Sunday, September 4, 2011
Weekly Wrap-Up (9/4)
The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
This is first Woody Allen film I've ever seen. I had heard of this movie awhile ago and thought the plot was interesting so I put it on my "to see" list without even knowing it was written and directed by Woody Allen. Since I love the concept of fantasy vs. reality I thought that The Purple Rose of Cairo would be a good introduction for me to Allen's movies. To be fair I have seen two shorts plays written by Woody Allen and did see clips from Annie Hall in a film class, but until now hadn't actually seen a full film made by the man.
The story is about a movie character who walks off the silver screen and falls in love with a woman of the 1930s. The acting from the two leads (Jeff Daniels in a dual role and Mia Farrow) is great and even the secondary actors all put in solid performances. Of course they have great material to work with as the writing is top-notch and filled with witty dialogue
This film feels like a stage play at times and certainly reminded me of Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Exit. Buster Keaton's Sherlock Jr. is said to be a major influence on this film, although I actually haven't seen that classic yet. Pleasantville (1998) is sort of reverse of this film as those characters spend most of the movie in the "TV world." Oddly enough Jeff Daniels is in both films. And while I'm at it, Last Action Hero (1993) has a similar sort of premise although it obviously takes the concept in a different direction.
The Purple Rose of Cairo did a good job recreating the time period of the Great Depression from the acting to costumes to the music. However, the use of the word "douche bag" as an insult does not sound like 1930s slang to me!
The concept of a character meeting the actor who plays him is a great idea and it is executed perfectly. It might have been cool if Tom showed up in Black and White while in the real world and Cecilla appeared in color in the movie world, but maybe that would have been too expensive/difficult to pull off at the time. This is just a thought as I felt it worked fine as is since the film was trying to contrast Black and White with Color.
Allen received an Oscar nomination for Best Writing, Screenplay Written for Directly for the Screen which was certainly deserved. It did not win, but was in some damn good company with Brazil and Back to the Future who were also nominated, but also lost out to Witness. I liked Witness but how the Academy didn't give the award to one of these other three films that year boggles my mind.
Getting back on track, I thought that the ending was great and fit perfectly with the themes of the film, although I can see why some people wouldn't like it.
The Purple Rose of Cairo is short for a feature film (82 minutes) and there is some filler. While the film could have used a little more meat, I'm just glad it wasn't padded with fluff by the studio to be 90 minutes.
I'm probably starting to sound like a broken record by this point, but the film looks great in HD! Sure its not a special effects blockbuster that needs to look amazing, but its a lot of fun to see little films like this with excellent visual (and audio) quality.
Lost Continent (1951)
Lost Continent was featured on a second season episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 which is how I saw this movie. Although MST3K was still coming into its own by this point, what I have seen of the second season is surprisingly good and this episode is not an exception. To sum it up, the riffs are good but this is a boring bad movie. The plot is that a crew on a rescue mission land on a mysterious island and get into "adventures" with natives and dinosaurs while trying to find the lost rocket ship. The endless rock climbing sequences are what everyone remembers about this movie and they are mind numbingly boring. It was interesting to see actors Caesar Romero (Joker on the 60s Batman TV Show), Hugh Beaumont (Dad on Leave it to Beaver), and John Hoyt (prolific character actor in TV shows like The Twilight Zone and Outer Limits as well as movies such as X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes and much more) work together although they mostly climbed rocks, took breaks from rock climbing, and watched dinosaurs fight. I watched this with a group of friends so maybe I missed some plot elements but not much happened. While I have seen movies that are even more boring (Red Zone Cuba, Snowbeast), this one is up there. Sometimes I can enjoy the movie along with the riffs like Overdrawn at the Memory Bank or Space Mutiny but I couldn't get into this as a film at all and just kept waiting for the next funny riff. The host segments on MST3K are often hit or miss, but all the ones in this episode are pretty funny, particularly the one with Mike Nelson as Hugh Beaumont/Ward Cleaver.
Here is my favorite riff, although there were plenty of good ones:
"Hey we landed on a witch! Maybe the film will be in color from this point!"