Thursday, February 28, 2008

Casablanca:Film Review

"Casablanca", is arguably America's best loved movie of all time. Winning best film of 1943, Casablanca is a classic tale of lost love found again and then put at a risk of being lost once again.
The movie is a film for anyone who has ever had a heartbreaking choice to make, film goers who enjoy unpredictable endings, and for anyone who has lost a love. You can't say it doesn't have "classic" written all over it i mean, it's a World War II tale AND an extremely intense romance. It's truly hard to watch true love unable to bloom in a world gone crazy. The setting in the movie is it's World War Two and the Nazis are dominating Europe. France has just been take over and thousands of refugees have fled from the Germans wanting to escape to America. But they must go through many cities including Casablanca, Morocco. Casablanca is controlled by two worlds; controlled by the occupied France and by the German Third Reich. Here is where we meet our faithful Rick(Humphrey Bogart), one of the few refugees who has voluntarily stayed put in Casablanca and who claims to have loyalty to no one but himself. There are hints that show that he hasn't always been as self interested as he proclaims to be, but we see the Rick who only does favors to those who might offer them in return. It's only when Ilsa(Ingrid Bergman) and her husband Victor Laszlo(Paul Henreid), a Czech resistance leader, arrive at Rick's Cafe that Rick's vulnerability and true loyalties become obvious. Although we can see the true love between Rick and Ilsa, the director, Michael Curtiz, for sure surprises the watchers by the twisted ending that show the unselfish side of our beloved Rick.
The theme of true love always reoccurs throughout the movie. From the innocent couple trying to make their way to America and Rick saving the wife from pleasing Captain Renault(Claude Rains) in an un-moral way to the reunion of Rick and Ilsa. Thinking that their love was true, the two were set on going to Marcille to get married because they loved each other, but the absence of Ilsa proved to him that their time in Paris had been a joke and nothing else. But if it is true love, true love will come back which in this case it did. Ilsa returns to Casablanca unaware of the presence of Rick there and their meeting upon sight leads them to know that their love is true and that their time in Paris was not fake. Although the saying goes "True love conquers all" in this case it does not. The way the screen play writers Julius J, Philip G, and Howard Koch wrote it in a way that no one expect it to happen. The ending totally goes against how Rick had acted throughout the entire movie which obviously would cause a ruckus and surprise to the watchers. I personally did not see the ending coming and I guess in true love you have to sacrifice things for those you love . Another theme or symbol in the movie was the main love song shared between the two main characters Ilsa and Rick. "As Time Goes By" seems to show the true emotion on each of the characters face. When it's first heard in the movie by Ilsa, her face seems as if it's hidden by a shadow and seems like shes looking into the past. Where in the past, the song represented their love for each other, in the present it is just a pain to hear, to remind them of the past and that is shown when Rick gets completely drunk and remembers their time in Paris.
The acting in the movie was pretty amazing, one could feel the sarcasm dripping off of each line Rick had said and you could feel the harshness of the German soldiers in the bars. What was really interesting to me, and the reason i believe it holds audiences almost spellbound in it's successive viewings, is the connection between the horrors of World War Two and almost half of the actors in the movie. According to the Internet Movie Data Base, Sidney Greenstreet(who played Signor Ferrari) had lost a son in combat, and a number of the cast members had fled Europe to escape the ravages of a Hitler regime. Even the evil Nazi character Major Strasser(Conrad Veidt) had left Nazi Germany to escape almost sure internment and possible death in a concentration camp. Personally i feel that all of these experience had only made the movie even better and that because of their personal experiences their role play of each character was better portrayed as well.
Overall the music in the movie was well developed. Throughout the sad, depressing but romantic parts they had the main love song by Frank Sinatra "As Time Goes By" and throughout the movie they had diegetic and nondiegetic sound. They had Sam(Dooley Wilson) playing in the bar on his piano and then when suspenseful parts were displayed the nondiegetic music was in play, especially in the opening scenes when they are looking for suspicious characters and the lead up to the chase and then final gunshot was very nicely played.
In conclusion, i thought Casablanca was an outstanding movie that really took me by surprise and a for sure movie that i would rent once again.
The film received eight Academy Award nominations and won three: Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Director and I personally think that the movie deserved more! :]]

Monday, February 11, 2008

Critique The Critic

When i first heard of the movie Juno i thought it would similar to the other pregnant movies, you know the girl finds out she's pregnant with this guy's baby, she freaks out but then decides to keep it. Towards the end the couple gets closer and they are always there for each other (like in Knocked Up) and the three of them live happily ever after and everything is wonderful. However that is not the same for Juno the main character played by Ellen Page. She accepts her pregnancy after a trip to the planned parenthood agency and consideration of abortion. The sarcasm in Juno's character is funny throughout the whole movie and the way her and her family deal with the pregnancy is something you don't really experience, with them being completely fine with it and Juno going on with her daily activities, the background folk music also adds a special crazy funny touch to the movie. Well and surprisingly the New York Times' Movie review and I have a lot in common.
"And like Juno herself, the film outgrows its own mannerisms and defenses, evolving from a coy, knowing farce into a heartfelt, serious comedy."
I completely agree with the critic, i mean Juno overall and Juno the character do outgrow a lot. I mean she's this 16 year old sarcastic girl who gets pregnant with this boy she's been best friends(played by Michael Cera) with and she doesn't know how she truly feels about him until the end when she's 8 months pregnant and he's missed everything, and never gets a chance to see the baby. And the movie overall going from this joke, Juno and her crazy family not even caring about the pregnancy, acting as if it's a common thing for a 16 year old girl getting pregnant in this small town to having the most dramatic things happening like her adoptive parents getting a divorce when she wished for a complete family. I mean the way they set up the entire movie was interesting and have not seen something like this before and that is why i find it so strange, like the critic how it turned into a "serious comedy" because the rest of the movie was a big laugh.
"It’s not simply that she has impulsive, unprotected sex with her friend Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera), or that she decides, against the advice of parents and friends, to have the baby and give it up for adoption. These, indeed, are choices she is prepared to defend and to live with. Rather, Juno’s immaturity resides in her familiar adolescent assumption that she understands the world better than her elders do, and that she can finesse the unintended consequences of her decisions."

Well in a way I agree but I disagree because even though she acts as if she understands the world better than her parents , her choice of giving up the baby for adoption only helped her understand life and made her more mature due to the fact that she now realizes what she wants and she wants Paulie because he's amazing and he's cool when he is himself. And giving up her child for adoption instead of getting an abortion or keeping the child really shows that ya she doesn't want to kill the thing but she knows the consequences of keeping it. Even though the idea of a baby coming to their house, into their lives ruined the relationship between Mark and Vanessa (the baby's potential adopting parents) Mark finally realized what he wanted to do in life and him leaving made Vanessa realize even more that she wanted the baby. Ya all of this was because of her decision but overall it helped everyone in the long run. Juno got Paulie, Vanessa got the baby she dreamed for and Mark got to live his life the way he wanted to. Overall it is a win win situation.

"“Juno” also shares with “Knocked Up” an underlying theme, a message that is not anti-abortion but rather pro-adulthood. It follows its heroine — and by the end she has earned that title — on a twisty path toward responsibility and greater self-understanding."
Completely true, Juno starts out being this girl who just makes fun of her pregnancy the entire time referring herself to a whale and her comments in general make her seem very immature and snobby in a way. But along the way she grows up realizing the pain and emotions everyone goes through. Almost losing her first love to some girl she hates and breaking up the perfect suburban couple all because of her baby. And it is true the critic is right, in the end she really does understand herself much better than at the beginning of the movie where she wanted to get rid of her baby, and her personality doesn't really help because you can't take her seriously, “Hello, I’d like to procure a hasty abortion,” for example. The critic is completely right and a lot of pregnancy movies are like that, like Sugar & Spice directed by Francine McDougall.

"The first time I saw “Juno,” I was shocked to find myself tearing up at the end, since I’d spent the first 15 minutes or so gnashing my teeth and checking my watch. The passive-aggressive pseudo-folk songs, the self-consciously clever dialogue, the generic, instantly mockable suburban setting..."
I dunno if i completely agree here because i thought the first 15 minutes were really good, i mean you see this girl walking around town, drinking from a huge jug of Sunny D and you wonder why she is and does she do this often and then you realize oh she needs to pee to take her pregnancy test and then the story kind of escalates from there on. The "passive-aggressive pseudo-folk songs" i thought made the story much better and they were all really catchy and stuck in your head. Especially Anyone else but you by the Moldy Peaches. I'm not quite sure about the tearing up part, i thought the ending was cute but unless you're an emotional person overall i don't think watery eyes really take place at a movie like this. Some can argue that but i guess I'm not really an emotional person, but ya.

I guess overall i agreed with the critic and i give the movie a score just as high as The New York Times did and that is a 90.

art of film!!