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About cinemaspeak59

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  1. THe Killers(1946)

    Yes, The Killers is a great noir. The casting was perfect, and a breakout performance by Burt Lancaster.
  2. Recently Watched Horror

    A QUIET PLACE (2017) is a derivative but well-crafted story about a family fighting to stay alive against alien creatures that attack at sound. The monsters have pretty much wiped out most of humanity, and the setting is post-apocalyptic. There are strands of the excellent Pitch Black (2000), and more so Signs, from 2002. The performances elevate this beyond your standard creature feature, especially Emily Blunt as the besieged mother, and Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe, who play the children. Simmonds is deaf in real life. The dialogue is heavy on sign language and whispering, since loud sounds ring the dinner bell. Director John Krasinski maintains a white-knuckled suspense, and seamlessly blends horror genre touchstones with a highly emotional family survivalist drama. Krasinski also plays the family patriarch. My only complaint is the design of the monsters; they’re not very distinctive, and the more you see of them, the less scary the movie. Overall, A Quiet Place is a satisfying and gripping scare fest.
  3. Thoughts about Claudette Colbert's movies

    Yes, Young Man of Manhattan sounds like a delicious Pre-Code drama, one I would like to see TCM air.
  4. I Just Watched...

    I wasn’t surprised when Daniel Day-Lewis announced his retirement from acting. He was being interviewed -- I think he was doing press for Gangs of New York -- and he said there’s not much one can learn from being on film sets, in response to why he takes long absences between projects. And it was reported Leonardo DiCaprio kept asking him why he didn’t work more. Of course, there’s the opinion that an artist must create. But that’s simply too subjective. Intellectual pursuit, and learning different things also qualify as art. Having said this, I will miss Daniel Day-Lewis terribly.
  5. Recently Watched SF & Fantasy

    Black Panther (2018) Marvel Studios can seemingly do no wrong. The feline superhero gets his own film, and it's one of the best. The movie explores isolationism vs an active world presence as the kingdom of Wakanda, the most advanced on Earth, is forced to confront the question of whether its cloistered existence is a selfish act, considering the great injustices against Africans across the world. Chadwick Boseman plays Black Panther, but the movie is generous with its cast, making the women equal. I particularly was impressed with Letitia Wright as Panther's brilliant, fearless sister. Marvel’s recipe of great storytelling, effects, and characters are all here.
  6. Recently Watched SF & Fantasy

    I have a different opinion on Annihilation. Here's my take: Annihilation (2018) is a trippy, thought provoking film that echoes Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Alien, and Arrival. Following a meteor crash somewhere on the Florida coast, a psychedelically colored mist appears (it looks more like a giant shower curtain), known as the Shimmer. It slowly begins encroaching further inland. Special Forces have been sent in to investigate, but none have returned, except for Oscar Isaac's character, Kane, who is married to biologist Lena, played by Natalie Portman. But Kane was presumed dead, and when he mysteriously returns to his wife one year later, he's a shell of a man, with zero memory of what he did or saw inside the Shimmer, or how he got home. Lena eventually volunteers to join four other women, all scientists, on an expedition into the Shimmer, to see if they'll have better luck than the military in unlocking the mystery. All five women are spiritually damaged, which in its own way liberates them from the fear they are embarking on a suicide mission. Gina Rodriguez plays a paramedic recovering from substance abuse who has major anger management issues. Tessa Thompson is an introverted physicist who covers herself in thick layers of clothing. And Jennifer Jason Leigh as the team leader psychologist is hiding her own secret. Annihilation is an eerie, riveting, thriller, with some great jump scares, and a few extremely gory scenes. It's an unsettling film. Screenplay and direction by Alex Garland, who made his directorial debut with the superb Ex Machina, from 2014.
  7. Davis & Crawford & "Feud"

    I loved this miniseries. Stanley Tucci looked like he had a blast portraying Jack Warner. He actually made Jack look worse than the way Bette used to describe him. And Frank Sinatra didn't fare much better. The actor who played Frank, Toby Huss, did great work. As did Judy Davis as Hedda Hopper. It was just interesting as a window into Hollywood politics, and all the behind-the-scenes gossip and treachery. Yes, I thought Zeta-Jones' portrayal of Olivia was quite positive. It's no secret Olivia and her sister Joan Fontaine did not get along. Only when the show touched on Joan that Olivia may have appeared uncaring.
  8. Noir Alley

    I thought something was off about the two women. It was diabolically clever, and a very good noir. I liked how Barry Sullivan's character goes from honest and rather dull to shrewd and unethical, a border-line criminal himself. Arlene Dahl had the perfect look of a femme fatale.
  9. Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)

    This movie is a lot of fun, with great slapstick comedy. Buster Keaton plays William Canfield Jr., aka Steamboat Bill, Jr., who returns home to Mississippi after a lengthy stay in Boston. His father, Bill Sr., (Ernest Torrence) who is strict but loving, eagerly awaits his return, but is disappointed to find his son a tad too foppish, which Keaton plays to comedic heights with his brilliant trademark drollness. He's a metrosexual before that term existed. If William is to take over as skipper of his father's creaky and battered boat, he must toughen up. Bad habits include William's fondness for a beret his father keeps removing, and William keeps putting back on, a move that drives his father nuts. I was laughing when Buster went to buy clothes befitting a he-man steamboat captain, and instead came out looking like a Nantucket yachtsman. At this point, his father is ready to throw in the towel. Things get complicated when William forms a connection with Kitty (Marion Byron), the daughter of his father's rival, and enemy, J.J. King (Tom McGuire). Pompous J.J. owns a much nicer boat, and is rich enough to get William's dad thrown in prison. No worries, though, William has baked a special cake to spring his father. The centerpiece is a hilarious sequence involving a cyclone. Buster's character has houses collapse around him, and is swept to and fro by the powerful gusts. But in the end, as usual, he carries the day, saving lives, finding love, and above all, not compromising who he is.
  10. Now Watching: Charley Varrick (1973)

    Yes, this was an enjoyable gangster picture, and it was fun seeing Matthau in a non-comedic role, and also quite a ladies man.

    It's a mystery why Lucille Bremer didn't become a bigger star. She was a great dancer, with striking red hair, expressive blue eyes, and a wonderful figure. She wasn't as compelling a screen presence as Cyd Charisse, and I can see why people might read a certain blandness about her. It could also be due to not finding the right studio and the right projects to showcase her talents. I particularly loved the "I Won't Dance" number Bremer performed with Van Johnson in Till The Clouds Roll By (1946). You couldn't keep your eyes off her, she was that good.
  12. Most romantic couple on screen

    All good choices. John Garfield and Lana Turner are memorable in The Postman Always Rings Twice. And Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift are simply devastating in A Place in the Sun.

    Eleanor Powell was indeed a great dancer. But Cyd Charisse was the best female dancer I've seen. Her combination of athleticism, artistry and sensuality is hard to top. As Fred Astaire said: "When you dance with Cyd Charisse, you know you've been danced with". William Friedkan attributed this quote to Astaire when he introduced The Bandwagon on the The Essentials, with Alec Baldwin. As for the other Powell, Jane Powell, she also was a very good dancer. Royal Wedding (1951) with Mr. Astaire is a good example. I always found her similar to Betty Grable. They both had the girl-next-door persona. Jane also had great legs.
  14. Recently Watched Westerns

    The Westerner (1940) pits Cattlemen vs. Homesteaders, Notorious Judge Roy Bean vs. Gary Cooper, and Lawlessness vs. The Rule of Law. Director William Wyler's films depict the goodness of America absent the chauvinistic patriotism. And Wyler could not have found a better choice than Gary Cooper to embody American idealism, based on compromise, tolerance, and justice. Walter Brennan, who won a Supporting Actor Academy Award for his performance, plays Judge Roy Bean as a corrupt political boss, a law unto himself, with a twinkle in his eye, shrewd but ultimately too clever by half. A thrilling scene in which he jumps on a horse to chase down Cooper's character, whom he's arrested, demonstrates Bean must always act the tough-guy enforcer. Gary Cooper, as the decent but canny Cole Harden, plays Bean like a violin, entertaining his vanity, and exploiting Bean's strangely immaculate obsession with stage star Lily Langtry. Bean gets paranoid when Cole says he knew Ms. Langtry. How well? Bean asks, ready to blow a gasket should Cole reply they were intimate. Cooper and Brennan have an easy screen chemistry. There's a bromance aspect to Judge Bean and Cole, playful, adversarial, and at times resembling that of a father and son. A moral arc gives Judge Bean a shot at redemption, by having him negotiate with cattlemen to peacefully share the land with their homesteader neighbors. When flames ablaze destroy the homesteaders' village, it signals justice must be served. That task falls to Cooper's Cole Harden, not vigilante style, but with a badge. Legendary cinematographer Gregg Toland's pristine yet atmospheric photography (which would become more experimental a year later in Citizen Kane), is a treat. The Westerner is first-rate entertainment.
  15. I Just Watched...

    I included this in my listing of Noteworthy Films from 2016. The performances were first-rate, and I still think about this film. It beautifully captured the 1950s. And the story involved so many elements: love, mental illness, youth alienation, conformity, religion and philosophy.

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