Movie Monday: Somewhere in Time


By Alexandria Harris

Normally romantic movies are not my thing, but the allure of seeing Christopher Reeve NOT play Superman was too much. Plus I’m a sucker for time travel. And Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. So Superman plus Dr. Quinn and time travel equal a good time.

Premise: A Chicago playwright uses self-hypnosis to find the actress whose portrait hangs in a hotel

This movie was a mash-up of The Time Traveler’s Wife, The Lake house (especially because of the Christopher Plummer link), and a dash of The Phantom of the Opera.

Quote:
“Evening, Ms. McKenna. You don’t know me, but you will.”

Richard Collier is a budding college playwright, and has just finished debuting a successful play. While he’s basking in the glow of his success, an elderly woman moves through the crowd to him, pushes a pocket watch into his hand and whispers “Come back to me.”

Awkward. Especially because he has no idea who she is and everyone becomes silent to watch the awkwardness.

Even more awkward is having to watch the old woman go to the Grand Hotel, shut herself in her room, and cradle the playbill to her chest in a rocking chair because we immediately flash forward eight years.

Richard has now written many plays, but has apparently hit a rut because he decides to go on a vacation after breaking up with his girlfriend and hasn’t finished his newest play.

And of course, he ends up staying at the Grand Hotel. The bell hop Arthur provides a nice example of overly helpful customer service and has a weird case a deja vu where he thinks he might have met Richard before.

Richard settles in and wants to eat something, but apparently he arrives forty minutes before the dining hall opens. As he tries to kill time, he notices something called a Hall of History (which I now wish all hotels had) and goes through it.

After browsing a few things, he’s mesmerized by an unidentified portrait of a gorgeous woman. He tracks down Arthur, the eager to please bellhop, who tells him all about the woman, Elise McKenna.

Then the audience witnesses his not-so-slow descent into obsession when he goes back to mope at the portrait, then ogles the pocket watch in the middle of the night, stares at the portrait more, tosses and turns in bed, then take a wild guess at what he stares at again.

Next (I would consider this modern Facebook stalking but she’s dead so I guess she can’t care about it) he goes to the library to dig deeper into her life because he found out from Arthur that Elise was a famous actress. After more digging into her later years, he comes across a picture from the end of her life. It’s the same woman who gave him the pocket watch.

*gasp* Dun-dun-DUN! Sorry wrong movie genre.

But now we take obsession and stalking up one more notch and he visits the woman who wrote the book about Elise’s last years and who was also with her the night she died, eight years ago, on the opening night of his play.

She has a sharp reaction to seeing the pocket watch and by this point, I really just wanted to know how far we were going to go down the rabbit hole. The more Richard learns about Elise and her life, the more I wanted Jane Seymour to just come out in all her glory.

Richard finds a book about time travel that his philosophy teacher wrote that Elise apparently read non stop. A music box Elise had made plays the soul wrenching musical score evident throughout the movie that is Richard’s “favorite music in the whole world.”

This drives Richard back to his old philosophy teacher, who suggests self-hypnosis and mind suggestion via some scientific yada, yada, yada as a way of time travel.

The most lovely part of this is that during this conversation, you literally see Christopher Reeve snap, disregarding the dangers and entranced by the whole possibility. And afterward you get to see glaring evidence of just HOW hard he snapped.

I have to say, watching the scenes of Reeve trying to hypnotize himself were worth seeing the movie alone. It was like watching Superman fight against the effects of kryptonite. He was truly a fish out of water in a different time, which made for some very funny material.

Also, the manager-actress relationship could have been a prequel to the Christine-Phantom relationship from Phantom of the Opera. Reeve makes a great Raul and Plummer has the stern, “I’ll kill you in your sleep” intimidating demeanor down pat.

You’ve got cryptic dialogue, creepy stalker dialogue, laugh out loud moments, the danger element, a sense of mystery, and the taste of an epic period romance with some modern sprinkled in. All of this made it a little more than your run of the mill romance. And the time travel helped.

Jane Seymour and Reeve had fabulous chemistry, there was a wonderful sense of spontaneity. I really enjoyed that the movie outlined the pressures of being an actress, of having the responsibility of bringing someone’s world to life.

I mean there was an Inception-like moment/inconsistency that I felt was Christopher Nolan worthy and usually happens with many movies trying to tackle time travel. Who had the pocket watch first?

I have to give this movie a 6/10. I wasn’t too fond of the ending because the movie gradually grew unconvincing. Furthermore, it took them about an hour to show Jane Seymour in action. Who does that?

It also didn’t really get into Richard being a playwright-he just happened to be a playwright who was in love. So basically the moving was less about writing and writing processes than I thought it would be. I thought I was really going to like it, but it made for an adequate love story, plot-wise. The good news–the talent and the soundtrack were fabulous.

Alexandria Harris is a writer and former reporter on WSUM 91.7. When she isn’t watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy on repeat, she tweets regularly as @_ALHarris. Alexandria lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Movie Monday: The Raven


By Alexandria Harris

Premise:  A killer is using Edgar Allan Poe’s tales to bring to life unspeakable horrors.

Best Quotes:
“Is imagination now a felony?”-Poe

“I know there is a darkness to Edgar, but they’re all up here (points to head) every woman he’s ever loved has died in his arms. I believe that God gave him a spark of genius and quenched it in misery…” -Henry Maddox, newspaper owner

“Feels as if I’ve gone from author to character in one of my tales, trapped in the devil as any of the hapless bastards that I’ve created.”-Poe

It was time for us to delve into the mind of a poet. However in “The Raven” Edgar Allen Poe is portrayed as a washed up poet, drunkard, and sometimes contributor of a newspaper where he takes it upon himself to criticize the likes of Longfellow, Emerson, and brilliant contemporaries. Apparently the well of Poe’s genius has run dry.

The audience witnesses the extremely bloody pendulum killing (don’t eat and watch this) and then we go from bloodcurdling to sappy with Emily, who Poe is in love with.

Poe is brought in as a specialist by an inspector because the killer is following Poe’s tales to the minute detail to terrorize the city of Baltimore.

Poe’s new fiancee Emily and he decide that they will make their engagement public at a masked ball her father (who hates Poe) is hosting. It is the social event of the year for Baltimore. However, that is the same night that the killer chooses to strike again using “The Masque of the Red Death.”

They shoot the interloper and catch him, but not before the real culprit has disappeared with Emily. Now that Poe is really personally invested, it is up to him to save Emily and find the killer before time runs out.

I’m sure every writer wants to see their stories come alive in real life, but these are particularly gruesome stories to bring to life. The stories are no longer safe with imagination, they are contaminated by reality, fixating our minds with horror.

Then to relive the monsters of your own making, to craft them into more gruesome detail–it’s no wonder Poe was crazy.

It was fascinating to see Poe driven to produce stellar art, being a master at his craft the way sometimes we all are driven to produce amazing pieces of work. Even though he was driven by life or death, sometimes writing and the art of producing literature is a life-consuming passion.

Poetry is food for the soul, a soul wrenching endeavor and so it makes sense that the movie was a little melodramatic. There were a few quotes and glimpses into the mind of a genius. However, I think the movie would have been better served as a biography of Poe’s life. He certainly had an interesting one.

The costumes were bright at times but mainly dull, mimicking the movie setting. Outlandish chases mixed with interesting points of deduction, it was basically watching a mystery movie a la Sherlock Holmes without the Watson and mixed in with a little Saw. Oh, and at two points I was getting Phantom of the Opera deja vu.

It was adventurous of the script writers to add a fictional twist to Poe’s life, but there needed to be more turmoil, more raw emotion. The movie was definitely suspenseful, but too predictable which is why I felt as though there was something missing. A twist at the end made me give it a higher mark, but for the most part you could guess along with Poe.

I would give this movie a 6/10. You don’t need to rush out and buy the DVD, but it’s good for a one-time watch and literary types will appreciate it for what it is–an interesting and mostly fictional take on Poe’s life.

It was intriguing because Poe is generally a mystery/detective gothic-style  fiction writer. The writers tried to turn the movie into that very thing, but taking the mold from his stories didn’t allow for enough imagination to really keep an audience riveted for the entire movie. The way his life, especially the end of his life, was incorporated and tweaked was thought provoking.

Alexandria Harris is a writer and former reporter on WSUM 91.7. When she isn’t watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy on repeat, she tweets regularly as @_ALHarris. Alexandria lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.