Bust out your binoculars, there’s spoilers ahead…
This week we’re looking at one of my all time FAVORITE movies from one of my all time FAVORITE directors, Rear Window (1954) by Alfred Hitchcock.
This movie is the quintessential murder mystery movie in my opinion. It’s got everything one needs: suspense, intrigue, a great plotline, Jimmy Stewart, Princess Grace, great dresses, I don’t know what could go wrong. Except…MURDER! Okay, that was cheesy, but you get my drift. Hitchcock was such a good master of suspense and this movie really was a great example of his work.
At first sight, it may seem like L.B. Jefferies (Jeff as he’s known to friends) is kind of a peeping Tom, but it’s the 50’s people and what else is a man gonna do when he’s confined to a wheelchair and doesn’t have Netflix? One can only read so many books before one begins to wonder what is going on in the outside world…or the courtyard of one’s apartment complex. So, he uses his award winning photography lens to take a look.
And look he does…
Until he gets his company, girlfriend Grace Kelly-er, I mean, Lisa Fremont.
Who doesn’t appear too keen on his…new hobby. As time passes however, L.B. Jeff Jimmy whats his face, begins to notice a particular tenant (no, not the talented dancer previously seen), but a man who seems to have gotten himself into an argument with someone that looks to be his wife. But is she? The blinds are drawn immediately after. The man packs a suitcase and the woman isn’t seen again. L.B. is now of course intensely involved. Ethically, this is a conundrum. Does he report this to the police? They’ll think he’s nuts! Will they though? He did see something…he thinks.
His only option is to stay put by the window and watch at all hours without distraction. But wait,
Lisa has other plans.
Nope still have to stick to his post!
C’Mon L.B., look at the lady! Anyhow, after much begging and pleading, grumpy old Jefferies decides to stick to neighbor watching and creeping on his Murdery McMurderson across the way. Be troubled not, because our clever leading lady, goes home and comes back full force!
But the night is young for our daring duo and Mr. McMurderson isn’t as stupid as he looks…
What happens? Well, I’m not going to tell you now am I? You MUST immediately go to your nearest streaming device and rent, or find an obscure movie rental place and rent this movie now. IT’S THAT GOOD. Trust me. You’re welcome in advance. Then, go google all the movies that have been inspired by this movie and then read this article about fun facts about this movie. I kinda like it, can you tell? 🙂
Put on your sunglasses, there’s spoilers ahead…
This week we’re discussing a documentary film that I found so interesting I had to write about it. The documentary is called Tabloid (2010) directed by Errol Morris, and it’s on Hulu in their ‘True Crime’ section. This documentary is on a story that is so bizarre that it truly defines the term, “truth is stranger than fiction”.
This bizarre tale is about the 1977 case of Joyce McKinney, a former beauty queen with a strong southern drawl and obscure self-perception, and her decision to fly to London to kidnap Mormon missionary Kirk Anderson, chain him to a bed for three days against his will, and then proceed to rape him. Did I mention this was a documentary and not a weird, made up plotline of some movie? No, this actually happened, people.
The way it’s presented in the documentary, with Joyce McKinney, happy and bubbly, playing the innocent lovestruck woman who was just trying to save her boyfriend from a “cult”, as she refers to it, that had brainwashed him is unnerving. Real live footage is cut in throughout interviews of people involved in this strange story: a pilot hired to fly Joyce and others short distances, a former Mormon who offers expert information, two former journalists, one from the Daily Express and one from the Daily Mirror, Joyce McKinney herself, the star.
The way Joyce tells her story is in stark contrast to the facts that happened. In her mind everything is justified. Boyfriend leaves? It must be his cult of a church that had brainwashed him. Her response? Kidnapping. He doesn’t quite want to go along with her plan? Well, plan B is initiated and the manacles come out at the quaint, isolated British countryside cabin for THREE DAYS STRAIGHT. In Joyce’s mind it was a “honeymoon”. In the eyes of the law, it was Alleged Abduction and Assault. But, not every relationship is perfect, right?
The part that really got to me was when after she was caught, arrested and separated from the “love of her life” he didn’t really seem as important to her anymore-for a while anyway. She did end up stalking him in Utah later on in life, but that’s not a part of the documentary. After she was arrested, she became famous, and she. loved. it. She and her partner in crime, Keith “K.J.” May would deck themselves out in ridiculous
costumes disguises and go through customs, or pick someone up at the airport. When they were caught at the airport they would be shocked, but Joyce would always be wearing that beauty queen smile.
It’s comical and sad at the same time to watch this perplexing story unfold. Here is a woman so desperate for the love of a man, a particular man, that she goes through all of these shenanigans to get him, only to have him taken from her because of said shenanigans. Meanwhile, she’s blinded to all of the men surrounding her who would gladly love her and she uses them like disposable toys. Please go watch this documentary and tell me what you think. It’s a crazy story, but a great film.
Hang up those Rita Hayworth posters, there’s spoilers ahead…
This week I’m going to talk about a wonderful movie that many don’t realize is based off a book by Stephen King, The Shawshank Redemption (1994). This movie is one of my favorites because it has such a rich and smart storyline, the casting and performances by the actors in this film were amazing, and Robert Zemeckis did a great job directing.
Firstly, most of my favorite King stories are some of his short stories, which is what Shawshank Redemption is. It is based off the story, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption along with three other short stories. Many of King’s short stories have been made into movies: Stand by Me, Apt Pupil, Hearts in Atlantis, Children of the Corn, Lawnmower Man. Shawshank, however, stands apart the rest due to the elements of drama and brilliant twists.
When the movie begins and we see Andy Dufresne (a young, dashing Tim Robbins) pulling up to his house with a gun and a bottle of whiskey, we know things aren’t ending up well. Seeing what we assume is his wife making out with another dude in their house. Not cool sister. Going through a montage of testimony in court, processing into prison, cut through Red’s (Morgan FREAKING Freeman!) narration, we see the prison through the eyes of an inmate. It’s easy to see the cliques and to see who is who in the pecking order.
Once Andy gets settled in, he realizes who he needs to stick close to and Red’s his guy. I love the friendship that Red and Andy develop through the film. There’s an unspoken understanding between the two that they seem to be in on a secret that nobody else knows or understands. Andy keeps to himself, often grinning smugly, which comes off as arrogant. Red notices these things and doesn’t say anything, but observes and notes that Andy seems smarter than most, and the contraband he asks Red for (as Red is the one to ask for these things) is unique and not necessarily something one would use in a prison cell. Andy trusts Red and Red continues to humor Andy, asking only random questions here and there.
Seeing this friendship unfold is harrowing and gives us as the audience something to hold on to in such a bleak setting. Andy doesn’t remain a loner for long however, as he gains respect with other inmates by earning them ice-cold beer on a tar covered roof they are working on in the middle of the hot summer. The way he earns this reward for his fellow inmates (by offering to launder money for a guard), and the way he does it in such a seemingly selfless way, begs the question of his guilt at all. Up until this point, it is ambivalent as to whether he actually committed the crime or not. The unknown is excellent as it adds to the suspense (thank you, Mr. King) and makes the atrocities Andy faces in the penitentiary that much more horrifying.
Andy continues help guards with their money issues and rises in ‘rank’ over the years from within the prison from working in the laundry to the library, one of the best jobs in the penitentiary. Again, this shows King’s true intelligence and mastery of storytelling as he thinks of every last detail. This plot is so intricate and complicated, but as an audience member, it’s easy to follow. Andy knows the odds are stacked against him, but he’s cool, collected, and has a plan from the very beginning.
One of my favorite exchanges between Red and Andy in this movie is when they are discussing Andy’s pleasant disposition,
Red: “Hope is a dangerous thing my friend, it can kill a man…”
Andy: “Hope is a good thing. Maybe even the best of things and good things never die.”
This theme is all throughout the movie and is so beautiful due to the despicable acts carried out in the prison: beatings, rape, bribery, etc. The fact that Andy has this hope is so inspiring and even more so when the audience figures out his big plan, one involving a small pickaxe, a poster and something about a Mexican beach. Twenty years is a long time to spend in a prison cell overlooked. Having a small pickaxe and a picture of the current year’s sex symbol (starting with Rita Hayworth and ending with Raquel Welch), Andy’s patient escape strategy is so freaking genius and is executed flawlessly, as disgusting as it is.
When Red walks out of prison a free man, finds the tree and digs up the box, I feel he finally understands what hope is. It’s so lovely and gives me goosebumps every time. My favorite scene is the end scene when he arrives on a Mexican beach…
Put on your bowling shoes, there’s spoilers ahead…
This week I am going to talk about one of my all time favorite movies, The Big Lebowski (1998).
I can feel my Mother’s eyes rolling as she reads this. 😀
Ever since I first saw this flick in high school, I knew that a) there were people out there that were weird like me, and b) Joel and Ethan Coen were geniuses.
First and foremost, I will always love anyone who has the audacity to go by their nickname and adopt it as their regular name as if they were Prince (R.I.P.). “The Dude” is also the best assumed moniker I’ve ever heard of, so I tip my hat to you Coen brothers. His disgusting habits, living arrangements, and overall persona makes you immediately want to go, “yugh”, and cringe, but you can’t help but find him pathetically endearing. You end up rooting for him and his ridiculous friends Walter and Donny throughout the film.
The crazy mixed up and twisted plotline is so out of control and absurd that you can’t possibly pry your eyes away. It feels like a kidnapping movie, and it is, kind of, but it’s also a harrowing tale of friendship, love, and the incredible lengths a man will go to in order to get his rug back. “Shelley? You been hanging out with The Dude? You’re not making sense.” Yes I am! Just bear with me!
Well, we all know that it’s a “kidnapping” movie because of course the other Lebowski gets mixed up in The Dude’s life via the rug incident. This was when the goons come in and pee on The Dude’s rug looking for rich Lebowski’s wife, Bunny. This is a mistake, of course, because The Dude obviously is broke as we saw him writing a $0.68 check for half and half. Such a baller move. Was Bunny kidnapped? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I can’t give that away!
It’s a tale of friendship obviously because of Walter and Donny. Walter, Donny, and the Dude have one of those awesome bff friendships that you would see on “Friends” or “The Big Bang Theory” only much more dysfunctional and with more guns and booze. The Dude is very chill, but solidifies the group and is it’s core. He is able to stand up to Walter and calls the shots more than Walt thinks. Walter is a hot head who brings up Vietnam and his conversion to Judaism any chance he gets and may or may not always be packing heat. I think, though, on the inside he’s a big ol’ softie. And Donny…Donny is with it, but nobody listens to Donny. All Donny needed to do was stand up to Walt, just once, and maybe things would have been different.
I know you’re asking yourself, “okay, those reasons are all a BIG stretch, but what about love?” Well, let me explain. Maude! No, it’s not what we would call a conventional relationship, and maybe they don’t show typical expressions that lovers usually show, BUT, he does have an amazing musical dream/hallucination sequence where she is the leading lady, and if that isn’t an expression of love, I don’t know what is.
As for The Dude’s quest to reunite himself with the rug that is necessary to tying his room together, he goes to great lengths, dropping off ransom money (or Walter’s whites), to a sketchy party in Malibu, to the bowling alley, to a house by the In-n-Out, to his landlord’s weird art exhibition, to the bowling alley, etc. He probably was out of his house more than he had ever been the entire year…all for the love of that rug. Tenacity. Strength. Idiocy. Some of these are words to describe this journey.
In the end, The Dude lost a friend, but gained life lessons. Mainly, don’t run ransom schemes for rich people. Just call the police and try to get your rug back…or go buy a new one, then go bowling man.
I LOVE movies and film. Anything from huge blockbusters like the Avengers to small indie projects I have to travel to Dallas to see on really inconvenient dates to watch, I’m in. Alfred Hitchcock is my all-time favorite director and whenever I wanted to watch a scary movie, my parents knew to go rent me ‘Psycho’. If I was feeling down and out, a musical like ‘Singing in the Rain’ or ‘West Side Story’ would do the trick. John Hughes movies were THE BOMB. I have different lists of favorite directors based on what they direct. I’m kind of weird (as if you haven’t gathered this yet.)
My goal for this section of the site is to let you know which movies I love and why. Feel free to tell me if you agree or disagree. I will definitely tell you if I’ve seen any new ones that are out and we can discuss those at length. One of my FAVORITE podcasts is the Mad About Movies Podcast. It’s great and I highly recommend it!
© Shelley Knowles 2018