Film Friday: Before Sunset

I’m happy to welcome Arlinda to Literary, etc! She’s guest blogging today and she’s here to review her favorite film, Before Sunset.

beforesunsetIt all started with a random conversation with a complete stranger on a train. Nine years later they are reunited by the book Jesse wrote about his night with Celine. Upon the success of his novel, Jesse embarks on a promotional tour in Europe with the last stop in Paris. It is at the infamous Shakespeare and Company bookstore where he at long last runs into Celine. She walks in. She’s listening to him ramble on about a book he wants to write and then he sees her. For a moment you can feel the tension and the connection and the realization that this is the person they’ve both been waiting for. This movie takes us on a physical and emotional journey seeking to understand and “capture what it means to really meet somebody [and] make that connection.” Throughout the film Celine and Jesse maintain a playful yet serious conversation. Their conversation is engaging and you experience a genuine sense of intimacy–breaking down their life contemplation to the smallest details. Their discussions range from life, politics, sex, love, romantic idealism, and relationships. Yet at the root of their issues they seek validation from one another. They want to know everything they experienced that one night meant as much to the other as it did to them. The highlight if the film for me is when each character breaks down in the car. There’s so much pent up frustration and hurt and an animosity for this life they could have had together. All the words they needed to vocalize are being said; there was more connecting between these two than a one night stand. I was a real connection and a powerful one.

This entire movie takes the viewer on a walk around Paris. Its highly intimate and personal.

Below are a couple of my favorite clips:

This clip is when Celine breaks down

This clip is when Jesse breaks down and Celine reaches out to touch him and pulls away

This final clip is at the end of the film and Celine sings a song at Jesse’s request

After she finishes she turns up Nina Simone’s Song Just In Time, she’s dancing around mimicking Nina Simone and says to Jesse “Baby, you’re going to miss that plane.” And he smiles and says “I know.”

Film Friday: Pure Country

This week’s Film Friday is a little late because I wanted to combine it with a wrap up of the George Strait concert I attended last night. I wanted to post this after the concert, but I got home way too late and all I wanted was sleep.

I grew up with country music in the house and my parents really enjoyed George Strait. When my father heard this year was going to be George’s last tour, he decided to purchase tickets.

Walking into the venue was crazy since there were over 15,000 people present and even though we got there late we still had to wait in line for over twenty minutes. We made our way down to our seats and noticed people sitting there. Turns out someone was sitting in their seats and they decided to take ours. I dislike it when people do this. Do me a favor and get an usher if someone is sitting in your assigned seats I wanted to say. A few minutes later it was straighted out and by then Martina McBride was on stage (she was the opening act). She sang for a little over an hour and I joked about how whose concert she forgot it was. LOL! During intermission they played a video of George’s career. Ah tears in my eyes at this point since this was his goodbye tour. George took the stage about twenty minutes after McBride and he got a standing ovation. The concert was a basically a chronology of his career and he played a lot of songs he use to sing when he played at bars back before he signed his record deal. He was very humble and would take a bow after each song. He brought out McBride for two duets and then he brought up a wounded warrior to tell him he’s getting a house along with a few other items and a job as a thank you for serving his country. Afterwards he played a few more songs and he took his final bow. Tears when he began with Troubadour.

Song highlights:
The Fireman, Amarillo By Morning, Marina del Rey, The Chair, Blame It On Mexico, Ocean Front Property, and Troubadour.

Wish he had sung: Does Ft Worth Ever Cross Your Mind, Fool Hearted Memory, I Just Want To Dance With You, Write This Down, and Ace In The Hole.

As George takes his final bows and thanks his fans, it is the fans who have to thank him. He said we got him through a lot of hard times, but he’s easily helped us as well even if it’s to forget a few things in life. Thank you, George.

So for this week’s film, I chose his 1992 film, Pure Country. He’s not the best actor, but it is a cute film.

Pure Country (1992)
Superstar Dusty Chandler (Strait) is tired of the smoke, the strobe lights and the overmiked sound of his arena spectaculars. One night, something snaps. “I’m just going to take a little walk,” Dusty says as he walks out of the empty hall, ditching his beard, ponytail – and temporarily, his career – to reclaim his down-home country roots. But his manager (Leslie Ann Warren) retaliates: a stand-in (Kyle Chandler) lip-synchs his songs in concert. And a romance with a lovely rancher (Isabel Glasser) is on again, off again like a rodeo cowboy. The simple life can be complex, but it’s nothing a revitalized country boy can’t handle!

Film Friday: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

This past Tuesday was Tennessee Williams’ birthday and what better way to honor the memory of a great American playwright, than to feature one of his adaptations. I debated over which film to showcase, but decided on Cat on a Hot Roof because Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman deliver outstanding performances.

Maggie: You know what I feel like? I feel all the time like a cat on a hot tin roof.
Brick: Then jump off the roof, Maggie. Jump off it. Cats jump off roofs and land uninjured. Do it. Jump.
Maggie: Jump where? Into what?

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
Brick, an alcoholic ex-football player, drinks his days away and resists the affections of his wife, Maggie. His reunion with his father, Big Daddy, who is dying of cancer, jogs a host of memories and revelations for both father and son.

Film Friday: The Bridges of Madison County

I haven’t read the book, but I adore the film!  The scene in the rain where Robert is waiting for Francesca gets me all worked up with tears and I keep saying, “go, go, go,” and when the scene is over I’m just an emotional mess.

Francesca: I had thoughts about him I hardly knew what to do with, and he read every one. Whatever I wanted, he gave himself up to, and in that moment everything I knew to be true about myself was gone. I was acting like another woman, yet I was more myself than ever before.


The Bridges of Madison County (1995)
Photographer Robert Kincaid wanders into the life of housewife Francesca Johnson, for four days in the 1960s.

Film Friday: Her Majesty Mrs. Brown

We’re back with Film Friday and this time, it’s Her Majesty Mrs. Brown. It stars Judi Dench as Queen Victoria and Billy Connolly as her Scottish servant, John Brown. PBS has a wonderful article about the making of the film.

Her Majesty Mrs. Brown (1997)
Queen Victoria is deeply depressed after the death of her husband, disappearing from public. Her servant Brown, who adores her, through caress and admiration brings her back to life, but that relationship creates scandalous situation and is likely to lead to monarchy crisis.

Film Friday: A League of Their Own

One of my favorite films growing up was A League of Their Own. It stars Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, and Lori Petty. The film is a fictionalized account of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. The league operated from 1943 to 1954.

Lavonne “Pepper” Paire-Davis played 10 seasons with the league and was the inspiration for the character portrayed by Geena Davis in the 1992 film. Ms. Paire-Davis died earlier this month at the age of 88.

Davis, who was known as Pepper Paire in her playing days, entered the league in 1944, the year after it was formed by Philip W. Wrigley, the chewing-gum magnate and owner of the Chicago Cubs. Wrigley had worried that World War II would deplete professional baseball of male players and force it to fold. That never happened, but his women’s pro league became popular anyway, and Davis became one of its most enduring players.

Playing catcher as well as shortstop and third base, she won pennants with all but the Millerettes, and her 400 career runs batted in tie her for fourth in league history. In 1950, she drove in 70 runs in 110 games for the Chicks. – New York Times Obituary.

Thoughts on Fox’s The Following

When I first heard James Purefoy passed on Game of Thrones to star in Fox’s The Following, I thought he was crazy. I absolutely adore Purefoy as an actor and I never pass up an opportunity to see anything he’s in. I was unsure about The Following because of the premise, but the fact that Kevin Williamson is involved as the creator and a producer, I was willing to put away doubts and give it a chance.

Premise: A brilliant and charismatic, yet psychotic serial killer communicates with other active serial killers and activates a cult of believers following his every command.

If you’ve seen any of the Scream films, well the first two since they were written by Williamson, then you know his work and there’s no doubt The Following IS a Williamson production.  I couldn’t help, but make comparisons between Scream 2 and The Following in terms of the use of a sorority and it taking place on a college campus.  Oddly enough the statement about 300 active serial killers in the US, is uttered in Scream 2.  The Following is what in many ways should have been Scream 3.  It turns out Williamson already had an idea for Scream 3’s plot; however, the studio brought in a different writer and he was off the project.  Years later he takes the idea of people committing murder based on a leader’s instructions.  This isn’t new, after all, Charles Manson’s followers did what he asked in 1969.

Kevin Bacon is Ryan Hardy, the FBI agent who brought down Joe Carroll (James Purefoy).  Carroll is an English Lit professor whose specialty is Edgar Allan Poe. When Carroll’s much anticipated book fails, he begins to kill women on his university campus in the name of Poe. His 15th victim, Sarah Fuller, is saved by Hardy and when Carroll escapes prison he’s out to write the ending he was denied.

I thought I might go more traditional this time, you know, villain, good versus evil. I need a strong protagonist so that the reader can truly invest, a flawed, broken man searching for redemption, and that is you. You are my flawed hero. Yes, I ensured that by killing Sarah. She was the inciting incident, the hero’s call to action. This is merely the prologue, this is just the beginning. That was the entire point of Sarah’s death. It was for you. It’s just the beginning.-Joe Carroll talking to Ryan Hardy

What made me wary about the show? As some of you know, I’m a big fan of the Chelsea Cain Archie / Gretchen series.  For those not familiar with the series, it’s about a beautiful serial killer who captures the lead detective and tortures him.  Gretchen Lowell becomes this instant celebrity because of how beautiful she is and inspires shirts that say “Run Gretchen Run,” when she escapes prison.  As for the detective, Archie Sheridan is never the same and Gretchen figures heavily in the background.  The series is currently made of 5 books with a 6th to be released later in the year.  Cain sold the rights to the series this past year and FX is developing the series.  There’s still a way to go and that involves a pilot being filmed, etc.  I was unsure about The Following because in the Cain novels, Gretchen has what I call apprentices.  Archie asks her how many people are out there that are ticking time bombs.  To hear a plot about a serial killer with a following who commits murder at his request made me really think about wanting to see this.  I have a suspicion that Gretchen plays a much deeper role in the crimes committed by others in the series.  It’s inevitable if the Cain series does air that the two will get compared just like Archie / Gretchen get compared to Clarice / Hannibal Lecter’s relationship.

As I watched, I was surprised at how much I liked it. It was a bit predictable, but I believe most pilots these days are.  If Williamson stays on as the producer of the series, I can foresee it lasting longer than a season.  It will be interesting to see what other aspects they bring in especially with regards to symbolism and Poe’s work. I know some viewers have a problem with the way Poe’s work is being depicted and going so far to say that Poe wasn’t homicidal. True, but I think they are missing the point: this is Carroll’s interpretation of Poe’s work. The fact Carroll is an academic professor pretty much sums it all. Those of us in academia have encountered others we have disagreed with when it comes to a text. Keeping that in mind, I have to say Carroll isn’t using Poe’s work to commit murder because Poe believed in it, but rather this is just one man’s academic interpretation of an author’s work.

A warning: it is gory and disturbing.  I’m actually quite surprised at how much they got away with.  It’s a bold move for regular network television and it leaves me wondering if this will set the bar for others to follow.

Overall, The Following was good and enjoyable.  I’ll be sleeping with the lights on and making sure I don’t take out the trash too late at night.

Did anyone else see it? If so what are your thoughts?

Film Friday: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I’ve been wanting to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower for quite sometime and even though I live in a fairly large metro city, we aren’t that large or important; hence any film that has a limited release means we won’t get it. So a friend of mine was lucky enough to get ahold of a DVD screener of it and I watched it last night. I loved it! I haven’t had the chance to read the book, but have heard great things about it. I’ve added it to my to be read list.

I don’t like to reveal parts of myself online, well I do, but only to really close online friends and there was something about Perks that just hit home. I suppose in many ways, I understand what it feels like to be the outsider and watching life happen around you. I’ve always been the person to have a few close friends, but in many ways have longed for a large social circle. At my age I’ve come to realize that I won’t ever a large circle and that the close friendships I do have matter the most. Recently, my social sphere online grew and I thought in many ways the friends I made were well actual friends, but let’s just say I learned things weren’t the case. It’s taken me a while to accept this and move on. So as I watched Perks and saw Charlie’s friendships with Sam and Patrick, it hit me, “But because things change. And friends leave. And life doesn’t stop for anybody.” How very true!

I know teen movies can either be good or bad and yet, Perks is just delightful. Loose ends get cleared up near the end of the film and when you actually realize what Charlie goes through, it breaks your heart. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a tragic happy story and just beautiful all around. I do believe it helped that the author of the novel, Stephen Chybosky, also directed and wrote the screenplay.

Film Friday: BBC’s North & South

I’m a pretty big costume drama fan. There’s something about sitting down and being whisked away to the past. While the past isn’t always peaceful and beautiful as they are portrayed in these productions, it’s nice to step way from reality for a little bit.

For today’s piece I have picked the 2004 BBC version of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South; a love story of Margaret Hale, a middle class southerner who is forced to move to the northern town of Milton. Richard Armitage is John Thornton and Daniela Denby-Ashe is Margaret Hale.