Thursday, March 27, 2008

Screwball vs Romantic Comedy

"Eternal Sunshine of the spotless mind" and "His girl friday" are two very similar movies. Although both movies are classified under two different genres, both genres are very much alike. After doing some research it seems to me that Screwball comedy has turned into romantic comedy; todays romantic comedies are a modern version of screwball films. The most popular time of Screwball movies was in the 1930's to the 1940's. Romantic comedies have taken off over the past couple decades almost replacing Screwball comedies altogether. But despite their alikeness they also have their own unique style and ways.

"His girl friday", a screwball film from the 1930's is one of the most well known films of this genre. It used many typical plot elements including marriage. The dominant woman, HIldy, in this film knew from the beginning of the movie, although hiding the fact that she was not going to marry Bruce she was going to marry Walter, her ex. Also the fast paced motion and talking in this film was a hint that this was more of a screwball rather than a romantic comedy. There tended to be more quick staccato like conversations rather than conversations that would consume a fair portion of films. A part of this film was over Earl Williams, a man who escaped from prison. It is an incompetent section of the film which Screwball comedies are apt to use.

"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", a recently released romantic comedy was directed by Michel Gondry. As you can tell from the name of the genre this movie is a romance with humurous segments throught the film. The typical plot of a romantic comedy generally involves two people, in this case, and most, a man and a woman. Joel and Clementine; the focus of this story, had been dating for awhile but started getting into silly little arguments Both went and had there memories erased by a machine, and as they traveled through Joel's mind he remembered all the good times they had, and missed them. He didn't want to forget Clementine so at the end of the film both ended up together, may not be for always though. These comedies aren't known for always ending happily ever after, just leaving the viewer reassured that things ended well. Also these films are known for how a couple if were seperated would meet again someday. In this film it is obvious that they met again a few times, because they had their memories erased and reencountered one another.

Both of these films have similar and exclusive elements. Both were very well made movies and very enjoyable to watch. These two films are both considered "sexy" films. They portray sexiness as an important and visual thing, especially on the womens part, but very rarely does sex appear on screen. It is considered a big deal in these types of films. Also both films are based around a couple who are in love. Whether the couple from the beginning were going through a rocky time, trying to achieve there quest for love. Or on the other hand they may be destined for each other from the start and life together for them was perfect from the start, and they live happily ever after, more of a romantic comedy aspect more typical than the screwball comedies.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Unforgiven & Stagecoach

The two Western films we viewed in class were Unforgiven; directed by Clint Eastwood and Stagecoach; directed by John Ford. Both these films were similar as well as different but none the less were both wonderfully made western films.

These two films were produced nearly 50 years apart, which is a leading cause to many differences between these two films. Stagecoach was based off of the story, "Stage to Lordsburg". It was made in 1939 in black and white. This movie was recognized for the new innovation it incoporated into the movie. It was Ford's first movie that used sound, and the was filmed in Monument Valley; a soon to be popular western location. Unforgiven followed a screeplay by David Webb Peoples, which turned out to be one of the greatest western movies made. It won four academy awards and an Oscar award for best picture. Unforgiven was released in 1992, in color. There are many different themes and morals for western films, which is another point of how Stagecoach and Unforgiven differ. Unforgiven was more based around gunplay and retaliation, which is what the adventure William Munny goes on was for. While Unforgiven on the other hand

Despite their differences, both films followed typical western film ways, which bring these two films together. Both were focused on a journey. Stagecoach was about a stagecoach full of a variety of personality characters that were all trying to arrive at their destination in Lordsburg. The people went for different reasons; to retrieve a husband, to escape and other reasons. In Unforgiven, William Munny; a hog farmer and widower with two children, was on a journey to find a terrible, unjust man, by the name of "Little Bill". Another difference that is visible in viewing these two films was how the whores were portrayed and the roles they played in society. In Stagecoach, there were not many woman in that film but there was one girl in particular that was viewed as the city whore; Dallas. Other women in the town did not like her, but overall she did not play a big role. Although in Unforgiven, in the upper floor of the bar there was a hallway with rooms where the whores lived. These women tried to have a say in what happened in the town. It was obvious they played a bigger role in society in this movie than in the other.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Shining

The Shining was a 1980 horror film with a screenplay by Stanley Kubrick based off of the novel written by Stephen King. Roger Ebert nominated this movie at number 55 out 250 on his greatest movie list. This movie took place in Colorado, most of it on top of a mountain in the “Overlook” hotel. Jack Torrance, a previous alcoholic, his wife Wendy and four year old son, Danny were the main characters in this film. They were being paid to be caretakers of the hotel for the winter, no occupants, just his family. But little did they know the horrors they were about to face living in an isolated, snowed in hotel.

Over 20 years ago this movie was believed to be “The greatest and scariest horror films ever made” according to a few reviews as well as Wikipedia. I read that were done back in the day. The reception of this movie has changed over the past twenty years. People have become jaded to these kinds of horror films. Although in the 1980’s there were not many films of this genre being viewed or even made. These days new horror films are coming out roughly every month.

A similar movie I saw recently was the movie 1408. A movie that took place in a hotel that ironically had a haunted room as well. By comparing these two films I realized how different horror movies have changed over the years. The Shining was not nearly as scary as 1408. Horror movies recently have more suspense, more sudden scares that make you jump out of your seat and many are gorier.

A scene that is memorable from this film would have to be when Wendy was looking through his papers that were supposed to be his book and all they said were, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” I came to realize that this probably means that if you work all the time, and don’t have time off, you start to go insane and get bored. .

This movie had diverse reviews. Over the first weekend, this film made $622,337. Even though not everybody that went to see this movie really enjoyed it, most of the population that did see it I think really liked it. This movie did very well in the box office and still did when it came out on video.

According to the “Rotten Tomatoes” website, a few reviews I read thought it was boring and not scary while others believed it was the greatest horror movie made. Overall this movie did do very well. On a scale of one to five I never saw it under a four, giving it a letter grade never saw it under a B, even on a percentage scale, not under 83%.

The movie was nominated for quite a few awards but Scatman Crothers won the Saturn award for best supporting actor. They were also nominated for best director and best music, but did not win those awards.

If a movie critic were to review this film in this day rather than twenty years ago it would probably not have such a great review because of how peoples view of horror movies have changed. During the 1980’s when this movie was released it did very well, movie critics and the everyday moviegoers considered this one of the greatest horror films ever made. This film left you with unexplained events and ideas that keep you thinking what would happen next even when the film was done rolling.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Rebel Without a Cause

Rebel Without a Cause, a romance and drama movie, was directed by Nicholas Ray starring James Dean and Natalie Wood. A fun, exciting and action filled film. This is one of those movies that makes you think one thing is going to happen but then throws you for a twist. You are never really sure what is going to happen next.

With James Dean playing the part of Jim Stark, a teenage boy who had just moved to a new town, and Natalie Wood playing the role of a beautiful, popular girl named Judy. The movie was based in the 1950’s after a book. The first major conflict in this movie was between Jim and Buzz; they both liked Judy. Plato is also an important character in this movie He has no father, and is being raised by a motherly housekeeper. Jim befriended him when he arrived at his new home.

Rebel Without a Cause has not aged as well as other movies have from that time. Juvenile delinquency was a common theme throughout the movie.

This movie sort of reminded me of There’s something about Mary. Two boys wanted one girl but overall this movie was unique. I don’t remember seeing another movie quite like this one.

When I first started watching this film there were a lot of simple cuts which I thought were boring, I had a feeling it was going to be like that for the whole movie, but I waited and further into the movie Nicholas began to use interesting camera movements. He used various tilts, often to show something bad that was about to happen. For instance when Buzz stabbed Jims tire outside the observatory. The tilt started up at Buzz’s face and tilted down to where he stabbed the tire with a switchblade.

The use of angles in this film was very effective. It showed power and weakness of certain characters. I remember from the beginning when Jim and his father were at the police station and the two were in an office and they displayed his father at a low angle to show his power at the time and Jim at a high angle, as he sat drunk and fallen on the floor.

Viewing this film in the year 2008, changed how I saw this film. Because of the half a century difference in the years I thought the dialogue was unrealistic, people do not talk how they did in the film these days. Because of the different use of words it tore me away from the meaning of the film. In a couple cases Jim talked back to his father and did not get in trouble for it. Under most circumstances children who talk back to their parents in this century would get punished, or at least a little bit of trouble.

James and Natalie were two perfect actors to play the main roles in this film. The acting was done very well on their part, I really believed they were the characters, it was not just them acting out a part in a film.

Although the acting was good, there were a few weird scenes in this movie which would not happen at this point in time. Specifically I remember at the observatory, after the scene of Jims tire deflating to the hot cement. A cop came down to group of rebels, as he was headed to the two boys holding knives pointed at each other, one of Buzz’s friends took the police officers hat and wore it, and Judy, Buzz’s girlfriend at the time, grabbed the mans cheek and squeezed it. If you remember back far enough our grandparents, aunt and uncles and anyone who came to see you when you were just a little baby used to do to the same thing.

The most remarkable scene that caused the most drama in this film was the game of “Chicken”. Jim and Buzz stole two cars, one each, and had to drive towards a cliff and whoever jumped out first, lost. Turns out, that game was ended in the death of one of the poor boys. Before the race began Buzz told Jim that he liked him. Jim, puzzled, asked why they were going to do this race. Buzz, being a jerk told Jim he had to do something to prove himself worthy.

The lighting in this movie I felt was very poorly done. Near the end of the movie at the observatory, after most of the action had taken place, the lighting they used outside made it look like it was practically daylight out when it was supposed to be in the middle of the night. At a point it looked like they were using a spotlight to highlight the action, again when it was in the middle of the night. I thought the use of lighting was ineffective in this drama.

The action never seemed to stop during this movie. It kept me intrigued the whole time and I wanted to watch more. It was scene to scene action, I was always wondering what was going to happen next.

Sound didn’t play a huge role in this movie. You would hear suspenseful music when a scary scene was about to happen, the music sped my heart rate up a little bit each time, but again it didn’t play a major role in the understanding of this film.

Watching this movie, I remember glancing at the time and 45 minutes had already passed by. The movie threw me for a loop but Rebel Without a Cause was a pretty good movie. Nicholas Ray directed a great film with some wonderful cinematography aspects and great acting.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Critique the critic

I read a film review of "27 Dresses" by James Berardinelli. He seemed to enjoy this movie as did I. This movie was released in January, the same time that "Cloverfield" came out. James gave it two and a half stars out of four. I would have given it three or three and half but still was a pretty good rating. Mr. Berardinelli stated that "All a picture like this needs to succeed are charming actors who convince us they're in love. Everything else is beside the point." I definitely agree with him on that. A movie obviously needs a good story line but to complete it, it really needs great actors who are convincing. Katherine Heigl and James Marsden were two perfect actors for the lead roles in this film. He said it followed a strict story line of a romantic comedy; which it did. At times this movie made me laugh but at other times i was about to cry. He gave a good explanation of what this movie was about. Even if i had not already seen this movie, from his film review, i would have wanted to. He made it sound like a well made romantic comedy. Although througout some of his writing i believe there was unimportant information he added to this review. Such as right at the beginning when he was talking about the release date. I did not think that was important enough to put into a review especially at the beginning. Reading the review more in depth and over again I realized maybe he did not like this movie as much as i first remembering reading he did. He thought it was a well created and developed movie but according to him watching this new film was "Like to down a handful of chocolate covered raisins. They're not filling or nourishing but they provide a moment's forgettable pleasure." I disagreed with James on this, I thought this was a satisfying movie and well worth the eight dollar fee to see it. Our opinions may differ on this movie because it is more of a "Chick Flick". He keyed into the main point of this movie, which was the 27 dresses this woman had and explained why she had all of them and gave background information on her. I cannot really think of another movie to relate this to because it was a one of a kind story. The way he described the actors and actresses, besides me already knowing who one of the main characters are, made it sound that the characters knew what they were doing, played the part well and were a joy to watch. Typically before i see a movie i would like to watch the movie trailor; but Mr. Berardinelli did an almost spectacular job on describing the characters, setting up the plot and bringing to life, using our imagination, the details that made this movie so wonderful. James Berardinelli is a popular fiml critic amond this site and he did do a very good and well written job on this film review. Although some of our opinions differed some i felt a similar way as i read the review. This was a great film review and if i were to rate the actual review, not the movie, i would give this one three and a half stars out of four. Nice job James!



Tuesday, September 25, 2007

3rd assignment

Christmas time is here again
what a long year it has been
Time to gather with family
Hurry up and grab the key

Off to grandma and grandpa's
Parents obeying all the speed laws
We stop and park the white van
I hop out the car as mommy grabs my hand

Go up to the door and ring the bell
Wondering if this day will go well
Grandma swiftly opens the door
My smile becoming more and more

The big beautiful green tree
Is all i could really see
From the two silver doves
To the picture of me

Time to open gifts
Hoping to find things on our list
Family all crowded near
Some gifts made grandma shed a tear

Ripping open the wrapping paper
Not taking time to appreciate the maker
plain, stripes, and polka dots
presents, presents, lot's and lot's

Time to go home
Spend time all alone
The day is done and now it's night
Finally time to turn out the light

3rd assignment

I wish you would tell me
the words i want to hear
I wish you would be here
to catch my every tear

Do you know that i'm still here
i'm still waiting
Do you know i still care
i keep thinking

I gave you everything
my heart and soul
I gave you all i had
anything in the whole world

Do you see what we
could have been
Do you see we
would have been happy till the end

It's over now
everything is done
It's over now
you are gone