Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Many Movie Reviews

The Big Street. I wanted to like this movie, I really did. I love Henry Fonda, and I like Lucille Ball, and I love the story of Guys and Dolls, so I figured another by Damon Runyon story would be great. It has a great cast of characters, good acting, and all the other things that make a movie good. But I couldn't get over the horridness of the character played by Lucille Ball. Cudos to Ball for playing the role so well, because I hate that character. I couldn't even find my way to feeling sorry for her. And this coming from the sap who can still feel sorry for Scarlett O'Hara. Fonda's character was well played and well written. You always liked him and you cheered him on no matter what - especially when he walks away from her, if only for just a moment. But he is a sap. It turned out okay (sorta) in the end, but I just can't get over the character.
I'm switching to the star system now instead of recommend of not, because, let's face it, I am the kind of person who will recommend most every movie. So, I give this film a solid 3 stars (out of 5)
A Place in the Sun: This has to be one of the most depressing films I have ever seen. You need to see it because it is a classic (AFI Top 100 lists!), and it is beautiful, but I don't think I ever want to watch it again. But I will - because it is a classic, and it is beautiful. And it is well made.
Basic Plot: A young man (Montgomery Cliff) who is trying desperately to make good in his life goes to work for his uncle's company. The black sheep of the family of that area, he is put into a mediocre job. Despite this, he blossoms by working hard as he has always done. He falls in love - or is it just lust? - with a girl (Shelley Winters) who works at the same factory (which is against the policy of the factory). Meanwhile, his uncle takes an interest in him and moves him to the up and up, where he meets and does fall in love with another girl (Elizabeth Taylor) who is one of the elite set. Complications obviously come and well - I don't think I will be giving anything away by saying that it is tragic.
Again, it is a wonderfully made film. Some of the shots are just beautiful, the acting on all sides is
honest, open, and real. Taylor is exquisite. This was probably the height of her gorgeousness as well as an interesting time (age-wise) for her. She has that beautiful niavity that her character demands. She is the person you feel the most for. It should be Winters, but she plays her role so well that you can't completely like her. The character is too easily led astray, too whiny, and too possesive. Granted, after a bit, she has a reason to be, but overall, her annoyingness gets to you and you (the audience) almost begins to wish she would just go away as Cliff does. Cliff plays the duel role well. You love him and you feel for him, and you can see his despair, but it is, after all, a situation he made himself.
This film could not be made today. Too much has changed in our society. You have to see the film to understand it really, but the Winters character would have options now that were not available then - and she would have more gumption. I guess maybe that is also why I don't really like her character. She is SO dependent. She can't take the responsibility of her actions alone, and that is where she loses me. Again, her kind of person was permissable back then, and still is pitied a little today, but not nearly in the same way. Whether this is really a tragedy or not is open for discussion. It is tragic, yes, but in classic terms, I'm still out on that decision.
4 out of 5 stars
The Deer Hunter: I need to write this now. I am an hour and a half into this movie, and I can hardly watch it. More to follow, but I just have to say that is disgusts me the many way people can think of to torture one another.
Okay, I am back and I just finished the movie. Tears are falling down my cheeks, I have a lump in my throat and my nose is running. My insides hurt and all I can think is: how, HOW can anyone watch movies like this and still want to have anything to do with war??
I'm not even going to talk about historical merits, how well it was acted, or how well constructed the film is. I can't. Because those things don't really stick as much as the feeling this film leaves you with. It starts following a group of guys from a small Pennsylvania town on their last day of work, through the wedding of one of their friends, and the last hunting trip before 3 of them go to Vietnam. Then they go to Vietnam. And they return. That is all I will give you, because I just can't go into it. The beginning does a beautiful job of establishing friendship and the ins and outs of a way of life. It's not about fancy or special people - they are just run-of the mill johns and joans stuck in the same small town, the same small world. But they enjoy it. One of the most beautiful moments is when Walken's character tells DeNiro how much he loves it (the town, the way of life, all of it) and he makes him promise to bring him back home. And the ending. I guess it can be seen as cheesy, but it doesn't feel that way in the moment. It catches you - and you have to wonder how these people can do that after everything? You'll understand when you see it.
The movie is not easy to watch. There were several moments when I could hardly look at the screen. It's gritty and dirty, low and revolting - but it is also poignant and beautiful. The contrast between the scenes is unbelievable. It makes a point, and it makes you hold on through the movie.
It is easy to see why it is on AFI's top 100 list. Watch it.
4 out of 5 stars.

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