Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Classics: A Comparison of The Razor's Edge 1946 and 1984 By Lauren Ennis

The saying goes that beauty lies within the eye of the beholder, so too for each story that is told the interpretation lies within the perspective of the reader. As a result, numerous versions of any given fable, legend, or novel can co-exist and each tell their own rendition of the original, while still retaining its central meaning. Such is the case with the 1944 W. Somerset Maugham novel The Razor’s Edge, which has been put to film twice, first in 1946 and again in 1984. While both films follow the general plot of the novel and emphasize its central ideas, each version possesses its own distinct style and tone that provides fresh twists on the original text. As a result, each outshines the other in certain ways, but the question remains, which film truly captures the ‘big picture’ that Maugham sought to inspire his readers with?

A very 40's take on the 20's, try that for a time warp
1.      PLOT: Although both films chronicle the same major events as the novel, the 1984 version adds another layer of back story in order to help viewers better understand the characters and their relation to one another. While the 1946 version and novel both begin when protagonist Larry Darrell and his friends are celebrating after his return from fighting in WWI, the 1984 version begins four years earlier on the eve of the war. While this additional information may seem unnecessary at first, it serves to provide vital insight into the frivolous man that Larry was before his traumatic experiences in the war led him to question his beliefs. The 1984 version then goes on to show Larry’s evolution throughout the war until he loses all faith in his former values when his commanding officer is killed while saving his life.  This section of the film also shows Larry’s early interactions with his haughty fiancé, Isabel and their close friend, Sophie. During these scenes it is revealed that Larry and Isabel already see the world differently, as she is primarily concerned with material possessions and keeping up public appearances, while he just wants to enjoy life and have fun regardless of what other people think. Similarly, Larry is shown to possess a strong bond with Sophie although she has already become engaged to Larry’s friend, Bob, following an unplanned pregnancy (which was not included in the novel or 1946 film), circumstances that foreshadow Sophie’s promiscuous downfall and relationship with Larry later in the film. By contrast, the 1946 version is an almost verbatim adaptation of Maugham’s novel, which retains his inclusion of himself as a minor character and the story’s narrator. In this film, the narration and dialogue follow the novel word for word and the chronology of the novel remains intact. The only instances in which the 1946 film differs from the novel are during the scenes that would have been too risqué for the censors of the day, particularly the scenes relating to Sophie’s descent into opium addiction and promiscuity.  Although the 1984 film’s emphasis upon back story provides unique insight into the story’s characters and their attitudes, the 1946 film is the better bet for a faithful adaptation.


2.      TONE: Although both films relate the same events, each does so in its own manner, causing each film to contain a very different tone. The 1946 film was made shortly after the end of World War II, which ensured that audiences would understand the dilemma that Larry and Isabel faced after each anxiously awaited his return home, only to find that both had changed during the course of the war. Because the story hit so close to home for audiences, there was no need to include the back story of Larry’s time in the war, or to explain the trauma that he suffered. There was also no need to make the story more relevant, as it was only twenty five years after the events of the novel, and contemporary audiences were already in the midst of their own search for meaning after a world war. This intimacy with the subject matter made it necessary for the cast and crew to treat the story in a serious and sensitive manner, which respected the impact of war on both returning servicemen and those waiting for them on the home front. As a result, the 1946 film is purposeful and serious in its approach to the story with the exception of some dry humor in the form of Isabel’s pompous uncle, Elliott, and forsakes much of Maugham’s original instances comedy.


Freinds forever...or foreverish
By contrast, the 1984 film needed to relate the story in a way that would be of interest to modern audiences. One way that the film’s makers remedied this issue was to play up the comedic aspects of the story. For instance, at the start of the film Larry jokes with his friends including the heartfelt goodbye to Sophie in which he avoids becoming too emotional by making a joke about her whirlwind romance with Bob. Similarly, Isabel rejects Larry’s bohemian lifestyle in Paris after spending a romantic night with him, only to wake up to find a roach on her pillow and a rat in the trash can in his apartment. Both scenes expertly capture the emotional weight of the character’s situations while still demonstrating the author’s original intentions through a bit of sly humor. The 1984 film was also free of the strict censors that restricted the 1946 film. As a result, such added details as Sophie’s unwed pregnancy, Larry and Isabel’s premarital sex, and Sophie’s self-destructive behavior following the deaths of her husband and child could be included in the script. While the 1946 film was able to convey the general sense of the story without these racy details, their inclusion in the 1984 version allowed the story to be more relatable to modern viewers living with relaxed social mores. Through its frank treatment of adult subjects and comedic take on an otherwise dry story, the 1984 film is more relatable and relevant to the modern viewer.


                            For the record, the 1946 version spawned a hit song to boot!

3.      CAST: Although both films tell very different versions of the same tale, both contain excellent performances. Bill Murray used this film to effectively show audiences that he was capable of more than just comedy in his layered performance as Larry. Despite his desire to move on from comedy, however, Murray still brings his signature sarcasm and wit to the role, making Larry a relatable ,as well as enjoyable, character. Tyrone Power’s portrayal of Larry is also engaging, although for different reasons. Because of the serious tone in the 1946 film, the role of Larry called upon Power to be more of the enlightened mystic that Maugham portrays him as at the end of the novel. As a result, Power’s Larry, while decent, honest, and likable is more difficult to relate to for the average viewer, and his example proves more daunting than inspiring. Catherine Hicks portrays Isabel as an average woman desperate to hold onto her love for an unusual man. In her performance, Isabel acts upon her impulses and need for frivolous pleasures without meaning to necessarily cause harm, but often does just that. Gene Tierney’s performance greatly contrasts with Hicks’ as Tierney displays both the petty childishness that motivates Isabel, and the calculated manipulation with which she achieves it. Tierney also successfully shows both the pleasant and cultured exterior that Isabel utilizes to maintain appearances and the vindictive jealousy lying just beneath its surface. Theresa Russell provides a truly tragic performance as Sophie and captures the damaged, sensitive, soul that she is while still emphasizing the bitterness that has consumed her. Anne Baxter also does an excellent job of portraying Sophie’s self-destructive downfall, but her portrayal of Sophie’s initial innocence at the start of the film is less convincing, softening her later descent into depravity. John Payne and James Keach both do their best but fade into the film’s background in the role of Isabel’s conventional husband, and Denholm Elliott provides an adequate turn as Isabel’s uncle Elliott, but fails to match Clifton Webb’s comically snobbish portrayal. Overall, both casts provide excellent performances, leaving the casts at a tie and the overall comparison at a tie as well. Let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments, I’d love to know which film you prefer!

Love flapper style

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Retrospect on "Daddy's Girl"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A Retrospect on “Daddy’s Girl”

By: Brian Cotnoir

     Hey All, sorry I didn’t have a post for last week.  I was on vacation in South Carolina and didn’t have my laptop with me.  So again, my apologies.  Also, I recently acquired a new laptop after my old laptop died.  I lost two months’ worth of film reviews.  So please forgive me, if it takes me some time to write a new film review.  So without further ado, here is my retrospect on the 1996 Horror Film “Daddy’s Girl”.

My First Impression of the Film

This was one of the earliest straight-to-video Horror films I reviewed on the blog.  I found the film to be incredibly dull.  I couldn’t get over how boring it was.  It’s funny to see how early I became cynical as a film blogger.  This is one of my earliest incredibly negative reviews of a film.  The reason I found it to be so dull is that it was so poorly written and the acting was so incredibly underwhelming.  There was no subtlety in the acting of the film whatsoever.  I couldn’t tell if the actors were just trying to portray their roles with blind ignorance to every macabre thing the child actor says. 

My Impression of the film after seeing it a second time

     Oh God this was a boring film.  I struggled to make it through this film the first time, and I barely made it through in one sitting the second time.  I was texting and checking Facebook for at least 30 minutes while watching “Daddy’s Girl” the second time.  That’s how bored I got with it. It was awful.  I couldn’t find a single redeeming quality to this film.

What I’d do to make the film better

     There is nothing that can be done to make this film better.  The story has been done to death since “The Bad Seed” in 1955.  This is not the first time a film has tried to rip of “The Bad Seed” and it certainly has not been the last.  This is probably the poorest adaptation of the “child is a sociopathic killer” Genre, and this is coming from a guy whose seen “Case 39”.  It’s too poor of a film to be improved upon.

Nope.  There's nothing good about you evil Ginger Child

My Final Opinion on the Film

     This has got to be one of the Dullest Horror Films Ever Made.  Just do yourself a huge favor and skip this film an entirely.  I have subjected myself to it twice now, and I can’t tell you how badly I wish I could have those 3-hours of my life back.  Don’t let my suffering be in vain people.  You can make those 3 lost hours’ worth it by promising me you will never see this film!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Classics: A Review of Mrs. Doubtfire By Lauren Ennis

An equal opportunity Father's Day review

Parenthood is one of the most complex and daunting roles that a person can undertake. While maintaining the emotional and physical welfare of another person is a serious matter, the juggling act that is parenting is also rife with comic possibilities. The 1993 comedy Mrs. Doubtfire captures the responsibilities, misunderstandings, and love that make up modern parenting to expert comic effect, while still maintaining a heartfelt message.  In belated honor of Father’s Day, I’ll be giving my take on this unusual, but always entertaining ode to fatherhood.

The film begins with career focused mother Miranda Hillard (Sally Field) arriving home for her son's birthday only to find that her husband, Daniel (Robin Williams), has proceeded to begin the festivities without her. While Miranda had planned a typical celebration with cake and presents, Daniel completely outdoes her efforts by hosting a wild party for their son and his friends, which includes loud music and a petting zoo that prompt the neighbors to report the family to the police for causing a disturbance. The incident infuriates the already frustrated Miranda, and her ensuing argument with Daniel finally pushes her to pursue the divorce that she reveals she has been contemplating for some time. Following the divorce, Miranda is given primary custody of the couple’s three children and stay-at-home dad Daniel is forced to re-enter the workplace. The limited visits with his children combined with Miranda’s budding relationship with a handsome co-worker quickly wear on Daniel, driving him to devise a plan to reclaim his place in his household; by taking on a new job as the family’s nanny. The unconventional plot requires him to go so deeply undercover that neither his ex-wife nor his children will suspect his true identity, prompting him to assume the identity of a nanny in the firm but fun tradition of Mary Poppins, the elderly Euphegenia Doubtfire. Under the guise of the no-nonsense nanny, Daniel is able to spend time with his family and gains vital insight into what went wrong with his parenting and marriage. As time wears on, however, the line between Daniel’s true self and the false identity that he has assumed becomes blurred, leading to a reveal that will ultimately decide the role that he has in his family’s life.

An average American family
The film successfully blends comic antics and genuine emotion in a way that makes the story a smooth blend of comedy and drama that reminds us all of the importance of family. While the drag routine that is the premise of the film had already been trod by the likes of such earlier hits as Some Like It Hot and Tootsie, Mrs. Doubtfire manages to add an original spin to the concept. Rather than transforming into an attractive young woman for personal gain, Daniel instead assumes the identity of an elderly woman in order to preserve his family. As a result, while Daniel’s various misadventures in womanhood are truly sidesplitting, the motives propelling him keep the story grounded. The script also avoids relying upon the usual gender-bending clichés such as mixed romantic messages, learning about the opposite sex, and the integration of the opposite sex’s behaviors into the main character’s personality. Instead of such broad humor, the script focuses upon its characters’ and their specific dilemmas, which adds a poignancy and realism that would be impossible to create amidst genre clichés. The family drama and situational comedy are played with equal effectiveness as the audience is drawn into Daniel’s struggle to maintain his bond with his children without forgetting the ridiculousness of his predicament.

The cast lends excellent dramatic and comedic support and carries the film’s promising premise into a truly enjoyable film experience. Sally Field adds a level of humanity and depth to her role as the hard pressed and stern Miranda, making her a truly complex woman rather than a walking stereotype of a rigid career woman. Similarly, Pierce Brosnan imbues his portrayal of Miranda’s new boyfriend with enough charm for audiences to understand her attraction to him, but also includes a subtly off-putting self assurance in his portrayal that ensures that audiences will continue to root for Daniel to win her back. Lisa Jakub, Matthew Lawrence, and Mara Wilson all provide endearing but believable performances as the Hillard children, especially Jakub and Lawrence who show the effects of divorce upon their characters without ever resorting to histrionics. Harvey Fierstein and Scott Capurro also provide hilarious turns as Daniel’s make-up artist brother and his boyfriend while Anne Haney’s rigid social worker, Mrs. Sellner, excellently counters Daniel’s zaniness. Despite the excellent performances of the supporting cast, the film truly belongs to Robin Williams. Over the course of the film, Williams demonstrates a variety of emotions as two distinctly different characters with complete believability. His role is particularly complicated due to the dual nature of his character which calls upon him to not only play both characters with equal skill but to also play Mrs. Doubtfire in such a way as to ensure that audiences are always aware that Daniel is present beneath the wig and glasses. Not only does he perfectly mimic the accent and mannerisms required for Mrs. Doubtfire, but he also creates a layered performance that makes her stand alone as a fully-fleshed character despite her being just a disguise for Daniel.

Mrs. Doubtfire is a truly unique film that is far from the drag that gender-bending comedies have become. The film combines slapstick comedy with heartfelt drama in a way that truly captures the ups and downs of family life. The excellent script and superb performances lend sincere emotion and sharp wit to what could have easily been a generic premise and allow the film to reach the heights of a genuine crowd pleaser. The film serves as a hilarious reminder of the crucial role that fathers and father figures play in children’s lives and the strength of family bonds in the face of adversity. While she may not be as magical as Mary Poppins, or as musical as Maria von Trapp, Mrs. Doubtfire is a truly unique addition to cannon of nannies in cinema who proves that some of the greatest blessings really do come in disguise.

The resemblance is uncanny!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Das Film Junkies 5 Favorite Films: Comedy

Confessions of a Film Junkie: Das Film Junkies 5 Favorite Films: Comedy

By: Brian Cotnoir
   Hey All, Das Film Junkie with a Brand New Segment on Confessions of a Film Junkie.  Most of you already know that I am a nitpicker of straight to DVD Horror films.  In fact, most of the reviews are quite negative, but I am here to let you all know that there are films that I actually like.  Some of them I even consider to Very Good.  So every now and then on this blog I will be counting down My 5 Favorite Films of a certain genre.  So I decided to kick this count off with a review of my 5 Favorite Comedy Films.  These are the films that make me burst out laughing and keep me entertained time after time.  Enjoy.

5.) Not Another Teen Movie

I know what you’re already thinking: “Oh God, that’s a Parody Movie, I hate those!  They’re so unoriginal and cliché”.  Normally, I’d agree with you, but not in this case. “Not Another Teen Movie” is a perfect spoof of all Teen films set in the 1980s and 1990’s.  They parody everything from John Hughes classics like “The Breakfast Club” and “Pretty in Pink” to the raunchier teen films like “Varsity Blues” and “American Pie”.  Every Teen Movie cliché and motif is referenced in this film and hilariously acknowledged; from the geek who gets turned into the prom queen, to the horny freshman who make a pact to lose their virginity, and everything else in between.  Not only that, but it features Chris Evans (the actor who plays Captain America in the Marvels “Captain America” Franchise) in one of his earliest roles, and he does a scene where he tries to seduce a girl in a whip cream bikini.  That is just something that makes me chuckle every time I see him playing Captain America.  I honestly do believe, that this is the Best Parody Film of All-Time.

4.) Tucker & Dale vs. the Evil

Rednecks to the Rescue!
What’s better than Parody Films?  Horror Comedies of course and no Horror Comedy gets better than “Tucker & Dale vs. the Evil”.  It’s the story of two rednecks named Tucker and Dale in West Virginia who have a run in with some college kids from the Big City. The College kids believe that Tucker & Dale are psychotic inbred hillbillies who want to rape and kill them, but in all actuality they’re just a couple of regular nice guys.  Tucker & Dale rescue one of the college kids, a girl named Allison, from drowning, but her friends believe that they kidnapped her, and concoct a plan to attack Tucker and Dale and rescue their friend.  However, every time one of the college kids tries to rescue them, something horrifying and hilarious happen to them.  I love the cabin-in-the-woods-style Horror film, told from the perspective of the Hillbillies instead of the teens. It is a great story, a great idea, and it makes me laugh every time I watch it.

3.)  ANYTHING Made by Kevin Smith

Man, do I enjoy myself a good Kevin Smith Movie.  Everything he makes is hilarious, “Clerks”, “Mallrats”, “Dogma”, “Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back”, “Clerks II” are some of my favorite films.  What I think I like the most about Kevin Smith’s films is I can see some of my own life experiences in his works.  I inadvertently lived the movie “Clerks” for a year, and that motivated me to make some big changes to my life.  And ever since I saw “Mallrats”, I continue to wait at my local mall in hopes that Stan Lee will show up one of these days and give me important advice on life.  The man is not only a comedy genius, but an overall genius of film.

2.)  Zombieland

Oh God, this is another enjoyable Horror Comedy.  It’s got laughs, it’s got action, it’s got great acting, and it has Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, and Jesse Eisenberg, hunting zombies.  Seriously, what more could you ask for?  Oh, wait Bill Murray dressed up as a zombie is pretty great too.  It’s about the closest thing to a Perfect Comedy, and yet...there’s still one film that I find funnier than this.

I'd want them on  my Zombie Apocalypse Team

1.) Tropic Thunder

I have never laughed so much in my life.  This is the one film guaranteed to make me laugh, no matter how many times I’ve seen it.  It’s the story of a group of actors making a film on location in the jungles of Vietnam when they accidentally get taken hostage by a Heroin Processing Cartel. Ben Stiller is great as the film’s Star & Director and Robert Downey Jr. was absolutely hilarious in this film and earned is Oscar Nomination for Best Support Actor 100%.  Before I saw Downey, Jr. in this film, I remembered him only for being an actor with some serious drug and legal problems, but his role in “Tropic Thunder” not only convinced me that he can act, but that he is probably one of the Best Actors in the past 30 years. What really help sets this film apart for me is this: Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey, and Tom Cruise appear in this film, and I have never found any of them to be particularly funny or good at acting, and not only were they good in their performances, but they all made me laugh hysterically.  Especially, Tom Cruise.  I did not recognize him in his role as Les, until the credits.  Oh Your God, was that funny!  This is a great film.  True the over usage of the R-word was incredibly offensive and not funny in the least bit, but they acknowledged their mistake, and I’m willing to forgive them because “Tropic Thunder” is that funny!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Classics: A Review of Reality Bites By Lauren Ennis

School's out forever...that really does bite

Graduation is a time for both celebration and trepidation as students achieve their goal of attaining a desired degree, only to find themselves facing the uncertainty of entering the working world. Today’s students are particularly likely to experience doubts and misgivings upon leaving college behind as unemployment and underemployment continue to plague the modern workforce. While numerous films have related the difficulties of coming of age, one film perfectly captures the contradicting anxiety, hope, ambition, and hesitation that encompass the post-college experience; the 1994 Generation X dramedy Reality Bites.

The film begins as bright collegiate Lelaina Pierce gives her valedictorian speech at commencement. The story then introduces Lelaina’s close-knit group of friends; 70’s obsessed retail manager Vicky, shy Sammy, and perpetually unemployed slacker Troy as they celebrate graduation and speculate about what awaits them beyond campus walls. While her friends struggle to pay their bills, Lelaina finds herself enjoying the benefits of a steady, if unfulfilling, job as a production assistant on a tacky day-time talk show. After retaliating against her condescending boss and embarrassing him on live television, she finds herself out of a job and quickly realizes that despite her excellent GPA, she still has a lot to learn about life. In the midst of her financial woes she also finds herself at the center of a complicated love triangle as she enjoys the stability of a budding romance with corporate success, Michael, but still finds herself drawn to Troy. Through 90 minutes of job interviews, psychic phone calls, home-made documentaries, and of course Big Gulps, Lelaina learns that she is more than the sum of her college grades and that the only thing anyone needs to be by age 23 is yourself.

Despite being of and for the 90’s, Reality Bites is also a film that is relevant in our own time. Lelaina’s struggle to establish her identity beyond her home and school life mirrors the same process that recent graduates today continue to struggle through as they are faced with the realities of a limited job market, adult responsibilities, and adult relationships. The film particularly succeeds in its portrayal of Lelaina’s conflict between her college aspirations and adult realities as she develops from a haughty co-ed to an unsure, but more mature, young woman. This same conflict remains an issue for young people today, as they are bombarded with messages about what it means to be a success throughout their school years only to realize that success isn’t as easy to achieve or define as they’ve been told. While the love-story subplot is fairly predictable, it also serves as an interesting allegory for the paths in life that Lelaina is attempting to choose between; monetary success and personal fulfillment. Unfortunately, the film’s vague ending leaves the audience with significant questions regarding Lelaina’s career and overall future unanswered, and the plot without any real resolution.

There's no problem that staring at the stars with a Big Gulp won't fix
While the film does possess a witty and engaging script, it would not have been the success that it became without the equally engaging performances of its cast. Winona Ryder perfectly captures the combination of worldliness and inexperience that make up Lelaina and creates an authentic portrait of a girl grappling with her journey into womanhood. Ethan Hawke plays Troy with an intriguing mix of abrasive arrogance and uncertain vulnerability as he attempts to hide his feelings and convictions behind a carefree façade. Ben Stiller and Janeane Garofalo also turn in comically engaging performances as Lelaina’s earnest suitor and quirky best friend, and Steve Zahn does well with his unfortunately limited role as Lelaina’s friend who is attempting to come to terms with his homosexuality.

While twenty years have passed since its release, Reality Bites remains a relevant take on the timeless theme of coming of age. Its portrayal of post-grad angst in an ever complicated world is startlingly relatable for today’s grads, who continue to face the difficulties of a limited economy and changing social and sexual mores amidst their search for who they are and what they want to be. Its mix of quirky comedy and poignant drama makes this film a cutting edge crowd pleaser that has plenty of bite in the best sense of the word.

Five bucks, a cup of coffee, and Ethan Hawke, what more do you need?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

5 Things We've Learned after 200 Film Reviews

Confessions of a Film Junkie:  5 We’ve Learned after 200 Film Reviews

A Joint Review by: Lauren Ennis & Brian Cotnoir

     Woo hoo!  We have officially surpassed 200 film reviews on Confessions of a Film Junkie.  You know after 200 film reviews, Miss-E and I had plenty of time to contemplate over all we’ve learned after reviewing 200 films.  So here are 5 we’ve learned after 200 film reviews.

1.)    We Love it when our favorite actors get type-casted into roles

One thing that I was surprised to learn in my reviewing experience is how much I love well done type casting. While the practice of limiting actors to specific type of parts has long been lamented for the damaging effects that it can have on actors’ professional growth and overall careers, it does have its practical advantages. When an actor is cast by type it is generally because they so excel at playing that specific type of character, and can bring that character to life in a way that is more vibrant and believable than a leading player could. For instance, while horror star Vincent Price proved himself adept at stage acting and conventional leads early in his career, his foray into horror is what allowed him to truly make his mark in cinema. Similarly, although James Cagney’s true love was for the theater and ‘song and dance’ work, he remains one of the most dynamic and memorable actors in the gangster genre. After watching these actors turn in extraordinary performances in niche roles it is surprising, and sometimes disappointing, to see them in other performances that do not utilize their well known expertise. As a result, the treat of watching these actors do what they do best in a way spoils viewers and leaves them consistently wanting more of the same thrill that they have grown accustomed to. During my time as a blogger, I’ve come to recognize that I am just as guilty as any viewer of falling under the spell of Hollywood typecasting. For instance, when searching for a film that suits a season or theme I often choose films in which I know certain actors will deliver in the needed genre. For instance, when I want to review a love story or tragedy, I know that there are few actresses who can bring me to tears quite like Greta Garbo; if I need something hard boiled I’m guaranteed to find a winner in a Humphrey Bogart film; and during religious seasons I know that I can’t go wrong with a Charlton Heston epic. In viewing and reviewing, I’m come to terms with my love for the much hated practice of type casting and its double edge of use and misuse by studios and audiences.

I'm Always Scary

I'm Always the Boss
I'm Always Dreamy (no matter what role)

2.) If you give Porn a plot and a budget, you can call it “art
So Much for "Artistic Integrity" 
Yeah, it’s quite impressive.  If you take an adult film, set in Europe, give it a plot, and a budget.  You can call it art.  I mean just look at films like “Room in Rome”, “Blue is the Warmest Color”, “Exterminating Angles”, and pretty much most films released in France.  I’m not saying that featuring graphic sex scenes in these films makes them any less better or important, in fact some of these films have gone on to receive a lot of praise and critical acclaim.  However, there is something about a sex scene that goes on for 11 straight minutes that just seems a trifle bit unnecessary. In America when a sex scene in a film lasts more than a couple of minutes it’s called “pornography”, but since the film is set in Europe it is considered to be “Art”.  Fine, whatever, now if you’ll excuse me I think my buddies and I will crack open a couple brews, pop in a copy of “Room in Rome” and enjoy the films for its “artistic integrity”.

3.) Oscar Nominations are No indication of quality

Why Not Leo???
Another thing I was shocked to find was how poor an indication of quality the Oscars are. While I had always heard the old rumor the Academy was rigged and that only top studio players or ‘challenging’ art house films are able to take home the coveted awards, I had spent years assuming that the entire Academy couldn’t be wrong, even though I did tend to disagree with them. As time went on, however, I found that a striking number of movies that are not only favorites of mine but also beloved classics failed to win an Oscar when competing with films that have since become obscure. For example, while Laura is today considered one of the greatest film noirs and murder mysteries ever filmed, the film failed to win any awards except for Best Cinematography. Similarly, The Color Purple was nominated for eleven academy awards but failed to win a single title, while the same year the now widely panned Out of Africa swept the ceremony. There are also numerous iconic stars and crew members who have failed to attain an Academy Award despite their work in various genres and legendary films, including Cary Grant, Barbara Stanwyck, Alfred Hitchcock, and Peter O’Toole. While these icons have since gone on to claim their rightful place in cinema history, they were routinely passed over in favor of nominees who were either in the Academy’s favor, had been snubbed in the past and were promised a compensation award, or were producing more conventional fare. When examining the lengthy list of exemplary performances and films that were routinely ignored by the Academy, I was led to the conclusion that the Oscars are not only an unreliable indicator for quality, but also are all too often indicators for passing trends rather than genuine, timelessness.

4.)  You bet we love to rant

Who the HELL keeps casting Mark Wahlberg
We watch movies to be entertained.  Nobody wants to be bored while watching a movie, so if I’m tricked into watching a film by Netflix because it has a bad-a$$ DVD cover or features one of my favorite actors, you bet I’m going to rant about that film.  Why?  Because I just wasted 90-minutes of my life watching a garbage film, I can never get back those 90 minutes so I am going to b!tch, and complain, and tear a film to shreds in hopes that it will prevent people from wasting 90-minutes of their lives on a film that’s completely worthless.  And you know what, else I’ve discovered.  You people like it when we rant.  Some of our most popular posts on this blog are the reviews of the film that managed to psychologically damage me! You’re all a bunch of sadists, you know that?!  Oh well as long as you keep reading, I’ll keep writing (and putting my sanity on the line).

5.) “If the Movie Stinks Just Don’t Go”

     We both feel like Jay Sherman can some up our feelings for this last one the Best.  Thanks for your support these past 200 Reviews Everyone!

Well Said Mr. Sherman...Well Said :)

Which Hitchcock is the True Master of Suspense? By Lauren Ennis

Thirty-eight years after the release of his final film, Alfred Hitchcock is still considered the ‘master of suspense’ by casual film goers and cinema buffs alike. Over the course of his fifty-three year career he directed over fifty feature films and introduced camera and narrative innovations that have continued to influence the suspense genre. In 2012, Hitchcock was the subject of two films that explored his directing style and personal life. Both the made for tv film, The Girl, and the cinema released Hitchcock, convey their stories with enthusiasm and skill, but which biopic better captures the reality behind the illusions of ‘the master of suspense’?

1.      THE STORY: While both films explore the inner workings of Hitchcock’s life during the filming of one of his masterpieces, they each tell a very different story. In Hitchcock, the focus is the on and off-set struggles that the director faced during the production of Psycho. The film begins with Hitchcock feeling discouraged at the restrictions of working in Hollywood, despite the commercial success of his latest film, North By Northwest. In order to test his directorial skills and regain some of his old passion, he starts searching for scripts and novels that are drastically different from anything he’s done before and finally settles on Robert Bloch’s fictionalized account of the 1940’s Ed Gein murders, Psycho. After purchasing the rights to the script, he is confronted with the difficulties of breaking out of the Hollywood mold as he struggles to adjust to a new genre and create a truly horrifying film that still passes Hay’s Code censors, all while financing the film on a meager out-of-pocket budget. Complicating matters further, he is simultaneously faced with the looming threat of his wife, Alma’s flirtation with her screenwriting collaborator, noted womanizer Whitfield Cook.


In The Girl, four years have passed since the successful debut of Psycho and Hitchcock is again in search of a new story, and more notably a new talent to introduce in it. While searching for an unknown actress to play the lead role, he comes across model Tippi Hedren and becomes determined to cast her. With the help of Alma, Hitchcock sets about approaching and winning over the naïve Hedren, who is all too happy to have the opportunity to break into films. Over the course of production of The Birds and its follow-up, Marnie, Hitchcock becomes obsessed with his leading lady and psychologically and physically abuses her after she rejects his sexual advances. The story quickly becomes a battle of the wills as Hedren struggles to maintain her dignity and independence while still fulfilling her contractual obligations to the maniacal Hitchcock. While both films offer fascinating insight into the inner workings of Hitchcock’s life and mind, The Girl limits the scope of its focus to Hitchcock’s personal life and his interactions with Hedren, forcing the other characters to the side. Unlike The Girl, Hitchcock features multi-faceted portrayals of the cast and crew of Psycho and Hitchock’s wife, as well as an in depth analysis of Hitchcock himself. By taking a broader approach, Hitchcock’s script provides a more balanced and informative view of the director, as it shows him at work and at home, while still highlighting the dark aspects of his psyche. For its equal emphasis upon Hitchcock’s working and personal lives, Hitchcock delivers a more insightful account of the director's life and work ,which will appeal to a broader audience.


2.      THE CHARACTERS: The script for The Girl was based upon Tippi Hedren’s memoir, and as a result, the film and all of its characters are seen through her perspective. Because of the film’s first person point of view, the characters are only shown in relation to their interactions with Hedren, and are portrayed in the same way that she wrote about them. This limited viewpoint denies the viewer the opportunity to see the characters in different facets of the lives. As a result, the supporting characters become little more than caricatures who are forced into the background as Hedren and Hitchcock continue in their tumultuous working relationship. Even Hitchcock and Hedren suffer as characters in the film, as the audience never learns what motivates Hedren to continue suffering through the abuse that Hitchcock inflicts upon her beyond the chance at stardom, and Hitchcock is shown only in terms of the monstrous behavior he displays towards Hedren.


Hitchcock is based upon a work of historical research rather than a memoir, and is told from an outside, more objective, perspective. Not only does the film show Hitchcock in varying and conflicting lights, but it also shows those around him as three dimensional people with their own back stories and motivations. The most notable of these characters is Hitchcock’s wife, Alma, who is shown to be an intelligent, driven, woman who is tired of spending her life in her husband’s shadow. One of the key plot arcs in the film is Alma’s attempt to regain her former independence and Hitchcock’s realization of her importance in his professional, as well as personal, life.  In stark contrast, The Girl portrays Alma as an insecure and dependent secondary character who facilitates her husband’s predatory behavior in hopes of maintaining his favor, reinforcing the film’s insistence upon gravitating all of its characters’ and their actions around Hitchcock and Hedren. For its layered and varied portrayals and complex supporting cast, Hitchcock provides a more in depth view of life behind the scenes.


Doing for bathtubs what Psycho did for showers
3.      THE PERFORMANCES: While it is a difficult task for an actor to play a historical figure, both films feature excellent casts who turn in spot-on performances. Both Anthony Hopkins and Toby Jones capture the outward genius and inner torments that made up Alfred Hitchcock. Despite the lack of dimension in the writing of his part, Jones adds depth to a role that would otherwise be a one note villain in his portrayal of Hitchcock. Although neither actor bears a striking resemblance to the director, both aptly mimicked his mannerisms and voice in a way that was historically accurate without distracting from the overall story. Similarly, Helen Mirren and Sienna Miller each create fully fleshed characters in their performances as Alma Reville and Tippi Hedren. In Mirren’s hands, Alma is an intelligent and eloquent woman who is much more interesting than the background player she has been relegated to. Miller portrays Hedren with an endearing combination of naivete and resilience that makes audiences identify with her struggle and root for her success. The supporting casts in both films also succeed at the difficult task of creating fresh, intriguing, characters, while still remaining true to historical fact. The entertainingly accurate acting in both films leaves the performances at a draw, leaving Hitchcock in the lead as the more all around enjoyable film. Post your favorite in the comments!

Adding a whole new context to the phrase 'hostile work environment'