The Inbetweeners Movie (2011)

IMG1It’s very easy to sum up The Inbetweeners Movie. It’s the American Pie all over again. Except it’s British, actors are much “uglier”, people talk too fast and its humor is, more often than not, quite cerebral. Not quite good, mind you, but boys are trying. Sometimes too hard. And that’s all that’s worth saying about this one. It’s yet another variation of a derivative story about boys’ night out. Not quite intelligent as it could have been, not quite amusing as I found them to be fifteen or so years ago, not quite unexpected and rather formal about its genre. We’ve seen it all before, and we’ve seen it behaving far better. Still, inquisitive mind can almost always find some point of interest. After all, when you’re watching something this stale, you have to do something that keeps you awake. Time is precious and you might just well try to find something that justifies wasting it.

bscap0000For example, one can try to compare The Inbetweeners Movie with one’s own experience, or a generational experience. We’ve all been in that let’s get wasted and fuck everything that moves waste of mind. For this purpose, road trips always came handy. Different town, different rules and, most importantly, no one to look over your shoulder while you’re making an ass of yourself. For characters of The Inbetweeners Movie, this promised country is far away, in one of those Greek tourist traps focused on 24 hour party people, for us it was a couple of miles around our hometown in any direction. Living in an area heavily populated by tourists of all kinds, my generation weaved their nets like only sexually frustrated spiders could. So far, The Inbetweeners Movie resembles our reality despite reflecting it from the opposite side of the mirror.

bscap0001We differ in one key point, which can be attributed to a fact that movies tend to exist in a fantastic discourse, showing idealistic projections (i.e. wants) instead of a reality. While characters in the movie go out to drink in expensive bars, drinking shots and cocktails in club-like areas where they must cost like GDP of some African country (no one drinks beer!?), we used to drink in ordinary bars or in open areas, getting wasted and prowling the night afterwards. Eventually, both sides would meet in an only place that was still open at 4 am. We used to laugh (and still do) at characters from this movie (rich kids doing kid’s stuff in areas where other rich kids hang out) so that wish-fulfillment part of The Inbetweeners Movie is kinda wasted on us. Still, it’s a bit disturbing that every similar narrative always uses the same rich-kids backdrop and accompanying mise en scène. If you show “normal” people partying then it’s a problem (alcohol being great sin and cause or every trouble that is), if you show rich kids partying then it’s an excess, a fleeting thing that will pass once they come to their senses and start using their money in more productive ways.

When all is said and done, The Inbetweeners Movie is much more American than it probably would’ve wanted to be. It’s not really a critique, it’s more of an observation that probably amuses me more than it should.

Directed by Ben Palmer
Produced by Christopher Young
Written by Damon Beesley
Iain Morris
Starring Simon Bird
James Buckley
Blake Harrison
Joe Thomas
Narrated by Simon Bird
Music by Mike Skinner
Cinematography Ben Wheeler
Edited by William Webb
Charlie Fawcett
Production
company
Bwark Productions
Film4 Productions
Young Films

 

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Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

3423_2Someone, somewhere, must have written about the following aspect of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It is a big world out there and considering how many nerds/geeks have access to computers it’s almost inconceivable that no one walked this path before. Still, I don’t remember reading anything of the sort. There are two reasons for that. First – I rarely read anything about movies I watch; second – many authors have sided with usual approach to Don Siegel’s movie, the one that contextualizes events of the movie within the framework of Cold War and McCarthy’s Which Hunt. This reading is appealing, especially in the light of later Siegel’s movies all of which can be called reactionary at the least. However appealing, I find little or no interest in it. If only because it has been done and overdone and I don’t think that I can add anything to that particular type of discourse. There are aspects that are still worth checking out. McCarthy or not. Siegel’s movie is a true classic that transcends the boundaries of particular time and space.

bscap0001Anyhow, to think about Invasion of the Body Snatchers outside the usual box one has to think within a framework of science fiction and about particular set of problems that SF usually deals with. To simplify, we might say that Invasion of the Body Snatchers deals with the utopia. To complicate it a bit we have to deal with problems of episteme (trotting along these lines we find out that Invasion of the Body Snatchers is prime example of anti-science “movement” of the 50s which featured heavily in tons of B-flicks produced during that time). What is happening in the movie? We have a “space-travelling” life-form, exact nature of which we can’t quite fathom because the movie never concerns itself with it at length. All we can say for sure is that it follows the routine of every life-form we know of – the routine of reproduction and survival. Like any biological life-form it’s rather mechanistic about it and no one could really call it a great strategist. Its approach is simple and effective, it has its natural pattern and it knows no need beside those. For our purposes we’ll call it the ratio-seeds. We’ll call it that because all our space faring “plant” does is über-rationalizes human behavior, integrating every individual into a perfect, universal machine intent on reproduction and survival. Our space-plant prefers Apollo instead of Dionysius.    

bscap0000Hero of this narrative is something like a science-man (one wonders why he wasn’t a priest). He knows this rational drive, he knows the advantages of pattern-recognition and structural-empirical world view and so on. He is still reluctant to let go of an individual. In his mind, Dionysius is necessary for a true progress. The Bomb that went off decade earlier is the main argument for the cause. While destructive, the passion (with all it implies) is both the show-stopper and initiator. Being human means not being a machine. To refute Darwinian nature is the main task of a civilized American man. Being purely mechanistic in nature, our ratio-seeds fail to think in the long run (though we can safely assume that this was the script-writer’s fuck-up). In the event of successful transmutation of every Earth-citizen, eventually resources would have been depleted and new need for migration would appear. Unfortunately, there would be no means for migration left. New inventions, required for the “colonization” of planets outside the Solar system, require a passionate mind which by then would have been obliterated. Eventually, transmuted humans would have died in where they appeared. Not a great reproduction strategy as it happens.

So, it is only by combining both sides of the human-coin that true progress, true education and true utopia can be achieved. Don Siegel (or our good doctor if you like it better) fails to address many problems that stem from this particular ideology but talking about that would lead us not so much astray as in a long rant. We should conclude this short exposé instead. It seems that “unnecessary” focus on anti-Communist propaganda did obscure the central point which makes this movie relevant after six decades. It was never about (American) individual vs. (Soviet) collective. It was always about passion vs. intellect. Dionysius vs. Apollo. Nietzsche vs. Plato. In this day and age it would be creationism vs. evolutionism but no one likes to think about seminal movie of the 50s advocating something crazy like creationism. Invasion of the Body Snatchers is much more than a propaganda but it plays dangerously just on the edge of the metaphorical blade. Few times it tips over but it always manages to pick itself up and do the routine once again.

Directed by Don Siegel
Produced by Walter Wanger
Screenplay by Daniel Mainwaring
Based on The Body Snatchers by
Jack Finney
Starring Kevin McCarthy
Dana Wynter
Larry Gates
King Donovan
Carolyn Jones
Music by Carmen Dragon
Cinematography Ellsworth Fredericks
Edited by Robert S. Eisen
Distributed by Allied Artists Pictures Corporation

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In a lonely place (1950)

Poster - In a Lonely Place_02I am convinced that there is only one purpose for the murder of Mildred Atkinson. It has nothing to do with internal coherence or any sort of narrative logic. To grasp the real reason behind existence of such an act in what is essentially romantic drama, one has to reach for the hidden realm of meta-structure. It sounds more obscure than it actually is. Nicholas Ray’s movie deals with ordinary lives. Well, you could argue that there’s nothing ordinary in being a Hollywood script-writer, nor is there anything ordinary in aspiring actresses or crowd of producers, filmmakers and various fucktards creeping around that crowd. I couldn’t deny you such an argument, though ultimately, it makes no difference. The ordinary part of In a lonely place lies in the concept of love, and accompanying concept or relationship. Sure, Humphrey Bogart is somewhat more impulsive, aggressive or bat-shit crazy than your ordinary neighbor and Gloria Grahame is way too gorgeous to be hanging anywhere you hang out, but they still dance to the same tune we used to dance. That’s what makes them ordinary, and that’s what makes them believable, no matter how many decades or layers of class separate us.

bscap0001The main problem with “the ordinary”, especially in the movie-business of the 50s, is that it’s basically unfilmable. No one wants to pay a ticket just to see his neighbors arguing, no matter how pretty they look. You have to add a spice or two to your average tomato-sauce, just to keep things interesting. There’s a limit to how much tomato-pasta you can actually handle. Michael Bay interprets this as “you have to add explosions to keep things interesting”. Nicholas Ray interpreted it as – you have to have a murder. Mystery helps too, but nothing spells good moviemaking like a juicy murder which, no matter how genre-savvy you are, you can’t solve until the end because you can never be quite sure about your main character. He just might be capable to do such a thing. After all, those writers are all a bit off. No real surprises there. Wanting to make a movie about tiny specks of life that we’re all familiar with has nothing to do with being able to sell it. To sell it, Mildred Atkinson had to die. Her death opened a door to one of the most interesting movies of the 50s, though focus of the interest shifted somewhat during the last six decades.

bscap0000We established that there had to be a murder just to keep things interesting enough for the movie-going crowd of the 50s. That isn’t the sole reason, though it may be the most apparent one. Still, as we know, murders come in all shapes and sizes and this one serves one other function as well – it misdirects attention and it does it perfectly. Basically what you do is spend time thinking about whodunit and while doing so you start creeping into Gloria Grahame head. Suddenly, you understand her, you understand her fears, her actions and whole causal chain that lead to final separation and something like a tragic end. What you don’t see though, what murder doesn’t want you to see is that there isn’t anything to cry about because Humphrey Bogart wasn’t a kind of guy you wanted to be with in the first place. He is a demanding, violent, dominating, unpredictable man prone to frenzies who doesn’t like to lose and can’t take no for an answer. This time it was murder pushing him to the edge, some other time it would be a cold cup of coffee. The movie tries to excuse him by calling him a genius, a writer, or even a good man and a good soldier, but these excuses can’t go that far. In the discourse of the 50s, good and honest woman should have suffered through all of it, because that’s what love was – suffering and relinquishing of self. Separating Grahame and Bogart without murder wouldn’t have been possible, it wouldn’t have made any sense to the viewers. With murder in the mix situation itself became just enough weird and just enough alien that it justified the separation. Justified or not, movie still ended on a “oh-if-only-it-could-have-been-true” note.

In a lonely place was built upon the paternalistic gaze and whenever I think that there’s more than half a century separating us from the BogartGrahame couplings, I find them doing the same dance, under different names, in movies much closer to our time. In a lonely place is a staple that keeps repeating itself. Maybe even an archetype. Unfortunately, one of those archetypes that even an iconic face of Humphrey Bogart can’t quite sell.

Directed by Nicholas Ray
Produced by Robert Lord
Screenplay by Edmund H. North
Andrew Solt
Based on the novel
by Dorothy B. Hughes
Starring Humphrey Bogart
Gloria Grahame
Music by George Antheil
Cinematography Burnett Guffey
Edited by Viola Lawrence
Distributed by Columbia Pictures

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The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

the-purge-anarchy-2014For me, summer means hitting the theatre more often than I normally do. Since the days of wild summer partying are long gone, and it’s almost impossible to sync one’s own vacation with vacation of others, I find myself having some extra time before hitting the road. The fact that there are far less screaming youth in theatres these days (someone has to keep the party-world alive) isn’t something one should take lightly. The fact that program (at least in my town) is horrendous is another matter. The one I overlook every now and then. Even old fart like myself likes to remember the days of true cinema. Dark room, big screen, audio surround and special effects – none of which can be reproduced satisfactorily in home theaters (if you’re living on average salary that is). So, when it happens that I run into cool-looking poster in the hall, I manage to channel that kid inside me despite the voice of reason blabbering something about The Purge: Anarchy being a sequel to a movie I never watched. Sometimes, dudes with painted faces in what looks like a post-apocalyptic surrounding is all it takes.

The Purge: Anarchy has many problems, though we’ll talk about “few good men” first. I mentioned that I never laid eyes on the original Purge and the weird thing about it is that it never bothered me. This means that The Purge: Anarchy is structured as a complete story – which is a good thing, one should always write sequels like that – if there was a reference hidden somewhere, it seemed like it wasn’t necessary for anything other than a nod to the fans of the original. There were other good moves, especially the one of hyping painted dudes as super cool horror-villains just to invert the hype in crucial moment. This transition from implied brutality to shrewdness of street-cred entrepreneurs was beaut to look at. Unfortunately, that was the last of the good parts. Almost everything else is big pile of horseshit.

The_Purge_Anarchy_review_article_story_largeStarting with ridiculousness of the main premise (which states that legalizing crime for one day in a year somehow magically eradicates all crime throughout the rest of the year – I guess that sadists and various killers go to hibernation for the 364 remaining days), continuing with execution of drama and action-directing, and finishing with completely idiotic portrayal of rich folk. Now, I’m all in for “let’s bash the rich” poetics popular in the “critical media” these days (God knows that there are sins which need to be addressed) but I require some amount of sensibility and/or plausibility. Without any of this The Purge: Anarchy fails not just on literal level, it fails on metaphorical as well.

Let’s see how it’s done. Government-sponsored population control? Check. It’s relatively okay, mainly because it doesn’t take such a large portion of the movie. Everything is in allusions and rumors which play out nicely. Ritualistic family sacrifice? Check but what the fuck? Who does this? Let’s imagine that the premise of the movie is real. Can you honestly picture an entire family of Ivy-league Republicans killing a random guy just for the hell of it? Without a motive or any sort of reason? Sure, there are wackos out there, but bunch of wackos doesn’t represent anything other than bunch of wackos. Metaphor failed.

purge-2-party-final Hunting party for rich folks playing safari-games with poor folk? Check. This is done poorly as well. Now, on macro-structural level this happens all the time. Power tramples over those who lack it. On micro-structural level, once again we have bunch of wackos doing silly things. Silly in a way that if we draw a parallel to the safari excursions or hunting trips of 19th century nobility it doesn’t quite play as intended. Whether it is a safari, or a nobleman hunt, rich folk always hunted in masses, surrounded by lackeys just to avoid and danger that might come up. In the hunting setup of The Purge: Anarchy, rich folk indeed have every advantage (like weapons and night goggles for the darkened obstacle course) but the whole setup just isn’t safe enough. Aside from an occasional commando which can take untrained personnel one by one in any close combat scenario like it happened in the movie (true enough, though, commandos don’t show up that often), you can always expect to pick up few people who’ll refuse to roll over and die. Exertion of power is not quite as fun if it is possible to backfire. There goes our metaphor again.

This rant could go on and on. There is a ton of tidbits like these within the movie. Sine Purge was obviously intended as a series, one just has to wonder would it have worked better in the TV-show format. As a 100-minute feature film it is just too unfocused to be taken seriously. Or even as an entertainment.        

Directed by James DeMonaco
Produced by Jason Blum
Andrew Form
Bradley Fuller
Sebastien Lemercier
Michael Bay
Written by James DeMonaco
Starring Frank Grillo
Carmen Ejogo
Zach Gilford
Kiele Sanchez
Michael K. Williams
Music by Nathan Whitehead
Cinematography Jacques Jouffret
Edited by Todd E. Miller
Production
company
Blumhouse Productions
Platinum Dunes
Distributed by Universal Pictures

Still in theathers, so no links. Pay for a movie once in a while 3:)

 

Orlac’s Hände (1924)

bp3539Some people will go at any length trying to “defend” someone they like from imaginary (or not so imaginary) attackers. After all, what is there to do if not to defend a long-dead moviemaker from today’s bad press? Orlac’s Hände has been repeatedly dubbed as a forgotten classic. While it might be true that it is forgotten (outside of somewhat peculiar circle of silent cinema lovers), its status as a classic has yet to be shown. Main argument that appears over and over again can be explained quite simply – it’s a Robert Wiene movie and since it’s a Robert Wiene movie it can’t possibly be bad. Noted directors can’t make such things. It isn’t in their genes, I guess. Once we put all of this mysticism aside and look at the thing as is, we’ll be forced to step out of our devoted shells and finally admit something along the lines of Orlac’s Hände wasn’t the best movie ever made. Not even within the German expressionism movement. If anything, it was poorly conceived and crudely executed piece of populist cinema. Yes, it’s hard to go back in time, but I think that most of you can manage to picture this era in which Victorian gothic horror was a novelty, and Freud wasn’t something to be laughed at by Woody Allen’s devotees or any other sensible psychiatrist/psychologist. Orlac’s Hände borrowed heavily from contemporary (pop)culture but, unlike Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, offered very few things in return.

bscap0001Anyway, let’s force ourselves to step out of this movie history (fuck positivism!) paradigm and let’s try to focus our attention elsewhere. Alexandra Sorina could be a nice focus of attention. If you watched more than one silent movie, you might have noticed that, despite appearances, there actually is a range for silent movie actors. Many of them were type-casted, though some of them knew their way around any role. Anyhow, despite characteristic over-acting and lack of one whole part of human sign-making, many of the silent-cinema actors actually knew how to act. Some of them, though, like Alexandra Sorina were so horrifyingly bad that instead of any compassion that we as viewers were supposed to feel we just wanted to bitchslap her out of the picture. The character of Yvonne Orlac – the one of young, tormented, woman in love – in Sorina’s interpretation became nothing more than a whiny, pathetic excuse for a creature without any character to speak of. While I’m aware that the world was (and is even now) full of whiny, pathetic excuses for creatures, that doesn’t mean that our gut reaction should be any less radical. Whatever Wiene had in mind with this character, by putting Sorina at the helm he only managed to alienate us from any possible struggle she might have had. When you root for the bad guy you know that something went wrong. Especially in the context of 1924.

bscap0000We must give credit where credit is due, though. With Orlac’s Hände Wiene managed to stay true to a genre that was just emerging in USA – that of SF (and no, I didn’t forget neither Jules Verne nor Mary Shelley nor the rest of the crowd but we’ll leave it at that for now). In many ways, Orlac’s Hände surpasses almost everything that has been made within the genre from Star Wars (including) onward. What we have here is basically the core of any SF that wants to call itself intelligent – we have a scientific leap forward (functional surgical transplantation of human hands) and we have a human condition coming to terms with that advancement. While Wiene wasn’t dabbling with SF in a strict sense (focus in Orlac isn’t remotely close to problems and ideologies of techno-era), he was, in a way, preparing the field for those that will follow. Wiene knew how to make powerful imagery via high-tech (remember that movie comer was once a high-tech piece of equipment) manipulation and people didn’t fail to notice that. It would be presumptuous (and plainly wrong but nevermind) to call Wiene a father of European SF (hello Fritz Lang), but it wouldn’t be very far from the mark. Just for that sake, you might want to watch this. And if you rage-vent a bit that’s okay. Sorina does that to you.

Directed by Robert Wiene
Produced by Pan-Film
Written by Ludwig Nertz (play),
Maurice Renard (book)
Starring Conrad Veidt,
Alexandra Sorina,
Fritz Kortner,
Carmen Cartellieri,
Fritz Strassny,
Paul Askonas
Music by Pierre Oser
Cinematography Günther Krampf,
Hans Androschin
Distributed by Pan-Film
Berolina-Film
Aywon Film Corporation

Free download from Internet Archive (copyright expired)

 

 

The Egyptian (1954)

egyptian-fixedSince I “quit” smoking, I find this simple task of writing a word or two about a movie I watched almost impossible. I guess it’s kinda sad that I need a cancer stick to focus my thoughts but more than a decade of exposure to nicotine and cigarette smoke established this behavioral pattern which is really difficult to lose. Pavlov would’ve had something to say about it, as well as any smoker out there so why am I trying to say what any of them could’ve said better is a mystery to me. I guess that it has something to do with kickstarting of the engine – it has been running solely on tobacco fumes for quite a while that these days it needs a good kick before it is able to shift gears. It doesn’t really help that ‘quit’ was typed within quote marks (as many of you have undoubtedly noticed) – ongoing process takes so much more energy than the finished one.

Anyhow, The Egyptian. It fascinates me how well one can see historical patterns within products of Hollywood if one knows where to look. Consider this. Sometime around 1954 new first world problem came into existence. This problem impacted most financiers and decision makers in the Industry – it was the problem of television which brought with itself a really peculiar puzzle which needed to be solved for the future to actually happen. It was the puzzle of “why should anyone pay for the cinema if there are tons of movies readily available on the TV” variety. Puzzle doesn’t appear too difficult because we can easily think of an answer or two. You could take him/her out on a date with a nice, socially acceptable, pretext (because nothing spells French kissing like a giant tarantula on a war path), you couldn’t really compare quality of the image on a tiny TV-set with the quality of an image projected on a screen and so on. Reasons like these may seem plausible though one should be aware that the concept of general public is dubbed ‘general’ precisely because there are no movie buffs in it. Since general public was Hollywood’s main source of income, Hollywood needed to devise something that will successfully compete with the rise of the Television, keeping the profits from declining as long as it was possible. It devised Cinemascope.

vlcsnap-2014-07-28-23h02m22s56Cinemascope was the format of spectacular, colorful, epics which no TV-set of the time could reproduce in its entirety. If you wanted to see the ancient Egypt in all of its glory – well – you had to pay a ticket for the nearest theatre. I guess you can spot the repetition of the pattern in our day and age? On the one hand we have relatively cheap, mass technology which offers far more possibilities than TV ever could, on the other hand we have a relatively static media which was born in the 19th, dominated 20th, and is ready for retirement in the 21st century. Once again, Industry faces the same old challenge and, once again, movies like The Egyptian spring all over the place.

vlcsnap-2014-07-28-23h02m30s122Apart from the grandiosity of the production, movie itself offers almost nothing to averagely intelligent viewer of today. Let’s not kid ourselves, it didn’t offer anything to averagely intelligent viewer of yesterday (remember that we’re talking about a year in which Rear Window came out?). Once can understand pathos, one can even understand pseudo-Christianity as a means to an end (on a meta-level), one can sympathize with cardboard dolls instead of characters and with poor actors who had to bring these nothings to life, one can understand all of it and one can attribute it to Time. If one does this often enough, though, sooner or later one must ask himself is there an end to it? Should everything be attributed to (and vindicated by) time? Where is the line that marks the border between the style and ideology? I could “vindicate” The Egyptian by some sort of positivistic thought. I could but I won’t. The time has come to finally dispose of relativism of post-modernity and to make a stand for something, however ethereal it might prove to be in the end. From this perspective (which will become true from now on) The Egyptian sucks big time. Do avoid it.  

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck
Screenplay by Philip Dunne
Casey Robinson
Based on The Egyptian 1945 novel
by Mika Waltari
Starring Edmund Purdom
Victor Mature
Jean Simmons
Gene Tierney
Michael Wilding
Bella Darvi
Peter Ustinov
Tommy Rettig
Music by Bernard Herrmann
Alfred Newman
Cinematography Leon Shamroy
Edited by Barbara McLean
Distributed by 20th Century Fox

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The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

ShopAroundTheCornerIf I could be bothered to check it out I’m sure that I would eventually find an answer to the question that kept bothering me throughout the entire movie – why the fuck is this happening in Budapest? Yes, ye olde notoriety of half-naked gypsy woman dancing with bears on the streets of Budapest didn’t really played any part in this, neither did your usual Hollywood love for anything European had anything to do with it (as far as I can tell). It seems that there’s no real explanation behind it and that the answer can be summed up with – why the fuck not. Still, it’s peculiar and, in any sort of poetic sense, pretty much pointless. As far as the plot is concerned, there’s nothing distinctly Budapestian about it. This could (or couldn’t but I’ll get to that later on) have happened in any shop in the world. At least in the white, West-like part of the world.   Maybe I’ll continue to muse about it. Thing like that tend to bother me more than they should.

In any case (all things Budapest aside), I have not really fallen in love with The Shop Around the Corner. Still, I find it amusing how easily it can be translated in this day and age (let’s forget for a moment that Nora Ephron did exactly that in a horrendous You’ve got mail). If anything, this shows that some genre-formulas are more persistent than we might think (considering that, sometimes it seems that ‘60s didn’t happen at all). It’s not only that romantic setup can be easily transposed, it’s that the entire movie can be re-contextualized without any sort of actual recontextualization. Bad economy and fear of unemployment? Check. Anonymous dating service for people too shy or too busy to date? Check. Benevolent shop owners? Well, this is where we part. I yet have to see cashier at Walmart being this grateful and full of praise for her employer. Problems of the salary gap somehow managed to sink in.

vlcsnap-2014-07-24-23h01m55s5This is not the only noticeable discrepancy between now and then. Since the dawn of the internet, many a movie (or a TV-show) has featured anonymous online communication (the amount of sensationalism differed from movie to movie) as the central motif. Whether it was made fun of, or it was used as a starting point for a movie about vicious killing spree of loner computer hacker gone psychotic, it always revolved around some sort of paranoia, fear or uneasiness. It wasn’t just a fear of does she look good type (this has been reiterated in various contexts over and over again), it was more of a what kind of weirdo uses this type of thing and will I get slaughtered if I go to meet him problem. Whenever I think about it, it seems that our society has somehow evolved from easy going (yet conservative) adventurousness of the Old Hollywood (where taking a chance was prominently featured), into a society of a raging paranoia and some sort of social awkwardness. Considering the imagery (and dominant ideology of the silver screen) it might have something to do with both the consumers of movies and active participants in societal game.

vlcsnap-2014-07-24-23h02m04s68For Ernst Lubitsch and his world this anonymous communication didn’t present any problem. People who did that type of thing were all more or less sensible grown up men and women, eager to try something new yet sensible enough not to budge an inch on important things (whatever those might be). These people were both the consumers and the Society (or at least the ideal projection of it). During the dawn of the internet these things changed. Majority of the consumers were teenagers and dominant users of new technology were teenagers as well. In Hollywood imagery, teenagers and reason never went together which meant that there had to be a predator present just so that didactic dimension of pop-morality could be preserved in movies. You could trust James Stewart to make a right call (he made a career with these roles). You couldn’t do the same with Lindsay Lohan.      

Part of me interested in phenomenology is interested in these things. Especially when there’s nothing else to observe. Because, The Shop Around the Corner was both idiotic and predictable and my mind just couldn’t salvage it no matter how hard it tried. The chemistry between James Stewart and Margaret Sullawan was horrible, plot was handled badly and suspension of disbelief had to kick in hard, their subsequent falling in love and reconciliation was so stretched that it verged on parody and there were times when stupidity of it all made me cringe. Considering 1940s, both His Girl Friday and The Philadelphia Story were miles ahead of this crap. Fuck it, can’t win ‘em all. No matter how much I like these movies, sooner or later one is bound to come across something that has no script, style, direction or any particular redeeming quality to speak of. The Shop Around the Corner is one such feature, better to be forgotten than revisited for any reason.

Directed by Ernst Lubitsch
Produced by Ernst Lubitsch
Screenplay by
Based on Parfumerie
by Miklós László
Starring
Music by Werner R. Heymann
Cinematography William H. Daniels
Edited by Gene Ruggiero
Production
company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

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