Monday, March 31, 2008
The film starts off with the entire crew meeting at a diner for breakfast, in one of the most brilliantly written scenes in film history. We get to listen to Mr. Brown (Quentin Tarantino) explain just what exactly Madonna's "Like a Virgin" is about, as well as a brilliant discussion on just why Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi) doesn't tip. It's really a great way to introduce all the characters in the film.
Now we shoot forward to after the job has taken place, and apparently gone wrong. Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) is driving a vehicle, and Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) is bleeding profusely and screaming in pain in the back. Mr. White is attempting to keep Mr. Orange calm as they head to the rendezvous, telling him he's not going to die and he's going to be fine and whatnot. They finally get to the rendezvous, a warehouse used to store coffins and hearses, where Mr. White continues to try and keep Mr. Orange calm. Mr. Orange begs Mr. White to take him to a hospital, but Mr. White refuses. He tells him that once Joe (the boss of the operation played by Lawrence Tierney) gets there, Joe will get a doctor and he’ll be taken care of.
Mr. Pink now enters the warehouse, visibly angry and hollering about the job being a setup. Mr. White disagrees, but Mr. Pink has some very convincing arguments. The police were there within seconds of the alarm being set off. The average response time is about four minutes; they were there in less than one. One thing they definitely agree on is that Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) was completely out of line and is a psychopathic killer. Mr. Blonde went on a shooting rampage, killing a lot of innocent people as soon as the alarm was set off. It is felt that if they had known Mr. Blonde's personality they never would have taken the job.
Mr. Blonde shows up at the rendezvous, and after taking a barrage of insults from Mr. White informs them that he has a surprise for them. He leads them out to his car, opens the trunk, and shows them the cop he has taken hostage. They drag the cop inside and tie him up, and start to beat him to try and get information out of him on the setup. They're really about to start laying into him when Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn) shows up. He agrees the cop must be killed, but insists they won't get any information out of him by beating him.
Eddie informs the trio of colors that Joe is on his way, and that he's pissed off and if he finds all those stolen cars parked out front he's going to be even more pissed off. Eddie tells Mr. White and Mr. Pink to come with him to get rid of the cars, and tells Mr. Blonde to stay behind and keep an eye on the cop and Mr. Orange. Mr. White protests on grounds that Mr. Blonde is a psycho and can't be trusted, by Eddie insists. As soon as they're gone, Mr. Blonde starts into his now famous torture scene with the cop.
Throughout the film, we are being given background stories on each of the central characters. These scenes that are inserted in sections during the present time show how each character knew Joe, and how they came across the job at hand. This style of shifting between present and past has really become a staple of Tarantino's films and something that his fans have come to expect and love about his pictures.
One thing I love about Tarantino is his ability to get seemingly non-talented or washed up actors to give great performances. In Reservoir Dogs we have great performances by Chris Penn, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen. Pulp Fiction has the revival of John Travolta, Jackie Brown the revival of Pam Grier. QT will take a chance on someone when everyone else in Hollywood thinks they're finished, and that's something to be admired. I think the reason he can do this is the strength of his scripts, while he is a talented director it's really the scripts that make his films great.
Reservoir Dogs really thrust Tarantino onto the film scene, turning him into an overnight superstar. It's really incredible how someone who dropped out of school in junior high could write such brilliant scripts, and direct such brilliant movies. It just goes to show you that education isn't everything. Reservoir Dogs is really a gritty masterpiece, and something that anyone who can appreciate great writing should enjoy. Overall 4.0/4 Stars Grade = A
Sunday, March 30, 2008
I wasn't particularly impressed with John Schlesinger's Darling. Although it was nominated for five Oscars and won three, the film seems uninspired and bored with itself which leaves the viewer feeling bored as well.
The film revolves around Diana Scott (Julie Christie), a beautiful young model trying to work her way to the top. Diana is married to a man who she likes, but feels is too immature. She is obviously getting bored with him, and as soon as the older and more mature Robert Gold (Dirk Bogarde) comes around you know her marriage is close to the end.
Robert is a television journalist who reports on such intellectual subjects like literature and the people's view on the moral state of London. Robert is married as well, and has children who he loves very much. However he cannot resist Diana's beauty or her love of life, and soon leaves his wife to start a new life with Diana. Unfortunately, it's not too long before Robert and Diana's relationship is on the rocks as well.
Diana has no concept of fidelity and will seemingly have an affair with anyone who she thinks can help her in her career. That person at this point in the picture is Miles Brand (Laurence Harvey). Miles is an important man within the fashion industry, and has many connections within the entertainment industry. Of course it's not long before it's evident that this relationship won't work out either.
As the film continues, we come to realize it's really the standard plot where the central character is a beautiful yet promiscuous person. They seem to be living the wonderful life, but end up finding themselves depressed and alone. It's been done time and time again, and they will keep doing it probably until the end of time. Darling makes an attempt to tackle such social issues as adultery, homosexuality, abortion as well as others but it doesn’t fare too well. It’s just not daring enough, even for the time period.
Now don't get me wrong, I don't think Darling is a bad film, it definitely has its upsides. Frederic Raphael's script is pretty good, it could use a little more tongue-in-cheek comedy to let you know that they aren't taking themselves too seriously but it certainly has its moments. One scene that really stands out as well written is about two-thirds through the film right after Robert has found out Diana has had an affair; there's really some great dialogue there. Shades of John Schlesinger's directorial talent come through as well; he really does a great job of contrasting the big city and the country. However if I were to recommend one of his films it wouldn't be Darling, Midnight Cowboy is a far superior film.
Julie Christie may have won an Oscar for her role in Darling, but I certainly don't think it was deserved. Her acting seems rather wooden and uninspired and she seems bored with her role. Her performances in Doctor Zhivago and the more recent Away from Her show that she is a lot better of an actor than she shows in this. The only actor who really seemed like he or she cared about their role was Laurence Harvey, who puts in a very good performance as Miles. I don't think I would recommend this film, unless you're a John Schlesinger completest. Overall 2.5/4 Stars Grade = B-
David Lean's Doctor Zhivago is an absolute masterpiece. From the moment the film starts with Sir Alec Guinness searching for his niece you know you're in for something special. Of course if you're familiar with director Lean's other work such as Lawrence of Arabia or The Bridge on the River Kwai, then you knew that going in.
The film takes place right in the middle of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. Omar Sharif plays Yuri Zhivago, a young doctor who, having been orphaned at a young age, grew up with the family of one of his mother's close friends. Yuri is in love with and soon to marry the daughter of this family, Tonya (Geraldine Chaplin).
Lara (played by the wonderful Julie Christie at the height of her beauty) is a young woman working towards a scholarship and living with her mother and her mother's lover Victor (Rod Steiger). Victor has eyes for the beautiful young Lara, and makes it known one night after dinner at a fancy restaurant. This starts a very dominant and tumultuous relationship between Lara and Victor.
Lara is not fond of Victor; he is a very brash and domineering man and has no respect for her. On Christmas Eve, after Victor has raped her, Lara hunts him down at a party and shoots him in a failed attempt to kill him. Victor refuses to have her arrested, because despite his attitude he still cares for her, and she is led off by Pasha (Tom Courtenay), a revolutionary and a man who is soon to become her husband. Yuri and Tonya are also guests at this party, and witness the whole scene.
World War I has now broken out, and Yuri is a doctor on the front lines. While retreating from the battlefield, Yuri and his comrades meet their replacements. When the two groups meet up, insanity ensues and it seems that the revolution has started as the troops attack and murder their COs. There are several that are wounded or killed, and Yuri feels it is his duty to stay behind and tend to the casualties. Also remaining to help is Lara, who is a nurse and was headed out to the front lines to search for her husband. The two of them are then summoned to a military hospital, where there are dozens of sick and wounded that need tending to and Yuri and Lara are the only ones around to do it. Over the next six months the two of them become very close, but the relationship stays platonic.
Upon his arrival home Moscow is now in a state of total communism. Thirteen families are now living in the home that he left, and Tonya and her father and his child have only one room of their own to live in as a family. After a rough night, Yuri finally meets his half brother who advises him to take his family and head to the country.
On the way to the country, Yuri runs into Pasha, who is now a prominent man in the communist party. Yuri had been captured by Pasha’s guards who thought he was there to attempt assassination, and Yuri told him to go get his wife, Lara, who would vouch for him. Pasha then informed Yuri that he had not seen Lara since the war, and that she is now living in a town very near Yuri’s destination.
At first Yuri has no intention of getting in touch with Lara. He loves Tonya and his son very much, and does not wish to betray them. However after a very long winter, the temptation proves too much and Yuri rides into town to find Lara. The chemistry between them immediately sparks up and the two of them start up the relationship that both of them had wanted for so long.
Although the bulk of the film is a romance, the backdrop of the revolution and war is a strong thematic element. In many films you only have the main story that has any quality with the backdrop only there to provide a sense of time and place. For example, in Pan’s Labyrinth, we have the wonderful story of Ofelia and her world of imagination, but then there’s the story of Civil War in Spain, which is much weaker and far less original — necessary, but not up to the quality of the story of Ofelia. We are very fortunate that with Doctor Zhivago both storylines are fantastic.
When this film came out many critics complained that while it was a beautifully constructed picture, the story just wasn’t there and that there wasn’t a point to the film. Although I disagree with them (I thought the story was fantastic), I don’t feel that a film needs to have that deep a story if the characters are interesting enough, which they are. Zhivago is the flawed hero of the film; you really care for him even though he’s an adulterer because you see that he really is a good man. Lara has had so much undeserved trouble thrown her way by each man in her life and the constantly in turmoil government that it is amazing she is able to stay as full of life and wonderful as she is.
The other characters may not have as much to offer as Yuri and Lara, but they are still deep nonetheless. Even if you do feel that Doctor Zhivago is pointless you can still appreciate its beauty. David Lean’s cinematography is absolutely gorgeous; the way he is able to shoot landscapes is incredible. It’s like watching a painting in motion. Julie Christie gives an absolutely magnificent performance, really conveying each hardship that comes her way.
The film is long at three hours and twenty minutes, but it really just flies by. The story is so intriguing, and the characters so deep and interesting, that the film could be six hours and you wouldn't get bored. I really admire Robert Bolt’s screenplay. The way he is able to write a romance without any instance of cheesiness is incredible. I really cannot say enough good things about this picture; you'll just have to see it for yourself. Overall 4.0/4 Stars Grade = A
Friday, March 28, 2008
Fritz Lang's Metropolis is widely considered the greatest silent film of all time. Now I admit, I have not seen very many silent films, but from what I have seen Metropolis is the best.
Metropolis is a city is divided up into two categories of people; the workers and the thinkers. The thinkers come up with ideas, and the workers put the thinkers ideas into motion. The thinkers cannot work, and the workers cannot come up with ideas. The workers and the thinkers are completely separate of one another, but together they make the city whole.
Gustav Fröhlich plays Freder, who is the son of the leader of the city Joh Fredersen (Alfred Abel). Freder has lead a sheltered life, and is not aware of how the city is kept running or what goes on in the city of the workers, until one day when a beautiful woman (Brigitte Helm) comes to him and urges him to see.
Freder is very intrigued by the beautiful woman, and thus heads down to the underworld of the workers in an attempt to find her. What he finds is astonishing to him, the workers working themselves to the bone in an attempt to keep the city running. Freder is truly touched, and offers to trade places with one of the workers. The worker is more than eager, however he promptly violates Freder's trust and goes out on the town spending Freder's money and is caught and sent back down to the city's depths.
After some period of time working the machine, another worker approaches Freder and leads him down deeper into the depths of the city. Down here, all the workers have gathered and are listening to a sermon being performed by the beautiful woman who had come to see Freder earlier that day. Freder is obviously madly in love with this woman who goes by the name Maria. After the sermon, Freder approaches Maria who is apparently very taken by Freder as well, and they plan to meet later on.
Meanwhile, Joh Fredersen has been watching this sermon as well and is concerned that Maria will lead a rebellion among the workers. He was led to his vantage point by the crazed inventor Rotwang (Rudolf Klein-Rogge). Rotwang has created a machine-man that he plans to morph into his late wife Hel, however Fredersen has different plans. Fredersen informs Rotwang that he is to turn the machine-man into Maria, so as to demolish any potential uprisings. Rotwang agrees, however he betrays Fredersen and decides to use the machine-man to destroy the city of Metropolis as well as Joh Fredersen and his son.
How this film was made in 1927 is beyond my comprehension. The sets and the special effects and the cinematography are absolutely mind-blowing. There is a scene rather early on where Lang shows the workers working one of the machines, perfectly choreographed, that is one of the most amazing pieces of film work in it's history.
You are informed prior to the start of the film that the majority of the film was lost around the time of its release in 1927, and there are cards placed in to inform you what you are missing. This is a damned shame, with the brilliance of what has remained you know that what you are missing must be mind-blowing.
The performances are also incredible, especially by Brigitte Helm who is absolutely superb. The facial expressions that Ms. Helm portrays are just amazing. Metropolis is an absolutely wonderful film, and I'm sure it would be even more wonderful if we were getting the entire picture. Fritz Lang (who also directed the masterpiece M) goes to show you yet again why he is one of the all-time greats. Definitely worth seeing. Overall 4.0/4 Stars Grade = A
Allan Dwan's Sands of Iwo Jima is a slightly better than average WWII military propaganda film. I have definitely seen better, and I have definitely seen worse.
Although John Wayne is the top bill in this film, he is not the lead role. That honor goes to John Agar who plays Pfc. Peter Conway. Conway doesn't consider himself to be a military man; he joined for the sole reason that it's a bit of a family tradition.
John Wayne is Sgt. John Stryker. Stryker is a strictly by the books man, and pushes his unit hard. His men don't care for him too much, but they respect him. Stryker knows he isn't a popular man, but that's not important to him. What is important to him is that his men be ready when it is time to hit the front lines.
Conway immediately dislikes Stryker from the moment Stryker informs him that Conway's father was Stryker's CO and the best CO he's ever had. Conway wasn't fond of his father; he was always a disappointment in his father's eyes. Not strong enough. Every time Conway looks at Stryker, or hears Stryker speak it's like his father is speaking.
As the film heads along and as you get to know Stryker better you come to see that he's not as bad a guy as he seems. His tough guy attitude is really just a veneer that he puts on in order to keep his squad on edge and in tip-top shape. Slowly but surely the men start to realize this as they head into battle.
While none of these propaganda films will come close to the quality of today's war films, Sands of Iwo Jima certainly tries and gets a lot of help from John Wayne who puts in a superb performance. Unfortunately that cannot be said for his peers, whose wooden acting is sub-par to say the least. Allan Dwan does his job, there really isn't any style to his direction he just shot the shots his producer told him to. I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to see Sands of Iwo Jima, but if it's on TV then by all means watch it. Overall 2.5/4 Stars Grade = C
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
After seeing Paul Mazursky's Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice I felt inclined to see I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! since it is also written by Mazursky. Unfortunately for me, I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! is not nearly as good, or humorous as Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. Sure, it has its moments but it's just not great.
Peter Sellers stars as Harold, a lawyer in the late 1960s. Harold is a square and he knows it, but it doesn't matter to him (at least not yet). He is engaged to a woman named Joyce, and he is very successful in his profession. He doesn't know it yet, but his life is about to change.
One day at the office, Harold's mother (Jo Van Fleet) comes rushing in weeping about how a man had just died. Harold thinks it's his father, but is relieved to find out it's just the butcher. It is important to his mother that Harold attends the funeral, and brings his brother along. Harold's brother is a hippie living in Venice Beach, and Harold hasn't seen him in three months but he agrees.
When the day of the funeral arrives, Harold goes to pick up his brother Herbie (David Arkin) at his apartment. Upon his arrival Harold is met by Herbie and Herbie’s lady friend Nancy (the lovely Leigh Taylor-Young, who you may recognize as Shirl in Soylent Green). Herbie looks ridiculous, as he's dressed in traditional Hopi Indian funeral garb and this upsets Harold greatly. This is not something a normal person wears to a Catholic funeral, but there's nothing he can do.
The funeral is one of the more humorous scenes in the film. The hearse drivers are on strike, so there is no way to get the body from the funeral home to the cemetery. Harold is the only person in attendance with a station wagon, and it's loaner that he had to take after his Lincoln was hit. The wagon is painted up and down with rainbows and peace signs; it's really a sight. Harold volunteers to transport the body, and the procession goes on its way. Unfortunately, Harold gets pulled over and loses the procession and ends up driving around for hours trying to find the cemetery.
After the whole funeral ordeal is finally over, Harold heads home. On his way he sees Nancy hitchhiking. Harold feels that it is very dangerous for a single girl to be hitchhiking; there are too many sex maniacs out and about so he offers to give her a lift. Nancy doesn't really have anywhere to go, so he takes her back to his place to crash on his couch.
The next day while Harold is out picking up his Lincoln, Nancy bakes him some "special" brownies as a showing of appreciation for his hospitality. When Harold returns, he finds his parents and fiancé waiting. The five of them head in, and Joyce finds the brownies. No one is aware of the groovy ingredient, so they all indulge themselves to their fill. Of course they're all high as a kite now, and go out to enjoy some miniature golf. It is now that Harold realizes he has fallen in love with Nancy, and becomes a hippie himself in order to prove it.
Peter Sellers does a decent job as Harold, but I’ve seen him put in a lot better performances (Dr. Strangelove). I thought that Jo Van Fleet was a bit over-the-top, she made it way too obvious that she was a Jewish mother by pulling out so many stereotypes.
I think that this film was probably a lot funnier when it was produced, but it hasn't aged well. The majority of the jokes don't work any more, and a lot of the references would only be funny during that time period. It is directed by Hy Averback, who spent the majority of his career directing television shows; both before and after I Love You, Alice B. Toklas!. If you were around in the sixties, or just wish you were (like myself) then I would recommend it. However if you are not one of the aforementioned, then you probably won't enjoy this film, as it has no deep meaning that is relevant to today. My other problem with the film is the ending. The ending is very confusing, and you never are really able to figure out whether what just happened was real or an illusion. Overall 2.5/4 Stars Grade = C+
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
The film starts on the planet Krypton. Jor-El (Marlon Brando) is giving a speech to the council, trying to convince them that the planet is going to explode within thirty days and they are doomed unless they evacuate immediately. Unfortunately, the council disagrees with him and insists he not cause widespread panic by either evacuating, or leaving the planet on his own accord. Jor-El promises the council that neither him nor his wife will leave Krypton, however he mentions nothing of his infant son. Jor-El and his wife load young Kal-El into a spaceship and send him off the Earth, just as Krypton starts to explode.
It takes three years for the ship to reach Earth, and when it arrives it crashes into a field somewhere in Middle America; a town called Smallville. Driving on the road through the field are Jonathan and Martha Kent. The meteor startles them and they swerve causing a flat tire. They stop to fix the tire, and notice the ship. Emerging from the wreckage is a little boy, thus becomes the birth of Clark Kent.
Growing up is tough for Clark, having to hide his special abilities from his peers and upon his eighteenth birthday he takes a glowing crystal from the ship in which he arrived and heads on a quest to find himself and his meaning. This quest ends in what appears to be the North Pole, which is now to become his fortress of solitude. It is here where over the next twelve years Clark Kent learns from Jor-El all the secrets to himself and the universe, and where he transforms into Superman.
When he returns to the regular world he assumes his secret identity, that of Clark Kent, the meek mild mannered reporter at the Daily Planet. This of course is only to hide his true self from his enemies, as he takes on evil genius Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) and saves his true love Lois Lane (Margot Kidder).
One of the things that make Superman great is the special effects. Before the days of CGI directors actually had to try and make things look real, and in my opinion all this CGI is really hurting the films of today. Another great quality is the script. Although it starts out poorly with a few too many clichés from Marlon Brando, it really gains strength upon Kal-El's arrival on Earth, as it becomes less pretentious and the perfect amount of humor is thrown in.
Christopher Reeve plays the part to a tee; he even looks like the Superman did in the comic books. Although Superman was not Christopher Reeve's big screen debut (that honor going to Gray Lady Down), it is most certainly the role for which he is remembered. He was a fine man and will surely be missed. Glenn Ford is fantastic in his small yet important role as Jonathan Kent; he was a great actor in the 40's and 50's and shows here that despite his age he didn't lose a step. As always Gene Hackman is great as the diabolical Lex Luthor, and Ned Beatty gives one of the all time great comedic performances as Otis; Luthor's idiotic henchman.
Superman is definitely worth seeing for anyone who hasn't yet, and definitely worth showing your kids. They will love it, I did when I was a child. I don't hold it in as high regard as Tim Burton's Batman, but they can't really be compared, as Batman is a much darker film. For an action/adventure movie it is a bit long at two and a half hours, but the time just flies by. I've seen 90 minute long films that took at lot longer than this. Overall 3.5/4 Stars Grade = B+
Monday, March 24, 2008
Austen and McCall set up a meeting, and Grant asks Lory to come along since she owns 10% of the company. It is now that we learn that Cash and Lory are previously acquainted, and Lory seems to be holding some great animosity towards Cash. Turns out Lory and Cash met one another the previous summer in Maine, Lory had fallen in love with Cash but he rejected her. While Grant is off calling his lawyer, Cash tries to explain that he had made terrible mistake in Maine and that he is in love with her, but she won't listen and storms off.
The sale goes as planned, and Cash is finally able to tell Lory his true feelings for her, but it's not smooth sailing yet. Since Cash is a very wealthy and rather famous businessman (think today’s Donald Trump), there are a lot of dirty rumors going around and a lot of people who want to destroy his credibility. One of these men meets up with Grant Austen, and informs him that Cash has already sold his company for three million, and that he has been ripped off. This sends Grant into a tirade, threatening lawsuit against Cash for fraud. There is also the assistant manager of the hotel in which Cash lives. This woman, a Mrs. Kennard (Nina Foch), is in love with Cash and a very jealous woman.
Cash and Lory have now been seeing each other for a little while now, and Cash has just proposed. Lory is overwhelmed, and of course accepts his proposal. Cash must rush to a business meeting, and leaves Lory at the hotel to wait for him to return. Unfortunately, word has gotten to Mrs. Kennard that there is a woman in Cash’s room. Since she thinks Cash loves her, this sends her into a jealous rage. She rushes up to Cash’s room and feeds Lory some BS story, which sends Lory home in tears.
So now Cash has two problems with the same family. Grant thinks he's been screwed, and Lory thinks he's been screwing around. Cash now must explain to Grant that he’s been on the level, and the only reason he wanted to buy his company was so he could get in contact with Lory whom he is in love with. He also must explain to Lory that there is no other woman, and the blonde is just the crazy hotel assistant manager. Of course he is able to smooth everything out just in time for the classic Hollywood happy ending.
Sure Cash McCall is a cheesy movie, but sometimes that’s OK. The characters are interesting enough, and James Garner puts in a good performance. Also be on the lookout for Edward Platt who plays Harrison Glenn, one of Cash's business associates. I did feel, unfortunately, that Natalie Wood seemed uninspired in the role. I have seen the majority of her films, and feel that she gave one of her weaker performances in this one; also the Barbara Bush hairstyle was less that becoming but that's just my personal opinion. I think Cash McCall is worth seeing, just take it for what it is, a charming yet cheesy slice out of 1950's pop culture. Overall 2.5/4 Stars Grade = C+
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Natalie Wood stars as Marjorie Morgenstern, a young Jewish woman living with her family in Manhattan. She has been dating a boy named Sandy Lamm for some time, and he is in love with her and wishes to marry her. Marjorie's mother is quite fond of Sandy, whose parents own a department store. Class and business sense is something that is very important to Marjorie’s mother. Unfortunately Marjorie isn't in love with Sandy, or at least she doesn't think so, and their parents are planning a trip in which Sandy and Marjorie could be together all summer. Marjorie isn't too keen on the idea, and her friend Marsha Zelenko (Carolyn Jones) offers to get her a job as dramatic counselor at a girls summer camp.
Across the lake from the girls camp is another camp, kind of a getaway for rich folks. At this camp they have plays, and dances and other types of productions put on to entertain the guests. Marsha has been sneaking across the lake nightly and seeing a musician, and one night she is able to convince Marjorie to come along. It is on this night that Marjorie meets Noel Airman (Gene Kelly) who produces the camps plays, and who will quickly become the love of her life.
After a tumultuous summer of love, Marjorie returns home, single, and finishes college. She is now dating a doctor (Martin Balsam), and pursuing a career as an actress. After returning home one evening, she is surprised to see Noel waiting for her. He has left his job at the camp, and is now working for an advertising agency; and he is still madly in love with Marjorie. Marjorie doesn't plan on anything to happen, but she cannot deny her feelings and the two of them immediately get involved again.
When an old friend Wally (Martin Milner) shows back up, with a new hit Broadway show it really sends Noel off the deep end. He misses his life in show business, and is upset that he never accomplished anything like Wally did. He goes on a drinking binge that ends in an affair, and he calls it off with Marjorie.
Of course it's never really over between Marjorie and Noel, they love each other too much and have too much chemistry. After some period of time, they are back together and Noel is working on a musical of his own and the tumultuous relationship continues. Everett Freeman's script is cheesy at some points, and the film never really challenges Wood or Kelly, and it offers neither of them an opportunity to be great. It's definitely watchable, and it'll get a few good chuckles out of you. If they're showing Marjorie Morningstar on TCM or something and you have nothing else going on, then by all means watch it; but I wouldn't go out of my way to see it unless you are an enormous Natalie Wood or Gene Kelly fan. Overall 2.0/4 Stars Grade = C
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
When you first start watching West Side Story you'll probably think to yourself "Wow, this is probably the fruitiest movie I've ever seen". But don't worry, it gets better. The story is about two rival gangs in New York, the Jets and the Sharks. The Jets have a small area of land they have deemed as their territory, and the Sharks are trying to take it over. The main difference between the Jets and the Sharks is that while the Jets are white and were born in America, the Sharks are full-blooded Puerto Rican. The Sharks hate the Jets for the sole reason that they are Americans. Ever since the members of the Sharks came to America they have been treated like scum simply because they are Latino, and therefor have a chip on their shoulder. Newer, bigger problems arise one night at a dance in which both gangs are in attendance. Tony (Richard Beymer), who is a co-founder of the Jets but has since left the gang in order to pursue a more legitimate lifestyle notices Maria (Natalie Wood), who is the sister of Sharks leader Bernardo (George Chakiris). Another problem is that she notices him. They are immediately drawn to each other, and it is truly love at first sight. Tony doesn't know who Maria is, and Maria doesn't know who Tony is and the thing is they don't care. They just want to be together. This spectacle of course upsets Bernardo immensely, and he now feels he has even more reason to hate Americans and the Jets. There is nearly a fight between the two gangs right there in the dance hall, but instead Riff (Russ Tamblyn), the leader of the Jets, and Bernardo set up a meeting in order to set up a brawl at a later date. Maria and Tony see each other a few more times and fall deeply in love, but the idea of a brawl is very upsetting to Maria and she makes Tony promise to stop it. Unfortunately, both the Sharks and the Jets want to brawl badly and Tony trying to stop it just leads to more violence and even death. Now with the Sharks out for vengeance, Tony and Maria must get away before more senseless deaths occur. Normally I cannot stand musicals, and for the first half hour or so I thought this was going to be the case with West Side Story, but the film really calms down and actually becomes a decent picture. It did bother me that neither Natalie Wood or Richard Beymer actually sing, it is a dubbed voice and quite obvious. I thought the ending was absolutely superb, with a great scene from Natalie Wood as she displays yet another instance of her thespian superiority. Worth watching, especially if you like musicals but even if you don't. Overall 3.0/4 Stars Grade = B
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I have got to think that the original 1966 Alfie was better and more original than this version. Jude Law plays the title character, a British playboy using the island of Manhattan as his own personal playground. Charles Shyer's film documents Alfie in a quasi-documentary style following him throughout his relationships with many different women, all while he looks directly at the camera and narrates. First there is Dori (Jane Krakowski), a beautiful wife of a husband who doesn't appreciate her. Alfie gives her the sexual pleasure her husband has no interest in, but when she starts to fall for him he runs the other direction. Then there's Julie (Oscar winner Marisa Tomei). Julie is Alfie's "glorified booty call". A single mother, Alfie goes to her when the night is done and essentially uses her for a bed and food. Julie is really Alfie’s favorite, but he doesn’t realize it until it’s too late. There's the high class Liz (Oscar winner Susan Sarandon), who Alfie ultimately falls for but since she is the female version of him it is not to be. Then we have the beautiful but crazy Nikki (Sienna Miller) who seems to be a rip-off of Kate Winslet’s character in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Nikki is so gorgeous that Alfie totally lets his guard down and becomes involved with her and she moves into his apartment. She’s so nuts though, that it really makes Alfie realize that T&A aren’t everything. Of course throughout the film you come to realize that Alfie really isn't happy in his playboy lifestyle. He is lonely, and really has no friends he hasn't alienated. This is of course what you have probably expected watching this film, because it has been done hundreds of times but with different actors and different characters. Alfie is so full of clichés that it’s ridiculous. The film has its moments of humor, and Jude Law gives a very decent performance, but the movie just isn't all that impressive. If all you want in a movie is a menagerie of beautiful women, then Alfie is for you but if you want an actual decent film then go elsewhere. Overall 2.0/4 Stars Grade = C
The Last Tango in Paris is a slightly interesting film about two people. Marlon Brando is Paul, a man trying to cope with the recent suicide of his wife. Maria Schneider is Jeanne, a young woman seemingly trying to find herself. Paul and Jeanne’s paths cross one day while they are both looking at an apartment to rent in Paris. They immediately have intercourse, and Paul ends up taking the apartment. For some period of time, Jeanne comes to see Paul for sex and sex alone. He refuses to talk about himself, and wants to know nothing about Jeanne, not even her name. As soon as she brings up anything even remotely personal Paul gets very hostile. Paul and Jeanne truly have a no-strings-attached, entirely sexual relationship. In his personal life, Paul runs a run down hotel that is frequented by hookers and junkies. His mother-in-law has recently come to stay at the hotel due to her daughter’s death and this does not please Paul, they often get into fights about religion and the way to deal with her daughter’s funeral. In Jeanne’s personal life she is engaged to a man named Tom who is a young filmmaker. Tom latest project is a story of love in which Jeanne is the main subject. Tom is constantly following Jeanne around with a camera and crew and Jeanne doesn’t much care for this. It seems that the afternoons of sex is the only escape that Paul and Jeanne have from their stressful and depressing lives. I wasn’t particularly impressed with The Last Tango in Paris, the storyline wasn’t very original and the characters really weren’t that interesting. Maria Schneider is beautiful as Jeanne and gives a good performance, and Brando isn’t bad either. The script at times seems to be needlessly dirty, Bernardo Bertolucci appears to just be going for as much shock value as he can get. All in all The Last Tango in Paris is an okay film, but I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to see it. Overall 2.5/4 Stars Grade = C