Films

First impressions of…Psycho (1960)

PsychoPosterWe all know that iconic shower scene accompanied by that specific music…don’t we? And we all know which movie it comes from. Yet…until this weekend I’d never dared (yes, “dared” because I’m scared of horrors…but how bad can a 1960s movie really be? And Hitchcock? Why am I such a scaredy Cat??? (no pun intended for those who know me…ok, ok, fine, I couldn’t resist).

So, with The Janet Leigh Blogathon I decided to tackle this one. In that way, it would go from my To Watch List to my Watched List because I’d obviously need to watch it. And it is another case of …why did I wait so long?

Absolutely excellent. The opening credits, or more so, the music sets the scene (gosh, I’m doing well today 😉 ) for a brilliant Hitchcock work. And off course, the symbolic music, those screeching strings have finally made an impact…I’d learnt about how they are the perfect horror music accessory but this movie really shows their ultimate usage. One thing is for sure, I’ll never be quite comfortable in a motel shower again. Ever. I’ll probably also check behind every picture too.

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Oh, the story. I won’t go too much into it. I think you’d best discover it yourself. Let’s just say that Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) ends up at the Bates Motel one rainy night. Run by Norman Bates, the creepiest guy out such a lovely, polite man. And well, the rest I won’t give away. I never knew the story until now, so will leave you in as much suspense. Just go watch it.

Moving on to our Blogathon subject…I’d never seen Janet Leigh before (bar the shower scene stills) and was really impressed. I absolutely loved her in this Oscar and Golden Globe nominated role as Marion. Even though we are introduced to her in what is a secret tryst, somehow she is still a sympathetic character from the start. So much so that, knowing the shower scene was coming, I was hoping that, having never seen it, she’d come out of it alive. And, spoiler alert (sort of), what she does to get the story going in the first place, is therefore totally unexpected. Janet Leigh‘s depiction of her inner turmoil is absolutely convincing yet there are moments when you wonder if she’s not a little psycho herself. Yet, somehow you really feel for her. Especially once she checks into the infamous motel (oh, that’s another thing that I “knew” of this movie but really didn’t, if that makes sense…amazing how popular culture impacts us). But somewhere, at the back of my mind, the unfair thought that she ended up in this situation because she wasn’t quite innocent crept in. Would any of this have happened had she gone to the bank?

Fascinating, yet disturbing, is the explanation/reasoning behind the shower scene. The personality/ies of Norman. It somehow reminded me of the movie I’d reviewed a while back, Peacock.

JL banner - Evil 1It isn’t only Janet Leigh who makes this all come together. Hitchcock‘s amazing imagery, the music, the actors, the story, everything just works so well together to present us with the perfect movie. Absolutely worthy of a watch. Maybe even a second or third.

Love Letters to Old Hollywood has more Janet Leigh post right here.

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So wonderfully horrendous…agonisingly euphoric…

Reel Infatuation 2019…you just want to cry out of pure frustration yet savour those special butterflies in your stomach. Knowing that you can never have the man…knowing that he doesn’t view you the same way…that helpless feeling knowing that he has his own life. One where you don’t feature. Arrghh….I absolutely love but hate crushes!

And the worst part…this one snuck up on me. I mean I knew him (who doesn’t?) but out of the blue, one day, the besotted-ness just hit me square on. I never saw it coming. I can’t pinpoint what triggered the wiring in my brain to go haywire…something just did. And now…I’m not managing to get over him. What are you????? 16 years old????? Crazy?????

Possibly it was because he was just another guy until that point where he realised things needed to be done and without muscling his way through, but rather even battered and bruised joins the “opposition” and makes some plans taking everyone’s input into account:

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I’m on about a man who speaks his mind. He’s confident and goes after what he wants. When others don’t dare, he does it. He ruffles the feathers and gets stuff done. Who wouldn’t crush on a man like that? He’s also clever and has a plan, even though he’ll often deny it or claim he’s not educated (raised in a brothel)…

…he’s worked his way upwards. He has a drive to better himself. He has used the resources available to him to observe, listen, train, grow, learn…and has become something better. Through pure determination, trial-and-error as well as long hard hours, the fact that he is underestimated gives him an advantage. And definitely doesn’t deter him in business dealings with the “aristocracy” who mock him. He listens. He soaks it up. And then speaks wiser than any of those with formal education.

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He is ultimately respected by his friends (and enemies) and likewise respects them. He doesn’t claim a higher status amongst them and even makes a round table so all are equal:

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But, I’m not his type. A man like that wants a fit, young and pretty woman. One who can hold her own when the going gets tough. That’s why, he might be single now (I guess he has work to do at this stage), but we all know how things go once Guinevere enters the scene. Don’t we?

But, I can dream on, can’t I?  About the things that make a man total crush material.

Oh…did I mention…I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, but in case you didn’t, my character crush is on Arthur. Not the King. But the man, who grew up not knowing his true background. That gives him so much more character for me. Makes him so much more attractive. The fact that he doesn’t use his status to get ahead.

Head over to my crush posts from previous Blogathon years: Crushing on Will Scarlett and Lucky Luciano (here), Sexy Crush…Peaky Blinders’ Tommy Shelby (here) and Unsuspecting Crush (here)

And now that I’ve disclosed my latest crush you can read about others over at Silver Screenings (here, here and here) or Font and Frock (here) (aka A Smell Press Life)

Sexy, oops, I mean, Mean Villain…

…gosh, what’s on my mind? This is the Great Villain Blogathon…right? And I’d put my name down for Prince John from Robin Hood (2010)…right? And, my mind is clearly elsewhere because I got sidetracked…right? Wrong…because…actually, the real villain here is not Prince John (Oscar Isaac)…he’s merely being, should we say, gently guided, by the sexiest nastiest man with ulterior motives. Oooh….but there’s just something about Godfrey, who just wouldn’t be the same if played by any other actor than Mark Strong.

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I’d very quickly realised that Prince John is simply a spoilt brat who wants his way. And he’s too busy having his way (not with his wife) to really pose any threat. Yes, he might have his moments, purely out of having some sort of power kick, but Godfrey, he’s there ever so subtly, or not, steering things. Weaseling his way into everything. Being English “when it suits me” French when that works better.

Godfrey has this presence from the very start. He’s clearly not phased by airs and graces, so comfortable is he around Philip of France during their (and our) first encounter. With that introduction comes…a perfect piece of music that will forever be associated with him…this one:

…it is Godfrey for me…staccato, slightly evasive, yet with an underlying hardness, energy, gradually increasing in drive, just like this man…all to gradually crescendo to a point where he eats the human blood stained oyster. The things people do. He encourages his men to plunder from the dead and doesn’t hesitate a moment to yank on the lance embedded in a dying knight. All in a day’s work it seems. And he’s so smooth when he does this.

And if his initial presence isn’t enough, somehow the scar on his cheek from Robin’s arrow simply makes him meaner in terms of personality as well as looks. Oh, and according to seasoned expert Prince John, the “ladies will love you all the more” for it. It amplifies his sexiness, oh no, did I write that again? “villain-ness” while he’s always listening, always scheming:

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Addressed as “my Lord” by both the French and the English, this man will casually instruct his men to get rid of someone or patiently wait in the sidelines for an opportunity to present itself. Strategically positioning himself during court meetings, saying just the right things, while Prince John is too busy dealing his family and greed issues. Wait…isn’t that an ever so slight (sly) smile on his face as he is about to officially serve the crown? Nicely played Godfrey, nicely played:

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“Choose carefully the spot Godfrey, where you would place your dagger”, so obvious to everyone including William Marshal (William Hurt). A man to be wary of.

Villain Banners 2019This must be one of the most heartless villains…who gives an old man news of his son, proudly telling him that “I’m the one who killed him” (left in a French ditch)??? To entice a fighting reaction from a blind man…plain mean.

Yet, at the end of the day, things must come to an end for him. And, while cowardly trying to race from the battlefield, this villain has had lots of personality. He has a certain presence that doesn’t even need his “signature” theme music. You notice him in all the scenes he’s in. He’s so bad yet somehow I feel drawn to him. He has the blatant audacity to pursue his goals. The way he holds himself. Confident, almost elegant. And while I obviously don’t support his behaviour, it is this type of character, acted perfectly by Mark Strong, that allows that “guilty pleasure” of being drawn to the bad guy. Because, that’s what movies allow us. Escapism.

For my previous entries to the Great Villain Blogathon, pop past Villain, Villain on the wall (here) and Meanest of the Mean…Ma-Ma (here). I’ve also written a piece on Mark Strong as a character actor in A Strong Character… (here)

And of course all the other entries to the Great Villain Blogathon can be found here (Shadows and Satin), here (Speakeasy) and here (Silver Screenings).

Here some impressions together with his theme song:

10 Things I Hate About You…

10_Things_I_Hate_About_You_film.jpg 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) is already (!!!wow, can’t believe it!!!) 20 years old yet it never feels that way…I still enjoy watching it as much as I did when it came out.

First things first, the plot: Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) transfers to Padua high where he is smitten on first sight with Bianca Stratford (Larisa Oleynik). Telling his new friend Michael (David Krumholtz) that he would like nothing more to date Bianca he finds out that she isn’t allowed to date. This due to strict dad-rules which unexpectedly change: Bianca has a sister Katarina ‘Kat’ (Julia Stiles) who everyone deems scary, anti-social, ant-establishment etc. So, “knowing” that nobody would ever think of even approaching Kat, dad allows Bianca to date if Kat does. And the challenge is on! Find a guy crazy enough to date Kat so that Bianca can do so. Enter Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) the guy who has supposedly eaten a live duck, done time, donated his liver etc..

Based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, you know you’re in for a good one when a character is introduced accompanied by Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation. And that’s the refreshing part…Kat doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her and she is who she is, having “swore I wouldn’t do anything just because everyone else was doing it”. The reasons become clear during the movie but I really think this is such a valid point. As is Patrick’s comment to Cameron of “don’t let anyone ever make you feel like you don’t deserve what you want”. So there you have it…the guy who uses his flip knife in science to dissect a frog isn’t all that bad. Oh, and he even buys her a Fender guitar instead of flowers and chocolates to apologise for messing up:

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I never tire of watching this one. While it may be predictable, it is still a pleasure watching the characters fall in love. Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger have really good chemistry together and at the same time are convincing in their outward “mean and scary” demeanor yet showing their underlying true personalities in just the right quantities at the right time. But it isn’t just these two. Even Joseph Gordon-Levitt, David Krumholtz, Larisa Oleynik and Andrew Keegan (who plays stud Joey Donner) gel well together with their respective characters being absolutely believable. The magnitude of teen high-school problems and dilemmas come across perfectly.

So, if you haven’t seen this one yet, go give it a go. It really is worth the watch. And, after that, you could even give the series a go. I thoroughly enjoy it too (watching episodes here and there when the mood strikes) and it is a pity that it never got past the first season.

Head on over to Pop Culture Reverie and In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood for some more entries into this It’s a Young World Teen Movie Blogathon. And finally…enjoy the week ahead.rebelbanner

 

 

Some (ever changing) Thoughts: Adore (2013)

Adore-headerI’ve just finished watching Adore (aka. Two Mothers) for the umpteenth time (trailer at the end). And, as always, my thoughts on this change. Don’t you just love movies that make you think? Make you question? Make you come to different opinions each time?

Once again…I’m pondering the thought of this mother-having-a-relationship-with-her-best-friend’s-son-and-vice-versa. Hmmm….

Oh, before I go on, best I tell you what this movie is about. We have best friends (since childhood) Roz (Robin Wright) and Lil (Naomi Watts) who now have, almost, adult sons. They too are best friends as well as neighbours living on the beautiful coast of Australia. And somehow, it comes out that each son has feelings (beyond just those “normal” of a guy to his friend’s mother) for the other’s mother. Seemingly this has been the case for a while but it is only acted upon now (so that we have a movie, of course). What results is a very strange situation. And that is where my thoughts keep changing…

…so, while I don’t judge (and please don’t judge my thoughts here) people on their preferences in relationship and the age-gap (if it works, that’s fantastic) that comes with some of them, during this viewing it has kicked in that at the beginning of these relationships the sons are barely out of their teens (18/19 years old). And their mothers well into their 40s, if not more. So, for some reason, this has now made a difference on how I feel. In fact, Roz even says what I tend to agree with…that they as mothers should allow their sons to have girlfriends. Because, let’s face it, Roz and Lil are lovers, not girlfriends, to Ian (Xavier Samuel) and Tom (James Frecheville). She might have a point: There should be that option for the guys to experience their teens and how it is to fall in love then. Teenage love is different to that one later in life. They shouldn’t be pulled into this type of toxic  relationship just yet. Yes, much later in life, then fine, let them feel free to make up their own mind. Or…is love oblivious to age? Even for teens?

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And yet again, I’m wondering…are they already men enough at this stage to decide on the relationships they want to pursue? After all, a few years later, they both meet girls their age and as much as they feel they have to follow the “norm”, things just don’t work out. What point is there if they aren’t happy?

Ultimately, I guess they all need to make up their own minds but the hard part is watching them pull down those outside of their circle of four. The hurt they cause. You’ll wonder who is to blame for it all. Was it all necessary? Ian asks “why can’t you leave things as they are?”. Even though, at some point as a viewer there’s a feeling that they should just have followed their hearts all along. Or not. Gosh, I don’t know anymore!

Let’s not even get started on the mothers…is it love? Is it lust? Or just a means of confirming that they still have what it takes to be attractive? Lil could have the attention of a man her age yet she is not interested. Granted, she turns him down (multiple times) even before the relationship with Tom starts. Next thought is if they (Tom and Lil) get things going purely because Roz and Ian do so or would they have done so eventually regardless?

This movie throws so many questions out there. Here are my thoughts from a previous post (Adore…Friendship on a different level). At the end of it all, right or wrong, I will watch this one again despite the negative reviews it received. It isn’t a feel-good movie, but it is good. And a thought-provoking one leaving you with the image below together with thoughts on what the situation is from here on out (quite different from the similar image of the poster at the start of this post, which is taken from early in the story):

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Here’s the trailer (not for sensitive viewers due to nature of some content):

“Rome! By all means, Rome…”

Roman_Holiday_poster“I will cherish my visit here in memory as long as I live”. These the words of Princess Anne (Audrey Hepburn) after her 24 hour (give or take) adventure in Rome. With a man, I might add. Unchaperoned. Tsk tsk. This is Roman Holiday (1953).

Princess Anne is on a tight schedule of appearances and events during an official visit to Rome. Having had enough of this one evening, and being lured by the wonderful music and dancing outside the residence walls, she sneaks out to do exactly what she feels like doing for a change. However, the effects of the new drug she’s been given to help her sleep and be happy only kick in once she’s well on her way in this big city. Sleeping on a bench, reporter Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck, ahhhh….swoon, as always) comes across her, mistaking her as being drunk. Sleeping off her “hangover” in his apartment (due to circumstances) as he rushes off to work to discover the identity of this woman. And, being a reporter, also sees this as an opportunity for his big story. Hoping for exclusive, personal insight into the princess he takes her out for the day with the pretense of doing something nice for someone. And of course, they fall in love…supposedly.

RomanHolidayI say “supposedly” because I’m not really convinced with this one. They have wonderful chemistry but for me, they part more with respect and possibly friendship rather than love. Maybe you might think differently. Even the ending, to me, feels less like lovers parting. More like her having grown from the experience. Anyway, doesn’t really matter as the focus is the wonderful Audrey Hepburn. She takes on this role so wonderfully… balances that naive girl with the groomed royal so well. And we sympathise with her…she just wants to live, to be left alone, to do what she wants. To experience the everyday like the residents of Rome do (actually, the city is irrelevant). I absolutely love watching her start to relax and have some fun. Especially at the dance down by the boats…ah, that guitar part is something to behold. Ms Hepburn is definitely deserving of her Oscar (Best Actress in a Leading Role) and Golden Globe (Best Actress – Drama) wins for this role. I can’t believe that Audrey Hepburn was supposedly a newcomer…wow, now that is an actress…or should I say artist?

RomanHolidayDirected by William Wyler, it also stars one of my favourite leading men…Gregory Peck. Oh, sorry…I got distracted there…Eddie Albert also stars. Oscars were also won for Best Writing, Motion Picture Story and Best Costume Design (I absolutely love the outfits). Oscar nominations also included Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Director, Best Writing – Screenplay, Best Cinematography (Black-and-White), Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Black-and-White) and Best Film Editing.

For some more posts on the wonderful Audrey Hepburn, head over to Sister Celluloid for her Audrey at 90: The Salute to Audrey Hepburn Blogathon

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In a Nutshell: Bumblebee (2018)

220px-Bumblebee_(film)_posterWell…what can I say? Pleasantly surprised? I really was. Actually, dare I say “what a nice movie”. It really was. A light-ish action movie, which, sometimes felt more like a mini-coming-of-age movie combined with mini-feel-good stuff. Don’t lambaste me…that’s honestly how I felt watching this one – that it was about Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) finding not so much Bee or BumbleBee or B-127 but herself. I love the interaction between her and this transforming robot. His facial expressions are beautiful. OK, not what I should say of a soldier and hero.

Anyway, the story is pretty much that B-127 needs to lay low on earth for a while until Optimus Prime reappears. Disguised as a yellow VW Beetle, he becomes Charlie‘s junkyard car and ultimately friend. Naturally, they save the world together.

For a light-ish action-sci-fi movie also starring John Cena amongst others, give this one a watch. It works quite well. For me, anyway. Happy watching.