Friday, November 13, 2015

Mock Squid Soup: Maleficent on a Train

MOCK! and The Armchair Squid are proud to welcome you to Mock Squid Soup: A Film Society, meetings on the second Friday of each month. This month, each of us is choosing another society member's movie to review as listed in The Mock Squid Soup Film Library.  I actually watched two of my friends' films this month.  Maleficent was reviewed first by Toi Thomas, Strangers on a Train by Birgit.

Title: Maleficent
Director: Robert Stromberg
Original Release: 2014
My Overall Rating: 3 stars out of 5
via Wikipedia
Maleficent re-imagines the story of Sleeping Beauty from the point of view of its perceived villain. Angelina Jolie stars in the title role. The film is certainly impressive visually, even scoring an Oscar nomination for costume design.  Acting is a mixed bag.  The women are pretty good - especially Jolie - but the men are sub-par.  The real question, though, is the effectiveness of the new story angle.  Some of the tactics are half-expected, such as establishing Maleficent as a betrayed and violated woman out for justifiable revenge.  But the more complex strategy is more satisfying, enough so that I won't spoil it here.  I don't feel a strong need to watch the movie again, though I have a feeling we will.  I would recommend it to anyone with a love for fairy tales. 

Title: Strangers on a Train
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Original Release: 1951
My Overall Rating: 3 stars out of 5
via Wikipedia
Hitchcock was a genius, of course.  Strangers on a Train exhibits all of his hallmarks, too: long shadows, unusual camera angles, a director's cameo and the perfect plan gone horribly wrong.  Two men meet on the train from DC to New York, a route I've traveled many times myself.  Guy is a tennis pro, Bruno a high society heir.  Each has someone in his life he would just as soon have out of the way.  Bruno suggests they murder on one another's behalf, then presumptuously carries out his end of the deal. 

It is not my favorite Hitchcock.  I am partial to Vertigo and Rear Window.  But I enjoy it for the Washington, DC footage - excellent use of vertical lines.  Plus the trees around the Tidal Basin are noticeably smaller.  They're grown a lot in 64 years!  The glimpses of an earlier era in tennis are fun, too, back when the US Open was played on grass in Forest Hills.  If I were to watch it again, I'd keep an eye out for all of the doubles planted in the film: two taxis, two drinks ordered as doubles, Hitch carrying a double bass, two boyfriends for Guy's wife, the prominence of spectacles, etc.

Trivia challenge again for December!  Pick your own movie to share.  Post three clues on Friday, December 4th.  Post your reveal and review on Friday, December 11th.  Meanwhile, please visit my friends today:


14 comments:

  1. I took my niece to see Maleficent when it was in theaters. She loved it. I liked it. I agree with you on the acting.

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    1. Hi, M.J.! It's been a while. I'll stop by soon.

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  2. I enjoyed Maleficent-it's not a masterpiece by any stretch but a fun movie. You don't have to overthink it. I agree about the men! Thanks for picking mine:) I love Strangers on a Train and that is so cool that you have been to the actual places shown here and see how much taller the trees are. This is one of my favourites actually as you know and I never picked up on the doubles! See this is why it is so much fun to rewatch great films

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    1. I agree completely. I've written quite a bit about how our perceptions of movies change over time. So many movies decline with repeated viewings or simply from watching in a later stage of life. Strangers on a Train is one I can see going the other way for me. This was my second time seeing it and I didn't catch the bit about doubles either until my research afterward.

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  3. Glad you relatively enjoyed both these films. I liked them both. I think Strangers on the Train hold a nastalgic place of respect for me. It was the second Hitchcock film I ever saw after the Birds, what a contrast that was. Plus I was really young when I saw it.

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    1. My first Hitchcock was The Man Who Knew Too Much. My mom took me to see it on the big screen at an art theater in Georgetown.

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  4. I still haven't seen Maleficent but I want to.

    cheers, parsnip

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  5. I haven't seen Maleficent. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  6. I love Angelina Jolie, but I think Maleficent is kind of weak (as a movie, not a character). I love, love, love Strangers on a Train. I don't know why, but I don't care for Vertigo. Rear Window and The Rope are excellent.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Somehow, Vertigo hit me in just the right place the first time I saw it. I also have a brutal fear of heights so...

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  7. I do like a good fairy tale retelling and I like hearing a story from a different perspective. I have heard a lot about Maleficent, but I haven't seen it yet. Great to hear your thoughts. :)
    ~Jess

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