Monthly Archives: November 2013

1 Year, 100 Movies: #28 All About Eve (1950)

IF

For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!

In “All About Eve” we get a window into the world of theater, following the rise of an ambitious young actress, Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), and the decline of the older established actress, Margo Channing (Bette Davis). It is a truly great film telling the story of aging within a profession that prizes youthfulness. The film begins at an awards ceremony and then is told in a series of remembrances. The story begins when Karen (Celeste Holm), the wife of successful director Lloyd Richards (Hugh Marlowe), introduces the seemingly shy and meek Eve to Margo. Eve is the adoring fan who has seen all of Margo’s performances, with a perfect story of poverty and lost love. Margo takes Eve in and hires her as an assistant, but we learn that Eve may be more ambitious than we thought. No one catches on as quickly as Birdie (Thelma Ritter), Margo’s dressing room woman and personal assistant. Margo begins to catch on, and rages to her lover and successful theater director, Bill (Gary Merrill) and Lloyd that Eve has been hired as her understudy. She cannot control the inevitable march of time, and lashes out at everyone around her.

Eve takes full advantage of an evening when Margo is not available. She takes Margo’s part and she tries to take Margo’s lover. Bill rejects her and is her first stumbling block on her rise to stardom. Addison DeWitt (George Sanders), a respected theater critic, watches Eve’s off – stage performance. He is a predator, much like Eve, and when the opportunity comes to challenge her, he takes it.

Both Anne Baxter and Bette Davis were nominated for Best Actress in a Lead Role, two of the fourteen nominations that “All About Eve” received. Writer/Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz tells a fascinating human story, and Bette Davis turns what could be the best and most revealing performance of her career.

In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns:

four_half-stars_0

Advertisements

November Photo shoot: Midwest Doors

For My monthly photo shoot, I will come up with a theme and document it to the best of my ability and talent- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and strike a pose.

My theme for the month of November are pictures of doors- all from the Midwest. I wanted to show an eclectic range of this small (but important) part of architecture that can either be overlooked or appreciated. Hope you enjoy! Click on any of the pictures below to view them all larger:

How to build a Terrarium

I built a terrarium for my apartment to complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto–  It was a simple process, and cost under $50 to make.

You can make one too! It’s easy:

1. Gather the needed materials- a clear glass container (can be open or closed), rocks (river rocks, polished pebbles, sea glass, marbles, etc.) , horticultural charcoal, soil, Sphagnum or sheet moss, and the terrarium friendly plants that will not overgrow. Good options are plants like boxwood, croton, Joseph’s coat, pineapple verbena, and miniature ferns. Also gather basic tools- scissors, a spoon or funnel for placing soil, long tweezers, and paper towels.

IMG_5669

IMG_5666

2. Add the Rocks- this layer helps to shape the terrain while aiding drainage and aeration. Vary the layer’s thickness by the size of the container. The smaller the vessel, the thinner the rock layer; you’ll want to leave enough “head space” at the top of the terrarium when you’re finished that the setup doesn’t look cramped.

IMG_5670

3. Add the horticultural charcoal.

IMG_5671

4. Add a few inches of soil. If a plant’s nursery tag indicates that it needs a specific type of soil, use that. This layer doesn’t have to be perfectly flat. If there is enough room, hills and valleys give the landscape character. Again, don’t fill the container too high with soil, since you’ll want to have enough “head space” for the greenery to grow.

IMG_5673

5. If you are using moss, pat it down so there are no air pockets but leave space for the plants. If you are using moss you have snagged from nature instead of packaged moss then be sure to spritz it with a pesticide first to debug it. Plant the plants you have chosen- go with the instructions the greenhouse has given you on spacing. Give the plants some water- keep in mind the rocks are your drainage system, so don’t overdo it. You’re done!

IMG_5674 IMG_5677

Maintaining a terrarium is easy! For moss terrariums, a light misting of water every two to four weeks should suffice. For plant terrariums, just follow the watering instructions on the plant’s nursery tag. Just don’t over-water!

Enjoy! 😀

Cake Decoration 13: Uncle Scott’s Birthday!

This past weekend my uncle Scott and family visited, and since it was his birthday earlier this month, I had to make him a cake! This was my last cake for the year- it has great fun making them all this year, (and will not happen next year, it is a lot of work! Sorry everyone!) We had lots of fun in the short time we had!

1 Year, 100 Movies: #29 Double Indemnity (1944)

Double-Indemnity

For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!

Billy Wilder’s film, “Double Indemnity” is a foray into film noir that comes with a whole lot of lightning fast dialogue and an equal helping of uneasiness. This film is clever, all about the tone and style.

Insurance agent Walter Neff (Fred MacMuray) and Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) get mixed up in a plan of romance, murder, and insurance fraud. They put together an elaborate plan and are successful in murdering Phyllis’ husband, and try to collect on his life insurance plan that Walter has set up. The plan works for a while, and Neff’s boss Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) even breaks the news to his boss that the company will have to pay out on the policy. We follow the characters through the suspicion and secrets to the inevitable conclusion. Although the character development doesn’t get too far, there are moments in this film that are stunning and masterful, and very interesting to watch.

In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns:

star-four-11-jpg1

1 Year, 100 Movies: #30 Apocalypse Now (1979)

39808_apocalypse_now_poster

For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!

Francis Ford Coppola’s film, “Apocalypse Now” is a vision that shows us the fear, absurdity and insanity that was a part of the Vietnam War, and how it seeps into the psyche of a soldier.

Capt. Benjamin Williard (Martin Sheen) is given the mission of finding and killing Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has built an army of AWOL soldiers, as well as indigenous Vietnamese and Cambodians. He travels to find him up river to Cambodia on a Navy patrol boat which escorted by an Air Calvary Unit let by the Lt. Col. Kilgore (Robert Duvall). Williard begins to doubt the rules he must follow, and must resolve his own internal conflict and choose between carrying out his mission or refusing it. When he makes it to Kurtz’s camp he is imprisoned, and a photojournalist (Dennis Hopper), who has taken up with Kurtz, gives us a clue about the idea behind the camp. He gestures around at the people and grass huts that surround them as how it all ends. Kurtz’s civilization is a final outcome, a hell on Earth. It is an apocalypse now, and it appears that Willard has been called to tell the story.

Of all the war movies I’ve seen- which are plenty- this is one of my least favorite. I’ve met many Vietnam war vets, and having talked with lots of them, do not get the idea that they would be broken so much as to accept Kurtz’s ideas.

In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns:

one_half-stars_0

1 Year, 100 Movies: #31 The Maltese Falcon (1941)

143610.1020.A

For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!

There are two, possibly three, performances that are defining moments in Humphrey Bogart’s career, and his role as Sam Spade in “The Maltese Falcon” is one of those performances. In addition to being a standout role for Bogart, it also opened the door to later opportunities for him. So Bogart, as we know him, may never have existed had it not been for “The Maltese Falcon.” But the importance of this film doesn’t begin and end with Humphrey Bogart. “The Maltese Falcon” may not be the first Film Noir, a genre defined by deep shadow and slashes of light, ambiguous even unlikable protagonists, and strong-willed dangerous women, but it was an early and important example of Noir. It was also the first film directed by John Houston, who would continue his off and on collaboration with Bogart which, would result in two other films on the top 100 list, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” and “The African Queen.

The Maltese Falcon,” like many Noirs, is almost exclusively about tone and style, but there is still a plot to it. Spade is a no-nonsense character concerned with the bottom line- he knows how to work others to get answers. After the death of his partner, Miles Archer (Jerome Cown), Spade questions his client, Bridid O’Shaughnessy (Mary Astor), a classic femme fatale. She turns on the charm, but Spade isn’t having any of it, he just asks her for money for his services- which use some of the same tactics as the criminals he pursues. His tactics become more aggressive and questionable when Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre) comes to Spade’s office looking for a small black statue of a falcon. Once he has Cairo disarmed, he strikes him unconscious, rifles through his pocket and even takes inventory of the money in his wallet.

Mr. Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet) appears as the main pursuer of the falcon, and offers Spade a sizable reward for securing it. At this point all of the villains are in play, and you can see that each one is a distinct character type. Cairo is weak, effeminate and simpering. Gutman is arrogant and self-imporant; with Wilmer (Elisha Cook Jr.) as his lackey. Finally we have Brigid. Her emotional makeup is a shifting mix of sincerity and sinister intent. We never know how much of her story we can believe. Effie (Lee Patrick), Spade’s secretary is a perfect female character actress. She’s charming, and makes Bogart shine. I feel like she knows more about what’s going on than Spade.

The good guys are almost indistinguishable from the bad. Brigid killed Spade’s partner, but Spade seems to revel in his speech and his intent to turn Brigid over to the police. Even when discussing the possibility of Brigid getting the death sentence, Spade is controlled and callous. He won’t let a little thing like feelings get in the way of his survival. A mushy guy he is not. This is noir. “The Maltese Falcon” gives us a protagonist that’s built entirely out of flaws. The hard cop on the mean streets of the city may feel like a cliché now, but “The Maltese Falcon” still feels fresh and exciting. Here we can see the origins of cliché, not the cliché itself.

In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns:

DownloadedFile