Swallow (2019)

Swallow is a 2019 psychological thriller film written and directed by Carlo Mirabella Davis, in his directorial debut. It stars Haley Bennett, Austin Stowell, Elizabeth Marvel, David Rasche and Denis O’Hare. The story follows a young woman who is suffocated emotionally in her marriage and outside life, starts to consume inedible things on impulse.

Hunter Conrad (Bennet) lives like a 1950’s housewife, including her fashion sense, except she enjoys games on her cellphone. Her husband Richie has taken over his as CEO of his father’s corporation and is gone a lot, leaving Hunter bored at home a lot. She isn’t nearly as outgoing as Richie or his family. She eventually finds him to be inconsiderate and removed towards her. One day at home alone, she develops the urge to swallow a marble. She finds it gives her a feeling of euphoria and begins to swallow other non-food items around the house, including thumbtacks, metal figurines and even batteries. Each object, after digested, she obsessively cleans and arranges in a dish on her vanity.

When Hunter finds out she is is pregnant, she and Richie go to the hospital for an ultrasound, during which the technician finds an anomaly in Hunter’s stomach. She is transported immediately to the emergency room to remove many different things trapped in her intestine. She is diagnosed with pica, a psychological disorder that coaxes people to eat inedible items. She is forced to go to therapy where she reveals her unhappiness in her marriage and how she was born from her mother being raped and being too conservative to terminate the pregnancy.

This film is very slow at times, almost boring, but it does pick up and gets a lot better. You get to see how a person with a pica lives, how they struggle, hurt themselves and the ones who care about them. You also see how it is to live as the black sheep in the family and through a broken marriage that keeps getting worse. It is disturbing knowing that pica is s real condition and seeing a person (real or not) is hard to watch, but you can’t help watch Hunter swallow almost no food throughout the film.

Hunter’s husband Richie (Stowell) is veery little help for her, he mostly yells and tells her to get professional help or he’ll divorce her. Her doe however, mention the health of their baby and calls her selfish for not thinking of them or her own health. Richie’s parents are worried she might kill the baby and herself and she eventually checks into a mental institution.

Haley Bennett is outstanding as Hunter Conrad and definitely worthy of any best lead actress awards. Austin Stowell is great as Richie Conrad. Elizabeth Marvel does a fine job as Richie’s mother, Katherine Conrad. David Rasche does a fine job as well as his father Michael Conrad. Richie’s parents are a lot nicer and more helpful than him. They are there for Hunter when Richie is not.

This film is more disturbing and eye-opening than scary. Much of this movie is quite slow, but it is a story that should be told as not many people know about pica. It is an eating disorder like anorexia, where the person suffering craves eating things that shouldn’t be eaten. This film also deals with how psychological disorder affect people and their loved ones. It also deals with marital problems.

Despite the slowness, this film is well done and all the lead stars do great jobs in their roles. The only problems are that the movie could have been a bit less slow and gotten into Richie and Hunter’s marriage issues more as well as how her loved ones were affected, since it mostly focused on her and the pica. This film really only has a few somewhat romantic scenes and I get the feeling Richie didn’t really love Hunter after all,

Not exactly a thriller, but not exactly a complete drama either, it’s a bit of both. Not fantastic, but terrible either. 18 & up 3.5/5

WALKING THE WALK WITH CHARLIE CHAPLIN.

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MabelsStrangePred1914gl4 “It’s a dirty old man!” The tramp first time out (Mabel’s Strange Predicament 1914).

One of the biggest mysteries in film comedy, is how Chaplin came up with his tramp character. However, contemporary reviews of his early films, suggest that his walk was more important to audiences, rather than who he was, or who he represented. A master-stroke? You bet, and he lived off the back of the walk for decades. In general, we now accept the story of the advent of the flat-footed tramp, as ‘given’ but how did the little guy actually come about? Let’s look at the evidence.

From Music Hall to Keystone Comedies.

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The first mystery that we have, is that of how Chaplin came to be at Keystone. Mack Sennett said, in his autobiography, that he’d seen Chaplin in his English Music Hall show and thought he’d be just right for his slapstick…

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Classic of the Week: Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

Kramer vs. Kramer is a legal drama film written and directed by Robert Benton, based on Avery Coleman’s 1977 novel of the same name. It stars Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Jane Alexander and Justin Henry. It tells the story of a couple’s divorce and the impact it has on their son, their relationship and parenting views.

This film is as impactful and realistic today as it was then. The story of a divorced couple’s custody battle over their young son and their differing views on raising children many parents and kids can relate to. It is deep, sad at times, might make you angry and also heartfelt at moments too. Both parent said love their son and both believe they are the best parent to raise him.

Ted Kramer (Hoffman) is a workaholic advertising executive who tries to be a good father to Billy (Henry), but eventually gives up after he realizes he’s being too strict. Ted comes home from work to find his wife Joanna (Streep) is leaving him. She leaves Billy with Ted. At first they resent each other, when Ted has no time to spend with hi men due to his increased work. They eventually learn to live with each other as father and son. Ted befriends his neighbor Margaret (Alexander), who had coaxed Joanna to leave him since she was unhappy. Margaret is also a single parent and she and Ted become good friends.

15 months after she walked out, Joanna goes back to New York to claim Billy and a custody battle occurs. Margaret is forced to tell how unhappy she was married to Ted in court. He reveals that he has had less time to spend with Billy because of his work overload. Joanna eventually gains custody of Billy.

This film isn’t a completely happy one. The son’s life for over year is spent in and out of houses and court. He doesn’t know who he going to live with next. This still happens to SO MANY kids today. Some people aren’t fit to raise children and some are. Some parents are strict and some are not. Parenting styles and marriage issues can clash, making an unstable household. Sometimes divorce is the only answer and often times the best solution. This film proves that.

Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep are outstanding in their roles. Jane Alexander is great as well. You see lifecycle through the eyes of a crumbling marriage, a divorce and custody battle, also through the eyes of a small child caught in the middle of it. Parts of this film are very slow, rather boring and some are long and drawn out. This is definitely one of the better “family issue” films, though it’s not fantastic by any means. It is a story that needed to be told in both book and film, because it is a serious subject that so many can relate to. But the majority of this movie is slow paced and not one that can be watched over and over again like Ordinary People or The Squid and the Whale.

Overall, the acting is great, but this feature was a bit boring for such bold subject matter. But one that still deserves a viewing at least once. 11+ 3.5/5

Greatest Foreign Films of All Time

  1. The American Friend – 1977
  2. Ashes and Diamonds- 1958
  3. Belle du Jour – 1967
  4. Un Chien Andalou – 1930
  5. The Blue Angel – 1930
  6. A Nous Libetre – 1931
  7. L’Avventura – 1960
  8. The Bicycle Thief – 1948
  9. Boudu Saved From Drowning – 1932
  10. Contempt – 1963
  11. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie – 1972
  12. Celine and Julie Go Boating – 1974
  13. La Dolce Vita – 1960
  14. L’Eclisse – 1960
  15. The Burmese Harp – 1956
  16. 8 1/5 – 1963
  17. Breathless – 1960
  18. The Double Life of Veronique – 1991
  19. Diabolique – 1955
  20. Eyes Without a Face – 1960
  21. Earth – 1930
  22. Forbidden Games – 1951
  23. Ikiru – 1952
  24. Lamerica – 1994
  25. Floating Weeds – 1959
  26. Daybreak – 1939
  27. Lola – 1961
  28. Gertrud – 1965
  29. Fanny and Alexander – 1982
  30. The 400 Blows – 1959
  31. M – 1931
  32. Murmur of the Heart – 1971
  33. Night and Fog – 1955
  34. Masculin Feminin- 1966
  35. Nosferatu – 1922
  36. Metropolis- 1927
  37. The Night of Shooting Stars – 1982
  38. Persona – 1966
  39. La Notte – 1961
  40. Playtime – 1967
  41. The Passion of Joan of Arc – 1928
  42. Ran – 1985
  43. Pandora’s Box – 1928
  44. The Red and White – 1967
  45. The Rules of the Game – 1939
  46. Repulsion – 1965
  47. Shame – 1968
  48. Jules and Jim – 1962
  49. Pierrot Le Fou – 1965
  50. The Seven Samurai- 1954
  51. Rashomon – 1950
  52. Shoah – 1985
  53. Through a Glass Darkly – 1961
  54. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg- 1964
  55. Zero for Conduct – 1933
  56. Two English Girls- 1971
  57. Throne of Blood – 1957
  58. Weekend – 1967
  59. Tokyo Story – 1953
  60. Wings of Desire – 1987
  61. Tristana – 1971
  62. Au Hasard Balthazar – 1966
  63. Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles – 1975
  64. Grand Illusion- 1937
  65. Close Up – 1990
  66. The Battle of Algiers – 1966
  67. Wild Strawberries- 1957
  68. The Virgin Spring – 1960
  69. Man with a Movie Camera- 1929
  70. Scenes from a Marriage- 1973
  71. La Strada – 1954
  72. The Nights of Cabiria – 1957
  73. Rififi – 1955
  74. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – 2000
  75. Amour – 2012
  76. Chungking Express – 1994
  77. Amélie – 2001
  78. Children of Paradise – 1945
  79. Cries and Whispers- 1972
  80. All About My Mother – 1999
  81. Spirited Away – 2001
  82. Cinema Paradiso – 1988
  83. Oldboy – 2003
  84. The Artist – 2011
  85. Waltz with Bashir – 2008
  86. Roma – 2018
  87. The Exterminating Angel – 1962
  88. Eat Drink Man Woman- 1994
  89. My Life to Live – 1962
  90. The Lives of Others – 2006
  91. Grave of the Fireflies- 1988
  92. Battleship Potemkin – 1925
  93. A Separation – 2011
  94. Persepolis – 2007
  95. Parasite – 2019
  96. Knife In the Water – 1962
  97. Day for Night – 1973
  98. Life is Beautiful- 1997
  99. Departures – 2007
  100. My Life as a Zucchini- 2016
  101. The Triplets of Belleville- 2003

Classic of the Week: The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Little Shop of Horrors is a 1960 American horror comedy film directed by Roger Corman about a florist’s assistant that grows a plant that feeds on human blood. The film stars Jonathan Haze, Jackie Joseph, Dick Miller, Mel Welles and Jack Nicholson. The film combines dark humor with Jewish humor, horror and romance.

This film starts out very slow, then instantly gets really silly, a lot of times to the point of stupid. The plot is clever and the effects are good for the time period, but the acting is nothing great. Several scenes are laugh out loud funny and a few are cringingly bad as far as acting and dialogue. This would have been a fun film if there had been more action, more humor or maybe a little song a dance numbers.

The main character Seymour Krelboined (Haze) is dimwitted and shouldn’t be working in a floral shop, especially with a man eating and talking plant. He is illiterate, dumb and unromantic like his mother. Audrey Fulquard (Joseph) who also works at the floral shop falls in love with Seymour for some reason wanting to marry him, the two couldn’t be more polar opposite, she is super smart and pretty and comes from an upper class family and he is not. His mother is a divorced alcoholic, who can’t cook, clean, keep a man or a job. She relies on he really son’s very little income to get by.

Despite this movie being called a horror comedy, there is very little comedy and it isn’t the least bit scary. The effects are almost B movie like, meaning not quite a film that would be featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000. It is one that is so bad, it’s good. It’s cleverly stupid, but not over the top. It is perfect for fans of horror, comedy, classics, or science fiction. It has inspired the 1986 remake and several stage productions.

This is such a bizarre film, but a very well done one of that. It isn’t outstanding but isn’t terrible either, it is only very good. This movie may scare young children, it also deals with alcoholism, death and vandalism, has drinking, smoking and kissing. This is one movie, you either love it or hate it. 13+ 3.5/5

Classic of the Week: A Taste of Honey (1961)

A Taste of Honey is a 1961 British film adaptation of the 1958 play of the same name by Shelagh Delaney. The film is directed by Tony Richardson, who also directed the play on stage.

The film follows a teenage girl named Jo and her mother Hellen as they moved their few belongings across Manchester on a bus. Jo’s mum is an alcoholic who becomes engaged to a much younger and wealthier man. Jo meets an older fellow who works on ships and they eventually fall in love and and have sex, before having to set sail. He assures he’d be back soon, but never comes back. She ends up moving into a ramshackle home with a gay friend and finds out she is pregnant.

This film is so realistic, you almost feel as if you’re watching a documentary and not something fictional. The acting is great from all the main stars, but much of the movie is so slow, it’s boring. This is an extremely depressing film as well, mostly just sad scenes and a few somewhat happy ones. Although the acting is superb, the main characters are all hard to like. Helen is a heavy drinking, money spending and self centered lady, Jo complains too much and ends up with a baby as a teen, Jimmy is far too nice at first, then gets Jo pregnant and leaves, Helen’s fiancé is a jerk and hates Jo and Geoffrey (Jo’s roommate) is not too bright and far too sweet.

Even though this a a rather dull film, it is still relevant in this day in time with today’s “Teen Moms,” only without much of the trash that’s seen on TV and in movies. This movie is raw and straightforward. It shows the life of a teenage mother who is forced to decide wether to have the baby or not.

I cannot imagine this story ever being a stage production, because it was hard to sit through much of this film without yawning. Despite this, it is a powerful learning tool in the life of a teen parent and the struggles they go through. There is not one ounce of humor or glory, only short lived romance and much extremely heartbreaking scenes. This movie was controversial fr the time, being the use of single mothers, homosexuality, inter-racial kissing and underage parenting. It was banned in several countries, despite bing a critical success and award winner.

If you want a movie about underage motherhood that’s more uplifting try Juno. If yo want want a serious one on the subject, try this one, you’ll either love it or hate it. You’d think with such a strong message and raw storyline, this film would have been better to me, but I was thoroughly bored throughout. The writers and directors could have done a better job with this piece. 18 & up 3/5

Classic of the Week: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

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Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a 1953 American musical comedy film based on the 1949 stage musical of the same name. It was directed by Howard Hawks and starred Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe.

The film follows Lorelei Lee (Monroe) and Dorothy Shaw (Russell), American showgirls and best friends. Lorelei has love for diamonds, believing that finding a rich husband is one of the few ways a lady can be successful money-wise. Dorothy, is searching for a different type of love, only attracted to men who are good looking physically fit.

This a charming and fun filled movie that never fails to bore. It is filled with memorable songs like “Bye Bye Bye,” “A Little Girl from Little Rock” and “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” Marilyn is pretty much typecast in her role as Lorelei Lee, being another ditsy high maintenance and flirty blonde. Jane Russell does far better in her role as Dorothy Shaw who could care less about jewels and money.

Arts of this film are over the top cheesy, especially when Lorelei and Dorothy flirt and several of the dance numbers, particularly the dance number with the men in swim trunks. The best scene is of course is “Diamond s Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” which inspired Madonna’s “Material Girl” video. Although Marilyn was not a great singer, dancer, or actress, she portrayed a]her typecast characters well. She had a sex appeal that people still talk about today. Jane Russell had a sex appeal too, even though she was not nearly as pretty as Monroe in my opinion, she was a better singer and actress as well.

This movie is filled with singing and dancing, flirting, drinking and mischief. Lorelei is accused of stealing a tiara, but it is revealed that it is a man that is in love with her who plots it out, also spying on her in her cabin and taking pictures. Dorothy pretends to be Lorelei in court and pretends to be in love with Malone the plotter of the crime. It is revealed that the man the real Lorelei is supposed to marry has the tiara and she is acquitted.

Yes, this is a total lady’s movie. Men may not like it, as it does talk about how women should marry a man only for their money or looks. The two main characters are almost always scene in fancy attire, as they are showgirls, so it does paint that a woman can only catch a man in a dress, which isn’t true at all. If the main characters would have been seen in at least two or three scenes without makeup or fancy attire, then that picture wouldn’t have been so negative. This is definitely not a feministic film, but it is girly to the max.

There is lots of flirting, gambling, smoking and drinking. There is also some revealing dresses, crime, cheating and lust. But overall, this is great movie musical that can be enjoyed for years to come. 13 & up 3.5/5

Classic of the Week: Drugstore Cowboy (1989)

 

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Drugstore Cowboy is a 1989 American crime drama film directed by Gus Van Sant, based on the autobiographical novel by James Fogle. It stars Matt Dillon,  Kelly Lynch, Heather Graham and William S. Burroughs. At the time the film was being Mae, the source novel was unpublished and later published in 1990, by which Fogle had been released from prison.

The film follows Bob Hughes who leads a group of drug addicts in the 70s – his wife Dianne, best friend Rick and Rick’s teenage girlfriend Nadine- traveling across the Pacific Northwest, robbing pharmacies and hospitals to help their drug addictions.

This film has an indie feel to it and takes you into the life of a crew of drug addicts and dealers and does it so well. Parts are very slow, so the film is boring at times, but you get to take a trip into a life of drug related crimes and health issues. Every single character is both alike in their dope obsession bot also very different. Matt Dillon is great as Bob Hughes the ring leader of the bunch, Kelly Lynch is equally great as Dianne Hughes, his wife. James LeGros is excellent as their best friend Rick and Heather Graham does a fine job as his girlfriend Nadine.

This film stakes you for a long dope filled ride into a an intense world of drug addiction, theft and drug dealing. The characters are so addicted the most feed their habits all the time and in order to do that, they must beg, borrow and steal. At first, they are very clever at being sneaky and stealing the drugs and hiding them, but then they are eventually caught and sent to prison.

This movie is filled with of course with drugs and substance abuse, crime, homelessness, money issues and illnesses. It is done quite well, although much of the movie is a bit boring. Some scenes have .little or no dialogue, but it fits the story. There is nothing exciting about this film at all, it is one horrible event after another.    Despite being rather dull in some scenes, the acting is fantastic, the soundtrack perfect, but the cinematography is rather dull so much of the time, making it seem like a cheap documentary, rather than a drama movie. I guess this was got make it seem more realistic, although it is an independent film. This is only Gus Van Sant’s second film.

This isn’t the most engaging film. In fact, I found much of it to be very dull, almost to the point of nt wanting to continue watching it, but it does get better not outstanding but a lot better. But what do you expect from a movie based off a book with this story? Not a musical that’s for sure.

Overall, this movie is very good, but not great. For a story like this, I was expecting a bit more action. There is violence is some parts, but much of this film just plain slow. They spend too much time in one setting in some scenes. I wasn’t expecting a wildly entertaining motion picture, but definitely not one that bored me nearly to sleep at times. Great plot, well done film. Adults only 3/5

Shirley (2020)

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Shirley is a 2020 American biographical drama film directed by Josephine Decker based on the novel of the same name by Susan Scarf Morrell. It stars Elizabeth Moss, Michael Stuhlbarg Odessa Young and Logan Lerman. The film follows a young couple that moves in with Shirley Jackson and her Bennington College professor husaband, Stanley Hyman, hooping to start a new life. Instead they find themselves in a psycho thriller drama that inspires her next book.

You learn a lot about the life of thriller and mystery writer Shirley Jackson and her mental and physical health. She was a heavy drinker, had severe manic depression, was paranoid schizophrenic, agoraphobic, selfish and often times mean, speaking exactly what she was thinking. She was married to Stanley Hyman from 1940-1965 when she died.

Shirley (Moss) never leaves the house and studies the young wife, Rose Nemser who is living in the house and helping out around the home while going to school and looking for a job. Rose’s husband is Fred Nemser and he eventually becomes a professor at Bennington too, like Stanley. The young couple discover that Shirley is mentally ill and needs 24/7 care but Stanley refuses it telling them to just leave her alone and let her do her writing alone. Rose finds a page of Shirley’s newest novel in progress, starts to read it, discovering it’s about Fred and her,  gets upset and offended. Shirley walks in and finds her reading it and they both get angry and fight. Shirley hits Rose across the face.

Rose tells Fred about what happened and he doesn’t believe her until one evening at dinner when Shirley acts out dark and twisted scene, pointing a knife at both of them. The couple tell Stanley they can’t continue living there with Shirley in the house and they both beg him to send her to a mental institution, which he turns down, saying she is better off at home with him. Other parts of the film read and reenact scenes from Jackson’s book Hangsaman.

Elizabeth Moss is fantastic as Shirley Jackson and Michael Stuhlbarg is outstanding as Stanley Hyman. Odessa Young and Logan Lerman are very good, not great as Rose and Fred Nemser. The chronicles the life of Shirley and Stanley and the Nemsers that live with them and her latest novel.

Them film is fairly spectacular but would have be better if it had started from her childhood but it’s not a documentary. But you still get to know Shirley well as in her mental illnesses, her drinking problem and her inspirations and writing style. She may have been ill, but she was a fantastic writer and has inspired many ther writers.

This film is filled with illnesses, selfishness, drinking, smoking, fighting and sex. There is full frontal nudity in a couple of scenes as well, so no young viewers at all, only adults. The role of Shirley was one hundred percent perfect for Moss. No other person could have played her but Elizabeth. This a dark, pretty disturbing (at times) film. It shows how how mental health issues affect people and the ones around them and how a writer comes up with their stories. Some parts are a bit slow, but overall an  excellent movie. 18 & up 4.5/5

Classic of the Week: It Happened One Night. (1934)

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It Happened One Night is a 1934 pre-code American romantic comedy film directed by Frank Capra. It follows the story of spoiled socialite (Claudette Colbert) tries to get away from her protective father and falls in love with a mischievous reporter (Clark Gable).

This romantic comedy is one that was considered a bit racy for the time period, but by today’s standards is extremely mild. There are references to love making and having a one night stand, but it does not happen and Ellie flashes her thigh to catch a driver’s attention in one scene. Peter Warne (Gable) smokes throughout and there is few scenes of drinking. There is slapstick violence throughout as well.

This is a lively, fun and humorous filled film. Colbert and Gable are outstanding together, making them one of the greatest movie couples in cinema history. Never is there a dull moment. A few things could have been done without like Ellie’s father slapping her for back talking, but other than that, this is a truly wonderful film. It has the right amount oof humor and romance without being too cheesy.

Despite the fact it received so-so reviews at the time of release and even from critics since then, I absolutely love this movie. It has a simple plot, that never bores and always entertains every time.

Peter paid to marry Ellie, but ends up falling in love with her and she with him. She calls off her wedding with a pilot, revealing that she is in love with Peter and their story to her father. She instead marries Peter and they spend the night in a motor court in Glen Falls, Michigan.

This film will make you laugh and warm your heart. It’s not your average love story, nothing like today’s Nicolas Sparks style stuff. It has roughness, humor and heart. How many movies from today have all that? It’s not overly sweet or mushy gushy and there is n sex. It has the right amount oof raciness, making it just sexy enough.

This is one of the few romantic Oscar Best Picture Winners and it deserved it and still would if had been directed in this decade. Everything about this movie is picture perfect. If you want a great date night film, here is one that won’t disappoint. Rough, yet lovely and laugh out loud funny.  Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful! 8 & up 5/5