Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Razor's Edge (1946) Rent 15 and up

What is the meaning of life? Based on a 1944 novel by W. Somerset Maugham,The Razor's Edge is unusual for a Hollywood picture because it deals with a subject that Hollywood rarely ever did, and that was spiritualism and life's meaning. Despite my applauds for finding a film that was trying something different at the time, I'm still kind of puzzled by this film. To help clear my muddled thoughts, let me explain my opinion on this 1946 classic.
    In it, a well-to do Chicago veteran named Larry Darrell (Tyrone Power) is traumatized for his best friend sacrificed himself during a battle in World War One. To clear his muddled thoughts, he decides to go to Paris and India to find enlightenment on the meaning of life. After he learns about goodness, he decides to go visit his old friends in Paris who for the most part aren't doing really well in their lives. For instance, Sophie (Anne Baxter) used to be in a happy marriage until her husband and child gets killed in a car accident. Now, she's a washed-up drunk. Larry decides to save her from her sins. However, his ex-fiancee Isabel (Gene Tierney) is still in love with him. Let me rephrase that. She's obsessed with him. She wants to marry him, and she doesn't understand why he won't focus on society. So to make him realize that he should accept society over life, she decides to sabotage his work with Sophie which ends in tragedy for all of three of them.
       As usual with other golden age pictures, this one is a beautifully produced movie and the acting is really good. Tyrone Power is a genuine good actor with real charm, despite his character having to say awful lines as "The dead have never been deader." The other actors, like Clifton Webb is admirable. Anne Baxter's award winning role easily is the best of the performances for she's a devastating tragic heroine. The audience actually feels sympathy for her when things don't work out for her. She's a character that fate hasn't been kind to, and her performance as a person trying to see that but unable to prevent it is an unforgettable one.
           Gene Tierney's character, though well acted, seems more like a Shakespearean villain rather than a hero. She literally gets Sophie back on the path to doom through psychological warfare and the reason why she does this is she only wants Larry for herself not for anyone else. Did this film turn into a prequel to Leave Her To Heaven? Why would our main leading heroine commit second-degree murder and still be Larry's main affection throughout the entire picture? I know that she doesn't understand his philosophy but that's no excuse for doing despicable things. Ever.
        The main problem that I have with this movie isn't our heroine but the freaking story itself! I just found it boring and uninteresting for our hero is bland, and his quest for meaning didn't resonate with me. That's probably because I haven't experienced his feelings yet , but if you have questions about life, this might be a good choice for you if you don't mind the fact that it's a depressing story with no uplifting moments in it. I'm sorry to say this but I do not like this film at all. But, it's still a good movie but it's not really engaging or interesting to watch.
A tragic heroine who went on to harass Bette Davis.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Wizard Of Oz BUY 5 and up

Yeah! I'm going to see a movie! Hopefully a good one.....
               This post is part of an amazing blogathon hosted by the one and only Forgotten Classics Of Yesteryear. I'm so honored to be here because I'm a huge fan of the blog for it has introduced me to some of my new favorite movies that I probably would have never heard of had I not read the blog.

This is a VHS for you young readers out there.
           When I was in Kindergarten, I never was fascinated with movies at all. Sure, I would watch my healthy dose of Disney/Pixar/Warner Brothers. But, I wasn't compelled by them to find out other movies to watch or to explore the people who actually made the films. Then, I saw the film that forever changed my life.
      My mother always would go to Blockbuster to rent videos for me to watch. (This was before Netflix and DVDs made it easier to watch films.) One day, she rented a video that she knew I was ready to watch. The movie was called The Wizard Of Oz.
        Now, you have seen and know everything about this movie, so I won't be going over the plot or background behind it. I'll be writing just about my thoughts of the film. The reason is that a person's thoughts about a beloved film is more powerful than the history of the film. Especially if he is a young toddler who's obsessed with Dr. Seuss. Now, let's move on.
           When I first saw the Serpia Kansas farm scenes, I at first questioned why the film wasn't in color. Instead of my mother lecturing me about the history of film, she just told that there's a surprise coming later. So, I patiently waited to see this surprise. In other words, I wanted the Kansas scenes to be over with when I first saw it. But, nowadays I kinda like them. They have a wholesome quality that catches you off guard. For example, after the evil Mrs. Gulch takes Toto away from Dorothy, Auntie Em says to her, " For forty years, I've always wanted to say this to you." A modern film would have her say a quote like "You are a godless woman!" Instead, Auntie Em says " But now, I'm a Christian woman and I can't say things like that anymore now." When you analyze it now, you see that Auntie Em hates this woman so much but because of her values, she won't give in to the temptation of cursing her, which would her character seem unfavorable in front of the family.
There's something out there for us, Toto.
        The best scene in the entire movie is the classic scene where Dorothy sings the classic song called "Somewhere Over The Rainbow". When I first saw it, Dorothy represented childhood wanting better and new things to do, and I identified with her because her life was misunderstood by her family, and the song represents hope and a better future. Now, I always cry at the scene. It's so beautiful.  
       After a visit to the local fortune teller, a twister hits the area. This part always creeped me out as a kid. None was more terrifying than Dorothy's own family accidentally locking her and poor Toto out of the shelter! I know that the tornado made it impossible for them to hear her cries, but as a kid, I was shocked to see Dorothy's loved ones abandoning her to the evil of the storm, and blocking the only way out of the dangerous situation! If that didn't terrify me enough, then we have poor Dorothy being knocked out by a flying window. What the heck!
           After a dream sequence that ended with a thunderous boom of the house, Dorothy wakes up and walks toward the door. When she opens it, the world changes from boring black and white to a colorful wonderland that's apparently been built out of plastic. But, it still is an impressive scene because of the way we are introduced to Oz with the magical score and beautiful cinematography.
         She finds out from Glinda, a.k.a the Good Witch, that she accidentally killed the Wicked Witch of the East. Since she was so wicked, the Munchkins who live around here are pleased with this that they sing an entire song dedicated to her. It's actually a charming sequence because the audience gets to know that the citizens are really happy to have someone rescue them from their villan. Apparently, since this is a children's film, we need to have a villan to come along and spoil the charming scene for a while. Enter the Wicked Witch of the West, and everyone but I was scared by her. I don't know what was wrong with me, but maybe I had seen people getting dressed up like her at Halloween. So, I was not scared by her because I knew what was coming already.
                 She's apparently upset with Dorothy because Dorothy not only killed her sister but she also got a hold of the MacGuffin that's very valuable here. If you don't know what I'm talking about, I'm talking about the Ruby Slippers, but I digress. Glinda saves Dorothy by saying the coolest thing ever. She says, " Go away because you have no power here." That quote is basically saying that evil won't win and it should get the heck out of here before the powerful good comes along and kills evil.

We're off to see the wizard and to kill a wicked witch!
             After the Wicked Witch leaves via explosion, Dorothy and Toto are shown the way to Oz via the Yellow Bricked Road. Along the way, she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion who accompany her for the trip. These characters were awesome for they not only help the main character but they have probelms that we can relate with. That's pretty rare considering the sterotypes in modern films.   
        Long story short: They get caught in the  infamous poppy fields, but they get rescued by Glinda. They arrive to Oz where they participate in the Cowardly Lion's worst song ever. I'm not kidding. This song is just horrible to listen to, and Oz just looked too green for me. Luckily, we get to see the Wizard's big face come the heck out of nowwhere and scare the living daylights out of us. Thank you.
            The Wizard tells them that they must kill the Wicked Witch and bring him her magic broom. But, Dorothy gets captured by her flying monkeys whom always are cool to me. Seriously, you have monkeys with wings. What idea can't be so stupid in real life but is cooler in fantasy?!?
       The scene where Dorothy is locked in the castle brings real peril to me for the timer is running out and we know that if the trio of sidekicks don't hurry up, there's not going to be a happy ending. Luckily, they do arrive and after a chase through the castle, Dorothy kills the Witch by throwing a bucket of water at her. That's an epic villain death scene because she literally melts away into nothing! That scene gave me nightmares for weeks but they always ended with the Witch dying. :)
       The Wizard is shown to be a good-hearted fake who helps the trio realize that they had everything that they needed with them the entire time. Eventually, Glinda shows Dorothy the way home via clicking her ruby slippers three times. She returns home, and says the classic line, "There's no place like home."
             This is my favorite movie of all time. It not only has imagination, but has great acting, sets, directing and mostly good songs. But, it also revelaed to me that movies could be the most magicial thing ever. So to find out more, I started viewing other films that are now favorites of mine. Thank you, Oz.
There's No Place Like Home.