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Everything posted by cinemaspeak59

  1. cinemaspeak59

    *A to Z of Movies*

    Rounders (1998)
  2. cinemaspeak59

    A to Z of Characters

    Roma, Ricky, played by Al Pacino in Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
  3. cinemaspeak59

    I Just Watched...

    It was nice seeing Lugosi and Karloff facing off. Bela looked aristocratic and serious and noble, a complete 180 from Dracula. But when he finally has Karloff’s character where he wants him, that maniacal grin comes out. And Karloff looked truly satanic. I was hoping Bela’s Dracula would show up, just to expose Poelzig as a rank amateur. Yes, these 1930's horror pictures are great.
  4. cinemaspeak59

    Recently Watched SF & Fantasy

    Ad Astra (2019) Brad Pitt has had a very good year. First, there was Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Now he delivers another memorable performance as taciturn astronaut Roy McBride, who is haunted by the long shadow cast by his father, Cliff McBride, played by a grizzled Tommy Lee Jones. Sixteen years ago, Cliff led a mission to Neptune called the Lima Project in the hope of discovering intelligent life. The ship was lost, and Cliff presumed dead, although an agency called United States Space Command believes he may be alive, living à la Colonel Kurtz. The Lima Project triggered deadly anti-matter surges that threaten to destroy Earth and the entire Solar System. Roy is recruited by Space Command to travel to Neptune and stop the surges. With his nerves of steel and extraordinary skills, Roy could be humanity’s last hope. Pitt’s performance is internalized, powerful and full of gravitas, conveying pain and longing with little or no words. Roy is walled off emotionally, regretful for not being a better husband. Numb rather than angry, he forgives his father for not being there in the service of science. Ad Astra is set in the not too distant future. Mars is a divided planet with murderous space pirates roaming about. The production design reminded me of the Moon Landing images, with a nod to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Director James Gray also helmed the excellent The Lost City of Z (2016). Like that picture, Ad Astra takes its time in developing characters, and gradually slipping in plot details, an expository style with action set pieces that doesn’t necessarily result in a big dramatic denouement. Characters are driven by a higher calling at the expense of family. The supporting cast includes Donald Sutherland, Ruth Negga and Liv Tyler. Grade: A-
  5. cinemaspeak59

    favorite pre-code film

    There's much to choose from, but I like rewatching these. I can think of many more, though. 42nd Street (1933) Dinner at Eight (1933) Private Lives (1931) Waterloo Bridge (1931) Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
  6. cinemaspeak59

    *A to Z of actresses and actors*:)

    Girardot, Annie
  7. cinemaspeak59

    Do many of you like Shakespeare?

    One of my favorite film adaptations was Richard III (1995), in which Ian McKellen played the title character. It's set in a 1930's fascist England. McKellen, as usual, was great.
  8. cinemaspeak59

    I Just Watched...

    I saw it last night On Demand.
  9. cinemaspeak59

    I Just Watched...

    Absence of Malice (1981) Sally Field is an ethically-challenged reporter. With the help of an even more unscrupulous federal investigator, played by Bob Balaban, she writes a story that implicates Michael Gallagher (Paul Newman) in the disappearance & presumed murder of a union boss. Gallagher is on the radar because his uncle is a mobster. The film employs a procedural narrative that delivers little dramatic tension. The severest act happens off screen. The characters feel slightly underwritten. The exception is Melinda Dillon’s poignant portrayal of Teresa Perrone, Gallagher’s best friend, who occupies the moral epicenter. While everyone else is playing a game of extreme cynicism, not uncommon in journalism and politics, Teresa feels most acutely. I liked the straight-forward approach and lack of style. Of course, Director Sydney Pollack was never known as a stylist. I’m not saying this in the pejorative. I enjoy Pollack’s work. Wilford Brimley makes a needed, late appearance to munch down on some scenery.
  10. cinemaspeak59

    Recently Watched Horror

    Lawrence, I hope you feel better soon. I enjoy reading your reviews and comments very much.
  11. cinemaspeak59

    Recently Watched Horror

    It Chapter Two (2019) The omniscient, seemingly omnipotent clown from hell is back in the second installment based on the Stephen King novel. The setting is 27 years later, 2016, which finds strange, eerily familiar happenings in Derry; this prompts Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), who has never left, to gather the Losers Club back for one last hurrah. They have gone their separate ways, are successful if not necessarily happy. Bill (James McAvoy) is a famous novelist. Ben (Jay Ryan) is a prosperous architect. Richie (Bill Hader) is a standup comic whose insecurities and secrets are etched into his weathered skin. And poor Beverly (Jessica Chastain) can’t escape abusive relationships; this time it’s her brute of a husband. Pennywise, the master manipulator and prankster that it is, inhabits their heads, causing hazy memories and mind-blowing hallucinations. Mike has devoted his life to studying the history of Derry and thinks there’s a way to destroy Pennywise for good, which involves an ancient Indian ritual. Will it work? There are plenty of flashbacks to 1989, which connects the characters to the persons they are now. They’ve retained their sense of humor even in impending death. Derry hasn’t changed much in 27 years. Racism and homophobia are immune to social progress. What also hasn’t changed is the love the Losers Club have for each other. It Chapter Two mixes jump scares with quiet, dread-filled scenes. And kudos to Bill Skarsgård for making Pennywise one of the great monsters in the horror genre. Andy Muschietti is back directing, a wise choice. The close to 3-hour running time doesn’t drag. There’s no sequel jinx here. Grade A-
  12. cinemaspeak59

    The Bad Sleep Well (1960)

    The Bad Sleep Well (1960). Akira Kurosawa's bleak and riveting look into corporate malfeasance affirms that corporations can be tribal enterprises, hunting down nuisances that get in the way: competition, ethics, morality and people who threaten the interests of the corporation, or rather the people that run them. The opening scene, introducing us to the basic elements of the story, takes place at a company wedding reception. Reporters and photographers fly out of elevators, take their seats, and act like a peanut gallery, speculating and gossiping about which of the executives will be indicted next. The occasion is for the matrimony of Nishi (Kurosawa vet Toshiro Mifune), a promising but mysterious employee, and the daughter of the Vice President of Public Corporation, a company that seems to have its filthy fingers in everything. The ceremony itself is a gloomy, anxiety-filled affair: sweaty brows, deep breaths, and glasses raised with trembling hands. And a cake that terrifies certain people with unclean consciences. It turns out that Public Corporation is under investigation in an extensive bid-rigging and kickback scheme involving construction contracts. The narrative framework is procedural. Newspaper headlines shout out the goings on. Several people facing indictment have committed suicide. A window an executive jumped out of serves as a recurring symbol. Vice President Iwabuchi (Masayuki Mori) is one of the figures targeted by prosecutors. He's the banality of evil, a weaselly, amoral survivalist. Nishi’s motives are slowly revealed. Mifune, in his business suit and glasses, resembles an enforcer impersonating a business man. He's on a parallel track with government prosecutors in setting things straight. But his methods are vigilante-like, and more effective in the short run. Tucked inside what is a political thriller and vengeance tale is a poignant portrait of Nishi falling in love with his wife, Yoshiko, a physically handicapped woman who never thought she would find anyone to love her. The actress, Kyōko Kagawa, makes the most of her screen time. The marriage at first was a calculated move by Nishi to gain access. Iwabuchi’s children, including his honorable son, suspect their father is up to no good. As a single parent who provides a comforting home for them, they choose not to pry, partly out of loyalty but also because they pity him. Over the course of the film, however, things unravel for the forces of good. This is not a Hollywood version of corporate venality being punished. It's a fatalistic message. A form of justice, however, does occur, courtesy of Yoshiko. As to whether the punishment is enough is anyone's guess.
  13. cinemaspeak59

    Cinema Segue

    The Great Beauty for Sale
  14. cinemaspeak59

    Noir Alley

    Nocturne (1946) was a well-crafted noir. The cinematography of Harry J. Wild (great shots of L.A.) and the twisty plot were two big plusses. The performances weren’t bad. George Raft was Gorge Raft: serviceable; a few good expressions; and he gets to play the hero.
  15. cinemaspeak59

    Your Favourite Foreign Language Films from 2016

    Il Bidone should get the Criterion treatment. I saw it over the summer and found it quite moving.
  16. I enjoyed Carol Lynley's work. She had an effective, naturalistic style of acting. May she rest in peace.
  17. cinemaspeak59


    Well-acted, well-intentioned, Blue Denim is a film very much of its era. The performances are naturalistic, and Warren Berlinger, as Ernie, provided some needed comic relief. So did Marsha Hunt's character, who could not have been more clueless. Carol Lynley had an interesting voice; it’s monotone-like and comforting. She had a wonderful screen presence. I was sad to hear about her passing.
  18. cinemaspeak59

    I Just Watched...

    The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019) is a story about memory, displacement, gentrification, and love letter to a city. Jimmie Fails (Jimmie Fails) dreams of once again living in the elegant Victorian house he grew up in, located in San Fran's Fillmore District. With his best friend Mont, (Jonathan Majors) an aspiring playwright, they make surreptitious visits to clean up the house's garden, paint chipping wood, and other cosmetic upgrades. The white owners tell them to stop, with the wife threatening to call the cops. The husband assures them that no, they won't call the cops. Thanks to a perfect storm of circumstance, Jimmie finds himself living in his beloved abode. But his happiness is short lived. There's a sweetness and poignancy to The Last Black Man in San Francisco reminiscent of early Vittorio De Sica. Directed by Joe Talbot, and with Danny Glover, in a lovely performance, as Mont's blind grandfather. Finn Wittrock has a small role not far removed from his character in The Big Short.
  19. cinemaspeak59

    Name a Celebrity - Name a Movie

    Anthony Hopkins was in Magic (1978) with Ann-Margret
  20. cinemaspeak59

    Persona (1966)

    Persona (1966) is one of the most studied and challenging films in history, inviting analysis from historians, critics and psychiatrists. I saw Persona several years ago, before revisiting it last week. I find it not dramatically different from other Ingmar Bergman films. The internal dialogue, frank discussions on sex, confusion about one’s place in the universe, brutally harsh judgements of the artist – these were present before Persona, and after. When asked the film, Bergman said he trusted audiences to form their own conclusions. An answer I found refreshing. I don’t think Bergman, who also wrote the screenplay, was out to create a puzzle that must be “solved”. There’s no gamesmanship. I admire the film’s aesthetic, the impeccable chemistry between Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson, and its humanity. There’s warmth and comfort in the writing. I go back to the bedroom confessional: Liv Ullmann’s Elisabet, the actress who mysteriously stopped speaking, sitting on the bed; Andersson’s Alma, the nurse charged with Elisabet’s care, at the other end of the room. Alma vividly recalls a sexual experience on the beach, with a couple of voyeurs, salaciously detailing everything, subverting the image Elisabet may have had of her, as a prude. In that scene, the patient, Elisabet, transforms to therapist, and Alma becomes the patient. A rich irony. Persona is a women’s’ picture in the best sense of the term.
  21. cinemaspeak59

    A to Z of Characters

    God, Played by George Burns in Oh, God (1977
  22. cinemaspeak59

    The First Film That Comes to Mind...

    The Godfather (1972) Next: Insects
  23. cinemaspeak59

    Valerie Harper 1939-2019

    The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a great show, and Valerie Harper was a big part of it. Her and Mary had great chemistry. She will be missed.
  24. cinemaspeak59

    Recently Watched Horror

    It (2017) A winning formula that blends horror and coming-of-age story, with echoes of Stand by Me, also based on a Stephen King book. The Losers Club, as they call themselves, must fend off town bullies and the murderous supernatural clown, Pennywise, played with evil glee by Bill Skarsgård, in the scariest clown makeup & costume I've seen. Skillfully directed by Andy Muschietti, with a brilliant opening sequence. Everyone should be lucky to have friends as good as the Losers Club.
  25. cinemaspeak59

    A to Z of Characters

    Oswald, Lee Harvey, played by Gary Oldman in JFK (1991)

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