What a dreadful way to start the week. This was just a disaster of tragic proportions. Racist, crude, elitist, and poorly scripted. I thought it was going to be a frivolously amusing picture about a socialite family on a yachting tour. It was not! It was about a socialite family who was forced to rent out their yacht after the stock market crash. Lots of new money people get aboard for a pleasure cruise. They sing randomly and poorly. They gamble. Then, all of a sudden the yacht crashes into an island where an old socialite has proclaimed herself queen. She’s awful. She wants to blow up the yacht and kill them all. For only being a little over an hour, it felt liked it went on for years. [My Review: 1/10]
November 4: Jane Eyre
Yesterday, while on my death bed, I decided to finish reading the novel, Jane Eyre. It’s been annoying me for ages. I liked it…but not really. Jane was such a bitch! But this is not the place for a novel review. I wouldn’t have watched the movie, but it starred my good friend, Joan Fontaine. You remember how she bummed five bucks off of me, right? We had a good chuckle over that. “Oh, Jo!” I laughed, “Isn’t it hysterical? Me giving you, an adored Academy Award winning actress, five dollars. What fun!” Since we’re such good friends, I watched the movie, and it was way better than the book. That happens so rarely. The movie got rid of all the boring bits and annoying St. John! It turned Jane into a likable character. Orson Wells was fantastic and more handsome than I expected as Mr. Rochester. And, Alfred Hitchcock was the director! It was wonderful, fast-paced, moody, well written, just marvelous. I loved it. You’re probably familiar with the plot. Miserable and common Jane has a sad life until she moves to gloomy Thornfield Hall and falls passionately in love with the master of the estate. He tries to wed her, but his tragic secret (lunatic, living wife) ruins their chances. Because of fate and suicide and fire, they are reunited in love. It’s quite romantic, really, and Joan is amazing. I adore her. See this film. [My Rating: 10/10]
November 5: The Legend of Lizzie Borden
I recently read an article about Lizzie Borden in American History magazine. I always forget about that magazine–it’s rather good, though. Lots of ingesting articles and facts I never knew before. In the February issue, which is already at my house for some reason, there was an amazing article about Lizzie Borden. I’ve always been a fan of a good axe murder–I spent the night at the Villisca axe murder house and had a marvelous time with the spooks. Fun place, I’d love to go back. Hopefully we will again. I’m sure we will. The article didn’t really focus on the murders, but on her life before and after. She was fantastic! She moved into a mansion, hosted massive garden parties for her theatrical friends, she hired a limousine to driver around, she gave many large donations to animal charities, and she dressed in luxurious black clothing. I love her. Yeah, she probably murdered her father and step mother, but I think that’s much less interesting than her lifestyle. I was shocked and appalled that there wasn’t a movie based on her life after the trial, but there was one starring Elizabeth Montgomery that dramatized the trial. It was great! I had a difficult time locating a copy, but my savior, YouTube, saved me again. It was low resolution, but it worked. Elizabeth was great as an eccentric murderess. She was a great actress, and she was the star of Bewitched! The film was never boring, quite engaging, well written, and rather good. Also, it was quite funny. I love a good black comedy. When Lizzie was dressing to go to court she became very upset with her sister when she brought the wrong pair of gloves. It was an overreaction, but it was fabulous. “Sometimes I think you want to see me hang, Abby!” Watch this one. [My Rating: 8/10]
November 6: Exit Through the Gift Shop
I have been meaning to see this documentary ever since it came out in theaters. This was one of the few documentaries that actually came to Des Moines, but I missed it. Then, Alison was going to get it for me on DVD, but it was out of stock. I finally found it on the streaming version of Netflix and watched it last night. It was not at all what I expected, but I think that might have been the point. It was about Banksy, the famous street artist turned real artist, in a roundabout kind of way. And speaking of roundabouts, I adore them. I just love a good roundabout. I wish they were more prevalent here in America. I’ve only seen one in Des Moines. When I eventually become governor or mayor or whatever, I’ll introduce and approve legislation to get them built. Roundabouts for you and you and you, you all get roundabouts! The documentary is really about Thierry, a weirdo who is obsessed with filming every moment of his life. He becomes obsessed with street art and starts filming the guy who started the OBEY image. Through this guy, he meets Space Invader, a French artist who takes discarded Rubix Cubes and made mosaic tiles that looked like aliens which he put all over Paris. When I lived there, I saw them all over the place, but didn’t know anything about them. It was cool to see what they were and the person behind them. Thierry was having a great time pretending to make a documentary, but what he really was doing was following people. He wanted to meet Banksy, and by chance, he finally does and he becomes a kind of slave for him. Banksy didn’t really want that. In fact, he was just amused by Thierry, I think. While Banksy was in LA, Thierry helped him out and considered him to be mentor. Banksy told him to make some art, like he tells everyone, but Thierry took it was too seriously. He sold everything he could and remortgaged his house to create a commercial level street art factory. With this factory he decided to put on a massive show. I applauded his pluck, but was also embarrassed for him, he was nobody. He wasn’t an established artist, he wasn’t even that good, but he had vision and determination. And, really, that’s all you need. Besides, he was good at self promotion. So, his show full of eclectic imagery that had nothing to do with anything was a massive success. To the shock of Banksy and Thierry, now calling himself Mister Brain Wash, he sold nearly a million dollars worth of “art.” He continues to be a success, having designed the cover of Madonna’s greatest hits album and having pieces shown all over the world. I think that the moral of the documentary was that it is important to express yourself creatively, but art is ultimately pointless–anybody can do it. Thierry has no great talent, but he is applauded by the masses. Other artists are flabbergasted, and rightly so, but the film reconfirms my long established belief that mediocrity is the simplest and safest way to success. Worth watching. [My Review: 10/10]
November 7: Five Came Back
This wasn’t the greatest picture, but it had a very young Lucille Ball in it, which made it worth watching. She was a good dramatic actress, but her talent was obviously comedy. The film was about a small plane that ran into engine trouble on its way to South America and had to crash land in the middle or a jungle. They don’t have too terrible a time down there, but they obviously want to go home. I don’t know if I would. I oftentimes fantasize about being stranded on a deserted island. I think it would be marvelous. Lounging on the beach, designing mansions, eating tropical fruits all day. It would get boring at times, I suppose, but I’d learn to adapt to my new lifestyle. Plus, I’d be thin and tan when I was rescued. Maybe after a year or two I’d be ready to leave my island paradise and come back to civilization, write a book, go on a promotional tour, watch Zac Efron play me in the cinematic adaptation. Or perhaps Tom Daley if he has any acting talent. I mean, we look exactly alike…
…just in the abdominal region, though. (How does one get that body?) Ah, life should be more marvelous than it is. Back to the movie. They fix the plane, but only five of them go back so it’s up to a criminal to decide who stays and who goes. These five take off leaving two corpses, an elderly couple who wanted to stay, and the criminal. Also, there was a bunch of natives approaching who were sure to execute them. So, the criminal shoots the old couple and the natives capture the criminal. Sad, but kind of good. [My Rating: 5/10]
November 8: The Mystery of the Sphinx
All my life, I have been in love with ancient Egypt. It’s a passion that sometimes goes dormant, but always returns with gusto. For the past few months, I have been in ancient Egypt mode reading the Amelia Peabody series, books on archaeology and Egyptology, watching documentaries, reading about the latest digs. I want to be in the middle of all that. But I’m in the middle of Iowa. Quelle tragédie. I’m reading a book right now that is trying to explain the ritualistic purpose of the Sphinx, and I must say that I’m quite intrigued. As long as I’ve been an amateur student of Egyptology, I’ve also been intrigued in ancient mysteries of the world. It’s quite ridiculous to think we know everything out the past if even much at all. There is always going to be a discovery that changes the way we think and I look forward to the day that these two fields blend into each other. I don’t believe in all the theories so much, but I do think that there might be a bit of truth in them all. I’m a fan of the ancient alien theory, but I don’t know if aliens are the answer to everything. I want to know more about the links between North America and the Old World before Columbus. So many things to learn, but this documentary wasn’t about that, it was about the Sphinx. It was very compelling and I believe in the findings. The main idea states that the body of the Sphinx and it’s enclosure suffer from very obvious signs of ancient water erosion. It’s irrefutable, actually, when you look at it. This erosion suggests that the statue is much older than previous thought, at least nine thousand years old. If this is true, then the history of Egyptian civilization would have to be rewritten. This is, obviously, a problem. Where is the evidence of this older people? I don’t know. Perhaps they lie near the ancient bed of the Nile, that makes a lot of sense. I haven’t looked into it, yet, so I’m not sure if digs have taken place or are taking place, but I have the feeling that they will find great things out there. I believe in Egyptology, but I also believe in having an open mind. If there’s such an obvious anomaly, we can’t just ignore it because it does not fit on a timeline. The middle of the documentary took a strange detour to Mars that I wish it hadn’t done. There was a man lecturing about his beliefs on the face on Mars and also the oddity of the five-sided pyramid. I’m dubious about these structures, but I won’t discount them just because I’m unsure of them. If more researchers had this mindset, perhaps we’d know more. As it was wrapping up, I realized that I had seen it as a child. Growing up, I think that I saw all the documentaries that were on television! A great documentary that I recommend you see.
November 9: A Scandal In Paris
What the hell is this picture about? I’m watching it as I type and I haven’t the foggiest notion. So far there has been a man eating cake in prison, naked ladies bathing in a lake and being terrified of a poisonous snake (in France?), a priest discussing a painting of Saint George destroying the dragon, and an odd assortment of nothing. The only notable think of it is the casting of George Sanders whom I recognized from his sleazy performance in Rebecca. I looked up the plot online. I guess it’s about a criminal who reforms himself and becomes a police agent. Nonsense. Avoid. [My Rating: 0/10]
FILM of the WEEK: Jane Eyre, absolutely beautiful film and a good reinterpretation of the book. The Mystery of the Sphinx was also worth watching.