For a while, I’ve been wanting to start reviewing films, the occasional one, to try, so that’s what this is: each month, I’ll pick a film I watched and review it. It could’ve been the most memorable film, the strangest, the one that made me think or fear or- you guessed it- hope. You’ll just have to see.
This month I'm featuring Into the Woods and Plesantville.
I watched two particularly thought provoking films in June, so who cares for reviewing only one film a month! I'll review them both!
Into the Woods.
I haven't actually read the script or watched the original production (I gave up on them both) but the film looked- and was supposed to be- well done, and though I didn't love it, I love the discussion it presents.
The songs haven't been memorable, but I liked their use of language and rhyme- although the song between the Princes was wonderful in how ridiculous it was. I couldn't help but feel sorry for the actors in those leather pants, though.
These days I know plenty of people who don't like fairytale retellings, but I for one do. A lot. And I liked seeing seeing Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack, Red and the bakers come together to tell their stories in a way that was wonderfully (and darkly) close to their original forms.
My main annoyance was that Cinderella was so indecisive, even if that was her character struggle. It was a little ridiculous how she just kept on going to the ball and then running, so unsure about what she wanted. I mean, I'm fine with not making a snap decision- she was going to be losing her freedom either way- her the way she went about it frustrated me.
The best thing about the film, though? It's not about good people and bad people. It doesn't have a happily ever after. It deals with people who do wrong things or bad things but aren't evil- and they're not good, either. They're just human. The Witch isn't bad, she's determined and she does the wrong thing, but she loves her daughter and wants to protect her and stop her from being stolen away.
Jack kills the giant, he steals, but he is desperately trying to get his best friend back the only way he knows how.
Everyone, practically, was just human. For good and bad.
I was a little apprehensive about Pleasantville, after hearing about a certain scene- I thought it might be uncomfortably explicit and that unnerved me.
But it wasn't. Not for me.
It deals with lust, sex, sexual pleasure, discovery- sexual and emotional- and it was all handled really well. Not explicitely or in excessive detail- kind of beautifully, actually. And these elements were so important to the film and the story it told.
The idea of Pleasantville is that it's the setting of a TV show where everything is just nice. Not necessarily good or bad or different, not emotional- just pleasant. And when a brother and sister from the 90s are transported there, back to the lae 50s, they consciously and unconsciously take elements of the life they're used to back- sex, reading, proper education, art. Joy. And gradually, as the citizens experiment, they change from black and white to having red lips and bright clothes.
This leads to some of the townspeople showing some spectacular racism, "No Coloureds" signs appearing in storefronts, hate crimes, even book burning.
There is a courtroom scene and all the "coloured" people were on the balcony, all the grey people below. It was enchanting, to see that stand taken, and horrible ad mournful. But so effective in the message it carried across.
Pleasantville gets you to appreciate the colour of everyday and it asks the leading question of what is the thing that brings you enough joy and independence to become yourself.