All About Eve

We have this one in our movie jar, but since it was playing in the theaters as a special event, we decided to sneak it in before we get around to The Searchers and The Pianist. I am so glad we saw this on the big screen because it was gorgeous! This might be my first actual Bette Davis movie, and oh my! Such a fabulous movie! I must see everything Ms. Davis ever did, because she is incredible! Such fire, such venom, such wit! I am almost without words, so I will just leave this here…

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This movie presented in cooperation with “Booze and Cigarettes!” Enjoy some “Booze and Cigarettes” today!

The plot is told from many perspectives, and it is so juicy! I am going to assume that you haven’t seen it, and I don’t want to ruin any of the electric moments by over-explaining. Bette Davis plays Margo Channing, a star of the stage who longs to play meatier, more age-appropriate roles. She doesn’t appear old,  but she is more than aware that cramming her into 20 year old ingenue roles is becoming an embarrassment. I should mention, she has recently hit the advanced age of 40. Her boyfriend, and director, is 32.

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It occurs to me that referring to anyone having an affair with the fabulously vibrant Bette Davis as a “boyfriend” is a perfect example of why there needs to be a better word for adults who are having a sexual, committed relationship that does not include the words “boy” or “girl.” What an awful term to use in relation to Bette Davis.

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Marilyn Monroe had a small part in this film. She isn’t the devious Eve. She is a sexy, mostly untalented showgirl, trying to sleep her way into the world of acting. She was allowed to play much smarter about how things work than she often was in later roles.

A young woman enters the story, presented as the ultimate stage-door super-fan to Margo, after meeting Margo’s best friend, Karen. Karen is simply amazing. Her best friend is a heavy drinker with a venomous tongue, but she has known her long enough to see the softer side. Through this introduction, the young Eve ingratiates herself into the lives of Margo, and her friends.

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Eve is not as innocent as she initially appears, nor are her motives as pure. She has youth and beauty, but the movie leaves you guessing until the end if her sweetness can successfully snuff out the booze and cigarette soaked fire that Margo keeps so easily stoked in her relationships.

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Whew! Almost had a scene where there wasn’t at least one lit cigarette! That was a close one!

Everyone is brilliant, and witty. There are countless little clever comments that are meant to cut to the bone. I don’t really agree with the poster that this movie was “about women… and their men!” It felt much more to me a movie about comfortably aging, knowing who to trust, trusting your own judgement, and allowing people to see your weakness and fear as a source of great personal strength.

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It’s also about drinking vast quantities of booze, and leaving cigarettes all over the house in convenient, cunning little boxes. It’s about smoking while wearing white gloves, smoking in cars with all of the windows rolled up, smoking in airports, and smoking in dressing rooms. Smoking in bed. Smoking over dinner. Smoking over cocktails. Smoking on stairways. Smoking in meetings. Smoking on stage. Smoking whenever they were not in the process of swallowing booze.

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“WHY AREN’T WE SMOKING? There are four of us standing here, and not one of us is smoking! Someone get us a carton of Chesterfield’s and some matches! This is a cigarette emergency!”

 

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The Hurt Locker

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False Advertising. So typical.

There was only one locker shown in this entire movie, and it was just sort of standing in the corner, not hurting anyone. We kept asking, “Is the locker hurt? Did the locker hurt someone? Is that the Hurt Locker?” Sadly, no answers came.

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A literal “hurt locker.” This was not the hurt locker from the movie, but I am trying to do recon on the title without actually researching the title. 

Apparently, this movie won all the awards in 2010. It was a huge hit. IMDB tells me that director Kathryn Bigelow was the first female to ever win the Academy Award for Best Director. It also won Best Picture, and Best Screenplay, among other awards.

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Ouch! That hurts! 

I am still trying to figure out why. Clearly, we are smack-dab in the middle of a big “America, HELL, YEAH!” point in our history. We rabidly celebrate any movie that shows us fighting against people with brown skin who may or may not be insurgents. We love seeing people who may be Islamic getting blown up. We love the big-dick-swinging, rah-rah John Wayne, American Hero, militarized invasion images. We eat that pro-war crap up! That’s the only explanation I can come up with.

Besides the lack of lockers being hurt, or lockers hurting others, there was so much wrong with this movie.

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Are you the hurt locker? You look hurt. At the very least, you look in need of some serious repairs. I would not feel safe keeping my lunch inside of this locker.

First, our “hero” is an Explosive Ordnance Disposal tech (EOD) who has no regard for his team. He took a lot of foolish chances in his job. His team considers fragging him during his first week on the job. That’s not a good performance review. The EOD (I didn’t know anything about him, didn’t care about him as a person, so I never bothered to learn his name) was either an adrenaline junkie, suicidal, or just overcompensating for being a crappy human by taking increasingly stupid risks. We are never given any information about his true motivations. He never shares this with the team who he puts in danger, over and over again. He doesn’t share it with his wife. We don’t know why he reenlists for more danger, other than choosing cereal is not exciting, and babies are boring as hell.

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Why would anyone want to hurt these lockers?

The two men the EOD works with fare little better. They are at least wise enough to be terrified of his unnecessary risk-taking. But these are three men who signed up, volunteered, to be part of this war, and we never get a single sliver of their motivation. How do they feel about the war they are fighting?

There was no plot, merely a countdown of days left on the mission. The characters do not develop any depth. There is no movement forward. Maybe that is the whole point? War is pointless, and drives men mad?

I am at a loss. I didn’t like this movie at all. I will definitely forget I ever saw it. I already feel like it might have just been a first-person shooter video game that I saw someone playing.

Again, there were no lockers. I can’t forgive this blatant lie.

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Yikes! So much hurt in this locker!

 

Technical Difficulties

next-movies

We checked out The Great Escape at the public library, as we could not find it streaming. We also picked our next film from the jar, Bringing Up Baby, but have not been able to find it streaming or for check out at the library. I am attempting to not spend money on this project by paying to rent a movie, so we have hit a bit of a delay.

We hooked up our new Roku a few nights ago, but we were unable to get our DVD/VHS player to work when we tried to watch The Great Escape. Today, we finally determiend that the disc is scratched, and we had no choice but to return it to the library, and queue up for their other copy.

Since we are still waiting for Bringing Up Baby, we picked a few more films to get back on track this weekend. So much Hitchcock. I think it’s telling that our jar contains so many Hitchcock films that neither of us have seen. I supposed neither of us has been espcially curious about his ouvre, but we do own a box set of a dozen of his films. Prior to starting this project, we watched Marnie, and it was underwhelming. I actually watched Vertigo in a film class I took several years ago, and it happens to be one that we have in a box set. We had to request Anatomy of a Murder, so backlog continues.

We still needed another weekend movie. It was my turn to choose a random film from the jar which that leads me to Wuthering Heights. We just finished watching it, and it was definitely a movie. Yep. No doubt about that. It was a movie. A movie that I have now seen. So, there’s that.

Das Boot

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Das Boot. I really had no idea what to expect from a 293 minute movie filmed almost entirely in a German U-Boat, but I assumed it would be a boring drag, and that we would want to fast forward to the real action. I am so happy to be so very wrong. Das Boot is incredible, and deserves every accolade it receives.

We did not consider watching the dubbed version, even though the actors did their own English dubbing. I am so glad we didn’t watch it with dubbing because hearing German actors speaking in their native tongue, while reading the English interpretations of their idioms, was amazing. And truly, with this movie,  you could watch it like a silent movie, with only their contemporary music on the soundtrack, and you would completely understand every moment. Like All Quiet on the Western Front decades before it, the lives of soldiers are frequently quiet, insular, collective, and requires very little dialogue to understand the feelings behind their wounded eyes.

The terrified faces of the crew on the U-96 will be burned into my memory as a true face of a long and pointless battle. A lot has been written about Das Boot, and there is nothing much I can add.  The expressions of horror, sadness, relief, madness, futility…you see it all, and it is draining. It’s exhausting to watch the soldiers fighting a war they did not choose, far from their home, knowing they are losing the battle.

Erich Maria Remarque, author of “All Quiet on the Western Front,” said of his novel, “[This] is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped (its) shells, were destroyed by the war.”

Das Boot is definitely an anti-war movie, just by showing the grinding, boring, day-in, day-out pointlessness of war. If you wait for the butterfly to rise above the final battle scene to clearly telegraph the futility of war, you won’t get that. The entire five hours is that butterfly.

Argo (F@*% Yourself)

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Two days out from watching Argo. Great cast of men. I know some of the hostages were women, but I definitely don’t think I could name one of the actresses, or their characters.  I loved all the Alan Arkin/John Goodman scenes. I could watch those actors perform in anything, and it would be gold. Ben Affleck is not aging. He seems like a decent guy, in this movie, and in real life. Bryan Cranston is fantastic, and could carry any movie. His scenes were the most engaging in the entire film. He can do anything. I hope he gets another series that uses him appropriately. Fantastic actor. Is there anything he can’t do? He has an incredible presence.

I miss Breaking Bad. There are many shows that have sucked me in since it ended, but I don’t believe there has ever been a show that consistently followed through on the promise delivered in the first season. And it didn’t overstay its welcome. I think one of the main problems with American television is that we just can’t stop beating a dying horse. We are definitely not a “Right to Die” country, when it comes to our popular shows. When I remember the arc of Breaking Bad, or, another favorite, The Wire, they are plotted out so perfectly. They come, they know what they want to say, they shock and entertain, and they wrap up the stories in a completely natural way. The writers aren’t waiting around to see if they get picked up for another season to determine how they are going to write the end of this season. They already know because they have the whole arc planned out. Nothing is rushed or overstretched. When I heard that another favorite show, The Americans, is coming back for only two more seasons, I rejoiced. That means they have a plan. They know what they want to say, and once they say it, they will be done. I expect that kind of planning with something British or Canadianlike Orphan Black, but for an American show to have that kind of planning pleasantly surprises me. I have some programs that I watch, strictly out of habit, that refuse to die. It’s like the networks are challenging us to stop watching so they can finally take the show out to pasture. It seems such a frustratingly American idea. Just keep driving until we run out of gas, and abandon the car on the side of the road to rust.

None of this has to do with Argo, of course. What can I say about Argo? A few months ago, we went to see a movie without actually researching what we would see beforehand. We decided to see something whose name I can’t recall, but it starred John Krasinski. His parents were played by Richard Jenkins (the amazing father from Six Feet Under—another show that didn’t keep going past its expiration date), and Margo Martindale (also from The Americans. Damn. That is a great show). After watching the nameless movie, we went to talk about it over dessert. It was forgettable, with the exception of the “serenading our mom as she goes into surgery” scene that would have been so much more effective if they hadn’t crammed every moment before it, and after it, with extraneous music cues. I am surprised I still remember seeing it, but that one scene, and my feelings of frustration that they robbed it of the intended punch it could/should have had by forcing all the scenes around it to be filled with folksy guitar songs, has stayed with me. Other than that, it was a totally forgettable movie.

Again, the preceding paragraph had nothing to do with Argo. Except to say that while watching Argo, I was acutely aware of the fact that I would quickly forget that I had seen it. By this time next month, I will most likely be confusing it with Syriana, which was a totally memorable film. They will probably blur together, and Brian will have to remind me that Syriana starred George Clooney, not Ben Affleck.

I was seven years old when the events surround Argo transpired. I am certain that I was too busy listening to Andy Gibb’s Shadow Dancing, and riding my bike around my neighborhood to notice that there was a hostage crisis. And since I am a graduate of the American public school system, I am also quite certain that I never learned about the hostage crisis in any of my history classes. Since this movie is “based” on true events, my understanding of what really unfolded would have to come from things I could read online. I am posting an article below that appears to be a good synopsis of what actually transpired. However, basing my understanding of the hostage crisis on the movie alone, my review should be, “America, Good. Iran, Bad.” Or, like every war movie, every space exploration film, and most of the epics about good men triumphing over evil, “America saves the day…Again! Go, Team America!”

Ultimately, and with several days to consider, I guess my final review of Argo would have be “It made me think of better things.”