Three On A Match (1932)

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Original plot
The Girl Most Popular falls prey to glamorizing the low life.

Big thoughts
This movie is slow that it literally has a recap at the 43-minute mark. And it’s not more than an hour long to begin with. It also has a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo from Bogie. We’re watching this on recommendation from a BFI blog on pre-code movies.

Obligatory bus anecdote
Someone in a Jeep tried to road-rage my bus. Like maybe the driver was being aggro or something. But why would you try to take on a vehicle that’s 10 times your size? Very strange.

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The Random Remake
Vivian Kirkwood (Brie Larson), an uppity aspiring socialite who’s managed to hitch her wagon to a LA film producer, returns to her poor Bronx home neighborhood for the funeral of an uncle. She brings in tow her family, and they take hold in the city in an impromptu vacation. While strolling the streets on a window shopping excursion, Vivian is captivated by two women walking near her, Mary (Zosia Mamet) and Ruth (Juno Temple). She hides out in a store as she watches them walk past. We enter a flashback that shows her in school and the two other girls – her friends that were always a little too rambunctious, obnoxious for her. She jettisoned them soon after high school to secure her fake nobility.

Watching the two women’s attire and attitude, Vivian decides to approach them (as if she didn’t seem them before) and soon they’re hanging out reminiscing over drinks. Ruth excuses herself to go outside and smoke a cigarette and Mary persuades Vivian to come along. Using the hotel bar’s matches as a light, Vivian tells the tale of a superstition heralding doom for three people who use the same match. Ruth dares them to do it anyway.

The next day we see Vivian down in the dumps following around her absent-minded husband Robert and their self-involved daughter Kaitlin. Vivian then texts Ruth what she’s up to that night, and when hearing about a party white lies to Robert to go.

After a while Vivian gives in to Ruth’s friends’ fast lifestyle and gets addicted to cocaine. Robert reluctantly stays in New York in a doomed attempt to rescue Vivian. He even enlists Ruth and Mary to help, getting affectionate toward the former and entrusting the latter as a sitter. Vivian’s falling in with a rough crowd and to settle a drug debt one of Vivian’s new “friends” kidnaps Kaitlin and soon his dealer is on the scheme, holing Vivian up in a tenement apartment when she protests. Seeing the situation deteriorate and overhearing the dealer talk about “cutting his losses” with the kidnapped Kirkwood, Vivian takes action and decides to fight the attackers, knowing she will probably lose. She makes sure to make as much noise and possible to alert everyone around her, calling attention to get help and saving her daughter but losing her life in the process.

The pitch
3 On A Match: Her fire will consume them all

Next up: Baby Face (1933)

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I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)

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Original plot
Paul Muni gets a sentence of hard labor in harsh times.

Big thoughts
This is also from that great Toast blog entry, so read that for the some cool insight. Basically, this is a groundbreaking movie in terms of social commentary – and wow, does it pack a punch.

Obligatory bus anecdote
I once watched a lady put a piece of paper down on the seat before she plopped down on it. Like she was in a public toilet or something. Now, I don’t know if she brought the paper with her, or it was there and she decided to sit on it instead of throwing it on the floor or on a neighboring seat. But, still, weird, right?

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The Random Remake
James Allen (Michael Fassbender!) is a former Army sergeant back home in the South from Afghanistan. He’s determined to turn his engineering training in the war into a job stateside but he is tormented by what he saw and his IED injuries. Soon he falls into the ring of an old friend who sells meth and provides James with pain meds. Soon, of course, the ring is broken up and James is sent to county prison on drug charges.

In prison, James tries to keep his level head but the obstacles are too much. His physical pain is untreated. His mental pain is unacknowledged. The only friends he has are the ones he meets in the prison shop, who make chain-links for fences and other products. He is schooled on the ins and outs of the prison system and starts smuggling contraband, enforcing rules, etc. He learns that prison can be a way to make people into criminals. Inside the prison, James has succumb to everything he has tried to keep at bay: the rage, the hurt, the pain, the anger.

When he finally gets work-release he joins the others in walking off their jobs and fleeing to another state to start organizing a crime ring. Before doing so, he reunites with his former girlfriend to plead with her to join him on the run. Shocked, she says he’s not the man she knew anymore. “How did get you get here? How did you afford that car,” she asks, looking at his pickup truck. “I stole it,” he answered.

The pitch
Chain Gang: It’s what’s inside that counts

Next up: Three On A Match (1932)