#322- Vertigo

Quick recap: reasonable behavior- developing a fear of heights after seeing a guy fall off a roof. Unreasonable behavior- falling madly in love with the woman you are supposed to be following because her husband thinks she’s crazy. Even more unreasonable behavior- causing more people to jump to their deaths from a roof.

Another reference I now understand!

Fun (?) fact: Vertigo bombed at the box office and Alfred Hitchcock put the sole blame on James Stewart for being too old, despite having collaborated with him several times. They never worked together again 😦

All hail James Stewart!

My thoughts: This is either my 7th or 8th Hitchcock film and they just keep getting better. Hitchcock is best when he goes dark-whether it’s the macabre dialogue in Strangers on a Train or the serial killer plot of Frenzy. Vertigo is no exception. This was my first time watching it and about the only thing I knew was the fear of heights. There’s a twist at the end that I didn’t see coming and when everything is revealed at the end of the film, I audibly gasped. It’s so rare these days to not be spoiled.

Vertigo’s strong points are its visuals, a very Hitckcockian thing to focus on anyway. Every scene looked like danger was just around the corner and it kept me on my toes to figure out what was going to happen next. The shots of John Ferguson freaking out while climbing stairs are iconic but I gravitated more towards the little scenes, such as John watching Madeline at the art gallery or him watching her drive off in her car. It was a wonderfully creepy feeling to not know whom to be more concerned about.

Knowing what I know about Hitchcock, it’s really not much of a surprise how he chose to portray the women in the film. There’s Midge, possibly still in love with John, and jumping at every chance she can to be near him. And then there’s Madeline, who thinks she is the reincarnation of Carlotta Valdes, a woman who died a hundred years ago. Neither woman gives off a strong independent vibe and it’s a little frustrating to watch a whole movie about women fighting over men and needing them to survive. On the other hand, it makes for a compelling movie where you don’t really root for anyone.

always a Midge, never a Madeline

Final review: 5/5

Up next: Sunset boulevard

 

 

 

 

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#314- Grease

Quick recap: A movie made in the 70s, set in the 50s about a bunch of 18 year olds played by 30 year olds. And there is a lot of singing.

wrong grease, but best Simpsons episode

Fun (?) fact: Because everything has to be a conspiracy now, someone from Tumblr theorized that Sandy had a near drowning experience on the beach at the beginning of the movie and the resulting scenes are all hallucinations, ending with the ascent into the sky.

My thoughts: Look, I don’t HATE Grease. Hate is such a strong word. And you could even say I mildly enjoyed it this time, compared to when I watch it in high school (strange, I know). But it definitely didn’t endear itself to me by any stretch of the imagination and I’ll be perfectly satisfied if I never have to watch it again.

When I watched Grease the first time around, I originally disliked it because everyone else loved it, kind of like my feelings toward Amelie. Not that I’m all that well versed on musicals, mind you, but Grease is still beginner level to me. This time around, I couldn’t really find anything that stood out as the reason to dislike the movie, except for Olivia Newton-John. My money was on hating John Travolta, but he grew on me, and I daresay I even liked him by the end. But Sandy? Nope. She was too goody-goody, but even worse, she played it up so the audience would think she was just sweet. That doesn’t work when you are already 30, though. Olivia Newton-John and her character were just trying too hard and it annoyed me. The other characters annoyed me as well, except maybe Frenchie, whom I was rather fond of.

The music was catchy enough, but I was surprised that it didn’t stick in my head the next day. I’m the kind of person who gets songs stuck in my head often. Hell, I wake up every morning with the Double Mint jingle running through my head so you’d think Summer Nights would get in there at some point, but no. I really did enjoy the numbers as well as the dancing but for whatever reason, it just didn’t do anything for me. As mentioned before, everything just annoyed me. It was like everyone really wanted to capture the ‘real’ high school experience in the least real way possible. I can say I’ve evolved to no longer outright disliking the movie, but it will forever be a ‘meh’ in my book.

Final review: 3/5

Up next: the Ice Storm

#312- Titanic

Quick recap: So, there’s this ship, ok? And everyone says it will never sink, which is exactly the sort of thing you should say when you want the ship to sink. Which it does. And there’s also a love story thrown in for good measure.

Fun (?) fact: After the Internet collectively decided Jack could have fit on the door at the end of the film, James Cameron went on record saying that no, ‘It’s not a question of room; it’s a question of buoyancy.” That’s when the Mythbusters stepped in and proved that with a little bit of help from the life jackets, both Jack and Rose totally could’ve survived.

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Ah, true love

My thoughts: Titanic came out in when I was in junior high and because I was a Cool Teen, I boycotted watching it. While my friends bought tickets to see the movie again and again in theaters, I scoffed at how easily they fell for a love story. I was especially angry that James Cameron turned a perfectly good disaster story into romance. Yuck. But behind closed doors? That was a different story. I got the VHS tapes as a throwaway gift at Christmas and although I outwardly seethed at such a Teenage gift, inside I was giddy to finally see what all the fuss was about. Secretly I watched the movie several times, pausing at my favorite part, when Rose jumps from the life boat back onto the sinking ship and makes the choice to stay with her love. I never admitted it, but it was this level of love I wanted. It wouldn’t be until Moulin Rouge several years later that I could finally be free and admit I had a soft side.

To the most obvious question, ‘Does Titanic hold up 20 years later?’ It does, mostly. Watching it this time around, I was more aware of the background actors, all supposedly based off of real passengers. Their various deaths stung more when I watched than I remembered back then. The visuals were just as amazing as they were back then and I can’t imagine anyone ever being able to do the disaster better than Cameron did. As for the central love story, this time I wasn’t as enthralled. Leo and Kate have amazing chemistry and sell their characters so well, but the dialogue was insanely cheesy at times, to the point that I cringed during some scenes. Unhappy Rich Girl and Impish Wanderlust Guy just didn’t have the same impact as it did when I was 13. But really, the plot only grated on me during the first part of the film. The second part, when they’ve hit the iceberg, is near perfect. I mean, except for the death. That was unfortunate. I absolutely loved the scenes where Jack and Rose were trying to find a way out through the freezing water and the lights kept flickering on and off. Those moments alone could’ve made a great horror film.

I was in Walgreens a couple of days ago and that Celine Dion song came on the speakers. My first instinct was to roll my eyes but then flashes of the movie started going through my head and for a brief moment, I felt genuinely sad, as if I had just watched a documentary on two real people on the Titanic. Teenage Me would be so embarrassed that I admitted that just now, but that’s part of growing up, I suppose.

Final review: 5/5

Up next: Meet Me in St. Louis

#306- Forrest Gump

Quick recap: A simple man somehow manages to do some of the most extraordinary things.

Another perspective

Fun (?) fact: The ping pong ball in each scene was CGI. It was added to meet the players’ paddles.

This, however, is entirely real

My thoughts: Do I really need to do this, serve up my thoughts on one of the most iconic movies of all time? I mean, come on, it’s Forrest Gump! Everyone knows this movie, even my 7 year old who has repeatedly asked for my husband and I to knock it off with the Gump impressions. Watching this movie as an adult,I’m glad to say that the sentimentality of the movie didn’t get in the way of me enjoying it as much as I did as a kid. All the same, there were a few things I picked up on this time around that flew over my head as a 9 year old:

  1. I wasn’t a big fan of Jenny this time. You can make the case that her abusive childhood caused her to cling to Forrest Gump and that’s probably true, but I still didn’t like the way she strung him on, only being there when she needed a protector. She took advantage of him so many times throughout their relationship.
  2. I’m more amazed than anything that the director managed to fit so many events into this movie. Tying in the Watergate Scandal was a little much (if you remember, Gump called security about seeing a bunch of flashlights), but things really were that crazy back then. It was more comedic this time around, to see how Forrest could be roped into another world event.
  3. I don’t know anyone who dislikes Tom Hanks but I don’t think he is as amazing as people paint him as. That being said, he was phenomenal in this film and deserves all the praise. He made Gump into a sympathetic character that could’ve just been a punchline with a lesser actor. His role will go down as one of the best in cinematic history, guaranteed.
  4. I still love the music, as much as I did when I was young. I wouldn’t want to live in any other decade but if time travel was possible, I’d visit the 60s for the music and the 70s for the films.
  5.  I watched this movie in the theater and my mom made me close my eyes for the dirty parts. It’s funny because there were several sexual references she didn’t bother shielding me from, but rightfully knew they would go over my head. It always amazes me how much more sexual things are when I revisit them as an adult.

Final review: 5/5.

Up next: Pickup on South Street