Sunday, February 17, 2008

Single White Female - A Love Story

Single White Female reminds me of The Talented Mr. Ripley in that it tells the story of pathologically lonely people who find the object of their desire doesn't love them back.

After New York businesswoman Allie (Bridget Fonda) puts an ad for a new roommate after she dumps her fiancee (Steven Weber) for sleeping with his ex-wife, she finds Hedy (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a polite and plain girl from a small town eager to find a cheap place to stay in the big city.

After a getting to know you montage, it seems Allie and Hedy are best of friends. They share each other's clothing, fix up their apartment together, and are inseparable.

There's a momentary hiccup after Steven Weber tries to make amends with Allie. Hedy places doubts of his fidelity into Allie's head and distracts her attentions with the addition of an adorable puppy and things are great again.

There's nothing more romantic than falling asleep together to a Rita Hayworth movie.

This scene truly marks 'The End' of Hedy's happiness. Hedy turns out to be a sociopath who hasn't forgiven herself for her twin sister's accidental death, and when her bond with Allie is threatened when Steven Weber reenters the picture, she resorts to murder to keep Allie to herself. It's strange to see a film made in the 1990s keep 1950s sensibilities - Hedy must be punished for her love for Allie - and uses violence in place of sex much like Strangers On A Train did. Hedy and Allie have a knock down drag out fight in the last act with lots of head banging and stabbing.

The movie ends with Allie killing Hedy, and moving on with her life.

I suppose this end shot of a photo of the two actress' combined is meant to imply they're the same person - but the movie never really supported this claim. It followed the mainstream studio idea of 'bitches are crazy' more than offering any psychological insight. Hitchcock's POV shot of Farley Granger punching out Robert Walker at the dinner party in Strangers On A Train is a much better execution of this idea.

It's a very Patricia Highsmith like story, and I'm curious to read the novel by John Lutz to see if there were any major changes for the movie. In any case, it's an example of my favourite kind of romance - obsessive love gone wrong

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Image of the Week

A 1001 Anachronisms

TCM just aired 1945's A Thousand And One Nights as part of their 31 Days of Oscar - (Nights was nominated for Best Art Direction and Best Special Effects), and the reason it's better than any other Aladdin movie is because of Phil Silvers. Silvers plays Abdullah, Aladdin's pocket picking best friend, and he injects (then) modern humour into this classic tale of magic lamps and princesses. You know this ain't your typical fantasy when Silvers wears a fanciful version of his trademark specs throughout the movie, and is allowed to use zany one liners. The genie (played by the lively Evelyn Keyes) is also a spitfire, insisting Aladdin calls her Babs, and sabotaging his wedding to the princess when she gets jealous. Why Aladdin (played by the oh so boring Cornel Wilde) didn't fall for this hotsy totsy genie is beyond me. That's all beside the point, because the character I'm most interested in, Abdullah, gets a happy ending of his own. It doesn't make a lick of sense, but Silvers gets the "Frankie" treatment - a glorious head of hair, perfect vision and an audience of real bobby soxers to sing to. This last scene of the movie is glorious on its own and uses a real recording of Sinatra singing All or Nothing At All. It's one of the great final gags.