cjorgensen-3

IMDb member since September 2008
    Lifetime Total
    5+
    IMDb Member
    12 years

Reviews

Brave
(2012)

Disappointed
I love The Incredibles, Up, Shrek, Toy Story, Monsters Inc., Despicable Me and Megeaman. I thought I was going to see something that amazing, but with a female protagonist. But no. It was the same old Disney princess movie: a princess having problems about who she is or is not going to marry. We saw that in Snow White, Seeping Beauty, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid. Apparently, that all females ever do: fret about who they are going to marry.

Spoiler alert.

The movie starts out great: funny characters, great scenery, Scottish accents, and a promising protagonist. I'm sucked in and expecting something amazing and interesting, like the other Pixar movies. Then, of course, since it is the Dark Ages (and Disney, not "really" Pixar), the hand of the princess will be the prize in a contest. Been there, done that. Of course she doesn't want that, so she runs away and finds a witch and asks the witch to change her . . . her . . . fate? Like the trailers said? No. She wants to change her MOM. The princess does not want to grow and mature, she want's mom to quit bugging her. Mom has done everything she can to give the princess a wonderful life and educate and prepare her for a life of queen-ship. But that's not what the princess wants. The princess wants – what? She really has no viable alternative. It's not like she can go and get a career. The movie implies that if she gets married, she can't ride her horse or shoot her bow any more. Why not? So they parade out the three husband candidates and of course, even though they are the sons of great chieftains, they are all worthless. Predictable, boring plot. What if one of them was handsome, charming, and a good archer, then she might not have minded getting married and we could have seen the wedding in 3D.

Back to the witch. Well, the witch only knows ONE spell: change it into a bear. That's a big help. The last person who bucked conformity and wanted to do his own thing, he got changed into a wild, destructive bear too. Is that one of the lessons in this movie? Conform or you will become a wild, destructive, shunned animal? When her mother eats the magic cake and begins to feel sick, all the princess can think about is if she still has to get married. What if the magic cake killed her mom? The princess doesn't seem too worried. Is this one of the lessons of the movie? If your parents are trying to do the very best for you, and it's cramping your style, just drug them to get them off your back. After mom turns into a bear, there was no plot any more. It was just running around like Bugs, Daffy and Elmer in the forest and the castle until it was time for the movie to end. BORING.

Then there was the big speech the princess gave in the banquet room about "Can't we all just get along?" What was that about? Everyone was partying and getting along just fine. Lame.

So the princess cries and tells mom that she's sorry (of course she is now that everything's a mess), and mom turns back into a person. But who has the character arc? Not the princess. The princess still does not want to get married. MOM is the one who changes, and she had better! After all, she knows that if she leans too hard on her daughter to do what's best, the daughter will drug her. So is that the lesson in the movie? Don't pressure your kids to do what you know is best for them, or they could get punitive. So mom caves in and says the young people can chose by falling in love. There's a ground-breaking moral. News flash: western women have not been getting betrothed for centuries.

And why did they call the movie "Brave". The Princess didn't do anything brave in the whole movie. In fact, she had a hissy fit, ran from her responsibilities, and turned to drugs to solve the problems.

I don't care if it was 6 years in the making, or how amazing the 3D effects were: the story was a dud.

Hester Street
(1975)

I was convinced that this was an old movie.
I caught this on TCM one night. I thought it was an old movie. I was convinced by the sets and costumes, that this was a least filmed in the 30's, but supposed be taking place at the turn of the century. I am not an expert, but I love history-of-fashion books, and I was convinced by the hairstyles and fashions that this was made by people who clearly remembered this time. Only at the end, when the credits rolled, did I realize it was made 100 years after the story supposedly took place.

Other reviews have elaborated on the basic plot, so I will skip that. I saw it as a drama: comparing those who embrace assimilation into America (Jake and his friends) and those who cling to the "old ways" because it is familiar and comfortable. The story takes place in the Jewish part of town, so there are both kinds of Jews in the area. Jake dresses like an American, and proclaims that he is a Yankee now. He even renames his son "Joey", because the son's real name is too old-fashioned and old-country. His wife, Gitl, is very uncomfortable with American ways: they way they dress, and particularly, to be seen – a married woman - in public with her own hair, like a gentile. Her husband is embarrassed by Gitl puts pressure on her to be like American women: to dress up, look pretty and wear hear hair out (like his mistress), but when she tries to be an American woman, it really isn't what he wants. He wants the mistress.

In the mean time, Jake and Gitl have a boarder: Mr. Bernstein. He also clings to the old ways, hiding from everyone in his religious books. Jake teaches Joey baseball, Mr. Bernstein teaches Joey Hebrew. Mr. Bernstein is shy, just like Gitl, and you can see, they would make a much better couple. When Jake and Gitl are officially separated, Gitl tricks Mr. Bernstein into proposing. That was my favorite part.

At the very, very end, when Gitl and Mr. Bernstein are in the market together, with her son, someone asks his name. She says, "Joey". She has taken a small step towards assimilation, a small step towards leaving the old country and becoming an American.

I wondered how the director found such a sweet, quiet, shy, naïve, innocent, timid, reserved young girl to actually be on camera and play Gitl. I was convinced that her real personality was exactly what I saw on the screen. When I saw she was played by Carol Kane, I could not believe this was the same loud, zany woman who was the Ghost of Christmas Present on Scrooged.

Dà hóng denglong gaogao guà
(1991)

OMG: Scary like Hitchcock: a slow terror that creeps up.
I saw this only once when I was a young woman. I found it riveting and terrifying.

I am not going to try to repeat what everyone else said, but I want to say something else.

When I reflected on the movie, I thought about the order of the marriages. The first wife was the master's same age. She must have been a beautiful local girl at them time of her wedding, but nothing "special". Now she is an old woman resigned to eternally live in the shadows. She tries to make the best of her situation. She has no illusions about how things are, unlike her replacement sisters who are still vying for "love" from the master. Wife #1 seems aloof, but she knows the rules and she bids her time, like a cat. When she gets her chance to strike, she does not hesitate to kill.

The second wife was younger, a cute, chubby face, and always laughing. She must have been a young, fun, exciting diversion from the first wife when he married her. But eventually, he got bored with her and moved on.

The next wife was a famous opera singer. The master must have grown rich by the time he married her; and she was glamorous, exotic, sought after and talented. Who wouldn't want to marry a star? He must have convinced her that since she was marrying a rich man, and she was so admired, that he would "love" her forever. Then he married her and put his new jewel in a box, only to be played with when he felt like it.

Now comes our protagonist: very young, very beautiful and educated. She is not in love, but only in it for the financial reasons room and board. Her stepmother took her dreams of an independent life and turned her into a whore. The master said something about an "educated woman being different". Apparently, with each wife, he was always looking for something new and different. But the bottom line is this: she is just another sex object for him. I remember first wife said, "How old are you? 19? Such sins". She knows her husband is just a selfish, sex-crazed, dirty old man.

And then there is the slave girl: why bother MARRYING her when . . . .

At the end of the movie: Wife #5: a child. Now I know why #1 said, "Such sins". How will this child survive in this deadly house? I recommended this movie.

Scrooged
(1988)

A bit slow-paced, but super-happy ending.
I saw this on TV one night. It's a children's movie from the '80's, so they pace is a bit slow. (There is some mild language in it though, so I wouldn't let the VERY young kids see it.) The plot is sort of "Network meets A Christmas Carol". Bill Murry, TV producer is a selfish workaholic who will do anything to up the ratings for his station, including incorporating sexy dance numbers and violent explosions in their production of "A Christmas Carol". He makes everyone work producing a live Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve, so no one gets to spend Christmas Eve with their families.

Bill Murry must be a really nice guy, because I did not think he was a convincing meany at all. But it's a kids movie, so that's okay. Bill's character's name is Frank Xavior Cross. At one time, there is a definition of "Cross" posted in the background as "Something you nail people to". Xavior is Latin for Savior, and Frank means "honest", so I liked this subtle reference to Christ in the movie.

There are references to things in the '80's. Bill Murry has a mullet haircut at one point. He drinks Bacardi with Tab. He has a vision of a man on fire and he mentions Richard Pryor. They show a film clip that has a "drive-by shooting". The thrill of Ginsu knives. Reference to Chernobyl. Mary Lou Rhetton is also in the movie.

One of the best parts is the Ghost of Christmas Present. Carol Kane is dressed like a frothy pink fairy princess, and she imitates the sweet, trilling voice of Glenda the Good Witch of the North, but she constantly bops, pokes and tweaks Bill Murry every chance she gets, like Moe of the Three Stooges.

The ending was my favorite part: super feel-good ending. Bill talks to everyone, including the viewing audience about being nice, kind and wonderful; about being the kind of person that you know you should be. Everyone bursts into song and Bill looks right at the camera and encourages us to sing along! Wonderful!

Laila
(1929)

A love story set in another time and place.
I caught the second half of this move late at night on TCM. I really enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the Lapp people and their folk costumes. The vistas behind the actors was breathtaking. I also enjoyed watching how integral the reindeer was in their culture. They reindeer pulled the sleds and pulled the people on skies. They showed the dwellings of the Lapp people and a traditional wedding. I live in Southern California, so I have never seen anything like this. Most exciting was knowing that nothing was computer-generated like today. It was a wonderful glimpse into the past. The plot, though a little thin and a bit predicable compared to today's films, was still interesting and moved quickly enough to keep interest.

Matilda
(1996)

I don't know how I missed this movie all my life.
This happened to come on the TV.

Matilda is the most perfect, cutest, smartest, kindest little girl in the world. Her parents are the most low-class, self-absorbed, stupidest parents in the world. Matilda goes to school with the most evil principal in the world. The principal hates children, and like a boogy-man is always trying to scare them and hurt them. But this is a children's movie, so no one actually gets hurt. The teacher is the most beautiful, sweetest, kindest, understanding and wonderful teacher in the world (on the blackboard the Word of the Day is "Butterfly".) All the classmates are sweet and cute: the only bully in the school is the principal.

Everyone is afraid of the principal, even the teacher, but not Matilda. She has already mastered dealing with her evil parents, so it's just a matter of finding the principal's weak spot. There are some scary chase scenes, but everyone escapes the principal's clutches safely. Matilda is smart and brave, and is able to finally overthrow the tyranny of the evil principal.

In the end, the good end well, and the bad end badly, ("which is why it is called fiction".) Like everything else in the movie, it is the most happiest ending in the world.

Heartland
(1979)

Not Hollywood Gloss
I saw this 25 years ago on PBS. It was very difficult to watch. So real. To watch this small family struggle in the winter was heart rending. No time for courting: fate has thrown us together and we put our shoulders to the grindstone and make it work. This was based on the woman's actual diary, which I read many years later. She said in her diary that her parents died when she was little and all their bothers and sisters had to work the farm to feed themselves. She learned to mow, which was not lady-like. She was afraid that no prince charming would want a woman with sun-browned, calloused hands, but this husband was so happy that his new wife knew how to mow, and she was happy to do it. Both were widowed and together they worked to build a new home. It was so, so sad when the baby died. Of course, if they had it today, I am sure it would have been fine. That only makes the tragedy extra sad. I was crying so hard. But then they went out and successfully pulled out a new calf. Spring is on its way, and life goes on. In her diary, she did have two more boys and they lived.

Dragnet
(1987)

A little fairy tale romance tucked in here too
I suspect when they were writing this movie, they watched the old Dragnet series to reacquaint themselves with the feel of the show. They must have said, "Friday doesn't have a sexual molecule in his body! Well we have to fix that. What kind of a woman would Friday be interested in? Well, she would have to be perfect and sinless".

So they created a pure virgin in a wedding dress (from Orange County), about to be sacrificed to pagans, and must be rescued! How perfect. Plus she lives in a pink house with a white picket fence. She is everything "do-right" Friday would want. Just as Friday was contrasted with his wild partner, the Virgin Connie was a different kind of dream girl than the pin-up girls at the sex-mansion. Something for everyrone.

Shenandoah
(1965)

Why wasn't this given an Oscar for best movie?
I first saw this as a young teenager when I was babysitting. I could care less about Westerns and had no idea who Jimmy Stewart was. It was the only thing on TV late at night so I watched it by default. It was not a shoot-'em-up. I was so moved by the story of this family. They were old fashioned people: God-fearing and people of integrity. I constantly had tears in my eyes and lumps in my throat through the sorrows and the touching reunions in movie. The ending was so sad . . . such a waste of effort, so much death, and all for nothing . . . until . . . and I was crying again. These guys can really wring it out of you.

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