Little Shop of Horrors, Director’s Cut

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They may offer you fortune and fame
Love and money and instant acclaim
But whatever they offer you,
Don’t feed the plants!

Little Shop of Horrors has been one of my favourite films for a long time but it was only recently seeing it onstage that gave me the kick in the pants I needed to finally watch the director’s cut with the original ending. I already knew about the ending and had seen clips but actually seeing it in the continuity of the film feels entirely different.

Because I’m discussing the ending there are, naturally, spoilers but my blog is never spoiler free really (except for new releases).

As much as I’m a sucker for happy endings (which I admit begrudgingly) the original ending for Little Shop of Horrors is just so much better. The workmanship alone is something to behold, recalling The War of the Worlds and other monster/alien fare from the 1950s with cities being demolished and citizens gobbled up. The army of Audrey II’s are menacing and the miniatures are perfectly constructed by Richard Conway.

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‘Finale Ultimo (Don’t Feed the Plants)’ is also a really great song, and a brilliant climax for the film – the entire sequence is just incredibly impressive in every way.

Technical achievements aside, it also makes more sense. There is a feeling of chaos building throughout the story as Seymour’s life spins out of his control, and the original ending, which is utter chaos and destruction, caps it off perfectly.

However, I also understand why test audiences reacted so badly. Aside from the fact that unhappy endings aren’t exactly par for the course in Hollywood, Audrey and Seymour are really likeable characters. We may laugh at them at times (“l’d put on…cheap and tasteless outfits, not nice ones like this.”) but we also feel a deep empathy for them (at least, I do). Audrey, especially, because Ellen Greene has a rare ability to be utterly camp while simultaneously imbuing the role with pathos.

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So seeing them consumed by a hungry plant that’s bent on world domination is a bit difficult to swallow (if you’ll pardon the pun). Seeing Orin and even Mr Mushnik being eaten makes us feel a certain vicious glee but Audrey and Seymour’s deaths are just truly tragic, if inevitable.

As it mentions here when you see this onstage there is not only a certain distance because of the lack of close-ups but the actors come out for the curtain call, and Audrey and Seymour are alive again (they also perform in ‘Finale Ultimo (Don’t Feed the Plants)’). But this doesn’t happen when we see a movie. They’re just…gone. It’s obvious, though, from what I’ve read that its fans (now) acknowledge that the original ending is superior and more fitting.

It would’ve been a terrible shame, a tragedy really, if the original ending, that so much love and work went into, was lost forever. I’m glad it’s not. And I’m glad I get to choose which ending I want, depending on how I feel. Do I want Seymour and Audrey to go ‘somewhere that’s green’ and live happily ever after? Or is the ‘somewhere that’s green’ they go to inside Audrey II?

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April 2016 Roundup

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Bits and bobs or things that made me happy:

-The teaser trailer for Rogue One dropped and I, among many others, cannot wait until December. Felicity Jones has been a favourite of mine for ages so I’m really happy to see her in something like this. There were also other trailers for Suicide Squad and Fantastic Beasts, both of which I’m looking forward to. (As well as one for The Birth of a Nation, I think, or was that March? Time is a strange thing).

-Apparently Warren Beatty is thinking about a Dick Tracy sequel at some point which is…interesting. Dick Tracy is one of my favourite films and I’d certainly welcome a sequel if it was as colourful and bizarre as the first.

-A couple of people created a census or survey of dialogue in a whole heap of movies looking at how many words are spoken by men vs women, and so on. The results aren’t surprising but the more data there is about the imbalance in representation, the better.

-These polaroids from the set of The Rocky Horror Picture Show are incredibly cool and fun.

-This seriously adorable photo of Doris Day with her dog on her 92nd birthday gave me the warm fuzzies. That’s about it for this section!

Favourite April watches:

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I managed to watch 15 new-to-me movies for April (two of which were shorts), which isn’t as many as I’d hoped but still a pretty good effort. My favourites were probably Jesus Christ Superstar (pictured above), Shock to the System (pictured below) and Zootopia (the only I saw at the cinema). Despite my love of musicals, it never occurred to me to watch Jesus Christ Superstar before, which was very remiss of me. It’s an outstanding film and I thoroughly loved it. I couldn’t stop listening to “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” for a few days after that.

Shock to the System had been on my radar for a while, and was the last of the Donald Strachey films I’d yet to see. It’s nothing outstanding in terms of mysteries but Donald and Timothy are great characters and, in a genre where minority characters are often only victims or killers, it’s nice to see them better represented (though they are largely white).

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I also watched four Mario Bava films (The Girl Who Knew Too Much (pictured in the top banner), Hatchet for the Honeymoon, Lisa and the Devil, and Kill Baby, Kill). Objectively, I’d say Kill Baby, Kill was the best but my favourite was The Girl Who Knew Too Much. Hatchet for the Honeymoon (pictured below) was a close second merely in terms of the way it looked. Bava’s films are very striking.

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I only got to the movies once in April but I’m glad it was to see Zootopia. It’s a lovely, delightful film.

Resolutions updates:
Watch more movies made by women.

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I watched five movies directed by women in April: Æon Flux; Somewhere; Dating the Enemy; Crossroads and Saute ma Ville, as well as rewatching The Brady Bunch Movie.

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The best was definitely Somewhere but I enjoyed Dating the Enemy the most. I found that Crossroads wasn’t anywhere near as bad as most people make it out to be, nor was Æon Flux. The Brady Bunch Movie is one of my favourites and I think it’s totally bizarre and completely underrated.

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Watch more Australian films.

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The only new-to-me Australian film I watched in April was Dating the Enemy (pictured above) which, while silly, was very enjoyable. I love Claudia Karvan and Guy Pearce and it was a very easy watch. I also rewatched Strictly Ballroom (pictured below), which will always be a favourite of mine.

I wasn’t well enough to get to the cinema to see any of the Australian films I mentioned last month but I’m crossing my fingers that I get around to seeing them before they leave cinemas. A Month of Sundays, which is one of them, is Anthony LaPaglia’s first film in Adelaide, his hometown! (Warning for auto-play video in that link).

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I was happy to read that Girl Asleep, which I stupidly missed at last year’s Adelaide Film Festival, has been picked up internationally and will be released here in Australia in September.

Write (and read) more!

I think I will take out this section, from next month. It’s really more of a personal thing, which extends beyond wanting to write and read more about cinema. Having this section in the roundups doesn’t seem to have helped me keep on track, so I’m not really sure it’s that necessary. I will think about it, though. I suppose it could be a good place to post links of what I have written during the month, which would make it more useful than just me waffling on about whether or not I’ve written anything.

April reading recommendations:

Oscar Isaac on ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’: ‘It feels like we’re making an independent film’ at The LA Times

Jessica Chastain: ‘It’s a myth that women don’t get along’ at The Guardian

The Bury Your Gays Trope Hurts Real Queer People & it Needs to End at Her Campus

‘I Will Survive!’: Australia’s 10 best LGBT Films at The Guardian

Hollywood’s upcoming films prove it loves Asian culture – as long as it comes without Asians at Media Diversified

Celebrating the Sly Subversiveness of ‘Josie and the Pussycats’, 15 Years Later at Flavorwire

Sofia Coppola and the Silent Woman at Bitch Flicks

On the Road Again with Thelma & Louise at Harper’s Bazaar

How non-white Aussie actors are struggling for recognition at Daily Life

Anti-Vaccine Doc ‘Vaxxed’: A Doctor’s Film Review at THR

Roger’s Favorites: A Table of Contents at RogerEbert.com (so far I’ve read the Sally Potter post)

Directed &/or written by women, May 2016

Australian cinema release dates.

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Films directed/co-directed by a woman opening in May 2016:

The Meddler directed by Lorene Scafaria, release date 19th of May 2016 (via Palace Cinemas)

There are also a number of movies directed by women screening at Essential Independents in May and June: The Fits, Yosemite, Near Dark, River of Grass and The Virgin Suicides.

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Films written/co-written by a woman opening in May 2016:

Mia Madre co-written by Valia Santella (directed by Nanni Moretti) release date 5th of May 2016 (via Palace Cinemas)

Alice Through the Looking Glass written by Linda Woolverton (directed by James Bobin) release date 26th of May 2016 (via Hoyts)

Check below for where the films are screening:

Palace Nova; Hoyts; Wallis; Greater Union; Capri Theatre; Odeon Star; The Regal Theatre/Trak Cinemas.

Once again, I’m just one (forgetful and easily overwhelmed) person and can sometimes miss things so, please let me know if I have! I think doing these once a month means I sometimes miss films that pop up unexpectedly but I don’t think I could manage doing them more frequently, just yet.

Note: information correct at time of publishing.

Jennifer’s Body, 2009

When I put the DVD for Jennifer’s Body (directed by Karyn Kusama) in the player and settled in to watch it, I was fully prepared for a terrible movie. This was because of the few reviews I’d read and general attitude regarding this film as a truly Bad Mobie. I should’ve known better, from past experience, than to pay attention to the bad reviews: this was awesome.

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I’ve since read this has become somewhat of a cult classic, but I haven’t read extensively enough to know if this is true. I did read some good reviews on letterboxd after I watched it, including this one that seemed to capture exactly how I felt about the film as I was watching it. One of the things I noticed, as highlighted in the linked review, is the strong theme of (female) friendship, something I wasn’t expecting at all. This isn’t a typical teen horror flick and maybe that’s why it got so many bad reviews. It’s made more for (and by) girls and women and that made it pretty refreshing to watch.

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Cody’s script is a little weak at some points, I won’t deny that, but these characters – particularly Jennifer and Needy – are so well-written and so much more than the typical ‘nerd’ and ‘slut’ stereotypes they could easily be. Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried are brilliant in fleshing out the roles created by Cody in her script.

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It’s very well directed by Kusama and beautifully photographed, too. There are some really lovely shots in this film and the gorgeous colours are rarely seen in horror.

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I don’t think it was quite as subversive or feminist as it set out to be and this is largely because of the competitive undercurrent in Jennifer and Needy’s friendship as well as some parts of the ending. It’s a pity it didn’t take it’s subversion further but no film is perfect and I still thoroughly enjoyed Jennifer’s Body.

When I noticed there was a theatrical cut and an extended cut, I spent about five minutes agonising over which to watch. I went for the theatrical in the end because I like watching films as they were released initially for my first watch but I’ll definitely be watching the extended cut at some point.

On the subject of Kusama’s films, I also watched Æon Flux which I didn’t think was terrible, either. I’ve never watched the cartoon/animated series, which could have something to do with it but I don’t think it deserves the vitriol it receives. It was a little difficult to follow and the characters could seem shallow, I suppose, but it was very striking.

I now have Girlfight in my queue and I’m hoping to see The Invitation at some point so I can finish off my viewing of Kusama’s films. I have a feeling I’ll enjoy those two, as well.

Happy Rex Manning Day!

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Like many others around my age, Empire Records (1995) is a staple of my film diet and a much loved favourite. It’s not just that it taps into the fantasy of working in a cool record store or the super rad 90s clothes. It’s more than the excellent soundtrack and quotable one-liners. More than the underdog triumphing over corporation and anything else you could think of that makes it appealing. It’s also the friends I’ve shared it with along the way: the best friend who introduced me to it when we were 14 and started it all and everyone else I’ve bonded with over the years who love it just as much as I do. There’s a lot of nostalgia wrapped up in the film for me and, I know, countless others. That’s why I keep going back to Empire Records. And that’s why I say: happy Rex Manning Day, everyone! Damn the man, save the Empire!

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We mustn’t dwell. No, not today. We can’t. Not on Rex Manning day!

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Say no more, mon amour!