blogger, Classics, Movies, The 500 Film Challenge, The Good Stuff

Les Cousins (The Cousins)

13 June 2014

Dear Being Chris,

It’s Friday the 13th and I chanced upon Claude Chabrol’s Les Cousins. It says on the back that this is a love story. Well, sort of. About this provincial man going to Paris to study Law and live with his cousin and then he falls in love. The summary at the back’s quite vague so I’m giving it a chance. Plus its a film by Chabrol and you know how the French New Wave gets me all excited. By the way, that transition from Charles bedroom to Paul’s driving in Paris was cute.

Paul took him to the Latin Quarter, in a club called the Union. There his cousin introduces him to the locals while flirting with a girl named Martine. While he watches a game of bridge,walks in a girl whose smile can easily put a strain in your heartbeat. Her name is Florence. They get introduced and he lights her cigarette. But she leaves after seeing Vonvon in just a split second. Ah, there goes that momentous look as Charles comes after her. He finds her outside walking away with another man. He decides to go inside a bookstore and looks for a Balzac novel. The bookshop owner is delighted and lets him take Lost Illusions for free.

His cousin Paul looks charming even with the trimmed beard all over his chin and the sides of his mouth. He gathers some friends in their apartment for a little soirée. It’s early 60s France but he plays Mozart for the evening.

Charles reminds me of Montgomery Cliff. Florence appears in the scene a few moments later, she looks very pretty. He tells her “I’ve been waiting for you ever since, well, for a very long time.”

After Mozart, Paul puts Wagner on. Suddenly the lights go out, and in comes Paul with a soldier’s hat and a candlestick holder filled with candles. He recites a poem which ends as Charles and Florence kiss. The record scratches as Philippe, one of Paul’s friends makes a scene.

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Charles and Florence flee, as they hide behind a skinny tree they kiss. It was quite romantic. I love it when a man in a film becomes completely bashful of himself and thinks he says stupid things or if he’s got a stupid face. He confirms this with Florence and like this manic-pixie girl she’s becoming she tells him flat out that she thinks he’s got a lovely voice. She begs him to recite her a poem, but instead he tells her “I’d rather think it for you and then you tell me if it’s good”, and they just stare at each other for a while. He confesses he loves her but worries about the guy he saw her with. She tells him he’s just a friend, but he tells her he’s not all about “just friends”. He asks her out for a quick drive but this fancy meet-cute gets cut short after Paul ends the party and drives Florence along with another woman. He ends up in a different car with thoughts in his mind about his feelings.

Is Paul in love with Florence? But there’s something strange about Florence too.

Charles asks Florence to meet after class but she forgets the time and ends up talking to Paul and his hustler of a friend Clovis. He convinces her that wanting him for herself would be selfish. “You are meant for caressing, not for feelings” he tells her. It appears that Florence has had a reputation of sleeping with many of Paul’s friends. She reconsiders an offer to sway her feelings towards Paul instead. Clovis convinces her that having sex with Paul would be a better way to forget her feelings with Charles and in a way she won’t become a distraction to Charles studies. And as we know it, they head over to the bedroom.

As awkward as it sounds, this becomes both heartbreaking and motivating for Charles to move on and study further.

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Juliette Mayniel and Jean-Claude Brialy
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The stunning Juliette Mayniel as Florence

Paul passes the exam as he predicted without even taking the time to read his notes. Not only did he get the girl, he gets to prove he’s far more better than Charles. Unfortunately for Charles, he lost the girl and his chances of getting through with life as that violent ending occurs.

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"We were happy, us three" Juliette Mayniel, Jean Claude Brialy and Gèrard Blain
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A longing exists between Florence and Charles
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Charles' innocence has been broken after a recent discovery

Paul’s thrill-seeking life may not have been used to the kind of honesty Charles was about to afflict him, but I guess in a way it was better that Charles had died that way rather than be filled with more unfortunate events by means of killing Paul. It saddened me though that his love for Florence had to be ruined that early. It was selfish for Paul to think that the two did not deserve the kind of relationship they would have if they were to become a couple.

Well, I enjoyed that drama Chris. The close-ups on these three main characters were stunning. Also, that bit when Paul was waking up his Italian-Jewish friend Marc had a close up and said, “You scared me Paul.” That was clever.vIt’s one of the most memorable lines one could ever say in a black and white French New Wave film like this.

Goodnight,
From one half of your beloved Kinoc twins,
Princess.

Classics, Movies, The 500 Film Challenge

Much Ado About Nothing (2012)

We’re about to finish this year’s challenge! (Yay!) I do apologize if I haven’t been able to update this blog for my recent film viewings but I do promise (and I will try best) to post all of them before the year ends (which is in two days by the way.. eeek!). I created an excel file which showed the statistics of my day to day viewing and saved this on my 3 year old laptop which, unnfortunately, retired early this year.

Hence, I was only able to retrieve the ones I saved earlier on my journal (from January to March) and have been saving some on my phone from end of July till present. I have been finishing this one blog post about Josh Whedon’s retelling of one of my favorite Shakespeare comedies. And as I’ve stated before I’m not much of a critic so I’ve created a film “experience” about the film. If you’re interested, read on.

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Directed by Josh Whedon

Screenplay by Josh Whedon

Starring Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker, Clark Gregg, Nathan Fillion, Reed Diamond, Fran Kranz, Jillian Morgese, Sean Maher, Spencer Treat Clark, Riki Lindhome, Ashley Johnson, Emma Bates and Tom Lenk

I’ve seen the 1993 version of one of my favorite Shakespearean comedy and was delighted with that version. But I have never been more excited to find this fresh, modern take on the classic tale between witty lovers Lady Beatrice and Signor Benedick and the almost tragic love story of Count Claudio and Lady Beatrice’s cousin, Hero. The play that was first published in 1623 has both elements of politics, love, honor, deception and comedy. The 1993 version stayed true to the play being set in the 17th Century with it’s costume and production arrangements. This film from Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Josh Whedon offers a fresh take by putting all characters in modern clothes but the dialogue stays true to Shakespearean prose.

It’s set in black and white, and the film starts as Lady Beatrice and Signor Benedick (played by Amy Acker and Alex Denisof) are in a flashback.

220px-MuchAdoLeonato (Gregg) the governor of Messina, his daughter Hero (Morgese) and only heir, and Lady Beatrice all gathered in the kitchen of Messina, a posh Hampton-esque home which is actually set in Santa Monica, CA. A message has been delivered that Don Pedro, a prince from Aragon along with his men Benedick and Count Claudio (Kranz) have come back from a successful battle. This message is literally sent into Governor Leonato’s Blackberry via BBM. Upon hearing this, Lady Beatrice pokes fun of his service as a soldier. The two have a longtime “merry war” between them thus almost all throughout the film. Count Claudio, who has been in love with Hero for quite some time now rekindles his feelings with Hero upon seeing her.

Later that evening, a planned masquerade ball is held in the backyard of this makeshift Messina. Don Pedro disguises as Count Claudio in order to woo Hero. The scene, masked in the serenity of the outdoors, tipsy guests, wine, acrobatic dancers and a bossa nova song in the background makes it feel oh-so-sexy without losing it’s intention to the origins of this story. At the ball we find Signor Benedick garbed in an Arabic shawl covering half his face as his mask, while Lady Beatrice wears the same satin gown she wore in the flashback and a bejeweled mask. They banter around about Signor Benedick, LB either knows that the man masked in the Arabic shawl is Signor Benedick, or not but proceeds in belittling him, stating that Signor Benedick is a ‘Prince’s Jester’, a dull fool. On some corner of the party we find Count Claudio glancing at Hero and Don Pedro, with a hint that he may be a little bit jealous that it isn’t he who’s wooing Hero at this moment. He proceeds to drinking a bit more for the night to mask his anxiety.

The morning after we find Count Claudio, drunk and dipped in the pool with goggles. Don Pedro’s brother, Don John along with his friends Comrade and Borachio (Lindhome and Clark) float from behind telling Count Claudio that Hero has a thing for Don Pedro. The count is furious, thinking that his companion has betrayed him. Everyone in the kitchen convinces him that Don Pedro has successfully wooed Hero and a wedding can be scheduled the next day. The two lovers are as merry as a peach but in the background we find Lady Beatrice and Signor Benedick begin to banter again to each other. Once the two leave the room, everyone else begins to plan how to match the two.

That very day, Signor Benedick spies on Leonato, Don Pedro, and Count Claudio stating that they overheard from Hero and the house maid Ursula that Lady Benedick has professed hidden desire for Signor Benedick. He cannot believe it himself but he begins to like the idea. I have been waiting for him to mutter the words ” Love me? Why it must be requited!” which were my favorite lines from the original play. And yes he does say it at this point. Alexis Denisof’s Signor Benedick is as witty and comical as Kenneth Branagh’s, his playboy air isn’t lost at all which makes his portrayal in this film convincing. At first I thought he would be too old for Amy Acker, but then it kind of grows on you. The women also talk about Signor Benedick’s confession, making it a bit loud for Lady Beatrice to overhear. She too, begins to like the idea that Signor Benedick may have feelings for her after all.

The film which was just shot in 12 days at a house in Santa Monica that Josh Whedon’s wife had designed. I am amazed at how brilliant the screenplay was created, it still stayed true to Shakespeare’s original play and at the same time audiences of this generation will still relate to it’s prose, a prose filled with humor and a wise poke at gender politics, deceit, and romance. Amy Acker’s performance is young and smart and at the same time she brings out the vulnerability that a strong woman often hides. Fran Kranz’ expresses Count Claudio in the most charming way possible as he is smitten and oftentimes too easily deceived by this love he feels for Hero. Although of course Hero hasn’t really done anything to deceive him.

I don’t think you won’t be needing SparkNotes to understand this movie, which makes it great since this contemporary version is as close to it’s original screenplay and yet it never looses it’s charm and wit that it looses when Shakespeare’s plays are interpreted in these modern times.

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Much Ado About Nothing

Books to Movies, Classics, The 500 Film Challenge

Mouchette

13 November 2011

This 1967 french film by Robert Bresson is based on Georges Bernanos’ novel entitled Nouvelle Histoire de Mouchette (1937).  I saw this with my twin on a Sunday morning in exchange of listening to 60’s music or attending Sunday mass. Before I had to go out and watch some films at the Italian Film Festival (which I shall blog on later..).

Starring Nadine Nortier as Mouchette,this film tells us the story of a young girl living in a French rural village whose life gets harder and harder as she enters adolescence. Her father and brother who’s always drunk, and her mother dying from cancer, Mouchette struggles to keep herself standing in these unfortunate situations.

Mouchette (which apparently means little fly), is weird and awkward. But her sad life and face, which makes it even more believable whenever she cries silently, sort of represents us as a whole. As Ruthless Reviews puts it:

Her plight, then, becomes the plight of us all; a parable for the world entire, filled as it is with injustice, boorishness, and incivility. As Joan of Arc before her, she is martyr incarnate, and the assault on innocence and decency makes fools and cowards of us all.

This is my first chance encounter with a Bresson film. Set in black and white, I am expecting a sort of a Vittorio De Sica setting of injustice. But Bresson’s Mouchette has proved that his is quite far original. He puts us kindhearted folks into a long, and straining “awwwwwwwww” moment before the end of the film wherein, every suffering that our little heroine has endured finally ends in a splash.

Each scene in which we expect this little girl to at least shed a little happiness in her eyes is being taken away by yet another sad result. Oh and yes, if you have seen The Dreamers, this one’s the last clip shown before that film ends with an unsuccessful suicide attempt from Isabelle (played by Eva Green).

References: http://www.ruthlessreviews.com/937/mouchette/

Classics, The 500 Film Challenge, The Good Stuff

Good Morning Sunday, Good day Purple Rose of Cairo

#329: Purple Rose of Cairo

25 September 2011

When I saw the title of this along with all the other DVDs I had in store for this list, I instantly thought of deserts in the sahara in a drama about two star crossed lovers. But eventually, after viewing Annie Hall (again) and Stardust Memories just a couple of days ago, my sister told me “you’ve got to see Purple Rose of Cairo. It’s Woody Allen’s as well. A person from a 1930’s film gets out of a film..” and then everything went blurry afterwards. The cue words were Woody Allen and 1930s.

I had planned this several days ago but only had the time this morning after a long sleep. Woody Allen writes and directs this 1985 American Comedy-drama film starring Mia Farrow, Jeff Daniels, Danny Aiello, Edward Herrman, Jason Wood, and Deborah Rush. Set in the depression era, a clumsy Cecilia who works as a waitress in a local diner loves watching the movies to take her away from her unhappily married life.

One evening she watches a new film called The Purple Rose of Cairo. As she sits through the film we’re shown snipets of the film as well. It appears to be the story of a rich man playwright (Hermann) who goes to an exotic trip to Egypt along with his friends (Wood and Rush). On one of their trips in Egypt’s famous places, they meet an archaelogist Tom Baxter (Daniels) who guides them through to a few more interesting places and facts about Egypt. Tom is then invited along with them to go on a “madcap Manhattan weekend” where he falls in love with a nightclub singer Kitty Haynes (played by Karen Akers).

Cecilia returns back to her normal life the next day feeling enchanted with the film’s setting. She invites her sister to watch the film again. She tries to invite her husband who doesn’t seem to be the least interested in anything but playing dice, drinking, and giving her a “whack” afterwards. She sees the film anyway by herself several times. As the film goes into the scene wherein Tom is invited on the Manhattan suite, as he delivers his lines with a little glance here and there towards Cecilia. Later on he tells her in front of everyone “Boy, you must love this film don’t ya?” she wonders if it’s her he’s talking to. Apparently it is. “You must’ve seen this film five times!” he says and then goes out of the screen and walks up to her like a normal person.

Woody Allen makes our dreams come true in this classic, tragic hit. Tragedies are his cup of coffee and a drag of smoke as he directs Mia Farrow and Jeff Daniels perfectly. I loved Mia Farrow in this film. She proved to be very irritatingly clumsy, vulnerable and impeccable. Jeff Daniels cannot be set aside as he portrays both the fictional character Tom Baxter and the real actor Gil Shepard. He kind of repeats his performance as Tom in the film Pleasantville wherein he naively explores a new world outside the fourth wall. Tom Baxter, being the character that was created as a minor character who plays an important part of continuing the story towards the next scene where they have to go to the club where he has to meet the cabaret’s singer, Kitty, whom he’ll end up marrying at the end of the film in this film, felt his breaking out as a feeling of rebellion and freedom.

As he breaks free, he invites Cecilia to come live with him and make love with him and fall in love forever. As tempting as this may sound, Cecilia makes him aware that this cannot happen as he is only fictional. My favorite part is when they kiss on a stuck carousel and Tom thinks that the lights would fade out into a different scene where they would then make love. Jeff Daniels is effective as the naive Tom, even with the way he tries to act like a 1930s tour guide character makes the film a bit sardonically funny.

As the “minor” character ends up missing from the screen, which causes a conundrum at the theater mainly because the even bigger characters need him, the theater manager can’t attempt to shut down the picture, otherwise the Tom Baxter character would disappear forever, meaning loss in sales in all the other theaters that play the film and would cause more and more insanity all over the town. And most importantly, this would make or break the career of the actor who plays the character. And so they contact Gil Shepard to come find the character in the small town, and he ends up meeting Cecilia in a local coffee shop. She confesses that she knows where the Tom Baxter character is hiding.

I liked this film so much that I enjoyed listening to its every dialogue. It enriches a cinema lover’s extreme admiration with the movies and a woman’s final attempt at redeeming her miserable life. Interesting enough, we never get to feel Woody Allen’s presence in the male lead actors, but once again he plays god in terms of making us feel the difficulty of choice. In this case of Cecilia’s, at the end of the film, she chooses as the uncertain heroine of the whole film, whether to come with Tom and live a happily predictable life, or with Gil Shepard who can give her a life she never had with her husband. In the end, she chooses a painful path that leads her going back to the movies all by herself.

Books to Movies, Classics, The 500 Film Challenge, Thriller Shocker

#348: Apt Pupil

23 August 2011

I feel a bit guilty for not being able to keep up with my posts. It’s a great satisfaction to watch more than one film a day and talk about it for hours until you end up talking about another film, and so on. So I obliged myself in watching my sister’s latest flicks (well, not exactly the latest but newly owned films) which I can add up in my growing list of films I’ve seen this year. Today, I’ve rewarded myself with a Brian Singer classic Apt Pupil which stars the late Brad Renfro opposite Ian McKellen (Gandolf in the LOTR film adaptation). This film also stars Joshua Jackson and David Schwimmer.

Brad Renfro, who grew popularity in the 90’s in the Joel Schumacher film The Client plays the role of Todd Bowden, a young achieving high schooler who grew fond of Nazism after passing his paper about the holocaust. On his way home he realizes his elderly neighbor who aliases as Arthur Denker was a former Nazi Obersturmbannführer named Kurt Dussander who escaped from the war and is now considered a war fugitive. Todd knows the old man’s real name and his old profession and he blackmails him into telling him stories of the holocaust.

The more he spends time with Dussander, the more he seems to be detached with his studies, his own normal unconscious slate, even with his girlfriend. In turn he conceals his bad grades from his parents, turning to the man he blames to be causing his sudden failure. Dussander then uses the boy’s situation to sort of “control” him in a way, like pretending to be his grandfather during his parent-teacher counselling with guidance counselor Edward French (played by David Schwimmer). Due to this meeting with the guidance counselor, Todd is forced to stay frequently after school at Dussander’s house to do errands, study harder, pass his grades and do one last chore for him.

One evening Dussander, while dressed in his army uniform provided to him by Todd as a notorious gift, he is noticed by a hobo neighbor of his while picking up empty bottles of wine. They meet again the next evening on a bus ride home. The hobo thinking that he might trick the old man by giving him more wine and afterwards money insists on helping Dussander with his groceries. A sinister turn of events occur once Dussander permits the hobo into his house. He stabs the hobo in the back and drags the bleeding man into his basement up until he gets a minor heartattack. He kicks the bleeding hobo into his basement and rings up Todd.

He advises Todd that he needs him to do a chore for him and that he cannot do this as he is having a heartattack. Todd lies to his parents telling them that he needs to read a letter to Denker.

As soon as he arrives Denker’s home, he finds the old man having a hard time breathing as well as the dinning room in rumbles. Denker, still not finished with his evening plans asks what to do since he’s having a hard time breathing. Todd remains to be confused, as what every twelve year old boy in that case would feel (panic would never be the first reaction they would admit), but follows anyway since there seems to be nothing that he can do (except, I don’t know. go home. forget about the old man and let him die there..). He asks Denker what had happened. Dussander/Denker says he’s done it as an act of self-defense. As Todd screens the room, he finds the man lying in the basement, still with a knife stuck behind his back. We’re taken into a close shot between Todd and the lying man and the door. Which could possibly mean that there’s something fishy in this scene.. and voila! Denker shuts the door leaving Todd with the hobo. In this scene, we’re supposed to believe that this is where Todd unleashes his pristine evil, that sense of pleasure he’s been dreaming of, he’s been reading about, and he’s been thinking and finally will be able to live about. But for some reason the execution seems natural. Natural in a way that makes Todd a natural evil person, not something of an Apt pupil as the title serves.

Anyway, so the hobo dies of course. The cops arrive, as well as Todd’s parents. The teacher and his pupil have created a story for themselves wherein a guy had forced himself into the old man’s home while the pupil reads to him a letter, in German. Denker is forced to go to the hospital as well despite fear of compromising his identity in public. Todd cleans up the mess left at the scene and throw away every evidence of that night and of Dussander’s real identity. But trauma is as strong as a very nurtured memory. Apparently Dussander’s roommate in the hospital turns out to be an old detainee at the death camp in which Dussander was a high official with a very familiar face.

And so, Dussander chokes himself to death rather than sparing his life on a death sentence, Todd graduates high school in high honors, and Edward French’s undeveloped character gets a little breath of rehab from Character Development and plays a minor role in uncovering the real relationship between Dussander and Todd. Todd’s narcisistic evil character blackmails Mr. French by coming to terms with his ex-Guidance counselor’s sexuality.

Not bad for a suspense film. As for an adapted story from a book? Nah, I was never really a fan of these books – to – film genres, except for Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice though. I haven’t read the book version of this but I’m hoping it’s better.

If you are scared of Nazi inspired films, then this will be a huge shocker for you. But if you’re more interested in what Brad Renfro had to offer, then I recommend you watch this film. He was never, by any chance, overpowered by Ian McKellen’s unsurpassed talent. It’s script, I must say, would be convincing, just as long as you don’t have the book version in mind and for comparison.

Books to Movies, Classics, Hitchcock, Movies, The 500 Film Challenge, The Good Stuff, Thriller Shocker

#359: The Birds

The Birds is Coming!

10 August 2011
This would be the third time I’d watch this nature-gone-berserk thriller from the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock in my entire lifetime. Written by mystery-crime novelist Evan Hunter (if you’d notice in the opening credits, his name too gets 50% credit, same as Hitchcock’s. That’s ’cause according to Evan Hunters short biography about this film and his work experience with Hitchcock entitled ‘Me and Hitch’, Hitchcock had asked the projectionist to place Evan’s name to 50% in the opening credits, right before Hitchcock’s credits would come in at 50% as well of course.) who worked on the screenplay in September 1961. The film was released in the Museum of Modern Art Theatre on 27 March 1963.


The movie is based on the novella of the same name by suspense writer Daphne Du Maurier. The book however is about a farmer and his wife whose crops are being attacked by massive flock of birds until they too were attacked. When Hitchcock approached Hunter about the story, he said that he didn’t want to work on a farm in Britain and most certainly would not use an inarticulate farmer and his dreary wife as main characters.


And so, a couple of brainstorming after, they came up with famous characters such as glossy blonde beauty Melanie Daniels (played by then unknown Tippi Hedren, who ironically had her then infant child named Melanie. Yes, she turned out to be Melanie Griffith. Who knew.), the brunette school teacher Annie Hayworth (played by a low-voiced Suzanne Pleshette), the bachelor criminal lawyer Mitch Brenner, his mother Lydia played by Jessica Tandy, Cathy Brenner, and of course Hitchcock’s feathered friends who brought terror to Bodega Bay —- a total of 3,407 pieces of birds.
The story apparently begins as a screwball comedy between Melanie and Mitch when they both meet in a bird store in San Francisco. Mitch mistakens her for a saleslady when he recognizes her face as the daughter of a big newspaper company as well as for her being in court recently for something she did in a fountain in Rome. Melanie plays along as Mitch asks if he can buy some lovebirds for his sister’s birthday this weekend. Later on when they both uncover that they were only fooling each other, Melanie gets his plate number and rings up one of her friends to locate his address. She too buys lovebirds and sends this to his address only to find out he’s gone to Bodega Bay for the weekend. She leaves in her convertible, wearing a mink and a green dress very much looking like the grand socialite that she is. She rents a boat and travels to the Brenners’ home to drop off the lovebirds and leaves a note for Mitch’s younger sister. As she travels back to the other end of the dock Mitch sees her and drives all the way to the other side to fetch her. It would have convinced me that this would be the start of an icky love story. But as soon as Melanie gets to the other dock a seagull attacks her for no reason. Suddenly thousands of birds begin to flock the town, which had caused in burning a local gas station, creating massive frenzy while several school kids attempt to do a fire drill “silently”, and attack homes by simply pecking and coming into chimneys and crashing into windows.


Forty-eight years later, we still don’t know why the birds attacked Bodega Bay. Many speculate that this may have been a real story that happened in California which Hitchcock may have been inspired from apart from the Du Maurier story. This remains a true classic in which cinephiles and movie-lovers must see above any other suspense film on their list.

blogger, Classics, Movies, The 'Stringbean' Effect, The 500 Film Challenge, The Good Stuff

#431: You Can’t Take It With You

Good morning everyone.

 🙂

Sorry for this late post, I was completely distracted after watching this, plus I was eager to finish my thoughts on Waiting for Forever. I’m prone to having writer’s block so I have to be weary of my ideas.

3 May 2011

Anyway, I’ve finally found a copy of this 1938 film by Frank Capra starring Lionel Barrymore, Edward Arnold, James Stewart and Jean Arthur in a screenplay by Robert Riskin, and based upon a play by George S. Kaufman. This film was done before Capra and Stewart went to the war. This film won 2 Oscars for best picture and best director.

Upon reading Frank Capra’s biography written by James McBride, I have concluded that Capra is fond of the idyllic image of the American family, which I guess he plans on incorporating in other families that might stumble upon his movies. Most of his best loved films such as this are in black and white, and I can’t help but imagining when the technicolor paint might come in and fully add color to his characters.

In this film wherein he works firsthand with his soon to be Mr. Deeds star James Stewart, one of MGM’s fresh studio actors, and Lionel Barrymore whom he both works with in his Christmas classic It’s A Wonderful Life, and other studio actors at the time such as Edward Arnold and Jean Arthur. This film is about an eccentric family who’s only normal daughter is soon to be engaged with the vice-president of the company she works for. Along with this engagement is the arrangement that the two families should get along, or at least get to know one another before the couple weds.

One night, as Tony Kirby (Stewart) invites Alice Sycamore to dinner for her to meet his socialite mother and his rich-banker father. After a huge embarrassment which the couple are able to escape from and ends the night in a rumble of rich socialites in fear of a potential rodent, Alice tells Tony that unless his parents wouldn’t get to know her casual self along with her family then it’s no sense for them to get married at all. Under the impression that all Alice wants is for him and his family to arrive to the Vanderhof household without further notice — meaning, to surprise them at their most casual evening — he invites his parents to the Vanderhof household where they catch the odd family, yes, in their most casual evening where everyone is allowed to play any musical instrument, dance to any music they want, while others basically do what they want to do.

I have not seen the play version of George S. Kaufman (if only I could, of course) but in this genre of family and fun loving films, You Can’t Take It With You is easy to like and to have a good laugh at. My favorite scene would have to be Barrymore’s discussion about the difference between his life and that of the Kirby’s. This movie is best watched at night when you’ve already done the dishes and all you want is a classic feel-good movie from one of America’s greatest film directors.

Classics, Movies, The 500 Film Challenge, The Good Stuff

#432: The Graduate

2 May 2011

This American film by Mike Nichols is as hot as the noontime weather. Starring Dennis Hoffman, Katharine Ross and Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson, I have a couple of things to look forward to in watching this movie. The music was mostly provided by Simon and Garfunkel. Screenplay written by Buck Henry and Calder Willingham. I’ve finally been able to find a copy of this upon a trip to Makati Cinema Square.

Benjamin Braddock (Hoffman) just graduated from college and is about to return to his California suburb relatives who no nothing but party, play socialites, and be amused by what money can buy. All he ever seemed to want after graduation was to think about the inevitable future that one is naturally about to encounter post-grad.

However, upon his return home his family demands that he play his part as the successful young college grad that everybody expects him to be. This adds up to his confusion about the night. For the rest of the first ten to fifteen minutes of the film, we get confused as well about what to feel, along with Benjamin and the swirling aura of faces drenched in alcohol and fake laughter. In two weeks he gets to play this part up until he gets the chance to finally think and be left alone to himself..inside a scuba outfit which he demonstrates in a pool party his parents conducted for his 21st birthday. We’re brought along with his depression as he falls into the pool.

During the night of his arrival, one of his parent’s contemporaries Mrs. Robinson (Bancroft) seduces him. She admits to liking him and she asks that whenever Benjamin is either bored that he give her a call and they arrange to meet and sleep together. Benjamin is horrified at the idea but at the end of his two weeks staying at home pondering, he gives her a call and they meet at a hotel where mostly old people socialize.

After sometime, his parents insist that he date the young Elaine Robinson who seems to be his match, knowing that she studies in Berkeley and also has a bright future ahead. Upon realizing that this may cause a conflict in his affair with Mrs. Robinson, although he feels nothing towards Mrs. Robinson, he declines this offer but goes in it anyway and soon after falls in love with Elaine (Ross).

In the end, he proves his love to Elaine and to the rest of the Robinsons as he steals Elaine, who just got married to Chris (a blonde frat boy), from the altar and the two jumps into a bus with everyone in it staring back at them.

Now consider this being shown back in the 60s, this film (according to my dad) seems to be in its extremes, and has been an inspiration to numerous outrageous chick flicks today (the scene where Benjamin searches for the right church where his lady love is getting married into up to the part where he taps into the window of the church screaming “Elaine!!” has been imitated by Mike Meyers in Wayne’s World..). Its one of the best satirical comedies I’ve ever seen in which I can relate to along with my other high school classmates who’s just recently graduated. It exudes the late 60s era, and it inexplicably tells us something that not only are the events in it funny, but they’re mostly real.

Dennis Hoffman plays Benjamin Braddock really well wherein he looks as awkward about the whole situation wherein it somehow makes us feel that we too should feel the same thing. Anne Bancroft plays Mrs. Robinson opposite of what I expected her to be. I thought she would be obviously seductive but the way she portrayed her character, in which it wasn’t obvious at first that the persona of her character would be interested in consciously lost Benjamin. She handled it very well and is an epitome of sexiness and convinced us as well that her shrewdness is inevitable.

Katharine Ross (whom I originally thought was Mrs. Robinson, my mistake.) played the doe-eyed Elaine Robinson with beauty and depth and was completely good at being the middleman and Braddock’s perfect resolution.

The Graduate is an inexplicably directed satire, written well into the depths of what we most often are tired to admit. What I could not stand though was the fact that I’ve heard Simon and Garfunkle’s ‘Scarborough Fair’ not only once but on numerous occasions inappropriate. But nonetheless, this film is so good that I would like to watch it again.

blogger, Classics, The 500 Film Challenge, The Good Stuff, Titus Brandsma, Uncategorized

The Titus Brandsma Experience

February 19, 2011 is the date for my very first Titus Brandsma film showing experience. Don’t ask me where it’s located, all I know is that it’s like a congregation that does a little film showing once in every month of the year. They showcase about four films depending on the month’s theme for free. Since last month was all about love, these were the following movies I was able to watch. And it honestly helped me with the 500 Movie Challenge that I’m currently doing (since I’m they’ll be showing 4 movies in one day, yay!). unfortunately, I was not able to finish Marilou Diaz – Abaya’s Tanikala which could be exciting to add on this list but I guess I’ll just look for a copy of it next time. Anyway. I’m excited to attend the next session on the 19th. Hihi!

In case you are interested (and are in the Philippines, in Metro Manila to be exact) to join this monthly screening, please do send me an email at underthefiretree@gmail.com

#491: Oasis (S.K., 2002)

Oasis is an unconventional love story about a midly mentally disabled thirty-something man who was just released after being accused of manslaughtering a man, and a woman with severe cerebral palsy. This film happens to be Lee Chang-Dong’s third feature film which stars Sol Kyung-Gu and Moon So-ri.

All I can remember (my apologies) is that the main lead characters are both oblivious to societies rules. One, being a man who’s a little mentally disabled and one who never conforms to what society expects him to be, turns out to be someone who’s capable of loving another individual. The female lead on the other hand also gave out a stupendous performance as a person with cerebral palsy. The parts wherein she would just stare at Hong Jong Du and suddenly we’re brought into her part of the story wherein she imagines that she’s able to just act like a normal person around him. The climactic parts of the film were alright. The ending however was.. clean.

#490: Walang Pag-ibig Sa Bunga

A short film by one of my Cinephile friends in Facebook, Epoy Deyto‘s winning entry in the UP Short Films last year. It was about 10 minutes long and it was made in sotanghon noodles, a puso ng saging walking around via stop motion, and a clear depiction of love in its simplest, cutest way.

Nope I wasn’t high when we all saw this in Titus. I was, in fact, eating Pancit Bihon. 😉

#489: I Girasoli (Sunflower)

One word: Heartbreaking

Vittorio De Sica is one to blame for making me cry. Most of his films that I’ve seen (including this one, obviously) include The Bicycle Thief wherein not only did I cried buckets full of tears, but felt that deep human emotion that you can possibly, and narrow it down to, for a lack of a better word, call as Pity.

This movie is about love lost, love found, but love that one can never have again. Just watch it and you’ll probably feel angry at gwapables Marcello Mastroianni OR feel pity (or feel something else..?) at Sofia Loren.

blogger, Classics, Movies, The 500 Film Challenge

#475: Whatever Happened To Baby Jane

In this 26th day of The Five Hundred Movie/Film Challenge, I’ve decided to skip from #491 to #475 which actually is where I’m at in the said challenge. I will try to publish #491 to #476 though after I finish my thoughts on #475.

I don’t know why I’m explaining but I just feel like I owe you, yes you, whoever you are who happens to read this. And I owe this slight change to my fellow challengers.

Anyway, today is a rather gloomy day. I woke up late and finished some of my laundry and went ahead to catch up with my movies.

March 6, 2011


Directed by Robert Aldrich

Based on the novel by Henry Farrel

Cinematography by Lukas Heller

This suspense-psychological thriller is based on novel with the same name written by Henry Farrel which stars of Hollywood’s two greatest actresses of all time, Betty Davis(The Man Who Played God) and Joan Crawford (Mildred Pierce) and Victor Buono’s breakthrough film.  The movie opens in 1917 wherein Baby Jane Hudson performs on stage along with her father (played by Dave Willock) who plays the piano and wrote all the songs Baby Jane sings. Like most child stars, Jane is a spoiled brat who gets everything that she wants with the help ofher doting father and by bullying her sister, Blanche. The movie jumps to 1935 and both sisters are actresses. Only this time, Blanche is all the more popular and glamorous while Jane ends up closing her career as a drunkard brat.

One night after a party, the movie shows one woman at the front of a gate, the other woman at the car, revving up the engine and speeding towards the gate. I assumed that the other woman at the car must’ve planned on killing the other who was at the gate.

At present time, Blanche (Crawford) and Jane (Davis) are now aged and are both living alone in their Hollywood mansion. Blanche is now crippled from the automobile accident and is usually stuck in her bedroom. Jane on the other hand abuses the fact that Blanche can only depend on her due to her disability.

The funny thing is that Baby Jane or Jane Hudson seriously reminds me of how I think of child stars.. today: spoiled, viciously cruel, and very schizophrenic.

Anyway, my favorite parts of this movie was that part wherein Betty Davis had to pretend she was Blanche to call out on the doctor and tell them that Blanche (I mean she) was just having a fit and that there Jane wasn’t really crazy at all.

In the end, they reveal the real story as to what really happened to these two sisters during the automobile accident and one of them dies due to hunger and dehydration and one dances around a crowd of people thinking that they were there to watch her twirl while carrying an ice cream for her and her dying sister.