Thursday, January 7, 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Downstairs People


Welcome to the first Thursday Movie Picks of 2016!!! If you're unfamiliar it's a weekly meme hosted by Wanderer @ Wandering Through the Shelves where she provides us a topic and us bloggers suggest a trio of movies to fit. If you're interested in joining in on all our fun, click the link and follow directions. This week's topic is Downstairs People.

Huh?

What the hell are Downstairs People?You mean, The People Under the Stairs? Damn good movie.

That's not what that means. Oh.

Google: downstairs people

Live-in servants.

Oh. Okay, now I've got it. We're talking about live in servants. Sorry, I'm hopelessly American. I've never seen a single minute of Upstairs Downstairs and the only bit of Downton Abbey I ever saw was the tiny bit they showed while Happy was in the hospital in Iron Man 3. That said, there are lots of great movies that have included live in servants. As usual, I'm going to try and pick three you didn't think of. Here goes it...


The Hand That Rocks the Cradle
(1992)
Downstairs Person: "Peyton Flanders"
The Bartel family needs a nanny for their infant boy. After interviewing a number of potential candidates, they settle on the charming Peyton Flanders. She's of a similar age to Mrs. Bartel (Annabella Sciorra) which violates every rule I have for hiring nannies. I'm very ageist when it comes to that sort of thing. Sorry, but I'm not bringing in someone who isn't at least 30 years older than me. Call me silly, but I'm trying to minimize temptation anywhere possible. Then again, I've never had enough money to worry about such things. Anyhoo, we soon find out that Peyton is not who she says is, and what's more, she's a raging lunatic hell-bent on revenge. Nope, I'm not telling why. In the wake of the monster success of Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct, many clones and hybrids of the two found their way into theaters (and still are). This is one of the better ones.


The Dark Knight Rises
(2012)
Downstairs Person: Alfred Pennyworth
For me, this is easily the weakest of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy. It earns a spot by being the one that most emphasizes the relationship between Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) and his lifelong butler Alfred Pennyworth, played so eloquently by the incomparable Michael Caine. Alfred's sense of obligation overwhelms him and informs every word that leaves his mouth. And that obligation is not necessarily to young Master Bruce.With all the things swirling about in this film, it's the relationship between these two guys that gives it its heart. (Full Review)


Django Unchained
(2012)
Downstairs Person: Stephen
Being that this is a movie dealing primarily with the institution of slavery, there are lots of "downstairs people." That sounds so much better than some of the really ugly terms we use in this country. Just sayin'. Anyhoo, the person I'm particularly interested in is not the titular hero (Jamie Foxx) trying to save his beloved Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). I'm talking about Stephen played by the seemingly omnipresent Samuel L. Jackson. Since I'm lacking better words, right now, I'll just quote my own review. "His character is funny, conniving, deliciously evil, and perhaps the smartest person in the movie. More than that, every word he says, every movement of his body and shift of his eyes feels true. It’s nothing less than masterful." In other words, it's the best performance in a movie filled with great ones. I know, I know. Christoph Waltz won the Blah blah blah. (Full Review)


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28 comments:

  1. Michael Caine's Alfred is definitely the best interpretation of that character so far as I loved that monologue he gave. It was heartbreaking to hear as it goes to show why we love Alfred.

    Stephen is evil. Yet, I love him for it as I loved the fact that he's the smartest person in the room and the one guy Candie could trust.

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    1. Caine is easily the best Alfred there has ever been. He brought so much emotion to the character across all three films. It's going to be tough for anyone to match that. And yes to what you say about Stephen, too.

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    2. I do kind of love Sean Pertwee on Gothem.

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    3. Strangely, I've only seen like half an episode of Gotham.

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  2. Oh thank God, I had to google the definition too. I also chose Alfred because he's awesome. Nice call on Stephen in Django, I liked that guy. Samuel L. Jackson is so good. I haven't seen The Hand That Rocks The Cradle.

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    1. We're both glad we're not the only dummies, ha! Alfred rules, and Stephen, too.

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  3. LOL, I had the same thought when I read 'downstairs people'...BAH! I was like...what? Mole people? Sewer people? Phantom of the Opera?

    LOVE these...but I'm not going to lie...I really wanted some bizarre stuff I'd never heard of to pop up here. Where is 'B****es in the Basement' or 'Killer Maids from Another Dimension' or something like that?

    Next week?

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    1. I know, right? Really conventional this week. Couldn't remember seeing anything too far out the way that fits. Maybe next week.

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    2. Hah...I love confusing you guys.

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  4. Well you did a good job by me in finding picks I didn't even consider or that crossed my mind.

    Both Batman and Django are super choices, Caine is marvelous but I also loved Alan Napier's performance in the old series and how he managed to maintain his dignity in that ridiculous show(in an ironic coincidence when I looked him up to check the spelling of his name I noticed it would have been his birthday today! What are the odds?). I didn't care much for Django but Jackson is always excellent.

    HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE!!! Brilliant, so cheesy yet so entertaining. De Mornay is just right in the lead.

    I also tried to come up with off the beaten path picks...hope I succeed. Here's what I came up with.

    The Maids (1975)-Sisters Solange and Claire (Glenda Jackson & Susannah York) work as maids for a woman they detest, known only as Madame. Whenever she’s out they take turns dressing in her clothes and demeaning each other as Madame does to them. An adaptation of a Jean Genet play that was itself based on a famous pair of murders committed by the Papin sisters in 30’s France. Produced as part of the American Film Theatre but released theatrically this is very much a filmed play that features two award caliber performances from its lead actresses.

    The Servant (1963)-Tony, a wealthy young man moves to London and hires the seemingly docile Barrett to be his all-around servant. Barrett at first seems quite competent and yielding but Tony’s girlfriend Susan is made uneasy by him and advises Tony to send him away. Once Barrett brings his sister Vera to work there too the situation spirals downward and ultimately the question is who the servant is and who’s the master?

    The Fallen Idol (1948)-A young British boy, Phillippe, worships his father’s butler, Baines (Ralph Richardson) and Baines spins stories of his great adventures to amuse the boy. However Baines is stuck in a loveless marriage and when an accident occurs which Phillippe misconstrues his attempts to protect his hero only lead to bigger troubles for Baines. Directed by Carol Reed and winner of a slew of awards this is a great film.

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    1. You have certainly come up with off the beaten path picks, at least by my judgment. I haven't seen any of them. Most interested in The Servant.

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  5. Of course Alfred is the perfect choice, right? What a classic character and Caine gives us the very best interpretation. Love it.

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  6. I also chose Alfred because he's the great man behind another great man. Samuel L. Jackson's Stephen is evil but I love him.

    And for the record, I also had to google downstair people. And I thought I was the only one.

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    1. Caine and Jackson are both amazing.

      Yay, Google!!!

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  7. I have not seen the first one but love Alfred in The Batman film even though I have a soft spot for Alan Napier. Love Django and that is a great choice for this week

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    1. I love Napier, too, but Caine takes the cake for me. Thanks!

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  8. Great choices, Caine's Alfred is the best for me too. Hand That Rocks the Cradle, haven't thought about that one in ages but De Mornay was great. Preying on mothers' fears and guilt about having careers.

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    1. The Hand That Rocks the Cradle is all sorts of nutty awesomeness!

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  9. The Hand that Rocks the Cradle! Didn't think of that one at all.

    And yeah. I agree that that the last Batman film of the trilogy was the weakest.

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    1. Yeah, I couldn't understand why everyone was gushing over it when it came out.

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  10. I was just about to post a comment, and I lost it. Very odd. Oh well. Excellent choices! I especially love Samuel L. Jackson's character in Django Unchained.

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    1. Thanks! Sorry that happened. And happy to see the love for SLJ.

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  11. Does Rebecca De Mornay breastfeed the kid that she's bring a nanny for? Or did I just imagine that? Because as a kid, that was awesome...but now? That's the dumbest shit ever. That said.. this list?

    All Yays. SLJ takes the cake, though. Damn.

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    1. Yes. She does.

      SLJ always takes the cake.

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  12. Jackson's performance is superb in Django. I still like Waltz's better. Nevertheless, it's a great pick. I didn't even think of it and I watched it recently. I thought about going Nolan Batman myself, but I have just beaten those movies to death. Great pick as well! The Hand That Rocks the Cradle was on my mind as well for this, but I just couldn't remember it enough. It has been so long, but I remember being totally creeped out by it.

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    1. The Hand That Rocks the Cradle is very creepy in certain spots, but if you saw it now, you'd probably find it a bit campy. I love it for that, btw.

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