Bringing up Baby

bringing up baby

While I clearly love Cary Grant… films. I didn’t really like this one. I’m used to suave Cary not bumbling comedy Cary and maybe, just maybe, what was funny 80 years ago ain’t quite so funny anymore. (I think maybe we’ve all heard this one before.)

While it’s not black face lows (see my many issues with The Party…), Bringing up Baby is gender stereotype lows while at the same time trying to screw with gender stereotypes, I also think it may be homophobic with a little animal cruelty chucked in – hmmm, happy fun watching times with a hint of overthinking it – so me!

Here we have the ever wonderful Katherine Hepburn (whose acting chops clearly run to pretty wonderful comic timing that I’m sure had audiences rolling in the aisles but alas, not me) playing the lovelorn spoilt girl child against Cary’s straight man (so straight he’s a scientist) piece of candy. So here is the gender swap – we don’t have a bumbling man trying to woo a super model, we have Kathy trying to woo Cary. Unfortunately, what we actually get is Cary trying to get a job done and Katherine stalking him and even for a while abducting him. Not funny.  And if you think about chucking the gender swap around again, really quite awful.

It may be my modern sensibilities (yes, I have sensibilities it’s not just a Jane Austen thing) but if you swap the gender of two characters in a film and you end up with a horror film it’s probably not that funny in its original form.

I tried to put this from my mind and think of audiences back in the day and how risqué seeing Cary as the chased and Kathy as the chaser may have been but it just kept coming back to Stockholm Syndrome and that’s not good. Basically, Kathy becomes so obsessed with Cary she ruins his life and then Cary falls in love with her. Not good.

Again, maybe I’ve seen too many spy cool Cary films and too many feminist icon Kathy films. I am so not happy about Bringing up Baby. If this was a modern day film and Jennifer Lawrence was Kathy and (who’s good looking enough for Cary?!? I’m going to go with an Aussie here because I’m Aussie and solidarity y’all, but actually he’s no Cary Grant but at least he’s in her age range) Liam Hemsworth was Cary – this would be a psychological drama. I’m thinking Misery here people – not funny…

I’m sorry if you love Bringing up Baby but I can’t separate ‘me’ enough from films to see what audiences thought was funny back in the day (that day was in 1938 BTW). I wish I liked it better because it always comes up in lists of all time classic films (probably why it was on my list) and the actors really are wonderful but much like my experience of The Party I can’t drop my ‘me’ enough to enjoy.

Bringing up Baby is, and I repeat, not funny. Cary Grant is, and I repeat, freakishly hot for a dead guy or maybe it’s just ‘me’.

CAry Grant

Rrrrrr, smokin’ hot.

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Purple Rose of Cairo

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Woody Allen’s love story to the movies – everything about the movies. From  characters and script to passing over your money for a ticket and sitting in a dark theater while munching popcorn. This description makes it sound like I liked this film but I didn’t really fall for The Purple Rose of Cairo.

Set in depression era USA our heroine escapes her mundane life, abusive unemployed husband and lack of money by buying a ticket to dreams or as we prefer to call them, the movies. She sees the same movie over and over again and eventually falls in love with one of the characters on the screen. Everything goes a bit cray cray at this point as the character jumps through the fourth wall and into her life. As far as I’m concerned everything went to poop right about that moment.

Maybe it was a dream but it would just be too convenient. The whole thing is played seriously  (as far as I could tell – maybe I was meant to laugh – I didn’t). Maybe I just don’t get Woody Allen movies.

I like the idea of movies meaning so much more than just moving pictures used to while away the hours, to me they are pure escapism and I love to immerse myself in the stories. I really think with a good film we can change our brains for a few hours at least and lose our worries. Some films have affected me for days afterwards (not just failure to sleep after a horror film either). I love that, unless the film is French and sad, then I hate that…

I would have loved to love this movie (and you baby) but it just didn’t work for me. Maybe if the characters had been a little less abrasive but then that’s the calling card of Woody Allen movies really. A new motto for Woody Allen movies – “Abrasive characters R us”… probably not a good selling point.

I wonder how people really spoke back in the depression era. The movies always depict the American twang the same. Know what I mean doll? Was it always high pitched and annoying (especially the women -eep!)? Was that considered cute or something? I wonder how Australians talked during the depression era – “Crikey, that’s a whopper of a croc mate!”. No, sorry, that’s 90s Crocodile Hunter Australian.

Anyway, The Purple Rose of Cairo was not my cup of tea or cuppa joe or whatever they drank in depression era New York. Not my cup of warmed water from a jar then.

Orange County

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Here ‘s another movie I wish I’d seen at the time it was released. Unfortunately, since Orange County was fresh and new  (13 years ago – I probably should learn not to wait a decade to watch films…) I have seen the equivalent film about ten times. It’s pretty much every angsty boy goes to college movie you’ve ever seen but with cool cameos. It was great seeing Lily Thomlin, Chevy Chase, Kevin Kline and Harold Ramis going hard at the comedy acting. It’s a good film and it’s fun but it’s not new to me.

Also, OC has Jack Black being very Jack Black which isn’t particularly clever but is very Jack Black so it’s kind of funny but you’ll have seen it before. His tighty whiteys (floppy yellowies really) should have been a credited character you see so much of them. (I think they would be called Jock Jaundice.) May I never see them or their ilk again…

Colin Hanks plays a really likeable young man with a neurotic streak the size of a cow and a girlfriend who is way too innocent and way too good for him. The initial mix up that sees our young hero denied access to his college of choice plays the role of causing generalised mayhem as his girlfriend, father and brother (the aforementioned Jock Jaundice – sorry Jack Black…) move money, blackmail, a van, heaven and earth to get him in. Eventually everything turns out heaps good, which is nice.

I loved seeing Harold Ramis playing the Dean of Admissions and taking the “aspirin” from JB’s pocket was gorgeous. It’s so sad that he’s not with us any more he really is a delight to watch on screen. His comic timing is genuinely perfect.

Colin Hanks is  almost totally overshadowed  by everyone around him which is, I suppose, the point. He can’t find himself  or his place in the world while surrounded by those who are taking up their space in the world so loudly and dramatically.

I loved his alcoholic mother who loves him so much yet manages to constantly make his life hell. I love that she’s secretly happy when he doesn’t make it into college and quietly enjoys Jack Black’s stoner lifestyle and jaundiced knickers. I think I’m going to be like that – not liking yellowed undies, yich! – always wanting my kids to be around every day! Hopefully, I won’t become an alcoholic in the lead up to that though.

Orange County is a clever version of lots of other movies you’ve seen about starting, being at, dropping out of or living through college while you’re dysfunctional family stuffs up, is overbearing, drunken, drugged up or accidently giving the Dean of Admissions ecstasy but with way more Jack Black and a little too much Jock Jaundice.

He Died With A Felafel In His Hand

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An Australian film from the 00s, He Died With A Felafel In His Hand (from now on known as Felafel) is very familiar if you know your Aussie dramadies (drama comedy – I  can’t take the credit for that one). In the ilk of Dogs in Space, Two Hands, Candy etc (if you haven’t seen them – do it already!)… These films make you laugh one minute and gasp the next.

They all depict an underbelly of Australia – the young and lovely but drugged up and breaking the rules.

(At this point I would like to point out, for the non-Aussies that the ‘felafel’ of the title is in fact a flat bread roll filled with salad (tabouli baby), assorted delicious sauces and felafels. I would usually call it a felafel roll, felafel wrap or felafel yiros but its usage in the title is acceptable to Aussies.)

Felafel continues the student underbelly theme (also well represented in American films) with the heavy smoking, walls of empty beer bottles in the rentals and the usual crowd of misfit housemates ranging from wiccans to neo-Nazis.

We find main character Danny (Noah Taylor – you may know him from such roles as the hand remover from Game of Thrones) living in his 48th consecutive rental trying to write stories and be a writer but stuck on the first line.

Danny and his mates spend time killing cane toads (if you are not Australian this sounds awful but they are introduced pests and they are killing the local fauna – so it’s not quite as bad as it sounds… quite), drinking beer, smoking pot and philosophising/whinging. Eventually Danny walks away and we meet up with him in house number 49 in Melbourne where his housemates slowly turn up on his doorstep and the drama ensues. Next stop Sydney and number 50.

There are so many funny bits in this film that the serious becomes all the more shocking. It is very cleverly a picture of someones crappy year and the parts of life that stay with you well after your student rental days are over.

I think this is a very Australian film in that there is humour to be found in even the darkest moments, as well indicated by the title. Us Aussies like to try and find the positive where we can and often its found in humour. Look to the current protests over our Federal Government and the best bits are the signs people make to get their point across, pure comedy gold. These are the slogans that make their presence known through sharing on social media. We all know its bad but at least we can have a laugh. I don’t think this is always the best attitude but it sure makes for some interesting movies.

Felafel introduced me to the concept of moonths (made up words FTW). There are 13 full moons in a year, therefore,  13 moonths.  Simples. Also, albino moon bathing (leaving it there).

I liked Felafal and, while I fail to see how you can continue to hold a falafel roll up when you die, I appreciate that ‘He Died’ is not as catchy a title. Plus it has an awesome Aussie classics of the 90s/00s sound track.

Mean Girls

Mean girls

Mean Girls, very mean girls but not as mean as I expected. It’s taken me a long time to see this film and I wonder if that has slightly spoiled the experience. People luuuurve this movie and I knew that so I thought it would be awesome. I was ever so slightly disappointed though. I don’t luuuurve it but I like it, I may even love it.

Everyone loves Tina Fey now (and so do I, she is hilarious) but I think she was holding back when she wrote this screenplay. It really felt like Heathers for the noughties or Clueless with less money rather than anything new.

It’s the same old formula you’ve seen before (Heathers, Clueless…), three girls take on a new girl and slowly turn her into versions of themselves against her better judgement. Then they all learn lessons about being yourself and not being so judgey (not so much like Heathers admittedly, although being killed off because you’re a horrible person is quite the lesson really).

Further, Lindsay Lohan is a horrible actor. If I’d known she was the star I probably would have struck it off the list immediately. Well, maybe not but I would prefer to know if something contains Lindsay Lohan prior to watching it so I can prepare myself for bad actor rage.

Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Rachel McAdams are all good actors though, which lessened the bad actor rage although it didn’t lessen the horror of the Lindsay Lohan voice over. Why did it have to be her? Even her voice gives me bad actor rage!

However! The joy of Mean Girls is that the dialogue is clever and it is funny. There are lots of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it puns and word based in-jokes and it’s less reliant on physical or slapstick tomfoolery. Of course there is plenty of that too. This is a teen film after all and where would we be without a few cheap laughs.

As I like to warn Miss 11 – this is a kissing movie. Romance y’all. Teen romance! There, I said it, and that is all on that.

The basic message which no-one can fault is ‘love yourself for who you are and people will love you back – eventually, maybe’. There is a message to young women to stop carrying on about people’s flaws and differences and just get on with being a good person. Concentrate on what is good in people. I like that message, I may even love it.

Classic Tina Fey (as teacher Mrs Norbury) quote, that I loved: “you all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it ok for guys to call you sluts and whores.”

Nice. I may even love it.

If I was going to recommend a teen rom-com movie to anyone I would recommend this one, alongside Heathers and Clueless, so you really get to span the decades in terms of fashion and who is considered a good-looking young man (Christian Slater (he was good looking once okay , stop judging me!)? Paul Rudd (I know, weird right? – he was considered a rom-com hotty for a minute there)? The guy in Mean Girls (whoever he is)?). At least because it seems that not much else has changed.

Pitch Perfect

Pitch Perfect

This one’s a more recent addition to the list but I was looking for something to watch with the kids and Miss 14 recommended it. I have to say that her recommendation was greatly appreciated by me (especially because it’s on my list and I could knock another one off but also because it is a great film!).

Pitch Perfect made me laugh out loud, actually and repeatedly. Rebel Wilson as ‘Fat Amy’ (not sure this is funny but, you know, movies) is hilarious and I can see why everyone wanted to work with her after this. And I don’t just say this because she’s Aussie (and we tend to act like we own all the succesful exports from round these parts plus the New Zealand ones) but she is very funny. I bet you she adlibs like a fiend.

I also like Anna Kendrick as the lead (who I also liked in Camp – one I prepared earlier). It’s refreshing to see a less conventionally gorgeous actress leading a Hollywood movie usually only the British cast less conventionally gorgeous women in TV and movies.

It’s nice to watch an ensemble comedy that revolves around the lasses and isn’t overly devoted to romance. Don’t get me wrong romance abounds in Pitch Perfect – it just doesn’t overpower. This movie certainly passes the Bechdel Test, no worries.

Of course, the Glee comparisons pop into my head as I watch but this time they can be overlooked (unlike Camp) as the machinations are similar but not the characters. These women are misfits and lovin’ it. They want to win but it doesn’t define them (okay, maybe one of them but there’s always one isn’t there?).

I’d just like to point out here that, yes, they battle adversity and, yes, they are the underdogs and, yes, it gets bad in the middle and, yes, it will all probably work out exactly as you expect it will but for some reason (writing? acting? directing? all of the next to?) the journey just carries you along on a wave of good feeling and laughs.

Of course I don’t usually like a musical but this movie ain’t no Kaante and the singing is what it’s all about – I could tell that from the title (did anyone really think this was a horror movie about a serial killer who can aim a pitchfork really well? Or maybe it’s a baseball movie? Or maybe a movie about really excellent sticky black stuff? Stop me, I could go on!).

Anyhoo, I was pleasantly surprised and exceptionally pleased that no one randomly burst into song halfway through a sandwich and that singing occurs as expected (musical sanity at last).

I suppose they are making a Pitch Perfect 2 and I hope it is as good as the first but I bet it will be a rehash with more of our, by now, favourite women and no doubt lots of Fat Amy. Fingers crossed it can deliver as much fun as the first.

To keep you informed, this was the second time Miss 14 had seen Pitch Perfect and she still liked it. Miss 11 did not like it: “It’s boring”.

The Guard

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So the other night I’m watching TV and The Guard comes on and as it’s on my movie list I thought ‘just watch it’. Who cares about doing things in order anyway? Not me apparently. Plus it was on a channel that drops out and doesn’t record properly so, yeh, decision made. I have no idea what number it is on the list because its quite a few pages in (yes, pages) and I’ve counted that list once and I don’t intend to count it again without good reason. Maybe if someone threatened me with a piece of processed chicken (I’m allergic) at processed meat point, maybe then I’d count it again. Maybe.

So The Guard is an actually excellent film that contains most of my “that’s an excellent film” requirements. There’s funny, touching, mysterious, bad guys, good guys, in-between guys, sad, and … action!! The only thing missing is female characters. Two prostitutes and a wife do not make a Bechdel Test passing film. Damn. Admittedly the film did play on the ‘it’s still a man’s world out here in the Irish sticks’ a lot, so I won’t dwell on the Bechdel Test.

At times I found the Irish accent a little hard to understand but it didn’t ruin the film. (Having a whole pile of Irish DNA does not, unsurprisingly, make the accent easy to understand.)

The star of the piece is the grumpy garda (Irish Gaelic for cop – sort of) (Brendan Gleeson – glorious) and the straight man to grumpy garda’s wit is the American CIA agent, so straight it hurts Don Cheadle (glorious). The two are teamed up to find an international drug smuggling operation working through an out of the way port in Faraway, Ireland (not the town’s name at all).

Grumpy garda is grumpy and has his own offbeat ways of doing things. CIA agent is not and does not, he plays by the rules. This sounds like a classic set up, and it is, but grumpy garda is so understandable and strangely likeable (all down to the gloriousness of Brendan Gleeson I am sure) that I ended up wanting them to like each other and learn from each other and get the bad guys. Their interactions are very honest and at times hilarious while making me feel like I may have inadvertently learnt something by the end of their conversation. Nothing pans out quite as I expected and I like that.

Grumpy garda is a fully developed character and that kind of development is unusual for a film. There’s just not enough time in general. I felt like I knew him at the end and I wanted him to make it through all the baddies and the failed stings and the grumpiness of his everyday life. He is naughty and old and fat and lonely and jaded and he knows it and he doesn’t care. Yet he cares about others in his grumpy way (especially his Mum, bless his cotton socks).

The baddies were a bit of a let down as they were just super mean but they were drug dealers so why be so ‘kill everyone’ bad? I think they could have been a bit more subtle and their characters a little more developed. Being a gun for hire does not necessarily make you Mr Kill Everyone And It Makes Sense Because I’m Being Paid By The Boss. Basically they are classic baddies that you don’t care about because they are bad and they deserve badness.

Also, there is a gunfight and a big explosion. Action in an independent film that also has feeling and learnings, woah! Glorious!

Bubba Ho-Tep

from imdb

‘The King vs the King of the Dead’ – Yeah!

Bubba Ho-Tep is a very cool little film. Who knew Elvis impersonating an Elvis impersonator (or is he?) could be so charming?

This film kind of feels like it started out as a short film concept that got expanded to feature length because there was a lot of fun to be had. There is a noir-ish feel throughout which gives it a quirkiness especially considering the whole thing is set in a nursing home in Texas and the main characters are two old fellas who may or may not be delusional.

The story is very silly with a cursed Egyptian mummy being involved in a train accident and ending up in the swamp behind the nursing home. The mummy dubbed “Bubba Ho-Tep” by our favourite Elvis impersonator (or is he?) decides to munch on the souls of the old folks. (I wrote ‘soles’ in that sentence the first time, not the same thing at all. Disturbing really.)  When the old folks start dropping like flies nobody really notices because they’re old.

Our favourite Elvis impersonator (or is he?) realises something is up and with the aid of JFK (or is he? well, no, he’s not) goes on the hunt for BHT. (JFK is now an African American man, the CIA dyed him black so nobody would know he was still alive, and he has a sand bag for a brain because everyone knows JFKs brain went missing – apparently it’s quite hard to formulate a plan with a sand bag for a brain, fair enough I say.)

This movie is hilarious in parts with our favourite Elvis impersonator (or is he?) using a walking frame throughout, will he or won’t he use the bedpan, aargh the suspense!, and JFK thoroughly charging his wheelchair for a nights’ hunting. These two are possibly the nicest old folks ever. Our favourite Elvis impersonator (or is he?) frets about his breakup with Priscilla and wonders how LisaMarie is doing without her Dad in her life.

There's an action figure! With walker of course!

There’s an action figure! With walker of course!

The backstory of the Elvis ‘is he or isn’t he’ mystery is told in flashback and I’m pretty convinced the King’s not dead (or am I?)… It all makes sense when you think about it (or does it?).

While the macguffin of this story is fighting a mummy, the delight is seeing these two guys reminisce about their past and finding their mojo through the hunt. It is impossible not to like our favourite Elvis impersonator (or is he?).

There’s a mummy but this ain’t no horror film it’s definitely all about the laughs. If Bubba Ho-Tep was made now it would be directed by Wes Anderson. It’s that kind of film. I’m glad this one was on the list. I obviously had good taste in movies that day.

Also our favourite Elvis impersonator (or is he?) is played by Bruce Campbell. Woot!

Thank you very much.

The Party

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This is a wave in the list as I managed to skip to number 9 through inaccurate player loading and being way too sitting down to do anything about it.

The Party was filmed in 1968, so is that enough for me to forgive it? No, not really.

I tried not to be offended but Peter Sellers in black face playing an Indian (from India not native American) was just uncomfortable making wrong town stuff.

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The Indian-ness of Mr Seller’s character was also the main ‘wacky’ of the piece. His bumblings and inappropriate cultural behaviour were played on throughout with the character creating havoc through being a likeable fool. Think Rowan Atkinson dressed up as an African Mr Bean – bad.

I kept trying to think that ‘at the time’ people would have been less offended by this stuff. But while people like me (white) probably didn’t find it offensive at the time I’m pretty sure the Indian community thought it was pretty crap. And really, people like me (white) should have known better. I think the argument that it was of its time and we should watch it with that in mind is powerless. I think it is more useful as an educational tool about the inherent racism of the time and why this stuff shouldn’t happen.

Are you getting that I couldn’t get over this hurdle?

Also, somehow an elephant ends up at the party and of course Mr Indian character gets precious about it’s cultural importance and makes more of a mess washing it. But why did the daughter have an elephant? It’s such an obvious plot piece because he’s Indian. It doesn’t make sense for a middle-american girl to paint an elephant and take it to a protest. Or did that happen a lot in the 60s?…

I didn’t think this movie was funny but that’s me. I don’t understand how it is considered a classic. The whole movie is like the unconfortable bit in the otherwise wonderful Breakfast at Tiffany’s, you know, Mickey Rooney… Japanese character… match made in heaven.

Maybe you do think it’s a classic comedy and can tell me why I should stop being so sensitive? I’ll listen, promise. Even better maybe someone can explain why elephants were such a must have accessory at protests in the 60s.

To end on a positive note – what I did like about this film:

  •  it’s portrait of upper class lifestyles of the 60s
  • there is a funny drunk waiter
  • Mr Indian character has a cool car.

Next film is Lady Snowblood but I’m having a bit of trouble tracking it down. So I’m jumping straight to Bubba Ho-Tep! It better be good.