Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Best Christmas Movie You Haven't Seen

Good News: One of my favorite Christmas movies—a little gem called Holiday Affair—is finally out on DVD! It's not one of the most popular Christmas movies, but I think it should be. I happened to catch it one day a few years ago on TCM, and having never heard of it, I was surprised at how fabulous it turned out be. I definitely recommend making it a regular party of your Christmas movie line-up.

Janet Leigh stars as a young widowed mother who's working as a comparison shopper during the Christmas season. After a salesman, played by Robert Mitchum, finds her out and doesn't turn her in to the authorities, he gets fired and she feels guilty so she tries to be nice. Then he buys her kid a train set and things get quickly out of hand. Robert Mitchum develops a bit of a crush and finds ways to see Janet Leigh and her kid. To complicate matters, Janet Leigh is engaged to this very dorky but dependable fellow, Karl. (Or Karrrllll if you're her mother-in-law.) To be honest, Karl might be the best part of the movie. He's a total nerd, but kind of great.

The strange thing about this movie is it brings together two people who I primarily know from horror films. The only other Janet Leigh movie I've ever seen is Psycho, (and Bye Bye Birdie, but that's in color so it doesn't count.) so it was a little weird to see her in a light romantic holiday movie where she doesn't get murdered.

Then there's Robert Mitchum. Cape Fear, anyone? He does creep me out just a little in this film, partly because he's borderline stalking poor Janet Leigh and her son. He's just one creepy man.

But the horror film images associated with these two don't hinder Holiday Affair. In fact, they may make it even more amazing.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Jimmy, Stop Being Crazy!

I watched Vertigo on Monday. I've seen it many times and every time I wonder why I continue to watch it. But every time I have a chance to see it, I want to. I think I keep watching it because the story is so dang complicated that I forget exactly what happens and I feel I need to see it again in order to remember what the heck it's about. After seeing it many times, I think I finally have it down.

It starts Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak. In it Jimmy is, in a word, crazy. He starts going crazy at the beginning and gets progressively crazier, partly on account of Kim Novak and partly on account of him being him.

I'm not going to divulge many details of the story. It's complicated and has a number of twists. But the gist is Jimmy Stewart follows Kim Novak around. There are some good Hitchcock-style disturbing moments, and an incredibly strange dream sequence that makes the movie truly worth watching. Also, Jimmy has a friend, Midge, who's in love with him and is rather desperate. But with a name like Midge, you can't blame her for being desperate. (I apologize if you're name is Midge. I'm sure you're not desperate.) She may also contribute to Jimmy's craziness.

The first ... two hours of the movie are pretty slow. They involve a lot of long driving shots. Driving through San Fransisco. Driving by the ocean. Driving through the country. You name it, they drive there. There are also many long shots of Jimmy observing Kim Novak in a slightly creepy way. Observing Kim at the museum. Observing Kim in the cemetery. Observing Kim in the garden. Lots of observing. Finally, towards the end, things pick up, questions are answered, and everyone's happy. Or disturbed.

Incidentally, if you've seen this movie, I highly recommend watching it with someone who hasn't seen it and trying to convince them that various people in the movie are going to kill Jimmy Stewart. It works surprisingly well depending on who your victim is. I really had my roommate going on Monday.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Wizard of Oz Halloween

After the whole McDonald's/Wicked Witch of the East debacle, and inspired by a pair of black and white striped tights at Goodwill, I decided to be the Wicked Witch of the East for Halloween this year. But I knew I had to do it right: with a house on top of me.

My wonderful boyfriend (who may or may not think I'm totally nuts) offered to make me a house to wear. After carefully considering my request that it not be a box, and that it allow me to move around freely (I'm not high maintenance) this is the amazing costume we ended up with:

Yeah, that's me, dead. My shoes are in fact red, even though they don't look it.

We also made my boyfriend an awesome Wizard costume, consisting mostly of green duct tape: