slaytonf

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Everything posted by slaytonf

  1. All the people I mentioned, to whom I'd add, Lionel Hampton (the best vibraphonist), and Illinois Jacquet (a wialing saxophonist), worked in smaller groups at some point in their careers, also liking the freer atmosphere. You just have to search their names with the word live on YouTube or elsewhere to find examples, like this one:
  2. slaytonf

    copyright-protected?

    So you can record movies to DVDs from your DVR? Can you record movies to DVDs real-time as they are shown?
  3. slaytonf

    Great moments in cinema.

    Sergio Leone was a cinematic iconoclast in many ways. He's primarily known for the promotion of the anti-hero as protagonist in westerns and other movies. Though his 'man-with-no-name' is not truly amoral. Despite his readiness to rob the robbers, or game the system, he's not a real bad guy. In fact, he's the one who gets rid of them, and makes the world right again. His visual iconoclasm paralleled and complemented his themes, violating our expectations for how elements entered and appeared on the screen (e. g., his extreme close-ups), and how the camera moved. Your selection, cigarjoe, is one of the best examples of the latter. Coupled with Morricone's ecstatic music, it's a whirling, dizzying crescendo of greed and lust.
  4. slaytonf

    The four watchable Bond movies.

    What can you say for an action movie which has it's most exciting moment in it's first minute? Even though bungee jumping has past out of the spotlight (a recommendation against tying a movie to transient cultural phenomena), the opening sequence to Goldeneye (1995), is still stunning, even on a small screen. After that, it seems all a jumble, and I can only offer a jumble of thoughts. I did make it all the way through, with the sound on. But I did have to take a couple of breaks when the improbability factor got too high. Like when the statue ended up on top of the tank hijacked by Bond, notwithstanding the implied political statement. I can only attribute my perseverance to Pierce Brosnan (a name for an international spy as good as James Bond). I had expected him to have even less Bondiness (Bondishness?) than Timothy Dalton, but was surprised to find he projected an image that echoed Connery's original. Not the same, but in the line. The self-referential quips got to be tiring after a while. I got that the movie was spoofing/not spoofing itself and the Bond movies in general after the fifth one. Don't need any more. Product placement still ranked high in the set of moviemaking techniques. It's crossed my mind if companies have to pay for the cost of the scene they are featured in. If so, a certain fizzy water company must've paid a bundle. For all it's posing as smashing the shaken-not-stirred icons of the Bond franchise, the movie still transmits some strong conventional messages. That is, when it is consistent and coherent in its messages. It's a collection of old spy movie elements stitched together into a sort-of quilt. Like the old friend/comrade-in-arms turned baddie. The modern angle comes from Natalya Simonova who criticizes Bond and the others for their game-playing and their unconcern for it's lethal consequences. But that's the standard role of woman as culture bringer and civilizing force so often seen in movies. And M's comments, delivered by Dame Dench, about Bond being a misogynistic dinosaur are really unfair. Bond was never abusive, demeaning, or patronizing to the women he met in the movies. True, being near him could prove unhealthy for a number of them, as a body count could show, but when one had ability he valued it and relied on it. And when a woman saved his life--a not infrequent occurrence--he didn't dismiss it. (I can't believe I'm defending a movie character as if he were a real person). Anyway, movie bad; Brosnan, not so bad.
  5. Sounds like some hot Chicago style jazz to me. King Oliver, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, and Bix Beiderbeck are all exponents of the form. Try "Sing Sing Sing," by Benny Goodman. Gene Krupa thumps on the drums and Benny wails on the clarinet. There are other versions you can get on YouTube, but this snippet gives you the idea:
  6. slaytonf

    The four watchable Bond movies.

    The Living Daylights (1987), though not really good, seemed to be living up to what Ben Mankiewicz claimed as a reset to a less humorous mode. That is, up to the point where the movie has Bond drive onto a frozen lake in a chase. Drive onto a frozen lake, and take a shed with his Austin. 'Til then there had not been much to keep me watching, but not much to stop me. That's where I stopped. The fact is, Timothy Dalton, though good as a leading man, and even as an action hero, is not Bond. He doesn't have the screen presence for him. I could say a few things about License to Kill (1989), but I wonder if it is worth the effort to organize my thoughts. Mmm, no. I made it as far as when the woman with the sawed-off shoots a hole in the side of a building. That's when my suspension of disbelief was overtaxed. But I also made a neat discovery. Instead of tuning to something else, for some reason I just turned the sound off. This, along with dividing my attention doing other things, allowed me to watch the whole movie. I found I could follow the story just as well, and it didn't irritate me nearly as much to watch. 'Course, I thought it was all about counterfeit money and not drugs, but that's not important. (Parenthetical note: It's surprising how sharks supply the source of danger and death in so many Bond movies. The go-to ontological dread inducer). The final chase with the tanker semis was good--not too many absurdities--and the semi tractor up on, um, three wheels was not shabby. Remember the game guessing how many jelly beans are in a jar? A similar game occurred to me. Guessing how many rounds have been shot at BondJamesBond without hitting him. Are all international agents of evil such poor shots?
  7. slaytonf

    Great moments in cinema.

    The Devil and Miss Jones (1941): Two more scenes from this delightful comedy. In the first, the undercover boss has been corralled by the police trying to pawn his watch for payphone money. The situation deteriorates for our protagonists until Bob Cummings as Joe enters to confound the cops and their use of technicalities to bully and intimidate. The comedy deftly conveys the message of the dangers of delegated power, and it's potential for corruption. It is no coincidence Joe recites excerpts from the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. This has greater implications for the general pro-worker, pro-labor tone of the movie. The only reason I can come up with for how this got into a hollywood studio movie is that, as Preston Sturges said, you can get away with anything in a movie, as long as it's a comedy. In the second, Jean Arthur, as Mary, has discovered Merrick is not the unassuming employee she has been led to believe. But she mistakenly thinks he's a private investigator, not the owner of the department store. This leads her to fear for the jobs of the four hundred employees who've signed a petition for unionizing that Merrick has. And it's left to her to get it. There are many similar scenes in movies, where a person is faced with a daunting task and struggles to go through with it. But there are none so charmingly portrayed as here by Miss Arthur. This scene is all her, the director sensibly staying out of the way, allowing her to show her alternate drumming up her courage and shrinking from her urgent duty. The humor is compounded when, through no fault of her own, Merrick is knocked unconscious and she reflexively rushes to help him. She was in many more important movies, but nowhere do you see her wonderful ability on better display.
  8. What I mean is, when there is an abrupt proliferation of posts from one source, you must question the motives and sources.
  9. Considering the current takeover of these discussions, I'm kinda hankerin' after the old Korean kind. At least there were fun letters to look at.
  10. slaytonf

    The four watchable Bond movies.

    I knew I was forgetting something: *PRODUCT PLACEMENT!! I don't know what goes on in movies today, but I've never seen a movie that so blatantly pushes the unlikeliest of things on an unsuspecting audience. I expected the G**********r blimp to make and appearance at the end to pluck Bond and his lady off the Golden Gate.
  11. slaytonf

    A rogues' gallery of cops.

    Eugene Pallette: Not an intuitive choice for a movie cop. And he really wasn't. Almost none of his roles involved police work, except in a particular case, or set of cases. As Sgt. Ernest Heath he played the recurring professional foil to Philo Vance's amateur sleuthing. And he proved the most enduring feature of that series, appearing in more of them than even William Powell, the originator of the movie Vance. Nobody needs a clip of him, right?
  12. The blue suited some actors better than others. They radiated an aura of authority, or of a generalized suspicion of all mankind--as often as not erroneous, as the plot required. I'm not talking about big stars in lead roles as law enforcement officers. I'm talking about the work-a-day actors from the talent pools of the studios who got the supporting roles or bit parts. They were the standard face of law enforcement. The inevitable consequence of wrong-doing. The nemesis, or dupe, or obtuse counter to the lead hero, or villain, or sleuth. The actor who will immediately occur to many as the paradigm for movie cops is Charles McGraw, the gravel-voiced hard-as-nails bantam. But he really wasn't a career cop (I don't count sheriffs in westerns). His renown stems from one role in The Narrow Margin (1952) as a harried cop trying to get a mobster's moll from Chicago to Los Angeles with the syndicate after her. It may be the only instance in movies of a lead actor leaving the impression of being in a supporting role. On to the real career cops. To begin, Jack Cheatham: Clips are hard to find, but here's one from The Hatbox Mystery (1947): Starting in cop work early in his career with Sinister Hands (1932), he created the model career movie cop profile, rarely becoming anything more than a uniformed street cop. He soldiered away in mostly uncredited roles, but managed to appear in features such as Gambling Lady (1934) with Barbara Stanwyck, The Thin Man (1934) with William Powell and Myrna Loy, The Petrified Forest (1936) with Humphrey Bogart and Bette Davis, and This Gun For Hire (1942) with Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake.
  13. slaytonf

    The four watchable Bond movies.

    Now, that one I know about. It's Tatianna who kills the Klebb monster to save her honey James.
  14. slaytonf

    The four watchable Bond movies.

    Evidence of my unfamiliarity with the series.
  15. Like a masterwork by Bach. The exposition of a theme, and its variations, is unequaled for the way it presents its proposition, and elaborates its corollaries. Elegant, spare, with not an unnecessary stunt, or missed bit of business. The comedy is not solely visual. The best of the aural humor are the sounds the piano makes bouncing down the steps. For all of its ostensibly broad humor, it has sly, witty, and satiric undercurrents.
  16. slaytonf

    The four watchable Bond movies.

    Made it all the way through View to a Kill (1985). Don't know how, or why, because I don't like it. Maybe there was something interesting enough, or nothing so intolerable as to keep me watching. I do have some observations. *The 1980s was a strange time. *The movie represents both an advance and a retreat for women. It has the first woman featured heavy (May Day). She spoils it by a noble last act. Guess Bond can't kill a woman. But the woman heroine (Satcey Sutton) is a character straight out of 40s or 50s movies. She's completely at the mercy of, or reliant on whatever male is around her. She's always getting pulled up or down by someone. But to be fair, she drives a mean fire truck. *Christopher Walken makes a good heavy. He should pursue this for career opportunities.
  17. slaytonf

    The four watchable Bond movies.

    I'd say something about For Your Eyes Only (1981), except I forgot what was in it. Oh, I remember, in this one the woman seeking revenge doesn't have to die--and she even succeeds, unlike in Goldfinger (1964). I guess you could call that progress. Parenthetically, I'm thinking of starting a thread called: James Bond is Unhealthy For Women. I saved Octopussy (1983) for tonight, thinking one Bond a night might get me through it. I got as far as Bond on the Isle of Women. Taj Mahal looked good.
  18. slaytonf

    The four watchable Bond movies.

    Then you don't buy Dr. No's people. Or Emilio Largo's people. Or any of the dozens of armies of Bond nemeses that habituated vast subterranean complexes. Ah, the song of envy. Soooo sweet.
  19. slaytonf

    The four watchable Bond movies.

    Came in on The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) 40 minutes+/- from the end. That's the only reason I made it to the end. The unrelenting destruction sequences inspired an almost intolerable tedium. But I stuck it out. I don't feel particularly proud of it. Moonraker (1979) had a promising start, notwithstanding it's obvious play for creds from a Goldfinger (1964) reference. The sky dive was cool, even with the distracting intrusion of the jaws fellow. And the movie had some of the original Bond movie feel to it, underneath all the encrustations. The movie forgets that humor is compatible with international espionage, but comedy isn't, as in the ludicrous boat chase in Venice. Someone was channeling Buster Keaton--or wanted to. I managed to tag along quite a while by paying less than full attention. But I gave up after the gondola thing where not only does the jaws fellow not die after crashing through and demolishing the base station (!), but finds his true love--ukkkk. The last is not for the love, which is always beautiful, but for the movie.
  20. So you can not have your cake and not eat it, too.
  21. Don't like what she chooses? Don't watch it. Have a nostalgic hankerin' for the good ol' days with Osborne and Baldwin? Dig out your old DVDs.
  22. Thanks for that very nice compliment.
  23. slaytonf

    Great moments in cinema.

    I guess I'll refrain from posting any other scenes. And there are so many of them. But I'll do one more that won't spoil the enjoyment. It's a scene at Coney Island beach where Mary (Jean Arthur), her squeeze, the incognito owner John Merrick (hey! the original Undercover Boss), and his date recreate. He wants her go give up the squeeze and asks her what she sees in him. She responds: In all the movies of all the world, there's no better meditation on love. Whenever I see this scene I ask myself, with all the floods of gloopy romanticism, all the unrealistic expectations pandered to people, all the hackneyed sentimentalism, how this simple, beautiful evocation ever got into a movie.
  24. slaytonf

    Great moments in cinema.

    The Devil and Miss Jones (1941): It's surprising that such an unassuming movie could have so much in it that really stands out. There are at least four scenes I can think of off hand to highlight. But this forgotten little comedy has always had a high position in my rotation of films not only because it's really good, but because it cemented Jean Arthur in the top ranks of my acting compendium. I don't know if I recognized her from other movies, but she really came to life for me in this one. She had a number of moments in the movie (after all, it's her picture), but the one that galvanized her in my eyes is this one, where she performs a feat unparalleled in movies. It was so unexpected and astonishing that at first I did not understand what I was watching. Understanding filled me with admiration.
  25. slaytonf

    Great moments in cinema.

    In movies people don't get away with murder.

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