For years (decades) I avoided watching this film thinking that it was just another syrupy, overly-sentimental romance. Though that is a major key to the plot (which, in my opinion, borders on cookie-cutter), the element that stands out for me to make this a great picture is the dialogue. It is excellent. It just pops. By that, I mean it is so cohesive and well-thought out that even if you have never watched the film, you know what the characters are going to say. This is not to say that the dialogue is mundane and on-the-nose. It is simplistic and real. The characters say exactly what they are supposed to say – not something they are not supposed to say. I’m not even referring to the iconic dialogue (“play it again Sam…” etc.) The way the dialogue comes at you, line after line is just mesmerizing. I wish I could write dialogue like that. You sit there watching the film and you end up nodding your head and smiling after a line of dialogue because it is EXACTLY what the character is supposed to say. Brilliant.
Bogart kind of grows on you after a few showings – even as the film progresses, his stiff and aloof style at the beginning of the film generally evaporates into a soft, caring characterization that you grow to like. He's even better in 'The Caine Mutiny' - his finest performance. The great Ingrid Bergman puts in a good performance (she is better elsewhere, ‘Notorious’ for example) but the character that she plays is too wrapped around the theme of romance and is not enough of a tortured soul for Bergman to really sink her teeth into the role. The real performance here is put forth by Claude Rains. He is excellent and steals every scene that he is in.
In the end, I’m glad that I finally watched Casablanca to see what fans of the film have been raving about for years. Is it a good film? Yes. But is it a great film? Okay… yes.
With her win in the 2014 Australian Open quarterfinals, Genie Bouchard matched the best-ever performance by a Canadian singles tennis player in a major by advancing into the semi-finals – a feat only accomplished once before way back at the 1984 U.S. Open by Carling Bassett. It was an incredibly proud moment for Canadian tennis fans and Canada in general. In a hockey-mad nation, having a top player in another sport only adds to Canada’s reputation for its diversity on the world stage.
When Genie Bouchard raised her arms in victory (the only time that she showed any emotion on court), the fans of Canadian tennis who have pushed and pulled for every Canadian singles tennis player for 30 years collectively jumped up and raised their arms in victory with her. It had been a long wait. From Carling Bassett, to Helen Kelesi, to Patricia Hy, to Aleksandra Wozniak, Genie Bouchard finally broke through the ceiling. She is a star in the making.
While Canadian tennis fans continue to cheer on Milos Raonic and his tactical, progressive, painstaking climb up into the almost seemingly impenetrable upper echelon of men’s pro tennis, and Vasek Pospisil’s exciting climb up the ladder behind him, this win by Genie Bouchard instantly becomes a touchstone. While Raonic has pro tour wins under his belt which has helped him in his climb up the rankings, this win and placement by Bouchard is equally important. This history-tying win by Bouchard is covered relentlessly by the media, which instantly raises the profile of Canadian tennis. Success in Grand Slam tennis is the highest achievement a pro tennis player can achieve. That Bouchard has made it as far as she has is not only a big deal – it’s the biggest deal.
Sitting and watching tennis for 30 years and cheering on the Canadians, it has been frustrating, elating, promising and disappointing. Milos Raonic began the new era of tennis in Canada in 2011. Since then, it has been a steady and rumbling noise of success after success. Enjoy this because we’re at the start of THE golden age of Canadian tennis. The best is yet to come.
At the beginning of 2011 after the Australian Open, you would have thought that Milos Raonic was the only Canadian singles tennis player on the radar to make a serious run past the 4th round of a major and into the elite part of the tournament – the quarterfinals and beyond. Aleksandra Wozniak almost did it at the 2009 French Open when she made it to the 4th round. Up until Raonic came along, she was thought to be the player with the best chance to make it to the quarters of a major. That was until Eugenie Bouchard came along – seemingly out of nowhere. Funny, that’s how Raonic appeared as well.
While many tennis players have reached the 4th round of a major and it’s a major feather in their cap, saying that you have reached the quarterfinals or the quarters or having a QF after your name is career defining. It’s always mentioned in bios or as a stat that stands out when their name comes up. Until Genie Bouchard did it at the 2014 Australian Open, only 3 other Canadians (all female) have made it to the quarters of a major: Carling Bassett (4 times), Helen Kelesi (twice) and Patricia Hy-Boulais (once). Of course Bassett has the high-water mark of making it the furthest of all: a semi-final appearance at the 1984 U.S. Open.
The upper echelon of men’s pro tennis is a very tough sector to break into. Raonic got to where he is by being consistent for 3 years. His ranking reflects that consistency. He may win the title, make it to the final, the semis or the quarters of mid-level tournaments, but he always seems to make his seeding at the majors. If he’s seeded in the 16 to 9 range, he usually makes it to the 4th round – the round of 16. That, combined with him making his seed at lower tournaments – usually in the 8 to number 1 seeded position – puts him exactly where he should be: 11th in the world. The hard work that put him there is now over. I consider his plateauing at 11th to be the end of the first phase of his career. The next phase will see him making serious inroads into the Top 10.
Genie Bouchard is enjoying the same kind of “Raonic fever” that gripped the tennis world in 2011: a soaring ranking based on her hitting above her weight. This “Genie mania” is exciting because she is going where few Canadian tennis players have gone before and perhaps into uncharted territory. When this phase of her career is over (the same kind that Raonic first enjoyed), she could become the second highest ranked Canadian singles player ever. Based on her current success, that would put her around the Top 10 – right where Raonic is now.
Carling Bassett’s relatively short career is still the benchmark for all Canadian tennis players to beat: semifinals of a major; #8 in the world; 4 appearances in major quarterfinals. The fact that she did all that in the space of 4 years is surprising and at the same time, disappointing because she could have done so much more and made an even bigger impact than she did had she not retired in 1988. Both Raonic and Bouchard have the talent to match these results. Keeping in mind that the top tier of men’s pro tennis is more difficult to crack, Bouchard has the better chance to match and beat Bassett’s accomplishments.
Carrie was a movie of firsts for me. It was the first horror film that I had ever seen. It introduced me to one of my favourite actresses ever – Sissy Spacek. It was also probably the first time that I was introduced to the works of Stephen King. I first saw Carrie on late-night TV. I was pretty young at the time, so I was surprised that I was allowed to stay up and watch it. I was glad I did. I was mesmerized. It was a great story and the acting was brilliant. There are so many good things about this film from a film making standpoint that I feel it is wrong to classify it as a horror movie.
The chemistry between Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie is amazing. The teenage innocence from Spacek and the over-the-top religious vitriol from Laurie is such a great combination that this theme stayed with me my entire life. In fact, it was Laurie’s performance that inspired me to create a similar character in one of my screenplays – an over-the-top right-wing religious character that I took to new heights of over-the-top in a totally satirical comedic way. It was no surprise to me that both Spacek and Laurie got Oscar nominations for their performances.
It is no secret that I love films from the 1970’s – almost as much as I love black and white films from the late 1930’s to the 1950’s. There’s just a great look and feel about them – carefree, bold, pulling no punches, revealing a society that is broken and the attempt to try and mend it, socially progressive, taking chances, sometimes dark and dirty, and at other times bright and sunny in the middle of all the dirt. Carrie is one of these films. It’s a hearkening back to a time when the world (especially the United States) was trying to find its identity through all the upheaval of the 1960’s. Carrie asks all the right social questions and answers them through the mind of an innocent teenager who slowly (then abruptly) is absorbed into a world of trickery and treachery that drives her to seek revenge on tormentors who represent all that is wrong with today’s society.
From a film making standpoint, the number of iconic images and dialogue still stand the test of time. I love the innovative split screen. The teens’ nasty dialogue directed at Carrie and the adults who see Carrie but see right through her when they talk to her, stay with the people who have watched this great film. Betty Buckley is equally great as the sympathetic teacher Miss Collins. I always find it hard to watch her fate – not because it’s so painful but because Carrie thought she betrayed her when she didn’t.
A final word on the remake in 2013. Why? Just like The Manchurian Candidate and Psycho before it, why mess with perfection that can never be topped? Oh, right, $.
Hillary Swank came out of nowhere and nailed this role. The fact that the film and the role were so controversial shouldn’t have any impact on the performance that she gave. It was a career-defining role. These kind of roles come along only once in an actor’s career and usually only once the actor has had some success or has paid their dues. This was a risky choice for Swank because although the role was one of great power and controversy which led to some powerful acting, the after-effect of such a career-defining role is usually a downer.
Unfortunately, you just can’t top a role like this. It’s unfortunate because Swank is a good actress and she’ll always be remembered for this role which may not be the best thing as she tried to find her way in her career as a seasoned actress. The best thing for her to have done was to take on some really solid character roles (even supporting roles) to pull herself away from this role and create a career as a reliably strong actor.
Swank justly won the Oscar for this role. Receiving another for Million Dollar Baby was a bit of a stretch (especially so close to Boys Don’t Cry). She’s a good actress, but she’s no Jodie Foster. Chloe Sevigny is equally excellent as Brandon’s girlfriend. She plays an astounding array of emotions though her character seems to be running on empty through the entire film.
For a film containing such controversial subject matter to become such a mainstream success shows that society is no longer willing to turn a blind eye to matters that no so long ago were looked upon as bizarre. Director Kimberly Peirce got the rural feel of the film exactly right – the landscape, the houses, the characters, the language, the ideals, thoughts and ways of life – perfect. I’ll forgive her remake of the classic 'Carrie', if only for this.
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