Archive for the Classic Category

ROSEMARY’S BABY, Roman Polanski (1968)

Posted in Classic, Horror with tags , , , on July 6, 2011 by Toi Brownstone

Rosemary’s Baby is one of these films impossible to recall how many times I’ve seen, and still haven’t got tired of.

Today I’m having a very relaxing day, taking it really easy, being listening to music in the morning, I’ve switched on the TV thinking I’d find the standard crap, but surprisingly the initial credits of the film were rolling and although I hate watching movies on TV due to ads cuts, today it was fine to go on watching.

Still remember one of my best friends saying, when he was a kid, got so much traumatized by the film, he hasn’t the balls to review any more. I love it, though.

I wouldn’t consider it a horror film, although the whole story can make you feel uneasy, and the more I watch it, the more I think Polanski has a twisted mind.

This young couple moves to a new flat in Manhattan, it’s funny is located in Dakota building, which became famous because of  the assesination of John Lennon. Truth is that when I saw it in my first visit to Manhattan, the building impressed me for both its beauty, and for something sinister and menacing in the air. Probably I was suggested by the background it had, but definitely made an impact.

Anyway, Guy (John Cassavetes) and Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) move to this new and beautiful apartment in a bad reputed building with a record of mysterious past events. Soon, their weird and eccentric neighbors, Roman and Minnie Castevet, will welcome them and force a close friendly relationship with the young couple. Against all odds, Guy  starts spending much time with them, especially with Roman, a fact that Rosemary somehow does not understand nor accept too well, plus he turns moody and kind of awkward to his wife.

Forgot to remark Guy is a not very successful actor, and the releasing punching ball for his frustration is obviously Rosemary.

When the situation among the couple is suffocating and almost unbearable, Guy, all of a sudden, accepts, even encourages his wife, to have a baby, something Rosemary has wanted badly for long time. In a traditional romantic attitude, he arranges the perfect night for the baby being conceived, and Rosemary is completely charmed. However something strange happens after dinner, and she falls unconscious.

During her deep sleep, she has hallucinations, in which her neighbors are present, and an evil creature rapes her.

Curiously, she gets pregnant. This is the perfect excuse for her neighbors to take active part in their lives, suggesting doctors, taking care of her…but something seems wrong, very wrong.

Although a gorgeous girl when young, I’ve never been devoted to Mia Farrow. The truth is that, despite Polanski’s determination to cover the role of Rosemary Woodhouse with a strong woman, such as his own wife Sharon Tate, the final decision of Farrow as the lead role is simply perfect. The actress combines this innocent appearance with her thin and small body highlighting frailty, fitting the pregnancy process during which poor Rosemary’s energy is sucked to dry up to the point, such decline threatens her life.

If you think about it, Guy Woodhouse visually hasn’t much importance in the film. I mean, all the plot and most of scenes are clearly focused on his wife, and he stands aside, or seems to. Right at the end of the film, when all makes sense, you get the clear picture that all the events have happened due to his appetite for success. As a selfish and frustrated actor whose only wish is to become established, famous and respected, he comes to a point in which he chooses to deal with the Devil rather than keep on struggling for himself, in order to achieve his goals, at any cost. And sells his wife…sad and pathetic.

Can you imagine? The person you love and trust most, not only gives up on you, but also betrays you on his/her own behalf, and you don’t even get the chance to decide whether you accept or not. In Rosemary’s Baby, Polanski deals with Satan himself, but this is an ordinary issue in real life.

Focusing on the film story, a secret society of powerful people looking for the heir of the king of darkness, and this poor girl, Rosemary, for no apparent reason ends up being the mother of the Evil. The dichotomy here is, would you assume that role and care for the little monster or end up putting a bullet in your head? Boundaries and love between mother and son are said to be the strongest, but imagine the scene…terrible.

Whenever I think of Rosemary’s Baby and these circumstances, The Omen also comes to my mind. You see? There’s a limit trespassed the parents cannot endure any longer and try to put the kid in a coffin, once they get acquainted with the situation and the meaning of his existence. However Polanski just focuses on the conception of the evil and leaves the door open to many possibilities.

Polanski’s taste for the twisted and the dark, had already been manifested in Repulsion, for instance, but I’d love to go back to the past and peep the reaction of the audience at the cinemas while watching the film. Sure I’d be plenty of fun people in shock.

Rosemary’s Baby is a classic, a benchmark in films related to the occult, any fan of horror should watch to understand what came next.

You don’t need blood splatter or guts, or amazing special effects to create horror films, you just need good ideas, be able to play with the minds of the audience and create uneasy situations, playing with fiction and reality, highlighting the unknown, to create fear and and a feel of lack of safety. I reckon that’s the key for delivering a good horror film, and Polanski really knew about it.

VERTIGO, Alfred Hitchcock (1958)

Posted in Classic, Drama with tags , , , on April 16, 2010 by Toi Brownstone

My apologies for being so lazy regarding classic movies. It takes me ages to be in the mood for them, and then I enjoy most of them.

Eventually yesterday I found the right time to watch one of the most acclaimed Hitchcock’s classics, Vertigo, and must admit I fell in love with the story, the acting and everything.  I’ve seen some of his movies and he’s really to be admired for the stories, the atmospheres and the development of them. Should review those I’ve already seen, probably will enjoy them even more nowadays.

Vertigo has two concrete and well delimited parts, and the sudden change from one to the other is to be remarked.

Scotty Ferguson (James Stewart) is a San Francisco police detective who’s just retired after having been  diagnosed of acrophobia, which causes dizziness and vertigo effects.  He’s no plans but to be wandering until he makes up his mind, however, a rich old acquaintance from his college days, Gavin Elster, approaches him asking for help. Scotty is required to be following Elster’s wife Madeleine (Kim Novak), during her trance episodes. Before appointing a doctor, Elster wants to know whether his wife is really possessed by a dead spirit and needs someone he can trust. Not really convinced Scotty accepts the mission and starts following the beautiful Madeleine’s wanderings, surprising the detective as to believe on the story of the possession.

Scotty will fall in love with the woman and so will she, once they get to know each other. They will become inseparable, and together will try to break the spell, however, Madeleine will suicide and Scotty will fall into a state of melancholia close to madness, feeling deeply guilty and responsible for being unable to protect her.

Apparently recovered, the detective will keep on wandering by the same places related to her beloved Madeleine, until he discovers Judy, whose amazing resemblance to her makes him obsessed for having her back alive with terrible consequences.

First part is interesting although at some points and nowadays it’s hard to believe in Madeleine’s possessed by the spirit of a dead woman, how can I make myself clear?  Terror films are quite often dealing with possession, spirits presence and dead come to life, but with the aim of terrifying audience. The way Hitchcock deals with this possession is just an excuse for Scotty to get to know Madeleine, and as we discover later on, during the second part, it was done on purpose, and you can notice that possession episodes the woman has are too exaggerated, thus first part might seem a bit boring or slow.

The greatness of Vertigo is the sudden change after Madeleine’s death and Scotty’s insanity as a consequence, when he’s apparently recovered, but after just a couple of scenes Madeleine is alive in Judy’s body. Reincarnation is impossible, so is possession, and the explanation for such resemblance is so shocking, Hitchcock is capable of leaving audience babbling wondering what’s going on…and it’s perfect, everything is so well tied up that  makes sense.

On the other hand, I haven’t been much fan on James Stewart, in fact, he’s the kind of soft guy you always associate to “good characters”, in addition, his Spanish overdubbed voice of the typical nice grandpa used to get on my nerves and always thought he was the kind of actor beloved by grannies, however, in Vertigo, first his acting resulted very natural and appealing, and Scotty’s obsession and insanity well greatly depicted by his performance. Regarding Kim Novak, good ol’ Hitchcock was fond of gorgeous ladies and she looks gorgeous, has has this weird beauty in accordance to her mysterious role, thus no matter her acting is not outstanding, she’s able to play strange Madeleine and then to become average Judy successfully.

Really Vertigo is classic everybody in love with cinema should watch at least once in their lifetime.

THE MALTESE FALCON, John Huston 1941

Posted in Classic with tags , , , on March 15, 2009 by Toi Brownstone

maltese_falcon

 

Due to recently seen crap still pending to be commented here, I’ve decided to review some of the all time classics, from comedy to drama, focusing on the most relevant titles of the most established and respected directors.

 

To start, we have the Maltese Falcon, based on Dashiel Hammett’s detective novel, directed by John Huston.

 

Spade (Humphrey Bogart) and Archer, the modest private detective partners, receive the visit of an elegant and wealthy-like lady, Miss Wanderly, who requires their service in order to find her missing sister. She mentions the name of Thursby, who’s to be tracked by Archer, and pays them 200 bucks, enough to know she’s not telling the truth, but as money talks, the prefer not to ask many questions.

 

Late that night, Sam Spade is informed that his partner has been shot to death, and also Thursby follows same fate, becoming Spade suspicious of murdering. On the other hand, to add more mess to the situation, Archer’s widow, is in fact Spade’s jealous lover, which also will contribute the detective to be under Police surveillance.

Spade and his new friends

Spade and his new friends

Spade will be meeting dangerous people, among them Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre) and Kasper Gutman, whose main objective is to recover  a priceless statue of a black falcon of historic value at any cost, getting involved in complex situations, from being tailed, to be sedated, threatened to death…

 

It is really a good movie however  many people are involved in the plot and so quick and dense dialogues  sometimes can be very confusing, you have to pay attention to any single detail otherwise you’ll miss something.

 

In my opinion, Bogart’s performance is the best, very personal and charming, I enjoy his frivolist attitude and the way he faces the criminals. Very elegant style tried to be copied unsuccesfully, just one Boggie is enough. One of the best, definitely.