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Arsenic and Old Lace - A film review

February 12, 2008
Posted by mmarvs in : Films
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Review by Adriana Carriles

arsenic.jpgArsenic and Old Lace is, from my point of view, one of the funniest comedies of all time. The film’s screenplay was written by Epstein brothers based on Joseph Kesselring’s successful Broadway play of the same name.

But let’s begin with the plot: Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant), a drama critic who was educated by two sweet but eccentric old aunts, has just got married when he discovers insanity runs in his family, which also includes one brother who thinks he’s the USA President Teddy Roosevelt and another who is a psycho-killer fashioned after Boris Karloff.

A very dark and funny movie of a much more innocent age: in 1944 the idea of respectful people committing murder was funny in its own way because it was a situation so far away from reality. Arsenic and Old Lace, however, is anything but sad!

And what about the performances? All of them were wonderful, but Cary Grant’s facial expressions and body language are just out of this world! In spite of the fact that Cary Grant always disliked his performance in Arsenic and Old Lace (he complained about taking part in a comedy film), I do think he was excellent and it’s impossible not to laugh your head off!

I must admit that much of this film’s humour has become dated: some of the references are quite difficult to understand for today’s audiences (for example, the joke of Jonathan’s resemblance to Boris Karloff… how many young people know nowadays who Karloff was?). Never mind, ignore the jokes you don’t really get and be prepare to burst out laugh with lines like these:

(Mortimer) - But there’s a body in the window seat!!!
(Aunt Abby) - Yes, dear, we know.
(Mortimer) - You know???
(Aunt Martha) - Of course
(Aunt Abby) - Yes, but it has nothing to do with Teddy.
(Mortimer) - But, but…
(Aunt Abby) - Now, Mortimer, you forget about it. Forget you ever saw the gentleman.
(Mortimer) - Forget???
(Aunt Abby) - We never dreamed you’d peek.

Ah! The Spanish translation is a little bit different, as you can see is you visit my blog (Am I allowed to do some self-publicity? Hehehe), where I posted this film some months ago: http://cineblog.blogia.com/2006/042801-arsenico-por-compasion.-frank-capra-1944.php#comentarios),

My final advice? If you haven’t seen this movie already, what are you waiting for?

Under the Tuscan Sun - A film review

February 12, 2008
Posted by mmarvs in : Films
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undertuscansun1.jpgReview by Verónica Díaz Suárez

Title: Under the Tuscan Sun

Based on the novel Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes.

Directed by Audrey Wells

Starring: Diane Lane, Sandra Oh, Lindsay Duncan and Raoul Bova.

Frances Mayes is a 35 year old writer who lives in San Francisco and whose perfect life, making reviews about other books, has changed drastically. She still hasn’t got over her divorce so she isn’t able to write and her depression is starting to be highly worrying for her best friend Patti. Patti is expecting a baby and thinking about something to help her friend, she decides to present Frances with a ten days gay package tour in Tuscany (Italy). During her especial holidays, she falls in love with a beautiful old villa called “Bramasole”. She buys it although it needs to be repaired but if she wants to start a new life, this is the best place: the land of the Renaissance. While the house is developing to be a cosy home, Frances meets new friends and has some affairs that make her feel alive, but none of them are definitive because before her old life turns into a new one she needs to be happy herself. Could she have a second opportunity under the Tuscan sun?
After reading the original book, the film reflects all the experiences that Frances Mayes has lived. It combines humor and human sensations in a good way showing us her internal adventure. For me, it is a romantic film but not a typically romantic comedy because she is supposed to stars her love story at the end but not at the beginning. First of all, she must take changes and risks without looking back. It is a metaphor: she is making improvements in the house and at the same time she is making emotional changes in her own life, her complete change is made by all the new people that enter in her little world but not by furniture or painting walls. We can see the progress of the house while the movie goes on, the quality of the light is changing to be more attractive and warmer although its decoration is basically the same.
The locations on the film are the most beautiful places: Cortona in the Tuscany and Positano in the Amalfi Coast; when you see someone there, you can feel that it looks free and different in a complicated world.
The film is not only about a woman who is trying to find herself and buys a house in a foreign country, it tells us the relation between the place and the human being. Finally, her internal muse of writer finds her and she is able to trust herself again. If she takes risks and makes one’s way to a new life, the happiness returns deep down her. Even at the end of the game, it can happen exceptional good things.
As it is noticed, I love this film and I would recommend it for everyone. You will find easy to follow although some characters have American accent. You will enjoy with the story because it is absolutely great and it captures all the feelings that Frances tried to express in her book perfectly.

Recommend a film

January 21, 2008
Posted by mmarvs in : Films, General

As I mentioned the other day in class, I would like you to recommend a film that you have seen recently and that you think suitable for English learners.

Post a comment with your ideas.