The first thing I quickly noticed was how tiny the doors were to all of the houses. It was my first trip to the area of Salem, Massachusetts after having just visited a historic area that was recreated to show how pilgrims lived when they settled in America. As I walked around the town of Salem I imagined humans must have been shorter back then based on the size of the doorways. I wondered how they would react to seeing the sizes of us currently. If you have never seen Salem it is a picturesque town, filled with detailed wooden houses and hearty foliage. For such a pretty place I tried envisioning what it must have been like here during the witch hunts. Though we studied the time period in school, I was always curious how the townsfolk described, even defined, someone they felt was a witch. Was it a person who did not have faith, who did not act in the same ways of others or maybe had a different diet? Throughout history there have been incidences where certain groups of people have been persecuted; it could have easily been based on their looks, besides other factors that have already been recorded in history. It must have been terrifying not only for the accused but for the citizens whenever someone was accused of being a witch. Especially at that time when there was less knowledge about the world, just imagine an eclipse or earthquake taking place and everyone panics, looking for a culprit. I know presently there are individuals who say they are witches; for all I know I may have met one or two of them in my life. If I did know for certain then they were nothing like what was found in this suspenseful mystery, horror film. HAVING agreed to leave the town and settle in a remote wooded area William and Katherine, played by Ralph Ineson (Harry Potter franchise, Kingsman: The Secret Service) and Kate Dickie (Prometheus, Red Road), felt they found the perfect place to raise their children. It was soon after settling that one of their children went missing. This film festival winning movie had an interesting stark style to it. Scenes were carefully framed as the story took the viewers along. I was taken in by the suspense, appreciating the way the script did not employ the usual scare tactics or gruesome shots filled with blood and violence. The direction was good though I will tell you the pacing tended to be methodically slow. This allowed time for the sense of dread to weigh heavier on the characters and I have to say the viewers. Set in New England during the 1630s I had a hard time with the speech; it was Old English and softly spoken. At times it sounded to me like a character was mumbling. This was not your usual horror fare; there were no jump out of your seat moments. But there was a style and simple story that worked well together in creating the ideal atmosphere for this type of genre.
After so many years the details have lost their crispness; I can only recall the feelings. High school was such a strange place for me. Spending 8 years with the same classmates in elementary school was my safe haven. Sure there were disagreements and several cliques, but they were minor aberrations in the scheme of things. Being thrown in with students from 4 other elementary schools was overwhelming. Add a schedule of different subjects and classrooms into the mix, I thought I would not be able to navigate the sea of strangers flowing through the hallways of the high school. It turned out the compass that would guide me that first year was my English literature class. Catcher in the Rye was one of the novels that was on our list of required reading. It was in that classroom where all of us freshmen found commonality through Holden Caulfield. I can remember the way he talked and acted was different then anyone else I had read about in elementary school. Here was a character that my classmates and I could rally around; I finally found myself being part of a group. All of us wanted to know who was this author J.D. Salinger but by then there was a mystery building up around the solitary writer. This documentary tried to unravel the secrecy around the reclusive wordsmith. Starting out having the photographer talk about how he shot one of the last photographs of Salinger was a great way to draw in the viewer. I enjoyed the scenes of the New England town where Salinger lived and especially the interviews with the local residents. If the story would have stayed with the local townspeople I think it would have made a more entertaining movie. Having celebrities such as Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master, The Ides of March) and Edward Norton (Fight Club, The Illusionist) talk about Salinger was peculiar to me. However, I found it more interesting when they had some of his contemporaries like Gore Vidal (Myra Breckinrdige, Is Paris Burning) and Tom Wolfe (The Bonfire of the Vanities, The Right Stuff). Due to the little information available on Salinger there was not much this movie could offer. There were long passages where I was bored. With reenactments and the repeated use of the same photos, all I could think of was how Salinger and Holden would have hated this film.
1 3/4 stars
Do you remember your first love or infatuation? I remember my first love or should I say what I thought was love when I was in the 5th grade. For my very first date, my mother took Diane and me to an afternoon movie–natch. This quirky film was about first love. It took me a short time before I could get into the rhythm of this funny movie. Set in the 1960’s; Sam and Suzy, played by newcomers Jaren Gilman and Kara Hayward, were the young couple in love. They decided to run away which brought the citizens of their small, New England town to come out and search for them. The director Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox) assembled an eclectic group of fine actors for this film. For example, there was Edward Norton (The Illusionist, Fight Club) as the Scout Master, Bill Murray (Lost in Translation, Groundhog Day) as Walt Bishop and Bruce Willis (Die Hard franchise, The Sixth Sense) as Captain Sharp were among the ensemble of notable actors. Each character had a different view about the fleeing 12 year old kids, who wanted to get married. The way Mr. Anderson filmed the scenes, my eyes were constantly treated to novel shots filled with nostalgic trappings. I almost felt as if I needed to see this movie again because I may have missed something. From an innocent time long ago, with a cast of characters, everything was set into motion with the onset of first love.
3 1 /4 stars