Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This Property is Condemned

This is one of those rare, brilliant, stinkers that would probably be on more people's favorites lists if the ending was different. Consider this: it was based on a play by Tennessee Williams. That, paired with the title, should give you a pretty good idea of what sort of ending it has. If it doesn't, I'm not going to spoil it for you (too much).

The beginning/middle of the movie is a superb piece of film making. it concerns a romance between the prostitute Alva Starr (Natalie Wood) and the man who closes down the house where she works (Robert Redford) who is named Owen Legate. Redford and Wood play a die-hard pragmatist and a sensitive, almost self-deluding dreamer, respectively. Their acting is completely convincing. As much as I like Natalie Wood, I must say that her acting tends to be inconsistent. Her technique was highly instinctual, yet while Alva Starr does seem too raw at times, Natalie Wood is Alva, rather than playing her. That takes great skill. What ever surface faults her performance may have--such as slight overacting in spots--her characterization is fully developed, sympathetic, and convincing. And although I've only seen two Robert Redford movies, it's enough to prove that he isn't playing himself here. It would be quite easy to believe that Redford is doing absolutely no acting and simply existing on the screen, so flawless is his portrayal. Actually I wish he was just like his character in the movie because I happen to have a crush on Owen Legate. Believe me, it's easy to. His chemistry with Natalie Wood is amazing--captivating!--probably raised movie house temperatures by twenty or thirty degrees! And it's a testament to the lead players' acting and the storyline. In Inside Daisy Clover, a really, really, bad movie, their chemistry is lacking, due in no small part to the crummy script and the incompatibility between their characters. The whole thing is so bland and convoluted, it's enough to make one fall out of love with Robert Redford, no small thing. This makes you wonder about the mechanics of screen chemistry--is it the characters, the actors, or the script? Or a magical combination of those factors?

Back to the point. Perhaps the virtuosity of Wood's and Redford's performances is the downfall of the film. They are done so well you want everything to work out for the characters. Because they are so believably in love with each other, you love them and want them to live happily ever after in the end. And you know how bad the ending is. Even Bud and Deanie of Splendor in the Grass are not as lovable as Alva and her man. You can't make your movie audience want desperately for the best to happen to the characters and disappoint them. (Besides being disappointing, the ending is just plain ridiculous.) This is essentially what happens and it ruins what could have been a beautiful, uplifting story. It's heart-wrenching and consequently unpleasant.

Aside from that pretty big issue, the only other fault I can think of is a lack of motivation in the drunk scene. If you want to see This Property is Condemned, it's available on YouTube, with the title spelled backward.

Rating: 7 1/2 out of 10

(If it had had the ending it was bloody well supposed to have had, it would have gotten an unqualified 10/10.)

10 Random Facts About Me

1. I once married an inflatable clown punching bag. Not legally, however. I was about five, he was about the same but in months, and the sister who was making me go through with the whole thing was about thirteen. Oh yes, I walked down the aisle and kissed him and have managed to live happily ever after because he died shortly thereafter.

2. I have eight cats. And a closet full of clothes covered with cat hair.

3. More people than I can count have told me I reminded them of an old lady.

4. I never went to kindergarten. My mother thought five was too young to go to school so she homeschooled me for a year instead.

5. My sister's nickname for me is Fluffy. My brother calls me Weasel. My other sister tried briefly to nickname me Psychobabble, but it never stuck.

6. I'm crazy about etiquette. My manners are far from perfect, but I love improving them. Which is good, because with the improving I've got to do, I'll probably be at it for a long, long time.

7. I skipped fifth grade. Not because I'm smart, but because the school I moved to was (is) so bad. I keep trying to wheedle my parents into changing schools, but with no success.

8. My family teases me about the way I mispronounce words and mix up phrases (like you, Millie). For the longest time, I was convinced "devasted" was a real word and I once announced that something was an "old man's wife" as opposed to an "old wives' tale".

9. Because of a scar I have on my forehead (it's hardly noticeable), I went through a phase of telling my family I was Harriet Potter.

10. I'm a vegetarian, simply because I think meat is unappetizing and slightly repulsive. I feel that way because my parents are pesco-vegetarians so I never ate meat growing up. I'm in favor of animal welfare, but not animal rights.

Thanks to Millie for tagging me!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

180 Tag and a Short Update

Yes, I'm still here. No kidding. I've just been busy lately so blogging has temporarily become less of a priority.

Anyway, in regards to the 180 tag, I can get around to answering it now since my Algebra II exam is over and "180" is no longer a very dirty word. There is not really anyone I have 180-ed on, but there are a few that could somewhat qualify. Ava Gardner I used to think was rather unattractive, as well as somehow grape-like, but then I went through a strange phase where I wanted to be just like her, etc. etc. Then I started reading her autobiography online. I never finished it, though I started it twice, because I would get rather sick of her about the time her marriage to Frank Sinatra broke up. After watching a couple of her movies, I'm back to not caring one way or the other about her. Only now I'm not sure if it's an olive or a grape she reminds me of.

Esther Williams is a true 180, except the positive side didn't last more than a couple days back when I was in eighth grade. How many people like Esther Williams after they read her autobiography? Or just the reviews of it? I'm not one of them.

That's about it, although there are a few more mentionable changes of opinion. I used to think Natalie Wood was rather unattractive (tsk, tsk) and I also used to be in love with James Dean, but for some reason I don't think he's very good looking anymore, aside from his jaw (especially from profile! it's dreamy). And I also used to think Montgomery Clift was just horrible looking. Well, I certainly don't anymore. Maybe someday I'll 180 on Clark Gable and finally figure out what people see in him. But it doesn't seem at all likely.

Thanks for tagging me Millie!