cinemaspeak59

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Posts posted by cinemaspeak59


  1. On 3/12/2019 at 5:14 PM, CinemaInternational said:

    Green Book (2018) 5/10

    I'm arriving here late. The Best Picture award was already won, the many controversies raged, the reception was split between those who loved it and those who despised it. In the case of the reactions, I can see both what people love about it and what people hate. Its a feel-good film, one that is definitely not a heavy film despite dealing with heavy themes. Mahershala Ali hits the right notes for his performance. The period look (if not always the mores) seems on point. I was also taken by Linda Cardellini's brief turn.

    But then there are the problems. And they are there and they can be glaring. The film is way too neat and tidy for its own good. I like a film that is glossy and made with care, but the problems are just ironed away far too neatly. The Viggo Mortensen character changes way too quickly. It almost borders on science-fiction in that respect. And the fact that his character "tutors" Ali's character about fried chicken ( which smacks of hurtful stereotypes) and about black R & B singers is condescending and quease-inducing.

    But the big debit here is that I'm quite familiar with Driving Miss Daisy, and this is no Driving Miss Daisy. That 1989 film was in many ways a much more nuanced, convincing film then this one. That one was able to realize that certain racial issues don't just disappear like magic, that some interpersonal problems would always be there between its two characters even if they did eventually warm to one another over a period of 25 years. This one, though supposedly based on a true story and not on a play like Miss Daisy, feels frankly tinny and false in thinking that so much can change in just two months. I might not be an expert on human nature, but whole lifetimes of harmful preconceptions can't end that easily. That's how I feel.

    And P.S. I resenting hearing Pittsburgh referred to, more than once, as "Titsburgh".

    Good review of Green Book. I found it solid, middle-brow, mainstream entertainment. To say it paints with a broad brush is putting it mildly.  Viggo Mortensen opts for a broad, outsized portrayal of the street-smart, unsophisticated Tony Lip.  His performance is a blend of Robert De Niro satirizing himself on SNL, and a summoning of the ghost of Tony Soprano. And yet, it’s remarkably effective and endearing, reminding me of Vittorio Gassman’s performance in another buddy-road movie, Il Sorpasso (1962).  Mahershala Ali plays piano virtuoso Don Shirley with a steely stoicism, and the contrast between the two men is delineated to the extreme.  The early sixties period is rendered in rich detail, and Sean Porter’s photography keeps things going when the dialogue and pacing begin to slack.  I’ll give Green Book a B.


  2. 1 hour ago, DougieB said:

    Exactly. In The Revolt of Mamie Stover Jane Russell and the other "hostesses" retire to "champagne rooms" with the soldiers and sailors in Agnes Moorehead's "dance hall" for some stimulating "conversation".

    Deanna Durbin's character in Christmas Holiday is a "hostess" but really she's a practitioner of the world's oldest profession. 

    • Like 1

  3. I think Jane's work outside MGM allowed her to show a more savvy, perhaps even cynical side.  Case in point is Three Sailors and a Girl from Warner Bros., in which she's still the girl-next-door but also worldly and hard-boiled. The Female Animal from Universal shows she could teach classes in the art of seduction.

    • Like 2

  4. 15 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

    I surprisingly enjoyed the 1999 remake with Geoffrey Rush. 

    The Legend of Hell House (1973) and The Haunting (1963) (its 1999 remake sucked though) are tops in my book. I gotta give a shout out to though to the Saltair Pavilion in Carnival of Souls (1962)

     

    Great choice on Saltair Pavilion. I recently saw Carnival of Souls and loved it. 


  5. 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.

    • Like 2

  6. This is a listing of 15 noteworthy 2018 films that I’ve seen:

    Annihilation An unsettling sci-fi about an alien force that can alter living DNA.

    Black Panther Arguably Marvel's masterpiece.  The movie explores social issues with commendable deftness with no shortage of thrills.

    A Quiet Place It's a creature feature, sure, but Emily Blunt's performance as a mother walking a tightrope of silence to protect her family elevates the story.

    Avengers: Infinity War The least joyous film in the series, which finds our beloved protectors being wiped out, literally, by Thanos, the villain to top all villains.

    The Death of Stalin A black comedy about the absurdity and wickedness of authoritarian governments.

    Hereditary Not the most original horror film, but the genre touchstones are executed with such mastery that it looks like nothing we've seen before. A triumph of set design and acting.

    Mission: Impossible - Fallout This is now the premier action adventure franchise, as Tom Cruise and company get better with each installment.

    The Wife Notable for Glenn Close's performance as the wife of a prestigious author, a performance which should land the actress her first Academy Award.

    Burning This hypnotic thriller from South Korea touches on class, gender power struggles, and is simply devastating.

    Searching for Ingmar Bergman Bergman is presented as a true artist. Interviews with his children show him as not an exemplary father. This doc reinforces the view that directing for Bergman was a vocation, and an all-consuming one at that.

    The Favourite  A costume drama set in the court of Queen Anne, with plenty of scheming, backstabbing and bedroom politics. This is not a Masterpiece Theatre version of English royalty.

    Mary Queen of Scots It's not just Catholics vs Protestants. It's a feminist take on the bond between two great women, Mary and Elizabeth, who if left to themselves could have coexisted rather peacefully.

    Vice Adam McKay has become our foremost maestro for satirizing political history. His target is now Vice President Dick Cheney, and how he turned a constitutionally weak office into the most powerful position in the free world, with consequences still being felt.

    Stan & Ollie A nostalgic look at Stan & Ollie, as they perform live shows in England, circa 1953, as a run up to what they hope will convince a studio to bankroll their comeback film. Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly as Stan and Ollie respectively, are unrecognizable, in a good way.

    Cold War Shot in silky black & white, two lovers in 1950s Poland struggle to find happiness together, but are undone by other commitments – politics, art - and by their own foibles. This is Pawel Pawlikowski's follow up to his equally mesmerizing Ida.

    • Like 1

  7. On 2/9/2019 at 4:40 PM, TopBilled said:

    Nice comment.

    First, your post said it quoted me, but I believe you were quoting something Jlewis wrote. So credit it where it's due.

    Re: Laura...I think it's interesting how in this story she doesn't spend a lot of time in the suburbs or wherever their house is located, but she prefers to spend time running around downtown. I know she only does this on Thursdays, but I get the feeling she lives for her Thursday jaunts and lives for spending time in the refreshment room of the train station. So there's a part of her that's eager to stray from the comforts of home, which I think a guy like Alec picks up on. It's why she's an easy target for his charms.

    I agree she's foolish not to appreciate what a good husband she has...a man who seems to be a decent provider, seems to trust her very much, and seems to love their children.

    I've enjoyed reading the commentary and your review very much. The charm of this film is that there is so much that is unexplained, as has already been pointed out.  I've seen it several times, and it never gets stale. 

    • Like 3

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