My Week With Marilyn (5/26/12)

My Week With MarilynMovie One Hundred Thirty

In My Week With Marilyn young assistant on the set of a film starring Marilyn Monroe befriends her and provides each of them an escape from their own life.

Based on the true story by Colin Clark, My Week With Marilyn is about Colin’s (played by Eddie Redmayne) foray into film by getting a position with Sir Lawrence Olivier’s (Kenneth Branagh) production company for the filming of The Prince and Showgirl. There he meets Marilyn herself (Michelle Williams) and the two become close friends / lovers? both on and off set.

There isn’t much to My Week With Marilyn from a plot perspective, the main conflict of the film is that Marilyn shouldn’t have further distractions on set and Colin is a distraction. The film plays up the futile romance portion of their relationship quite a bit, to the point where I had quite a hard time stomaching some of the details. Even though this actually happened, I find the finer points had to either embellished or totally fabricated. Could every single thing have happened? Sure, like they say, truth is stranger than fiction, but for the sake of judging only the film, I smell BS.

Some interesting things do come out about Marilyn’s acting ability and her work ethic, as well as those of Sir Olivier. I found those aspects of the film to be the most enjoyable, actually. Both Williams and Branagh give fantastic performances here but I thought Branagh’s performance as Olivier was actually the more impressive of the two. Overall, I enjoyed watching My Week With Marilyn but was bored by most of it. When it ended I didn’t care about what had happened and it’s such a small slice of time the film dictates that it’s fairly inconsequential. Watch My Week With Marilyn for the performances, not the story.

I give it 3 true to life Marilyn Monroe comparisons out of 5.

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Seven Year Itch (3/31/12)

Seven Year ItchMovie Seventy

The Seven Year Itch is probably most well-known for the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe over the subway grate but the movie itself is also a great watch.

The Seven Year Itch is my second Billy Wilder and Marilyn Monroe movie this year (the first was Some Like It Hot) and while the two films are similar in some ways they each have distinct feels. Seven Year Itch has a much zanier air about  it but both movies are quite funny. Monroe’s acting is more focused in this as well.

The movie is about Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell), a married man with an overactive imagination whose wife goes away for the summer with their son. He then meets his neighbor, The Girl, (Marilyn Monroe) and wants to seduce her. The title phrase refers to the waning attention of a man after seven years in a monogamous relationship. As the movie progresses Sherman fantasizes about The Girl and they spend a lot of time together but his imagination and nerves end up getting the best of him.

Apparently this was originally a Broadway play that Ewell was reprising his role for. Most of the movie occurs in his apartment, so that makes sense. He also spends a lot of time talking to himself as a sort of narration. My wife commented that it feels a lot like A Christmas Story, where the adult Ralphie is narrating the actions of his younger self.

Billy Wilder’s movies are essential viewing as far as I’m concerned. The Seven Year Itch isn’t his strongest work, but it is iconic. Some of the comedy is a bit silly and even a bit dated, perhaps, but the film has held up quite well overall.

I give it 4 stairs to nowhere out of 5.

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Some Like It Hot (2/5/12)

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Billy Wilder really had a perfect storm with Some Like It Hot. Marilyn Monroe was white hot while Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon were a perfect complement to each other. I can only imagine the impact this film had when it debuted in the late 50s.

Struggling Chicagoan musicians (Curtis and Lemmon) witness a mob murder and decide to cross-dress for a gig in Florida, hoping to flee the mob as well as get paid. They meet Monroe who is absolutely stunning and fight for her affections while still in drag. Both men take different routes to win her affections, with Curtis posing as a millionaire playboy. Lemmon gets unwanted attention from an actual millionaire playboy.

The antics between the cast are priceless. The closing sequence is one of my favorites ever and watching Monroe on screen is always a treat.There is a reason that Wilder is one of the most revered directors of all time. Even though Some Like It Hot is probably not his best work, it’s always an absolute pleasure to watch.

There are stories of how hard it was to work with Marilyn Monroe, on this set and on others. IMDB trivia page has some stories about these tribulations and reading them shows a few things. One, that Billy Wilder can direct anyone doing anything, apparently. Two, that Monroe was talented, but maybe her ‘other assets’ were more talented. Regardless, the end result is a fantastic movie that, somewhat surprisingly, still holds up amazingly well.

I give it 5 Sugar Kanes out of 5.

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