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Posts posted by cinemaspeak59

  1. On 10/11/2019 at 8:37 AM, LornaHansonForbes said:

    I try not to write about movies I have written about and/or seen before, but seems like it's been quiet of late (I have to admit, I am underwhelmed by the October schedule thus far)

    that said, I watched THE BLACK CAT 1934


    THIS IS A FILM I have been slow to "come around" to, I first watched it on either VHS or AMC as a child (8? 9?) and much was lost on me. IT HAS SINCE really grown on me, and I have come to embrace it for the truly unique film it is.

    I have stolen something very important from this movie.

    I really wish more films ended with TCHAIKOVSKY'S (sp?) OVERTURE FOR ROMEO AND JULIET cranking on the soundtrack as the whole set gets dynamited and the cast flees for their lives...I mean, if YOU can think of a better way to end a movie, LET ME KNOW by all means.

    DAVID MANNERS, sigh, every time I get mad at him for kind of ruining every scene he is in in everything I look at those PUPPY DOG EYES and I forgive a huge fan of 1930's horror movies, one of my FAVORITE "leitmotifs" in films of the period is the figure of THE UTTERLY USELESS YOUNG ROMANTIC LEAD who does nothing but get in the way of the wise old Professor who is here to actually get things done. The only romantic male lead in a horror movie of the time that is more worthless is the guy in WHITE ZOMBIE.


    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.

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  2. 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-

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  3. 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)

  4. 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.

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  5. On 10/5/2019 at 8:29 PM, LawrenceA said:

    My health has taken a downturn as of late, so I was unable to go to the theater as I intended to see it.

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

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  6. 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-

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  7. 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. 

  8. On 9/13/2019 at 12:13 AM, LawrenceA said:



    1. Il Bidone, Federico Fellini, Italy
    2. Death of a Cyclist, Juan Antonio Bardem, Spain
    3. Le Amiche, Michelangelo Antonioni, Italy
    4. French Cancan, Jean Renoir, France

    I also saw:


    • La Pointe Courte, Agnes Varda, France


    Il Bidone should get the Criterion treatment.  I saw it over the summer and found it quite moving.

  9. 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.

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  10. 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.

  11. 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.

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  12. 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.    

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  13. 18 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

    Upon the urging of fellow members here, I watched KISS ME KATE, a 1953 MGM musical, most likely the only one I hadn't seen. I lurve Howard Keel, but can't stand Kathryn Grayson. I was told I'd feel differently about her in this one and they were right. I don't care for Grayson when she's an overly sweet, coquette with that trilling voice. But here, she was feisty, mature and really pretty, not sappy at all.

    That said, I had a hard time concentrating on ANYTHING else besides Keel's magnificent mound:


    (follow the bouncing ball) I loved the costumes and the colors on all the gorgeous healthy young dancer's bodies. Excellent vocals, Cole Porter songs, yeah it was good.

    One of the lithe young men in tights executed a perfect double spin leap I had to put back and watch in slo mo. I realized I had seen Bob Fosse credited-of course! This number really highlighted his new modern style.


    Ann Miller was adorable as usual and did a couple of dance numbers with other people-something I thought she never did-share screen time. The story centers around a professional couple in a stage musical together that mirrors Shakespere's Taming Of The Shrew.

    As far as musicals go, it was the usual eye popping super lush production that I enjoyed very much. I doubt I'll revisit it, though.


    I agree completely about Kathryn Grayson. In her earlier roles she came across as bland and dull. But in Kiss Me Kate she truly shines. It makes you hope MGM, or another studio, would have given her parts with a hard edge.

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