Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Sunset Boulevard

Well, that was a picture and a half.

I'm still kinda reeling from my first watch of Sunset Boulevard, I know I very much liked it but I'm still forming my thoughts even as I write. So let's start from the top and talk plot. Well I was already wrong in my pretense of what the film was actually about, I thought originally it was more of a character piece on fading movie star Norma Desmond as she locks herself away from the world and tries to live her years encased in a bubble, enslaved to her past films in a projection room and whose dreams are made of celluloid, a world one step away from The Twilight Zone. Yeah this movie really had me flashing back to the specific episode The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine, and the narration and lovely black and white cinematography just kept bringing me back to it. But the story really follows a writer named Joe who by pure happenstance kinda gets roped into Norma's world, he starts off ghost writing her own script and then...I don't really know. They kinda, sorta, get into a relationship but it's odd because Joe is kinda going for it, then wants to bail, then wants to stick around for the sake of Norma's feelings. It's very bizzare. In fact the whole movie has this bizzare, almost David Lynch quality to it in terms of plot developments and characters. Needless to say I was hooked and it got me super invested near the end. Gloria Swanson is pretty much perfect in this role, the overdramatic actions, the incredibly childlike modd swings and personal viewings of herself, she pulls it off without it ever once being annoying or even absurd to where you just roll your eyes at the melodrama. She is wonderful and I truly can say it is a great performance. The same goes for William Holden, I was having a hard time pinning down his character cause he really does just sorta ebb and flow due to the situation, he frankly wants nothing to do with Norma until she cuts her wrists then he's there for her everyday, yet kinda fancies this young lady, I wouldn't say it's all over the place but it is a prominent element of the film. He's very sarcastic, has that dry wit, he's a puzzle to work on in this film and one I enjoy trying to figure out at that. I will say however the set design is fantastic, the film just looks sort of this mix of Grey Gardens and 50s Hollywood, it's entirely unique to this film. Plus the fact this is a movie that openly acknowledges real world movie making is kind of unheard of to me in a film made 30 years into film as a medium's lifetime, I mean now yes, movies reference actual films, directors, and actors often, that's almost Tarantino in a nutshell, but for a film released in 1950 to actually get references and see directors and stars as themselves is really rare at least in my movie going experience. Which is funny because modern Hollywood at that time was not very fond of the potrayal the film spun in terms of actors and the landscape of the business, we all know it to be true now but movies and the process of making movies were known only to the select few who worked in that environment. The more things change, the more they stay the same I guess. 4 stars from me, 8/10, check it out and see what you think of it cause I had a great time with it and I can see why it is considered essential viewing for any serious movie fan.

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