BMEotD #172: Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog (2004)

A film for the dog lover in all of us, Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog follows the loyal Labrador Quill as he lives up to the film’s title and becomes a first rate guide dog. We follow Quill from his birth as a puppy, to his first year with an adoptive family, to his rigorous training, and finally to his pairing with his irritable handler Mitsuru Wantanabe. As the relationship between dog and trainer grows, Wantanabe’s world opens as he learns not only to trust his canine companion, but the other people that impact his life.     

This is a movie that you can’t help but adore. You’ll be saying “aww” and “oh that puppy is so cute” for about the first twenty minutes. But it’s not all fluff. Underneath it’s a realistic and at times educational movie that’ll teach you the importance of trust and loyalty. I learned some interesting facts about guide dog training from this movie, for instance, Japanese handlers will issue commands in English as not to confuse their dogs with other spoken Japanese they’ll hear. Pretty cool stuff. But alas, in any dog related movie, things can’t always happy. The realistic stance this movie takes leads to some depressing moments, I cried 5 times! during this movie, I think it’s a new record for me. But the tears show how easily invested I was in the story.

Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog is presented as a family movie, which it is. But you may want to wait a few years before you show this to your kids. With the semi-harsh life lessons you may want to save it for the 8-10 year old range. But, the happy moments easily outweigh the sad and I guarantee this movie will leave you grinning. 

 Woof,

 -Adam   

25.07.14

BMEoTD #171:  Pennies from Heaven (1981)

At the end of the 1970s, looking back at a decade of artistic misfires and colossal flops, MGM Studios decided they needed a project that brought back the glamour that had made them famous, a big-budget musical the likes of which no one was making anymore. For inspiration, they turned to an unlikely source:  Pennies from Heaven, the six-hour BBC miniseries written by Dennis Potter, which juxtaposed a grim depression-era story of economic struggles and sexual infidelity with flights of musical fantasy, the characters lip-synching to period tunes bursting with the optimism and good cheer mostly absent in such hard-scrabble times. It’s a dark, confrontational work, and in hindsight it seems ridiculous anyone thought they had a moneymaker on their hands; MGM’s adaptation wound up another flop, but also one of their rare masterpieces of the era.

Where the original maintained a cramped, domestic air throughout, never leaving the cheap sets, the Hollywood remake would be nothing less than a Hollywood remake. Top talents—the legendary Ken Adam as visual consultant, costumes both drab and glittering by Bob Mackie, choreography by Danny Daniels, Gordon Willis as cinematographer—conspired with director Herbert Ross to create a schizophrenic universe, the songs playing out in lavishly designed spaces whose polished floors gleamed like mirrors and rows of dancing girls suddenly spilled out of the wings. The production numbers, always entered and exited with brutal, jarring cuts, capture not just the excitement of movie musicals, but their grotesque surrealism. After sheet-music salesman Arthur (Steve Martin) is turned down for a loan, the bank manager turns around and mincingly giggles his way through the compliant female part in “Yes, Yes!” When his lover Eileen’s (Bernadette Peters) thoughts of him are interrupted by the class she’s teaching, the desks become a white-on-white line of pianos, the moppets’ insufferable rudeness becoming insufferable cuteness as they bash out accompaniment to her shimmying through “Love Is Good for Anything That Ails You.” Potter disowned the movie for precisely these extravagances (seeing the transformed classroom, he said, was “the moment I realized they were never going to make it work”), but their excess is the sickness choking the film’s sad heart, a feverish regurgitation of lies the movies have been feeding us for years.

-Bruce

24.07.14

Cool poster art for the excellent revenge thriller, Blue Ruin. Available for rent as of yesterday.

23.07.14
New Releases for Tuesday, July 22nd!

New Releases for Tuesday, July 22nd!

22.07.14
I’d always marveled how Jurassic Park and Lost World were sequential alphabetically in the Spielberg section, but along comes Honest Abe and screws everything up for everyone. Now my world is lost. 
-Warren

I’d always marveled how Jurassic Park and Lost World were sequential alphabetically in the Spielberg section, but along comes Honest Abe and screws everything up for everyone. Now my world is lost. 

-Warren

20.07.14
RIP James Garner.

RIP James Garner.

20.07.14
Cool poster for Georges Franju’s bizarre and wonderful remake of Judex — now available on Criterion DVD & Blu-ray.

Cool poster for Georges Franju’s bizarre and wonderful remake of Judex — now available on Criterion DVD & Blu-ray.

19.07.14