Tuesday, November 25, 2014

When Two Paths Collide

In our latest viewing, our class took a break from fast-paced Sci-Fi flicks, deep film noir, and Alfred Hitchcock thrillers for John Hughes' comedy, "Planes, Trains, & Automobiles." Although very predictable, I really enjoyed the film. I found it extremely humorous, eye-opening, and touching. While viewing this film, the important message that resonated with me was people come into our lives for a reason to teach us important lessons that help us grow.

In this movie, Neal Page played by Steve Martin was an overworked business man who was trying to get to Chicago in time to spend Thanksgiving with his family. But fate proved to be very unkind as Neal encountered set-back after set-back in his quest to get home. Neal got his first taste of  bad luck when his taxi to the airport was taken by a mysterious man. Later at the airport, Neal met the mystery man again who incessantly apologized and introduced himself as Del Griffith played by John Candy, a happy-go-lucky shower rings salesman. Initially, Neal was put off by Del's loquaciousness and obnoxious behavior. Much to Neal's dismay,  he had to endure the long flight with Del, which was diverted to Wichita as a result of a blizzard in Chicago. 

With no contacts or direction, Neal had no choice but to rent a car with Del and stay with him  in a run-down motel. Tensions came to a head in the motel with Neal exploding on Del for his continued annoying behavior, with Del firing back. In an emotional moment, Del proclaimed that he liked himself for who he was, and that Neal couldn't change him with his words or cynicism. As the movie progressed, bad luck continued to crush Del and Neal's plans, forcing them to rely on each other and build a strong bond, despite their frustration. I noticed that by spending time with Del,  his character began to transform. Neal became less uptight and more care-free, learning how to effectively cope with  setbacks. A scene that stuck out to me was when Neal got on the train in Wichita and made brief small-talk with the girl sitting next to him. Although subtle, this scene showed change in Neal's character because at the beginning of the movie he was thoroughly annoyed by Del's chatter on the airplane. In this scene, he was behaving just like Del. 

The ending of  "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" was extremely powerful to me because both Del and Neal realized how much they had grown to care for each other. While Neal was on the train home, a montage was used to highlight Del and Neal's journey, and how much they had been through together.When Neal found Del at the train station all alone, I was shocked to find out that Del was homeless and his wife had been dead for eight years. I was very moved when Neal invited Del to share Thanksgiving dinner with his family. 

I really love this movie because it embodies the true essence of Thanksgiving and emphasizes showing love, compassion, and empathy to others. Although everything wasn't roses between Del and and Neal, the struggles that they shared together brought them closer and formed an unbreakable bond. Del came out with a true friend. Neal came out not only with a good friend, but a softer heart. We can all learn from this film. Every person that we cross paths with, good or bad, implants something in our hearts that we take with us throughout our lives. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Birds: A Mystery Ending

After finishing director Alfred Hitchcock's follow up to  Psycho, The Birds, I felt a little disappointed. I spent the whole film questioning why this was happening and what was causing the birds to attack. The film was pretty good. Unfortunately, I missed some of it, but I was able to view some clips on YouTube. The parts where people were getting attacked were pretty interesting to watch. The more I watched, the more I desperately wanted to know what was going on with the birds. It was an extreme let down when I found out that they never revealed the reason why.

I did some research on this movie about the ending and found a few theories on what might have happened to cause the birds to attack. One theory was that the birds had lost their way when trying to migrate and it caused them to become confused, panic and attack people. I don't really agree with this one. Another theory was that they were being fed bad chicken feed. This could be possible, however, I don't believe that was the reason. One theory that does make some sense to me is that they are attracted to the light (they had said this in the film), however, there were no early problems with the birds in the film related to being attracted to light. Personally, my own theory would be that Melanie was the one causing the birds to attack. Wherever she went, the birds seemed to attack next. Her character seemed really suspicious to me throughout the film. I felt like she acted strange in most of the scenes. However, this theory can also be contradicted because on the radio they had talked about different places that were being attacked and there was also the attack on that chicken farmer.  

Even though I was a little disappointed with the ending, The Birds, was still an okay film. The scenes where the birds were attacking people were pretty entertaining. The ending leaves the audience thinking of an answer to the question everyone is wondering. Why are the birds really attacking? We may never know the real reason.

Touch of Evil: What Not To Do When Interracial Dating!

       "What does it mean to truly touch evil? pick up a copy of this movie and you will know"

In this crime mystery movie the wife of a well known Spanish detective is kidnapped and held as a result of the racial tension around during the time period. To be honest this movie didn't really resonate with me and as a result my review and opinions of this movie may be EXTREMELY biased and negative. However, I do know some people who actually did enjoy the movie during the viewing and were able to gain some type of meaning from this movie. Also in most movies I can understand how the director chose to do something daring in how he/she envisioned the scenes but in Touch of Evil all of the frames seem basically regular to me and have nothing that stands out to the point in where it drastically affects the movie.

I honestly believe that Touch of evil has a simple plot. Honestly compared to other works of Wells such as Citizen's Kane & The Third Man, Touch of Evil in my opinion is extremely pale.
Between the stale dialogue and the oblique camera angles this movie fails to stir up any feeling of depth within the audience or at least for me it didn't. While it is true that for some aspects of the movie Touch of Evil is a groundbreaking success, the majority of the movie discloses itself to me as a movie picture not worth revisiting or remembering ever again.

Psycho: OverProtective Mom X1000

             "I mean I like birds as much as the next guy, but this guy may just be a psycho"

Imagine you are on the verge of reuniting with your forbidden lovewith a car full of stolen $40000. Now imagine that your master mindplan is brought to an abrupt halt after a psychotic mother stabs youto death in the shower. Now all you have to do is throw in thebrilliant directing of Alfred Hitchcock. These are the key ingredientsto creating the immensely mind boggling thriller/horror classicPsycho.

The many elements that Hitchcock utilizes to create a symphony ofconfusion is pure genius and in my opinion deserves the highestapplause. From the beginning of the movie we are given a falseprotagonist played by the lustrous Janet Leigh. As she is given theopportunity to steal a large amount of money, she takes it and fleesthe city. Not only is she pursued by a cop but her suspicious natureraises alarm back at home where the crime is being realized. She seeksrest at the bates motel right off the road. It is here where she meetsa brutal death and her body is thrown into a tar pit.

As our true protagonist Norman bates is revealed, Alfred takes the artof confusion past the threshold by introducing Norman's mother as acharacter without ever showing the viewer her face but simplysupplying us with what we assume is her voice. The rest of the movieprogresses as people looking for our false protagonist arrive at thebates motel to simply meet the same fate. Eventually however, Normanbates is caught and it is revealed that he has internally split hispersonality between himself and his mother who he murdered viciouslyin a jealous rage.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Alien: A Guy Gets Pregnant In This Movie!

       "Never has a movie given me more of a reason to cheer for the protagonists than this one."

Let's face it, the whole aliens attacking earth bid has been done time and time again. As a result, the entire genre is not only boring but painfully predictable. Thus, upon my first viewing of Alien I went in with somewhat of a negative preconception. Gladly, this movie takes the genre of alien movies and injects some fresh vitality directly into its veins. Aliens is the result of when a fresh new idea is done right and the films accolades allows the film to speak for itself.

The movie Alien takes place in the year 2122 where a group of space cadets are sent to explore and retrieve any extra-terrestrial life forms on another planet. Upon arriving onto the planet in question the group of cadets stumble upon a nest of alien babies. One of the cadets is then infected with the baby alien and allowed on board by an android scientist. Even though Ripley, played by the awesome Sigourney Weaver, protests this breach of safety she allows the cadet to come aboard. The movie finally picks up the pace when the baby alien spurts out of the cadets stomach and uses the ventilation system to hide and hunt its prey. 

After eliminating most of the crew, Ripley escapes in a pod and self destructs the ship. However, in an unforeseen twist the alien actually sneaks its way into the pod before the ship exploded. Realizing this, Ripley uses the garbage disposal feature to create a vacuum effect and send the alien drifting into the big unknown. Throughout the movie there are countless examples of how alien sets itself apart from its genre brethren. This is the movie that started the series that set an abnormally high bar for both production value, story telling, and special effects.



I am actually truly getting into this movie which is really weird and shocking to me. Like I said in my first post I do NOT like sci-fi films >.< ! But I am starting to like this one. Being that the movie was made in the 70s or 80s, they did a great job creating alien characters and had pretty awesome effects. They weren't where they are today when it comes to technology but I thought it would still be more like the movie pyscho and it wasn't. I still don't like the woman character. And I really think that only a few people are going to die on the ship and the rest will get away. Now that the alien is inside the ship and they can't find him, they're being stupid enough to go in the tight, hot vents and try to kill it off in there. They have no clue what kind of power it has and how much more advanced it is than humans, I mean hellooooo it's an ALIEN.


I really don't feel like I'm going to like this movie. I'm giving it a chance but ever since I was little  I never liked anything that was sic-fi related. The only thing that interests me about aliens is the documentaries they do on the history channel. So far I'm not interested but I promise I'm trying my best to stay focused. I already don't like the woman character that kind of holds the main character position. (I'm really not good with names sorry :/) I find her very arrogant as if she knows everything and that she would be the type to throw her important job in peoples face because she has that superior power on the ship. Altogether I'm not very into this movie hopefully my mind is changed next viewing session in class.


I honestly loved this movie. I love how the man acts so suspicious when the sister and boyfriend go looking to find the detective and Marion. The movie wasn't even so much about the fact that Marion stole the money anymore. It was more about the mother being a killer and what was going to have to happen in order for this movie to have an ending. I was so shocked by the ending of the movie. When I found out that the man was the real killer and had double personalties, one being his mother that had been dead for a very long time, it made me connect to AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM SEASON. I connected it to this show because someone like him would be in that asylum being that both took place back then. But it makes me wonder how the death of his mother and his mental being wasn't investigated. Altogether it was a great movie and like I said before I'd love to watch the second one. Oh and to add on, I liked how at the end of the movie when he was in the cell, he turned on his mothers personality in his brain and talked basically saying he wasn't finished with what he had started.


I wonder exactly what happened that made his mother pyscho? Why was she killing women? And why hadn't he admitted her into a ward or something? These are the questions that were coming to mind when the mother had killed Marion in the shower. The way they filmed the killing was kind of funny because back then they didn't have the advanced effects and makeup skills we have today. However I feel like something isn't right about the movie. I'm not even sure what is it to be honest I just have a weird feeling that something is going to surprise me at the end. When he pushed the car with the money into the lake I could already predict that at the end of the movie they would most likely pull the car out and find everything. So far I like this movie and I know that there's a part two, hopefully Monahan will show the second movie to us this year :)


I was really just not impressed by this movie. ESPECIALLY the ending. When the movie was finished all of us were like "Are you serious, this is the end?" Like the movie didn't end correctly and if I went to go see this movie in theaters I would be demanding for a full refund. I didn't understand why the birds were even attacking in the first place. When the woman ( I keep forgetting her name ) passed out while getting attacked by the birds, I was getting so mad because she had PLENTY of chances to get out of the attack. Not only that but you aren't going to just go into shock by birds biting you, it just didn't make any sense to me. And the fact that the birds didn't attack when they came out of the house to leave makes no sense. Why wouldn't they take that opportunity. The movie would've had a better ending if they just attacked them and they all died. I don't mean it in a bad way but it would've been a better ending to be honest


Unfortunately I was not able to watch this part of the birds with the class :(. This was because I needed to finish a resume for the Yale nursing internship. Thank you for letting me use that class period to get it  all fixed up and done Mr. Monahan :)


I already am sick of this movie to be honest. It's like a cheap horror movie and for me to laugh at something that's supposed to be scary is pretty sad. I'm very picky about the scary movies I watch because that's my favorite genre of movies. I watch them all the time on Netflix and the second I feel like the movie isn't scary enough for me, I automatically stop watching it and look for another scary movie to watch. When the birds attacked all the children at the little birthday party outside I'm sorry but I was cracking up laughing the entire time. The way the birds were attacking the kids was honestly hysterical to me. At one point a seagull attacked a kid and was pecking the back of the kids neck and it was the funniest thing in the world. You'd think that the kids would run toward the house where they could get away but no instead they run up the little hills closer to the sky where birds fly -___-. That aggravated me because it's a perfect example of how badly the people who wrote the script created it. Clearly only the ignorant would run to a high up area in the wide open.


So far this movie has been confusing for me. I don't understand why the woman brought love birds to the mans house. I noticed how horrible the "photoshop" was back then. You could totally tell when the background scenery was fake and it was pretty funny to me. When the first bird attacked the woman it made me think something about her is making them want to attack but I am still not exactly sure what to think of this movie yet. I also noticed at the beginning of the movie how they used the sound of birds attacking which really bothered my ears and annoyed me making me not want to watch the movie from the very start.


Honestly this was the worst movie that we've watched this quarter. I understand that a man walking across a wire between the two twin towers is pretty amazing but to make an entire movie on it was too much. I found the documentary very boring and I couldn't even understand most of it which really sucked. I feel like maybe if I could understand what they people with the french accents were saying I would've maybe been more interested in the movie itself. Alltogether the movie just wasn't appealing to me and when it comes to documentaries I prefer watching ones on controversial topics. Although I do believe that the man was an amazing and talented person for what he did, lord knows I can barely balance standing on a floor but thats besides the point. I just don't think this movie had any real uniqueness to it which made me lose all focus while watching it.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: I love this movie

When I found out the next movie we would be watching would be Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, I was very disappointed. I was expecting an extremely boring movie about planes, trains, and cars. However, when I saw the image for the front cover of the movie which was this:

I was surprised and curious as to what this movie was about. I assumed it was a comedy because the two main characters were Steve Martin and John Candy, who I have seen in different movies before that were mostly comedies.

The film starts out with Neal, played by Steve Martin, who is trying to get home from New York to Chicago for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, a lot of things go wrong for him, such as losing a cab and his plane ending up being delayed. The cause of most of his frustration is because of a strange guy he met named Del, (John Candy). Throughout the movie, he ends up going on an unwanted, crazy trip with a stranger who sells shower rings and it's pretty hilarious.

This scene really stood out to me. Neal rants about Del's annoying habits and you can see how hurt Del is by the look on his face. I can see two sides to this scene. I can see the comedic side of the story as Del does annoying things in the bed and Neal gets extremely frustrated and starts complaining about all the annoying things. This part was pretty funny. However, then the scene turns sad when you see Del's face. He is clearly hurt by Neal's words and when he says what he feels it made me feel bad for him. He may be weird or annoying, but he is a nice guy and a good person. You have to accept people for who they are. You have to look for the good inside others. 

This was probably the funniest and most surprising scene. After Neal gets a rental car to see that it's not there, he has to walk all the way back to the airport. I wasn't expecting Neal to freak out like that and dropping a ton of F bombs out of nowhere to the lady at the desk. The last thing she said to him made this scene even better.

By the end of the film as they are finally departing ways, the mood seemed sad. Neal gets on his train and starts thinking about his family. Then he starts to think about Del and how he said he hadn't been home in years. He immediately goes back to the train station and Del is still there sitting alone. He admits to Neal that his wife has been dead for eight years and that he has no home. This part broke my heart and I could tell from Neal's face what was going to happen next. Neal brought Del to his house for Thanksgiving. This ending was really great and I loved it.

This is probably one of the best comedies I've ever seen. I couldn't stop laughing at certain funny parts and the ending was so touching, I teared up a bit. I would rate the film a 10/10. I'm really glad we watched it and I hope we watch more comedies in the future.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Stranger Danger

 Neal Page is having a bad day. His goal is to get home in time for Thanksgiving, but he just can't seem to get there...
In the hilarious comedy, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Neal Page is in New York City, ready to catch his flight home. But first he must take a cab, and in the blink of an eye, Del Griffith, a shower curtain ring salesman, "steals" it from him. So much for catching his flight on time. When he finally gets to the airport, he disappointingly finds out that he is taking the same flight as Del, whom he already holds a grudge with. Arguing with the flight attendant, he ends up getting sent to the coach seats on the plane, and guess who he is next to? None other than Del Griffith. 
The whole time he is there, Del is obnoxious. Neal, being the uptight business man that he is, was in no mood to talk to anyone, yet Del keeps running his mouth. Aside from that, his large frame squeezes Neal's slim body into the middle seat. This is going to be a long ride...

The journey is perpetuated when the flight gets diverted to Wichita, Kansas, and Neal scrambles to find a hotel room. This reminded me a lot of Home Alone [interestingly the writer-director of PTaA John Hughes also wrote Home Alone, and the exterior shots of the MacAllistor Chicago home and Neal's house are one in the same; excellent observation/connection Malik], when Kevin's mother vainly attempted to get a flight back home once she discovered that he had been left all by himself. I find it interesting that these movies' plots are polar opposites: in this movie, the main character (Neal) is trying to get back home to his family, and in Home Alone, the family is trying to get back to the main character (Kevin).

But the two films share one similarity: it took a while for each of the families to be reunited.

Since all hotels were booked, Del offered Neal to stay in his room, and of course, he had no other choice but to. Unsurprisingly, he quickly became annoyed at Del's personality. He had terrible hygiene, smoked, and snored obnoxiously as he slept. Oh, did I mention that they shared a queen size bed? Yeah, it wasn't pretty.

Neal eventually reached his breaking point, and yelled at Del for his annoying behavior. Del was on the verge of crying, and he asserted that he was not going to change. He liked who he was, and so did his family. Predictably, the hostility settled after a while, and the two men became semi-friends (frenemies). As they were sleeping, a woman had come into the room, and stole the money out of both of their wallets. Neal had over $700 with him, and Del had over $200. Neal accused Del of stealing his cash, but he sound found out that he was wrong. Del really wasn't a bad person - he was unintentionally obnoxious. He would never steal anything from Neal; he unknowingly "stole" the cab back in NYC by accident.

Despite their financial loss, the Neal and Del hitched a ride to the train, which would take them back to their families in Chicago. Unexpectedly, the train broke down. Once again, so much for getting home to his family for the holiday. Let's try Plan C: a Trailways bus. Fun.

The title of this movie is very deceiving: it sounds boring, but in reality, it is not. As soon as I heard it, I assumed that this would literally be a documentary about planes, trains, and automobiles. But it turned out to be a hilarious 1987 comedy. Thanks Mr. Monahan [You are most welcome; it is a pleasure to have you as a part of MBA's film studies]

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sugar: The Dream, The Goals, The Vision

     "Making diamonds requires an enormous amount of pressure, this theme is proven in Sugar"

The movie Sugar starts off by illustrating for the viewer an image of the baseball camp in the Dominican Republic. From the very beginning we get a glimpse at the amount of importance baseball has in the community and for the families. Sugar, the protagonist comes off as a dreamer whose future not only affects him, but his entire family. After improving upon his already harnessed skills Sugar is recruited by an american minor league team. Not only is this his first time in America but this is also his big shot at making it to the major leagues.

Sugar starts off doing well as he takes all of the things he's learnt in the D.R. and fully utilizes it to the most of his ability. Along the way however, as most star immigrants, the pressure rushes to his head. After he is seriously injured his rapid decline from the road to fame begins. Sugar realizes this as he tells his mother that he is planning to stay in America and pursue other careers outside of his baseball dream. Even though his mother expresses her concern for her son's future, she ultimately tells him to follow his own path and find his dream.

Lastly, Sugar quits the team by abandoning his bus as he tries to find some sense of meaning in his life. This strong desire leads him to a carpenter shop when he gets a job and once again feels as though he belongs. While he past relationships with others besides his family seemed genuine, they soon proved false as events unraveled. Sugar's search for authenticity is finally solved with his "new family" and even his take on life. The movie ends on the note of Sugar realizing that he can do the things he loves for himself without the approval of anyone.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

An Uncertain Future

In our last class, we finished Alfred Hitchcock's thriller, The Birds. As I stated in my previous post, I was extremely excited to see what would happen next. I was particularly hankering to find out why the birds were attacking the people of Bodega Bay and if Melanie was the cause of the chaos as the movie subtly hinted at. We left off at the scene when Melanie and Mitch found the schoolteacher, Annie Hayworth, dead on her front-porch after the bird attack. Following this traumatic and highly emotional scene, Mitch, Melanie, and Cathy retreated to the Brennan home. Mitch frantically boarded up every crevice of the home as the birds ruthlessly tried to break through the doors and windows. 

When the bird attack unexpectedly ceased, every one was left physically and emotionally shaken, wondering if the terror would ever stop. Soon after, everyone fell into a much-needed, but cautious slumber . In conventional fashion of horror movies, Melanie went upstairs to the attic after she heard some strange noises characteristic of birds. When Melanie opened the door to the attic, the birds viciously rushed at her, pushing and pecking until she was left bleeding on the floor. Fortunately, Mitch and Mrs. Brennan were able to save Melanie from the attack. The brutal attack on Melanie is the breaking point for everyone, and Mitch makes the executive decision to leave Bodega Bay once and for all.

But to leave, they must get past the birds. When Mitch opens the door of the house to get to the car, he is faced with the horrifying image of thousands of birds scattered in front of him, almost waiting in anticipation. Surprisingly, Mitch was able to safely get past the birds and get a radio signal from the car. The radio reported that other bird attacks had happened in small areas surrounding Bodega Bay, and that the U.S military would possibly get involved. At the end of the film, Mitch and Mrs. Brennan are able to get a severely traumatized, Melanie, in to the getaway car. But before leaving, Cathy requests to bring the love-birds because "they didn't harm anyone". The film ends surprisingly with Mitch driving the entire family away from  the home. We see a long-shot of the the truck driving into the distance across the narrow dirt-road. Night is just about to break.  The ending shot is eerie as the birds begin to squawk frantically when the car is no longer in sight.

Like my peers, I was perplexed and slightly disappointed by the loose strings left at the end. There is no resolution to the bird attacks. Most notably, it is never revealed why the bird attacked. Although mildly frustrating, I appreciate the ending of The Birds because it enhances the bizarreness of the movie and leaves a lot to the imagination. In my opinion, horror movies are all the more terrifying when there is no resolution to the problem because you feel as if that problem exists after you leave the theater, even if it is fiction. 

In my personal opinion, I think that the love-birds were the cause of the birds attacking because wherever Melanie went with the love-birds, the other birds started acting strangely. I noticed at the beginning of the movie as Melanie was walking in the city towards the pet shop, the birds were flying strangely in the sky, which captured her attention. This was before she even arrived at Bodega Bay. We can speculate all we want, but we will most likely never find out the truth, as that is what Alfred Hitchcock probably wanted. Ambiguous endings really mess with the mind, and I find that oddly intriguing and powerful. The unknown has always fascinated me.

Hitchcock v. Hitchcock

Watching the movies The Birds and Psycho, you can see the distinctive qualities of Alfred Hitchcock's work. Straight off the bat, however, these two movies contrast one another in the fact that Psycho was in black and white, where The Birds is in color. I find the fact that Hitchcock made Psycho black and white for the sake of art and realism admirable.

I question, however, how it was that black and white was considered more realistic than that of color.

In both of these movies, it's evident Hitchcock's love for playing with one's mind. For example, in Psycho, the director keeps the viewer on edge with suspense and wonder on just how it is that the mother's supposedly dead, but is yet shown murdering numerous people. In The Birds, we never really know why the animals are attacking humans. The ending is left more open-ended than anything, leaving people to come to their own conclusions.

In both movies, it was a minor observation to note that the main characters each have mother problems, whether it was abandonment or death, or even a mental instability. Also, both movies incorporate some form of a love story, whether it cause a murder in Psycho, or serve as a source of strength in The Birds.

If I had to review the works of Hitchcock as an individual, I'd say that his movies were the most interesting and intriguing movies we've watched so far.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Unfinished Ending

Today I watched the final part of The Birds, which left me both disappointed and curious. Where I had left off last class, the massive flock of birds had fled the house, or at least that's what I was fooled into believing...

Alfred Hitchcock is notorious for being the "master of suspense", a title which he is undoubtedly deserving of. Suspense was definitely implemented in the final part of the film, as Melanie made her way around the dark house, slowly. Every thirty seconds or so, she heard a sound, definitely emanating from a bird. The birds were somewhere in the house. But where were they hiding? With my eyes glued to the screen, I saw Melanie slowly walk up the stairs, and I could tell from the sound that the birds were behind the door to the right. She creeped towards it, and slowly opened the door. She gasped when she noticed that the birds had torn through part of the roof, and that is when they unleashed their fury and attacked her. She tried to reach for the door handle, but wasn't able to turn it. Luckily, Mitch came to her rescue, but another obstacle stood in the way: as it turns out, the birds hadn't left the outside of the house either. 

They were all sitting around, surrounding the house, perfectly still. Mitch eased his way out into the horde, being careful as to not make any sudden movements or noises, and managed to get to Melanie's car, which he would use to take her to the hospital. Cautiously, he drove up to the front of the house, and gently closed the car door. He was going to escort Melanie and his mother to the car; immediately I was worried that one of the women, if not both, would scream out of fear, and cause the birds to attack once again. Fortunately, they stayed quiet, and carefully drove off into the distance. The end.

Whoa wait! Did this movie seriously just end like that? It's like one of those books that is a great read for most of the way, and then cuts off all of a sudden, leaving you in eternal suspense, forever asking all of those unanswered questions. The end.                                                                                                                                                                                         

Monday, November 17, 2014

When Birds Attack

In our viewing of  another Alfred Hitchcock thriller, The Birds, we watch as pandemonium ensues when birds start attacking the small town of Bodega Bay, California. Set in 1963, the main character, Melanie Daniels, meets a wealthy lawyer, Mitch Brennan, in a local pet shop. In their first meeting, the attraction between the two is as clear as day. While viewing this scene, I was very intrigued by Melanie's impetuous, spur-of-the-moment behavior. Not only does she initially pretend to be a salesperson in the pet shop and let a bird out of the cage without much thought, but she decides to purchase two lovebirds and bring them to Mitch for his little sister, Cathy. Personally, I think it takes a lot of guts to find a stranger's address, drive all the way out to their home, and try to secretly deliver a present. In my opinion, Melanie is a very unconventional female lead because she goes after what she wants, particularly her love interest. Often times in films, the male lead is the one to make the first move and approach the woman. That was just a little tidbit I noticed.

Looking at the bigger picture, when Melanie arrives in Bodega Bay, the birds in the area become increasingly aggressive and hostile. In the first incident as Melanie is rowing her boat into the Bodega Bay harbor, a gull comes bites the top of her forehead, breaking the skin. In a second incident while the kids are playing at Cathy's birthday party, the birds promptly attack again. All seemed tranquil and normal until one night when Melanie and the Brennan family were lounging in the living room. Suddenly, a massive amount of birds started swarming the house from the chimney. For the time period, I think the visual effects of this scene were pretty awesome. The use of isolated diegetic sound also enhanced this scene and made it all the more intense. When Mitch reported the incident to the sheriff, he failed to believe them.

True to the dark and sinister nature of Hitchcock films, things continue to get worse. When Melanie visited the schoolhouse to pick up Cathy at the request of a shaken Mrs. Brennan, she noticed a large flock of crows starting to gather on the school playground, almost like they were waiting to begin their terror. Melanie quickly informed the teacher, Annie, who instructed the kids to behave as if it were a fire drill and run home as fast as they could. As soon as the children fled the school house, the birds began to attack, viciously biting and knocking everyone down in sight. Melanie and the viewers realize that something is definitely not right with the birds.

In our last viewing of The Birds in class, Melanie and the other people in the restaurant were arguing over  whether or not the birds were attacking purposefully. The semi-peaceful mood is broken when a bird smashes into a gas pump, causing gasoline to flow out into the parking lot . Ironically, a man was smoking a cigarette as the gasoline was nearing his car, which resulted in a major explosion. Chaos ensued as the birds started to attack again. In one of the most harrowing moments of the film, Melanie and Mitch find Annie dead on the stairs of her home. What a way to end!

I am very excited to continue watching this movie in class. I want to know why the birds are attacking and, if and how they will be able to stop them. Is Melanie responsible for the birds attacking as the film is hinting at? How much worse can things get?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Birds

At the first look at the title, I assumed this was going to be another boring film. Until someone told me that the movie was about birds attacking people. Now I was interested. The Birds starts out a little boring. It starts with the main character (Melanie) working in a bird shop and a guy named Mitch shows up. It's obvious that they are interested in each other. They talk about different birds and he is looking for love birds. After he leaves the store, she ends up bringing love birds to his house, which is a somewhat strange thing to do in my opinion. Then, when she is trying to go back, a bird scratches her on the head. The reason why is unclear. It seems like it might have been an accident. The characters probably didn't think much about this yet.

At the kids party is when the movie really starts to get more interesting. Out of nowhere, birds start attacking the kids and everyone panics. Once they are all safe, Melanie starts to notice a lot of things happening with the birds and how it can't be a coincidence since the two other previous events with the birds happened. The first was when she was hurt by the bird and the second was when a bird hit Annie Hayworth's door.

Then, it happened again when they were in the house. Birds started swarming in and attacking again through the chimney. Luckily, no one was hurt and they were able to get all the birds out. Now even Mitch agrees that what is happening is strange and not a coincidence.

I'm wondering why the birds are attacking people. What is the cause of this problem? How are the characters going to resolve it?

Psycho: Ending

Unfortunately, I missed the ending of Psycho in class. However, I decided to watch it on my own because I was really enjoying it and had to see the rest.

The ending of Psycho was a huge shock. As I watched Marion's sister sneaking through Norman's house searching for Mrs. Bates the suspense was killing me. I was so interested in finally seeing Norman Bates crazy mother. From the earlier chat Norman and his mother had about her hiding in the basement, it gave me no suspicion that his mother wasn't alive. Then Marion's sister went into the basement and from the back of Mrs.Bates I could tell that it was not a person and then when she turns around we see this:

And then Norman storms in with the knife, dressed like his mother, ready to kill Lila. Fortunately, Sam quickly follows, stopping him. It turns out that Norman had killed his own mother by poisoning her and her lover around 10 years ago and he had dug up her body and kept it. It also turns out that Norman has two personalities, himself and his mother. That is something I had not expected. Norman Bates' mother was really dead and he was even more psycho than I thought. It was pretty creepy and the ending scene left me disturbed, yet interested in seeing more and wanting to learn more about Norman.

I'm curious to know more about Norman Bates' past with his mother. What went on in that house all his life? I know I have heard of a show called Bates Motel and it's like a prequel to Psycho about Norman's teen years with his mother. I've heard it's pretty good. I might start watching it.

Overall, I really liked this movie just as much as I liked Alien. I am also enjoying The Birds.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Turn for the Worse

When I watched the first portion of The Birds, I thought that it was going to be an easygoing movie. Coming from horror movies such as Psycho and Alien, I was worried that this movie would be boring for me. It seemed so low-key compared to these two previous films at the beginning, so unexciting and uninteresting. But as the movie progressed, tensions began to rise, and I began to retract on my comparison of this movie to Psycho, which were both made by Alfred Hitchcock. Initially, the two films seemed like polar opposites, but they drew closer and closer to each other as time went on. Hitchcock definitely had an affinity for strange, unusual films that include an unexpected plot twist. I love it.

Yesterday, we started off with the scene in which Melanie headed to the schoolhouse. All seemed sane and ordinary, but a concerning sight caught her attention: a massive group of black birds ominously sat on the school's playground. They were nearly motionless, all starting at Melanie as she was smoking her cigarette. She quickly and quietly went inside, shut the back door, and alerted the teacher. She told her students to act as if they were having a fire drill. Knowing that all of those birds were waiting outside, and the fact that they could travel much faster than humans, I wished that the teacher hadn't chosen to evacuate the students. They would've been safer inside, but no one knows how long they would've potentially stayed there. As soon as the birds heard everyone run out of the building, they rushed to attack the young children.

The birds in this film are not your average flying feathers. Usually, birds run away from humans, but this time, they came as close as possible, pecking at their heads and even knocking a girl over. Shortly afterwards, Melanie went into the diner, where everyone was talking about the attacks of the birds. An elderly woman doubts that these birds are even capable of such an attack, but she ends up being horribly wrong. A few birds knock over a man pouring gas in his car, leaving the gas nozzle to stream gas all over the ground. A man lights his cigar, even as everyone in the diner tells him not to, and he ends up causing a massive explosion at the gas station. Now, people are beginning to panic.

Just a short while after, Melanie and Mitch head to the schoolteacher's house, in which they find her lying on the front steps, dead. The birds killed her, which left his sister Cathy hysterical. They all headed back to Mitch's house, where he readied for another enormous attack. He boarded up every single window and door, just as if there was going to be a hurricane. Foreshadowing came into play here, because there was a huge swarm of birds flying around the mainland of San Francisco. Uh oh.

Within a few hours, when everyone was inside of the fortified house, the birds came. They pecked at the windows and boarded up door, fighting Mitch to get inside. It was clear that they would stop at nothing to attack Melanie, Mitch, Cathy, and Lydia.

My biggest question, however, is why? Why did they attack to begin with, and why did they follow Melanie? At the diner, a woman had accused her of being the cause of the bird attacks, since this was never a problem before she came to Bodega Bay. How did they even know where she was? It was as if they had planted a tracking device on her. Everywhere she had gone, they attacked. This gave me the same feeling as with Psycho: I was a little freaked out, and confused at the same time. You've done it again, Hitchcock.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dramatic vs. Lighthearted

Both Pyscho and The Birds are films created by Alfred Hitchcock, yet they differ in terms of theme, plot, and even color. Pyscho is in black and white, while The Birds is in color, although the colors are very subdued.

In a nutshell, Psycho is about a woman who attempts to steal $40,000, but ends up in the deadly Bates Motel, in which Norman Bates killed her. He vainly tried to hide the evidence from this murder, but this did not work out well. It was revealed that Norman acted as two different people: himself and his mother. But it was beyond just playing dress-up, he actually was both of these people. However, his mother's personality trumped his own, especially towards the end of the film. To be completely honest, this final part of the film freaked me out. It was just plain weird, there was definitely something wrong with him. I was confused because I thought that him and his mother were two separate characters, but they were not. He even hid his mother's corpse in her fruit cellar (basement), complete with clothing and a wig. It was absolutely terrifying, regardless of the fact that it was only a movie. In addition, there was another frightening scene: when Norman stabbed Marion in the shower. Dramatic irony was used here - the viewers could see that a dark figure was ominously standing in front of the shower curtain, yet Marion was unable to see it at this point. With no escape, she was stabbed by Norman's mother. He stuffed her body in a car trunk, and drove the car into a swamp. What an awful way to die. 

The Birds, however, is much less gruesome. While I have not seen the entire film yet, it is very easy to tell that it is not a scary film, and even if it ends up being one, it will be nothing like Psycho. It starts out with a woman, named Melanie, at a pet shop. A mysterious guy comes in and tells her that he "saw her in court", and she proceeded to track him down. She went all the way to Bodega Bay, an island off the coast of San Francisco, just to find him. I'm still curious as to why she was so determined to find him. Was she really that disturbed by the fact that he recalled seeing her before? I missed the viewing last class, so I'm not really sure.

Clearly, there are plenty of key differences between the two films, but on the other hand, there are also plenty of similarities. The style of both films, from the lengthy introduction to the unrealistic graphical effects of the 1960s, is very similar. It is easy to tell that they are made by the same director. He seems to have had a liking for unusual characters: in Psycho, Norman, and in The Birds, Melanie. They both were extreme in one way or another. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Lone Survivor

After finishing Alien in class, I was very impressed by the cinematography and suspenseful plot. I expected the movie to be very mediocre visually because it was filmed in 1979, but surprisingly, I found myself flinching and shifting in my seat during multiple scenes. The plot was unpredictable and kept me on the edge of my seat. There was absolutely no point in the film in which I was bored. The two aspects of the film that resonated with the most were Ripley's integrity and leadership, and the conflict of human morality v. biological perfection.

As I have described in my previous post, from the beginning, Ripley showcased a strong sense of intuitiveness and leadership by fervidly trying to prevent Kane from going back into the spaceship with the alien attached to him.  Although her protests were futile, she was dead-on in predicting the chaos that would eventually ensue on the ship, leading to the deaths of every crew member except herself and Jones the cat. The ending scene of the movie was a testament to Ripley's intelligence and bravery. With the horrifying realization that the alien had hidden aboard the shuttle, Ripley put on a space suit and  opened the shuttle's airlock, forcing the alien into the open doorway. Ripley propelled the alien out into space by shooting it with a grappling hook, but the hook caught in the closing the door, allowing the alien to hold on to the shuttle. In a life-saving move, Ripley activated the engine, subsequently blasting the alien into space.

Although the ending of Alien is triumphant, there is still a significant amount of unfinished business. Earlier in the film after Ash brutally attacked Ripley and the entire crew, it was revealed that he was a robot created to ensure that the alien was returned to Earth by all costs. Ripley found out that Ash was acing upon secret orders to, "Bring back alien life form. Crew expendable." This revelation shifted the entire dynamic of the movie from just "human v. alien" to "human v. human." Not only was the alien trying to destroy the crew, but a larger, more powerful outside force was as well. But, this outside force is never revealed and leaves myself and surely other viewers, wondering what will happen, if and when, Ripley returns to Earth.

After this startling revelation, I was wondering why it was so important to bring the alien back to Earth. The conflict of human morality v. biological perfection that I mentioned above ties right into this question. After the crew members finally put down Ash's attacks and dismantled his body seeking information, Ash talked in a stoic, yet subtly reverent tone about the alien, saying, "I admire its purity... A survivor unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions abut morality." This quote was profound because it raised a powerful question about whether or not the human conscious is an advantage or severe detriment. In my personal opinion, the answer falls somewhere in between. Yes, logic is intrinsic to making prudent decisions and achieving important goals. But, a sense of compassion is just as important to connecting with other individuals, and feeling in touch with one's self.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Psycho: Thoughts for the beginning and middle

The movie Psycho is really great so far. I am enjoying it almost as much as Alien. The first class we started watching it I was confused as to why Marion had stolen the money in the first place. Then I was wondering what she planned on doing now that she had committed such a serious crime. When she arrived at the Bates Motel it seemed very suspicious and creepy. The guy who was running the motel, Norman, seemed a bit suspicious at first and turned out really creepy when he introduced his "special" hobby, taxidermy, which was stuffing birds. I was wondering why she didn't feel like she was in any danger because this guy was clearly creepy. Also he had said that "a boy's best friend is his mother," which means he probably has never left that house which adds to his creepiness. I felt the actor who played Norman performed really well in the film so far.

The next class when we continued watching it we got to the good part.

The famous shower scene. I wasn't expecting her to die yet; however, when I saw that she went to take a shower I knew this part was coming. I wondered afterwards who it could be that had killed her. Then when Norman just covered it up I still hadn't suspected that it was actually his mother who committed the crime. I was really shocked when the detective was stabbed by the crazy mom. I'm curious to see what's going to happen next and what's going to happen to Norman and his psycho mother.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Psycho - My Impressions

I enjoyed director Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho very much! It took surprised me very much [It took me by surprise (he's not considered the Master of Suspense for nothing!)], and I didn't know that it was going to end like that. The only problem with the movie was that I thought it was very short [it in fact runs 109 minutes, about twenty minutes longer than today's standard movie fare], that may of just been me but this is what I saw.

I really like the main character/protagonist, Norman [at what point is Norman, as portrayed by Anthony Perkins, revealed to the main character? And how frequently does it take a storyteller forty-five minutes to introduce her protagonist?]. He is a very interesting character. Just the way he acts and talks, makes him very different. Also how he almost cracks under Sam. It was also interesting how he loved to talk about birds. Birds usually resemble peace or freedom, so what does that say about him? [Awesome; very nice analysis of the use of symbol and irony]  Maybe he wanted peace from everyone. Maybe he wanted to be free from the little Motel he worked at. He didn't seem to mind the Motel, but I bet living in the same place for your whole life could get very boring and uninteresting.

Another thing I liked about the movie was when Sam and Lila [Crane] go to the Motel. They try to pull off a couple look, and it seems that Norman doesn't even notice a resemblance to Marion and Lila. Did he try to forget her or just not notice? Or maybe he did notice, but didn't say anything. Then again, a lot of people can look similar, so he could've just brushed it off. I wonder what was going on in his thoughts as he saw her?

Man on Wire - My impression

Man On Wire was interesting to me. I liked seeing how they [director James Marsh and his crew] built up to the big event of tightrope walk between the World Trade Centers. It was really interesting to see a man who started out as a beginner [novice?] and then grew up to be able to do something so amazing. It shows that if you keep on practicing you will get better in the end. I enjoyed seeing other peoples' perspectives as well; it makes us see the story from every different angle, not just one. It put more volume into the story and let us get what it was like to be there.

I also liked how they had the interviews about the story. It let us see the person now and how much they remembered from that one time. It also showed us how they told the story, since everyone tells a story differently, and that generations change the story. So someone might say "A man tightroped across the two twin towers," while these people will say, "a man tightroped on a wire for 15 minutes on the twin towers." We get the REAL story and not a story from other people who weren't even there, like the history documentaries.

I liked how they even told us what happened after and were they are now. Showing that even after the great moment, they are still living to this day, going on with life. Sadly, I think the guy who did it was beaten, by a guy who tightroped in Dubai, but the thing is, his was a surprise while the persons in Dubai wasn't. The person in Dubai had everything prepared for him and people said he didn't even look scared. The Man on Wire's tightrope was not prepared at all, no one knew except for the people involved. This makes the moment even greater and different!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Alien: Ending

We finished Alien a few classes ago and I was pretty satisfied with the ending. I really liked the movie overall. It had a great amount of suspense and creepiness to keep my attention throughout the film.

To answer my previous question in my first Alien blog post: Who will survive? As I watched Dallas go into the air ducts I could tell he wasn't going to make and then he was killed by the Alien. Then when Parker and Lambert went to get supplies before they were supposed to board the shuttle the Alien had gotten to them first. This part was suspenseful, really intense and scary. I enjoyed it.

One scene I was really shocked about was when they found out Ash was an Android and it was his mission to save the alien and not worry about the crew. When Ash tried to kill Ripley the film got really intense. I was a little confused at what was happening at first until someone clarified that he was an android.

Just when I thought the movie was over and Ripley had made it onto the shuttle with the cat safely, we saw that the alien had also made it onto the shuttle. I was sure this movie was going to end badly with Ripley dying in the end. However, she was able to form a plan to get the alien off the shuttle. She is a very intelligent character and I'm glad she was the one that was able to survive until the end. I'm also happy that the cat survived.

To conclude, this movie has been my favorite so far, but I am also enjoying Psycho.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Tracking Him Down

Yesterday my class started watching Birds, another Alfred Hitchcock film. Since we just finished watching his film, Psycho, as well as Ridley Scott's Alien, I assumed that this would be a horror/drama film, but so far it doesn't seem like it will be. Regardless, I'm still interested in seeing the rest of it.

The movie starts out with a woman, whose name is Melanie, shopping at a pet shop. A man wearing a suit and tie, named Mitch, came in, and claimed to have seen her before in court. She liked to play practical jokes, and apparently one of them had sent her to court. I could tell that she was upset about him bringing the subject up, and shortly after he left, she began to track him down. She asked about him around town, and ended up taking a boat all the way to Bodega Bay, an island off the coast of San Francisco. This is where the movie does show its age: it lacked the realism that today's modern films have, but it was released all the way back in 1963.

After reaching the island, Melanie dropped the birds off at Mitch's house, and quickly went back to her boat. Not only did Mitch see her, but she was attacked by a seagull as well on the way back to the mainland. As soon as he saw her, Mitch drove at the speed of light, and met her back at the dock she had come from, coming to her rescue.

What really struck me about what I've seen so far in this movie is that she went to such great lengths to track him down. Clearly she was very determined to find him, but she made some mistakes along the way when it comes to being sneaky. She could've at least ducked down.