Showing posts with label Silent Films. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Silent Films. Show all posts

Friday, September 16, 2016

"Bridget Jones's Baby" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie 'Bridget Jones's Baby" as well as DVDs "The Disappearance of Alice Creed" and "Demolition."  The Book of the Week is "You'll Grow Out of It," a very funny book by the head writer for "Inside Amy Schumer."  I also being you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with a Buster Keaton Film Festival featuring the films "Our Hospitality" and "Sherlock Jr."

Bridget Jones's Baby

Bridget Jones is back but now it's been over ten years since we last saw her and she is alone, slim, single and ready to mingle!

You know how I feel about sequels.  They are usually not as good as the original film or perpetuate a film that was never good in the first place.  I also have a problem when there is a huge  time gap between the films so I can't remember what happened in the last film.

But then comes along a character who is so endearing and relatable that we want to be a part of her life over and over again and such is the case with Bridget Jones.  From her grandma panties to her struggle with her weight to her goofy mishaps, she is US. 

And that is still the case here. Yes, it's been over ten years since the last Bridget Jones movie (and 15 years since we first met her), and that sequel wasn't as good as the first movie, but despite the passing of time, Renee Zellweger is back as Bridget, though older and skinnier.  Bridget is now 43! - and she is just as endearing and klutzy as ever.  And Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth), is also back, though, also older and, I hate to say, with the start of a bit of a turkey neck, but he is still dashing and handsome.  My only complaint.  WHERE IS HUGH GRANT?

When we last saw Bridget she was catching the bouquet at her parents' vow renewal ceremony, and we were certain Darcy and she were going to get married too.  But when we now catch up with Bridget over ten years later, she is just celebrating (or maybe not exactly celebrating) her 43rd birthday and, gasp, Mr. Darcy has married someone else!  But Bridget is doing well.  She has a good job as a producer for a top news program (some very funny moments when she is supposed to be feeding lines to the presenter), she is looking good but still looking for romance.  

Bridget goes on a girl's weekend to a British version of Coachella/Burning Man with her girlfriend and meets Jack (Patrick Dempsey, you know him as Dr. McDreamy), a rich American and has an improbable one-night stand with him (I say improbable because Bridget is a lot of things but I didn't think she was a slut)!  Anyway, next she runs into Darcy who is married but when she finds out he is separated from his wife, she sleeps with him too!  Bridget IS a slut!  And then she gets pregnant and blames it on ten-year-old sheepskin condoms that have been languishing in the bottom of her purse.  Who is the father?  That is the big question and one that humorously drives the rest of the film, though there are some very funny scenes while Bridget is at work and involving singer Ed Sheeran.  But we not only want to know who is the father of Bridget's baby. We also want to know, who will Bridget end up with?

We haven't seen much of Zellweger of late and she has been much criticized for what is perceived as some questionable plastic surgery, but her Bridget is still a charming, disarming character, and despite some cheap laughs, I was drawn into this film and even had some of those old feelings I had when I saw the first one.  But oh, how I missed Hugh, though the film refers to him (he is deemed missing, but there is a slight tease at the end of the film that we may see him again).

Emma Thompson is the scene stealer as Bridget's doctor. Her deadpan acceptance of Bridget's dilemma about the Dad is hilarious as is her deadpan delivery no matter what is happening at any given time.  She is given some of the funniest lines.  But it's not surprising that Thompson stands out.  She is always good.  Firth is still the suave, reserved Darcy and he is, well, delicious.  Patrick Dempsey is fine but I was still missing Hugh.

Gemma Jones and Jim Broadbent are also back as Bridget's parents, this time her mother is running for political office and is not particularly happy that her daughter is not married and up the duff, as they say in the UK.

I was expecting to not like this film, partly because, as you know I generally despise sequels, but also because I loved the first two films so much - well, the first one anyway - so I was expecting to be disappointed, but I was happily relieved. Bridget is still our girl, still vulnerable, clumsy and sweet and kooky.

Written by Helen Fielding (the author of the Bridget Jones books), Dan Mazer and Emma Thompson (might explain why Emma had such a funny part and such great moments) and directed by Sharon Maguire, who directed the first film - "Bridget Jones's Diary," - this film reminded me why we loved Bridget so much.  Except I think I liked Bridget better when she was fat!

Rosy the Reviewer says...a welcome sophisticated and funny rom-com we can all relate to after a summer of horror films, kids' movies, and superheroes.


***Some Movies You Might Have Missed***
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)!

The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2009)

The daughter of a rich man is kidnapped and held ransom by two former convicts.

The opening of this film is creepy and tense as two men go about their business in total silence for the first 15 minutes of this film except for the presence of some urgent music.  The two men are obviously preparing to hold someone captive in an apartment.  We guess this because of the title of this film, right? Nothing gets by me. They silently go about their business soundproofing walls, installing locks, digging a grave.  

Then they get into a van they have also prepared, don balaklavas because they are Brits (ski masks to us Americans) and kidnap who we must assume is Alice Creed. With a bag over her head, they take her to that creepy apartment, splay her to the bed, strip her naked, take her picture and then put her into sweat pants and a shirt and leave her in the dark.  Not a word is spoken except Alice yelling "Help!"

Finally when they do speak, we learn the men are Danny (Martin Compston) and Vic (Eddie Marsan, a face you will recognize if you watch very many British films), two guys who met in prison and concocted a plan to ransom Alice because she has a rich father. Vic is worried that Danny won't keep his head in the game ands when he goes out for a bit, Danny goes into the room where Alice is and it looks like he is going to mess up and molest her.  He thinks better of it, though, and leaves the room.  But later when he goes back in to check on her, and she indicates that she needs to go to the bathroom, he brings her a bucket.  Vic has reason to worry about Danny. Our Danny is not the brightest bulb in the pack.  When she says she can't go with him watching, he unties her and when he turns his back, Alice bops him on the head with the bucket.  Our Alice is a scrappy one and not only bops him on the head but grabs his gun. They struggle, she pulls off his mask and when she shouts "Danny!" you go "Whaaat?"

Thirty minutes in there is a huge twist.  And 45 minutes in there is another huge twist and an hour in is yet another twist. 

All I can really reveal without revealing the twists is that two guys kidnap Alice, they want two million from her rich Dad and then things don't go as planned.  It's tense from beginning to end.

This film is what the Brits call a "three-hander."  It's just the three of them - Vic, Danny and Alice for the entire film and let's just say Alice is the smart one.

Gemma Arterton is really good here.  It's not easy giving a highly dramatic performance when most of the time you are bound to a bed. Marsan is one of those actors you recognize but don't know his name.  He always plays twitchy reptilian bad guys, and Compston is a good-looking actor most known for his work on British telly. The three are believable and a great ensemble.

Written and directed by J Blakeson in his feature film directorial debut, he went on to direct this year's "The Fifth Wave."  Though I am glad to see he was able to get a big budget film after "Alice," I liked "Alice" better. It is a superb, well-constructed and brilliantly directed and edited little film.

Rosy the Reviewer says... I don't know how I missed this one the first time around since I love all things British.  If you like tight, tense thrillers, this is a good one.  Not to be missed.  It's a gem.

Demolition (2015)

A guy whose young wife has died in a car crash appears to feel nothing until he decides to demolish his old life.

Like Johnny Depp, Jake Gyllenhaal, is another one of those handsome actors who does everything he can to get us to NOT focus on his leading man good looks by playing strange characters - think "Nightcrawler" and "Enemy."

Here Jake plays Davis, a New York City investment banker who loses his wife, Julia, in a car accident as they both head to work.  He survives but becomes emotionally numb.  At the hospital he tries to get some candy out of the vending machine and becomes frustrated when it gets stuck.  He is told by hospital staff that there is nothing they can do.  He needs to contact the vending company if he wants his money back.

When he goes back home to his luxurious home he goes about his business as if nothing has happened.  His wife's Dad, Phil, played by the always interesting Chris Cooper, can't believe how Davis is acting and you can tell he never really liked Davis anyway.  Julia's Dad is one of the founding members of the company that Davis works for.  When Davis returns to work immediately after his wife's death, that is the last straw for Julia's Dad.

Davis tries to cry.  He can't.  He feels nothing. But what he does do is write a complaint letter to that vending machine company and, as he does this, it gives the filmmaker a good opportunity to show us some flashbacks about Davis's life before the car crash. He appears to feel nothing but tells the vending machine company everything as he pours out his feelings in the complaint letter.

He keeps writing to them and eventually gets a call from a customer service person.  Turns out it's not really a "company."  The vending machine is owned by Karen (Naomi Watts), a woman with her own issues but as time goes by she becomes interested in this guy who keeps writing so she sets out to find out about him and meets him but doesn't tell him who she is. However, Davis eventually figures out who she is and they start a relationship.  He takes her home, he meets her son and Davis and Karen sleep together.

When the film began, Julia had told Davis that the refrigerator was leaking.  When he arrived home after the crash, there was a note from her in the refrigerator reminding him. So he takes the refrigerator apart. He starts taking other things apart too starting with the bathroom stall at work. Phil is not happy about that either.

When he sees a demolition crew tearing down a house they say to him "We're tearing it all down so we can build it back up."  Kind of a blatant metaphor especially when Davis starts demolishing his own house. 

And if you didn't get it the first time, then there is this bit of dialogue too.

"If you want to fix something you have to take everything apart...then you can put it all back together."

That is the crux of this odd film, and the metaphor is in your face.  Director Jean-Marc Vallee, who also directed "Wild" and "The Dallas Buyers Club," and screenwriter Brian Sipe don't want you to miss the point, but despite that, this is an odd but moving film.  And there is a twist.

Jake puts in his usual good but quirky performance, and Naomi is an interesting actress though seems too old for Jake here.

Rosy the Reviewer original and intriguing story of grief: how we often don't understand what other people are going through and how we all grieve in very different ways and sometimes we have to take something apart to put it back together again.  See?  I got it.  If you like your movies on the different side, worth seeing.

***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***

235 to go!

Have YOU seen these classic films?

Our Hospitality (1923)

A reworking of the Hatfield and McCoys feud - Buster Keaton style.

Buster Keaton was a writer, actor and producer best known for his work in silent films.  His specialty was physical humor and he did all of his own stunts, always with his trademark porkpie hat and a deadpan expression leading him to be called "The Great Stoneface."  Today few people probably remember him but in 1999 the American Film Institute named him the 21st Greatest Male Star of Classic Hollywood Cinema.  When the talkies came along, his career declined but later in life he played character parts and in 1959 was given an Honorary Academy Award.

The Prologue of the film establishes the blood feud between the fictitious Canfields and McKays and then fast forwards to 20 years later.  Keaton plays Willie McKay, a twenty-something innocent raised in New York who returns to his family's estate that he has just inherited.  The trip back home in a strange "train," more a version of several carriages tied together and run on a train track with the help of a dog pulling it, is hilarious.  On the train, Willie meets a girl who turns out to be a Canfield, the family that has sworn revenge on the McKays. When the girl invites Willie to dinner, he doesn't yet know she is a Canfield.

The humor lies in Keaton's satire on southern hospitality.  When he goes to visit the girl at the Canfield estate, they realize Willie is a McKay and Willie realizes he is in the Canfield's home, but hospitality dictates that he must be treated politely and nothing must happen to him while in their home.  So of course when Willie realizes that his new girlfriend is a Canfield, Willie does everything he can to stay in the house, knowing that as soon as he leaves he is fair game. The Canfields do everything they can to get him to leave, very politely, of course.

Willie dresses up as a woman and makes his escape and all kinds of physical humor results: hanging from cliffs, falling over a waterfall and hanging onto logs in a raging river.

Why it's a Must See:  "Keaton's wit relies not on individual gags but on a firm grasp of character, predicament, period, place, and camera framing...the result is not only very funny but also dramatically substantial and suspenseful -- nowhere more so than the justly celebrated sequence when Willie saves his beloved from plunging over a waterfull.  Never was Keaton's sense of timing so miraculous, and his ability to elicit laughter and excitement simultaneously so gloriously evident."
---1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Silent films embody what filmmaking is really about.  It is possible for anyone in the world to watch a silent film, and even without the intertitles, know what is going on because of the visuals and the over-dramatic acting.  Remember the old saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words?"  Films should not rely on lengthy exposition and explanatory dialogue but instead rely on the "pictures to tell the story."  That said, after 100 years of films that talk and the beginning of the use of color almost that long ago, with our Imax, Pixar and Internet-addled brains, it is difficult to appreciate these early films. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you have never seen a Buster Keaton film, you should and this is a very funny (and short) introduction.
(in b & w)


Sherlock Jr. (1924)

A film projectionist who wants to be a detective is able to put his detective skills to work when he is falsely accused of stealing his girlfriend's father's watch.

In his usual deadpan way, Keaton plays a wannabe detective who also works as a movie house projectionist.  When a rival suitor frames him for stealing from his girlfriend's father, he sadly returns to his job and falls asleep.  While the film is running, he has an out-of-body dream experience and finds himself in the film (with amazing optical effects for the day) where he gets to live out his dream of being a detective as Sherlock Jr. and solve the mystery of the missing pearls.

Directed by Keaton, this is his shortest film - only 44 minutes - and features Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. The film is very stylized and character driven, the plot almost secondary to Keaton's physical stunts (he did all of his own stunts, unknowingly breaking his neck during one of them) and the special effects which were ahead of their time.

Why it's a Must See: "Keaton's films remain interesting today, in part due to the director-star's almost otherworldly stoicism (compared to Chaplin's pathos), and in part due to their occasionally surreal nature (admired by Luis Bunuel and Federico Garcia Lorca) and their delving into the nature of cinema and existence.  Chuck Jones, Woody Allen, Wes Craven, and Steven Spielberg are among the filmmakers to pay tribute to his mischief."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...see this one along with "Our Hospitality" for two hours of slapstick fun.
(in b & w)


***Book of the Week***

You'll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein (2016)

Klein, head writer for Amy Schumer's TV show "Inside Amy Schumer," presents a series of hilarious real-life stories about growing up feeling like an outsider instead of a participant in the rites of modern femininity.

Klein grew up a tomboy, which can be cute but worried that a tom-man wouldn't cut it.  She always struggled with her wardrobe, worried about her femininity, wondered whether she would be the kind of girl to get the guy and worried about whether her butt was good enough. She writes about those things and more in this series of relatable and hilarious stories about growing up. Now I know why I love Amy Schumer so much.  She gets a lot of her material from Klein!

Written as a series of chapters with descriptive headings, Klein takes us on her journey to womanhood.  Since I envy how funny and sardonic she is and how well she writes, I don't feel I can do her justice, so I will let her speak for herself.

Here is a taste:

She takes issue with the idea that bathing is the ultimate way to relax and blames it on those old Calgon ads - remember "Calgon take me away?"

"The Bath"

"My conceptual problems with bathing begin with the very same ideology some adman for Calgon decided to trade on 40 years ago: the idea that the bath is the last space a woman can escape to...I feel like getting in the bath is a kind of surrender to the idea that we can't really make it on land, that we've lost the fight for a bedroom corner or even just our own chair in the living room...We cede all other space to the husbands or boyfriends or kids and then convince ourselves that this is awesome!  Yay, I'm submerged in a watery trough!  This is incredible!  This is my happy place!  I definitely wouldn't prefer to just be lying in my own bed watching Bachelor in Paradise!  I would much rather have grainy bath crystals imprinting into my butt than be in my own room!  This is PERFECT!"

When Klein determines that having a good butt is important, she takes Bar Method classes (also known as Pure Barre and Barre Fitness among other names)

"Bar Method and the Secrets of Beautiful Women"

"I'd naively always though that being on the elliptical meant I was exercising.  It does not.  Women who are in great shape, the women who really work out, consider being on the elliptical something akin to a nap...Bar Method is an hour-long class of teeny-tiny movements where you hold on to a ballet barre and and down...a thousand...times...and if you stick with it, over the course of many hours, you will have the perfect ass...all the instructors have an uncanny ability to memorize the name of every woman in the class and will use it to humiliating effect when they correct you over the microphone..."

She can't help herself.  She is addicted to the Anthropologie stores.  Aren't we all?


Put simply: Every Anthropologie store feels like the manger in which Zooey Deschanel was born...They're selling a fantasy about making yourself into a certain kind of girlfriend. The girlfriend you meet in the most magical places.  You meet her at an outdoor market in Marrakesh where she is buying a little bell to hang in her window.  Or maybe you're at a wine bar early on a Tuesday and she's the girl seated in the corner, in a kangaroo sweater, writing in her journal...I remember reading a quote from Ben Gibbard, the lead singer of Death Cab for Cutie, who used to be married to Zooey.  He said, "I just remember when I met her I kept thinking, 'I can't believe this girl's even talking to me.' I've never had that.  Every guy I've ever talked to has always totally been able to believe I am talking to him. No matter how much I shop at Anthroplogie, cherry-picking accents and baubles, knit hats and spangled Moroccan pillows, I know in my heart I can't truly be one of these girls."

"The Bachelor"

"For years, I thought that only a certain kind of person watched The Bachelor. I assumed it was the kind of person whom I would loosely describe as part of 'the problem,' the problem being sexism, war, the death of culture, tackiness, babies having babies, and the general feeling that there isn't a surface left in America that a black light wouldn't reveal to be tainted with someone's shameful, Cheesecake Factory-laced DNA.  But then one evening my friend Kate came over and we were drinking wine, and we wanted some TV to drink to, and it just so happened that the premiere episode of season 18 of The Bachelor was on.  Hahaha, let's watch this as a joke, we said.  Forty minutes later I realized I was feeling this warm, happy feeling, and when I took a moment to think about what it was, I had no other choice but to recognize that it was enjoyment..."

She talks about her struggles with her underwear and blames those damn Victoria's Secret catalogs!

"The Lingerie Dilemma"

"The whole thing is a massive tangle for which I place a large degree of blame on the Victoria's Secret catalog, an insidious publication that has invevitably shown up at every address I've ever been attached to, no matter how much I don't want it and have expressly put it out into the universe that I would like to never see it again.  Does anyone know how to make this thing go away?  Do the Obamas get a Victoria's Secret catalog at the White House still addressed to 'Jimmy Carter or Current Resident?"

The trauma of finding the right wedding dress.

"The Wedding Dress"

"I've attended many weddings where I've watched a friend, someone I thought I knew well, walk down the aisle in an ensemble that rendered her essence somehow unrecognizable, like seeing your pet Chihuahua in a neon Speedo."

The first time we women get called "Ma'am"


"Like all women, I started out life as a miss...
"How can I help you, Miss?"
"Miss, you dropped a dollar."
"Miss, can I buy you a drink?"
"Excuse me, Miss, I'm interested in having sex with you."

Everyone wants a piece of a miss...Then one day everything changes...
I know I was around thirty.  In my mind, I was still wind-chiming around town as a miss.  And then some waiter, or maybe it was a teller at the bank, looked me up and down and decided I was a ma'am.  I didn't expect to be called ma'am any more than I expected Clive Owen to walk in and demand we have sex (although in my head there might still have been a chance because again, I thought I was a miss and when you're a miss there's a very real possibility anyone at any given moment wants to [have sex with] you (she used a more explicit word here), including celebrities."

There is much more, all funny. Klein goes on to talk about porn, going to a spa, how to become engaged, becoming a comedian and the trauma of doing stand-up, having a baby and more, all in a matter-of-fact but hilarious way that every woman of any age can relate to.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I wish I was as funny and wrote as well as she does.  You will love this book! I couldn't put it down and laughed my ass, I mean, butt off!


That's it for this week!

Thanks for reading!


See you Tuesday for

"The Ten Commandments of Retirement"


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