21st century girl

reviews – my way.

Month: August, 2017

The Ghost and Mrs Muir (1947)

‘And memories. I have those, you know. Even if it was a dream’

The Ghost and Mrs Muir is about a newly widowed woman named Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney) who moves with her daughter Anna to a seaside cottage that was previously owned by a sea captain named Captain Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison), who haunts the house. It also stars Natalie Wood as the young Anna Muir, Robert Coote and George Sanders.

Until recently, I had last watched the film when I was a lot younger so I only remembered bits of it (mostly the Rex Harrison scenes and the ending). Likewise, the film provoked my ongoing interest in old, usually classic movies. I also happened to notice, that Rex Harrison’s character stands in the background to give a ghostly prescence, almost to show a sense of belonging that he lived in the house before her, and it’s on a metaphorical scale of either watching over her or guarding his house even though the character had died. He was also originally introduced by a cackling laugh and his shadow to emphasise his presence. He brought a great deal of charisma and charm to his character. Perhaps the light focused only on his eyes in the painting when she opens the door in an early scene shows a sense that she is being watched.

I think that there is a sense of beauty in old movies, perhaps a lost art. I particularly liked the shots of the tide coming in on a stormy day, and the medium close ups of the main characters faces to show expression. I also like how there is next to no successful romantic plot line as Mrs Muir’s suitor Miles ‘Uncle Neddy’ Fairley only led her on only for his wife to reveal to her that he is in fact married with a few children. What I gathered is that it isn’t the first time that he had an affair. There is a huge contrast between Captain Gregg and Miles Fairley. Captain Gregg is foul mouthed but also rather charming (in a good way) and Miles Fairley is a charming yet rather manipulative (excuse my swearing) bastard as he knew how to charm Mrs Muir but not in a good way, but she eventually learns the error of her ways.

This film gives me a great deal of nostalgia from when I watched it when I was younger. Of course, times have changed since the film was originally released so some of the dialogue hasn’t aged very well but the film is still bittersweet all the same. I also think that Rex Harrison is an incredibly theatrical actor and his voice is very distinguished. At one point, he was one of my favourite actors, and I’ve also seen him in other films such as My Fair Lady. As for Gene Tierney, I had previously seen her in Dragonwyck so I thought she was a brilliant actress for her time. I personally find that this is one of the best ghost movies around. Nearly all of the other ones are too sappy or awful or cheesy.

It’s only now that the ending to the film has moved me to tears on a personal level as my sisters refer to the ending to help me manage with the fact that my widowed grandmother is dying. I think it’s the fact that Rex Harrison’s character says ‘You’ll never be tired again. Come now,’ then Mrs Muir stands up and she’s young again. That’s what hit me emotionally.

Overall, a visually beautiful and classic old film with beautiful music that makes the movie seem timeless, even for modern, impressionable audiences.

5/5

The art of racing in the rain by Garth Stein

‘The car goes where the eyes go’ 

It is a well known fact that apparently a dog is a man’s best friend. Gareth’s Stein’s ‘The art of racing in the rain’ proves that. The book follows the story of a family, a man named Denny, his wife Eve and their daughter Zoe, but it is told from the point of view of their loyal dog Enzo.

My sister recommended it to me as there was a period of time where I didn’t have anything interesting to read. As I have a interest in dogs (though I haven’t owned one since I was thirteen), I reluctantly gave this book a read. I rarely ever put the book down, and ended up finishing it in a day. The author links the relationship between a human compassion towards a dog and a dog’s loyalty towards its owner. Never before has a book made me laugh and cry at the same time as much as this book did. In the last twenty pages of the book, I was in floods. You could just imagine the dog getting older, and it only hit me emotionally as we have a different kind of connection with dogs than we do with humans. In some ways, this book is like a more grown up and better version of Marley and Me. I would definitely reread The art of racing in the rain.

I like how the author connects racing and dogs and humans together, as Enzo the dog had an interest in watching the racing. I especially like how it’s from the dog’s perspective, as we often think that dogs don’t understand, when really, they do. They just don’t know how to speak. Luckily, the author gives the loveable dog a voice and a family, and towards the end of the dog’s life, he sees the limitations of being a dog and wishes to be a human. I think that was rather sweet.

I would highly recommend this book if you love dogs and want something different and interesting to read.

4.5/5

Fatal Attraction (1987)

‘I’m not going to be ignored, Dan,’ 

Fatal Attraction is a film about a happily married man named Dan (Micheal Douglas) who has a one night stand with a book editor named Alex Forrest (Glenn Close), but things start to get worse when Alex Forrest gets obsessive and stalks him and his family.

I had heard about this film long before I got round to watching it, and I was aware that the term ‘bunny boiler’ had been inspired by this film. I was also aware that it was rather controversial for its time.

Likewise, I think that it’s not the best film that I’ve seen, but it’s also not the worst. Glenn Close plays an incredible female villain, and one evil smile from her scared me entirely even before she spoke. I had seen her in 101 and 102 Dalmatians before, so it came to no surprise to me that she plays a brilliant female villain. I certainly won’t be going near rabbits, roller coasters, baths or knives any time soon. As for Micheal Douglas’ character, he was rather vulnerable in his position and she knew that so she emotionally manipulated him. He also played the part of Dan very well. Either way, none of the characters are straight up ‘good people’. Not even the daughter. The children in the film are used as metaphorical weapons rather than actual people.

It is a general observation that this could in fact be comparitable to the Alfred Hitchcock film ‘The Birds’ in the fact that something is always getting in the way of the traditional family unit. If I recall, there is one scene in the birds when the least significant character is pushed towards the back of the room and the traditional family is pushed towards the camera. It can also be applied to this film, as Alex Forrest is looking in from the outside, denied of a happy family while also not being part of his family at all, which could also be elaborated on as there is a black bar between Micheal Douglas’ character and his wife and daughter, showing that the affair had destroyed the family unit. The fact that in some scenes, there are no other sounds other than the phone ringing shows how she is constantly plaguing him. I should also add that the rabbit in the cage is a metaphor for him as Dan feels like he’s in a cage and domestic space, which is usually a comfort, is now his trap. The parallel shots of the daughter running and the mother approaching the pan with the boiled rabbit in it provokes a reaction from the viewer to really show how evil Alex Forrest actually was. The film is not afraid to toy with your fear of heights or water, and uses effective camera angles to do so. The director generally uses a lot of parallel shots and faced paced music in the film to build tension and build up that turns out to be scarier than the film itself.

Anyway, it’s a film that takes me by surprise, but it’s not within my top 5 or 10. It would be a good film to look at from a psychological point of view or if you wanted to look at the role of female villains in fiction. The character of Alex Forrest is what we would now call a ‘psychotic ex’.

3.5/5

 

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (film)

‘I’m Abe Portman’s grandson! Please, don’t crap on us!’ 

Tim Burton directs Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar children, a film based on the book of the same name by Ransom Riggs, and it follows the story of a boy named Jake Portman (Asa Butterfield) who discovers clues left by his grandfather Abe (Terence Stamp) which leads the former to a mysterious house for children with special powers, run by a woman named Miss Peregrine (Eva Green). The house also happened to be stuck in a 1940s time loop. It also stars Ella Purnell as Emma, Chris O’Dowd as Jake’s father, Samuel L. Jackson, Judi Dench and Rupert Everett.

I had read the book before watching the film, so I knew what to expect. If I remember, the book combines elements of fantasy with real photographs so there were two major elements of story telling involved. Despite the film’s faults, such as swapping round Emma’s pelicularity of fire in the book to controlling air in the film with another fellow character Olive’s fire power in the film, the film itself turned out rather well and it was in fact better than I expected.

Visually, it was beautiful and incredibly Burtonesque. His rather gothic way of storytelling proves to be a success in adapting a wonderful book into a better than average film with so many unpredictable moments. I have been watching nearly every Asa Butterfield film that he’s done since before he did The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (though I started to get interested in him when I watched said film) and I read the original Miss Peregrine book knowing that Asa Butterfield was going to play the lead boy in the film. He has done incredibly well for himself as a young actor and I yearn to watch some more of his films. As for Eva Green, she was brilliant as Miss Peregrine, and she described herself as an alternative Mary Poppins who combined elements of masculinity and femininity (the masculine being that she smokes a pipe and pipes are commonly associated with people like Sherlock Holmes).

I think it would be a great inconvenience to everyone if you had a peculiarity like the character of Hugh in the film, who can have swarms of bees flying out of his mouth, and that power would only prove to be handy if you had a worst enemy who happened to be allergic to bees. I think that it’s also quite cool that Miss Peregrine has the power to turn into a bird. FilmIf I could have any power from anyone in the film, I would probably have Jake’s power of seeing things that other people can’t see. I found it quite cool how there were time loops involved so the children stayed as children but of course left the loop by the end of the film.

The film and the book (the latter of which, may I add, is part of a 3-book series) combines elements of fantasy and magical realism, two of my favourite genres.

Overall, a splendid, fantasy film that proves to be fun (and a little scary) to people of all ages. A must see, especially if you like Tim Burton. The film teaches that it is alright to be even a little peculiar.

4/5