Like keeping a personal diary, I have years of black-out where I just seem to stop writing. I withdraw from social media into my turtle shell, peeking out around the corners. Without fail, I return eventually, head buzzing and tail between my legs.
So here we go again, blogverse.
Turner Classic Movies is doing a series on disability on film this month. It’s really an interesting look at how its been portrayed and social feelings towards people with different abilities. Tonight they showed a rare find restored by the Netherlands Filmmuseum, “Lucky Star” (1929).
“Lucky Star” is a silent film directed by the prolific Frank Borzage, about what happens after a man who returns to his rural town after being injured while fighting in WWI. In this poor town, Tim (Charles Farrell) returns to his town in a wheel chair and befriends local girl Mary (Janet Gaynor), the one person who doesn’t seem to think twice about his new wheels. Their relationship starts as sort of mentor-student with Tim guiding Mary from dirty child to a young woman with increasing self-respect. As they grow closer their interactions slowly change, much to the chagrin of Mary’s mother who doesn’t want her “wasting her time on a cripple.”
For me the most engaging thing about the film is Farrell’s portrayal of Tim. He is fully self-sufficient with a drive and ambition, perhaps even more so than the other people you see in his rural town. The reactions of other people only bother him in their leading to his loneliness. Only after Tim’s feelings towards Mary change towards romantic interest do you see his pain, and Farrell really helps you understand the emotional and physical struggle. But Tim’s absolute determination and Mary’s love see the film through the end.
Farrell’s acting and Borzage’s direction make the film’s social commentary effective while keeping it a bit more on the subtle side. “Lucky Star” is an engaging and interesting melodrama that’s definitely worth a watch.
In my review for “Sherlock Jr” (1924) I mentioned my interest in Sherlock Holmes. I though I’d take the opportunity to talk about the first season of the BBC series “Sherlock” (2010).
A modern interpretation of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle classic, “Sherlock” sets the title character as a hyper-intelligent, tech savvy cynic (Benedict Cumberbatch) supported by his friend Afghan war veteran Doctor Watson (Martin Freeman). Season one is three 90 minute episodes, more like individual movies than a television show, that tell the familiar stories in a new way. For example, episode one “A Study in Pink” is a direct adaptation of “A Study in Scarlet.”
I find the series to be wonderfully cast with pitch-perfect portrayals of a Holmes for the modern world. The tone is far from Basil Rathbone, but I feel fits very well with the literary works. On top of that, Freeman’s presentation of Watson as an everyman with a thirst for adventure seems more genuine in his tenuous relationship with Holmes than previous incarnations where he seems to be a bumbling idiot.
If you are a fan of Holmes, like mysteries, or are looking for something that requires a little brain power, give “Sherlock” a try. Me, I’ve already set my mobile ringtone for the title song.
DragonCon is a festival of all things geeky. Every year during the first weekend of September there are four days of Sci-Fi, comic book, anime, and video game mayhem. Last night there was the world premiere for a new independent film featuring Doug Jones, Felicia Day, and Andrew Bowen.
“Rock Jocks” (2012) is about a group of geniuses who work for a secret government agency that shoots down astroids. Faced with budget cuts and the threat of elimination, they have to work together save their jobs and the world. “Rock Jocks” has a solid story and great script that felt like what you would get if “Clerks” (1994) and “Repo Man” (1984) had a love child who became an astronaut. That being said this is definitely not a family film, with a great amount of adult humor and swearing including security guards contemplating the various ways that expletives can be used.
Following the premiere of the movie was a short panel session with the writer/director Paul Seetachitt, Andrew Bowen, and Robert Picardo. They were all very excited to share the final product and stories about making the film. It was shot on a small cannon and you can definitely tell in the image quality. But the story and characters are so much fun, you soon forget and just enjoy. Overall, I enjoyed myself and would definitely love to see it again.
If you’re interested in seeing this film, check out their website
I’ve been on a British mystery kick. After watching way too many episodes of “Midsomer Murders” I decided to go with a classic. Agatha Christie, the best-selling mystery writer of all time, meets Billy Wilder, writer-director extraordinaire in the script of “Witness for the Prosecution” (1957).
The film is a riveting court drama the tops any seen today. Christie’s tale leads you to question your own suspicions and plays wonderfully with Wilder’s quirky sense of humor seamlessly inserted into the dialogue. Additionally, Wilder’s decision to minimize music puts greater emphasis on the inflection on words spoken and stretches of silence.
Marlene Dietrich is accused murderer Tyrone Power’s wife whom he brought to England after WWII. The complications of their relationship are nearly the opposite of those she played in “The Blue Angel,” but carry as much intrigue. Charles Laughton as Banister Wilfrid is both a comic curmudgeon and brilliant analytical mind. His performance was the reason I had a repeat watch immediately.
While there is a sequence where you find yourself doing a face-palm with Dietrich, it’s not too hard to forgive and carry on. The end of the film requests that I “not divulge the end,” so all I can say is that as I sat watching this film, exclaimed to my hamster, “CharlesLaughton is Amazing!”
If you’re a Billy Wilder fan, check out my reviews of “The Seven Year Itch” and “Double Indemnity.”
I find Marlene Dietrich to be a fascinating personality. Her American films usually find her cast as a sexual creature verging on vamp, playing men to get what she can off them. Dietrich’s roles in later films have her as more of a sympathetic villianness, where the audience sees her in greater shades of grey. I though it might be interesting to go back and watch the film that really introduced her to US audiences, “The Blue Angel.”
“The Blue Angel” (1930) exists in two versions: the original German language release and an English language version featuring the same cast. The English version was thought to be lost for many years until a print was found mislabeled in a German archive. I’m reviewing the German version because of its availability and i find the performances to be a little better.
Josef von Sternberg‘s film has Dietrich as a restaurant cabaret singer who’s tough personality and sleepy eyes softens the heart of prudish professor Emil Jannings, leading to his self destruction. Sternberg frames shots to include objects, actions, or shadows that offer their own story or character foreshadowing. You can tell where he learned his craft, as hints of silent German Expressionism add to the drama. Jannings was one of the biggest stars of German silent cinema, known around the world for his dramatic leading characters. In “The Blue Angel” you can literally see his character’s hard icy manner melt as he falls in love with Dietrich.
There is so much history surrounding this film that it fills entire books. I’ll just say that the relations between characters and social commentary that can be drawn from it make and endlessly interesting and entertaining movie.
I had a modeling job the other day and thought it might be interesting to write down all of the preparations before I go to a call or a gig.
I always carry a gig bag with me. This contains a collection of things that I might need for a casting or a job, and might vary slightly depending on what I’m told is needed. Always constant are:
- toothbrush and toothpaste
- hairbrush and hair ties
- panties and bras in nude and black
- high heels in black and nude
- soap and deodorant
- selection of jewelery
- book to read and/or ipod with charged battery
Some of this is pretty self-explanatory. Shoes and underwear in two colors should provide options for whatever wardrobe is provided. Make up and hair supplies are for those occasions when I might be asked to provide my look. A book and music is always a necessity. There is a lot of “hurry up and wait” at any gig, and its invaluable to be able to keep yourself entertained.
Perhaps most important is my portfolio. This is my visual resume, showing samples of my previous work and my versatility. In here are also composition cards with my best selection of photos and information to leave with a client as reference for future jobs. I would never go without it.