#204- Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

Quick recap: Girls from the City are evil creatures who wreak havoc on everyone they come into contact with. Avoid at all costs.

She's stealing his soul!

She’s stealing his soul!

Fun (?) fact: The city scenes were all filmed on a set, not an actual city.

You mean they weren't really walking straight into traffic? Nothing is real anymore.

You mean they weren’t really walking straight into traffic? Nothing is real anymore.

My thoughts: Despite what my 1001 Movies book says, Sunrise is TOTALLY a melodrama. A farmer has an affair with a Girl From the City (she doesn’t have a name and neither does any other character), which crushes his perfectly sweet wife. He’s totally a jerk about the whole thing, even rushing out to meet her while his wife is cooking dinner. She puts it in his head that he needs to kill his wife during a boat ride, which is about as melodramatic as you can get. During the ride, the wife figures the whole thing out and manages to escape. She pouts for awhile when they get to the city because, you know, she was almost murdered and that can bring anyone down. The farmer continues to beg for forgiveness, at one point even offering her a whole plate of sandwiches. I’m not sure what was socially acceptable back then, but I imagine that most people would have a hard time getting over attempted murder with a plate of sandwiches. Anyway, while pouting, the couple heads into a church where a wedding is taking place. The farmer has a revelation that he shouldn’t have been such a jerk, and the two fall madly in love again. Awww.

Alexis Bledel is a time traveler, apparently.

Alexis Bledel is a time traveler, apparently.

But wait, there’s more! As the ‘newlyweds’ head back to their farm in the boat, a storm comes out of nowhere and irony upon ironies! the boat flips over and the Wife is presumed to be dead. I’ll admit that the film had almost won me over until this point, and then I lost interest because I’m just not a melodramatic kind of person. Thankfully, all of this happens at the very end so I didn’t have to endure for very long. And it was worth watching because the Girl From the City meets up with the Farmer, thinking he went through with the plan. She expects him to say that he’s ready to move with her, but instead he strangles her and it’s kind of awesome. And of course, the Wife was not actually drowned and was found perfectly fine. They all lived happily ever after, except for the Girl From the City who was strangled.

Silent films tend to be overally emotional due to the fact that the actors must physically show how they feel since they can’t say it. Sunrise is no exception, but it mostly worked for me and wasn’t annoying. In the beginning of the film, the Farmer walks around like his boots are made out of lead, to represent the struggles he is dealing with (mainly him being a jerk). I appreciated watching his unhappiness rather than just reading it on a title card. And as I stated before, the Wife is about as perfect as anyone can get, so there’s no mistake as to who is ruining the marriage (actually there is , because it’s 1927, so it’s the city girl’s fault and not the poor Farmer’s doing). The scenes where the husband and wife reconnect are pretty silly, but also seem genuine and I really enjoyed them. For a melodrama, there were many moments that could’ve been over the top, yet came across as sweet and innocent. Still not a fan generally, but this one was rather ok.

Final review: 4/5

Up next: STAR WARS

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#176- The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

Quick recap: A young girl, Geneviéve, is in love with a guy, named Guy. He gets drafted to the war so the two decide to sleep together before he leaves. Geneviéve gets knocked up (of course) and after waiting a few months for Guy to write to her, gives up and marries some rich dude.

umbrellas2

Fun (?) fact: Every word of this movie is sung. EVERY. WORD.

The ridiculously bright colors did a number on my eyes

The ridiculously bright colors did a number on my eyes

My thoughts: Musicals have been hit or miss for me on this list and I fully expected this one to be in my ‘miss’ category by the end of the night. Every single word sung? COME ON. But actually, it had the effect of making the story more realistic. If you think about it, most musicals transition to singing and dancing with the most elaborate sets and then everyone goes back to what they are doing, as if it never happened. With The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, the film is one entire song and the same melody can be heard from beginning to end. At some point I forgot the singing was even there and was able to focus on the story and characters.

Speaking of umbrellas, this Glee mashup of Umbrella/Singin' in the Rain perfectly illustrates how over the top musicals can be.

Speaking of umbrellas, this Glee mashup of Umbrella/Singin’ in the Rain perfectly illustrates how over the top musicals can be.

After getting over my shock that this is a musical, my next shock came as I realized that I was watching a melodrama. COME ON. But as far as melodramas go, this one wasn’t so bad. In fact, it seemed almost….logical? No, most teenage girls wouldn’t marry a random rich guy after pledging their undying love for the man that knocked them up. But Geneviéve is in a different position, about to have to care for a newborn when her mother, the owner of the umbrella shop, can barely stay afloat. For survival’s sake, it makes sense to marry. Poor Guy, though. Apparently know one told him that his girlfriend had moved on and that he would never get to meet his child. Never fear, however, because Guy is ridiculously good looking and ends up with his late Aunt’s nurse. They marry and have a child of their own, a little boy named François. Years later, the two meet again, where Guy discovers that Geneviéve has also named her daughter François! The conversation is about as awkward as it gets and the two part, realizing that you can still be happy even if you aren’t with the one you planned on being with the rest of your life.

Final review: 3/5. It’s worth watching if you are a fan of musicals, especially ones that don’t have happy endings.

Up next: Louisiana Story

#64- Mildred Pierce

Quick recap: Mildred Pierce is the story of a woman who started out as a housewife whose husband had just left her, to becoming a successful restaurant owner. Her life seems perfect, except for the fact that her second husband is only in it for the money and her daughter Veda is about as spoiled as you can get. It’s almost as if there is a lesson to be learned here, maybe something about money and selling out?

Joan Crawford as Mildred Pierce

Joan Crawford as Mildred Pierce

Fun (?) fact: Nobody really wanted Joan Crawford in this movie. Everyone was gunning for Bette Davis, but when she turned it down, they had no choice. Crawford ended up earning an Academy award for her performance, but that didn’t change the fact that people didn’t much care for her.

This probably didn't help her image much

This probably didn’t help her image much

My thoughts: At this point in my list, nothing strikes more fear in me than the word ‘melodrama’. As has previously been noted, I am not a fan of the genre. It just seems like such a cheap way to do cinema: to tug on the heartsrings of the audience and make them love you. On the other hand, the formula works. This movie did very well in its time and won several awards. I’m sure that back when it was first released, it was a film that appealed to a wide audience and had many plot points that people loved to discuss. I do understand why it made the list, but it just wasn’t the movie for me.

For starters, nothing screams ‘melodrama!’ more than someone getting murdered during the very first scene of the film. And as what has become my pet peeve, the death was in no way realistic. I don’t know why I expected more because that was just how you did things back then. But it just made the movie seem even more cheap and hokey.

Although I didn’t love the plot, I do think some of the actors did a fine job telling the story. The actress who played Veda was my favorite. She played the bratty socialite to perfection. She did a fine job showing her true colors, as well as attempting to hide them when she was trying to get what she wanted. The performance I didn’t love, however, was that of Joan Crawford. I admit that there was some bias beforehand, because the only thing I knew about her was ‘Mommie Dearest’.I wavered back and forth throughout the entire movie, trying to decide if I could really see her talent or not. And even now, I don’t know. The movie called for a strong woman, someone who doesn’t crumble in the face of adversity, and Crawford plays that like no one else can. But also, the character of Mildred Pierce is supposed to invoke sympathy with the audience. I was supposed to sit there and think, ‘oh my god, that poor woman’, and I didn’t feel that way at all. Crawford could never seem to lose the ‘bitch’ face, like when she was interacting with her children. The acting stopped being realistic and started to take on the melodrama title proudly.

I think I want to be Joan Crawford for Halloween next year

I think I want to be Joan Crawford for Halloween next year

The revelation that Veda was the real killer was not a surprise, but I liked that the movie turned salacious when it was revealed she was having an affair with Pierce’s second husband. I’m sure that was shocking at the time. The twist seemed reminiscent of a VC Andrews book, which, if she were still alive, Joan Crawford would’ve been perfect for a role in an adaptation of any one of those books.

Final review: 2/5. Melodrama.

Up next: most likely Brokeback Mountain