!
            Claudia is a young girl who is unhappy having to keep an eye on her younger brothers and doing chores. Her home life is fine but she is growing up and her parents are giving her more responsibilities. Claudia loves to read and dream about the stories of King Arthur. Her father tells her not to read those stories because he feels they are for little kids. Claudia comes up with the plan to leave home with her brother Jamie and live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She comes up with an elaborate plan to not get off the school bus which will be brought into the city after the student drop off and then catch the train to New York City.
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            Once in the Met, Claudia and Jaime pay their entrance fee and then at hide out in the bathrooms when the museum closes. While walking around at night after the museum closes Claudia comes across the statue of an angel in one of the galleries. She is immediately infatuated with the statue. The next day Claudia begins to research the statue which is attributed to Michelangelo. She drags Jamie to the library to do some investigating. Claudia finds the statue gone from the pedestal in the gallery after it was moved to be part of an exhibition. On the velvet it had been placed on she finds the imprint of an inscription that had been carved at the bottom. She remembers reading about the inscription and that it was Michelangelo’s signature.
            After investigating further, Claudia finds that the statue was owned and donated by a Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler and comes to the conclusion that the woman could hold the secret to the truth about the statue. With the last of their money Claudia and Jamie travel out to Mrs. Frankenweiler (Ingrid Bergman). She is an older lady who is not ready to just freely give up the secret of the statue. She does see that Claudia is genuinely interested and shows the young girl some information on the statue.
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            I have to talk about the scene where Claudia and Jamie are researching in the library. I loved it because Jamie said something about how he did not realize that investigating involved doing research. I unfortunately cannot remember exactly what he said but I loved it. As an Art Historian all I do is research art. Basically Art Historians are like history detectives constantly researching for facts and truths and learning. I do not mind researching whatsoever I love learning I love gathering facts and information. I just hate researching when it came to writing papers (although I must say I wrote some pretty good papers in college. One was on Jacques-Louis David and his portrayal of women in his works).
            Ingrid Bergman was only in the movie at the end. Of course she was fabulous the woman never gave less than 100% no matter what her role was. She was perfect as this stuffy old regal rich woman. I must give a mention to Madeline Kahn who had a very small appearance as, I believe, a teacher who was guiding her class in part of the Egyptian Wing. I adore her way too much her scene was so funny.
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            The Hideaways was alright. The actors who played Jamie and Claudia were annoying as hell and sometimes that bogged down the movie for me. I had a good time seeing some of the galleries and some of the works of art. Is it sad that I know what works of art are still on display today and that I know exactly where they are?! It was also cool to see how much the museum has changed since 1973. I am only going to recommend seeing The Hideaways if you really like Art History or if you are an Ingrid Bergman completist like myself, otherwise skip it. 
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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Silent Sundays: The Scar of Shame (1927)

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“A child of environment! – If she had the proper training, if she had been bought the finer things in life, the higher aims, the higher hopes, she would not be lying cold in death! – Oh! Our people have much to learn.”

            Stories dealing with nature vs. nurture interest me. That question of if people are the product of their environment or are they raised to be the way they are by their parents. I do believe that people can overcome the way they were raised if it was bad and they can overcome their environment if it was bad. Films have dealt with this type of story for a very long time. One film dealing with nature vs. nurture is the silent film The Scar of Shame.
            Alvin Hillyard is a musician living in a boarding house. He is educated and sophisticated. Also living in the boarding house is a no good man named Eddie Blake who is a gambler. In the house next to the boarding house lives a young woman named Louise Howard. She lives her mean stepfather Spike. While he is away and she is working around the house she dreams of living a pampered life. Spike comes home and he beats her. Alvin hears her screaming from his room and he climbs down out of his window into Louise’s backyard. He beats Spike and carries Louise away. Louise is afraid to go back to Spike and to her home. The boarding house keeper, Mrs. Green, tells Louise she can help around the place to keep her stay.
            After his beating Spike goes to a bar. Eddie is there and he asks Spike what happened to his face. Spike says that he got knocked in the face by a cable car. Once in the bar Eddie comes up with the idea to take Louise away and make money off of her in a cabaret somewhere since she is pretty. Spike wants to go along with the plan he wants to make some money off of his step-daughter.
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            Months later Alvin and Louise are married. He asked her to marry him so that Spike could not come anywhere near her. Spike and Eddie still want to take Louise away so that they can make money off of her. They plan on kidnapping her. To get Alvin away from the house they send a fake telegraph that his mother is ill. Alvin gets the telegraph. Louise wants to go with him to see his mother but he never told his mother that he got married. He tells his wife it is because of her caste. This whole issue with the caste upsets Louise. When Eddie comes to take her away Louise does not fight him she gives in to what he has to say about running away. Alvin realizes the telegraph was fake and rushes home. He climbs through the window to their room to find Louise with Eddie. The two men draw out their guns and Alvin accidentally shoots Louise on the side of her face.
            Alvin is sent to jail. He escapes from jail and starts a new life under a new name. In his new life he is now a music professor. He has fallen in love with his female student Alice. He is afraid to get close to her because he is afraid he will reveal his past.
            Meanwhile, Louise and Eddie run a successful gambling house and nightclub. Alice’s father is one of the more prominent members of the nightclub. He is always talking about Alice and her piano teacher. Alvin had finally broken down and proposed to Alice and the father could not stop talking about the engagement.
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            One night Alice asks Alvin to stop at the club to pick up her father. That is when he comes face to face with Louise again. She blackmails him into coming back later that night. Alvin wants Louise to let him go he loves Alice now. She does not want to and he throws her to the ground and he leaves to go home. Out of sorrow Louise kills herself. Before she died she wrote a letter to Alice’s father that Alvin had been her husband but he never loved her like he loves Alice.

            The Scar of Shame was a really good film. It is one of the best silent films I have ever sat through. The ending of the film where Louise kills herself because she has “sinned” is nothing new but for some reason it seemed different, it did not seem cheesy to me. I think it comes down to the idea of nature vs. nurture. The movie Dope is along the same lines in some ways as The Scar of Shame, the main character in that reminded me a bit of Alvin. The Scar of Shame is so great from the direction to the acting and the lighting and the sets. I cannot recommend watching The Scar of Shame enough especially if you are really into film studies and silent films. 
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Friday, February 26, 2016

Race (2016)

“In those ten second, there's no black or white, only fast or slow.”

            Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to go back in time and visit specific moments in history. I would never want to live in any later time than I do now I would just like to go and visit and witness what the world was like. One time period I would like to travel to is the 1930s. I know it was definitely not the best of time with the Great Depression but I would want to visit experience what seeing all my favorite classic films were like in theaters when they were first released. I would also just like to experience what it was like to hear history making news such as Amelia Earhart’s flight and Jesse Owens winning so many gold medals and setting records for track at field at the 1936 Olympics. With the new movie Race I get to see part of what the time period and what the 1936 Olympics with Jesse Owens was like.
            Race tells the story of Jesse Owens’s journey over three years to the 1936 Olympics. He was a high school star of track and field and earned a place at Ohio State University. At the college is coached by Larry Snyder (Jason Sudeikis). Jesse immediately begins to set records for different track and field events.
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            Jesse eventually wins a place on the US Olympic team. The Olympics are held in Germany. The Nazis regime is in full control. They manage to bribe one of the members of the US Olympic Committee into not having two of the teams Jews not compete in an event and they try to hold Jesse back. If you know your history, Jesse sets several Olympic track and field records that were not broken for another twenty-five years.
            Race also tells a story about racial discrimination in the United States and even in Europe and how Jesse and others had to overcome that to participate in a sport they were passionate about. I liked that juxtaposition with the title because it means the races that Jesse had to win to get to the Olympics and the one at the Olympics and it also means his struggle with racial discrimination.
            Jason Sudeikis deserves so much recognition for his role as Larry Snyder. If you know Sudeikis you will know that he is a comedian, he is not a serious actor. The movie looked good but I most likely would not have gone to see it in the theaters had it not been for Sudeikis. I have been a fan of his since he first appeared on Saturday Night Live and I have seen him in other movies. He is a good actor and I was really interested in seeing him in a serious role. Sudeikis nailed it he was fantastic. I would like to see him other serious roles eventually.
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            I liked Race. It was a good movie but it was way too long. There were so many aspects of the story that could have either been taken out or shortened way down. I could have done without the side story of Jesse Owens’s personal life but I can see why they were somewhat important. Some of the track and field race scene were longer than they should have been. 
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