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Since You Went Away (1944)
This one has not aged well.
Some films hold up very well, even with time. Examples are Citizen Kane, All about Eve, The Maltese Falcon, Metropolis, Sunset Boulevard, It happened one night, among others. Others, while well-regarded during their release, just don't. "Since You Went Away" is one film that has not aged well at all.
For one thing, the doomed "teenage" lovers are way too old for their roles- they were 25 and 31 and both kind of look it. I might be biased, since I have never thought very much of Jennifer Jones as an actress to start with, but I cannot believe she was nominated for this film. During the entire film, all she did was laugh girlishly and bat her eyes- first at Joseph Cotten, and then at Robert Walker, ironically her estranged husband at that time. Jones was decent in "Song of Bernadette" and making this film right after was a huge step backwards for her in my opinion.
Robert Walker is a better actor, in my opinion, than Jones, but this role is pretty much thankless and does not showcase any of his talents. In fact, he pretty much looks miserable throughout this film, but I can't say I blame him. If I had to do a movie and kiss my ex-husband, I'd be miserable too.
I'm not exactly sure what the point of Joseph Cotten's character was. He just creepily hangs out at their house, clearly lusting after his best friend's wife, while also well-aware of the older daughter's crush on him. I wish they had just left him out of this film- he really added nothing to the story and just came off as a giant leech.
Shirley Temple, all grown up here, also does not add much in her role. She also still has the same, whiny baby voice she did at the age of 6. What worked for her as a child definitely did not work for her as she got older.
Colbert is kind of the same as she was in any role- dignified, and elegant. But the role of mother does not seem to be one that really suited her.
Some of the other performances hold up better. Woolley fares probably the best, and Agnes Moorehead is also great in her supporting role. Unfortunately, Alla Nazimova, one of the greatest silent film actresses and accomplished stage actress, is wasted in a nothing role where she delivers a "rah-rah, yay for the red, white, and blue!" speech.
David Selznick certainly knew how to cater to an audience, judging by the massive success that this film was at the time of its release. However, it is just not a film that has held up with time. Instead of feeling patriotic or uplifted when I saw this film, I felt like I had to visit a dentist because of all this film's saccharine message. It is also far too long, but it fits with the "epic" nature of many Selznick films.
All About Eve (1950)
You cannot watch this only once
There are not many films that I can just watch over and over again, and still appreciate. I'm also someone who is usually critical of even the most iconic of films- don't believe me? Well, everyone in my family seemed to love "The Quiet Man" yet I absolutely hate it! "All About Eve" though is a film that I can still watch over and over. Nearly everything about this film is perfect- Bette Davis is iconic as the fading actress, Ann Baxter is appropriately despicable as the young actress yearning (and eventually succeeding) to replace her, and Celeste Holm, Thelma Ritter are wonderful as, respectively, Davis' supportive best friend and the maid who does not quite trust her employer's new protégé. Marilyn Monroe has a small role as a graduate of the Copacabana School for Dramatic Arts, and Barbara Bates plays a crucial role at the film's conclusion.
However, George Sanders steals the show for me each time as the diabolical critic. His voice always gets me, and I want to watch what he will do each time.
As much as I like Judy Holliday, I do think Bette Davis (or Gloria Swanson) should have won the Oscar for this film. Both of those were powerhouse performances while Holliday's was comedic and did not require much depth in my opinion. But I digress.
'All About Eve" is a film that you should not miss.
So Proudly We Hail! (1943)
Outstanding Veronica Lake
Let me start by saying that this is quite a unique film. Unlike many other war movies of the time (the overly syrupy and sentimental "Since You Went Away" immediately comes to mind), this film is by no means a propaganda film.
There is no "go, America, go" attitude anywhere in this film, nor are any of the true horrors of the war sugar-coated. This film puts a spotlight on what BOTH men and women who fought for our country were going through. Sadly, many people today fail to take into account the contributions of women to the second world war. Many women did face the horrors of war like men did, and did not only sit at home keeping the fires burning. Hollywood rarely made films like this- in most of the popular war films of the 1940s, the men are off at war while women are home raising children.
Paulette Goddard was nominated for an Oscar, but to me the real standout performance of this film came from Veronica Lake. Today, Veronica is more often remembered for doing lots of film noir, her troubled personal life and iconic hairstyle, but her performance here showcases her true talent as a dramatic actress. It's a shame she's not remembered for performances like this- she really did have a fascinating screen presence. Whenever she's on screen here, I keep wanting to watch her.
This is definitely not your typical war movie of the 1940s. To me, it seems more authentic, and far more real than most others. All in all, it is worth viewing.
Fifty Shades Darker (2017)
Okay, so my expectations were not high since the first one was not exactly "Citizen Kaine" nor were the books literary masterpieces, but this film is laughably bad, and surprisingly, rather dull!!
So, what exactly is wrong with this film?
Where to even start... the screenwriter, for one, who seems like they just took up writing for fun a few weeks before shooting the film. Some of the lines are absurd - and not even original!!! Look out for a line in the film stolen, verbatim, from Dakota's mom Oscar-winning hit film, "Working Girl." The biggest difference between those two films? Melanie Griffith was Oscar- nominated for her role in "Working Girl." Dakota Johnson will be lucky to get a Razzie award.
A high school student who picked up any knowledge of sex or anatomy from science class, or who had any grasp of the English language, could have done a better job writing this script. The new director also seemed in a real hurry to crank this film out-everything is so rushed and confused.
Probably the most obvious issue is the acting. Jaime Dornan was good in "The Fall" but in this role, he has all the charisma of a cardboard box. He's supposed to be the man of every woman's dreams??? I'd be surprised if after this film franchise wraps he ever manages to land a good role again- in my opinion, this film and this role has pretty much wrecked any chances he'd have of a strong career. Charlie Hunnam is probably thanking his lucky stars he managed to get out of appearing in this wreck! To go from "Sons of Anarchy" to this mess of a franchise would have been a huge mistake.
Dakota Johnson fares a little bit better than Dornan, but honestly that is not saying much since he is so unappealing in this role. The two also have ZERO chemistry on screen! For a film that's supposed to be some kind of great sexy film, these two actors have absolutely ZERO chemistry. Rather than feel any kind of spark when they were on screen together, I found myself sometimes cringing.
Kim Basinger is a good addition to this film, and she is still radiantly beautiful and appealing on screen, but she is given very little to do here. It's too bad that she wasn't the lead- I was more interested in her character than I was in either of the lead characters.
Unless you are a huge fan of the books, I'd recommend waiting to watch this on basic cable.
An Affair to Remember (1957)
Watch the Irene Dunne Version.
Okay, so I don't hate this movie. However, it does pale in comparison to the 1930s version with Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer. Heck, in even the 1990s remake with Annette Benning and Warren Beatty the two leads have better chemistry. In "Sleepless in Seattle", which features the film, Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks have more chemistry in their limited screen time together.
For me, Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant just don't have that much on screen chemistry, which is odd considering this film's reputation as one of the greatest on screen romances. Grant even had more chemistry with Katherine Hepburn and Grace Kelly (who by the way, I cannot stand as an actress!) Grant plays pretty much the same character he played in most of his movies- a wealthy, charming, suave and sophisticated playboy. Although he was clearly getting on in years by the time this film was made, he still had the same charisma he always did.
To me, Kerr was a lovely lady but she pretty much always played one-dimensional English Rose type characters. Sort of like Grant, she seemed to play the same kind of role in every film like Grant did. Here, Kerr plays a singer. Hmm... yet, she had to be dubbed here just like in "The King & I." Odd that back in the day, producers would cast an actor who couldn't sing to play a singer. Seems like it would have been more cost-effective to just cast an actor who could actually sing in a film that required singing. But I digress...
Anyway, several things about this film bother me. One is how ungrateful Kerr's character is to her long-suffering boyfriend, Ken, who does so much for her throughout the film, including support her both emotionally and financially. I'm sure I will have people disagree with me, but in my opinion, she should have picked him at the end of the film, but of course (MAJOR SPOILER HERE) she's going to pick Cary Grant because, well, he's Cary Grant. The scenes with the kids singing were also rather annoying, and kind of pointless.
Anyway, I wouldn't tell anyone not to see this film since again it is not terrible or anything. However, I would advise you to see the Charles Boyer/Irene Dunne version first.
Ode to Awful
Okay, so if you are looking to kill a rainy Saturday inside by watching a movie and this one is on- take my advice and SKIP IT!!!!!!!!!
There are some movies which fall into the "so bad they are good" category, like "Showgirls," "Duel in the Sun," etc. "Gigli" is not one such film. It has the reputation of being one of the worst films of all time, and that reputation is well-deserved. Usually, I can sit through a movie at least once even if I hate it. This is one movie that I could not sit through.
An afternoon in the dentist's chair is more appealing to me than watching this film, and I am not kidding.
The issues with this film are numerous, and have been well-documented. One, is the complete lack of chemistry between the two leads. Considering that they were a mega-couple at the time and inspired one of the most famous couple names of all time, you'd think J-LO and Affleck would actually have chemistry on-screen. Well, you would think so, but you would be very, very wrong. It's been years since Bennifer was a thing, but the two have zero chemistry as a couple on-screen and you have to wonder where their supposed passionate love affair was reflected, because there's no sign of it here.
The title is another issue. For years, I thought the name of this was "Giggly." Well, color me surprised when I found out it was not! Live and learn.
I'm not sure why exactly two Oscar winning actors like Pacino and Walken are in this film. Did they lose a bet? Did they need money at the time? Did they not read the script before agreeing to be in this? I found myself pondering these questions so much that I could not even focus on the film itself- although judging by what other people have said, I didn't really miss too much.
I cannot help but feel sorry for director Martin Brest here. The guy went from directing quality films to directing this mess, and has not directed anything since. He also wrote the film, but creative control was taken away from him here so it was not the film he'd originally envisioned. So I give him a pass there.
So, my final advice when it comes to "Gigli": eat glass instead of watching this. It will be less painful.
Well, it looks pretty...
Well, to start with, I don't think this story's premise is unfamiliar to everyone, but this version tosses in a new message: "be kind and have courage at all times" which the title character keeps repeating throughout- even though she is really neither brave, nor even really kind unless it's to the mice she keeps feeding.
Nope, instead this Cinderella is just a pushover and also kind of an airhead who actually starts calling herself "Cinderella"- a cruel nickname her evil stepsisters came up with to mock her, thus truly giving her "evil" step-siblings power over her. This Cinderella also has a weird, wide-eyed expression throughout the movie as if saying "you're so mean to me, but I'm such a good person I'll take it" to everyone who does her wrong. I'm not sure if that is Lily James' fault, or the writing.
For me, the best re-telling of the "Cinderella" story is "Ever After" with Drew Barrymore. In that film, Cinderella IS actually both kind and brave, saving the prince's life and even using a sword to fight her way out of a sticky situation. The bravest thing Cinderella does in this film is not wear any makeup in front of the prince.
If you're looking for a better Cinderella re-telling, I'd recommend "Ever After" or even just stick to the original animated film since "Ever After" uses no special effects or CGI to create magic.
The film does look very pretty, and costumes and sets are beautiful. However, it relies far too much on CGI, if you ask me. Acting-wise, Cate Blanchett is by far the best thing about this movie, then of course she is pretty much great in anything. Lily James, IMO, is just not a very good actress and not charismatic enough to have a lead role in a film. Also, I wonder who decided it was a good idea to put her in a blonde wig without dyeing her very dark eyebrows? That looked strange to me. Richard Madden as the prince for me just did not work.
All in all, I'm glad I watched it since I got to see the great scenery, costumes, and a great performance from Blanchett. However, I wouldn't watch it again.
Red Riding Hood (2011)
Even Christie and Oldman cannot save this mess
So, I can pretty much find something to enjoy about a movie. If not the acting, I can appreciate or enjoy the scenery, music, or something.
But there is nothing enjoyable about this film. It is truly one of the worst things I have ever seen on screen. The acting is laughable, the plot is ridiculous, and there is nothing memorable about the film's scenery or score. The movie also seems to suffer from something of an identity crisis- it can't decide if it's a horror film, a supernatural thriller, or a romantic teen drama.
I like Amanda Seyfried just fine, but she is just not a good enough actress to carry a leading role in a film. Not even the lead in this film which, to be perfectly honest, doesn't require her to do much other than widen her eyes. In my opinion, she is better in smaller, supporting roles and that is what she should stick to.
Even renowned actors like Gary Oldman and Julie Christie cannot save this movie. In fact, why either of them would agree to be in a movie like this is beyond me. Maybe they really needed the money at the time, I don't know.
I saw this movie when it came out in theaters, and it was a regrettable waste of money and time. I advise anyone who happens to catch this movie on TV not to waste their time with this film by watching it. You will regret it.
The Quiet Man (1952)
Dated and Offensive
Okay, so I never sat through this movie until recently. This was one of my grandfather's favorite films, and since his tastes usually match mine when it comes to old films, I gave this one a try.
Well, if you like films that portray Irish people in the most stereotypical way possible, this is certainly the film for you! Even though this film is old, I cannot believe the way violence against women is glorified in this film. Call me a feminist, liberal, or whatever, but this film is by far one of the most sexist that I have ever seen.
John Ford had a reputation of being nasty to many of his actors, and from what I've read, he was especially nasty to Maureen O'Hara almost every time they worked together. It almost sounds like he got some kind of perverse pleasure in watching her being mistreated on film, as she is in this one. Somehow, though, O'Hara has always praised him, in spite of how he treated her, which baffles me. Then again, having read her autobiography, O'Hara does not sound like she ever had a very healthy relationship with any man, aside from maybe Wayne and Charles Laughton.
The only good part of this film is the scenery. Otherwise, it is boring, outdated, sexist, and I don't understand why this was such a favorite of my grandfather's.
As far as the "Real Housewives" franchise goes, this is not the best one. Gizelle and Robyn are really the only ones who are somewhat likable, Katie is a phony, Ashley isn't terrible but kind of annoying. Karyn seems to want to be the Lisa Vanderpump of this series, but she isn't as likable or charismatic as Vanderpump.
I think the issue of this franchise entry is that it just is not that interesting.