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Entries in May Flowers (22)

Wednesday
May252011

May Flowers: Eyes Without a Face (1960)

Robert G from Sketchy Details here. I'm drawn to the beautiful imagery hidden in horror films. There's something intriguing about the dissonance between something so beautiful in the middle of an otherwise disturbing feature. 

Eyes Without a Face is one of the more aggressive horror films from the Black & White era. The entire film concerns a doctor trying to restore his daughter's beauty after a car accident severely burned her face. He goes so far as to fake her death after a failed medical experiment to better control his wandering child.

Even with the graphic imagery and grave subject matter, Eyes Without a Face is ultimately a film about hope and the attempt to renew a young life. This is made quite clear in the funeral scene.

After all the guests have left, Dr. Genessier and his assistant Louise are left to tend to the large quantity of flowers left at the grave. The arrangements are traditional--white lilies--but seem unnaturally bright and alive against the foggy background.

Where Dr. Genessier is unwavering in his plans, Louisa is losing faith. She's the one who always has to clean up his mistakes. She loses her composure in the Genessier family tomb against a wall of perfectly white daisies. 

A slap across the face is all it takes to bring Louisa back to reality. Her patient, Genessier's daughter, deserves a chance to be beautiful again, just like the flowers at her staged funeral. 

Tuesday
May242011

May Flowers: Beauty & The Beast (1991)

may flowers

Under the heading of Better Late Than Never, let's take a look at Disney's classic Beauty & The Beast (1991). We ... or I should say you... covered it previously in the Hit Me With Your Best Shot series. I stumbled and fell down its gothic mansion steps, completely missing that spinning gala ball. (You know the one: Angela Lansbury sang the theme song in the background.) The related truth of the matter is that Belle isn't so punctual herself. She arrives at basically the last possible moment to rescue The Beast from the ancient curse. If he doesn't find true requited love before his magic flower loses its last petal, he remains a beast forever.

Halfway through the movie, Belle, against her captor's wishes, heads into the forbidden West Wing where she sees two distorted images. The first is her own face fractured into a half a dozen pieces in a broken mirror. The second is a portrait of The Beast, in his original form as the Handsome Prince Not-So Charming; hence, the curse.

 
In these two closely related nearly consecutive images, her beauty is momentarily as ravaged as his. It's a smart visual foreshadowing that they're actually soul mates, though neither of them know that yet. Belle does not jump in fear when she sees her own face splintered as many people do when surprised by a discomfiting reflection. Her curiousity is always engaged, proving a far more defining character trait of this particular heroine than fear. (She's not, as we realize fairly in the narrative, your garden variety damsel in distress.)

Moments later, distracted by a glow behind her, she finds the Beast's magical flower. In this riveting shot, my choice for the film's best as its gorgeously composed and marries color, character and narrative,  he leaps in to shield the flower from her curiousity. Curiousity may kill the cat, but the Beast is no feline; sure he's lion-like but this species is Hocusus Pocusus.

Do you realize what you could have done?

...he bellows, but are magical flowers, really that delicate? We're guessing no.

What he's really protecting is his own heart. It's the Beast and not the Beauty who is emotionally fragile. It's The Beast and not the Beauty who is emotionally rather than intellectually or physically driven, making Beauty & The Beast a wonderful twist on the traditional gender roles that Disney fairy tales spring from.

Pleasurable as that twist alone would be, the film is yet richer.

Allowing yourself to love and to be loved in return, something The Beast has yet to master, is neither a feminine nor a masculine challenge, but a human struggle. Beauty and The Beast has one of the best scores in animated musical history, but a Madonna song thrums in the background for me as the alternate and most descriptive soundtrack of The Beast's emotional journey.

You're so consumed with how much you get
You waste your time on hate and regret,
You're broken...
when you're hearts not open

Love is a bird, she needs to fly
Let all the hurt inside of you die
You're frozen...
when your hearts not open

Mmmm, if Belle can melt his heart. Mmmm, they'll never be apart.


BE OUR GUEST... AGAIN
If you missed the delicious group celebration, please visit these fine blogs which all sounded off on their favorite shots within the first animated feature to ever be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. The next episode of Hit Me With Your Best Shot will be on June 1st @ 9 PM EST when we celebrate the tenth anniversary of MOULIN ROUGE!

Sunday
May152011

May Flowers: 'The Hours'

Kurt here from Your Movie Buddy. In an intro to cinema studies course, my peers and I were tasked to select and present a three- to five- minute segment from a film for a collegiate show and tell. The terms: choose something that features effective editing and/or noteworthy use of music. With the field so finely narrowed (sarcasm), my mind went...everywhere. Rather than drive myself nuts, I opted for the opening credits sequence of a movie I always feel like I've seen recently: The Hours.

This remains one of my very favorite movies of the aughts, and it's a fine specimen for Nat's "May Flowers" series. The brisk and beautiful introduction culminates with a trio of bouquets, but more on those in a bit. Guided by Phillip Glass's score (by turns elegant, chipper and paranoid), we wake up with three women, all of them linked by Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway. We have Virginia (Nicole Kidman), the writer; Laura (Julianne Moore), the reader; and Clarissa (Meryl Streep), the character (in a matter of speaking). The sequence sets the stage for the three ladies' storylines, which seem to run parallel, but are decades – and miles – apart.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
May112011

I Dream Of Dali

May Flowers In Bloom

JA from MNPP here. Today would've been the 107th birthday of the flower man-child seen above, Salvador Dali. While he's best known as a painter - the melting clocks, the over-abundance of inappropriately-placed eyeballs - he of course made several well-known and loved contributions to the cinema too. And no, not just that movie with Robert Pattinson doing the gay stuff uncomfortably. Where would we be without Un Chien Andalou's edit from a razor at a woman's face to a cloud slicing through a moon?

He and Luis Buñuel wrote that script in a cafe in 1929 while Buñuel directed; they would go on to work together on L’Âge d’Or the next year, where they supposedly had a falling out over some of the anti-clerical content in the film, which was an attack on religion and politics alike. And so a pattern was set - it seems every time Dali tried to jump into film-making, difficulties would follow. In 1945 he was brought on board the contentious set of Alfred Hitchcock's film Spellbound by producer David O. Selznick; Hitch and Selznick were not getting along. Hitch had nothing to do with its shooting at all, but Dali shot a twenty-minute dream sequence for the film. It eventually got edited down to under three minutes, and you can see it here.

It's easily the most interesting part of one of Hitch's least interesting films. Then in 1945 Dali and Walt Disney attempted to work together on an animated film called Destino, but budget concerns canned that effort before it even got off the ground. 17 seconds were made. That effort did have a somewhat happy ending though, because Roy Disney picked up the project 58 years later and finished it as best as they could using Dali's storyboards. It was released for the first time as an extra on the Fantasia BluRay just last year. You can watch it over here.

Monday
May092011

James Bond's Black Rose

Andreas here with today's May Flowers.

Look at my garden. Out there, there is a b-b-black rose. Not dark red, but black—as a raven's wing at midnight.

David Niven, as the first of many James Bonds in the mega-spoof Casino Royale (1967), manages a surprisingly sentimental moment as he gushes over his beloved, unique flower. It's his proudest possession, and a symbol of his self-imposed isolation. Unfortunately, the flower (and his home) are about to be destroyed, forcing him out into this frantic, incomprehensible mess of a movie.

Are you acquainted with the old Casino Royale and its bizarre sense of humor? Trying to describe it is like recounting a fever dream: Well, Orson Welles was there doing card tricks, and Peter O'Toole plays the bagpipe, and Woody Allen has a flying saucer, and most of the characters are 007. Now I'm not even sure it exists anymore...

Friday
May062011

Norma Shearer is Hungry

may flowers bloom each afternoon

I don't understand this photo at all. Is The First Lady of MGM about to eat a big plate full of Magnolia?


.... bon appetit?

Be careful of that froggy aftertaste.

My film brain works funny. Do you ever watch old movie stars and wonder which kind of pictures they would have thrived in today? Or whether they would have thrived at all if they were working in the now? Which old timey Hollywood giants would work inside a P.T. Anderson picture for example: Barbara Stanwyck and Fredric March maybe?