Archive for February, 2013

Best Picture 2012 Added

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 26, 2013 by cdascher

So last night were the 85th Academy Awards. Neither Katy nor I could stay awake until the end, but when we woke up this morning, there was a new Best Picture! That meant we had to update the pool of films to randomly pick from.
The little piece of paper for the 2012 Best Picture, Argo.

A folded-up slip of paper for Argo has now been added to the pot. Be on the lookout for our post on Rocky, coming soon.

dropping the slip

THE LOST WEEKEND (1945)

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2013 by katyotto

The Lost WeekendThe Lost Weekend had me gnashing my teeth simply because it was such an adept, uncomfortable depiction of alcoholism. Walking with Don Birnam (lead character) throughout his day as he makes bad choice after bad choice allows us as viewers to slip into his quiet desperation, a desperation that is given more voice as his resources become slim. It becomes apparent quickly that Don’s worst enemy is himself, and his weekend-long binge serves as a summation for the past six years of his life. I tried to think of other movies I have seen that have so strictly focused on the pain of alcohol addiction, particularly through the lens of one individual, and I couldn’t think of another quite like this. The story line does not cut away from Don – thus we are offered no respite, and must go to sleep and wake up with the albatross around his neck.

Have you noticed that all of our movies so far have featured scenes with drinking? We may have figured out the secret to an Oscar winner. Drinking isn’t featured in the plot this time; it is the plot. This is a character study of a very sick man, maybe the first such portrayal. The only previous films I could find that specifically address addiction were preposterous cautionary films about illicit drugs like Reefer Madness. The Lost Weekend provides a much more sensitive and realistic portrayal. I can think of alcoholism (or what we now call alcoholism) being presented as a sociological problem or as a shortcoming of character much earlier, but at what point did it come to be regarded as an illness? My guess would be that the development of this view coincided with the growing practice of psychology. If so, the time would be just right in 1945 for a film depicting this infirmity. Indeed, at a certain point, the film’s action moves to a mental hospital.

It’s difficult to watch, to say the least. As a person who is herself just cresting the five-year sobriety mark, seeing an honest depiction of alcohol abuse can feel like a punch in the gut. I couldn’t look away, though, because this film almost gets it right. The havoc that addiction wreaks on relationships is crystal clear in our protagonist’s life – both with his girlfriend Continue reading

CASABLANCA (1942)

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 6, 2013 by katyotto
CasablancaA brief note on history: In the first few months of WWII, Nazi Germany overran most of mainland Europe. As France was being invaded, the French government split into two factions. The first was composed of those who accepted defeat and surrendered to Germany. The other refused surrender and continued fighting abroad, forming a government in exile. The remnants
of the French government that had capitulated formed a state that came to be known as “Vichy France”, after the French town it was based in. While nominally an independent nation, it was more like puppet regime of the Third Reich. The setting of the movie, the French colony of Morroco, exists in a sort of grey area: not under occupation by fascists, yet not really free from
them either.
 This was the second time I’d seen Casablanca, and I really love it. I actually asked at the beginning if Casablanca was a real place, because it does feel like a hazy, gray in-between – not quite real. From our first introduction to Humphrey Bogart’s character Rick, we are given clues as to his history. The question of why he is in Casablanca reveals itself in time. Rick, or Richard, delivers many of the one-liners that have made Casablanca one of the most quotable movies of all time. The real strength lies in his dry, deadpan delivery. One detestable character, Vichy Captain Louis Renault, is an unscrupulous character throughout the film. A casual acquaintance of Rick’s who regularly polices his saloon/gambling den, he uses his power to distribute traveling papers as leverage to procure sex from young women desperate to fly out of Casablanca to Lisbon and then on to the United States. By comparison, Rick is fiercely ethical – he takes decisive action on behalf of others and is very fair. But he begins to crumble when his former lover Ilsa walks into his bar.
Here we are at a real Golden Age of Hollywood classic, no obscure footnote in film history here. Casablanca is a film about passions. Of course there is the love story/love triangle at the plot’s core. But also hatred, nationalism and heroism- the passions of the World War still ongoing at the time of production- and with the outcome very much uncertain. Casablanca’s great strength is it’s dialogue. Character is revealed and plot is moved along by the words of the characters, but rarely in the “now I am going to Continue reading