Archive by Author

Whoa, Where’d We Go?

16 Oct

Well, namely college, but we’ve also been writing for other publications-so follow us over yonder to keep up with the latest and greatest:

The Quad

Culture Shock

and I’ll be guesting on a few other blogs in the next month or so-keep a ghoulish eye out 😉

P.S. BU Friday Flicks, my other mistress is gaining the crowds, so be sure to stop by for the H-ween goods!

peace, love, and candy corn,
Monica

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“The Sounds of Silents” at Coolidge Corner

5 Sep

Not an optical illusion.

I love Coolidge Corner. So much so, I decided to move closer to it. It saves time for commuting and spends my entertainment allowance faster. It makes sense.

But one reason I love this theater so damn much, is the fact they still screen silent films. That’s kinda ballsy in an age filled with 3D glasses and CGI for almost every movie released. Pish-posh, let’s go back to simpler times. Times where the audience got to participate in the interpretation of a movie and the only sound that was heard in theaters was the sounds of music.

The beauty of a live silent film is that it’s alive. The music shakes your seat, the images are a good two stories tall in your face, the actors’ overact like its no one’s show business. Now that’s entertainment.

I was fortunate enough to save a ticket for the kick off event of the series, a screening of the re-released “Metropolis”. Let’s just say, I’ve seen the film about twice before seeing it with the found footage and the live accompaniment, and I was practically jumping into the aisle out of anxiety because it stirred up so much emotion. Though I was privy to what happens, it felt like it was a movie I never watched before. Greatness.

The Tampa Theatre

The Tampa Theatre

So it is with bated breath, I await the arrival of “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” later this month. One of my favorite comedians in one of his masterpieces. I can’t wait to share the experience. But, Coolidge is throwing in a different twist to the standard tinkling piano in the corner of an old theater. They are bringing in a guitarist to accompany the antics of Buster Keaton, who I think is wacky enough already. In fact my first live silent film was back in the historic Tampa Theatre. It was the late, great Rosa Rio at the helm of a Mighty Wurlitzer Organ playing along with the slapstick comedy onscreen. I remember bouncing out of my seat often, bobbing to the pace of the music and Keaton’s almost musical timing. The screening even came with a preshow, as is tradition for big screenings in the Tampa Theatre; a sing-a-long of “My Funny Valentine,” just in time for the holiday.

I look forward to the quirky fun live silent movies can offer. No two screenings are alike, and it makes each time you go is akin to seeing the movie anew. If only more movies could feel that fresh. They just don’t make ’em like they used to.

The next two screenings in the series are “Sunrise” on December 2nd and “IT” on May 2nd. Mark your calendars. To buy tickets to the three remaining silent films of the season, check out the program listing.

Anyone up for an “Inception” cast movie marathon?

14 Aug

Blow your mind...

Did Inception blow your mind? Have you seen it multiple times already? Do you hear the slow bbbaaaammmm anytime something happens suddenly? Say no more-you are “Inception”-intoxicated.

Can this cast do a bunch of other movies together-please?

It’s perfectly fine, there are other movies out there to bring you out of this new dream scape and back to normal movie-goer life. And to make the transition easier, I’m going to incorporate the cast in this experiment as well. Ease your anxiety over whether this world is real or not with some Leo DiCaprio period pieces or Joseph Gordon Levitt romantic comedies. Just sit back, relax, and don’t bother remembering how you got there-movies are a dream after all….

Films starring…

Leo DiCaprio: The man has 22 pre-production credits on imdb.com. How that’s even possible, I can’t imagine. Or I can, as the rumor mill has been churning since Scorsese’s new Pacino is off and doing his own thing. The boy wonder’s been in the business longer than I’ve been alive. First recommendation of the article: “What’s eating Gilbert Grape.” If you haven’t seen it, and have made fun of Leo’s acting in Titanic-you can shut your mouth, because this role was his first Oscar nom-at age 20. Let’s not forget the highly under-appreciated Scorsese classic, “Gangs of New York”, in which family and loyalty get mixed in a bloody street war between immigrants and “natives.” Clearly, there’s something to be said here.

Quite the party he missed...

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Arthur didn’t always used to be so suave. Back in the day, in “10 Things I Hate About You,” he was the adorable geeky kid in high school trying to win the affection of Julia Stiles. Unfortunately, he was up against Heath Ledger’s punk rocker character, so there ended that. He gave love another shot in the darling indie film “500 Days  of Summer.” He is in love with love, and is crushed to find he seems to be alone in that category. You feel the ups and downs he rides through in this tumultuous relationship. But the lovable loser has certainly matured to a leading action man thanks to “Inception.”

Ellen Page: Yet another Indie artist, Ellen’s been around the block and back starring in both controversial and mainstream movies. Of course, you mainly recognize her as the leading lady with a baby on the way in Jason Reitman’s ironically funny “Juno.” Sarcastic and crass, she’s a down-to-earth kind of girl dealing with real life issues. I haven’t seen a comedy that refreshingly honest in the longest time. Then there’s the other big box office titan she starred in: “X-Men: The Last Stand.” I mean good, because I was getting tired of poorly written sequels. Plus, they effectively killed like half the cast. It’s dead now-right? Little Miss Page played the supporting role of Shadow Kat in the film, in case you were too in awe of Hugh Jackman’s abs.

Beauty and the Money...

Ken Watanabe: A highly underrated actor in the states, but in Japan he’s royalty. He broke to American audiences in the Tom Cruise vehicle, “The Last Samurai.” Okay Tom Cruise and his odd hairdo aside, it’s a pretty decent piece. Ken Watanabe stole the show for me. Not as over-ecstatic like a Kurosawa lead, but strong and silent enough to ignore Cruise’s hair. Did anyone else notice how it didn’t move naturally or was that me? Anyway, Watanabe’s role in “Memoirs of a Geisha” was the real treat. The only kind face, even in the face of war, he keeps the movie grounded from going too far into over-melodramatic. But, you’re going to have to get over the fact that he’s around twenty years older than the geisha who crushes on him. But if you watch the movie, not even close to the other guys she’s forced to coerce with.

Cillian Murphy: Mr. CEO jr. in the movie seems to have a tendency to play the villain rather than the victim. In “Batman: Begins,” Dr. Crane (in-joke on Frasier? You decide…) is actually the psycho Scarecrow. Frighteningly calm, Cillian is able to make me feel creeped-out in a theater full of people with just the side-long glance at the camera. Apparently, he too has a soft side, with his role in “The Edge of Love,” as a kind and caring husband. From “Red-Eye” to romantic period piece lead? Talented this one is.

Wake up-if you can...

Marion Cotillard: French import and 2008 winner of the Oscar, beating fellow co-star Ellen Page, she too has quite the filmography. To keep in line with the “is it real or unreal” feel, I’ll recommend her first major American crossover, “Big Fish.” A father’s twisted tale sends his son on a quest to prove him wrong, before his father passes. Both endearing and entertaining. But, let’s not forget the Oscar winner’s big role as Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose.” Yes, that’s her song in the movie “Inception,” but it was chosen way before the cast was. Pure coincidence-or was it?

Michael Caine: This man’s a film institute unto himself.  We all know his Alfred role, but it’s the “Alfie” years I want to recommend to viewers as many have not seen his earlier stuff. Which is a shame, because it is so worth digging into the strangeness that was ’60s British movies. First up, is widely recognized as one of the best Brit films of all time, “Get Carter.” Murder, revenge, a dashing young Michael Caine out for blood. It’s much more believable than the Bond series, but has all the violence  and mystery we’ve come to love. Speaking of mysteries, “Sleuth” was a surprisingly amazing film I stumbled across during one afternoon on TCM. Co-starring with the legendary Laurence Olivier, “Sleuth” is a murder mystery that hardly ever leaves one room, mostly only has the two leads matching wits and trying to pry the other for answers. The tense buildup has you more anxious than any gore film, and it only gets better as time goes on. Solve the mystery for yourself and check it out.

Meet the new "Ocean's 11"

and directed by-Christopher Nolan: Okay, so you have his earlier stuff, which were pretty creepy. But then creepy grew up by playing dress up in a bat suit. Proving what “they say can’t be done,” is only more reason to to do so-Batman Begins is an incredibly well put together psychological analysis of the Batman myth. Kudos for starting a weird trademark in throwing poor Cillian Murphy’s face into a sackcloth as Scarecrow.  But, in the good ol’ tradition of a plot twist-take in The Prestige, yet another movie with an amazing all-star cast including Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, and Michael Caine. Not to mention, somehow in the midst of a seedy magician’s competition, we get the electric god of Tesla in the form of David Bowie. BBBBaaammmm.

:cue music:

Class Notes: “The Bridge on the River Kwai”

7 Aug

Movies with sets this big cannot end well...

I’m a pacifist. I don’t like fighting. I get anxious around animosity. I do not enjoy anything remotely resembling bloodthirsty land ownership.

Yet I like this movie.

Maybe it shows just how crazy war is enough for me to tolerate over two and a half hours of pure torture. A POW camp in the middle of nowhere, Asia during WWII. Modern medicine isn’t that modern, and most of the prisoners are finished off by the mighty mosquitoes.

THIS IS A MANLY MOVIE!!!

As we learn, those were the lucky souls.

War is madness claims the army doctor, because so much ill is committed against people in the film for the name of national pride. At what point do you say too far and call it a day? The Japanese colonel in charge of the work camp get pleasure from dominating his captives. His counterpart, the British colonel feels empowered by standing on the principles of soldier’s code. His determination to uphold the Geneva Convention of the West against the brutish nature the Japanese subject their prisoners to. Oh yes, almost fifteen years after the war, director David Lean is not any less bitter against the enemy. Although he seems fascinated by British military men. The man is responsible for the epic, “Lawrence of Arabia.”

In the jungle, only the British still wear their shirts.

And this precursor exists on the epic scale of grand sets, hundreds of malnourished, sunburned extras. Years before computerized special effects, all the soldiers you see populating the camp and building that bridge, those numbers are really represented. All in costume, in the middle of a jungle.

These men mean military business

And boy is it miserable.  But, there’s a humor there too. The nationalities at war are characterized by the officers. The Japanese Colonel Saito, wonderfully played by silent screen star Sessue Hayakawa , has high regard for his appearance and holds to the tradition of suicide after a failure rather than living with his shortcomings. The British Colonel Nicholson is masterfully played by Alec Guinness, as the man who won’t let go of his military code of conduct no matter what the situation. Of course, this includes giving his country his best-even if it means building the best bridge, for his captors. Oh, and there’s the wise-cracking American Naval officer who just couldn’t give a U-boat unless it involves freedom, drinks, and women. NOT stereotyping here-right?

And here’s where the beautiful ethical questions lie: is it traitorous for the colonel to command his troops to work for the enemy? Where do loyalties lie? Why is the American always the most interested in self-preservation?

It's going to be a long war...

It’s great to see these two cultures with high values on honor duke it out on a battle of strategic mind wars.  Quite thriling actually, because for a war movie, there’s surprisingly little combat. It is mostly just that-a mental war. Fighting to hold onto values, to dear life. It’s a struggle that keeps you paying attention for a damn good long time (2.5 hours of pain and suffering anyone?). It’s not mopey at all, when you finish the movie, you too feel a sense of a survivor. You made it out of the jungle, pass the River Kwai.

See the restored trailer here:

Hulu Holiday: 5 More Surprisingly Watchable Films

29 Jul

Whoa there-don’t freak out on me like that. Summer’s almost done and the free playtime is over.

Almost.

A few days before August, school, life, and everything in between, I have made a short list for those of you who have time in this fair month to enjoy the increasingly numbered days of a free Hulu. Enjoy while you can, it may become a thing of the pets.com age…

1) “Roxanne” -Say what you will about Steve Martin, but I think he’s an enjoyable actor. He’s a perfect fit in the Rom Com of awkwardness. A remake of the story of “Cyrano de Bergerac,” Steve stars as the perfect sensitive man with a heart of gold but a rather large nose. He falls for the girl next door, who’s also caught the attention of his more attractive, less eloquent friend. Does love triumph or meet every stereotypical shortcoming about appearances?

You know why they call him The Lizard King...right?

2) “The Doors” -Oliver Stone does Rock n’ Roll in this trippy tribute to one of the best bands to trip out to. Val Kilmer (!) stars as “The Lizard King” Jim Morrison, the much maligned front man of The Doors. Much more enjoyable when not edited (coughVH1cough). Tune in, drop out and enjoy possibly one of Oliver Stone’s most entertaining, non-political films of all time.

3)”Jerry Maguire“- “Show me the Money!” Won Cuba Gooding Jr. the Oscar and gave Tom Cruise respect. Who knew such promising careers would hit the skids by the end of the decade? I blame “Snow Dogs!” A sport agent tries to survive in a field just as competitive as those he represents. I’m not a huge fan of sport movies, so it’s not one that really spoke to me until “You had me at hello.”

A tale as old as time...

4) “The Way We Were”-Sidney Pollack directs Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford in one of the most memorable romantic films of all time. The story about a relationship over the course of around 30 years, it depicts the highs and low of life during the Depression, World War II, the Red Scare, and the start of the women’s liberation movement. She’s a political activist working through college and he’s a spoiled ROTC kid, opposites attract and what culminates is one of the most endearing relationships to be portrayed on the screen. Their differences cause as much problem as it does enrich their characters. It is a flawed, imperfect romance-how like life.

5) Random Doc choice: “Strip Club King“: Okay, so this is more of a local shout out. Before we had half-decent sports teams, Tampa was renown for its (in)famous Mons Venus club. I grew up not 15 minutes away from one of the World’s most famous topless bars. Yay seedy not-so-underground, the bar is literally on one of the main roads in the city and led to subsequent competion on the street. I think in around the mid-nineties or so, we had about 5 “gentleman’s” club on the same mile strech. All thanks to this guy, Joe Redner. To some he’s the most famous celebrity from Tampa, to others he’s a national disgrace. This documentary is quite encompassing on both sides, talking to the man that’s the head of a strip club empire to Bible activists that protest his establishment outside his club. It’s quite entertaining, and at times frightening: I lived in such a bizarre little Florida town.

Happy watching!