Entries Tagged 'Movies' ↓

Movie View: The Public Enemy (1931)

(Response to The Public Enemy screening)

I learned two things from this movie.

One, people who own gunshops in the 1920’s…were goddamn idiots.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4u7c_ZI8eQ

Two, crime doesn’t pay.

Let’s be honest. That’s more of a “reminder” rather than something I learned. People these days have already learned their Crime 101 through other, more modern gangster films such as Goodfellas and The Godfather. Does that make The Public Enemy some bad ripoff? Certainly not. After all, it did come before them.

For it’s time period, The Public Enemy  ain’t half bad. There’s no doubt it did to the 30’s what Goodfellas did to the 80’s. Among the movie’s unique factors were it’s violence and sexual implication. It’s not easy to get away with films involving gun fights, seduction, and bitch slapping women with a grape fruit.

You will eat your daily fruits AND LIKE IT!! OR ELSE!!

Actually, the film didn’t get away with some scenes…sort of. Scenes were removed from re-releases, though mainly scenes of implied sex, and one involving a rather hilariously homosexual tailor (thus goes to show that back in the 1900’s, gays were much scarier than death itself).

Pretty much all releases after 1954, with and without censorship, had “cards” added to the beginning and end. Basically, it says despite being based on true events, the story of the film is not to be condoned. Rather, it’s a story that should teach what you shouldn’t do. It was obviously necessary, ’cause without those cards, people will be running around and shooting guns at baby kittens.

Now, let’s go on with the story. An awesomely named Tom Powers (played by the very talented James Cagney) and his less awesomely named friend Matt Doyle (Edward Woods) start a life of petty crimes such as stealing watches and junk. As they grow up, they climb to the top of the gangster food chain, mainly through bootlegging. Conflict brews between Tom’s “good” brother, Mike Powers (Donald Cook) and a rival gang he messes around with.

Also, his mother is oblivious to all of what Tom does. That annoyed me. A LOT. Mainly because Tom and Mike would argue about the crimes Tom did, and she’d only have a problem with the fact they are arguing. Tom could drag a naked dead body on the floor and she would still daydream about her “Wonderful boys!” It’s almost like she has Alzheimer’s. I’d bet people with real Alzheimer’s would find her lack of perception of reality laughable…for the time they remember it, of course.

The face of a charming guy

Tom Powers makes for an interesting character. He’s got a classic case of Dunnowhatitscalled, but the bare bones of his character is being edgy, having trouble with women (hence forcing a grapefruit in his girlfriend’s face and what not), and having even more trouble expressing himself. He does that old’ “knock on the chin” to show his sympathy and regards. He does this to his friends and even his own delusional mother. It shows that he’s not comfortable coming out of his shell, and if he can’t even express himself with his family, he’ll have trouble expressing himself to anyone. Asking for help or love is beneath him. It causes frustration and stress, and that combined with the arrogance he gains with his power makes him a troubled adult. It’s a character you feel is a victim of his own insecurities.

There’s a strong emphasis on the effects of the prohibition era. Remember, this movie was made in 1931, just TWO YEARS before the ban on alcohol was lifted. If there’s another note to take other than “crime doesn’t pay,” it’d be that life finds a way to things it wants. Even back in those “black and white times,” people thought banning alcohol would only encourage crime since it was so desired, but how can it be allowed without people abusing it? The answer is obvious: we learn to control our lives and make the right decisions…okay, since when did this become philosophy blog? Enough morality crap, what was I talking about?

Right! The film! Umm….let’s talk about the filmography.

For 1931, there were shots like these and ones that followed people down hallways in a style that reminded me of some more modern film shots.It’s hard to find a clip of ’em, but there’s definitely some neat shots done through the film. The beginning shot has a very nice choreography involving the framing, all while making a long shot. Reminded me of that one movie by Albert Hitchcock (which I never saw yet) which was edited to seem like it was made using one long shot. If ANYONE can tell me the name of it in the comment, you will be rewarded a cookie.

I'll just leave it riiiiiiight here

The biggest problem I had with the movie was the fact that I’ve seen it before. Indeed, I give it mad props for setting an example for other gangster movies, but it’s hard to capture the modern audience with gangster films outside of the top guns of the genre. Look at all of the gangster films you saw: don’t you notice a formula?

A troubled/poor/trouble-making kid since youth grows up to be a top dog gangster, yet loses it all in the end (possibly by death or betrayal). That’s a lot like a decent amount of films involving gangsters. They follow this formula, only to be separated by some plot details, setting, and of course, the audience it was meant for.

People who enjoy modern films more than the “Black and White ones” may or may not enjoy this movie as much as the guy who tolerates a fair share of monochrome. However, I think people should at least try it. The Public Enemy may be familiar and sticking to the formula of most gangster films, but it’s not a bad formula, is it? Not to mention it may have a decent amount of influence on those modern gangster flicks you happen to enjoy.

Check it out: 2.5/4 (add another point if you like gangster films/old movies in general)

 

 

 

Three Reasons Why Movie Adaptations Aren’t All That Better Than The Books

(Posted for English class: Original Post Here)

Let’s all reminisce about your favorite movies for a second. I’d bet among them would be Jurassic Park, Rambo,  A Clockwork Orange, and then some. Believe it or not, these movies are based on books, and we can agree that these are some pretty good movies. However, if you take the time to read the book versions, you may have a different perspective.

“The book was better,” is a phrase that goes around every now and then (with the exception of the Twilight saga, since the movies and books are equally garbage). There’s no doubt great movies based on books exist, but consider the philosophy of a certain Andre Bazin. He wrote an essay a long while ago about the adaptations of literature (“Adaptation, or the Cinemas as Digest”). A major point of the essay was that the translation of a book into a film, all while demonstrating the standards of art in film,  is extremely difficult without sacrificing some of the book’s original aspects.

In short, it may be fun to watch the film rather than the book, but you’re making sacrifices by not doing it. They would be…

1) You’re not getting the full story

Who do you think it is? Luke Skywalker?

Harry Potter fans: remember in the first movie when Harry has that really creepy dream? Harry Potter had on Professor Quirrell’s hat, and it was talking to him, telling him to switch from Griffindor to Slytherin.

Oh wait, that’s right. That scene wasn’t in the movie. Not even a deleted scene was found of it.

There’s a lot of stuff that goes on in the world of Harry Potter. In order to keep the running time at reasonable length and the pace proper for the film version, events from the book had to be cut. Unfortunately, the reader misses out on the information. In most cases, it’s no big deal, but the dream scene has a decent amount of plot-revealing foreshadows within the passage.

The first movie was 2 1/2 hours as it was. To include every single damn detail would be a bit long for the kiddies watching, don’t ya think?

2) You’re getting a different story all together (kind of)

The first Rambo film is based on First Blood, and the only one with a plot. The novel and film have the same premise: A war veteran’s gone a tad mad, and a small town sheriff and his men challenge the former green beret. However, it’s a tad different how we view each story.

John Rambo IS the center of the film/book, and the story revolves around him. If he were to change, so would the story. Therefore, the book and film versions are very different.

The book displays him as a blood-thirsty killer, seeing even civilians as enemies. That’s right: Rambo kills both cops, National Guardsmen, and innocent people. If you’ve only seen the movie, you’d be surprised by this savage nature. Why?

Because in the movie, Rambo is a victim gone mad. Having done so much for his country, only to be treated like dirt, Rambo has more shit to deal with when that small town sheriff basically picks a fight and forces a hunt on him. He’s not a savage psychopath. Rather, he’s a man trying to run away from his violent past…but is forced to fight for his right to run away.

Did I mention that in the original ending, Rambo dies? Oh yes, and that ending was filmed for the movie (you can see it among the deleted scenes in the DVD version). However, negative reaction sparked over that ending. It was either because it would ruin chances for future money sequels, or it was because the book’s sense of it’s character differed from the movie’s sense. If Rambo were to die in the movie, it would mean that all his efforts for running away from his past were in vein. The book makes it seem like it’s the only way he can avoid it since, ya know, he’s much more bonkers. The art of the character is changed from the book version in order to seem fitting for the film audience.

 3) You’re missing the point the author was trying to make

A Clockwork Orange is…well, it’s quite a work, indeed.

Alex, a criminal who rapes and steals with his gang of “droogs,” is caught and thrown in jail. To get out early, he agrees to take part in an experiment. Basically, he is forced to be “good” through a sort of mental training. Alex is brought pain when thinks of immoral acts and his favorite type of music (for reasons that revolve around the scientists being mean jerks who don’t like music).

Spoiler alert: Alex eventually succeeds in removing the effects from his brain, returning to his old ways. Thus showing that good has to come from the heart, not training.

After he returns to his life of villainy, Alex realizes that this life no longer thrills him, and decides to turn his life around and even consider having a family- Woah woah WOAH! Wait a minute! That’s not how the movie ended!

Indeed…but that’s how the book ended. Though, assuming you’re from the USA, you’d only know the real ending from reading a copy of the book published after 1986. The author himself thought us Americans wouldn’t like that ending and allowed it to be cut from the US version. That way, it would just end with Alex simply being an evil douche again.

The purpose of this ending is to show that people can mature and grow up. It’s purposely the 21st chapter of the book because 21 is the age we are officially adults. Because of the cut, people missed this big picture. The dark ending it was given makes it seem like a fable, since fables involve little change in the protagonist’s character development.

 

No doubt these movies are good, but to get the true experience of the story, read the book. I know, it’s hard, reading sucks, and even I probably won’t read them, but the fact is that’s where it’s at.

Before the View: Battleship (plus 4 obvious reasons why it will suck)

Listen very carefully: Do NOT watch this trailer! Your eyes will explode from the horror your brain cannot process. Just read something else or, better yet, stay very far away from the internet itself. VERY VERY FAR AWAY.

Did you watch it? Good. My reverse psychology worked.

What you saw was indeed the trailer for Battleship.

Yes. THIS Battleship.

All psychological superiority aside, I wasn’t joking when I typed what you saw was going to be a horror. I had confused this for a film by Michael Bay, who never fails to deliver nonsensical action. That’s why it surprised me to find out he wasn’t involved, because whoever conceived this movie makes Michael Bay look like a kid playing with fire crackers.

It’s not hard to tell that this movie is pure manure. Then again, this is being discussed on the internet, which is full of stubborn people who think Megan Fox can act in the Transformers movies and probably have knowledge that can be rivaled by the item nearest to your right hand (in my case, it’s a spatula. Do not ask why). So whether or not YOU know already, somebody doesn’t, and I must now THOROUGHLY tell them why this movie is bad.

I made this blog for a reason: School. However, I am also using it for entirely different reasons. In this case, I’m going to tell and/or remind you specifically what is wrong with this movie based on the trailer. Since I am notoriously lazy, I will stick with just the big points.

Now put on your gloves, kids! Hollywood is dead, and it’s time to give it an autopsy.

Expect this on Hollywood's tombstone

1) Sexuality in a Movie based on a FAMILY board game

 

Usually, if it’s in the trailer, it means there has to be some emphasis on it in the movie. If asses are gonna be gliding over the screen, then perhaps some sexuality is to be expected. Seeing as how this is a property based on a FAMILY board game, why is that such a good idea?

I believe to have perfected a theory: Hot babes are a dime a dozen in Hollywood. If society is ever fully convinced that sex makes the film, then Hollywood is all set, because it has a full arsenal of young, sweet models to keep you distracted for generations. That distraction is practically welfare for Hollywood. Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that this movie is secretly a training program to make people think that people like Megan Fox is hot and without sex in movies, they will fail.

OBEY

Whether or not the movie is all about face-planting the frame with fat bottom girls, these things have an impact on the viewer. There may not be sex or seductive dancing, which is definitely the most noticeable kind of sexuality in film.  But images like this one, whether you notice or not, are picked up in YOUR brain and that of the person sitting next to you. That person could be a kid.

The problem with that is NOT because a small innocent child is looking at sexual content (I HATE censorship): it’s that his currently developing brain is being told that this stuff is what makes a movie good. Forget story and character arcs! Check out that figure-eight body! And OH LOOK EXPLOSIONS! YEAH OMG!!1!1! And since these kids are indirectly told to think this way, mainstream filmmakers don’t even need to try anymore. Fire + Boobs= Money, for both the filmmakers and Hollywood itself.

Really consider this theory, and if it catches on, call it Schalk’s Indirect Seduction Theory (SIST for short).

 2) Soccer

A lot like my very first game of Battleship

Hey, remember when you thought “Twilight” was about kick-ass vampires and werewolves at war with each other? Remember when it turned out to be just awkward teenage romance and, at one point, baseball?

Seriously, the trailer has a decent emphasis on a soccer game. Why exactly is this important for a movie about battleships and military? I refuse to see the movie in order to find out.  It’s annoying me to think about it. Next!

3) Liam Neeson…just…he just doesn’t care…

It pains me to see the man who played a God/Jedi/Mercenary seem so disappointed in himself. Though, to be frank, he should be. He decided to work on this movie.

Neeson, throughout the whole trailer, acts like a grumpy captain and a protective father against the protagonist. Anyone will say his character is generic, one dimensional, and uninteresting. Really, I think all that anger is just him venting for having to take such a low blow to his movie career. He’s well aware of the disaster he’s a part of.

4) ???

What...

 

...the...

 

...f***?

I will remind all readers  that this movie is based on a family board game about battleships shooting at each other…and there’s not one goddamn alien in it. 

Jesus, let’s finish this up.

4) “Sir, Which weapons?”

 

The climax of the trailer was near, I was expecting to be happy once it was over, but once I heard this, I was about to deck my wall in the face.

So that alien ship/dog/spatula is flying around causing crap to fly, and Liam Neeson (still angry at himself for being in this movie) orders his crew to fire the weapons.

“Sir, which weapons?”

Then Liam Neeson said, “All of them.”

You can tell the movie was trying to make it seem like such a cool line, and how it’s worthy of an Oscar for its screenplay. But even Neeson responds to him in the same way we thought: along the lines of “Are you f**king joking?” Because clearly, you shoot back if there’s a giant, hostile alien ship/dog/spatula about to attack you. You don’t think WHAT you shoot. You shoot. Period. Logic 101.

If this is the highlight of their script, then this movie is truly dead. The alien shtick beat it half to death, and this injected poison into it.

 

Goddamn, this trailer pissed me off. The actual movie will no doubt influence the suicides of at least 5 brain cells. Feel free to address any other things I didn’t get to.

 

 

 

 

 

Movie View: Triumph of the Will (1935)

(Response to “M” Screening)

You ever hear of that Hitler fellow? He seems like a really cool guy.

A friendly face

Oh, what’s that? What about Poland? Final Solution? Killed six million…Oooohh…

Well, he SEEMED like a cool guy. At least after watching Triumph of the Will, that is. Certainly, you’ve heard of  this German propaganda classic, haven’t you? If not, you’re certainly familiar with it’s cinematography. What it lacks in mentioning Hitler’s sociopath ideals, it makes up for incredible shots even for the modern cinema era. It’s more known in the States for it’s influential shots rather than it’s purpose as a film. Even Star Wars has taken influence from it.



About that “purpose as the film:” This movie is the brain child of Leni Riefenstahl. Technically, it was Hitler’s idea, since he personally asked her to make footage of his rallies AND was an uncredited executive producer. Regardless, her goal was to basically make Hitler look as awesome as possible. She did a damn good job. Her movie makes Hitler look SO AWESOME that it’s claimed to be edit-proof. No one could edit the film to make Hitler look like the psychopath he’s known to be, especially since the film didn’t even mention that whole genocide thing. It is a propaganda film, after all. It’s whole premise is that Germany’s former glory can be restored 124% better than before, and all they need is this guy…

LIKE A BOSS

Take a look at the video right HERE. Skip right into 4 minutes of the video (unless you wanna see some fancy shots from a plane…they are very nice).

Notice how happy everybody is. They look at this guy like a celebrity. Kids are shaking his hand, women are blessing his name, people want to touch his mustache. It’s like when Lindsay Lohan was still popular.

And this is basically the whole movie. People having fun, looking up to Hitler who looks stylish and makes promising speeches, all while making funny poses.

Pew Pew, I'm a cowboy

 

Sha na na, What's my name?

 

Hee hee, I can make up stuff all day, but let’s wrap this up.

Triumph of the Will is a damn good propaganda film. Not just for the fact that it does a good job at making an evil guy look boss, but it also has some cool shots that movies today can take a tip from. It credited Leni Riefenstahl as among the best female movie makers of the 20th century. Although, it was kinda hard to make movies after WWII when the world knows Hitler was your BFF, so her career was destroyed not long after his fall.

A historical artifact for propaganda films and films in general. Not a “popcorn-munching” flick, obviously, but for what it is, it gets the job well done.

3/4

 

And so we can get some traffic on this blog: look at this picture:

Post in the comments a funny caption to go along with it. I’m too lazy to think of any ideas.

Tom’s Lowdown: A warm welcome