Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I guess, documentaries are going to be my first foray into genre study(sorry TS). Please, if you have any in mind that I should particularly have a look at leave any recommendations in the comments. I will gladly have a look at them. I am picking out 10-12 films to view in the coming month. So far on my current list of documentaries I have:

Hoop Dreams

The Thin Blue Line

Harlan County USA

Gates Of Heaven

Vernon, Florida

Don't Look Back

Roger and Me

The Times of Harvey Milk

American Movie

Hearts and Minds

Little Dieter Needs to Fly

That's the 12 I currently have chosen, but I understand most of these are from the 80's and 90's, so as I said before I am open to suggestion and would nix any of these films to add a more deserving documentary from an earlier time.

I did not add Woodstock or any other concert films as those will be studied when I do concert films.

My next study will more than likely be Silent Comedies and then I will do Horror. I am genuinely excited about both of those as well as my current study.

Thanks for voting.

"You Gotta Give 'Em Hope." REVIEW

Milk-2008-Gus Van Sant


2008 was not a great year for film. There have been a few gems(WALL-E comes to mind) but overall the films come out seemingly lackluster. I wouldn't say the films out this year have been terrible either though, they just seem to always have something lacking that keeps them from being wonderful. Within all of this, there is an actor, who to me has had a banner year. James Franco has been a supporting actor in both this film and Pineapple Express. Why do I happen to mention this specific actor? Because to me he grounds both films. While in Pineapple Express he plays a drug dealer with a heart. He likes to help out his grandma, and is lonely. He wants a friend to hang with him. That film is about friendship, and he really nails it wonderfully. Now in Milk, he plays Scott Smith, Harvey Milk's lover. The film opens when they meet. He is who Harvey confesses he is "forty years old and (he) hasn't done a thing". His subtlety and total comfort in embodying Smith left me yearning for more screen time with him. But Van Sant only allows him to be there when the story needs him, he doesn't try to force the character on to us simply because he is so magnetizing.

Milk follows Harvey Milk. After meeting Scott Smith, turning forty and moving to San Francisco's Castro district, he becomes interested in homosexual activism. He sees the atrocities at play and wants justice for the gay community. So he enters the political office and on the way creates a movement, a movement that because of him still has activists fighting today.

Harvey Milk had a love for life that was so enriching you can't help but smile when the man is speaking. In the documentary from 1984 The Times Of Harvey Milk, you can see the real man that Sean Penn brilliantly portrays. This movie, Milk, doesn't glamorize Milk to the point of unbelievability. It allows us to see the man for his failures and his victories. This is especially evident when Diego Luna's character enters the film. The audience might ask why Milk would stay with such a person, but he answers that very question when Scott inquires.

Gus Van Sant is a wonderfully gifted filmmaker. His film from earlier this year, Paranoid Park, is among one of my favorites of 2008. His films often have a dreamy, lucid quality to them that truly set them a part from the pack. The problem with this is when Van Sant does step back and allow his style to become a side note, his films seem to come out lacking. This is really only his third attempt at giving Hollywood a film they might like. Generally straight forward and genuinely moving. What sets Milk a part from Van Sant's other, more conventional fare is how we can see Van Sant's passion for the material. This film has a lot of heart, so much so that you can hear it pounding throughout the speakers. The problem is, even with Van Sant's passion seeping through the screen, the film does not overcome general biopic conventions. It falls prey to the who, what and where dilemma that many biopics spend too much time with. Even Van Sant's use of the opera in the third act to represent Milk's life, and politics in general, comes off a little heavy handed.

Despite it's convention the film is very moving. You can't not fall in love with Harvey. Sean Penn's performance is outstanding, and is generating a lot of awards buzz. I won't get into how deserving I think he is of that buzz except as to say I do love him in this despite his flashiness. The thing is, Milk himself was a flashy guy. He had a theatricality about him that really couldn't be denied. Penn does capture this and exudes it throughout the film's duration.

Milk has an ensemble cast of the greatest young crop of actors in Hollywood. From Emile Hirsch to Joseph Cross, all of these guys will be around for a long time. Another great performance, that was truly transcendent, is that of Josh Brolin. His portrayal of Dan White is mysterious. He keeps a rain cloud over much of Milk's achievements throughout. I'm sure everyone knows how this turns out in the end. What Van Sant and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black do with him is wonderful. While, at first, allowing us to despise the man, they then show us his utter confusion and we can sympathize with him. At the moment before he pulls off his last big scene, we see him sitting on his couch in his underwear. He looks frightened as he peaks out the window. By films end we realize what he represents. He isn't set here for us to be disgusted by, or to give Milk a good protagonist(I know this is a true story so obviously he's there because this all really happened but in regards to the way in which he is placed into the film). Dan White allows us to see an individual who is so incredibly in need of Harvey Milk's hope message yet too scared to receive it.

As has been said by many, this film has come out at an opportune time with all that's currently going on in our country and more specifically California. While the film does have it's problems, I believe films like this are important, especially in the times we are currently living. We need films that can show us tragedy yet give us hope without sentimentality or sappiness. Sean Penn's directorial effort from last year, Into The Wild, did this very thing while not allowing the typical biopic conventions to overtake the films themes. Milk is such a film and should be viewed as such. Not because Van Sant has created the film in such a way that it's obvious he wanted the story to take precedent to any kind of cinematic or stylistic device possible, which isn't a bad thing. This is simply why James Franco grounds the film. This film is not an exercise in subtlety, but Franco's performance truly is.

Friday, December 19, 2008

"Sometimes I think sitting on trains Every stop I get to I'm clocking that game" REVIEW

Slumdog Millionaire-2008-Danny Boyle


For 10 million rupees, Is Danny Boyle's latest film, Slumdog Millionaire, a real crowd pleaser?
A. Yes
B. No
C. Maybe
D. What's a slumdog?

"uh, this is a tough one" Shawn parlays to the host. "But I think I'm going to go with A..."


The host looks at his monitor for what feels like an eternity. Sweat droplets begin rolling off of Shawn's forehead as if they were auditioning to be a part of Niagara Falls.

Still there is Silence.

"Well, Shawn, I'm sorry to tell you this but...."

Silence yet again.

"You're absolutely right!!!!"

Crowd Cheers!

Slumdog Millionaire is a fairytale through and through. Albeit, a rather unconventional fairytale as we, the audience, are asked to sit through considerable amounts of fighting, torture, and sadness to reach the films ultimate conclusion. Following Jamal Malik, as he is a player on the Hindi version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? The government finds it hard to believe that someone of his low stature could possibly know the answers to the questions he is being asked. With a wonderful episodic structure, Boyle is able to show us how we truly learn things through experiencing life. The life that is truly lived is worth a million dollars.

What Boyle really does right here is that he realizes just because you have a story about poverty or third world orphans, you don't have to make it somber. While the film does strike it's somber notes at all the "right"(I put this in quotations as I feel these moments are a little too calculated) moments, a smile is kept on the viewer throughout the duration of the film.

This film really reminded me of the Disney fairy tales I watched as a child. Aladdin, Pinocchio, Beauty and The Beast, these films all asked serious questions of it's viewer but at the same time took them on a journey, ultimately leading them to their happily ever after ending.

What strikes me is the way in which Boyle(or probably the author of the book the film is based off of Q and A) portrays destiny within the film. When destiny is spoken of, it is generally said by the characters as being written. This is said quite a few times throughout the movie. One could argue that the film is in fact written, they are acknowledging that and commenting on that fact. This is obviously a film where suspension of disbelief is needed to allow for the viewer to be moved. I think they wanted to recognize that very sentiment. The film also comments, shortly, on God. Salim, Jamal's brother, does some pretty terrible things throughout the film's duration. He is also seen doing a few heroic things, but is a very guilty person. This is the only character that ever mentions God and it happens at two interesting points late in the film. If the film is written by a God-like creator called a screenwriter, who created this universe and knows exactly what will happen. Does God write destiny in our universe? This is all presupposing that God is real. While I gain something from this aspect, as I believe He is, a viewer with little or no affiliation to God in anyway, or no belief, would probably be of no interest in this theory.

Following that same subject, the film also reminded me of an Old Testament Bible story. The two brothers get at each other almost like a Cain and Able, or Issac and Ishmael. With tragedy and warmth destiny, or God's providence, or whatever it is you may want to call it, is shown by stories end.

White folk are satirized slightly within the film. A few key scenes show our utter naivety and/or ignorance of other cultures, which work surprisingly well and don't come off as heavy handed or unoriginal.

Where the film will ultimately lose people is in it's conclusion. I am afraid to say, against all judgment, I became totally engrossed in what finally happens with the characters. I believe it gets so many things right that a recent film like Twilight gets so wrong, and that is, how true love works. Even though it is a little contrived, the characters love for each other doesn't seem to be that way simply because that's what's supposed to happen for the story to work. It's truly an organic thing that lives within the film. It may seem far fetched or pointless for some, but if allow it, it can be totally riveting.

Every little episode Boyle and co-director Loveleen Tandan gives us doesn't always work, but in each one their is a bit of joy to be found. With a mish mash of culture and language, the filmmakers do beautifully capture it by using a variety of techniques. While I found myself feeling a little more lost than excited during some of the action sequences, most of the time these techniques served the story wonderfully.

The films overarching universal themes can be a little in your face at times, but, the sheer optimism of the film was enthralling and burnt a smile onto my face for hours after the credits rolled.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In the coming year...

So I posted my supposed list of film genre's on the side here, and will add links as soon as I finish each study. I also have a poll up where you can vote on which study I will tackle first. In regards to the decades I also added on there, that is for any films I happen to miss from that decade that I wish to tackle. I know some decades are ripe with more films I am a little more excited about seeing(50's-70's for example). And, although I have tons of films that will be listed in each category I'm sure there will be those I miss, and they will be added into those categories.

I hope I can actually accomplish all of this. I need ya'll to root for me.

"Wormser is a master of aerodynamics. He has engineered the javelin to complement Lamar's limp-wristed throwing style."

Of Up and Coming Monarchs

Although my quest to review a lot more films by years end is noble, I just don't think I have it in me. I will be seeing all the DVD releases I said I had yet to see, but to write out a review for each of them would just kill any outside life I have that doesn't already involve work, school and family. I know, I know, I can hear all the sighs of disappointment from my adoring fans, but no need to fret. I will write reviews of the slew of theatrical films I plan on seeing in the coming month and having some sort of year end list of all things film by mid-January. I know it's totally cliche', but I am a total sucker for those things and have always wanted to make my own. I know I'm lame.

On another note, some new plans are ahead for the new year. I figured out that as someone who enjoys writing about film, and considers himself somewhat(and I mean that in the lowest amount someone can say somewhat) of a film geek, I have seen entirely to few movies. To remedy this situation I have come up with the following plan. Instead of going forth and studying more directors(as I did Hitchcock) I am going to disband that for now and look into genre. I am going to watch 10-12 films a month from a certain genre and offer a write up on them. The thing is, these are going to be classics that I have never seen, ranging from silent comedies to modern thrillers. It'll be a credibility crusher admitting all the amazingly well revered films of which I have yet to accustom myself, but if I wish to become a better film lover, maker, and writer it's something I need to really accomplish.

Yes, that was all exaggerated for giggles, but I will have some genres up in a poll soon, and the entire list I am going to begin peaking into up on a sidebar.

Anyways, until next time. Godspeed.

Friday, December 5, 2008

"In sports you should play fair. In war, you shouldn't play fair at all." REVIEW

*photo taken of director Chris Bell just hours between photos

Bigger Stronger Faster-2008-Chris Bell


If Michael Moore has taught us anything, it is the fact that documentaries are generally totally subjective. The director takes a subject they feel passionate about, finds any evidence pointing towards their thesis and ignores all other evidence pointing the other way. This goes contrary to what the public feels about documentaries. When Fahrenheit 9/11 came out there were people in a frenzy. Everything said in it just had to be true, it was a documentary. While I am definitely no Bush supporter by any means, we all know just how Moore twisted the facts and used them to bend to his own theories. To be honest, I have little problem with that as long as the film is still compelling. I just don't enjoy being manipulated.

Chris Bell has created a documentary so interested in truth, so interested in getting to the bottom of a major problem in America, that's it's refreshing. Bigger Stronger Faster is about steroid use in America. The closest we get to any people affected by steroids are the entire Bell family. Chris' brothers Mark and Mike(Smelly) Bell. We see how steroid use has affected them in their daily lives, and their family. We also get a glimpse at their religious parents and what they feel about what has happened to their sons.

Bigger Stronger Faster is at once totally light hearted and almost cheery in the sense that we are learning something in a unique way, but as the film goes on, we see how tragic it truly is. What amazes me, is how the film is interested in the facts to such a degree that it refutes itself quite a few times. We hear both sides on the steroid battle and even get examples of enhancement drugs in other fields of work.

The portrait that Chris Bell allows us to see of his brothers is the most heartbreaking part of the story. Mark, the oldest, has dreamed of becoming a professional wrestler for so long. He has a wife now and a kid on the way, yet he still isn't giving up that dream. Not only that, he isn't giving up his steroid use.
Smelly wins seemingly every weight lifting competition he joins. But his wife wants him off steroids, first, so they can have a kid, but she wants him to stay off of them. Will he or won't he? His attachment to the drug and to staying the strongest is so tragic.

It's really wonderful the ways in which the film examines the American dream. Growing up, we are constantly bombarded with the idea that, as long as we put our minds to it and try hard enough, we can accomplish anything. This is such a true statement, but at the same time incredibly misleading. Sometimes we fall short, as Mark obviously has. Are we to applaud him to continue going for his dream even though he is getting older? Or are we to join their father in grief for what he is doing to his family? It's a conflicted ideal to begin with. Chris shows Mark as someone who really has a lot going for him, but is still willing to lose all of that to accomplish his dream.

Bell's sympathetic approach to his brothers and other steroid users really struck me as genuine. You can tell the guy has so much respect and adoration for all of these people, while at the same time grieves their choices.

To me, the film transcends its material in a small scene where Chris and his father are talking in a restaurant. His father goes on about how we just have to love people, that's all it comes down to. Everyone makes big mistakes, but that doesn't stop them from doing great things. He offers examples from the Bible, like King David and Abraham, and compares those using steroids to these men of the Bible. To some, this may seem a little contrived, but to me, it really struck me as beautiful. Here is a man, who earlier in the film was expounding on the ways in which his oldest son is being an idiot, yet in this scene, we hear how he can overcome those initial feelings of annoyance with his son's choices and feel that he is still capable of some truly astounding things.Bigger Stronger Faster is not the hardest hitting of documentaries, but it's earnest approach and journalistic integrity should not be cast aside. It's not everyday that most Americans see this subculture. We are left to see it from our couch watching ESPN as MLB players are accused of drug use time and time again. We put little thought behind what has caused these men to do such a thing. Bell gives us a grey world where nothing is in black and white, I hope Michael Moore was watching.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

"I never wash my pants. I like to keep the night on them. "

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist-2008-Peter Sollett


In the mid-90's Richard Linklater directed a masterful film starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy where we witness two characters meet, hit it off, and subsequently spend the entire night out together falling in love. It is the kind of romantic film that leaves you with a certain type of lightness, where you know you just saw some type of beautiful human interaction, but find it hard to express. Peter Sollett has directed a film that tries to fall into a similar vein, but instead, falls flat.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist gives us two sweet and lovable characters to follow as well. There's Nick(Michael Cera) the awkward yet adorable musician with a soft heart. And Norah, she's the daughter of the Electric Lady Studios owner, and has a wicked taste in music. Throughout the course, they meet, and go on a search for the band Where's Fluffy, which all the characters seemingly love. Hilarity ensues throughout the night. Before Sunrise-lite is what they should have named it.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (or as I like to call it Nick and Norah's Infinitely Long Title) seems to live or die on how truly hip it can be. Characters name drop indie bands of all types and litter their conversations with mentions of I-Pod's and how totally gay friendly they are. Sometimes trying so hard to convince us it's OK to be gay that it rings false. It's not a slight to the film to be gay friendly, I actually loved that aspect. The characters mentioned homosexuals without batting an eye, like it was an everyday part of life. What the film does with this though, is inadvertently use it to make some jokes on behalf of the homosexuals littered throughout. Nick has a band(The Jerk Offs) where he is the only straight member. I found that to be an interesting twist. At once, when this seems to be played out very wonderfully, we then get a scene where they go into a gay club and every guy they pass winks and smiles at Nick. I have never met gay guys who act like this. Maybe I am from an alternate universe to this, but it seems they were force feeding a homosexual stereotype while still trying to maintain credibility by being gay friendly.

It's hard to wrap my head around how utterly precocious this film is as well. It wants to be so cute and hip that it really loses track of it's characters. Oftentimes we are stuck in mundane conversations filled with nothing but void name droppings of hip bands. Really, Norah's summation for why she thinks Nick has too many The Cure songs on his I-pod is mind numbingly stupid.

Let me stop there. Perhaps I am being too hard on the film. I honestly don't enjoy tearing things down, but I am letting my honest opinion choose which letters my fingers are to press. This film really isn't a trainwreck like I have made it out to be. We get some really wonderful moments here.

First off, Michael Cera is quite possibly the funniest person on the planet. Not in terms of sheer LOL-ness, but in the ways in which he can subtly say one line that would never be funny said any other way or by any other person. Kat Dennings is also nice in the film, and while I think she has a career ahead of her, she isn't quite there yet. The supporting cast are all fine as well. Nick's ex-girlfriend plays super bitch superbly, although she seemed a little young looking to be such a sex-goddess, or perhaps I am getting too old for this.

I could definitely relate to Nick on so many levels. I am of a similar make. In high school I was playing in bands and playing shows, had a terrible car and had trouble getting my guitar into it sometimes. Nick's plight with his ex is also very relatable. While he often makes stupid decisions, I applaud the film for being more realistic as more often than not, that is the decision any guy would make in that moment.

There are quite a few cameos littered throughout the film as well. Seth Meyers, John Cho, Kevin Corrigan, all do wonderfully small, but funny things. Andy Samburg of SNL and Hot Rod steals his scene as a hobo outside a church though.

If it weren't for the utter cuteness and hipster attitude of the film, I believe I could have jumped on the bandwagon more often. I wanted to know Nick and Norah, their moments alone are some of the best in the film. Every detraction, every instance of following Norah's drunken friend wondering the streets of New York left me with an uneasy feeling.

Peter Sollett definitely had some type of talent here. I enjoyed the look he gave the film and the somewhat John Hughes feel of the film, and can see him making great, entertaining cinema in the future, but for now, I'll keep watching Juno for my hipster cuteness.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

"Mayo is sick." REVIEW

Paranoid Park-2008-Gus Van Sant


"I don't know if I'm ready for Paranoid Park" Alex says while skateboarding down an empty sidewalk with his friend Jared. Jared replies with assurance, "Yeah, but no one's ever really ready for Paranoid Park."

And so goes Gus Van Sant's film, released earlier this year. Paranoid Park is a work of lush visuals, deliberate yet soulful pacing, and cinematic experience. The film isn't told through basic story telling techniques, but told through the mind of a teenage boy who is revealing his guilt to us, one memory at a time.

In Paranoid Park we follow Alex, a young skateboarder stuck in the middle of everything. He has a best friend he skates with, a girlfriend he wants to break up with, and parents who are separated. Throughout the course of the film we witness a horrific accident that Alex is somehow involved in that offers him a tidal wave of guilt and fear.

What Van Sant brilliantly executes with such an idea is to not set us into any cliche' territory. This could easily become some sort of neo-noir or detective film, or it could easily become a gripping drama about a teenage kid dealing with teenage life. Instead, Van Sant simply allows us to experience the inner workings of Alex's head. Much like the 8mm footage of the skateboarders going up and down effortlessly throughout the lively hills and dips of the skatepark, we are lost in Alex's head, just drifting, hoping we just land without a problem.
Alex is given advice by a friend to write down his thoughts, just to get them out. We see, various times, Alex, slowly writing the words on paper; Paranoid Park, as if each letter is fighting to stay within the led of the pencil. Through this letter, we get Alex's narration, performed perfectly by Gabe Nevins, who is a non-actor. It's almost as if the words aren't written. The way in which Alex speaks is so honest that it's hard to believe that these words didn't just find themselves on the tip of his tongue just before he speaks them. Van Sant casts the entire film to perfection, with the exception of Alex's girlfriend Jennifer(Taylor Momsen) who is truly awful. Ironically enough, she is, I believe, the only actual actor in the film. She played Cindy Lou Who in Ron Howard's totally forgettable How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

The score is also a form of brilliance. It's lush instrumentals and soft rhythms add to the ebb and flow of the film, which rolls along as if it were an ocean, rhythmically moving, like it's known no other form of movement.
By the time we reach the end of the 80 minute's or so, you realize how perfectly timed and paced Van Sant made this film. It is rare to see such confidence by a director. Van Sant seemed to know exactly what he wanted to do with every cut, every long take, there isn't a second wasted.

In a time where skateboarders in film have become stereotyped to either encapsulate idiotic punks, or uber cool kids who just replaced a football with a skateboard, it's nice that Van Sant had the capacity to actually make a film with skateboarding, and not allow cool tricks or radical dudes to take over the screen. Paranoid Park is just a simple, intimate portrait of a teenager dealing with guilt and fear. Don't expect a climax, or pay off in the end, that's not what this film is, it's almost like a journey that you are only in the middle of once the credits start rolling.

Friday, November 28, 2008

"I dream about being with you forever. " REVIEW

Twilight-Catherine Hardwicke-2008


Not to be confused with the 1998 Paul Newman film, Twilight, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, is the new it thing among teens. A young adult novel, written by Stephanie Meyer, adapted for the screen, is not unlike another book turned film that had tweens and teens in a frenzy. I am recalling the seven part saga that is known as the Harry Potter series. Now about to release it's sixth film, Harry Potter is always among the highest grossing films of the year. The comparison is apt, but does it really seem fair? Is the recent Twilight frenzy just a new ploy to get the kids filling the seats or is there a level of depth, as I would argue that the Harry Potter series has, hidden within this myriad of romance, love and, of course, vampires.

Twilight follows Bella(Kristen Stewart) as she moves in with her father in a Washington town called Fords, while her mother and step father are on the road with his minor league baseball team. She attends the local high school where she meets a group of friends and is quickly accepted as part of their clique. Amongst this clique we get a slew of fun, quirky characters. The one that stuck out to me was Anna Kendrick, playing Jessica Stanley. Kendrick has impeccable comic timing, as well as an innate sense of how the character would react under any circumstances. She really is such a minor character, but I left the theatre thinking about her performance(which was reminiscent of the great Kristen Wiig of SNL fame).

Anyways, we were just getting to the juicy part. All of the sudden, one day, Bella sees this totally HAWT guy named Edward Cullen(a heavily made up Rob Pattinson) and is like totally unable to keep her eyes off of him. After initially being put off, they become friends and then realize their deep connection, until, she finds out his dark secret. He's a V-A-M-P-I-R-E. Wouldn't you know it, all the good ones are either taken, gay, or immortal, mythological, blood sucking extortioners who are unable(or in this case unwilling, I guess) to be seen in the sun.

So Bella and Edward fall in love and so on and so on...

This is what the kids are eating up these days? This is an obvious new take on the Romeo and Juliet story. Which in itself has been played out over thousands of times in all different types of settings. I enjoy the idea, and maybe the book is better, but the film is filled with problems, that I'm not sure I would care to see fixed.

After the initial opening, we are thrust into this new world with Bella, who we get to know from her voice over. I like the way in which we see everything through Bella's eyes. We learn new things as she does. Rarely, if ever, is there a time that we know something she doesn't or vice versa(besides that fact that we already know Edward is a vampire). The film takes it's time setting things up, but after the first act decides that Bella has realized that Edward is a vampire. This seems a little ludicrous to me, although the clues are obvious I guess. But really, vampire? How many times have a number of odd things happened to you with another person and it crossed your mind that they are possibly of another species.

Herein lies the films major problem, why are there vampires? Really...I'm curious...Is it at all relevant to what's going on between the characters? There can be a connection made that, in Edwards case, his blood lust is a metaphor for his hormones raging for Bella. I believe the case for this is strong, and interesting. We are given a scene where Edward and Bella begin getting physical but Edward jumps back, and comments on how he might give in to the temptation. Of course, in the film, he is talking about sucking her blood, which is amazingly more appropriate for families to sit and watch together than sex is on the big screen, but that's another thing altogether. The sweetness comes from what happens next. Edward and Bella spend the night together talking, laughing and cuddling. It's a little cheesy, but I was heartwarmed by the idea that love can grow and become fruitful without the sex. It's an interesting thought nonetheless.

Where this theory leaves us though is asking why are there other vampires then? are they too wrestling with hormonic passion? Not really. It would have been interesting to see it play out that they all have their vices that their lust for blood becomes a metaphor of. No examples come to mind, but it could have become about obsession and where our lusts take us(for power, money, sex, etc.). The problem with this, is that that also lives within another film altogether. This is a love story. While a lot of the focus is reliant on that, it seems they detract from it often to show some "cool" vampire doings, like playing baseball? Uh, while it is definitely an original idea to see vampires play America's favorite past time, where is the relevance?

Overall the film is a total bore. It is a film that most Hollywood producers foam at the mouth for screaming, "It has romance, action, and laughs(albeit these are a little sparse)!" You would think this could be a film that would sell to young girls(romance) young guys (action) and anyone else that are interested in romantic action or action filled romance(What most films try to do actually). Twilight chugs along with absolutely no tension, no suspense and worst of all, no heart.

Hardwicke really fails at everything here. Her direction seems to be totally complacent and without and kind of inspiration. She seems to have just set up cameras and asked the characters to act out the book. Never was there a time where I forgot I was in a movie theatre. Never was there a time where I feared for a characters safety. Never was there a sense of danger or excitement. Am I too old for this? Is it just that I am not the target audience? I feel that critics are being disingenuous to young girls when saying, "Well, it's a bunch of crap, but young girls will eat it up". Why do we not say the same thing when Transporter 3 is released? "Well it's a load of crap, but the young boys will all go crazy for it". Yes, this film does have a few touching moments, but the directing was a huge let down, even with material that isn't that groundbreaking to begin with.

This film will make loads of money though, as will the rest of the franchise. I'm just hoping it ages, like the Harry Potter series has, and gets better as the series goes along(this is not to say that each Potter film has been subsequently better). If not, and the money still roles in, then we blame it on the 14 year old girls.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Catching up...

So I decided, since there is only one month left in the year, I have seen only roughly 50-60 films released this year. There are about 10-15 I haven't seen that I wish to see that have already been released, and most are on DVD. I would really like to have an expansive view of 2008, and be able to look back on the year with a top ten list and such and actually have a real opinion on a lot of films. So I can be sure of my opinions on this years films that I will be watching a whole lot of this month, I will be writing reviews for each one. The films I have yet to see that are released on DVD that I plan on getting into are:

Paranoid Park
The Visitor
Man On Wire
Red Belt
Bigger Stronger Faster
Standard Operating Procedure
The Flight of The Red Balloon
The Bank Job
The Hammer
The Band's Visit
Funny Games
Son of Rambow

I will still be trying to get in weekly reviews of theatrical films, soon enough Twilight and Milk will be given the Deadpan rundown.

Another note I wanted to make on my Man Crush list. I am so upset that I totally forgot to add Jack Lemmon to the list. He would easily be top 2 or 3.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"There are nearly 13 million people in the world, none of them are an extra." REVIEW

Synecdoche, New York-Charlie Kaufman-2008


It isn't often that we are offered a film such as this. Charlie Kaufman's latest opus Synecdoche, New York has left many a viewer baffled at it's sheer audacity, at it's total disregard for regularity, at it's blatant lack of "American" filmmaking. It's easy to be afraid while viewing such a film, but it is such a film that should be championed.

Kaufman is the screenwriter of such art house fare as, Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. With all the credibility he has garnered from his outstanding run of film's, Synecdoche is his directorial debut.

The film follows Caden Cotard(Phillip Seymour Hoffman), a married theatre director with a four year old daughter. Caden is constantly worried about death. He directs a rendition of Death Of A Salesman, using young people in the place of the main characters. After Caden's wife, Adele(Catherine Keener), leaves him, taking their four year old daughter Olive, Caden's fears grow. He loses track of time, even going so far as believing his wife has only been gone a week, when, in fact, it has been a year. As the saying goes, "Time flies when you're having fun", no one mentions the fact that time basically only flies whenever we don't want it to.

Caden then receives a MacArthur Genius Grant, and decides he wants to do something with his life. He wants to create a huge masterpiece of theatre using truth as his guide. He creates a life-size replica of his town and begins directing reenactments of his own life theatrically.

The plot truly goes in so many different directions, but a film like this should not be studied for it's plot. It is structured in such a way that it would be impossible to make sense of time, place and even reality. Scenes come at us seemingly haphazardly, but they are linked with common traits of theme and substance. This isn't the type of film where we are to examine and think, "Was it all in his head?" or "Is this some sort of day dream?", but the questions we should be putting forth are, "Why is this important?" I won't pretend to have Synecdoche figured out, and that's the point. This isn't a film to be totally figured out. Can it be mastered? Yes and no. Yes in the sense that one can grasp all of it's themes, and get a feel and understanding of every character's purpose, but no this film is of the caliber that it cannot be subjected to a theoretical plot analysis of any type.

Kaufman seems to be exercising his own demon's here, and this is something that also makes this film so mesmerizing. While Caden is searching for truth through his epic directorial effort, could Kaufman be expounding that very same sentiment?

It's as if Kaufman is given a sheet of paper, he proceeds to shred that paper into many different pieces and throws them into the air. Some land near each other, some further away, some are blown out of viewing distance, but they are all still connected. They are all pieces that fit together, and Kaufman follows each one of them to their end. This is truth. This is art.

Caden's existential dilemma is played out through various scenes and reenactments, but we are never given a monologue to explain where Caden truly is at this point in his life. This film is not of our world.
Synecdoche, New York is a film of grand ambition, reminiscent of Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, not in it's overall themes or basic plot, but in the kind of questions it is asking, and the way in which we are presented with these questions. This isn't a film of answers, it's more philosophical than that(just like 2001). The viewer is given questions to ponder and relate back to the film. We are given no moral to hold fast to and teach our children, we are simply shown truth for what it is, life for all it carries. This film's messy structure is, in itself, a reenactment of the way in which our mind recalls life. Life is messy, the scenes of our life don't flow perfectly together like a storybook. Often times we aren't met with a connecting scene in our life for months, or years, to the scene or moment we have just encountered. This is where Kaufman examines the human condition to utter perfection. We are all messy, we are all lonely, we are all imperfect.

I will always champion films that encourage me, not only to live a better life, but to live the life more abundant. To get out there and do something, get excited about something and act on it. This is such a film.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Suck It, Reindeer Games!"

Role Models-David Wain-2008


Two comedic character actors finally get a shot at sharing a starring role in a recent widely released film. Paul Rudd and Sean William Scott are funny guys, but rarely do we see them get their due. Sean William Scott had the unfortunate job of becoming a character that would embody his entire career, Stifler. And if that isn't enough he hasn't outgrown him. While lately, he seems to be trying with films like The Promotion and Mr. Woodcock, did anyone actually see those? Not only did no one get around to watching them, I doubt there will ever be a time when someone looks at them(Mr. Woodcock especially) and thinks to themselves, I should really watch this, nay, I NEED to see this.

David Wain has redeemed Scott and finally given Rudd the screen time he has earned. Wheeler(Scott) is Stifler, only a bit more mature. We actually feel for this character, and he too actually feels for other characters. What has been done here with brilliance is something that Apatow has really grabbed a hold of recently. Think of a plot you have seen a million times, fill the roles with hilarious but not quite A-list actors, add a touch of sugar and place on simmer for 90 minutes.

This isn't a perfect film by any means, and it also isn't going to really blow anyone away. What this film will do is provide anyone watching it with an enjoyable time, well written characters and absurd comedy.

David Wain is most known for his work with The State and Stella, but has recently directed 2 films prior to this(Wet Hot American Summer and The Ten) and while all of his other work takes comedy to such an absurd level that it's hard to get just anyone to sit down and watch it, this film reigns that absurdism in a bit, puts a bow on it and gives it to it's viewer as a gift. This might be a good thing, may be bad, depending on the viewer.

Another wonderful thing about this film is the fact that no one plays second fiddle. Everyone is hilarious. Jane Lynch is hysterical(watch out for the hot dog trick, Ken Marino and her have a little more fun a bit into the credits) Ken Jeong proves that he is the funniest man alive and of course Chistopher Mintz-Plasse and Bobb'e J Thompson(Augie and Ronnie respectively) are perfect fits for their roles. Anyone who thought Mintz-Plasse was only McLovin needs to look out, this kids going places.

Throughout all these outstanding comedic performances we get a bit of a romance between Rudd and Elizabeth Banks. While this romance is what basically drives everything that follows in the story, it is unnecessary and cliche'. The film could easily work with a few tweaks and drops this whole storyline, but with it in there, we aren't really hurt either.

What basically works out the best is that nothing is wasted here. Every throw away line used by a character is brought back into context within the film. You haven't seen KISS like this before.

While I will commend Wain more for his work with Stella, I really think he hit all the right notes with Role Models and hope all these actors aren't strangers over there in Hollywood. I am looking forward to seeing them all again.

"That's why they call them crushes. If they were easy, they'd call them something else"

So since I was so incredibly late on the whole Alphabet Meme thing, I decided I would start my own meme and see if anyone actually follows it up.

So here's my idea.

Top 10 man crushes in film.


This can be a character, actor, director, really anyone working on films. The only thing is, they must be a personality. You have to really know something about them. This rules out most producers, cinematographers, etc.

If you are a man, these man crushes, obviously must be men. If you are a woman than I say they have to be a woman. They must be the same sex as the writer making their list.

You can choose anyone living or dead.
They must be chosen due to their film content. If you choose Michael J. Fox and the only thing you like about him is his role in Family Ties then he doesn't work. But if you choose Michael J. Fox because you love Marty McFly, and you want to mention that you also love Family Ties, that is acceptable.

Alright? Here goes.

10. Peter Sellers
-Sellers is a comedic god. Something I look for in a man(crush) is the ability to consistently make me smile. The thing is, Sellers is not only capable of causing me to go into uncontrollable fits of giggles, but he can make me cry too. His character in Being There is absolutely transformative to his entire career and my view on him.
9. Clive Owen
-Witty yet totally bad ass. He is what every man wants to be. And he's got a friggin British accent. That boosts any man to crush status for me.
8. Paul Rudd
-I could watch this man endlessly. Every supporting role he has been in leave me in stitches, and his most recent starring role shows him doing what he does best, being a snarky, smarmy, cynical asshole. At his heart though, Rudd is a sympathetic person. Why is he not noted yet for his comedic genius?
7. Kurt Russell
-Honestly, among all the 80's/early 90's action stars I would choose Mr. Russell. He is smarter than Schwarzenegger and Stallone, better looking than Bruce Willis, and wittier than all three. His anti-hero action status led the way for Willis and Die Hard. But how could anyone top his run with Carpenter in the 80's?
6. Heath Ledger
-Many love him post-humously because of his amazing portrayal of Joker. My love for him came before that. His greatest role was of course in Brokeback Mountain, but I found him amazing to watch in popcorn films such as 10 Things I Hate About You and Lords Of Dogtown. While I can't speak to the quality of these films I can speak to the charm and heart I found in Ledger and his characters.
5. John Cusack
-Say Anything anyone? Not to mention his slew of goofy 80's films (One Crazy Summer, Better Off Dead, The Sure Thing) to his newer dramedies(High Fidelity, Being John Malkovich, The Ice Harvest). He always has an earnestness about him, and while he is seemingly always playing himself, I could watch Cusack do Cusack for days on end.
4. Steve Martin
-Although lately Steve Martin has made me want to gag with his slew of horrible films, I still love the man and forgive him due to his amazing ability to always seem candid and honest, and playing many snarky characters with vulnerability. I love him most in Planes, Trains and Automobiles but how could anyone deny his outstanding stand up and early films especially a little unknown comedy directed by Carl Reiner, I'm sure some of you might have heard of it.
3. Robert Downey Jr.
-Talk about having it all. Style, looks, wit, charm, a former drug problem. Okay, that last part isn't something I look for in a man(crush) but really, can anyone deny this man anything? He made Iron Man a hit recently and I'm dying to see him again. Not to mention he is hilarious in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and perfect in Zodiac. He is the GQ man that all of us, whether we admit it or not, want to be.
2.Dustin Hoffman
-He may be 71 years old now, but he still warms my heart. From The Graduate to Midnight Cowboy to All The President's Men to Rain Man to Stranger Than Fiction this man knows how to act, and he knows how to pick a role. I would say out of anyone on this list he has the largest amount of great films amidst his performances. Not to mention, The Graduate makes me happy.

Drum Roll Please.

1. Bill Murray
-The way Bill Murray has reinvented himself with Wes Anderson and Jim Jarmusch is incredible. The man is still hilarious but has a melancholy and dryness about him now that I find absolutely engaging. I love Bill Murray and if gay marriage were allowed in Ohio and he lived here, I would ask him for his hand. I don't care that he has at least 30 years on me.

Michael Cera, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Stewart, Jason Batemen, Casey Affleck, George Clooney, Sam Rockwell, Harrison Ford

I know I have many more classic actors in the runners up, this is only because I have connected and man crushed on more modern actors, I guess.

Anyways I am tagging Marcy at Because I Saw The Film, Fletch at Blog Cabins, TS at Screen Savour, The Film Doctor, and Dark City Dame. Do it if you'd like. If not, whatev.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I think I'm the last.....

....to post an Alphabet meme.

Anyway's I was tagged by Dark City Dame to do this and have slacked. I think there are a million other's out there, all probably better than mine. I won't even attempt to explain except to say:

I like way more films than this and this is really no representation of my favorite films.

As usual it's hard to find films for some letters and there may be better for each letter but this is the ones that struck me upon thinking of the letter. I am coming at this rather simplistically and going off the cuff. I think of the letter, think of a film with that letter that I adore and BAM! That's my only criteria.

So here goes.

Annie Hall
Being There
Chasing Amy
Do The Right Thing
ET(Although 8 1/2 really wanted it)
Fight Club
Graduate, The
High Fidelity
It's A Wonderful Life
Kill Bill Vol. 1
Last Temptation of Christ, The
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Psycho(Pulp Fiction is so very close)
Quiet American, The (A film based on a Graham Greene book that is alright, but the only Q film I have seen and at least somewhat enjoyed.)
Raging Bull(Holy crap! Rushmore, The Royal Tennenbaums, Raising Arizona, Rear Window, Red Planet, Requiem For A Dream, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Ratatouille, Resevoir Dogs, Robocop, Rocky)
Seventh Seal, The (Another amazing letter...Saving Private Ryan, Schindlers List, The Searchers, Sense and Sensibility, Seven, Sex Lies and Videotape, Shawshank Redemption, The Sixth Sense, Sideways, Silence Of The Lambs, Some Like It Hot, Slacker, Solaris(both versions) , Stranger Than Fiction, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, Synecdoche New York, Swingers)
Taxi Driver
When Harry Met Sally
Young Frankenstein


So there it is. Don't act like you're not impressed.

In the coming days expect reviews of the new Charlie Kaufman film, Synecdoche, New York, as well as David Wain's third directorial effort, Role Models.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

"Princess Leia ain't never had no sex with Han Solo in the Star Wars."

Zach and Miri Make a Porno-Kevin Smith-2008


Zach and Miri Make a Porno. What the hell else do you need to know?

To be honest, while that is the basis of the film, I believe it was the words of the film criticism god Ebert that can sum it up, "A film isn't about what it's about." If there were ever a film that earned that statement, well better examples can be found, but you get my point.

Zach and Miri are two late 20's losers barely able to pay rent. They are best friends who have known each other since the first grade, and inconsequentially have not once felt feelings for one another. When their electric and water gets turned off and they have nowhere else to turn, they decide to make a porno for some quick cash.

And with that plot line, described in the film's title, we are off and running.

Director Kevin Smith isn't really mining new ground here with his usual raunchy, but sweet humor. And to Smith's credit his filmmaking abilities are obviously improving. The camera moves, the city looks beautiful, he plays with color palettes yet still allows it to be all character and story.

The movie opens perfectly setting the characters up by showing rather than saying, which is occasionally a fault of Smith's very wordy scripts. The first act flies by and it is perfect. Each note is hit with utter grace and everyone shines. Justin Long steals the show though as a gay porn star. He plays it against the usual stereotype of homosexuals, but at the same time, is playing up those same stereotypes.

After the first act though, the comedy gets a little hit and miss. This is especially true for a certain sight gag that really doesn't fit in here, even amidst all the raunch.

When they begin making the porno is where I believe Kevin Smith has achieved a new level of maturity with his writing. This is not to say that the jokes are mature, but what he sets up is at once ingenious and completely fitting for the film.

It reaches a level of meta-ness. We are watching this film within a film unfold and when something happens and breaks that apart, our film reaches that same level of climax. It's hard to comment on without totally giving away but if you aren't paying attention then it comes across as cheesy but when you get the irony it plays out perfectly. Especially when Jason Mewes(Jay in the other of the View Askew films) gets to lay out the films themes with subtlety by explaining the dutch rutter to Zach.

Those that are saying Smith is trying to grab hold of Apatow's thunder may be somewhat right, but in retrospect he actually chose Rogen as Zach before Knocked Up even hit theatres. So at that point Rogen was still virtually unknown. Everyone seems to forget that it is Apatow that has taken the formula of Smith, yet made it a little more accessible and mainstream. If asked to say which one was the better filmmaker, all that anyone would need to do is look at the frames of the films. While Smith isn't some supreme visual artist his films have a look all their own, while Apatow's films, in regards to looks, could be directed by most anyone.

In the end with all of it's shortcomings I think in terms of filmmaking, Zach and Miri is a huge step up for Smith. But with all the praise I have given I was slightly disappointed. I have found much beauty and worth in many of Smith's efforts(Chasing Amy especially) and was hoping to find that same level. Not in the sheer look or feel of the film, but in terms of the screenplay I don't feel like Smith focused enough on these characters when we reached the film within a film section. He focused not only on the meta-narrative I already discussed, but also on poop jokes and sex jokes in terms that could be distracting. Although I particularly thought that Jason Mewes and Katie Morgan's sex scene was hilariously staged and executed.

Smith makes personal films, and that resonates with a lot of people. Those who don't like him have their reasons, and those reasons are perfectly understandable, but when you do relate to his canon on a transcendent level they become more than the sum of their parts.


In news sort of related to this review; after seeing Zach and Miri Make a Porno I have decided that for my next director study I am going to look at the 7 films Kevin Smith made before Zach and Miri. I know that in terms of credibility this may not make me look like the most knowledgeable film blogger out there, but I have a real affection for the man and many of his films. This is not to say that I believe he is the best filmmaker out there of course, but I have found surprising amounts of depth and beauty in the world Smith creates and have always wanted to delve a little deeper into that. So starting in a few weeks Kevin Smith will get the Deadpan run down.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"You mean like pulling out their toenails?" W. Film Review

W.-Oliver Stone-2008


Oliver Stone's latest film W. seems to do little in the way of importance. In general Stone's films have been filled with different views on politics, war, race, and so on. But lately it seems that Stone has gone kind of soft. His latest efforts have been extremely unimportant films who don't even seem to know what they want to be. Don't get me wrong, he is tackling important subjects (World Trade Center especially) but he seems to be doing so in such a way that even he doesn't know exactly what he is doing. Is it always important for a controversial filmmaker to remain controversial? No, not necessarily, but I am reminded of what the great Ingmar Bergman once said, "If I have nothing to say and I just want to make a film, I don’t make the film. The craftsmanship of filmmaking is so terribly stimulating, dangerous and obsessing that you can be very tempted. But if you have nothing to come with … try to be honest with yourself and don’t make the picture"

Oliver Stone seems to think he has a lot to say, and at first glance he does, maybe too much. W is an exercise in saying a whole lot without saying anything at all.

We follows W. as he works his way from frat boy to President of The United States. We see basically anything we have read, or heard about Bush, put to screen and reenacted in some fashion. Bush choking on the pretzel, Bush and Laura meeting, Bush buying the Texas Rangers, helping campaign for Poppy(H.W.) in '92 and the main focus is the lead up to and decision of the War in Iraq.

Before W. was released into theatres I saw an interview with Oliver Stone On Real Time With Bill Maher. While Maher praised the film, the only things he really said was the fact that the film is basically Bush's greatest hits, and mentions the pretzel scene. I have to admit, from hearing that, I got a little excited. I cannot explain the reasoning behind it but I concocted this whole film in my head surrounding this absurd moment in W's life where he almost died choking on a pretzel. I thought of Stone making this a metaphor for the entire life, and presidency of W. In a sense, I guess he sort of did that, but it just seemed haphazardly thrown in there. In this same interview Stone explained how George W is such a brilliant and interesting dramatic figure. He explained how in the making of Nixon he understood the extreme guilt that Nixon felt and wanted to exhibit that throughout the film. In turn he exclaimed how Bush is so astounding because he feels utterly guiltless for the things he has done. He is a completely earnest human being.

This sentiment did come across in W, but not in the way I expected. This thought doesn't shine through with subtle moments of bliss, but rather Stone gives this film a total sense of boredom. I could not help wondering at times, why am I watching this? I understand these are important to get the whole spectrum of W, but they are brought together in such a amateur way that you realize this is a dramatization, I don't feel empathy for these characters at all. And while I can applaud Stone for keeping a distance and not forcing his beliefs down our throats and proclaiming that George W. Bush isn't the best President this country has had(No kidding) I cannot root for this film, simply due to it's lack of a heart.
Where the film finds its footing is in a few wonderful instances. The relationship is wonderful between Poppy and W, and a real basis for a lot of what W seems to do in his life. I was wanting to explore this theory more in depth, and while it is the closest we get to a complete subplot, it doesn't all hold together. A few random occurrences of Bushie in the Rangers stadium hoping to catch an imaginary fly ball from center field give us visuals that are subtle enough for us to have to think, but out there enough to allow the audience to understand their place in the film.

The most wonderful thing about W is the outstanding performances. From Richard Dreyfuss(playing the ultravillain Dick Cheney) to Jeffrey Wright(Colin Powell) to Elizabeth Banks(who doesn't get much but shines in everything she does do) we are overloaded with great acting that doesn't come across as caricature or impersonation but as actual characters that just happen to be real people. Of course the highest praise goes to Brolin, who takes it to the edge of being an over the top impersonation but holds back just enough to make it absolutely perfect.

Overall W. has it's moments but they are few and far between. Bill Maher really had it right when he said it was like Bush's greatest hits. W. is exactly that an album filled with wonderful songs but as a whole they could never work out to be amazing.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hitchcock-The Master Of Supense

So as my Hitchcock marathon finally comes to a close(a few weeks late) I wanted to give a run down with all the links.

The Birds(1963)
Strangers On A Train(1951)
North By Northwest(1959)
Rear Window(1954)

This was so much fun, and really rewarding although I want to dig a lot deeper and see many of his British films and early American ones.

I hope you guys enjoyed it as much as I did.


Warning: An extreme amount of spoilers are listed below. Psycho-1960-Alfred Hitchcock


The scenes are already popping into your head. The shower scene. The fruit cellar. The music. The creepiest ending ever put to film.

In 1960 it seems that Hitch was at the top of his game. He had just come off a string of classics from Strangers On A Train, to Rear Window, to Vertigo, to North By Northwest. Everybody knew who Hitchcock was. Not only from his outstanding run of great films, but because of his television shows and celebrity status. So when Hitchcock released Psycho in 1960, everyone thought they knew what to expect, and they were wrong.

Psycho opens with Marion Crane and Sam Loomis in a hotel room. They are having a premarital affair and Marion is upset because she so wants Sam to marry her. As a foreshadowing device Hitchcock places Marion in white underclothes as she is currently an innocent. She has hopes and dreams of love and marriage. The only problem is Sam's lack of money due to his debt and alimony payments.

Marion leaves the hotel with one last thing to say, when Sam asks if they can walk out together she replies, "I'm late and you have to put your shoes on." If only she knew how late she was.

Back at the office(real estate) Marion is a secretary. She works with another secretary who cannot stop blabbering on about her husband and their marriage. Suddenly her boss walks in with a customer. Tom Cassidy is his name and he is laying down 40,000 dollars to buy his daughter and her fiance a new place.

At this point, marriage has become a running theme. What is it about marriage that all these people will go to such drastic measures for? Is it love? Lust? Societal expectations? Everyone is putting themselves at risk for it. When Mr. Cassidy gives Marion the money to deposit for him she is supposed to take it to the bank, but as I said marriage is making these people do crazy things. Marion decides to take the money and run away.

We see Marion next changing and packing. We understand she is no longer innocent as she is now wearing black underclothing. At her most vulnerable now she has allowed evil to seep into her and given in to temptation. She's trying to, as Mr. Cassidy earlier states, "...buy out of unhappiness."

As Marion leaves her boss spots her at a stoplight but thinks little of it at the time. She is then talked to by a police officer who saw her asleep in her car on the side of the road. She acts suspiciously and gives him cause for concern. It seems almost as these are Marion's chances to turn back and not let this temptation take her over before it's too late. But Marion forges on, not knowing what lies ahead.

She takes her car to a used car dealership to trade it in for a different car as she fears the policeman will track her down. The policeman sees her there but says nothing, only watches. Once Marion gets the car and leaves in a hurry she can hear in her mind what she believes they are saying. Not only the policeman and car salesman, but her boss, Mr. Cassidy, her sister Lila, and Sam. This tool is later used by Norman Bates to a different degree.

Getting lost and tired Marion decides to stop at a little hotel called Bates Motel. Upon stopping there she is greeted by Norman Bates. A slightly shy, awkward fellow but seemingly nice as can be. He helps her with her bags and shows her her room. Something strange about the whole scene is Norman's inability to say the word bathroom. You can almost sense something isn't right about that bathroom, but the film goes on without another mention.

Norman offers to make Marion some dinner and hopes to have her come up to his place, but his mother doesn't approve. In fact, she is fuming with jealousy.
Because of his mother's lack of hospitality Norman decides to bring some food to Marion. He asks if it's alright that they eat in the office parlor of the hotel and she agrees. In this parlor we get, what I believe is the best scene of the film with some of the most heartbreaking dialogue ever said on celluloid.

Norman Bates: You know what I think? I think that we're all in our private traps, clamped in them, and none of us can ever get out. We scratch and we claw, but only at the air, only at each other, and for all of it, we never budge an inch.
Marion Crane: Sometimes, we deliberately step into those traps.
Norman Bates: I was born into mine. I don't mind it anymore.
Marion Crane: Oh, but you should. You should mind it.
Norman Bates: Oh, I do,but I say I don't.

There happens to be so much honesty and vulnerability in the words that Norman says here. It also happens to be one of the only times he can say a complete sentence without stuttering or stammering while talking to Marion. Continuing on with Norman's relationship with his mother Marion finds the things she said to him would be hurtful if said to her. Norman can only say little things like "A boy's best friend is his mother" or when talking about the untimely death of his mother's lover and says she has nothing left, Marion replies with "Well, At least she has you" to which Norman states, "A son is a poor substitute for a lover." What we sense through his facial reactions and the way in which he says this is that he wishes he could be that substitute, or in fact, that lover. It is the Freudian aspect within all of Hitchcock's films reaching it's ultimate climax.

After their parlor conversation Marion is convinced she has to do something to get out of the 'personal trap' she has placed herself into. Even before leaving the Parlor, when Norman asks her name she tells him Mrs. Crane, allowing herself to be truthful again. Heading back to her room where she has the money wrapped on the nightstand in a newspaper, she is figuring out how to pay back what she has spent. She is now ready to regain her innocence and shed herself of this temptation. To do so, in a religious sense, she must wash herself of her sin. So Marion, in a moment of total honesty, sheds all of her clothing and lets the shower water wash away her transgressions. In the midst of this, she is smiling and it's obvious that she is going to change herself for the better. What transpires next is something truly and incredibly shocking. No longer today is a viewer surprised by what happens because it is a part of pop culture, but still in the context of the film, it shocks you and leaves you with a knot in your stomach. While Marion showers and washes herself clean, she is murdered by what seems to be Norman's mother. Her sins have caught up with her and she no longer has the ability to go on. Marion reaches out with one last hope grabbing nothing but the shower curtain which gives out, causing her to fall over, dead.

As Marion was finally allowing herself her innocence she had it stolen as we watch the blood run down the drain. A slow dissolve from the drain to Marion's eye shows us to total emptiness that now encapsulates her soul. As she already told Sam "I'm late and you have to put your shoes on." She's too late and he's too far behind to help her.

With Marion's death we are left with no one to empathize with. We are only halfway through the film and the only other character with whom we have had a chance to spend any time with and feel anything for is Norman. What Hitchcock does here is total and complete brilliance. With Norman's total shock of the murderer and his clean up, we see a son cleaning up his mother's mess. But when Norman lays the shower curtain on the ground and moves Marion to lay her on it, he looks at his hands, he has gotten blood on them. Is Norman guilty? Is the blood really "on his hands", as the metaphor so profoundly states. At this point we don't know, but we feel for Norman as he cleans up the mess. He wraps Marion up in the shower curtain just as she wrapped her sin(the money) up in the newspaper.

Norman has to throw Marion and all her belongings and anything to prove the murderer into Marion's car trunk and push the car into a pond outside the motel. After pushing the car into the pond we get a feeling of doubt and fear as the car stops sinking for a few seconds. Is it going to sink all the way? We hope it does because we are now rooting for Norman, in a sense.

From there we go to Sam's work where a woman is reading the label of an extermination tool; ""Guaranteed to exterminate any insect in the world", but is it painless? Every death should be painless whether it be insect or human." Could this be a foreshadowing of Norman's ultimate surmise? He, or his mother, didn't allow for Marion's death to be painless, but rather painful. Why else would this bit of dialogue be so strategically placed here, just after Marion's death?

When Lila confronts Sam about whether or not he knows where Marion is, they are both approached by a Private Investigator named Arbogast. He is after her to retrieve the 40,000 dollars. He tells them how he's looking for Marion as well, and then we see him go on a search from motel to motel, finally reaching Bates Motel.
Arbogast shows up and without suspicion asks Norman about Marion to which he first denies until further evidence proves that she was in fact there. We then get a series of close ups on Arbogast and Norman showing the fear of Norman and the hope felt by Arbogast that something might be gained. When Norman let's it slip that "She might have fooled me, but she didn't fool my mother." This gives Arbogast the realization that to gain everything he needs from Bates he needs to speak with Norman's mother. Norman won't allow this so Arbogast leaves feeling dissatisfied. While Arbogast pulls away we see Norman standing against the hotel wall, his face in half light, half shadow. Could his mother be taking him over? When he told Marion that "Mother is not quite herself today" was he really meaning that she isn't at all herself, but actually him?

Arbogast decides he's going to return to talk to the mother. He goes into the Bates house and begins yelling for Mrs. Bates. No answer. He looks around to no avail, but heads up the stairs to go to her bedroom where he has seen her sitting by the window. Once Arbogast reaches the top of the stairs he is attacked and murdered.

After waiting for so long Sam decides to go to the Bates Motel to talk with Norman or Mrs. Bates and see if something is wrong. When he arrives he sees an old woman sitting in the window of her room, but she doesn't answer. He yells for Arbogast but again, no answer. We see Norman looking out at the pond as he had just pushed Arbogast's car out there. He looks over once he hears Sam, with his entire face now in shadow. The darker side of him has taken over.

When Sam finds nothing him and Lila go to the Deputy Sheriff who is of little help besides to inform them of Norman's mother's death. He lets them know she has been dead for 10 years now, she died with her lover, in bed. What he doesn't know at this time is at who's hands she died.

Feeling strange about the situation Sam and Lila decide to get a cabin for a night and look around to see if they can find anything incriminating. While Sam distracts Norman, Lila looks around the house for Mrs. Bates or some other type of evidence. She sees Mrs. Bates' room but no one in it. She then sees Norman's room which is still as a child's room with toys and a child's bed, that is unmade, as if it is still slept in.

In an earlier scene we see Norman hide his mother in the damp, cold cellar. This is just as he hides his victims in the damp, cold swamp.

When Norman figures out that she is in his house he knocks Sam out and runs to it. When Lila sees him she heads to the cellar and sees an old woman sitting there. She turns her around and screams at the sight of a skeleton. Norman runs down wearing a dress and wig, with a knife in hand only to be stopped at the last second by Sam. While all of this is happening a single light bulb swings back and forth through all the commotion showing the truth that has been revealed. We have finally been shown the light.

In a rather pointless but still interesting scene we are informed of Norman and his mother really being Norman in a split personality sense. Norman has, ever since her death, been half Norman half mother. We learn that he is no longer ever fully Norman, but is often fully mother. Even drifting in conversation from Norman to mother in sentence after sentence. This is heavily seen in the parlor scene with Marion and Norman.

Why I say this scene of exposition is rather pointless is because Hitchcock could have done without this scene and allowed the viewer to make up their own interpretation. While it is interesting to hear exactly what in the world just happened, I would have liked to be able to make that up for myself. I get the feeling this wasn't Hitch's decision but the studio's to which he conceded to in order to make such an outlandish film.

The final scene and monologue are greatly needed as they show the total and complete takeover of Norman by his mother personality.

Norma Bates: It's sad, when a mother has to speak the words that condemn her own son. But I couldn't allow them to believe that I would commit murder. They'll put him away now, as I should have years ago. He was always bad, and in the end he intended to tell them I killed those girls and that man... as if I could do anything but just sit and stare, like one of his stuffed birds. They know I can't move a finger, and I won't. I'll just sit here and be quiet, just in case they do... suspect me. They're probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I'm not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching... they'll see. They'll see and they'll know, and they'll say, "Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly..."

A creepy thing during this scene is while Norman holds a blanket around him with both hands a third hand sits on his lap. Could this be the hand of his mother with which he isn't going to swat the fly? creepy indeed. Not to mention the shot where Norman looks directly into the camera with the skeleton being slightly dissolved into the background.

This, to me, is Hitchcock's masterpiece. Even with the exposition(which I could do without) I feel this is a perfect film. The innovation and style are 100% Hitchcock and no one else could pull it off, as evidenced by the following sequels.