Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

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This musical classic still holds up 65 years after its release. Wow. My take on this film will be short and simple. This movie was way ahead of its time and has done so much for cinema. Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor were all magnificent.

The story revolves around Don Lockwood (Kelly) who is a movie star, and is often in films with Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen). The public and even Lamont herself seem to think that they are in an actual relationship, but Lockwood doesn’t actually like her. His best friend, Cosmo (O’Connor), is a music mastermind that works on set with Lockwood and plays the comic relief character. When Lockwood runs into Kathy Seldon (Reynolds), the two eventually fall in love. Lockwood and Lamont are struggling with their film when “talkies” become the new craze in movies. And because of Lamont’s unpleasing voice they use Seldon’s voice to dub over hers, but Lamont threatens to sue to studio after she finds out.

The choreography in this film is simply amazing. I wonder how much time Kelly, Reynolds, and O’Connor had to rehearse and practice before they actually got to filming because I would need at least a year to learn all their dancing. And of course the film is known for its iconic songs like “Moses Supposes,” “Good Morning,” and of course “Singin’ in the Rain,” which now are all stuck in my head. I actually felt bad for Lina Lamont in the film, she may be dim-witted but Lockwood and the rest weren’t even going to tell her that Kathy replaced her voice and its not like its her fault that she doesn’t have a pleasing voice.

The whole “Gotta Dance” sequence could have easily been cut out of the film. By this point, I was getting kind of tired of all the music and dancing and this extended scene takes place in Don’s head meaning that it’s a significant part of Don’s movie, not the movie we’re watching – Singin’ in the Rain.

This movie is something I recommend watching if you’re feeling a little down and can use a pick me up. And I just have to say that it captures the movie making process really well. From the challenges of transitioning from silent film to sound or “talkies” and the painstaking process of re-shoots. I also think it’s refreshing to see Lon, Cosmo, and the head of the studio fight hard for Kathy to get credit for her role in the film when Lina tries to take it away. It something that you don’t see much in film nowadays.

I give this movie an A+

Baby Driver (2017)

 

baby-driver-et00040794-14-03-2017-09-05-24-750x375-cSo this weekend I re-watched Baby Driver and I think I loved it even better than the first time. This time I was really able to pay attention to the music, easter eggs, and mise-en-scene in general. For example when Baby, played by Ansel Elgort, is walking to the coffee shop, he is listening to the song “Harlem Shuffle,” and during his walk we see lyrics of the song graffitied onto different poles and buildings behind Baby. Music is absolutely vital to this film as it captures not only the character’s mood at certain points, but it also heightens the stakes or captures the atmosphere in which the characters are in.

The story revolves around Baby, a young get-away driver who has ringing in one of his ears, called tinnitus, that he must listen to music at all times in order to drown it out and also works for Doc, played by Kevin Spacey, who runs a underground criminal organization. There he meets various criminals, most noticeably are Bats, played by Jaime Foxx, Buddy, played by Jon Hamm, and Darling, played by Eliza Gonzalez. Baby wants out of the business and he meets Debora, played by Lily James, and falls in love with her. When Baby, Bats, Buddy, and Darling are paired to do a heist together things fall apart fairly quickly leaving Baby doing all that he can to protect those that he loves and escape the law.

The stunts in Baby Driver are absolutely bonkers and it’s kind of amazing how you can believe that this 23 year old kid is probably the best driver in the world. My favorite stunts has to be that first car-chase and the foot-chase sequence that happens later in the film. I’m a big fan of Edgar Wright, the director, and while I haven’t seen all of his films, I have to say Baby Driver might be the best directed film he has done and may be my favorite film of his.

Baby Driver is not perfect though, I think my main gripe with the film has to be that it has multiple endings with Jon Hamm’s character. I think it’s also odd that Debora, who at first is unaware of Baby’s criminal affiliation, is sucked into that world and just goes along with it, she never questions Baby about it. And this is such a minor nit-pick but I always hate it in movies where the characters stop in a diner or restaurant to get something to eat, they end up having a 2 minute conversation there, have no food, and then promptly leave – and that happens in this movie. Overall though, Baby Driver is such a great, original movie and I know that I was very happy with it’s box office earnings since Edgar Wright films before this never really got the box office they deserved.

I give this movie an A-

Now Let’s Talk About Hollywood Sexism…

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As today has gone on, I keep seeing that more and more women are speaking up about their encounters with Harvey Weinstein. Here is a list of actresses and other women he has sexually harassed so far: Tomi-Ann Roberts, Laura Madden, Rosanna Arquette, Katherine Kendall, Liza Campbell, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mira Sorvino, Ashley Judd, Judith Godrèche,  Rose McGowan, Asia Argento, Angelina Jolie, Zelda Perkins, Romola Garai, Dawn Dunning, Lucia Stoller, Lauren Sivan, Louisette Geiss, Emma de Caunes, Jessica Barth, Cara Delevigne, Emily Nestor, Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, and Lauren O’Connor. That is a total of 24 women that we KNOW of and these incidents of harassment have been going on now for about 33 YEARS. This is simply unacceptable. Male actors have also spoken out condemning Weinstein’s actions such as Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (Weinstein gave them their big break). It should be noted that Ben Affleck failed to comment on his brother, Casey Affleck’s, alleged sexual harassment of women. Rose McGowan fired back on Ben Affleck saying that once she informed him of Weinstein’s harassment, he said, “Goddamnit! I told him to stop doing that!” meaning that Affleck was well aware of Weinstein’s predatory behavior before it was made public. In his statement, Matt Damon said, “But, now, as the father of four daughters, this is the kind of sexual predation that keeps me up at night.” Okay people, can we stop using the “as a husband/ as a father of daughters” line please? You are insinuating that only as a husband or father that you care about this type of sexual behavior. That you only care about those close to you receiving this unwanted advances, not women in general, which is A PROBLEM!

If you want to help, believe women! Ask other women if they have experienced or  witnessed suspicious behavior by the accuser. Report the behavior, people like this do not need to be in power, so we must do everything we can to take them out of it. We need to band together, find witnesses, and take this to the top in order to stop this.

I find it sad that these accusations and the firing of Harvey Weinstein has only come the light recently, when this behavior has been going on for over 30 years. I’m also sad to see that a bunch of people haven’t condemned Weinstein’s behavior. I will quote Jessica Chastain’s tweet, “Yes. I’m sick of the media demanding that only women speak up. What about the men? Perhaps many are afraid to look at their own behavior….”

I can only hope from here that more sexual predators in the film industry, and in general, are caught and kicked out (that includes you Donald Trump)! And that the industry will change, will be more inclusive, and that women will have the ability to feel safe not only in Hollywood, but everywhere.

(Credit to slate.com who provided the list of women and dates of Weinstein’s harassment)

Melancholia (2011)

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Melancholia is a movie I watched in one of my film classes. And lets just say that I did not enjoy it. I was surprised to find that Melancholia has a 79% on Rotten Tomatoes (not that Rotten Tomatoes actually means anything). But as you can infer from the title of the film, the whole movie is a metaphor for depression. The movie is split into two parts – one for each sister, Justine who is played by Kirsten Dunst, and Claire who is played by Charlotte Gainsbourg. The movie starts off in a montage of slow-mo shots, there is no dialogue, just loud booming music and this montage goes on for almost 10 minutes but it really feels like 20. This montage just makes you wonder what the hell is going on but as you continue watching the movie it all starts to make sense and it gives away the ending of the film. The film then starts on Justine’s wedding day, where at first she seems like the happiest of women, but once she and her husband arrive at her reception, she tries to escape the party as often as she can. It is in this first part that we see Justine’s depression, though she smiles at her reception, there is a great deal of family tension and her boss trying to coax her into working during her wedding day. Everyone tells her what to do – to be happy, to go back to the party, to come up with a tagline for her work, but she simply cannot do so. Though this first part establishes Justine’s depression and her relationship with other characters – it goes on for simply too long and can be cut down immensely. Justine does a number of weird things when she’s away from her party – like take a long bath – and though she does suffer from depression, the way that she acts makes it hard for the audience to understand or relate to her.

The second part, revolves around Claire, Claire is Justine’s older sister and she ends up taking care of her after her wedding. Justine’s attitude continues to make her unlikable. And we get to see that even though Claire is frustrated with her sister, she does what she can to look after her. Here we find out that there is a planet, called Melancholia, headed towards Earth and will bring about the end of the world. Claire worries about what this means and tries to do what she can to protect her family – which is basically nothing. And because of the montage that played at the beginning of the movie, you feel no real stakes because you already know what’s going to happen and are just waiting to see it fulfilled.

While I do appreciate the director, Lars von Trier, realistic depiction of depression, overall the film is just too weird for me. I could not sympathize with or relate to any of the characters, and most of the characters were just unlikable. The cinematography was beautiful though.

I give this a D.

Let’s talk about ScreenJunkies

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Hello to all! So if you haven’t already heard, Andy Signore, who is the creator of ScreenJunkies on Youtube (mostly commonly known for their Honest Trailers) has been fired due to sexual harassment. This was a big thing that blew up on my twitter this weekend and I was shocked to say the least. I always considered ScreenJunkies to be one of my go-to places for movies. I always watched their videos, I loved Honest Trailers, and Movie Fights, and really all the crew on these shows…well up until now. No one else on the crew apparently knew of Andy’s behavior, but I feel like it needs to be addressed, especially with the addition Harvey Weinstein also being fired due to the same reasons (not from ScreenJunkies, from the Weinstein Company – just for clarification). Defy Media who owns ScreenJunkies was apparently made well aware of this behavior months before these allegations were made public and they did not fire Andy Signore. Why you may ask – well isn’t it obvious, Andy is the face and the creator of ScreenJunkies, they held his interests at heart and not the countless number of women who reported Andy’s sexual harassment to Defy Media’s HR department, which by all accounts is wrong. It wasn’t until one brave woman stood up and publicly commented on social media what Andy Signore said and harassed her that other women started to join in. Defy Media and Screenjunkies then tweeted that Andy was suspended (not fired!) and that they will be investigating his behavior. Luckily, Signore was fired yesterday, which still is too late.

Needless to say, I was discouraged. Andy Signore always seemed nice in his videos and content that Screenjunkies posted. I was even hoping to one day be on the couch during a Movie Fights episode. As a woman who wants to go into something similar like ScreenJunkies, and just go into film in general, I knew that there would be obstacles – mainly in the form of men in higher positions telling me of what I can or cannot do – but I did not image that someone who I respected like Andy Signore would ever target and violate women like he did. It really opened my eyes and for a second it made me question if I wanted to do this knowing that I could run into people like him very easily in the world of film. But here I am, creating this blog and trying to expand on my film writing and critiques.

If you want to know more of the details go to https://twitter.com/April13Dawn to read accounts to what April and other women experienced at the hands of Andy Signore. Tweets of this incident range from October 6, 2017 to October 9, 2017.

Battle of the Sexes

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Another movie that I saw recently was Battle of the Sexes, which I really enjoyed. It revolves around Emma Stone, who plays Billie Jean King, and Steve Carrell, who plays Bobby Riggs. This movie is a true story of the famous Battle of Sexes tennis match that went down back in the 70s where Riggs bet King, who was the #1 woman tennis player, that he could easily beat her at a game of tennis. The movie heavily focuses on the fight for equality as King and other famous women tennis players are treated unfairly by the National Tennis Association and are being paid a salary way less than their male tennis player counterparts. King and these women separate from the association and form their own group in order to compete in tournaments. Riggs is a retired tennis player who still wants fame and he comes up with the idea that he can beat the #1 Woman’s Tennis Champion. Carrell plays Riggs along the lines of his character, Michael Scott, from The Office, someone who means well  (he wants to re-establish his name and get back into tennis), but is ultimately narcissistic and has no trouble putting down women. For me though, the movie revolved around King, her fight for women’s rights, and her inner battle with her sexuality. King is a feminist public icon, and though she is married to her husband, Larry, she is also attracted to women, particularly a pretty hairdresser named Marilyn, who turns out to be her love interest in the film. The film overall is very lighthearted, though the tennis matches, especially the one between King and Riggs are nail biting. Again this is a highly enjoyable movie, but not one you have to go see in the movie theater. But I strongly recommend seeing this movie because it shows what women are capable of.

I give this movie a B+.

Blade Runner 2049

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Earlier today I saw Blade Runner 2049 and just wow. The visuals alone were absolutely breathtaking!!! Roger Deakins (the cinematographer) deserves an Oscar and if he doesn’t get one, well I’ll be super mad. Ryan Gosling was so good as Agent K. His performance is subtle, broody, and utterly captivating. And he effortlessly pulls compassion from the audience as he goes through this investigation. Agent K is a Blade Runner, someone who kills or “retires” as they say in the movie, Replicants or very human-like androids. When he is assigned to retire a Replicant, it turns out that there is a deeper case involved. He eventually confronts Agent Deckard, reprised by Harrison Ford. AND…that’s really all I can tell you all because the rest of the plot is full of spoilers. Harrison Ford actually is not in the movie as much as I thought he would be. But the performances all around were wonderful. Jared Leto was good, but wasn’t a stand-out to me. I have to give a shout out to two people though, Slyvia Hoeks who plays Luv, and Ana de Armas who plays Joi (and is also my new girl crush). Denis Villeneuve does it once again, and while this isn’t my favorite feature by him. It is damn good. There’s so much character development which I love because a film’s characters make a movie for me. Be warned though that this is a slow-burn film, and those aren’t for everyone. One of the downfalls of the movie is the length and the pacing. This movie is around 2 hours and 45 minutes long and it does drag a bit. I think that parts of the movie can be cut out or that they could have picked up the pacing of the investigation. Otherwise the movie is a visual masterpiece and that’s worth of the price of a movie ticket alone.

I give it an A.

 

Introduction

Hi guys, my name is Isabelle and I started a blog – woohoo! I want to go into film criticism and film reporting so I figured this was a good stepping stone into that. I’m a big fan of all the YouTube film critics like Collider, Schmoes, Scott Mantz, Chris Stuckman, John Campea, Jeremy Jahns, etc. But by far my biggest role model is the great film critic and reporter, Alicia Malone, she got me into more independent movies, and wrote a fantastic book called Backwards & In Heels, which I highly recommend! I have always debated on when to start this blog. I always been sort of scared to start one since I’m not sure if I’ll get an audience, not that I need a big audience in the first place, but I do want my opinions and reviews to get some sort of attention. I promise that there will be no spoilers in these reviews. And I hope that you all enjoy my blog!