New Series: Why you should Love this Movie

In recent days I’ve been thinking a lot about a question that was posed at a conference I attended. The speakers were debating the merits or demerits of a certain sect of cinema – whether it helps or hurts its cause – and they posed the following quandry:  “how do people who don’t know much about movies, who don’t follow or study film, how do they hear about great films?  How do they become aware of movies that deserve to be seen?”

This struck a chord with me.  I grew up in Northeast Tennessee, about as isolated from Hollywood as possible.  People liked movies a lot – our Cineplex was constantly filled despite its terrible quality (I recognize this in hindsight now).  But even for me, someone who decided that the study of cinema was to be my life’s pursuit, I was not aware of the vast quantities of incredible movies that get a small release and miss the mainstream entirely; films that we simply never hear about because our market is too small and, at that time, the connections of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime had not yet been established.

So then, my thoughts turned to the question.  How could I be a part of the solution – spreading the word about certain films, old and new, that deserve to be seen by broader audiences?  I know that most of the people who read this blog are probably family or friends, either from back home in Tennessee or those I’ve met here in Movie-land, but primarily people who are looking for the good stuff; people who would love to see great movies but just don’t hear about them.

Thus, I got the idea to start a new series of posts entitled

Why you should Love this movie

These will be short posts about a film (a la the Criterion Three Reasons videos), in which I expound on why that movie deserves your attention.  My hope is that this can be a bridge for people who are not connected to the film world to find works that are powerful, uplifting, and potentially life-changing. I hope you’ll come along this journey with me.  Hopefully this will be of some use to you.  Hopefully it will give you a longer Netflix queue or a conversation topic for the workplace.  Hopefully this can start the effort to get the word out and improve our viewership and critical response to a world I care deeply about.  Thanks for stopping by and keep an eye out for this new series coming soon.

SFC12: The Deer Hunter

Strap in, folks.  This is one is going to be rough.  With only a month left in my Summer Film Challenge 2012: Apocalypse Edition, I am getting in the Olympic spirit and making a strong, “Final Lap” push to finish the remaining 11 films before the summer is out.  Ryan and I recently got a great opportunity to cross one of our shared classics off the Challenge in spectacular fashion.  Ryan’s internship in Santa Monica happens to be very close to a tiny little theatre called the Aero, which is affiliated with the American Cinematheque – a society dedicated to the preservation and appreciation of classic cinema.  So, we carved some time out of our busy schedules to make the trip down there one evening and saw the 1978 Best Picture winner, The Deer Hunter, on the big screen.

And let’s just say that I doubt anything on earth could have really prepared us for it.

How is one to talk about this film?  The Deer Hunter is a powerfully disturbing movie, one that I don’t know that people can “like” but rather one that we can appreciate for it’s intense realism and unrelenting dedication giving me a true picture of the chaos of that age.  I have never seen a film about the Vietnam war that more viscerally and unashamedly depicts the horrors of war than Deer Hunter.

Briefly summarized, the film revolves around the lives of five small town friends who live, work, and hunt together.  Robert De Niro stars as Michael, a disciplined and introverted hunter drafted into Vietnam with his friend Nick (Walken).  They enjoy their last days of civilian life celebrating the marriage of their buddy, Steven (John Savage) and then all three are shipped overseas to experience the barbarity of war directly.  **SPOILER** The pair are abducted and stuck in a prison camp where they are forced to play Russian Roulette for the amusement of their captors.  Barely escaping alive, Michael and Steven return to the US, while Nick, still dealing with the emotional and psychological turmoil of his experiences, devolves into a madman.  Michael learns of this and flies back to Vietnam to bring his friend home, only to find him still competing in Russian Roulette games for money – all traces of sanity gone.  His last game goes sour and, upon bringing the fallen hero home, the community mourns the loss of their friend.  **END**

Normally, this is the part of the review where I would begin making jokes about the way Walken acts. However, here I cannot even begin to criticize his work.  Giving the greatest performance of his career, Christopher Walken masters the happy-go-lucky turned Kurtz character and gives life to one of the truest, most heart-wrenching roles I have ever seen.  His portrayal of the man caught up in the “Fascination with the Abomination” that Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness explores is without doubt the epitome of that philosophy embodied.

Beyond Walken’s masterful performance, which earned him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, the rest of the cast gave phenomenal performances.  Robert De Niro’s serious intensity plays out brilliantly as we watch his character’s love of hunting and rigorous discipline be stripped away as the horrors of war beset him.  And what can one say about Meryl Streep, other than that she is the perfect chamelion – morphing into whatever character she is given and providing a flawlessly passionate performance as always.  The supporting cast shines brightly behind the stars, adding to the story-world’s marvelously real feel, and ultimately they made me believe in the protagonists all the more. Really brilliant all around.

What truly inspired me about The Deer Hunter was the fact that it sought to be a film about “Life After”. Most films about war seek to express the visceral intensity of a single moment in history.  For example, Saving Private Ryan, a film I have never been particularly fond of, is about the extreme situation several thousand soldiers went through in storming the beaches of Normandy.  Consisting almost entirely of that ONE scene, the film then ends with a shot of the old man crying as he remembers that ONE moment in his life.

Deer Hunter chooses a different and, in my opinion, higher path by focusing not on the life-changing event itself, but on the life AFTER that event.  Instead of doing what countless Rom/Com’s do, this film starts on a marriage and then examines what life does to the newlyweds after the honeymoon. Rather than taking that low-hanging fruit of simply recreating a battle, Deer Hunter looks at the effect war has on the soldiers who fight it.  Not stopping at death, the filmmakers make us look at the life after that, and it is that narrative and psychological step which makes this film so much better than any war film I have ever seen.  It perfectly reflects the introspection that the Vietnam War forced Americans to partake in – exploring the world as it really is rather than as it is cinematically portrayed.

To illustrate how powerful this film is, let me tell you that by the end of the film, Ryan and I began to hear people in the audience weeping.  Not tears quietly running down faces, but great heaving sobs which racked my soul as well as theirs.  To me, a 21-year-old college student who’s only experience with war is having family and friends who knew it, the film meant to me only as much as an intellectual and emotional insight into the mentality of post-war America at that time.  But, to those people in the audience, Deer Hunter meant a return to the atrocities they had to live through themselves – either firsthand or by the memories of those friends and family who might not have truly made it back from Vietnam.  My heart went out to those people now living their own “life after” and I can honestly say a hearty congratulations to the filmmakers for making such a profoundly touching movie as this.

To recommend this film to you, I must highly caution that it is not something to be trifled with.  If you are seeking a war film that will lift your patriotic spirit and give you hope, then please find another film. The Deer Hunter is easily one of the most gripping and intense cinematic experiences I have every taken part in and so I do promote it to anyone who is looking for a film that can change their life.  If you are willing to be broken down to the core by a film that has no qualms handing you a tough three hour experience, you will hardly find a better candidate than this film.

Final Rating:  10//10

One final thought before I let this go.  This is the one and only film about the Vietnam War you will ever see that does NOT have a sequence set to CCR’s “Fortunate Son”!   🙂

Well there you go!  Let me know what you thought of this film in the comments below.  Also, check out the podcast below that Ryan and I did reviewing this film!  It gets interesting…

As I said previously, I will be rushing headlong towards September 5th – the first day of school and what Ryan and I have deemed the end of summer – trying to watch the remaining 10 films I have left, plus finishing my tv show.  I have never completed a Summer Film Challenge on time as of yet but I intend to make the last year of existence my first victory there.  So, get ready for a “Slew of Reviews” in the coming weeks and I hope you will join me in this race to the finish of the…
SUMMER FILM CHALLENGE 2012: APOCALYPSE EDITION!!!!

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And some things….that have not yet come to pass…

Hey all.
This post is basically to apologize for having missed 3 scheduled posts in a row.  I took a spectacular holiday last weekend and I simply haven’t had time to get a new post made yet. School has obviously kicked into session and I am just trying to get in the rhythm of things again.  More will come of that later, but for now I am announcing that the Tuesday post on Soontobeangel is dead – posts will come as I am able to get them up.  Art of the Trailer will still be on Friday’s as best as I am able and you can still expect the trailer for Thin Ice to be up soon.

I have a lot in the works right now, not least of which are 4 reviews for recently released trailers, and I am happy to say, my first video game review of 2012:

So stay tuned, thanks for being patient and I look forward to bringing you some great reviews and rambles soon!

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MindBleep: Being Really Confused

So…..I am going to try to unpack one of the most trippy, the most twisted, the darkest and most confusing films I have ever seen.  It deals with deep and disturbingly real issues in a very Greek fashion.  Hopefully I will be able to make some sense out of it, so please enjoy my review of Being John Malkovich.

Basically here’s how this is going to work.  I am going to break it down in the following fashion and hopefully that will allow me to fully examine this movie:

  • Plot Structure and Narrative Elements
  • Philosophical Questions and Morals
  • Last Thoughts and Commentary

So with that understanding, lets dig into this ridiculously trippy film 🙂

1.  Plot Structure and Narrative Elements

What is the plot?  You could say that it is about an apathetic and creepy puppeteer who discovers a door into John Malkovich’s mind, but honestly what does that mean?  It comes down to the film being made up of the many stories of an Ensemble cast.  Everyone gets a character arc (sort of) and we (the audience) get one heaping mess of confusion.

[SPOILERS] In case you are unaware, the film revolves around the failing relationship of Craig and Lotte, an out of work puppeteer and his wife.  Craig gets a job in a very odd building and there meets Maxine, whom I can best describe as a vivacious, foxy little bleep, who leads him (and later Lotte) around on a sexual “Odd-yssey”.  Oh, and Craig finds a door into actor John Malkovich’s mind.  No big.

From there it gets really weird.  Sexual identity questions mingle with philosophical inquiries and time traveling old people?  Yeah…it just gets weird.  Suffice to say, Craig takes over John Malkovich for a while and has a relationship with Maxine, then gives it up so that he can reunite with Lotte who has been in love with Maxine the whole time.  I can’t state it enough, this film is absolutely bizarre.  Craig ends up alone with no one to love or to love him and entirely broken mentally.  Yes, it is Defeatest but it does so in a classy manner.  It just warps your mind.

Let me break it down a bit more and take it back to one of the first dichotomies of how story works. In Greek theatre there were three basic structure for narrative:  Comedy, Drama, and the most important for us, Tragedy.  I was looking for a good way of expressing what the Tragic structure of story is, and in doing so I found a great quote from the Grand Valley State University in Michigan.  Their definition is quoted below:

Tragedy depicts the downfall of a noble hero or heroine, usually through some combination of hubris, fate, and the will of the gods. The tragic hero’s powerful wish to achieve some goal inevitably encounters limits, usually those of human frailty (flaws in reason, hubris, society), the gods (through oracles, prophets, fate), or nature. Aristotle says that the tragic hero should have a flaw and/or make some mistake (hamartia). The hero need not die at the end, but he / she must undergo a change in fortune. In addition, the tragic hero may achieve some revelation or recognition (anagnorisis–“knowing again” or “knowing back” or “knowing throughout” ) about human fate, destiny, and the will of the gods. Aristotle quite nicely terms this sort of recognition “a change from ignorance to awareness of a bond of love or hate.”

This is what came to my mind when I finished watching Being John Malkovich – a film involving the fall of the protagonist from imagined height to actual depth.  One can clearly see Craig (John Cussack) as a tragic protagonist:  he feels unhappy with his perception of his life, so he strikes out on a ridiculous plan to change everything and actually gets what he wants, until it all comes crashing down.  His pride and confusion about what he wants leaves him more destitute and alone than ever before.  There will be more on this in the next section.

As I mentioned before, this movie is really a collection of characters in an ensemble.  They spend their time dealing with each other – in the context of an insane, backwards situation nonetheless – but ultimately it is about their interactions, desires and damnation.  One could point to Craig being the protagonist because he is the character we start and end with. However, good arguments could be made for any and all main cast in the film being the lead because they are so intimately connected.

Everyone is both Hero and Antagonist.  Let me explain (No. Is too long. Let me sum up):

  • Craig starts off unhappy, gets the chance to have a new life and get what he wants which is recognition and respect. He takes his opportunity, gets conflicted about what he wants, gives up what he has, and finds himself alone.
  • Lotte at first is a pushover who is tragically neglected.  Once she enters John Malkovich, she has an awakening to what she wants (Maxine) but has to push Craig away to get her.  Later she is locked up and kept away from her “love” and watches that relationship fall apart.  Ultimately she ends up getting what she wanted but only because she crushes the dreams of her husband.
  • Maxine just wants to have fun, and thats what she gets.  That is, until she has to choose between her two playthings and hurt one of them.  She makes the “wrong decision” and then has to crush Craig to get what she wants.  In the end she has her desired life, but remember how long it took her to become unhappy with Craig’s Malkovich and want something else.  Just saying.
  • Lotte comes between Maxine and Craig
  • Craig comes between Maxine and Lotte
  • Maxine won’t love Craig or Lotte unless they are in Malkovich
  • Malkovich just wants to be left alone.

Being John Malkovich borders on the Shakespearian in its ensemble-nature and character interactions.  Just make Craig “Hamlet” and then watch as the “something rotten in the state of Denmark” romps around until everyone connected is dead in some form or fashion.

Just a few final points about the technical side of the film before I move on to the more serious philosophical and moral questions of BJM.  I must give credit to the filmmakers because it is a stunning bit of cinema.  The cinematography is phenomoninal, particularly in showing what it would be like to be inside the mind of another person.  The POV’s were incredible and the use of high and low angles solidly builds our understanding of how the characters relate to one another.

The music is…meh. It is musically complex and engaging, but it does become a little leading.  The songs informed me of which emotion I am to feel at a given moment, which I always dislike.  I would rather find how I feel on my own, thanks.

A few other quick thoughts:  The puppetry was masterful and (quite purposefully) took on a character of it’s own.  Another thing, for me, was that the film seemed to lose focus after Malkovich himself enters his own mind.  Everything involving him becomes subplot, as did the romances, and most prominently the random old people trying to continue their pattern of living forever.  It just seemed to get jumbled after that moment and it never fully recovered.

Finally, the film displayed the incredible ranges of all the actors involved and had a few great cameo roles (Charlie Sheen, Brad Pitt, Sean Penn).  On a side note to that,  I want to point out that the only resolved character in the whole thing is the monkey.  Just thought you aught to know.

[Insert Coraline joke here] and that is about it for the plot of Being John Malkovich.  I found the plot as confusing and as depressing as it is supposed to be.  I can’t fully say that I enjoyed the storyline(s) of the film but in the next section you will see what I do find in it to be quite fantastic.

2. Philosophical Questions and Morals

As I hinted at earlier, Being John Malkovich takes a particularly Greek fashion of looking at things.  I have already spoken of how it adopts the Greek Tragedy formula but now I want to turn to some of the philosophical implications and messages of the film.  Watching this film felt more like taking in a visual dissertation – it of itself was not particularly appealing to me but the truths to which it was speaking were.

First and foremost I want to list what I think are the three main questions the film is addressing:

  1. What are the ethics of controlling another person’s life?
  2. Would being someone else solve all of my problems?
  3. Is it possible to comprehend one’s mind and soul to the depth at which these characters do?

Each of these is complex and difficult to briefly discuss, so instead I will try to share what I think connects each of them.  In a Humanities class I took last year we discussed the main tenants of Greek philosophy and one of the most prominent ones to me was the concept of “xenia”.  Xenia is the mindset and acquirable trait of possessing good hospitality towards your fellow man.  In the Greek Epics, Homer demonstrates the necessity of having good Xenia by showing those who share it being blessed and those who withhold it punished.

What then does Homer have to do with Spike Jonze?  Each of his characters participate in varying levels of Xenia towards the others.  For example, Craig starts off with just passable xenia towards his wife and when he discovers his dreams within reach, he pushes all others aside and practices very bad Xenia.  Thus in the end he is brought to utter ruin.  On the other hand, Lotte at the beginning has nothing but xenia towards her husband.  Her years of selfless giving and service are rewarded in the end by her getting what she wants.

However, we do get a sort of “negotiated read” on the concept of xenia with Maxine.  She very blatantly practices appalling xenia towards Craig, Lotte, Malkovich, and everyone else she encounters.  However, in the end she gets what she wants?  I think the point the filmmakers are trying to make here is that sometimes life simply doesn’t work according to the so-called laws of karma – sometimes the bad guys win.  Again, however, I postulate that the Lotte-Maxine relationship is doomed to failure once the latter recovers her wandering spirit and her desire for the new toy.

Thus by the selfish or self-less nature of the character is determined their fate, and the beginnings of the answers for the three big questions.  On the ethics of controlling another the film clearly speaks about self-control and care not only for the puppeteer but also for the puppet.  The second question is obviously addressed, but not obviously concluded.  Craig did get everything he wanted when he took over Malkovich but I simply ask whether his problems were solved or not?  He still has a failing relationship, a conflicted soul about what he wants, and just unhappiness in general.  The other characters (other than the weird old people) ultimately make the decision that being themselves is the best option, so I think the best conclusion to draw is that in the end being someone else, John Malkovich or not, is not the best way for us to be.

Now the final question of the three is of course the most difficult to reconcile with the concept of xenia and the most complex ethically.  While I think it obvious that none of us will actually ever enter the mind of another person as…physically as John Cussack and Cameron Diaz do, the question of emotionally and mentally doing so still remains.  On that I think the movie shows that the proper way of understanding others is to respect them as someone totally separate from yourself and to show them proper Xenia.  Again to point out how weird this movie is the only solidly obvious example of this I can come up with is how the Monkey, remembering things of his own past, is able to connect emotionally with Lotte when they are locked up together and is thus able to help her.

Obviously a lot is said by Being John Malkovich towards the psychological and philosophical nature of humankind….and I haven’t EVEN gotten to the SEX yet!!!!  One of the more disturbingly prominent parts of the film is the sexual atmosphere in which the whole thing happens.  Not trying to be crude, but it is inescapable that one consider John Malkovich as the largest Condom in the history of the planet.  Also not to mention the odd LGBT relationships that sporadically pop up throughout the film.

I think ultimately Being John Malkovich makes great commentary on the life that is lived for and about sexuality, and this is the main issue I have with the world today.  We focus so much on “defining our sexuality” and pigeon-holing it into the most minute category possible.  The film shows the lives of three people who allow themselves to be define foremost and almost only by their sexual desires and it clearly shows how that for the most part ends up in ruin. “Money, Stuff, and Sex is the Goal” right?  Well not at ALL according to Mr. Malkovich 🙂

I will conclude this segment about the philosophy and ethics of this bizarre film with two of my favorite quotes from the movie.  I think they perfectly capture the questions asked by the movie and the attitudes it takes in answering them:

“You don’t know how lucky you are to be a monkey…because consciousness is a terrible curse.  I think, I feel, I suffer and all I ask in return is the opportunity to do my work. And they won’t allow it because I raise issues.”

And lastly,

“I took my fill of my wretched pleasures in you and this was the sum total of my love.”

"Check Please!"

3. Last Thoughts and Commentary

Ultimately I found this film to be deeply disturbing, emotionally taxing, and mentally stimulating. There is obvious brilliance in this project; it is just hard to get past the muck of the depressing ideology and the incredibly dislikable characters.  The plot is convoluted and ultimately suffers at the hands of what the film really is about:  providing intellectually engaging and morally unsure questions about the nature of Humankind in general.  And while I love a good “thinker” upon occasion, I found myself seriously bogged down trying to keep all of the elements in check in my head (let alone in Malkovich’s).  Between the ridiculously complex and overly dramatized sexualities competing within the lead characters, the metaphysical conundrums of the possibilities of a door into someone’s soul, and the ethical quandaries put forth by doing so, I found myself spinning so much that even 4 weeks after viewing it I still am ambiguous in my feelings toward it.

I think the best way I can sum up my opinion of Being John Malkovich is to say that I feel towards it as I feel towards The Departed or Donnie Darko:  I don’t particularly love it for itself but I recognize that it is a good movie.  In other words, I love the questions it raises and the truths it speaks to the human condition, but I just don’t really like how it does it.  Just like a textbook or dissertation, I recommend that you force yourself through it so that you can receive what it has to give you.  Technically it is fantastic, the acting is really excellent from all parties, and again I cannot deny that a serious amount of brilliance exist here.  If you are feeling up to it some night to have your brain and soul rocked a little, give Spike Jonze’s Being John Malkovich a try.

Overall Rating:  8//10

My friend Ryan's face when he sees what I rated BJM 🙂

Well there you have it!!!!  Took my 4 long weeks to complete this review and thus far it was the hardest to complete yet.  BUT don’t go away!  I will be putting up another review VERY soon and I am really excited about it.  Not to spoil anything but suffice to say that I don’t know man from toaster anymore 🙂  Thanks for sticking around and please feel free to leave your thoughts below.  I would love to hear what you think of this movie (maybe you actually GET it).  And tune back in for another review coming up real soon.  Bye, Y’all!

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Scary Piano :F

Eeep!  This was by far one of the Scariest movie I have ever see!  It may seem cliche to say that, and you might find it odd that a film this old can still be as scary as modern horror stuff, but my Goodness this thing is creepy!  You’re reading my review of Halloween.

Basically this film does in miniature well what every modern horror film tries to do extravagantly. Every element pulls together to make this honestly terrifying – the cinematography, music, acting – all just awesome!  Truly phenomenal filmmaking that I was so excited to see.  I was riveted to my screen the whole time.

First and foremost, they need to STAB that steady-cam guy because he is bleeping creepy!!! The entire first scene was amazing!  The long-shot stalker cam set the mood, pace, tone, etc in the best way I have ever seen.  I loved how they created the POV style (and how much the breathing played in!) and really showcased that new technology.  What really made this scene, and the whole movie really, was how LONG it took! We honestly watch this scene play out for about 5 minutes!  And then they reveal that it is a KID!!!  WHAT!?!?!?

Again what really made this film was the time which they took with it.  Every shot involves long, backtracking walks that make every corner, ledge, etc a potential spot for Myers to pop out and stab them.  Also the fact that [SPOILER] it takes nearly three quarters of the film to get to the actual attacks, and even then they are so spread out that it makes you jump at every turn of the corner.

Very much like The Shining, it has a very slow ramp to the exciting bits so the tension and anxiety are profoundly expanded, enhancing this film tenfold.  The creepiness comes from the visible unknown. We see Myers stalking the girls for an hour before he does anything which makes for a nigh 0n Jaws like tension – we know he will strike, we just don’t know WHEN he will.  And that is what made this movie so actually scary to me.  I wasn’t waiting around for the monster to come out of the shadows and reveal how terribly CG it is or how poorly created it is.  I saw Mike Myers the whole time and was screaming at Jamie Lee Curtis the whole time to GET OUT OF THERE!!!

That does bring up my one negative about the film:  Jamie Lee Curtis never looked like a teenager. For over half of the film, I thought she was a mother who was going for her high school degree.  She honestly just doesn’t look young at all and that bothered me because it became hard to relate to her.  I was trying to see a scared girl my age and all that I could see was Freaky Friday.  However, she did do a great job with the role, so I can’t fault her on that. Just wish they found someone physically capable of looking not like a soccer mom 🙂

Eeep!!!

Finally (and most famously), the music turned out to be one of the most haunting parts of the film.  I had grown up hearing the main theme and I always thought it sounded a bit….”hokey”. It never had any sort of scary-ness to it, so going in I thought it might lessen the effect. However, as previously said, it did nothing to weaken the film and I think I know why.  The theme is rather silly if played out of context and if started harshly, straight into it. If you let it build though, starting early and never letting up, it becomes a constant presence. Think of it like static electricity – if it jolts it shocks but then quickly becomes comical;  if it builds up for a while, it raises the hair on the back of your neck.  Truly great work, Mr. Carpenter.

Overall, if you haven’t seen this film yet and you are interested in a truly good scare, PLEASE go see the classic Halloween.  It tops my list of horror films right now and I highly recommend it.  One of the best thus far on the Summer Film Challenge 2011 (which I am horribly behind on right now).

Rating:  10/10

I would like to say that I want to see the remake of it from 2007 just to compare styles.
There you go!  Thanks for sticking around and I would love to hear your thoughts on my review here! Just leave a comment down below!

Coming Attractions include my review of Assassin’s Creed II and, if my soul feels up to it, I have another Film Challenge review to do on that…………film…..Being John Malkovich……yeah.  That one is one you aren’t going to want to miss.

Thanks again for hanging around and if you haven’t already, head over to the Art of the Trailer and check out the new Muppets trailer there!

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The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

Finally! Better late than never, here is my triumphant return with a review of the Maltese Falcon. Expect the Art of the Trailer schedule to recommence in about a week, and I have some more good stuff on the way pronto. Enjoy 🙂

**Summer Film Challenge 2011**
Film:  Maltese Falcon
My Rating:  8/10

This film is blunt so I will strive to be also:  it is the epitome of Film Noir.  The “fight for my own cause” detective, the femme fatale, the mysterious gangsters and the more mysterious treasure.  I can fully see why it has sealed the title of the Perfect Noir film but I have a few issues with it.

First and foremost, let me start off by offending most of you: I have a new famous actor  to add to my “Can’t act” list – HUMPHREY BOGART.  He shows no emotion during any of his scenes.  He has the exact opposite problem of Daniel Radcliffe – I can tell he is processing the emotions of the characters but it is too buried in his eyes.  You can see that it is there but only just.  Maybe I should say that he can only act as one character, which isn’t much of an upgrade (Nicholas Cage, Keanu Reeves, etc).  It is the same roles and same non-emotional response we see in Sam Spade as is found in Rick Blaine of Casablanca.  You stop seeing the roles because you can’t stop seeing Humphrey Bogart, “that wonderful, classic actor”.  It really made it hard to enjoy the film. [In case you are wondering the other major figure of that list is the GREAT AND MIGHTY Orson Welles]

The second thing is the blistering pace of Film Noir.  It both makes the film work and can make it not work at all. In this case it did a little of both.  I enjoyed that the film kept moving and shifting, never giving you time to stop and figure it all out.  However, I did get a little lost towards the end.  Basically it is a trade-off that if you want that action pace you have to deal with some people losing the plot for a bit.  I am sure that a second viewing would help me understand it better.

And on that note I must clarify that I knew how it ended before I saw the film (Thanks AFI’s Top 100 Movie Quotes!) BUT it was still fun to get there.  I did enjoy watching Spade delve deeper and deeper into the mystery of the Falcon and the hunt for it.  It was fun to watch him get to the place of being in the thick of it all.

My only other note is that while Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet give excellent performances, Mary Astor never acted the way her character really was. Is she the coldhearted player she seemed to actually be or was she in reality the sweat girl caught up in it all?  Just like Bogart, I can tell that she (Astor) knows the answer but her performance doesn’t give me (the audience) any answers.  Really disappointing there.

Ultimately I would say that it was a good story that was marred by some rather mediocre acting.  The good performances balanced it out however so I will gladly give it an 8 out of 10. Glad to cross that of the list of movies to see.

Whelp! Thanks for sticking around. I know it took me forever to get this out and I thank you for my patience.  I just got really busy – my mom and I drove across country, I have been moving into my junior year of college, and I found this really weird device….from the future?  I don’t really know.  I will have to compile all of my notes and put them up on the blog soon…so be expecting that.  I also just finished Assassin’s Creed II!  So that review will be up very soon as well!  Finally the Art of the Trailer will return this Friday with my review of the teaser for the Hunger Games film!  Yeah!  Thanks all and check back soon for new content!

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Recent Rediscovery

So as the title says, I recently rediscovered my Flicker account and I wanted to share that link with you.  I don’t claim to be a professional and I don’t claim to be great, but I would say that I have caught a few really good pics over the years and I just thought I would share those.  Below is one of my favorite pics I have ever taken, so check out the Flicker and know that the Maltese Falcon review is on it’s way 🙂  Thanks!

Joy

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