Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mad Men

After months of rumors, it has finally been publicly announced that Mad Men's Season 5 return will be delayed until early 2012. It's being delayed due to the fact that there has been some problems with the negotiation process involving the contract between AMC and Mad Men's creator Matt Weiner. Apparently, AMC has demanded that the show needs to make the following the changes: add more product placement/commercials, cut two of the main characters, and reduce the show's running time. The network wants these changes so that it can make more money off the show. I find it extremely stupid that the network would request any changes to be made with this show. It's been continuously good and it has won the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series for three consecutive years. Why change something that is near perfect?

Mad Men should move to a network that can better afford producing it. That's a more plausible change for the show than being forced to make unnecessary changes, which would be made only to benefit AMC. I'm going to miss Don Draper during the summertime! 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

RIP: Elizabeth Taylor

I was so sad to learn that Elizabeth Taylor had passed away yesterday morning. It was the first thing I read about on Twitter that morning, but I wasn't by a computer to write a tribute of any sort. I knew that she hadn't been doing well, so at least she is no longer suffering. I followed her on Twitter and I always loved reading her tweets. Two of my favorites are: (1) "Every breath you take today should be with someone else in mind. I love you." (2) "Give. Remember always to give. That is the thing that will make you grow."

Be sure to watch TCM's salute to Elizabeth Taylor on Sunday, April 10. I recommend watching National Velvet, Giant, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. These are the films of hers that I have seen and they are fantastic.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ingmar Bergman: I Love You

If you couldn't tell from the title, I'm in love with Ingmar Bergman. Well, mainly his films, but since he wrote and directed them, they are basically a part of him, so I guess I'm in love with him, too. These past couple of weeks, I have watched two Bergman films: 'The Seventh Seal' (1957) and 'Scenes from a Marriage' (1973).  Both of them are brilliant films and have furthered my belief that Ingmar Bergman was a genius.

'The Seventh Seal' is about a man who, after witnessing the plague infect the lives of those in his town, is seeking the answers to life, death, and the existence of God. While trying to escape the Black Plague, Death shows up to tell the man that his time on earth is up. Worried that he's going to die without understanding the meaning of life, the man challenges Death to a game of chess for his life. Death takes the challenge and the two play the game while others around them continue to struggle with the turmoil that the plague has caused.

I was completely mesmerized by 'The Seventh Seal.' I found myself being pulled into the film because I was intrigued by Death. Who wouldn't want the chance to play chess against Death if it meant that you were allowed to have a longer life if you won? It'd be amazing to be given a chance like that, even if you lost. Overall, this film is cerebral and dark, but it also has heartwarming and humorous scenes mixed within it, which is why I found it so enjoyable to watch. I highly recommend watching this film.

'Scenes from a Marriage' follows the dysfunctional relationship of Marianne and Johan. Their relationship begins as a somewhat happy marriage, which is deteriorating and deteriorates even more when Johan becomes infatuated with another woman. The two separate from each other and eventually divorce, however, their deep love for one another causes their relationship to continue on.

It's hard to explain why 'Scenes from a Marriage' is enjoyable to watch. It's an emotional roller coaster of a film, but I think that's exactly what makes it so great. The acting in this film is superb. Liv Ullman and Erland Josephson's performances have an incredible sense of truthfulness to them when it comes to love and human emotions. I highly recommend watching this film, too.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy 90th Birthday: Cyd Charisse

Cyd Charisse would have been celebrating her 90th birthday today! She is one of the best dancers that I have ever watched in a film. Her dancing is so graceful and elegant. My two favorite dancing scenes that she did are with Fred Astaire in The Band Wagon (1953). I've posted both of the scenes below. I've posted the first scene before, but it's fantastic enough to be posted on multiple occasions.

Black Swan

Finally, I was able to go see Black Swan (2010)! The film is about a ballet dancer, Nina (Natalie Portman), whose life is completely consumed by dance. When she learns that her artistic dance director Thomas Leroy is planning to replace his prima ballerina Beth (Winona Ryder) for the opening production of Swan Lake, Nina becomes obsessed about getting the part. Eventually, she wins the role, but is having a difficult time emulating both the White Swan and the Black Swan. She is perfect as the White Swan, representing gracefulness and purity, but she lacks the sensuality and seduction of the Black Swan. The lead requires her to play both parts brilliantly, so she becomes obsessed with perfecting both. This obsession gradually causes her to lose her mind as she becomes possessed by the dark side of the Black Swan.

This film is an extremely twisted psychological thriller. I haven't decided if it is a horror film or not, but I can understand why some people may classify it that way. It's disturbing, uncomfortable, and dark, yet there is also a dramatic beauty to it. I don't know how to explain how this happens. I think it's due to the constant contrasting between good and evil throughout the entire film. Darren Aronofsky is a brilliant director. The acting done by basically everyone in the film is amazing. The score is fantastic, as is the cinematography and the editing. All in all, this film is extremely well done.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Frankenstein: Spooky Sunday

I watched Frankenstein (1931) for the first time earlier this week. I loved it! Of course, I think that the majority of us already know the story of Frankenstein, seeing as the monster has been satirized for years in different films and television shows. However, with the constant satirization ignored, this film is quite frightening. Think of what audiences experienced back in 1931 when they saw this film, even if they had read the novel (even though the film and novel are different from each other), I'm sure it was absolutely terrifying to them.

Frankenstein is about a man, Dr. Henry Frankenstein, who has an unhealthy obsession with life and death. His obsession drives him to construct a body from various corpses that he has found in the cemetery. With this body, he decides to conduct an experiment, an experiment that will bring it to life. Only problem is, Frankenstein doesn't think much about what could go wrong and ends up creating a monster, which puts him, as well as his entire town, in extreme danger.

This film must be watched with an open mind, or it will not be appreciated. Make sure to watch it in the dark or, even better, during a thunderstorm. I love the set of this film, too. It's spooky and awesome.

One of the best parts of the film is when the monster comes to life and Dr. Frankenstein gets a mad look in his eyes and screams, "It's alive!!!" Definitely worth watching just to see this one scene!