Tag Archives: Cary Grant

Movie Week in Review: Spies and Romance

audreyhepburn-carygrant-charadeBig news from last week, I made it to movie 100! The film I watched wasn’t exactly what I intended to for such a milestone in this challenge; but after yet another stressful day at the office I wanted to see something at the theater I also work at (a place that is oddly calming for me) and unwind a bit.

The First Monday in May, a documentary about the celebrity-filled Met Gala organized to raise money for exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is for the most part an entertaining glimpse at art, fashion and film while presenting a small argument that they are one in the same. The curator for the exhibit at the center of the documentary and Met Gala hubbub, Andrew Bolton, said fashion especially should be considered as art and wanted to reflect that in his display of outfits and costumes inspired by Chinese culture.

Documentaries can be hit or miss and I will say this one perhaps could have went deeper into its subject matter and the development of the exhibit vs. the seating arrangement of famous people at the Met Gala and Anna Wintour wearing her sunglasses indoors. Those topics were a bit superficial to cover, while the portions of the film that provided a peek into her work on the Met board while leading Vogue and Bolton’s lifelong dream to be a museum curator were worth the coverage and left me wanting more. My favorite part (yes other than Rihanna’s appearance and the awkward moment with Larry David on the red carpet), was also a brief mention of how fashion was part of film in Chinese history and cinema’s influence in Bolton’s exhibit. If you want to check out more work by director Andrew Rossi, I (although I’m little bit biased here because of my former career as a journalist) prefer Page One: Inside the New York Times. The First Monday in May is a visual accomplishment in documentary film making, but lacks a little bit on the storytelling side.

Moving on, Charade, mixed with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, started a theme of movies about spies and romance during the week also including An Affair to Remember and Badlands (minus the spies and plus a very dark and unsettling “love story.”)

MCDCOOF EC032Charade is one of the top films I’ve watched this year now and I really loved the build to the true dynamic between Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant’s characters as well as the secrets behind her husband’s death, his identity and the money at the center of everyone’s trust issues. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, from George Clooney and Charlie Kaufman, takes the memoir of game show host Chuck Barris to explore his rumored time as a CIA operative and how he balanced that with career and his love with Penny (Drew Barrymore.) In addition to being funny and mysterious, the film is visually on par using angles, close-ups on its characters and artistic technique to further tell the story. I’ve always liked Sam Rockwell, and this could be his best work that I’ve seen. He embodies Barris’ persona, yet makes it look effortless.

Badlands has the visual appeal carried by Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, but the more I think about it, the harder it is to say I like the film. I think that’s because the characters, primarily Martin Sheen as a murderous wayward soul from the wrong side of the tracks, are so dark and nonchalant about their actions that I found it very hard to relate to them on any level. I often associate films with how they make me feel and memories of when or where I watched them in addition to their cinematic quality, so Badlands is hard to fit into that complete picture. That said, Sheen and Sissy Spacek are dynamic together on screen as forbidden lovers whose characters are loosely based on a real-life couple on a crime spree that ends in the badlands of South Dakota. I think the film must have also inspired True Romance (definitely one of my favorite films of all time), if nothing else through the use of this song as Clarence and Alabama embark on their own crime spree.

I switched from romance and crime in the beginning of the week to a healthy balance of comedy, space, science and a little horror to make it to movie 106 on Saturday. Christopher Nolan’s space epic Interstellar is worth the three hours of time and will keep you guessing as to what will happen; especially in the last hour. I think, while I haven’t seen every space-themed movie, it’s one of the most (pardon the overuse) visually-appealing while being scientific, emotional and plus Matt Damon is in it. MATT DAMON!

I feel as though I am rambling at this point, but I do want to cover my last two entries of the week spanning the comedy-horror-parody genres: Best in Show and The Final Girls.

Christopher Guest’s look at the world of dog shows, in a “mockumentary” style, is pretty flawless and I could watch Parker Posey’s meltdowns over her dog and issues with her husband all day. I know nothing about the dog show world, but Guest seems to be spot on in his depiction while adding just the right amount of drama and quirk to his characters while they fight to be Best in Show.

Finally (bad segue) The Final Girls … one of many horror movie parody/tributes (think The Cabin in the Woods or even Scream) out there takes it to another level with a movie-in-a-movie format where the characters are challenged to find their way out by following the classic plot points used in the genre. Thomas Middleditch’s performance was my favorite in the film and it overall delivers a unique addition to what can be an overly-formulaic genre of movies.

Up next this week I am going to explore more Cary Grant films and want to collect enough titles to go on a binge of sports movies. There are a lot in 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die (sadly Major League isn’t one of them) so it’s time I expand my horizons in that regard. I welcome any recommendations.

“When you are young, your potential is infinite. You might do anything, really. You might be Einstein. You might be DiMaggio. Then you get to an age where what you might be gives way to what you have been. You weren’t Einstein. You weren’t anything. That’s a bad moment.”

Chuck Barris – Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

75 of 366: That Touch of Mink

mink
imdb.com

Cary Grant is certainly the epitome of a leading man, and the moment he is introduced to Doris Day’s character, Cathy Timberlake, in That Touch of Mink proves why but I didn’t care for the dynamic of their relationship from that point on in the film much less its depiction of gender roles.

I should take into account the date of the film, 1962, but Cathy’s transition from meeting Philip Shane (Grant) for the purpose of confronting him about splashing her with his car as he drove by on the street in New York to being completely smitten and willing to do anything to win his heart just didn’t go over well with me.

Philip is a wealthy businessman who can give Cathy anything she wants and a taste of his lifestyle or “a touch of mink” as he buys her fancy clothes and takes her on a trip to Bermuda. But what she doesn’t get is respect or the acknowledgment that she is more than a side piece for Philip and even worse Cathy mostly gives into it.

Perhaps it was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek commentary about gender roles in society at the time, but I think things have changed so much it’s hard for me to see the film in that way.

Cathy is on her way to the unemployment office when she meets Philip and then was supposed to go to a job interview. Instead, she ends up chasing after him and he just strings her along with the promise of a marriage proposal.

I understand the film is supposed to be a comedy and Day even made a series of films with a similar premise and character, but the “humor” of it all only goes so far in my opinion.

Stylistically, I enjoy the theatrics of the classic films I’ve seen so far this year and That Touch of Mink does have strong points in that regard with its costumes and scenes in New York. It also has solid writing, despite the flaws in its themes and the actual dialogue between Cathy and Philip. Day and  Grant work well together, but their on-screen chemistry wasn’t enough to offset the imbalance in their relationship dynamic.

The film is built with undertones that you’re supposed to want Cathy and Philip to be together and that theme, even for the sake of comedy, doesn’t work when his character mostly degrades women and doesn’t see anything beyond a darling in need of being rescued.

Emily V. Gordon is back today:

“You do not have the responsibility to change yourself in order to meet your partner’s needs. You can make a choice to change if you are able and would like to. And note: this goes both ways. The person you are dating is not the perfected version you see in your head; the person you are dating is the person in front of you.”

48 of 366: Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words

ingrid-bergman-680.jpg
blogs.indiewire.com

If you think about it, actors and actresses in Hollywood have a lot more of their lives documented than the average person. Granted that documentation on camera stems from characters they are playing, but there is also behind the scenes time and interviews to look back on other than the finished product.

I thought about this tonight while watching Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Wordsa documentary about the actress starring in films such as Casablanca and Notorious including readings from her diaries growing up and home movies throughout her life. The home movies show the balance, often uneven, between Bergman’s work life and life as a wife and mother of four children.

They all appear in the documentary, speaking of Bergman’s charm and larger-than-life character that they miss without criticism of the lack of time she was there growing up.

The film, directed by Stig Bjorkman, shows the highs and lows of Bergman’s short life including what she also may not have wanted on camera.

On the other hand she didn’t seem to have fear in being completely honest about her thoughts in her diaries and dedication to her career above all else.

Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words is a documentary for movie-lovers and fans of her work alike to watch for its glimpse into Hollywood life as much as her life story. It certainly piqued my interest to watch more of her films this year now that I’ve seen the background on how they came to be.

“I have no regrets. I wouldn’t have lived my life the way I did if I was going to worry about what people were going to say.”

Ingrid Bergman

 

26 of 366: His Girl Friday

“It all happened in the ‘dark ages’ of the newspaper game — when to a reporter ‘getting the story’ justified anything short of murder. Incidentally you will see in this picture no resemblance to the men and women of the press of today.”

hisgirlfriday3-062815
nerdist.com

That quote is from the opening frame of His Girl Friday (1940), directed by Howard Hawks and written by Charles Lederer. It’s based on a play, The Front Page, penned by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. (That’s according to imdb.com, but the credits in 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die do not include Lederer’s name.)

The theatrics of a stage production translate to the film version as journalists and ex-husband and wife Walter Burns (Cary Grant) and Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) banter their way through a hot-of-the-presses murder story and her decision to quit the business and get married.

Johnson comes back into Burns’ world on the eve of her wedding to Bruce (Ralph Bellamy) only as the biggest story the paper has covered is starting to unfold. A man is convicted of murder and is going to be hanged, but there is a chance he didn’t do it. 

It’s apparent Burns wants Johnson to come back to work and deep down you can tell she can’t just write one more story and move on. Burns will do and say anything to convince her and push Bruce out of the picture while he’s at it. 

It’s also apparent Hildy and Walter still have feelings for each other, as much as they act like the opposite is true, and she can’t let go of her old career and let someone else finish the big story as the deadline approaches. 

Hildy, with Walter’s backing, is even willing to become part of the story to get it to the press before the other reporters as they all work from a room at the courthouse with phones ringing off the hook.

His Girl Friday is smart, witty and certainly makes me, as a former newspaper reporter, miss that lifestyle. The film, as an early showing of romance and comedy in one, set a precedent in that genre and has to be inspiration for the walk-and-talk moments often seen in movies about the newspaper biz today.

“The dirty secret: journalism has always been horrible to get in; you always have to eat so much crap to find a place to stand. I waited tables for seven years, did writing on the side. If you’re gonna get a job that’s a little bit of a caper, that isn’t really a job, that under ideal circumstances you get to at least leave the building and leave your desktop, go out, find people more interesting than you, learn about something, come back and tell other people about it — that should be hard to get into. That should be hard to do. No wonder everybody’s lined up, trying to get into it. It beats working.”

– David Carr