The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

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Original plot
Two coworkers antagonize each other without realizing they are each other’s pen-pal fantasy.

Big thoughts
Goddamn Jimmy Stewart kills everything he’s in. I have him tied at No. 2 with Cary Grant as the best actors of all time (Bogie’s 1, natch).

Obligatory bus anecdote
I got on the bus with a coworker and she was just, straight up, like “Oh, I don’t have a pass.” Not an offer of $2 cash for the fare, not a white lie of losing the card, just like “I’m not gonna pay this.” And the driver was totally cool with it.

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The Random Remake
Well, how can I say this: You’ve Got Mail beat me to it by 17 years, so… that means it’s totally time for another remake!

Clara (Amanda Peet) gets work at a new start-up sometime in the near future. She’s assigned to product test a new social network. The world is closing in on virtual reality, and a new firm is working out the kinks for a new system of interacting online with friends. Clara and her bothersome coworker Fred (Alex Karpovsky), both Psychological Engineers, are working on the system to implement human behavioral patterns in the code. Clara and Fred obviously don’t see eye-to-eye on work habits, lifestyle, or anything else for that matter. They both get assigned a test subject from their boss to work through their code, and both happen to fall in love with the avatars – not realizing they chose the only other online profile available, each other.

The pitch
The Shop: Too close to really see each other

Female (1933)

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Original plot
High-powered businesswoman Ruth Chatterton mans the boardroom of an automobile company by day and runs men through her bedroom at night. Until(!) she meets the man who can tame her. (Shrug) (Sigh)

Big thoughts
This, along with Three on a Match, were on a DVD labeled “Forbidden Hollywood.” And rightfully so – there’s no hiding the take-charge main character and the men she preys on. And then, just like that, she dumps it all for a “primitive” man. Literally, so she can have babies. Nine of them. Oh and that title, tho.

Obligatory bus anecdote
I’ve taken to getting up well before my stop so the driver sees someone is wanting to get off. Twice now they’ve driven right past my building. And I’ve pulled the cord and everything.

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The Random Remake
Alison Drake (Rachel McAdams) has successfully taken the role of No. 2 under her inventor father of a new electric vehicle company taking the company by storm and shaking the core of the automobile industry. But with the sudden death of her father, all pressure is on her to make sure the business that bears her name, which employs thousands of people, stays on track. With no time for love, Alison has mini hook-ups, looking for those around her she can manipulate and dupe into serving her nighttime needs. That is until she meets Jim Thorne (Anthony Mackie), a hotshot fuel cell whiz the company poached from Toyota. Falling in love with Jim means breaking the pattern Alison has set and challenging her priorities. Will it be Jim or the business or both? Can she have it all?

The pitch
Driven: What fuels your desires?

 

The Apartment (1960)

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Original plot
Oh, your classic mad-cap romp of extramarital affairs, suicide attempts, and workplace favoritism.

Big thoughts
You know, Fred MacMurray kinda steals this movie. So slimy that it totally works.

Obligatory bus anecdote
Some dude straight-up fell into my while I’m watching. Just started rolling toward me and then BOOM he’s in my lap. Hold on to yourself!

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The Random Remake
Baxter (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) lives off campus at a large liberal-arts college. Thanks to his parents’ largess, his swank apartment isn’t only utilized by co-eds for keggers – his professors have taken to using the place for secret rendezvous with the student bodies. While annoyed of having to lend out his place and kill time in his friends’ dorms, Baxter’s GPA is noticeably benefitting from this arrangement. That is until he finds out his crush from Econ 207 is also hooking up with their prof in his apartment! Does he keep his mouth shut and his grades up, or does he go for the girl and the fail?

The Pitch
The Apartment: There’s always room for love

The Secret of My Succe$s (1987)

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Original plot
Yuppie-to-be from Nebraska has to climb his way to the top of corporate New York by, of course, assuming a new identity.

Big thoughts
I love this movie. It’s in my Top 10 for the 80s. It’s fun, and MJF is killer. But how did I not remember it had two (2!) ejaculation references? And two (2!) instances of Oh Yeah?

Obligatory bus anecdote
A bus really shouldn’t be 5 minutes early. Early’s way worse than late, right? Especially when it forces me to hustle up and make it so I don’t stand outside in -2 weather for 15 more minutes.

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The Random Remake
New Ivy League grad Bethany Foster (Emma Stone) wants to take the political world by storm. After all, she just got a degree, so of course the world is waiting on her ideas. She leaves her family’s farm in Nebraska to work for her uncle, U.S. Congressman Howard Prescott (Jeffrey Tambor). Under the impression she’s going to be a big-wig for him, she gets deflated when he tells her he’s been “primary”-ed – that his party is looking to run someone against him in the hopes of getting someone they can control. As a favor to a third niece twice removed, he gets Bethany a job in the Capitol’s mailroom. But the mail gig allows Bethany to get up to speed on the insider dealings with the upcoming race and she starts to concoct a plan to make Prescott’s home district on his side and turn on the straw candidate. Under the cover of Courtney Whitfield – super consultant – she draws the attention of Prescott’s district aide Christopher Wills (Zachary Quinto), who doesn’t know Bethany’s dual identity. With the help of Prescott’s long-suffering wife Vera (Diane Keaton), Bethany/Courtney and Christopher whip the district up in a frenzy with new policy ideas and campaign tricks, winning the race for Prescott on their own terms and sticking it to the Majority Whip.

The pitch
The Secret of My Success: Pop the campaign; this party’s just getting started!

*

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)

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)

Of Human Bondage (1934)

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Original plot
Leslie Howard can’t quit bad girl Bette Davis.

Big thoughts
In a move that launched Bette Davis’ superstardom I was more captivated by Leslie Howard. Also, this is on recommendation from The Toast .

Obligatory bus anecdote
Sat next to a guy recently who had Aldo-style black shiny loafers paired with pj pants and a t-shirt. It was the exact opposite of me and my business casual+crappy sneakers.

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The Random Remake
Sensitive introvert Philip Carey (Cillian Murphy) is a man whose life is a series of silent tasks. He studies in med school at the beginning of a new semester in large lecture halls, alone in a row by himself. He comes home to a tiny loft in which he lives, of course, alone. He can spend days without uttering more than a few sentences to other human beings. And he’s adapted. But then, with a text on his phone, we see why his solitude is welcoming: the love of his life, bad girl Mildred (Emily Blunt) needs help.

Flashing back to their early college days, with Philip madly, disorientingly in love Mildred he followed her around in hopes of luring her in. But Mildred had other plans for other men, and chose someone else over Philip. Now she’s back in his life, pregnant and discarded by the father. Philip scrapes together his life savings (which isn’t much) to get Mildred a place to stay and accompanies her to the women’s clinic. He has to forfeit the semester at med school after he can’t pay the tuition. He hopes to win Mildred over again but fails to do so, and Mildred scorns him, tells him she never liked him, and leaves in the arms of a man down the hall in Philip’s building.

Philip, later, tries to move on, and accepts an invitation from one of his professors to lunch at his house after the prof was wondering where he was all of a sudden. Philip does not tell the prof the whole story of Mildred, but the other attendee at the lunch, the prof’s daughter Sally (Greta Gerwig), seems to get it. Soon Philip and Sally connect and get closer. But then, like clockwork, Mildred is back in the picture, things having soured with Philip’s neighbor. She says she needs money for cosmetic surgery so she can be a model. Meanwhile Sally, who does freelance graphic design, has lent Philip some money for school. Philip is standing in front of Mildred, reaching for his wallet, when his phone lights up with a loving text from Sally. Now Philip has a choice to make… Roll credits.

The pitch
Of Human Bondage: His heart is all tied up

Next up: I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)