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No One Is Safe From Mel Brooks’ Comedic Genius 

Mel Brooks is a comic genius. He’s a writer, actor, producer and director. He makes fun of everyone; no matter if you are male or female, young or old, black or white. No one is safe from Mel Brooks. 

1. The Producers (1967)

The Producers is Mel Brooks’ first film. It stars Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. The film is about a Broadway producer (Mostel) and an accountant (Wilder) who come up with idea that they could make more money with a flop on Broadway than with a hit. They find their flop – a play that is a love song to Hitler and the Nazi party.

The screenplay is one of the funniest that Brooks has ever written. Not only does he make fun of the Nazi party and Broadway, but little old ladies are the butt of the joke as well. And let’s not forget unintelligent apartment landlords who, quite honestly all wear the same night gown, shower cap and curlers in their hair.

The song and dance number of the sure fire flop “Springtime for Hitler” is just one example of Brooks’ humor at one of the most infamous hate groups:

“Don’t be stupid, be a smarty. Come and join the Nazi party.”

2. Young Frankenstein (1974)

Young Frankenstein is a wonderful screenplay written together by Wilder and Brooks. It stars Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, Cloris Leachman, Madeline Kahn and Teri Garr. The film is about the relative of the infamous Dr. Frankenstein and how he reanimates a monster.

During the movie, the character of Frau Blucher is an ugly old woman, the running joke is that she is so ugly and horrible, that even the animals know and can’t stand to hear her name:

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Goodnight, Frau Blucher.

[horses whinny]

This film makes fun of old horror films as well as uptight women, horrible, ugly women, neurotic men, and don’t forget – sex with monsters.

3. Blazing Saddles (1974)

Mel Brooks, Richard Pryor and several others penned the screenplay. It stars Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder and Harvey Korman. The film is about an African American sheriff who is sent (under false pretenses) to help get rid of corruption in a town, only to find out that the corruption leads him to the very man who appointed him as sheriff.

This film combats racism in the only way a Mel Brooks film can, with comedy. Not one group of people; young or old, straight or gay, hate groups, government officicals were left out the comedic antics of this film. 

4. History of the World Part 1 (1981)

Mel Brooks penned the screenplay for this film. The film stars Mel Brooks, Gregory Hines, Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn and many more. The film recites historical events from the Bible all the way to the French Revolution.

Brooks makes fun of history and the social issues that would have appeared at that particular time. As well as taking a stab at historical stories such as Oedipus.

One scene Brooks and Hines’ characters are trying to escape, a beggar is outside and greets Hines’ character:

Oedipus: [walking around collecting donations] Give to Oedipus! Give to Oedipus! Hey, Josephus!

Josephus (Hines): Hey, Motherf***er!


5. Spaceballs
(1987)

Mel Brooks penned the screenplay with Thomas Meehan and Ronny Graham. Spaceballs starred Mel Brooks, Rick Moranis, John Candy, Bill Pullman and Joan Rivers. The film is a parody of the Star Wars franchise as well as all Sci Fi movies.

Mel Brooks made fun of a widely popular franchise by not only just parodying the characters and storylines, but the behind the scenes drama of the infamous merchandising rights of the Star Wars franchise.

One of the ending scenes is one of the truest statements – especially with today’s Star Wars obsession:

Lone Starr: I wonder, will we ever see each other again?

Yogurt: Who knows? God willing, we’ll all meet again in Spaceballs 2: The Search For More Money.

10 Best Film Soundtracks

Music, as with film, has the ability to make us feel all kinds of emotions. Happiness, sadness, fear and anxiety are just the few emotions we feel when listening to music. Music has an enormous impact on films, especially when a filmmaker wants to portray emotions in particular scenes. The combination of vision and sound are the best parts of storytelling. These film soundtracks are essential listening for everyone.

In no particular order: 

1. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

The soundtrack comes from a mix the main character received from his dying mother. Now living in space, he listens to the mix everyday, not only giving showing that he misses and loves his mother, but how this really is an awesome mix.

2. Forest Gump (1994)

This soundtrack is one of the best, because it represents every time period as Forest grows up and the social issues each portray from that time.

3. La La Land (2016)

Currently making every critic fall in love with film all over again, the soundtrack is an ode to old Hollywood musicals.

4. The Blues Brothers (1980)

The soundtrack is essential Blues music. The best of the best from Cab Calloway to Aretha Franklin starred and performed in the film.

5. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

The best mockumentary ever written, the soundtrack are ‘fake’ comedic songs of the rock band Spinal Tap. The best part of the soundtrack is the parody of famous rock bands. And with the clips of the band playing these ‘fake’ song – and sometimes making a fool of themselves, is gold.

6. The Graduate (1967)

The soundtrack built on Simon & Garfunkel, is an ode to every recent college graduate who have no idea what to do after graduation.

7. Scott Pilgrim VS. The World (2010)

This soundtrack is a combination of songs by actual artists and fake songs by the band in the film, Sex Bob-Omb. This soundtrack represents emotions that characters are feeling in each scene. As well as odes to classic video games and bands who want to make it in the music business.

We’re Sex Bob-Omb! And we’re here to make you think about death and get sad and stuff!

8. Empire Records (1995)

Working in a record store would be awesome, right? Well, this film is an ode to 90s music and the record store employees who love music.

9. Almost Famous (2000)

The soundtrack is an ode to Rolling Stone magazine. And to all the bands trying to make it.

10. High Fidelity (2000) 

This soundtrack is every music snobs Holy Grail. The main character owns the dying breed of vinyl – and how he insists that’s the best. Every hipsters Citizen Kane.

5 Devastatingly Sad Scenes in Film

Movies can makes us feel many emotions. Excitement, anger, fear, in some cases, pleasure. But there are some depressingly sad scenes in movies that just make the tears roll down our faces that make us forget what happiness feels like.

Full disclosure: Some scenes that I will be describing could have potential spoilers and potential tears.

1. Precious (2009)

Precious is a film directed by Lee Daniels. The film stars Gabourey Sidney as Precious, and a absolute fantastic performance by Mo’nique who plays Precious’ mother. The film is based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire. Precious is an illiterate teenager who is physically abused by her mother, sexually abused by her father since she was a child and who bore her fathers children.

This entire movie made me cry. The things that this girl goes through are absolutely horrific. But there is one scene that outplays everything else. The monologue of Precious:

“Please don’t lie to me, Ms. Rain! Love ain’t done nothing for me… but beat me… rape me… call me an animal! Make me feel worthless! Make me sick!”

Precious has just found out she has contracted HIV from her father. Yes, her father. Her father raped her repeatedly since she was months old and she bore his children, one who is mentally handicapped. She realizes in this moment, that her life will never be normal. She will never have a normal relationship, a boyfriend, a mother and father who love her.

Love is not a word in her vocabulary.

2. Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Requiem for a Dream was directed by Darren Aronofsky and starred Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans. The film follows Leto, Connelly, and Wayans in their ups and eventual downs as drug addicts. Burstyn plays Leto’s mother, who is a television addict.

As sad as addiction is, the saddest part in this movie is again, about love.

Burstyn plays a tv addicted widow. She’s lost her husband and she has also lost her son to drugs. She watches TV all day long and receives a phone call that she has been selected to appear on a game show. It is obviously a scam but she gets very excited and tells all of her friends (they all meet, sit and talk everyday on a bench in front of the apartment building). She decides she needs to lose weight fast, she goes to a doctor who prescribes her diet pills, or speed. She becomes addicted and hallucinates with visions of her husband and her son being on the show with her and winning.

She is eventually committed to a hospital where they try to detox her with electric shock treatment (a horrible scene). Her friends come to visit her and she is a vegetable.

The next scene is her two friends sitting on a bench in front of the apartment building, holding each other and crying.

This is the scene that is devastating. Bursytn’s characters motivation is to be loved and wanted. She longed for her husband and her son to love her, to want her. But what she did not realize is that her friends loved her and wanted her all along and seeing her like that was too much for them.

3. Schindler’s List (1993)

Schindler’s List was directed by Steven Spielberg starring Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, and Ben Kingsley. It is based on the novel of the same name written by Thomas Keneally.

Schindler’s List is based on the heroic actions of Oskar Schindler who saved many lives of Jewish people during the Holocaust. One scene emphasizes horrible things that took place:

Women and children were separated from the men. They were forced to strip naked and walk together into showers where either toxic gas were let out of the vents, or water.

The women were told to strip and walk into the showers. They had heard the rumors about the gas chambers. They all held each other, crying as they waited for what felt like a lifetime. Only to have water come out of the vents.

The sheer fear, embarrassment and anxiety these women felt could be felt on screen.

4. Titanic (1997)

Titantic was directed by James Cameron and stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. The movie is based on the tragic accident of the sinking of the Titanic.

Many people lost their lives that night, no matter how rich or poor, however the obvious class differences and this was especially shown during the sinking of the ship.

The scene shows the poor cabins at the bottom of the ship. An old couple hold each other on bed as the water rises, a mother talks to her two young children in bed, knowing that they are about to die.

These scenes (I know I cheated a little), are heartbreaking. Holding on to the ones you love as you know you are about to die is excruciatingly painful to watch.

5. Life is Beautiful (1997)

Life is Beautiful was directed by Roberto Benigni who also wrote and played the lead role. The film centers around a Jewish man, his wife, and his young son. Benigni’s character and his son are taken to a concentration camp and the rest of the film shows Benigni trying to shield his son of the horrors of the camp by playing games with him.

There are two scenes in this movie (I know, I cheated again), that make the tears roll.

When the father and son are first placed on the trains to take them to the concentration camp, the mother goes looking for them. The SS soldier tells her they are on the train but the train is not for her. She insists that if her husband and son are on the train that she is getting on the train. The SS soldier tries to disuade her, but eventually lets her on the train.

The other scene is at the end of the film where the father and son are in the concentration camp the night before it will be liberated. The Nazi’s are trying to get out and kill every person in the camp. The father hides his son in a locker and goes looking for his wife. The father comes back to see a guard dog sniffing the locker that his son is in and sacrifices himself. He walks down an alley with a Nazi soldier, they turn a corner and off screen you hear gun shots.

Both scenes are ultimate sacrifices of love.

The most devastating part of all of these movies and scenes is that these horrific scenarios can happen, have happened, or are happening.



4 Reasons Why the Twilight Saga Portrays Wrong Messages about Love and Relationships

The Twilight Saga are five films spanning four years, starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner.  Stephenie Meyer wrote the novels and Melissa Rosenburg penned all five screenplays.  The plot of the story is a forbidden love between Bella (Kristen Stewart) who is human and Edward (Robert Pattinson) who is a vampire.  Each movie has the same plot in which Bella is in love with Edward, is being hunted by other vampires while trying to become a vampire herself and also resisting the advances of Jacob (Taylor Lautner) who is a werewolf (because of course he is).

The Twilight Saga is most notably known for the inaccuracies of the portrayal of the lore of vampires and werewolves.  The horror fandom does not take too kindly to sparkly vampires who drive Volvos.  However, I want to take a moment to interpret these movies without the sparkly vampire aspect and just look at the movies as a ‘love story’.

Here is a very quick rundown of the basic love elements of these movies.  In Twilight, Bella is portrayed as a shy, unassuming, basic girl who just moved from Florida to Forks, Washington.  She meets the handsome and alluring Edward, who is a vampire.  Bella and Edward fall in love.  In New Moon, Edward breaks up with Bella.  And Bella starts to spend time with Jacob and his gang of fellow werewolves.  Jacob falls in love with Bella.  In Eclipse, Jacob and Edward fight for the affections of Bella.  Bella wants Edward to turn her into a vampire so she can be with him forever, and gentlemanly Edward wants to get married first.  In Breaking Dawn Parts I & II, Bella and Edward get married, get pregnant and finally Bella becomes a vampire.  Officially changing herself for the man she loves.

Besides the elements of vampires and werewolves, this is a simple love story, sold to twelve year old girls.  This target audience watched these movies and longed for a boy like Edward.  Unfortunately, the personality traits of Edward and the relationship aspects in this ‘love story’ are not ones that young girls should fall in love with or try to emulate.  And it is also why were are plagued with Fifty Shades of Grey.

And here’s why:

  1. Changing yourself for another person

A reoccurring theme in all the movies is that Bella wants to be transformed into a vampire so she can be with Edward forever.  Transforming into a vampire is portrayed in the movie as the ultimate sacrifice of love, and should be taken as such.  Bella is a seventeen year old girl and is completely consumed with the thoughts of being with Edward for the rest of her life.  She is willing to give up college, her future, her family. The transformation into a vampire is a metaphor for changing yourself and having your entire future be dependent on another person.   This is not an ultimate sacrifice of love, this is an unhealthy relationship disguised as sacrificial love.  No one should ever change themselves and have their future determined by another person.

  1. Unhealthy relationship

Edward is portrayed as a gentleman, a hero, and these traits are supposed to completely outweigh the fact that he is controlling and a stalker.  In the first several movies, Edward comes into Bella’s room to watch her sleep, and at first, Bella has no idea he had been sneaking into her room.  The movie makes it seem like it’s adorable that he is watching her sleep. No, close your window and get Brink’s home security.

Besides the adorableness of watching Bella sleep, Edward also follows Bella.  He just shows up, and granted, he showed up just in time to rescue her, but the point is, he was following her.

And if the stalking was not heroic enough, Edward also controlled everything Bella did, right down to buying her a car, so he could ‘protect her’.  Edward also had to know where she was at all times and who she was with. Bella had to find ways to hide from Edward in order to hang out with her friends.

  1. Cutting off ties with friends and family

Bella whines the entirety of the Saga about wanting be transformed into a vampire by Edward.  Edward in all his adorable manipulation, tells her that she has to cut all ties with her friends and family in order to do this (because she will be impulsive and try to kill all her loved ones).  And she is willing to cut all ties with her family for this guy.  Bella is willingly changing herself and her future for Edward and is also willing to cut off all ties with her father, mother and all of her friends.  This is a message to young girls that if you are truly in love with someone, you need to sacrifice not only yourself, but also all your friends and family. How many crime shows depict the same exact scenario of abuse?

  1. Engaging in risky behavior after a breakup

Break-ups are the worst.  They are horrible, you feel horrible.  Most of the time you think the world is coming to an end.  But hey, guess what?  It didn’t.  New Moon shows us how an obsessive relationship handles a break-up, and it’s just unbearable.  We see Edward break it off with Bella, and she just lays down in the woods until the town comes and finds her.  First of all, dramatic much?  For a girl who claims to be plain and drama free, she sure is dramatic.  I may be a little cynical, seeing as I probably laid down and cried when a boy broke up with me.  But I did that in the comfort of my own floor, in my bathroom, listening to Coldplay, on repeat.

Bella is also seen to be wasting away season after season sitting in a chair in her bedroom.  Throughout the depressive and impulsive episodes of Bella because of the breakup, she is seen getting on the back of a motorcycle with a random man, riding and falling off a motorcycle herself, and jumping off of a cliff into the freezing waters of the Washington coastline. All because Bella sees Edward when she attempts to hurt herself.  And it is brushed aside as if she is an adrenaline junkie, and not actually trying to kill herself. No, those actions scream depression and suicide attempts that should not be brushed aside because she gets some thrill seeing Edward telling her not to do whatever dangerous thing she is doing.

The Twilight Saga sends the wrong message to young females everywhere. And in a time where female empowerment is a strong subject, make sure your friends, children and any other human being avoid these films.

 

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