Wednesday, April 10, 2013

One Liners Formulate Elf's Comedy


"Elf" is composed of one-liners throughout the movie.  These unique and hilarious phrases differentiate "Elf" from other holiday movies (and comedies) because it makes the movie memorable.  There's not one line that's funny; every one line is funny.  The fish-out-of-water situations that place Buddy the Elf in New York City are heightened by lines such as:
  • Believing the "world's best coffee sign" on a coffee shop window: You did it! Congratulations! World's best cup of coffee! Great job, everybody! It's great to be here.
  •  I'm a cotton-headed ninny-muggins. 
  • "I'm sorry I ruined your lives, and crammed eleven cookies into the VCR." 
  • First we'll make snow angels for two hours, then we'll go ice skating, then we'll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookie-dough as fast as we can, and then we'll snuggle.
Find more "Elf" quotes here.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Why Sweet Home Alabama Works

DAY 13: A Favorite Love Story

The complex love story in “Sweet Home Alabama” represents not only Melanie Carmichael/Smooter’s choice between her current beau and her childhood sweetheart, but her choice between her Greenville, Alabama hometown and New York. 

The comparisons between the two places and people drive the movie forward.  Will she stay with her current lifestyle or will a trip back home change everything for her?

What would you do if you had to choose between your current life and your past?  Would you combine them or keep them separate? 

The large cast works extremely well – and everyone has a unique personality.  No two people are the same.  The country characters are living in their high school football glory days, but also realistic about the future.  Her new New York friends are willing to help Melanie find happiness, even if it could mean her moving back home.

Melanie escaped her past to discover her own path and became a fashion designer.  She’s successful; much more so than any of her high school friends.  Jake Perry, her childhood sweetheart, is the only person to almost reach her success and that was only after realizing that if he wanted to win her back, he needed to be more than a simple country boy.

 “Sweet Home Alabama” is a movie about second chances, love, the combination of two contrasting worlds.  A must see.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Skeleton Dance: Skeletons can Dance!

Day 12: A Favorite Animated Movie

There are many great animated movies out there – for example, “Finding Nemo,” “Cinderella,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” and most Pixar movies.  I chose to write about “The Skeleton Dance” because I recently saw it’s a precursor to these animated movies.  It’s the beginning of animation and the short film is still relevant and amusing today.

“The Skeleton Dance” features skeletons that are nicer than cats (two cats hiss and spit at each other) but keep the creepy graveyard atmosphere.

Repetition is a key element in this short.  Once character would do something and the other character would mirror it and repeat it.  Everything happened in twos (an action and then the action repeated). 

The skeleton dance itself was innovative and used choreography staging techniques like varied heights, skeletons in the foreground and background, and focusing on two skeletons and then bringing the rest of the skeletons back for a group ensemble routine.  One skeleton used another as a xylophone and another used a cat as a violin, connecting the musicality to the screen.

As a short in “A Silly Symphony,” it was silly and entertaining.  Who knew skeletons were so talented at dancing?

Sunday, March 31, 2013

How THE SWAN PRINCESS Stands Out from Traditional Disney Princess Movies

DAY 11: A favorite movie from childhood

“The Swan Princess” begins in a traditional storytelling manner: The narrator introduces us to the main characters in a once-upon-a-time format.  The rest of the movie appears to be a Disney princess movie at first glance but it’s not.  “The Swan Princess” is not even a Disney movie – it’s made by Nest Family Entertainment and Rich Animation Studios. 

“The Swan Princess” differs from Disney in the following ways:

The story is actually mainly from Prince Derek’s point of view.  We follow him on his journey to find Princess Odette and we learn that he genuinely cares for her.  Disney princes vary in their role to princesses – some are actively in the story and others are not – but Derek is a different kind of prince.  His purpose in the movie is to find Odette and he does so because he cares for her as a person and he can’t live without her.

Princess Odette is proactive.  She constantly searches for a way out of Rothbart’s spell.  The “No Fear” song adds to this: Odette is not afraid of danger and she’ll risk everything to break the spell.  When she was younger and Derek and Bromley threw tomatoes at her, she threw tomatoes back at them.  Also, after Derek says that “you’re all I ever wanted” and said to arrange the marriage, Odette asked him, “what else?”  Being treated like an object was not all right with her.  She needed to know that he was in love with her and not her kingdom.

Derek is a prince and Odette is a princess.  Their parents want them together to bring their kingdoms together.  Neither Derek nor Odette gains anything significant over each other by marrying and neither loses anything significant (except for the merging of their kingdoms).  They are already equals because they are in the same class.

Odette has purple eyes!  How many people do you know with purple eyes?

Can you think of any more differences?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

17 Reasons Why Pan's Labyrinth Works

Day 10: A Favorite Director: Guillermo del Toro
(minor spoilers of Pan’s Labyrinth included)

Guillermo del Toro made the fantastic Pan’s Labyrinth.  Here’s why the movie works so well: 

1.      The looks:  The moments when a character turns and looks at a space in the distance in a serious way.  These “looks” indicate a moment when a terrible revelation occurs and the look is all about being in that moment with the character.

2.      The stoic, unbending Captain Vidal.  This is a man who is merciless, unforgiving, and has no concern for anyone but himself.  He is incredibly meticulous and lives to remain in charge. 

3.      Mercedes is a strong character.  She is placed in a subservient position as the servant of the Captain’s household and is a woman.  She refuses to allow her status to dictate her life and is the person the Captain depends on for running his home while she brings food and medicine to the rebels hiding in the hills, waiting to strike against the Captain.

4.      The rebels fight back against the dictator-like Captain.  These are people who are willing to risk their lives for a better future.

5.      Haunting lullaby: The humming is mystical, mysterious, soothing, and has a sense that it is waiting for something awful to happen.

6.      The faun: He actually grows younger throughout the movie.  At first meeting he is grown into the walls of the labyrinth and shakes free to greet Ofelia.  His movements progress from slow to quicker, like he became young again.  He also looks younger as the movie goes on.

7.      Complex characters: Every character lives for different reasons and acts differently in similar situations.  They are all their own persons; they are not easily defined because they are all unique individuals.  The character development for each character progresses at different paces, but every character changes throughout the movie.

8.      Ofelia’s acceptance of the world, but desire to escape it.  She knows that her mother is now pregnant after marrying the Captain and that the Captain is a cruel man who has no consideration or fatherly compassion for Ofelia.  She reads fairy tales to make her life her own.

9.      Contrast of the real and imaginary world – they are both dark and dreary for different reasons.  The imaginary world (fairy tale world) promises hope but gives Ofelia arduous tasks to complete before she can regain her status as Princess Moanna.  The real world has no such hope for Ofelia.

10.  Merging of imaginary world and real world: Both worlds come together by the end combining the hope of the fairy tale world and the reality of the real world.

11.  The doctor’s compassion: he treats one of the rebel’s infected legs and euthanizes a torture victim (per the victim’s request) even though he knows that he could be killed for such treason.

12.  The labyrinth, although the title focuses on it, is not at big of a “main character” as you would assume.  It provides the grim backdrop for the faun’s world.  Although it is an uncertain maze, it is navigable for Ofelia because she has choices there unlike in the real world where the Captain dictates her life.

13.  The knife 3-beat complication:
1.      Mercedes chops onions with a knife in the kitchen and rolls in in her apron for safe-keeping.  She later peels vegetables with the knife. 
2.      When Mercedes is caught by the Captain, she immediately uses her knife and slits his mouth and stabs his body. 
3.      When she is caught by Garces, she uses her knife as a weapon pointing at the men on the horses and then at her throat.

14.  The farmer and son with the rabbit: The Captain brutally murdered the farmer and shot the son because they were hindrances.  He checked their story (they were shooting rabbits for their sick family members) afterwards and felt no remorse for his actions.

15.  The broken watch that the Captain meticulously rewinds is a gift from his father who smashed his watch on a rock when he died so that his son would know the exact time that he died.  The Captain seems to not have any emotional ties to his father except for duty: when the Captain is caught at the end, he wants to give his son a way to remember him by, as his father did for him.

16.  Time period: 1944 Spain is much more exciting than present day.  The clothing, mannerisms, societal roles, and general living is foreign to us now, making us release any inhibitions and believe in the story.

17.  Second chances and redemption – the faun gives Ofelia one more chance to do the third step to prove that she is the long-lost princess.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Princess Bride Quotes

DAY 9 – A Movie You Practically Know the Whole Script Of

“The Princess Bride” is an incredibly quotable movie – which is why I know almost the whole script of it.  The “inconceivable’s” and “as you wish’s” of the movie is what makes it so memorable.

Grandson: A book?
Grandpa: That's right. When I was your age, television was called books. And this is a special book. It was the book my father used to read to me when I was sick, and I used to read it to your father. And today I'm gonna read it to you.
Grandson: Has it got any sports in it?
Grandpa: Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles...
Grandson: Doesn't sound too bad. I'll try to stay awake.
Grandpa: Oh, well, thank you very much, very nice of you. Your vote of confidence is overwhelming.

Having the story-within-a-story heightens the suspense.  At pivotal moments in the story, the grandfather stops reading and we go to the grandson’s bedroom and the grandfather reassures his grandson.  He tells him what will happen, which makes us want to watch the rest of the movie because we want to know what happens next.  If Buttercup is not eaten by eels, then what will happen to her?

Grandpa: She doesn't get eaten by the eels at this time.
Grandson: What?
Grandpa: The eel doesn't get her. I'm explaining to you because you look nervous.
Grandson: I wasn't nervous. Maybe I was a little bit "concerned" but that's not the same thing.

Vizzini is in the process of trying to start a war between two countries, so you would think that he would have some brains behind him.  However, when he engages in a battle of wits with Westley (Man in Black at this point in the movie)…

Man in Black: Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.
Vizzini: Wait till I get going! Now, where was I?
Man in Black: Australia.
Vizzini: Yes, Australia. And you must have suspected I would have known the powder's origin, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
Man in Black: You're just stalling now.
Vizzini: You'd like to think that, wouldn't you? You've beaten my giant, which means you're exceptionally strong, so you could've put the poison in your own goblet, trusting on your strength to save you, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But, you've also bested my Spaniard, which means you must have studied, and in studying you must have learned that man is mortal, so you would have put the poison as far from yourself as possible, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.

 And one last quote for you:

Hello.  My name is Inigo Montoya.  You killed my father.  Prepare to die.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Why the Green Mile Works

DAY 8 – A Movie that Makes You Sad

“The Green Mile” takes an innocent man, falsely accused of murdering two girls when he was trying to save them, and places him on death row.  Tom Hanks plays Paul Edgecomb, a corrections officer who believes in John Coffey’s (played by Michael Clark Duncan) innocence. 

The inmates are all uniquely quirky, adding intrigue to the general atmosphere of Cold Mountain Penitentiary.  Mr. Jingles, the mouse that Del (one of the inmates) kept as a pet, provided a light relief from the long days at the Penitentiary. 

There was not much to do there but wait to die and that waiting feeling pervaded the movie from start to finish.  The climactic moment (I won’t spoil it; although It is amazing how far some people will go for a little bit of revenge - Percy Wetmore, a new guard with a strong temper plays a key role in this part) releases the viewer from waiting, only to watch the ending scene where we learn that Paul is still biding his time until he dies, making him essentially on death row himself.

“The Green Mile” is an incredibly tragic story, but worth the watch.

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