Posted in Tale As Old As Time

Double Indemnity (1944)

It’s late at night as a car frantically drives through the darkness, going past the stop sign and nearly having a collision with another driver. A man who is in a hurry to turn up at his workplace in downtown Los Angeles. It stops at a halt outside of The Pacific All Risk Insurance Company. A tall guy steps out of the car donning a fedora and a long coat.

A man greets him at the entrance ” why hello there, Mr. Neff..working pretty late aren’t look kind of all in, at that.” Mr. Neff doesn’t say much expect that he would rather get to his office than make small talk with a guy who can’t get life insurance because there’s something loose in his heart.

Up at the office, Walter Neff sits in the darkness of the room and slowly lights up a cigarette.  His sweat visible in the shadows of the light as he picks up the dictaphone..”It all began last May. Around the end of May it was. I’d been out to Glendale to deliver a policy on some dairy trucks. On the way back I remembered this auto renewal near Los Feliz Boulevard.  So I drove over there “.

Flashback to Walter Neff, an insurance salseman who works magic at his job. He goes to pay a visit to Mr. Dietrichson about some renewals on his automobiles but is greeted by his wife who stands at the top of the staircase wearing her best dressed smile, since that was all she was wearing, besides the towel wrapped around her body.

Mr Neff smirks in appreciation. He explains that her husband’s insurance ran out, all the while keeping his gaze locked onto hers. He shows he cares because “ i’d hate to think of you having a smashed fender..or something while you’re not fully covered “. 

With her face on straight, she greets him in the living room while he tries to avoid those legs stretched along the couch. They breifly talk about her husbands insurance whilst Walter dons his impressive charm of 11 years In the buisness to explain the rates and charges of a new featured policy. The lady is impressed so it seems. “Your’e a smart insurance man arent you Mr. Neff? “

Walter turns his gaze back to miss long legs, ” wish you’d tell me what’s engraved  on that anklet “. She responds that it’s just her name. “Phyllis”. Walter smiles once again in a way a man does when he wants to get closer to a mysterious woman. “ I think i like that. I’d have to drive it around the block a couple of times”. 

There’s a speed limit in this state Mr Neff. 45 miles an hour..

How fast was I going officer?..suppose you get down off your motorcycle and give me a ticket.

suppose I let you off with a warning this time.

Their flirtation is as hot as a red hot poker that could pierce a person’s heart. She surely appreciates these remarks and invites him back tomorrow evening.  Buisness is almost forgotten in the midst of their flirtation, a saucy comeback of a conversation that only a  noir movie can bring forth in full glory.

From the moment he had met Phyllis, her gaze and her honeysuckle perfume, captivated his senses. He didn’t realise such a sweet taste could turn so sour.

Ma’am could you kindly put your eggs in my basket

Feeling like a million, back at his office there was a phone message from Phyllis. She didn’t want to meet him at the appointed time they arranged, but on a thursday afternoon instead. He was a busy man with alot lined up but he couldn’t shake the feeling he had for her, “..and the way that anklet of hers cut into her leg”. He needed to see that again.

That afternoon, over iced tea, they try to get down to buisness about those renewals for the automobile, but Phyllis wants to put a break on that. “Tell me Walter, on this insurance, how much comission do you make? “..The other day a casing line snapped. It’s got me all jittery thinking about it. Suppose something like that happened to my husband..dont you think he ought to have accident insurance?”

Walter speaks his profession and casually continues to explain the captical sum and the payment if worse should come of it, which sparks far more interest in Phyllis. Unknowingly, Walter just supposes you need to think of everything when it comes to buisness.

Figeting her hands together, Phyliis tries to charm her way through her supposed innocence, so she could get an accident policy for her husband without him knowing about it. “ He’s superstitious about it. If there was a way to get it like that, all the worry would be over, you see what i mean? “

Walter and his good eyesight, realises her intentions, “Look baby you cant get away with it” and swiftly proves to bid her goodbye. He later distracts himself at bowling and drinking beer to get that sour taste out from her iced tea and everything that came with her, until she came knocking on his apartment that rainy night.

On the couch, sat this venerable lady pouring her heart out over bourbon, to a man she had managed to pull some emotional strings with. She explains her dysfunctional marriage to a drunken husband who often hits her and he’s “so mean to me. He never lets me go anywhere. He keeps me shut up. Walter i dont want to kill him”..Walter acknowledges this ” only sometimes you wish he was dead”. 

Based on the novel by James M. Cain who is a brilliant writer of hardboiled crime, comes this live adaptation of equal entertainment. It’s the wonderful characters of the well suited gentleman who speaks faster than a moving train and the (almost) damsel in distress, being the perfect bombshell one could hope to lust after, that plays her seductive but tough roles so well, all parcelled in a noir setting of ‘who did it’ that I have come to love in so many novels, notably that by the works of Raymond Chandler ,who even makes his cameo in this movie.

Everyones smoking,  everyone’s drinking and I’d like mine with a noir setting on the side. It’s my favourite kind of taste.

The movie is the epitome of a classic, dark noir movie I always invisioned it to be as I would read such novels through the night. The sleek, playful dialogue is smart and sharp at every turn and the narration of the voice over leaves plenty of room for admiration.

Sometimes accidents happen and somebody slips up. Sometimes you think you’ll go past unnoticed, you’re a nobody,  you were never here and never there..and sometimes you think you’ve gotten it all figured out..all wrapped up in tissue paper with pink ribbons around it.

Credits: Directed by Billy Wilder, Screenplay by Raymond Chandler, based on the novel by James M. Cain

Starring: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson and others

Music by: Miklos Rozsa

Posted in Tale As Old As Time

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

In the early hours of the Morning, Holly Golightly steps out of a taxi in her iconic black dress,  pearl necklace and some black sunglasses, eating her pastry and sipping on some coffee, as she casually strolls past  the jewellery store of Tiffany and Co. , gazing at the many splendors a girl could only wish to have as her best friend.

When Holly eventually makes it back to her apartment, she finds a Sid Arbuck from her previous date, following her into the building and rushing to greet her with a confused and annoyed manner for leaving him at the party, all the while, her most rather angry (supposedly asian) neighbour upstairs shouting ” you disturb me! You must have a key made!  Holly is made prominent to be the lady that’ll go to the powder room and never return. ” Hey baby, what’s going on. You like me remember?

After some time has passed, Holly is awakened in her drunken state from her late night shenanigans to the door bell ringing. Enter Paul Varjak, the handsome new neighbour who’s just moved in to find Holly dressed only in a man’s shirt and looking rather dishevelled. “I hate to bother you but could i use the phone? “

Upon entering Into the emptiness one would expect from unpacking into a new place (Holly has lived here for a year), she stumbles across a suitcase and takes out the phone. She takes out a pair of shoes that has somehow made its way into the refrigerator and pours out some milk into a champagne glass. Paul just stares in bewilderment at what he has gotten himself into.

Be a darling and look under the bed for a pair of alligator shoes will you

Holly guards her emotions quite well from the beginning and her eccentric demeanour is justified for not feeling like she has a place to really call her own as everything feels out of place. She doesn’t know where she belongs but she is crazy about Tiffany’s. “ if i could find a real place that made me feel like Tiffany’s then..then i’d buy some furniture”. 

Her Infactuated dreams of a Tiffany home is suddenly jolted away by her knowldge of it being Thursday. She gets to her feet and hurries to get ready to visit Sally Tomato at Sing Sing. “Sing sing. A ridiculous name for a prison. I mean it sounds more like an Opera House or something “.

While Paul sits on her bed and admires her getting glamed up in a timely fashion, she explains “i’ve been going to visit him every thursday for seven months. This so called lawyer -Mr O’ Shaughnessy asked me, how’d you like to cheer up a lonely old man and pick up $100 a week at the same time”.  A man who spends his conversations with Holly in exchange for the weather forecast. No seriously it’s that innocent i tell you.

Meanwhile Paul is met by his decorator – Mrs Falenson, a seemingly wealthy older woman who seems to be  ‘painting’ her way into the long hours of his night. “$300, she’s very generous”. He is the uninspired writer who has taken to a form of ‘writers block’ with the exception of his dirty but promosing short stories. 

Their first deep conversation is found at the unusual hours of 4:30am, where Holly expresses her vunrebility to Paul as she speaks of her brother Fred who is in the army and how she needs to save money for the both of them. With a naked Paul underneath the sheets, and Holly in her white bathrobe, she slowly falls asleep on his shoulder in the utmost innocence, two bittersweet people could find themselves in, and I love the scene for the pureness of such a moment which reflects the idea of bearing all emotions in one’s true form.

I love this movie for not being an conventional romance. It focuses more on Hollys dodgy lifestyle that plays risky buisness with her heart than it does on two unlikely lovers. Stability comes first, then comes the freedom. 

It popularised the era for going boldly where one dares to go- the sexual perversion of being an escort and ‘toy- boy’ of its time, that no one would openly showcase.

 Its the epitome of wanting stability that comes at a price and wanting freedom that comes with unconditional love. It’s also admiringly easy on the eyes for being so very aestheticlly pleasing to watch. 

It’s hard not to love the dynamic between Holly and Paul even at the wrong times and the wrong places. The way he looks at her every word is very well portrayed,  even in acting, they both just seem like the couple that were  ‘meant to be’. 

The dialogue is what I cherish so fondly about the movie and the pair just work so well together. There are many loving scenes of pure bliss, where Holly and Paul take a walk through New York City, acting rather childish in some stores, putting on animal masks and walking out with them, eventually running to avoid getting caught. (Though stealing doesn’t cut being so cute in the real world ofcourse and you shouldn’t). For a brief time, they begin to enjoy the small things in life where money is no object of their affection. 

The pompous humour is what divides the ‘seedy’ reality of life. Holly is the quirky misfit that displays some unusual behaviour that speaks as much volume as her polished frame would display. “Let him start lapping up the vino and oh golly, quel beast!”.  

It’s almost like there is quite an unbalance to her status because she acts quite refined, like a polished off Tiffanys jewrelly but on closer inspection the price could mark your indecisive thoughts on it’s worth at the end.

She dons the materialistic lifestlye to escape herself from breaking down of the mess her life is known to be. She is seen to reguarly escape men from their grasp when the ‘going gets tough’, and Is expected to give away more than her good looks. She is used to being billed by the high society of men that pay her fares and her night outs, but she wants to keep her class as a respected escort which walks a mighty thin line, though she has never learned to fall in love and finds it hard to give up her heart to anyone worth trusting. 

We understand and learn from a hollywood agent- O.J Berman, that ” I’m the guy that discovered her. She had a lot of style , a lot of class but you didn’t know what she was talking about”. You know how long it took me to smooth out that accent”?, indicating that Holly was given a new identity from being an ‘oke’ to an educated socialite but indicates that she plays being the very best at being a  fraud.

Um..say Holly, which way’s the exit now?

Simarily, Paul is being looked after by his wealthy decorator who seems to have  control over him.  They are both immoraly flawed and tied up in some (unseen) but indicated sex and classy mess, although according to the novel, writer- Capote said that Golightly is not be seen as a prostitute but an ‘ American Geisha. 

Notably we only  view Holly in her most dignified way as she grasps to hold onto her own reputation when she makes her numerous escapes. “she had no job but accompanied men to the best resturants and night clubs and was obliged to recieve some sort of gifts. If she felt like it, she might take her escort home for the night”. 

Paul and Holly  can’t help being close to watch the damage fall on  each other whilst they have their bitter rows every so often about their lifestyle, all the while sugar coated in a sophisticated manner which is highly intrguing to watch. 

It’s a heartwarming story set on an  unconventional romance one can only dream to find amongest such a grim financial situation, where one blinds away from such fantasies. It is charming in the unusual manner where two lonely people with the same flaws get their wires crossed in a challenging love interest. 

They have not fallen far from the same tree, where Pauls extends a little more in finding his heart with Holly after some time because beneath the exterior “i was just trying to let you know I understand”. I understand completely”.  It is trying to find their self worth that make up  two to see the world, after the same rainbows end.

Credit: Directed by Blake Edwards, (based on the novel by Truman Capote)

Starring: Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen and others

Music by: Henry Mancini

Posted in Games

The Last of Us (2013)

” Panic spread worldwide after a leaked report from the World Health Organization showed the latest Vaccination test had failed”.

 The Last Of Us is many things. It’s a survival- horror adventure game with a lot of heart. Just mentioning it here is emotional enough, to remember what a masterpiece of a game this truly is, which goes beyond your standard action gaming.

The Story : An outbreak of a mutant fungus known as Cordyceps has infected people into some form of zombie- mushroom and mutants with progressed infection. The story starts In the suburbs of Texas, Joel ( Troy Baker) lives with his daughter Sarah. Upon a break in from their crazed neighbour, the pair along with his brother Tommy flee the area as they try to get past the crowed and frantic city, dodging the ravenous passer by who try to attack them.

Twenty years into the game, most of civilization has been wiped out  and  turned the population into cannabilistic mutants. Those who are still exsisting, barely  cease to with ration cards that trade as fast as pokemon and there’s a curfew authorised by the goverment under strict regultions. Ofcourse there’s always room to get your hands on some black market gear too, just try not to turn your back on them. When they close all the checkpoints, you best go the sneaky way around.

A slightly aged  Joel is seen to be now accompanied by a woman named Tess, a balsy woman who ” has come this far..let’s just finisb this”.  Together the pair search for Robert- an arm’s dealer who has kissed the wrong ass by selling their weapons to the Fireflies- A rebellious militia who are fighting amongest the authorities which makes Tess a whole lot angrier and that’s just when she’s not hormonal. She’s a woman who follows after her own guns.

After having a ‘friendly chat’ over some broken bones  with Robert, the leader of the Fireflies- Marlene emerges quite wounded who has their guns and some trouble of her own, as she needs something smuggled out of the city, and  is willingly to make a deal with the pair,  willing to ” double what Robert sold me. There’s a crew of Fireflies that’ll meet you at the Capitol building”. 

Enter Eliie, a charismatic fouteen year old that becomes their cargo mission to be transported. She’s quite the rarity these days. Who knows maybe she’s some big cheifs daughter but whoever she is, i can tell you she’s quite special and this is where the real adventure starts.

The (main) Characters  : 

What I’d kill for a coffee right now
I shot the hell out of that guy huh

Turn the other way and I’ll make it worth your while

​ The Gameplay:  ​​​

This is the part where you go to sleep
That’s for ruining my vacation!

Much of the game play is played in third person which I love as you get to see the character’s movements as they venture through the beautiful enviroment. Playing as Joel who is a man that has ” struggled a long time survin..and no matter keep finding something to fight for”, you get to use different firearms in the form of a shotgun, pistol, a bow, a crowbar and the good old fashioned punch. Certain weapons can then be upgraded by your choice.

Not only are you in an apocalyptic world, you need to avoid soilders- the military with their heavy duty guns. Stealth is a big part in the game and it’s  very useful in areas where it’s overrun with infected and clickers (the blind mutants who you do not want to get too personal with) and the hostile solders with their machinery. Sneaking up to them is handy, as is your ‘listening mode’, as you get to strangle them into ‘lights out’.

You can scavenge for certain items such as alcohol, medicine pills, bricks and bottles to craft health kits and Molotov cocktails which are best used in groups of infected and when places are unavoidable. Ellie acts as your artificial intelligence and others you meet along the way who help you out (not partiparticularly well but they manage) and you  can also play as her further down the game which is an intense Winter segment to behold.

I cannot stress how beautiful this game truly is. It isn’t  your typical shooting mode game with some special effects. The females in the game are neither sexualized which is refreshing to watch as it is easier to relate and feel compasion for them when things are not as sterotypically cliche.  All the characters can be praised for their powerful  depiction of being morally conflicted and morally flawed which adds to  feeling some realistic sympathy for them. It’s like a touching movie with some of the most beautiful soundtracks, (which i have now added to my own playlist) I’ve come across in a video game put together by  Gustavo Santaolalla.

This game has alot  to offer in its unique style and emotions that made me tear  up in certain scenes. All the characters are drawn to make you feel attached to them and the realsitic touches just exceed expectations within such a game. They are so well thought -out, and as the creative director Neil Druckmann invisons it, the coming of age for Ellie who has never seen much of the outside world and tries to adapt to spending time with Joel much like a father figure she never had,  in such a chaotic world and learning from each other of how far they are willing to go for the sake of mankind.

The characters also adapt and change in their  heart and mind as they are flawed in an artistic way, because like the dystopian Mad Max series, sometimes you have to become ‘shitty people’ in order to survive. There is so much to express here but something that is truly worth watching for yourself even if you aren’t a gamer at heart, because it is a stunning game at best and one I never anticipated to adore.

The  cutscenes are by far beautiful but the constant dialogue as you make your way through areas is so strong and impacts your soul more than you’ll know. It’s  funny at times, scary as hell and tragic at best as sacrifices need to be made, but  most of all it moves you in such a way that movies usually can. what starts off as ” bullshit i’m not going with him”, becomes  an unlikely bond between Joel and Ellie with the blood, sweat and tears they endure. It’s a game that has made an impression on me not for the last time.

Credits: Developer – by Naughty Dog

writer : Neil Druckmann

Voice Actors : Troy Baker, Ashley Johnson, Hana Hayes, Jeffrey Pierce, Annie Wersching, and others

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Designer: Jacob Minkoff

Artist: Erick Pangilinan and Nate Wells

Composer : Gustavo Santaolalla

Platform: Playstation 3, Remastered on Playstation 4