Thursday, May 13, 2010

Whatever Did Happen To Baby Jane?

So, a supernova is a star that explodes and leaves a bright light that may burn for several months. Some stars explode and what remains is a neutron star. Some explode and disappear entirely and what remains is a black hole where the gravitational pull is so great light cannot escape it. One movie has two such stars, the great Bette Davis and unforgettable Joan Crawford in one of the must see movies of all time “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane”.

The movie is by far one of the finest acted films I have ever sat at the edge of my seat watching. Its rich flavor of dark and macabre is so finally tuned between the mesmerizing performances and the focal events. Think… the buzzer, the serving dish, the shadows, the stairs, the creepy song sang in front of the mirror… I’ve written a letter to daddy! It’s a film about two has-beens with a sordid history trying to exist together in a house to spite the fact that they are sisters who loath each other, oops, did I just give away the plot…

Who cares, I want to talk about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, I mean if you have not yet seen the movie do yourself a favor and go get it! I want to few seconds to talk about two cinematic legends during the ‘Studio Runs Everyone Times” aka 1930’s. Now as their careers wind down, they both receive the greatest rolls of their lives and they both manage to pull it off beautifully.

Now how are these two stars different? Well from where I sit, a boy born in Springs, South Africa 1983, I really have two main references to go by, Bette Davis has a song written about her eyes that kinda rocks my boat and poor Joan Crawford has a bad movie made about her abusive nature with her adopted child called Mommy dearest starring the wonderfully crazy Faye Dunaway.

Now either way, whether in their personal lives they are someone to be looked down upon or be forever immortalized as an inspiration, they are both impeccable at what they do on screen. I try not to get sucked into the personal lives of those that entertain me because it will undoubtedly affect the way I view the work they do. Let none of it influence you as you sit down with a bowl of popcorn in front of your huge flat screen tv and relish the opportunity to eat up one of cinema’s all time greats!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Let the Sun go Down on Me!

then their career just stopped...Part 2

The second of the two films is Peeping Tom by Michael Powell. A film that when released was seen as a perverted film, a macabre story only to satisfy the truly disturbed viewer.

I found the film to be rather boring at times with a main character that is easily forgettable however the film is an inspiration in the sense that it unabashedly flaunts the pleasure in watching to gain sexual gratification from the perspective of a killer and then from us as the audience… how much do we like to watch? How much do we need to see?

Voyeurism is such a rich tapestry to play with in film for the obvious, you are in fact watching. I found that trying to incorporate it into a film as a theme adds a whole new dimension to a film in terms of studying it and breaking a film down. It literally speaks to you as the viewer; about what you are viewing… is it right or wrong? Black or white? Left or right? It challenges you to think about what you are watching.

This film is remarkable in taking you into the viewing room of a snuff film and although you may not be doing the killing how innocent do you think you are by merely just watching?

This film was not necessarily trying to introduce the mainstream market to the dark underground world of Snuff movies but take the audience on a new journey of horror, a sort of study on the sexual gratification a voyeur might get from watching and in this film the Peeping Tom so happens to get a little hard in the pants from watching fear on a woman’s face. The movie is so multi faceted in the psychology behind a killer with a sick fetish for recording and then viewing fear and feels years ahead of its time. It would only find the audience it deserves years later once poor Michael Powell’s career as a filmmaker is totally crippled without any hope of recovery.

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