Movie Resolution: Week 44

October 27: Liz & Dick

The world has been waiting for the release of this Lifetime Network masterpiece all year. It was amazing and awful from the moment we first heard of it. Lindsay Lohan, Hollywood’s ruined princess, playing Elizabeth Taylor. How wonderful! It was going to be a monstrosity of a disaster. It was inevitable. And it was. It was worse than expected. And by worse, I mean that it was even better than hoped. It was disjointed and poorly written. The acting was a travesty, even when compared to other Lifetime features. The sets looked cheap and the editing was confusing. At the beginning, we are presented with Elizabeth and Richard on a black stage dressed all in black revealing their thoughts about their relationship. From the moment Lindsay opened her lips, we knew we were in for a good one. She didn’t even attempt to channel Liz. She was herself. She spoke like herself and acted like herself. The film could have been a reality series. (And really, why isn’t there a Lindsay reality show? We’d all watch that.) I won’t go over the plot, because that would be too much work finding one. It’s basically about their love and how tortuous it was. I’ll just talk about some of my favorite bits. 1) Richard called Liz’s fingers pudgy and she gets pissed, so she pummels him lamely with her fists while crying, “Can you feel my pudgy hands now!?” 2) After skinny dipping in Italy with Richard, she emerges from the pool, drapes a towel round herself and screams to the paparazzi photographing them, “You call yourselves journalists!” 3) Liz pathetically faints upon hearing news of Richard’s death. Also, she had a great wig on. 4) In one of the black sequences, Liz stares far off in they distance. Richard seems to look around for her before saying, “Where are you, Elizabeth?” She’s seated right next to him. She turns to him and says, “Here I am.” 5) Liz sees a newspaper headline calling her “CLEO-FAT-RA” and gasps. 6) Elizabeth asks if Richard were staring at her chest. He responds, “Why not? It’s the very heart of you.” 7) Liz tries to kill herself with sleeping pills and acts like a total martyr about it. 8) “Richard Burton deserves a Van Gough!” Liz cries as she hangs a painting on the wall, ruining the silk wallcovering. 9) Sitting on a chaise lounge and drinking a cocktail, Liz shouts:

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It was amazing. You have to watch it. Do not take it seriously. Love it for what it is. We’ll be showing it to our children as one of the camp classics of this generation. [My Rating: 3/10, for quality, 10/10 for hilarity]

October 28: The Eye Has to Travel

Diana-Vreeland-The-Eye-Has-To-Travel-

 

I’ve been madly in love with Diana Vreeland since 2007 when first I heard her referenced in the wonderful film, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. I immediately purchased her autobiography D.V. and devoured it. It was absolutely marvelous. Her writing style has made such an impact on me. She stretches and folds the truth until it resembles what she thinks it should look like, if not what it was actually. That’s the only important thing. Life itself is rather boring, it’s best to fabricate a bit. Weave a fabulous thread through it. So, I’ve been awfully enamored of her and I think it’s a real shame we never got to meet. Imagine my thrill and delight when I read that a documentary about her life was coming out. I cried at the trailer. And then I waited and I waited and I waited. It was not coming to Des Moines. I tweeted the Fleur Cinema, begging them to bring some culture to my city, but the jerks never responded. I thought that I would never see it, that I would be doomed to never experience its magic. But then, two weeks ago, when I was browsing Colette in Paris, I saw it on a shelf. I didn’t even know it was on DVD! Joy! So, I bought it and finally had the opportunity last night to watch it! It was wonderful. It was everything I wanted it to be. It told the story of Diana’s life, gave us great insight into her mind (though I don’t think anybody could ever understand her), and showed us into the wonderland that she lived in. I was mesmerized. Every line was quotable. My favorite two that I hadn’t ever heard before were: “It hadn’t crossed my mind to work, cause I”m really quite lazy, you see?” and “I shall die very young. How young? Oh, I don’t know. 70, 80, or 90, but I shall be very young.” Isn’t that marvelous? If you can see it in a theater near you, I urge you to go. If not, wait for the DVD and have a chic evening in. [My Rating: 10/10]

October 29: Dracula’s Daughter

This was one of the classic Universal monster movies, but I’d never heard of it. There’s a reason for this. It was rather bad. This annoys me because as I researched after I watched it, it seems to have made an impact on everybody but me. Anne Rice was inspired to write Queen of the Damned because of it. We will have to discuss this at our next writing gathering, if I can take my eyes off of her gorgeous cats. The film picks up right after Dracula and is supposedly based on the short story, “Dracula’s Guest,” though I saw no resemblance between the two. Dracula’s daughter is in London wanting to destroy her familial curse, but discovers she cannot and must destroy humanity. The plots in these things never change. [My Rating: 2/10]

October 30: Confession

I read that the original language version of this was Hitler’s favorite movie. Weird. Pola Negri starred in that movie. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of her films. She was Gloria Swanson’s tabloid nemesis in the silent era. She had a leopard on a chain. She seemed pretty awesome. This English language remake is decent, but I wouldn’t consider it exceptional. The plot is really quite convoluted. There is a young girl at a music conservatory. Her friend gets an invitation to a pianist’s concert. At the concert, the pianist takes an interest in her and invites her to dinner and begins stalking her. At a seedy nightclub, the pianist is shot by a lounge singer. The rest of the film goes into the backstory and we learn why she shot him. Turns out she had been the pianist’s lover in the past and they separated when she married a soldier. She had a child with her new husband and they lived quite happily. Then he goes off to war and loses his leg and her old pianist lover is stalking her. So, she goes off to tell the pianist to knock it off, but her husband thinks that she is cheating on him, so he takes the child and vanishes. The poor woman searches Europe for them. Years later, she finally does. At the nightclub she recognizes her old lover and her daughter. Drama. [My Rating: 4/10]

October 31: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street [Broadway]

In high school, Alison and I were obsessed with this. It was everything we loved. Humor, musical, a bit of darkness, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and more singing. We sang it in hallways. We made up a class where we were supposed to be taking inventory of sheet music. We barely did that. We printed off the entire score and sang it. We were pissed when the movie didn’t have quite the original ending, but it was Tim Burton, so we forgave him. We even got dozens of people to sign up for some Sweeney Todd group so that we could get free soundtracks. For some reason, that didn’t work out. I’m still pissed about it. Finally, years later, this original broadway version was shown on TCM. What a treat. It stars my beloved Angela Lansbury (Mrs. Price!) and she is phenomenal as Mrs. Lovett. You probably know the basics of the story. Benjamin Barker returns from prison in Australia to find his wife dead and his daughter the ward of the judge who exiled him. He’s pissed and vows to take revenge. In the meantime, he returns to his old apartments and profession of barber. He becomes a murderer and to clean up the mess, he and his partner in crime, Mrs. Lovett (who is madly in love with Sweeney–Benjamin’s new name) grind up the victims and cook them into delicious pies! It’s a wonder. The music is fantastic. The melodies will stay with you for the rest of your life. I oftentimes try to hit that beautiful B♭ in “Johanna.”  I don’t think this ever came out on DVD, so make sure you watch it if it ever comes back on TCM or PBS, who aired it first. An absolute delight. [My Rating: 10/10]

FILM of the MONTH: tie between Dreamgirls and The Eye Has to Travel

November 1: The Muppets Take Manhattan

I have finally come to terms with this: I don’t like The Muppets. I’m sorry. I’m not sorry. I just can’t get into it. I love and will always adore Miss Piggy, but that’s it. She’s fabulous. We’d be besties. But the rest of those…whatever they are…I just don’t give a crap about. I mean, what are they? Why do they live in our world? Why are they treated as if they’re people? Can they vote? Why do they all hang out with the boring frog? He’s such a drag. Do the right thing all the time. Friendship will always win. Never give up. Gag me. Then, his voice. Annoying. Miss Piggy, though, a total dream. I just don’t get why she wants to marry Kermit. Who would want to marry a lame frog? Whatever. This troupe of losers graduates from college (again, what university would accept puppets?) and head to New York to start a show of their own and find fame. Of course they do in the end, but getting there was a pain. The only redeeming scenes involved Miss Piggy hunting a purse thief and another scene where my beloved Joan Rivers gives Miss Piggy a makeover. The only reason to see it is Miss Piggy, really. [My Rating: 1/10]

November 2: Harry and Tonto

Oh sweet God, just kill me. I’m so sick of watching movies. They all suck so much! I thought that when I started, at least half of them would be decent, but 90% or more are total shit! Why am I doing this to myself? I’m currently an entire month behind. I want to get this bitch done. Next year’s resolution will be something much less awful. Anyway, I don’t even know where to start with this crap. I also don’t know how it managed to win an Academy Award. I’m not willing to watch it’s competition, but they must have been something just awful. I honestly didn’t expect it to be as bad as it was. An old man and his cat travel across the country. Marvelous! I love old people and I love cats and I usually love America. But this old man was an effing bitch. He needed a slap. He was a total ass. His cat was lovely. So he tries to get to Chicago by plane, then bus, then he buys a car and picks up crazy people. He takes in a a runaway. He meets an old lover. He does a high class hooker in the desert. He finally makes it to California where he seems to lighten up a bit. Sunshine will do that for you, I guess. The cat dies. The whole thing was awful. Avoid. [My Rating: 0/10]

FILM of the WEEK: an unbreakable tie between The Eye Has to Travel and Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street [Broadway.] See them both.

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