30 Days, 30 Movies {Day 15} Film School Must See – Citizen Kane

The first time I was forced to watch this movie… I mean, the first time I was obligated to view this film… That doesn’t sound right, either. The first time my eyes were assaulted by Citizen Kane…

Ok, fine. I’m not going to sugar coat this. I hate this movie. It is on every serious film lover/maker/buff’s list of cinematic perfection, including my Hunny’s. I saw Citizen Kane in Film 101. Seriously. I took that class before I knew I was meant to be involved with film. I honestly took it because I wanted to take a fun class for a change. That was a huge mistake. Some of the rape scenes I saw from that class haunt me to this very day.

I thought since so much time has passed, I would be able to view this movie with fresh eyes. The only problem with that is when I first saw Citizen Kane, I didn’t know anything about Orson Welles other than the fact that he did War of the Worlds. Now I know more about him, and he was a loathsome person. Not unlike the Kane character.

If any of you can explain to me why I should care what a rich man’s last words mean, please, let me know! I don’t understand why the audience would care about Kane or his life. There is nothing redeeming about him or this story, except that it ends and I will never watch it again. Despite the accolades this film receives, it was a commercial flop and every time it was announced for one of its nine Oscar nominations, the audience booed.

30 Days, 30 Movies {Day 14} Gritty Law Drama – Anatomy of a Murder

Have you seen Anatomy of a Murder? Most likely, you have not. It is a James Stewart movie that is not a Hitchcock film. What intrigued me about this movie was the subject matter: a man accused of killing his wife’s alleged rapist. This film was made in 1959 and I was interested in how they would portray this and what the viewpoint surrounding it would be. James Stewart’s father hated this movie, called it a “dirty picture,” and took out a full page ad in a newspaper asking people not to go see the movie.

James Stewart plays a lawyer asked to defend the man accused of killing his wife’s alleged rapist. Even though he asks both parties to disclose everything to him, he along with the audience learn the real details of their life and the events in question. There aren’t many movies that keep me guessing, and this was one of them. I wasn’t sure of anyone or anything until the end of the film. The wife character was flirtatious and seemed loose, and the question was whether she was battered and sexually assaulted or if it was consensual and she is covering for her husband beating her and killing her lover.

I’m not going to tell you what happens or who was lying or if the accused gets away with murder, literally; but I will tell you that this is a film worth watching. It is interesting to see the other side of legal defense – defending the accused.

30 Days, 30 Movies {Day 13} Time Travel – About Time

Hunny loves this movie, and I think this is the best time travel movie. Yes, I’ve seen Back to the Future. Back to the Future is a comedy, and if we’re talking about best comedic time travel, Back to the Future wins hands down. About Time is a drama, and the best time travel drama to date.

I don’t want to give away too many plot points just in case you haven’t seen it. I do want to explain why it is such a great movie. I enjoyed the way the subject of being able to travel time is approached. There’s a sequence where the main character lives his day and then relives it. The first time he has a hard time at work, he has a bad attitude at lunch, and he doesn’t enjoy coming home to his family. The second go through, he has a better time at work because he speaks up, he notices the lady smiling at him when he buys his lunch, he notices the fun to be had on his subway ride home, and he is kind to his family. It shows that you don’t need to time travel to have a great life. You can choose to live your life to the fullest and choose a good attitude. You choose the way you perceive your life and the events within it.

 

 

Thirsty Thursday: Bilhah and Zilpah, You and Me

Reading through the story of Jacob, I came across two practically unknown women: Bilhah and Zilpah.  Have you ever heard anyone talk about these women?  I haven’t.  When I think about Jacob and his family, I think about Rachel, Leah, and the twelve tribes of Israel (And I think about Joseph because he’s my favorite).  Something about these women struck me, so I thought I’d investigate.  Maybe I could do a character study about these women.  But they are never quoted in the Bible.  There are very few facts listed about these women.  Here’s what we know for sure:

  • They were originally Laban’s servants.  He gave them to his daughters when they married Jacob.
  • They were given by Rachel and Leah to Jacob as wives when Rachel couldn’t bare children and Leah had stopped bearing children.
  • Their children were named by their mistresses, Rachel and Leah.
  • Jacob never talks about them as his wives.  They are even described as his “female servants” in Genesis 32:22.

Let’s put aside the fact that they weren’t able to chose a husband for themselves and they didn’t even get to name the children they had.  The most outrageous story about these women is this: Jacob’s brother Esau is about to meet him in the country.  Jacob fears that Esau has come for revenge and will slaughter him and his entire family.  Jacob decides to butter up his older by two minutes brother by sending him presents of cattle and servants.  His messengers tell him that Esau is still coming and he’s bringing 400 men with him.  Jacob gets really scared.  So he divides up his people and cattle into two camps.  Jacob figures one will die and one will manage to get away.  Then Jacob has his personal servants and cattle meet Esau with gifts a second time.  Esau is still coming with all those men!  Jacob divides up his family to meet his brother.  He sends Zilpah and Bilhah and their kids first.  Then he sends Leah and her children.  Rachel and Joseph are the very last.  Maybe by then Esau and his bandits will be too tired by all they slaying that Rachel and Joseph will be spared.

Wow.

Can you imagine being married to someone and they place you ahead of the family they consider their “real” family to be a human shield for them?  That’s what Jacob did.  To Bilhah, Zilpah, and even Leah.  He didn’t want to be married to Leah in the first place, but that’s another story for another time.

So what’s the deal?  What can we learn from Bilhah and Zilpah?  Except for the cruel conditions with which Jacob treated them, they are a lot like us.  Followers of Christ are called to lay down our lives to follow Him.

im.  We learn that this earth is not our home and nothing we have really belongs to us.  Our children belong to God.  Our money belongs to God.  Our families belong to God.  Our friends belong to God.  Our time on earth no matter how short or long is His.  Everything we see is His.  We are to be good stewards of the people and things He has given us.

Rachel and Leah claimed Bilhah and Zilpah’s children as their own.  They even named them.  Did you know that Jesus is going to give us names when we get to heaven?  He’s going to bestow names to us that only the recipient knows.

I think Bilhah and Zilpah are good examples to us.  There is no account of them complaining, which we aren’t to do either.  Even when Jacob sent them to be human shields.  There is no account of them not loving or taking good care of the children that were only considered theirs by Jacob.

12 Days of Christmas (Five Heartwarming Movie Moments)

You’re going to get blitzed by posts, and I want to apologize for that.  A stomach flu ravaged our household and we’re slowly but surely getting back together.  Being sick is never convenient, but I think it’s most inconvenient at the holidays.

I’m glad that  I didn’t limit myself to just Christmas movies for this list.  I think Christmas is a great time to reflect on happiness and warmed hearts.  Sometimes Christmas itself causes the heart ache.  So it’s nice to look outside the tinseled norm to find happy moments.

5) When Horton shares his cookies with Kangaroo in Horton Hears a Who!

After she has tried to destroy his character, destroy his precious flower, and kill him; Horton forgives Kangaroo.  He not only forgives her, but shares cookies with her!  Ok, cookies aren’t that big of a deal.  Fine.  Horton lets her protect his friends with her umbrella.   He allows her to become part of the solution instead of rejecting her or condemning her to isolation.  Inviting her into his life is touching and a teachable moment for us all.

4) When Buddy sees Jovie light up the Christmas tree in Elf.

How adorable is Will Ferrell in Elf?  It almost makes you forget all the horrifically terrible movies he has made over the years.  Almost.  God forbid my father should ever meet Will Ferrell.  He is going to ask Will for his money back for several movies my mother dragged him to see.  And knowing my father, he will get his money back.  He’s very charming.

3) When Phil wakes up in the morning and sees that Rita is still there in Groundhog Day.

Something every writer should aspire to do in a story is show a character’s arc.  For non-writers, that means seeing a character’s growth.  They may become better, worse, or indifferent, but we have to see something change or what’s the point?  Seeing Phil start the film as a self centered jerk, who everyone hates, become a caring individual that an entire town loves because of his actions during the course of a single day reminds me why I write in the first place.  Imparting encouragement and hope to a person through something I’ve written is a lofty goal of mine.  I hope to accomplish it one day.

2) When Nickie realizes Terry was the crippled lady who bought his painting in An Affair to Remember.

Seriously, if you can watch that scene and not cry, you are made of stone.  Stone, I say!  Nickie is extremely harsh to Terry because he believes that she stood him up and rejected his marriage proposal.  What he doesn’t know is that she was on her way to meet him when she was struck by a car.  It’s a gentle reminder that we don’t know everything that is going on in a person’s life.  Even people who we know really well, we don’t know what’s going on in their minds, which is why we should be a little extra forgiving and understanding.  As the French proverb says, “To know all is to forgive all.” (On a side note, I want almost every dress she wears in this movie!  Stunning!)

1) When the kids trim Charlie Brown’s scraggly Christmas tree in A Charlie Brown Christmas.

“It just needs a little love.”  Who doesn’t need just a little love.  I think our world would be so much brighter if we gave each other a little love.  Especially if we gave the “scraggly” people love.  You know who I’m talking about.  Your mean spirited neighbors.  Your teacher who picks on you deliberately.  The person who excludes you purposefully on facebook.  They need love and kindness.  Probably more than we can realize.

30 Days, 30 Movies {Day 13} Fantasy or Sci Fi or (Star Trek)

When asked the question “Fantasy or Sci Fi,” I’d have to go with neither.  As a child I would have said, “Both!”  Disney’s Fantasia was released in the theaters when I was a young child and that movie fostered an interest in mythology that lasted through my elementary school days.  My parents’ first date was to see one of the Star Wars films.  Needless to say, I watched Star Wars growing up.  I remember hoping Leia would get together with Luke because Hans Solo was such a jerk.  How could Indiana Jones and Hans Solo be played by the same person?  It boggles the mind.

Fast forward a decade and Star Wars is released in the theaters.  Then they make prequels…  That’s when I gave up on Sci Fi.  Fast forward another decade, and I’ve agreed to endure the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy because one of my dear friends loves it so much.  And down goes fantasy.  But I cannot be a student of film without giving these genres a sporting chance in my 30 Days, 30 Movies exercise.

I had already planned on borrowing Star Wars from my brother and reviewing it for this day.  Lo and behold, I forget to get it from him (I’ve been preoccupied as of late, but that’s a blog for another time).  Of course, it’s not on Netflix instant view.  But Star Trek is.

Hunny really wanted me to go with him to see it in the theaters.  He thought I would really like it.  I’m so glad that I didn’t go with him.  Being able to watch it at home allowed me to be able to watch it in French while washing dishes.  Win – win (If you read my review on It’s A Wonderful Life, you know how I feel about long movies).  All kidding aside, I liked the movie.  I think this movie would be more fun for people who know Star Trek.  The little I know about Star Trek from The Big Bang Theory and from universal American pop culture knowledge, I was able to laugh about how Kirk and Spock hated each other at first.  From the characters that I knew what they looked like, I thought the casting was perfect.

Of course, there were things I did not get.  Isn’t Spock supposed to be emotionless?  I thought he was supposed to be like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, but he’s making out and has a relationship with the girl.  I actually looked this information up.  I read Star Trek boards, people!!  Apparently, the new Spock is a more sexualized version, and the coupling of the two characters is something that fans have always wanted to see.

Then there is the whole, Spock as an older person changing the course of history plot point.  Does this mean that the stories from the TV series and all the movies that have already come out are moot?  If he changed the course of history and nothing is the same, then they could make all kinds of new stories because this is the alternate reality now?  If you have any idea, please, comment!

If you have never seen anything Star Trek, I think this would not be a bad place to start.

Where do you stand on the fantasy versus science fiction debate?  Are you like me and firmly neither?

Favorite Line:  What is neccessary is never unwise.

Favorite Character: Spock

Favorite Scene:  When Spock from the future talks to young Spock.

30 Days, 30 Movies {Day 12} Audrey Hepburn or (Breakfast at Tiffany’s)

Audrey Hepburn is Hunny’s old Hollywood crush.  When we met, I asked him if he’d seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  He surprisingly had not.  Once we had been dating for a while, I had to get it for him as a gift.  I had never seen it either.  We were so excited to watch such an iconic movie.

Then we watched it.  I was disappointed.  I guess I built it up in my mind to be this great Audrey Hepburn movie.  The pictures of her from that movie are all over the place.  I haven’t been to Target lately, but I’m sure you’ll find something with her face on it from this movie there.

I should defend my opinion for not enjoying a classic.  Not just any classic, but a classic based on a book!  According to my knowledge of Seinfeld, Fred is gay in the book.  But that’s besides the point.  While watching this movie, I had no vested interest in the characters.  All I could think about was how Holly got paid $50 to go to the powder room, “How did she get those guys to give her that much money for nothing?  It seems like she’s a prostitute who takes the money without performing as it were.  How does that work?”  See what I mean?  I’m not thinking about what’s going on in the film.  I’m thinking about the drunken saps who are giving her money and tearing up her apartment.

Watching it a second time didn’t change my opinion.  I went in hoping that I could say that the first time I watched it years ago, I didn’t care for it, and this is a movie that just needs a second viewing.

What about you?  Have you seen it?  Do you love it?  Why?

Favorite Line: Do you think she is deeply and importantly talented?

Favorite Character: Doc Golightly (the future Jed Clampett)

Favorite Scene: When Fred takes Holly to the library.

30 Days, 30 Movies {Day 7} Summer Blockbuster or (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Before I delve into the movie I chose for today’s genre, I’d like to share some history behind the term “Summer Blockbuster.”  How old do you think this term is?  Sixty years?  Fifty?  I’ll give you a hint: this movie paved the way for Shark Week.  Jaws, which was released in 1975, began the summer blockbuster craze.  Jaws was released during the summer, and even though it’s million dollar ticket sales had been surpassed in the past by Gone with the Wind and The Sound of Music, the film’s success created a modern movie tradition.

“Blockbuster” itself is a term that was originally associated with theatre.  Historians believe that this term meant that the play was so successful that it “busted” the other play houses on the block.  Now it is used to describe movies, books, video games, or anything that makes a ton of money.

The Pirates franchise is perfect for the Summer Blockbuster genre.  It’s high action, it has romance, and it is a period piece.  Did that last part throw you?  I think part of what makes Pirates so special is that it is a period piece.  It takes the genre of Summer Blockbuster and gives it an interesting spin.  Old world pirates are shrouded in mystery and fantasy.  There are so many legends and folk lore surrounding pirates that I think a well done movie about pirates was bound to happen.  It just so happened to be a Summer Blockbuster.

Everyone who has heard of this movie franchise knows that it was based on the popular Disney theme park ride.  What you may not know is that the screenwriters wrote the script in the early 90’s and Disney turned down the movie in the pitch meeting.  Steven Spielberg got the script and wanted to make the movie with Steve Martin or Robin Williams as Captain Jack.  Disney still did not want to make the movie.  This is so exciting!  Almost or possibly a full decade after the original pitch to Disney, Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio saw their script become a Summer Blockbuster.  Give your dreams a chance.  Sometimes they do not come to fruition immediately.  Keep working toward your goals.

Favorite Line: You like pain?  Try wearing a corset!

Favorite Character: Jack Sparrow, of course!

Favorite Scene: When Elizabeth passes out from wearing her too tight dress falling into the water.  It’s kind of symbolic.  Society is trying to confine her into a certain type of person that she can never be so fate intervenes and she is allowed to be one with her true self – a sea loving adventurer.

30 Days, 30 Movies {Day 4} Black and White or (It’s A Wonderful Life)

I am a nerd.  Did you notice that already?  I love movies, especially black and white movies.  I love them.  There’s something about the movies that were made during the “Golden Age” of Hollywood that can’t be replicated now.  Or at least if it is, it is not very often.

I dedicated the Black and White movie day to Hunny.  It’s A Wonderful Life is his all time favorite movie, and I bought it for him as a Christmas present on our first Christmas as a married couple.  Hunny wanted me to point out that despite not growing up together, our relationship is very similar to George and Mary’s.  It is evident that they love each other.  I tear up every time I watch George tell Mary that he doesn’t want to marry anyone and he wants to do what he wants to do (then they are married in the next scene).  Hunny had a similar conversation with me a couple weeks before he proposed, “I don’t know if I want to be married, but I know that I don’t want to be married to anyone but you.”   Men.  Am I right?

I have to let you in on a big secret: I don’t like this movie.  I have never cared for this movie.  Until I met Hunny, I was always able to avoid watching it during the holiday season.  Every Christmas this movie is shown on one channel or another in America.  It wasn’t a tradition to watch it every year for my family, so as long as I steered clear of the channel it was being shown on, I was home free.  Since giving this movie to Hunny, we’ve watched it at least five times.  We’ve only been married 2 1/2 years!  We have only spent two Christmases together married!  Can I just say that I love my husband?

This movie was a disappointment at the box office and ignored at the Academy Awards.  I have a theory about it.  This movie is two hours and ten minutes long.  At the one hour mark, we are still watching the main character’s life unfold, but we haven’t gotten to the point of the story.  The whole point of the story is that an angel needs to go to earth to save George Bailey’s life.  We should know why his life is in jeopardy well before the one hour mark.  Blake Snyder agrees.  In his book, Save the Cat!, he devotes a chapter on “The Immutable Laws of Screenplay Physics.”  One of the laws is that audiences can only stand so much “pipe,” which means people can only sit so long to get to the point of the story.  An hour plus is a really long time for me.

Just because I do not care for this movie does not mean it isn’t a good movie.  The acting in it is phenomenal.  Did you know that when George’s Uncle Billy walks away drunk, a production assistant dropped some equipment off camera, which led the actor to yell, “I’m ok!”?  That take was used by Frank Capra in the film.  It’s A Wonderful Life has a great message.  Playing George Bailey was Jimmy Stewart’s favorite role.  It’s A Wonderful Life was Frank Capra’s favorite of the films he made.  Not to mention, people watch it as a Christmas tradition every year!  That is really something special.

Do you watch It’s A Wonderful Life during Christmas or as part of your Christmas celebration?  Or do you feel that it is too depressing and too much of a downer to watch as part of your Christmas tradition?

Favorite Line: “George Bailey, I’ll love you till the day I die.”

Favorite Character: Mary Bailey

Favorite Scene: When George and Mary unknowingly dance into a swimming pool