Archive | September, 2012

The Killers Response

28 Sep

The Killers (1946) is a film noir that attempts to make sense of a murder–that of Ole Andreson, “The Swede” by two assassins, Max and Al. Andreson’s coworker Nick Adams, after encountering the men at a diner and hearing of their plans, rushes to Andreson’s home to warn him about the attack. Upon hearing this, Andreson insists that there is nothing he can or should do to stop it, that he’s been expecting it, and that he “made a mistake once;” this is assumed to be why he is being targeted. Moments later, he is shot and killed by the hit men who enter his house. While Life Insurance Investigator Jim Reardon finds and pays the beneficiary of Andreson’s policy, he inerviews Andreson’s friends and associates. With this, he finds out that Andreson got mixed up with criminals and was murdered over a matter of $250,000.

The Killers and Citizen Kane are quite similar in narrative structure; not only do both movies have multiple narrators reminiscing in flashback, but both are investigative stories that seek to explain a character’s life and connect it with his death. I think Citizen Kane is more conventional because it is much less complicated than The Killers; the latter jumps around the timeline out of order from multiple perspectives showing very different scenarios; it was pretty hard to keep track of, and most audiences aren’t patient enough. I also thought that Citizen Kane was more revealing of character because it showed what kind of character Kane started out with and ended up with. The Killers just took the entire movie to explain why Andreson was targeted and killed by assassins.

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Citizen Kane Response

22 Sep

Citizen Kane (1941) is a drama directed by and starring Orson Welles. The film starts with the death of Kane (Welles), and a reporter trying to figure out the significance of his dying word: “Rosebud.” Upon interviewing Kane’s friends and associates, the film takes us back in time to Kane’s childhood to show us, rather than tell us, the story of Kane’s life and what he achieved. After revisiting Kane’s entire life from childhood to death, the reporter is still in the dark about who or what “Rosebud” was, and the significance of Kane’s accomplishments. At the end of the film, after the reporter has given up on the Kane story, Kane’s possessions are all being sold, given away, and destroyed. The last shot is of his childhood sled being thrown into the furnace, an inscription on the top saying “Rosebud.” With this, it is to be assumed that Kane was unhappy with the megalomaniacal way he lived his life, and was only truly happy during his childhood.

Citizen Kane shows us the dark side of the American dream by giving us the entire lifespan of a man with a seemingly ideal life; we are shown every detail that went into Kane’s life, from his carefree childhood to his dying word. Often when we are shown wealthy and successful people’s lives, we only see those people’s accomplishments, their vast fortune, and the most public parts in the prime of their lives. We rarely see an entire lifespan from childhood to death where every detail is shown, such as failures, shortcomings, conflicts in relationships, and final self-analysis. Citizen Kane shows the dark side of the American dream by showing us what’s behind all the success and money in Kane’s personal life. In doing so, we see how Kane’s money cheapened his relationships, his possessions, and his way of living. In the end, all of Kane’s property and money were his undoing because they left little room for people he loved and things of emotional value.

The Awful Truth Response

15 Sep

The Awful Truth (1937) centers on the troubles and adventures of a divorcing couple, Jerry and Lucy Warriner, played by Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. Over the course of the film, both try to make each other’s love lives as difficult as possible, interfering with the other’s romantic encounters to make any potential relationships a complete disaster. After Jerry alienates Lucy’s fiancé Daniel and Lucy reciprocates by scaring Jerry’s fiancée Barbara, Lucy and Jerry drive up to Lucy’s Aunt’s cabin, where they realize they are still in love and decide to give it another try.

 

Lucy Warriner is portrayed as both weak and strong in different parts of the movie. Her weakness is especially apparent around Daniel; she clearly feels awkward with the way he expresses his love for her, such as serenading her, or writing poetry. It’s also evident that she is uncomfortable about moving away from New York City to a small town in Oklahoma, where Daniel insists they will live when they marry. The relationship as a whole brings her nothing but misery, while Daniel is head-over-heels in love with her. But all of this changes when Lucy finally takes charge and pulls a crazy stunt to get Jerry back; she crashes Barbara’s party where Jerry is, impersonating Jerry’s sister. All evening she purposely embarrasses and shames Jerry by acting like a fool and making Jerry look unappealing to Barbara; she then has Jerry drive her up to her Aunt’s cabin, but before arriving, gets them pulled over and pushes the car into a ditch so that Jerry can’t drive home and has to spend the night with her. This elaborate scheme works to her advantage, as they get back together at the cabin. Jerry, on the other hand, has a much less dramatic change in strength as a character; he is consistently the driver in his own life, never submitting to anyone else’s will. His strength is evident throughout the entire beginning and middle of the story; he kills Lucy’s relationship with Daniel, and manages to score himself a well-to-do lady for himself. At the very end, however, he is overpowered by Lucy, and tricked into coming to her Aunt’s cabin to reconcile things with her. In the beginning of the film, Jerry was the more dominant one in the relationship, but by the end, it was Lucy.

 

While marriage isn’t depicted as an oppressive institution in the film, neither is divorce. The Awful Truth depicts both as horrific if they are with the wrong person, but not as a whole. In terms of class dynamics, the film primarily deals with the rich, upper class. They represent this class by the extravagant costumes with elaborate details, such as feathers, sequins, top hats, and handkerchiefs. Jerry and Lucy are members of this class, with seemingly no hard work involved, making them both seem immature, lazy, shallow, and over-privileged. This suggests that screwball comedy works best with characters the audience is likely to feel “deserve it,” so that people will laugh instead of feel sympathetic when ridiculously terrible things happen to the characters. Perhaps at the time these types of movies were made, it was more socially acceptable or even encouraged to laugh at others’ misfortune.