Thursday, 25 November 2010

Scriptwriting in the UK: Frolleagues!

Scriptwriting in the UK: Frolleagues!: "What I love about the screenwriting blogging community - or 'the scribosphere' as it's commonly known - is the inspiration and goodwill that..."

Monday, 8 November 2010

Review of Harvey (1950)

Want to know something I don't understand?

People who say, "I don't like watching black and white films".

"I don't watch black and white films at all".

"Black and white films are boring, i hate them".

In fact, it's not simply something I don't understand, it's something I despise. A close friend once revealed this about themselves, and I struggled against an internal urge to backhand them and walk away. I guess you could say it "grinds my gears". Well, too bad for those people. It just makes me sad that people are missing out on stories like Harvey (Written by Mary Chase), just because they can't appreciate film in monochrome. Some of my favourite films are in Black and White and were made in the 30's, 40's and 50's. When I tell people about those films, they're enthusiastic and interested until they realise the film in question is not in colour. I'll never understand it.

Now, Harvey is a film i've been meaning to give my attention to for a while, and you better believe it deserved it. This beautiful, enchanting movie deserves all of your attention. Now, I was excited initially because one of my favourite actors, and in my opinion, one of the best actors of all time, is the lead man - Mr James Stewart. You have never seen an actor so perfect for a part. The base premise for Harvey is appallingly ridiculous, until you see Elwood P. Dowd for the first time. He wanders through the house, seemingly normal, until he glances up at that big invisible rabbit that is his best friend. He proceeds into the street, and upon signing for a letter, immediately tears it into pieces and chucks it. We then know that Elwood and Harvey are in their own world, detached from reality, but in no way disadvantaged.

Actually, it's exactly the opposite. Harvey and Elwood lead better lives than most. Elwood is mistaken as a drunk by his foolish sister and niece, but he just likes to spend time in bars, socialising with old friends and meeting new ones. He barely touches one drink through the whole film. Elwood himself sums it up in a beautifully poignant moment of conversation between himself, Dr Sanderson and Nurse Kelly. He says to them "Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant."

Harvey is full of beautifully written, character defining dialogue. That's one of the magical things about this film, and many other black and white movies. They were full of intense, magical, pleasent, uplifting sections of dialogue.

With this movie, I went through a process of transformation. I felt sorry for Elwood, a loner with an imaginary rabbit as a best friend. But in the end, you feel sorry for everybody else, including yourself. In the end, you want to be friends with Elwood and Harvey. In the end, you want your own imaginary rabbit who can stop clocks and make you smile.

I knew i'd love Harvey but I didn't know I would love it as much as I did. As the film finished, I immediately flicked through to the bonus materials and watched the James Stewart Introduction, which was an excerpt from an interview in 1990, accompanied by a montage of photographs and clips from the movie. You then realise that this movie, and the characters within it, meant as much to James as they do to any audience member. Something specific he said brought a tear to my eye, though I can't exactly explain why. He said: "Every once in a while, i'd be walking down the street, and somebody would tap me on the shoulder and I'd turn around, and here'd be this man, maybe a lot hadn't shaved for a couple days, maybe hadn't had their suits pressed for quite a while, but they look up and say, "Is Harvey with you?". Well when this first happened I thought it was making a joke, but then after several times, i'd come to see that they were serious. And so I had sort of a regular answer, depending on where I was, and i'd say "No, Harvey has a cold and he's decided to stay home", and most of them would say the same thing, they'd say, "My name's Charlie, and the next time you see him, please give him my regards".

What does that say to you about Harvey?

I enjoyed and revelled in every moment wrapped up in this film, and you will too. It is on a mental list of films that I want my unborn, unconceived children to see early on, before they're bittered by the frustrations of life in colour.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Happy Halloween (for yesterday)

So what films did you watch for halloween? I have a confession to make: i'm not a fan of horror movies! So, it was with great difficulty that I watched The Grudge and The Shining yesterday. Both films terrified me to be honest, but I realised that popcorn is a great distraction when you're scared. I found The Grudge a bit hard to piece together, so if anyone could help with that I'd appreciate it. It was the original Japanese version. And, let me know what gems of the genre you think I should see! Have a good week everybody.

Oh, and The Shining - good, but overrated.