Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bugsy Malone

"You give a little love and it all comes back to you, you know you're gonna be remembered for the things you say and do." is the message we are left with while finishing the film Bugsy Malone. Directed in 1976 by Alan Parker, Bugsy Malone is a film that encompasses two very prominent genres; musical and gangster, and mixes it into one. In the film the classic gangster story is not only told through the use of song and dance but also using child actors.
      Bugsy Malone, the sly boxing promoter is the man to be in this film. Although he ends up getting involved with the gang-life, it is pretty obvious that Bugsy knows whats-what. Always a step ahead of the audience, Bugsy is a classic character in the gangster genre and could be compared to Millers Crossings Tom Reagen. The only problem is; Bugsy is well... completely broke. From that he finds himself getting in business with Fat Sam, gang leader and speakeasy owner, who hires Bugsy to accompany him to a meeting with rival gang leader, Dandy Dan. After that Bugsy is now almost completely immersed in gang life.
 Bugsy Malone includes many classic parts of the depression-era gangsterfilm such as a separation of class and the struggle for money. It is obvious through many circumstances where we see characters, such as Fat Sam and Dandy Dan who strut around in their tailored outfits while other kids are starving at soup kitchens. Bugsy is also a part of this, seeing how he is frequently out of money, like most were in those days.
   I think this film, although still considered part of the gangster genre really fits with the idea of the American Dream. Some could say it was based on ethnic struggles but the fact is that this film seems just so much lighter than that for many reasons. First the choice of child actors is a major one. Although using children in many films could make it considerably darker I think that the choice did not work this way in this film. The children we see are impersonating the harsher side of gangster reality in those days but its easy to not take it that seriously. The dialog that the children use is almost laughable due to the fact that it sounds exactly like what an adult would say in their situation, which I assume was the intent. Another fact that the musical genre is added in is what makes it more of a comedy than a serious piece. Another part of it is that instead of actual guns and bullets the "killing" weapon is a toy gun filled with whip cream contributes to the comedic rather than serious part of this film. Bugsy seems to embody a lot of what the American Dream philosophy entails. Bugsy never gives up, even when things look bleak and always works hard, never letting people hand him the things he wants. Bugsy is a worker.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

It's a Hard-Knock Life

John Hustons Annie tells the story of the young orphan Annie and her adventures in the Big Apple, New York City. During the musical Annie is rescued from her horrible orphanage run by the evil Ms. Hannigan and is brought to live in the Warbucks mansion for a week. Through many musical song and dance numbers Annie lives her dream and finds a place in Mr.Warbucks heart then eventually gets adopted by him. Being a part of Annie: The Musical last year at my old high school (I played the part of Cecile the maid) I have come to love and understand the characters, songs, and the plot.
   From the beginning we are presented Annie, this super lovable, red haired, little girl. We immediately sympathize with her and the other orphans in the orphanage due to the way Ms.Hannigan acts towards them. It is obvious through the way she comforts little Molly that she has a big heart, a strong sense of leadership, and she dreams of a better life for everyone in the orphanage. One of Annies most admirable attributes is the way she refuses to give up, even when it looks like everything is down in the pits. Annie is almost always a positive source of energy. Her attitude towards the world is similar to the idea of the American Dream, a set of ideals where freedom in America includes the opportunities for prosperity and success through hard work and determination. Annie is basically the characterization of this idea and it is due to that fact that Annie is taken and adopted by the Warbucks in the end.
     Poverty and the Great Depression are main features of the film. We are brought to the two extremes of success in this film. From Miss Hannigans orphanage, where everything is basically nasty and rotten to the Warbucks Mansion, where there is everything from a tennis court to a swimming pool. In the song "It's a Hard-Knock Life" we are brought into the world of the lower class quite quickly and we are given a sense of the hard ships that those in that social class face. In the song "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here" which is preformed when Annie first arrives at the Mansion  Annie sings "Used to room in a tomb where I'd sit and freeze" and it gives us the drastic difference between the two environments. Annie is not used to people being there, loving her, and doing things for her so at first she is confused on why she doesn't have to clean. This also goes along with the idea of the American Dream that if you work hard you will get what you deserve.
     Annie is a wonderful musical film that brings us into the world of the Great Depression and the life of a determined dreamer. It is a wonderful film that shows us that as long as you keep your head up and work hard, things will get better.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Shaun Of The Dead

In the film Shaun Of The Dead a young man with a seemingly normal life must turn into a zombie killing machine in order to save not only his relationship with his girlfriend but also their very own lives. Directed by Edgar Wright in 2004 Shaun Of The Dead is considered a film that mixes the genres, screwball comedy and zombie to form one ultimate Zomedy.
       In Shaun Of The Dead zombies are presented similarly to how they are in other zombie films. They are a threat, something other worldly, and seemingly unintelligent. In this film, like in most zombie films, the zombies are flesh eating monsters that have sprung up seemingly out of nowhere and they are killing innocent people, turning them into zombies too. The protagonist, Shaun is the leader of the group and much like in Night Of The Living Dead his leadership is challenged and he must step up to the plate and become the type of man who is able to keep him and his loved ones safe during the zombie apocalypse. Also in this film the zombies can only be killed by being hit or shot in the head which is what the case is in most zombie movies. The choices that the characters make in Shaun Of The Dead and Night Of The Living Dead are also similar. The situation that is proposed to two different sets of people in the films is handled by each of them in different ways. In Night Of The Living Dead a child is turned into a zombie and her mother has to make the decision to either kill her daughter and save herself or be killed by her. Shaun also has to make this same decision. His mother is bitten and turned into a zombie and he struggles with what to do. In the end Shaun makes the right decision in shooting his mother but it changes his leadership tactics and eventually helps his survival.
      The comedy aspects of this film is what makes the film what it is. In many screwball comedies there is the presence of the on and off relationships or "mariage and remarriage". In Shaun Of The Dead Shauns relationship with Liz, his girlfriend is one that ping pongs back and forth frequently and lines up with the notion of that screwball convention. In the end they are back together again and we are left with the feeling that this time three will be no "on and offs" about it. Also in many screwball comedies the female character plays a supporting role but ultimately is the one who pushes the story forward. In Shaun Of The Dead it is because Shauns need to protect Liz that he even leaves the house in the first place. This role is also shared with Shauns mother, who he is also worried about and must protect until he must shoot her in the end.
    Shaun Of The Dead is a interesting zomedy and it changed my view on the genre forever.