Movie Reviews: Jaws (1975) #AtoZChallenge


I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge by watching and reviewing some of my favorite movies of all time that I haven’t watched in a long time. This post contains SPOILERS!

TitleJaws
Release Date: June 20, 1975
Director: Steven Spielberg
Production Company: Zanuck/Brown Company | Universal Pictures
Synopsis:

A rogue shark attacks people swimming in the waters off of a New England beach town.  Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) wants to close the beaches, but others, including Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) fear the economic devastation of closing the beaches right before Independence Day.  The shark kills more people, the shark expert Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) arrives to advise, and shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw) offers to kill the shark.  Quint, Hooper, and Brody sail out on a boat that’s not large enough to track and kill the shark, bonding on the journey.

When Did I First See This Movie?:

This movie was filmed in Martha’s Vineyard, a place that my family vacationed at often during my childhood.  We loved visiting the spots used as locations for the movie including some businesses that still had their “Amity” shop signs on display.  I’m pretty sure that I watched Jaws 2 and Jaws 3-D before I ever watched Jaws in its entirety, but sometime in the late 80s it became one of my favorite films of all time.  The sequels are “meh” because they’re about the shark, but Jaws is a story about people.

What Did I Remember?:

I remembered the plot and many details fairly well.

What Did I Forget?:

There’s a brilliant scene where Martin Brody’s son imitates all of his gestures and they make faces at one another.  It’s one of those great Spielberg family touches.  Later in the scene, Ellen Brody (Lorrraine Gary) and Hooper have great repartee over wine, which is interesting considering that in the novel they have an affair (I’m so glad Spielberg didn’t include this subplot).

While I remembered that Mayor Vaughn wanted to keep the beaches open, I forgot that Vaugh actually encourages people to go into the water before the July 4th shark attack.

What Makes This Movie Great?:

As noted above, this is a movie about people.  The first hour of the movie is less about a shark and more about how people respond to crises.  The town government prioritizing the economic interests over peoples’ lives feels very relevant at the time I watched this movie.  The second part of the movie is three men on a boat all from different backgrounds, all with key abilities, and all with serious flaws.  The camaraderie among Brody, Hooper, and Quint is one of the best aspects of this movie. People may want to avoid or dismiss this as a horror movie but I think they’ll miss that great human storytelling, adventure, and even comedy.

What Doesn’t Hold Up?:

I want to say that the ongoing manhood competition among Quint, Hooper, and Brody is dated, but really men are still that stupid about these things.

Is It a Classic?:

Yes, an all-time great.

Rating: *****

I apparently have no other all-time favorite movies starting with J. Let me know your favorite J movies so I can remedy that.  And if you have a guess for my K movie, let me know in the comments. (Hint: it’s about an out-of-towner having a really bad day in New York).

 

Book Review: Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks


Author: Geraldine Brooks
TitleCaleb’s Crossing 
Publication Info: [Ashland, Or.] : Blackstone Audio, 2011.
ISBN9781441790200
Summary/Review:

This engaging novel set in 17th Massachusetts, primarily Martha’s Vineyard and Cambridge, is the recollections of a Puritan woman Bethia Mayfield regarding the life of a Wampanoag she befriends as a child who takes the name Caleb.  The language of the narrative carries the flavor of language of a colonial American woman although at times a modern, feminist view appears in the narrative.  The novel is full of heartbreak and loss, but still there’s a great amount of nobility in Caleb as he adapts to English and Christian ways.  The culture and religion of the English and native are frequently compared with the later given a grudging respect.  Both the woman and the Wampanoag are subservient in this society and this historical fiction is a great attempt at telling their hidden stories.

Recommended books:  The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper, Black Robe by Brian Moore, Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick, The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell, and A Mercy by Toni Morrison.
Rating: ***

Photopost: Martha’s Vineyard


This past weekend we celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary with a trip to Martha’s Vineyard.  The Vineyard was one of my family’s favorite vacation spots when I was growing up and if I count correctly we visited 7 times between 1977 & 1992.  I’ve only managed to make it back there once since moving to Massachusetts (in 2001) and this was Susan and Peter’s first visit.

While there’s much to explore on the island we confined this trip almost entirely to Oak Bluffs.  We stayed at the Pequot Hotel which had very friendly, hospitable staff and plenty of charm (with the  exception of the thin walls and the very loud reject from the cast of Jersey Shore in the next room).

Highlights include:

  • sailing on the ferry to and from Woods Hole
  • digging in the sand on the beach
  • biking along the many bike paths
  • riding the Flying Horses carousel many times
  • a parade with pennyfarthing bicycles on Tivoli Day
  • feeding the fish at the Waters of the World aquarium
  • swinging and climbing and sliding at the playground
  • visiting the gingerbread cottages in the Campground
First glimpse of the island from the car deck of the ferry
House with decorative Beetle planter
Pennyfarthing riders in the Tivoli Day parade
Gingerbread cottages in the Campground
Horses on the Flying Horses carousel

See my web photo album for more Martha’s Vineyard pictures.

Previously: