Tuesday, October 7, 2014
I'm surprised that this movie could get made in the 1940s, considering that it's about Satanism and suicide. What's interesting about the Satanists in this movie is that they seem like a group of totally normal people. They actually reminded me of the Satanists from Rosemary's Baby. Anyways, this movie is about a girl who, after trying to find her missing sister Jacqueline, finds out that she is part of a Satanic cult. Jacqueline is accused of betraying the cult by seeing a psychiatrist, so they want her to kill herself. What is great about horror movies as well as film noir from the 30s-50s is that they have great use of lighting and shadows. There is a great scene in this movie where Jacqueline is running from someone in the dark, and she hides in the shadows and completely disappears while the man walks by.
I have never read the short story that this is based on (or anything by James Joyce for that matter), but apparently this movie is a very faithful adaptation. I believe it because the structure of this movie does seem more like a short story than a typical film. The first part of this film takes place at a party, where this married couple Gabriel and Gretta are there with a bunch of friends. They dance, have dinner, and spend a lot of time talking about music. Then, Gretta hears this song which seems to have a huge effect on her, putting her in a bit of a daze while she listens on the staircase, as well as in the carriage on the way home. When they get home, he asks her what is wrong, and she tells him about this boy who used to sing the song, and who ended up dying after standing outside of her window one night in the rain. It shows how the dead, no matter how long they are gone, can still have a big effect on those they leave behind.
"Back then we didn't need dialogue. We had faces!" The introduction of talkie pictures was such a major event in film history, so it isn't a surprise that there are a bunch of great films about this subject, especially films with a focus on the effect it had on silent film actors. These films include "Singin' in the Rain," "The Artist," and the film I just watched, "Sunset Boulevard." The film is about a writer, who find his way into the house of former silent film star. He moves in with her, and she becomes his sugar mama who dresses him, and buys him lots of gifts. She asks him to help her with her script for a film that she wants to be her comeback film directed by Cecil B. DeMille, who she had previously made twelve films with. Unfortunately for her, DeMille has no interest in helping her relaunch her career, but he also doesn't have the guts to tell her himself. So, the writer, and her butler decide to keep it a secret. I felt so bad for the butler character. At first, he just seems like a man who has served her forever and is thus very loyal, but you eventually find out that he wasn't always her servant. In fact, he was the director of her earliest films, and he was her first husband. He made the choice to serve her after he couldn't handle it when she left him. So, he does whatever she asks, writers her fans letters so that she thinks she still has fans, and makes sure that she doesn't find out that DeMille has no interest in making her film. At the end of the movie, he even indulges her fantasy after she kills the writer and goes crazy, and makes her think she is shooting a film while she is being taken away by the police.
Thursday, October 2, 2014
Shadow of a Doubt is about a girl named Charlie who is very excited about her uncle coming to visit, also named Charlie. He is apparently everyone's favorite person, and for some reason has a couple detectives looking for him. At first I thought that this man was an impostor who was just pretending to be Charlie. Girl Charlie mentions that he looks different, and I didn't see anything about this man for this family to get excited about. I was wrong, however. He does indeed turn out to be Uncle Charlie, and Uncle Charlie also happens to be a murderer who kills widows and steals their money. Girl Charlie finds out about this, but for some reason she doesn't tell anyone, and this almost gets her killed twice. The second time, Uncle Charlie tries to push her off of a train, but she manages to save herself, and its the uncle who dies. He not only falls off the train, but we see another train coming as well, so he also gets ran over. Ouch.
Fun fact: In the Woody Allen movie "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," Vicky sees a movie with a guy from her Spanish class, and I always wondered what it was, and now I know! They went to see Shadow of a Doubt. They show the train scene from the movie right before Uncle Charlie tries to push Girl Charlie off.
This movie reminded me a lot of Luis Bunuel's other film "Viridiana." An old man falls in love with a beautiful young woman who comes to stay with him, and this ultimately leads to his demise. Except in this film, he succeeds in seducing the young girl. They live together for a while, and the old man sees himself as both her husband and father, and basically keeps her prisoner. She eventually moves out when she falls in love with an artist, but movies back in when she thinks she is going to die. She ends up living, however, and hates the old man more and more each day, especially after a priest convinces her that she should marry him. She hates him so much that when he asks her to call for a doctor one night, she only pretends to and then lets the cold air in his room and waits for him to die. It seems that she subconsciously wants him dead right from the beginning because towards the beginning of the film and right before she lets him die, she has the same dream where his severed head is ringing a bell.
This movie made my list of movies to never watch with other people. It's also on my list of movies that I will never watch again. I also don't have a picture for this post because I didn't want to do a Google search for fear that I would see that big gaping asshole again. This movie was basically John Waters thinking of every way that he could shock people, and he succeeded! This movie is just filthy and gross, and seems even more filthy and gross because it is so low budget and looks like a home movie. The only other John Waters movies I've seen are Cry-Baby and Hairspray, and those movies are also really campy, but they are definitely a lot tamer than Pink Flamingos. I knew that this movie would have some shocking moments, like the famous dog shit scene, but I really underestimated it. Normally the volume on my TV is at 24, but I turned it down to 10 because I didn't want any people walking by my door to hear what I was watching.