Wednesday, February 09, 2011

My Week In Movies - Don't Tell People Your Mule Talks

Splendor In The Grass (1961) Apparently, this was one of my mother's favorite movies. Her and I talked about movies alot and she introduced me to some of her favorites but I never heard her mention this one. When she passed away, some of her high school friends were telling me about the role movies played in their teen years and Splendor In The Grass kept coming up as one of the most memorable titles. In fact, my mom had left behind a poem that she wanted read at her funeral - it turned out to be a poem prominently featured in this movie. So, I decided to start watching some of mom's favorite movies and after watching Splendor, I can see why she never sat down and watched it with me. It's a pretty torrid story of teenage lust and sexual repression. The film takes place in the 1920's and follows a young couple played by Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood. Of course, Beatty wants to go "all the way" and young Natalie knows that good girls don't do that. So finally out of frustration and respect, Beatty's character breaks up with his girlfriend. This sends Wood into a downward spiral that ultimately ends her up in a mental institution. It's a very interesting look at how people were expected to behave themselves vs. how they wanted to behave. The content of this movie for 1961 audiences was probably pretty shocking and taboo but by today's standards this would only rate a PG maybe a PG-13. The sexuality is mostly implied with very little steam on the screen. Still, it's a really good movie that I think would play well with today's audiences.

Francis Goes to West Point (1952) In my never ending quest to find the silliest and most plotless films ever made, I found myself watching the third movie in the classic Francis The Talking Mule series. Round three has Francis and his human sidekick Peter attending West Point Academy. It was understandable in the first film or two, but by the third picture Peter should learn to just keep him mouth shut about having a talking mule for a buddy. Instead of thinking up ways to cover up his interactions with Francis, Peter just goes about telling everyone he talks to an animal. It's only when Francis finally speaks up and chats with others that these movies seem to bring about any laughs. The storyline involves a misunderstanding between commanding officers and Peter's roommates. Francis has very little to do with the story that drives this movie, but when a film is just so silly and harmless it can get by on it's simple charm alone. This picture is unrated and made at a time when they avoided using the word "pregnant" so you can assume there is nothing objectionable here.

Wall-E (2008) This might just be near the top of my list of favorite Pixar movies. I was blown away by it when I caught it in theatres a few summers ago, and this second viewing was just as captivating. I'm not a big science fiction watcher, but I think some of the futuristic ideas in this movie are extremely clever and poignant. For those of you that don't know, Wall-E is a robot that was left to clean up Earth while the human race boarded a spaceship and left the trashed planet behind. Not only does Wall-E end up saving the world, he also finds love in the form of another robot. This very well done movie is about much more than robots and spaceships. It will teach you alot about friendship, loyalty and respecting the Earth. A Masterpiece. Rated G.

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