Thursday, June 7, 2012

Movie Night

I saw a couple of movies over the last week; nothing brand new or anything… just some things on On Demand or HBO.

The most intriguing was “My Week With Marilyn,” a story about a young Brit who after worming his way into a Third Assistant Director spot on a movie, ends up functioning as a secret aide and confidante to the film’s star, Marilyn Monroe.

Despite the fact that Marilyn died when I was but a toddler, I’ve had a long fascination with her.  You can blame by buddy Billy G and Elton John for that.

The summer after my senior year in high school, we were hanging out with Bill and he put on Elton John’s Goodbye Yellowbrick Road album.  I’d always liked Elton John, but I didn’t really know anything but his hits.  Bill started out with Funeral For a Friend, (which eventually became one of my favorite songs of all time,) and right after that was “Candle in the Wind.”

Now remember, in 1979, no one knew this song.  It was just one more album cut from a double-album.  But I was drawn in by the sweet, sad story, and the obvious relish a young man had for this tragic movie star.  In the following years, I saw a number of TV specials about her and began to learn the backstory.

In “My Week With Marilyn, the young AD slowly but surely falls in love with Marilyn, who so effortlessly led him to do so despite the fact that she was married to Arthur Miller at the time, and was on set at the beginning of the movie.   I know that had I been in his shoes, I would have done the same.  Marilyn had such an innocent vulnerability about her, (which Michelle Williams conveyed brilliantly, by the way), I know I would have plunged in as well, to try to save her from herself and everyone else.  And I know just as well that she would have driven me absolutely bugshit crazy too.

The movie is based on a true-story book, written by the young Brit, Colin Clark.  Based on how much I liked the movie, I’m going to have to check out the book. 

Horse Sense
Shortly after they ran the Preakness, I saw the movie “Secretariat.”  Two years ago around this time, I wrote a post about how I watched the 1973 Triple Crown races with my dad and fell in love with the big red horse with the white blaze.  So I’d been anxious to see the Disney adaptation for some time, although not so anxious that I went to the theater or bought the DVD.

Long story short, it was a good movie, not great.  Diane Lane was good as owner Penny Tweedy, but for me, Disney did to “Secretariat” what they did to “Miracle,” (about the 1980 US Olympic hockey team).  I think they puffed it up where the story was good enough that it didn’t need puffing.

There were scenes where “Penny” would be making these long, inspirational speeches about hard work and persevering against all odds, and I’d be thinking, “No way she said all that.  It’s just so cutsie.

Also, I don’t remember any harsh words or bad blood between the Secretariat crew and the crew of the rival horse, Sham.  I think Disney thought they needed a villain.  Same thing happened with that boxing movie about James Braddock (played by Russell Crowe).  They made the opponent, Max Baer, a big, mean-spirited oaf, when in fact he was quite the gentleman.

Also, in “Miracle,” they totally rewrote some of the game details, showing a Russian plow into the USA goalie, hurting him, while scoring a goal in the aftermath.  Movie execs forget that people like me have a copy of the game tape.  Yes, a Russian plowed the goalie, but the USA defenseman pushed him into him.  And the goal was scored during an unrelated power play.  But in the movie, it was like the goalie was on death’s door, all woozy from the impact.  On the game tape, he shook it off in a few seconds and got back in net.

I hate it when they toy with what actually happened, especially with a story that needs no cheap embellishment.

Still, it was a wholesome, entertaining movie, and I enjoyed seeing Big Red run again.

Comics Relief
This week I saw the “The Green Hornet,” featuring Seth Rogan.  The legendary Green Hornet, played as a rich, cheesy slacker… go figure.  But it was fun.  It didn’t take itself too seriously, which of course, is impossible in a Seth Rogan movie.

I used to watch the Green Hornet TV series as a kid, but even then, I considered it to be a pale imitation of my beloved Batman series.  I don’t remember my brother or I ever playing Green Hornet and Cato; we were always Batman and Robin.  Well, OK, we were Batman (lg) and Batman (sm).  Robin outfits were hard to find.  Who wants to play second fiddle?

But the movie was good fun.  Lots of laughs, fights and stuff getting blown up.  If you like that kind of thing… which I do.  And Cameron Diaz was in it, just being all smart, sexy and fun, so that was also cool, if you like that kind of thing.  Which I do too.

Coming Attractions
This weekend, or shortly thereafter, I’m hoping to go see “Prometheus” in the theater.  It’s a pre-quel of the movie “Alien,” which franchise I LOVE.  Ridley Scott, who directed the original “Alien,” is directing this one.  “Alien” was good, but my favorite was “Aliens,” which delivered the line for the ages:

Misc Crappola
Remember a couple posts ago when I said I went out to a nursery and picked up some flowering plants for my office window?  And how I said I’d post some pictures after I’d gotten them squared away?  That’s today.
 Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a “Clown Violet,” (or torenia, to be technical).

Right after I potted them, the three flowers they had fell off.  But that was OK, because I didn’t pick those particular plants for their flowers.  I picked them because they were packed with buds.  About a dozen opened in the first week.

If you’re going to spend 9 hours a day at work, why not make it look nice?

Director’s DVD Commentary: I had a perfect joke all lined up, about how Kenneth Branagh and Dame Judy Dench were in the movie because they couldn’t get parts in any Harry Potter movies.  But then I realize that Kenneth Branagh was indeed in a HP movie… the second one, where he played a visiting Professor Against the Dark Arts.


Another note: My original Secretariat post, linked above, was the first one on which Judie, Your Ever-Engaging Hot Arizona Auntie, (YEEHAA) ever commented.


injaynesworld said...

I enjoyed My Week With Marilyn, too. It was a very sweet story and interesting to watch how she created "Marilyn" when it suited her. Go rent Gentlemen Prefer Blondes or the Seven Year Itch. Fantastic movies. Currently on HBO, there's a Nicole Kidman/Clive Owen movie called Gifford & Hemingway. I thought it was great. You might like it, too, my friend.

Anonymous said...

Haven't seen the Marilyn movie but it's on my Netflix list.

I'm a sucker for a horse movie. Seabiscuit was the best. This was a close second. I also love watching John Malkovich do just about anything.

bluzdude said...

I agree. I really need to see more actual Marilyn movies.

I found it particularly affecting when, in the movie, she was confronted with the fans and photographers, when she said to the boy, "I have to go be 'her' now..."

bluzdude said...

Malkovich was wonderful in the role... I'm just assuming that the actual guy was that flamboyant. And the guy that played Turcotte was like a mini-DeNiro... "You talkin' to me?"

Mary Ann said...

TA-TA, TORENIA! A Spot of Joy in your workday.
Yes, indeed. Do see the Clive Owen/Nicole Kidman portrayal of Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gelhorn. Fastest two hours and 40 minutes in film.
Notable quote on Gelhorn from Papa H., "Her legs begin at her shoulders."
'Goodby, Norma Jean'. Sad, sweet song and woman.

bluzdude said...

I just love torenia. They’re so colorful and so easy to grow. Got 16 blooms and counting… There are all kinds of color variations, but this combination is my favorite. Right now, the City of Baltimore is using a predominantly purple variety in planter boxes around downtown, probably as a nod to the Ratbirds.