Friday, May 15, 2009

Howard Hawks' "Monkey Business" (1952)


In a post to a_film_by on August 2003, Tag Gallagher, talking about Howard Hawks, asked: "Is sanity truly a goal or even a desideratum in Bringing Up Baby, The Big Sky, Red River... ?"



And in another post, the same day:
"I'm not sure that people are trying to cling to sanity, but I suspect that sanity is an illusion in Hawks, and that biology rules all, and from a male point of view (Hawks's) that's the power of women. Sanity may be a possibility, but it's irrelevant ultimately."

I think these statements go to the very heart of Monkey Business, which I saw countless times by now.

Here is a dialogue from the film:
Barnaby: Hello, Griffith Park Zoo, Snake Department. Sssshhh!
Oliver Oxley: Hello? Hello? What is this?
Barnaby: What do you want?
Oliver Oxley: This is Mr Oxley.
Barnaby: I'll see if he's here.
Oliver Oxley: No, I said *this* is Oxley!
Barnaby: Who is?
Oliver Oxley: I am, speaking!
Barnaby: Oh, you're Mr. Speaking...
Oliver Oxley: This is Mr. Oxley speaking!
Barnaby: Oxley Speaking? Any relation to Oxley?
Oliver Oxley: Barnaby Fulton is that you?
Barnaby: Who's calling?
Oliver Oxley: I am, Barnaby!
Barnaby: Oh, no, you're not Barnaby. I am Barnaby! I ought to know who I am.
Oliver Oxley: This is Oxley speaking, Barnaby!
Barnaby: No, that's ridiculous! You can't be all three. Figure out which one you are and call me back!

Not only it is one of the funniest films ever made, it also has THE most romantic kiss scene ever (the first one, when they're staying home from the Everett Winston party).

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Alfred Hitchcock's "North by Northwest" (1959)



In North by Northwest, both space and identities are deconstructed, broken down to pieces, and then rearranged.




In Hitchcock's films, fantasies and nightmares are all intertwined. And characters very often talk about this very openly. Here are some dialogues from North by Northwest, interveawing sex and death:


Roger O. Thornhill: Tell me... How does a girl like you get to be a girl like you?
Eve Kendall: Lucky, I guess?
Roger O. Thornhill: Oh, not lucky. Naughty. Wicked, up to no good. Ever kill anyone? Because I bet you could tease a man to death without half trying. So stop trying, ha?


Roger O. Thornhill: I wonder what subtle form of manslaughter is next on the program. Am I to be dropped into a vat of molten steel and become part of a new skyscraper? Or are you going to ask this female to kiss me again and poison me to death?


The Professor: If I thought there was any chance of changing your mind, I'd talk about Miss Kendall, of whom you so obviously disapprove.
Roger O. Thornhill: Yes, for using sex like some people use a flyswatter.


By the way, she does kill him in the film, but it is an illusion.


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Friday, February 20, 2009

Michael Mann's "Miami Vice" (2006)


There is the monologue below off-screen while the volume of the music is turned down, and the two shots above (seemingly irrelated to the action) follow each other:
"It's just there's variables, you know? Randomness, see? That's why."

Read Edo Choi's inspiring post on Miami Vice here.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Michael Mann's "Heat" (1995)


Michael Mann's movies are about the dichotomy lovelife / evildeath. His characters are torn apart between these two extremes. In Heat, every significant character involved in the story (all of them are male) have a relationship that ties them to life. Vincent's wife says: "You don't live with me, you live among the remains of dead people." Nevertheless, Vincent's response to this, later in the film: "All I have... is what I'm going after."



It isn't very surprising that our introduction to Vincent is a sex-scene with his wife. The most evil guy in Heat, Waingro, will have sex with a prostitute... whom he will later kill. The moment Vincent sees the body of the prostitute, almost half-way into the movie, is his most intimate encounter with Evil, poetically... His wife's words, when he's about to leave: "This better be earth-shattering."



Neil does the same monologue twice. Notice the word "heat":

Neil: Do you remember what Jimmy used to say? "You wanna be making moves on the street? Have no attachments. Allow nothing to be in your life that you cannot walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner." Remember that?
Chris: For me the sun rises and sets with her, man.


Vincent: My life's a disaster zone. I got a stepdaughter so fucked up because her real father is this large-type asshole. I got a wife. We're passing each other on the down slope of a marriage, my third. Because I spend all my time chasing guys like you around the block. That's my life.
Neal: A guy told me one time: Don't let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner. If you're on me and you gotta move when I move... How do you expect to keep a marriage?
Vincent: That's an interesting point. What are you? A monk?
Neal: I have a woman.
Vincent: What do you tell her?
Neal: I tell her I'm a salesman.
Vincent: So then if you spot me coming around that corner... You're just gonna walk out on this woman? Not say goodbye?
Neal: That's the discipline.
Vincent: That's pretty vacant, you know?
Neal: It is what it is. It's that, or we both better go do something else pal.
Vincent: I don't know how to do anything else.
Neal: Neither do I.
Vincent: I don't much want to either.
Neal: Neither do I.


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