Happy New Year!

December 30, 2015

Oh, 2015. Life-wise you were pretty lackluster but movie-wise you rocked. I watched quite a few movies this year that became instant favorites. I FINALLY got around to watching most of the Alain Delon movies that I had been hoarding on my computer since 2010 (btw, thanks 2010 Kate!) and I saw so many classic movies on the big screen that my heart could explode with joy.

And I finally got the video-making bug again. I think I'm probably the only one who watches the videos, but they make me so happy! This one in particular, which I worked on until 6am this morning and then couldn't sleep because I wanted to keep watching it! It includes clips from 36 different movies, ranging from The Grapes of Wrath and Citizen Kane to Beach Blanket Bingo and Boom!, from La Dolce Vita and Le Samourai to Gold Diggers of 1933 and Since You Went Away (full movie list in the youtube description box) 

I just feel like the mood from the clips (and the music) is very infectious. I can't help but smile while I'm watching this one, and hopefully it'll make you smile, too! :)

Happy New Year!!

A Blue Christmas in Shangri-La

December 24, 2015

I should apologize, because this isn't even remotely a Christmas themed post. It's Christmas Eve as I'm typing this, and by all means I should be watching It's a Wonderful Life right now, but unfortunately I haven't had much Christmas spirit this year. I've been waiting and waiting for it to finally kick in, but at 11pm on Christmas Eve I'm guessing it just isn't happening this year.

In a way, that lack of spirit is sort of related to this post (although I still don't think that would qualify this post as a Christmas-themed one, by any stretch of the imagination.) I've just had an emotionally draining year, and the one thing that's helped me escape my brain's nagging thoughts over the last 12 months has been movies. There have been days when I have literally been LIVING for the chance to watch a movie when I'm done working. That moment, usually around 1am, I tuck myself into bed and hit play... sheer bliss. Two hours of total, complete happiness in an otherwise oppressively monotonous and stressful day.

While movies have been getting me through the doldrums this year, it's got me thinking a lot about escapism and whether or not it's actually a good thing. I really use film like a drug. Movies cheer me up while they're playing (even the soul-crushing dramas, I just love movies) but when they're over and the screen goes black I'm faced with reality once again.

From oral legends passed down through generations to Roman plays and medieval fairy tales, we've always sought some form of escape from daily life. But in modern society we have constant access to a world of fantasy right at our fingertips. I can watch movies as much as my schedule will allow, any time of the day or night, and disappear into a world where my troubles don't exist.

Does my own existence feel duller because I spend so much of it watching other people partaking in exciting adventures? Does my loneliness feel magnified by the sight of couples onscreen? Would my life seem perfectly acceptable and pleasant if I didn't constantly seek escape in movies? Does perspective beget disappointment, or would the disappointment manifest itself no matter what, and escapism only helps to relieve all of life's little letdowns?

Is it the worst thing ever to start a sentence with "Wikipedia defines"? Because... 

Wikipedia defines Shangri-La as "a permanently happy land, isolated from the outside world" and in a sense, I think movies are my Shangri-La. A world I can visit that's untouched by my own worries and troubles, a place to escape to, a utopia in a world filled with sadness and violence and heartache.

In the game of "in which movie would you like to live?" Lost Horizon constantly appears on my list -- I mean, you've got Ronald Colman and eternal life, I'm not sure many movies can top that? -- because who wouldn't want to live in Shangri-La? And when it comes down to it, I think that answers my escapism question in a nutshell. If given the chance, wouldn't we all move to Shangri-La? And therefore, if we can find a little Shangri-La in our own humdrum lives, be it watching movies or playing golf or knitting scarves, who are we to deny ourselves a piece of Utopia, however small it may be?

Summer Wind + Plein Soleil

December 22, 2015

This video is a tribute to Plein Soleil (Purple Noon), the French 1960 Rene Clement film starring Alain Delon, Maurice Ronet and Marie LaForet, and based on the Patricia Highsmith novel The Talented Mr. Ripley. I felt like Summer Wind by Frank Sinatra would be a good match for the sun-drenched, breezy setting of the film, but once they are paired together and you have shots of Alain Delon's conniving, shifty Tom Ripley playing against the moody summer ballad, Sinatra's words become fraught with double meaning ("my fickle friend") and the laid-back melody is suddenly laced with a more sinister undertone.

I only saw Plein Soleil for the first time this year, but I've already watched it three times, including once on the big screen at The Film Forum (!!) and after the first viewing it had already edged its way into my top four favorite films. Like all of my favorite movies, I have a hard time pinpointing exactly what it is about a film that warrants my devotion. It's more of a gut-reaction, that I see a movie and feel an instant, immediate connection. As if we were movie soulmates.

If you aren't a fan of foreign film (yet!) I feel like this is a really good place to start. While I'm personally a fan of art-house dramas with sparse dialogue, I feel like a lot of people think that is the only thing foreign films have to offer and choose to stay away. Plein Soleil has no shortage of symbolism and artsy cinematography, but on the surface the movie is interesting, beautiful, suspenseful, well-paced, and the structure will feel familiar enough to anyone whose movie repertoire is usually comprised of products of Hollywood.

Plein Soleil might not speak to your soul the way it speaks to mine, but if you haven't seen it yet I urge you to give it a watch. It's available to stream as part of the Criterion collection on Hulu Plus, and it's available to rent on Amazon here.

Deux hommes dans la ville (1973)

December 09, 2015

Deux hommes dans la ville (1973) is such a heartbreaking indictment on the death penalty, and while the guillotine is now a relic of the past in France, it is incredibly painful to watch this as an American, where state sanctioned executions are still carried out on a regular basis.

Aside from the political aspect, it was just brilliantly acted. Jean Gabin somehow shows so much emotion without ever seeming to actually change his expression. And I'm pretty sure that Alain Delon is second only to Omar Sharif as the best eye-actor who ever lived. There is one scene towards the end where Jean Gabin and Alain Delon meet and say nothing-- Alain Delon's eyes slowly well up with tears and Gabin looks helpless. It was so powerful I actually ached for both of them.

On my second viewing I decided to watch with the commentary turned on (from the Cohen Film Collection DVD) It's absolutely fascinating, and there's a really interesting moral question at the end about whether a filmmaker's personal life should affect how we feel about their art, which is something I've given a lot of thought to in the past. The writer/director Jose Giovanni was apparently a pretty horrible guy (I learned about his background from this commentary but it's on Wikipedia if you're curious. It's pretty bad stuff, so don't read it if you're afraid it'll spoil his movies for you) but this movie is fantastic. And the anti-capital punishment, pro-prison reform message is powerful and intense and (strange, perhaps, coming from someone with such questionable scruples) morally just.

It's such a tough call but in general I often wonder why we hold modern artists to a much higher moral standard than we ever did in the past. I don't know if it's due to the rapid dissemination of information, that information is more readily available, or the fact that our collective opinion has shifted on whether artists must be stand-up citizens in order for their art to be appreciated. The painter Caravaggio was a violent man who was convicted of murder, but the passage of time has forgiven his personal crimes because of the beautiful art he created.

I'm completely undecided on where I stand on this, mostly because I enjoy so many films made by people who don't seem too awesome in real life. I mean, Gary Cooper was a friendly witness. I'm basically in love with Alain Delon but his politics make me cringe. And could I really live my life without ever watching another Roman Polanski movie?

I guess I don't have to decide this right now. But this movie stuck in my gut for days after I watched it and now I think the commentary is going to have the same effect.

Breathing the same air as: Robert Redford

December 02, 2015

Photo by me

Tonight I had the distinct pleasure of sitting not 20 feet away from Robert Redford at The Paley Center in New York. The tickets went on sale at 12:00PM on my birthday. I was in New York, standing outside of Penn Station in the pouring rain, wiping raindrops off of my phone while my dad read me my credit card numbers so I could snag a ticket before it sold out. I still can't believe that I managed to get one and that tonight ACTUALLY HAPPENED.

The event only lasted about an hour and a half, but they covered so much of his career. He began by talking a bit about his first career as an artist, and his desire to see more of the world after growing up in Los Angeles. I didn't take notes so I don't have the exact phrase, but I thought that the way he described his wanderlust was beautiful, something like "I grew up surrounded by red, white, and blue, and I wanted to see more colors."

When they got to his early years acting on television they played a reel that The Paley Center had assembled from their collection. It had clips from various live tv plays, The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Perry Mason, etc. I have to say, this was my favorite part of the whole night. Not necessarily the clips (although they were so fun to see, and I definitely want to seek out more of his tv work now!) but Robert Redford watching himself in them. They had a big screen set up behind the stage for the audience to watch, and then there was a television set up near the front row for Redford and the moderator, Pat Mitchell (former CEO of The Paley Center.) In the flickering light of the projector you could see his face, cringing a bit at his early performances, and quietly proud when they played his Oscar acceptance speech and a clip from Quiz Show.

Photo from The Paley Center's twitter account

I think my favorite anecdote that he told was about a practical joke between him and Paul Newman. One year for Newman's birthday he got a totaled Porsche, had it wrapped up with a bow, and left it at Paul Newman's house. A little while later he came home to find a box in his entryway, so heavy it had dented the floor of his rented home! After prying it open with a crowbar he found that Paul Newman had had the Porsche melted down into a giant metal cube. But it doesn't end there! Robert Redford went to a sculptor friend of his (who, he says, wasn't actually a very good sculptor, lol) and asked her to make something from the cube. Then he had the ugly sculpture planted in Paul Newman's garden. And Newman left it there, and neither of them ever spoke of it.

Overall, this was just a fairytale night as far as I'm concerned. I love his work in front of & behind the camera, I respect his work on the environment and with Sundance, and I have an undying admiration for him as a human being. He lived up to and surpassed all of the notions of him that I had in my head. He seemed decent, kind, soft spoken -- but with a deep voice that easily filled the room without any need for projection. He was humble, sweet, and incredibly intelligent. I could have easily listened to him for hours more (I think I might have audibly groaned "awwww" when Mitchell said that it was time to end the interview.)

It's a pleasure to share this planet with someone like Robert Redford, so to share a room with him for a brief period of time is an honor I'll not soon forget.

Robert Osborne recasts Breakfast at Tiffany's

November 14, 2015

As promised, here is the video of Nicole asking Robert Osborne which movie he'd recast if given the chance. I loved his answer so much, and I thought it was so neat that he had clearly already given this topic some thought. I forgot to edit the video before posting (and I'm obviously too lazy to go back and fix it) so it starts with the end of the previous question.

On a related note, my mom mentioned the other day how great Shirley MacLaine would have been as Holly Golightly and I think that would have been perfect casting! She has that flighty quality that Robert Osborne was talking about, and it's perfectly conceivable that her Holly could have once been Lulamae Barnes. I like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffanys more than Robert Osborne does, but it's still fun to play around with hypothetical re-casting :)

Happy Birthday, Alain Delon! (tribute video)

November 08, 2015

Alain Delon is 80 today! On the plane to Miami last week I was listening to "Tidal Wave" by The Killers and the lyrics at the beginning struck me as a perfect accompaniment for a tribute video --

He’s always trouble with his non-complacent
Shotgun eyes, shotgun eyes
His subtlety, his mystery
Not like the other guys

She’s always taken by his reputation
He’s so bad, he’s so bad
On Saturday night, they’re running for the shadow

I started piecing the video together in my head while I was on vacation and I couldn't wait to start when I got back! I was googling photos of him while I was waiting to board my plane home -- as you do -- and noticed that his birthday was November 8th, which made my video production even more urgent. (I mean, if you can call spending hours frivolously matching up movie clips to song lyrics urgent.) It's been over three years since the last time I made a tribute video, but it was like riding a bicycle. I get so excited when a beat in a song perfectly matches a movement in a clip, or when I find a scene that fits a lyric like a glove.

I only included four movies in the video (L'Eclisse, Plein Soleil, Le Samourai, and The Girl on a Motorcycle) because I was on a self-imposed time crunch, but I definitely have the video-making bug right now so I'm sure I'll be making many more videos using a wider selection of films. Okay, so without further ado, here is my tribute! Happy Birthday, Alain!

TCM Cruise - Day 5

November 06, 2015

Well, it's just after 1AM on Friday morning and when I wake up our ship will be in the Miami harbor. This went by way, way too fast! I didn't actually do a lot of TCM-related things today, so this post will be more of a general overview of the whole trip than a recap of Day 5.

I started off with breakfast and blogging about Day 4 (and saying hi to Ben Mankiewicz, let's not forget about that!) and then me and Nicole headed over to Castaway Cay for a couple of hours. But not before catching a little bit of Top Hat again, which was being screened by the pool!

This may be a TCM cruise, but it's on a Disney boat and Disney goes ALL OUT. I mean, they have their own island just for cruise excursions. And it may be the prettiest place I've ever visited. I don't even think Crayola could capture the blue of the water. The air was warm but not too warm, the waves were soft, small, and gentle, and it was so quiet that at times the only sound you could hear was the rustling of palm tree leaves. Every detail was so perfect that I wouldn't be surprised if Disney engineered the clouds, as well.

We headed back to the boat so that Nicole could catch Witness for the Prosecution while I filled out postcards. I got a little sidetracked when I noticed someone else on their phone and remembered that I had purchased 100 minutes and hadn't even used up one! So I ended up spending a little over an hour on the phone with my parents. I think this is the longest we had ever gone without talking, it was SO nice to hear their voices! I'm definitely at that point in a vacation where you're still enjoying yourself but you find yourself fantasizing about sleeping in your own bed and using your own bathroom, haha! I'm really looking forward to getting home tonight and seeing my family (and my cat!! I miss her so much it hurts!)

The only movie that I ended up seeing today was Too Many Husbands. Unfortunately I took too long in the shower and even though I rushed over to the theater with wet hair I still missed out on seeing Illeana Douglas and Kate MacMurray introduce the film. Nicole promised me that she'll write about their introduction on her blog when we get back home! She also saw Ruta Lee introduce Witness for the Prosecution and said it was one of the best interviews of the whole cruise, so she'll write about that as well.

Too Many Husbands is such a fun movie! I forgot how laugh-out-loud funny it is! I had a similar reaction when I saw Sunday in New York at TCMFF last year. That's actually my all-time favorite movie, but when I saw it on the big screen and could *really* see all of the facial expressions more clearly it just got 20x funnier. Too Many Husbands is hilarious on a small tv, but seeing their expressions on a giant screen was priceless. All three of the main actors - Fred MacMurray, Jean Arthur and Melvyn Douglas - are comedic geniuses and their facial reactions really enhance the verbal and physical comedy.

And that was actually our last TCM event of the trip! We went back to the room to pack (and I sadly realized I had somehow misplaced four of my souvenirs and had to repurchase them) and then it was time for dinner. I actually didn't have a lot of luck with food on this trip. I found some really great potato products but most of the vegetarian offerings were too spicy or just not my cup of tea. But finally for our last meal I got this amazing sweet potato puree, wrapped in a sesame phyllo shell, sitting in a tomato and spinach sauce with roasted cherry tomatoes. It was the perfect end to the trip!

We have to be up really early tomorrow morning so Nicole wisely went to sleep at a reasonable hour while I stupidly stayed up to finish my postcards. I went up to the top deck, and it was totally, completely deserted. When I was done I wandered around a little and just watched the water and the stars before coming back to the room to write this.

Which brings me to another selling point to this cruise -- if anyone is interested in attending one of the TCM events alone, I think this is the one to go with. There were plenty of times that Nicole and I split up to attend separate events and it felt very safe. I attended a screening alone that ended at 1:45am on the top deck of the boat, and I was perfectly comfortable. There is no way I'd attend a screening that late by myself in Hollywood. I like having alone time a lot, and you can get that on the boat way more than at the festival.

Also, I don't know if this factors into anyone's decision, but the demographic on the cruise is considerably older than the festival. So if socializing with young classic film fans is a major selling point for you, you might prefer the festival. I personally loved this aspect of the cruise, though. It was pretty quiet for the most part, and everyone was very friendly. And I'm not sure if there's anything cuter than seeing older couples dancing together :)

It's very hard not to keep comparing the festival and cruise in my head, even though I thoroughly enjoyed both. To be honest, I think that if TCMFF was in New York City instead of Hollywood I'd probably have a much harder time choosing a favorite. I was not that thrilled with Hollywood when I visited last year. I found it hard to navigate, not very pedestrian friendly, expensive, and slightly run-down. I just keep imagining how cool it would be to see TCM screen films at Radio City Music Hall. And how cheap it would be to hop in a yellow cab instead of always having to buy an $80 uber ride. And New York City has sooooo many places to eat. And Robert Osborne already lives there! I feel like TCM should have a committee like The Olympics and I can go campaign for New York, haha!

I was incredibly thrilled with the film schedule on this trip. I felt like the Roger Corman movies were my favorite part, since they're a little different from what TCM usually schedules (as much as I adore Top Hat, that was a much more typical choice, you know?) My only complaint, like I mentioned in my first post, is that I wish they'd schedule more foreign films. And maybe get some foreign actors to visit the cruise or festival, as well! Anna Karina would be fantastic! Or maybe Brigitte Bardot!

I'm planning on going back to TCMFF in 2016 and tentatively I'd love to do the cruise again next year. My mom suggested it could be a combined birthday trip for her 60th and my 30th, which sounds like a very good plan! It's definitely one of those trips where once you've experienced it it'll be very hard to resist returning every year.

If you have any questions about the cruise let me know in the comments and I'll do another post to answer them. I really can't recommend this highly enough. It's definitely one of my favorite vacations I've ever been on and if you can swing it, I guarantee you won't regret it :)

TCM Cruise - Day 4

November 05, 2015

I was way too tired last night to stay up and write my Day 4 post. So I woke up a little early (10am, haha) grabbed a quick breakfast, entirely consisting of potatoes, and now I'm sitting by a window overlooking Castaway Cay. It's so beautiful! And Ben Mankiewicz just walked by me and said hello, and asked me how my hair was doing (I have an inside joke with Ben Mankiewicz, basically. Pinch me??)

This is my view right now while I'm typing this:

Okay, so back to Day 4. We had a really jam-packed schedule, but even considering how many events we attended it still didn't actually feel like we were rushing around or anything. It still felt like vacation, essentially. We started off with "Meet Ben" again at 11am. I have this question that I like to ask people (read: annoy people with) all the time -- If you could recast any movie, which movie and which actor would you replace? If you've been following my blog at all then you already know my answer is always replacing Jimmy Stewart with Gary Cooper (the movie doesn't even matter, I feel like Cooper would always be a better choice)

Nicole thought it would be neat to ask Ben M. that question, so we spent way too much time formulating the perfect wording for the Q&A. We ended up with this: "If you could change the lead actor or actress in any movie, which film would you choose and who would you replace them with?" And we decided that I'd ask the question at Ben M.'s event, and Nicole would ask at Robert Osborne's. I didn't get called on for a question at Ben M.'s Q&A, but it was really fun anyway!

My favorite anecdote of his was about the guest programmer series that TCM did during the 2004 election. Ben M. interviewed Orrin Hatch, John McCain, John Edwards and Joe Biden. He said that Biden picked Dead Poet's Society and he's pretty sure it's entirely because the movie is set in Delaware, lol! He said that Biden just kept talking about the different locations where they did filming, and why those locations were important to him. I love Joe Biden so I may be biased, but I thought it was such a cute story!

After the Q&A we went to see Love Me Tonight, with Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald. I was expecting a typical 30's musical, but this is NOT a typical 30's musical. The film was introduced by Randy Haberkamp, the managing director of preservation and foundation programs for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He thinks the movie seems a Monty Python satire of a 30's musical. I'm not really familiar with Monty Python (I'm planning on rectifying that soon!) but it reminded me of a Marx Brothers movie without the brothers. There were so many silly songs that were reminiscent of "I Want My Shirt" and so many ladies who reminded me of Margaret Dumont. It has the same anarchic energy and it's so completely silly! At one point Maurice Chevalier starts singing his signature "Mimi" to Jeanette MacDonald and she's like "um…that's not my name.." and he just keeps singing it at her anyway. It was so funny! I think this was my favorite new-to-me movie of the festival so far.

Up next was Cry Terror, introduced by Robert Osborne and Angie Dickinson! We sadly had to duck out of the movie early because we had to attend another event, but I'm so glad that we got to see the Q&A beforehand. Angie Dickinson was so sweet! She recounted a story about the first time that she got up the nerve to speak to James Mason on the set of Cry Terror. She went over and said something like "Mr. Mason, I just have to tell you, you were amazing in A Star is Born" and he said something like "Yes, I was very good." haha! I love James Mason!

We had to leave Cry Terror early because Illeana Douglas was doing a book-signing at the same time. Nicole bought a copy of her book to have signed for her mom (side note for my own mom -- I didn't do the same, but I promise you have some awesome souvenirs headed your way!) While we were in line we met Lora, who was wearing some of my fan club buttons! She was so nice and we talked about the cruise vs. the festival. Just to touch on that subject again, briefly - I really have enjoyed both events. If I was forced to pick a favorite I think I'd pick the cruise, but it's almost entirely because I like the view of the ocean better than Hollywood Blvd. lol. I guess when it comes down to it, the best choice is just to do both!

Nicole and Illeana spoke for a little bit while she was signing the book and then Lora kindly took this picture of Nicole, Illeana Douglas and myself. Nicole was practically giddy afterwards, haha! It was really fun!

Next up was our "Ask Robert" event. I have absolutely no idea why, but it seems like nobody on this cruise wants to sit near the front of the theater for anything. We were pretty early for this event but even when we've squeaked in at the last minute we still have managed to snag front row seats for practically everything! For Ask Robert we were front and center. AND Nicole got to ask our question!!! It was so exciting, I can't even describe it! And Robert Osborne seemed so delighted by the question, which totally made my day/month/year. He had an answer ready to go, which was so cool! I love that it's something he's already given thought to, and he seemed so excited to get to share this particular miscasting pet peeve :D There is no way I'm going to attempt to upload the video on youtube while I'm using this pricey wi-fi, but I'll definitely share the video as soon as I get home! For now, here is a quote from his answer:

"I always thought that, and don't scream at me, I love Audrey Hepburn, but I always thought that Breakfast at Tiffany's was a wrong picture for Audrey Hepburn to be in. There's something so beautifully sensible about Audrey Hepburn that I could never believe that she was a, kind of a flighty girl, who in her refrigerator would have a bottle of champagne, and an orchid, and that's it. You know, there's something, with Audrey, there'd be some cottage cheese at least, or something!"

He thought that Marilyn Monroe, Truman Capote's original choice for the role, would have been much better. And he also voiced his disdain for Mickey Rooney in the racially insensitive role of the landlord. It's funny, I wanted to hear his answer so badly but part of me was thinking "Oh my gosh, what if he says 'I always thought Jimmy Stewart would have been better in Meet John Doe'" haha!! Crisis averted ;)

After Robert Osborne's Q&A we went back to the room to change into our ~fancy clothes for the Anything Goes party, which we subsequently missed anyway. Oops! We went upstairs to grab a bite to eat before our next event and we ran into Ben Mankiewicz in the restaurant. He said he liked my hair color, and then I tried sputtering out the question that we didn't' get to ask at the Q&A and jumbled it up so badly that I had to take out the written question and read it to him. He said he'd have to think about it, but asked me how I would answer, and I shared my theory about James Stewart and Gary Cooper. He said it was an interesting theory but judging from his reaction, I'm pretty certain he likes Jimmy Stewart better lol. Then he asked if I would come over and meet his daughter because she is obsessed with pink and purple hair!

After that we scarfed down our food and hurried over to the Conversation with Eva Marie Saint which was already in progress. And she was being interviewed by … Ben Mankiewicz. We had totally stopped him to ask our question while he was on his way to talk to Eva Marie Saint. *SHAME RAINS DOWN ON OUR FAMILIES FOR ALL ETERNITY*

Anyway, Eva Marie Saint is basically the most adorable, funny, awesome human being on the planet. She kept joking around with Ben Mankiewicz and had such a great sense of humor! And all of her stories about her husband of 60+ years, who was in attendance, were so sweet. She told us about how they met, and their conflicting accounts of where they had their first lunch together. She compared Elia Kazan and Alfred Hitchcock's directing styles (Kazan would work on actors from the inside-out, coaching them on their motivations, while Hitch worked from the outside-in, more concerned about what the actor was wearing than what they were thinking.)

For North by Northwest, Hitchcock didn't like the costumes that MGM was coming up with so he took Eva Marie Saint to New York to go shopping. When she described the shopping trip it reminded me of the scene where Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak are shopping in Vertigo. Apparently Eva Marie Saint is the one who picked out that to-die-for black floral dress with the deep v-back, and Hitchcock bought it for her for the movie!

Ben Mankiewicz also asked her to say a little bit about some of her costars through the years, and she had something nice to say about everyone. She said that Paul Newman was like a brother to her, and called him a "sweetie pie" … is that not just the cutest thing ever?

Our last movie of the night was Top Hat, introduced by Illeana Douglas. She said that when she was a child a local tv station used to play Top Hat at midnight on New Year's Eve every year, which was so neat because me and my family have Fred & Ginger marathons every year on NYE! The experience of seeing Top Hat on the big screen was so amazing. It's such a beautiful movie (especially the sets and Ginger Rogers' glittery/feathery costumes!) and seeing it so big, hearing the music surrounding me, was breathtaking.

And that wraps up Day 4! Now I'm going to shut down my laptop and head over to Castaway Cay for a few hours! I can't believe my next post will be my last one from the trip, yikes!

TCM Cruise - Day 3

November 04, 2015

I can't believe three days are already over! Sheesh!

This morning was our first port excursion, to the Cayman Islands. It was exciting to step foot on foreign soil but honestly I didn't really enjoy it too much. The area where our boat docked looked an awful lot like the Jersey shores that I grew up with, except with much bluer water. We hadn't planned any activities on land so we just peeked in some cheap souvenir shops and headed back to the boat. To be honest I think I'd be totally okay if I spent the entire trip on board the ship!

Our schedule was pretty jam-packed once we got back on the boat. We started off with a 3pm screening of The Raven, which was introduced by Robert Osborne and Roger Corman. I think Roger Corman might be my favorite person on this trip. He seems so sweet and all of his stories have been such a joy to hear! Today he talked a bit about working with Vincent Price, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre during the filming of the movie. At one point Karloff came to Roger Corman to voice some concerns about working with Peter Lorre. Lorre was a method actor, and he was constantly improvising his lines, which was throwing off the classically trained Karloff. Roger Corman called a short meeting amongst the main actors and asked if Lorre could maybe try to follow the script a little closer so that Karloff could still stick to his lines. Apparently Vincent Price just sat there smiling, knowing full well that he was more than capable of reading the script word for word or improvising at the drop of a hat.

The Raven was so fun! I actually didn't know that it was a comedic horror movie until they introduced the film, but it was such a clever interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe's story. And Peter Lorre was a riot!! This was one movie that I can't wait to share with my family when I get back home. I especially think my dad is going to love it!

Literally as soon as the credits rolled on The Raven we had to high-tail it out of the theater and rush over to see Sergeants 3, which started immediately afterwards in another theater. Yeah, I saw a western (Are you happy, Millie???) and I did it on purpose! It's my least favorite genre, but it stars Frank Sinatra. Need I say more? Sergeants 3 was introduced by Illeana Douglas and Ruta Lee. Ruta Lee was an absolute blast. She had so many fun stories to tell about working with The Rat Pack, like the time that Frank Sinatra walked into a party with Marilyn Monroe on his arm and everyone in the room couldn't take their eyes off of her. When asked if she had a favorite member of The Rat Pack, she answered correctly. About Sinatra she said, "There was something so awesome about that skinny little runt of a man!" Sergeants 3 isn't the best movie ever made but it's fun and there are so many moments when you can tell that they were all enjoying themselves so much that it's kind of contagious.

After Sergeants 3 we grabbed dinner and then settled in for Twentieth Century, with Carole Lombard and John Barrymore. Ben Mankiewicz introduced the film (his grandfather was one of the screenwriters originally asked to adapt the screenplay!) and, as usual, he was hilarious and informative. I love screwball comedies but somehow this one had eluded me and this was my first time seeing it! I think it might be my favorite movie of the cruise so far. It has so many fantastic supporting actors and the dialogue was ridiculously funny. And now I think I'm going to start saying "you amoeba!" when I want to insult someone.

After Twentieth Century I headed up to the top deck to enjoy a poolside screening of Cape Fear. Well, maybe not "enjoy" because it's a tough movie to sit through… very uncomfortable. But well done and excellent at the same time. It's always tricky to figure out how to describe movies like that. I liked it but it was actually stressful to watch at times. It was introduced by Illeana Douglas, who starred in the remake. When she met Robert Mitchum, she asked him what Ava Gardner was like, and he simply replied, "addictive."

Raquel asked yesterday if this was less of an endurance test than the festival, so I thought I'd answer in this post. I personally didn't go overboard trying to see a bunch of movies when I attended the festival in 2014, so for me the pace is probably about the same, but I think for anyone who does try to see and do everything the cruise is much more laid-back and it's easier to relax a bit. There are three theaters (two inside, one poolside) and they're all pretty much just a short elevator ride away from each other. It's very easy to get from your stateroom to a theater, or from a theater to a restaurant, etc. They also seem to repeat movies more often than they do at the festival, so you can breathe easy if you miss a movie to hang out by the pool since you might be able to catch it two days later.

The general atmosphere is much more relaxed and intimate. I've seen all of the guests walking around at least once or twice. Roger Corman ate dinner at the same time and in the same place as I did tonight. Speaking of eating, it's a lot easier to… how should I put this… not starve to death? I basically survived on McDonald's french fries and popcorn in California. On the cruise there is no shortage of food (included in the price of the trip) so you can watch movies without killing yourself in the process. Oh, and there are no pass levels so everyone can see everything. That might be my favorite thing about the cruise. There's no way I could ever afford a higher-level festival pass (I can barely afford the basic one after you factor in airfare, food and lodging) so it's nice to know that every single movie scheduled on this trip is accessible to me.

The only thing to keep in mind if you're a blogger who wants to do the cruise is the wi-fi situation. I ended up buying a $90 wifi package that includes 1000 MB of data and I've used over half so far, and all I've done is sign in really quick to publish these posts (I've been writing them offline and then just pasting them into blogger) and uploaded some photos on instagram. It's tough to stay connected. There's no way you can constantly tweet updates like a lot of people do at the festival. And probably the worst part is that you can't easily google things! When I watch movies I love looking them up on imdb afterwards, logging them on letterboxd, reading reviews from other movie fans, etc. That will all wait until I get home this time! I guess it's nice to disconnect a little but I definitely miss my spotty internet service at home right now, haha!

Tomorrow's schedule is going to be the busiest so far, and it includes the movie that I'm looking forward to more than any other -- Top Hat!! My favorite Fred & Ginger film! Ahhh! And I'm attending another Q&A with Ben Mankiewicz and me and Nicole prepared a question to ask him. I'll definitely share his answer here if I get to ask it! Wish me luck! :)

TCM Cruise - Day 2

November 03, 2015

Today was our first full day at sea, and it was so beautiful! The TCM component of the cruise is incredibly exciting, but I have to admit I spent a good part of the day just looking at the ocean. That probably sounds kind of boring, but it's absolutely mesmerizing. And you know what? Standing on the top deck of the ship with the wind whipping through my hair, staring out at a timeless, endless landscape, I felt like Monica Vitti. For someone who spends every day working on a computer in New Jersey I don't get many Vitti-like moments so I'm going to cherish the heck out of the ones I get.

I think this is one component of the cruise that definitely sets it apart from the festival in Hollywood. Los Angeles is awesome, but your feet are firmly planted in the 21st century when you're there. Floating in the middle of the ocean there are so many times when, if you look in the right direction or stand in the right spot, you could easily be in 1941 or 1910 or 1965. I can't speak for other classic film fans, but this is a huge selling point to me. I wouldn't necessarily want to live in the past (I'm way too passionate about air conditioning) but I'd love to visit. And this cruise is letting me travel into the past in more ways than one -- through movies and through experiences that transcend time.

I did do a little more than just stare at the ocean and pretend I was starring in an Antonioni movie today. The first event I attended was "Meet Ben" which was a Q&A with Ben Mankiewicz. He is seriously so funny. Someone in the audience told him how witty he is and asked if he would ever consider doing a late-night talk show. I was sitting there thinking "YESSSSSS! SAY YES!" He did express interest in that idea, so hopefully it will catch on. I know I'd definitely watch it!

I had so much fun at this event that my brain kind of condensed the whole memory into one giant blob of happiness. (My way of saying "sorry, I don't have a lot of details to relay to you.") The best moments in my life are kind of like the glowing spheres in Inside Out, except that I don't have a replay feature. I just see a radiant memory and it makes me happy. I spent the whole time at the Q&A laughing and wishing I had just a fraction of that wit.

The first movie I saw today was From Here to Eternity. I've been a fan of Frank Sinatra's since I was 13 and it was indescribably exciting to finally see him on the big screen for the first time, one month before his 100th birthday. AND it was introduced by Robert Osborne, no less! I love that the schedule doesn't tell you who will be introducing every single movie, so sometimes you're taken completely off-guard by a surprise Robert O. appearance!

He talked a bit about the actors who were originally slated to appear in the movie -- Joan Crawford in Deborah Kerr's role, Robert Mitchum in Burt Lancaster's role, Aldo Ray in Montgomery Clift's role, and Eli Wallach in Frank Sinatra's role -- and how they were all more suited to the characters than the actors who ended up getting the parts. With the exception of Burt Lancaster, every actor was cast against type, and, as Robert Osborne pointed out, that's part of what makes this movie so perfect.

This was one of those experiences where my emotions got the better of me because it was on a bigger screen. I can't pinpoint exactly why that happens to me, but there's nothing I can do about it! Montgomery Clift playing Taps has been breaking my heart consistently for over a decade but I don't think I've ever felt a lump in my throat until I saw it tonight. And don't get me started on Frank Sinatra's Oscar-winning scene.

I ended the day with a late-night screening of Red-Headed Woman with Jean Harlow. The film was introduced by Cari Beauchamp, who spoke about the production history (the script was originally written by F. Scott Fitzgerald before it was re-written by Anita Loos!) and the movie's impact on censorship in American cinema. Literally *minutes* into this movie it's perfectly clear why this was one of the movies that brought on the strict enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code, lol. And can I just say, I love Jean Harlow and she's amazing as the titular gold-digging redhead, but man oh man is Una Merkel good in this movie.

Well, that's a wrap on day 2! I'm going to watch a little more of the movie I started last night and then hit the hay! Good night!

TCM Cruise - Day 1

November 02, 2015

You know you're having a good time when you think "waking up before 5am was totally worth it." I am NOT a morning person. But seeing Robert Osborne introduce Eva Marie Saint, Angie Dickinson, and Roger Corman just a few yards in front of me made my 5am journey to join the TCM Cruise worth every second of lost sleep!

The day started as all of my days usually do -- looking for food. And in a very happy coincidence my quest for nourishment on the 9th level of the ship coincided with the sail-away party! "Why are all those people clapping?," I asked, the first of many instances in which I was totally oblivious to everything going on around me. Well, they were clapping for Robert Osborne! If you're a fan of TCM, it's absolutely SURREAL to see him standing in front of you. I've been a huge fan of Turner Classic Movies since I was 13 years old and Robert O. is basically as big a celebrity as any movie star they could ever feature on the cruise.

The first day was a little touch-and-go as far as our plans went. We only had two movies that we wanted to catch, so we spent the rest of the time unpacking, settling into the stateroom, eating (such eating), wandering around the boat, and perusing the schedule for the next few days. A few highlights from the non-movie-watching part of the day included Robert Osborne walking right past me and Nicole (we were embarrassingly gawking at him, but I guess that's to be expected?), managing to snag some TCM Cruise merchandise before it (presumably?) sold out, and having a closet in our stateroom with a light inside that only turns on when you open the door, like a refrigerator! It's pretty cool.

The first movie that we saw was Good News, which was screened in the open-air on a giant tv screen on the top deck. I'm not usually a fan of musicals that don't star Fred Astaire or movies that do star June Allyson but I really liked Good News! It was so fun, and the scene where the housekeeper reads the script with June Allyson was adorable! I'm really looking forward to the rest of our poolside screenings, because it was absolutely bliss to watch a good classic movie outside with the ocean breeze blowing through your hair.

The second (and last, for today) movie that we saw was X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes, starring Ray Milland. This is the one that I was looking forward to the most. Before the film Ben Mankiewicz interviewed the movie's director/producer Roger Corman. Um, EPIC does not even begin to describe this, okay? First of all, Ben M. is ridiculously hilarious. His sense of humor is one of the reasons that I love watching What the Flick? reviews on youtube, even if I haven't even seen the movie they're reviewing, and somehow he's even funnier in person. An example -- when he first came out there was some water spilled on the stage, and he said something like "Looks like we have some kind of water issue here.. good thing we're not about to bring an 89 year old man onto the stage…"

But obviously the best part was Roger Corman himself. He seems like such a sweet man and his stories about filmmaking were so delightful. These were a few of my favorite anecdotes:

- Dementia 13 was originally titled "Dementia" until they realized, after shooting, that a film with the same title had already been released a few years beforehand. So Roger Corman came up with the idea to tack on the number 13 (because it's an unlucky number) and asked Francis Ford Coppola if he could add something in post-production to factor the number into the story.

- Don Rickles told Roger Corman that while he was performing in Las Vegas Frank Sinatra came in one night (mention Frank Sinatra and my ears perk up like I heard a special Kate dog whistle) Rickles saw him in the doorway and said "Hey Frank! Come in! Take a seat! Make yourself at home and punch somebody!" Apparently that sparked a lifelong friendship!

- Roger Corman thought that Ray Milland was a great actor, but he just wasn't getting as many roles since he started showing his age, so Roger Corman offered him meaty roles that could showcase his acting talent. The first movie they worked together on was Premature Burial and the second was the film we saw tonight, X: The Man with X-Ray Eyes.

I hadn't seen the movie before and I had such a blast watching it on the big screen! Ray Milland really was fantastic, he's one of those actors that can elevate almost any role (see also: The Girl on the Red Velvet Swing) There were some fantastic 60's special effects and a very 60's party scene that could have easily been kind of smutty but the direction and acting made it fun and goofy (in the best kind of way) instead. Don Rickles was also amazing -- I think Roger Corman described his performance as "sharp" and that's a totally perfect description.

It's 1:10AM and I've been awake since 4:45 yesterday morning… I *should* be unconscious by now but what can I say, I'm a night owl! Also I've been really into foreign movies lately and that's the one thing that the cruise (and the festival, if 2014 was an indicator of an overall pattern) seems to be lacking. So I'm going get my fix with a little bit of El Gatopardo before I call it a night. If I don't use up all my wi-fi I'll check back in tomorrow! Good night!

Mr. Klein (1976)

October 27, 2015

I am strangely particular when it comes to movies that deal with the Holocaust. There are so many instances in which filmmakers tackle the touchy subject by attempting to make it "relatable" to non-Jewish audiences. As if it would be absolutely impossible to empathize with a character who doesn't share your religion or heritage. Very often these films tend to fall into one of four categories--
  1. The protagonist is a gentile character who saves Jewish victims of the Holocaust (ie. Schindler's List) 
  2. The protagonist is sent to a camp for political reasons (ie. Sophie's Choice)
  3. The protagonist is sent to a camp by accident (ie. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas) 
  4. The story is told through the lens of someone who wasn't involved in the Holocaust at all (ie. Sophie's Choice, again, or Sarah's Key)
I understand the motives behind this, but I feel like it does a disservice to the victims of the Holocaust. I think it also wildly underestimates moviegoers' capacity for empathy. We can relate to characters who don't share our background, and, at least in my opinion, when something horrible happens to someone in a movie I don't need to know that their makeup was the same as mine to feel their pain. And knowing their makeup was different from mine doesn't lessen that pain in the slightest.

Mr. Klein (1976) is about a French-Catholic protagonist who is mistaken for a Jew who shares his name. Although it falls into one of the categories that I mentioned above (#3) it doesn't strike me as a movie that was simply trying to light fire in the bellies of emotionally vapid moviegoers.

Alain Delon plays Robert Klein, a Christian art dealer in occupied France who buys paintings at dirt-cheap prices from Jews who are being forced to sell their belongings. When a Jewish newspaper shows up on his doorstep it starts a series of events that make Klein question his own identity, often seeming to flip back and forth between denial (even when he's thrown on a bus as part of the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup he adamantly declares that this has nothing to do with him, as if everyone else on the bus *should* be there, while he shouldn't) and doubt (what about that Danish side of the Klein family tree? what if he really is Jewish?) Rather than just asking the audience to relate to a non-Jewish victim of the Holocaust, Mr. Klein creates an ambiguous character who literally could be ANYONE. He could be the French-Catholic art dealer, or he could be the Jewish resistance fighter who shares his name. He could be a man with some Jewish heritage or a man with none at all. His identity doesn't belong to him anymore, it was reduced to a series of missing documents and physical measurements.

Aside from the political nature of the film, it's also an incredibly suspenseful mystery and an interesting treatise on the nature of obsession. Mr. Klein was directed by Joseph Losey, who also directed two of my favorite Dirk Bogarde movies, Accident and The Servant. I love his directorial style and it suits this movie so well. I'm not very good at describing what I love about filmmakers but I just love his camerawork and the atmosphere he creates in his films.

I'll be thinking about this movie for a long time. It's interesting on so many levels and honestly every aspect of it was perfect. I've been on an Alain Delon binge recently, which (I know for a fact) sometimes clouds my judgement on acting quality but he was seriously amazing as Robert Klein. He brings a kind of detached obsessiveness to this role that could have easily been played over-the-top by someone else.

I have so many more thoughts, but I'll leave it here since this is already getting too long. I'd definitely recommend watching this if you get a chance. Even if you're not interested in Holocaust-related cinema, it's a haunting psychological thriller that deserves to be seen.

Two on a Guillotine: That Darn Cat meets The Haunting

October 23, 2015

Every October I promise myself that I'll spend every free waking minute watching scary movies, and almost every October I end up watching The Body Snatcher and Doctor X and that's about it. This year I've been doing much better, and I've seen a lot more new-to-me thrillers than ever before.

I think my favorite so far has been Two on a Guillotine, a spooky movie from 1965 starring Connie Stevens and Dean Jones. This really is That Darn Cat meets The Haunting. Connie Stevens' plays a young woman whose estranged magician father (played brilliantly by Cesar Romero) recently passed away. Dean Jones is an undercover reporter who cozies up to her to try to get the scoop on her mysterious father and his creepy promise to return from the grave.

Stevens and Jones had a wonderful chemistry. I'd only ever seen Stevens in the campy melodrama Susan Slade, but here she seems to be having so much fun! Her interactions with Jones seem perfectly natural and there's an ease about her performance that you don't normally find in 60's horror movies. I feel like sometimes Dean Jones can be a little too much for me, but here his energetic personality, and the fast pace at which he spits out his dialogue, seem much less overwhelming. Perhaps it's because Connie Stevens exudes such a cool, calm air that she balances out his energy... or perhaps it's because his neurotic spirit is a welcome respite in a film that takes place in a (potentially) haunted mansion.

The movie fluctuates between romance and horror quite seamlessly. Witty banter is found side-by-side with strange wails emanating from the basement. But here's the thing -- normally movies that play light with horror tend to be devoid of any actual scares. But this movie has scenes that rival The Haunting in palpable tension and bone-chilling fright. I was actually clutching my blanket in fear a few times, and I'm pretty sure that I might have screamed at the same time as Connie Stevens in one particular scene.

Overall this had a wonderful mix of light and dark, sinister sounds and 60's dance music, romantic tension and edge-of-your-seat thrills. I enjoyed this movie immensely and I think it'll join The Body Snatcher and Doctor X as a film that I return to every October.

It's available to watch instantly on Amazon here.

Classic horror movie brooches

September 29, 2015

It's funny, I started Silents & Talkies as a place to share classic movie art but here I am six years later feeling guilty for wanting to share art here? I've just come to think of this as more of a writing-only kind of blog for some reason.

Anyway! I did a set of brooches inspired by 1930's horror movies and thought it would be sacrilegious if I didn't share it here, too. If you've been following my blog for a while you know that my favorite movies to watch in October are the creepy two-strip technicolor films from the 30's, like Doctor X and The Mystery of the Wax Museum. There's something about Lionel Atwill and an eerie green film tint that just screams "Halloween!" to me! And I have nothing against modern horror, but give me Bela Lugosi, atmospheric fog, cobweb-covered sets and I'm a happy camper.

My classic horror scream brooch was loosely inspired by Fay Wray (it would have been completed inspired by her if my drawing had actually looked more like her when it was finished, haha! I will never stop struggling with getting faces right.) 

The vampire brooch was inspired by Luna from Mark of the Vampire (this has one of the best horror movie endings, in my opinion) I'm so smitten with how that one came out! :D

Obviously the bride of Frankenstein brooch is Elsa Lanchester in The Bride of Frankenstein, and then the graveyard brooch is kind of a composite of every eerie cemetery scene in every scary 30's movie. That one is probably my favorite, since I think it really captures the atmosphere that makes me loves these films so much.

All of the brooches are available in my shop, here. I think I might do prints or a notecard set soon, too, but the brooches take longer to make so I wanted to get them in the shop early to make sure they can ship in time for Halloween :)

no one ever called me darling before

September 24, 2015

Now, Voyager is a film I've revisited so many times over the last decade that I could probably shut my eyes and see the film flicker across my closed eyelids, frame for frame. It's a movie that I come back to time and time again when I'm feeling a certain sadness about life and loneliness because, like Charlotte Vale, no one ever called me darling before.

When I was 22 the film gave me a sense of hope. I, too, could blossom into a new woman and go out into the world and find a Paul Henreid to buy me perfume and camellias. Now I'm getting closer to 30. I'm having a very difficult time with it, to be honest. Even typing the words "I'm getting closer to 30" is rough. I may not have bushy eyebrows and an overbearing mother but I'm seeing more and more of myself in the Aunt Charlotte who needed to lose 20 pounds of weight and 100 pounds of anxiety. I'm not sure what it is about my impending milestone that feels like a deadline to me, but there it is -- after the big 3-0 it's spinsterhood or bust.

I have a tendency to write more about my relationship to movies than the movies themselves, but movies have that effect on me. It's hard to separate my thoughts about Now, Voyager from the feelings the movie arouses in me. Almost every movie that I love has some emotional tug on me, whether it's tied to the experience of seeing the film (who I saw it with, what was happening in my life the first time I watched it) or to the content and how it speaks to me personally. Quite frankly even Sunday in New York originally sparked my interest because it was about a girl who had been a virgin a little longer than everyone else. It's since become my favorite movie for other reasons but that initial kinship that I felt with Jane Fonda's character will always be present when I re-watch it.

And so it is with Now, Voyager. The feelings I had as a 16 year old, as a 20 year old, as a 25 year old watching this movie resurface whenever I hear the familiar strains of Max Steiner's score. I can remember feeling hopeful, and then I can remember when that hope started to fade. I've always been kind of cynical about love, but movies that once left me smiling stupidly as the credits rolled by now leave me feeling world-weary and selfish. The last time I watched Now, Voyager I snarkily wondered "Why can't *I* have that?," slightly jealous that Charlotte broke out of her silver cocoon while I was still trapped in mine.

But then I wonder, why is it that this one single element of movies is the one thing I deserve in my life (and everyone else deserves, too.) I don't expect to have Brigitte Bardot's hair or Audrey Hepburn's wardrobe. I accept those things as unattainable and enjoy their films anyway. I'd love to work on the set of a tv show like TGS on 30 Rock, but I know that it's not realistic for me. Even when people in movies travel or have picnics in the park I think "well doesn't that seem nice" but I don't resent the characters for doing something I'm not. So why is it that the absence of love in my life makes it difficult for me to tolerate love in movies?

Honestly all of these thoughts were swirling through my mind before the credits even started on Now, Voyager earlier tonight. I've been feeling very blue about my upcoming birthday (I'm actually turning 29, I'm just obsessed with 30 lurking on the horizon) and words like "death, alone, mortality" have been dominating my thoughts. Perfect time to watch Now, Voyager, I figured. Either it would restore my faith in love or I could commiserate with pre-makeover Bette Davis. Win/Win.

So do I have hope now that someday things will magically change and all of my worrying during my 20's that I'd end up alone would be for naught? No. At this point I've pretty much abandoned any dreams I might have had that I'll find someone. I'm not even kidding, I can't even fathom a future in which I'm not on my own. I can't imagine someone telling me they love me.

However, I also saw in Charlotte an independent woman who decided to live her life to the fullest even if she couldn't have Jerry. She threw herself into working on the new addition to the sanitarium and hosted parties at her house. Even before she went back to Cascade and discovered Tina was there, she had broken off her engagement and was more than prepared to lead a fulfilling life alone.

Movies speak to us when we need to hear them. They tell us things that resonate based on where we are in our lives, and they comfort us when we need comforting. Now, Voyager has been there for me since I was 15 years old, lying in bed trying not to cry because I was about to turn 16 the next day and I still hadn't been kissed. It was there when I was 23, feeling alone and in desperate need of some hope. When I was 26 and starting to lose faith that love would find me, I felt a kindred spirit in Spinster Aunt Charlotte. And now, at *GULP* almost 30, I found comfort in Charlotte's warm embrace of solitude.

I'm still going to have days where I'm blue about life and love -- it's pretty much inescapable. And I'm sure I'll still turn to Now, Voyager to help me through it. No one has ever called me darling before, but movies have provided me so much love and understanding over the years that they're basically my boyfriend.

Don't let's ask for love, Jerry. We have the movies.

Emoji Spoiler Alert: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

September 10, 2015

Since my favorite pastime is wasting time, I decided to illustrate the plot of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in emoji. I had way more fun doing this than I probably should have, but that's kind of the whole point of wasting time, isn't it? And maybe it isn't really a waste at all if you decide to turn it into a blog post. That legitimizes the time spent on a project, at least a tiny bit, right?

Anyway, if you've seen the movie hopefully this will give you a little chuckle. I don't think it *really* spoils anything if you still haven't seen it, since it's kind of cryptic, but maybe if you were on the fence you'll be like "well now I NEED to find out how a goat, bread, and toilets factor into this cold war spy movie!"

Hopefully this will turn into a little series here (assuming I don't totally abandon it like I have 90% of my other series ideas) I really want to do one for Dr. Zhivago next, but be forewarned it'll probably just be a lot of snowflakes and broken hearts...


September 08, 2015

I just watched L'Alliance, a French film from 1971 starring Anna Karina. Initially I wasn't planning on writing anything about it, I only wanted to share this one screenshot that I took. I liked the dialogue, Anna Karina's face is always cool, and the screenshot itself seemed like one of those movie moments that could easily become a "this scene just GETS ME" screencap that I turn into my facebook cover photo.

But then I was talking to my dad about the movie and the more I explained the plot the more I realized I actually really liked it and maybe I had more to say than I originally thought. Maybe the movie meant more to me than social networking wallpaper.

The film begins with a marriage broker trying to find a wife for a peculiar man, played by Jean-Claude Carrière, who seems way more interested in his future wife's real estate holdings than her personality or appearance. She can be dull or exciting, blonde or brunette, but if she doesn't have a closet (or at least a closed off extra room) then he's looking elsewhere. In Anna Karina he finally finds the square footage he's been waiting for. They marry immediately.

They seem sort of happy at first. Her new husband is really preoccupied with insects on their honeymoon, but that's to be expected of any newlywed, right?

Once they get back to the enormous apartment, he starts setting up his Veterinary practice and obsessing over a locked closet that houses a bunch of old junk, a fishing pole, and some very large slippers. He becomes tormented by those slippers, constantly trying to figure out whose large feet once slipped inside of them. They have dinner guests and he literally puts his foot next to the man's shoe to see if it's the right size. What even. He starts recording verbal diary entries documenting his wife's every move (she goes shopping every day but she never buys anything? What is she hiding??) and, of course, the case of the very large slippers.

Meanwhile the house is becoming a miniature zoo with monkeys, birds, lizards and rodents taking up every square inch of the sizable apartment. The maid is growing concerned that the animals are going to attack her somehow, they seem to be getting more and more agitated by the day. The animals make for a really awesome backdrop to this psychological thriller. The still silence that is the hallmark of any nighttime scene in this genre is punctuated by creepy bird calls or the sounds of little claws clanging on cages.

The movie is very Gaslight, if both parties were Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman. I mean, they both seem like they're driving each other insane AND they both seem like they're going insane. It's ridiculously well done and super eerie. And **SPOILER ALERT** it is actually building up to an ending that has literally NOTHING to do with the drama that preceded it. But I think that's the point. **SERIOUSLY I AM TOTALLY SPOILING THE ENDING NOW SO READ AT YOUR OWN RISK** The film ends with the animals going absolutely haywire. The maid finally quits, sure that the animals are about to form a revolt, and Anna Karina runs to her husband to find out what's going on. I was positive that there was going to be some kind of off the wall kooky explanation - he was actually an alien, or the animals were aliens, or he had devised some kind of serum from insect blood that would make animals into his slaves, maybe? - but the animals are actually sensing something cataclysmic is about to happen. Husband and wife share their first and only moment of trust, they embrace, and an atomic bomb wipes out civilization. Bugs crawl away from the debris, the only survivors of man's holocaust.

*STILL SPOILERS* In retrospect, the ending was foreshadowed a few times in the movie. During their honeymoon she remarks that her father used to kick anthills and then laugh at all the ants scrambling around their broken home. She always wondered if there was someone out there waiting to kick us, and laugh as our own world fell to pieces. Later on, a scientist comes to visit and explains that humans will likely be wiped out soon and that the only creature to survive atomic blasts are insects.

I don't know what the author (It's Jean-Claude Carrière -- the actor who played the husband, by the way. Awesome little piece of trivia right there) intended by this ending, but what I took away from the film was how everyday life, with all of its little human dramas, could come to a screeching halt. Sort of like the ending of Fail Safe, nuclear annihilation ends day to day life in a heartbeat. We aren't meant to find out who owned the slippers or where Anna Karina went shopping. We don't get a conclusion to the story wrapped up neatly and tied with a ribbon because nuclear winter is the conclusion to everything. It doesn't care about the fate of this twisted couple, so we don't get to care either. *END SPOILERS*

All in all, I think it was a very interesting, thought provoking movie that I'll probably have on my mind for quite a while. It's also beautifully filmed and Anna Karina and Jean-Claude Carrière are excellent in their strange, compelling and complex roles. I had a hard time finding a copy but if you can get your hands on one I'd definitely recommend it. Just be prepared (if you avoided my spoilers) that it's not a conventional thriller.

Anna Karina's character often came home from shopping trips empty-handed. I cannot relate. Anna Karina's character went to the cinema alone. She is my spirit animal.