#20 Moonrise Kingdom

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Moonrise Kingdom

Tear: 2012

Director: Wes Anderson

Screenplay: Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola

I just saw one of the cutest films, the love story of two young kids who decide to run away and even get married! But I found Moonrise Kingdom more than that. Despite being a “running-away-love-story” set in 1965, this film approached the issues of being young and misunderstood in the kid’s perspective. Suzy and Sam are both “complicated” kids: Suzy is the oldest of 4 and the only girl, whose mother is having an affair with the village policeman, Captain Sharp (well, at least they meet to smoke and there’s something going on between them for sure), and is married to a depressed guy who does not satisfy her and is aware of that fact. Despite living in a big and beautiful house, they’re not that happy, mom and dad don’t even sleep in the same bed! All her brothers are quite young, so Suzy passes a lot of her time reading books and listening to music (on her little brother’s turntable). She’s also a girl that “goes berserk” sometimes, which causes her some not-so-good situations. Sam is an orphan with emotional problems at age 12, whose foster parents claim they cannot have him anymore because “it wouldn’t be fair for everyone” (???). He’s also the most unpopular boy at the campsite…

Sam is at a scouts’ campsite and the movie begins with his escape. The reason is because he met Suzy sometime earlier and the two immediately felt something for each other, so they eventually decide to run away together. Time passes and when Sam runs away, Suzy also leaves home with some of her most precious belongings: her binoculars (that she always carry with her, calling them her “superpower” because it makes her see things more closely), her kitty, some books and the turntable. Later when Suzy’s dad is told, by she might be at some friend’s house, he replies she hasn’t got any. So we have to outsiders here who fell for each other and decide to leave everything behind, even if it has consequences for those around them and putting everyone looking for them.

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I found this movie very touching, despite the funny parts. Sam is treated like… well, not as a person for sure. Because his actual foster parents don’t want him anymore, he runs the risk of being put in electroshock treatment at some Juvenile Refuge. This is something that is still done today, but besides that, many people (not only children) are treated (in terms of medical care) without taking into account the person’s background, consent, opinion or feelings. Luckily for Sam, Captain Sharp has a golden heart and decides he wants to keep the boy, avoiding his horrible fate. Therefore, Suzy is able to continue to see her husband (they have a more or less an official marriage). Suzy thinks her mother does not understand her and she herself does not understand what’s wrong in wanting to be with the person you love. All the commotion is because Sam is known to be an orphan with emotional problems, so part of the adults want him just… away. Anyway, the two are very closed within themselves, as, I think, all teens are. And that can be very dramatic, as I think I already said in earlier posts.

Another touching scene is when the rest of the boys at the campsite, instead of ostracizing their comrade, decide to help him in his escape (his second escape I mean, Sam and Suzy are caught in the woods, and eventually return home: Suzy to her parents’ and Sam to Captain Sharp’s). So the crew decides to “rescue” Sam from Captain Sharp’s house in the middle of the night, with Suzy with them! Everyone sail on canoes to the other side of the sore, where there’s another campsite in which is one of the boy’s cousin, who would help Sam and Suzy escape from the island, never to be seen again. In the meantime, there’s a storm cooking up in the skies, so we get a little tension: are the kids going to survive this escape all by themselves in the middle of that epic storm? In the meantime, everyone is worried and trying to find, first just Sam and Suzy, the the whole team, which leads to some situations…ImageAnother interesting thing I saw in this film was the innocence of two young people, discovering each other and themselves, who are not even ashamed, because after all, they were both alike and in the middle of nowhere, in a little stoned beach, to which they decide to call Moonrise Kingdom. As they are camping there, the two dance, hold hands, hug and kiss. They decide to try the french kiss and Suzy tells Sam he can touch her breasts. So yes, the two are exploring each other and the scene is so innocent because they are so open with each other, they are so true. Eventually they are caught, as I said, and the image of the two is (in my opinion, I know I’m often too emotional…) so touching: two little birds in their underwear, hugging each other inside the tent, which is blown by the big bad wolf, Suzy’s father, who’s angry and frustrated at the same time, with all the rest of the people watching! They just want to be together!!! But Sam and Suzy don’t seem to belong to one another: Suzy is very pretty and Sam is still very “dorky” (I know I use this expression a lot… but look at him!!). Sometimes people even get impressed that Suzy is “his girl”. Well, maybe if she was a “normal” girl who doesn’t stab people with scissors, she would be with a “normal” boy, but the two are just fine the way they are. They only met once – when they first met – so when they reunite again, it shows a bit of crudeness. Despite Sam taking her flowers and everything, the two treat each other almost professionally, planning the escape with a map and making an inventory of their belongings! I guess that they get more and more sure they want to be with each other as their adventure progresses.

One thing I noticed was that, both kids are also super serious throughout the entire movie! They talk very seriously and act very seriously, that’s why the movie sometimes reminded me of other films (like the Bride of Chucky for instants, although it has nothing to do with it!!!) It shows especially in the second escape, when the two decide to get married, seem two young adults instead of two 12 year olds! Later, in a scene when they are about to jump together into the rain, in a possible suicide, Sam tells Suzy that if they die, he’s thankful for her having married him, so they are sure they want to be together, as friends more than lovers, this shows they are thankful for having found a friend like themselves. More: they often say things very fast, meaning they don’t say it directly, but end up saying them anyway. Like in the clip above, “I love you but you don’t know what you’re talking about” – there, no pause next to the “I love you”. And the she only responds to that part: it’s the only scene where they say they love each other to each other. There are other scenes when the two talk like this, the important part is always there, but it’s said like if it has the same importance as the rest of the sentence.

So this is it, this is what I have to say about this movie. It’s an adventurous love story between two kids who don’t fit so well, it’s funny, it’s touching, it’s cute. And the shots are almost like reading a comic book, i liked that a lot. What do you think?

#19 Cypher

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Cypher

Year: 2002

Director: Vicenzo Natali

Screenplay: Brian King

“Cypher” is one of my favorite movies from a very cool Director, Vicenzo Natali. You probably know him from Cube (the first), Splice or Neuromancer. He’s one of my favorite Directors, I’l soon write something about another of his movies: “Nothing”, which I found very creative! I’ve seen “Cypher” a million times and this last time I though to myself: “Man, I wish I could feel the same sensation I felt the first time I saw this! I now know everything that’s going to happen, I need more movies that can give me that feeling of astonishment!” Yet, I watch the movie every now and then, it’s one of those movies that makes me feel good, don’t ask me why, I can’t explain it, but there are some movies I see quite often because I feel I need to. I even might see the same movie like 3 or 4 days in a row… It might sound crazy, but it’s true.

Anyway, another thing I wanted to try here was talking about the movies without spoiling them, but I find it very hard. On one hand, I want to comment the scenes, the concept, the characters, wtv. On the other hand, I want to make people see the movies I talk about and think about them, so how am I suppose to comment a movie without talking about its’ scenes?

Anyway, “Cypher” is a movie that will make you look at the screen with your eyes wide open. The story is relatively simple, if you pay attention – it’s one of those movies you just can’t miss 5 seconds or you won’t get what’s next. It’s a thing within a thing, within a thing! And you’ll be like: “AAAWWWW!! No WAY!! What The Hell!!”

Let’s spoil: it’s about a man, this guy Morgan Sullivan, who’s being hired by a company, Digicorp, to be a spy. But in reality, this company is brainwashing their “spies” so that they infiltrate another company, Sunway Systems and steal data from them. Morgan Sullivan is intercepted by a woman, Rita Foster, who helps him to stop the brainwashing and arrive to Sunway Systems as Morgan Sullivan, not as Jack Thursby, the identity Digicorp was trying to instill in him.  Sunway Systems’ boss asks Morgan to continue acting as Jack Thursby and give corrupted data to Digicorp. Both enterprises dispose their workers after they complete the tasks they were given. Rita Foster eventually tells Morgan he is, in reality, a man contracted by her own boss, Sebastian Rooks, to infiltrate the vault of Sunway Systems to retrieve an important piece of information. He manages to enter the Vault, steal the data, and escape with Rita, with the promise that Sebastian would not get rid of him like Digicorp or Sunway Systems. Once at Sebastian’s house, or at least one o them, since the man likes to move a lot, Morgan finds out he is not Morgan after all, neither is he Jack: he IS Sebastian Rooks!

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What amazes me is how his subconscious mind was telling him all along! As Morgan Sullivan, he was kind of dorky, his glasses, his hairstyle, his actions, his attitude, his passiveness… As the movie goes on and he makes his transformation into Jack Thursby – the name Digicorp gave him to use in the false conferences he was suppose to record – his appearance also changes. When he’s given that name, he immediately asks: “What’s he like? What’s his personality?”, to what Finster, the head of Digicorp, replies something like “Whatever you want him to be” (I don’t recall the exact words). So Morgan starts acting like a new man, the complete opposite of what he is: he starts smoking, although without any difficulty, any cough, starts drinking, scotch on the rocks, something he never did! He drops his glasses and stops using that hair, unbuttons the first buttons of his shirts… well, he starts being (so much) less stiff. And he doesn’t understand why, he just feels that’s who he REALLY is. In the end, when he finally finds out he’s Sebastian Rooks (a man never seen by anyone, a very, very secret man, who would be killed if anyone knew him, only one person knows his identity: his lover, Rita Foster) he realizes it by looking at the room he’s standing on: golf clubs, his favorite brand of cigarettes, scotch… and finally, a picture of him and Rita. That’s another think I love about the movie: his love and interest for her is never forgotten, even when he’s Morgan/Jack! When he meets the disguised Rita, he flirts with her and tries to approach her. It was all a plan created by him – Sebastian – to infiltrate that Vault!! Sebastian knew he was going to meet Rita in the process, who was going to help him get that important data! He knew he was going to forget who he was and become Morgan, he knew it all!! And in the end, there’s no exception: those who saw his face get killed! And what was the important data? Rita Foster’s file from Sunway Systems: she too was a pawn for that company, and Sebastian destroys it by throwing it into the ocean, making Sunway Systems free of Rita’s files, so that she won’t be “disposed”. So I guess, in the end, this is just an awesome love story!

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Another thing it made me think about is how easy it is for one to control another’s mind… It only takes some steps to be followed. And how are we certain we ourselves are not controlled? Are we the product of someone’s agenda? Are we certain of who we are?

I always recommend this film to everyone who asks me for new stuff to watch, for it isn’t a very known one and it’s totally  worth it! Just now I was able to see a flaw: some of the special effects can be seen as computer generated, but I only noticed it now, after watching it all those times before! I guess I was so absorbed by the whole story I didn’t even notice those details! I won’t describe more scenes here, you just have to see it, one in particular – my favorite – is very creepy, but I already told the story, so these are just (awesome) details, although important too.

I’m glad to know this movie, it was much easier for me to write about this one, I love it! How about you?

#18 Hanna

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Hanna

Year: 2011

Director: Joe Wright

Screenplay: Seth Lochhead and David Farr

Hanna is a young girl who lives in the northern forests with her father, Erick, a guy who teaches and trains her since she was 2 years old. Hanna is capable of hunting, fighting and killing better than any person alive. But she has never had any contact with the civilized world or modern technology. Her knowledge comes from books and she seems a bit cold blooded, but who wouldn’t be, having no contact with other people? Well, it’s more than that… However, Hanna likes fantasy too, she often reads the Grimm’s Fairy Tales and wonders how does music feel like.

The whole movie can be described as an action fairly tale with violence and blood. The main character is a girl and the villain (the witch, as she calls her) is a CIA agent who wants her dead. We enter Hanna’s life in a moment where she decides she’s ready to leave the forest and go kill the witch: Marissa Wiegler. Her father prepared Hanna for this moment her whole life and advises her, asking her if she’s sure, for once she leaves that place, Marissa won’t stop until she, or Marissa herself, is dead. The plan is for Hanna to kill Marissa and then meet her father in Berlin. In order to go unnoticed, Hanna has memorized a fake life to tell to whoever she encounters: a school, a town, friends, an address, even a dog.

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So the moment has come and her father presents her with a device that will announce their location once its button is pressed. Hanna presses it and the two make their preparations for Erik’s escape and Hanna’s capture. Eventually the soldiers arrive, at night, and enter the hut. Hanna kills two of them and let the others come take her, acting as if it wasn’t her who killed them (implying her father did it, as they planned). Hanna is taken to an underground facility and put in a room full of cameras. A doctor is asking her some questions but she asks to see Marissa Wiegler. Marissa and other CIA members are observing Hanna through those cameras and Marissa decides to send in a double, for she knows what Hanna is capable of, although she gets even more surprised when Hanna kills her double and all the other members who were sent to tranquilize her with a shot! FY that is a great scene!!

We see something’s about to happen when Hanna clings to Marissa’s double. From that moment on we see How Hanna is able to escape through tunnels and passages, with the stolen gun form one of the guards, hiding from all the soldiers and killing whoever crosses her path directly, or telling them – without a single word – to let her go. The music was, in my opinion, very well chosen for completes the scenes without being corny. It’s not the “normal action movie music” I guess, it’s really awesome combined with all of the film concept: the 15 year old cold-blooded girl with an abnormal DNA who likes the Grimm’s fairytales, despite being trained her whole life to kill, she also desires to know music and magic. Another thing that’s pretty cool are the fight scenes, especially the underground facility and the subway ones. (Btw, on this last one, Erik realizes Marissa’s not dead yet.) I didn’t see any exaggeration (at least for an ex-CIA agent and a girl who trained her entire life to kill), but then again, I don’t know much about fighting…

She manages to get to the surface, realizing she’s in the middle of nowhere. She the finds a family to whom she follows, first without them knowing, but then accompanying them freely, as they actually like her. She becomes friends with with the couple’s daughter,Sophie. In the meantime, Marissa’s on the run too, trying to find Hanna. She asks the help of a friend, Isaacs, another ex-CIA member and an eccentric man with a passion for freaks, to find the girl, but not to kill her. She also goes visit Hanna’s grandmother (who Hanna never met, for she had lives her whole life in the woods), ending up killing her. In this scene, Hanna’s granny tells Marissa that if she was a mother, she would understand what it’s like to lose a daughter (Marissa was the one responsible for Johanna’s – Hanna’s mom – death, but couldn’t kill Erik or the girl, for they ran into the forest, never to be seen again), to what she replies she’d made some choices. The entire movie I got the sensation there was something between Marissa and Erik, and even when we realize what’s going on, I kept thinking there was something more between the two. Anyway,  Marissa finds some tapes Johanna sent to her mother, where she tells all about her pregnancy, and listens to them, until Erik finds her and tries to kill her. In the meantime Hanna flees, after another fight, this time with Isaacs and his boys, and manages to find the address where she agreed to meet her father: a fairytale-like house that belongs a friend of Erik’s, Knepfler, a magician. Marissa managed to track Hanna after questioning Sophie’s family, whom she captured, so, once in Knepfler’s house, the two new friends hear someone outside who’s not Erik, and Knepfler tells Hanna to run as he stays behind, ending up being killed. However, before she manages to escape the house without being noticed, she listens to Marissa talking on the phone so 1. she gets surprised for Marissa being alive, and 2. she finds out Erik is not her biological father.

Hanna finds her grandmother’s house and her blood on the floor, and suddenly Erik appears, so she confronts him about him not being her real father and about her “abnormal DNA” (for she had found and stolen her file back in the underground facility, and saw her information there). Erik finally tells her (and us for that matter) the whole thing: Hanna was born in a facility and was part of a project that genetically enhanced human embryos so they would become stronger human beings, with less sense of compassion or affection, basically, a new breed of people created to be soldiers. The project was canceled by Marissa Wiegler and everything (meaning everyone) was eliminated… except Hanna, who Erik was able to save. At this moment, Marissa and Isaacs arrive and Erik tells Hanna to run while he distracted them, ending up being killed, not before killing Isaacs.

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Hanna manages to go back to the “fairytale house”, just to find a dead Knepfler… Marissa appears and now we have the princess confronting the witch! Hanna runs, but Marissa follows her. We see Marissa coming out of a giant’s wolf mouth (I don’t think it’s necessary to go further on the meaning of the wolf here, Marissa is the “bad guy”, period) with her gun in her hand, facing Hanna. Hanna tells her she wants to stop and doesn’t want to hurt anyone anymore, walking away from Marissa, who says she just wants to talk. As Hanna is leaving her, Marissa shoots her, at the same time as Hanna turns around (upon realizing Marissa’s intention) and throws an arrow at her. They both fall, but both stand up again. In the end, Hanna ends up killing Marissa, who lies on the floor with the arrow through her body, with the gun. This scene is identical to the opening sequence, where we see Hanna hunting a deer with an arrow but ends up shooting it with a gun because, as she also said to Marissa, she missed the heart. After all, Hanna was trained to “hunt” Marissa, while being hunted by her at the same time, so it was kill or be killed.

My question is: why Erik wants Hanna to kill Marissa? I guess it’s just because he fell for Johanna and her baby and the only way to stop Marissa was by killing her, either by his hands or Hanna’s. Anyway, Hanna is a girl who doesn’t want to kill despite being engineered to do so. She feels there’s something wrong and  confirms it with the files she steels. Deep inside, she’s still an ordinary girl just with few modifications.

#17 Mermaids

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Year: 1990

Director: Richard Benjamin

Screenplay: June Roberts (from the novel of Patty Dan)

“Mermaids” is a film about a family of three: mom and two girls, who is constantly moving from town to town. Mrs Rachel Flax is a woman who faces her problems (most of them love related) by literally running away from them. This has an impact on her daughters, of course, especially Charlotte, 15 years old, the main character. We see the whole movie through her point of view, since she’s the narrator and often is telling us her thoughts at the moment of each scene. Charlotte is a more complicated girl than she seems: she’s a religious fanatic, the complete opposite of her mother. At one point we are told she had mental problems )and that was a reason for one of the family’s many transitions, because Rachel didn’t want to deal with it). Her mother is a beautiful eccentric (well, not that eccentric I would say, she just likes to look good that’s all… isn’t it?) woman who likes to have fun and has little patience for cooking, so they’re always eating candy or sandwiches (shaped like stars). Although Charlotte seems to hate her mother (she refers to her as Mrs Flax, not “mom” or “mother” or wtv), but Rachel doesn’t have any malice in her. Yes, she may seem selfish, always on the run with her kids, but as she herself says, kids don’t come with an instruction’s manual and she does the best she can. I like her character a lot. Her youngest daughter, Kate, is an excellent swimmer who’s always in her world, always training to be better and she’s never sad or annoyed like her sister. Charlotte is often mocked by her mother because of her exaggerate (just my opinion) praying. For a fifteen year old she should be starting to think about boys, fashion and stuff like that, like her school mates, but instead, she dreams of becoming a nun. And when they move to their new home, in Eastport, Massachusetts, she petrifies when seeing a pair of nuns at the shoe store! Also, she they meet Joe, a young handsome guy who works in the town’s convent, and her thoughts start to betray her beliefs. Charlotte falls for Joe and starts a “mental fight” not to think dirty things about or with him! I guess I can say that Charlotte is also in her own world all the time, she doesn’t even talk to her mother, unless to scold her on her looks or things like that.

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In the meantime, Rachel also meets a guy: the shoe store owner, Lou, who turns out to be very sweet and also likes to have fun. He and Rachel get along very well, although one can see, almost in the end, how Rachel is afraid of commitment and, I think, uses Lou’s kindness for her daughter as an excuse to her fear, for she says that if Lou wants to get to her do it directly, not through her daughters. I think it’s clear the guy was just being himself, he was not trying to get to her through her daughters at all, he didn’t need to! This happens in a scene where they are all having dinner together, which is a thing the three girls don’t do, it’s just not a costume in the family, and Lou find it a bit of, but never criticizes them. So they are having dinner, all happy, even Charlotte, and Rachel starts staring at all that, the food, the talking (Charlotte never talks, but now she does!) and starts to feel either bored or frightened or both. She asks “what is this?”, and Lou responds by saying “it’s what families do”. So Rachel has that talk with him and is already thinking of moving again… But they all end up staying in Eastport.

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Charlotte also has hopes of meeting her father, whom she never saw. She thinks the man will save her from that family she hates. I think her father and God are almost at the same level here: she thinks of an imaginary person to save her (please don’t get offended if you’re religious, I’m not). Her mother keeps telling her father isn’t worth it, but obviously Charlotte doesn’t listen to Rachel. Although her mother rolls her eyes to Charlotte’s praying, she never complains to her about them.

Charlotte gets very awkward in Joe’s presence. She basically invites herself to go out with him and then, while at it, she’s always thinking of having sex with him, although he’s not that interested. There’s one scene where she trips and falls in her arms and licks her jacket (without him noticing it)! That’s how desperate this girl is! And how confused! I don’t think she’s bad either, but sometimes she can be mean, and for all the things she thinks and does, one can see how she has to let everything flow and get rid of the fork she has stuck up her butt! Eventually she does.

As the film goes on, Charlotte eventually kisses Joe at the convent’s bell tower, while simultaneously  staring at the saints statues and pictures’ disapproved faces, ending up by literally running away from that place (lol). Having no knowledge of how babies are made, she starts thinking she’s pregnant, just like the virgin Mary. This is another proof of how self-centered she his. I don’t want to use the word disturbed because, well, she’s just fifteen and it’s the 60’s, I wouldn’t blame her for thinking she was pregnant, although it’s funny. I think all fifteen year old girls are self centered, it’s supposed to be like that at that age I guess, it’s the time where we start searching for ourselves. The girl is only confused, the hormones are kicking in and her mother isn’t exactly instilling much discipline or stability on her. Plus, she doesn’t have a fatherly figure. So she’s holding onto Joe like a crab! To redeem herself she starts fasting, and even runs away from home, in her mother’s car (which makes Rachel mad) and infiltrates herself in a “perfect happy family”, with a father, a mother, and two kids. She gives a fake name and even has lunch with them. Eventually Lou appears and takes her home. This whole episode made me think she could even be borderline, not that I know much of the disease, but she seems to be having an outbreak and seems to be confusing reality with fantasy, because of the comparison with Virgin Mary and her attitude while at those strangers’ house. She’s all happy, very talkative and very light headed. Anyway, she ends up going to a doctor who tells her she’s a virgin and it’s impossible for her to be pregnant, which was a relief.

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Later on Rachel is invited to the new year’s eve costume party (to where she goes as a mermaid) with the rest of “adults” of Charlotte’s school, along with Lou. When coming home, she asks Joe, who goes there too for some reason, to help her with her car. When arriving, she kisses Joe on the mouth. Charlotte catches them and immediately runs outside screaming at her mother and Joe, saying Rachel kisses everyone and it doesn’t mean she likes him. This is a time where Rachel is having some problems with Lou, as I already said, so she must have been a bit more fragile, moreover, they had had a fight about Rachel not wanting to live together with him. Anyway, Charlotte thinks her mother is stealing her loved one. Later, as a revenge, she puts on her clothes and makeup and goes with Kate to show her the convent, after the two drink some wine, so they’re a bit dizzy at this moment. While at the convent’s surroundings, Charlotte goes to the bell tower, leaving Kate alone near a stream, where she goes to pick rocks. At the bell tower, she finds Joe and loses her virginity there, while her sister falls into the water and drowns almost to death. Luckily the nuns were nearby and save her.

At the hospital, Rachel sends Charlotte home and tells her to wait for news. She’s really pissed with her and when she goes home to get some clothes, the two have a big fight. One can see Rachel might be all about having fun but never would’ve neglected her child, while Charlotte, in her selfishness, forgot about her little sister just to have sex. Anyway, no one can throw the first stone here and the two end up making up. Charlotte has many problems in her head, but as I said, she’s only fifteen and it’s normal to do foolish things. Well, in this case was too much, I know… But Charlotte’s Rachel daughter too and deserves more of her comprehension and attention. In the end, all ends well though. Joe leaves town but continues contacting Charlotte trough postcards, Rachel stays, deciding to give life a chance, Charlotte gets a new passion – Greek mythology – and a new look, leaving behind her “puritan” clothes and wearing beautiful ones, like her mother’s (and learned to face her mother’s attitudes, back in the great fight scene she had with Rachel), Kate recovers well and Lou lives happily with the three of the girls. It’s a happy ending for a once troubled family.

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I personally like this movie a lot, it has a great cast (Cher is nothing but a mermaid actually!) and the story is more complex than it appears to be, approaching psychological issues, which I find very interesting to study. Plus, it’s a 90’s movie, which makes me like it more I guess, I like that kind of image. What about you?

#16 The Misfits

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Year: 1961

Director: John Huston

Screenplay: Arthur Miller

Here I am today, to talk about another BW movie.. I was curious about Marilyn Monroe’s movies, moreover since I read her auto-biography (which is, in reality, her conversations with her psychiatrist). I found the film to be very similar to her own life, except in her life she was always with her mask and the drugs. Arthur Miller was her husband, so he knew her and knew her core. Marilyn, in my opinion, was somehow a lost soul and ahead of her time. In this movie, set in the early sixties, Roslyn Tabor has just divorced her husband and is a bit lost. Her landlady, Isabelle Steers, is about to be her witness against her husband and we can see how Isabelle likes Roslyn. The two first meet Guido and then his cowboy friend Gay, and the four get along in a bar, where they start to know each other. Guido offers his country house to Roslyn (and Isabelle) for her to get some rest. Both Guido and Gay are already interested in Roslyn, finding her intriguing and very beautiful, and both try their luck of course. But Roslyn doesn’t want nothing with them and at the same time is very kind with them (well, she’s very kind with everyone around her actually). The four new friends go to Guido’s house, still with a room under construction, and there he tells Roslyn his story: his wife died there while she was pregnant. He didn’t think it was that and didn’t have a spare tire to drive her to the hospital (apparently he needed a spare tire). He says his wife was one of a kind and there’s no one like her, never complaining about nothing, always supporting him in everything. “Maybe that’s why she died” – that’s what Roslyn says (lol), adding it’s healthy to complain once in a while. He gives her a funny look and she manages to leave the room. Obviously, this shows how men suppressed women back then, and how those who dared to think differently “were looked in funny ways”. Roslyn is a very lovely person, always caring for the people and the animals around her, always feeling other people’s feelings besides her own, and always very graceful too. For all of this, she always attracts men and can be misunderstood in her intentions.

Back in the living room, she dances with Gay, but is interrupted so that Guido, who was a bit crossly when he saw them, may dance with her, revealing his amazing skills. Later they decide to go to a rodeo and go after mustangs the next day, but they’re missing one men for this last job. Luckily, on their way to the rodeo, they find a friend of Gay, Perce, who was also on his way to the rodeo, but lost his ride. This scene is funny because Perce goes talk on the phone with his mother and it doesn’t seem to be that important to the rest of the movie, yet they decide to film the whole conversation, with Perse closing the cabin’s door when he’s talking about something that may be shameful for others to hear, and opening it when it’s ok to talk “freely”. The only connection I made was later, when he talks about his family to Roslyn, but I didn’t think we had to see the entire conversation on the phone…

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On the image above there’s a scene that happens just before the rodeo starts. They meet an old guy with his grandson who has one paddle ball. The grandfather finds the game too difficult and bets with Roslyn she can’t hit 10 in a row. She does like 50 times or so, so they manage to get some cash there. The point is, when Roslyn is bouncing the paddle, all men are around her, cheering and looking at her, and eventually one touches her butt (the nerve!!)!! That almost leads to a fight, but they end up leaving the bar. This scene, as well as others I’ve seen, gets on my nerves: a girl doing something cool and a bunch of guys staring at her body, she might even not realize what’s going on, and that’s even more irritating! Anyway, Perce steps forward to end that.

This is the first Marilyn Monroe film I see, but from other movie clips with her I found on youtube, this scene was the same: Marilyn Monroe is the center of attentions because of her beautiful looks. Were people writing scripts with those scenes in mind, to exploit her body? Was this a coincidence? Upon reading her book I felt sorry, ’cause she seemed a good person deep inside, despite her numerous affairs, but no one (with rare exceptions) cared about what she truly was, about her being, only taking advantage of her body or expecting her to be a tamed housewife. She said if girls didn’t sleep with director or producer or wtv, if they didn’t sleep with “the right person”, they wouldn’t get their part. Marilyn slept with hundreds (?) of men, both to get roles/jobs/money (yes, money, she didn’t even have enough to eat for a while) and/or to give them some pleasure, for she would do them that favor if it made them happy. The problem is: we’re talking about sex here, so she’s seen by many as a whore. Nevertheless, I think she was a beautiful person inside and out, and she was an educated person too, which is  subject that appears earlier in this film too. Gay’s talking to her and the matter comes up, he gets pleasently surprised when she says she didn’t finish her high school and she asks him if she doesn’t like educated women, and he basically responds that they (women) don’t need to be educated.

Moving on, they are five now and Perce is going to mount a horse and a bull to see if he can get some bucks. As one might except, Perce gets hurt, but it seems to affect Roslyn more than the others, as she’s always very sensitive (sometimes it skims the comedy because of the drama she makes, but she’s so sweet, she’s not kidding!). Later they go drink some more and Guido and Gay, who were just the two until now, realize they have one more for the competition: a younger and more handsome one. However, we have never seen Gay “asking permission” to Guido to make a move with Roslyn, as he knew Guido was interested in her before the first meeting in the bar. He’s older, he’s a cowboy, he does what he wants. That’s why there’s always a little tension between the two (it almost seems like Gay is Guido’s boss sometimes), but with Perce it’s different. Perce seems innocent, so to speak. He seems to be as young and free as Roslyn and asks Gay if he’s with Roslyn, to see if he’s free to go after her. I found Perce to be the sweetest from this trio of men, but somehow the older knows best… And I really don’t understand why, but I’ll get there. At this point Isabelle is already gone, off to her home to spend some days with her ex-husband and his wife, an old friend of her. Apparently it’s all good between the three. But when she goes away, she never comes back, and I don’t understand why. What was her role after all? Was she a motherly figure to Roslyn? I suppose so. But I found her leaving a bit abrupt… Although none of the men wanted anything with her, for she was older, she was always very cheerful, never getting mad when they forgot her name, and always very sweet to Roslyn. One can say she was also a bohemian kind of person, as she liked to drink and to have fun despite her age.

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Eventually they get back to the house, Guido and Gay drunk, and they go after the mustang horses the next morning. Roslyn finds out they’re going to kill the animals, although not directly, but it still is their fault, for it’s them who sell the horses to the dealers who do that job. She gets very upset, but they all go anyway, expecting her to calm down and accept that men’s job. Gay’s a free spirit too in a way, for he chooses to make this living to not be chained to a wage, as he says. It seems all cowboys loathe that kind of life, so they choose the fate of those horses so they can live more freely. Gay explains Roslyn just that and reminds her he didn’t judge her when she told them what she used to do for a living: dancing in clubs.

But Roslyn doesn’t accept the killing, even if it’s not directly done by them, and eventually come out of the car and runs screaming they were killers. At this point, Guido reveals himself completely. We have seen before how he seems to have forgotten his wife, who he talks so good about, and now we see how he remembers why women are a pain in the ass. Later, when he asks Roslyn, in a final effort to conquer her, if she wants him to finish all that “savagery”, she understands who he really is, so he’s now crossed out of the list, for Roslyn seems to be the entire movie trying to decide which man she wants. At first she doesn’t seem to want anybody, she’s lost and just wants to find herself, but as the film progresses, she faces some new opportunities and tries to figure out what’s best for her.

Eventually, Perce is the one who goes free the horses, but they see Gay trying to catch one. Roslyn asks Perce to help him, for he’s struggling with the animal, but Perce says “he doesn’t need help”. I didn’t get which one they were talking about here, Gay or the horse. Anyway, when Gay finishes taming the animal, Guido shows up with the conversation they were having before, when he was talking he and Gay didn’t need anyone and could work for real to live as free men, capturing horses forever. But Gay tells him to shut up, and we see he’s confused. Roslyn’s feelings weren’t in vain and put him to think. So when Guido shows up with that conversation again, Gay splits the rope that was tying the horse and let the animal go free, to everyone’s surprise. This, of course, had an impact on Roslyn, and she ends up choosing him. Gay did things for Roslyn he didn’t even do for his (ex) wife and she must have felt special for that, but by itself, it wasn’t enough. But at the end, on their way home, she makes her mind and the too seem to agree on staying together, despite Gay even pushed Roslyn earlier, when she was trying to make him stop taming one of the horses. In fact, in this scene, the three men are trying to tame the horse, each one puling a rope at the same time, which may be an allusion to them “trying to tame” Roslyn.

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So there you have it. She had a sweet guy in front of her, but chose the other one who often mistreated her. It’s true, Gay realized the horse business was not how it used to be, it was worse, and he was contributing to it, so decided to take another path for his life. He did everything to please Roslyn, even when she told him, in the beginning, she didn’t feel that way about him (he even kissed her while she was sleeping, and although she smiled when waking up, I thought that was wrong, give her some space, respect her will! Well, maybe he did it because he knew she wouldn’t be that mad… I don’t think he had malice in him). I don’t know, maybe it’s because of that time, when it was “normal” to treat woman like that and perhaps men didn’t even realize how disrespectful they were being (like that “educated women” thing for example, I don’t think he meant to be rude. But it still happens today and many times men think they’re not doing nothing wrong, and this sometimes goes for woman too I guess). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a feminist nor am I trying to reduce men here or trying to create a discussion about this matter. Maybe I’m just kind of sensitive about this; I think all men and women are at the same level and I guess the attitude just depends on the person really, despite being man or woman. Anyway, my question remains. Besides, I don’t think she even had time to find some peace, they were all always hitting on her, and a person needs time to heal and to restore oneself in this situations.

As for the title, does it refer for the men only, for they are all trying to fit Roslyn’s heart? For the whole group, as they all seem kind of lost? Or even for all the women like Roslyn, who don’t seem to fit in the category of a wife whose desires/feelings/opinons are ignored or lowered by their husbands?

What’s your opinion on this one?

#15 Barton Fink (cont.)

Ok, so I read a bit more about this movie and I even felt ashamed, how could I be so blind? This piece is so complex (and yet seem so simple at the Coen brothers’ eyes) that I thought to myself: “Man, who am I to talk about this? I know nothing!”. It’s true, I have a long, long way to go yet. But well, that’s how we learn.

The things I said about it were right, but incomplete, as I didn’t understand them. From what I read, we get, in fact, the feelings the movie gives us: unsettlement, tension, etc., but I, at least, didn’t get how they were given. Now I know, but it’s almost like subliminal messages (like the word “head” appearing like 60 times, leading us to believe that the package Charlie gives Barton contains Audrey’s) and, in my opinion, that’s why it’s so good. For example, one of the things I found most amazing is the hotel and the Charlie character: the hotel was meant to represent Charlie himself and was meant to be empty, creepy and old. It’s empty alright, we never see anybody, but on the other hand we see the shoes of all Fink’s neighbors in the corridor. And that’s kind of creepy. As for Charlie, the heat and the paper falling off the wall is a mirror to his hear infection and the pus it leaks (ew). Another thing I found fascinating was the colors they use: they intentionally used yellow and green in the room to resemble putrefaction. I don’t know about you, but I felt something was not very well there, and I couldn’t identify it. I would never guessed this one too!

The movie is placed in the WWII so it has many references to it too. I was never very good at history, particularly this part, so… yeah, i have to study more this things. As I said, that’s how we learn too (I’m not making an excuse, it really is!).

I’m not going to write all of what I read because it would be endless, but I got to understand many things I didn’t that made me realize how awesome this movie is and how good the Coen brothers’ are at what they do, And from their comments, they seem to do it very easily. I’m just going to point out the stuff I talked about in the previous post:

.The picture of the woman: it represents a n escape, for Barton’s room has no view or anything interesting or colorful. When I read this, it made sense to me. And thinking about it I can relate it to his “slavery” to Capitol Pictures, it is now the only glimpse of freedom he has in Hollywood. At the end, when the picture appears again, this time in front of him in flesh and bone, one might think that he is now really free, meaning that he knows he still works for Capitol Pictures and all her writings belong to them, but he doesn’t care, because he now knows what he is and what he wants, and will not bend for that corporation, however much they want him to.

.The sink hole: ir represents the sex they were having. You know, the dark hole and all… well, I didn’t get it and I know of this symbolism, but…

.The mosquitoes: I still don’t know, but upon my readings I could say it’s a symbol of Barton Fink’s confusion with reality maybe?… The whole hotel is surreal though…

.The heat: as I already tell, it’s associated with Charlie and his infection (ew).

.The flames: I still don’t know so I maintain my statement. Is it a metaphor for all the evil in Hollywood? Adding another theory: Charlie looks like the Devil in there, so could it be a metaphor for all the malice he intentionally brought to Barton?

.The crashing wave: it’s a sign of changing places.

I don’t know if I made myself clear in my review, but maybe I can explain myself better now, with some additions I came upon. I initially didn’t like Barton ’cause a found him very pretentious. And he was. He thought he was making a good thing with all the “common man” concept. And he was. But upon the challenge of writing a wrestling script, he blocks. He says without pain there’s no good piece of art. But he doesn’t listen to his common neighbor for he thinks he’s to simple to understand his complex ideas and doesn’t even let him speak (which is a problem Charlie apparently faces in his everyday life: his costumers are often rude to him, and he doesn’t have the opportunity to let that frustration out, not even there with Fink ’cause he’s not letting him!). So Charlie “does him a favor” and brings him a good amount of pain for him to open his eyes and see everyone faces pain and “the common man” is not below Barton Fink. Before knowing Charlie’s a killer, Barton unblocks himself by standing next to Charlie’s box and the woman’s picture, so, in a way, he can write because he’s now knowing pain and Audrey is helping in that way too (lol). In the end, Barton has changed from a pretentious man who thinks he’s the only who has a complex “life of the mind” to a “common man” with same problems all of us have and we see this smooth evolution, ending up liking him more than in the beginning.

So this is it, I hope you now can understand a bit more Barton Fink as I did! With movies like this we can learn to appreciate and understand these kind of “movie elements” that lead us to conclusions, even if we don’t know how or don’t realize it at the moment.

 

#14 Barton Fink

barton-fink_387866_24295Year: 1991

Directors and Screenplay: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

I don’t even know how to classify Barton Fink. Is it a drama? A comedy? Sci-fi? Thriller? I don’t know. And I understood the story but there are some elements I thought were very important, but I just didn’t get them!

That guy up there is Barton Fink, a writer who aspires to make something different, something that relates to people, to the common man, as he says, a new kind of play that has nothing to do with the unrealistic dramas that are often displayed on theaters, but one that shows the real pain of the common man. I find this very cute and all, but I didn’t like his attitude towards the “common” people he found around him. He clearly thinks he’s a great thing, but he also seems frightened for people having great expectations of him. The way he says “people like you” irritates me, like he’s above “the common man” he so wants to reach. He thinks the common man wants to hear about pain and that without pain there’s no great work (writing), but he seems to forget that his pain is not the same as other people’s. He says he feels it, but I didn’t find anything that could have caused him the pain he so adores… He didn’t have any drama to tell, so I thought he was basically a hipster. Well, he says he’s often surrounded by many people but feels very lonely… isn’t this a cliché anyone can say?… But the poor guy also seems so dorky! He seems so silly, no one ever would give a rat’s butt for him, with his funny legs, groovy hair and round glasses! It had some funny scenes there! I guess in the end, we can say he really is just a common man, caught in the webs of Hollywood (?).

The story goes like this: Barton Fink just did a play that granted him great success in NY and so he gets called to go to Hollywood to write on a movie about wrestlers… They give him a “formula” to a successful wrestling movie, but he just does not like that kind of thing. Everyone expects great things of him, as I already said, so he starts to feel the pressure. He has problems starting the play and almost doesn’t get it ready on his deadline. But his boss, who was the most enthusiastic person about the great Barton Fink, ends up disliking the script.

When he arrives in Hollywood he decides to stay in a cheap hotel, you know, just in case he forgets his roots as a common man. That was his fear, btw, before accepting the job in Hollyood: go there for a while and make a big amount of cash, betraying his ideals of a simple but dramatic life (an artist is always dramatic, don’t be fooled), or stay in NY and stay close to his common audience as it should be? He chooses Hollywood, but is hesitating. Anyway, at that hotel he meets Charlie, his next door neighbor, to whom he becomes friends. We see from the moment Charlie appears that theres a little something going on there… The man is a bit odd, but friendly. He’s an odd friend, always very caring, smiling, and drinking whiskey.

When they first meet, we can see right away how Fink is self-centered: he realizes how “common” Charlie is, with his little job and his little “common frustrations” and gets really excited ’cause Charlie understands his concept, so talks non-stop, never giving an opportunity for his new friend to say something, always putting himself high above with his intellectual speech.

(I didn’t find a video that can play here, so you’ll have to click this link to see the only clip I found with the exact scene I want to show… sorry.)

“To put it in your language”?? Came on… Well, moving on. He is advised to get some inspiration from other writers to see if he can get started. Accidentally he meets one of his idols, W. P. Mayhew, vomiting in the bathroom. The two get together, along with Mayhew’s secretary (and lover), Audrey. Barton realizes the man’s a drunk who mistreats Audrey and also discovers she’s the one writing his most recent books. The two end up making love in Barton’s room and she shows up dead next to him the next morning.  He then asks Charlie’s help, who is ready to help getting rid of the body and believes Fink’s affirmation that he’s sure he didn’t do anything. Of course he didn’t, because Charlie is a mad man who’s wanted by the police for murdering several people and behead them. There’s an earlier scene where we see Barton trying on his shoes but they don’t fit ’cause they’re too large, so Charlie shows up with Barton’s shoes, saying the hotel must have swapped them (the hotel has a service where they polish the customers’ shoes, so they always leave them at the room’s doors, in the corridor). To me this was strange and gave me the impression Charlie’s been in Fink’s room. Eventually, two detectives come asking some questions to Fink and let him know Charlie is in fact called Karl Mundt, known for “Madman Mundt”, and he’s wanted for those reasons I stated, and that they found another body (Audrey’s) but the head’s missing. Charlie’s not at the hotel at this moment as he said he was going to leave for a few days to NY, leaving Fink a package, stating it’s his most beloved belongings. With the excitement of a new friendship, (moreover a common man lol), Fink gives Charlie his parents’ contact and tell him that if he needs anything, to just stop by. But when the detectives are questioning Fink, Charlie returns, literally out of the flames, and kills them. Then he says he lied to Barton, and the package isn’t his. We are also told Mayhew is dead too and Barton gets the feeling he shouldn’t have given his parent’s contact to Charlie, moreover when he says he paid them a visit.

Barton then goes talk with Mr. Lip Lipnick, his “boss”, and hears the guy doesn’t like his script. So he goes off to the beach and finds a beautiful woman there, who asks him what’s in his box, as he’s carrying the package with him. He says he doesn’t know and doesn’t even know if it’s his, so I assumed Audrey’s head was in it. The girl sits in front of him, staring at the ocean, and Barton realizes he’s staring at the image he saw in his room. Barton Fink, who thought he knew pain, got to really know it in Hollywood after all.

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This is one of the things I didn’t understand: there was a picture in his room with a girl on the beach, and Barton looks at it a lot. Another thing I didn’t get was, when he made love to Audrey, the camera led us to the sink and faded into an image of what looked like a sewer (???) and then it’s morning and Barton wakes up next to the corpse. He only realizes it’s already a corpse because he slaps her in the arm to kill a mosquito, and blood starts showing on the bed. This is yet another thing I didn’t get: he’s always bitten by mosquitos and always has to say to other people “it’s just a mosquito bite”, because they always seem to notice that. Why? And why is always so damn hot in his and Charlie’s rooms, to the point the wallpaper starts to fall off? And why is that heat associated with Charlie? And why does Charlie seems the Devil in the middle of the flames on the hotel’s corridor??? Is it a metaphor, to Hollywood’s tough reality maybe? Because no one seems to care if the goddamned place is on fire! I don’t get this! Also: a wave crashing into a rock? What’s that?!

barton-fire  Maybe I should do some research before coming here to tell what I think, but as I said before, I don’t want to say stuff coming out of other people’s mouth, I want to put my brain to work and try to figure it out myself, and then go see if I got it right! I guess in cases like this, I don’t have another option. I’m going to read more about this and when I got things figured out, I’ll write another post explaining. You are most welcome to help me out here! If you understand what those things mean, feel free to leave your comment!