Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)

Someone recently asked me when I became addicted to watching classic movies. The answer is pretty amusing.They always assume that it's a long time passion or it's inherited from my parents or something classy as that. Boy, do I love the quizzical expressions on their faces when I mention that it was only a few years ago, thanks to KROQ entertainment correspondent Ralph Garmon.

I love to listen to Kevin and Bean during my morning drive to work. I know the program is stupid and nonsensical but it's nice to start the morning off with as much humor as possible. There is a special entertainment section that Garmon leads and this is where I first heard of a new event at a local movie theater called "Old movies for young people". They showcased a lot of classic movies for free. So I got to see "Mister Roberts" first and that didn't do much for me. It was when I went back again to see "The Bad and the Beautiful" that began my addiction.

It's a behind the scenes movie about hollywood. Kind of like "Singing in the Rain" but with no music, alcohol, and alot of drama. The movie is famous for for not only starring Kirk Douglas and Lana Turner but also being epically dramatic.

There isn't a lot of action. Only a lot of yelling and dialogue. Your thrust into a world full of smiling and successful Hollywood players. Your made to focus on three players. I believe one is an actress, one is a director, and the third is a writer. As the movie progresses, you slowly get a sense that all three barely made it to where they are now. There is a lot of backstabbing involved. All three orbit around one central figure that plays a key point to their success. All are bitter and angry towards this central figure but can only do so much or risk ultimate failure.

All the characters are so strong yet so weak that I was interested in how they became that way. Once the truth is known it was a bit of a surprise. I couldn't help but feel pity for them. To owe everything to a person who uses you as a pawn must majorly suck. That feeling of helplessness and entrapment is sensed throughout to the very climatic end.

Behind the scene movies, especially classics, are always intriguing. Whether or not your familiar with the stories it references hardly matters. Just knowing that there is hint of truth somewhere adds more meaning and makes it more of a puzzle. Who doesn't love to know piece of gossip? That's how TMZ makes it's moola.

It really hurts.

Little Nemo (1989)

I am definitely a product of the nineties and was subjected to the wonderful programming around me. I was amused by Barney. I was confused by Mister Rogers Neighborhood (why must the man strip?). Rocko's modern life was the most amazing cartoon ever while Ren and Stimpy made me nauseous. Disney was the ultimate being. Beauty and the Beast was my life.

Yet despite being surrounded by all these twisted childrens programming, my brother and I somehow stumbled upon a great animated film called "Little Nemo".

I have nothing but childish fond memories of this film. It was loosely based on a newspaper strip by Winsor McCay from about 1900 to 1914. Someone actually made a huge calender with the newspaper strips that I found at a comic convention a few years ago. I loved that calender. Unfortunately it was destroyed since I stored it very incorrectly in the garage.

The movie centers around a boy named Nemo and his super duper flying squirrel Icarus (ha.). During a dream (or is it reality??) he is visited by a royal procession with an invitation to join the Slumber king. He is transported to Slumberland wherein starts the adventure. There is Nightmare Land, the antithesis of Slumberland. The King is kidnapped by the Nightmare King, in large fault to Nemo. So its up to Nemo to save him!

That's a really lame and simple explanation of the movie. There are alot of other plot points to this story but I would rather leave you to watch it.

It was a movie marketed to children but it wasn't made in the padded style of today. There is a very dark element to the movie that still scares me a bit today. Almost like a non-gore Freddy movie. It was a warped twist to dreams and reality. There is a dream sequence involving a train that makes me jump every freaking time.

Nemo is just a boy who acts like a boy. He makes a mistake, tries to run away, but eventually develops the courage to fight against the Nightmare king. He has the help of friends of course.

The style was well done and the songs are really catchy. Well to me anyway. I'm a sucker for catchy music.

Also, it's a movie I watched when I was younger. It doesn't matter how bad or how good a children s movie is. There is always something about a movie you watch when your younger that will always trigger a thought or emotion. For this movie, it always triggers for me to dig deep for courage. When I'm a little scared, if I remember Nemo standing up to the Nightmare king yelling the magic incantations to activate the sceptor, I feel just a tiny bit braver.

Only a few tiny,teeny annoying things, (I just realized in my older state),about this movie
1. the king wore a skirt
2. the king wanted a
3. many plot holes....don't think too hard about them
4. Dammit Mickey Rooney's in this movie!! (He's the voice of flip...)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

I started this blog in the morning and I'm starting to have my misgivings about this. It's one of those movies where you either hate or love it. I'm not too sure why I love it. It's not the best classic, it's not the worst classic movie. I've heard people call this the most annoying film they've ever watched, others hail it as the holy grail of screwball comedy. It was just an interesting film to watch. I was mostly curious to know how crazy the antics would be. I laughed. I can say that, too.

I'm pretty sure it's because this was one of the first movies that introduced me to Katherine Hepburn.It pretty much set the standard for the rest of the Katherine Hepburn movies I would later watch. From across the board, Hepburn is one of those female actress that is a one trick pony: the ability to fire off a dialogue so quickly, that it can either be amazing or make you grab a bottle of aspirin.

I would also definitely add her features as part of the oddball category. I mean, check out that jaw! It's so strong and sharp I bet it can cut through aluminum cans (only 19.99 not including shipping and handling)!

"Bringing Up Baby" is a screwball comedy. It was made in the 30's so it pretty much threw in every comedy twists that film watchers now can predict in a heartbeat. It involves Susan Vance (as played by Hepburn) who is your standard spazzoid. I swear almost every movie I've seen Hepburn in, she plays a spoiled person and/or spaz. Cary Grant (sigh...) plays the hero of the movie,Dr. David Huxley. They're both opposites of each other (of course). Susan is full of random, nonsense and David is methodical. Classic pairing. There is a whole bunch of story elements here involving a dog that buries the missing fossil, a leopard that was mistakenly shipped to Hepburn, car switching, and a bit of romance. Like a smidge of romance.

There's really not much I can say other than I just couldn't believe the things that Hepburns'character did. It was over the top, eccentric, and just crazy yet I still enjoyed this movie. Maybe because I see my own little crazy in her. This is the only Katherine Hepburn movie I've completely enjoyed so far.

Except that I do hate the ending. I usually hate the endings away.

I wonder if the writers of "Hangover" got the idea of the tiger from the leopard in this movie?

(As of now, I've seen "Philadelphia story", "On Golden Pond", and "African Queen")

The Restless (2006)

Oh wow! I really need to write about this one then I'll go to sleep...I swear it!

I heard about this movie at a party of a friend of a friend. I've long since lost contact with them but I remember jotting down the movie that the friend recommended to me with frenzied vigor. That was about a year and half ago, I think, and I barely watched it a few months ago ( hey, I have about 300 movies on my netflix queue..). I now understand why he was so excited to share it with me.

"The Restless" is a korean fantasy movie. It is a beautiful, fantasy movie. The beginning of the movie almost turned me off with it's depressing fight scene and the village dialogue thanking him. It almost seemed like it was heading for the kind of movie where the hero travels all over the place and saves people. Whoopee. It wasn't until the hero died (yes he died in the beginning of the movie) and woke up in the beautiful scenery that is ghost land that I perked up. From that moment on, my eyes were riveted.

It's been awhile since I've seen it, so the IMDB explanation of the movie would be better. It was a love story amidst the vengeance and self discovery. The ethereal backgrounds were splendid. The fight scenes had all manners of weapons and moves that made my head ping pong all over the screen. I love fantasy fights. Who wouldn't love to fly and spin around in the air for minutes while fighting? I would be more willing to learn martial arts if I could fly around and bounce off of trees.

The last fight is THE fight to watch. When the hero hears the distressed call of his loved one deep within the temple, he sets out to make his way through the horde of demon fighters. By the way, a horde in this scene is not a few dozens or an alarming hundred. It's more like a whole country of demon soldiers stand between him and the temple. HE. FIGHTS. THROUGH.THEM.ALL. My words won't do it justice. Watch that scene and I swear you will be muttering disbelieving expletives left and right.

One, just one, complaint I had about the movie was the ending. I wasn't happy with how lofty and open the end was. I understand it but it just wasn't as satisfying as I hoped. Maybe I'm missing the point of some Korean reference but I don't know what it is. If there's one, then please tell me.

No, I lied. There is another point of complaint. The heroine of the story is a bit too wimpy for my tastes. She's supposed to be this bad ass high spiritual fighter. Other than one cool magical fight scene, most of the time she's being thrown to the side to cower or made to run away. There really isn't anything too special about her other than looking like his dead wife. If she wasn't a look alike I know the hero wouldn't give a hoot about her. Neither would I.

Alot of Asian fantasy films (Thailand included) often features these wimpy females. Something about the idea of females handling magic seem to make the writers edgy. There might be a general idea that women aren't strong enough to handle the magic, blah, blah, blah. If the females are able to handle, they're bad and they get whats coming to them. If that's true then I flip my finger to those writers. Geez, I'm sick of that.

Freebie and the Bean (1974)

I've been itching to write about this movie all day. It's amazing once I started this blog, my mind went bonkers with all the movies I want to write about it! I'm pretty sure I won't get any sleep until I write this one down.

I volunteered at the Egyptian theater in Hollywood last year and was allowed to sit and watch this movie. I remember thinking that the highlight of my evening was going to be from tearing Patton Oswalts movie ticket since I never even heard of this movie. I didn't have much to do after my shift so I grabbed my free popcorn and settled into the theater.To my relief and delight, it was was an awesome movie. That movie is "Freebie and the Bean".

I do remember glancing at the description of the movie while I was volunteering. A red flag flared before my eyes when I caught that it was made in the 70's. I don't really have alot of movies from the 70's that I' like or am willing to watch since most are littered with porno scenes and grainy visuals. Something about that decade is just nasty and full of cigarette smoke. "Freebie and the bean" carries some nudity parts but there is one, ONE, thing that makes this movie ultimate fun: RIDICULOUS, LONG,DESTRUCTIVE CHASES!

I admit it, I love car chases. Well, exciting car chases. Crazy fast and explosive chases gets my heart pumping.

Half the movie was just chases; chases with cars, motorcycles, whatever had wheels. Then there were the fights.Fights in the bathroom, in the car, anywhere. The chases and the fights were long and I would dare say almost unchoreographed. It was almost as if the director said, "F**k it, just beat the s**t out of each other...oh don't even worry about destroying fact why don't you slide the body across the kitchen counter into a huge pot of soup?"

Seriously, it was crazy. There is the most amazing chase scene, just one chase, that destroys cars, pedestrians, goes over bridges, through trains, and the car ends up impaling through an apartment!

I haven't even mentioned the verbal sparring between the cop partners! Alot of that stuff should seem shocking to our jaded generation but it didn't seem like it all.There were alot of white and Mexican jokes being thrown around. I guess maybe because I have heard from conversations around me are that are more colored than the rainbow. . yeah I've heard much worse.

Another thing, it's a buddy cop movie. For me, this is the only buddy cop movie.

Shocking car chases (I mean they didn't give a f**k what the hell they destroyed), unbelievable fight scenes,crazy dialogue, make this a really fun movie.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Meet Me in St Louis (1944)

Ok, I'm gonna put up another post only because I was spurred on by my father. So I'm going to do a post on a move that is not from the 30's but the 40's! Plus the movie is based in my birthstate so I salute you father!

Judy Garland is my least favorite classic actress. Something about her eyes seemed glazed and her movements puppet like. Until she opens that mouth and gushes out melodies that make songbirds weep in shame.

Only two movies have garnered my attention for Garland. One is the pinnacle of fantasy adaptation movies, "Wizard of Oz."The second is a family movie that threatens to make you vomit up sap but doesn't. That is "Meet Me in St. Louis".

I would love to say I had a horrible day and was easy emotionally manipulated into this feel good movie. Truth be told, I was really relunctant to watch this movie. I had just been visually scarred from seeing Mickey Rooney pimp himself out to her in "Babe's in Arms" (how was Mickey Rooney considered cute?....shudder). I also tend to shy away from family movies. All that familial cheer and blah blah tends to have me punk myself out in defiance. The family unit is practically extinct now. It's weird to have such a bustling family like that. I grew up with dysfunctional family guidelines that has now defined normal urban society. Yet I had somehow grit my teeth and forced myself to pop that DVD.

Damn it. I loved it.

The story is of a family who is going to move. That's it. That's the freaking story. I wouldn't be surprised if you were laughing and checking out another website right now. No joke. The only conflict in this story is that they're moving and that just suuuuucks for the girls. The movie centers around the two elder daughters who have their eyes on boys. July Garland's character is the second eldest and has her eyes on the boy next door.

Oh yeah and it's a musical. Lots of nonsense songs. Lots of damn catchy nonsense songs. Really catchy nonsense songs.

On the surface, this movie doesn't seem to present much. After watching this movie though, I couldn't help but come away with a light and hopeful feeling in my heart. I also had the sudden urge to hug my brother. Something about this movie is so simple and sweet. It doesn't force any ideals down your throat or present a way that is correct or anything. It is a simple movie about a family that has their own problems. It's more like a micro-universe movie. That pretty much rings true even for todays families. Internal family problems will always hold more weight and sway. I vaguely remember something is Sociology about about the family unit being the important structure or something of that sort.

Judy Garland was beautiful in this movie. She fit this character way more than others. Have you ever notice how her grimaced expression in other roles? Almost as if she's wearing the wrong size?Not in this movie. She was comfortable and played her character. She was that young girl who's only world is the boy and how to get him.

Just a plainly sweet movie.

It's also worth it to see Garland beat the hell out of the boy.I mean she really swung her fists! Awesome! Never try to hurt a sibling. Your just asking asking for grande-mocha-lotta-hurta.

"clang, clang, clang went the trolley....ding, ding, ding went the bell....zing, zing, zing went my heartstrings as we started for huntington dell...."

DAMMIT. Now the song is stuck in my head.

Jezebel (1938)

I'm frankly not in the mood to do much else other than to peruse my movie list and pick out the ones that have stood out in my mind. I shall proceed to bombard this blog with as many posts as my poor fingers can handle.

After writing about "The Women" last night, it unleashed a barrage of thoughts about another amazing movie I just saw a few weeks ago. This was "Jezebel" which featured the dazzling oddity that is Bette Davis.

Bette Davis is one of those iconic Hollywood starlets that everyone knows yet most have never seen her onscreen performance. I remember seeing her large eyes looming mysteriously from various artistic outlets including the "Animaniacs" cartoon series. She is not the most beautiful actress of her time but beauty does not carry weight in this at all. She is part of the category of oddballs that win. For that I absolutely I adore her. She is absolutely phenomenal to watch. Plus her eyes are really mesmorizing to look at.

"Jezebel" is what many have said is Warner Brothers answer to "Gone with the Wind". Both of these movies are set in the antebellum south (which is another way of saying a time of southern royalty. Think ridiculously poofy hoop skirts). Both lead actresses played obnoxious southern belles full of themselves. Both characters make a mistake in respect to their love interest and both pay dearly for it. That is where the comparisons basically end.

"Jezebel" seriously whooped "Gone with the Wind"!

The movie is about a southern belle named Julie (played by Bette Davis). She selfishly pits the stiff southern gentlemen against one another for her own enjoyment. She taunts and flaunts the strict rules of society which ultimately causes her downfall. An epidemic of yellow fever turns the movie into a different path that forces Julie to come into terms with herself and those around her.

Bette Davis WAS that southern belle. Her emotions were clear and honest. You seriously hated her and yet sympathized with her. You couldn't help wanting to voice encouragement when she fell and hoped that she would learn her mistakes. Her character knew she had done something gravely wrong and she sought to fix it. How many of us have the courage to even stand up to ourselves when we make a mistake? Imagine making a public mistake? One that cost your reputation, your status, your love? Yeah, cower away.

Bette Davis's acting was just amazing. Simply amazing. I held my breath in awe so many times I had to thump my chest to force one out. The story is just awesome and well written. It's easy to overlook it initially as a story of a dumb girl who makes a stupid mistake. Until you keep watching and notice that it's so much more. It's a reflection of the ripple in the water effect. Your decision may be small but it sure can have horrendous consequences. It's mind boggling to attempt to do the "what if" game after watching the movie. What if she never broker her original engagement? What if she stayed with Buck Cantrell? What if she never wore that red dress? What if she thought of others earlier? What if she never stepped outside to follow Preston?

It's worthy to also mention how the music fits so well. I usually don't pay attention to the background music and frankly that's how it should be. Sometimes a good musical score to me is one that you don't notice the changes in the movies mood. The music should be like an invisible guide. That's why it was it was with shocked delight when I was realized I was manipulated into a change of emotions just by a couple of key chords. Especially at the key turning points of the movie. Masterpiece.Epic Masterpiece.

I admit that I have a strange attraction to the aftermath of destruction and mayhem caused by diseases or natural occurrence. I'm pretty sure that this is merely a clever metaphorical tool used by writers. What better way to force the main character to face their enemies (whether it is themselves or others) by presenting a permanent obstacle that forces them to choose? A way of weeding out the weak from the strong. Separating what is important and what was just nonsense. Realizing who you cannot live without and doing whatever it takes to be with them. No matter how much frills and shine we put upon ourselves, we are still just mammals with a squishy brain. When disasters strike, we will only be armed with our wit and intelligence to survive another day. Our pack instinct is to band with our pack and protect our own no matter the cost. Now throw in love and you just amped up desperation to 11.

I can only hope that if I was stuck in such a situation, I would be able to hide in a secure location with a can of Off! and wait until the masses fought amongst themselves.

Just a bit of movie trivia; yellow fever refers to a hemorrhagic fever spread by a mosquito. Once a person is afflicted with yellow fever, they get to experience:
  • bleeding (may progress to hemorrhage)
  • Coma
  • Decreased urination
  • Delirium
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Jaundice
  • Muscle aches (myalgia)
  • Red eyes, face, tongue
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Vomiting blood

Marvelous, isn't it? One thing that I didn't notice until I watched the commentary was to pick up on when a certain main character receives the yellow fever. It's so subtle, only a few seconds, and only a slight change in music that I caught it the second time around. That was so well planned it's beautiful. You would have to catch it to be as amazed as I was.

She refused to wear the customary white dress of unmarried women and dared to wear the red. BIG mistake.

Julie Marsden: "This is 1852 dumplin', 1852, not the dark ages. Girls don't have to simper around in white because they're not married."

... and that is the beginning of the end of naive innocence.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Women (1939)

I just finished watching another amazing classic movie. I classify "amazing" as thoroughly enjoying a movie so much that I kept fidgeting to share it with someone! Anyone! Even my fat furred cat!

After the fat cat stormed away in a huff from a disrupted nap, I remembered that I began this blog less than 24 hours ago with just the intent of that. To share movies that just freaking made my day!

"The Women" is a movie made in 1939. I had it in my netflix queue after seeing promos for the modern remake of the 1939 version. I haven't seen the modern version yet but I bet I will be completely disappointed...maybe I shouldn't even bother....

Anyhoo, the first thing to note about this movie is that it's played by an all female cast. Not just the main characters...ALL CAST MEMBERS ARE FEMALES. From the manicurists who blabs and starts the whole shenanigans to the lawyer to the fashion model to notary. There is no male cast member AT ALL. Which is pretty awesome for 1939.

Its the story of a kind wife who has friends who gossip. The wife finds out her husband is cheating on her and she divorces him. This movie might not be very relevant to a male whatsoever. To a modern dame like myself, this is not only spectacular but a bit shaming. There is a boat load of cattiness, snarkiness, backstabbing, taunts, and ploys to make a soap make a run for its money.

The thing is, I know that females have essentially not changed in this regard. Every female has their absolute core group of pals that we will swear upon our own precious soul loyalty to them. Bitch be damned if she tries to hurt one of my friends! ::growls::

But damn do we hate if our friends are happier than us...."ha ha ha ha...ha ha ha ha...we hate it when our friends become successful...."

NO matter how high and mighty in kindness a female can claim, every single one of us is guilty in attempting to sabotage, snark at, or destroy a friends happiness. Just ask a girl how happy she is her friend has found a man. I betcha she grits her teeth and forces a polite reply followed by an offhand comment on who knows how long love can last, blah, blah.Misery loves company and she's one helluva lonely tramp.

"The Women" is just full of satisfying cattiness from all ends as the central heroines marriage slowly dissolves. It's not just a vapid movie of quickfire snarks, there are heartbreaking images of sadness, pain, from the viewpoint of the daughter caught in the middle and the pride of the divorced mother. It's such a well rounded movie that in the end it just felt justified and well wrapped up. A happy ending! The kind of ending that isn't rushed or wrapped up in some crappy as sentimental hug. No. The heroine fought back! She overcomes her pride and uses it as a mighty weapon!VICTORY!

Being a female full of pride (although others would say full of something else but they can suck it), I can relate to practically almost every female character. From the pride filled heroine who stands fast to her ideals and principles. To the young new wife full of hope and love for her own marriage and relationship. To the cousin who tells it like it is, even if it will cost her the company of her friends. To the Countess who after three or four divorces, still believes in love. To the friend who's willing to rip open a wound to awaken the mind.

Well I can't relate to home wrecker. I am mostly a good dame after all.

Favorite part of the movie:

Mary Haines (to her mother):
"I've had two years to grow claws mother....JUNGLE RED!"

(There is IMDB for this movie right here:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Beginnings- Fresh off of Comic Con


This is the beginning of what I hope to be a fruitful compilations of my thoughts on movies, comics, games and whatever has caught my attention.

I just came home from spending an awesome weekend attending the San Diego Comic Convention. This has been my third year volunteering which has enable me to attend the Con for a free (as long as I spent 3 hours a day volunteering). On the train ride home, I spent some minutes contemplating on the con to counter the nausea. Even on a train, I have bouts of guttural waves. As I focused my eyes to the floor, I realized that I only noticed one possible comic to become interested in. I'm not terribly interested investing huge amounts of energy into learning the deep history of Marvel or DC heroes. Or in keeping track of all the mini series and crossovers. I've been keeping track of only a few heroes and they have all been female. No surprise there since I am a female myself, I want to relate to female character as the males have. Unfortunately for me, most female characters are imagined and drawn by male perceptions. So I've had to sift through some horrible female main characters leaving me only a few.

I was rereading alot of comics in my collection when I realized that I hate alot of my comics. Many of what I've bought turned out to complete duds in capturing my attention. The cover art would be beautiful or I fell for the verbal crap that was given to me by the vendors or some other inane reason would urge me to shelve out my money for these.

I found two that has given me the urge to fling them across the room.

1. The female hottie that was chosen for a destiny
- This idea jumped to mind since I just read Aspens "Magdelena". I bought this comic from Aspen last year hoping it would be kick ass. I mean, the cover was beautiful! I should not have ignored the fact that this chick was wearing a bikini.

The story is of a girl is who chosen to be the Magdelena, or it is her destiny-whatever, to fight supernatural stuff. I am assuming the supernatural stuff since I only have the first issue and it doesn't really explain much except to show that she is chosen. Oh, and not only is she beautiful and kind, she can kick major ass. From staying in an abbey. I have no idea what abbey this is, but I doubt abbeys teach nuns to powerhouse a guys face.

Why should girls be pre-selected for their destinies? Many of these story lines always feature the girl who is destined to be weak, petty, spoiled, stupid, or a followers. What is this claiming? That girls have no power to become powerful? Only if someones says "here's a sword, the position is open, now go do what we tell you to do"? That gets under my skin so much.
The only exception to this is "Buffy" (the tv series). Joss Whedon made this work. "Buffy" is still my least favorite character of the series but Whedon balanced her with Willow so I'm letting that one fly.

2. Pretty, worthless lil' ol me
This is a pretty broad complaint. This is pertaining to the female characters that should have no reason to exist unless they're paired with a stronger male character. One comic that comes to mind: "The Proximity Effect".

I haven't read this in awhile and I don't care to read it again. "The Proximity Effect" was about some guy who could activate his powers only when this chick was near him. That sucks. That's all she's good for? It's almost like a bad sexual innuendo.

That's all I can really say about it.

Arguments can be made that I've only based my opinions on the introduction issues. But look, if the introductions are this crappy, then the rest must be full of diarrhea.