Reel Infatuation Blogathon 2017 – Westley in “The Princess Bride”

When I discovered that this blogathon existed, I was extremely interested but also a little bewildered! I am a massive movie lover, and it was therefore very difficult to decide which character infatuation to write about. In the end, I finalized my choice based on bravery, intelligence, sportsmanship, wit, looks (yes, I am shallow), and romance. Farm Boy/Westley/Dread Pirate Roberts played by Cary Elwes in one of the most magical films of all-time, The Princess Bride, just has to be my favourite reel infatuation!

This medieval storybook tale begins with Westley as “Farm Boy”. He is the farm hand to the very bossy Buttercup (Robin Wright). Despite the seeming power imbalance, the two captivate one another. I find Westley’s naivety at this point quite endearing, but it is very evident that he has much growth and evolution in his future. He subsequently embarks on a journey from boyhood to manhood, and we witness the results in due course…

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Fast forward five years where Buttercup is now in the menacing arms of Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon). The supposed “Dread Pirate Roberts” interrupts the highly orchestrated kidnapping of Buttercup, encountering some of the most memorable characters in movie history. However, the viewers come to quickly realize that “Dread Pirate Roberts” is not the dread pirate at all, but is … Westley! An inconceivable battle of wits, swashbuckling, a journey through the aptly-named Fire Swamp, and a “to the pain!” declaration allow us to witness the evolution of Westley. His devotion for Buttercup though is one of his most attractive qualities, enduring multiple hardships and being nearly dead in his quest for love and justice. As we wish, he is the ultimate embodiment of swoon-worthiness and idealism in a partner in crime or life.

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I do not own the photos in this post. Also, this post is a part of the Reel Infatuation Blogathon hosted by A Small Press Life and Silver Screenings! Please take a look at other awesome posts this weekend related to movie, TV, and literary characters that make us blush!

Reel Infatuation 2017

 

Trouble in Paradise (1932)

The concealment of deceit has been a longstanding tradition in society. The maintenance of facades grants this continued perception while allowing one to experiment and examine various interests outside of these so-called constraints. This exploration may allow one to transition into another chapter in their life, such as a career. However, traversing this course in the realm of any kind of relationship can create confusion, hurt, and future mistrust branching into subsequent bond formation. These taxing situations have nonetheless been highly mimicked and lauded in film, generating suspense, concern, and sometimes comedy depending on the plot. The concept of relationship deceit is one such theme that produces a lot of “trouble in paradise”. The master of subtleness Ernst Lubitsch directed the delightful 1932 Pre-Code romantic comedy with the title of the aforementioned quoted phrase, crisply navigating the previously discussed theme with great wit and intelligence.

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The film begins with thief extraordinaire Gaston Monescu (Herbert Marshall) putting forth multiple illusions of himself. One is as a doctor, robbing the wealthy Francois Filiba (1930s screwball staple Edward Everett Horton). The other is as a wealthy baron in the city of Venice. He meets with Lily Vautier (Miriam Hopkins), who is impossibly the most social socialite among royalty. Unbeknownst to them both, they are highly professional thieves. This discovery launches a seeming whirlwind of fraudulence and dishonesty. After Monescu robbed a peace conference and “took everything except the peace”, we are introduced to the wealthy Parisian cosmetics maven Madame Mariette Colet (Kay Francis). Through a myriad of circumstance, the two crooks begin working for Colet with Monescu turned Gaston Lavalle at the helm of her finances! Multiple love triangles, derailed plans, clever lines, glamour, possession, jealousy, and most of all sexual tension blend together to develop an utterly and daringly original film.

Lubitsch employed many innovative techniques in the film’s portrayal of sexuality. The Hays Code was definitely impending on Hollywood at the time that this film was created, as much nudity and seduction were increasingly prevalent in studio pictures. While many films were amplifying overt sexuality, Lubitsch slyly inserted multiple ploys to scandalously include sexual encounters between unmarried individuals. A wine bottle, shadows on a mattress, a clock, innuendo, and yet sometimes complete silence are some examples allowing the audience to make insinuations and draw conclusions. The light atmosphere and comedy help to mask this film as a nearly innocent, oxymoronic portrayal of layered deception. While the film was not reissued during the Code era, the act and craft of masquerading ultimately lends the film itself added charm, depth, timelessness, and a rewarding stamp in cinema.

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I do not own the photos in this post. As well, this is part of the SEX! (now that I have your attention) Blogathon hosted by Movie Movie Blog Blog! Please have a look at the other great entries over this weekend contributing to this blogathon discussing sexuality and film.

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Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

“Home is where the heart is”, as the age-old saying goes. Some associate “home” with dread, anguish, and fear while others relate familiarity, comfort, sentimentality, pride, and a sense of belonging to the term. Growth and change can allow one to bloom beyond their comfort zone, but the idea of uprooting from home may arise trepidation. The development of relationships, a career, and overall support is often cultivated in one location designated as home, and the thought of potentially starting anew is daunting. The vibrant 1944 Technicolor musical Meet Me in St. Louis directed by Vincente Minnelli delves into these apprehensions among an upper-middle class family in the face of starting a new life in the Big Apple.

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The film begins during the carefree summer of 1903 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Smith family children are enjoying the freedom and joviality of summer, counting down to the 1904 World’s Fair. Their father Lon Smith (Leon Ames) drudges through daily life as a lawyer in a downward career cycle. The proposition of success as a lawyer in New York prompts Lon to instruct the family in a highly patriarchal manner that they will be leaving their beloved St. Louis to begin a new life in New York. Meanwhile, wife Anna (the highly versatile Mary Astor) has created strong roots in this community in raising their children. Eldest daughters Rose (Lucille Bremer) and Esther (the always magnificent Judy Garland) have romantic involvements and educational prospects in St. Louis. Esther is particularly fond of the “boy next door” John Truett (Tom Drake). The younger bratty daughters Agnes (Joan Carroll) and Tootie (Margaret O’Brien) advocate in favour of staying to continue their obscene and inappropriate pranks. Eldest son Lon Jr. (Henry H. Daniels Jr.) is already in college at this point, having begun exploring life beyond St. Louis. As the seasons advance towards the once prospectively exhilarating Fair, an aura of despair looms through this observed upbeat, decadent, colour-saturated world.

This film is undoubtedly a quintessential musical. The musical numbers are highly memorable and vibrant, with “The Trolley Song”, “The Boy Next Door”, and the classic “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” being among the fabulous roster of songs. The propelling of popularity and timelessness of these songs are mainly due to Judy Garland’s exquisite and astute vocals, expressing every emotion necessary in a very genuine manner. Vincente Minnelli’s careful direction showcases Garland’s talent but also allows the viewer to feel great compassion for the Smith family. I must also mention the beautiful costumes, embodying the fashion of the early 1900s. Overall, romance, drama, teenage troubles, and childhood woes all captivate in this wonderful film, which is ultimately an ode to the glory and connection of home. This love, joy, and adoration for St. Louis are expressed within the film’s title and eponymous initial number.

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I do not own the pictures in this post. As well, this post is part of the Judy Garland Blogathon hosted by In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood. Please check out the other awesome posts honouring the amazingly talented and legendary Judy Garland!

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A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Psychiatry is a relatively new discipline in medicine which has evolved quite rapidly. The mainstay of therapy less than a century ago was institutionalization. This method can undoubtedly isolate individuals, creating a deeper microcosm. Care evolved to include various surgeries and treatments that are recognized today as ineffective and some inhumane. While not perfect by any stretch, mental health care is now ideally multidisciplinary. Medications, counselling methods, and assertive community treatment (ACT) teams are among the resources used to help ensure optimal functioning in the daily lives of those living with mental illness. Integral to that piece is a caring, patient, and resilient psychiatrist, complementing holistic care and involving patients and families in decision-making. While set in the 1950s at the dawn of antipsychotic medications, Dr. Rosen (Christopher Plummer) exemplifies these essential qualities in A Beautiful Mind (2001) directed by Ron Howard.

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The film tells the remarkable journey of the late John Forbes Nash Jr., a renowned Nobel Prize-winning mathematician. The story begins in 1947 at the beginning of Nash’s undergraduate career. Russell Crowe earnestly portrays Nash as an aloof, introverted individual with a mind attuned to math and science. Nash’s opportunities and accolades within Princeton and later MIT grow, landing a teaching position at the latter. He later falls in love with and marries student Alicia Larde, beautifully portrayed in an Academy Award-winning role by Jennifer Connelly. With a promising future lies much turmoil, as William Parcher (Ed Harris) of the United States Department of Defense is becoming increasingly reliant on Nash’s abilities to decrypt enemy telecommunication. However, this quest to decode information along with other relationships reveal to be part of massive delusional belief systems. Nash’s physical health and safety suffer, and his marriage with Alicia is greatly tested with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. The battle between reality and Nash’s own world is persistent and consistent. Recovering and relearning to function meaningfully and safely in society can take quite a long time, but Alicia’s and Dr. Rosen’s steadfast and attentive nature allows him to flourish.

A mind can be quite beautiful. It can create completely original pieces of art encouraging individuals to pursue further introspection. It can also formulate scientific theories to advance various types of research, benefitting the health and wellbeing of humanity. There may also be a division or duality within the mind, with some facets detracting from the necessary imaginative ingenuities. The actualization of ideas and fostering positive growth depends on a great deal of determination, ambition, and support from others. This concept was quite evident in this film, but it can be extremely applicable in knowledge acquisition and utilization on a global scale.

 

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I do not own the pictures in this post. As well, this is part of the Christopher Plummer Blogathon hosted by Sean Munger! Please have a look at other awesome posts celebrating the acting career and many diverse roles of this most excellent Canadian actor!

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Mulholland Drive (2001)

The presence of dreams on one’s life course can fluctuate but it is ever-present. The precise meaning of the word “dream” varies as well. Firstly, our ambitions/dreams create purpose and drive, focusing our attention towards actualizing achievement and hopeful fulfillment. In viewing and experiencing struggles and successes, we experience the unfolding reality of these aspirations. Furthermore, we think of the word in terms of neuronal firings and subsequent image displays of random events that have occurred in our reality while asleep. This combined with yearning daydreams can alter our own perception of the truth, dismissing actualities of our surrounding environment. “Mulholland Drive” is a 2001 psychological thriller directed by David Lynch delving into these fascinating concepts with the ultimate appropriate backdrop – Hollywood.

The tale begins with an impending kidnapping turned car accident on Mulholland Drive. Laura Elena Harring is the sole survivor, fearful for her safety and eventually hiding in a wealthy woman’s townhouse who is coincidentally and thankfully going on a vacation. Meanwhile, Betty Elms (Naomi Watts) is a starstruck, wide-eyed, and aspiring actress who comes to Los Angeles from Deep River, Ontario. The very fashionable landlord Coco (the legendary Ann Miller) guides Betty to her Aunt Ruth’s luxurious townhouse. Betty discovers a female unknown to her in the apartment, who happens to be the lady who escaped the automobile accident. She calls herself “Rita” after seeing a movie poster of Gilda in the bathroom, diving into an episode of amnesia. Betty initiates and becomes entangled in a quest to rediscover Rita’s true identity. Further interrelated subplots occur during the story as well. They include a quest to find the dark-haired lady, revelation of a frightening dream in a diner, and threats to control a well-known director’s vision for his upcoming film. These stories culminate in a mind-blowing finale, introducing many more questions than answers.

primary_mulholland-drive-criterion-2015David Lynch is a master of detailed ambiguity. The majority of his films and TV series are filled with hidden gems and facets that are imperative in untangling non-linear screenplays. The beauty of his narratives are that these items and other plot devices are often unclear, as well as the presence of an obscure division between reality and fantasy. We therefore bring our own experiences, values, and beliefs in interpreting his films and creating meaning unique to our lives.

I must also highlight the collaboration with Angelo Badalamenti. His musical contribution to the brilliant Twin Peaks invites us to speculate impending doom yet appreciate beautiful simplicity. In this film, he accomplishes the same feat via minor chords and synthesized sounds. Silence is also key in appreciating moments of intensity and characters’ emotions, and the lack of music in those scenes is essential in accurately conveying those expressions.

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Crucial events in this film begin and end on Mulholland Drive. It is in this location whereby false hopes, shattered dreams, and lost identities unfold. The film industry certainly has its glamour, but it is not without its struggles especially related to control. Many other industries can create a facade of prestige, attracting naive, hopeful youth into their dream factory. This milieu can lead an individual to be swallowed whole by figurative piranhas. Large portions of their individuality, belief system, and personal lives may be sacrificed to mould their new and more amenable selves to the profession which now presides over their every move. Some may unfortunately not have the option to voice their opinions due to potential volatile oppression in these settings. While sometimes extremely difficult, the importance of maintaining our truths and being vocal can help to ensure that our principles are upheld in the face of major power imbalances.

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I do not own the above photos in this post.