Switching Sites

Hello to those that read my periodic posting of reviews,

I am experimenting with different websites and will be moving this blog over to blogspot. If you would like to continue to read new reviews by me, you may find them there. This may or may not be temporary, but unless otherwise stated , I won’t be posting new reviews here. I thank you for sharing in my experiences thus far! This is the link, it’s called Plot Persuasion.  http://plotpersuasion.blogspot.ca/


Polyanna (1960)

Polyanna is an iconic children’s film about an orphan girl who always looks on the bright side, and shows an entire town how to do the same. Through her eternal optimism, she slowly worms her way into the hearts of the town members. It’s a feel good movie.

After the death of her parents, Polyanna moves in with her wealthy aunt who lives in a small town where she holds a lot of influence. Everyone Polyanna meets seems to be either miserable in one way or another, or if they are not miserable themselves, are repressed by miserable people. As she interacts with these people however, she slowly begins to change their perspective by showing them how to be optimistic. She plays what she calls ‘the glad game’, where the objective is to find something to be glad about in a bad situation. As more people are influenced by her, the town becomes happier overall and more closely knit.

This isn’t my favourite movie. It has a sacchrinely sweet plot and character who is almost portrayed as an airhead most of the time. Polyanna is a nice girl, and had a nice message to give, but half the time she’s staring off into space or in her own world. It seems like they were trying too hard to capture that carefree innocence of youth, and end up with a dazed looking girl who seems like she’s hearing voices. As for her happy game, there is actually a term for it, The Polyanna Effect. It describes someone who refuses to acknowledge any negative aspect in their lives, which of course can be harmful to someone’s overall well-being. This isn’t exactly the whole message of the film, but it’s pretty much the main idea.

I’m an optimistic person myself, but some of the interactions she has with other characters as she tries to brighten their day and change their perspective on life are unrealistic and oversimplifying. For a better film series I would recommend Anne of Green Gables, or even better the TV show Road to Avonlea. These stories have a bit more depth and feeling, and are more realistic. The characters are also very strong and spunky.

The film overall is a decent watch, and I recommend watching it, but look into the other films recommended.

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Rumpelstiltskin (1987)

Usually these 80’s version fairy tale films can be pretty cheesy, but this one was actually an okay live-action version of the story. It was still cheesy, but watchable.

The story is the standard fairy tale. A miller brags to a friend that his daughter can make gold from straw, and the story is passed from person to person until the king hears of it. The king then orders that the girl be brought to the castle and spin rooms of straw into gold, or she will face the death sentence. She is of course unable to do this, but then a magic man comes to her aid and offers to spin the straw into gold for her, in exchange for her necklace. The king is pleased upon discovering that she had passed the test and orders her to do it again. Once more the man comes to her and makes the gold, in exchange for her mother’s ring. A final time the king orders her to spin straw into gold, and if she succeeds, she will marry the prince, and will of course die if she fails. Once again the little man comes to help her, but she has no more trinkets to give him, so the man strikes a bargain with her. He will do it, if she gives him her first-born child, and she agrees. The straw is turned to gold, the girl marries the prince, and a year later she’s pregnant with the child. The little man comes back to collect his payment, but now the girl feels that she can’t give up her child, so the man strikes a bargain with her. She will have three days to guess his name, and if she fails, he gets to take the baby. And then we all know what happens… and if we don’t, go read the fairy tale, it’s a classic.

The film was decent. There were cheesy songs and a little bit of overacting, but overall it was pretty bearable. The one thing that kind of bothered me in this film (and this is going to sound perverted but it really isn’t), was the fact that the miller’s daughter either has a very small chest, or that the clothes they gave her were too baggy. It was kind of uncomfortable to watch because half the time it seemed like she was going to fall out of her dress… but there was nothing there to fall out. Maybe they thought the low-cut dress would be alluring or whimsical or attractive, but seeing as how she doesn’t have the upper body to fill the dress out, it’s just awkward. Other than that, the costumes were actually not bad. It’s not going to be on your ‘best movies of all time’ list, but it’s a watchable flick.

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Stories We Tell (2012)

This is a genealogical documentary by Sarah Polley. A good portion of the film is spent listening to different people speak about Polley’s deceased mother, Diane, and events surrounding her own birth. Polley interviews her father, her siblings, step-siblings, potential lovers of her mother, and her mother’s friends. Through all of this we get an idea of the vibrant, energetic woman who was Diane Polley, the impact she had on others, and the impact they had on her.

While the family history is all fine and well, it is not exactly a thrilling film. It’s essentially a slow-paced sleuthing process recounting memories strangers have of a mutual connection. Interesting, but not exactly thrilling. Then, in the latter half of the film, close to the end, Polley does something pretty interesting and reflects on the possibility of being able to capture a true memory of her mother. If it is indeed possible to really know her mother, or understand these past events. She poses the question to a couple of her interviewees and receives some interesting ideas about the nature of memory and whether or not a memory can be truly universally shared. There is an interesting statement put forward that, no matter how ‘organic’ a memory is, it still undergoes an editing process of sorts when it’s shared. It is polished and touched up and segments may be removed or modified to suit the situation, and Polley does a remarkable job of echoing this sentiment throughout the entirety of the film. Before, during, and after the shooting of the documentary, we see establishing shots. People getting ready to be interviewed, cameras or lighting equipment, and even shots or Polley herself as she is directing the picture. On more than one occasion, the idea of the ‘fourth wall’ is broken down and the audience is acutely aware of the fact that this film is being manufactured, but that it is still an essential truth. She also reflects on her own motivations for pursuing this project, once we learn the some key details of the story, and we are let into a very personal and private portion of this person’s life. Polley is really opening herself up to the world with this film, at least in terms of the details surrounding her early childhood and birth.

A side note on Sarah Polley and my bias toward her. I really like Sarah Polley. I was first introduced to her through the Road to Avonlea series (phenomenal), and have seen her in various other productions since then. RTA was taken on by Disney after the first or second season, and ended up letting Polley go because of her political activism and refusal to give into the corporation when they told her to stop. When most of the Disney child stars I can think of off the top of my head end up getting into some of the less than ideal situations, I can only think extremely highly of a person who possessed too much moral integrity for Disney to stand. I also just think that she’s a very talented and genuine actor and director, and am usually inclined to think that whatever she’s affiliated with is bound to be interesting. And it usually is. But that’s just me.

Anyway, the story is not only interesting, but she takes it to another level. Ultimately worth the watch.

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Puss in Boots (1988)

This is a horrible, horrible film, but still intriguingly watchable, because Christopher Walken plays a human cat.

The story follows the old fairy tale. An old miller is sick and gives his possessions away to his sons. To his oldest he leaves the mill, to the second he leaves his horse, and to the third he leaves his cat. The boy eventually learns that the cat can speak… and in this version, turn into human who acts like a cat, and the cat asks for boots. The boy works hard to buy his magical cat boots, and then the cat manipulates the king and his court to ultimately marry the princess to the miller’s son through a series of tricks.

As I said in the intro, the reason I watched this film in the first place, and the thing that kept me watching, was the fact that Christopher Walken prances around like a cat. And he sings. It’s horrible! The funny thing is that he actually pulls it off. Creepy, scary Christopher Walken is a tricky, sneaky, dancing, prancing, singing, bounce-in-his-step, cat personified. It’s comical. I would not recommend that anyone actually sit and watch this unless you are seriously in the mood for cheese. The songs are quite bad and the acting is atrocious. This is more of a film that you can bring up as a little known fact as cocktail parties, if anyone has those any more. I know you’re tempted, but seriously, don’t watch it.

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The Man (2005)

This is a nice, lighthearted comedy about dental supply salesman gets accidentally caught up in a cop’s scheme to catch gun traffickers. I was wary of this before seeing it because these kinds of police comedy plot lines get pretty repetitive and dull, but this one was alright.

Samuel L. Jackson plays the role of a cop who is trying bust a gun smuggler who’s in town. He sets up a meeting place to make a ‘deal’ with these guys, but when the gun lord’s lackey gets there,he mistakes Eugene Levy, the supply salesman who is in town for a convention, for the so- called ‘interested buyer’, and gives him the gun by mistake. Samuel L. Jackson then comes in and arrests/ forces Eugene Levy to help him capture these guys by pretending to want to buy these guns.

This isn’t a ground-breaking film, there are actually several other films just like it, but I really liked Eugene Levy’s character. There was something about that oblivious, innocent, ‘swell guy’ character and his out-of-place reactions to the criminal situation. It’s like bringing a grandmother to a rap concert or a skate park. Though this is neither Levy’s or Jackson’s best picture, they both bring sufficient talent so as to make the film watchable, but it’s also lighthearted enough for you to let your guard down and just veg comfortably.

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The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945)

This film is about a young priest named Father O’Malley who goes to be the resident pastor at Saint Mary’s school. The school is in disrepair and will have to be shut down unless a donor provides a new school. A wealthy business man is constructing a building next door, but alas, he wants to buy Saint Mary’s to build a parking lot. The sisters are very worried, and the new pastor seems to be in cahoots with this wealthy man. What will happen to Saint Mary’s?

I was really disappointed with this film. I was hearing these glowing reviews about a wholesome family film and what a classic this was… I couldn’t believe I was watching the same film. This film is slow-paced and dull. It also misrepresents the Catholic faith. There may be some who are hesitant to watch film about nuns of priests, and this is not my argument. There are actually several great films that are about or take place in a religious context, a prime example being The Trouble With Angels. No, this one just missed the mark for me. There’s a scene where a boy is getting bullied by one of the other students, and Father O’Malley is just looking on and even comments to Sister Superior that the boy is weak. Sister then trains the boy to box. This is so against the Catholic philosophy in so many ways that I cringed to watch it. A real Catholic priest would not condone fighting or bullying, and does not define manhood by who can hit harder. The Sister Superior actually did have the correct philosophy of peaceful resolution (kind of), but then changes her tune when she hears what the pastor had to say. It tries to hard to win the audience over, and cheapens the message as a result. If you don’t want to stick to the belief of a religion… don’t base a film in a religious setting featuring religious characters. It’s really quite simple. There were several other things that bothered me, but I’ll spare you.

The pacing, as I’ve mentioned, is quite slow. I almost stopped watching the film out of pure boredom and didn’t care if the school was torn down or what. Also, as you may well imagine, the school is not shut down because the wealthy business man next door has a miraculous change of heart after some mind games played by our number one pastor and gives them the building for the school. I just don’t feel that it was at all a plausible outcome. It’s a convenient ending to stop a mediocre film. Not worth the time.

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