Thursday, March 27, 2008


It is truly fitting that Spring is on the move. We have just finished the Screwball and the Romantic Comedy unit. While they both focus on love and comedy, Screwball stresses comedy while the Romantic Comedy stresses romance. The Screwball focuses on the plot around the romance, the craziness that usually ensues around the two main characters. And of course, it has to be a funny situation. In His Girl Friday, Hildy Johnson plays the un-typical role of the strong and sassy heroine, while her ex-husband Walter Burns, playes the counterpart and source of friction for Hildy. There is obvious flirtation and romance but it is overshadowed by the crazy plotline as Walter and Hildy hide a man on the run. Recent Screwball movies include the Kenneth Branagh version of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, and the Sandra Bullock film Two Weeks Notice. What I love about the Screwball is that the typical roles are reversed, the female is dominant and she gets some good lines too.
Ah, the Romantic Comedy. The Romantic Comedy's main focus is on romance, of course. The main characters take on the roles of the lovestruck woman and the heroic man, and, of course, they end up together in the end. There are humorous moments that add to the romance, or if comedy is not related to the romance, it does not overshadow it. The Romantic Comedy we watched was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Joel and Clementine are in a relationship until one day Clementine doesn't remember Joel. This is because she has had her memory of him erased. Yes, erased. The main focus is on the deteriorating relationship between Joel and Clem, there are funny moments and they contribute to the relationship and the fact that it is becoming nonexistant. The movie is dark and at first glance it does not seem like a Romantic Comedy, but it is. The main reason why people believe this is because nowadays people seem to mistake the Romantic Comedy for the ever powerful Chick Flick.
The Chick flick and the Romantic Comedy are not the same, I repeat, they ARE NOT THE SAME. The Chick Flick is a lot like the Romantic Comedy, they are both centered around romance and usually feature a woman who gets herself into comedic trouble (all for the romance- or either it doesn't detract from it- of course). But while the Romantic Comedy appeals to everyday people, the Chick Flick appeals to, well, chicks. And this means that there is the obviously-hotter-than-normal male interest (think James Marsden in 27 Dresses and Brad Pitt in Thelma and Louise) who is too perfect to be real, the female lead always owns a great wardrobe (Devil Wears Prada) and , and undying love speeches made to the female while she is crying (Jerry Maguire). In contrast, the Romantic Comedy showcases men who may not have perfect bodies or profess their love on a daily basis (When Harry Met Sally) but they are realistic and relatable. The women may not have the greatest duds (I Capture the Castle), but they make that up in their humor and personality. Don't get me wrong, I love a good chick flick, but what I really enjoy is the kind of movie you can feel good, laugh at, and enjoy with a guy who doesn't go groaning to the theatre when you mention the title.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

In my world everyone is a pony, and they all eat rainbows, and poop butterflies

Okay, so I realize I have just blogged about a movie a day ago, but I just saw one of the funniest and heartwarming movies I have seen in a long time so I JUST HAVE TO BLOG ABOUT IT. I don't even know if anyone reads this thing, but I just feel like I should share my thoughts because I really like to do that.
Horton Hears A Who! is the film that I had the privilege of viewing. My friend wanted to see it, but I kind of wanted to see Never Back Down preferably for the cheesy title and this one hot guy in the movie- I swear I'm not that shallow. Anyway, I decided that my money would probably be better spent at Horton, even though it did seem like it would be a movie just intended for people under the age of thirteen. But I went anyway, it looked cute.
Boy was I wrong. This movie is for ALL AGES; it is funny, sweet, happy, and it sends a message that you should stand up for what you believe in. It follows an elephant, Horton, played by Jim Carrey, who is a little bit eccentric and optimistic. One day, he hears a noise from a spec. Yes, a spec. It turns out that this spec is home to a bunch of Whos in Whoville. The mayor, played by Steve Carrel, is hilarious and a little neurotic with his 96 daughters and one son, JoJo. Horton must prove to his fellow animal friends, including a nosy Kangaroo (Carol Burnett) and a sarcastic mouse (Seth Rogan), that this spec really does have people living on it.
This movie is obviously animated but there are camera angles and lighting to convey different feelings and perceptions. There are closeups of Horton and the mayor, and shadowy depictions of Vlad, the somewhat evil but mostly crazy, vulture. Along with the shots and lighting, there is diagetic music that fits right in; happy and peppy at most parts, but also fast and harsh at moments of climax. Everything seems well and put together in this movie.
Horton Hears A Who! is truly for everyone of all ages, and I can assure you that I laughed out loud and felt a warm feeling at the end of this movie.

Friday, March 21, 2008

You Drive Me Crazy

I kind of feel like the expression on Rupert's face---->

No, I am not referring to the Britney Spears hit single or the Melissa Joan Hart movie from the earliest part of this decade. In fact, I am talking about a movie that I have recently watched, called Driving Lessons. It is an English film that stars Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley in the HP movies) as Ben, a seventeen-and-a-half year old who is quiet and kind of odd. He obeys his mother, played by Laura Linney, and her strict Catholic ways. But not all is as it seems. In fact, mommy dearest is hiding an illicit affair with another man, and she makes Ben take driving lessons so she can have an excuse for a little action on the side. Ben's poor dad (who is a Priest) is unbeknownst to all of this. Meanwhile, Ben's mum thinks it would be in Ben's best interest to help an aging actress-Evie- with things around the house and such. From then on the two form a bond that spans across generations. They go camping, Evie swallows the key to their car, Ben loses his virginity, and each learns a little from Shakespeare.
All and all, this coming-of-age film is quite boring, mostly due in part to the fact that the main character, Ben, DOESN'T SPEAK FOR LIKE THE FIRST THIRTY MINUTES. Okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating, but it seems like that. Driving Lessons seems to drag on for a long time with pointless filler plots, which leads the audience into wondering what the whole point of this movie is. In the end, my friends and I had to speed up the dialogue on the DVD player and we did an NFL end zone dance when this movie was over.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


For today's post, I'm obviously writing about the western film genre because we have recently finished it. For the most part, the western has surpasssed my previous notions about the genre. I had always thought that westerns were long and boring with cowboys and Indians along the way. In fact, there is a lot more to these films; the western is somewhat like a hero-journey, kind of like The Odyssey. The main character is usually a man who is somewhat of a rebel with a cause, whether it be revenge or helping a damsel in distress. He is rugged and handsome, not baby-faced and young but experienced and brooding. As we learned in Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven, he can be a man past his prime somewhat unsure of exactly what he is doing. In John Ford's Stagecoach, John Wayne is the protagonist who is an anti-hero; he is going to jail yet he is good at heart and treats people with the respect that they deserve, rather than the respect that society has given them.
Along with the brooding hero, there is the timid man. This is portrayed by Mr. Peacock in Stagecoach and the novelist in Unforgiven. He is scared and adds comic relief with his scared actions and submissive ways. Along with the timid man, there is the prostitute (or sometimes prostitutes) with a heart of gold. She is pretty and kind, and she cares for others whether they be fellow prostitutes or another member of society. The prostitute is usually the opposite of what most people think a prostitute is like; she is relatable (in Stagecoach Dallas is kind and loving towards Miss Mallory and her baby) and looks out for others (the prostitutes band together in Unforgiven). The prostitute usually develops some kind of a relationship with the hero.
Now, if you are like me and how I used to think that the western was boring, you must rent a western film to prove yourself wrong. In this genre there is action from cowboys vs. cowboys to cowboys vs. Indians. There is love, sometimes between prostitutes and sometimes between each other (BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN!! Doesn't that count?!) There is even humor mixed in with a plot that usually centers around a looming fight.
So if you're unsure of what you want to watch on a Saturday night, go to your nearest Blockbusters and run towards the western genre!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

With a name like Guillermo, how could you go wrong?

To say that Guillermo del Toro's masterpiece "Pan's Labyrinth" is near and dear to del Toro's heart might just be an understatement. Del Toro directed, wrote, and produced the Spanish film. Interested in the Spanish Civil War, "Pan's Labyrinth" was del Toro's second film (after "The Devil's Backbone") that was based around that setting. The film deals with a little girl, Ofelia, confronting her cold and fascist step-father, Captain Vidal. Along the way, Ofelia gets guidance from a mystical Faun who tells her that she is the princess of the moon and that she must complete tasks that involve mythology and fairy tale elements, to return to her rightful position as princess. "For me, fascism is a representation of the ultimate horror and it is, in this sense, an ideal concept through which to tell a fairy tale aimed at adults." Guillermo has said. And that's what he did; del Toro presented his harsh take on fascism, which was instilled by him when he was just a boy and Spaniards sought refuge in his homeland Mexico, by weaving in a central story that is very much a dark fairy tale. Del Toro admits that "(he) has been fascinated by fairy tales and the mechanics at work in them since (his) early childhood."
To create the fairy tale, del Toro wove in his knowledge of mythology by incorporating such creatures as fairies to help Ofelia on her journey to save herself from her evil step-father. Guillermo created such creatures as a Faun that acts as a satyr to guide Ofelia on her journey, a man eating monster that will truly give viewers nightmares, and even a large toad. With these whimsical elements, del Toro holds the viewer's attention. Even the backdrops to the scenes themselves are truly haunting, from the Spanish labyrinth to the woods in the back of Ofelia's house; del Toro has it all planned out, and it works in taking the audience's breaths away. Added with the very precise facts on the Spanish Civil War, del Toro creates a story both factual and out of this world, and he manages to do so without leaving the audience confused.
Guillermo del Toro's hallmarks in his movies are his use of children to convey his adult tales ("Pan's Labyrinth", "The Devil's Backbone"- set in a boy's orphanage), his fascination with fairy tales and mythology ("Pan's Labyrinth", "Cronos"- a story about vampires), and a strong sense of self ("Pan's" and "Devil's Backbone" deal with issues he has witnessed in real life). The fact that Guillermo has written these amazingly eccentric films only leaves many people with one choice- use him as the director and producer, just to get everything right! I truly believe the main reason why del Toro is also the director and producer is because he has created such a dazzling story on paper that no one could really create it the way it is supposed to be except for the man behind the original idea and the story line.