Thursday, February 4, 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Valentine's Edition, Pt. 1


It's a new month, which brings us to a new Thursday, and that means it's time for Thursday Movie Picks!  This whole month has it's own sub-theme; Valentine's!  So, first up is the Star-Crossed Lovers portion of the month, and as we all know, star-crossed lovers are lovers doomed to experience an end to their relationship, whether it be in death or in the terrible fact that they just cannot be together.  So, I decided to go with three sets of doomed relationships that were doomed because of the terrible world in which we live.

Atonement (Joe Wright, 2007)
So a few things here.  We've heard the whole 'poor boy loves rich girl and society won't allow their happiness' routine before.  Seen it a thousand times.  We've seen it end well, and we've seen it end in tragedy.  But, this love story doesn't end because of society, because I have a strong feeling that, left alone, these two would have lived forever in each other's arms.  No, this relationship died due to a little girl and a lie and that lie spread so sharply through this family that it caused the unthinkable and the unspeakable and next thing you know, next thing you feel, is the sharpest pangs of love lost; forever.

Wuthering Heights (Andrea Arnold, 2012)
Here we go again with the societal 'poor boy loves rich girl' route, but what makes Andrea Arnold's art-house rendition of this classic tale especially profound is the race card thrown in.  By making our lead African America, the game is changed and the tale is much deeper in its depiction of the doomed love between these two 'adopted' siblings. 

Her (Spike Jonze, 2013)
UGH, has there been a more romantic pairing in recent years?  I think not.  These two were perfect for each other, and I think the pain we feel when they no longer are together is felt so strongly because of the realization that we all want this kind of love; this kind of companionship.  Here though, the relationship is doomed from the start because these two worlds just cannot share that kind of space and in the end, more is needed to sustain a relationship.

28 comments:

  1. I also picked Her, I love that movie so much. Atonement though..UGH! It makes me so sad just thinking about it.

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  2. I absolutely have to re-watch Her.

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    1. It's such a brilliant little movie. Hope you give it a re-watch.

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  3. LOVE the choice of Atonement, that's a killer. Much of that is due to Keira Knightley and James McAvoy especially in the context of today's theme but without Saoirse Ronan the picture wouldn't have nearly as much impact. Really all three actresses that play Briony, Vanessa Redgrave shows up in those last minutes and just nails it, add so much to the film.

    I haven't seen this version of Wuthering but based on my knowledge of the book and the Laurence Olivier/Merle Oberon film it's a terrific choice. It's just that Heathcliff is such a bastard it's tough to feel for him.

    Her is in my queue but I haven't quite gotten to it yet but it's near the top, so soon.

    This was going to be an all Barbra Streisand list since star crossed lovers seems to be part of her stock in trade but her version of A Star is Born is such a stinking pile of wasted celluloid I just couldn’t bring myself to list it and turned to a MUCH better version of the same tale. I threw in a little snippet for each to highlight the theme.

    The Way We Were (1973)-Memories will light the corners of your mind after viewing this high quality drama of Jewish radical Katie Morosky (Babs) and "gorgeous goyish guy" Hubbell Gardner (Robert Redford) who attend college together in the 30’s then meet again during WWII and despite immense differences fall in love. The film follows their problem plagued relationship through dating, marriage and the Hollywood blacklist. Tale of doomed love is ultra-romantic with political overtones has nice period detail and perhaps Streisand’s career best performance.

    **Star-crossed quote- "I want us to love each other. The trouble is we do."

    Funny Girl (1968)-Gawky, burning with ambition and massively talented Fanny Brice is trying to make her way in show biz, by chance she meets suave professional gambler Nicky Arnstein who helps give her a step up. Sensing a spark but pulled apart by circumstances Fanny continues her ascent occasionally running into Nick until a fateful encounter leads to a great love. Problem is Fanny’s compiling one triumph on top of another while Nick feeling the pressure of being “Mr. Brice” suffers a series of bad luck deals leading to a disastrous decision (and an emotion packed finale). Oscar winning showcase for Streisand, how much is true is questionable though the real life Brice and Arnstein did have a troubled marriage.

    **Star-crossed quote-Nick: “I thought maybe, finally, at last my luck had changed…but it hadn’t. “Fanny-“So it will change tomorrow, the way it has a hundred other time. Everybody has a run of bad luck now and then it doesn’t mean anything.” Nick-“How would you know darling? You never lose.”

    A Star is Born (1954)-Band singer Esther Blodgett (Judy Garland) saves movie star Norman Maine (James Mason) from making a drunken fool of himself at a Hollywood benefit when he stumbles into her act. Intrigued he tracks her down to a late night club and discovers that she possesses “that little something extra” that makes a great star and convinces her to leave the band. After some complications a friendship develops leading to a romance and marriage but as Esther, now rechristened Vicki Lester, rises ever higher Norman, trapped by demons in a downward spiral, falls leading to tragedy for all. Judy’s pinnacle both vocally and dramatically. She’s almost matched by Mason and they are supported by strong work from Charles Bickford, Tommy Noonan and especially Jack Carson.

    **Star-crossed quote:
    “Love isn't enough, I thought it was. I thought I was the answer for Norman. But love isn't enough for him. No matter how much you love someone — how do you live out the days? How?”

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    1. UGH, I still need to see A Star is Born...any version of it, but especially the Garland version because, well, Judy effing Garland!

      I loved Barbs in Funny Girl and LOVE her Oscar win. She's radiant.

      I need to see The Way We Were too...it used to play on TCM all the time and I never got around to watching it.

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    2. DO NOT let your first exposure to A Star is Born be the Streisand version which manages to suck all the romance, charm and pathos out of the story. Of course she sings beautifully but you can listen to the soundtrack album for that.

      Judy's version is the best but the Janet Gaynor/Fredric March one has much to recommend it as well.

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    3. LOL, I'll keep that in mind.

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  4. SIGH. Her. So fucking beautiful. I am so amazed by that movie. Completely brilliant. I felt always at arm's length with Atonement when I first saw it, but it proved really sticky - I wasn't sure how they were going to do the ending because in the book it is done so literarily, and it didn't have quite the same jaw-dropping quality as the book, Vanessa Redgrave can do anything, so it worked probably as well as it could have.

    I haven't seen this version of Wuthering Heights but UGH I kinda HATE Catherine and Heathcliff. My favorite version is Monty Python's "Semaphore Version of Wuthering Heights" from the Spanish Inquisition episode.

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    1. I recommend this version of WH...it's really well done and made me connect to the characters in ways unlike the other two. I actually felt for these two...yearned for them. It's a beautiful piece of filmmaking.

      I read the book first, too...but I felt like Wright nailed it.

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  5. I love Atonement and Her both. The first is sadly underknown and the second risks being overhyped, but both are really wonderful films and sad for very different reasons.

    I've never been a Wuthering Heights fan. The 1939 version is notable (my opinion) only because Laurence Olivier plays Heathcliffe like a stone-cold pimp.

    For me, though, the greatest doomed relationship film is In the Mood for Love. If it's one you haven't seen, I can't recommend it highly enough. I can't think of a better example of a requited but unfulfilled love, although the relationship between Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon comes pretty damn close.

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    1. OMG, In the Mood for Love is my everything.

      In fact...

      http://afistfuloffilms.blogspot.com/2015/10/a-fistfulof-my-100-and-then-some.html

      ...scroll down to #11

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  6. Her is a magnificent film. Glad it's popping up a lot today. I liked, but didn't love Atonement. I'll admit to needing to rewatch it, though. Haven't seen Wuthering Heights. I've always been aware of it, but didn't know anything about it, at all. Might have to check that out. Great post.

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    1. This current version of WH is my favorite and, in my opinion, much better than the 1939 Olivier version.

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  7. I have not seen Her yet and have it on my list to see. I have seen a few versions of Wuthering Heights but not the one you show here. I have seen Atonement and found it....blechhh. I know, how ghastly! Maybe, one day, when I am sick and too ill to change the channel, I will give it another try but 3 of us went to see it in the theatre and all 3 of us fell asleep and found it dull

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    1. Your massive dislike of Atonement makes me sad, since it's perfect and you should love it.

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  8. I should've known you'd go Atonement. Not sure if I ever told you, but I did re-watch it after our 2007 debate. It was better than the first time, for sure. Quite a lovely piece of storytelling. I haven't seen Wuthering Heights, but Her really works here. Just a great take on the star-crossed theme.

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    1. YES! Love that you revisited and are slowly being converted!

      Hehe...

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  9. YES YES YES YES YES YES to all 3 films.

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  10. I think more than the lie it was the war that separated them...well lie separated them but as we see in the ending it was war that made it impossible for them to come together. Fuck that movie....Knightley starred in some of the most tragic and depressive 'romantic' movies in cinema's history.

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    1. But the lie is what separated them. If the lie hadn't forced them apart and forced Robbie into the army, they could have started some sort of a life together...but their fates were completely wrapped up in that tragic moment.

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  11. Ugh, just thinking about Atonement makes me want to cry. Awesome picks, buddy!

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    1. Tears...streaming down the side of my face...every...single...time!

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  12. Great picks! I have yet to see Wuthering Heights, though it's getting higher on my watch list.

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    1. I hope you get a chance to see it. It's a great adaptation.

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  13. I haven't seen this version of Wuthering Heights nor read the book but from what I understand Heathcliff in the book isn't suppose to be white right? So I guess this is the only version that tries to be faithful in that regard by casting someone non-white.

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