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The Drop Heard Around the World: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and consequences in superhero movies

 

Warning: This piece discusses plot points from The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. There will be spoilers, read ahead at your own risk.

I think, all in all, it’s safe to say that the modern superhero movie has something of an aversion to consequences. This could be for a host of reasons, like just how much they can get away with showing in movies that will typically be, if you’ll forgive the Americanization, PG-13 rated. Another, perhaps more pertinent reason could be just how franchise-minded superhero movies have become in the wake of the first Iron Man film and the now infamous post-credits sequence where Nick Fury wants to talk to Tony about “the Avenger Initiative”. Marvel recently announced that they have plans for cinematic ventures spanning into the next decade, so, if you’re planning that far into the future, can you really afford to kill off major characters and have them stay dead? Probably not. The most ridiculous example of this is probably in The Avengers when Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson is run through and killed by Loki. To my knowledge – I don’t watch Agents of SHIELD, the TV series he was revived to participate in – his miraculous survival is yet to be explained, although, explanation or not, it does show a rather clear preference for what I suppose could be called the good of the franchise as opposed to long term impacts on the shared universe that these characters occupy.

This aversion to killing off major characters appears again in the latest of Captain America’s outings, The Winter Soldier. Within the first act – if you could call it that, given the film’s rather haphazardly episodic structure – Nick Fury is shot and killed in Steve Rogers’ apartment by the eponymous villain. One would think that this not only sets up a compelling motivation for Cap to catch the Winter Soldier (which it does), but also create emotional resonance for the characters (the Black Widow watching his surgery and eventual/alleged death is among one of the finest acted scenes in a Marvel film) and ripple effects for the rest of the characters, the ones who don’t feature in this particular feature. Alas, this is not the case; after many half-missions and escapes, Cap and the Black Widow are reunited with a splinter group of SHIELD agents who were aware of Hydra’s presence, and Agent Hill says that they’ll “want to see him first.” Lo and behold, Nick Fury has survived. Needless to say, I was far from impressed and couldn’t but ask why they didn’t let him stay dead, and of course I’ve mentioned the good of the franchise and actor contracts and the like, but still, it can’t help but feel like a slightly cheap move to create interesting drama and character development only to have it utterly invalidated an hour later, it’s a cop-out that almost reaches the abhorrent levels of Iron Man 3.

There is of course a rather clear exception to this rule, one that exists outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in a film that is deliberately, in everything from aesthetic to characterisation to the presentation of violence, darker and edgier than other films of its genre. That film is, of course, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Much has already been written on the “importance” of The Dark Knight as a film, people have discussed its “transcendence” of generic constraints, the way it made comic book adaptations “serious” and the like. But those decidedly broader strokes are not my focus here, that lies on a more singular event, both within the film itself and, I suppose, the whole cinematic superhero canon. Rachel, the woman who gives Bruce Wayne a reason to give up the cowl, is killed and, more importantly, stays dead; there is no dramatic third act reveal where miraculously survived and the two of them ride off to the sunset in the Batmobile. On the other side of this spectrum, even within Nolan;s own Bat trilogy, wherein Batman somehow, with no explanation given, survives a nuclear explosion. It, much like the non-deaths of Coulson and Fury, is what could charitably be called a cop-out, but this one is worse because it goes against the precedent set in the film that came before it.

This talk of precedent is where The Amazing Spider-Man 2 comes in. Now, first off, I’ll admit that this film has plenty of faults; it’s running time is unnecessarily inflated, it tries to juggle too many villains and plots (I mean, who really cares about Richard Parker?) and is tonally all over the place. However, in the film’s climactic sequence, all of those faults disappear as it goes against the precedent set by both the tonal lightness of the film that came before, but also Marvel’s cinematic tradition of not killing it’s characters. Now, I’ll admit that the Spider-Man films and Marvel Cinematic Universe films are produced by different companies, but that doesn’t make the departure from this norm any more shocking or satisfying. To put it bluntly, Gwen Stacy dies. In a strikingly faithful adaptation of a sequence from “The Night Gwen Stacy Died,” the Green Goblin (who, I feel the need to single out in terms of performance, simply because Dane Dehaan hijacks the film with his incendiary presence) throws her from a high place (in the comic she’s thrown into a river), and, in spite of Spidey’s best efforts, she dies in that way that everybody dies when they’re thrown from a high place, like Alan Rickman in Die Hard.

Given the way the death of Gwen Stacey impacts our friendly neighbourhood wall-crawler (until the still necessary sequel set-up that closes the movie), the question becomes, what’s next? – both for Spider-Man (as a character and film franchise) and comic adaptations in general. Given that perhaps the lightest in tone of all the major comic adaptations went so far as to kill it’s main female character, one can’t help but wonder if this is a step towards a brave new world where filmmakers aren’t afraid to kill their characters and have them stay dead. I suppose, in perhaps a rather morbid way, we can only hope.

 

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Five movies to salvage a bad day

I’ve just come back from a rehearsal for my first year production for one of my uni modules. It overran by about half an hour, and it’s safe to say that it was unproductive, and a bit of a disaster. So between that and needing to cram some final revision in for my exam (which is on Wednesday), it’s safe to say that today hasn’t been the best.

Fortunately, as I’m capable of doing with basically anything, there’s an answer for these woes in cinema, and there are many films that I watch that can put a slightly brighter slant onto bad moods, and bad days. So, if like me, you’re currently feeling a tad glum, take a couple of hours out to watch one of these movies, and hopefully you’ll be smiling broadly by the time the credits roll.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

I was introduced to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off by my mother, and the first time I watched it, I just adored it. The energy, the optimism, Matthew Broderick’s performance, of such charisma, and exuberance that you basically fall in love with him throughout the film.

Perhaps the best thing about Ferris… is that it shows, however ridiculously, between ‘save Ferris’ and the fantastic scene of Broderick singing on the float, that on a good day, a few people can accomplish an awful lot. It’s a film that never stops making me laugh and smile, and, no matter how many times I watch it, those final lines will always stick with me:

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.”

Manhattan Murder Mystery

I could have picked a lot of Woody Allen films for this list. Something like Bananas or Midnight in Paris really wouldn’t go amiss here. But the thing that Manhattan Murder Mystery has that really appeals, is that it seems that, throughout the film, the cast are having the time of their lives.

It’s the first time Allen and Keaton have collaborated together since Manhatan almost fifteen years earlier. And this is one of their few on-screen romances that doesn’t end with them splitting up. Once the movie ends, they’re both full of energy and it seems, even happier to be together than they were at the beginning.

From it’s almost constantly moving camera to its downright genius set pieces, like using an audition for a fake play and a tape recorder to ensnare a killer, Manhattan Murder Mystery knows exactly what it’s doing, and as a result is a parody of, deconstruction of, and love letter to the crime and noir movies of yesteryear.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Eddie Valiant and Roger Rabbit. Now there’s an odd couple if ever I saw one. A bit like Manhattan Murder MysteryWho Framed Roger Rabbit? toys with, parodies and de-constructs noir and crime conventions, and it does so with reckless abandon and glee.

A fantastic blend of animation and live-action, the humour is madcap to say the least, with frantic verbal gags, and ludicrous physical comedy thanks to the animated elements, it’s humour that manages to keep a viewer on their toes, no matter how many times you see it. And besides, how can a movie that has the only collaboration between Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse in it fail to put a smile on your face?

Some Like It Hot

Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon are a cross-dressing bromance for the ages here, and Marilyn Monroe gives a criminally underrated performance of charm, sexuality and depth.

Any film that’s about two musicians running from the mob in an all female band is likely to merit a smile from the viewer, but Some Like It Hot doesn’t stoop to exploiting that aspect for cheap or degrading laughs. What it manages to do is, in spite of its slightly wacky premise, is inject some genuine warmth into it. After all, who doesn’t recall those ending lines, “nobody’s perfect,” and not find themselves filled with joy?

Singin’ in the Rain

Every time I hear the title song of this classic musical, I will smile from ear to ear until it ends.

All of the films on this list have energy in abundance, but perhaps the one that does more than any other is Singin’ in the Rain. With it’s high-octane, downright brilliant choreography, it manages to inject some life into me even after days that make me want to rip my hair out. Gene Kelly is cool and charismatic with such ease you’re immediately drawn in. And across from him is Donald O’Connor as the.. Eccentric. shall we say, Cosmo. Between the uproariously funny ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’, and taking the instruction “Cosmo, call me a cab,” a little too literally, it’s impossible not to be uplifted by Cosmo, or by the film as a whole.

Also, it has ‘The Broadway Melody,’ one of the best pieces of choreography I’ve ever seen, either on stage or celluloid, and on its own is tempting to me to get a BluRay copy. If I’m not uplifted by Singin’ in the Rain, then something is seriously wrong.

 

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Casting the Classics – ‘Miss Julie’

August Strindberg’s naturalistic cornerstone, Miss Julie, is a play with which I’m rather intimately familiar at this point. I’ve studied it for an exam (which, incidentally, I have on Wednesday), and I went to see a production of it over the summer with my brother.

And so, I think I can cast it rather well really, and without further ado, here’s my cast for a cinematic adaptation of Miss Julie:

Allison Janney as Christine.

Christine is an interesting character. Maternal and selfless, but only up to a point, and when John plans to do something that she is convinced is nothing short of foolish and doomed to fail, she’s more than willing to speak out against it.

Janney’s shown the maternal, and perhaps more vicious side in The Help, and The West Wing proved that she’s a damn fine actress. Her performances show that she can carry through the various facets of the character.

Between that and the presence she brings to the screen in whatever role she’s given, it’s easy to see her coming across as slightly domineering, especially when playing across from John, who becomes gradually more emasculated as the play goes on.

Michael C. Hall as John

When discussing the idea of Janney as Christine, I touched on the idea of presence, and the natural gravitas Janney would bring to the role. Stage presence (or screen presence in this case) is important in Miss Julie, and is most important for the character of John.

The thing with John, is that since he’s constantly warring with Julie, his presence fluctuates, certainly more than hers does. There are times when he practically devours the stage with his presence, and others where, emasculated and afraid, he sinks into the background. Hall can do those things. His gravitas and presence alone in Dexter is enough to make him frightening and powerful, and in Six Feet Under, his presence and self-worth move together, as he ebbs and flows to and from the centre of the screen, to a cowering shadow of a man.

John is a character of dualities. He has power over Julie because he is male (Strindberg being historically misogynistic), but is less than her because of his lower social class. He is at once arrogant and emasculated, angry and cowardly. Michael C. Hall has shown in both his screen and stage work (in Cabaret, the Emcee is gradually chipped away at, until he is essentially a ghost of the extroverted, confident and charismatic enigma that he is at the beginning of the show), that he can not only play these two sides of a character, but that he can switch between them, practically on a whim.

Marion Cotillard as Miss Julie

Julie is a tough role to cast, certainly a little tougher than the other two. She’s more difficult to interpret, less of solid entity to grasp, especially given that she’s outgrown the “man hating half woman” that Strindberg describes her as.

Julie is less of a dual character than John, but is more a character of contradictions. Upper class father and lower class mother, repressed and sexual at once (in some productions, she is a virgin before sleeping with John, in spite of her sexualised manner). Cotillard can do these things, she can play an seemingly unaware ingénue, a woman who’s reality slowly dawns on her, who is almost forced to come to terms with the reality of her situation.

With a somewhat fragile appearance, but a commanding gravitas in front of the camera, Cotillard can effectively embody the contradiction that is Julie, and watching her perform the role would no doubt lead to a fierce and fascinating interpretation of the iconic theatrical aristocrat who falls, almost tragically, from grace.

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Five movies that get better with each viewing

There are some movies that you can’t watch just once. Movies that are like  Sometimes, a second viewing of a movie, or of anything, can completely change your perspective or reaction to it (to use a cinematic example, I liked The Squid and the Whale much more on second viewing, and for a TV example, I loved Dexter once I’d watched the first season a second time), or perhaps, the more you watch a film, you notice more things about, little subtleties and nuances, other interpretations. And sometimes there are films that you fall head over heels in love with and never tire of watching again and again and again. Here are five of those movies for me, that, with each new watch, something new emerges.

5 – Pulp Fiction (1994)

Number of viewings: 4.

Yes, I’ve only seen Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction four times (to my recollection), and there’s really nothing I can add to the discussion of it that hasn’t already been said countless times over. I do adore it, it’s one of my all time favourite movies, even though I’ve seen it a fairly minimal numbers of times.

But the thing with Pulp Fiction, is I tend to watch it with rather large gaps between each viewing. The last time I saw it was this February (it was showing on the big screen, so I felt compelled to go). And because there are gaps between my viewings of Pulp Fiction, every time I watch it, I get to fall in love with it all over again. Every time I see it, I get to smile at those one liners, howl with laughter at the fate of poor old Marvin, and be utterly gripped by the trials, tribulations and lives of the kaleidoscopic cast of characters that make up it’s multi-threaded narrative. That’s the true joy of coming back to great things after long gaps, you get to rediscover their wonders anew, and if anything, it can make you love these things even more.

4 – American Psycho (2000)

Number of viewings: 6.

First off, American Psycho is perhaps my favourite book that I’ve ever read, so of course, I am enamoured of the film, of the slick wit of the screenplay, the way the film interprets Patrick Bateman, and Christian Bale’s faultless performance as the psychotic wall-street man who will hopefully be placed in cinematic history as one of the great villains.

And American Psycho, being adapted from a divisive book (by the divisive Bret Easton Ellis), has lots of people loving or hating it based on how it adapts the source. There are those that loathe it for being lighter and more comic, and those that love it for giving it the substance the book (which many have called ‘pornographic’ and ‘misogynistic’) lacked.

For me though, it’s none of those things. I just think it’s a damn fine adaptation, and of course there are sections you’ll have to cut, but the essence of the source is there. And every time I watch it, that essence, the core of Ellis’ source material seems to come more to forefront. Ellis’ themes of detachment and apathy and self loathing take a step closer to the spotlight (I even wrote an essay about it). And that’s what makes American Psycho joyous upon rewatches, by seemingly allowing both the cornerstones of Ellis’ material, and the unique, nuanced version of Patrick projected onto the screen, seem more pronounced, it manages the downright paradoxical, and becomes better as both an adaptation, and a piece of cinema in it’s own right.

3 – Persona (1966)

Number of viewings: 10.

There was a week during the summer of 2012, where every day, at about one in the afternoon, I’d eat lunch, and watch Bergman’s Persona. As the math dictates, I’d seen it 3 times before then. The second viewing won me over to it, the third placed it in the back of my mind, and those seven, across that one week in summer, convinced me that Persona was a masterpiece.

It’s now one of my ten favourite films. And that’s because it’s cerebral, unique, and the performances are absolutely stellar. Each time I watched it, I came away with some new thoughts about it; I looked at the opening montage in a different way, considered the fever dream final act from different contexts and points of view. Each time I watched Persona, I also gained a little more admiration for Liv Ullman’s almost wordless performance as Elisabeth Volger.

Now, I hadn’t seen much silent cinema at the time of watching Persona those seven times (I’ve seen a fair share now – studying it for a part of my intro to film module), but what those rewatches of Persona managed to do, was convince me of not only the validity of silent acting in the 21st century, but also just how good silent acting can be. Ullman’s performance is magnetic and layered and enigmatic, and each gesture is important.

Some things take time, and my appreciation, and now outright adoration of Persona, was one of those things.

2 – Eraserhead (1977)

Number of viewings: 12.

I. LoveEraserheadBut you all knew that already.

There’s not a great deal I can say about Eraserhead that I haven’t said already. Every time I watch it I am given a creative boost, and am always a little overwhelmed by it. It deals with a scattershot of themes and potential interpretations, but each of them is given several weight.

And every time I watch it, I think of another way to interpret it, another theme that plays a role in the bizarre, nightmarish world of Henry Spencer. Eraserhead is a recurring dream, every time it’s experienced, it is considered in a totally new light.

1 – Manhattan (1979)

Number of viewings: 20+.

“Chapter one: he adored New York City.”

And so begins Woody Allen’s masterpiece, a film it appears I’ve spent over a day watching. This spree of rewatchings began when I was looking for things to watch while I was tired so that I could fall asleep. And it dawned on me, whenever I put Manhattan on, I didn’t fall asleep.

Of course, Manhattan is exactly gripping in the way something like The Silence of the Lambs or Drive is, but it simply held my attention, and led me through New York, showing me people who were flawed, engaging, and relate-able. It’s a fairly minimalist film, all things considered; by no means a laugh out loud comedy like Allen’s early work, or a movie that is full-on dramatic like Husbands & Wives, it expertly treads a line between humour and pathos, gradually etching out the humanity of its cast.

I don’t quite know what to say about Manhattan; it makes me laugh, it moves me, it stirs me in a way that is almost intangible (from Ike asking “what makes life worth living?” to the crescendo of ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ while he runs through the streets, something stirs in me, and I get chills). Yeah, I might have spent a day or so of my life watching a Woody Allen movie, but damn it, it’s a day well spent.

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100 Things the Movies Taught Me

A while ago, I saw a host of these posts popping up around the film blogging community and so, now I have the time on my hands, I figured I’d try my hand at it.

These quotes are things that I can relate to, find interesting or amusing, or that quite simply stuck with me.

1 – Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while… You might miss it. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

2 – Not everybody gets so corrupted. You gotta have a little faith in people. Manhattan

3 – Always be closing. Glengarry Glen Ross

4 – Nobody’s perfect. Some Like it Hot

5 – That’s why I can’t say enough times, whatever love you can get and give, whatever happiness you can filch or provide, every temporary measure of grace, whatever works. Whatever Works

6 – We’ll always have Paris. Casablanca

7 – Tomorrow is another day. Gone With the Wind

8 – All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. The Shining

9 – If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life. Casablanca
 

10 – If you’re good at something never do it for free. The Dark Knight

11 – I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me. The Departed

12 – Separation can be a terrifying thing. Dead Ringers

13 – I’m very sorry the government taxes their tips; that’s fucked up. That ain’t my fault. It would seem to me that waitresses are one of the many groups the government fucks in the ass on a regular basis. Reservoir Dogs

14 – This isn’t life, it’s just stuff. And it’s become more important to you than living. Well, honey, that’s just nuts. American Beauty

15 – Remember those posters that said, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”? Well, that’s true of every day but one – the day you die. American Beauty

16 – What if this is as good as it gets? As Good As It Gets

17 – I have a voice! The King’s Speech

18 – That’s how you’re gonna beat ’em. They keep underestimating you. Pulp Fiction

19 – And it’s time my luck changed. And it’s time something went right for me for a change. Julia

20 – We didn’t need words, we had faces. Sunset Boulevard
 

21 – Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. The Godfather: Part II

22 – Coffee’s for closers. Glengarry Glen Ross

23 – Live today as if it may become your last. Nine

24 – Nobody, no, nobody, is gonna rain on my parade. Funny Girl

25 – A relationship I think; is like a shark. It’s gotta keep moving forward, or it dies. Annie Hall

26 – I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody. On the Waterfront

27 – The only thing standing in your way, is you. Black Swan
 

28 – Unless you love, your life will flash by. The Tree of Life

29 –  I understand, all right. The hopeless dream of being – not seeming, but being. At every waking moment, alert. The gulf between what you are with others and what you are alone. The vertigo and the constant hunger to be exposed, to be seen through, perhaps even wiped out. Every inflection and every gesture a lie, every smile a grimace. Suicide? No, too vulgar. But you can refuse to move, refuse to talk, so that you don’t have to lie. You can shut yourself in. Then you needn’t play any parts or make wrong gestures. Or so you thought. But reality is diabolical. Your hiding place isn’t watertight. Life trickles in from the outside, and you’re forced to react. No one asks if it is true or false, if you’re genuine or just a sham. Such things matter only in the theatre, and hardly there either. I understand why you don’t speak, why you don’t move, why you’ve created a part for yourself out of apathy. I understand. I admire. You should go on with this part until it is played out, until it loses interest for you. Then you can leave it, just as you’ve left your other parts one by one. Persona

30 – Constantly talking isn’t necessarily communicating. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

31 – There are nearly thirteen million people in the world. None of those people is an extra. They’re all the leads of their own stories. They have to be given their due. Synechdoche, New York

32 – In this big game that we play, life, it’s not what you hope for, it’s not what you deserve, it’s what you take. Magnolia

33 – Happiness, where are you? I’ve searched so long for you. Happiness, what are you? I haven’t got a clue. Happiness, why do you have to stay… so far away… from me? Happiness

34 – I could take you somewhere. Shame

35 – Enjoy it while it lasts. Melancholia

36 – Schmucks are people too. Something’s Gotta Give

37 – Whatever happened to chivalry? Does it only exist in 80’s movies? I want John Cusack holding a boombox outside my window. I wanna ride off on a lawnmower with Patrick Dempsey. I want Jake from Sixteen Candles waiting outside the church for me. I want Judd Nelson thrusting his fist into the air because he knows he got me. Just once I want my life to be like an 80’s movie, preferably one with a really awesome musical number for no apparent reason. But no, no, John Hughes did not direct my life. Easy A
 

38 – It’s alive. Frankenstein

39 – I wish I knew how to quit you. Brokeback Mountain

40 – Even though I’m no more than a monster – don’t I, too, have the right to live? Oldboy

41 – You can’t control life. It doesn’t wind up perfectly. Only-only art you can control. Stardust Memories

42 – Faith is a torment. It is like loving someone who is out there in the darkness but never appears, no matter how loudly you call. The Seventh Seal

43 – It takes backbone to lead the life you want. Revolutionary Road

44 – Just get through the goddamn day. A Single Man

45 – Life is a cabaret, old chum. Cabaret

46 –  I’m seeing something that was always hidden. I’m in the middle of a mystery and it’s all secret. Blue Velvet

47 – It’s showtime folks. All That Jazz
 

48 – Stay here with me. We’ll start a jazz band. Lost in Translation

49 – Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And good things never die. The Shawshank Redemption

50 – You is kind, You is smart. You is important. The Help

51 – Morally you’re supposed to overcome your impulses, but there are times you don’t want to overcome them. Carnage

52 – The best trick the Devil pulled was convincing everyone he didn’t exist. The Usual Suspects

53 – And so I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Actually, make that “I run through the valley of the shadow of death” – in order to get OUT of the valley of the shadow of death more quickly, you see. Love and Death

54 – Don’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling. Inception

55 – All men are created equal. No matter how hard you try, you can never erase those words. Milk

56 – Do I kill everything that I love? J. Edgar

57 – I feel like a little adventure. The Aviator

58 – If you existed, I’d divorce you. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

59 – A man’s attitude… a man’s attitude goes some ways. The way his life will be. Mulholland Drive

60 – To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering, one must not love. But then, one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer; not to love is to suffer; to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be unhappy, one must love or love to suffer or suffer from too much happiness. I hope you’re getting this down. Love and Death
 

61 – The internet isn’t written in pencil, it’s written in ink. You write your snide bullshit in a dark corner because that’s what the angry do nowadays. The Social Network

62 – You can like the life you’re living, you can live the life you like. You can even marry Harry, but mess around with Ike. And it’s good, isn’t great, isn’t swell, isn’t fun, isn’t it? But nothing stays. In fifty years or so, it’s gonna change, y’know. But, oh, it’s heaven. Nowadays. Chicago

63 – We’re not drinking fucking merlot. Sideways

64 – In this family, we do not solve problems by hitting people! A History of Violence

65 – Sometimes you have to do something unforgivable, just to be able to go on living. A Dangerous Method

66 – Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. Gone With the Wind

67 – My conclusion is: hate is baggage. Life’s too short to be pissed off all the time. It’s just not worth it. American History X

68 – A little guilt goes a long way. The Machinist

69 – I’m bored with sitting around. I’m a dramatic character. I need forward motion. The Purple Rose of Cairo

70 – I wanted to know how these things started. Now I do. These feelings just creep up on you out of nowhere. In the Mood For Love

71 – It’s a strange world, Sandy. Blue Velvet

72 – If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person? Fight Club

73 – I feel something important is happening around me. And it scares me. Three Colours: Red

74 – In heaven, everything is fine. You’ve got your good things, and I’ve got mine. Eraserhead

75 – Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called “The Pledge”. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course… it probably isn’t. The second act is called “The Turn”. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call “The Prestige”.The Prestige

76 – You should’ve gone to China, you know, ’cause I hear they give away babies like free iPods. You know, they pretty much just put them in those t-shirt guns and shoot them out at sporting events. Juno

77 – Methinks our friend’s a tad bit fuckered in the head. Zodiac

78 – Your conversational skills are really deteriorating as the day goes on. Hard Candy

79 – Long live the new flesh. Videodrome
 

80 – The sky is pocked with stars. What eyes the wise men must have had to see a new one in so many. The Lion in Winter

81 – What am I doing? I’m silently judging you. Magnolia

82 – We’re emotional illiterates. We’ve been taught about anatomy and farming methods in Africa. We’ve learned mathematical formulas by heart. But we haven’t been taught a thing about our souls. We’re tremendously ignorant about what makes people tick. Scenes from a Marriage

83 –  It’s always difficult to keep personal prejudice out of a thing like this. And wherever you run into it, prejudice always obscures the truth. I don’t really know what the truth is. I don’t suppose anybody will ever really know. 12 Angry Men

84 – Don’t believe everything you hear on the radio. Citizen Kane

85 – You’re gonna need a bigger boat. Jaws

86 – There’s always a bigger fish. Stars Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace

87 – Use the Force. Star Wars

88 – I’m the one who’s fighting. Not you, not you, and not you. The Fighter

89 – In bed by nine? That’s when life just begins! Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

90 – There’s a hole in the world like a great black pit and it’s filled with people who are filled with shit and it’s morals aren’t worth what a pig would spit, and it goes by the name of London. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

91 – You’ll find the shame is like the pain, you only feel it once. Dangerous Liaisons

92 – One late autumn night, the disciple awoke crying. So the master asked the disciple, “Did you have a nightmare?” “No.” “Did you have a sad dream?” “No,” said the disciple. “I had a sweet dream.” “Then why are you crying so sadly?” The disciple wiped his tears away and quietly answered, “Because the dream I had can’t come true.” A Bittersweet Life

93 – You need to put a lot of effort into not caring. Scenes from a Marriage

94 – Some men change. Well, they don’t change – they reveal. They reveal themselves over time, you know? Inland Empire

95 – I closed the book, and felt this strange mixture of wistfulness and hope, and I wondered if a memory is something you have or something you’ve lost. For the first time in a long time, I felt at peace. Another Woman

96 – Some of our stars are the same. The Silence of the Lambs

97 – Everything is exactly the way it’s meant to be. A Single Man

98 – You met me at a very strange time in my life. Fight Club

99 – There’s an old joke – um… two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ’em says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know; and such small portions.” Well, that’s essentially how I feel about life – full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness, and it’s all over much too quickly. The… the other important joke, for me, is one that’s usually attributed to Groucho Marx; but, I think it appears originally in Freud’s “Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious,” and it goes like this – I’m paraphrasing – um, “I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.” That’s the key joke of my adult life, in terms of my relationships with women. Annie Hall
 

100 – There are no more barriers to cross. All I have in common with the uncontrollable and the insane, the vicious and the evil, all the mayhem I have caused and my utter indifference toward it I have now surpassed. My pain is constant and sharp, and I do not hope for a better world for anyone. In fact, I want my pain to be inflicted on others. I want no one to escape. But even after admitting this, there is no catharsis; my punishment continues to elude me, and I gain no deeper knowledge of myself. No new knowledge can be extracted from my telling. This confession has meant nothing. American Psycho


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Five great high school movies

Yesterday, I finished the last of my exams and so, if you’ll forgive my using an American term, my ‘high school’ years were over. To commemorate this, I figured I’d write about five high school movies, or movies set in high schools, of which I am particularly fond.

Rushmore (1998)

Wes Anderson’s Rushmore isn’t your normal high school movie. But then, Rushmore isn’t a normal high school. Telling the story of a strange infatuation with a teacher when a student is put on back academic probation, the film exudes the wit and visual charm that Anderson has become famous for. Schwartzman’s leading performance is excellent, capturing the awkward neurosis of his characters years, and the strange intellectual prowess that makes him stand out. Truly unique among high school movies, and a delightful viewing experience.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

A film I truly adore, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a hilarious and touching coming of age, telling the story of Ferris Bueller, who takes a day off, and does it all. Infinitely quotable, and filled with excellent scenes, including the iconic “Twist and Shout” on a parade float, this film is infinitely re-watchable. Broderick’s performance is nothing short of fantastic, bringing the lovable delinquent to life right before our eyes, and we can’t help but fall in love with him, his charisma, and his unmatched ability to seize the day. Rounded out with excellent supporting characters, from the neurotic Cameron, to the bumbling and brilliant Dean Edward Rooney, this film is a true classic.

Back to the Future (1985)

The time-travelling Delorean is an unmistakable image, part of a film that perhaps needs no introduction. This excellent time travel comedy, with two great performances from Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd is endlessly enjoyable from start to finish, with wonderful moments throughout. It’s simply impossible to forget Marty McFly taking to the stage and performing a rousing rendition of “Johnny B. Goode”, for a dancefloor full of kids who don’t even know the song exists yet. Almost impossible to fault, Back to the Future is probably one of my favourite science fiction films ever made.

American Pie (1999)

The original, and best, “slice of pie” is an enjoyable coming of age, that tells the story of a group of friends trying to lose their virginity before prom night. While a horde of bad direct-to-video sequels (Yes, Naked Mile, I’m looking at you) may have tarnished it’s reputation, it still remains an incredibly funny comic outing. The bumbling protagonists are a joy to watch, sharing excellent chemistry and great one liners. And of course, there’s always… That scene. The series may have black spots on its record, but if you haven’t scene this film yet, I highlight recommend it.

Easy A (2010)

I watched this film on plane a couple of years ago, and, to be honest, I really didn’t expect to like it. I hadn’t seen any modern high school movies that were any good, so I was naturally more than a little skeptical heading into this one. I’m glad I bit the bullet and decided to watch it, because once I did, I absolutely loved it. It doesn’t use all the crass jokes that fell flat in the bad American Pie sequels, it’s wonderfully aware of what it is, in one of my favourite scripts of the last few years, filled with references to the John Hughes films from the days of yore. Emma Stone’s performance is wonderful – believable, witty, intelligent, and when she’s on screen, you simply can’t take your eyes off of her. Helped out by a rather eccentric supporting cast, with a particular highlight being the ever reliable and incredibly talented Patricia Clarkson, Easy A utterly blindsided me with just how great it was, and perhaps restored my faith in the thought of modern high school movies.


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