By George Rose
May 13, 2009
This is generally regarded as one of the few films everyone is aware of and an all-time Hollywood classic. However, it is over 65 years old and may not have been seen by the more recent generations of film followers, who I must immediately convert. Despite my love for movies, I didn't see Casablanca until I was 23 years old, about three months ago. Why? Because I didn't grow up liking black and white movies. I appreciated them and their historical value, but growing up I preferred explosions, scantily clad stars and special effects (I am, after all, part of the technological generation) over the endless list of "classics" my parents, aunts and uncles would recommend. Don't get me wrong, I have seen black and white movies and enjoyed them thoroughly (Rebel Without a Cause, Twelve Angry Men, the list goes on) but for some reason Casablanca was never forced upon me.
After yet another failed attempt at romance and another empty bottle of gin, my friend Josh (who has two Humphrey Bogart posters on his dorm room wall) told me to get over myself and my sorrows and watch Casablanca. There was nothing he could say to put things into perspective but knew Bogart could. Bogart's Rick Blaine was in love once but now owns Rick's Café, the hottest spot in World War II set Casablanca. Those attempting to escape this war must go through this city to get to America and often swing by Rick's place in the process. Just when the brooding bar owner thinks he's safe, his past flame (who left him without warning) arrives. Of course she is with another man and asks her old love to help them travel safely to the states.
And to think I had it bad! This man is broken hearted but clearly still in love with Ingrid Berman's Ilsa Lund, yet must choose between his own happily ever after or the path he knows is right. I still prefer special effects over black and white, but Casablanca reminded me why Hollywood's more recent digital age isn't considered as critically acclaimed as its long lost Golden Age. There couldn't have been more than a handful of set locations or actors in Casablanca but it kept me more captivated than most globe-trotting summer blockbusters. Sometimes simplicity is the answer to entertainment, not just a big budget. For every $10 million special effect in this summers' crop of releases there is a one-liner in Casablanca that will have you quoting Rick for weeks to come. If nothing else, it might help you realize that your own "broken heart" is really just diminished infatuation. You don't really know love until you know pain, and Rick brings the pain. Here's looking at you, Bogart.
Transformers: The Movie (1986)
There are many reasons I dislike Michael Bay but directing the live action Transformers isn't one of them. I probably have Stephen Spielberg to thank for producing but Bay's name didn't hurt the movie as much as I expected. It was a thrill ride of a summer blockbuster back in 2007 and the Revenge of the Fallen sequel promises to be an even bigger spectacle. The films were based off of the Hasboro toy line and cartoons, which I remember vaguely. I had the toys but the shows elude me. That might be why I enjoyed the live-action movie so much, because it was like getting to play with the toys as a much bigger boy while not entirely holding onto the mythology.