Recap and Review of Four Moons (Original Title: Cuatro Lunas)

Cuatro lunas is a Mexican film focusing on four different generations of gay men and boys in Mexico City, each represented by one of the four main phases of the moon.

***

Hugo and Andres are introduced first.  They have been together for ten years, but Hugo is not a fan of Andres’s feminine mannerisms,  andespecially, their refrigerator which is completely covered with magnets.

Things grow more complicated when Hugo confesses to having an affair with Sebastian.  Andres is devastated, and he begs Hugo not to leave him.  The two men agree to stay together if Hugo stays away from Sebastian for two weeks.  However, Hugo breaks his promise, and he sees Sebastian again.

He manages to break things off with Sebastian, and he and Andres make plans together to see a play.  However, Hugo decides to see Sebastian at a sex club.  When Sebastian says no to a man in the club, and the man continues to make advances towards him, Hugo intervenes, and the man smashes a bottle on his head.

Hugo leaves, and he calls Andres.  Andres takes him to the hospital, where Hugo gets his wounds treated.  Hugo returns home to see that Andres is gone.  Andres has moved into a new home, and looks forward to his new life alone.  Hugo decides to decorate the refrigerator with magnets, as a sign that he will always remember his time with Andres.

***

The next story that is introduced is that of a timid eleven-year-old Mauricio.  Mauricio has a crush on his cousin Oliver.  The two bond over video games, but Mauricio deep down wants more than just a platonic or familial relationship.  This is shown when Oliver sleeps over one night, and Mauricio watches him sleeping, while closing his eyes quickly when he thinks that Oliver is waking up, and when the next morning, Mauricio touches his lips onto Oliver’s cup of milk when no one is watching, so that he could “indirectly kiss” Oliver.

Mauricio’s relationship with his parents.  At one point, Mauricio asks them for the new Street Fighter video game.  They object because they just bought him one, but Mauricio did not know that the new one was coming out.  Hector snaps at Mauricio when he pleads for the game.  But Laura is more gentle and suggests that Mauricio sell the old game, and help him with chores around the house.  Hector intercedes, insisting that Mauricio do a more “masculine” chore to help earn the money for the game.

Some time later, Mauricio goes to his priest.  He asks the priest if being gay is sin.  The priest tells him not to worry because there is no way that he could be gay.

Later on, Oliver and his parents show up for dinner one night.  Mauricio takes Oliver to his bedroom so that they can play the new Street Fighter game.  After Mauricio beats Oliver, Mauricio tries to make small talk; what happened next really shocked me, and the conversation turns sexual.  Mauricio asks Oliver if he knows what circumcision is.  Oliver responds that he does.  Mauricio asks Oliver if he is circumcised; Oliver says yes, and Mauricio says that he is not.  Mauricio asks Oliver if he has ever seen an uncircumcised penis, and Oliver responds that he has at the showers of the club (I’m assuming a health club, or maybe a country club); Mauricio says that he’s never seen a circumcised penis, and he asks Oliver to show him his penis.  Oliver balks, saying “Don’t be a faggot.”  Mauricio offers to show his penis to Oliver, and Oliver agrees.  After that, Oliver does the same, and Mauricio remarks on how circumcised penises look better, though Mauricio claims that their the same.  Mauricio asks to touch it, and Oliver once again, rejects his advance in a homophobic manner.  Mauricio points out to Oliver that he is erect; Mauricio reaches over, and he begins to manually stimulate Oliver.  Oliver finds this pleasurable, but then makes another homophobic remark, stops the encounter and goes back downstairs to the living room, leaving Mauricio feeling hurt over how their relationship has been destroyed. (It needs to be pointed out that this scene has no nudity, and the sexual content is only imply and NEVER depicted directly.)  This scene really shocked me because it is unusual for children of this age to be depicted in a sexual act, even if the act is only implied; it also somewhat rare for young gay children to be depicted on screen.

Shortly afterwards at school, Oliver and a group of two boys taunt Mauricio for being gay and Oliver accuses him of wanting to grab boys in their crotches.  Mauricio tries to ignore them, but Oliver and the two boys begin a fight with Mauricio.  In the principal’s office, along with Mauricio’s parents, and Oliver’s parents, Oliver admits, readily and without remorse, to hitting Mauricio, and says that Mauricio should tell them why.  Mauricio does not want to tell them, and so Oliver says (in a derogatory and homophobic manner) that Mauricio is gay, and that’s why they hit him.  The principal asks why he’s saying that.  And Oliver tells Mauricio to tell them what he did to him in his house.  Oliver and Mauricio’s mothers suggest that they end the meeting right now, but Hector demands that Mauricio tell the truth.  Oliver then tells them that Mauricio grabbed him down there, but Mauricio insists that it was consensual.  Hector leaves the office in disgust, and the meeting is ended.

Back at home, things are tense.  Mauricio comes downstairs for dinner, and Hector leaves.  Later that night, Laura tells Hector about their son’s headache, that still hasn’t gone away.  Hector doesn’t want to do anything about because it is not a big deal to him.  He also blames Laura for Mauricio being gay, saying that she is way too soft towards him.  Later on, Laura calls the doctor, and Hector picks up medicine for Mauricio.

Fortunately, things start to look up.  Laura tells Mauricio that she loves him no matter what and Hector isn’t angry at him, but angry at the entire ordeal.  Soon afterwards, Hector sets up a punching bag for Mauricio to teach him self-defense in case he gets into a another physical confrontation.  We last see Mauricio cooking pancakes for Hector and Laura and decorating them with strawberries.

***

The third story introduced is that of Joaquin.  Joaquin is married and is a father and grandfather.  Nonetheless he goes to gay saunas.  He sees Gilberto, a male prostitute, and and asks him how much for sex.  Gilberto demands 1500 pesos, but Joaquin balks at such a price.

Later on, we see more of what appears to be a mid-life crisis.  Joaquin is a published poet, and a local university is planning a ceremony to honor his achievements.  He feels a sense of disconnection from his family.

Finally, Joaquin convinces Gilberto to sexually service him.  After that, Joaquin asks for one more thing: He wants Gilberto to attend his ceremony.  Gilberto agrees.  And at the ceremony, they share a brief private kiss, as Gilberto prepares to reunite with his wife and child in America, and Joaquin looks forward to the .

***

Finally, we meet Adolfo (known as Fito) and Leo who are college students.  Leo approaches Fito, who does not recognize him at first, and Leo tells him that they were friends when they were young.  Fito suddenly remembers, and they embrace each other.  They are both originally from Tepic, Nayarit, but they lost touch with each other when Leo and his family moved to Mexico City.

As Leo and Fito get re-acquainted, Fito tells Leo that his father died, and that he and his mother, Aurora, who is still distraught over her husband’s death, and who spends most of her free time watching telenovelas, moved to Mexico City where his aunt helped Aurora get a job, as his  late father was the family’s breadwinner.

One night, Leo spends the night at Fito’s home, sharing the same bed, and the next morning they kiss each other.  Leo asks Fito if he is gay, but Fito says he doesn’t now.  Leo denies being gay when Fito asks him.  The two young men get closer and closer, and they have sex for the first time, which is an awkward experience for the both of them, but despite that, it is still very enjoyable for the two young men, and afterwards, Fito tells Leo that he is falling in love with him.

One day, a classmate asks if Leo and Fito are a couple.  Leo angrily denies such and thing, and later, he tells Fito that he doesn’t want anybody to know that he’s gay because he doesn’t want the public at large to mistreat him because of that.  Fito tries to come out to Aurora, but she stops him, because she feels incapable of dealing with it without her late husband.

Leo’s desire to stay closeted results in them missing out on a date at a theater where Leo sees his aunts.  Leo states that he does not want his family to know or even suspect that he is gay.  He says that his family has given too much to him and sacrificed too much for him, and he does not want to disappoint them.

Another night, Fito prepares to be picked up by Leo on a date, but Leo never shows up.  He is consoled by Aurora, whom he came out to offscreen, and who tells him that the right man will not be ashamed to be with him.

Shortly afterwards, Fito moves on.  Leo learns from one of their mutual friends that Fito is out of the closet and that he has a boyfriend and goes to gay bars and such.  Fito soon realizes that he still has feelings for Leo.  This happens when Aurora mentions that a character on her favorite telenovela  is marrying a certain man even though she really, truly loves another man.

Leo decides to go to a sex club, but his plans are thwarted when everyone in the club runs out due the fact that a man was injured with glass bottle.  The man happens to be Hugo.  They briefly look at each other, and Hugo leaves.

After this, Leo approaches Fito at his home.  Leo has come out to his family, and they want to meet Fito, on the condition that he introduce Leo as his boyfriend.  Leo agrees, and they embrace.  Their story ends with the two of them sleeping in the same bed.

***

This was a nice movie for a lot of different reasons.

This was not a traditional narrative.  Netflix described it as an anthology film.  Rather than being one primary narrative, it has four. However, unlike anthology films that have each story self-contained, Cuatro lunas switches between the two stories in the same way that films with ensemble casts do.  Also, despite telling four different stories, none of them intersect except for a brief moment when Leo encounters Hugo; such intersections happen in movies that are part of a type of genre that is called hyperlink cinema.

A couple of years ago at least, I’d been interested in anthology films.  I’d seen one: Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her (which will be the subject of a future post after I re-watch it).  They  are different from the traditional way of depicting a narrative on films, and I wish there were more mainstream ones.

The four stories in this film were all very interesting to see.

The story of Andres and Hugo was a good portrait of a long term relationship that went south.  I liked how to depicted some conflicts within the gay community, specifically that between masculine gay men and feminine gay men.  It was rather intense, when Hugo outright tells Andres that he prefers masculine men.  It seems as though Hugo does not totally love Andres, and it is easy to understand to why he cheated.  Andres tries to make the relationship work, but of course, eventually, he moves on.  This shows how you should not be with someone you cannot completely accept, and that you should not be with someone who is ashamed and embarrassed to be with you.

Mauricio’s story was most interesting.  It is still rare for children of this age to come out at gay.  It is also rare gay children to depicted on the screen.  What I liked about Mauricio was how despite his age, he knew who he was and what he wanted, and he knew that he couldn’t fight it.  It would be great if all children could as self-assured as he was.

Joaquin’s story was kind of odd to me.  Perhaps because of his age, it was hard to understand his midlife crisis.  There is not much information as to why he pursued gay sex.  Perhaps he is bisexual and didn’t want fight his feeling for men, anymore?  There is ambiguity in the end of his story, as he clearly has a sense of closure, and he treasures his encounter with Gilberto.  It does not seem like he is gay.  Maybe this is a one time thing?  Maybe Joaquin was only going to the gay saunas because he grew up in a time where being gay was not accepted (Mexico is more gay-friendly than before, but there is still a long way to gay, as everywhere else in the world, to varying extents)   Still, it was a depiction of how some people spend their entire lives fighting a part of themselves.

Fito and Leo’s story was fun to see.  It’s nice to see friends reunite after a long time, and even, to see them realize that they want more than just a friendship.  However, it was important to see how it can be hard for a relationship to grow if one person wants to keep it a secret, and one person does not.  Fortunately, everything all worked out in the best.  Fito learned to follow his heart.  Leo learned to embrace his identity.

This movie was really good.  Some things happened off screen, when they should have happened on screen (Fito coming out to his mother), but this was a great movie that showed very many examples of the gay experience.

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Review and Recap of Notes on a Scandal

This movie is really relatable to me due to its themes of friendship, obsession, loneliness, abandonment forbidden desires, not feeling fulfilled, and betrayal.

Notes on a Scandal was based on the novel of the same name by Zoë Heller (which was published in America under the title of What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal).

Barbara Covett  (Judi Dench) is a sixty-something history teacher who teaches at the St. George’s which is a  comprehensive school in London. She lives a very solitary life; she’s never been married, and she has no children. The only real friend she has is her diary, which she uses to express all of her thoughts. She is a very jaded individual, and she has lots of contempt for most people, but above all, she is searching for a person to be her one true friend.

On the first day of the new term, Barbara meets Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett), an art teacher. Barbara is immediately entranced by Sheba and concluded that “She’s the one I’ve been waiting for.”

One day, Sheba tries to break up a fight between a boy named Steven Connolly (Andrew Simpson) and another boy. She struggles, but Barbara, who is much more experienced in teaching and dealing with students than Sheba is, manages to quickly shut down the fight. Sheba wholeheartedly shakes Barbara’s hand in appreciation, and the two women become close, spending a lot of time together in the school when not in the classroom.  This culminates in Sheba inviting Barbara to her house for lunch on a Sunday afternoon.  Barbara prepares for the lunch, making sure that she looks her best, and shows up.

The door is opened by Sheba’s husband Richard (Bill Nighy), and Barbara is shocked by how old he is; she thinks that she has the wrong house, but then she sees Sheba.  Sheba has two children: Polly (Juno Temple), a sullen teenager, and Ben (Max Lewis) who is free-spirited and friendly and who has Down syndrome.

After lunch, Barbara joins Sheba in Sheba’s art studio.  Sheba confesses that she feels so dissatisfied with her life, despite having a loving family.  Barbara expresses complete empathy.  The two women become closer than ever.

Sometime later, during Guy Fawkes Night celebrations at St. George’s, Barbara witnesses Sheba engaging in sexual intercourse with Steven Connolly who is only fifteen years old.  She is horrified, but she soon realizes that she can very well use this situation to her advantage.

The next day, Barbara calls Sheba to confront her over what she saw.  They later meet at a pub, and Sheba tells the whole story.  After helping Steven with with his art project alone, he began to follow her wherever she went.  She initially ignored him, but she began to be intrigued.  Combined with feeling little satisfaction with her life, and feeling the temptation to do something that is highly taboo and wrong, she began to accept Steven’s advances, and this culminated with the beginning of an inappropriate sexual relationship.  The fight Steven had with another boy was Steven defending Sheba against the boy’s inappropriate remarks about her.  When Barbara helped break up the fight, and she and Sheba became friends  immediately afterwards, Sheba had already been having sex with Steven.

Sheba is afraid that Barbara will tell, but Barbara agrees to keep it a secret on the condition that Sheba ends the affair with Steven. Sheba agrees, but shortly afterwards, on Christmas Day, Steven, who had been constantly texting Sheba, despite her not responding, shows up to her house; Sheba has a tryst with him in secret, away from her family.

In the meantime, things seem to be going well, but when Barbara learns that Sheba and Steven are still having sex, she gets angry and expresses feeling of betrayal.  Sheba finally ends all contact with Steven except in school.  Barbara is there to comfort Sheba in her devastation.

The two women grow closer and closer.  Barbara begins spending more and more time at Sheba’s house, and practically becomes a member of the family.  This leads to tensions.  On the day that Ben is perform in a school play as a wizard, Barbara shows up, asking for Sheba to accompany her to the vet so that her cat can be euthanized. Richard is angry to see Barbara, having gotten tired of seeing her at their house all the time.  Sheba refuses to accompany Barbara.

Some time after Barbara buries her cat, a colleague shows up asking if Sheba may be romantically interested in him.  Barbara replies by saying that she’s heard rumors of Sheba having sex with a student.  Before long, the school is informed.  Sheba is fired, and charged with statutory rape.  News journalists begin harassing Sheba.  Steven’s mother shows up and physically attacks Sheba.  Her husband kicks her out of the house.  Her son is sad to see his mother go.   Her daughter is disgusted that her own mother would have sex with a boy around her age.

Barbara takes Sheba in, feeling happy that Sheba is now isolated.  Sheba soon finds Barbara’s diaries, which reveal that Barbara was the one who exposed her affair with Sheba to the public.  This leads to a fight between the two of them, and culminates with Sheba reconciling with her family and returning home.

When the headmaster learns that Barbara knew about the affair, and that she waited months to tell someone about it, he forces her to retire early.  The headmaster also notes that Barbara has a track record of poor friendships.   She was once friends with a former colleague named Jennifer Dodd, but the relationship was very unhealthy on Barbara’s end; Jennifer eventually moved away, and she threatened legal action against Barbara if she tried to reach out to her again.

Eventually, Sheba is sentenced to eight months.  Barbara sees a woman sitting on a park bench, reading a newspaper that has a headline about Sheba’s sentence.  Barbara says that she knew Sheba, albeit not very well.  The woman introduces herself as Annabel, and Barbara invites her to a classical music concert.

I’d been interested in this movie ever since I heard of it through researching Cate Blanchett.  I finally saw it a few years ago.  I was surprised by how much I could relate to Barbara.  Like her, I’ve been alone for the majority of my life, and I’ve never really had any close friends.  I suppose that no matter what makes us different, we can all agree that the majority of us want somebody that we can be close to.  In addition to being alone, I’ve had those friendships where things did not work out, due to all sorts of reasons.  At times, I’ve gotten too close, and I have driven people away due to apparently wanting more than the other person was able to or willing to give.

I think what this film says is that boundaries in relationships are important.  One must be sure to never cross them otherwise things just won’t end well.

Review and Recap of Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B

Aaliyah is one of those singers who defines “Gone Too Soon.” At the time of her untimely death in 2001 at the age of 22, she had achieved so very much, and it seemed as though the sky was the limit for her.

As is the case of any famous person, it is inevitable that a biopic will be considered. However, biopics are a interesting thing. They can be done well. And they can be done horribly. Also, when it comes to comes to biopics, it must be emphasized that one can never please everybody. People will take issue with casting, artistic license, and so on.  Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B is one such biopic that failed at its goal.

The film begins with Aaliyah performing “My Funny Valentine” on Star Search at the age of ten, which was her first public performance.  She performs with her aunt Gladys Knight (who at the time was married to her uncle Barry Hankerson)  She is signed to a record deal, but she is not yet given the chance to prove herself.  Eventually, she creates her public persona, and starts recording her first albumAge Ain’t Nothing but a Number with the help of R. Kelly.  When R. Kelly gets too close to her, and they get married, despite her being under the age of 18, her parents force Aaliyah to end all contact with him, in both a professional and personal context, and they annul the marriage.

Aaliyah is reluctant to move on with her career without R. Kelly’s influence.  But she recognizes her own inner strength.  She collaborates with Timbaland and Missy Elliott, who give her second album, One in a Million  a new sound.  Aaliayah moves on to more things. She sings the song “Journey to the Past” from the movie Anastasia, and when it is nominated for an Academy Award, she performs it at the Oscars.

Aaliyah makes her film debut in Romeo Must Die, and later, she films The Queen of the Damned and releases her third album  Also, she becomes close with rapper Damon Dash, and the two become romantically involved.  The record label is concerned about the album’s performance, and they suggest that the song “Rock the Boat” be her next single.  She goes off to film it in the Bahamas, but not before she and Dash promise to each other, despite their careers, they will find time for each other.  There is then a post-script that says that Aaliyah died in a plane crash on the way back to America.

Last summer, Lifetime announced that they were planning a movie about the life and career of Aaliyah; it was called Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B.  They cast the actress and singer Zendaya (best known for her role on the Disney Channel sitcom Shake It Up) as Aaliyah.  The announcement of the casting received lots of criticism over the casting because many people felt that Zendaya did not look enough like Aaliyah, and that she was too light-skinned to play Aaliyah.  Aaliyah’s family, however, asked the public to not attack Zendaya.  Also, due to her family disapproving of the production entirely, and due to the fact that they controlled the rights to the majority of her music, Lifetime had to rely on the covers that Aaliyah sang, as well as the original songs that her family did not control.  Zendaya would depart from the role, citing the various issues with getting the rights to the music, among other complication of the production, and she was replaced by Alexandra Shipp.

The film finally premiered on November 15, 2014.  It was universally panned by critics and viewers.

According to Wikipedia:

Critical reception to Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B has been predominantly negative.[10][11][12][13] The New York Times heavily panned the film, criticizing it as “ham-handed” and “underwhelming” and writing “Condensing the singer’s life into such a short space requires a cruel knife and, in this case, a wildly imprecise one. A good film doesn’t show its seams. This one — based on “Aaliyah: More Than a Woman,” a biography by Christopher John Farley — is mostly seams. Much of the acting has dull edges, and the screenplay is aggravatingly stilted.”[14] The Wall Street Journal also criticized the film, commenting that the “overuse of the three and four-way split screen montages only enhanced the lack of material.”[15]

Viewer reaction for the film has been extremely negative and fans mocked the film on social media sites like Twitter,[1][16] using the hashtags #LifetimeBiopics and #LifetimeBeLike.[17][18][19] Viewers felt that Shipp was miscast as Aaliyah, that the late singer’s controversial relationship with R. Kelly was overly romanticized, and that the music covers did not properly do justice to the original songs.[20][21] Fans further commented on the film’s casting as a whole and many created pictures that overly exaggerated what they felt was extreme miscasting of many of the celebrities depicted in the film.[22][23][24]

All I can say is that, this biopic had numerous problems.  In my own words:

Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B is one that fans of the late singer would rather forget.  So many things just did not go right.

  1. Many of the figures in Aaliyah’s life were played by people who hardly even look like them.  The actors portraying, R. Kelly, Missy Elliott, and Timbaland, look like fake versions of the the people they are playing.
  2. Since Aaliyah’s uncle Barry Hankerson owned her now defunct label, Blackground Records, and since he disapproved of the movie from the beginning (along with the rest of Aaliyah’s family), Lifetime did not get the rights to use Aaliyah’s music, and all they could do is use two of her cover songs, and two of her original songs that her family did not own; according to Wikipedia: “Four of her songs (two covers) were used in the film: the Isley Brothers‘ “At Your Best (You Are Love),” Marvin Gaye‘s “Got to Give It Up,” “Journey to the Past” and “The One I Gave My Heart To.”  If you do a biopic on a singer, you need to use their songs, and most of Aaliyah’s most famous song such as “Try Again,” “One in a Million,” and “Are You That Somebody?” are completely absent.
  3. The film is poorly written and put together.  There is a lot of telling and too little showing.  We are often briefly told things that Aaliyah did, and it seemed like the screenwriter was doing that because of having little to work with.
  4. The ending is anti-climactic.  It shows Aaliyah and her romantic partner, Damon Dash talking about how their careers leave them little time to be together, and they promise to spend more time with each other when Aaliyah returns from filming the music video for “Rock the Boat.”  We see her get into a car that drives off into the distance.  Then we see words on screen stating that Aaliyah died in a plane crash in the Bahama shortly after filming the video.  Seeing that made me feel like this was such a cheap ending.  I get that they did not want to depict the plane crash or even have it happen off screen, but it’s not a good ending to show two people making plans for the future, and then be told that one of them would die.

Review and Recap of Move Over, Darling

As I mentioned briefly about in a previous blog post, this movie was a second attempt at a production, as the first attempt was troubled, and it ultimately failed and was forced by a variety of circumstances to shut down.  Twentieth Century Fox wanted to make a remake of 1940 comedy My Favorite Wife called Something’s Got to Give. Marilyn MonroeDean Martin, and Cyd Charisse were to take the roles that were originally played by Irene Dunne Cary Grant,  and Gail Patrick.  However, filming was troubled due to Monroe’s frequent absences.  Monroe was fired from the film, but she was rehired because Martin refused to do the film without her.  However, she died before filming could resume.

Since Fox had already put a lot of money into the film, which was over budget, the decision was made to start over form scratch.  There was a new director, Michael Gordon, who replaced Jean Negulesco, who originally replaced George Cukor.  The new leads were Doris Day, James Garner, and Polly Bergen, taking over from Monroe, Martin, and Charisse.  The new title was Move Over, Darling.

Nick Arden is a lawyer whose wife Ellen Wagstaff Arden was lost at sea following an airplane crash in the Pacific.  It’s been five years since her disappearance, and Nick is in court.  He petitions a judge to have her declared legally dead; the judge is quite absent-minded, but grants the petition.  Immediately afterwards, Nick asks the judge to marry him and his fiancee, Bianca Steele, much to the judge’s surprise.

At the same time, Ellen returns to America.  A Navy submarine ship found her on a deserted island and rescued her.  Ellen wants nothing more than to call her family and let them know that she is alive and well, but when she is unable to make a call, she instead accepts a ride home.

Ellen gets home and she sees her two daughters who were only babies when she disappeared.  They don’t remember her, and Ellen does not tell them who she is.  Ellen later goes inside the house and shocks her mother-in-law Grace.  After Grace gets over the shock, she reluctantly tells Ellen that Nick has gotten re-married; Ellen is devastated by this news, but since he is on his way to Monterey, California, to the same hotel where he and Ellen had their honeymoon, she and Grace realizes that it’s not too late.

Ellen flies to Monterey.  Shortly  after she arrives, Nick and Bianca check into the hotel; the clerk offers him Suite A, but Nick and he insists upon any suite other than the suite where he and Ellen spent their honeymoon, and they are given Suite B.  As he and Bianca get into the elevator, he sees Ellen in the lobby, and he is quite shocked.  Nick makes an excuse to leave Bianca in their hotel room, he finds Ellen, and they embrace each other.  Ellen expresses disappointment with Nick, but he defends himself saying that they couldn’t search for her forever, and he tells her that they held a beautiful memorial service for her.  This touches Ellen’s heart, but she still insists that Nick tell Bianca about her.  Nick checks Ellen into the same suite where they had their honeymoon, which happens to be  next door to the suite Nick got with Bianca.

Nick tries to tell Bianca the truth about Ellen, all while Bianca is trying to consummate their marriage, but there are a variety of complications, including Bianca thinking Nick is rejecting her and acting hysterically.  Ellen loses her patience, and returns home.  Nick fakes a back injury so that he and Bianca will be forced to return home.  Back at home, Grace suggests that she tuck in her daughters into bed.  Ellen still does not tell them that she is their mother, but she sings them a song that she sang for them when they were very young.  They remember it, but they don’t remember where they heard it from.

The next day while the girls are at school, Nick and Bianca return home to see Ellen who is posing as a Swedish nurse.  After Ellen “miraculously” cures Nick’s “broken” back, she offers to give Bianca a massage, but the massage breaks out into a physical altercation, that Nick breaks up only to be distracted by the door bell ringing.

An insurance adjuster comes by, and he mentions in passing that Ellen was stranded on the island with a man named Stephen Burkett, and that they called each other Adam and Eve.  Nick is immediately jealous, and when he tells Ellen that he knows about Stephen, she tries to convince him that nothing happened, but he still refuses to believe her.  Ellen decides to go to a department store where she finds a meek and plain-looking man, and she asks him to pose at Stephen.  At the same time, Nick finds Stephen, a very attractive man, swimming a local hotel’s swimming pool and flirting with women.

Ellen introduces Nick to the fake Stephen; Nick asks them questions about their time on the island, and the fake Stephen states that they spent practically no time together.   After that, Nick and Ellen go out to lunch.  Nick suggests going to a hotel for lunch, knowing that the real Stephen is there.  Ellen confesses that she lied to Nick about the fake Stephen.  Nick starts to feel guilty about his plan to expose Ellen’s lies, and he insists they leave immediately.  Stephen then approaches them.  Angry at Nick’s deception, Ellen leaves and a wacky car chase ensues.

Back at home, Nick and Ellen are bickering when the police come.  They arrest Nick for bigamy.  Grace had called the police since he refused to settle the dispute on his own.  In court, Ellen is declared legally alive, Bianca and Nick’s marriage is annulled, and Ellen decides to sever all ties with Nick.  Stephen shows up in court proclaiming his love for Ellen, but Ellen attacks him, stating that he did nothing but harass her during the five years they spent on the island, and that she tried to spend the past five years staying away from him.

Back at home, Ellen is feeling dejected about the entire ordeal, but she is greeted by her daughters in the swimming pool, who call her “Mom.”  Nick is also swimming, and he invites her to join them.  Despite being fully clothed, Ellen enthusiastically jumps into the pool, embracing Nick and fully reuniting with her family.

I’ve been obsessed with this movie since last fall, though I saw it maybe in 2013.  It’s the just the dilemma.  You lose your spouse at sea.  You find love with somebody else.  You declare your spouse legally dead so that you can get re-married.  Then your spouse is is rescued and returns home.  What do you do?  This theme is so timely that this movie could be perfect for a remake today in 2015.

Another appealing thing to me is the theme of “coming back to life” (so to speak) and having a second chance with with your family who previously thought you were dead.  It has to be extremely hard to be away from your family for five years, to miss seeing your children grow up, and so on.  Also, it must be hard on your family to lose their loved one, and to not even be able to give them a proper burial, and to be a child who lost their parent as a baby, and who has to grow up never knowing their mother.

Despite these themes and the entertaining factor of the movie, there are some plot holes.   When Ellen returns to her home, and she sees her two daughters in the swimming pool, they, at the time of her disappearance, were babies, and they were too young to remember her.  Ellen greets her daughters, but they don’t recognize her.  I can’t believe that.  I mean, the only way this would be possible is if Nick had removed all photos of Ellen in their home, and never showed them to their two daughters.  It seems selfish for a father to never show his daughters any  photos of their presumably deceased mother.  Even if they don’t remember her, they could still feel the pain of the fact that (as far as they knew) their mother was dead, and that they would never know her.  Then again, the beginning shows Nick to be somewhat insensitive, in that he had Ellen declared legally dead, and married Bianca immediately afterwards; the judge was right to be shocked that a man would have his first wife declared legally dead and without waiting at all, marry his second wife.  Also, when Ellen poses as Helga, the Swedish nurse, Bianca does not recognize her either.  So, we are expected to believe that Nick removed all photos of Ellen, and never showed his new wife photos of his first wife whom he lost?

Despite these plot holes, I enjoy the film simply because of its humor and the themes it addresses.

Review and Recap of Judy: Beyond the Rainbow

This is yet another documentary that I repeatedly watched and re-watched on YouTube. The A&E (from the days before they aired Duck Dynasty and before they completely abandoned their original purpose, but I digress) documentary from 1997, as a part of their Biography series, tells the story of the incomparable singer and actress, Judy Garland. The documentary is told through narration, archive photos and footage, and interviews from numerous people who knew Garland.

Judy: Beyond the Rainbow focuses Garland’s life from shortly before her birth, to her death.

It begins with Garland’s upbringing in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and focuses on her beginnings of stardom.  Her family moved to California when she was four, and she began performing publicly with her two older sisters.

Garland eventually auditioned with MGM at the age of 12, and she captivated the studio with her singing voice, which was much, much, much, much more mature than would be expected for a girl her age.

MGM struggled to figure out what to do with Garland because she was too old to be a child star, but too young to be an adult performer.  At a height of four feet and eleven-and-a-half inches, she was did not have the look of other tall, slender actresses at MGM, such as Lana Turner.  She was a “girl next door.”

Eventually, Garland was cast in her signature role, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.  This film included her signature song “Over the Rainbow” which she would sing for the rest of her life.

Throughour the 1940s Garland became a big star; she also got married to Vincente Minnelli, and had her first child, Liza Minnelli, but there were lots of problems in her professional life.  Her dependency on drugs made it more and more difficult to keep up with the demands that MGM made of her.  She was fired from three films, and left MGM.

Despite this, she found renewed success on stage including, most notably on the Palace on Broadway.

Garland married again to Sid Luft, who, as her manager, was a big part in her success singing on stage.  They later had two children, Lorna and Joey Luft

Garland and Luft tried to make a comeback with the film A Star Is Born for Warner Bros., but the production was troubled.  Despite this, the film was very good and premiered to universally positive reviews.  Then Warner Bros. decided to cut about 30 minutes from the film, which caused outrage.  The film failed to make a profit, but Garland was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress.  She was expected to win.  Since she had recently given birth, a camera crew was set up in her room to broadcast her acceptance speech.  However, Grace Kelly won for her role in The Country Girl.  The crew immediately packed up their equipment and left, without saying another word.

Through the rest of the 1950s, Garland performed on stage and on TV.  In the early 1960s she had her own show on CBS, The Judy Garland Show, but it lasted for only one season.

In 1969, Garland married her fifth husband, Mickey Deans in London, and they lived in the Chelsea neighborhood.  On June 22, 1969, Deans found Garland dead on the bathroom floor.  This ended the life of an incomparable singer, actress, and entertainer.

The documentary is one of my favorites because of the subject.  Garland was very talented.  But her talent was equally matched by the troubles of her life.  It was easy to see the triumphs and struggles of Garland’s life, and this was helped by the numerous amounts of archival footage, narration, and interviews with several the actors, musicians, and filmmakers that worked with Garland.  I really recommend this documentary to fans of Garland and fans of classic cinema.

 

 

 

Eulogy for Judy Garland

This blog post was originally written for a speech class.  We had to write a speech for a person, either famous or non-famous, alive or dead.  Today is the 46th anniversary of her untimely death.


Ellis Sutton

04/06/2015

Eulogy


Today, we reflect upon and say goodbye to a woman of immense talent, and who has captivated countless numbers of people around the world.  In her signature song, she sang about looking to a life beyond your own reality.  While her achievements were just as great as her struggles, what’s most important is the good parts of her life.  That woman is Judy Garland.

Like most icons, Judy Garland had humble beginnings.  She was born in Grand Rapids, Minnesota 1922 to father Frank Gumm, and mother Ethel Gumm, and she was named after the both of them: Frances Ethel Gumm.  She had two older sisters:Mary Jane Gumm and Dorothy Virginia Gumm.

Judy was a star from almost the very beginning; at the age of two-and-a-half, she made her first public performance, singing “Jingle Bells.” (Shipman, 1993, p. 12).  In 1926, the family moved to California, where Ethel began working very hard to make her three daughters stars.  The trio began performing publicly as the Gumm Sisters.  Eventually their name was changed to the Garland Sisters, but Judy who was nicknamed Baby, due to being the youngest, wished to create a more distinguished identity for herself, and adopted the name, Judy.

Hard work paid off, and Judy secured a contract with MGM in 1935.  However, things would not be happy forever.  Judy’s father died that same year, leaving her devastated.

Over the next few years, Judy worked long hours on films, and then things went up from there when she received her most iconic role: Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz which was release in 1939.  This film along with the song “Over the Rainbow” touched many people with its message of the importance of creating a better life for oneself.

For the next decade, Judy was a big star, but the long hours and other personal struggles made things difficult.  There were some good parts.  She married Vincente Minnelli who directed her in Meet Me in St. Louis, and they had a daughter named Liza.  This marriage would end, but Judy moved on with her life.

In 1950, Judy left MGM, finding their demands to be too much to bear; nonetheless, she started a new chapter with her life when Sid Luft arranged for her to begin performing on stage the following year.  These performances were hugely successful.  Judy performed at the Palace in New York City, for over twenty weeks, and she received special Tony Award.  Judy and Sid would get married in 1952 and they had daughter Lorna and son Joe.

In 1954, Judy attempted a comeback in films with A Star is Born, she was acclaimed for her performance, and got nominated for an Academy Award.

Judy would make other endeavors as an entertainer.  She had her own television show, The Judy Garland Show from 1963-1964.  She also released a popular concert album Judy At Carnegie Hall.

I will leave you with this: Judy Garland struggled with life.  But she has left a legacy that will be remembered and treasured for all time.

References

 

Judy Garland. (2015). The Biography.com website. Retrieved 01:51, Apr 06, 2015, from http://www.biography.com/people/judy-garland-9306838.

 

Shipman, D. (1993). Judy Garland: The secret life of an American legend. New York: Hyperion.

 

Introduction Speech of a Famous Person: Marilyn Monroe

This was written for my Advanced Public Speaking class.  We had to introduce a famous person.  This assignment assumed that the person was still alive, and that the subject would be speaking publicly.

  1. Introduction
  1. Today, I will introduce one of the most influential people of the twentieth century.
  2. She is known for being one of the leading sex symbols of her day
  3. Yet, she also wished to be known as more than a pretty face, but a serious, talented actress.
  4. That person is Marilyn Monroe.
  1. Body
  1. Monroe was born in Los Angeles in 1926 (Doll, 2007).
    1. She did not have a stable, happy childhood.
    2. Her mother was mentally unwell.
    3. Her father never acknowledged her as his own daughter.
    4. Her mother became unfit to raise her, and so Monroe was often in foster care, or cared for by friends of the family.
    5. At age sixteen, she got married, and soon after that she began a modeling career as a result of her work in a parachute factory during World War II but after she began her modeling career, she got a divorce, and turn her efforts to to becoming actress.
    6. Years of hard work paid off, and Monroe was signed to 20th Century Fox.
  2. Monroe became a huge star with 20th Century Fox, with much emphasis on her sexy image (Doll, 2007).
    1. Some of her hit films included Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, and The Seven Year Itch.
    2. However, Monroe did not feel happy about the roles she was given, and she sought more challenging work, not wanting to play shallow, sexy dumb blonde characters.
    3. She moved from Hollywood to New York City and studied at the Actors’ Studio to learn how to become a serious dramatic actress.
    4. She also established her own production company, Marilyn Monroe Productions.
    5. Following the success of The Seven Year Itch, she signed a new contract with Twentieth Century Fox, granting her creative control over the films she appeared in.
    6. Following her appearance in the film Bus Stop, Monroe proved that she was serious dramatic actress with considerable depth.
    7. From then on, Marilyn Monroe was viewed as not only a sex symbol, but as self-sufficient and intelligent woman who was very good at her field.
  1. Conclusion
  1. To conclude, it is clear that Marilyn Monroe is more than a pretty face.
  2. She is a woman who knows what she wants out of her career, and she showed that she has the talent and skill to make it happen.

 

References

 

Doll, S. (2007, August 29). Marilyn Monroe’s Early Life – HowStuffWorks. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/marilyn-monroe-early-life.htm

 

Doll, S. (2007, August 29). Marilyn Monroe’s First Movie Role – HowStuffWorks. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/marilyn-monroe-early-career.htm

 

Doll, S. (2007, August 29). Marilyn Monroe in ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’ – HowStuffWorks. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/marilyn-monroe-later-career.htm