To boldly go…

Where millions of others have gone before, actually.

This is a long and picture heavy post.

Screencap of Mr Spock played by Leonard Nimoy from Star Trek The Original Series. He has black hair cut in short bangs, pointed ears and one eyebrow raised. He is wearing a light blue shirt, the same colour of the walls behind him, and is holding a black cat.

As I mentioned in my February roundup, I’ve finally delved into the world of Star Trek, starting with The Original Series. Having finished that recently, I decided to jump right into the following movies.

When I started the show I was not at all prepared for how deeply attached I would become to these characters. I just don’t usually feel so invested in characters from older TV shows for some reason but I’m so in love with them. Especially Spock.

Sometimes I get frustrated with myself for not writing about movies more ‘intellectually’ or critically, but I respond to movies on an emotional, instinctual level above all else. I’ve voiced this concern to friends, before, who have assured me that there is more than enough room for a more emotional perspective on cinema and I honestly think that’s what I’m best at. What I’m saying is, be prepared for a lot of emotional rambling here and some sloppiness in my writing where I omit actor’s names and the like. I’m going to write about the first three movies together, and then there will be another post for the next three when I’ve watched those.

The Motion Picture dir. Robert Wise, 1979

“This… simple feeling is beyond V’ger’s comprehension.”

A screencap of Dr McCoy played by DeForest Kelley and Admiral Kirk played by William Shatner from The Motion Picture. McCoy has short brown hair and a beard, he is wearing a cream shirt with a v-neck, a gold medallion pendant and is standing with his arms by his side. Kirk is seen from the side a slightly behind. His dark blonde hair is short and he is wearing a blue-ish shirt with Starfleet insignia. His right arm is extended toward McCoy.

Given what I said above, it is not surprising that I spent half of this film crying. Only forty minutes in I’d already cried at least four times. (When Kirk meets Scotty, when he sees the Enterprise, when he meets the bridge crew, when he meets Bones again.) But I didn’t get properly emotional until Spock and Jim are reunited.

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The film has some interesting things to say but the scene that will stick with me the most is Kirk grasping Spock’s hand, and Spock saying “This…simple feeling is beyond V’ger’s comprehension.” I actually had to pause the film because I was crying so hard. It’s such a beautiful moment between them and the end of Spock’s journey, started on Vulcan.

The parallels between V’Ger’s journey and Spock’s were fairly obvious, but I loved what the film said through them. It’s about the search for meaning and identity – the search for knowledge in general – that nearly all of us can relate to in some way, or another. Spock comes to realise he must embrace all of who he is, pesky emotions included, for a fulfilled life when he sees the emptiness of V’Ger, an actual machine devoid of feeling. One can experience emotion but still value logic. That struggle with emotion was particularly relevant and personal to me.

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One of the most obvious themes to me seemed to be love. It’s clear that Ilia and Decker were romantically involved at some point prior to the film and, while the end – with Decker merging with the Ilia probe – could be seen as purely about evolution or creating new life, the way they look at each other shows that it’s done out of love, too. There is also the relationship between Kirk and Spock – ‘this simple feeling’ that Spock speaks of could be many things but whether it’s friendship or brotherhood, it all boils down to love.

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Before I finish, let’s take a moment to appreciate the design of this film. The scene with Spock inside V’Ger is utterly beautiful. One shot reminded me of the dream sequence in Vertigo (pictured above) but a more obvious, and likely, comparison is to 2001: A Space Odyssey (pictured below).

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Even when the Enterprise entered warp speed for the first time my eyes popped out of my head. And the lighting in that final V’Ger scene was beautiful.

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Robert Wise clearly spent a lot of time showing off the special effects and design; I can’t be mad about that because they are so pretty.

It’s a fairly contemplative film and, as such, could be seen as slow but it honestly didn’t even feel like 2+ hours to me. bluedionysus on letterboxd called the pacing ‘graceful’ and I couldn’t have described it better myself. If you’re expecting a fun space romp like so much of TOS was, it would probably be disappointing, but a friend had prepared me so I knew what I was in for. The show wasn’t without seriousness but there’s more adventure than there is here. Some of the ideas that are in the film are definitely present in TOS and it obviously draws a lot from ‘The Changeling’, which has a similar premise, but it’s a huge tonal shift from the series.

I know there’s more to this film than what I’ve said but I can’t focus on everything from one viewing alone so I may read a bit about it and watch it again before I attempt any further writing.

Edited from letterboxd review, which you can read here.

The Wrath of Khan dir. Nicholas Meyer 1982

“Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most…human.”

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I may not have cried as many times as in TMP but I think the intensity of my crying at Spock sacrificing himself made up for it. The look on Kirk’s face was completely heartbreaking and then, later, his voice breaking just before he choked out ‘human’ in the eulogy. My heart!

This is a really solid, fun sci-fi flick and I can definitely see why it was better received by audiences than TMP (I think I liked TMP a bit better, or maybe just differently). It’s interesting that the conflict is conducted largely at a distance. I don’t think Kirk and Khan came face to face or, if they did, I missed it while I was checking twitter (a habit I’m trying to break). That just stuck out to me.

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There’s a lot of interesting elements (themes and ideas – ageing, for one, comes to mind) to unpack but I spent most of my energy writing about The Motion Picture and I’m still feeling very emotional about the end of this film, so I need a little distance before I think about those. It’s not as though no one else has ever written about it, though.

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Edited from letterboxd review, which you can read here.

The Search for Spock dir. Leonard Nimoy 1984

“If I hadn’t tried, the cost would have been my soul.”

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I enjoyed this slightly less than the first two but it was still great. It’s a film about friendship and how far we’d go for the ones we love. What we’d risk. That sort of thing always appeals to me.

My favourite aspect, aside from Kirk et al risking everything for Spock, was Bones with Spock’s katra – sometimes Bones’s attitude toward Spock frustrates me but beneath it all, it’s obvious he cares deeply for him. Even before he said this to the unconscious Spock, it’s there:

“I’m gonna tell you something that I…never thought I’d ever hear myself say. But it seems I’ve… missed you. And I don’t know if I could stand to lose you again.”

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It was also just fun to see DeForest Kelley acting like Spock but still being Bones at the same time. I can’t remember the exact quote but in the bar he says someone is ‘illogical’ and calls them an ‘idiot’ in the same sentence. That bar was very cool in general (the scene made me think of A New Hope, when Ben and Luke are looking for transport).

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“My father says that you have been my friend. You came back for me.”

The main reason it was slightly less interesting than the first two is because I enjoy it best when Spock and Kirk are together (and Bones, too, of course), even though it’s still a story motivated by those relationships. They seem to be the heart of the series, for me. (And, I know, many others).

It was nice to see Sarek again and to see Vulcan, too. That shot of the ceremony area just before the fal-tor-pan was really beautiful.

I could easily sit through this again (and undoubtedly will) – I just found it a little harder to write about!

Oh, and just in case you were wondering: I cried.

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Edited from my letterboxd review, which you can read here.

I just love these characters and I could spend all the time in the world with them. I am a little apprehensive about watching IV, though, as I’m rather terrified of whales.

Morgiana. 1972

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After watching and falling deeply in love with The Duke of Burgundy, I decided to seek out some of the films Peter Strickland cited as influences for his film. The first (and still, to date, the only) I watched was Morgiana, a 1972 Czech Gothic thriller, directed by Juraj Herz, about a woman who jealously plots the murder of her better liked sister (both roles played by Iva Janzurová). I should preface this with two things: writing this was very challenging for me as I find movies like this tend to be outside my comprehension in any kind of ‘academic’ way; I’m not familiar enough with films of this ilk. But I loved it and wanted to write about it.

Morgiana is a histrionic fairy tale, a fevered dream set in an unspecified European region, brought to life with lush colours and delightfully gaudy sets and costumes. It opens with sisters Klára and Viktoria being instructed by a lawyer on the contents of their recently deceased father’s will: each sister gets one of his properties.

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Klara inherits the airy, pretty estate but Viktoria gets a supposedly haunted manor. This sets the tone for the two sisters’ personalities and how they are received by others. It is evident from the outset that Viktoria is jealous of Klára, who is easily amiable, cheerful and well-liked by everyone. Viktoria is the polar opposite of Klara, manifested in their equally different looks.

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Both women appear virginal but where Klára is ‘pure’ in the fashion of a fairy-tale princess, akin to Snow White, Viktoria is ‘repressed’, petty and jealous. She is more like the evil virgin queen, ice cold and remote with a deep mean streak (albeit more nervy than any evil queen). We see this in a scene where Viktoria sneaks up on some of her servant girls, bathing in the ocean, carefree and scantily clad, and gleefully throws a rock at one’s head. It’s interesting to think that’s it not just a matter of the virgin/whore dichotomy but that ‘virgin’ women are presented in different ways: it is either a virtue or a sickness.

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It is a testament to Janzurová’s acting and Herz’s editing that I often forgot that Klára and Viktoria were played by the same actress. I found the editing and some of the camera ‘tricks’ to be quite interesting, if disorienting, such as filming from Viktoria’s cat’s (the eponymous Morgiana) point of view at times. The first time it happened, I immediately knew the camera had taken on the point of view of a cat, not only from the eye level but the movement which couldn’t be anything other than feline.

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The creepiness of Morgiana is more often in the dreamlike atmosphere and intense score (by Lubos Fiber) than in actual content. (Although a woman plotting to murder her sister isn’t exactly not creepy). It is more a psychological exploration than a straight-up horror. Even Viktoria seems a reluctant murderess at first, when she uses the slow-acting poison she procured and immediately tries to get Klára to drink from a different glass. However, once Klara does drink she seems gleeful but nervous. She retires to her own estate, where she becomes increasingly paranoid, going so far as to test the poison on a dog (and then not knowing if the dog, a servant’s son or her own beloved cat drank the concoction).

As Klára descends into illness, she begins to hallucinate another version of herself, in a flame-red dress (reminiscent of Viktoria’s red nightgown), who is more like the petty Viktoria than the amiable Klára herself. Mirrors are just one of the motifs used to hint at a fragmenting personality and unsettled psyche (apparently Herz originally wanted the film to end showing that both sisters were just aspects of one woman’s split personality, but couldn’t because of the censors at the time). There are also some kaleidoscopic scenes, that look like a 3D film viewed without glasses, that Klára sees in her fevered state.

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The 1970s does Edwardian costumes were swoon inducing and that OTT makeup was to die for. (Pardon the pun).

There was one scene that reminded me a bit of Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon (a scene where one of the sisters is running along some stairs or a road by a beach or similar that reminded me of the repeated scene in Meshes). I’m not sure that this was an intentional inspiration for the film, but I’d only watched Meshes recently, so my mind made the connection. The dreamlike quality of Morgiana fits well with the actual dream represented in Meshes, though.

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The make-up of my teen goth dreams.

There is another beautiful, mesmerising scene in which Viktoria is looking through an old trunk, and she pulls out all these gauzy, delicate dresses, letting them float about her as they drift to the floor. The chiaroscuro lighting lends an eery atmosphere, as the dresses become ghostly forms. Strickland lifted this scene to great effect for The Duke of Burgundy.

Morgiana is a strange film that had me captivated throughout the entirety of its running time. It’s definitely one that I want to revisit and think about some more, in the future.

 

Peau d’Âne (Donkey Skin), 1970

I’ve had a Jacques Demy boxset sitting on my ‘to watch’ shelf for some years. I don’t remember where or when I bought it (I remember why, obviously: I wanted to watch the films) but I know it’s been sitting there for far too long (though not as long as others have). Recently, I decided it was about time I cracked it open. The last I watched, Peau d’Âne (Donkey Skin), turned out to be my favourite, which I hadn’t expected at all. I’d thought I’d probably enjoy it, but prefer either Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) or Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (The Young Girls of Rochefort). But Donkey Skin it was! I feel like I’m in the minority, here, though.

It’s such a strange fairy tale to start with (I was familiar with the story, by Charles Perrault, before ever knowing of the film) and this adaptation fully embraces the absurdity. For those who don’t know, it’s basically about a king who decides he wants to marry his daughter (he had promised his wife, on her death bed, to not marry again unless it was to someone more beautiful than she) and so the princess ends up disguising herself in a donkey pelt and running away. (More or less).

030-donkey-skin-theredlistIt’s been described as part fairytale satire, and largely referencing Cocteau (apparently, I’m ashamed to admit to never having seen any of Cocteau’s films) yet still a fairytale film on its own. I feel this is apt. (You know, despite not having seen any of Cocteau’s films – I absolutely, certainly will at some point).

But, first, let’s talk costumes and sets, because they’re always what I notice first and think of the most. In terms of sets and set dressing, things that particularly caught my eye: Deneuve’s bed that looks like a meadow, living statues, the throne in the form of a gigantic white cat, the Lilac Fairy’s outdoors vanity and the touches of glam in Donkey Skin’s ramshackle cabin.

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New life goal: acquire cat shaped throne.

And then, to costumes, all of those dresses! My gosh. They’d be beautiful enough without the ‘gimmicks’ but they become ultra dazzling with clouds projected on them or luminous spots. It’s all very dreamy and whimsical. And even dressed like a donkey, Deneuve is radiant.

Wearing the skin of an ass. Still beautiful.

Wearing the skin of an ass. Still beautiful.

The Lilac Fairy was fantastic, too. Not least because of her Endora-esque costumes.

av7m8xr1_n0g28lThe playful poking of fun at fairy tale films was diverting, and I think most noticeable with the prince. The scene where he demands that all the maidens of the kingdom be rounded up to find the one girl who fits the ring, even though he obviously knows it belongs to Donkey Skin, highlights the absurdity of fairytale rituals and the almost capricious nature of the prince. I mean, I’m fairly certain that he’s also manipulating his parents, so they’ll let him marry Donkey Skin, but geez!

ecran8I hadn’t realised until I finished the film, but the princess/Donkey Skin becomes more interesting when she’s wearing the pelt than when she’s in the garb of her ‘true’ self (although her task setting for the king, under the intstruction of the Lilac Fairy is fun to watch, she seems more passive in her role as princess). I wonder if this is a pointed comment on the blandness of fairy tale princesses in many films or if I somehow related to her more as Donkey Skin. (Wonder if that’s something to worry about? Ha.)

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Oh, and the musical numbers were delightful! I especially enjoyed the song the Lilac Fairy sings about children not marrying their parents and the one about baking a cake. So strange, yet such fun. (I think that describes the film, on a whole, pretty well.)

Disjointed review aside, let’s leave it with saying I enjoyed this film immensely. I admit, the helicopter at the end had me stumped, though.

Within the past year (or so) I’ve watched maybe 4 European fairytale films and I think I want to watch more. Actually, I think I just want to watch more non-Disney fairytale films especially ones that embrace the strangeness of these stories. Any recommendations are most welcome.

Top 5 Thursday | Movie Musicals

I asked my twitter friends for suggestions for my ‘top 5’ lists and got some really great ideas. One was an idea I’d already had so I decided that, this week, I would do my top 5 movie musicals…made after 1970. Musicals are my favourite kind of movie so to do a definitive top 5 of all time would be just too difficult so I’m breaking it up. I’ve also not included the 3 musicals that appeared on my top 5 all-time favourites list. Even doing one for post-1970 (not sure why I picked that year) was very difficult! But I managed to make a list so here we go…(the write-ups are going to be a lot more brief this time as I’ve ‘real life’ things taking up my time.)

1. Cabaret directed by Bob Fosse, 1972

When did I first see Cabaret? I don’t even remember now but it is easily one of my favourite movies even if I now often skip all the bits that aren’t songs when I’m watching it. It’s all so great but sometimes I just want to watch Liza sing! Putting aside the fact that Liza’s Sally Bowles is one of the single most fabulous characters to ever grace the screen (that make-up! her hair! clothes! nail polish!) I love the blending of the seemingly carefree lives of the main characters (which we do know aren’t that carefree at all) and the world of the Kit Kat Klub contrasted with the progressively, well, scary situation of the world outside. Also, Bob Fosse. I just adore his choreography, as cliched as it may be by now. It was interesting when I finally watched I Am a Camera and then Christopher and his Kind and experiencing the very similar stories (obviously, as they are all based on Isherwood’s book) in different ways…and without the musical lens we view it all through in Cabaret.

2. Hedwig and the Angry Inch directed by John Cameron Mitchell, 2001

“It is clear that I must find my other half. But is it a he or a she? What does this person look like? Identical to me? Or somehow complementary? Does my other half have what I don’t? Did he get the looks? The luck? The love? Were we really separated forceably or did he just run off with the good stuff? Or did I? Will this person embarrass me? What about sex? Is that how we put ourselves back together again? Or can two people actually become one again?”


How do I sum up my feelings about this film? A high school friend urged me to see it but I think it took me far too long to get around to it (I was still in high school but he’d been insisting for a long time before I watched it). It’s such a gorgeous film and it’s funny and it’s serious and Origin of Love has to be one of the loveliest, most beautiful songs ever written. I honestly can’t think of anything else to write about it, at the moment.

3. Hairspray directed by Adam Shankman, 2007

This is the only film on the list of which I’ve also seen the stage production…twice. Once in New York and once in Melbourne – very different productions, but both thoroughly enjoyable. I’m also a huge John Waters fan so I’m familiar with the film the stage production is based on. Neither of these facts lessened my enthusiasm when I learnt a motion picture was in the works and I think I may have even seen the film the day it was released (with my mum). It’s such a visual feast and so beautifully filmed and designed (the sets, costumes, etc.) and I was pleasantly surprised by some of the casting (I certainly never realised James Marsden could sing) and just plain delighted by the rest (Michelle Pfeiffer, Queen Latifah, John Travolta, Christopher Walken et al)! And the cameos by John Waters, Ricki Lake, et al were a nice touch, too. My only disappointments were that some of my favourite songs from the stage production were cut: Cooties, Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now and It Takes Two, though all were recorded for the movie soundtrack. (I was also disappointed that the line ‘without love, life is like making out with Perry Como’ was cut from Without Love – I guess they thought kids wouldn’t get who Perry Como is? Or was it the previous line referring to Bromo-Seltzer? Oh well). I do love The New Girl in Town, which was written for the film and how the scene it is in is a nod to how many songs were re-recorded (ripped off, really) by white singing groups at the time. It may just have one of the best endings of a movie musical that I’ve seen. Oh, and Seaweed makes me swoon…sigh.

4. Little Shop of Horrors directed by Frank Oz, 1986

One thing that’s noticeable in stage to movie productions (well, in this case, movie to stage to movie) is that there is a conscious effort to tone down the theatricality (I noticed this in Chicago where many of the lines are delivered with more gravitas than I’d heard in some stage recordings) but that’s not something I feel with this film. From the acting style, many of the sets and the way scenes are choreographed it definitely feels a lot more like a stage musical than necessarily a movie musical, if that makes sense. The song Skid Row (Downtown) always gives me shivers which I usually only experience when I see musicals onstage. Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene are perfect as Seymour and Audrey, and Steve Martin as her jerk boyfriend is kind of genius. Oh and Bill Murray as the masochistic dentist patient?! But I think my favourite thing about this film is the chorus of three local girls named after ’60s girl groups: Crystal, Chiffon and Ronette.

5. 8 Femmes directed by François Ozon, 2002

It’s set in the 1950s. It’s a musical. It’s a murder-mystery. It stars Catherine Deneuve and Isabelle Huppert. I’m not sure I have to say a whole lot else about why I love this film, really. Each of the costumes was created around each character and I feel the songs have been treated in the same way, whilst still reflecting various kinds of French pop music from around the time the film is set. And I really don’t want to give anything away because I want anyone who hasn’t seen it to be able to (hopefully) react the same way I did. (I once wrote a post at my other blog about how much I love all of the costumes in the film.)

I had got to the end of my top 5 list when I realised that I’d made a horrible mistake because Xanadu was nowhere to be seen on it! As a way to rectify that, whilst still keeping the 5 films I originally wanted on the list, Xanadu gets an honourable mention for being one of the most amazing films I’ve ever seen. (As I’m writing this I’m thinking of all the other films I forgot while I was compiling the list…)

I doubt Xanadu is all that well thought of by critics (or, indeed, by many people on IMDB it seems) but I love anything campy, trashy, tacky, etc., and Xanadu kind of embodies a lot of that. It has Gene Kelly, Olivia Newton-John, roller-skating, bizarre costumes, a cartoon sequence I always forget about and incorporates Greek mythology. Yeah. But if you think Xanadu couldn’t get kitschier or more camp then you clearly haven’t seen the stage production.

Once again, I’d love to hear anyone else’s top 5 list for this theme. I’ll probably be debating my own list with myself but I will happily take recommendations of other musicals (even if you think I may have seen them) that fit the theme (i.e. made after 1970…we can keep others for my other lists!)

Top 5 Thursday | All-time favourites.

One of the regular features I want to do here is a series of top 5 posts. I decided to start with my all-time favourite top 5 movies. This is a tricky feat, indeed, for someone who is easily pleased when it comes to cinema (I once posted a top 50 to my Tumblr and even that will be out of date, now).

For me, I define a favourite as a film I can watch over & over & over and not get sick of (however, there are some exceptions to this rule but none appear in my top 5) so my favourite films may not necessarily be indicative of all the sorts of films I will watch and enjoy/appreciate but that I can watch them so many times may be telling…of what, I’m not entirely sure. I suppose I can let you make your own minds up about that.

Note: I did mention in my introductory post that I want to start thinking more critically about the films I watch…but I found it was almost impossible to be objective about these films (not to say I discount valid criticisms but that I find it difficult to form them myself) because most of them have been in my life for such a long time, now. Maybe this is something I can address as this blog progresses but I guess what I’m trying to say is this is really just a gushing sort of a post.

1. The Rocky Horror Picture Show directed by Jim Sharman, 1975

This is legitimately my all time  favourite movie. I doubt anything will ever change that as I’ve been watching and loving this film since I was about four or five years old. I have my older (by 14 years) sister to blame/thank for my love of this film – my mother was uncertain if it was ‘appropriate’ for a small child to watch; my sister told her that I just liked the songs and colours. I’m sure this was somewhat true as there were certain scenes that I definitely didn’t understand until I was much older! I do remember putting on my mother’s high heels and acting out the floorshow scene with my friends at least once. I still have the taped-from-TV VHS copy that I grew up with (it has episodes of Family Ties on the end as well as some great ’80s music videos.) Watching this film is like coming home, again, I think. I know every line by heart, I sing and dance along and I never tire of any of it. A girl in high school once told me she didn’t ‘get’ this film and I still don’t entirely know what she meant…I wonder if my years of watching it have clouded my judgement when it comes to whether or not other people will enjoy it. But what’s not to enjoy? It’s campy, kitschy, glittery, there are sexy singing aliens, death-rays, nods to B-movies of the 30s-50s and some of the best songs that have ever been written. Could one really ask for more?

[Tumblr posts tagged Rocky Horror Picture Show or RHPS.]

2. Grease directed by Randal Kleiser, 1978

Grease is another film that I’ve loved since I was a small child – and another one I acted out in the living room (this time with my BFF – our song is ‘We Go Together’ by the by). I wonder if I have Grease to thank for my interest in mid-century America & teen culture (despite its costumes, etc., not being entirely authentic but as a 5 year old I wasn’t quite so discerning about these things)…I once read a website about how American teenagers really dressed in the 1950s and the author of the site said how unrealistic Grease is in that respect – but it is a musical. I don’t usually look to musicals for historical accuracy but, even so, the costumes in Grease capture the essence of what is stereotypically 1950s. Even musicals made in the era in which they are set are exaggerated representations of the fashion, etc., and that’s what I love about them. Grease doesn’t quite fit into the hyperreality of other musicals that I love from the 40s and 50s but I think it’s a similar kind of idea. The world of musicals is another world entirely and why people can be so divided by them.

I wonder if the enduring popularity of Grease has anything to do with the tend toward nostalgia not just at present but maybe in general? That it highlights everything we may love about 1950s Americana/teen culture: the milkshakes, drive-ins, froofy dresses, school dances etc., whilst making invisible the nastier side of things, like racism and homophobia (neither of which, of course, are gone now) just as the tip of the iceberg. It does touch on how some girls were (and still are) ostracised and talked about because they may have gone ‘with a boy…or two’ and/or got pregnant (like Rizzo) and maybe it also touches a little on gang rivalry (Scorpions vs T-Birds) but with less violence…it may not quite be Happy Days but I think it still sugar coats a lot. Despite all of that I love this movie unabashedly (maybe I’m better at thinking critically about my favourites than I thought).

[Tumblr posts tagged Grease.]

3. Charade directed by Stanley Donen, 1963

Oh my…yet another film I’ve been watching since I was a little girl! My mother’s favourite actor is Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn is one of mine. Needless to say this is a favourite we both share (though my mother is, perhaps, less obsessed with the film than I am!) Even though films like this rely heavily on suspense (and therefore first viewing) I am enthralled by this film no matter how many times I watch it. I know exactly what is going to happen and be said, I know each twist (and boy, there are a lot of them!), I even know which piece of music is used when but I’m never bored. Both Hepburn and Grant exude charm and play off each other beautifully. Grant’s comic timing is, as always, spot on…one of the things I love about this is that Grant was meant to be the one chasing Hepburn’s character but they switched it around when he said he felt he was too old to be chasing after a woman so much younger than him. My mum told me this as she’d read it somewhere or other but this review says the same thing. I think it works so well with Grant’s character trying to resist Reggie’s (Hepburn) advances that I couldn’t imagine it any other way. This film has often been described as ‘the best Hitchcock film Hitchcock never made’ and I think that’s one of the most apt descriptions I’ve ever read of a film. Oh, it also has a fantastic theme tune (yay, Mancini!) with incredibly cool ’60s graphics.

[Tumblr posts tagged Charade.]

4. Laura directed by Otto Preminger, 1944

I bought this film on a whim as it was only $1…then I watched it about 7 times in one week! (I wish I’d bought lots more copies so I could give them to everyone as gifts and bestow the glory of this film upon each and every person I know.) This film borders on necrophilia, could be interpreted as becoming the dream of Dana Andrews’ character halfway through, and has the ‘evil homosexual’ character that is so prevalent in film noir (well, sometimes morally corrupt) in the form of Waldo Lydecker. The first two points may be unsettling/confusing but not necessarily bad points about the film…I’m more uncomfortable about the coded ways in which gay characters were represented as morally corrupt (of course it could never explicitly be said that a character was gay because of the Hayes Code) in this and other similar films. There are a lot of things to unpack there and I am a little wary of breezing over the topic like that but I’m trying to keep this brief! But Waldo Lydecker gets all the great lines in the film and I’m going to have to do a feature post on it just as an excuse to bombard you with his one-liners. And what else do I love about it? It’s dark and strange without being explicitly so, Laura is an intelligent career woman (who, admittedly, may have dubious taste in men), it flips over on itself somewhere in the middle and it has one of my favourite ever onscreen kisses. Laura and Mark are on equal footing and there’s none of that manhandling so prevalent in movies of this era (manhandling is all well and good but I get a little uncomfortable at the violence of them, I suppose.) I don’t want to give too much away because if you’re not spoiled for this film then I find it’s a lovely surprise. Oh, and it’s gorgeous to look at too and not just because of the babely actors but because of the photography, lighting, etc., and the costumes…Gene Tierney has some beautiful clothes.

[Tumblr posts tagged Laura.]

5. Velvet Goldmine directed by Todd Haynes, 1998

This film baffled me when I first saw it – I think I was thrown by the beginning…does it imply that Oscar Wilde is an alien? Now I don’t even care and I love it completely and wholeheartedly; I have a big space in my heart for glitter and glam rock and the pop culture of the 1970s and I adore the colours and costumes in this film. I was even more impressed by it when I finally watched Citizen Kane and everything I’d read about the parallels between the films fell into place. Scott Tobias, in 2009, wrote that “…the Citizen Kane structure is perhaps Velvet Goldmine‘s biggest masterstroke…by presenting Slade, like Kane, as a mystery to be solved (or not), Haynes can evoke the glam-rock movement without destroying the all-important mystique that sustains it.” To be honest, once I fell in love with film I stopped thinking about it…but reading some other reviews and articles on it whilst writing this, I think I would like to take the time to read and think a bit more about it. (Maybe another future feature post?!)

David Bowie apparently wasn’t keen on this film (nor was Roger Ebert but some other critics had kinder things to say about it). I love Bowie but I love this film just as much…so I guess Bowie and I will just have to agree to disagree when it comes to Velvet Goldmine.

[Tumblr posts tagged Velvet Goldmine.]

Of course, as these are my own personal favourites, there is no point debating the placement of any of these on my list (that’s how personal favourites work) but I’d love it if anyone would like to share their own top 5 favourite films with me! And if anyone has any ideas for top 5 lists for me, feel free to throw them my way.