Saturday, November 29, 2008

Trailer Trash XXII: The Invisible Woman (1940)

"The Wildest Most Hilarious Mix-Up Ever Put On Film!"

Those are their words, not mine.

It's not too often in this column that I get to present an Oscar-nominated film. That's why this week is a little special, kids, because our movie WAS nominated for an Academy Award. No, it's not The Life of Emile Zola, or Ordinary People. And all of you fans of How Green Was My Valley (and I know you're out there) are sure to be let down. But, bear with me here. This movie may have been forgotten, but that doesn't make it any less acclaimed.

Without further adieu, I present the Oscar-nominated motion picture Invisible Woman, nominated in 1940 for its special effects.

Way back in 1940, people were really, really gullible when it came to special effects. You could dangle a salad bowl on a string and tell people it was a flying saucer. All it took to make a terrifying movie about a giant monster cat was the producer's pet tabby and a few plastic army men. If you slapped a bit of mud on a baby you'd have, well, a swampbaby. Yes indeed, it was a good time to work in Hollywood special effects.

Taking all of that into consideration, you can imagine how people were blown away by the Invisible Men movies started coming out. Step aside, Weta Workshop. Time to hang your heads in shame, Industrial Light and Magic. THESE are special effects:

Some special effects just don't stand the test of time, do they?

At 0:01 - I... I can't believe my eyes! Am I really seeing this? Is that a... leg?!??
At 0:07 - My ears, too. Even my ears have betrayed me!
At 0:10 - Who said that? I don't see anyone...
At 0:12 - The amazing, Oscar-nominated John Barrymore.
At 0:15 - Oh, that's nothing. I've got rid of plenty of women in my lifetime - I just wish they'd stick around at least for the extent of the date.
At 0:32 - How many "boy-friends" does she have??
At 0:44 - No hyperbole there, nosiree.
At 0:46 - And down he goes.
At 0:52 - Don't get excited, Cake Man.
At 1:10 - "... I made it to turn beautiful naked women invisible!"
At 1:15 - WTF???!?

Golly gee, is it just me or does the invisible woman looks HOT on that poster?

But, take a look down between her legs. No, that's not what I mean. I'm talking about two little people. She's kicking his ass, isn't she?

She IS kicking him in the ass. Hilarity! Hilarity, I say.

"Put your clothes on!"

Trailer Trash is a weekly tribute to oddball, cheesy and often just plain terrible movie trailers. Writers: These movies got made... so can yours! You can read through our archive by clicking here.

Rachel Getting Married - A Wonderful Union

Like Zombie did a few weeks ago, yesterday I treated myself to a morning at the cinema and saw Rachel Getting Married. Written by Jenny Lumet, Rachel Getting Married is, as I'm sure you're well aware by now, about dysfunctional ex-junkie Kym, played wonderfully by Anne Hathaway, getting leave from rehab to attend her sister Rachel's wedding. and all that happens over that wedding weekend.

Normally, I'm a little skeptical of heavy family dramas. Don't get me wrong, there are a number of excellent movies of this variety. but there's a certain mood I have to find myself in in order to sit through the ups and downs of a family's crazy roller coaster ride of a relationship on film. however, one of the many things I found interesting about Rachel was that most of the turbulent events already happened - off-screen - well before the movie began. I'd be lying if I said that the family had ironed out all of its problems by the time the film started. On the other hand, though, this seemed, for lack of a better word, to be a very 'normal' family. What Kym has both gone through and put the family through has tested this family, even pulled it apart in some cases. Yet I believed everything that these people said and did. Though I have not personally encountered any of the major ordeals that these people did (drug abuse and rehab, death of a sibling - not a spoiler, as you figure this out pretty damn early on), I believed that the character acted as people in such situations would.

A few other things of note about the film (and script) are worth mentioning. For one, the audience learns a lot, and I mean A LOT about Rachel and the circumstances of her present situation in the first few minutes of the film. This is very much not a movie that, if you decide to wait for the DVD, you could put in and make a sandwich in the kitchen while it begins. There is a ton of information subtly yet noticeably dropped in the first two or three minutes of the picture that explains a great deal about Rachel's character. It's quite interesting, actually, as I'm not used to so much being given at the top of a film - it was sort of the dialogue equivalent of the scroll at the beginning of Star Wars, only it mattered more to the plot.

Also, Rachel Getting Married had some of the most fully realized characters I've seen on the screen recently, in spite of the fact that there were literally dozens of people on camera for much of the film. I felt as though I knew or at least knew of almost everybody who appeared on camera. From the pampered, prissy maid of honor to the groomsman who thinks he's cooler than he really is to the spiritual mother-in-law, everyone on film was a genuine, fleshed out person, not just a stereotype to fill a necessary role. Sure, the prissy maid of honor might sound like a stereotype in some cases, but in Rachel, I felt as though I knew this person, knew who she was and her general life story, and I knew that she belonged. The characters, even those who had few lines or little screen time, were real, and that, more than anything, is a testament to the writing.

Rachel Getting Married, while unsettlingly awkward at times, is a great watch. Jonathan Demme's direction does great honor to what must be, in my opinion, the driving force behind the strength of this picture - Jenny Lumet's script. I'll be looking for this script to give it a read, and possibly, to appear as one of the five nominees at the next Academy Awards.