Skip to main content

The Film List Project #18: Sunset Boulevard

I apologize for not posting last week. It might happen again.

This week, I had the bizarre pleasure of watching one of the most misquoted movies of all time, Sunset Boulevard. I don't think I've yet recovered.

This film is exactly the kind of movie I pictured when I was young and someone talked about "classic Hollywood". Black and white, bombastic lead actress, a forbidden romance, twisting plot. Everything I imagined was there.

I always held these type of movies to a higher standard than those more modern movies I had already seen. People talked about them with such fondness, recounting memories of seeing them in a theatre or on TV at home. I was worried that when I watched a movie like this one for the first time, I would be disappointed.

What I've realized is that any movie from any era can excite, disappoint, or surprise you. An era that a movie was made in may shape the story and how it is made, but an audience's emotions toward movies have always been the same. Movies are made to make an audience feel something, and that's why people's memories of them are so strong. The release date is but a small detail.

I had two thoughts after watching this movie: 1) That was a beautiful roller coaster, and 2) Is Gloria Swanson okay?

I think it is easy to see a movie like Sunset Boulevard that has dynamic, explosive characters and assume that the actors are their characters. This is made even easier because of certain similarities between Swanson and her character, Norma Desmond (former silent film stars, former collaborators with DeMille, multiple marriages, etc.). But, Swanson put it so beautifully herself when she said, "I've got nobody floating in my swimming pool".

My only problem with this movie is with its protagonist. Screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) is the ultimate hypocrite. He lectures Norma Desmond about taking him for granted, but it is he who takes her for granted. He stays in her house (because he needs a job) and takes her money (honestly, because he needs a job) and never thanks her. In his eyes, he is doing her a favor, but the bizarre relationship between the two goes both ways.

This movie is going to stick with me for a while. See you next week.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Be Smart

It still shocks me when people tell me they no longer go to the movies, but even I was surprised that I went to see a movie twice in one week. Yes, I am no stranger to a repeat trip to the theatre, but Booksmart hit me hard. I very rarely see a new release that rockets to the top of my list of all time favorites. In fact, I don't think it's happened since I saw Whip It 10 years ago.

If you haven't yet heard about Booksmart, it's an original, funny, empathetic take on an old classic. Two best friends want to go to a party after four years of a solely academic high school career. What it does differently from movies like Superbad (which I also love, by the way) should and will change the genre forever.

The two leads (Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein) not only land every joke and win you over immediately, but they also communicate the weird and wonderful world of female friendship through their performances in a way I've rarely seen. They don't compete, they sup…

Okay, Oprah: Or, a Pat on the Back and a Push Forward

I didn’t watch the Golden Globes this year. In fact, the closest I got to Oprah Winfrey was when a customer at the Starbucks I work in forgot we no longer sold her chai tea and ordered a “dirty Oprah” by mistake. Still, I was told about the speech. And I watched it. And I, like so many others, was moved by her words. 
It made me irritated, too. Here’s the thing: it’s incredible that Oprah stands with women who are oppressed, abused, assaulted, and silenced. Beyond incredible. She spoke with a characteristic eloquence that made people aware and gave people hope in a way so many of us need right now. However, we cannot deny that she had the opportunity to speak those words on such a public stage because she isOprah.
She’s one of the most powerful women in the world. I don’t think the irony is lost on anyone that the network that she owns is, well, OWN. We think Oprah, we think mogul, renaissance woman, icon, boss. The woman doesn’t need her last name anymore (or, the last five letters …

Purpose

It recently occurred to me that I haven't posted in a while. Well, REJOICE!!! I just saw Titanic 3D and now I have a lot of emotions. Just kidding. The movie was amazing, though. In fact, it got me thinking.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I want to be a screenwriter. If you haven't, I want to be a screenwriter. There, we learn something new everyday. When I tell people this, they often laugh. I understand why they do. It's a seemingly impossible goal. After a person is done with his or her laughing fit, I'm often asked why I want to do this.
Watching a movie like Titanic only strengthens my desire to do this. I've been a moviegoer all my life, but I'm different than what people think I should be. Instead of watching several movies once or twice and analyzing them, I tend to watch a handful of movies over and over again, studying them, figuring out what I like and don't like. I look at the few I connect with to see why I conn…