The Apartment (1960) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Ruth of Flixchatter. She also did Mr Smith Goes To Washington for this project. Thanks for the reviews, Ruth! 🙂 Now let’s see what she has to say about The Apartment, IMDB rank 96 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB Review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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I’ve always wondered why the movie was called The Apartment, but within a few minutes I found out why. I like the opening sequence with Jack Lemmon’s narration. He played the protagonist, C.C. Baxter, who works as an insurance agent for Consolidated Life, one of the top five companies in the country with 31,259 employees. He works on the 19th floor in this giant office with rows upon rows of desks. By the end of the day, Baxter is the only one left. No, not because he’s a workaholic or anything, but he can’t come home to his apartment whenever he likes because he lets the executives of the company use his apartment for trysts. I seriously don’t know how he gets ANY work done as every day he’s so busy booking up his executives’ dates at his apartment and make sure they dates don’t get mixed up. At first I feel bad for him, especially when he gets a call in the middle of the night and have to clear out for one of the execs’ booty call. But you know what, Baxter brought this upon himself, he’s doing this favors to the execs to move up quickly to the top.

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Though it’s obviously a major inconvenience for Baxter, he tolerates this whole charade because of his ambition. That is until he met this cute elevator girl Fran Kubelik. Shirley MacClaine is so cute here with her pixie haircut, this is the first time I saw her in her earlier films as the first movie I saw her in was Guarding Tess (1994) with Nic Cage. This is also the first time I saw Fred McMurray. He’s quite memorable here as the top exec who makes life complicated for Baxter. I’m not going to spoil it for you in case you have not seen the film, though the plot is not entirely unpredictable. What did surprise me was how dark the film got, especially in regards to MacClaine’s character. I think those who’ve seen this know what I’m talking about. Even the whole cheating execs thing is not exactly a wholesome subject matter. But of course, given this is set in the 60s, it’s still a very demure film nary of any risque scene.

At times the storyline reminds me a bit of Roman Holiday in that the protagonist was initially an ambitious go-getter, someone ruthless enough to get ahead in their career. But when they fall in love, their perspective completely changes. I love how Baxter becomes the sweetest, most caring man even after he realizes his chances to be with the girl he loves is slim to none. Jack Lemmon is absolutely endearing in the way he dotes on Fran, taking care of her when she needs it most.

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This film won five Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Art Direction and Best Film Editing. Both Lemmon and MacClaine were nominated in the acting categories, too. I’d have been ok if Lemmon had won Best Actor but then again I don’t know who else was nominated that year. Baxter is the heart and soul of this film, and the transformation of his character as the film progresses is very believable.

I love so many things about this movie. The sharp script by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond, lovely music by Adolph Deutsch, and the perfect balance of drama and comedy. I love the hilarious way Baxter made spaghetti, straining the pasta through the grid of a tennis racket. It’s quite an iconic scene that’s cute and heartwarming.

Fran Kubelik: Whats a tennis racket doing in the kitchen?
C.C. Baxter: Tennis racket? Oh, I remember, I was cooking myself an Italian dinner.
[Fran looks confused]
C.C. Baxter: I use it to strain the spaghetti.

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Of course the performances are great all around, I quite like the chemistry between Lemmon and MacClaine, and it’s the kind of romance that’s rarely seen today as their love develops with barely any physical contact! There’s not even a single kissing scene between the two actors, but you definitely felt the connection between the them.

The ending is one of those that made me go up and cheer… especially when Baxter finally stands up for himself and decides to become a *human being* (or a mensch as his doctor neighbor told him to be it just the night before). It turns out having the career he’s always wanted is not all that’s cracked up to be, meanwhile Fran too has an epiphany moment of her own. The finale is definitely one of the most memorable New Year’s Eve moments in movies. I feel that this ending is pretty typical for rom-coms, complete with the girl running to catch the guy she *finally* realizes to be the love of her life + a bit of panic happening that she could be too late. Yet, it doesn’t feel clichéd or hackneyed here, and that’s the beauty of this movie.

I’m glad I finally caught The Apartment, it’s one I wouldn’t mind seeing again. Now that I’ve seen two Billy Wilder movies, I definitely see why people love his work so much. I look forward to catching up on more of his films in the future!

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Bernie (2011) Review

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Bernie (2011)

Directed by Richard Linklater

Starring:
Jack Black
Shirley MacLaine
Matthew McConaughey

Running time: 99 minutes

Short Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In small-town Texas, an affable mortician strikes up a friendship with a wealthy widow, though when she starts to become controlling, he goes to great lengths to separate himself from her grasp.

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My Opinion:

I wrote a review for this trying to remain totally spoiler free and giving no more information than what’s showing in the above plot synopsis. Well, this is one time that was pretty impossible to do so I’ve had to start over. I think most people know what this movie is about anyway as it’s based on a true story plus it was in the news again recently. So, to more easily discuss this, I’ll include a more detailed plot synopsis. So…

***Spoilers if you know nothing about the real life story & don’t want to***

I don’t think it spoils the movie as I already knew all this before seeing it and it made me more interested anyway. I’ll of course not say what happens at the end for anyone who doesn’t know the outcome. Wikipedia plot synopsis:

Bernie is a 2011 black comedy film based on a 1998 Texas Monthly magazine article by Skip Hollandsworth, “Midnight in the Garden of East Texas,” that chronicles the 1996 murder of 81-year-old millionaire Marjorie Nugent in Carthage, Texas by her 38-year-old companion, Bernhardt “Bernie” Tiede. Tiede proved so highly regarded in Carthage that, in spite of having confessed to the police, the District Attorney was eventually forced to request a rare prosecutorial change of venue in order to secure a fair trial.

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As I said in my review of Boyhood, I’m a Richard Linklater fan. Not sure why it took me so long to get around to watching this one as I also love Jack Black. I know he’s a “love him or hate him” kind of guy but he’s perfect in this and he’s NOTHING like he is in other roles so, if you like the sound of the movie but don’t like him, you really should still check it out. Plus – Shirley MacLaine! I love her too! I wish she’d been in this one for a bit longer but it was still a big role. Matthew McConaughey is in the film less than I expected him to be but he’s also absolutely perfect as the District Attorney. All three are perfect – I honestly don’t think they could have done a better job choosing the cast for this film.

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This movie is indeed a black comedy. It’s weird to think that they made a black comedy out of a real-life murder. I can’t say I know how the real-life residents of the small town in which this occurred (Carthage, Texas) really feel about the movie (it’s touched on a little in the above Wikipedia link) but, as a form of entertainment, I think it works really well how they chose to present the story. Throughout the film, people from the town are “interviewed” about the murder and their thoughts on Marjorie Nugent & Bernie Tiede. Some are actors (including McConaughey’s real-life mother – she’s hilarious!) but apparently some are real people from Carthage. I loved these “interviews”, which were really just gossipy chats with small-town people. Being from a VERY small town myself, I could totally relate to these bits as everyone reminded me of various people from the little community where I grew up. I think adding this to the movie was a brilliant idea and it really made the film for me – they were quirky, likeable characters and they actually made me a little homesick. (Although I’d NEVER want to live in a small town again!). This movie captured small town life perfectly and I found it very endearing in a way (considering, you know, that it’s about a woman being murdered).

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The way people feel about Jack Black is the same way they’ll feel about this movie: You’ll like it or you’ll hate it. If you don’t like black comedy, it’s best to avoid this one. It’s also very slow and there’s a lot of talking so it’s not for the impatient. I was a little worried at how they’d portray Marjorie Nugent as, after all, she did get murdered and there’s no excuse for that but, luckily, I think MacLaine did a good job showing a controlling woman but never going overboard and actually making us “hate” her. Although it’s told more from Bernie’s side, you feel for both of them as they’re clearly just two lonely people who happen to form an unusual friendship. It’s really a very sad but fascinating story (even more fascinating if you know the current outcome!). I think the movie handles the story well & I didn’t feel it was disrespectful – the comedic elements are mainly the “interviews” I discussed before.

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Summary:

Black & MacLaine are absolutely fantastic in two very understated roles and, along with Linklater, deserve all the credit for making a black comedy about a tragic real-life murder actually work as a film. I thought Bernie was very good but I often like movies that are slightly more unusual. I doubt I’d ever watch it again as it’s not exactly a “re-watcher” like something like Dazed & Confused (which I’ve watched loads of times) but is more like Boyhood in that it’s more of an “experience”. I’m glad to have finally seen it. It’s definitely not for everyone but, if it sounds like your type of film, definitely give it a watch! It’s well worth your time. Then make sure to look into the real story if you don’t know the current situation – I’m still a bit amazed by that myself…

My Rating: 7/10

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