Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Today's film is Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  The title has nothing to do with the film other than the fact that they sing it a couple times.  Since one professor teaches history and the other biology, I don't see why they would care who she is or why they would be afraid of her.  Anyway, she's dead so maybe her spirit will come back and bore them to death.

The film takes place between 2 am and dawn following a faculty party.  A young biology professor and his ditzy blonde wife visit an old associate history professor, George, and his wife, who is the daughter of the university professor.  His wife, Martha, is played by Elizabeth Taylor, who is wearing the worst old-lady makeup in the history of film.  Actually, it might not be so terrible if I wasn't watching it on my modern hd tv.  First world problems.  Yes, their names are George and Martha.  Beneath their alcohol-fueled arguments and insults lies a thinly disguised emotional dependence on each other.  Listen, if I wanted to listen emotionally co-dependent weirdoes berate each other and whose only entertainment seems to be making everyone else feel awkward, then I would go to my mother-in-law's house.

The second I heard that Martha had mentioned a son, I thought, "there's no way those two assholes had a child together".  And I was right.  Huge shocker.  Then, comes the weirdness.  Not the weirdness that comes from a get-together at 2 am.  I've been to those.  I mean the weirdness that comes from Edward Albee's works.  Also, Nick and Honey could have left anytime and they don't.

I love how they refer to Honey's "slim hips" as if that's why she hasn't had any children yet.  Lol, I'm way smaller than she is and I have a child. Honey supposed had a "hysterical pregnancy" but it went away.  Chances are she had a miscarriage or an abortion and didn't want to talk about it with anyone.  She might even be pregnant now, what with her constant throwing up and all.  Or, she could have a digestive disorder and need to talk to someone about it.  Throwing up all the time isn't normal.

George seems to have the most problems of them.  He tells this really off-putting story about a boy with kills his mother with a shotgun, then accidentally kills his father while learning how to drive.  He tells it to Nick, a man he has just met for the first time.  He says the boy is in an asylum and still hasn't spoken to this day.  Why would you tell him something like that?  Then, we learn that it is part of a book he was writing, but the university president/his father-in-law forbid him to publish it.  Then, I get the feeling that this might be something that either actually happened to him, or he is the boy in the story.  He has a psychopathic vibe to him.  Like I wouldn't ever want to be alone anywhere with him.

Nick and Honey both represent threats to George and Martha, even if they don't intend to be.  We already know George feels threatened by Nick because he is young (I love how they call 28 young. That made me feel real good) and ambitious, and probably wants to sleep with his wife.  Well of course he does, she's Elizabeth Taylor!

On a similar, but more subtle note, Martha feels threatened by Honey.  All she wanted was for her husband to take over the college, but he wasn't ambitious or aggressive enough.  So, as a housewife, obviously she wanted a baby, but she never could, so she makes up the story of her son, who's "away", in order to cope.  She's jealous of Honey, because she reminds her of a younger version of herself.  In fact, she first describes her as slim-hipped as an insult (as an opposite to bigger, child-bearing hips) to make herself feel better.  She knows that Honey's husband will rise quickly in his department because he has the opposite personality of her own.

At the end, Nick and Honey leave in the morning, and George and Martha are left alone.  We see that they really do love each other, but have a weird way of showing it.  If you enjoy Edward Albee's works, or really want to see how my in-laws would act if they were literate, then please watch this film.  I will give it an 8/10.

Monday, July 14, 2014

La souriante Madame Beudet (The Smiling Madame Beudet) 1923

Today's film is The Smiling Madame Beudet.  Even though it does not have a long running time, the entire story could have been told in ten minutes.  Madame Beudet is depressed and has a rude husband, who doesn't treat her very tell and plays a cruel joke on her by holding a gun to his head and pretending to shoot himself.  The gun is never loaded, so there is no actual danger.  It still isn't a funny joke though.

While her husband is away watching a play, Madame Beudet loads the gun.  Then she spends the entire next day regretting her decision and dramactically moping around the house.  Then her husband and his friend come home looking for a lost receipt.  Later, after his friend has left, he calls her in and yells at her, doing his gun trick again.  Then he aims at her and fires.  However, he is a terrible shot and hits a vase instead.  He believes that she wanted to kill herself by loading the gun.  He tells her that he cannot live without her and hugs her.  However, she is not pleased at all by this outcome and we know who she was really hoping to die.

This film was a bit too long even for a short film, and there isn't a whole lot of substance to it.  Still, it's okay for a silent film.  I will give it a 5/10.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

À nous la liberté (Liberty for Us) (1931)

Today's film is À nous la liberté (Liberty for Us).  We didn't expect it to be a musical!  After watching this, I read it influenced Modern Times.  Some say that it was even plagiarized.  But I don't believe that because I saw Modern Times first, and I didn't even think of it once while watching this film.  I mean, they both take place in factories.  Whatever.

In the beginning, we meet Emile and Louis, who are working in an assembly line in a prison.  We don't know why they are there and we don't care.  They plan a daring escape, but only Louis makes it out.  I quickly noticed that Louis is a thief and is very cunning.  Over time, he builds a phonograph empire and has his own factory.

The factory's assembly line is exactly like the prison's.  It shows that working in a mundane environment is like being trapped in a prison.  Anyone who does not work on the assembly line is a rich fat cat that is greedy and doesn't do anything.

Later, Louis escapes and falls in love with a girl who works in the factory.  Eventurally, he meets up with Emile and is treated like a king. The girl's uncle is all for Louis marrying her (because now he has money), but she is already in love with another guy.

The romantic subplot doesn't go very far, because other men have realized that Emile is actually a runaway prisoner and want to blackmail him.  Emile is about to open a brand new plant, and they want a part of it.  Emile announces that his new plant is fully automated, and that he is giving it to all his workers.  The workers now spend their time relaxing, while Emile and Louis escape to a simple life on the road.  I will give this film a 6/10.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Lola rennt (Run Lola Run) (1998)

Today's film is Run Lola Run, a film which is part fantasy, part video game, all with a fast paced soundtrack.  Lola is our fiery-red haired heroine who must come up with $100,000 in twenty minutes in order to save her boyfriend, Manni.  Manni was supposed to deliver it to his boss, but left it on the subway, where it was picked up by a homeless guy.

Lola thinks, then runs down the stairs of her apartment.  The running down the stairs scene is animated.  This will be explained momentarily.  Her plan is to ask her rich dad, who runs a bank if she could borrow the money.  That's the best plan she has for now.  As she runs, she encounters different people, and we see snapshots of their future.

Her dad is at work in his office, talking to his mistress.  Lola barges in as his mistress confesses to being pregnant.  Lola's dad throws her out of the office and tells her that she is not his biological child and that he will stay with his mistress.  Lola walks off crying.  Meanwhile, Manni becomes impatient and goes to rob the nearby grocery store, hoping to regain the money he lost.  Lola arrives too late, and agrees to help him.

They get the money and are stopped by police.  One of the cops shoots Lola, killing her.  She starts whispering and then the whole movie starts over again, and we see the cartoon scene of her running down the stairs.  This is where the film is like a video game, the cartoon part is the cut-scene that never changes no matter how many times you play it.  The choices Lola makes during the twenty minutes determine what happen to her and Manni.

This time, Lola runs towards the bank, where her dad and mistress are talking, as usual.  This time, Lola comes a bit later, so her dad learns that his mistress' baby is not his at all.  Lola comes in and asks for the money.  Of course, it's too much and he won't give it to her.  Lola decides to rob the bank and escape.  She runs towards Manni, hopeful that she was successful.  Manni then gets hit by an ambulance and dies.

So, their choices influence each other.  When Lola does the wrong thing and robs the bank, Manni dies.  When Manni does the wrong thing and robs the store, Lola dies.  Lola has to find some other way to get the money.  Lola starts the level over again and we see the cut-scene once more.

In this level, neither Manni nor Lola rob anyone.  Manni chases down the homeless man and demands his bag of money bag.  The homeless man agrees if he can have Manni's gun.  I personally would not give a homeless person a gun, but he does anyway.  Also, Lola doesn't go to the bank at all, but sees a casino.  She thinks, please just this once, and goes to place some bets.  The luck factor in video games is a lot different than in real life, so she wins, and leaves with her winnings to find her boyfriend.  So not only did Manni get the money back himself,  but Lola got a ton of money too.  And they lived happily ever after.

Every time I watch this film, I find something new or something I didn't notice before.  This movie is very fast paced.  Every choice Lola makes not only influences herself, but Manni and even random people.  The snapshots we see of the minor character's lives change each time she passes them.  I will give this film a 10/10.