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Entries in April Showers (50)

Sunday
Apr272014

April Showers: Midnight Express (1978)

Waterworks some nights at 11. This one is from the vaults from the first season. But it's worth a revisit as the film is currently available on Netflix Instant Watch.


I've always been a little bit a lot perplexed by the famous shower scene in Alan Parker's Midnight Express (1978). I'm not exactly sure why it's in the movie. Midnight Express strongest asset is arguably its expressive physicality and gritty tactile quality; you feel like you're right there in the grotty hellish Turkish prison, sweating and suffering along with Billy Hayes (Brad Davis). But the sexual vibes coming off of the movie are at times unfathomable. Is it gay? Is it bi? Is it straight? Is it just horny? Or is its ambiguous eroticism simply a by-product of casting a star as carnally charismatic as Brad Davis in the lead role?

As warm up to the famous shower scene we get a montage detailing the friendship of Billy and Erich (Norbert Weisser) a fellow prisoner. They've been in this hellhole for years. We see them do yoga togethe and bathe each other. They even duet on a private meditation mantra...

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Wednesday
Apr232014

April Showers: Éponine in Les Misérables

waterworks at 11. here's abstew on Les Miz...

Ever since the musical version of Victor Hugo's sprawling novel hit the boards, Éponine, the tragic waif whose love for her friend Marius goes unreciprocated, has always been a fan favorite. Her storyline in the musical is definitely the most relatable. I don't know about you, but I've never had to turn to prostitution to support my young child or served a 20 year prison sentence for stealing a loaf of bread. But being in love with someone that doesn't have the same feelings for you? Yeah, we've all been there. And this patron saint of unrequited love's anthem "On My Own" has become the rallying cry of broken-hearted teenage girls (and gay boys) for decades now.

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Monday
Apr212014

April Showers: The Piano

The evening waterworks continue. Here's Andrew on a particularly gloomy shower.

The Piano is a moody movie. Moody as in unpredictable and volatile, and moody as in suggesting melancholy and mystery. Even before the story really gets underway the film's atmosphere is one of unease. And it's because it's not just the story that's moody but visually, too. As Stuart Dryburgh's camera observes the rough, muddy ranches of New Zealand the harsh exteremities of the terrain seem to be not just incidental but direct representations of the similarly implacable characters.

This is but one of the numerous ways in which the Gothic influence on The Piano shines through, where landscape informs elements of plot and characters. The Piano checks off a number of the prerequisites for Gothic drama: impulsive, sometimes tyrannical men, women in distress, heightened emotion, a mysterious atmosphere, a somewhat isolated locale, stormy weather and muddy terrains. 

Of the influence of the Gothic in the film, Jane confesses...

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Friday
Apr182014

April Showers: Thelma & Louise

waterworks all month long... this one's from the vaults

Tonight's shower is provided by mother nature rather than traditional indoor plumbing. That's appropriate since Thelma & Louise (1991) is elemental: all wide open spaces, blazing sun, dusty earth and women as hard driving forces of nature.

While the film belongs to Susan Sarandon's Louise, Geena Davis's Thelma is the maddening/adorable one. Among her many exasperating yet endearing qualities is her uninhibited horniness for one J.D. (early Brad Pitt). In the still above, Louise has booted the caddish hitchhiker out of their car since the friends are getting hotel rooms for the night. J.D. struts away into the rain shower, fully confident that Thelma's eyes are still on him. He even kicks up a boot heel, a private little show for her, as the car drives away.

There he goes. I love watching him go.

Wrangler butts drive her nuts... or something.

 

If you've seen more than two or three movies in your lifetime you'll know that this lustfully observed exit will not be J.D.'s exit from the movie. But Thelma apparently hasn't seen so many movies. She's surprised (and thrilled) when he comes a'knocking on her hotel room door later that same night.

J.D. is such a skilled charmer that the outcome of his neighborly call is never in doubt. The aw shucks grin is ease itself. He even knows just how to pose in the pouring rain so that the water runs, just so, off his cowboy hat. This 'I'll get out of your hair now' wet puppy act is all pretense. He's no puppy but a dog. He knows he's getting out of the rain. He knows he's getting into her bed.

Do you remember the first time you saw Brad Pitt in a movie? This was mine. 
 

Wednesday
Apr162014

April Showers: Pulp Fiction

the waterworks continue

Will you give me oral pleasure?

I was casually skimming through Pulp Fiction the other day and watched scenes from the Bruce Willis portion. It's the storyline that's easiest to forget since it feels less energized by Tarantino's then shockingly fresh auteurial voice and rapid pop-culture infused dialogue and more like a general riff on cliché movie tropes (the boxer who won't take a fall, an antihero on the run, etcetera)... well at least until The Gimp shows up. But watching it again, I was reminded that Quentin Tarantino's movies used to be more firmly rooted in accessible humanity. We didn't know it at the time of course because his work was then so "new" and stylized that it didn't feel intimate in the way the movies have taught us to expect. But post-Jackie Brown his work became increasingly cartoonish (this is not always a bad thing: I sometimes think Kill Bill Vol 1 is his best film) and though his characters are still deeply memorable they're more like "characters" than people...

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Monday
Apr142014

April Showers: Like Crazy

waterworks continue most nights at 11. Here's abstew on Like Crazy

When Like Crazy played at Sundance in 2011, it became an instant hit. It even managed to win both the Grand Jury Prize for Drama and a Special Jury Prize in acting for star Felicity Jones. So it seemed natural that the film would follow in the Oscar-nominated footsteps of fellow Sundance award winners Precious and An Education and translate that success into some Oscar love of its own. If anything, certainly the film would've been the kind of star-is-born breakout for Felicity Jones in the same way Carey Mulligan had experienced 2 years previously. (And discussed recently in another edition of April Showers.) But when it was released in theatres later that year, the love it found in Sundance just never caught on in the same way for audiences or critics. And it seems the only breakout star to come from the film is Jennifer Lawrence in the small part of the other girl. She may not have gotten the man, but I'd said she's doing perfectly fine. [more...]

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Saturday
Apr122014

April Showers/Stage Door: "Heathers"

Multi-tasking this evening with a bifurcated trip back to Heathers. As previously noted, the film just celebrated its 25th anniversary and hasn't lost its bark (so quotable, so confident) or bite (so daring, so dark). A musical adaptation of the high school classic is also playing Off Broadway at the moment but we'll get to that in a minute. Let's start with the waterworks...

[Major 25 year old spoilers are ahead]

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