Classic Film : What classics did you watch this week? (2/22-2/28)

What classics did you watch this week? (2/22-2/28)

Please tell us what classics you saw this week. Modern films are welcome, as well.

I gotta apologize to some bitches. I'm forever changed by what I've seen here.

Rivette, Troell, Denis, Chabrol, Flaherty, Marshall

Paris Belongs to Us (Jacques Rivette, 1961) - I hate to admit it with his famous Out 1 lurking on the horizon for me, but I pretty much hated Rivette's feature debut, and for pretty much the same reason I haven't liked a lot of his work: it's too amorphous, and with its extreme length that amorphousness grows more and more dull as it goes on. The film follows a young student (Betty Schneider, whom I remember best as the teenage neighbor girl who innocently flirts with M. Hulot in Mon Oncle) who gets involved in a murder mystery. She becomes friends with a couple of men at a party (Daniel Crohem as a bitter American expatriate and Giani Esposito as a theater director) who speak of their friend Juan who has apparently committed suicide, though there is suspicion surrounding it. Schneider joins Esposito's production of Shakespeare's Pericles, hoping to find the truth (why does she care? That I never understood). Suspicions especially surround Juan's ex-girlfriend (Françoise Prévost). Of course the film lasts two and a half hours. The plot is weak and the characters weaker. Schneider is a cutie, but she's so ineffectual and meek I really couldn't care what she was doing. A dud. 3/10. no.

Hurricane (Jan Troell, 1979) - The much maligned remake of John Ford's 1937 film (or at least the second adaptation of the novel, which came out in 1936) is not as bad as its reputation, but it doesn't really work. They change things up a bit to make it about an interracial romance. Mary Astor's character (now played by Mia Farrow) is now the daughter of the governor character (played here by Jason Robards), and the lead native character (played by newcomer Dayton Ka'ne) falls in love with her. This being the 1920s, their romance is looked down upon (by both races). The initial premise change isn't too bad, but it weakens the rest of the plot, which plays out pretty similarly to the original film. Ka'ne's crime is far less sympathetic than it was; there he was arrested for assaulting a racist who insulted him. Here, he, as chief of his people, allows a custom of checking for a bride's virginity before she's married - the girl is so upset about it she drowns herself. Farrow helps Ka'ne escape, but their plans, and everyone's lives, are disrupted by the hurricane. Jon Hall was kind of the weak link in Ford's film, but Ka'ne is far worse. Even besides his more detestable crime, he's just not that likable an actor. Farrow's infatuation with him never comes off as real love, so there's no romance to latch onto. Farrow herself isn't too bad, but she's ten years older than the character should be at least. Robards is the best thing about it. Trevor Howard plays the priest and Max von Sydow the doctor. Both are fine, but the roles probably should have been reversed. It doesn't really matter, though, since both characters get short shafted by the script. Timothy Bottoms is pretty good as Farrow's initial love interest (he doesn't really have an analogue in the original). The actual hurricane is still pretty good, but the ending is lame. The film looks great, thanks to Sven Nykvist and, you know, Bora Bora just being beautiful in general. 6/10. mixed.

Beau travail (Claire Denis, 1999) - Denis Lavant plays an ex-Foreign Legion officer reminiscing (in voice over) about his days leading troops in East Africa. There's not much plot. I would call it more of a mood piece. It's interesting, but not particularly memorable. It's greatest asset is its cinematography, which would push it to the point where I'd give it a slight recommendation. 7/10. yes.

The Color of Lies (Claude Chabrol, 1999) - Perhaps not one of Chabrol's best, but it's pretty good. Painter and art teacher Jacques Gamblin is under suspicion for murdering and raping one of his 10 year-old students. He's already kind of untrusted in his small Breton town, and now only his wife (Sandrine Bonnaire) is there to defend him. The resolution of the mystery isn't all that satisfying, but the acting is fine throughout, with the two leads being particularly good. 7/10. yes.


Moana (Robert J. Flaherty, 1926) (second viewing) - Or, as Kino's new release would have it, "Moana with Sound." I was a bit wary of that, and I was right to be. I saw this film on VHS years ago and I believe it was a regular silent film, not too far removed from Flaherty's debut film, Nanook of the North. Moana with Sound is kind of a re-edit with sounds recorded by Flaherty's daughter years later, trying to reproduce the actual Samoan dialogue that you see the characters speaking and with actual ambient sounds from the island. It's not uninteresting, certainly, but to fit the soundtrack, they had to play the silent film at a slower speed. I got used to it after a while, but it makes the film feel a lot slower than it ought to be. Between that and the hypnotic ambient sounds, I had a hard time not falling asleep! It still remains a very good document. As a documentary, I'd bet it's Flaherty's most authentic (it might be his least interesting, too, honestly). Interestingly, the name Moana belonds to a male, but you always hear it applied to island women in fiction later on (like in the 1979 version of Hurricane and the upcoming Disney princess movie). I think it's solely because posters of this film always feature a woman on the cover. 8/10 (though I'd probably give the "with sound" version a 7/10; I should also say, though I haven't had time to look at them yet, there are some nice-looking extras on the disc). yes.

Roar (Noel Marshall, 1981) (second viewing) - Still fascinating and strangely captivating. The second time around I really enjoyed just watching the big cats and other animals be animals - the humans are really just here as their playthings / possibly dinner. 7/10. yes.

I gotta apologize to some bitches. I'm forever changed by what I've seen here.

Re: Rivette, Troell, Denis, Chabrol, Flaherty, Marshall

No, I can imagine you're not really cut out for Rivette. It's a river, you have to let it flow: there are plots (maybe) but no pre-ordained plot. But as for 'why does she care?', that's easy: she's head-over-heels in love with the tall-dark-and-handsome Esposito and she thinks that finding the lost music that he needs for his play (and maybe incidentally the key to the suicide) will finally make him notice her.

If they organise the revolution like they did this meeting, what'll happen?

Re: Rivette, Troell, Denis, Chabrol, Flaherty, Marshall

Maybe if they had gotten a stronger actress it would have been easier to recognize her love. Anyway, it's clear I prefer decisive directors with a bit of drive in them as opposed to the laxer Rivettes or Hous.

I gotta apologize to some bitches. I'm forever changed by what I've seen here.

Cruel Hikers Drift and Interview Caesar +more

More canon doubling candidates:

First Time Viewings

Destry Rides Again (1939). Laughed at when he announces his intention to clean up a corrupt town without using firearms, the mild-mannered son of a famous sheriff soon proves his worth in this western comedy starring James Stewart. While Gary Cooper was reportedly the first choice for the role, the part seems tailor-made for Stewart with his trademark soft manner of talking and milquetoast vocal mannerisms. There is a lot to like about the way he uses his brains rather than brawn to solve problems and the film has several genuinely funny moments along the way. The movie takes a very long time to warm up though; Stewart does not appear until around twenty minutes in and even then he does not dominate the film with a lot of time also dedicated to Marlene Dietrich's pub singer. Dietrich provides at least a couple of memorable tunes, but for the most part, she is nowhere near as interesting as Stewart and the romantic sparks between the pair are less enticing than the problems that he manages to resolve without drawing a gun. Dietrich's final scene is great though, and in fact the overall film manages to fit in a dramatic edge near the end with amazing finesse. Then again, every dramatic note that the film hits works; it is the only the comedy (with lots of messy brawling) that is rather hit and miss. Hal Mohr (who shot Underworld U.S.A. for Sam Fuller) does a very good job shooting Stewart in close-up towards the end and Stewart's silent, solemn looks nicely convey more than words ever possibly could. This may be far from Stewart's best film, but he is as good as ever here. -- #17 (of 23) for 1939, between Confessions of a Nazi Spy and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. (first viewing, DVD)

The Cruel Sea (1953). Life aboard a naval vessel during World War II proves difficult for its inexperienced crew in this Oscar nominated British drama. The film principally pivots around the ship's captain, played by Jack Hawkins, and the hard decisions he has to make, however, the film is jam-packed with subplots and various supporting characters take centre light throughout. To this end, the film is structured in a highly episodic manner that sometimes proves distancing as the film feels like a bunch of loosely related stories clustered together rather than a cohesive whole. The sporadic nature of the voice-over narration is distracting too. That said, all the subplots offer potent side tales, the best of which has a very young Denholm Elliott as a sharp-tongued officer who is gradually revealed to have severe marital problems back home. The film's best acting moments are had by Hawkins though as he stares out to sea and tries to convince himself that all the horrors he is enduring are just normal in war. As one can probably surmise from the title, the sea itself is quite an important 'character' here too; there might be a war raging on, however, the unpredictable sea is capable of interrupting and changing the course of events, or as Hawkins himself says "the only villain is the sea". Quite simply put, this is a vastly different sort of war film to the average Hollywood product out there. The film is unexpectedly philosophical (about the nature of war as well as the sea) and there is refreshingly far more time spent on the characters mulling over the horrors of war than just experiencing them. -- #20 (of 41) for 1953, between Four Sided Triangle and Black Orchid. (first viewing, DVD)

The Hitch-Hiker (1953). Two fishing buddies unwittingly give a lift to a serial killer who forces them to drive across the border at gunpoint in this compact thriller directed by Ida Lupino. A former film noir star, Lupino brings several interesting directing touches to the film such as the initial obscuring of the hitchhiker's face until he produces his gun, but it is William Talman's unhinged performance as the hitcher that really makes the film. He has a creepy calmness to him as he holds the two men hostage like something that he has done millions of times before, and his face more than his gun oozes menace. Edmond O'Brien and Frank Lovejoy are, on the other hand, dull as his two victims; the film momentarily brings up something about them lying to their wives about their trip, but the most part, their function in the script is simply to (unsuccessfully) attempt to escape and evade again and again. The film grows a tad repetitive as it goes on, and with constant cutaways to the US and Mexican police investigating the matter, it never really maintains any tension that it builds. The film is also a less thrilling experience since we constantly know that the police are on top of things and have a plan of what to do, and the despair of the fishing buddies never really resonates since the movie provides a strong sense that everything will work out. Still, the film is certainly worth a look for Talman's performance. His big screen career was curiously short, spending most of his years in television; one can only wonder what may have been had The Hitch-Hiker been more widely seen in its day. -- #35 (of 41) for 1953, between The Million Pound Note and Invaders from Mars. (first viewing, DVD)

Flesh (1968). In order to finance an abortion, an unemployed youth becomes a hustler for a day in this Andy Warhol produced drama that has gained cult status over time. It is certainly quite daring for a movie made during the late 1960s, tackling a lewd subject with copious full frontal nudity throughout. Viewed nearly half a century on though, much of the content seems tame and the film does not have a lot going for it, shock value aside. The technical aspects are very, very poor, and while it can be rationalised that some of this is due to budgetary constraints, any such knowledge does not make it any easier to sit through the dozens of jump cuts and audio blips throughout. The performers also have a tendency to mumble their lines (then again, what dialogue can be made out is not especially well scripted). The film has scattered strong moments, such as a humorous bit in which one of the hustler's clients moulds him into various naked athlete poses, but humour is unfortunately not generally at the forefront of the film. The film does attempt to offer something in the way of character growth with the protagonist gradually coming to realise that everyone only wants him for his flesh (hence, the title) and there is something fitting in how the filmmakers themselves also only value him for his body, spending so much time on nude shots and so little on developing his character... however, all this is far more interesting to analyse afterwards than it is to endure. And, given the slimness of the content, it is perhaps inevitable that the film overstays its welcome, though it is a curio for sure. -- #94 (of 94) for 1968, behind I Love You, Alice B. Toklas!. (first viewing, DVD)

High Plains Drifter (1973). Fearful of three recently released outlaws who murdered their previous sheriff, the citizens of a small Old West town hire a mysterious gunslinger to protect them, but the stranger knows more than he lets on this offbeat western with a 'Twilight Zone' style twist. While the twist at first feels like an afterthought, it begins to make more and more sense when one reconsiders prior events, and while the gunslinger initially seems merely heartless and cruel with the way he humiliates the townsfolk when given carte blanche and unlimited store credit for his services, all of this comes across as logical in the end. Plot turns aside, the film offers an interesting outlook on the risks of giving someone absolute power, and it is curiously debatable whether the townsfolk would be better off at the mercy of the outlaws than the very unpredictable stranger who enjoys raping their women, drinking all their booze and wrecking property where possible. Clint Eastwood plays the part well with a quiet charisma, but even as an antihero, he is a bit too dislikeable (making light of a violent rape; destroying buildings) for one to root for him - and given how despicable all of the townsfolk are shown to be, High Plains Drifter is a film without a single likeable character in sight. That said, there is perhaps something deliberate to this as the film noticeably plays against stereotypes of chivalry in the Old West. Indeed, while some have cited High Plains Drifter as a supernatural western, it presents characters more flawed and down-to-earth than in most traditional westerns out there. -- #18 (of 96) for 1973, between La Bonne Année and Scenes from a Marriage. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc)

The Interview (1998). Along similar lines to Kafka's The Trial (and the Orson Welles film adaptation in particular), this Australian drama opens with a lonely man being awaken by detectives who knock down his front door and drag him away without telling him his supposed crime. As he processed through the police station, the film starts to feel even more Kafkaesque with unusual extreme high and low camera angles and rocking cinematography capturing all the persecution paranoia of The Trial... and soon afterwards we learn that he is actually being held on insufficient evidence with the police hoping to coax a confession. The Kafka flavour disappointingly dissipates halfway in as we find out what the crime is, but what then develops is an arguably even more fascinating power play between detective and suspect with the protagonist gaining the confidence to challenge the detectives and their quest for "some elaborate motive", which often does not exist with the most heinous of crimes. Hugo Weaving is excellent in the lead role, especially as he gradually evolves from scared and paranoid to confident and eloquent. There is also a delicious ambiguity to his performance, or at least for the most part. The film outstays its welcome by around five minutes, concluding on a final note that heavily supports one interpretation over the other - but there is still room for debate. And it is the not knowing (or the not knowing for sure) that sends a chill down the spine here as the film pokes at the ease with which police interrogation is open to manipulation. It's a film to leave you thinking. -- #14 (of 77) for 1998, between Fight the Future and The Big Lebowski. (first viewing, SBS)

The Raid (2011). Trapped in a towering apartment complex run by a drug lord and his minions, an Indonesian SWAT team have fight their way out after their lieutenant reveals that their mission was never actually approved by his superiors in this high octane action thriller. Pierre Gruno is well cast as the world-weary lieutenant in question who gradually comes to doubt his decision to go rogue with his team. He has some excellent moments towards the end as he has to contend with the verbal torments of the drug lord. There is also a young SWAT member who we soon find out has some personal baggage with the mission. For the most part though, the film is one unrelenting action scene after another and the endlessness has an unwelcome mind-numbing effect. Magnificently choreographed as all the action sequences are, they are not quite as powerful without quiet moments in between to space them out; the carnage also loses its squirm value with so much grisliness constantly filling up the screen. It seems quite telling that the film's best scene is one without a single fight as two SWAT members hide out in a hollow wall with the drug lord's minions within inches of spotting them. It is a sequence full of suspense, whereas the majority of the film works on account of simpler thrills and chills. If taken as a pure visceral experience though, the film is admittedly very well done. The set design, full of eerily dilapidated hallways and many dark crevasses is simply spectacular, and the at times pulsating music score is pitch perfect throughout, providing an air of unease to every single scene. -- #36 (of 46) for 2011, between Q and Unknown. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc)

Wolf Children (2012). Having married a werewolf, a young Japanese woman struggles to raise her two werewolf children on her own when her husband dies in this unusual spin on the popular horror subgenre. Wolf Children is such an offbeat take, in fact, that it hardly qualifies as horror movie with the human/wolf metamorphosis more of a metaphor for kids growing and changing and ultimately having to make decisions of what they want in life. The animation is spectacular, and so much so that it is doubtful whether the film would have worked half as well as live action. There is an amazing fluidity to the way the son and daughter change with a superb sequence in which the daughter runs off a porch and momentarily disappears, emerging as a wolf - an act that oblivious onlookers mistake for the girl hiding and a dog appearing. The great animation extends to snow, rainfall and flowing water too, all of which looks incredibly realistic. The film loses something though in the decision to have events narrated retrospectively by the daughter as an adult; the narration takes away from the first-hand experience of two children wrestling with their own identity and the narrative itself focuses a lot on the mother when the two children are far more interesting with their dual identities; the girl in particular is absolutely adorable. Never to mind, the film manages to spin an engaging story as it is. Especially remarkable is how well werewolf mythology is intertwined with coming-of-age drama and how werewolves are presented here as normal human beings, far from the monsters of traditional horror lore. -- #23 (of 52) for 2012, between The Cabin in the Woods and ParaNorman. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc)

Hail, Caesar! (2016). Offered a cushy desk job with an aerospace company, a 1950s Hollywood producer wrestles with whether to switch career while experiencing the most chaotic day of his life in this amusing Coen Brothers comedy. The film is divided into three main problems that the producer, played by Josh Brolin, has to solve. In one, his studio's biggest star, played by George Clooney, is kidnapped by a Communist cell on the set of a biblical epic a la The Robe. In another, a young western star (Alden Ehrenreich) has trouble transitioning to melodrama. In the third, an Esther Williams-like musical icon (Scarlett Johansson) is pregnant but unmarried and cannot tarnish her image. The Clooney and Ehrenreich subplots work best, nicely intertwining near the end and Tilda Swinton is delightful as not one but two (!) reporters looking to write about both actors. Ralph Fiennes is also a lot of fun as the melodrama director. The Johansson subplot does not work quite as well though (despite a magnificently choreographed mermaid-suit number), while an even smaller subplot with Channing Tatum doing a superb Gene Kelly impersonation feels like it should have received more focus. Whatever the case, the film captures the chaos that comes with running a studio, and while the film could have benefited from expanding on how much Brolin loves to fix problems in his producer job, the film certainly shows a level of excitement with filmmaking that simply would not come from an ordinary desk job - and the film could well be interpreted as the Coens' ode to why they keep going in show business. -- #1 (of 1) for 2016, so far. (first viewing, cinema)

Most people think I'm mad. At least I know I'm mad.

re: Destry

Also watched Destry Rides Again this week. That final fight made the town resemble Times Square on New Year's Eve. Fun film.

Re: Destry Rides

To be perfectly honest, I actually always thought that Destry Rides Again was a sequel, hence why it has taken me so long to get around to finally seeing it. James Stewart might be best remembered for that seminal Christmas drama and his Hitchcock thrillers, however, he was a fine comedic actor too in his day - and this might well be my second favourite comedy performance from him after Harvey.

Most people think I'm mad. At least I know I'm mad.

Re: Destry Rides

Hope that you didn't spend too much time looking for Destry (part 1).

Harvey !!! Yes !!! THE ultimate Jimmy Stewart film even with all those other great ones ! There is just something so darn appealing about the man !

Re: Cruel Hikers Drift and Interview Caesar +more

Glad you liked "The Cruel Sea"- its a one of the most realistic, low key, and human movies about WW2. One of Jack Hawkins best roles.

Re: Jack Hawkins

Jack Hawkins is one of those great, reliable, familiar British faces who never quite seems to get the recognition he deserves. The League of Gentleman is probably my favourite role of his, but The Cruel Sea would rate close behind. I was also surprised by how solid Denholm Elliott was in the film. I have seen him that young before (though not often) in films such as The Holly and the Ivy and Pacific Destiny, but the youthful energy that he gave his wisecracking character was really something else.

Most people think I'm mad. At least I know I'm mad.

The Hitch-hiker

I enjoyed The Hitch-hiker when I saw it about 10 years ago.

It's based on a true story.

These days, I seem to prefer watching crime films which are pure fiction, not those based on actual events. Maybe that's why I haven't been too eager to give this one a second look.

Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen 🎇

Re: The Hitch-hiker

Yes, I read about The Hitch-Hiker being based on a true story - and I guess that might explain why such a heavy focus is given to the police investigation. I would probably agree that the film may have been better without any onus to adhere to facts; I would recommend The Devil Thumbs a Ride instead (made half a decade earlier) as a superior film with a similar plot/theme.

Most people think I'm mad. At least I know I'm mad.

Re: Cruel Hikers Drift and Interview Caesar +more

I very much agree with rcocean3 about The Cruel Sea - great movie.
A look at Jack Hawkins' page on here reveals highlights of -

Lawrence of Arabia
The Bridge on the River Kwai

How many actors can match that?

High Plains Drifter is a great twist on High Noon. Nice comments on it too.

"He was a poet, a scholar and a mighty warrior."

Fuqua, Sherman, Inñáritu, Hardy, Chow, and Miller

Lightning in a Bottle (2004) – Antoine Fuqua – 9/10 Yes

Mr. Skeffington (1944) – Vincent Sherman – 8/10 – Yes

Babel (2006) – Alejandro González Inñáritu – 7.5/10 – Yes

The Wicker Man (1973) – Robin Hardy – 7.5/10 – Yes

Mei ren yu (2016) The Mermaid – Stephen Chow – 7.5/10 – Yes

Deadpool (2016) – Tim Miller – 6/10 – Yes for Marvel fans


"But for now, rest well and dream of large women."

Silver Red Whirl Ideas Happy Tystnaden Woolf Barquero Pink Texas Peak

The Silver Horde (1930)

Set in the Alaskan wilderness, a former gold prospector (Joel McCrea) joins forces with an ex-prostitute (Evelyn Brent) in starting a fishing cannery business. But his business and romantic rival (Gavin Gordon, Bride Of Frankenstein) vows to stop him anyway he can. Based on the Rex Beach novel which was previously filmed in 1920. The character of Cherry Malotte who figured prominently in Beach's The Spoilers (she was played by Dietrich in the 1942 film version) shows up again here, this time played by the appealing Brent who starred in a few Von Sternberg silents like Underworld and The Last Command. McCrea is still a bit wet behind the ears at the stage of his career but also in the cast as his socialite fiancee is Jean Arthur who would soon become a major star in her own right. As for the film itself, it benefits from being shot on location in the Alaskan outdoors rather than studio sets and if you ever wanted to see how salmon is caught and canned, this is the movie for you! For an early talkie, it's quite fluid and lively. A mixture of action and romance nicely balanced. Directed by George Archainbaud. With Louis Wolheim, Blanche Sweet and Raymond Hatton.

Red River (1948)

After losing the woman (Coleen Gray) he loves in an Indian attack, a cattleman (John Wayne) discovers a young boy (Mickey Kuhn), who survived the Indian attack, wandering in the wilderness. He adopts him and as a young man (now played by Montgomery Clift), they set out to take their cattle to Missouri to sell. But the trek proves far more treacherous than expected and a split comes between the two men. This Howard Hawks western is one of the great films in the genre. The detailed focus on characterization rather than action is unusual in a western of this period. It's also one of Wayne's 2 or 3 best performances and one of the more complex characters he's played. After screening the film, John Ford is reputed to have said, "I didn't know the SOB could act!". The untrained Wayne and the "method" acting Clift would seem, in theory, not a good idea but they play beautifully together. Only Joanne Dru as Clift's love interest seems out of place. Russell Harlan's (To Kill A Mockingbird) B&W images give the film an epic feel though I could have done without Dimitri Tiomkin's over emphatic underscore. With Walter Brennan, John Ireland, Harry Carey (both Sr. and Jr.), Paul Fix, Chief Yowlachie and Shelley Winters in a don't blink or you'll miss her bit part.

Whirlpool (1949)

Although married to a successful psychoanalyst (Richard Conte), a woman (Gene Tierney) is a kleptomaniac. When she is caught by a store detective (Ian MacDonald) for stealing an expensive broach, she is saved by the interference of a fashionable hypnotist (Jose Ferrer). But she goes from the frying pan into the fire as blackmail and murder enter the picture. Many perfectly fine motion pictures require a suspension of disbelief. Loopholes or flaws that defy logic are pushed aside because in the bigger picture, the artistry or the entertainment value of the film exceeds the implausibility of the narrative. That being said, the plot of Whirlpool is so preposterous, so ludicrous that no amount of suspension of disbelief is possible! Based on the Methinks The Lady by Guy Endore, the characters act in such stupid and gullible ways that one just shakes his head in disbelief. The director Otto Preminger does a more than serviceable job and the cast is good (well, maybe not Ferrer) but to no avail. Still, the film does have a cult reputation among film noir enthusiasts. David Raksin's underscore helps a little. With Charles Bickford, Constance Collier, Barbara O'Neil, Fortunio Bonanova, Larry Keating and Eduard Franz.

Young Man With Ideas (1952)

An attorney (Glenn Ford) in Montana quits his job and relocates his family to Los Angeles which necessitates taking another bar exam. Their new home once served as a bookie joint and complications arise when his wife (Ruth Roman) takes a bet over the phone and is unable to "pay off" after the horse wins. Meanwhile, he's studying law at night with a very attractive blonde (Nina Foch) and gets involved with a French nightclub singer (Denise Darcel). Mitchell Leisen was an underrated director of the mid to late 1930s (he directed Midnight and Easy Living) through the 1940s but by the time of the 1950s, the good scripts were drying up and he ended his career directing episodic TV. If Arthur Sheekman's screenplay had been better perhaps Leisen could have whipped up some of the old magic but as it is, it's a decent minor comedy that doesn't insult your intelligence with a nice lead performance by Ford and of the three actresses, Foch comes off best. With Mary Wickes, Sheldon Leonard, Ray Collins, Donna Corcoran and Barbara Billingsley.

Let's Be Happy (1957)

When a young American girl (Vera Ellen in her last film role) inherits some money from her late grandfather, she decides to travel to Scotland where her descendants are from. Once there, two men compete for her affections: an American businessman (Tony Martin) and an impoverished Scottish Lord (Robert Flemyng). This British musical may be no great shakes but it's surprisingly pleasant. The songs are tolerable, the dance numbers are lively and the scissor legged Vera Ellen manages to squeak by with her acting. Loosely based on the play Jeannie by Aimee Stuart (previously filmed in 1941 with Michael Redgrave), the film has the advantage of the handsome CinemaScope lensing of Edinburgh and the Scottish countryside by Erwin Hiller (Shoes Of The Fisherman). An amiable diversion but if you're not into musicals, you'll do well enough without it. Directed by Henry Levin (Where The Boys Are). With Zena Marshall (Dr. No), Helen Horton and Gordon Jackson.

Tystnaden (aka The Silence) (1963)

Traveling through an unnamed foreign country on the brink of war, two sisters - the intellectual Ester (Ingrid Thulin) and the carnal Anna (Gunnel Lindblom) - along with Anna's small son (Jorgen Lindstrom) are forced to stay at a baroque hotel until Ester recovers from a sudden illness. Ingmar Bergman's stark film is startling in its simplicity and yet, as usual for Bergman, rich in layered complexities. Not unlike L'Avventura, the film explores the inability to communicate as a sort of emotional malaise or disconnect of modern society. In one scene, after having had sex with a man she doesn't know and doesn't speak her language, Lindblom's Anna notes how lucky it is that they don't understand each other. Ironically, Thulin's Ester is a translator. When it first opened in 1963, it was quite controversial for its sexual frankness but there's not a bit of eroticism in the film. Sex is just another attempt to "communicate" with someone. On a visual level, it may be the most interesting of Bergman's films due in no small part by Sven Nykvist's liquid camera work.

Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

In a small New England university town, the wife (Elizabeth Taylor) of a history professor (Richard Burton) invites a young biology teacher (George Segal) and his wife (Sandy Dennis) for a nightcap in the wee hours of the morning after a late night campus get together. It will be a long night's journey into dawn. Edward Albee's award winning play was a landmark production when it first opened on Broadway in 1962. Its use of language alone had many thinking it could never be filmed without compromise but with a little tweaking by Ernest Lehman's screenplay, it arrived on screen basically intact. Albee's raw and searing look at a marriage held together by the most tenuous of illusions is perhaps indebted somewhat to Eugene O'Neill but it has spawned its own cottage industry in the theater, August Osage County being a recent example. There was much buzz at the time on the casting of Taylor, known more for her beauty and private life than her acting and whether she was up to the demands of the role. She was and got her second Oscar for it. In his best screen performance, Burton puts aside the ham and over emoting that too often ruins his work and he's stunning here. This was Mike Nichols' feature film debut as a director but its directed with an assured hand. A timeless adaptation of a great American play.

Barquero (1970)

A cold blooded outlaw (Warren Oates) and his gang of mercenaries massacre a small settlement and pillage the town including a shipment of guns. The outlaws intend on crossing the border to Mexico but first, they need to cross a deep river that is only accessible via a barge. But the barge's boatman (Lee Van Cleef) has other ideas and a stand off ensues that will end in bloodshed. This very good western never quite reaches its potential. The screenplay by George Schenck and William Marks could have been leaner. A subplot involving Van Cleef and a married settler (Mariette Hartley) doesn't pay off and could easily have been eliminated. The direction by Gordon Douglas, that most generic of film directors, has no flair. On the plus side, we have Van Cleef and Oates perfectly cast and doing what they do best though they have almost no screen time together. Oates' character's instability needed more exploration because as it is now, he just goes batty with no detailing. But the movie's concept is strong enough to keep one glued till the very end. With Kerwin Mathews, Forrest Tucker, Marie Gomez and John Davis Chandler.

Pretty In Pink (1986)

In her senior year of high school, a working class girl (Molly Ringwald) from the "wrong side of the tracks" and a preppy rich kid (Andrew McCarthy) are attracted to each other. But the class distinction as well as pressure from each of their friends threaten to derail the romance before it even begins. In the 1980s, screenwriter (and director) John Hughes had his pulse on the youth scene in America. He perfectly captured the angst of being an outsider in an increasingly formulaic structured society, high school as a microcosm of life itself. Still, as well crafted as they were, movies like Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller as well as Pretty In Pink often took the easy way out by the film's end rather than spoiling the fun by showing us that sometimes you just have to suck it up! McCarthy's preppy with his weak backbone isn't worthy of Ringwald yet she's given him as her prize. The one who she should end up with, Jon Cryer's "duckman" comes off as kind of creepy today so it's a no win situation. Still, there's no denying the perceptive charms of Hughes' script. Directed by Howard Deutch. With Harry Dean Stanton, James Spader, Annie Potts, Kate Vernon, Andrew Dice Clay, Gina Gershon and Kristy Swanson.

Texasville (1990)

A wealthy oilman (Jeff Bridges) finds his company going bankrupt and his family life disintegrating around him. When his old high school girlfriend (Cybill Shepherd) returns to the small Texas town after moving away to Italy, he finds himself conflicted as she toys with him. 19 years after The Last Picture Show, director Peter Bogdanovich revisits the characters of the first film and like Picture Show, based on a novel by Larry McMurtry. Lightning definitely doesn't strike twice in this case. The stark beauty and poignancy of the 1971 B&W film, a portrait of young people growing up in a dying town is gone and replaced by an aimlessly plotted color comedy with all the depth of a Smokey And The Bandit movie. Probably the most disturbing aspect of the film is how Bogdanovich condescends to his characters, something he never did in the 1971 film. The film seems to be about musical beds as everybody is sleeping with everybody and it's just an ugly movie. With the exception of Annie Potts (whose character wasn't in the original film), the acting is subpar Thankfully Ellen Burstyn doesn't return to embarrass herself but Bridges, Shepherd, Timothy Bottoms, Cloris Leachman and Eileen Brennan all do exactly that. Perfectly dreadful about sums it up.

Crimson Peak (2015)

In late 19th century New York, the daughter (Mia Wasikowska) of a wealthy businessman (Jim Beaver) is courted by a visiting impoverished English Baronet (Tom Hiddleston). The father takes an instant dislike to the young man but the Baronet's sister (Jessica Chastain) is determined they will wed ..... even if it means murder. Guillermo Del Toro's old fashioned (and I mean that in a positive way) Gothic horror film is gussied up with some graphic violent images but at its heart, the spawn of the Bronte sisters and Edgar Allan Poe. While the film features yet another excellent performance by Chastain (as evil as she was, I just couldn't hate her), the true "star" of the film is the stunning monstrosity of a house courtesy of the production design and art direction of Thomas E. Sanders and Brandt Gordon. That house positively drips with evil and Dan Laustsen's camera glides its way into every crevice. As a horror film, it doesn't break any new ground but at least it delivers what it promises. With Charlie Hunnam, Leslie Hope and Jonathan Hyde.

In ancient Egypt, cats were worshipped as gods. They have never forgotten this

Re: Silver Red Whirl Ideas Happy Tystnaden Woolf Barquero Pink Texas Pea

Red River (1948) - great review. I'd suggest that Wayne plays a similarly complex character in "Wake of the Red witch"

Certainly, not the film that Red River is, but its still a great performance by Wayne.

Re: Silver Red Whirl Ideas Happy Tystnaden Woolf Barquero Pink Texas Pea

I revisited Wake Of The Red Witch a couple of years ago and while Wayne's character is complex in that one, unlike Red River neither the screenplay nor the direction allow him to flesh out his character the way he did in Red River.

In ancient Egypt, cats were worshipped as gods. They have never forgotten this

Re: Silver Red Whirl Ideas Happy Tystnaden Woolf Barquero Pink Texas Pea

John Wayne and the Oedipal fight: discuss with particular reference to Red River and The Quiet Man .

No, I loved Red River: character, and land as well, I really felt that the herd was travelling through that old country.

If they organise the revolution like they did this meeting, what'll happen?

Re: Silver Red Whirl Ideas Happy Tystnaden Woolf Barquero Pink Texas Pea

I haven't seen The Quiet Man in what seems forever so I'm ill prepared to compare Red River and The Quiet Man. RR really does have a genuine feel for the land, doesn't it?

In ancient Egypt, cats were worshipped as gods. They have never forgotten this

Re: Silver Red Whirl Ideas Happy Tystnaden Woolf Barquero Pink Texas Pea

The early sound films often had compensating virtues, such as filming on location (WHITE SHADOWS IN THE SOUTH SEAS as an example). THE SILVER HORDE is another example, only in a different clime. A charming adventure movie.

RED RIVER is one of the true classic Westerns. It's also unusual in that it's visually gorgeous: Howard Hawks isn't a director whose films emphasize visual beauty, but this one is stunning.

Though some movies can get by with preposterous scripts, other movies just sink. WHIRLPOOL is a real test case for Preminger fans. LAURA has a story that hinges on some improbabilities, but it triumphs because of the sleek, tense atmosphere, and the whole haute-bourgeoise New York settings, and the cast (perfect in their roles). Here, the roles are difficult because the script is so woebegone. Hypnosis is one thing, but what happens in WHIRLPOOL is quite another. Still, it's a movie with several striking scenes.

I saw YOUNG MAN WITH IDEAS again a few weeks ago: it's one of those movies that seems to straddle between amiable and intolerable. The cast is fine, but the contrivances grow wearisome. And Mitchell Leisen does what he can to keep things light, but the sudden plot changes almost defeat any attempt at coherence.

LET'S BE HAPPY is one of those movies... i know i've seen it, but it's hard to remember it. I often confuse it with HAPPY GO LOVELY, which was also a color musical set in Scotland starring Vera Ellen. But the difference is that this one costars Tony Martin and Robert Flemyng.

It's hard to know which Ingmar Bergman movie is the most visually interesting. PERSONA had such subtle gradations, so that it was hard to tell "truth" from "illusion"; CRIES AND WHISPERS had the bold variations on red, with stark black and white contrasts, and the incredible variations on the flesh tones of the actresses. But THE SILENCE is one of those nightmarish movies which really does have images that stay in the mind. (It's funny that you watched this movie this week, because it reminded me that, during the time i worked at The Museum of Modern Art, i met a lot of the women who had starred for Ingmar Bergman: Liv Ullmann, Bibi Andersson, Harriet Andersson, and, yes, Ingrid Thulin and Gunnel Lindblom.)

I just saw the two documentaries about Mike Nichols: Elaine May's MIKE NICHOLS, and Douglas McGrath's BECOMING MIKE NICHOLS, and both had sections where Nichols talked about directing WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? One interesting note: the person Nichols asked about moviemaking before he started directing VIRGINIA WOOLF was Anthony Perkins. But it's an assured debut, all things considered.

PRETTY IN PINK is one of those movies... it's so odd to think that John Hughes had such an impact, because those movies (starting with SIXTEEN CANDLES) really created a cult of adolescence. In the 1950s, teen films were often tinged with rebellion, but the Hughes movies of the 1980s were formed from the kind of sitcom sensibility that had come to the fore in the work of James L. Brooks and Alan Burns (THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW). It's pleasant enough, but it's so easy, so cuddly, it's no wonder these films were embraced.

There are movies which Peter Bogdanovich directed which weren't successes, but there were often touching scenes. But when he really blew his resources on AT LONG LAST LOVE, it was obvious that he didn't have any common sense: his talent had been formed totally on the movies, and there was nothing under it. In THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (still, i think, his finest work), there was the underpinnings of Larry McMurtry's novel (and McMurtry co-wrote the script). But by the time of TEXASVILLE, Bogdanovich can't connect to "real life" and the movie becomes hollow. And Bogdanovich can no longer control the performers: professionals such as Cloris Leachman and Eileen Brennan are terrible!

Yes, i think CRIMSON PEAK is one of those movies that wound up getting buried: i think it's actually quite good, a well-crafted Gothic horror movie. But there was something off in the p.r. campaign, as if the studio wasn't sure that it wanted to push it as a "prestige" movie or simply as a horror movie. But i think it's quite good.

Re: Silver Red Whirl Ideas Happy Tystnaden Woolf Barquero Pink Texas Pea

Haha, yes it's easy to mix up Happy Go Lovely and Let's Be Happy with Vera-Ellen in Scotland. Neither are especially memorable and it's the leading men David Niven/Tony Martin that allow one to tell them apart.

How I envy you for the great fortune of meeting those great Bergman women. I saw Liv Ullmann in person once but that's not the same as meeting her but it's the closest I got.

In ancient Egypt, cats were worshipped as gods. They have never forgotten this

Re: Bibi Andersson's joke

While i was escorting Bibi Andersson and her friend (a woman she had gone to school with) through the exhibit, her friend made a joke (in Swedish) and Bibi Andersson replied and they laughed, and then Bibi Andersson turned to me and said, my friend said that you could almost say Picasso's career is defined by his many mistresses, and i said, an artistic genius whose career depended on the women in his life, i guess i should know about that!

Re: Silver Red Whirl Ideas Happy Tystnaden Woolf Barquero Pink Texas Pea

We saw Liv doing Pinter's OLD TIMES on stage in London back in the 1970s, with Michael Gambon. There was also a 80's revival we had to rush to with Julie Christie - her only star stage turn in London - so one could sit and gaze at her for 90 minutes ...

They're on to you - I'm in your room.

Re: What classics did you watch this week? (2/22-2/28)

This week: -

Roman Holiday (1953) - 10/10. This film belongs to Audrey Hepburn. She shines and dazzles, brightening nearly two hours of every viewers life. How could you hope for more than that.

Memento (2000) - 9/10. Quite unlike anything I've seen before, this breathtaking yet disturbing thriller completely rewrites the rules.

Hombre (1967) - 8/10. A tough, sun bleached western from Martin Ritt, this is well served by fine performances and some tremendous cinematography from James Wong Howe.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) - 10/10. This super film brings together the talents of James Stewart and Frank Capra for one of many successful outings.

A signature always reveals a man's character - and sometimes even his name.


Isn't Memento the one where they show parts of the crime or heist, and then they replay the sequences in more detail? If so, then you might like the 2000 Korean thriller Jakarta, which is set up like that, too.

Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen 🎇

Re: Memento

No. Memento is about a man suffering from a rare condition which effects his short term memory, meaning he can't remember anything for more than a few minutes. This is a result of an injury sustained when trying to save his wife from an attack which killed her.

In the film, he's trying to track down his wife's murderer. The method by which the story is conveyed is startling. Brilliant. I won't say more - you can follow the link to my review if you wish, but it does contain a spoiler.

You really should try to catch it. Very highly recommended

A signature always reveals a man's character - and sometimes even his name.

Re: Memento..

Oh yes, I've heard of this film. I think that someone even spoiled it for me many years ago (not on the boards). Now, I think I can guess how it ends.

Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen 🎇

Re: Memento

I have not yet done a re-watch on Mememto BUT, I suspect that it will actually improve on re-viewing.
I saw a "making of" piece on it and that helped in realizing the details of what was going on.

Have you seen Jacob's Ladder (1990)? I thought of it when I saw Memento.

For another take on the memory loss there is also 50 First Dates (2004)

but I digress

Re: Memento

I have seen The Vow, but neither of the films you mention. Jacob's ladder is one I'd like to catch sometime.

Not having a clue as to what was going on when watching Memento was part of the experience. Trying to puzzle what on earth was happening, and the eventual realisation, added to the feel of the film. Exactly as Nolan intended, of course.

A signature always reveals a man's character - and sometimes even his name.

Re: What classics did you watch this week? (2/22-2/28)

New York in the 1950s quadrilogy:

Carol (Todd Haynes, 2015) 9-/10

I felt it very deeply, and I was in sort of a trance throughout, so I can understand if somebody who wasn't in a trance might say that they weren't really that impressed with it, especially since I actually didn't care much for Todd Haynes' films in the past (save for 'Safe', to a degree). It's not even so much that it got to me emotionally, but its amazingly sensual. So much of it is unspoken and there are so many social boundaries in the way of this relationship, which all adds to creating this great sexual tension that the film for me did a wonderful job making palpable with its visuals, the editing, etc. I loved the 16mm aesthetic which feels at the same time very fresh for a 1950's period romance and authentic (if one thinks of street photography or home movies/avant-garde films of that time) and fitting for a film that is meant to be felt more than anything else. Carter Burwell's score also deserves a special mention, he's always doing very good work with the Coens, but I think with this one he knocked it out of the park, its use always felt exactly right to me, several times while watching the film I thought that moments were particularly emotionally powerful and resonant thanks to the additional layer that the music added, while the score as a whole also seeming varied. It really tied the room together. I think one could edit some great Lana Del Rey music videos out of the visual footage, though (it's probably just a matter of time until some fan-edits pop up on YouTube).

I felt like those characters live for love, and all the rest is shadow. Which of course is especially intense when it comes to Rooney Mara's "flung out of space" character because for her it's the first time, making her like a flower that has already been around for a while, thinking that this is all there was to life, but only now does she finally blossom and realize what being alive can feel like. I felt Cate Blanchett's passion and tensions just as much, though. Coming-of-age stuff (about girls) I guess usually works really great for me if the film is good, but what Cate Blanchett's character has going for her here is that Carol is probably the overall more interesting character of the two, having to deal with more unusual/complex situations, certainly within the context of other coming-of-age films. She's the more mature and experienced one, so she should know much better how to handle the situation, but since she also has to deal with family and a looming divorce she in her own way has to grapple with the situation just as much as Therese who is completely new to the whole thing.

Lovers and Lollipops (Morris Engel & Ruth Orkin, 1956) 8/10
Well, it's nice, I guess...unless your idea of amazing cinema is an almost plotless 1950's film set and shot in New York City about a divorced woman and her lover goofing off for days (or weeks) while they may grow fond enough of each other to marry some day and all the while in the middle of it all her 7-year-old daughter endlessly monkeys around doing the kinds of things that 7-year-olds do which are endearing until your nerves are shot and the same antics become annoying, all in a film that feels excitingly rough, like stuck in some limbo between a studio production of that time and a home movie turned avant-garde film. John Cassavettes eat your heart out! (Engel's and Orkin's work actually was a self-professed influence on Cassavettes, and how could it not have been? Truffaut even said that there would have been no Nouvelle Vague without Engel.) Thanks for the recommendation, Todd Haynes.

Brooklyn (John Crowley, 2015) 4+/10
Irish public television is missing their TV drama of the week.

Little Fugitive (Ray Ashley & Morris Engel & Ruth Orkin, 1953) 7/10
In this sequence of the New York City-based independent film Lennie searches for his little brother Joey in Coney Island after Joey ran away because Lennie played a trick on him, making Joey think that he killed his big brother. After he sees a graffiti message he gets the idea to leave a message to Joey all over Coney Island. But it doesn't take long before some kids start having fun with the serious message:

Born to Be Wild 3D (David Lickley, 2011) 6+/10
Elephants and orangutans and the people who make love to them - in jungle-3D.

Drive Angry 3D (Patrick Lussier, 2011) 4/10
False advertising - Needed more angry driving and more 3D.

Άλπεις / Alps (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2011) 6-/10
Speaking of false advertising. And I thought Prince was dead...?

Une simple histoire / A Simple Story (Marcel Hanoun, 1959) 3+/10
Truth in advertising. It's like "Ten Little Indians" with a poor woman's money. A simple story is one thing, simple filmmaking is a different matter.

Memory for Max, Claire, Ida and Company (Allan King, 2005) 8/10
Meaningless life. Existing to exist.

浪華悲歌 / Osaka Elegy (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1936) 6+/10
Strange egoistic world in strange egoistic film.

女番長野良猫ロック / Stray Cat Rock: Delinquent Girl Boss / Alleycat Rock: Female Boss (Yasuharu Hasebe, 1970) 6-/10
The origin of the phrase "like a boss".

Szamanka (Andrzej Zulawski, 1996) 5-/10
Zulawski doing what Zulawski does, this time it's about perpetual horniness (although I'd guess that this wasn't one of the main things that was on the scriptwriter's mind when she wrote it). 'Szamanka' is like a "Betty Blue" (the female protagonist is a dead ringer for Béatrice Dalle) in which the lover to the crazy woman is actually happy about Betty being crazy because he can rape her and she will just fall madly in love with him, and then he can use her as his f-ck toy until she will finally f-ck his brains out (and eat it) and impregnate him with her female sperm. Based on a true story.

La religieuse / The Nun (Jacques Rivette, 1966) 7-/10
Hot nunsploitation about a nun who didn't want to be in a hot movie, nor be a nun.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Girl in Gold Boots (1999) 7/10
Girl in Gold Boots (Ted V. Mikels, 1968) 2/10

The Penalty (Wallace Worsley, 1920) 5/10

Lon Chaney couldn't act his way out of a harness. But seriously, this was only my second Lon Chaney film after the more interesting 'The Ace of Hearts', also directed by Wallace Worsley. I was already completely sold on him after 'The Ace of Hearts' in which he plays a good-hearted guy in love, but his performance here certainly cements him as a favorite of mine. Such a magnetic screen presence. There isn't much of anything in that monster that would make him a redeemable character, that one cares about the character and in extension about the plot is all due to him. Wallace Worsley certainly knew what he had in him, though.

There was some nice innuendo with playing the piano with the assistance of Lon Chaney's "favorite woman" helping him make "music" by getting on her knees, crawling under the piano and pushing his "pedals" until she falls in love with him.

Nicely paced for 1920 standards. The repeated intercutting between two plotlines helped.

I could have gone up to a 6 if it hadn't been for that ending. That surgeon sure was ahead of his time.

I'll try to remember this line for when I croak:

Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010) (4th viewing) 9/10

The name of the company that causes so much trouble for Cobb is Cobol Engineering - Cobb is his own biggest enemy. And now some old ramblings from 2013's "Elephant Man" CuM SWAP (things got a little off-topic):

I looked at the whole film as a dream which solidifies the notion of 'Inception' being about movies as dreams. Detractors bemoan that for a film all about dreams it is too logic and matter-of-factly. It really isn't very logic at all, it's pure movie logic, we roll with it but after we "wake up" we realize that the rules don't make much sense and that new additions to the rules were made all the time to seemingly make sense of what happens. The reason why it all seems terribly logic is because like Cobb said, it's only after we wake up that we realize something was strange and Cobb never wakes up just like the movie doesn't end before it is over (obviously).

Although the ending DOES thematize being in the theater after a movie is over, you know, when the characters wake up in the plane, still a bit dizzy, and they walk through the airport, how they all go their own way like strangers yet also look at each other in acknowledgement of their shared experience. I can't be sure what actually marks the ending of the film and hence where it effectively switches to what's possibly the upper layer, maybe it's that point when the title appears for the second time on the screen during the closing credits. Yes, two times within only a minute which arguably is too strange to be without significance. Maybe the first time that the letters fill the screen immediately after it cuts away from the wobbling top it doesn't so much show the title as let the viewers know that the film has just performed inception on them. When "Non, Je ne regrette rien" is played as the final song of the closing credits in proper speed apparently we have already woken up which makes sense since in many theaters the lights are being turned up during the closing credits when the second song starts playing.

So our lives are the upper layer unless, and that's just how I figure it, if there really is something like a soul then it's probably because this life is just a long-ass dream. When we die and the real self wakes up we may remember part of the dream and think to ourselves "so it really was just a dream...damn, if only I had known, I would have done all the crazy stuff that I was afraid to do." What we speak of in terms of reincarnation is just our real selves having another good night sleep. I guess with this concept eternal Hell and Heaven means that our real self is in a coma. If fallen into the coma while having regrets the resulting eternal dream is Hell, if fallen into the coma while being full of forgiveness and love and whatnot, it's Heaven. Logic, no? At the very least it's movie logic.

This actually fits the Christian doctrine amazingly well, where you can be a sinner all your life but if you believe in God and ask his forgiveness before you die you will be granted access to Heaven. Likewise you can be a good person all your life but if you die hating/not believing in God you screw it all up. Suicide means instant Hell. Etc. But little do those Christians know that this belief stems from the upper world and also only applies to that upper world. We aren't the ones who fall into a dream when we die, on the contrary, our real self awakens, at worst we currently live a nightmare of an existence and our real self wakes up with a pissy mood and has a slightly sh!ttier day because of how we lived our life. No biggie.

The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan, 2012) (4th viewing) 9/10

Takashi Ito:

Thunder (1982) 6+/10
Screw (1982) 3/10
Drill (1983) 3/10
Ghost (1984) 7/10
Grim (1985) 6/10
Shashin ki / Photodiary (1986) 3/10
Shashin ki 87 / Photodiary 87 (1987) 3/10
Wall (1987) 3+/10
Akuma no kairozu / Devil's Circuit (1988) 3/10
Miira no yume / The Mummy's Dream (1989) 4/10
Venus (1990) 5/10
12-gatsu no kakurenbo / December Hide-and-Seek 1993) 4/10
The Moon (1994) 4/10
Zone (1995) 8-/10
When an avant-gardist who tries to show people different ways to perceive space with often fairly aimless structural films with existential undercurrents eventually turns to self-examination with abstract narrative films > Horror.
Thrill-O-Meter: 2 out of 10 screams because time will always run forward, except if you capture it with technology (e.g. cameras), but those pictures are just surfaces, reproductions. Empty reproductions. Empty reproductions of an already empty life.
Gi-Souchi 'M' / Apparatus 'M' (1997) 6/10
Monokurômu heddo / Monochrome Head (1997) 6/10
Memai / Dizziness (2001) ?/10
Memai / Dizziness (2001) (rewatch) ?/10
Memai / Dizziness (2001) (3rd viewing) 7/10
Doubles observing each other, creating reproductions of each other, until the illusion shatters and denial turns into dizziness.
Thrill-O-Meter: 2 out of 10 screams.
Shizuka na ichinichi / A Silent Day (2003) 7-/10

Jan Svankmajer:

Do pivnice / Down to the Cellar (1983) 7/10
Svankmajer's Alice: The Prequel
Konec stalinismu v Cechách / The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia (1991) (rewatch) 6+/10
Johann Sebastian Bach: Fantasia G-moll / J.S. Bach - Fantasie in G-Moll (1965) 3/10
Another Kind of Love (1988) 6/10
Leonarduv denik / Leonardo's Diary (1972) 3+/10

More shorts that aren't necessarily more short:

Respice finem (Jan Spáta, 1967) 5/10

Kitty Kornered (Robert Clampett, 1946) 6+/10

Kitty Kornered (Robert Clampett, 1946) (rewatch) 6+/10

Heureux anniversaire / Happy Anniversary (Pierre Étaix & Jean-Claude Carrière, 1962) 5+/10

T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G (Paul Sharits, 1969) 2/10

Rhythmus 23 (Hans Richter, 1923) 5/10

Studie Nr. 8 (Oskar Fischinger, 1931) 7/10

Muratti greift ein / Muratti Marches On (Oskar Fischinger, 1934) 4/10

Thanatopsis (Ed Emshwiller, 1962) 6+/10

Thanatopsis (Ed Emshwiller, 1962) (rewatch) 6+/10

Sunstone (Ed Emshwiller, 1979) 5+/10

Sunstone (Ed Emshwiller, 1979) (rewatch) 6-/10

Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (Kenneth Anger, 1954) 7+/10

Invocation of My Demon Brother (Kenneth Anger, 1969) (rewatch) 3-/10

World of Tomorrow (Don Hertzfeldt, 2015) (4th viewing) 9/10
I think I only just realized on this viewing that with her visit to Emily Prime Emily quite likely caused her own suffering (which for example contributed to the development of her objectophilia). That perpetual "deep longing for something she can't quite remember" of hers is likely the missing memory of her mother that Emily extracts from Emily Prime.

American Crime Story: S1E01: "From the Ashes of Tragedy" (2016) 6/10


Carol - all extras
Little Fugitive - some of the audio commentary
Possession - extra

Didn't finish:

Pistol Opera (Seijun Suzuki, 2001) [ca. 40 min]
Mama (Andrés Muschietti, 2013) [7 min]

Notable Online Stuff:

CAROL parody - Kate McKinnon & Kumail Nanjiani | 2016 Film Independent Spirit Awards
Best of Berlinale 2016
Donald Trump's rise is a scary moment in America
Hidden Meaning in Mad Max: Fury Road – Earthling Cinema
Truthers, Slipknot, and the Ghost of Dave Grohl
Watching YouTube Videos [by 2ndLakeProductions]
Joel & Ethan Coen - Shot | Reverse Shot
David Foster Wallace: The future of fiction in the information age
David Foster Wallace on David Lynch
Laura Dern -- Nicolas Cage's Advice on Working with Spielberg in Jurassic Park
A Ripple in Space-Time | Out There | The New York Times
Who Deserves the 2016 Oscar For Best Supporting Actress? [by Fandor]
Who Deserves the 2016 Oscar for Best Cinematography? [by Fandor]
Filmmaking is the Best Actor [by Fandor]
Top 3:
The Prestige: Hiding In Plain Sight
The Horrors of Children [by The School of Life]
"GOOD DEEDS ARE BULLS**T" Tales Of Mere Existence

- just another film blog -

Re: The Penalty

Whether he could act or not, this was the film which made me realise that the monster of silent cinema was - it cannot be denied - sexy as hell!

If they organise the revolution like they did this meeting, what'll happen?



Directed by Alonso Ruizpalacios, Mexico (2014), 111 minutes

Set in 1999 against a backdrop of student protests, Güeros is a road movie that becomes a voyage of discovery for three rootless young people seeking to bridge the gap between aimlessness and social purpose. The debut feature film by Mexican director Alonso Ruizpalacios received twelve nominations at the 57th Ariel Awards, the Mexican equivalent of the Oscars, winning five of them including Best Film, Best Director, Best First Film, Best Sound, and Best Cinematography (Damian Garcia). Shot in black-and-white, the film is evocative of the French New Wave, balancing highly structured sequences with segments of spontaneous and playful improvisation.

In the film, Tomas (Sebastian Aguirre), a disruptive pre-teen in Veracruz is sent by his overburdened mom to Mexico City to live with his brother Federico (Tenoch Huerta), a slacker college student known as Sombra because of his dark skin. Tomas is called a “güeros” because of his lighter complexion underscoring an element of racial conflict in Mexican society. Living with his similarly uninvolved roommate, Santos (Leonardo Ortizgris) in an apartment complex in Copilco that looks as if it's next on the waiting list for demolition, Sombra's position on the student strike is firmly in the middle, saying that he is “on strike against the strike.” His daily activity consists of …well, nothing much. He and Santos sit around watching TV by borrowing an electrical cord from a little girl downstairs, an action that does not sit too well with the girl's father.

Bored, Tomas decides that a little adventure never hurt anyone and comes up with a plan to find Epigmiento Cruz, an enigmatic folk singer from the sixties who their father loved in order to have him sign their well-worn cassette tape. Cruz is symbol of something bigger than them, a larger than life hero who can make them see what's behind things as Sombra says, “If you can see behind things, the only thing they can't take away from you is that feeling.” Though the singer is rumored to be sick or dying, little güerito tells Fede that Cruz “once made Bob Dylan cry,” presumably an accomplishment worthy of a place in the hall of fame. The trip, according to Ruizpalacios, was inspired by Bob Dylan's journey to visit an ailing Woody Guthrie in the hospital during the late 50s.

Shrugging off a panic attack which is carefully explained to him at the hospital,Sombra visits the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) where students are on strike to show their disagreement with the administration's decision to instate an enrollment fee even though the University had always been free. Sombra, Santos, and Tomas walk into an auditorium overflowing with protestors listening to Sombra's former girlfriend Ana (Ilse Salas) speaking in front of the room. The scene is filled with shouting and confrontation, a chaotic depiction not to the liking of some former protesters who complained about the unserious tone of the segment. As Ana joins the trio to look for Cruz, their quest leads them to a pool party where well-to-do intellectuals muse about the sorry state of Mexican cinema.

Here the film engages in a sort of self-parody as one director complains that all Mexican movies deliver a picture of impoverished beggars to satisfy Western audiences at film festivals. Sombra also chimes in, saying that Mexicans are often portrayed as cheaters, atheists, prostitutes and alcoholics. Güeros ultimately takes many detours and shifts of perspective but, though it is episodic in structure, never loses its footing as the search for the legendary Epigmiento allows the seekers to move from a place of apathy to one of self-acceptance and commitment.

Ruizpalacios describes the film's central theme as “the change from being static to being in movement. Healing through movement.” However you interpret Güeros' message, the film has an invigorating appeal: fresh, playful, and meaningful, even suggesting at one point that the seeming randomness of life is guided by divine purpose. Sombra says at one point that “If the world is a train station and the people are the passengers, those who stay at the station and watch the trains go by are the poets, the ones who come and won't go.” Tomas is one who watches the trains depart, seeing as we all have once with the innocent eyes of discovery as the city unfolds before his eyes with all its massive contradictions, encompassing the best and worst of humanity.


"Whatever is morally necessary must be made politically possible" - Eugene McCarthy

Touched with Fire


Directed by Paul Dalio, U.S., (2015), 110 minutes

First-time director Paul Dalio's Touched with Fire, originally titled Mania Days, is an honest attempt to provide insight into the illness commonly known as bipolar disorder. The film depicts how two young poets are compelled to battle parents, doctors, and the cultural consensus to maintain their relationship which is considered dangerous by the community because of their illness. The film stars Katie Holmes (“Woman in Gold”) as Carla, a published poet and Luke Kirby (“Empire of Dirt”) as Marco, also a poet whose rap-oriented artistry is often shared at poetry slams. After she meets with an unresponsive audience at one of her poetry readings, a frustrated and depressed Carla implores her mother Sara (Christine Lahti, “The Steps”) to tell her about the origin of her disease.

Told by her mother only to take her medications and talk to her doctor, Carla signs herself into a psychiatric hospital in an attempt to read her medical records. It is there she meets Marco who is committed after displaying signs of delusions, claiming to be from another planet and predicting the apocalypse is about to happen. The incident occurs after his father, George (Griffin Dunne, “Dallas Buyer's Club”) visits his apartment where he sees books strewn all over the floor, the heat turned off because bills were not paid, and Marco refusing to take his meds, convinced that they would stifle his creativity.

The two poets meet at a group therapy session and, after some predictable initial antagonism, they develop a relationship, meeting together regularly in the middle of the night. Their budding relationship, however, only seems to increase the frequency of their manic episodes and causes their families consternation. Over the protests of their parents, Marco and Carla continue their relationship when they are released from the hospital, but things get more complicated when Carla becomes pregnant and Marco still refuses to take his meds. In a cameo that feels somewhat out of place, Marco and Carla visit clinical psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison, the author of the book “Touched with Fire” who strongly suggests the advisability of their taking their prescribed medications, reassuring them that it will not affect their creative impulses.

The main thrust of the film, however, seems to offer a contradictory message. It shows the two lovers acting with exuberance as they jump into public water fountains, break into empty apartments, read each others poetry, and try to escape the police by driving their car into the water and swimming to the shore. To add to the film's mixed message, a list of famous people who ostensibly suffered from bipolar disorder is shown during the credits. The evidence that these celebrities were bipolar is left to the imagination, since none is offered and most of those listed lived before the idea of mental illness was even on the radar.

While Touched with Fire has its heart in the right place, its sincerity does not translate into a satisfying film. Kirby and Holmes have little chemistry together and much of the dialogue, when it does not consist of psychotic rants, feels awkward and barely registers on the believable scale. While the film strives for authenticity and is reflective of the director's own personal experience, it is also confusing, poorly written, and pretentious, glaring defects that, for me, stood in the way of any real emotional impact.


"Whatever is morally necessary must be made politically possible" - Eugene McCarthy

Desperate Adventures Tragedy

Desperate Journey (1942) / Raoul Walsh. A WWII RAF bomber crew is shot down in Germany and has to fight their way to freedom. Errol Flynn and Ronald Reagan lead the cast in this action-packed adventure directed at about 90-miles-an-hour by Raoul Walsh. Even though this film was made in the war's early days, there is really not much serious about it. The RAF heroes seem to be having a jolly good time outwitting idiot Nazis. Ronald Reagan was at a high point at Warner when the film was shot and got an equal billing with Errol Flynn (the title card reads “Errol Flynn and Ronald Reagan in”) which Flynn didn't much care for. He didn't mind a female co-star but not another hero character. Flynn even tried to convince producer Hal Wallis to give him Reagan's best scene in which a Nazi major (Raymond Massey, a hilarious stereotype) tries to convince the Yank (Reagan) to give up secrets about their aircraft. Reagan double talks him (“It's done with a thermotrockle amfilated through a daligonitor”), then coldcocks him (“The iron fist had a glass jaw”), and eats his breakfast. Wallis, however, denied Flynn, giving the order to “shoot it as written.” Reagan was always grateful to him for that. Also in the cast is Arthur Kennedy and Alan Hale (who played Flynn's sidekick in, by my count, at least ten films). This is fast-moving, exciting, preposterous fun.

Adventures of Don Juan (1948) / Vincent Sherman. This was the last of Errol Flynn's swashbuckling, sword-fighting, costume adventure films. He still looked fit and could sport the shirtless look, but was in ill health and beginning the decline that would end in his early death at age 50. As the story starts, Don Juan is in England, accompanied by his faithful companion Leporello (Alan Hale, ‘natch), doing that thing that made him a living legend – doing the thing with any available lady, single or married. In short order he manages to offend a Lord and then break up an intended engagement for political purposes. To save his skin, the Spanish ambassador sends him back to Spain for suitable punishment. There he is bawled out by King Philip III and Queen Margaret (Viveca Lindfors) who doubt that he can ever reform. During the course of the adventures, he falls in love with the Queen and saves her and the King from a palace coup, redeeming himself. Robert Douglas is the evil Duke de Lorca (he always dresses in black and has a black ‘stash and goatee). Raymond Burr is a sadistic minion of de Lorca. Of interest is the performance of Jerry Austin, a dwarf actor (he appeared in Freaks (1932)). As Sebastian, he is kept almost as a pet or jester by the King but Juan treats him with dignity and teaches him to fence. As Don Juan's ally, Sebastian plays a key part in the climactic rescue caper.

Revengers Tragedy (2002) / Alex Cox. Thomas Middleton (1580-1627) was Shakespeare's contemporary during the Jacobean era. He was 16 years the Bard's younger and a collaborator with him on “Timon of Athens” and, it has been suggested, “All's Well That Ends Well.” On his own, Middleton doesn't advance drama very much, at least going by “The Revengers Tragedy” (1610) which, in its bloody revenge and large body count, more closely resembles plays that were popular a decade earlier such as Thomas Kyd's “A Spanish Tragedy” (early 1590s) or Shakespeare's own early play “Titus Andronicus.” The setting for the film of “Revengers Tragedy” is a post-apocalyptic England. In design and costume it is sort of a mash-up between Baz Luhrmann's film of Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Julie Taymor's Titus (1999). Vindici (Christopher Eccleston) returns after many years to revenge himself on the rich gang leader known as The Duke (Derek Jacobi). Years before, The Duke had poisoned Vindici's bride on their wedding day because she had rejected his sexual advances. Because The Duke has a large family of sons, all of whom are jealous of each other, Vindici makes himself useful to the oldest son and heir (Eddie Izzard). From that position, he starts playing the members of the royal family against one another and they start doing his work by killing each other off. Of course, everybody dies in an appropriately gruesome fashion. There are some good performances, especially Eccleston and Izzard, and some good plot twists when Vindici's plotting kicks in. This is an interesting film to see because the plays of Shakespeare's collaborators and rivals are generally known only to scholars, but many have something to offer for today's audiences.

Jag är Ingrid (2015) (Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words ) / Stig Björkman. Throughout Ingrid Bergman's life she was an avid diarist, letter writer, and home movie maker. These materials have been used extensively by biographers but this film uses them as a virtual autobiography. (Bergman's autobiography in book form came out in 1980, but it was ghosted.) Thus, the documentary is narrated by Ingrid herself (her words read in Swedish by Alicia Vikander). Any commentary other than her own comes mainly from her four children – Pia Lindström, Roberto Rossellini, Jr., Isabella Rossellini, and Isotta Rossellini – who all cooperated fully with the film makers. All four seem to have nothing but good to say about their mother. When Lindström is asked if there will ever be a Mother Dearest book from one of the children she says absolutely not. They all agree that she was loving, charming, and great fun to be with. Lindström shares that if there was a complaint, it was that they didn't get enough of her due to her career and shifting love life. In a late interview, Bergman confesses, “I completely change my life every 10 years.” There is the occasional outside perspective (Sigourney Weaver and Liv Ullman talk about their work with Bergman) and there is – what may seem to us today to be totally demented - clip of Ed Sullivan in the years after the huge scandal over her marriage to Rossellini. When some years had passed, she started making overtures of returning to the U.S. and Hollywood. One night, on his show, Sullivan asked his viewers to vote by phone or mail to tell him whether he should put Ingrid Bergman back on American TV via his show. It's a real screamer and a stark indication of how times have changed. Unfortunately, this clip doesn't appear to be on available on-line at this moment. The great bulk of material, however, is from Bergman's private papers and film. If there is a lack to be pointed to, it is that the great films she made barely get a “and then she was in…” mention with maybe a very short clip. Her third Oscar (Supporting, 1974) is not even alluded to nor her great Oscar speech where she told the Academy that Valentina Cortese (nominated for “Day for Night”) should have won instead!

Where to Invade Next (2015) / Michael Moore. Michael Moore takes more of a light-hearted approach in his new movie but the points he makes are still serious. The film opens with a gag about Moore being called to the Pentagon where the Generals ask him for a recommendation of the next country to go to war with. Moore then sets out on a research project to find the country that has the best ideas for the U.S. to take over. He finds the best public schools in Finland and France, the best and most inexpensive university education in Slovenia (NOT Slovakia), equality of the sexes in Tunisia and Iceland, best working conditions that also benefit the companies in Italy, and so on. He admits early on that none of these countries is perfect and all have their problems, but his job is to pick the best ideas that could be used in the Good Ol' U. S. of A. As usual, you will leave a Michael Moore film talking and discussing (if not arguing) much of what he says and does. The one thing, though, that is clear to me is that all of these things that look like innovations and pie-in-the-sky to us in the States are commonly found in the rest of the industrial “first world” nations, only America sitting out these Democracy-friendly, economy-boosting ideas.


Bullitt (1968) / Peter Yates. While watching “Bullitt” for the first time at my neighborhood theater in '68, I kept waiting for the scene when Frank Bullitt explains the solution to the mystery for his fellow movie characters and the audience. That scene never came. The explanation was there, all right, but in lines spoken on the run and in long shot as Frank and his partner are leaving a room. I had missed them all. Never fear; I figured it out, solved it, in the car on the way home, but this aspect as with many other details (which include the famous 10-minute car chase) convinced me that I had seen something new – and I liked it. “Bullitt” is a film very much of its time, but because of its innovative moves it also belongs to the future. It will be looked at as a time capsule but also enjoyed for its own merits even after another 50 or so years have passed.

Easy Rider (1969) / Dennis Hopper. One of the most influential films to come out of the turbulent 1960s, “Easy Rider” is a virtually plotless road trip that exposes the United States as a hotbed of fear and violence directed against The Other, the person who looks and lives differently – an America that, almost 50 years later, sometimes appears to not have changed much. This film, because of its surprise box office success, also woke Hollywood studios up to the Youth Market, that sought after and courted demographic of males aged 18-35, another lasting influence. The business model of the Bigs was: make a movie this year just like the movie that was a big hit last year. Studios cranked out so many Rebellious Youth movies that a few years later Pauline Kael commented: “Many of the best American movies leave you feeling there's nothing to do but get stoned and die.” Anyway, two hippie bikers (Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper) do a drug deal, make a lot of money fast, then head out on the road (to Steppenwolf's “Born To Be Wild”) to ride from Los Angeles to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. (The use of pop songs instead of a composed music score is another innovation.) On the way they meet a farmer living off the land, they stay a few days at a hippie commune, and they face hostility from cops and rednecks. In Las Vegas, New Mexico, they hook up with an alcoholic ACLU lawyer who joins them on their way to New Orleans. Rip Torn had originally been cast as lawyer George Hanson, but dropped out just before shooting began. Fonda and Hopper turned to an actor they had known from making low-budget drive-in fare with Roger Corman. He had been kicking around cheap movies for about 10 years but not making any headway. Do I really have to tell you who it was? OK, it was Jack Nicholson, and to say that he broke-out in “Easy Rider” is a vast understatement. Not only did he get an Oscar nomination but he became the hottest new actor in town. This is an indie “art” film that should not have succeeded but did – in a big way. It said some things about this country that still hold true while changing the movie business in important ways that can still be felt.


Trust me. I'm The Doctor.

Witness Destry Guilty Jeanie World Scenes

Witness for the Prosecution (1957) Won't tell the ending no matter how much you beg !

Destry Rides Again (1939) Fun western like they don't make anymore... mores the pity !

Guilty as Sin (1993) OK there are plot holes BUT a terrific psychopathic villain !

I Dream of Jeanie (1952) Pseudo biography of Stephen Foster. Good singing but Skip it!

The World Is Not Enough (1999) Remington Steele orders a martini and it explodes.

Scenes from a Mall (1991) Unless it got better... a miss with Bette and Woody.

mini reviews (such as they are) on Byrdz page.

Witness for the Prosecution

I know the ending to Witness for the Prosecution.

Great film, BTW!

Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen 🎇

Re: What classics did you watch this week? (2/22-2/28)

Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) 4/10
Rambo III (1988) 4/10
Rambo (2008) 6/10 Possibly the most violent film I've ever seen. 1st view.

In the Loop (2009) 8/10 1st view.

The Carpetbaggers (1964) 8/10

Some Came Running (1958) 8/10 I've never been a Shirley MacLaine fan, but she was sensational in this.

Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965) 7/10 Slightly disappointing ending.

Cleopatra (1963) 8/10 The 250 minutes flies by even after multiple viewings.

Troy (2004) 7.5/10 Enormous alterations from the original story can be a distraction, but pretty entertaining for what it is.

The Long, Hot Summer (1958) 8/10

The Big Country (1958) 9/10 Includes my favourite Heston performance and gotta love Burl Ives.

Advise & Consent (1962) 8/10 Laughton steals the show.

The Warriors (1979) 7/10 1st view.

"He was a poet, a scholar and a mighty warrior."

Re: What classics did you watch this week? (2/22-2/28)

The Long Hot Summer and Some Came Running are two of my all time favorites.

In ancient Egypt, cats were worshipped as gods. They have never forgotten this

Re: What classics did you watch this week? (2/22-2/28)

I was introducing both to my son and he loved The Long Hot Summer and the first 3/4 of Some Came Running but didn't take to the tragic finale of the latter. I've lost my recommendation privileges for the time being.

"He was a poet, a scholar and a mighty warrior."

Bunny Lake is Missing

I think that they could have come up with something more elaborate for the ending of Bunny Lake is Missing. Considering the fact that the child was an illegitimate child and that the brother had some issues at work (if memory serves me right), the ending was a bit of a cop-out.

There are other films which follow a similar theme - someone vanishes and no one believes that this person even existed. Films, radio plays, short stories....I've come across several films, one radio play, and one short story on this theme.

The radio play is called Cabin B-13, by John Dickson Carr, and it's part of the Suspense series. It was filmed as the 1950s thriller Dangerous Crossing. Then there is a movie called So Long at the Fair. Of course, there is The Lady Vanishes. In each case, there is a different reason for the disappearance. Personally, I like what Carr came up with for his radio play. Okay, maybe I'm biased. His radio plays are really the best. good luck trying to figure out the endings of ANY of his radio plays, short stories, and novels!

Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen 🎇

Animations & Shorts + Avanti!

We went to our nearest art theater and saw this year's Oscar nominations for animations (7 movies in one afternoon-evening):

Anomalisa (2015) is a full-length animation that one could almost believe was NOT an animation except for the characters' movements.

O Menino e o Mundo (2013) is a Brazilian full-length animation with no voice but sounds. It was mainly line drawings in motion: stick figures in motion with music.

World of Tomorrow (2015) is very cute. The animation is simple but the interaction between a little girl and a comic voice of the future is fun.

Historia de un oso (2014)

Prologue (2015) is very short but very powerful in its message. I like this one very much.

Sanjay's Super Team (2015) is my personal favorite about a boy and his father trying to relate to one another.

Mi ne mozhem zhit bez kosmosa (2014)

The Loneliest Stoplight (2015)


Ave Maria (2015)

Stutterer (2015)

Day One (2015)

Shok (2015)

Alles wird gut (2015)


Avanti! (1972) has GOT to be one of the most underrated Billy Wilder films!!! To me, every shot and stunt of this movie is picture perfect, including the double entendres.

This is more than just another Jack Lemmon--Billy Wilder movie for me, and Juliet Milles was cute in this movie too.

What I have noticed with Billy Wilder movies is that they are always topically correct for the time in which they were shot. For example, this movie was released in 1972.
And, the books, movies, and speech (lingo) of this movie were all current at the time. So, it is like going back to that time. For example, it referenced Toffler's Future Shock, the movie, Love Story (a bunch of nuns are walking into this movie in the this movies, and Nixon (this was before any hint of Watergate, so keep that in mind).

Live Action Short Films

"Stutterer" just won the Oscar. To me it was the least of the five. What do you think?


Trust me. I'm The Doctor.

Re: Live Action Short Films



"But for now, rest well and dream of large women."

Re: politics

Just letting you know that hobnob53 dragged politics into a thread (on this board) which has nothing to do with politics. Just letting you know in case you are interested.

Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen 🎇

Re: politics

Thanks, but I think I will sit this one out. I'm feeling more than a little mellow this evening, if you know what I mean and I think you do. Besides, hobnob said it quite well.


Trust me. I'm The Doctor.

Re: politics.

I was just joking around.

I find that, generally, you and hobnob53 can't resist those political discussions.

Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen 🎇

Re: politics continued.

The discussion of politics is still happening on that thread.

Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen 🎇

Re: Live Action Short Films

"Stutterer" just won the Oscar. To me it was the least of the five. What do you think?
I totally agree.

Jedi, Deadpool, Grimsby, Finest Hours, Child 44 + Black Veils

It's easy to see why Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been such a massive hit and just as easy to see why George Lucas expressed disappointment in it: it's the classic sequel mantra ‘the same but different' writ large, safely but very efficiently going over old ground enjoyably enough but terrified to break free of the most popular elements of the series' formula or to try breaking genuinely new ground. Even John Williams' seemingly endlessly rewritten score (he spent much of 2015 constantly rewriting and re-recording it over and over again) is only allowed to come up with one new theme, for the most part revisiting the old familiar material instead to make it sound as much like an old Star Wars film as possible.

It's another film that shows that director J.J. Abrams' magpie tendencies make for a decent audience-friendly pasticheur but you never get the sense that he has a story he wants to tell (something he admitted to when they threw out the original script and decided what characters and scenes they wanted first) or a voice of his own. There's no authorial passion either: he's a hired hand delivering a scrupulously market researched product, and one so driven by the fans' dislikes of prequel elements that it feels like the most expensive fan fiction film ever made. That's something the absolutely catastrophic miscasting of Adam Driver really brings home: once we've had the Scooby Doo unmasking moment ("And I would have got the map if it wasn't for you pesky rebels"), his complete lack of vocal or physical presence make him look like a rich kid who won a 'Win a Part in Star Wars' competition by getting his dad to buy all the Wonka Bars in the country. And despite being intended as a new over-arching villain who'll presumably be redeemed when Disney decide to put the series on hiatus when box-office receipts drop the character is such an ineffectual pale shadow of Darth Vader - a sulky twentysomething in cloak and crap mask with daddy and granddaddy issues. It's all Anakin's fault all over again...

The most curious absence given the title is the Force itself: Abrams clearly has absolutely no more interest in the mystical side than he did in the political (the villains are just a bunch of whiney Nazi wsannabes and a bad CGi hologram), opting for the bread and butter of dogfights and explosions. All of which are delivered with efficiency and technical skill but no passion, which is probably why I only found myself briefly getting excited by the action when the rebels come to the rescue. But could he really come up with nothing better for a climax that yet another Death Star (yeah, but this one's bigger)? Three Death Star climaxes in just seven movies only underlines how relentlessly this remakes and rearranges the first film, botching the key revelations (Kylo Ren's parentage) but constantly mimicking key moments from the trailer of the first film, often verbatim.

Maybe that's why, good as John Boyega is and adequate as Daisy Ridley is, it's the old stars who give it a bit of heft. The biggest mistake Lucas made in the prequel trilogy wasn't Jar-Jar or trade wars or politics of midi-cloridians, it was the lack of a Han Solo figure to puncture the pomposity with one-liners that would bring it back down to Earth, and Ford delivers just that in this one (which makes a big problem for the next with only Chewie to hold the fort). And, while the notion of Princess Leia not being a hottie anymore horrified the fanboys who obviously haven't looked in the mirror to track the progress of time on their own features, I rather liked the way she'd turned into one of those spikey frontierswoman types you used to find in John Ford westerns (though the Botox didn't exactly work in that context). The only two moments I felt anything was in Leia's last scene and the final appearance of Mark 'my agent is so ****ing good I got second billing for one minute's screentime' Hamill, and that was as much nostalgia as execution. As the series inevitably kills them off one by one (though I'm sure they've already shot their smiling ethereal cameo for the finale) it's going to need to fill those shoes somehow.

It sounds mostly negative because it's so obviously a very polished bit of market research led product that doesn't move the franchise forward but simply goes back to when the original fans could still see their feet without raising their legs and still had hair to brush, but it's a decent if passionless remake that's designed as a crowd pleaser and clearly pleased much of the crowd it was aimed at. It's just a shame they didn't aim higher.

For all the talk of being a groundbreaking rulebook rewriting entry in the superhero stakes, Deadpool is a surprisingly conventional film, its plot adhering rigidly to the standard origin/revenge tropes of the genre while ramping up the profanity of the obligatory wisdecracks. It's basically the same schtick that Bruce Campbell has been doing in low budget horror flicks for years, which in turn is a modern day version of Bob Hope's wall-breaking pre-post-modernism in his best comedies. In many ways, its R rating and pegging scene aside, it's the kind of film people originally expected a Tim Burton-Michael Keaton Batman to be. Parts of it are fun (especially the opening credits that spell out just how clichéd it is) but whenever it turns into a conventional comicbook movie - which is surprisingly often - it just slows down and gets sluggish, while it adheres to the formula quite religiously, for the most part just adding Mystery Science Theater style riffing along with the obligatory origin/revenge/cgi punchup finale. At times you definitely get the feeling the filmmakers are being held back from going as far as they want to by a still slightly nervous studio, and it's easy to see the inevitable sequel going the Gremlins 2 route with them having more freedom to be more anarchic but without necessarily holding onto all of the first film's audience. You can bet that there will be cameos from some of the major X-Men who were so conspicuously absent next time as well to show that they're in on the joke. A lot of it is a lot of fun, but I came away thinking that it's certainly not as revolutionary as a lot of people are making it out to be and that Darkman did much of it rather more enjoyably and imaginatively.

Most surreal experience of the week was seeing Sacha Baron Cohen's new – exceptionally – bad taste comedy Grimsby aka The Brothers Grimsby) in a town that actually changed its name because of him (Staines is now Staines upon Thames to emphasis it's not Ali G Land, the local council presumably oblivious to the joke that the Staines Ali G and his white middle class posse inhabited was definitely not the ghetto or the hood he imagined), which might explain a Saturday evening show not being that busy (though that may be down to it playing in multiple screens). Released with surprisingly little publicity and to generally atrocious worst-film-of-the-year reviews, it's not something you can say is a great movie and how it will play outside the UK is debatable, but the audience laughed a lot and even if it is Viz-level gutter humor, it goes for it unapologetically (and, strangely enough, celebrates as much as it mocks its non-striving parklife).

The spy spoof's plot is a traditional thin comedy coathanger for the gags - what if James Bond had a long lost brother who's a Liam Gallagher lookalike football hooligan on a sink estate? - the villain's scheme vaguely political (to exterminate the working and shirking class to ease overpopulation: you can see David Cameron and George Osborne commissioning a viability study into it already) and the plot progression pretty basic, but there's a level of infantile scatological humor that Deadpool could only aspire to, making it truly amazing it just got a 15 certificate (I can't see anything less than an R in the states, and that with cuts). Many of the jokes are older than the cast's combined age - the sucking poison out of the scrotum gag might be predictable and many of the Bond jokes were old when Connery was still making films for Broccoli and Saltzman – most of the cast are reduced to little more than extras (only Cohen and Mark Strong have fully realised parts), the two P.O.V. action scenes don't work and it makes a 70s Carry On film look like Oscar Wilde, but it delivers the laughs even if many of them might have you turning away from the screen even while you're laughing (there's a gag involving the brothers hiding inside an elephant that's one of the most prolonged and outrageous bits of pure bad taste in years), and it constantly has the courage of its convictions. Innocent people die, Daniel Radcliffe and Donald Trump suffer horribly and the Grimsby town elders must already be pondering a name change. It's not smart, it's not clever and it may not be the kind of film you'd admit to liking in polite society, but it still made me laugh.

Based on an impossible rescue by a ridiculously small lifeboat of the surviving crew of an oil tanker literally ripped in two during a massive storm, The Finest Hours is a curious throwback to the 50s, both in setting and its approach to storytelling, with modern CGi technology that often looks as not quite convincing as 50s model effects did. It's not so much the integration of the effects or the dull digital color palette as the fact that so many of the scenes on the ship's deck look like they're shot on an interior soundstage rather than on an exterior (the quality of the light isn't quite right and the skies at time have that digitally painted look). For the most part its well cast by actors who know they're in an old fashioned movie and just inhabit their stereotypes - you could easily see Chris Pine's role as the shyly self-effacing coast guard being played by Jeffrey Hunter, Eric Bana's thankless role as his commander by Leon Ames and Graham McTavish's no-nonsense crewman by William Bendix - but Casey Affleck sticks out like a sore thumb with his determination to give a great...uh...method acting... you know... performance.... with - long pause while looking at egg... every move overconsidered and planned to the second and played with... uh, eggtimer precision... as he peels a bit of eggshell.... not making eye contact with... the rest of the actors… peel off another bit… of eggshell…. until he's ready....

to speak.... rather than just…

getting on with it, and.... I'd like to thank the members of the Academy and, uh.....

my mother and father.... for this award......

After a few scenes it gets so that you're rooting for a last minute twist of fate so that he doesn't survive (in fact I found him so exponentially annoying and out of place I opted out of seeing Triple 9 after finding out he was in it: I feel I've had this decade's quota of over-affected unconvincing method acting). But otherwise it's a decently made, fairly well crafted and defiantly old-fashioned disaster movie that has its moments and is no chore to sit through but leaves you with the feeling that its natural home may well have been television if it weren't so expensive. Though I still found it a bit better than The Perfect Storm.

Falling somewhere between a giallo and a German Edgar Wallace thriller, Massimo Dallamano's A Black Veil for Lisa sees John Mills' German narcotics cop constantly dropping the ball and letting a key witness after key witness get murdered because he's too preoccupied with his jealousy over his beautiful wife Luciana Paluzzi – he even phones home to make sure she's there from crime scenes. She never is. As the pressure mounts on him from his superiors, and his suspicions over her fidelity reach fever pitch he finally catches a break on the hitman's identity – but decides on a very unorthodox course of action that he quickly regrets…

With its striking use of its Hamburg locations giving it a very different feel to most giallos, the emphasis here is more on character and plot twists than elaborate killings – the obligatory black gloves may make their appearance but there's no gore on display. Instead much of the film rests on Mills' performance as the increasingly morally defective detective: unlike many a movie cop who bends the rules, in his case the end definitely doesn't justify the end, and even if something vaguely like justice is served it merely clears a pawn from the board while changing nothing. But Robert Hoffman's hitman's situation isn't that much better: he knows he's pushing his luck to breaking point but also knows what will happen to him if he doesn't carry out yet another one last job. They may get involved in a third act game of power plays, but it's very much a case of mutually assured destruction.

It's not perfect - Paul Frees very noticeably dubs half of the German cast in the American version and Hoffman, eternally remembered by two generations of French and British viewers as TV's definitive Robinson Crusoe, mews like a cat when kicked in the balls and can't fire a gun convincingly (he jabs with it as if it were a short sword) – but it is engaging and often very good looking. Dallamano was the cinematographer of Sergio Leon'e first two Dollars films, so it's no great surprise that the film looks terrific with great visuals and use of colour (at times simultaneously vivid yet unglamorous in the seedier parts of town) and some striking scene transitions. That's not always well served in Olive's typically barebones Region A-locked Blu-ray release of the American version, which (aside from a few odd shots) handles the colour better than the definition, alternating between scenes that look sharp and others that don't look much better than video quality. It's a broadly acceptable transfer, and the film itself is certainly worth a look for thriller fans.

Despite being a critical and box-office disaster, Child 44 isn't the train wreck you might expect, though it's easy to see why what was intended as the start of a franchise crashed and burned. It's an ambitious film that doesn't know what it wants to be, hampered from the offset by being based on a false premise: that in Stalinist Russia the authorities regarded murder purely as a decadent Western crime that never happened in their workers paradise, making any attempt to apprehend a serial killer who preys on children next to impossible. In reality, while not without potential political pitfalls, there were quite a few highly publicised manhunts: the case the film is based on actually happened a quarter of a century after Stalin's death and was hobbled by inept forensic work, but incompetence rather than ideology doesn't fit the filmmaker's agenda. Dodgy history has never been a deterrent to a film being good, but in this instance it was enough to get the film banned in Russia, at least providing some rich comic irony from government officials in that particular part of the world complaining about ‘distorting history.' What is a deterrent to a film being good is an unfocussed script and uninteresting characters, and unfortunately Child 44 has both.

On one level it feels like the kind of doorstep novel that used to be turned into three hour epics in the 60s and 13-part miniseries in the 70s, biting off more than a 137 minute movie can chew with screenwriter Richard Price turning in a terrible adaptation of a book that really needed to be restructured to work onscreen. Most of the first overlong 15 minute prologue feels like backstory that's been clumsily condensed from the novel that the film really doesn't need while the next 45 that it takes before anyone even starts to investigate the murders gives it a slack narrative (not to mention leaving several plotholes in the rushed last third of the film) and makes it look like the filmmakers are even less interested in uncovering whodunit than the authorities. And with the background becoming the foreground, tension is mostly absent aside from a few moments that capture the paranoia of the era) most strikingly a family turning from discussing denouncing one of their number to smiles as soon as she walks through the door) before the film quickly loses its way again.

All the denunciations, betrayal and Stalinist purging in the background should have flowed from the investigation, but the whole first half of the movie just feels like homework while you're waiting for the plot to start. There are a few okay scenes en route, but the characters are just dull (Tom Hardy's Leo is just too one-note and stupid a thug in the script to carry a movie as he goes from hunting imaginary traitors to a very real killer), the relationships sketchy (aside from Noomi Rapace's excellent scene revealing their entire marriage was based on her fear of Hardy) and much of the first half just hammers home the same points over and over. The whole rivalry with Joel Kinnanmon's cowardly and sadistic rival Vasili should have gone out the window: the only good thing the film does with him is the slightest hint he might just develop into a suspect, but he's such a cartoon villain written in such clumsy, broad strokes he should have been called Snidely Whiplash: I kept on waiting for him to tie Rapace to the railway lines while twirling his 'tache and laughing maniacally. The scene where Hardy's closest friend on the force all but pretends not to know him when arresting him is much more effective than any of Vasili's skulduggery.

Hardy's one note performance makes a bit of a dreary lead, mumbling and shuffling his way through many of his scenes in a mannered bit of thuggery that alternates between moderately successful and can we change the record now, please? depending on the scene but never manages to make him particularly interesting. It's only at the end that the paradox of a man who feels he has no choice but to kill (Paddy Considine in a barely developed role) being hunted by a man who has chosen to kill enemies of the state without a second thought is raised and immediately dropped to facilitate a facile and absurdly contrived climax. Worse, his character has surprisingly little impact on the hunt for the killer, making the potential road to moral redemption and political damnation the case offers him seem more like a bit of window dressing than the driving force of the film. Most of the real legwork in the investigation is carried out by Gary Oldman while the nominal antihero chases down another Stalinisim is bad, m'kay blind alley. Oldman is reliable and restrained but it's Rapace who is the standout in the cast after years of colorless work after her breakout role in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, emerging from the shadows and growing in strength in a way that Hardy never does.

Bad direction adds to the film's woes, Daniel Espinosa offering an amalgam of visual clichés, from the faux-Saving Private Ryan battle scene shot in the hand-held style that's become the default position for all battle scenes since 1998 to the notion that even in the corridors of power the 50s everywhere, inside and out, no matter what time of day or night, looked like a locked room with a dodgy 10w lightbulb where nobody had invented any colours but brown yet. Even worse, he only seems to know one way to shoot a train arriving at a station, and a LOT of trains arrive at the same station, just as every journey is accompanied by an almost identical overhead shot. The result is a film that seems stuck playing the same few notes over and over again but never getting the key right: certainly not unwatchable and not deserving of quite all the criticism levelled at it out (when Variety complained about it being shot on 35mm it just seemed they were looking for things to kvetch about), but a film that never really commits to telling its story or even working out what story it wants to tell.

Re: Jedi, Deadpool, Grimsby, Finest Hours, Child 44 + Black Veils

Great review of the Force Awakens. I agree mostly, except that many of the original fans hated TFA. So, if Abrams was aiming for that audience, he failed. Of course, all the oldsters paid $$ to see the film at least once. But the Abrams hatred in the various TFA forums for his "Betrayal" of Star wars is amazing.

I'd agree that the relative failure of the first 3 prequels was due in part their uber-seriousness. I'd add that Lucas seemed more interested in the gadgets and CGI then in the characters and plot.