To begin with, let’s be clear, Marilyn Monroe was a movie star who wanted to be taken seriously as an actress, but lacked the dramatic skill to do so. She should have been happy with the God given comic talent she was given, that wonderful sense of timing, breathless delivery, and wide eyed look that suggested both a naive woman and one capable of carnal pleasure beyond your wildest dreams. She cultivated an image for herself, and played Marilyn Monroe for all of her life.
Monroe was an enigma in movies, a star who for the most part played a continued variation on herself, rarely stepping out of character, rarely bringing anything other than Marilyn to the screen, though Marilyn was always enough. There was something at once sexual the moment she came onscreen, as though her smile hinted at carnal pleasures to come if she so desired, and make no mistake it would always be her idea. No man would have the courage to even attempt to seduce this sex machine for fearing laughter erupting from her. She lacked the dramatic depth of a Jane Fonda or a Meryl Streep, though she was talked into believing she had it by Lee Strasberg, who was infatuated with her while she at the Actors Studio. Strasberg, a notorious nightmare with actors, believed in getting actors dependent on him alone and did more damage to American acting than will ever be known. Monroe’s husband, the great American playwright Arthur Miller was horrified at how Strasberg exploited Monroe for his own gain at the Studio and making every attempt to sleep with her. In his thick autobiography, director Elia Kazan writes about his affair with Monroe shamelessly, making it clear he was among many the blonde bombshell took to her bed in hopes of being taken seriously as an actress. She felt these men had something she nee3ded to know and used her body to gain that knowledge. That’s her business, but it sickens me the number of men who exploited Monroe, (including the Kennedys) because by all accounts she was a trusting soul betrayed over and over by men she had hoped loved her. In the new film My Week with Marilyn it is suggested that Monroe understood exactly what she was doing at all times and manipulated many men through the course of her life. Maybe, I don’t know I know what I have read and most accounts of Monroe paint her a victim.
Read more on The Best of Marilyn Monroe…
This week, one of my very favorite films of the year so far comes to Blu-Ray and DVD, along with an excellent flick I mentioned two weeks prior. That other movie had a limited availability then, so it got a small shout out, and will receive more attention now. There’s a few other things out as well, but nothing really of major note. It’s a two horse race for my PICK OF THE WEEK honors, but when one film is right at the bottom of my top 10 of 2011 list and the other has always been in one of the top 2 spots, it’s not much of a race. The top prize goes to one of the most unique (and most uniquely made) movies of the year. I was left stunned by it and in awe. It’s:
How Evan Glodell and company ever came up with this flick is beyond me, but I’m overjoyed that they did. A commentary on masculinity, the male broken heart, and friendship, there’s not a single moment here that’s not identifiable. It’s also one of the most bizarre movies of 2011, so there’s that. I know that Clay didn’t care for it one bit, but this is a love it or hate it movie, and I loved it in a way I’ve loved less than half a dozen films this year. Any piece of cinema that has one of the most memorable on screen first dates as well as a flamethrower is good in my book. At times this has been the best film of the year in my eyes, so any which way that you slice it, this is one I can’t urge you to buy enough. You’ll be glad that you did.
Read more on Joey’s DVD Picks of the Week (11/15/2011)…
Directed by Alexander Payne
Once again I find myself returning to The Descendants, which I have recently seen for a third time, a superlative film that at this writing is far and away the very best of 2011, granted an opinion that might change by years end. Brimming with humanity, overflowing with a deep generosity of spirit, I believe The Descendants is an American masterpiece, a film that will endure for years to come, and will be looked upon as the finest work of both actor George Clooney and director Alexander Payne. Somehow these gifted artist have created a picture that gently strokes your soul with its brilliant depiction of forgiveness and humanity. Anyone committed to another will find deep connections within the film, and understand exactly what Matt is going through. Anyone who has ever loved someone will understand everything Matt is going through, and those unfortunate souls who have lost someone they love deeply, will see themselves on screen. Perhaps that is Alexander Payne’s greatest gift as a director, we look at his characters in his films and say to ourselves, “i know that man…I am that man”.
Read more on The Descendants…Again (****)…