February 19: The Toast of Wall Street
Dullsville. This wasn’t a horrible film, but it was incredibly boring. The only reason I watched it was for Cary Grant and because it is about a Vanderbilt. I love the Vanderbilt clan–I wish I were one of them, then I’d be rich, powerful, and cousins with Anderson Cooper. Such fun! The story is about a trio of scam artists who manage to lift themselves up out of their poverty with tricky business deals and schemes. It started off with some uninteresting details about confederate bonds and ended with a maniacal gold hoarder with a private army. How we got there I can’t quite say. I had a hard time staying focused. The acting was standard, the plot a snooze, and the actors, for the most part, were uninteresting. The whole thing just felt blah. There were some great lines, like, “I’m going to raise myself up so high that they’re going to need ladders to reach me.” I liked that. That’s also not the correct quote. I deleted the movie off the DVR before I had a chance to write it down word for word. Anyway, this was a nonessential film. One of the only interesting things…never mind, the only interesting thing, and probably only to me, was that this was the third Cary Grant picture I’ve seen where he played a character named a variant of Nick. I researched on IMDB, now I’ve seen all of his pictures where he is named Nick. Don’t be too jealous. I’ve no doubt that you aren’t. [My Rating: 2/10]
February 20: Roberta
I watched this picture because it was the first pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. For those of you who are unaware, they were one of Hollywood’s popular onscreen partners, much like Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy and the more modern duo of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. Ginger and Fred were famous for their tap-dancing routines and chemistry. Roberta is about an American troupe of musicians who are booked at a Parisian nightclub because they were confused for Native American Indians. A flimsy story device, but whatever, the whole thing was a showcase for dancing and costumes. Since they aren’t what the club manager is expecting, he refuses them the job and they are left high and dry. Luckily, John (a friend of Huckleberry Haines [no more ridiculous name exists] who is played by Fred) is the nephew of Roberta, the most famed couturier in Paris. Anybody who is anybody went there for their gowns. I never managed to live in a time when the couturier ruled, where even common folk went to designer stores and had their clothing fitted. My would-be-best-friend, Diana Vreeland (how dare she die before I could know her?), said that it was so common to go for three fittings just for a nightgown–GOD! It would have been marvelous, none of this nonsensical Walmart wardrobe and people bouncing around town in sweatsuits. Anyway, by a bizarre twist of fate, an old flame of Huckleberry’s is the talk of the town. She is calling herself Comtesse Sharwenka and singing in a prestigious nightclub. Luckily for him, he knows that she is just an American girl from Brooklyn and he can expose her if he’d like. She’d not like that at all, so, she happily allows him to blackmail her and she helps book them in her fancy nightclub, which ironically (or not, the rules of irony are ridiculously complex) turns out to be the same club they were originally booked for–hilarious! A lot of dancing ensues, then, quite tragic–Roberta dies! She leaves the shop to John, but seeing as he has no experience in running a business and no fashion taste, he enlists Stephanie (Roberta’s longtime assistant) to help him. They’re a great success, but when they realize their feelings for each other are more than mutual friendship, they fall apart and fight. Roberta is set to be the laughing stock of the town and their reputation will be shattered upon the rocky shores of despair. Thankfully, Stephanie can’t stand to see the shop she loves go down in flames, so she rushes in like a knight in chicly shining army. We are treated to a good old-fashioned fashion show–the kind where real people walk around wearing gorgeous and wearable designs for clients, not fashion editors. The world of fashion has evolved so much. It’s nothing like today’s wraiths stomping down wacky runways in over-the-top fierceness. I prefer today’s fashion, for the most part, but the throwback was a delight for my inner fashionista. It was a frivolous picture with a happy ending. Good for a lazy afternoon or when you’re stuck at home with the bird flu. [My Rating: 6/10]
February 21: I Saw What You Did
I first watched this movie ages ago when I first discovered my love of Grande Dame Guignol. Unfortunately, it was a low quality rip off some VHS that had been uploaded to an illegal torrent website that I shamelessly downloaded it to my first laptop. (It was an ancient IBM that my grandmother gave to me and I dearly loved, though I would find it horrible if I had to use it today. I even upgraded it with a wi-fi card–it was so badass!) This movie finally came on one of our local HD channels and I happily recorded it. This morning, over breakfast, I treated myself to this delicious camp fest. Honestly, it is hilarious–even the soundtrack is hilarious. This was unintended of course. The story is about three young girls (Libby, Tess, and Kit) who are finally allowed to stay at home overnight. They want to have themselves a good time, so they decide to prank call random people out of the phonebook and pretend to be the “other woman” in people’s relationships. This is horrible and causes much consternation amongst their victims. Frighteningly (or in this case, hilariously), one of the people they call is a killer who murders his girlfriend while the phone is off the hook. The girls are borderline retarded, seriously, so they don’t seem to mind. They continue their horrid game for hours and hours and hours and then for reasons I fail to understand, they decide that it’s a good idea to drive to town, sans permission, to spy on the killer man because the older one, who annoyed the hell out of me, thinks his voice is so sexy. Now, let me tell you, he does not have a sexy voice. Anyway, off they go in their Sunday finery to find Steve Marak. Good God! They are idiots and deserve to die, but I’m getting ahead of myself. They find his house, but they also find his girlfriend (he was having some kind of affair, I couldn’t understand what women saw in him)–JOAN CRAWFORD! It’s so over the top ridiculous. She is so much older than him and is still trying to play a simpering, seductive teenager. I love her to death, but come on! People on Joan forums are in love with this movie because of the necklace she wears. We call it “The Necklace.” It looks like she draped a chandelier around her neck–it had to weigh twenty pounds. I giggled hysterically every time it was on screen.
When Joan notices the girls snooping about, she loses her mind in the campiest scene in the history of cinema! “GET OUTTA HERE!” She screeches at them a number of times before shoving them back into the car and slamming the door shut. In one last bit of retribution, she rips the registration card off the dash with a look of divine vengeance on her face. It is glorious to behold. The girls go crying home and Joan marches triumphantly back into the house where her lover isn’t very impressed. She goes on and on about how they are going to be together forever, but he wasn’t quite as enthusiastic, so he stabs her in the stomach with a shard of glass. JOAN! Let’s all gasp together! It wasn’t all a tragedy, though. My Joan is a damn fine actress and a high-caliber talent, so her death scene is more spectacular than the murder of Caesar in the Roman forum (or halls of the senate, whatever). She gasps, chokes, falls to the ground, twitches, flops about, flails around, and then dies. OSCAR! The killer decides quite logically that the girls must die because they were the last ones to see Joan. So, he grabs the registration card and drives off to the country where the girls live. He returns the registration and makes to leave when he realizes that they are young and didn’t really understand the situation they were in. But, unfortunately, they talk about the fact that the police are on the lookout for a person that looks very much like him. So, suddenly, he has a butcher knife and is chasing the girls, then they’re in a car and he’s choking them, then miraculously, the police are there and he’s shot and dead. The girls just aren’t bothered at all by the traumatic events of the evening, so they just skip off (literally, they skip) while the music blares like a 60s sitcom. It was horrible. It was great. You have got to see it. [My Rating: 8.5/10]
February 22: Bells Are Ringing
This was an absolutely wonderful picture–and it was a musical, too! You should know by now that this boy loves a musical! The best pictures of both January and February have been musicals and I have no doubt that a musical will take home the title of FILM of the YEAR. (I’m pretty sure that it’ll be Joyful Noise–how could it not beat everything?) This picture stars my favorite discovery of the year, Judy Holliday, as Ella, a telephone switchboard operator for a secretary service called Susanswerphone. They take messages for companies and individuals when those people are out or can’t make it to the phone–they were like futuristic answering machines. Ella really loves her job and gets herself almost too involved in the lives of her clients. She knows everything about them and helps them out with all of their questions and problems. Her particular favorite is Jeffrey Moss, played by Dean Martin. She is in love with him and takes delight every time he calls. Unfortunately, though, when he calls she acts as if she is 63! Spontaneously, a song bursts out (The Perfect Relationship) and it may be my favorite movie song ever–well aside from Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, Losing My Mind, Higher Medley, and just about every other song in any movie ever. Anyway, for reasons never satisfactorily explained, the police come in and try to arrest them for running a brothel. Seeing that this is not their profession, they get off free, but are warned not to be too invasive of people’s lives. This proves difficult for Ella because she just loves helping out so much! Each day, she wakes Jeffrey up, like an alarm, and one day (a very important day because he needs to turn a story in or else he’s doomed to be unemployed forever) he oversleeps. Ella can’t help herself and physically goes to the building to wake him up. This sets a collision course for romance. She doesn’t tell him that she is the woman he calls Mom over Susanswerphone, but invents a new name for herself. She helps him get back on track and also helps her other clients out–the dentist who wants to be a composer, etc…all to create a wonderful play, The Midas Touch. Everything is going along swimmingly and Ella is happy, but then she realizes that she can’t go on with this double life. When Jeffrey finds out that she is not who she claimed to be and is actually the voice he knows as Mom, he will no longer love her. It’s very tragic. Jeffrey has a brainwave inside of a phone booth and realizes who he’s been loving all this time and he thinks it’s wonderful! A very happy ending. This was an old-fashioned feel good film with a great cast and wonderful music. I bought the soundtrack on iTunes and love it! Highly recommended. [My Rating: 9/10]
February 23: After the Thin Man
I watched this picture a few months ago after a ‘Thin Man’ marathon on TCM, but I was cleaning while it was on, so I barely recalled it. The actors were better than the story, which is always sad. William Powell is a genius actor as Nick Charles, as is his on-screen wife, Nora, played by Myrna Loy (who looks alarmingly like Debra Messing.) The writing was witty, the banter was witting, the story was well told, and it was decent. I’m not going to go into it because it’s a mystery and that will just give it away. Not a highlight by any means, but not at all unpleasant. [My Rating: 6/10]
February 24: Divorce American Style
I wasn’t crazy about this movie, I don’t think too many people are. I like Debbie Reynolds alright and she was alright in this picture, but it just didn’t connect with me. It’s about Debbie’s character, Barbara, who is married to Richard Harmon, who is played by Dick Van Dyke. They’ve been married for seventeen years, but lately, seem to have fallen out of love with each other. Richard is too busy with work and material possessions and Barbara is starting to become infatuated with younger men. Via a series of circumstances, friends and their own perceptions push them towards a divorce neither of them seems to want, yet neither tries hard to stop. It feels like a natural end to their relationship. Once they are successfully divorced, they go their separate ways and we see the ways in which they survive singly. Richard becomes romantically involved with Nancy, another divorcee, but never seems fully committed. Barbara begins to see Al, a car salesman, but, she too never seems one hundred percent there. Neither are particularly miserable nor are they happy. By chance, one night both couples go out to dinner at the same restaurant and decide to turn it into a double date. This is awkward, but they go through with it. After dinner they go to a psychic show and under hypnosis, Barbara is told to kiss the man she loves best. Predictably, yet sweetly, she smooches Richard. They realize they need to be together, they just need to learn to love each other again the way they used to. I found this to be a rather depressing film. It’s billed as a comedy, but I didn’t think of it as such. I don’t like the idea of divorce, really. I’m not sure I like the idea of marriage, either. I can see myself loving somebody so much that I would marry them, but I dunno…they’d have to be pretty damn special. That has nothing to do with the picture [My Rating: 4/10]
February 25: Bridesmaids
I believe that my mother went to see this movie three times, not once with me, mind you, although she knew full well that I was desirous of attending. I love me some Kristen Wiig! I finally had the chance last night to watch this in my newly renovated lounge on my new designer couch. Oh the elegance of my life! The film was not the laugh factory I had been anticipating, but it was a very funny picture. I mean, honestly, who wouldn’t laugh at a grown woman releasing Nature’s desperate and fiery call in a fine porcelain sink while wearing a designer gown? This was a very nice picture about Annie, Kristen Wiig’s character, who is in the midst of a midlife crisis. Her best friend, Lillian, who is recently engaged, puts Annie in charge of her bridal shower and bachelorette party. Unfortunately for Annie, Lillian has another friend, Helen, who is a very wealthy and unpleasant lady who thinks that she is better than everybody. Everything goes wrong. When she takes everybody to a Vietnamese restaurant, everybody gets food poisoning, and when they go to their dress fitting, everybody has explosive diarrhea in their expensive dresses. Then Annie screws up the bachelorette party to Vegas by getting drunk and crazy on pills. She also ruins the ridiculously chic bridal shower that Helen throws at a château. It’s the kind of party I would throw if I had the money. While all this misery is going down, she is also in the middle of ruining a blossoming relationship with a very friendly policeman with a Scottish brogue. Honestly, though, I understand–he tried to make her bake. I’m a baker and I know how annoying it is. There is nothing more irritating in the entire world–nay, the entire universe–then somebody asking you to bake for them without you offering. It’s like going up to Picasso and saying, “Hey, you should paint a picture of me and give it to me as a gift whilst I do absolutely nothing for you…by the way, I barely know you.” Rant complete. In the end, Lillian and Annie make up and there is allegedly a happy ending when Annie gets back with the cop. It was a good movie, but not what I had expected. It bordered on black comedy without getting there, and also, it was almost a drama, aside from the humor. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t the fabulous film I had heard so much about. The Oscar nomination for Melissa McCarthy was well deserved. [My Rating: 8/10]
Film of the Week: Bells are Ringing This was an absolutely charming picture. Run to your Netflix queues immediately and put this at the top. You’ll love it. You’ll sing and those catchy songs will be stuck in your head for days!