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Insomniac Theatre: Ride Lonesome

Well, now that I’ve gotten a rant out of the way, how about I get back into the business of watching some movies, huh?  It’s not that there haven’t been movies I haven’t seen; it’s just that there’s been so little time for me to watch them.  I mean, when you think about it, the last movie I watched was Dead Poets Society, and that was back in December!

A part of the problem was that Jeremy The TiVo: Episode IV: A New Hope became pretty damned hopeless over the past couple of months.  Meaning I felt like I had almost nothing on my DVR list, and yet my capacity was at 91%.  I had to go through and delete a few movies that I wanted to watch, and there were a couple of TV shows’ pilots I wanted to see if I’d like, but I guess in retrospect Jeremy was trying to tell me something, seeing as how almost all of those shows were canceled.

[Sidenote: You know what wasn’t canceled?  HANNIBAL.  So I would like to preemptively apologize for my behavior from February through May of 2015, because HANNIBAL.  EVERYTHING IS HANNIBAL AND NOTHING HURTS.]

[Note from The Future: I totally wrote that above paragraph before I watched the season finale.  Because now EVERYTHING IS HANNIBAL AND EVERYTHING HURTS.]

So flash-forward to tonight, where the television season is officially over (even Orphan Black HOLY SHIT ORPHAN BLACK YOU GUYS) and I may have taken a nap this evening instead of staying awake and getting other shit done, so since my sleep cycle’s screwed for the weekend, I can reinstate Insomniac Theatre for a night.

I dug out Ye Olde Martini Shaker of Choosing, and tonight’s selection is:

RideLonesome1959-Columbia

A bounty hunter escorts a killer to town to be hanged, but is allowing the man’s outlaw brother to catch up to him, for a showdown over a shocking previous murder.

At first glance, my readers (all five of you) are probably scratching their heads over the possible reason that this movie would have been recorded off of TCM. This movie doesn’t star Bette Davis, or Barbara Stanwyck, or have a ridiculous premise.  This is also a Western, and Westerns haven’t really come up as a genre on Movies Alaina’s Never Seen.  So what’s up with this?

Well, for the reason I would watch something called Ride Lonesome, you have to go to a barely-watched TV show that aired on ABC Family a few years ago that was canceled after one season, and it was a damn shame that it was canceled, because it is one of my favorite TV shows, and I don’t talk about it much, but I really should:

the_middleman-show

The Middleman was a crazy sci-fi show about a Middleman (on the left), who was, to quote the Wikipedia article about it, a freelancer who cleans up the earth’s exotic problems, ranging from aliens that love shopping to mad scientists who create gangster gorillas to take over the world.  In the pilot episode, the Middleman hires Wendy (on the right) to be his Middleman-in-Training.  With their snarky android, Ida, they take care of the aforementioned exotic problems.

But that’s not all!  There’s the fact that Wendy is badass and independent and while she gets a boyfriend in the last half of the season, she doesn’t become all goopy about him.  She’s an artist and enjoys playing violent first-person shooter zombie games.  Her roommate, Lacey, is a vegan animal rights spokesperson who is sweet and yet also brings the sass when necessary.

And I didn’t even mention all the pop culture references!  Every episode has a theme – the pilot has overt references to The Godfather and Goodfellas, but also subtle references to the James Bond canon – although that’s nothing like the episode where Kevin Sorbo guest-stars as a former Middleman. There’s also an entire episode devoted to Die Hard.  YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE DIE HARD, YOU GUYS.

So what does this have to do with Ride Lonesome?  In one of the episodes, The Middleman says that he has seen the first act of this movie sixteen times, but due to one thing or another, has never been able to finish watching the movie: he’s always called away to save the world.  There’s a whole sideplot about Lacey meeting up with the Middleman to watch the movie as a date, but that’s not quite germane to why I recorded it.

Basically, I didn’t realize it was a real movie until I saw that TCM was showing it. So I decided to tape it and see if I could watch more of it than The Middleman could.

Also, in a weird twist of fate: a few weeks ago, I had to watch something to get the AWFULNESS of Hannibal (SPOILER: MASON FED HIS OWN FACE TO WILL’S DOGS I. CAN’T. EVEN.) (Note From The Future: ALAINA YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S COMING IN THE SEASON FINALE MASON FEEDING HIS FACE TO WILL’S DOGS IS NOT THE MOST HURT YOUR HEART WILL FEEL), so I put in Blazing Saddles.  And that night, I watched this scene, and I was all, “Who’s Randolph Scott?”  And then I found out that Randolph Scott is the star of Ride Lonesome.  SYNERGY.

So basically, everything was coming up Milhouse.  Also, apparently this movie is only an hour and a half long! Woo hoo!  Good choice, Ye Olde Martini Shaker of Choosing!

Well, the first thing I learned is that The Middleman lied to me – this was filmed in color!  WAIT James Coburn is in this?  That’s a name I recognize!

The credits roll under some music that is both heroic and also incredibly depressing, if that’s possible.  A cowboy comes riding out of some stone formations in what I presume is Arizona, and then there’s another cowboy with his own horse and the guy is drinking some coffee on an overlook.  Pretty far to go for a scenic first cup o’the day, dude.  Dude’s just sipping his coffee, talking to his horse like everything he’s doing is normal.

Coffee Guy greets the first guy and calls him McGee.  Coffee Guy is apparently named Billy.  Apparently McGee is a bounty hunter, and he’s trying to bring Billy back to Santa Cruz to face justice.  McGee’s been tailing Billy for three days. Why’d you sit there, Billy?  If you had a three-day head start, why’d you stop at Starbucks for coffee?

Billy must not ride lonesome, because he’s got a sniper friend up in the rocks above them who takes a shot at McGee.  Billy tries to sell McGee on the fact that there are a ton more sniper friends hiding in the rocks, and if McGee rides away and lets Billy go, Billy won’t go after McGee cuz he don’t have no quarrel with him.  McGee says that if Billy tries to kill him, he’ll take him out with him. Ow – my head hurts from too many similiar pronouns.  Do y’all get that sentence?  Good, because I ain’t going back to fix it.

Oh shit – don’t let me slip into Cowboy parlance.

McGee tells Billy to call his boys off, and basically McGee calls Billy’s bluff because there’s only one dude up there with a BB gun.  Okay – so there’s this hilarious little bit that is played totally straight, I’m the asshole that thinks it’s funny, where Billy straight-up shouts at the mysterious sniper named Charlie, that he has to go find Billy’s brother Frank, and tell Frank that McGee is taking Billy back to Santa Cruz, and apparently Frank will know what to do.  I don’t know what that means, but I’m not even ten minutes in and I remembered why I don’t really like Westerns.

Anyway, Billy and McGee are almost right friendly-like, as McGee handcuffs Billy and makes him get on his horse to take him back to Santa Cruz. There’s some scenery shots, designed to make us all nostalgic for the wild wild west, and guys, time out – it’s no — WHAT IN THE DAMN HELL

Uh, sorry. I’m watching this late at night and I just heard a weird sneeze-slash-growl coming from outside, and when I went out to my deck to investigate (because I live in the woods and my deck is on the second floor and also if Hannibal were to kill me so he could eat me he wouldn’t make noise sneaking up on me [he’d take off his shoes and do it in his stocking feet] [PHRASING]), and lo and behold, I see a freaking raccoon trying to eat the suet out of the landlady’s birdfeeder.

So as I was saying before Meeko so rudely interrupted me – it’s no Anchorman, but I really enjoyed A Million Ways to Die In the West.  Something tells me I’ll probably be making a bunch of references to that movie in this review – especially the part about how the West looks beautiful and brilliant, but really, everything in the West is trying to kill you.

Back to the movie!  McGee and Billy are riding their horses through beautiful scenery that undoubtedly hides rattlesnakes, scorpions, and devastating Native American curses that will all kill you while you sleep.  They end up at an pueblo outpost or something.  McGee asks if anyone’s home, and the person who’s home tells McGee to drop his gun.  He does, and the guy who comes out is apparently someone McGee knows named Bones? And apparently Billy’s full name is Billy-John.  And thanks to a check of the imdb., I’ve gotten a lot of these names wrong.  McGee is actually named Ben Brigade, and Bones is named Boone, and now I just want to hit the sound guy, because he did a shitty job mixing this movie.

Boone and Brigade are talking about Brigade’s plan on traveling to Santa Cruz, and everyone’s being all friendly-like when a woman comes out of the pueblo with a shotgun.  Apparently this is a way-station for a stagecoach and the station-master’s disappeared.  The woman wants everybody gone, but Boone doesn’t want to leave her alone while the station-master’s missing.  I’m sure that’s the reason.  Anyway, Brigade sees that the west-bound stage is coming, so maybe everyone can put down their guns and let’s see what the stagecoach brings.

Boone tells the woman to get back in the kitchen and make everyone on the stagecoach sandwiches, and while he says it rather nicely, the patriarchal sentiment remains.  Brigade just watches the stagecoach come riding in, and Boone wonders aloud if Brigade thinks Boone and his men are just waiting to rob the stagecoach. Boone says Brigade’s wrong about him; Brigade responds “am I?”

And then the stagecoach runs right into the animal pen, because the coach driver has a big fucking spear sticking out of his chest.  The “dried” “blood” painted on his shirt is practically DayGlo orange.  Oh, this budget is bad – can’t even research that dried blood is more brown than red.  Boone and Brigade determine (based on the feathers attached to the spear, maybe?) that the murderers is/are the neighboring Mescalero tribe.  I was gonna say “that’s not … a real place,” but then I googled it and apparently the Mescalero is a tribe within the Apache nation.  Goddamn public school education!

Boone and his man buries the coachman and the dead riders from the coach. Boone’s coworker wonders why the Mescalero attacked; as far as he knew, “we” had a treaty with them.  Boone then likens the Mescalero tribe to a woman who killed her husband because she got mad at him over nothing. I just shake my head.

Later that night, the woman brings something out to the stagecoach where apparently Brigade has decided to spend the night.  There are at least three coyotes singing in the background.  Keep them away from your birdfeeders, lady!

The lady wonders why her husband hasn’t returned.  Brigade doesn’t really care, because either way you slice it, her husband brought her to the West and then left her alone at the way-station.  She proclaims that she can take care of herself, and Brigade says that if she were his she wouldn’t have to. The lady – WHO HAS YET TO BE NAMED, BY THE WAY – asks what he means, and Brigade responds that he wouldn’t have brought her out here to the middle of nowhere and then left her alone.  She says that her husband’s job brought them out here; Brigade answers that he should find a better one. She sarcastically responds “like Bounty Hunting?” and I yell IT WORKED FOR BOBA FETT. Brigade changes the subject by acknowledging that the little woman cooks good coffee.  Oh, brother.  But apparently, her name is Mrs. Lane and if you will excuse me, Meeko’s sneezing again.

Brigade tells Mrs. Lane to get some sleep, he’ll be taking her with them on his way back to Santa Cruz.  Boone comes out to tell Brigade that the reason he and his friend are out in the middle of nowhere is because the good people of Santa Cruz has granted amnesty to anyone who brings Billy-John in. There’s also a line where Boone admits it took them a week to figure out what ‘amnesty’ meant, so I can’t even make a joke here.  Essentially, Boone tells Brigade that he and his man are tagging along with Brigade to swoop Billy-John out from under his nose and turn him in so they can get amnesty for their crimes. Brigade doesn’t say a word besides telling Boone to keep an eye on Billy-John for both their sakes.

The next morning, the boys are planning out their route when a delegate from the Mescalero tribe approaches. He throws his spear into the ground and circles his horse around it three times: apparently this is the Internationally Known Gesture that stands for “he wants to talk.”  Brigade speaks Mescalero (of course he does), so he goes over and finds out what they want.  Apparently, the Mescalero want to trade something for … Mrs. Lane.

ACTUAL DIALOGUE TRANSCRIPTION TIME

Brigade: He’s got a horse, wants to make a trade.
Mrs. Lane: For what?
Brigade: You. He said they’d been seeing you here.  He wants to take you for his squaw.
Boone: So what do we do now?
Brigade: Play along with ’em.
Mrs. Lane: Play along with them?
Brigade: If we don’t, we’re apt to stir up every buck in the country.

OH MY GOD. I CAN’T EVEN WITH THIS.  A WOMAN FOR A HORSE.  AND BRIGADE’S GOING TO PLAY ALONG. HOLY SHIT. I HOPE THAT THE MIDDLEMAN NEVER ACTUALLY SAW THIS PART.  I HOPE THAT THIS IS WHERE IDA CALLS HIM TO COME BACK TO HEADQUARTERS BECAUSE THEY’VE GOT A RED BALL. HOLY SHIT.

Okay.  Now that I’ve got that off my chest (and also rewatched last night’s episode of The Daily Show wherein my new hero, Ms. Jessica Williams, outlined the double standard in college campus safety talks), I can continue with this movie.

Brigade tells Mrs. Lane that he’s not going to go through with the deal (if this were a modern movie, he’d accompany that with an eyeroll and a sarcastic “obvi”), but she’s not supposed to say anything or break down, as saying something or breaking down would bring shame to the Mescaleros, and then they’d attack them later or something.  The Mescalero brings out the horse that apparently they found, and Mrs. Lane takes a look at the horse and starts bawling.  The Mescalero take the horse and … the horses they rode in on, I guess, and run away. Brigade now actually rolls his eyes and asks what the fuck, Mrs. Lane, I thought you said you didn’t break easy?  She coldly replies, “That was my husband’s horse,” and returns to the pueblo.  [*sad trombone noise*]

Later that day, they all mount their horses and ride off towards Santa Cruz.  I don’t know why this movie is called “Ride Lonesome” if it’s a group of five people riding, but whatever.

Boone and Brigade discuss Mrs. Lane and how pretty she is, and how if Boone was wanting to trade, he’d — WHAT IN THE DAMN HELL

… goddammit, Meeko!  Stay out of the effing birdfeeders!

Anyway, for Boone, he’d give up an entire herd of wild horses in trade for Mrs. Lane, because she’s the prettiest thing on two legs with a vagina west of the Pecos, or something equally cowboy-ish and awful.  Brigade’s response?  “She’s not ugly.”  THANKS, BRIGADE.  JESUS.  Then Boone tries to change the subject to Billy-John’s brother Frank, but then Brigade says that they’re in “medicine country,” and the Mescaleros are waiting for them over that ridge.  What — medicine country?  Does that mean that everyone who lives in that area is a doctor?

The Brigade …er, Brigade, I guess, turn their horses up to “gallup” and end up in an even worse shack than the pueblo way-station they were in.  Somebody shoots Mrs. Lane’s horse out from under her, and Brigade tries to hold the Native Americans off while the rest of the group runs into the burnt-out shell of a shack and basically, it’s a gun fight and a whole lotta trick falling on the part of the horses.

At one point, all the men are reloading while a Native American runs up.  Brigade nods at Mrs. Lane, because she’s the only one with bullets in her gun, nods at the advancing Native American, and yells “get ’em!”  Mrs. Lane “fires” her gun (because there is absolutely no recoil on that thing, nor is there even the requisite puff of smoke), and when the bullet “hits” the Native American, he merely grasps his chest like Fred Sanford pretending to go up to see Elizabeth and then falls over.  Mrs. Lane is horrified that she killed a man.  Yay remorse!

ACTUAL DIALOGUE TRANSCRIPTION TIME

Boone: Sure beats all, don’t it?  What a man’ll put himself through to get his hands on a woman.  Can’t say as I blame ’em, though.

ARE YOU SERIOUS. OH MY GOD.  CHRIST ON A CRACKER.  I AM HAVING PROBLEMS WITH THIS MOVIE.

Seriously – after the shenanigans with Meeko outside, I’m giving serious thought to canning this and watching Pocahontas.  And I haven’t been able to sit through Pocahontas for about … how long as Mel Gibson been crazy now?  That long.

While I’ve been contemplating quitting this (oh, it’s just an empty threat – I’ve never quit on a movie before), Frank and his boys have arrived somewhere and decided to keep moving.  I’m not sure where they ended up, but they counted five horses.  It can’t be the place where the Brigade Brigade is staying, though, or else they’d have found five people to go along with the five horses.  MYSTERY.

Later that night, Brigade gives Mrs. Lane a blanket and then wanders off to be Batman (I’m guessing; he doesn’t seem able to sleep and he has an overdeveloped sense of justice).  Boone talks with his lackey and proposes that maybe Brigade wants Frank to catch up to their brigade.  Then the two of them reaffirm that they are going to go with Brigade and turn Billy-John in so they can get their precious amnesty.

Oh good, it’s time for another one of Brigade’s day-for-nighttime talks with Mrs. Lane.  She pets her horse that happens to have a broken leg and tells Brigade that her husband wanted her to go home or to a town or something, but she couldn’t leave her husband.  Brigade understands.  Mrs. Lane wants to know if Brigade’s really the type of person who’d hunt a man for money, and Brigade confirms that he is that man.  Then she goes off to bed (“I made a place for you in the wall, for you to sleep” – THE WEST IS ALWAYS TRYING TO KILL YOU SO MUCH THAT SHE HAS TO SLEEP IN THE WALL) while he hunkers down next to the horse he didn’t put out of its misery and goes to sleep.  Billy-John attempts to escape where he’s been handcuffed to a wagon, but I’m not sure he’s successful.

The next morning, Boone’s lackey is holding a mirror up so Boone can shave. Okay, SHENANIGANS. A of all, where’d he get shaving cream in the West?  B of all, with a crazed brother of a con coming after them, why’d he take the time to shave?  Oh, he wants to impress Mrs. Lane.  Jackass.

ACTUAL DIALOGUE TRANSCRIPTION TIME

Boone: She’s sure something, ain’t she?  Said she was married to that station feller about a year.  Can you imagine having her around all that time?  All them days? … Nights?  Just thinking on it gives me a way-down shiver.

OH MY GOD.  I KNOW I’VE SAID THIS BEFORE, BUT I CAN’T EVEN WITH THIS.  JESUS CHRIST, HE EVEN MIMED OUT A SHIVER.

Lackey: I wonder what she’ll do now, she’s without a man?
Alaina: Probably the same thing she did at least once a week while her husband was away, no big deal.
Boone: Find another.
Lackey: But if she loved that feller hard enough, she’d stay a widow, wouldn’t she?
Boone: Ain’t the kind.
Alaina: Really?  You can tell that Mrs. Lane, who can shoot straighter than you, is the type who can’t be without a man for too long?  Jesus Chr–
Boone: Not her.Some are; some get along without.  But not her.  She’s the kind that’s got a need.  A deep, lonely need that only a man can get at.
Lackey: But how do you know?
Boone: I’ve seen it in her eyes.
Alaina: …. …. …. he’s going to rape her.

Boone, I will bet you American dollars that what you think is lust is actually hatred.  Because no woman in her right mind should ever want you.

Mrs. Lane’s walking back to her literal hole in the wall, I presume, when Billy-John calls to her from his spot at the wagon.  Billy-John warns her that The Terrible Frank is on his way, and he’d make sure nothing happened to her (“because you’re a woman and all”) if she took pity on him and let him go. Except Billy-John didn’t count on Brigade’s Batman-like sense of hearing, who heard him whispering practically all the way across the desert. Brigade goes to unhitch Billy-John from the wagon but Billy-John pulls a rifle out from under his blanket and points it in Brigade’s gut.  Boone almost just laughs at Billy-John, because that’s Boone’s Winchester rifle, and after he accidentally shot himself in the leg while riding once (*deep breath* HHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA IT’S TOO BAD IT WASN’T YOUR DICK, DIRTBAG), he never carried it loaded after that, so if Billy-John was stupid enough to grab that rifle, then he’s pointing an empty gun at Brigade.  But yeah, go ahead and try it. Billy-John calls Boone’s bluff and drops the gun.  Boone walks over and shoots it, and sure enough, it is loaded.  The shotgun blast makes the horse THAT I THOUGHT HAD A BROKEN LEG jump up, so apparently the shotgun blast healed the horse, just not in the way we all would have thought.

The Brigade Brigade goes riding off into the … sun.  And there’s more long shots of scenery and dust being kicked up by the horses and HOW HAVE I ONLY WATCHED 45 MINUTES OF THIS THING HOLY HELL I’m getting ice cream.

Man, is there anything better than vanilla ice cream with peanut butter swirl? Well, I guess if you’re allergic to peanuts … y’know?  Never mind.

While I was eating peanut butter ice cream straight from the carton (and not a Ben & Jerry’s pint, I’m poor now — poor and experiencing a severe lack of clean bowls, apparently [goddamn, I have got to do the dishes tomorrow.  And by “do the dishes,” I of course mean ‘turn on the damn dishwasher.”]), Boone offered to pay Brigade double Billy-John’s bounty in exchange for letting him and his lackey turn Billy-John in for their precious amnesty.  Brigade doesn’t take him up on it.

Meanwhile, Frank and his goons show up at the place where the Brigade Brigade spent the night last night.  He practically licks the dust and determines that they slept there the night before (I think in actuality he finds the spent shell from when Boone shot the shotgun and cured the horse), and tells one of his minions that he figured out that Brigade is letting him catch up to them, because years ago, Frank “did Brigade a hurt” and now Brigade wants to get even with him for it.  Frank tells the minions to take a load off and let the horses rest, because Brigade will be waiting for them.

The Brigade Brigade comes upon a hanging tree, and for a second I thought it was a people!pole, but that’s because I was just reading an article about how Hannibal is the best, no really, it is, SHUT UP IT IS SO and also I’m tired yet also high on the largest amount of caffeine I’ve had in weeks.  (hooray!)  Boone says that years ago, Brigade would’ve probably strung Billy-John up hisownself, but now Brigade just tells them to move on.

That night, Boone’s Lackey and Billy-John start talking about how Boone and the Lackey will get amnesty (“Oh, that WORD again! I don’t even know what it means!” NAME THAT MOVIE) if they turn Billy-John in at Santa Cruz.  Billy-John’s still angling to escape, so he tries to appeal to the Lackey’s sense of human decency, by saying that if Frank happens to catch up to them, Mrs. Lane might get caught in the crossfire, and he “wouldn’t want to see a woman all shot up and dead, would ya?”  Oh, brother.  Then Boone shows up and stops the Lackey from helping Billy-John, then asks where Mrs. Lane is.  Apparently, she’s down by the riverbank. Alone.

Oh, god.  I do not have a good feeling about this.  I’m going to get pissed off again, aren’t I?

Boone meets up with Mrs. Lane at the riverbank.  Boone offers to “take care of her” when they get to Santa Cruz, and she turns him down.  He doesn’t immediately hate her for friendzoning him, but he does tell her that Brigade won’t be making it to Santa Cruz because Boone’s going to kill him.

Well, that sends Mrs. Lane right off to see Brigade, who is standing and watching the hanging tree (which happens to be the lesser-known, more-depressing sequel to The Giving Tree).  Mrs. Lane tattles on Boone, tells Brigade that Boone plans to kill him, and she jumps to the conclusion that they’re fighting over the measly bounty of Billy-John.  (That’s a good title for a novel: The Measly Bounty of Billy-John. Damn, I’m good sometimes.)  Anyway, FINALLY, Brigade explains to Mrs. Lane what’s actually going on:

Years ago, Brigade was the sheriff of Santa Cruz, and he brought Frank in for murder.  When Frank was shoved off to Yuma, he yelled that he would get even with Brigade for this.  When Frank gets out of jail and returns to Santa Cruz, he doesn’t meet Brigade for a showdown; instead, he kidnaps Brigade’s wife and then hangs her on this here hangin’ tree.  So clearly, this isn’t about Billy-John at all, and Boone was hiding in the bushes listening to everything, because he’s so insecure about his manhood he needs to make sure that the girl won’t end up with Brigade.

Boone sends his Lackey up to the ridge to keep an eye out for Frank.  Boone then repeats his offer to Mrs. Lane, who again politely turns him down.  The Lackey returns to camp and tells them who’s coming for breakfast.  Boone sends his Lackey into the brush to take care of Mrs. Lane, but Boone tells Brigade that he and the Lackey will cover him, even though it doesn’t change anything with regards to Billy-John.

Brigade brings Billy-John out to the Hanging Tree and confronts Frank.  Billy-John’s already got his neck in a noose, and there is the most pitiful shoot-out I’ve ever seen.  Brigade manages to shoot Frank in one, then Boone and the Lackey (opening next month for Lando and the Droids!) almost take out a minion each, but when they see that Frank has fallen they turn tail and run.  In addition, Brigade manages to save Billy-John from dying at the Hanging Tree.

At which point Boone comes out and once more asks Brigade if he and the Lackey can have Billy-John for their precious amnesty (also, the new hit single from Boone & the Lackey).  At this point, I’m really hoping Brigade just gives the dope to the two of them, because he got revenge for his wife and by my count, this should all be over by now.  But instead, Brigade, says “come and get him” to Boone, and DEAR GOD WHY IS THIS MOVIE NOT OVER YET

Oh, it’s all a big fake out, because yes, Brigade doesn’t have any need of Billy-John anymore, so he lets them go ahead and take the idiot to Santa Cruz to get their amnesty.  Mrs. Lane asks Brigade if he’s still going on to Santa Cruz, and he says no.  She understands.  I DON’T

Brigade stays behind to burn the Hanging Tree while the rest of the Brigade goes off to Santa Cruz and HOLY SHIT THE MOVIE IS OVER

Dear Middleman:

You didn’t miss much.  Also, I’m probably going to take 45 minutes and rewatch “The Cursed Tuba Contingency” because I really don’t understand why you want to see this movie so badly.  I mean, sure, Brigade has an overwhelming sense of justice, but THE MISOGYNY IS HORRIFYING.

Love,
Alaina

Okay, so that’s that.  And apparently deleting the movie didn’t remove any percentage from Jeremy the TiVo, so I’m probably going to a couple more of these next week.  Meanwhile, I’m going to — WHAT IN THE DAMN HELL

… *sigh*  Fuck you, Meeko.

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2014 in Insomniac Theatre

 

Alaina Rants On: Maleficent

My poor, poor neglected movie blog.  I promise, I will soon get back to the Insomniac Theatre routine (although my definition of “insomniac” has changed slightly, seeing as how I rarely stay up past midnight, let alone into the wee hours of the morning anymore) and the List.  But first, there’s been a lot of discussion about this film, and one of my friends (Sarah – YOU GUYS ALL KNOW SARAH) said she would be interested in my take on this topic, and while I admit that I’m now pretty much two weeks behind the curve, I’ve never let an opportunity to rant and/or ramble pass me by.

I saw Maleficent on opening night — Dad and I were supposed to go see The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but when Maleficent opened, Spidey’s evening showings mysteriously disappeared, so he and Mom and I went to see Maleficent instead. I had been wary of seeing Maleficent since I heard of its inception (referenced handily here in the middle of this entry at my reading blog), and I have to say that my gut instinct turned out to be right, because after the first twenty minutes, I realized how the story was gonna end up, and I may have sat through the rest of the film like this:

merryweather

Backstory time!  I grew up with a lot of Disney movies, many of which were recorded off of our free Disney channel weekends purchased legally at the Disney Store before it went out of the business of Disney memorabilia.  One of my favorites was Sleeping Beauty.  I can’t exactly pinpoint why I watched it over and over — it may have had something to do with being on the same VHS as the Disney-channel-recorded … NO it was on the same VHS as The Great Muppet Caper!  THAT’S why I watched it so much, I freaking love that movie!

Anyway, Reasons Why I Love Sleeping Beauty: Phillip was the first prince to have a personality (and actual dialogue, to my knowledge, though I bet if anyone could confirm that it would be mine and Sarah’s friend Brian [who I follow on Twitter], who watched all of the Disney animated movies in about a year), and his horse had a personality too!  (I suppose one could argue that the friendship between Phillip and Samson was one of the first Bromances I ever encountered). The fairies were both sweet and smart, but Merryweather was the best one, and if you disagree, I will fight you.  (I may still say “I still think what I thunk before” because of this movie, and no, even the grammar nerd in me won’t apologize for that.)  I mean come on — tell me Aurora looks better in the pink than in the blue. I dare you.

But most of all, there was Maleficent.

maleficent1 Disney

Look at her – talk about having grace and beauty; I wish had her posture.  And in this still, she looks like she’s just a normal fairy, showing up to give her present to the baby.  I mean, clearly a woman with that headpiece and letting her raven perch on her walking stick maybe isn’t the nicest person in the world, and sure, when she arrives she shows up in a lightning bolt and a burst of fierce wind, but it’s not like she storms in and starts mowing people down like Voldemort or some other villain that I wish I could think of in this moment.  She’s almost serene in her evil.

Basically, I loved Maleficent.  I loved how delightfully evil she was.  I loved how she stood up for what she believed in, and by gum, she believed that that little baby should die.

… y’know, reading this?  Might make me seem twisted.  I’m kind of okay with that.  I mean, I probably get it from my mother (DON’T WORRY MOM THIS ISN’T A BAD THING), because I can distinctly remember hearing my mother comment once that, while she definitely does not condone her actions, she would have loved to have played Cruella De Vil in something, because playing a character that delightfully evil has to be the most fun thing in the world.

Because to me, what makes Maleficent so amazing and special is not just that she’s evil; it’s that she revels in it.  Check out her gleeful grin at Stefan’s horrified face after she curses Aurora!  After capturing Prince Phillip she tells him a wonderful little fairy tale about true love that, oops, spoiler alert, he’s not going to experience because when he finally goes to save the princess, he’s going to be like a hundred years old, so have fun with that relationship! She’s so happy once everything goes her way that she tells her raven, “For the first time in sixteen years, I shall sleep well.”  I have hungered after that type of sleep my entire life.

So my unconditional love of Maleficent as a character has been with me since childhood.  And when I first heard that Disney was capitalizing on the success of the Tim Burton-helmed Alice in Wonderland by revisiting the origins of Maleficent, I … became wary, to say the least.

What Tim Burton did for the latest Alice in Wonderland wasn’t an origins story: it was a continuation.  And I know that there are people who weren’t a fan of it for whatever reasons, but because it was a new story, built on the foundations of both the 1951 animated movie and the Lewis Carroll novellas, I could separate my enjoyment of both the original movie and the books from my enjoyment of the Tim Burton movie.  Full disclosure: I didn’t hate it.  I didn’t love it and it didn’t become one of my top ten favorite movies of all time (I should really post about that at some point; it would probably explain a lot of things), but I did buy it when I found it for five bucks a couple of years ago.  I’ve even watched the DVD since I bought it, which is fairly high praise.

But I was afraid that by showing us the origins of Maleficent, we would see that there was a reason behind the curse on Aurora, beyond just not being invited to the party.  And I was very afraid that they would humanize Maleficent.  I hoped that the tale would be told in the way that I remembered it: that okay, maybe she has a reason for wanting a baby dead – that will at least get her to the christening to bestow the curse.  But at the end the fairies and Phillip would try to defeat her and she’d turn herself into a dragon and then Phillip would kill the dragon and maybe she’d get redemption through death (which is one of my favorite tropes EVER.  See: Severus Snape; Jack Bristow; Jack Shepherd; possibly some other Jack; and I hope Regina on Once Upon a Time, even though I do NOT want her to die EVER NEVER EVER because that character is amazing, but because that scene will just make me want to claw my eyes out in grief.).

Needless to say, I was disappointed.

In this film, Maleficent starts out as a nice fairy.  And one day, Stefan stumbles into the fairy world and they become friends, which is kind of forbidden because humans and fairies don’t really mix.  Over time, she falls in love with Stefan, and it’s possible that the affection is returned.  However, Stefan’s ambition overpowers his depth of feeling, because when the dying king asks for revenge on the fairy that so handily handed his army’s ass to them on a silver platter, Stefan goes marching into Fairyland, drugs Maleficent, is going to kill her, but instead, decides to just cut off her wings.

And look, pretend you’re me: you’re watching this movie, and it’s starting out kind of slow and sappy, and then – BOOM! – rape metaphor.  If there is ANYTHING that is going to vindicate Maleficent’s downward slide (or upward climb, depending on your perspective) into evil and vengeance, THAT IS IT. So for a brief moment, I actually had some hope that maybe the film wouldn’t completely defame her character by giving her a sappy side.  Because look: if I were a fairy and some … god, I wish the English language had words for the type of awful, horrible human being Stefan was in that instance (bless you Tina Fey/Liz Lemon, but fungdark really doesn’t even come close) drugged me and cut off my wings, leaving me mutilated beyond repair? You can bet your ASS that I’d want to wreak vengeance on him, on his descendants – a pox on his house wouldn’t even begin to cover it.

(And I know that the sins of the father shouldn’t transfer to the children, but seriously: rape metaphor with mutilation. Tell me you wouldn’t at least consider it.)

So I’m sitting there, actually anticipating how this story will go: she’ll get her revenge because Aurora will prick her finger and she’ll die, she’ll cackle, and maybe she’d piss off Phillip’s family, which makes him seek revenge on her, and something would happen to make her redeem herself in death.  (I clearly hadn’t thought that through, but that’s what I wanted.)

Until Maleficent curses Aurora.  Because when she made that curse, I knew that Maleficent would never live up to my expectations.

The curse, as written in the 1959 original, states:

Before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she shall prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel – and DIE.

In Maleficent, she amends the curse to say:

Before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she shall prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a sleep like death!

There is a HUGE difference between those two curses, and it’s not just the words.  In Maleficent‘s version of the curse, she has already softened up compared to her predecessor, because now she’s not killing the kid, she’s just putting her to sleep forever.

And then she amends her own curse, giving it a cure!  She says the equivalent of, “Oh well, okay sure, I’ll give you a curse-breaker: she can only be woken up by True Love’s Kiss.”  And as she leaves, she’s all, “BECAUSE THERE’S NO SUCH THING SUCKA HAHAHAHA”  And then she would flip  the entire gathering of peasants and rabble The Bird as she vanishes in a cloud of green smoke like a motherfucking boss.

Except she can’t stay away from Aurora – I’m still not sure if, initially, she kept watching Aurora and saving her from the fairies’ ineptitude just because she wanted to make sure she (Maleficent) was the one responsible for the girl’s demise (and DON’T get me started on those fucking fairies.  Not one Merryweather in the bunch).  The first line of the curse in both Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent states that Aurora will be beloved by all who know her. Well, in this film, Maleficent falls under her own spell.

To the point that Maleficent tries to break her own curse!  She ends up caring for the princess and tries to take it back!  Except she fooled herself because when she cursed the girl originally, she made sure to say that the curse will be unbroken until True Love’s Kiss – she didn’t even put in a override line or anything reserved for herself.  So then she gets sad because she’s cursed Aurora to this sleep of death, because True Love’s Kiss doesn’t exist.

Well, that’s all well and good, except that anyone who’s ever watched Once Upon a Time knows that the best True Love’s Kisses come from mother to son (both Emma and Regina to Henry, breaking two curses).  So when the fairies force Phillip into kissing a sleeping Aurora and it doesn’t work, Maleficent tries to say goodbye to Aurora by kissing her, and GUESS WHO WAKES UP

In the end, Maleficent gets her wings back, she stops being evil, Stefan dies (as all good Disney villains do) (I actually pointed and shouted DISNEY VILLAIN DEATH in the theatre but no one heard me), Aurora rules the humans in concert with Maleficent not-quite-ruling the fairies because they don’t believe in a system of government, and Alaina does not like the movie because they made Maleficent soft.

Where was my evil queen who ruled all those wonderful, stupid minions?  Where was her outright glee in tormenting others?  You know how much fun Lana Parilla has playing Regina the Evil Queen on Once Upon a Time?  THAT’S WHAT I WANTED FOR MALEFICENT.

(I’m not even going to get into the fact that on Once Upon a Time, Maleficent was played by the awesome Kristin Bauer Von Straten, only to have Regina permanently turn her into her dragon in episode 2, and then have Emma kill her in the season 1 finale.  Why does Maleficent always get short shrift?)

So that’s why I didn’t like the movie: they took one of my favorite childhood antiheroes and made her soft in the heart and gave her a happy ending that was actually happy (versus my other favorite trope, Redemption Through Death).  I would like to point out – before I get into the true impetus of why I’m writing this post – that while I felt the writing did a disservice to Maleficent, Angelina Jolie was phenomenal in the role.  I mean, really: my main problem was the story.  Or the fact that their story deviated from what I wanted the story to be.  My dislike of the movie had nothing to do with the persons involved (unlike when I went to see Mission: Impossible IV: Ghost Protocol because SOMEONE said it was an amazing movie and that Sawyer from Lost was in it but Sawyer died in the first ten minutes of the movie and basically SOMEONE STILL OWES ME NINE BUCKS FOR THAT MOVIE AND ALSO FOR PRISONERS BECAUSE THERE WERE SNAKES IN PRISONERS AND YOU DIDN’T TELL ME ABOUT THE SNAKES, BRAD).

Ahem.

So anyway: heaps of praise for Angelina Jolie and the visual effects; bunches of boos for the poor story decisions (my opinion).  Once the movie came out, I was seeing a few articles that praised Maleficent for having such a female-centric storyline, and after careful consideration, I have to agree.  It is amazing that there are five female characters with speaking roles compared to the two male characters (three if you count the king that dies in the beginning).  The movie passes the Bechdel test with flying colors; no doubt about that in my mind.  And I applaud the movie for showing us such a positive female relationship between Maleficent and Aurora, regardless of how I felt about the relationship as part of the story.

And then Sarah links me to this article, and says, “I’d be interested to hear your take on this.” So I read it, and I’ve been stewing over it for a couple of weeks now, and I guess my main feeling regarding this article is that I feel the author is nitpicking and reading into a lot of stuff (says the girl who has written nearly 2500 words in the same manner).

The author of the article claims that Disney had the opportunity to create a truly revisionist feminist movie starring Maleficent – show a woman’s agency and the choices she makes and how those choices go against the patriarchy found in that realm, and how grrl!power would triumph over the stupid stupid men. And remember that part where Maleficent was horrifically mutilated by a man and I thought this was going to be the best revenge fantasy movie ever?  I really wanted that, along with the author of the article.

Obviously, my disappointment comes from a deep-rooted nostalgia.  The author of the article traces her disappointment to the fact that the film is not Maleficent’s movie – she is merely a player in Aurora’s movie, remade to look like the main character.  Aurora is the narrator of the movie, and the narration that begins the film tells the audience that we haven’t heard the story told in this way before.  And that’s because for the first time, we’re seeing the story as told from Maleficent’s perspective, and we’re getting backstory on Maleficent’s motivation, but at the end of the film, Aurora still needs to wake up.  We can’t have Maleficent succeed in her original plot (revenge against Stefan = keeping his daughter sleeping like death for eternity) because then we really would be seeing Maleficent win, and the villain winning wouldn’t be a comfortable position for any summer tentpole audience.

What I kind of have to love in an ironic manner is the fact that the author of the article can’t even focus on Maleficent for her entire article.  She ends the article claiming that the Aurora in the 1959 movie is more femme-positive (her words) than the Aurora found in Maleficent:

In Sleeping Beauty, Aurora had a nurturing family and a trio of good fairies who were flighty (yet responsible). She had the gift of song, the man of her dreams, and an iconic, charismatic villain who audiences loved. In Maleficent, Aurora is the product of a cold and loveless marriage and a vengeful, unhinged rapist. Her safety relies on a trio of clueless and dangerously careless fairies, and her Godmother is the woman who cursed her — and who had, in turn, been violated by her own father.

Which sounds more reductive to you?

To be honest, I don’t even know what she’s talking about.  In Maleficent, Aurora doesn’t need a man to save her from her fate – Maleficent saves Aurora with her version of True Love’s Kiss.  When Maleficent is captured by Stefan’s guards, sure, she changes her raven-man into the dragon instead of changing herself into a dragon, but maybe there was a line that was cut that explained that fairies can’t actually turn themselves into other creatures?  And in the end, Aurora helped save Maleficent by returning her wings to her (there has to be a metaphor in there somewhere about a woman returning another woman’s power to her after it had been raped away, but I’ve been working on this essay for about a week and I can’t think too hard about this anymore) – how is that less femme!positive than Sleeping Beauty where the prince kills the female dragon and wakes the heroine up with a kiss and her marriage to Prince Phillip had been arranged before she was born, and they were just lucky that they met in the woods and fell in love immediately without knowing each other was their betrothed whereas in Maleficent Aurora got to choose to marry Phillip and the marriage wasn’t arranged or anything and everyone lives happily ever after, even Phillip, who honestly ended up having less of a personality than this guy:

sleeping beauty jester

So there.  I really don’t think I can analyze this movie anymore.  I was disappointed in the movie, but I’ve got my anger out now so I won’t be talking about it any longer.

I will most likely continue to bring up Mission: Impossible IV: Ghost Protocol and Prisoners when applicable, because I haven’t gotten my refund for either of those movies yet, BRAD.

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2014 in Alaina Rants On

 

Oscar!Watch 2014: My predictions

I’m going to keep this short and sweet, because I have a couple of hours in which I can make my lunches for the rest of the week and start getting caught up on Bates Motel before season 2 starts tomorrow night (I’M AWARE I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH CONSUMING MEDIA).  Also, people are probably sick of Oscar nomination posts, so – short story stays short.

Best Original Screenplay
Nominees: American Hustle; Blue Jasmine; Dallas Buyers Club; Her; Nebraska.

This and Adapted Screenplay are some of the hardest categories to guess, especially in a year with such quality.  I feel that screenplays should be read in order to be judged, but as a consumer you can only see the interpretation of those words on-screen.

Now remember, I have seen neither Her nor Nebraska.  If I were to judge simply on the three I have seen, my gut instinct is to give it to Dallas Buyers Club because the movie has great characters and a message about AIDS, which Hollywood has championed since AIDS was a terror in the United States (I’m not saying anything about how it’s still a terror in Africa but a lot of Americans choose to ignore that plight; look at me not saying anything).  I think Blue Jasmine also has a fantastic character in Jasmine, but I think the Academy will reward Cate Blanchett for her acting rather than Woody Allen for his writing (and look at me not saying a word about Woody Allen!  I’m all sorts of not saying things right now!).

But I think American Hustle will walk away with the award, because it’s going to get shut out of its other nominations.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominees: Captain Phillips; Philomena; Before Midnight; 12 Years a Slave; The Wolf of Wall Street.

While I think Before Midnight was an amazing film (I am definitely adding Before Sunrise and Before Sunset to my List) and wish it would win, I think 12 Years a Slave is going to win this one.

Best Director
Nominees: David O. Russell, American Hustle; Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity; Alexander Payne, Nebraska; Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave; Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street.

This is a hard category to guess.  I mean, aside from throwing out Nebraska and The Wolf of Wall Street.  They’re great movies, but 12 Years a Slave has a great reputation coming in tonight.  They may give it to David O. Russell, but that’s also a long-shot; he may be enjoying a wealth of love right now, but there are still a lot of people who remember how difficult he was when he directed Three Kings, and no one dares mention I Heart Huckabees, however good it is.

And then there’s Alfonso Cuaron.  He could take it for Gravity (and has already won the DGA, the Golden Globe, and the BAFTA for it).  And the movie is stunning, and a testament to direction in a highly-technical medium.  The Academy could reward the movie here (and in the technical fields).

I could go both ways: I think 12 Years a Slave is a masterful work in directing not only characters, but characters in a space and time.  The long takes that Steve McQueen employs certainly contributed to the tension and emotional resonance of the film.  But Cuaron does the same in Gravity.  (Didn’t they split the DGA?  Am I making crap up?)  (It tied with 12 Years a Slave for the Producer’s Guild Award; my mistake.)

So here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to give a slight edge to Cuaron and Gravity, but if Steve McQueen wins, that will also be awesome.  Because if either of them win, it will be a first: either the first Latin American Best Director, or the first African-American Best Director.

So basically, don’t let Marty Scorsese win again, okay?

Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine; Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle; Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave; Julia Roberts, August: Osage County; June Squibb, Nebraska.

Lupita Nyong’o, y’all.  Not even kidding.  If Jennifer Lawrence wins it again, it’s because we’re too enamored of her to recognize an amazing performance.  If anyone but Lupita wins this, it’s a travesty of Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny proportions.

Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips; Bradley Cooper, American Hustle; Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave; Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street; Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

I am going to give a very strong recommendation to Jared Leto, who was amazing (and, most importantly, unrecognizable) in Dallas Buyers Club.  However, if Michael Fassbender wins, I won’t be mad.  If Jonah Hill wins, I’ll be highly amused, but also not mad (he was surprisingly not Jonah Hill in the movie, so I’ll be okay if he wins).

If they give it to Bradley Cooper, however, they’re morons.

Best Actress
Nominees: Amy Adams, American Hustle; Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine; Sandra Bullock, Gravity; Judi Dench, Philomena; Meryl Streep, August: Osage County.

I really really really want Amy Adams to win (she was the best part of that movie, and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if there were an Award for Best Performance by an Inanimate Object, her double-sided tape would win hands-down) – she’s been nominated six times and has yet to win.  She’s turning into the female version of Peter O’Toole, and y’all know how I feel about that man.  (OH GOD THE DEATH REEL IS TONIGHT I WON’T BE ABLE TO HANDLE IT GUYS)

But it’s probably going to go to Cate Blanchett, because she did an amazing turn as a modern-day Blanche DuBois.

(PS – everyone go see A Streetcar Named Desire if you have a chance.  And I’m not talking about O Streetcar, either.)

Best Actor
Nominees: Christian Bale, American Hustle; Bruce Dern, Nebraska; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street; Chiwetel Ejiofer, 12 Years a Slave; Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

This is probably one of the two hardest categories for me to judge.  Because if it were up to me, I’d want to give it to Leonardo DiCaprio because he’s never won, but I also want to give it to Chiwetel Ejiofer because he was amazing, but I also want to give it to Matthew McConaughey because he was also amazing, and also, I want him to say “all right, all right, all right” when he wins.

So really?  I have no idea who’s going to win tonight.  No clue.  It could be either of those three men and I’ll be happy.

It’s a first, but I’m not going to predict.  Well, that’s not true; I predict the winner will not be Christian Bale, and it won’t be Bruce Dern, either.  There.  How’s that?

Best Picture
Nominees: American Hustle; Captain Phillips; Dallas Buyers Club; Gravity; Her; Nebraska; Philomena; 12 Years a Slave; The Wolf of Wall Street.

I’m going to cross off Her, Nebraska, Philomena, Captain Phillips, and The Wolf of Wall Street.  That brings the field down to the following four: American Hustle; Dallas Buyers Club; Gravity; and 12 Years a Slave.

Dallas Buyers Club will be rewarded on its performances, not as an overall picture (it’s missing the crucial Best Director nomination [although recent years have split the winners {see Ang Lee winning for The Life of Pi last year but Argo winning Best Picture, although that’s because the Academy was a circus of douches and didn’t nominate Ben Affleck for Best Director}]).

That leaves Gravity, American Hustle, and 12 Years a Slave.  And again, I don’t know!  I think it depends on how the other awards shake out.

For instance, they could give Best Directing and Best Picture to 12 Years a Slave, and I’d be okay with that.  Gravity would leave with a bunch of technical awards, and American Hustle would win Best Original Screenplay, and all would be fine.

But they could give Best Directing to Alfonso Cuaron, which means that then they’d give Best Picture to 12 Years a Slave because duh.

But they could give Best Directing to Steve McQueen and then give Best Picture to American Hustle, because it has the word American in the title.

I think I’m just going to go with 12 Years a Slave for Best Picture because I really don’t know.  It seems the most logical choice.

So to make a long story short (too late!), here’s my official list:

  • Best Original Screenplay: American Hustle
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave
  • Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity [or Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave]
  • Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
  • Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
  • Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
  • Best Actor: Fuck if I know.  Someone male.
  • Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave

Please remember that my predictions should not be the basis for any last-minute Oscar Pools, and if I sweep, I get a portion of the profits.  Please send all checks to Alaina c/o Movies Alaina’s Never Seen.  Thank you.

Happy Oscar Day!  And may the odds be ever in your favor.

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2014 in Oscar!Watch!

 

Oscar!Watch 2014: Twelve Years a Slave

I just came back from one of the more surreal movie-going experiences of my life.

I drove up to my hometown of Brunswick to see 12 Years a Slave — it’s only showing at the Eveningstar Cinema, a little one-screen theatre that not only every small town should have, but if you’re ever visiting in Maine, please take time out from your vacation to see a movie here.  There is only one screen, so you’re at the mercy of what they’re showing, but if you get there early enough, you can grab one of the couches (yes, couches) that make up the front two rows — and they’re still far enough away from the screen that you won’t hurt your neck.  The popcorn is freshly-popped, and you have to pay three bucks for a soda, but it’s a soda in a bottle and not a piddly-assed small cup that the chains give you.  They primarily show limited runs of arty films, but it’s worth it; trust me.

And right now, it’s the only place that’s showing 12 Years a Slave at a reasonable time.  I also made the decision, in full disclosure time, that I was not going to break my neck to catch either Her, NebraskaAugust: Osage County, or Philomena.  I’m sure they’re all fine films, but let’s be real: they’re probably not going to win any awards.  All I have left to watch is Dallas Buyer’s Club, and I bought that on DVD so I didn’t have to drive to Massachusetts, and I’ll watch that tomorrow afternoon.

So back to my 12 Years a Slave story.  I enter the theater, and aside from three Bowdoin neurology students or whatever, I was the youngest one there.  And everyone else in the theatre was easily over fifty.  Not that there’s anything wrong with fifty – my parents, my faux parents, and one of my best friends are all over fifty.

Oh, I should mention before I get any farther: here lie spoilers.  Spoilers be ahead.  If you want to see 12 Years a Slave knowing nothing about it beyond its title, for the love of God, stop reading here.

Also, I’m going to talk a lot about slavery, history, and perception.  I am going to give this disclaimer up front: I don’t know what to think.  I have a lot of questions going around in my head, and unfortunately, I’m sure that none of them are politically correct.  But I’m going to try to … if not answer them, at least come to some sort of .. consensus isn’t the right word.  Rationalization isn’t right either.  Look, I’m just talking some shit out, and I’ll be honest, I’m most likely talking out of my ass.  Please don’t be offended, but also, if my essay-slash-question-slash-whatever inspires you to comment, that’s great; but I don’t respond to anger.  I will not be talked down to, and neither will I be yelled at.  If you want to be responded to, please just be nice.  Because there is a difference between “freedom of speech” and “intent to offend, insult, and/or harm.”  And that’s it for my soapbox (for now).

So anyway, here’s what happened: at every instance of violence, someone would gasp.  After Solomon was beaten for doing exactly what he was told, he flipped and started beating his overseer.  The overseer and two of his friends had Solomon strung up and was almost killed when the foreman saves him.  However, Solomon must still be punished (as a slave cannot beat his overseer), so his toes are allowed to touch the ground, but he is not removed from the tree until the end of the day.  For the rest of the day, he is just about two inches away from being lynched.  We see the other slaves and members of the plantation go about their business: tending to the laundry, picking vegetables for dinner, putting the horses away.  And always in frame is the image of Solomon struggling to keep himself from strangling.

The woman sitting behind me chose that moment to say, “This is a bleak movie.”

I am very proud of myself: I greatly resisted the urge to turn around and ask her what she expected.  I mean, when you go see a movie titled 12 Years a Slave, did you think it was going to be a happy film?  Did you think that the worst was going to be like the first five minutes of Blazing Saddles?

And the film didn’t ease up from there.  Solomon attempts to coerce a man who appears sympathetic to his plight (remember: Solomon, a free man from Syracuse, was kidnapped and sold into slavery.  He has no way to prove his freedom) into mailing a letter to notify his family and friends.  Instead, the man tells Epps, the slave-owner, and pockets Solomon’s money.  Luckily, Solomon is able to escape being killed as he insinuates that the other man (who is a white drunkard on hard times) is just trying to stir up trouble to be hired as an overseer.  When we learn that the drunkard has ratted Solomon out, I would say half the audience gasped and/or sighed in disgust; how could he do that?  How could he take his money and not help Solomon?

And it’s a great thing that we were all cursing the drunkard — I mean, with our twenty-first century eyes, it is very easy to say that that’s not what we would have done; we know better.  We know that slavery was wrong, and if we had a slave come to us in the middle of the night, swearing us to secrecy and then paying us money just to deliver a letter, what would we have done?  We would take the money, protect his secret, and mail the letter.  Hell, we probably wouldn’t even take his money.  We would just help him, because we are honest, forthright people.

But back in Louisiana in the 1840s, slaves weren’t people.  Slaves were just the equipment needed to get the cotton picked, or the church built, or the railroad tracks laid down.  And if a slave came up to you and you saw money in his hand, and you’re a white man with no job and a crippling addiction to whiskey, what would you do?  You’d pocket the money and then try and get in good with the slave-owner; maybe he’ll reward your loyalty with an overseer position.  And the slave would be dead; it’s no worse than needing to buy a new hammer, after all.

The final breaking point of the film is the brutal whipping scene.  Epps is infatuated with Patsey, a slave who can outpick every other slave on Epps’s team of cotton pickers.  Epps’s wife knows of his infatuation, and won’t give Patsey any soap in the form of passive-aggressive retaliation.  Patsey used her free Sunday to go to a neighboring plantation in order to get soap. There are multitudinous reasons why Epps doesn’t believe Patsey, but the end result is a four-minute-long take wherein Patsey is stripped naked, tied to a post, and whipped – first by Solomon, but when it appears he is not whipping her at his full strength, Epps takes the whip and beats the poor girl.

The audience is subject to one of the most emotionally-violent scenes I can remember: we see Patsey’s tears, Epps’s brutality, and blood spurting off her back from the whip.  Finally, the punishment is over, and Solomon unties Patsey; the soap she so brutally won drops from her hands.  She never let it go throughout the duration of the beating.

When Patsey is laid on a table and the other slaves take the time to clean her wounds, her back is a maze of welts and sores.  At the sight of it, the woman behind me starts sobbing.  Outright wailing.

Now, I have been to many movies, and I thought there was nothing more awkward than seeing a movie with friends (or your parents) and finding moments where tears roll down your cheeks.  Like seeing Brave, or Up, and just being punched in the gut with ~feels – what do you do?  You sniff and pretend you’re having an allergy attack.  Or you yawn loudly, struggling against the impulse to sniffle, and pretend you’re wiping your eyes because you’re tired.  Everybody, I’m sure — unless you have a heart of stone — has had those moments.  How do you keep your friends from seeing you cry in public?

Well, God bless this woman, because she did not have any conscious ability to mask her emotions.  She was bawling.  She could not control herself.  And I felt sorry for her, and I wished I had tissues or something to give her.  But all I could do — all I did — was continue to face forward and try to watch the rest of the film.

Please note – I was not angry at her emotional response.  I was just … awkward.  It’s not like having teenagers sitting behind you talking and texting throughout a movie; this woman was overcome with emotion, and she just couldn’t help it.

But at this moment, I’m not sure why she was crying.  I mean, I get that it was a visceral reaction on her part – she was clearly overcome by the imagery of the violence, and she probably couldn’t disconnect that what she was seeing on-screen was a woman acting underneath pounds of putty and dyed corn syrup.  I’ve seen a lot of movies, and I’ve worked backstage on a production of Macbeth that had enough fake blood that Buster Bluth would have killed multiple hookers.  (That’s an Arrested Development reference.)  I’m able to disconnect and see the “movie magic.”  It’s possible that she couldn’t, and that’s totally fine.

Because here’s my big question: was she crying at the movie, or at the realization that all this happened to real people?  I watched this film, and while I learned about slavery in school, it was all in abstract terms.  Slaves were lynched; slaves were raped; slaves were treated worse than property.  It doesn’t register as you’re learning about these events what they mean: it means that people were lynched; people were raped; people were treated worse than property.  I mean, in this day and age, we were taught that slaves were people and slavery was a disgusting blemish on American history (that isn’t too pristine to begin with, but that’s a whole ‘nother essay for a whole ‘nother time).  But depending on where you grew up and when, you may have been taught that the Civil War was actually started over tariffs and taxes and not slavery.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what triggered this woman to start bawling.  I just wonder: is it the movie, or the realization of history?  Because I have a feeling that there are probably many more people who had almost the same reaction, but they’re going to blame the movie: “Oh, that movie was so violent.  I can’t believe they showed that!”  “Can you believe that character wouldn’t help Solomon?”  “Why wouldn’t anyone cut him down from the tree?  That was a horrible scene!”

But what those people forget is this: this was based on a true story.  While the events we’re seeing may have some poetic license taken, the likelihood that these scenes actually happened to slaves is very, very high.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say that they absolutely did happen.  Maybe not to the real Solomon or the real Patsey, but I am sure that there were slaves that were beaten to death for worse infractions than leaving the plantation on their free day to get soap.  I know that female slaves were raped by their owners.   I know that there were some slave-owners who owned slaves out of necessity; they were equipment, but they were also people.  Those owners provided a place of worship and a hammock to sleep in, and protection from the elements.  There were also men sympathetic to the plights of slaves living in the South, who would help a free man that had been kidnapped into slavery.

I know that when I watched the movie, I was horrified that these events happened, and we were only seeing the reality of it now.  And I think that scared some other people in the theatre with me tonight.  The thought that there were human beings not even two hundred years ago that were treating slaves with such violence; it’s disgusting that that’s where parts of this country came from.

And through this film, those once-abstract constructs became realThat man was lynched.  That woman was raped.  Those people were thought of as property.  People owned other people.

So why is she crying: is she crying at the horrible plight of millions of people who populated this country?  Or is she crying because one film dared show the reality of that plight?

I don’t know.  I’m not a psychiatrist; neither am I a scholar.  I’m just a lazy slob who watches entirely too much television.  I’m not trying to find the answers of the world; I’m just trying to make sense of a crying woman where sense probably can’t be made.

I hope she finds peace.  I hope she goes home and puts in a movie that will comfort her.  I hope a lot of things.

Here’s what I know:

12 Years a Slave will win Best Picture*, and Lupita Nyong’o will win Best Supporting Actress.

*unless Dallas Buyers Club blows me away.  But I’ll know more about that tomorrow.

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2014 in Oscar!Watch!

 

Oscar!Watch: 2014

Holy crap you guys — I might actually be able to see all the movies nominated for the Top Eight this year.

I happened to look for the first time today – because, thanks to the United States Government and my income tax refund – I might actually have money for the first time in a while to spend on things other than bills, food, and shelter, and also thanks to the Olympics, I’ve got an extra week that I don’t usually have in which I could ostensibly catch up, and while I’m thanking people, I guess I should sort-of thank my job that is conveniently across from the Nickelodeon, which is the art-house cinema in Portland, making it super-convenient to leave work and walk across the street to see a 6:15 show of something.

But seriously, as I looked at the list — and what I do is I break out the Top Eight categories (Picture, the four Acting categories, Directing, and both Screenplay categories) and then map out where the nominations fall (American Hustle was nominated for practically everything, Before Midnight only got one nod) — and that determines what movies I need to watch.

This year, the Top Eight are completely covered by twelve films.  And I’ve already seen two of them!  I only need to watch ten movies!  And three of those are on Redbox already!

After I complete my Hannibal rewatch (OH CRAP I KNEW THERE WAS SOMETHING I WAS SUPPOSED TO DO TONIGHT), I can TOTALLY get those ten movies done!  Hell, I’ll even throw in Frozen because apparently it’s the best Disney movie since Beauty and the Beast!

The only one I’m ‘iffy’ on is Blue Jasmine, and that’s because it’s Woody Allen’s latest, and I’ve never been a huge fan of Woody Allen, and with the latest news, I feel really icky spending a dollar to watch a film he’s made.  I … I don’t know how I feel about that.

(maybe I’ll just use my free coupon I usually get on Blue Jasmine and drink a lot – maybe that will help the confused feels I have towards the situation)

So anyway – stay tuned, because after the Hannibal rewatch (CAN I WATCH SIX EPISODES BETWEEN NOW AND THURSDAY I THINK I CAN I THINK I CAN) and catching up on Sherlock (“A Scandal in Belgravia” is TOTALLY my new favorite, and I can hear my dad saying “It’s ‘A Scandal in Bohemia,’ what the hell are they doing”), I do have a couple of Insomniac Theatres to catch up on (which will make Jeremy the TiVo: Episode IV: A New Hope much happier than he currently is), and I’m going to try and end this paragraph without any more parenthetical phrases by saying that there might also be another That’s What She Read Tie-In, plus more on the list.

HA I DID IT SUCK IT PARENTHETICAL PHRASES

(no)

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2014 in Oscar!Watch!

 

Dead Poets Society

Holy crap, TV starts coming back next week?  That seems way too early.  Good news for you guys, however: that means you’re getting some more Movies Alaina’s Never Seen.

I couldn’t decide what to watch, so I broke out Ye Olde Martini Shaker of Choosing with new slips (since the last time I used the Shaker, I had to delete, like, 90% of them.  So instead of twenty, I’ve got seven to choose from.  I probably didn’t need the martini shaker, but, y’know: tradition).  And apparently, the Martini Shaker of Choosing thought that it’s been a while since I did a movie that was actually on The List:

2014-01-03 23.00.46

Oh hey, pajama pants – I forgot those would show up on the Internets. 

Oh, Dead Poets Society.  So much grief – although, not nearly as much as with the Goddamned Shawshank Redemption.  And yes, that is how I will be referring to it from now on, and no, I will not be italicizing it, either.

If y’all have ever wondered what Friend Brad sounds like when he’s astonished at a movie I’ve never seen, let’s pull back the curtain on an actual conversation we had (via email) wherein he learns that I’d never seen Dead Poets Society:

Brad: … Makes you think.  Carpe diem.  I know it’s a cliché, but anytime I can reference DPS, I feel it needs to be said.
Me: You’re gonna hafta help me out with something … “reference DPS”?  What does DPS stand for?
Brad: OMG and WTF … DPS is Dead Poets Society, one of Brad’s Top 10 movies of all time!  Seriously??

IN MY DEFENSE, when I took a non-scientific survey on Facebook, no one else ever refers to it as DPS.  Apparently, DPS is for lazy typists and those with carpal tunnel syndrome.  To which I said: ‘seems legit.’

dead poets society

So here’s what I know about Dead Poets Society before I start:

It stars Robin Williams as an English teacher at a boys’ academy.  Young Josh Charles (Will from The Good Wife, or my forever favorite, Dan Rydell from Sports Night) and Young Dr. Wilson from House, Robert Sean Leonard are some of his students.  Robin Williams is a crazy teacher, and asks them to stand on their desks at some point.  He also teaches them the importance of seizing the day (carpeing the diem), and the poem “O Captain, My Captain.”  The students form a society that worships dead poets.   There’s a tragedy, and at the end of the movie, Robin Williams either dies, or he’s fired, and the class recites “O Captain, My Captain,” and Brad cries.

So … that’s what I’ve got.  And I know I’m on the right path, because Friend Britney confirmed that I was right about a good amount the movie.  I also believe that I won’t be snarking much about the movie – it’s supposed to be fabulous.  Did you notice how I didn’t make a joke about how the movie’s about a group of students that are haunted by a society of dead poets?  I didn’t make it because I go into this movie with a modicum of respect for it!  I don’t think that’s happened bef—oh no, I totally did that with the original Star Wars trilogy and The Court Jester.  So anyway – not much snark tonight, methinks. 

But just in case I’m wrong, I’ve got vodka.

English teacher John Keating inspires his students to a love of poetry and to seize the day.

Isn’t – isn’t that what I just said?  Damn, imdb.; sometimes you suck.

OO!  This was rated TV-MA on TCM!  Yay language!!  (Yeah, this was on Turner Classic Movies.  That’s kind of awesome and sad in a way, much in the same way I feel when I hear Nirvana on Dad’s classic rock station.)

We open on a dude taking out his bagpipes – that’s not a euphemism, by the way.  There are actual fucking bagpipes.  (heh – I just made a How I Met Your Mother reference and only a few people will get that.)  The bagpiper leads a procession of boys into a church, and my first gut instinct is to make a joke, but I promised myself I’d be good.  They’re lighting the light of knowledge, so this is clearly a chapel for the boarding school.  This takes place in 1959, and the chaplain or whoever asks the boys to recite the Four Pillars, which are Tradition, Discipline, Excellence, and … something I forgot that I’m not going to rewind for.  I have a feeling they’ll repeat it.

We see a glimpse of Robin Williams as John Keating, and it’s hard to reconcile his floppy haired “sober” persona with the crazy guy he’s been playing on The Crazy Ones this season.  (PS, that is one of my new favorite shows.  Robin Williams as Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s father?  Fantastic!)

Holy crap, Dr. Wilson’s father is Eric Foreman’s father.  Mind blown.

The boys are gathering in Wilson’s dorm room, and he’s rooming with Ethan Hawke.  They’re all acting like Gryffindors before the Prisoner of Azkaban escapes when Mr. Foreman comes in and tells Wilson that he can’t be the editor of the academy paper because he’s taking too many extracurriculars.  But because this is 1959, he doesn’t exactly tell his dad to eat it.  Instead, they decide to actually have a study group, and I’ve clearly watched too much Community because my instinct is to wonder what crazy hijinks they’re going to get into.

We see a montage of stuffy asshole teachers – not turning in homework will result in points taken off final grades, three labs due in two weeks, etc.  And then we meet John Keating.  He’s whistling behind a door as the students file in for English.  As soon as they take their seat and prepare for yet more homework and syllabi, Keating walks out the door.  He pops his head back in and says, “Come on,” then heads back out.  Stunned, the boys get up and follow him, taking their books.  Oh, boys – you don’t always have to take your books!

Keating has some of the students recite verses of poems.  Pitts recites the one that starts “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,” and then we hear the importance of carpe diem.  Keating has brought the students out to the hallway to show them the faces of previous students, most of whom are now apparently dead.  Keating tries to tell them that the dead students are the same as they are, and the message they’re giving to the current students is to seize the day to ensure they become extraordinary.

I echo one of those students’ thoughts in that the lesson was illuminating, yet extremely creepy, what with Keating leaning behind the other students and creepily muttering.

While Dan Rydell has dinner with some muckety-mucks, the rest of the Gryffindors are studying.  And I am still shocked that most of them are actually studying.  It’s like they’re all male versions of Hermione Granger.

The next day, Keating asks Wilson to read the introduction to their poetry book.  Even before I get to the (what I assume to be a) classic line, I’m calling shenanigans on 1950s poetry teachings.  Whoever that doctor that wrote it is trying to tell the students that you can plot poetry on an x-y axis.  What?  No, you – and then Robin Williams steps in and says “Excrement,” because as a teacher you can’t say “bullshit” in front of susceptible students.

He then tells them to not only rip out the math page from their poetry book, but the entire introduction.  I have a feeling Robin Williams is going to get in trouble for this.

Meanwhile, I think I’m going to love this movie, because Robin Williams is saying something I’ve been feeling for a very long time: “You will learn to savor words and language.  No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”  How many times have I railed against language being used badly?  How many times have my fingers itched for a red pen?  How many times have I choked up at reading a series of words put together in a sequence that made my heart flutter? 

I am 27 minutes into this movie, according to my DVR, and I want to know why we never watched this movie in school.  I also want to know if I’m going to end up loving this movie for different reasons than some other people.

Anyway.  Keating can tell that one of his students is suspicious of this crazy behavior.  After all, he’s going to be a doctor – what does he need of poetry? 

That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.  What will your verse be?

Oh, shit.  I’m hooked.  I’m going to put my netbook down and watch this for a while.  Carry on.

Okay, so Keating’s told them what the Dead Poets Society actually is, and a gang of students goes to recreate it, and I just have to mention that this movie was totally made in the 80s.  The scene where they’re running out to the cave in the fog?  I mean, seriously, I thought Bonnie Tyler was gonna show up and sing about total eclipses of the heart.

Aw, crew!  And … fencing!  Man, boys prep schools in the 50s had all sorts of opportunities for mayhem.

Speaking of mayhem, poetry has inspired Wilson to audition for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and he gets the part of Puck.  Now he has to forge letters from his father and the headmaster to give himself permission.  O, 1950s, when forging was way easier than it is now. 

Wilson’s writing his poem while bagpipes are playing.  Insert How I Met Your Mother reference here.

And now the students are reciting the poems they wrote, and all I want is for someone to start by saying, “I hate the way you talk to me, and the way you cut your hair.”

But then Ethan Hawke stands up, and Ethan Hawke has been painfully shy.  He doesn’t want to recite his poem in front of the class, especially after the way the rest of the boys have laughed at everyone else.  But Keating won’t let it go, so he almost bullies Ethan into making up a poem on the spot, inspired by Walt Whitman.  It is brilliant, and – that asshole from Scrooged is back in my apartment chopping onions!  How does he keep getting in here?

On the night that Dan Rydell goes to a party, one of the other Dead Poets brings two girls to the Society meeting.  First of all, that 17-year-old grabbed two girls?  Dude’s got balls.  Secondly, he turned the meeting of the Dead Poets Society into a meeting of the Little Rascals’ “No Girls Allowed” club. 

But then the same student gets an article published in the school newspaper and signs it from the Dead Poets Society and shit comes downhill from the headmaster.  And then the kid gets paddled?  Damn!  I mean, I knew corporal punishment was a thing for a very long time, but on 17-year-olds?  Chalk that up to a thing I didn’t know.

Okay, so, a lot of things have happened.  Wilson’s Dad found out about the play and orders Wilson to drop it the night before the performance.  Holy shitsnacks, you guys – that is bullshit, and I’ve only seen that happen once before, and that was when the kid playing Macduff in our high school production of Macbeth collapsed after curtain call because he was ill with double pneumonia and his parents said he couldn’t act in the next two shows.  We finally got Macduff’s mom to compromise down to changing the final fight so it wasn’t so physically intense, but for an entire school day we were looking at recasting not only Macduff, but … oh shit, Duncan’s son, whatever his name was, and the Thane of Ross. 

Seriously, if you’ve never acted in a production of Macbeth, I beg you, don’t do it.  The curse is realer than real.  The aforementioned Thane of Ross?  The girl who played her had a minor cardiac incident two weeks before opening.  She was eighteen.

Anyway.  Back to the movie.  Dan Rydell is still trying to woo the girl he loves whose fiancé beat him up over her.  Oh, Dan.  Wilson blatantly lies to Robin Williams about talking to his father, makes up some bullshit about how his dad is in Chicago and he thinks he’ll be able to stay with acting, and it is such total bullshit that if I had smell-o-vision I could smell it.

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream where a man plays Puck.  OH SHIT AND THEN WILSON’S DAD SHOWED UP I TOLD YOU THAT WAS BULLSHIT

Meanwhile, I give this production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream a B.  But it’s very refreshing to see a sold-out show of a high school production of Shakespeare.

Wilson’s Dad is not mellowed by Robin Goodfellow’s speech, and I have a sad feeling that Wilson is in for a world of hurt.

Twenty minutes later
DAMMIT

Twenty minutes after that …
So now I’m not sure how I can talk about the movie without discussing the big spoiler, because I didn’t know what was going to happen.  I had a feeling something like that was going to happen, but I would have pinned my money on somebody else.

I guess, the only thing I can really say about it is:

– I liked this movie a lot.  I found it very easy to get caught up in the action, almost in spite of some of the slower scenes.
– Having now seen the entirety of the movie, I can now understand why we never watched this in high school.  That is entirely too bad, because before you get to the tragic ending, it is a very inspiring movie.  And when I say ‘inspiring,’ I mean regarding the importance of English, language, poetry, and the written word.  And being able to think for yourself.  I mean, that prep school was just churning out lawyers, businessmen, and doctors – I’m sure that, without Keating’s influence, almost all of them would have ended up being huge sticks-in-the-mud.  But using poetry to remind those kids that passion and thinking for oneself is going to make your life more meaningful – I mean, that’s just such an important concept to me.

So that’s Dead Poets Society, I guess.  I’m not sure what the Martini Shaker of Choosing will choose next, but it’s always a good feeling to cross something as awesome as this off my list.

Sarah: Alaina!  You should watch Troll 2!
Me: …. Goddammit, Sarah.

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2014 in The List

 

Alaina’s Friend Sarah Recommends: Scrooged

Last week, I – along with 18 million other people – watched the live edition of The Sound of Music.  I watched because I liked the Julie Andrews movie as a child, and I knew it was different from the stage show, and since this was the stage show, I really watched it out of curiosity, rather than hate-watching or love.  And let’s be real for a second: bless Carrie Underwood.  She did the best she could considering she is a self-admitted non-actress.  She belted the songs out very well, and while she struggled with some of the emotional scenes, it’s not like she had someone amazing playing Captain Von Trapp, either.

But let’s also bless NBC (which is not something I would have thought I’d ever do) for showing live theatre on television again.  And that led to this exchange of tweets between me and My Friend Sarah:

(PS – Hey Sarah I’m sorry I never asked your permission to post your tweets on my blog but I figured I had tacit permission because you’re on the internet and I’m on the internet and we talk to each other on the internet and you must’ve figured this would happen at some point but if you want me to take it down just let me know and I’ll be a better person)

...this happens more often than you'd think. 

So no, I’ve never seen Scrooged.  Growing up, my Christmas movie of choice was The Muppet Christmas Carol.  Then it was A Christmas Story, and there are only nine more days until that marathon – prepare yourself, Mom!  And of COURSE there’s the best Christmas movie in the history of ever, Die Hard.  (I am also partial to Elf.)  And I almost thought my dad would have it on DVD, but the only Scrooge he truly loves is Albert Finney from Scrooge

Anyway, My Friend Sarah told me that I had to watch Scrooged, and since we were having this conversation during December and not, y’know, June, you’d think I’d be able to find a copy of it somewhere for free to get it off my list quickly so I could move on to the likes of Rubber and Dead Poets Society.

You’d think wrong.

How hard is it to find a movie?

Netflix has it – but only on DVD.  I don’t have Amazon Prime, because I’m po’.  When I tried out Hulu, their search engine asked me – and this is true – if I meant to type “crooked.”  No, I did not, but I have a feeling that may be a Chekhov’s Query?

When I checked if I could get it through OnDemand on the DVR, the result is that I would have to pay for it.  To which I give a resounding FUCK THAT SHIT! 

So this leaves me with two options: One, I could watch the first disc of Deadwood and then immediately get Scrooged on DVD, or … I could watch it on the only channel that is showing Scrooged in the near future, apparently.

That channel is ABC Family.

Dear God, why?  Why, of all channels, does it have to be ABC Family?  It takes four hours to watch one Harry Potter film – and the Harry Potter films are already three hours long!  And it’s Bill Murray – while some of ABC Family’s biggest hits deal with teen pregnancy and little liars that are apparently also very pretty, they don’t deal with a lot of swearing.

So here’s the deal: as much as I hate doing this, in the interest of time and the season, I taped it off of ABC Family, and will use that version to do this edition of the blog. 

HOWEVER.   If the movie starts by saying that it has been edited to run in the time allotted, FUCK THAT SHIT.  The whole point of doing this blog is to watch movies I’ve never seen, not 94% of movies I’ve never seen.  I can deal with being edited for content – I can imagine they’re saying things that are even worse! – but the possibility that there might be minute scenes that I would miss?  Well, that’s why I still don’t consider myself to have seen the Goddamned Shawshank Redemption, because while I’ve seen the last two-thirds of it, it was on AMC.  You KNOW AMC edits shit.

So … let’s give this a shot, shall we?  Fingers crossed!

AHHH IT’S BEEN EDITED TO RUN IN THE TIME ALLOTTED

I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO RIGHT NOW

I – I –

Okay, I just took something to calm me down.  (Thanks, Mom’s Peanut Butter Balls!  It’s not a Patterson Family Christmas until Alaina and Missy have fought over Mom’s Peanut Butter Balls!)  Also, I checked IMDB: the official running time of Scrooged is 101 minutes.  That’s barely an hour and a half.  This edition runs for 2 hours on ABC Fam – oh shit, they cut out like, what, ten minutes for commercials?

HEY WAIT IMMA PLAY A GAME: How much screen time do I actually see?  Fair warning, though: the minute I start getting pissed, all bets are off, I’ll watch Deadwood and then get the real thing on DVD, and tonight I’ll watch the winter finale of Once Upon a Time because REASONS.  (Namely, Hook & Emma.)

PS I’m also using my phone as a stopwatch because I can.  For science!

We open at the North Pole, apparently.  There are children and midgets dressed up as elves, and then there’s a meteor headed straight for the workshop, and everyone runs for the – for the gun cabinet??  And then Lee Majors shows up?? WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?

The Night the Reindeer Died??  WHERE CAN I WATCH THIS SO I CAN MAKE FUN OF IT

Also, Bob Goulet’s Old-Fashioned Cajun Christmas?  I – as long as he sings “Down Mexico Way” I am IN.

Oh, right, Bill Murray’s supposed to be a TV producer.  (Oh, and I totally stopped timing because I had to pause the TV to laugh at Bob Goulet getting chased by a crocodile covered in tinsel.)

“We spent $40 million on a live TV show – you guys have got an ad with America’s favorite old fart, reading a book, in front of a fireplace!  And now, I have to kill all of you!”  Now I know why Sarah was comparing The Sound of Music to this movie.  I get it now.

Is it just me, or is the guy in glasses telling Bill Murray that they’ve been showing the ads for a month a 1988 version of Charlie Day?

Christ, I would not watch Bill Murray’s version of Scrooge.  I don’t want nuclear wars mixed in with my Dickens.

Okay, seriously, who is this glasses guy?  I’m seriously getting a Charlie Day vibe. 

THAT’S FUCKING BOBCAT GOLDTHWAITE???  I thought he was fatter …

Hmm, I’m pretty sure Grace didn’t say “Aw Jeez” when Bill Murray said her bonus was a towel.  I’m guessing it was an “Aw shit.”

Programming for cats?  That guy has got to be the guy who told Mitch Hurwitz to have Michael teach George Michael “a nice lesson.”

Ooh, popcorn on a tree.  I have caramel corn.  Be right back. 

This is convenient, because we are 15 minutes in and we have our first commercial break.  Let’s take a moment and figure out who everyone’s lining up to be:

Bill Murray = Ebeneezer Scrooge.  Duh.  Not sure if he’s the Michael Caine Scrooge, or the Scrooge McDuck Scrooge.  But we’ll figure it out as we go.
Bobcat Goldthwaite = The Guys From the Orphanage (Dr. Benson Honeydew and Beaker)
Grace the Secretary = Bob Cratchit.  Interesting adaptation, as in this version, she is female and black.  Yay acceptance!
Grace’s Mute Son = Tiny Tim.  In 1988 it is apparently better to be mute than crippled.  (GUYS SERIOUSLY READ A BOOK, TINY TIM WAS A CRIPPLE IT’S OKAY FOR ME TO USE THAT WORD)
Bill Murray’s brother = “Nephew Fred.”  We see him for all of two seconds, and he asks Bill Murray to cook Christmas dinner and then he disappears again.

Because now the commercial break is over and Bill Murray’s pouring a straight vodka in his office, screaming for Grace, and SERIOUSLY THIS WAS MADE IN THE EIGHTIES, DUDE HAS A BOTTLE OF VODKA AND A .38 SPECIAL IN HIS DESK DRAWER

Anyway, the creature rapping on Bill Murray’s chamber door is Bill Murray’s dead business partner who APPARENTLY HAS A MOUSE RUNNING AROUND IN HIS HEAD.  EW.  EWWWWWWWWWW!!!!  WHAT THE FUCK, PEOPLE?

(Damn, the Cryptkeeper sounds familiar.  Who is this dude?  HOLY SHIT THAT’S CHARLIE.  OF CHARLIE’S ANGELS.  WHAT THE FUCK, DUDE)

Please say something about angels, please say something about angels, please say something about angels

So what, in this version the ghosts come during the day?  That doesn’t seem very ghost-like.

SARAH

SARAH

SARAH GODDAMMIT

YOU DIDN’T TELL ME MARION RAVENWOOD WAS IN THIS MOVIE

YOU NEED TO ALWAYS TELL ME WHEN MARION RAVENWOOD IS IN THINGS

This is how this conversation is going to go:

Me: SARAH
Me: YOU DID NOT TELL ME MARION RAVENWOOD WAS IN THAT
Sarah: Oh yeah
Sarah: She was in that.
Sarah: Much like Anne Baxter was in The Ten Commandments.
Sarah: But you never asked
Sarah: And it never came up
Sarah: But yeah, she’s in that.

No, you guys, we need to talk about Marion Ravenwood.  She is – well, I guess I’m not allowed to say ‘spirit animal’ anymore, but she’d definitely be my Patronus.  When I grow up, I want to be Marion Ravenwood.  Sure, she gets kidnapped, but she hits a couple of guys with frying pans first.  She is able to drink at least three different men under three different tables, and is canny enough to do so and try and maneuver an escape.  She gives great bicker, she knows her shit, and she doesn’t take shit, either.  I did a drunk!tweet of Raiders of the Lost Ark a few months ago, and #ProTipForDudes: if I offer to buy you a drink – y’know, a drink? – you had BEST keep both hands in your pockets and stick out your elbow for me to take, or else you are going home alone, buddy.

Also, in the apparently-highly-unlikely-event of me ever getting married, I will be wearing a modern version of the dress Rene Belloq gives to Marion in Tannis.  Just so’s you know.

Okay, back to the show.

Uh, no, be right back, I think my teapot is burning.

(No seriously, I have a hole in my teapot.  And I forgot to put “new teapot” on my Christmas list.  Oh well; guess I’ll see who reads my blog now!)

Okay, so, back to the movie I’m watching.  Marion Ravenwood shows up and apparently she is the Belle to Bill Murray’s Scrooge.  Before leaving, Charlie the Dead Guy dead-dialed Marion but didn’t let Bill Murray leave a message.  So she shows up at the studio the next day as he’s taking care of Scrooge business, and she shows up conveniently at noon.  DUH DUN DUNNNNNN

And now we have our second commercial break in about thirty minutes.  Well, at least we’re being consistent?  FAST-FORWARD

Bill Murray and his boss are ordering highballs when we get back from the break.  I would also like a highball, but probably not the same way those guys do.  Oh boy, I really hope my mother’s not reading this, the possibility of a new teapot notwithstanding.  Also, apparently they’re ordering highballs at noon, because Bill Murray seems to think the LA slimeball we saw earlier is his Ghost of Christmas Past, but he’s not, because there’s an eyeball in his highball, but it turns out it’s just a really big ball of ice.  Balls.

Bill Murray’s having hallucinations of busboys catching on fire.  Dude, chill, he’s just wearing an on-fire suit.  Although if he’s a cosplay enthusiast, then there must be busboys in Azeroth or wherever. 

Bill Murray runs out to catch a cab and it just so happens that it’s being driven by the Ghost of Christmas Past.  Bazinga!  The Ghost also steals Bobcat Goldthwaite’s whiskey, because Bobcat Goldthwaite’s having that kind of a day. 

The cab then proceeds to time-travel.  IF THE CAB GOES BACK TO 1955, I CALL BULLSHIT.  THAT, SIR, IS NO DELOREAN.

— Goes back to 1955 as Alaina predicted – BUUULLLL SHIT

Anyway, the Ghost has driven Bill Murray up to his childhood home, and his house is the only one with no Christmas Lights.  Bill Murray tries to pass it off as his father’s lack of doing, to which the Ghost says, “For Satan’s sakes, Frank, it’s Christmas Eve!”  For whose sake?  Because that totally sounded dubbed.

Frank had a very sad childhood.  Instead of a train, four-year-old Francis gets a shit-ton of veal from Brian Doyle-Murray, which is sad for so many reasons.  And then we go to another commercial just as Bill Murray chokes back tears.

When we come back, the Ghost brings him to Fezziwig’s Christmas party.  He leaves the party for some reason and runs into Marion Ravenwood who opens a door right into his face.  They have a meet!cute, which is apparently what people call them nowadays.  Aw, the cab company is named the Belle cab company.  Literary reference!

Marion Ravenwood gives Bill Murray an inscribed edition of the Kama Sutra, but she inscribed it in Sanskrit.  Which she learned when she was drinking people under the table in Nepal!!  My head-canon is coming together nicely!

Anyway, the last scene the Ghost gives us is when Bill Murray breaks up with Marion Ravenwood because she won’t break their plans for an evening with friends to have dinner with Charlie the Network President.  She leaves him to go back to being Frisbee the Dog (?) and the Ghost then drops him back in the studio, just as the cast of his Scrooge are rehearsing the scene where Belle dumps Ebeneezer for being too greedy.  FORESHADOWING.

Okay, took a break for the season finale of Masters of Sex and now we’re back.  Only to go right into a commercial break.  Goddammit, ABC Family, you’re killing me.

Okay, Bobcat Goldthwaite has just given blood for money and landed in a pile of garbage.  Bill Murray is screaming to himself as he walks down a sidewalk in New York.  Much like other crazy people in New York.  The people at the homeless shelter mistake him for not only a crazy homeless person, but Richard Burton? 

OH SPEAKING OF RICHARD BURTON everyone go pour one out for apparently not only the great and illustrious Peter O’Toole (who, if there is a God, is tearing up Heaven with Burton and his other pal, Richard Harris, and please God, when I die, I want to be a part of that crowd), but also the amazing and beautiful Joan Fontaine.  Seriously, dudes, apparently today is not a good day to be a favorite actor of Alaina.

EVERYONE I NEED EYES ON BETTY WHITE RIGHT FUCKING NOW

Anyway, they’re asking Bill Murray to recite Hamlet and Night of the Iguana, and man, that’s a weird show.  Marion Ravenwood hears Bill Murray reciting Hamlet in Bill Murray’s Impersonation of Richard Burton, which is a lot of mumbling.  When some volunteers come up asking about fuses and turkeys, though, Bill Murray goes into some more crazy-town and tells the volunteers to handle it themselves, because he’s busy trying to woo Marion or something.  Except Marion (rightly) gets pissed at Bill Murray, especially when he tells her to fire her volunteers.

So he goes storming back to his castle (hahahaha that joke will be HILARIOUS in about two minutes) to have a run-in with the LA slimeball whose name I forgot, and then he goes right into his 2 p.m. conniption fit, right on schedule, where Carol Kane flies down from the rafters wearing an amazing pink fairy ensemble.  She’s advertising the Ballcracker Suite, and her “hello” to Bill Murray is a nicely-timed kick to the Benoit Balls.  Then she backhands him, saying, “Sometimes you have to slap them in the face just to get their attention!”  So true.

I like this Ghost of Christmas Present.  I always felt that Christmas Carols needed more violence.

Apparently Grace’s Tiny Tim stopped speaking when she witnessed his father’s murder.  But even after that tragedy, the family is still able to be amazingly happy.  Carol Kane Ghost gets a few more belts in and makes Bill Murray promise to give Grace a well-deserved raise, and then she kicks him down a flight of stairs and right into a commercial.

When we come back, they’re at a Christmas party at his brother’s apartment.  HOLY SHIT THAT’S WENDIE MALICK!  Also, HAHAHAHA I SERIOUSLY LOVE CAROL KANE “I know something you don’t know, I don’t know something you don’t know!”  And then she belts him with a toaster.

“The bitch hit me with a toaster.”  HAHAHAHAHA

Anyway, he’s down in a frozen sewer or something.  He finds one of the homeless guys from the shelter, frozen dead in the sewer.  Bill Murray starts to feel regret and wants to escape but when he tries to barrel through the door he barrels right back onto the Scrooge set, and manages to kick a barrel right into the censor that he hit a couple of acts ago.  Good going, Bill Murray.

“Break a leg, everybody!  I feel real weird about tonight!”  I am going to start saying that every day.  Why hasn’t that become a thing?

Okay, SHENANIGANS.  Charles Dickens’s immortal classic was A Christmas Carol, not Scrooge.  Scrooge was a character, but Dickens did not name the novella after his character.  I might be nitpicking, but hi, my name is Alaina and I’m a literature nerd.

Scrooge starts, Bill Murray goes upstairs to his office after a run-in with the actor playing the Ghost of Christmas Future in the show, and opens the present from his brother: a picture frame of the two of them sharing a childhood hug.  Awwww.  Commercial.  DAMMIT, ABC FAMILY, WAY TO RUIN THE MOMENT.

Bill Murray’s drinking vodka and Tab – so Eighties, right there – when the Ghost of Christmas Future is about to pick Bill Murray up and take him to the future when Bobcat Goldthwaite comes into the office with a shotgun, and I’m a horrible person, but the first thing I thought of was Jonathan Levinson from that episode of Buffy

Bill Murray runs into the elevator and right into the Ghost of Christmas Future.  He thinks he’s the actor, but it’s not – it’s the real deal.  The Ghost brings Bill Murray to an institution where Grace’s Tiny Tim is locked up.  He promises to fix it because he knows the head of pediatrics at NYU, and then he finds Marion Ravenwood all dolled up like Joan Collins in Dynasty.  She’s ignoring poor children because thirty minutes ago, Bill Murray told her to scrape the poor children off her so she can save herself.

And then he thinks his brother died, but as anyone who’s ever read or watched any version of A Christmas Carol knows that he’s pulling a Tom Sawyer and watching his own funeral.  As he’s burned alive, he promises to make everything better.

When he returns to the real world, he almost eats Bobcat Goldthwaite’s shotgun (and there’s a sentence I never thought I’d type), and he rehires him and then they take off because they haven’t missed Christmas yet and hopefully this is the final commercial break.

Two things about commercials:

– Whoa, L.L. Bean: did you really just use your return policy as incentive for gift-giving?  Yeah, that won’t blow up in your face later.
– Dear Whoever Thought The J.C. Penney Carolers Were a Good Idea: I will kill you when I learn who you are.  You, sir, are the WORST THING about Christmas.  (I feel comfortable calling this unknown entity a ‘sir’ – no woman would have thought changing the lyrics “Fa la la la la” to “shop shop shop shop shop” was a good idea.)

Bill Murray has taken over the broadcast of Scrooge to do his own version of Ebeneezer’s moment of understanding.  Bobcat Goldthwaite receives a phone call from the president, and he wants to talk to the idiot that put ‘that moron’ on the air.  Meanwhile, I just learned what happens when an idiot leaves a 12-pack of Diet Coke on a very cold porch.  In other words, I have a 12-pack of exploded Diet Coke, and I’m out three bucks.

Marion Ravenwood races to the studio, and Bill Murray has an amazing speech that is too great for me to transcribe, and then Grace’s Tiny Tim comes up (because he was watching the production from backstage), and he pulls on Bill Murray’s coat and Bill Murray asks, “Did I forget something, Big Man?”  And Tiny Tim nods and says, “God bless us, every one,” and when did someone break into my house and start chopping onions?  I mean, there are a lot of onions being chopped up in here.  Even Bill Murray can smell them.

And in another Christmas miracle, a cab did manage to take Marion Ravenwood all across New York in three minutes.  Does anyone have a prettier smile than Marion Ravenwood?  Seriously, she has one of the best smiles.

This movie started off a little slow, but I think I’m going to blame ABC Family for any bad feelings I had about it. 

Thank you, Sarah, for insisting I watch this.  Please don’t be offended at my rant.  I was yelling at ABC Family, not this movie.

SERIOUSLY, GHOST OF CHOPPING ONIONS.  CUT IT OUT. 

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2013 in Alaina's Friend Sarah Recommends

 

That’s What She Read Tie-In: “Moonraker”

PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR IMPORTANT NOTES FROM THE FUTURE!

In the spirit of symbiosis, or completion, or … I dunno, something, I’ve decided to introduce a new feature here on Movies Alaina’s Never Seen: the That’s What She Read Tie-In!

Notes from the Future!:  As you will read, I first attempted this watch of Moonraker over two months ago.  Thanks to a confluence of events – mostly me finding new employment, working two jobs, attempting to keep up with my TiVo so I can keep recording stuff, and oh yeah, Netflix did cancel the streaming version of this movie – this is the first time I can actually sit down to watch this movie without turning it into a very bad episode of Insomniac Theatre. 

So here’s how this is going to work: thanks to Netflix, I’ve got this on DVD now.  Similar to when I watched Return of the Jedi, my stupid TV can’t pause or rewind, so we’re gonna see how frustrated I get.  I’m not going to delete what I’ve already written – that would be madness and a waste.  But I might add to it, and you’ll be able to tell what’s new because they have this fancy new thing called “italics.”

Future!Notes will conclude when I catch up to where Sleepy!Alaina had to kill the movie back on Labor Day Weekend – because yes, it has really been that long.  So sit back, relax, pour yourself a cocktail (or five, depending on what you may require), and prepare yourself for one of the most disjointed “reviews” you may ever read.

My Dear Friend Sarah has been spending the last few weekends devouring the entire James Bond movie canon in a chronological manner.  At just about the same time, I was finishing up Gone Girl, and I needed something new to read while My Dear Friend Erica was finishing up the book she was reading so we could start Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister together (more on that here), and it had been a while since I had read a James Bond novel, and Moonraker happened to be the next title in the book series chronologically, and then when I went to see if I could order Moonraker the movie on DVD through Netflix, I learned that Netflix had it streaming, but only until September 2, so now I’m playing chicken with Netflix, trying to figure out if “available until 9/2/13” means through 9/2/13, or if the movie’s going to cut out halfway through when Netflix turns midnight on California time.

Holy shit that paragraph was practically one entire sentence.  Dear Sentence Structure and English Teachers: I am so, so sorry.

So tonight – after having already live-tweeted Casino Royale (2006) with My Dear Friend Sarah, with sleep nowhere in sight – I’m going to attempt to watch Moonraker for the first time, after having read it for the first time.

Oh man – I remember insomnia!  Back when I could stay up until three in the morning doing stupid shit like watching movies and TV all night!  My eyes start drooping at eleven now.  Thanks, job for which I must wake up at 5:30 every morning Monday through Friday!  My sleep patterns appreciate it (but my non-work productivity has suffered).

And I’m going to warn you, guys – I’ve never watched an entire Roger Moore-James Bond movie all the way through.  Ever.  I think For Your Eyes Only was on BBCAmerica one day, and I attempted to watch it, but fell asleep half an hour in.  PS, it was on at 2 in the afternoon.

So essentially … this is gonna be a scene.

james-bond-Moonraker

Also?  No thanks to My Dear Friend Bryan, who also happens to be the FPC Resident Bond Scholar (because I don’t really talk to the Brunswick High School Resident Bond Scholar anymore), I am already aware that apparently the movie is nothing like the book.  Thanks, Bryan, you ruiner.  So Dear Readers, prepare for a lot of “I *WOULD* be screaming in outrage right now, but Bryan Ruined It” jokes.

(j/k Bryan you and me we’re still cool)

Okay.  Hitting play now.  May God have mercy on my soul.

[PS – because my home entertainment setup sucks (through no one’s fault but my own), I am watching this movie on my laptop while typing on my netbook in my office.  Baby needs a Blu-Ray player with Streaming capabilities.]

[Oh yeah, and also the screen on my laptop died years ago so I have to use a monitor. Because I am ~special~ when it comes to technology.]

Actually, as stated above, I’m watching the movie on my TV with the DVD remote that doesn’t work.  So remember – there will not be any pausing or rewinding during this session.  But at least I’ll have the mute button for when the theme song comes around.

Oh Jesus – I think the worst thing about having a TV where the remote doesn’t work on DVDs is that I can’t hit ‘Menu’ when the DVD first starts.  I cannot tell you how many previews of stupid movies I’ve had to sit through just to get to the part where I can push the only button that works.

Because as much as I love Dr. No, From Russia With Love, and the amazing Goldfinger, I do not care (much) about the Ultimate James Bond DVD Collection with Extra-Special Behind-the-Scenes Footage.  Just – just shut up about it and let me watch this horrible, horrible movie.

I also realized that I’ve never explained in this blog about my connection with James Bond.  Basically, I love the character and earlier Sean Connery films.  Words cannot describe the love I have for Skyfall and Daniel Craig, so I will simply gloss over them now.  (Oh, how I would love to simply gloss over Daniel Craig’s abs with – holy shit Alaina your mother sometimes reads this maybe shut up about that)  ANYWAY (DRINK).  I talk a big game when it comes to James Bond and the Bond canon, but if you re-read these entries from That’s What She Read, you’ll learn that I’m nothing but a big faker.  So I do want to reiterate that it is a big deal that this is the first Roger Moore Bond movie I’ve ever seen – hence, the Movies Alaina’s Never Seen treatment.

Okay, the previews have ended – now I’m hitting the Play button.

Holy shit, Roger Moore, you are rocking those bellbottoms and stacked heels.  #not. 

(Sorry.  Forgot I wasn’t on Twitter anymore.) 

(But apparently I thought a Borat joke was appropriate?  But seriously, Roger Moore, your outfit is terrible.  Oh shit, this takes place in the seventies and everyone dressed like that; this is going to hurt my eyes even more than normal, huh?)

Sidenote: I’m a little glad that the Daniel Craig movies have gotten away from the whole “walk on-screen then shoot someone” bullet-hole thing.  It feels so dated now.

A plane carries the Moonraker shuttle on its back like a mother gorilla carries her baby.  Two blokes that look like they should be background players in a London production of West Side Story sneak into the Moonraker shuttle, hijack it, take-off off the back of the plane, and then the plane blows up.

M answers his special red phone and learns about the Moonraker.  He actually gets up from behind his desk and crosses to the special padded door to ask Moneypenny about Bond.  (It’s that important.)  WHOA, Moneypenny!  Darlin’, I hate to say it, but you did *not* age well!  What happened to the pretty young thing who was telling Bond that the only gold she cared about was the kind you wear on your finger, you know, third finger on your left hand?  Anyway, M asks if 007 is back from the last job, and Moneypenny answers that he’s on his last leg, sir.

SMASHCUT TO: Bond’s hand trailing up the toned thigh of a woman in a short skirt.  Oh Jesus Christ, why am I not drinking for this?  Be right back.

Thank God I’ve seen this part already – Future!Alaina will also be right back.

Ahh.  That’s better.  Vodka will make this better.  Future!Alaina’s choice of drink is wine, for those playing along.  Anyway, Bond’s busy making out with some dame, and then the dame pulls out a gun and she and the pilot sabotage the plane so no one can fly it, and then they all jump out of the plane, except Bond doesn’t have a parachute, and also Jaws was there?  The henchman, not the shark.  Although that would be awesome. [Note to self: find out when Jaws came out and if it predates Moonraker.]

Hahahaha I love that I had to write myself a note.  And that I still haven’t figured that out.  Also, Jaws came out in 1975, and Moonraker came out in 1979.  THERE HAD BETTER BE A SHARK IN THIS MOVIE.

Bond puts his hands on his ass to steer himself to the pilot who has the Magical Parachute, and then manages to wrestle the parachute off the guy while they’re both freefall-skydiving.  I’d like to call shenanigans, but I’ve never been skydiving and never will, so I don’t know how plausible all these physics are.

So Bond’s got the parachute on, and now here comes Jaws after him.  Jaws is about to bite Bond’s Achilles tendon when Bond opens his parachute, thus escaping Jaws’s … well, jaws.  Jaws, meanwhile, tries to deploy his own chute, which doesn’t work, leaving him to plummet to his death, falling into the local circus.  Again, I’d like to call tentative shenanigans, but I’m not sure of the science.

Title sequence! 

… … what … what the shit is this.  What is this shit.  There are silhouettes of naked women somersaulting, and flying through skies like Superman, and there’s also some random woman who shows up and smiles beatifically and you ain’t no Mona Lisa, lady, I mean what the everloving fuck is this?? and there are disco balls that women are sitting on, and Shirley Bassey, you know I love you for “Goldfinger,” but I hope you didn’t write this, and Maurice Bender?  You’re the one responsible for this credits sequence?  I hope you’re ashamed of yourself.

When the atrocity is over, Bond’s in M’s office talking with Q and the Minister of Defense.  In this universe, the Moonraker is a space shuttle on loan from America, manufactured by Drax Industries.  Well, if there were ever a thing on which to call “bullshit,” this is it.  Why would America loan Britain a space shuttle in the 1970s?  Was Britain hoping to time-travel back to the eighteenth century and the last time they were a global superpower?  Bond gets a gleam in his eye thinking about all the California Gurls he’s going to mack on.

Q is showing Bond some video surveillance of the crash site, and it’s noted as “most secret.”  I’m not sure if that’s how Britons clarify ‘top secret.’  Actually, what I’d like to believe is that it means that it’s only ‘mostly secret.’

Q gives Bond a wrist-controlled dart gun.  Because real spies don’t use real guns, apparently.  *drinks*  Someone had better get shot in the neck with a dart, or else I’m going to find a table and flip it.

Goddammit – I just spent like, five minutes trying to find the quote from Monty Python and the Holy Grail about the guy who was only mostly dead, trying to link it to that ‘mostly secret’ joke I made up there, but then I remembered that ‘mostly dead’ was from The Princess Bride, not Holy Grail.  Goddammit, I’m a failure.

When Bond lands in California, a helicopter picks him up to take him to Drax Industries.  Bond loves the Drax pilot because apparently the uniform doesn’t require a bra or buttons on her shirt.  Seriously, if she stands up too quickly she’s going to make this movie get a PG-13 rating.

She classifies herself as, I shit you not, ‘merely a humble pilot in the employ of Drax.’  A humble pilot?  Honey, may I say: with that rack and its lack of support, you ain’t got nothin’ to be humble about.  But seriously, who actually calls themselves a humble whatever?  The last one who did to my knowledge was Peter O’Toole in How to Steal a Million, where he lied about being a humble burglar.  (seriously, everyone should track down that movie and watch it, it’s one of my favorites.)

The Drax estate is an exact replica of Versailles.  There’s a joke in here about the documentary “The Queen of Versailles” in here, but this movie is beneath it.  The Bond Canon has upgraded Goldfinger’s Female Pilots to Drax’s Female Astronauts instead, and they’re all Jazzercising on the main lawn.  Bond says that Drax has an eye for a good investment, but his eye is down the pilot’s non-existent shirt.

Oh Jesus Christ, this is where Holly Goodhead comes in.  Bond and Drax have a pissing match over afternoon tea – I’d like to point out that the guy playing Drax resembles – and this is going to be the worst thing I’ve ever said, and I apologize in advance to the person I’m comparing Drax to, but to my knowledge, there’s no other way to say this – a taller Peter Dinklage – and then Drax sends Bond to meet Dr. Goodhead.  On the way out, Drax tells a henchman to make sure that some harm comes to Bond. 

PS – Drax is nowhere near as awesome as Peter Dinklage.  He is, was, and always will be, the Man.

Bond meets Goodhead and she gives everyone the Second Grade Tour of NASA.  Wait, I missed this the first time – Goodhead actually shows Bond the Moonraker.  Oh dammit, that’s not a euphemism.  But wait – I thought Bond was in California because he was looking for the Moonraker?  If it’s there, then why is he here? 

Dr. Goodhead manages to get Bond into the centrifuge, because of course she does. 

I’ve already seen this part, so I’m going to take a Candy Crush time-out and sing Monty Python’s “Knights of the Round Table,” because it’s stuck in my head now.  And because I like sharing earworms: “and impersonate Clark Gable.”  You’re welcome.

Just then Drax’s minion comes in and messes with the thing, making Bond take almost 10Gs worth of pressure.  Dude, Minion: when Drax said “see Bond comes to some harm,” I guess I didn’t realize that was code for “kill the spare”?

Bond breaks the centrifuge with Chekhov’s Dart Gun and then later that night he seduces the Braless Pilot into giving him some information. 

When he seduces her, she says that her mother gave her a list of rules to follow for a first date.  When his seduction proves successful, he asks about that list of her mother’s, and her response is that she “never learned to read.”  What??  The worst part about this movie (so far!) is that I believe that to be a true fact.  So welcome, Illiterate Braless Pilot, to the fold of Women Bond Sleeps With Then Dies.

When the Braless Pilot is asleep, Bond searches her desk and then breaks into her safe while she watches and does nothing. He takes photos of secret plans with his personalized mini-camera, and that just seems stupid.  Illiterate Braless Pilot responds to Bond’s compliment about her heart of gold that it’s actually only 18-carat.  Dear All Women: learn to take a compliment, even if it’s from an asshat named James Bond.

And right after they kiss goodnight and Bond tells her to take care of herself, Drax’s Minion … does nothing and Drax is pheasant hunting on the grounds of Versailles?  That is not how I expected that scene to go. 

There were multiple jokes to be made — some involving Dick Cheney, some involving the sport of Hunting Man — but I’m too tired to figure it out right now.

Here’s what happened – Drax gives Bond a gun while pheasant hunting, and Bond shoots into the trees and Drax thinks he missed the pheasant, which is a true thing, but he actually ended up shooting Drax’s sniper.  Hence the hunting man joke that fell without this explanation.

Uh, sorry folks.  We’re getting a severe thunderstorm up in these parts, so I think I had better shut the technology down for the night so as to avoid power surges.  The scene I saw just now was the Braless Pilot being terminated for showing Bond Drax’s study, and by “terminated,” I mean “chased into the woods by Dobermans that have developed a taste for human blood.”

This whole scene is almost lyrical, in a way – woman running through a verdant forest, being chased by dogs; until the lead dog tackles her and you hear her flesh rip.

Well, I’m going to save this entry as a Word Doc, and hopefully I’ll be able to finish this tomorrow night after work.  Otherwise, this will be a Part 1, and we’ll wait for the DVD to arrive in the mail for Part 2.

And here is where the Notes from the Future end, because I’ve just caught up.  Switching to regular type in three, two …

All of a sudden Bond’s in Venice?  What the fuck?  Does MI-6 own a tesseract or something?

He has a business card for Venici Glass or something – oh, Venini Glass.  Thanks, close-up of aforementioned business card!  Bond joins a tour group of people looking at glass shit, but doesn’t stay for the bong room.  He just keeps missing all sorts of opportunities.

Now he’s trailing a woman in a gold lamé dress.  I wish I didn’t have to add the aigu to that word.  But anyway, the woman turns out to be Dr. Goodhead.  With her hair down, you can barely recognize her!  Aaaaand there’s a joke in there that my three sips of wine have made me too drunk to make.

Bond floats along in a gondola built for one, and all this is making me want to watch Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade *really* badly.

WHAT??  Okay, so, Bond’s floating along in this gondola and passes a funeral gondola.  And from out of the gondola coffin comes A VAMPIRE??  No, sadly – just an assassin, because this is a Roger Moore Bond Joint, and not a good Bond movie.  Anyway, the Vampsassin just starts throwing knives at Bond’s gondola, and my question isn’t about the ludicrousness of an assassin hiding in a gondola coffin, it’s about HOW DID THE ASSASSIN KNOW BOND WAS GOING TO PASS AT JUST THAT MOMENT?  Like, how many times did the boat have to go around the block until Bond showed up?

AND THEN BOND TURNS THE GONDOLA INTO A CAR AND JUST FUCKING DRIVES IT INTO THE FAMOUS CATHEDRAL SQUARE (whose name escapes me at the moment, it’ll come back to me), and all the tourists are like, what the fuck?  And even a fucking PIGEON has a bemused facial expression, but then the fucking editors MADE THE PIGEON DO A DOUBLE-TAKE.  LIKE, WHAT THE FUCK, PEOPLE.

I’m out.  Or, I would be, if I weren’t … not invested, but determined?  Like, now I just want to see how far the trainwreck will go.

It’s Saint Mark’s Basilica!  There.  I knew it would come to me.

Bond sneaks into a secret lab, and I don’t care what happens, but I’m calling this guy Krieger.  It looks like he’d be making all sorts of Piglys.  Y’know, if he wasn’t busy helping Other Barry get off the space station.

When Kreiger leaves the lab, Bond sneaks in even further and finds some  magical water or something in a container.  He doesn’t drink it, but he smuggles it out of there.  I’m surprised no one saw him crouch behind that counter, what with his fucking bell-bottoms flapping in the wind.

Oh great – because of Bond’s shitty helping, he’s suffocated the scientists with nerve gas or something.  Good job, Bond.  Also, when you sneak into places, maybe keep your cleavage inside your jumpsuit, okay?

WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT A FUCKING NINJA??

A FUCKING NINJA JUST CAME OUT OF FUCKING NOWHERE

AND NOW THEY’RE RUNNING THROUGH THE — this is now a broken glass factory.  I want Sterling Archer to come in here right now and ask, “what is this, a broken glass factory?”  BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT IT IS.

And now Bond has found a sword from fucking somewhere and has brought a sword to a ninja fight, and the broken glass business is really picking up. 

HAY YOU GUYZ I FOUND THE ARK OF THE COVENANT it’s in the attic of the broken glass factory!

Here’s what I want everyone to do.  HOMEWORK, PEOPLE!  I want everyone to go out and find the ninja fight Bond has in the broken glass factory.  Then I want everyone to go out and find the fight scene Bond has in the glass skyscraper in Skyfall.  If you can’t tell the difference, then you must be blind.  I’ll get you a seeing-eye dog for Christmas.

Bond somehow gets rid of the ninja and figures out which hotel Dr. Goodhead is staying in.  He starts playing with her toys – poison pen, flamethrower cologne, you know, the usual – and realizes that Dr. Goodhead is actually CIA.  What gave that away, dumbass?  And then they sleep together.

The next day, Bond brings M – WAIT, M GOT OUT OF HIS OFFICE??  Anyway, M and the defense secretary show up at the broken glass factory and there’s no factory – just a replica of Drax’s Versailles mansion, and Drax himself.

The Defense Secretary has never been so embarrassed in his entire life, apparently, when Bond’s tip results in a dead end.  Clearly, the Defense Secretary has never been to Brazil.

Speaking of Brazil, that’s where Bond is headed next.  Followed by Jaws the Henchman, who did not die when he crashed into that circus.

Bond is followed by a girl with a camera, and that was lifted almost exactly from Dr. No.  The difference here is that apparently this Camera!Girl is an ally, who is going to show Bond the back entrance to one of Drax’s headquarters.  That statement was not supposed to be a euphemism.  The downside is that they have to wait five hours until they can sneak in.

So after having sex with Bond for five hours (and if this was a Daniel Craig!Bond I’d be high-fiving that woman in the streets; here I want to take a Silkwood shower), she takes him to another broken glass factory, through the Carnival.  Bond is wearing a tuxedo, and I was going to ask why he’s wearing a tuxedo to Carnival, but then I remembered that it’s after 6 o’clock and Bond is not a farmer.

While Bond is in the factory, Jaws sneaks up on Camera!Girl.  And by “sneaks up,” I mean “wears a giant, creepy clown costume and then tries to bite her head off.”  Luckily Bond arrives just in time to knock him into a conga line.  That’s one way of escaping your enemies, I guess.  Bond sends Camera!Girl off for a nap – which, not gonna lie, is starting to sound good for me – and then the next morning, Bond goes up to Christmas Mountain?  Oh shit, what’s the name of that mountain that Christ the Redeemer is on?  Shit, I used to know this stuff.

Anyway, Bond runs into Dr. Goodhead and there’s more flirty banter, and then they decide to take one of the gondolas up to the top of the mountain, and that is one of the worst decisions I’ve ever seen in any movie.  Because then Jaws stops the gondola and bites through the wire as Goodhead and Bond are climbing out of the stopped gondola, and I take it back, that is the worst decision.

So now there’s going to be a gondola fight between Bond and Jaws.  Great.  This is … so stupid, I can’t even with this.

BRB, drinking and playing Candy Crush.

Okay, so, Bond’s brilliant idea is to lock Jaws in a gondola, zip-line himself and Goodhead down the wire, and then wait for Jaws to follow them?  Why can’t Jaws just eat through the bars?

EAT BARS, EAT BARS!  And now I want to watch The Great Muppet Caper very badly.

Bond and Goodhead manage to jump to safety, I mean, what the fuck, I can’t even, and Jaws also survives the fall and falls in love with a pigtailed nerd with a giant rack.  Bond and Goodhead make out a bit, and then get captured.

Okay, here’s what I want you to do.  Divide yourselves into two groups.  One of you watches the Bond movies chronologically, starting with Dr. No.  The other watches Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Each of you drink when, depending on your group, Bond or Giles gets knocked unconscious.  First one to blackout wins!

Bond and Goodhead escape from the ambulance – or maybe just Bond escapes, leaving Goodhead behind, because the next scene is Bond and two other guys riding horses through the pampas, wearing serapes.  I know it’s a serape and not a poncho because the arms are open at the side, and I’d also like to say it’s a rather snappy serape, and now I want to watch The Three Caballeros.

Apparently MI-6 has a compound on the pampas, because he goes into this mansion and Moneypenny’s manning a desk.  I CALL SHENANIGANS.  Q shows off exploding bolos and there’s a machine gun possibly hiding in someone’s vagina, I don’t even know what was going on, I was too busy singing about snappy serapes.

Apparently Bond is going to the Amazon to look for a rare orchid.  OH WHATEVER.  Q says he has just the thing to get Bond up to the Amazon, and all I can think of is, IS IT AN AIRBOAT??  Because that would really kick this movie up a notch.

It’s not an airboat.  It’s just a regular motorboat.  What the fuck, Q, that is just super lame.  Oh, it’s a boat with weapons and gadgets and things.  My bad.  IT’S NOT AN AIRBOAT SO FUCK YOU.

AND JAWS IS BACK AND I’M STILL NOT TALKING ABOUT A SHARK.

Does no one notice that those guys blow up in a place where that rocket couldn’t possibly have hit?  The rocket hits the back of the boat, but it’s the people on the boat that blow up, not the back of the boat?  Shenanigans, people!

Oh look, here’s a waterfall.

waterfall

Bond brings it on by strapping into a parasail.  LAME.  He’s supposed to go over the waterfall and escape that, not fly like a giant, conspicuous butterfly into a forest that I’d like to point out is CLEARLY NOT THE AMAZON.

Roger Moore is wearing the shirt Barney Stinson wears to go to that club in season one.

2013-11-10 00.41.271x05-Okay-Awesome-barney-and-ted-27029168-1024-768

Also, there’s a woman wandering around the Amazon.  WHATEVER, as you were, Braless Mute Orchid Worshipper.

Holy shit, Bond ended up in Dingo’s Castle.  They mistakenly lit the Orchid Beacon, leading Bond to the wrong castle.

HOLY FUCKING SHIT THERE’S A SNAKE IN MOONRAKER

A BIG FUCKING SNAKE JUST SHOWED UP TO THE PARTY

MOTHERFUCKING SONS OF BITCHES WHY DID IT HAVE TO BE FUCKING SNAKES

I am now writing this with a blanket over my head.  I seriously just bitched about this in real-life: people need to warn me when snakes are in movies.  Now, before I get into this and have people feel guilty, Dear Sarah: I’m 99% sure you tweeted about Polly the Python over there back when you watched Moonraker and it completely slipped my mind, so I’m not really mad at anyone in particular at this juncture – just me and my shoddy memory, and also, for the makers of this movie for not utilizing a perfect opportunity for a shark fight.

Okay, it sounds like Bond managed to kill a python with his bare hands – whatever – and Drax and Jaws have both shown up again.  I feel that Bond should look at Jaws and say, “how many times do I have to kill you, boy?”

Jaws brings Bond to the dungeon, which – oh.  It’s actually the exhaust hole for the Moonraker shuttle.  Goodhead’s there!  As Bond embraces her, he says “Thank God you’re safe.”  LIKE YOU CARED BEFORE, ASSHOLE.

Okay, this actually brings us to the similarities between this movie and the book.  In the book, Bond and Not!Goodhead escape the Moonraker exhaust by hiding in the air vents, although they get horribly, horribly steamed.  Also, the female scientist working for Drax (here, Goodhead) is actually a secret agent, although in the book she’s MI-5, not CIA.

There are also no snakes in the book.

The workers at Drax’s Underground Mine Factory look like Doozers or whatever they were from Fraggle Rock

Anyway, Goodhead and Bond manage to sneak aboard the Moonraker shuttle because they’re astronauts now.  Dudes, I just saw Gravity, and I can’t even with this.  No helmets, no real spacesuits, Bond’s not throwing up like a pansy –

Oh shit – Drax is hoping to repopulate a new world?  The shuttle is full of young, horny porn stars.  Seriously, I’m not making this up.

Don’t say ‘Convergence’ to me in relation to space shit – I just saw Thor 2 and that was a major plot point. 

PS – no snakes in Thor 2.

HOLY SHIT IT’S MEGA MAID

Oh.  Apparently it’s a space station of some sort, but seriously, y’all, it looked like Mega Maid for an instant.  Also, it’s apparently a vampire structure, because radar isn’t picking it up.

Goodhead: “Drax must have a radar jamming station.”
Alaina: ENDLESS LAUGHTER AT BEING JAMMED.  Is it raspberry?

Oh god – I’m an Asshole.  And now I really need to watch Spaceballs.

Everyone disembarks from the various shuttles, and I can only imagine that this is how the humans escaped Earth in Wall-E.

Okay, next comparison: Drax is a Nazi.  He is bent on creating a superhuman race of perfect human bodies.  This whole thing is so stupid, and sadly, I’m out of wine.

Goodhead and Bond break the jamming station, and I’m thoroughly disappointed because there isn’t a lick of raspberry jam to be found. 

Jaws finds Goodhead and Bond and brings them to meet Drax in Command Central.  In addition to creating their new perfect race, he’s going to use the nerve gas found in Venice to kill all the humans left on Earth.  Great.  Fucking … I can’t even with this right now.

Oh shit son – Jaws is turning on his master!  The love of his pigtailed nerd has changed his mind! 

THAT’S — THAT’S NOT HOW A SHUTTLE WORKS, GUYS.  You can’t just hit “Emergency Brake” and – oh, the “stop” stops the rotation of the station, not its orbit.  Okay.  Just checking.  Carry on with your zero-gravity and such.

OH MY GOD.  THEY’RE SHOOTING LASERS IN SPACE.  SPACE IS BLOWING UP TO THE SOUNDS OF PEW-PEW-PEW.

KILL ME NOW.

Y’know, I don’t think I’ve been more thankful for Daniel Craig’s version of James Bond in all my life.  And someday, I will write an essay describing all the ways in which Daniel Craig’s James Bond is superior to yes, even Sean Connery’s Bond, but it’s after one and I haven’t been up this late in a while, so that essay will have to wait.

Anyway, the American cavalry comes and tries to stop Drax, or maybe they stop Drax, I’m not sure.  Jaws keeps beating people up, and Bond and Goodhead join forces with the American astronauts and the space station turns into the worst-acted massacre I’ve ever seen.

And then Bond kills Drax not just with Chekov’s Dart Gun – he’s still wearing that thing? – and then pushes him out of the airlock.

Bond tells the astronauts to retreat, and since when is James Bond in charge of NASA?

Goodhead and Bond run to Drax’s Moonraker shuttle to try and destroy the nerve gas globes they shot at Earth.  Meanwhile, Jaws searches for his lady love, who survived the massacre!  Except that the space station is going to blow up, I think – whatever.  What the fuck, they found a bottle of champagne amongst all those dead bodies?  I wouldn’t want to drink dead people champagne!

Jaws helps Bond and Goodhead escape, and I think that that’s how Gravity actually started.  And here’s the part where I start yelling about debris from Drax’s Sex Space Station blowing up killing George Clooney, but I’m really tired, you guys.

Bond and Goodhead manage to blow up all the nerve gas canisters and then NASA wants to have video confirmation of Bond and Goodhead to make sure they’re alive.  Except they’ve managed to find the only bedsheet available on the Moonraker shuttle and have strategically draped it across their bottom halves so they can have celebratory sex in space.

Jesus CHRIST, they couldn’t have waited until they landed??? 

Thank GOD, this movie is over.  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph Stalin, this was bad.  BAD, you guys.  So bad, I can’t even think of a pithy way to end this.

So, uh, hey – if you want to watch a Bond movie, watch Casino Royale (2006), not Moonraker.  There.  I said it.  Now carry on with your insomniac lives; I’m gonna go to bed.

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2013 in That's What She Read

 

TV I’ve Been Watching: Breaking Bad: The Finale & Aftermath

In the past week, I have watched pretty much the last two complete seasons of Breaking Bad, including the finale tonight, right at 9 p.m. EST.  I am still debating whether this was my proudest moment: being able to manage my time in a manner that allowed me to get caught up with a series just before it aired its finale.  I was barely able to do that with Lost, and I loved that show.

After watching nearly 65 episodes of this series, I find I am still unable to explain why I continued to watch it, beyond the curiosity on how the characters got to that point.  I admit, my interaction with Breaking Bad is different from a lot of viewers.  Unlike I would hazard a guess and say the majority of viewers, I only jumped onto the Breaking Bad train a little over a month ago; I did not give myself the luxury of time with this series.  Unlike the majority of viewers, I did not start watching the series upon the pilot episode, nor did I get caught up two seasons in and then watch season by season with the rest of the viewing audience.  The finale was the only episode I did not watch on either Netflix or OnDemand.  And that could say a lot about how people watch TV and follow TV, but that’s another essay for another time.

So I didn’t have a lot of time to get to know Walter White.  I didn’t have the time to breathe after he let Jane die – I just moved into the next episode.  And thanks to Netflix, I didn’t even have to click the button to say yes, that I wanted to watch the next episode; Netflix did the heavy lifting for me.  Thanks, Netflix!

I didn’t have time to rationalize Walt’s manipulation of Jesse in “Full Measure,” where, to save their hides, he sent Jesse off to murder Gale in cold blood.  Jesse didn’t realize the full extent of what he was doing, but Walt sure as fuck did.  But unlike the majority of the viewing populace, I didn’t take that moment to breathe.  The next thing I knew, Gus Fring was walking down the staircase and brutally and wordlessly slicing Vincent’s neck open with a box cutter.

One of the downfalls of the new ‘binge-watching’ that’s going on, in my opinion, is that the audience is not given the chance to build opinions, to test them, to fully understand them.  I plowed through 63 episodes in about eight weeks.  There are some who have been watching for almost six years.  I didn’t have the time to know how to feel about Walter beyond my first impression: that though he may have started out cooking meth in order to make money to support his family after his death, somewhere along the line he decided — for himself — that he liked it.  And at that point, where he decided that he wouldn’t take an opportunity to return to his family life — that is where I decided that my opinion of Walter’s character was unfavorable.

And people really – really – didn’t understand why I don’t like Walter.  It comes down to this: I reacted exactly how Vince Gilligan wanted me to.  His main objective in creating Breaking Bad was to try and find the point, the moment, the line — where a normal, everyday, humdrum, boring person could descend into villainy, and then descend so far that he decided that he liked it.  And I think part of the reason I couldn’t identify with Walter is because I grew up with superheroes and police officers as role models, and the idea of a person getting away with multiple murders – yes, mostly of gangsters and other villains, but let’s not forget Gale, nor the assisted manslaughter of Jane, nor the poisoning of Brock in the interest of manipulating Jesse again – does not jive with the idea of ‘role model,’ or with the idea of ‘a person one will root for.’

My father raised me on Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four: normal, everyday human beings who, given the chance for amazing powers, decide to use them towards good.  When I was little, I read Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew; when I was older, I graduated to Kinsey Millhone and John Grisham novels — they were always the underdogs, scrambling to secure justice for even more under-underdogs.  In my late teenage years, I fell in love with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which did so much for girl power, and justice, and the idea of doing the right thing instead of the wrong thing, and being able to show the consequences for both types of power (because doing the right thing can also be a bad thing at times).

Having those formative influences — not to mention Indiana Jones, Marty McFly, Eddie Valiant, and Elisa Maza from Gargoyles — in my childhood and, well, formative years?  Of course I’m going to root for Skyler and Hank!  Why would I root for Walter instead?

By the way, I’m just going to state this and move on: Skyler is a fantastic character.  I only questioned her motives a couple of times during the entire series, which makes sense, because everyone makes decisions sometimes that other people will question, based upon the outsider’s formative influences and personality.  Anyone who comes to me and says that they are sorry Skyler didn’t die in the finale?  Turn around; there’s the door.  I don’t want to talk to you anymore.  You go think about what you’ve done, and you go think about a lot of things: the tentative treatment of women, both in Hollywood and in real life; the state of marriage today; how strength of character shines through in the oddest of moments; you just go think, Person.  Because seriously; I do not want to talk to you Skyler-Haters right now.  Because she is amazing and one of my favorites (and almost the only one that didn’t die).

And this brings me to my final question that I need to sort out: was the show perfect?  Because a lot of people are saying that it is.

I’m saying … I can’t answer that.

Because of who I am, and what I believe, and my moral code and my formative influences and my yada yada, my instinct is to say ‘no.’  But I can’t hold myself to that.  Here’s what I can say:

The finale was the perfect finale for this show.  I one-hundred-percent admit, it did exactly what it was supposed to do, and for the show, it was 100% satisfying.  And guys, I’ve watched a lot of TV (an actual quote: Mom: “No one watches TV the way you do, Alaina.”  [I don’t think she was saying it as a compliment.]).  That means I’ve watched a lot of series finales.  Do I think it was the best series finale in the history of ever?  No.  But was it the perfect finale for this show?  Yes.

Before I get into how the show worked on its own and how the finale enhanced it, I’d like to use a metaphor.  In the episode “The Limo” of How I Met Your Mother, Barney Stinson whips out his Perfect Party Mix CD and describes the Philosophy of the Mix CD thusly:

Barney: People often ask me, “Barney, how is it that you’re so psyched, so much of the time?”
Lily: By who, who asks you that?
Barney: And the answer is right here – my own personal Get Psyched Mix.  Now people often think a good mix should rise and fall, but people are wrong.  It should be all rise, baby!

And if nothing else, Breaking Bad treated its run like it was the perfect Get Psyched Mix CD.  It was all rise.  My Friend Sarah has tried at least twice to get into Breaking Bad, and can’t get through Season 1.  For what reasons, I’m not sure; Twitter’s not the best at elucidation.  And people have told her to just keep going, “Season 3 is where it really picks up.”  And that is a stupid reason to watch a TV show.  Why would you watch a TV show from season 3?  If seasons 1 and 2 are so not good, why would you watch them?  So I totally understand Sarah’s hesitation in powering through Breaking Bad.

As for me, I powered through because my curiosity to see the arc of the characters overwhelmed my boredom and frustration with the early seasons.  And once Season 3 started, yes, the action picked up, and it was like a runaway train (from which people were siphoning off methylamine); it was all rise.

Going back to the curiosity for a second.  Because I didn’t get into Breaking Bad in the traditional method — watching it from the beginning on TV like normal human beings — I was a bit spoiled on certain events.  Because I maintain a healthy Internet presence, and spoilers abound.  So I knew going in that Gus Fring was going to have half his face blown off.  I knew that an airplane crashed over Walt’s house (I guess I didn’t know it was two).  I knew that Gus Fring’s weapon of choice was a box cutter.  I knew that at some point, Walter poisoned a child; I didn’t know it was Brock, and I didn’t know until I watched the episode that it was merely Lily of the Valley.

But the point is here, that I knew that these mile markers existed.  And since I knew that Walter started off as a meek chemistry teacher with a lung cancer diagnosis, and ended up orchestrating the murder of ten men in three different prisons, I was curious as to how that arc progressed.  And that was what kept me watching; not emotional ties to the characters, but a curiosity as to the plot and its progress.

Back to the Perfect Get Psyched Mix.  In every season, Walt’s actions escalated.  From killing Crazy Eight to telling Tuco he was Heisenberg, to watching Jane die and not doing anything to help her, to manipulating Jesse into murdering Gale, to orchestrating the suicide bombing of Hector Salamanca and Gus Fring, to the Great Train Robbery and the involvement of the Neo Nazis … the action was all rise.  I can see how the viewing audience would get swept up in its fervor.

And to that end, the finale was the perfect finale this show could have: it wrapped every plot point up wonderfully, with a little bow on it, even.  Everything and (almost) everyone came back into play, and either died or was redeemed or maybe, both.  Spoiler Alert!  Walter White does not walk off into the sunset with Grace Kelly.  (That was Gary Cooper, asshole.)  Walter White’s end was fitting, though — I admit — not what I wanted.  But again, I have different opinions than the majority of viewers on that subject.

So the final question – is Breaking Bad the best show — the most perfect show — in all of television history?

No.

Now, admittedly, I am not a television critic.  (At least, I’m not getting paid to be one, so I don’t think I can exactly put that on a business card.)  (Although I might, right above a line declaring me to be an Obtainer of Rare Antiquities.)  But using my knowledge of television, my history with television, and my formative influences, I can say that Breaking Bad had flawless construction: its cinematography, its direction, its writing, and the overall arc of the series and the fact that it achieved what its creator intended; all of those facets combined to make Breaking Bad a truly great television show, if one uses the term “great” as one does when describing Jay Gatsby, not as if one is describing how the show made one feel.

But perfect?  I feel that I cannot consider Breaking Bad to be ‘perfect’ when I cannot identify with its main character.  I guess, granted, that was the creator’s intent, but … I don’t know.  I’m not sure.  After watching 63 episodes in almost as many days, I still feel disconnected with Walter.  I understand his actions, though I do not approve nor empathize with them.  So admittedly, I am looking at this question with biased eyes.  Because I do not approve of the main character’s actions — and that disapproval therefore bleeds into my assessment of the show — I do not think I can ever say that Breaking Bad is the most perfect show in the history of ever.

But then again, a lot of my favorite shows were flawed.  The aforementioned Buffy?  If I had my way, I would have ended it at “The Gift.”  While that would not have given us the amazing “Once More With Feeling,” and while “Chosen” is a very good series finale, “The Gift” is, thematically, an excellent stopping point.  (I also know it was supposed to be the series finale, but then the show was brought to UPN, so that kind of ruins my metaphor.)

Arrested Development was the show of my heart for years, and I thought it was flawless.  But there were bad points.  Don’t talk to me about “Ready, Aim, Marry Me!” — it’s my first least favorite episode.  And there were network notes, and overall lack of support which caused the quality of the show to suffer.  And I still don’t know how I feel about Season 4 beyond a shade of “… huh?”

Alias suffered BIG TIME in its later seasons.  As much as I love it – and I do! – there were problems with it, and it did not end the way I would have wanted it to.

Don’t even talk to me about Lost.  I’m still not over it.

So while I believe that Breaking Bad is an imperfect show because of my disconnect with the characters, at least the network didn’t interfere with it like others did with my favorite shows.  At least the quality of writing didn’t diminish.  At least the creators and actors and everyone involved on the show loved it from Day One until the end.

Again, I guess I can say the construction of Breaking Bad was flawless, and everything anyone who ever works in the business could ask for, production-wise.  In terms of how I interacted with the story it told, and the characters it presented, it left me cold.  Yet I still feel that that was what Vince Gilligan wanted when he set out to create the show in the first place.

Maybe it is perfect.  I don’t know.  I think I started trying to talk everyone into believing me, but I ended up believing the hype.

I guess I’ll end with this: Breaking Bad was a good show.  It is not the worst show I’ve ever seen, but neither is it going to be anywhere near my list of favorites.  And I mean ‘good show’ in the most technical terms possible.  Because I firmly believe that if it was a bad show, or a poorly-made show, I would not have let it get past the three-episode rule.

Will I ever rewatch it?  Probably not.  Will I watch the prequel, Better Call Saul?  Maybe, but that’s because I love me some Bob Odenkirk and I’m kindof hoping David Cross gets to be his best friend in it.

I guess, the best thing I can say about Breaking Bad is: it is the first show I’ve ever watched where I’ve analyzed it more than I’ve enjoyed it.  It made me think about a lot of things; some things for the first time under the context of television-watching.  And I guess, I have to commend it for that.

But I probably won’t rewatch it.  And I definitely do not understand how people fell head over heels in love with it, and with Walter White.  And I never will, nor will I try.

If you need me, I’ll be over here taking a breather, watching me some Once Upon a Time, and going back to shows that don’t make me think.  For a while, at least.

Goodbye, Breaking Bad.  May I never cross paths with you in a darkened alley again.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in TV I've Been Watching

 

Insomniac Theatre: “Baby Face”

IT’S INSOMNIAC THEATER TIME, Y’ALL!!

…Mainly because Jeremy the TiVo: Episode IV: A New Hope is up to 78%, and I have less than six weeks before Fall TV season starts up again.

Turner Classic Movies has done a bang-up job with movies this summer.  In fact, I have taped nineteen movies this year that I have never seen before.  And I’ve taped another five movies that I have seen before, and therefore, will not be reviewed here.  (But do go find Rebecca, The Big Sleep, Big Jim McLain, Strangers on a Train, and a movie with a tie to tonight’s feature, Ball of Fire.)

By the way, if you want to know how awesome Jeremy the TiVo is, here’s how much he’s currently holding:

  • The aforementioned 24 movies taped off of TCM
  • The entire fourth season of Archer
  • 10 episodes of Conan
  • 4 episodes of Franklin & Bash
  • 3 episodes of The Daily Show
  • 2 turtle doves
  • … and the season finale of Hannibal because I JUST CAN’T GET RID OF IT YET YOU GUYS

Here’s how I chose Baby Face to watch tonight: I wrote all the movie titles down on scraps of paper, folded them up, shook them up in my Penguin Martini Shaker of Choosing (because when I drink, I don’t need no fancy shaken drinks.  Diet Coke Lime + Coconut Rum = Fun is about my speed at this point), and Baby Face came out.  Here’s the part where I’d take a photo of everything, but my phone is crap and attempting to charge.  So here’s the MS Paint Reenactment.

it almost looks as if the penguin lost teeth, but those are the unchosen films.

Hahahaha!  Jesus Christ, I’m an asshole.  (Also, thank god The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie wasn’t what came out of the Penguin Martini Shaker of Choosing, huh?)

220px-Baby_Face_1933_film_poster

A young woman uses her body and sexuality to help her climb the social ladder, but soon begins to wonder if her new status will ever bring her happiness.

Two things:

1)      Does anyone else go to here at that synopsis?

2)      The imdb. tells me that if I like Baby Face, then I should also like All About Eve.  Since I’ve seen the latter and not the former, then, ipso facto (if I used that wrong don’t correct me), I should enjoy Baby Face

I love Barbara Stanwyck.  You should also immediately dismiss this statement, as the only full movie starring Ms. Stanwyck I’ve watched is Ball of Fire.  So I guess I should have said that I love the fast-talking, scathing-wit edition of Barbara Stanwyck that I imagine she plays in all of her movies.  Let’s see if my opinion is correct!

Before we officially get into it, here’s some fun historical context that I think I remember from reading something on the Hairpin… yes, it was from the Hairpin!  Anyway, Baby Face was pretty much the reason for the institution for the Hays Code: 

She also bore the brunt of The Hays Office’s decision to finally tamp down on “Pre-Code” films, a.k.a. films that flaunted the existing censorship guidelines. In the original script for Baby Face (1933), she plays a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, stuck in a steel town, exploited by her bootlegger father. She takes up some Nietzschean philosophy and decides to use the big city and big money guys to get what she wants — just like Nietzsche would say she should. So she gets a job at a bank and uses her “feminine wiles,” if you’re picking up what I’m putting down, to make her way up the food chain, seducing one executive after another, before making her way to one who was very engaged … to a big exec’s daughter. And then Daddy Big Exec falls for her, puts her up in a love palace, and gets her a MAID, before original fianced executive finds her there and SHOOTS BIG EXEC AND HIMSELF. Amazing. Just amazing. The new head of the company banishes her to Paris, but she works her magic there as well — and when the new head comes to visit, HE FALLS FOR HER TOO. Barbara!

The bank fails, the new husband is blamed, Barbara refuses to return all her fancy-pants stuff to save the bank and flees to Europe, triumphant. Husband shoots himself, the end. Man-eater in-fucking-deed.

[Guys, if you have some time and love Old Hollywood, Scandals of Classic Hollywood is a fantastic source of information.  I love these pieces, and will totally be buying the book when it comes out.]

Okay, for timing purposes, y’all should know that it has taken me two and 3/4ths Daily Shows to type up all this stuff / draw a penguin martini shaker in MS Paint.  Give me another few minutes to pour a Coconut Cuba Libre and get comfortable and then we can finally begin the Insomnia.


Heh heh heh I don’t know why I’m being such an asshole tonight, you guys.  But I’m enjoying it and having fun, and isn’t that all that matters?

JOHN WAYNE IS IN THIS MOVIE?  Robert Osbourne, you better not be lying to me!

We begin at a factory.  Or, a factory town, I guess.  A whole bunch of factory workers crowd into a speakeasy, because this was filmed in 1933 and I’m pretty sure Prohibition wasn’t over yet?  Or this takes place before the end of Prohibition?  I don’t know.  Anyway, the speakeasy is run by Barbara Stanwyck’s father (or as she’s called in this movie, Lily).  Lily’s Dad is calling for her, because apparently her pretty face keeps the idiot drunks quiet.  Lily’s Dad is also pretty verbally abusive, and the patrons are pretty grabby.  Lily keeps her cool and only uses her words to keep them away from her, whereas I think everyone who knows me knows that I’d have SMASHSTABbed them into capitulation pretty quickly.

Lily brightens up when she sees this old bespectacled guy enter – which is sad, because there’s this shirtless 1930s Chris Evans-type following her around and asking her to take a walk with him in the quarry, because apparently that’s a fun thing to do in that town.  Sheesh.  Anyway, Lily brings the Old Guy a drink, and Old Guy says she should leave while she can, because she’s got energy and power and she could make something of herself.  Lily mutters, “Yeah, I’m a ball of fire, I am.”  NOT YET YOU’RE NOT, that movie came out in 1941!  But seriously, Ball of Fire is an amazing movie, you should totally watch that.

Later that night, some guy in a suit comes in and gives Lily’s Dad some money, then Lily’s Dad hustles the rest of the customers out, leaving Lily alone with the guy.  Oh god.  Oh god.  That … Lily’s Dad better be burning in the Special Hell, is all I’m saying.

Suit Guy gets fresh, and Lily dumps her hot coffee on his hand as he’s trying to touch her knee.  “Oh, excuse me.  My hand shakes so when I’m around you,” she sarcastically throws out effortlessly.  She goes into her bedroom, and for a moment it appears as if this is a routine, but when Suit Guy follows her, she pushes him out.  Suit Guy insinuates that this isn’t the first time she’s been pimped out, and tellingly, Lily doesn’t deny it, either – just says that he’s not going to experience it. 

And then she goes back out to the dining room and pours herself a beer.  Suit Guy comes up behind her and hugs her from behind in a not pleasant hug, and Lily PICKS UP THE BEER BOTTLE AND SMASHES IT OVER HIS HEAD, then calmly downs her beer.

Bette Davis, you know I still and always will love you, but I think Barbara Stanwyck is my new Spirit Animal.

Oh, Suit Guy runs outside and into Lily’s Dad, and apparently, Lily was exchange for protection for the speakeasy.  Lily’s Dad runs up to tell her off, but Lily says that she hates him because he’s apparently been pimping her since she was 14.  Oh, dear God.  Special! Hell!

Then Lily’s friend the African-American maid (“Chico”) comes in and says that the still is smoking, and when Lily’s Dad goes down to investigate, the whole thing blows up and Lily’s Dad dies.  Good.  May he burn in the Special Hell for all eternity.  Is there anything worse than the Special Hell?  May he burn there.

Lily goes to visit the Old Guy from the bar after she buries her father.  He wants her to use her power and will to become awesome, to utilize men in order to get what she wants, rather than be used by men as a pawn or slave.  Yes.  I agree with that sentiment.  He quotes Nietzsche at her, and … I never studied Nietzsche, so I can’t really talk about having an opinion on the matter.  I can barely spell Nietzsche.  (Thanks, Microsoft Word for the bone-throw there with your Autocorrect.)

He tells her to exploit herself in the big city — those are the exact words he uses, “exploit herself” — and tells her twice in the same sentence to use men to get the things she wants.  Again, I agree with that, but to a point.  Maybe.  I don’t know; I’ve always been a shitty feminist.

Lily and Chico hop a train and attempt to Hobo it to New York City.  (There are at least two jokes I can make here, but since Hobo With a Shotgun didn’t have trains, I can’t make the one you’re thinking of.  Instead, I’m going to tell them that they should at all costs avoid having a fight on the roof of a moving train.  It is not as glamorous as it looks.)  The … train watcher? He’s out of uniform, so I don’t think he’s a security guard.  Anyway, the guy that swings the lantern to make sure that there aren’t hobos around (because hobos are scared of light, I guess?) — he looks into Lily’s boxcar and tries to kick her and the friend off the train, until Lily closes the door on him and invites him into her boxcar.  If ya know what I mean. 

What’s really awkward is that Chico goes to the other end of the boxcar and sings a song to herself to cover the sound of coitus coming from the other end.  At least, I assume Lily offers the Train Watcher sex – there’s a shot of his gloves falling next to the lantern, and then his hand turns the lantern off.  I suppose they could just be playing Pattycake, but again, singing to cover the sound of that song, and also, that’s how Who Framed Roger Rabbit got started.

Lily and Chico arrive in New York, and they’re hungry.  Hungry for food, for money, and for power.  Or at least, Lily is for the last two on that list.  But as they’re talking about their hunger pains, they pass the Gotham Bank and Trust.

Now look: I know that Gotham City came from the nickname for New York City, and this movie pre-dates Batman’s first appearance in Detective Comics #29 by six years (my father, if he were to read this [which he won’t, because he doesn’t use computers] would be so proud of me right now).  But if Lily somehow is how to blame for the death of Batman’s parents?  Holy head!canon, Batman, I would freaking love that!  I’m totally going to make that happen through the power of my words.

Lily likes the looks of the building, and hoping that there’s a lot of money to be had in the Gotham Bank and Trust, goes to the personnel department and pretty much drags a nobody into the boss’s empty office to ‘talk over the prospect of a job,’ which of course meant ‘I’m going to blow you and you’re going to employ me.’  Again, I can’t attest to the veracity of that speculation (THANKS, DODGE I mean HAYS CODE), as it happened behind a closed door and after a fade, but tons of people had walked out of that office jobless before Lily swanned in, and in the next scene she’s working in the filing department.  I mean, Sherlock Holmes doesn’t exactly have to work hard at deducing between those lines.

On the other end of the filing department, two dudes are talking about getting a woman into one of the dudes’ department, but I’m not really listening because YOU GUYS – I found Jason Segel’s doppleganger!  (Again, I’d take a picture, but my phone is crap.  So here’s the MS Paint Reenactment.)

jason segel

[For context on why Jason Segel would be wearing a funk hat, watch the clip here, and also note the Intervention Banner in the background.  Remember: it’s not an intervention if there’s not an Intervention Banner!]

Apparently Jason Segel’s name here is Mr. McCoy.  And apparently Lily is the girl McCoy’s been telling his boss about, and — holy shit!  McCoy’s Boss is the spitting image of Saul Goodman!

better call saul

(I’m not going to MS Paint that, you guys – I can’t go about MS Painting everything.  I’m not the brilliant Hyperbole and a Half.)

Anyway, Lily makes eyes at McCoy/Marshall, and happens to catch Saul/Brody in the cross, and before I can finish typing this sentence, Saul/Brody has hired Lily up into the Mortgage Department — his department.   She brings something over to Saul to sign, and Saul tells her to stay after five.  Two girls in the secretary pool are very catty about how Lily’s been moving up the ladder using her legs and what’s between them, and then McCoy/Segel comes over and —

HOLY SHIT MOTHERFUCKERS THAT’S JOHN FUCKING WAYNE

jason segel edited

himym mind blown

MIND.  BLOWN. 

So anyway.  Segel/McCoy asks Lily (whom he calls Baby Face –DRINK FOR THE MOVIE TITLE) to go to dinner with him and she blows him off.  As in, she tries to tell him she has something else going on tonight, not that she … I mean, right there?  In the middle of the office?  Come on, she does have standards for this.

As I’m typing this, Lily proves my point.  The 5 o’clock bell rings and Saul goes right over to Lily’s desk and embraces her from behind.  She jerks away from him and says, “Not here,” then she walks over to an office and tilts her head, and before you can say ‘jackrabbit,’ they’re … well, you know.

Saul’s phone rings.  When Saul doesn’t answer, a bank bigwig goes into the large office area to see if he’s still around.  He doesn’t see Saul, and is about to leave when, as he passes the ladies’ rest room, he sees something to make him stop in his tracks and yell, “Brody?”

Saul Brody comes out of the ladies’ rest room, and he passes a hand through his hair.  Hm.  I wonder who was on their knees this time?  Brody’s boss is outraged.  He says in a monotone, “This is an outrage.  A man in your position.  Get your check at once.”  To quote My Friend Sarah: GIGGITY.  Also, HA!

Mr. Stevens tries to fire Lily too, but she puts on the “sexual harassment” face and cries a couple of tears, and before we know it, she’s moved higher up into the bank’s hierarchy – as Mr. Stevens’ secretary.  She delivers a bill or something to Mr. Stevens, and the other two girls in the office bitch about Lily moving fast.  They also handily mention that not only is Mr. Stevens engaged to a girl he’s crazy about, but that he is also of fine and moral character.

That night, Saul Brody visits Lily in her new apartment.  She doesn’t let him in because apparently, her landlady won’t let her have men in her apartment.  …  …  I’m not going to make a joke about that, because too many people I know read my blog and they know my landlady, and I don’t want anyone to start asking questions.  She tries to appeal to Saul Brody’s better nature about his wife and kids, but when he stutters she shuts the door in his face.

She pulls her silk bathrobe around her tighter, and who else should we find in her spacious New York apartment (HA!) than Mr. Stevens?!  (Nice read, Velma.) 

Some future time at the office, Lily convinces the other secretary to take her lunch then, so she can get a manicure at 1.  Damn.  I need a job that will let me have a manicure in the middle of the workday.  Anyway, Lily takes advantage of the alone time and practically skips into Mr. Stevens’ office, where she makes him kiss her.  As she’s doing so, Mr. Stevens’ fiancée comes in to surprise him, but SHE’S the one that’s surprised.  As Mr. Stevens runs after his crying fiancée, Lily smirks to herself and smokes one of his cigarettes, as if this were all going according to plan or something.

Oh, that’s right – and Mr. Stevens’ fiancée’s father is the vice president of the bank!  That will definitely end badly.  Big Daddy tells Stevens to fire Lily.  But when he tries, her feminine wiles make him decide to give Big Daddy his resignation instead.  Big Daddy offers to take Lily off his hands – meaning firing her, of course.  When she’s called up to Big Daddy’s office, Lily makes some story about how she didn’t know Stevens was engaged, and as she sobs out her story, he says something along the lines of he’ll figure something out.

That figuring something out apparently involves setting Lily up in a better apartment, with a staircase and multiple bedrooms and a large vanity table and fur coats and a ton of jewelry. 

I — I can’t even. 

Okay, here comes the part where Alaina tries to marry her 21st-Century values to that of a movie made 80 years ago.  I am a little uncomfortable at how comfortable Lily is with all the choices she’s made.  And look, I am the last person to talk about doing things for money — if there’s a rich dude out there that wants to spoil me, SHUT UP AND LET ME TAKE YOUR MONEY.  I have student loan and credit card bills to pay, and retail ain’t the moneymaker it’s proclaimed itself to be.  But I don’t know any rich men, so.

And I don’t want to say that I’m uncomfortable with how Lily chooses to move up the ladder.  Well – maybe.  Hold on.  Let me back up.  I guess what I mean is, I don’t think I’m above batting my eyelashes to get something.  I can play the “Oh sorry Officer, I didn’t realize I was speeding – I was just listening the music, you know how it is!  I’m so sorry!” to get out of a speeding ticket, but that’s as far as I personally go.  I won’t trade my … feminine mystique, if you will, for a chance at a better job, or better pay, because my belief is that when you work hard at something, no matter how hard you work, it will never be good enough for the higher-ups, giving you a crushing sense of failure no matter how successful you’re becoming, and there are definitely days when I just wish Richard Gere would pull me out of the gutter, but then I realize two things: 1) I’ve never seen Pretty Woman, and 2), I do not like Richard Gere.

Anyway.  Pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps is supposed to be the way to success, or so I’m told.  (Not that I’ve ever seen this happen in real life.)  And I value hard work.  (This is a true fact.)  Not that doing old guys for money isn’t work (or so I’ve been told) — it’s just not the kind of work that validates me.  NOT THAT I DO THAT KIND OF WORK AND HAVE A REAL-LIFE APPLICATION FOR oh shit, I’m blocking this entry from my mother, she’s going to start asking questions that I will answer but she won’t believe me for some reason.

*AHEM.*  NO, I DO NOT HAVE SEX FOR MONEY.  LET ME MAKE THAT CLEAR.  Because if that were a thing that was happening, I’d hope to be a lot richer than I am right now.

ANYWAY DEAR GOVERNMENT THAT WAS A JOKE I AM NOT A SEX WORKER.  – PLATONIC HANDSHAKE, ALAINA

Where was I?  Oh right.  Stomach contents.  Anyway.  I guess my sense of discomfort comes from the fact that Lily knows she’s disrupting families, and that is a big NO NO NO on my moral compass.  Being the ‘other woman’ is not a title to which I aspire.  Now, it’s one thing if a guy at a bar makes a forward pass and it becomes complete and “I” find out after that he’s either married or in a long-term relationship – he didn’t disclose that information and willingly sought a partner outside of that committed relationship, and “I” was the rube.  But I wouldn’t ever willingly enter into a relationship with a man who is in a committed relationship.  I just … couldn’t.

And knowing where my moral compass lies is what makes this movie uncomfortable for me.  And I get that Lily was abused, and pimped out by her father, and that this is probably the only way she knows to get ahead.  And again, I’m looking at this 1933, pre-Hayes-Code movie through my 21st Century eyes.  Knowing what I know about movies made in the ’30s, Lily will get her comeuppance and justice will be done, and she will not be allowed to ride off into the sunset with John Wayne.  (Firstly, that was Gary Cooper, asshole.  Secondly, HE MISSED HIS CHANCE.)

Okay, so … that was a rant and a half, and I probably pissed off a ton of feminists and misogynists and people I know in real life alike, so let’s go back to the movie, where Stevens has just arrived at Lily’s apartment, realizes she’s become a kept woman by someone, but doesn’t realize she’s been kept by his father-in-law.

He barges in, and Lily is entertaining Big Daddy (no, not like that!).  He asks Lily to marry him and threatens to kill himself if she won’t, because the boy is sick in the head.  She tries to kick him out, but instead he sees Big Daddy’s brandy glass and half-smoked cigar, and barges into her boudoir.  When he sees Big Daddy, he shoots him with the gun he was hiding in his pocket (REALLY NOT A EUPHAMISM, FOLKS) and then he turns the gun on himself.

Oh, and this all happens on Christmas.

Lily enters the room and surveys the damage, physical and emotional.  She calls the 1930s equivalent of 9-1-1 and waits for the fallout.

The bank calls a meeting of ministers or whatever, and they elect George Brent – “Trenholm,” whatever – head of the bank in the absence of Big Daddy, who is now deceased.  They mutter that they must take care of this Lily Powers story, and Lily comes waltzing in right on time at 10 a.m.  She tells them that she’s so embarrassed and agonized over “Baby”‘s death (what she called Big Daddy, which just sends me down a horrible, horrible path of deviant behavior that I do not want to educate anyone on), and she knows she can’t stay at the bank any longer – she must leave town.  Oh, and since the New York Times or whatever offered her ten thousand dollars for her diary, she tells the quorum of managers that $15,000 surely has to be the true value of the information.

At this point, one of the bank dudes says, AND I QUOTE, “Well, we won’t quibble over a few thousand dollars.”  Ladies and gentlemen: the reason for bank failures everywhere.

George Brent is clearly not under Lily’s powers, because instead of permitting her to run away with fifteen thousand, he instead arranges for her to be transferred to their Paris branch with a job waiting.  Lily is disappointed that she has to work in Paris.  CRY ME A FUCKING RIVER, ARE YOU SERIOUS?  She is the catalyst for one man losing his job and two men dying over her, ALMOST LITERALLY, by the way, and instead of getting what she deserves, she gets flown FIRST CLASS to fucking PARIS!?  Jesus jumped-up Christ, does her vagina grant wishes?!

Trenholm visits the Paris branch and is shocked to find Lily working.  As in, actually working.  At her job.  Trenholm is impressed, and apparently smitten.  He gives her a ride home in the rain and blatantly attempts to be invited into her apartment, but she cattily refuses.  The next day, he sends her a memo that tells her that a car will be picking her up at 8, and they will be dining and dancing together that night.  SERIOUSLY.  MAGIC VAGINA.

In three days, Trenholm has fallen madly in love with Lily, to the point where he actually locks it down and marries her.  It comes out that he marries the woman who was responsible for the deaths of two men back on the ranch, and oh yeah, there’s a financial crisis brewin’ at the bank.  Hubby and wife return to New York to manage the business.

Well, he manages the business; Lily lies around admiring her jewelry.  Until Trenholm comes home and asks for everything he’s ever given her, because he’s being indicted.  He needs to have all the money he’s given Lily because he needs it for bail.  Lily won’t give him the money, and she gives him this speech about how her life has been hard and she’s worked her way up from nothing to have everything, and she won’t give up her material objects for some dude.  She orders Chico (who is still around, and still a maid, because after all, she didn’t have to trade up like Lily did) to pack everything up and head to the pier, because they’re sailing to Paris tonight.  Trenholm watches sadly for a moment, because in his words, Lily is all he has left.  But he realizes he can’t stop her, so he quietly exits the scene.

When they get to the boat, Lily pulls out a record and record player from somewhere (don’t even know, guys) and over the tune of what almost sounds like the theme to “Little Orphan Annie,” the faces of men overlay the spinning record: the train dude; the nobody who gave her the job; John Wayne; Saul; Stevens; Big Daddy; and finally Trenholm.  But when she gets to Trenholm, she remembers him telling her that he loves her in spite of all her previous partners.  (And look, let’s be real here: I’m sure there were more than what was on the record.)

And finally, in a fit of … something, Lily realizes that she loves Trenholm too, I think?  And she races off the boat, leaving poor Chico and 90% of her luggage behind.  That’s awkward.  She runs home, and when Trenholm isn’t in the apartment, she runs down to the office, and JESUS CHRIST THERE’S ANOTHER ONE.  He tried to shoot himself, but apparently he missed.  Somehow.  Anyway, she calls an ambulance, and he’s apparently enough of a poor shot to survive, and they’re going to live happily ever after, apparently.

ARE YOU SERIOUS?  I — Okay.  I don’t know.  I don’t even know.  Being able to live happily married is not the comeuppance I was expecting.  Again, 21st-Century perspective.  I — *sigh*

I’m going to go to bed.  And seriously, everyone: go find Ball of Fire.  It’s super cute, Barbara Stanwyck is awesome and most certainly does not trade sex for money, the talk is quick and witty and funny.  It’s awesome.  Way better than Baby Face.

I mean she doesn’t really have a baby face what does that even mean … 

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2013 in Insomniac Theatre