Saturday, July 10, 2010

Together, we fill gaps

I'm a sucker for a happy ending. I am. How can anyone not be? And when I sat down to watch Rocky, I knew I was in for it. It's pretty much the pinnacle of "triumphant."

I watched Rocky the night before I ran my first 5k race of my life. I'm goal oriented, but not a sports person or a fitness nut. So the few months I trained for this race were both the most fulfilling and most awful of my life. I thought it fitting to watch Rocky the night before my first race, to get myself psyched up to be a winner.

I feel like a plot synopsis is unnecessary here (as usual) - he's a boxer who's having a rough go with the whole "life" thing. No money, crappy apartment, a crush on a girl he is too shy to ask out (but everyone seems to think is mentally retarded...which was strange). He wallows in his own self-pity and doesn't seem like he's going to come out of it.

But he does come out of it - he gets the nerve to finally go out with Adrian, he gets a fight with Apollo Creed and even though he knows he can't win, he gives it his all anyway. His goals are realistic - he doesn't necessarily want to win, but he just wants to go all the rounds.

The climax of the movie- the fight - is really exciting. They seem to be a good match for each other- a better match than people expected. Rocky succeeds at his goal of going all the rounds, and even though in the end he doesn't win, he feels like a champion. And Adrian is there waiting for him at the end.

I liked it a lot - even though it dragged at times. I found myself muttering about the fact that Adrian and Rocky were so awkward at first, but they really were a cute couple and a good match for each other once they found a rhythm (and the quote "she's got gaps, I got gaps, together we fill gaps" was more of a poignant explanation of love than maybe it was intended to be). I really did enjoy it overall. It's a triumphant movie for a reason - I felt so pumped at the end and ready to take on the world! It felt like that was the point- like that is what I was supposed to feel.

Oh and the race the next day? My goal was not to win, but to finish. And that's exactly what I did.

Rocky - 4 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Yankee Wilkerson and the White Trash Slattery Girl

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.

Initial thoughts:

  • 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 na├»ve, 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

Wolfman's Got Nards....and I Don't Care.

Oh, Monster Squad. You tried to be everything I wanted. You tried to be the Goonies, but better, since monsters make everything better...right?


I wanted to like this one. I really did. It started off strongly - the menu art for the Blu-Ray was cool and definitely gave me hope. I tweeted that I was watching it and got a bunch of positive responses. My husband, who watched it with me, was practically giddy.

The clothes were great - SUPER 80s and the dialogue was really kitschy. All things I like.

But something just wasn't right. I can't quite put my finger on it, but throughout the whole movie I found myself just plain BORED.

I think the thing that kinda left me with a bad taste in my mouth was just how desperately this movie wanted to be "The Goonies." At the time, I'm sure people ate it up. It came out about 2 years after "The Goonies," so I assume enough time had gone by that people were ready for a Volume 2. But everything just felt flat and sub-par, especially in comparison. The Corey Feldman character, the "Chunk" character and others all just felt like "poor mans" versions. The dialogue got old after about 15 minutes. The costumes - wow did those not have lasting power. It all just seemed so....trite. I hate that word, but it's the only one I can think of to properly express. I felt like it REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted me to like it and to think it was cute and funny. But I really just felt it came up short.

This is the first movie I've watched for this blog that gave me the sense that I needed to have watched it as a kid to really enjoy it. If I saw it in 1987 when it was released, I'd probably watch it now and LOVE it. But since I also watched the Goonies recently, I found myself comparing the two, and every time this one lost.

Sorry, world. This one's not for me.

1.5 stars out of 5.