Thursday, December 31, 2009

All About Eve (1950)

Here we are kids, All About Eve, possibly the greatest movie ever made with one of the greatest scripts ever written, and containing one of the greatest performances ever. That's a lot of "greatest"s.

Bette Davis plays Margot Channing, a stage star that is rapidly approaching the age in which actress are put out to pasture. It doesn't help that she has a younger lover Bill (Gary Merril, who would become the 4th Mr. Davis). She also has her best friend Karen, whose husband writes a great deal of Margo's plays, one of which is beginning to go into rehearsals with Margo as the lead.

Enter Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), a young fan of Margo who watches performance after performance. One night, after seeing her standing in the rain, Karen takes her to see Margo and Margo takes pity on her, eventually hiring her as a personal assistant. But it becomes obvious that Eve isn't the poor downtrodden creature that she pretends to be, and she's nosing her way into Margo's inner circle to steal the limelight away from the aging actress, eventually making a deal with the devil by siding with acid tongued theater critic Addison DeWitt (George Sanders).

The real star of the film is Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz's brilliant script. It crackles with wit and intelligence. It's not natural human speech at all, but it's so smart and such a joy to watch and the actors do such a great job with it that it becomes one of the defining and best characteristics of the film.

Needless to say, the performances are all brilliant. Bette Davis essentially plays herself and allows to show the insecurities of an aging woman of the stage, offering depth, warmth and humor to the role. Anne Baxter is cold, calculating and ruthless as Eve, and Celeste Holm is warm, caring and slightly naive in the role of Karen. Also, George Sanders is brilliant in his Oscar winning performance of the witty and snide Addison DeWitt.

The film really is one of the finest ever crafted, the acting and writing is pitch perfect and the story is one of the best looks at the pressures of someone in show business, the pressure to stay young, to continue playing teenagers on stage when you're almost 40 year old. It's a wonderful movie, one that should be watched by anyone who enjoys classic films, because it's easily one of the best.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

C Me Dance (2009)

I'm going to hell for this one, children.

Yes, it's C Me Dance, which is quite possibly the worst movie I've ever seen. The trailer was brought to my attention by the magic that is THE INTERNET and it was just recently released on DVD, which resulted in my brother getting it via Netflix.

The film is a poorly acted, poorly written, and overly preachy Christian film that eventually turns itself into a joke and loses any real message it may have been able to depart.

The film follows Sheri, a young girl who loves ballet and stilted dialogue. She lives with her father (Greg Robbins) after her mother was killed in a incident that rips off the movie Duel. Greg Robbins is a bit of an auteur in the Christian film world. He wrote and directed this film, and has had his hand in several other productions including Pastor Greg, the first Christian Sitcom which is preview when you first put the disc in your DVD player. It's visual AIDS. One day, while dancing Sheri falls and is rushed to the hospital where she discovers that she has leukemia that is so advanced that treatment will do absolutely nothing. Despite being able to do everything she could have done before her diagnosis, Sheri is doomed to die.

But, fortunately for her and THE WORLD, God has decided to grant her with telepathy and the ability to turn someone into a Christian by simply touching them. This, of course, as the movie states "ticks off the Devil" so he appears in the form of an Arnold Schwarzenegger lookalike wearing a black trenchcoat. Right off the bat, we're told that the Devil can't hurt anyone, so any delusions that this film has of being a thriller are completely shattered. Of course, Sheri starts turning people towards God, the world becomes a better place because everyone is a Christian and then Sheri dees on Christmas Morning.

The film really does suck, the acting is so stilted that every single line feels written. There's not an iota of naturalness in this film. And Greg Robbins really had no business in making films, he can't write and her certainly can't act. Plus, the film becomes a joke of its own making. I mean, isn't the idea of faith that we're supposed to come to our own conclusions as opposed to being bewitched into Christianity? And later in the film, when Sheri and her father are trying to do a nationwide broadcast so that Sheri can convert the masses, she simply has to touch the Network Exec. and they'll do whatever she wants. Plus, we're treated to a ridiculous scene in which the effect of Sheri's converting people is shown in various newspapers "Murder and Rape are down such-and-such percent!" one person exclaims. We're also told that the owner of a Porno shop is closing his business because of its sinful nature and devoting money to families that have been destroyed by porn. Also, the next three films up for released have been shelved forever because they go against family values. It's ridiculous. Apparently every issue in the world will be solved if everyone were a Christian.

I know I said I would do Christmas in Connecticut but this film was so awful (in an awesome kind of way, I laughed quite a lot), that I figured I would share it with you. My day-late Christmas present to my wonderful readers (all three of you).

Here's the trailer, which will give you a taste of it's awesomeness.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)

I suppose this could be seen as a Christmas movie, since Christmas does occur during the film and it's all snowy and whatnot. But it has Bette Davis, so it doesn't really matter.

Anyway, the film stars Monty Wooley as Sheridan Whiteside a famous critic well-known for his wit and acid-tongued comments. When Sheridan is visiting The Stanleys, a well-to-do Ohio family, he trips on the stairs and hurts himself, and the doctor orders him to rest. Under threat of lawsuit, the Stanleys take him in and he takes over the household. Bette Davis co-stars as Maggie Cutler, Sheridan's secretary who begins a romance with a local writer.

The film is good for three reasons. Monty Wooley, who reprises his role from the Broadway play and delights in delivering the horrible snide and wicked insults that his character spews. The script, which provides him with the necessarily amount of venom with which to spew, and for Bette Davis who delivers a rare comedic performance. Granted, as I said in The Bride Came C.O.D. Bette Davis has the great quality of being able to play comedy straight, which works here as she allows Monty Wooley to cram in as many barbs as he can while she remains unflappable and devoted.

The film has a strong cast with excellent supporting performances, particularly Ann Sheridan as an actress friend of Sheridan's and Billie Burke playing a role almost identical to her role in Dinner at Eight, playing an overworked and anxious housewife.

This is a fun movie that revels in wit and nastyness (which may be off putting for some), but for others it can serve as a dash of spice to any sort of Christmas movie marathon, cutting through the treacle that is usually found during the holiday.

Up next, I'll most likely talk about Christmas in Connecticut. Alright, kids? Behave yourselves now.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sleuth (1972)

Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine play romantic rivals who engage in a dangerous game of wits in this Stage-to-Screen classic.

Laurence Olivier is Andrew Wyke, a wealthy mystery novelist who enjoys games and puzzles, so much so that his house is almost like an amusement park ride. Michael Caine is Milo Tindle, the hairdresser who is having an affair with Andrew's wife. Andrew invites Milo to his mansion one day, hoping to help in providing his wife with a comfortable life once she leaves him for Milo. What results is a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse where each man tries to out do the other.

One of the main successes in the film is the brilliant performances by the two leads. Laurence Olivier is wonderfully witty in the role of the snobby writer who believes that his intelligence and wit are much superior to the lower class Milo. And Michael Caine is equally good as a man who's struggled his whole life and is using his school of hard knocks education to one-up the wealthy Andrew.

The script crackles with wit, offering up zinger after zinger as the rivals attempt to cut eachother down, adding a touch of class-ism with Andrew's view of Milo. Considering that the film largely takes place within Andrew's estate, it's a challenge to keep the viewer interest, but director Joseph L. Mankiewicz keeps the set cluttered with Andrew's possessions so that there is always something to look at, even though the acting ensures that you shouldn't be bored.

It's a great film to see, with two wonderful performances with an equally great script.

And I'm sorry for neglecting you readers, I'll try to be better.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Addams Family Values (1993)

Finals are almost over and a childhood favorite is revisited (Thanks Wal-Mart for finally getting it).

Ok, before you scoff, Addams Family Values is actually a good movie. It's not a Spice World-like guilty pleasure, it's sincerely a good film.

The film doesn't have much of a plot, though. Morticia (Angelica Huston) and Gomez (Raul Julia) have recently added Baby Pubert to the Addams clan. Of course, Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Kid I've never heard of and never have since) attempt to kill the little thing until their parents hire Nanny Debby (Joan Cusack) who is really a black widow killer out to get Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd)'s vast fortune.

The film has to tread the line between camp and being serious enough to where the film doesn't come across as self-aware smugness, and for the most part it works, in part because of the casting. Let's get this out of the way, Christina Ricci is awesome beyond belief in this movie. It would have been so easy for a child actor to attempt to turn Wednesday's deadpan delivery into something overly sassy, but Ricci nails it by actually acting (just watch her performances in the play within the film to see how different she makes the two Wednesdays). Also, Joan Cusack is a wonderful addition to the film as the crazed murderess, making line after line hilarious and quotable. Her monologue at the end of the film about killing her previous husbands is brilliant (Just watch the many copycats on Youtube to gain an appreciation for the great Miss Cusack). The rest of the cast is great as well, but Ricci and Cusack OWN the film.

The script is great as well, offering great line after great macabre line. Sometimes it can be a bit too much, but overall the script is smarter than you would expect.

I know I've seen the first film, but I don't remember much of it and I've heard a lot of people say that this film is far superior, so I would definitely recommend this. I know it's not like the usual fare for this blog, but it's just such a fun film.