After reading Collette’s blog on holiday films, I thought it would be a great idea to also write a blog about holiday films and their tradition in my life. Everyone has seen the classics, Rudolph, Santa Clause is Coming to Town, Frosty the Snowman, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, but my family watched one that seemed a little less popular growing up and still today. I was obsessed with watching the claymation movie The Year Without a Santa Clause. I loved the songs in the movie and thought it was just hilarious growing up. My favorite characters in the movie are Mr. Heat Miser and his brother Mr. Snow Miser. They have great songs about themselves in the movie that I would run around singing driving my mother and father crazy when I was younger. Here’s the clips of these songs from you tube…
Besides watching The Year Without a Santa Clause every year, my family and I always sit down and watch A Christmas Story when it is on for 24 hours on TBS every year. No matter how many times you see that movie, it is still funny and, for my family and I, makes Christmas really feel like Christmas.
I have always been a fan of the use of music in movies. I find it interesting the way the music can really depict how a scene goes. When speaking about film soundtracks my mind always flashes to two more recent films with amazing soundtracks, I Heart Huckabees and most of Wes Anderson’s films. He uses amazing artists in his films. In particular, in the film, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou he uses the Brazilian musician, Seu Jorge. In the film there is a scene of him singing David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” in Portuguese that I found beautiful the first time I heard it.
In the film I Heart Huckabees, directed by David O. Russel, the music of Jon Brion is playing throughout the whole film (he has also done the music for Punch Drunk Love and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). I saw the film and lived on the soundtrack as soon as I heard Brion’s original songs in the film. Here is one of my favorite songs off the soundtrack.
If you like these songs, I suggest watching these films. Especially those of Wes Anderson. He is one of my favorite directors. Sometimes I can’t decide what I look forward to more, his film or the soundtrack. On that note, I will leave you with a clip from the movie The Royal Tennanbaums where Anderson matches the mood of the scene with music in the most superb way.
Unfortunately, due to being sick, I was not able to make it class two weeks ago. Upon looking at the class’ blog entries though, I see that we watched Singin in the Rain in class. I found that slightly funny considering a week before I had posted an entry with the clip of Lina Lamont without knowing we would be watching this film. I absolutely adore this film. It can probably be credited to my love of musicals and theater (and Gene Kelly). This movie blends the perfect combination of comedy with reality. When you think about silent film stars and their transition into the “talkies” I always flash to this movie. It is such a hilarious take on Hollywood. I am actually really really mad I was sick on the 15th now!! Anytime Singin in the Rain is on I will watch it all the way through. I figured I would share a stage production of the show that my high school put on of the musical. I was already graduated by this point, but the two male leads were very close to me as I had directed them in shows while they were growing up. To say the least, to see them grow so much and see them in this performance their senior year, had me a little choked up!
After watching the film, “Sparrows” in class, many people seemed to have criticisms of its length and suspense techniques. I actually quite enjoyed the film from start to finish. I thought that Mary Pickford gave an excellent performance as Molly and she made it believable, sympathetic, and comedic. The children that were cast were also excellent. They had distinct faces and the close ups the director shot of them whenever they were speaking made you feel their youth and innocence. Mr. Grimes, the old man child hoarder, was also an excellent actor down to his very walk. He was a sinister as could be in the roll. Though the movie ran a bit long, the length helped thicken the plot and draw the audience into these children’s suffering. I also think the way the director built up the suspense throughout their whole escape was incredible. It was a real underdog story and I was rooting for the kids and Molly the whole time. The ending may have been a little too “storybook” for my liking, but everyone likes to watch a movie with a smile on their face, especially after these kids went through so much on Old Man Grimes’ swamp. I really liked “Sparrows” and I think most people today would agree it is a classic story and a well acted film.
In class, we were asked whether or not Mary Pickford’s character of Molly spoke to modern audiences. I think the character of Molly will always speak to audiences for years to come. The underdog is a loveable character with strong moral fiber that any audience would cheer for, and Mama Molly was just that. She was a good person who took all of those children under her wing and kept them safe from Mr. Grimes and his terrible son. When they were escaping the level of suspense felt for Molly and the kids to make it was intense. I think, as long as they make under dog stories, people will love them and the characters who play them. Pickford’s facial expressions also speak to modern audiences even though she can’t use words. Her massive eyes really do a lot in her acting. In one scene, when she is trying to convince Mrs. Grimes to punish her and not the children, her eyes got so wide and innocent, you couldn’t help but feel the pain Molly was feeling when she may have gotten the other children in trouble. All in all, I think Pickford’s characterization of Molly speaks to modern audiences perfectly well, and will continue to do so even as film progresses technologically.
Reading the last blog entry from Dr. Woll he asks, “What effect will sound have on Pickford’s career?”. This will be something we will no doubt be speaking about in tomorrow’s class, but it made me flash immediately to a classic movie in American cinema, “Singin’ in the Rain” and the character’s transition from silent movies to talkies. Especially how difficult it was proven to be for the character of Lina Lamont who is acted with superb comedic timing by Jean Hagen. I thought I would share on my blog a great clip of the character of Lina trying to get her rather annoying voice ready for her big debut in a talkie after becoming a silent film sensation.
After reading the article in Photoplay entitled “The Girl Who Cried”, I was immediately reminded of all the UsWeekly, Star Magazine, People, and whatever countless tabloids flood the register area at any local supermarket or pharmacy. The way these magazines love to invade the stories of famous people’s personal lives is somewhat ammusing to me. I especially love how, just like in the tabloids today, Photoplay has no substantiated evidence or direct quotes to back up these stories on the stars. That is how Photoplay, to me, is like Entertainment Tonight, they always have the lead in stories “Why is Jennifer Aniston holding her belly in this picture? Is she FINALLY expecting a bundle of joy? More after the break!” And then they go on to describe the story and they seem to give you little to no information at all. It is quite the same thing that Photoplay does here with Carmel’s rise to fame who “floated to success in a flood of her own tears”. They sub headline is over exagerated, and, after reading the story, you feel somewhat teased and left still wondering about that actor. They give you just enough of a hook to actually care about the people but leave enough mystery to them to keep the audience coming back for more.
After viewing the Sunbeam and Variations, you can see how film editing technology has come so far as to break the scenes up into separate frames recently. However, like Thompson says in her blog, Griffith was able to edit so well, that the film rarely sees choppiness when cutting from one scene to the next. His precision in filming The Sunbeam is very impressive to me. However, I think I liked the Variations version better. Let me rephrase that, not better but I thought it did a better job at portraying the story by separating each scene into separate frames and running them in real time. I thought that by doing this, Aitor really showed how these two adults were living in complete isolation. Each shot outside their door shows groups of people who were playing and having fun. The isolation you see them living in makes you feel sorry for them and shows them not as villainous, but sad, which causes the viewer to feel a sort of empathy toward them. I really enjoyed the Variations version of The Sunbeam. It made you feel you were living in the apartment building by the way they made everything separated into rooms/frames. The story of the Sunbeam itself is also one that would tug on the heart strings of any person. A child’s innocence can make anyone smile and melt even the coldest hearts.
After watching D.W. Griffith’s A Corner in Wheat, I felt I had learned an important lesson about the social situations which were affecting many people in 1909 America. The social commentary that Griffith decided to make with this film really made me think about how he started the movement to use film to impact society not only with entertainment, but with education and awareness. Since 1909, filmmakers across the globe have been using film to raise awareness to the public. Most memorable for us would probably be David Guggenheim’s 2006 eyebrow raiser, An Inconvenient Truth, as well as Morgan Spurlock’s, Super Size Me. These are directors who have made documentaries, but still used the medium of film to reach out to audiences far and wide. In appreciation for the work Griffith did to really get his message out to the public in A Corner in Wheat, I wanted to attach a clip from Morgan Spurlock’s newer film, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold:
For this post I would like to focus on the acting of Buster Keaton in the film, The Playhouse. I thought his acting was hilarious. I am someone who participated in theater for the majority of my life. I even majored in it for the first two years of my college education. As someone who has performed, I know the difficulty of pulling off a comedy. The Playhouse, however, was not just a comedy. When we think comedy now a days, we think punch lines and quotes. In the silent film era, however, comedy relied solely on physical comedy, which, in my opinion, is the hardest form of comedy for one to pull off. His physical ability to be comedic is absolutely amazing. Falling over your own feet, being hurt, running around, though seemingly easy by Keaton, are actually quite difficult to pull off. Overall I think he was hilarious, and the fact that he was able to keep such a straight face while doing everything made the acting all the better. Keaton truly was and still is one of the best physical comedians to ever live.