Saturday, July 10, 2010
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Perhaps one of the pinnacles of the quest to watch the classics is “Gone with the Wind.” We own a DVD so old that the disc is 2-sided and you have to flip it over halfway through. Does that even happen anymore? I don’t think so. Either way, it took me about 10 years since getting the DVD to actually sit down and watch it.
I planned a movie night with some of my girlfriends to watch this one; I thought it would be an appropriate movie for a girl’s night. We were a mixed lot – B had seen it but it had been awhile, V, like me, had never seen it before, and K has seen it hundreds of times and loves the film so much that “Scarlett” is in her AIM screen name. I was really happy to have the diversity in the room – it really made for a great viewing experience.
There is a whole lot to talk about here, and I know I’m going to miss things so I apologize in advance for that. But hopefully the gist will come through.
- Wow, I wish I had known it was 4 hours long before sitting down to watch it at 7pm. (I go to bed super early). But it wasn’t a struggle to stay awake like I thought it would be, thank god. I just probably would have started it earlier if I had known.
- LOVE the costumes. We’ve established that I’m an old soul. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I wish I had been around in Civil War times, but the gowns those ladies wore were outstanding. I love the fact that they literally had bubble butts, as evidenced by the pillow-type padding they wore under their dresses at the small of their backs. Interesting though that their waists were made to be so small, but more on that later.
- Wow, I hate the character of Scarlett more than almost any character in any film I’ve ever seen. Ever. If I had been around back then I would have hated her too, like most of the other women in the movie. She was the WORST. Spoiled brat, flirt, tease, passive-aggressive manipulative bitch. Can you tell I hated her? Selfish as the day is long, and with literally no redeeming qualities other than her looks (which I was surprised by – I found Vivien Leigh to be rather plain).
- The greatest love story ever told? I’ve heard it referred to in this way. Yeah. No. I was actually thrown off guard by how little I was emotionally affected by this movie in the romantic sense. I expected to need a box of tissues (it doesn’t take much to make me cry) but I didn’t well up even once. The emotion I felt most was anger –and that was unexpected.
A few overarching points:
- Portrayal of women
o It was interesting to me to see how the women were portrayed. They all seemed meek (except Scarlett). They had to take naps in the middle of the day while the black slaves fanned them, they had to cinch their waists so tight they literally could not breathe. At one point Scarlett referred to her 20” waist and said “I’ve grown as big as Aunt Piggy” and my jaw dropped. Maybe this is where society gets the image of women needing to have “hourglass figures” – busty girls with small waists and birthing hips with butts so puffy you could rest your drink on them are “what men want.” It’s also alluded to that men don’t like women with healthy appetites- another great message to send. But that was the time, and I get that. I read somewhere that if a Barbie Doll was a real person, her measurements would be 39”/19”/33”. It’s not sustainable, and it’s part of the reason normal girls like me get skewed body image perception. But anyway…that’s a topic for another day.
o I am somewhat ashamed to admit that my knowledge of American History is rather lacking. I’ve never been a “civics geek” or particularly interested in it. As such, I have only a basic knowledge and understanding of the Civil War. Honestly, people taking the citizenship exam probably are required to learn more than I know. It’s sad, but it is what it is. I was glad to have my friend K there, in part because not only does she adore this movie, but she loves history and she lived in the south for several years and could explain the historical references to the war and to the general time period. Without her, I probably would have been very lost. That being said…
o I found it very interesting that the film was set in the south and we were able to see the perspective the confederates had toward the war, the Yankees and slavery during that time. As the saying goes, history is told by the winners. I am from the Northeast, a Yankee through and through. So to hear the characters talk about the fact that they thought the war would be quick and easy, and the Yankees were the enemy, and slavery was just fine…it was all a little jarring. Not surprising, but jarring nonetheless. And yet, it was nice to see that not everyone was on board with going to war. line that struck me in particular was spoken by Ashley: “Most of the miseries of the world were caused by wars and when they were over, no one ever knew what they were about.” He would fight for his country (as it were) but understood that it should be the last resort and not something to be excited about. I think we could all take a lesson from that.
· Love/Sex as a Weapon
o As I mentioned before, I hated Scarlett’s character. I got the impression I was supposed to, especially by the end, but even still I wanted to find a redeeming quality in her; I wanted to find something to make me empathetic. I just couldn’t. As the movie went on, she became more manipulative and money-hungry; she would do anything to get ahead. I don’t roll that way, so it’s hard for me not to react with disdain. A few of the points that caught me:
§ Her relationship with Ashley was clearly unhealthy. If that were happening in present times, he (or Melanie) would have taken out a restraining order on him. She loves him (which is fine) and she declares her love for him even after she knows he’s engaged to Melanie (who, by the way was my favorite character). Fine. I will even cut her some slack for that. But he clearly rejects her – it’s clear he’s attracted to her but he doesn’t love her. And she reacts violently – claiming he’d been leading her on and how could he, and he was such an awful person. And this cycle repeats for years – they see each other, she gets him alone, declares her love, he says no and she gets mad. But the part that really made me angry was when she said, “You should have told me years ago that you didn’t love me!” I wanted to throw popcorn at that point, because that to me was the best example of how selfish and vile she was. He HAD told her. Dozens of times. You can be attracted to someone but not love them, and not harbor plans to leave your spouse (the one you DO love) for this person. Physical beauty can make anyone take a second glance, but it doesn’t mean you have to act on it. I have to say I really was pleased with Ashley for standing his ground as much as he did. He got caught up in a kiss, but quickly stopped it. Because Melanie was his true love. Melanie was a good person; kindhearted and generous. Pretty but not overly so, and just a genuine good soul. A little naïve, but it’s hard to fault her for that. It’s no surprise he stayed with her (even if they were cousins…weird).
§ Her relationship with Rhett was also unhealthy. If she had opened her eyes, she would have seen that he could have been the one for her. He tried to be. She settled for him, but it really wasn’t settling. He chased her for years (I kind of saw an opposite Ashley/Scarlett chase in Scarlett/Rhett) and she finally gave in. Not because she loved him, but because she had nothing better at the moment. She was twice a widow who didn’t love either of her dead husbands, and it was clear that she was waiting around for something better to be available (Ashley- even though after Melanie died he still didn’t want her). They were a tumultuous pair for several years, and even after she gave birth to their daughter she didn’t change. And after the girl died, they had no chance. The scene where they fought on the staircase was amazing – it was pretty much one of the first times anyone had been truly honest with her – and it hurt to watch.
Overall I really enjoyed this film (though a lot of what I’ve talked about has been negative). I actually liked it a lot more than I thought I would. It was long at times (4 hours- what do you expect), and there were times when I shouted at my television. But I think that was the intent, so I was happy with that result. It was successful in its endeavor. The thing I liked about it the most, after it was over and I was thinking about it, was this: in the end she was left with nothing, which was exactly what she deserved.
Gone with the Wind: 4 out of 5.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
It started off like a punch in the stomach - the racist humor began right off the bat (when I saw Richard Pryor's name in the credits I knew I was in for it). I'm not one to shy away from a dirty or uncouth joke, so I wasn't worried.
It's a western, but it's not a western like I would normally expect. The movie was absolutely hysterical. It's been a long time since I was so completely satisfied by a comedy - there are so few "good" comedies being made in this day and age. People are too PC nowadays; it's refreshing to see a movie that doesn't take itself so seriously and really pushes the envelope.
All the characters are great - Gene Wilder shines as the jailed (and then mysteriously not jailed) Waco Kid (I met him...it was one of the best moments of my life) and Mel Brooks delivers his classic womanizing cameo. Madeline Kahn's ridiculous accent- priceless. The whole cast was hysterical - they had great comedic timing.
My favorite part of the whole film was the last 15 minutes or so. It was also my favorite part of Spaceballs. When the film is taken out of the film and just kinda dropped into "real life" - that is amazing to me. In Spaceballs it was when they watched the VHS of the film on the ship and promoted all the movie merchandise. In Blazing Saddles it was when they literally drove off the set and you saw that it was all a soundstage. There is a fight on screen that makes its way to the commissary in the studio, and the characters drive out of the movie, down the street, and to a movie theater where they go see "Blazing Saddles." Watching them watch themselves on screen is crazy, and awesome.
I am really excited to watch "Young Frankenstein" now for this project- a lot of people tell me it's their favorite of his films. I was really, really impressed by this one - it'll be hard to top.
5 of 5 stars.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
"The Goonies" was actually one of the reasons I started this blog. It's pretty much the pinnacle of "I cannot believe you've never seen this movie," which is the heart of this project.
I watched it today, on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I have to admit I was apprehensive over the fact that there was so much riding on my viewing of this film. What if I didn't like it? Would there be something wrong with me? Would I be ostracized and made to feel like a hearless monster? It's likely.
Luckily, I am safe. I loved it. It made me laugh, it made me tear up a few times (though, to be fair, that is not hard to do). Overall, my heart was warmed by the sheer wholesome nature of the movie. I won't go into a full description (because I am certain you already know) but at its core, it's a movie about kids trying to do the right thing. They are a little mischievous, because they are boys, and they are a little rambunctious, again because they are boys. But they care about each other and their families. The whole point of the treasure hunt was to get enough money to save their house and save their family from eviction from the "evil" developers. Not a fresh or unique storyline, no, but done really well. The adventure the day takes them on allows them all to use their strengths and do their part to save the day.
At the end of the day, I was left with a movie with characters I loved, jokes and quotes I FINALLY understood after almost 30 years, and just a general sense of contentment. I totally get why people have given me such a hard time over the fact that this one initially passed me by. And I have to say, a part of me is glad I saw it as an adult for the first time. I know the type of child I was, and I don't think I would have loved it back then. I would have liked it, sure, but I don't think I would have loved it. Seeing it as an adult with fresh eyes allowed me to see the whole picture and really appreciate it.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
I have always felt that I would be more comfortable if I had been born around 1940. That would put me in my late teens/early 20s around 1960, which is the time I would have been in my prime. The clothing, lifestyle and general attitude of the late 50s/early 60s is what I wish we still had. Not everything gave you cancer, you could discipline your children, and life was just easier. Sure, they were worried about the bomb, but how is that different from now?
This weekend is the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock Music & Arts Festival. In honor of that, I watched the Woodstock movie for the first time this weekend. When I say this film moved me, I mean it MOVED me. I almost can't put into words how much I wish I had been alive for this. The late 60s, though decidedly different in atmosphere than the early part of the decade, are still incredibly inspiring to me. To see half a million people coming together for the love of music and the message that we can do anything as a nation...that is something I don't think we've ever felt in our lifetime. 9/11 brought a glimmer of that, but it was quickly overshadowed by blame and apathy once more.
The music of the 60s is powerful like no other time. The earnest, love, and just the feeling of hope is just amazing. Throughout the 4 hours that this movie lasted (the TV version), I was moved to tears more times than I can count on my two hands. Joe Cocker's spastic, amazing version of "A Little Help From My Friends," Joan Baez singing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and talking about her husband who was in prison at the time but still confident that he would prevail. Richie Havens opening the show with just his acoustic guitar and his foot tapping out the beat. Hendrix playing the national anthem. Santana, who was apparently so strung out on mescalin that he thought the neck of his guitar was made of snakes, and still played amazingly well. And his drummer's solo....possibly the best performance of the whole weekend. The list goes on.
The audience interviews are amazing. Everyone's happy to be there, even when they are covered in mud and hungry and tired. They are all there for the experience; almost no one complains. The media tries to make it seem like it's a state of emergency, but really it's not. The government tries to send in the army, but still there is peace. Everyone's on drugs, and some people got hurt and a few unfortunately died, but overall the chaos is under control given the sheer amount of people in this field. Toward the end it seemed to unravel, but still there was so much love. For every person that freaked out because of a bad trip or just because it was overwhelming, there were 1000 people who knew it was going to be ok and just did what they need to do to help the people around them, whether that be food, emotional support or medical help. They were protesting the war through music, and boy did they make their point loud and clear. All you need is love...sometimes that really is true.
I am nothing if not passionate about music. During Santana's performance, there is a split screen of one girl in a striped shirt just standing there alone, with everyone else around her sitting, and she is just dancing like no one else is there. She doesn't have a care in the world; she doesn't need anything else. I think if I had been there, that would have been me.
Woodstock showed me the reality of a generation that felt they could do anything and used music to get their point across. Sure, it might have been the drugs talking. But kids today are on drugs too, just like my peers were when we were kids. And we've never done anything like this. We have nothing to leave behind in history that is of this magnitude. Woodstock is an amazing part of history and we'll never have anything like it again. We're too commercial now; this could never be pulled off today. It's sad, and it makes me nostalgic for a time that I never knew to begin with. Those hippies were really onto something.
Woodstock: 5 out of 5.