May 6: My Forbidden Past
I am so happy that this film was only 70 minutes long. Actually, I’m annoyed because it was 70 minutes too long. A drag from the very beginning. I had high hopes, it takes place in the 1800s in New Orleans and there were some scenes in those gorgeous cemeteries, but ugh. It’s about Barbara who is in love with a doctor, but her cousin ruins her marriage because they are of the upper crest and her cousin is just kind of an ass. So, her life falls apart and she’s miserable, but then remembers that there is a fortune to claim if she will claim her ancestry to her dead grandmother. I guess she was a lady that suffered tragically from wagging tongues. So, Barbara gets the money and she tries to win her lover back, and it’s just tedious. Don’t bother. [My Rating: 1/10]
May 7: Tell it to the Judge
I loved this movie! It stars Rosalind Russell as Marsha Meredith, a judge who is about to receive a big promotion: a federal judgeship. Sadly, there is a group that oppose her getting the job because she was recently divorced from Pete Webb, a lawyer. Marsha left him after he was found in the yacht of a young woman he was working on a case with. Pete claims it was a misunderstanding, but Marsha didn’t listen. They both wind up in Florida, Marsha for a vacation, and Pete for work. They bump into each other and it’s great watching them spat with each other. There is a fantastic scene where Marsha tries to make Pete jealous with a handsome man named Alexander. Pete and Marsha taunt each other all evening and then have to escape from an illegal casino before her reputation is any more tarnished. They find a canoe and sail to a lighthouse. Stuck there for a few days, they slowly rekindle their romance and decide to get married again. Marsha’s father is pissed so he drugs Pete and sends him away. Marsha is pissed at Pete because she thinks he left her. Then they make up, then Pete makes a fool of himself again with the same girl that ruined their marriage. She needs to testify against the mob and they’re out to kill her so he needs to hide her. Then they go to a friend’s house in New England where more comedic scenarios take place. Finally, they reconcile and it’s just wonderful. See this one! [My Rating: 10/10]
May 8: Adventure in Manhattan
I didn’t much care for this picture. Jean Arthur was wonderful as always, but the story just sucked. Jean plays an actress, Claire, who pulls a trick on George Melville, a cocky reporter who thinks he knows everything. They become romantic and Claire is fascinated by his nearly psychic predictions of art robberies that are plaguing the town. It turns out that Claire’s boss is really putting on the play to distract from his true criminal activities–he’s the art thief. We saw it coming a mile away. Pretty horrid. [My Rating: 2/10]
May 9: The Fighting Sullivans
I hadn’t seen this movie since I was in sixth grade. I remember liking it then and I liked it now. I worked in the sixth grade this year. Never thought I’d do that, but I enjoyed it…for the most part. Anyway, this film is about the five Sullivan brothers: George, Frank, Joe, Mall, and Al who grew up together in Waterloo, Iowa, and tragically died together at war. With such dark source material, the film is surprisingly charming, funny, and touching. I know of no other wartime films that have as much heart as this. It’s about war, yes, but it’s so much more about relationships and the importance of love and family. The movie is presented in chunks of time. In the beginning they are young children carrying on with childish antics, fights, plumbing accidents, and sinking a canoe on the river (which was wonderfully foreshadowing–a masterstroke, that). Time goes on and they grow up and we see them as young men. They all turned into wonderful adults, especially romantic Al, who was the first to fall hard for Katherine Mary, played by Anne Baxter. (I just did some research and she is the granddaughter of Frank Lloyd Wright! Can you imagine! What luck!) Tragically, war came to ruin the wonderful peaceful life that America had in between wars. The boys signed up and made sure that they served together. They do, their boat was hit. They all died. All of them. Quite tragic. Yet, the ending of the film was hopeful in a way. Obviously, it was a message movie as it was released in 1944 right near the end of the war, but it was rather beautiful. [My Rating: 8/10]
May 10: On Borrowed Time
This was another unexpectedly charming picture about macabre subjects. It’s about Young Pud, who is orphaned when his parents both die in a car accident. He is sent to live with his grandparents, who dote over him. Annoyingly, his rather nasty aunt tries to take him away because of some inheritance that would come to her. Gramps is having none of that, and he quite determinedly refuses. Their happy life can’t go on forever, Gramps and Granny are old, and one day she dies. Gramps is devastated. Soon, it is Gramps turn to die and he meets Mr. Brink, a kind of worker of Death. He comes to fetch people and take them to “to the land where the woodbine twineth.” Gramps doesn’t want to go, so he tricks Mr. Brink into the apple tree, where he can’t get down from. Because Mr. Brink can’t go about his work, there is no more dying. Diseases stop, gunshots have no terrible effect, it’s remarkable, but it can’t go on. Mr. Brinks tricks Young Pud up the tree with him, and Pud tragically falls out of the tree breaking many of his bones. He’s in terrible condition because he can’t die and is suffering terribly. So, Gramps agrees to let Mr. Brink out of the tree and goes with him. Together, Gramps and Pud cross over to the other side and it is just enough to make you sob. It’s particularly beautiful because there is no religion at all involved in the story, death is presented as organic and natural, and so is the next life. [My Rating: 7/10]
May 11: The Blind Side
I never had any interest in seeing this. Sob story and football, no thank you. But, I was very wrong about this one. We showed it at school to the kids as a reward and I grumbled a bit about it, “Why can’t we just show Joyful Noise,” I thought to myself. It’s a good thing we didn’t, as I’d surely embarrass/delight my coworkers and students with my impromptu performance of the entire film. (Pitch perfect, in my mind, mind you.) This story is about Sandra Bullock’s character, Leigh Tuohy (what a name…) an interior decorator (we’ve so much in common!) who takes in a young, troubled teen named Michael Oher who has rather remarkably been admitted to the private school her children attend. Leigh and Sean, her husband (since when did Tim McGraw act? Not bad, really.) help Michael to be successful by getting him all the help he needs and support him emotionally and financially. They also help him discover his natural talent for football, and he is a great success. The movie’s one great flaw is that it takes until the very end for there to be something to overcome. Yes, Michael comes from a bad background, his mother was drugged, yes he struggles in school, yes he’s shy, yes he needs to learn how to play football, but there was never a sense that he wouldn’t be successful. It was almost irritating waiting for something bad to happen. Even when they were in a pretty nasty car accident, it wasn’t a big deal. So, in the end, when Michael and his family were investigated for something I didn’t really understand about college sponsors, it was a relief. Happy ending. Good film, Sandra definitely deserved the Oscar, even though Meryl Streep as Julia Child was an absolute masterclass in acting. [My Rating: 7.5/10]
May 12: Dark Shadows
I have been intrigued by this show all my life. Never have watched much of it because I seem to only find low quality clips on YouTube. Thankfully, my friend Diana, lent me her VHS copies of the show and I’m going to start catching up. It’s also on Netflix now, so I’ll be able to watch those, too. The concept of the show was fantastic to me, a sad vampire in a dilapidated mansion. Yes, please. I have always had a thing for vampires which has become embarrassing lately. This craze happening now is nonsensical. I can’t believe that people actually enjoy Twilight. I read that book…what shit! I also watched True Blood…porn! I love monster vampires, the kind that tragically lurk in the night craving the blood of those they can never be like again. Dracula is wonderful, Anne Rice’s creations are a constant inspiration, I adored Carmilla, Le Fanu’s creation over a century old. Vampires are tragic, sad, miserable, and repugnant creatures, they ARE NOT sex maniacs who care about your feelings. Anyway, if you want to read a truly excellent, modern vampire story, I recommend The Historian. That may be one of the best novels ever written. I can’t understand why it is taking so long to get a cinematic adaptation made. It’d surely annoy me, but whatever, I want to see it! If you can get it, check out/buy the abridged audiobook of that book, it is fabulous. Literally, it terrifies me. But, back to Dark Shadows. I knew that I would be in for a treat when Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Tim Burton were involved. They literally can’t fail in my mind and this was no exception. The film seems based lightly on that horrible film I watched months ago, House of Dark Shadows, at least the beginnings. But from there on, it took on a story and life of its own, very unlike the source material, but very respectful and good. Johnny plays Barnabus Collins, a cursed vampire who is released from his tomb where he has been sealed for centuries into the 70s. This is, of course, a shock to him, and a delight for us. Watching him react to modern things is truly a delight to the funny bone. Barnabus decides to restore his family’s standing in the community and works to rebuild their mansion and their business. They are very successful, but Barnabus’ enemy, Angelique is still around. She’s an immortal witch and is madly in love with Barnabus in a very aggressive way. It’s going and going and going, but the plot never seemed to develop. That’s not a bad thing, just kind of frustrating. I loved the rich tones of the film and the set design. I want to live in a mansion just like Colinwood. I am freaking obsessed with the basketweave tiles that line the foyer floor. I think about them every day! They’re gorgeous, invoking the sea. The entire house is subtly nautical and I’m absolutely smitten. There is always something in a Tim Burton that leaves me slightly annoyed. In my favorite of his films, Sweeney Todd, I was devastated that the final scene of the play where Toby is shellshocked when he discovers what Sweeney and Lovitt have been up to and he continues grinding the corpses as the police watch on was not in the film. That bugs me tremendously. It’s such a good scene! In Dark Shadow, Victoria turns into a werewolf for no reason. There’s no warning, there’s no reason, there’s no resolution to it. Wonderful film, do see it. Oh, and I’m also obsessed with the sunglasses and umbrella that Barnabus had, I swear it has to be a reference to Edward Gorey, and that pleases me exceedingly. Behold!
[My Rating: 10/10]
FILM of the WEEK: Dark Shadows (in theaters). I love it visually and the story is great, too. They foyer gives me an interior decorating gasm. Look at those tiles! The chandelier! The woodwork! I die! Please do watch Tell it to the Judge, too.