Friday, February 29, 2008

They Lived Happily Ever After? Not always: A Guide to Incredible Movie Endings

An ending can have different effects on us, it can makes us laugh, make us cry, and truly change us sometimes. I remember the King Tut exhibit a year ago where you are walking into a room of artifacts and other things galore. I said to myself: "But wait, there must have been something to perfectly end the iffy exhibit. Let's turn this way and maybe we'll see the famous death mask!" We make a turn and we see...The gift shop. And we can't reenter. I hate it when a good movie or anything leads you to a possibly perfect climax/finale, but it ends up sucking. I think that the ending to a movie is an important part because it leaves an impression of the viewer. To not get people angry, I have made the spoilers black so that if you want to see how it ends/check out my reaction, then highlight the section, but be warned. So, without further Adieu, and for those who don't mind spoilers/if you've seen some of these movies, enjoy:

Now this one I did not see coming from a mile ahead. Well, that is, when I read the scrumptious book I had no idea. But watching such a lush story brought to life was truly a one of a kind experience. But still, to think that Briony did what she did and the harsh circumstances that played out. Both Robbie and Cecilia died and never got to be together. Now tell me, wouldn't you want to set things right after doing this?

Beautiful Thing
It's a rare occasion where a movie ending really lifts my spirits up. Really, watching Beautiful Thing truly moved me. Here we had an realistic fairy tale like story that not only was a sweet movie, but it was all around great. And when you watch it, you cannot help but smile as the two boys stand up to the world and proclaim their love for each other as they dance together ever so perfectly to Dream a Little Dream of Me by Mama Cass. It doesn't get better then that.

Breakfast at Tiffany's
The ending to this one I pretty much guessed five
minutes into it, but I
still was pleased when I saw that Holly Golightly not only found her cat but kissed the man she so dearly loved. It's very sentimental, but hey, It's cute. It might be a light movie, but still, it is just plain classic.


As I've mentioned before, Casablanca is one of my all time favorites. I know that I did mention the ending in my review for it, but I still have to just describe the sheer beauty of it all. Such a powerfu
l scene, leading up to a bang that will break your heart. When Rick lets Ilsa escape Nazi occupied Casablanca, you know they will never meet again, but still, they will always have Paris.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I apologize if you've already hea
rd me rave about some of these movies, but now I'm hoping you want to see them even more. In fact, this list hopefully will get you to want to watch these movies now more then before. The whole movie is breathtaking, I always cry at the same part and then when Joel and Clementine finally realize they are soul mates, they promise to love each other forever. After the whole ordeal they've gone through, it truly is satisfying.

Fight Club
It is a rare occasion that a movie adaptation of a book causes such celebration,
but this one and Atonement are notable exceptions. The movie itself is a two hour fist fight, you want to stop, but you're compelled to keep going. Brutal, unglamorous and ultimately hard as nails. The whole movie, we are mystified by Tyler Durden, easy going, easy talking businessman who starts up an underground phenomenon that supplies men with the testosterone they crave. The nameless narrator seems like such an odd guy to partner up with Durden, but we learn Durden isn't real and that he is the wild side of the narrator, it all clicks. And watching the buildings crumble before your eyes as The Pixies play, it's one hell of a way finish.

Lost in Translation
Ignore anyone else's rants on how this is pretentious tripe, it is clear that som
e people didn't get any of this beautiful and dreamy movie. Bill Murray, an older man goes to Japan to shoot some commercials when he meets Scarlett Johanson's character, a young woman and they share the most intimate connection one could have. It's not love, it's stronger then that. So of course, you can't help but feel sad when they say their goodbyes. He whispers words we the viewer do not understand, but it doesn't matter. And as The Jesus and Mary Chain plays on, we watch Murray drive away in a cab, taking one last look at the glorious Japan and at one woman who has changed his life. To me, that makes a heart wrenching ending.

Six Feet Under: Everyone's Waiting
This is, by far, one of the best episodes in TV history. I'm not even kidding, this is just plainl
artwork here, it's real, its searing and it will linger with you for many months. Plus, it's the hardest I've ever cried at anything. To fully appreciate it, you really have to watch it from the beginning, so that when the satisfying ending comes to a close, you will be fully effected by it. We Watch the Fisher family grow and mature but most of all, deal with life and death. So it is fitting to take a glimpse at their futures and we watch everyone we love die, not because it is supposed to be Gothic, but because it shows you how great their lives are going to be and how great the future will be. And that is what makes a great ending.

The Sixth Sense
Say what you will about M. Night Shamalyan, but this movie is truly a unique movie
. Both scary and sad, Sense truly attracts all of your senses by giving you a supernatural situation and making it real. We watch at a child psychologist tries to help a boy overcome a problem even he can't come to terms with. He can see the dead. And then comes the truly amazing twist, the psychologist has been dead since the beginning of the movie. If you didn't hear it before you saw it, then this movie was truly an eye opener.

The Usual Suspects

Who is Keyzer Soze? Only one of the scariest and most vicious killers in film histo
ry. It has been a very debatable movie, some love it, some hate it, but still it is genius. Kevin Spacey, a man with a limp and a very meek personality uncovers this mystery and tells the police all that he knows and the hell it has been in the past. And you will be blown away when it is revealed that Spacey has made everything up on the spot and he is the deranged killer. Pretty intense, don't you agree?

Y Tu Mama Tambien

The last item on our list is this coming of age movie that is funny, raunchy, spicy and j
ust plain incredible. By capturing teenage hood, Alfonso Cuaron takes us on a life changing road trip with two horny young men who travel with an older woman to find the perfect sunspot. Along the way, friendships are tested, there is plenty of things going on and also, the two boys discover what it is to be an adult. Only we learn that after that summer, they will meet at a coffee shop and that the woman they have spent the movie with died shortly after their summer. Even more hard hitting, they will never see each other again. It might bum you, but admit, it is all about growing up and leaving things behind.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Age of Innocence

Written by: Ian McEwan
Year Published: 2001

Well, the main reason for reviewing this book is two things: 1) I felt my blog needed to have some book reviews among many posts that defend America(Somewhat) and the generalization that our movies suck as well as describe my hate for backlash. While this may not necessarily a bad thing, I needed some variety. 2) I wanted everyone to know this: Atonement is a damn good book. It is so great, it's riveting and it is also without a doubt a beautiful and haunting tale that truly will spellbind you. I'm not making any of this up. Seriously.

If you haven't seen/read or heard about the story, it's simple and at the same time complex. It starts out as a book about an imaginative and mischievous girl, Briony, who observes a brief moment between her sister, Cecelia and their poor hired hand, Robbie. We later learn that this alleged naughty businesses is not at all what it seems, a recurring theme in the book. Briony wants to perform her play, but unfortunately her cousins are less then enthusiastic about acting. She also feels left out and ignored while the people at her house await the arrival of her older brother, Leon. So curiosity kills the cat, and then Briony decapitates the cat and all hell breaks loose. She is nosy, she is very unlikable, frequently through out the book and movie I wanted to slap her for being so foolish and stupid. It is because of her spying on Robbie and Cecelia and their behaviors that cause Briony to accuse Robbie of a horrible crime and let the culprit walk free.

Though it might not seem like it, Atonement, at least as I saw it, was not a romance movie as the film has been marketed out to be. It is a story about making mistakes, getting caught up in the wrong situations and having to repent for what we have done. It might not be as dire or as life threatening as seen in Atonement, but still, it does best describe what happens when lies and accusations are thrown at each other and what happens when we get in too over our heads.

Above all, Atonement is more or less a lesson. With rich and vivid language, Mcewan creates a scenic and spectacular story come to life. The majority of Atonement relies on the internal thoughts of the characters in the story. This not only enhances the reading, but it also makes the reader truly cherish the words. In the course of reading it, I felt intense emotions for the characters and towards the actions they did. Though you couldn't help but feel remorse for Briony once she gets older, but when you look back and think about how awful her accusation was, you start to realize that she has learned from her mistakes the hard way. And now, it is too late to change things.

Though not a long read, Atonement is a gem of a book. By combining a story that is about love lost by a cruel misunderstanding it also brings together a book about forgiveness and also about the horrors of war and how it tears people's lives apart. I do not want to overindulge on Mcewan, but I am definitely looking forward to reading another one of his haunting books.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Blood Fued: An editorial on who deserves Best Picture of 2007


Since the time I reviewed No Country for Old Men, I had mentioned that sadly, I had not seen There Will Be Blood, but I had wanted to see it. Well, seeing as it was playing within a few minutes from where I lived, I decided that Friday night I would see There Will Be Blood. Well, I have now seen both that are the main attractions for Best Picture, and frankly, from what it looks, the two that have a chance. I'm sorry to Juno, Atonement, and Michael Clayton, but from what it looks, one of these two has a good chance of winning Best Picture. But then again, everyone thought the overrated and in my humble opinion insulting movie, Brokeback Mountain would win. (My displeasure comes from the theme of infidelity, nothing to do with the tragedy of their repressed emotions.) But since I have seen both of the popular choices, I will throw my dice and predict a winner. Drum roll please...

My Choice for the 2008 Oscars for Best Picture is: No Country For Old Men.

Why No Country, you ask? Well, first let me explain:

See, I liked There Will Be Blood, don't get me wrong. I felt it was a one of a kind movie, in some parts. However, when compared to No Country I feel that it has less going for it. Parts of Blood to me felt like they dragged, especially the middle part. It seemed like nothing really happened to the characters, the action took a while to come, but still it wasn't really building up anything. When the film was ready to get back on its feet and regain my interest, they cut to a flashback! Ten years later, Plainview is rich and a total wreck, but how he comes to be is not explained. What bothers me even more is the fact that the middle part of the movie was dull, but in places still pretty good. But if a movie is dull in places, I don't always mind, but in Blood's case, it needed to tell the story, and also wrap itself up and cover enough ground. With the middle of the movie, Plainview is looking for oil, and he gets so wrapped up in it, he spirals out of control. When the end nears(Which I won't spoil) he is a corrupt and unlikable tycoon, a monster. The power he has consumed has driven him mad and now he was just at the deep end. But as I said before, how? How did he get to be this way? How did he get rich?

The fact that Anderson dives deep down into the more boring bits of the movie and less in how time will go by bothered me. The transitions were sloppily done, time would change, but why we'll never know. I'm ashamed to heavily criticize a movie I initially liked. But, in my opinion, Blood was too long and showed the wrong parts of the story.

Compared to No Country, Blood is simply a morality tale about how greed consumes us and makes us crazy. This isn't enough to really carry a movie at times. What Country does is start with an intense first five minutes that lay the ground work for the movie. It doesn't drag on too long, it doesn't fail much to deliver action, and though out the movie, we watch as a pulse pounding cat and mouse game unfolds. Though I will say that towards the end it lost a bit of momentum and the style that it had in the beginning.

Though this may be, though I might have preferred one movie to another, that still doesn't mean that my favorite will necessarily win, but in this case, it has a better shot. No Country will win because it doesn't take too long to get the story going, it doesn't have moments that are too long or boring. What might throw voters off with picking Blood is that a half an hour could have been chopped off of the movie. A good portion that stayed that didn't necessarily add much to the story, at least from what I saw. The academy will be looking for which movie has more going for it, which tells its story the best, and which one is more well liked. Since it seems that No Country applies for the majority of those, I will take a guess that come tonight, Joel and Ethan Coen will be standing on the stage, accepting the much deserved award for their haunting and brilliant movie. And if not, then whatever. Predictions aren't 100% accurate, but still, they can foreshadow the winner to come.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Worn With Age and Time

No Country for Old Men
Directed by: Joel and Ethan Coen
Year: 2007
Starring: Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem,

Tommy Lee Jones and Woody Harrelson.

Seeing as the Oscars are on Sunday, and I sadly have no really commented on the picks of the race, I figured I'll make due with what little time I have and share my input on one of the films that was the best of 2007. Sadly, I have not seen some of the picks(There Will Be Blood, Diving Bell...,Etc.) But anyways, let the review begin.

We open No Country For Old Men with Anton Chigurh(A fierce Javier Bardem) being whisked away by a police officer. He is taken to the station and to be locked up when he manages to escape, but not easily. Chigurh is a cold, unforgiving character, he shows no fear, no hesitation, he will kill if he has to kill. He is probably the dictionary definition of Bad Ass, if you looked it up. Not only is he a psychopath, but he also won't take no for an answer.

Fast forward to Llewelyn Moss(Josh Brolin) a simple man who is out hunting when he stumbles upon the aftermath of s shoot out. Many men are dead, there is a substantial amount of heroin among the premise, and also 2 million dollars. Somehow, Chigurh and Moss are connected. Both want the money, and both will do what it takes to keep the other from getting it. Only Chigurh is equipped with better weaponry, most notably a captive bolt pistol. The kind of weapon used on cattle before they are slaughtered. Llewelyn has a wife to care about, and he desperately wants her to be safe. However, he is very secretive about the $2 million, and also very protective of it.

Also in the mix is Ed Tom Bell(A worn Tommy Lee Jones) the man who is on both of their tails. Like the deserts of Texas, Bell is old and ready to let the wind carry him away. He is dry, but good at his game. With age comes wisdom, as the saying goes. Watching his screen presence is haunting, here we have a man who is nearing retirement, he is tired and in need of some rest, but also he wants to do the right thing and serve justice.

Despite some of its flaws, No Country is an aching movie, full of emotion and energy, and at times, pretty damn scary. Most notably one scene where the two are at a cheap hotel and see each other semi face to face. Also, the film has a few moments that are definite Coen Bros moments. And while parts might be dark and haunting, it actually has quite a few moments that are humorous or witty.

Still, one thing that is also on my mind, as well as almost everyone else who saw it is the ending. I won't give it away, but I will say that it is the kind of thing that you need to take some time to think about. Though I will admit, I was, along with many members of the audience, kind of pissed off and surprised at its abruptness. Though I wasn't one of the people who groaned or exclaimed, "What the hell?!" I could see their stance. However, according to a friend who read the book, it is a more satisfying conclusion if you've read the source material.

Again, having not seen Blood or some other popular Oscar choices, I will just say that until proven otherwise, this was one of my favorites. It was the kind of movie that was not only well done, but also a true achievement. And even though it is mostly gone from theaters and not on DVD, I'd still recommend popping Fargo into your DVD player and watching one of the best from the Coen Bros. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'm seeing something that was always hidden. I'm in the middle of a mystery and it's all secret.

Blue Velvet
Directed by: David Lynch
Year: 1986
Starring: Kyle MacLachlan, Laura Dern,
Isabella Rossellini and Dennis Hopper

Once in a while, a movie comes along that is just so dark, so avant-garde I must talk about it. Sure, if I see a good movie, I'll talk about it to my friends or family, telling them that they have to see it. But none of those movies have impacted me like Blue Velvet.

When I first saw
Blue Velvet, I didn't know what to expect. I had heard about its notorious scene in which one of its characters is beaten and violated by a nitrous oxide huffing pervert. I will admit I was hesitant to watch this movie, even though I had rented it to watch. The only other times I've felt that way about movies would have to be while watching Irreversible and Happiness, two incredible but very unsettling movies. I guess you could say it was love at first sight.

Before I watched
Blue Velvet, I had only read Roger Ebert's scathing review, so I was semi put off. It was only I saw this movie that I realized that like many reviewers who watch most movies, they might see a good movie through the wrong lens or vise versa. However, me telling you how good this movie is is not nearly as effective or leaves as much of an impact then you watching it yourself. And to those who have watched Blue Velvet will agree.

Blue Velvet starts with a scene that takes the style of suburbia in the 1950's and warps it to all dimensions. In the first five minutes, we travel to Lumberton, a town that echoes the cheesy postcards one picks up at a gift shop. Idyllic, calm, homely. So of course you know Lynch will screw it up and erase the line between normalcy and the bizarre. When we arrive at Lumberton, Mr. Beaumont is watering his green garden, when suddenly, he has a near fatal stroke. Instead of having him simply collapse, his dog comes over and proceeds to slobber up the water from the still running hose, making Mr. Beaumont practically invisible. But that's not all, his son, Jeffery(Kyle MacLachlan in the boy next door role...except next door probably is home to a sadist.) finds an ear in a field. Showing it to Detective Williams, who declares "That's a human ear all right. " Jeffery immediately catches the eye of his daughter Sandy.(A very young, bright eyed Laura Dern) What Sandy knows that her father doesn't is who the ear might belong to. Enter Dorothy Vallens and you've got one sick movie.

Dorothy Vallens(Played by the frail Isabella Rossellini) is a night club singer turned sex slave to one of cinema's most horrific and grotesque villains, Frank Booth.(An Eerie Dennis Hopper) Frank is a perverted, sadistic, laughing gas addict who alienates anyone he touches and infects with his sick spell. He has Dorothy's husband and son, and unfortunately he 'owns' Dorothy as well. Jeffery now has to save Dorothy from Frank and get to the bottom of this barb wire spider web. And you play the voyeuristic witness to it all, and you can't do anything, only the characters can.

At one point in the movie Sandy says:
"I had a dream. In fact, it was on the night I met you. In the dream, there was our world, and the world was dark because there weren't any robins and the robins represented love. And for the longest time, there was this darkness. And all of a sudden, thousands of robins were set free and they flew down and brought this blinding light of love. And it seemed that love would make any difference, and it did. So, I guess it means that there is trouble until the robins come." What she means, and I agree with is at the end of a tunnel, there is always a glimmer of light. Which seems to be the overall message of Blue Velvet, It may disturb you, it might disgust you, it might even give you nightmares, but that is how it works its voodoo on you. By horrifying you, bewildering you and making you feel crazy, it helps you feel empathetic and attached to the characters. Regardless of whether you like it or not, it is most definitely a movie you will not forget.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Watch and Discuss What?!

Flavor of Love 3
Channel: VH1

Well, as most of you know, I have ranted about Reality TV before. I dished on Tila Tequila, I slammed her disgusting show, so I don't think I need to revisit that realm again. However, this I guess could be an unofficial part 2 of my rant, only this time it is a formal review.

Before I review the complete and utter tripe I just witnessed, let me just say, What the Hell VH1? How could you do this to me. I will admit that your lists on random and unimportant things in pop culture, I fall under your spell of love for the 90's and the like. They are able to make sick days/bored days go by. Which, though at times it is kind of sad to think about, I still manage to find a shred of entertainment in lists and shows like that have random people get high off of nostalgia. And watching Hal Sparks make out with Rainbow Brite is disturbingly funny. But this, now this I will not stand for.

For some reason, the slogan for VH1 has become Watch and Discuss, but as I sat and watched as Flavor Flav embarked on another journey through career suicide and searched for love among 20 or so girls, taking them on dates, having them do challenges and swap herpes, being the witness to such disturbing charades was too much. They fought, swore and stripped their clothes off while we the viewer are subject to this bizarre form of Clockwork Orange like punishment. No, screw that, Guantanamo style punishment. Hell, even Marathon Man!(Well, I'm still alive, and Lawrence Olivier is dead so...) So what does Watch and Discuss really mean? Does it mean we have to blog about how pissed off we are? Is that the form of discussion we have to get into? Watch and Discuss makes VH1 look like CNN, like there is something important and life threatening to talk about. So if we talk about the fact that the Devinyls touch themselves while thinking about someone or that Sophie B. Hawkins wishes she was our lover, I guess we are doing VH1 a favor.(But in all honestly, I love you Sophie B. Hawkins!)

So VH1, here I am, shaking my fist at you. Since I ranted about Tila Tequila, a lot of things have happened. The strike ended, so now I will be able to gaze longingly at my Pushing Daisies cast again. Also, Flavor of Love 3 started up. And finally, what you've all been waiting for: My review.

If it weren't for the library carrying a DVD that just so happened to be scratched up. If the DVD weren't scuffed up, I would be watching The Shawshank Redemption(Like I planned to do) and finally seeing the movie that I have heard much praise about. But, since that happened, and VH1 just so happened to be on, and I was looking for a thing to review/rant about, this had to do. But let me say, after watching this, I think that Flavor Flav should be locked up in Shawshank and never be let out. Ever.

Watching Flavor of Love 3 was to say the least, a depressing experience. I had to sit through an hour of these girls flaunt what their mother(Or more like Plastic Surgeon) gave them. These girls were not only hoochie mamas, they were also crazy women who did not seem to speak proper English. (This season of Flavor of Love 3, join Flav and visit the most romantical places on earth!) The girls this season were annoying, and my hope is that one of them is just like the woman who made Flavor of Love 1 and 2, the queen B-yoch New York. And watching this season of bratty, catty and altogether batty divas, I found hope and a possibility that one girl would be the battiest of them all and be able to honor Miss. Tiffany's name.

Another thing that really annoyed me was the fact that two of the girls were on the plump side, and because they weren't twigs, ominous music was cued for their entrances, Flav acted like a complete asshole and just gawked like they were in cages and he had paid a nickel. Not only were the fat women put to shame, but so were the other women. The only thing Flav noticed on these girls were their enormous amounts of T&A, which seemed to be larger than their heads. No surprise there, it is reality TV. Who in their right mind would want to walk around looking like a human life preserver? For shame.

So Flavor Flav, if you read this(Which I know you won't) know that I will be looking at you with scornful eyes. Eyes full of fire and disappointment. And VH1, stick with 100 Greatest Songs of the 90's and get rid of Flavor Flav.

And P.S, be glad I didn't critique and lambaste Celebrity Rehab. I'm not even touching that.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My Whole Life is Like a Picture of a Sunny Day

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Year: 2004
Director: Michel Gondry
Starring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet,
Elijah Wood, Tom Wilkinson, Kirsten Dunst
and Mark Ruffalo.

"Random thoughts for Valentine's day, 2004. Today is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap."

So says Joel Barish, our film's main character. And while this might seem like a positively grim statement, this movie is what love is all about. Love sucks, but it can also be great.

In Eternal Sunshine, we start by looking at the life of Joel(Jim Carrey in an outstanding performance) a young man who is very melancholy and glum when it comes to Valentine's day, However, we do not know why he is so bummed, and frankly, neither does he. While riding on a train to Montauk, he meets Clementine(Kate Winslet in her finest role yet) a blue haired wacky woman who is constantly teased because of her name and its relevance to Huckleberry Hound. She is odd, crazy, and yet an altogether three dimensional character.

However, while they might be a happy couple right now, things go sour as Joel realizes that they were together before, but she erased her memory and has forgotten all about him. Seeing this as an opportunity to get revenge, Joel meets Dr. Mierzwiak(Tom Wilkinson), founder of Lacuna Inc. A company that erases peoples memories. And since it just so happens to be Valentine's Day, memories are being erased by the dozen.

What at first seems to be a worthwhile experiment turns into complete chaos when Joel wants them to stop for he remembers things that are near and dear to his heart. The flaw in the system, not all memories of an ex are bad ones.

While it may not seem like much, it is definitely something incredible, something that is just beautiful. Joel and Clementine erase each other, but they realize that life isn't just made up of good memories, and the memories of a person, a face, a smile, a smell, could just go away. Imagine, something in your life vanishing. And yes, everyone has had some lousy times, but those lousy times make us who we are today.

While watching it, the viewer might need to go over parts to make sense of the movie, but that is what makes it so great. It's a movie that once we re watch it, we pick up on many different things we have not noticed before.

In short, Eternal Sunshine is a genre and mind bending experience, a joyful and depressing movie. It might make you look at life differently, it might weird you out, but know that no matter what your reaction is to this movie, you will never forget it. Because like a good memory, it will last forever.

Monday, February 11, 2008

We'll Always Have Paris

Year: 1942
Director: Michael Curtiz
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman
and Claude Reins

Since Valentine's Day is only growing nearer and nearer, it would be ultimately unjust not to include this classic. I had a few other movies in mind, Breakfast at Tiffany's but I had less to say about that movie. Match Point was another, but that's a dark movie about how love consumes us, so I figured I'd review it later. But Casablanca, that is a must for this day of love.

Set during World War II, Casablanca tells the story of Rick Blane, a man who runs a small cafe in Casablanca. During this point in time, Europeans were fleeing left and right, trying hard to escape from the Nazis, only problem is they aren't able to obtain exit visas. Rick is told by one of his acquaintances, Ugarte to hold some exit visas, for he is in great danger if the Nazis catch him with the visas. Two Nazis were killed holding these and the visas were stolen. When Rick hears that Victor Laszlo, the leader of the European resistance is to arrive at Casablanca. Only he doesn't know that he is in love with Ilsa, Rick's old flame from Paris.

What Casablanca gets right is that it is both a romantic and a memorable movie. The scenes in it are classic, the lines are just timeless. What makes this movie so enjoyable is that it is romantic, but not sappy. Sweet, but not melodramatic. But of all of the scenes that this movie has to offer, two stand out.

One is the scene where Ilsa finds Sam, the piano player of the cafe and asks him to play the song that she and Rick held close to their hearts. As soon as Sam starts playing, Rick tells him to stop and as soon as he sees Ilsa, he goes into a flashback that examines their romantic past, and how they were split apart. Though often quoted, the line "Play it Again, Sam" never appears in the film.

Second would have to be when the Nazis, led by Major Strasser begin to sing "Die Wacht am Rhein" the Nazi anthem, only to be drowned out by the French people in the cafe who begin to sing "La Marseillaise" it is so perfect you must see it to understand its true beauty.

Finally, this movie is also a romantic classic because of it's heartbreaking ending. To describe it is hard to talk about unless you have seen the movie, because you will not see it coming. (Caution: MAJOR Spoilers, highlight only if you've seen the movie!) When Rick and Ilsa are standing right by the plane, the plane that will take two lucky people out of war torn Casablanca, Rick does one of the most heartbreaking things in movie history, let her go. He tells her to get on the plane and says, 'We'll always have Paris." It is then you know that though they had a time, it would be a mistake to make Ilsa stay.

In short, Casablanca is a classic movie that is second to none, one of the best romantic classics. It is moving, it is beautiful, and it is timeless. And the final line, "This is the Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship" is said by Bogart with such gusto and emotion that all you want to do is join his friendship forever, as time goes by.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Dream a Little Dream of Me

Beautiful Thing
Year: 1996
Directed by: Hettie Macdonald
Starring: Glen Berry, Scott Neil and Tameka Empson.

I figured since V Day is coming closer, and since I need to write some reviews for movies, I have decided to review romance movies. Also, this movie can fit in a category of Great Movies You've Never Heard Of. So, enjoy!

If you are like most people, you probably have never heard of Beautiful Thing, unless you are Darcie or my Canadian friend Ben. But do not worry, I will tell you.

The story takes place in England with two next door neighbors, Ste and Jamie. Jamie has a single mother who is seeing a guy named Tony, Ste is in an abusive household with a violent father and brother. Also their neighbor is the flamboyant and totally bizarre Leah, a teenage girl who idolizes Mama Cass, hence the soundtrack is laden with Cass' songs. As the movie progresses, the two boys start to grow feelings for each other and fall in love. The only problem is that being gay isn't very popular in society and Ste's father would kill him if he had a gay son.

If this sounds a bit formulaic, it is somewhat intended to be. It's tagline, "An Urban Fairy Tale" proves it right, this is a movie that wants to lift your soul and make you feel good. It's sweet, it's moving and unlike most gay romances, no graphic sex. In fact, not much sex at all, though you can insinuate some things that happen off camera.

Another thing about the movie, which depending on whether or not you saw it/liked it, is that in my opinion it outweighs Brokeback Mountain by a long shot. With Brokeback it's a movie essentially about cheating on your spouse. Watching this movie made me feel kind of bummed, seeing as I was expecting a moving and altogether inspiring experience, all I got out of it was just another blah story about love and cheating. Which, regardless of the sexes of the people involved is still low. I thought Beautiful Thing did a better job at addressing the important themes that coincide with today's issues and the whole gay rights debate. If a movie can be both daring and sweet then it has succeeded.

In short, I love this movie because it's just such an upbeat movie that makes me smile whenever I think about it. It's not only a great movie, but also one that is very memorable and truly a beautiful thing.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Saying I Love You 18 Times

Paris, Je T'aime
Year: 2007
Directors: Gus Van Sant, The Coen Bros,
Sylvan Chomet, Wes Craven, Alexander Payne, etc...
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Maggie Gyllenhaal,
Gaspard Ulliel, Elijah Wood, Steve Buscemi and Natalie Portman.

Seeing as Valentine's Day is just around the corner, the one day that is both loved and hated by many. You may love it because it is a day devoted to devotion and caring for your partner. You may hate it because everyone else is so cheery while you are alone. But regardless of what you think love is, here is a film that defies every impression and tradition that love is. Love takes many forms, love for a person, a place, a thing, a child, an old flame or a complete stranger. It is not just love that captivates us, its the feeling of being the favorite person to someone, the light to their day, the sun in their sky. And in Paris, Je T'aime, we are the witness to 18 short vignettes about the almighty power of love.

How do you review a movie that isn't really a movie, more like 18 short scenes about romance? Do you individually analyze each film? Or do you let the reader/viewer see it for themselves? The thing about Paris, Je T'aime is that it is an ensemble piece to the grandest scale. A movie that is woven by 18 unrelated short films and still makes sense at the end. It may not always make sense, but then again, does love ever make sense?

Paris, Je T'aime is less a movie, more a cornucopia of true beauty and love. Not only love, but each film is set in a different part of the city of love. 18 directors, many different actors and many different reactions I had for the films.

I guess to describe the movie I would have to tell about the movies that stood out and that spoke to me the most. While the majority were great, a few were better than others. One of my favorites, Le Marais by Gus Van Sant(Who I have loved since My Own Private Idaho) tells the story about two men, one who speaks French and thinks the other boy can understand him. One exchanges a number, and the rest I will not spoil. I like this one because it left me warm and curious as two what happened next. Another movie that stood out would have to be Vincenzo Natalis Quartier de la Madeleine because I adore cheesy vampire stories. The Tour Eiffel short by Sylvan Chomet is particularly wonderful because a) Chomet directed The Triplets of Belleville and b) it shows that love can be found in all places and even people like mimes can have soul mates. And lastly, the powerful Place des FĂȘtes about a man who loves a girl and does anything he can for her. I won't say anymore, it will hit you like a ton of bricks.

So since a movie like this can only be truly summed up when you watch it and cannot be justified in writing alone, I just will say that if you want a great romance movie to watch whether or not you see it on Valentine's Day, its still a magnificent feast for the eyes, the senses and the heart.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

America Doesn't Suck

Though you may be thinking this is just a rant about people who think that America is the worst country in the world, it is not. This is just me venting about the flaws about America and why we have been brought into a vicious maelstrom. Especially our movies.

I don't want to get into another argument with the internet, an invention which I so nearly and dearly love. It is because I love the internet so much that I am making these points. So bear with me, it is just me talking, but I hope you'll care to listen.

So, as many of you may already know that Meet the Spartans, a recent spoof movie opened and made its way to #1 at the box office. Which strikes me as odd because movie goers and critics alike hated this movie with a well deserved fiery passion. And how Meet the Spartans makes #1 last week while Arrested Development is still canceled haunts me every day, but I'm digressing. Yes, Meet the Spartans is apparently a bad movie, judging its predecessor Epic Movie(Don't ask me why I paid a ticket, it was a conjoined mistake between a friend) it is pretty much one 90 minute long gay joke ripe with other dick-fart-tit-pussy jokes that makes its viewers want to eat their own eyeballs. Yes, it is supposed to suck. Hard. But that's still besides the point.

Call this backlash, but people on the boards who hated the movie automatically play a card. Not just any card, the America card. Sure, America is flawed. Our president is a moron, his henchmen are evil baby snatchers and we find two men in love a bigger threat then the terrorists, but putting all that aside, we aren't responsible for everything wrong in the world. And yet, people assume that because of our flaws that we thrive on crappy movies and other stupid forms of entertainment.

I will admit, we can make some lousy movies, our ratings board is a bunch of homophobic prudes but who doesn't make bad movies? To judge a country by their movies is just a meaningless task. Everyone will make at least some bad movies, it's not like one country is superior to another. I can bet that France makes plenty of cinematic enemas, but I only watch movies from there that interest me. Meet the Spartans only seems to appeal to incredibly stupid twelve year olds, and yet people are blaming the country that made this god awful movie just because they sat through it and were pissed off.

But what also gets my goat is how every country, not just other countries, act all arrogant and obnoxious when they say that their country is the superior country that makes only good movies. Since nobodies perfect, I doubt that.

In short, we all have to sit through bad movies, I should know, I'm a reviewer. But let me just defend us in saying that for every Meet the Spartans or Alvin and the Chipmunks, there will always be an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or No Country for Old Men. So, to paraphrase Field of Dreams, a movie I do not intend on seeing(But that's besides the point) "If you film a movie and it is good, they[the moviegoers] will come."

Friday, February 1, 2008

Lookout for Snidely Backlash!

Before you read: Just be aware that I know I am ranting about other bloggers, but it's more trolls then random people in general. And while it sounds silly, it is a topic that needs to be addressed.

So, after reading my short and sweet little intro, I hope you are more aware on who I am going to devote my sweet time to now. Not reality TV nobodies, just online nobodies. Yes, I am ranting about the irritating act of backlash.

Example: When I first heard about the movie Juno, I thought it looked like a cute movie about a smart girl who makes less than smart decisions. It had Ellen Page who freaked the crap out of me in Hard Candy, as well as other good actors. I was lucky enough to see a sneak preview of Juno a month before it was released. Needless to say, Juno is an amazing movie, one of the year's best, and when I went to rave about it on IMDB, it seemed that everyone else who saw a preview of it gushed about it, too.

Fast forward a month, and I go online to see the buzz about this little movie. It turns out, the users on IMDB figured since it was a popular movie that they should clog the web with scathing attacks against a movie. It's a movie for god's sake, not the Vietnam war. Why get so bent out of shape about a movie?

And then the light bulb in my head (Or the computer screen) went off and I realized their intents, their sick, sick attempts to piss me off. They were doing it based on popularity?

Why? Why bash anything that is popular and expect people to take credit for what you have to say. It's pretty much as elitist as elitist gets, it's childish and it also just makes you look like an idiot when you claim to be non-conformist. Pshaw, that's pathetic. What kind of sad person takes pot shots at Diablo Cody just because she got famous for her wit, her personality and most of all her script. She is rightfully famous, let her bask in her own glory.

And another thing, why do people immediately use the word, pretentious to describe a movie they didn't understand? In my honest opinion, it's pretty pretentious to make yourself out to be an intelligent scholar and a bright internet user when all you're doing is calling something pretentious when you didn't understand/get the movie. If you dislike the movie, it's fine. If you disliked the movie, then claim that everyone who does is a moron, then I do have a bit of a gripe with you.

If a movie is popular among audiences, it will get blasted. If it is critically acclaimed, it will get shot in the back. If it gets Oscar wins/nominations, it will be taunted and kicked in the shins. The shins I tell you!

And to be honest, I don't really know why I do this, but yet I do it because only the bloggers will understand the problems some people have dealing with the zeitgeist of today, the culture and the movies we love and how people devote their time to bash a movie only because nobody will find them. For that I will roll my eyes and click my tongue, because now that I have ceased to rant/vent about the matter, I am clean.