Say Anything (1989)

May 31, 2014

I've spent a good portion of my life sitting in front of flickering images produced before 1980. I just prefer "old" movies (although I guess technically movies made after that are considered old now, aren't they? even *I* might be considered old now, mightn't I? ack!) for any number of reasons -- their timelessness, the fact that I can usually watch them with my parents and not have to hide under the couch cushions during any of the scenes (you know what I mean) and some undefinable quality that just attracts me in a way that modern movies don't. That being said, I've been trying to play catch-up for the last two years and finally watch all of the modern movies that most people would consider must-sees. I've enjoyed a lot of them! I still prefer the oldies (but goodies!) but I'm really having fun with this project.

One of the movies on my to-watch list was Say Anything (1989.) I've heard about the scene pictured above and I know the film is a staple in the lives of basically everyone from my generation. This week I finally watched it, and I really liked it! Do I need to touch on the plot? I feel like everyone (except me, until this week) has seen it. Just in case -- John Cusack plays a lovesick guy who is hung up on the school "brain" and finally asks her out right after graduation. Despite having a graduation party scene, it really wasn't a typical high school movie (although I'll be the first to admit - despite my aforementioned dedication to old movies - I'm a big fan of She's All That) and the plot went places that I wasn't expecting. Which was a good thing!

This is probably insane but I think my favorite thing about it was (SPOILER!) the fact that she didn't run downstairs and jump into his arms when Peter Gabriel's voice came streaming through her windows. It just would have been too typical, you know? I also loved that her reasons for going back to him were ambiguous, but he didn't even care. It was so much more satisfying to see her return to him in a moment of desperation and to have him accept her in spite of that, instead of a hokey "I couldn't live without you" kind of thing. You know everything will turn out all right but it can be implied instead of written in bold letters, underlined, and covered in glitter.

The only disappointment for me was the dad's storyline. I really liked him! It was kind of heartbreaking to find out he was guilty. Otherwise I thought it was an incredibly fantastic movie (actually, I really have no qualms with that plot twist, I just liked the character and was sad that his story turned out the way it did.) If you haven't seen it yet, you can rent it on Amazon here. So you really have no excuse not to watch it tonight. Go! Hurry! Turn on the tv and enjoy a really nice Saturday night movie :)

The Prize (1963)

May 24, 2014

The Prize (alternate title: Paul Newman, Where Have You Been All My Life?) is a 1963 comedy-thriller that takes place at the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm. I had seen it described as Hitchcock-esque -- one Amazon reviewer even said it was more Hitchcockian than the Paul Newman movie that Hitch actually did direct, Torn Curtain. I think these comparisons are kind of thrown around a lot and (with the notable exception of Charade) rarely hold up. In the case of The Prize, there were a lot of similarities plot-wise, but not so much style-wise. The cinematic perfection that defines a Hitchcock movie is clearly absent here; the direction even feels a little bit sloppy at times. But the plot should definitely delight fans of the Master of Suspense.

An alcoholic American writer finds out that he's won the Nobel Prize for literature and reluctantly attends the ceremony in Stockholm to collect his 50,000 dollars. Less than 24 hours pass before he's caught in a web of international intrigue with his beautiful blonde escort. There are definitely shadows of North by Northwest here (the screenplay was written by Ernest Lehman, who also wrote NXNW) -- ominous, lanky henchmen; Leo G. Carroll; even a nudist convention scene (I'm serious) that's clearly reminiscent of the auction scene where Cary Grant summons the police. I'm pretty sure they made it take place at a nudist convention just so Paul Newman would have a reason to remove his shirt. (Not that I'm complaining.)

The movie got off to a slow start, setting up the plot and introducing the characters as tediously as possible, but once it got going it was really fun! A couple of the suspenseful scenes actually startled me so much that I jumped in my seat! And (needless to say?) Elke Sommer and Diane Baker have some pretty fantastic 60's outfits in the movie. It's no Hitchcock... but it's pretty close.