THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963)

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Elizabeth (spoilers!)

After The Magnificent Seven, I was ready for The Great Escape. Like The Magnificent SevenThe Great Escape was a movie I hadn’t seen because it looked long and boring. But both films were directed by John Sturges and star Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, and James Coburn. So things started to look up for The Great Escape.

I was dying to see Richard Attenborough in this because my only image of him is from the Jurassic Park/Miracle on 34th Street era. Chris and I tried to spot him, first thinking he was a different British actor, but when Attenborough came on screen it was unmistakably him. It was kind of amazing to watch him so young and to have the same voice, eyes, and mouth as he always did under that white beard. And it’s always nice to see James Garner from this time period, in all of his masculine sexiness. And the more Chris talked about it, the better it sounded. Sexy dudes banding together? Check. Allies fighting and defeating Nazis? Check. That plus knowing the movie wasn’t about actual battles (therefore not being super bloody and sad) really convinced me.

But you want to know something about The Great Escape? There is no great escape. Before you argue, I will counter by asking how great can an escape actually be if you’re murdered immediately after? By Nazis? How about: NOT THAT GREAT.

We spend about 2 hours learning about our characters, American and British soldiers being held in a Nazi POW camp. This particular camp is kind of a camp of misfits; the Nazis seemed to have dumped every POW that’s made an escape attempt into this camp. The Nazi Kommandant in charge of the camp is surprisingly likeable; he’s a career soldier who’s really ready for the war to be over. He thinks he and the POWs shouldn’t have a problem peacefully living among one another while they all wait out the war. Like The Magnificent Seven, all of the POWs we meet are charming and tough. They come up with an elaborate escape plan using tunnels they dig underground, including the necessary documentation to get them out of Nazi territory once they’re on the other side of the fence. They even build 3 tunnels simultaneously in case the Nazis discover one.

When the night of escape finally arrives, the Nazis have already discovered one tunnel. The POWs realize, a little late, that the tunnel they’re using isn’t long enough to safely get them past their Nazi guards. They figure out, using signals to each other, how to escape one by one without getting caught. After a whopping 76 POWs escape successfully, one of the POWs makes noise to alert the Nazis and the escape is cut short. As insanely stressful and tense as the escape was, I was shocked to learn that 76 had escaped because it was kind of hard to keep track on screen. It was awesome! As a viewer, you feel like celebrating. Fuck you, Nazis! Go USA! But what’s strange is there’s almost a full hour of the movie left at this point. But that’s surely to track some of the main POWs in their escape out of Nazi territory. Right?

Ha, ha! Gotcha! After we watch the 76 POWs escape we are fortunate enough to watch 50 of them get murdered by Nazis. And a bunch more get re-captured and sent back to the Nazi camp. Literally only three POWs actually escape. It was one thing when four of the magnificent seven were killed because A.) I mean, you kind of expect it and B.) they died on their own terms, trying to save the village. Both The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape have the same number of good guy survivors. Not. Cool.

I wouldn’t say this movie is bad, per se. Those amazing actors are still amazing in it. And it’s a harrowing true story for sure. I just kind of wanted to curl up and die after watching it.

Christopher

Another John Sturges movie I’ve seen well over ten times. I loved this movie when I was younger and I really wanted Elizabeth to watch and enjoy it as much as I did.
While I still enjoy the film quite a lot, it wasn’t quite how I remembered it. I wish they had taken more time explaining some of the escape routes and showing us all the tunnels. I wish we had a better understanding of how many people did escape. And I really wish there was more Steve McQueen! I totally forgot how much of an outsider he is in this film.
I think the highlight of this film is the scene where the Americans make moonshine on the Fourth of July. Besides celebrating it in front of British troops it’s an exciting scene.
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MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1994) + WE’RE BACK FOR 2017!

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Elizabeth 

While 2016 managed to be an infamously bad and crazy year in a lot of ways, for Chris and me it ended up being a very good, albeit very busy, year. So far 2017 is shaping out to be less busy and we’ll be able to devote the time we always want back into the blog. And we’re starting now!!

As for Miracle on 34th Street . . . FUCK. THIS. MOVIE. Okay, let me back up a bit. I’m not a very Christmas-y person. Most of my Christmas spirit died when I found out Santa Claus wasn’t real. In fact, finding out Santa Claus wasn’t real – therefore discovering a giant conspiracy between EVERY ADULT against ME, A CHILD – was probably the first step for me to really grow up. I admit, I was a sensitive child. I understand most kids didn’t feel their reality shatter when they found out this piece of news. But mine did, and that’s that.

Since then, I’ve been pretty adamant about not perpetuating the lie of Santa Claus. This is pretty easy for me to do without having any kids. But as nieces and nephews have come along, I’ve managed to avoid the subject altogether and maintain my goal of not lying. The thing is, I think Christmas would be more enjoyable without Santa Claus from the beginning. Without Santa Claus, there’s no lie to ever come clean about and nothing has to really “change” about Christmas per se. Even with outside pressures of media and other kids and family members, I’ve always thought it was perfectly reasonable to raise kids without raising them to believe in Santa Claus.

I never saw Miracle on 34th Street growing up, this version or any version. Christmas movies seemed to make the sting of Santa Claus that much more painful as so many of them address and subsequently explain away skeptical thoughts about Santa Claus. This fucking movie takes that to whole new heights.

Elizabeth Perkins plays Dorey Walker – my kind of woman. She’s a single mom working as the special event director for Cole’s, which is a stand-in for Macy’s. In addition to her dope job, she has a DOPE AS SHIT apartment in New York City, a dope 6-year-old named Susan (Mara Wilson), and a dope fuck-buddy-who’s-in-love-with-her-and-is-Dylan-McDermott named Bryan. Susan is a borderline child prodigy in her maturity – think real-life Louise from Bob’s Burgers. Dorey has raised Susan to believe that Santa Claus isn’t real – that parents pretend to be Santa Claus at Christmas and the Santa Claus that works at Cole’s every year is an actor. This works fine for Susan, who loves Christmas regardless. Dorey is always upfront with Susan, despite Bryan actively telling Susan Santa Claus is real behind Dorey’s back. But it still never seems to be a problem for Susan.

Until Dorey hires a new Santa Claus for Cole’s – Kris Kringle, played by Richard Attenborough. Kris throws Susan off by nonchalantly insisting he’s Santa Claus. Usually when met with Susan’s precociousness, adults would concede that Santa Claus was fake and move on. But Kris is Santa Claus, according to him. Susan pulls a pretty sweet move on Kris – she says she’ll believe in Santa Claus if Santa Claus gets her everything she wants for Christmas: a dad, the giant country mansion Cole’s uses for photo shoots, and a baby brother.

Some dumb shit happens where Kris is lazily framed for an assault that never even happened. The whole case suddenly rests on the idea of whether or not Kris is actually Santa Claus or not. Susan gives the judge a Christmas card containing a $1 bill with the words In God We Trust circled. This of course makes the judge realize that since the U.S. Department of Treasury can put its official faith in God with no hard evidence, then the people can believe in Santa in the same way. SOOOOOOOOO the judge dismisses the case and declares that Santa is real.

After the case is dismissed, Kris/Santa literally tricks Dorey into marrying Bryan. Afterwards, they for some reason take Susan to that country mansion, where Kris/Santa hasn’t really bought it for them but makes it possible to buy it, which for some reason they do. And goddammit, you know what happens next. Susan tells Dorey and Bryan about her wish for a brother, Dorey and Bryan literally look at Dorey’s belly and kiss. SANTA CLAUS IS REAL!!!!!

Okay, so who gives REGULAR people the presents then? This is a world in which parents (WHO FOR THE RECORD, IS SANTA CLAUS) KNOW Santa is fake (as seen in Dorey’s explanation to Susan) but also in which Santa is REAL and GIVES OUT PRESENTS, presumably to the same parents who know Santa is fake. So are parents buying all these presents or not? If they are, what the fuck, Santa? If they aren’t, what the fuck, parents?

In the end, this movie is a total nightmare and one every child should avoid at all costs.

Christopher

We’re back!! This year has been hectic but I think Elizabeth and I are finally on more of a routine to start this blog up again. We’ve been watching movies in between Sex and the City, Big Brother, and Channel Zero. Now’s the time to finally write some of those reviews. We may just post a giant list of movies we watched and just start from there too.

Since it’s the holiday season I felt like it was perfect to watch at least one movie that’s Christmas-themed. Miracle on 34th Street was not a movie I saw more than once as a kid but I felt like it was a good choice since it does have a somewhat star-studded cast. James Remar is always a great addition.
Before we watched this I assumed it followed the main girl who might not believe in Santa but with a little help along the way she would see he is real and that Christmas is a magical time after all. Once the movie started it was kind of like that. The kid didn’t believe, everyone else wants her to believe except her only blood relative. But what surprised me was how the kid still loves Christmas. She just knows Santa doesn’t exist. It’s unfortunate that every adult this kid runs into during the film tells her she’s wrong and she just has to believe. More than a little condescending and wouldn’t that really just make her not trust her mother??
Well this movie was pretty dumb. Not a lot makes sense but that’s most kids’ movies, right? I mean I’m pretty sure most adults would say that Minions is the best movie of the year so maybe adults do actually like this movie. For me though it delivered in its absurdity and in making Elizabeth roll her eyes at almost every line! I can’t wait to read her review for this!