cinemaspeak59

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Everything posted by cinemaspeak59

  1. Based on Feud, Olivia and Bette Davis were great friends, and Bette wasn't afraid to toss around curse words. Yeah, I agree with the opinions expressed here that SCOTUS refuses to hear this case.
  2. I always enjoy Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1963), even though it’s a little corny. It was brilliant to pair mega international stars Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren. Loren is the dominant role in this audience-friendly trilogy. Mastroianni, a gifted comic actor, excels at playing subservient to the force of nature that is Loren. The first story, Yesterday, is set in 1954, and titled Adelina of Naples. Adelina (Loren) must continually get pregnant to avoid jail for selling black market cigarettes. (Italian law stipulates pregnant women can’t be imprisoned.) In the process, she wears out her husband (Mastroianni), who seeks relief by moving back in with his mother. A doctor is consulted, who diagnoses Mastroianni’s character as the one who can’t stop, until Adelina politely corrects him. The doctor is astonished. Composing himself, he counsels Adelina that a husband is like a horse, requiring rest to perform. The scene, performed with perfect drollness, had me laughing hysterically. This installment is so-very Neapolitan, from the houses, the streets, the food and the dialect. It’s warm, cozy and full of goodwill. Loren as the besieged housewife raises her voice but keeps her poise, whether she’s feeding her growing family or having to fend off a male friend who has other intentions. The second vignette, Anna of Milan, finds Loren playing a materialistic, callous, Rolls Royce-driving wife of a super-rich industrialist. Mastroianni is her lover. Anna is so unlikeable we crave some type of comeuppance. She’s a horrible driver and almost runs over a highway worker, and then throws a tantrum because her Rolls is dented. The gray elegance of Milan provides a nice contrast to sun-drenched Naples. In the last story, Tomorrow, Mara of Rome, Loren’s Mara is a high-priced prostitute with one very loyal, and obsessed customer in Mastroianni. Mara relishes her sexuality without flaunting it. Loren’s performance elevates the hooker with a heart of gold trope. Despite her profession, Mara has a uniquely Italian reverence for the Catholic Church. Mara’s sacrificial act, in helping a smitten young seminarian intent on abandoning the priesthood for her, isn’t selfish penance but genuine kindness. Mara’s apartment, with its breathtaking view of Rome, almost competes for top billing. Vittorio De Sica directed some of the world’s finest films, neorealist classics like Bicycle Thieves (1948) and Umberto D (1952). His Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow is an example of commedia all’italiana, a subgenre that flourished during the late 1950s into the 60s. Masterpieces include lacerating black comedies Divorce Italian Style (1961) – also starring Mastroianni - and Il Sorpasso (1962), films that satirized Sicilian mores and male arrested development, respectively. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow is more a showcase for its two stars. The tone is lighter. Satirical barbs land gently. The performances are broad - Mastroianni howling like a wolf at Loren’s striptease in the third vignette, Loren dominating everyone and everything as the Neapolitan matriarch - but avoid caricature. Finally, the scenery and sets are out of this world. Winner of the 1965 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
  3. cinemaspeak59

    Best Horror of 2018

    Based on what I’ve seen: Hereditary, A Quiet Place, Annihilation - Excellent. Although I agree with you, Lawrence, the latter two lean more toward sci-fi. I think Hereditary could become, dare I say, a horror classic. Ghost Stories and The Nun – Okay. I liked Ghost Stories better. The Nun had a promising premise but didn’t follow through on it, relying too much on jump scares.
  4. cinemaspeak59

    Noir Alley

    I liked Crack-Up (1946). It was, pardon the pun, a cracking mystery. The red herrings were judicially placed, creating a nice misdirection. Pat O’Brien as an art critic is a bit of stretch, but he’s a populist art critic, and he’s also forced into being an amateur detective. So the territory is partially familiar. I found the editing sequences particularly effective. I’m referring to when Pat is on the train, looking out the window, and he sees the other train coming around the tracks, speeding toward a head-on collision. The back and forth of O’Brien’s terrified face, the oncoming locomotive, the lighting and visual effects were exemplary. And you can never go wrong with Herbert Marshall and Claire Trevor on board.
  5. cinemaspeak59

    The Romance of Trains

    I recently saw Terror by Night (1946), which is set on a train, starring Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes. The film is a tidy and compact mystery featuring a beguiling, leggy female traveler, played by Renee Godfrey, and people who are not who they appear to be.
  6. cinemaspeak59

    First movie that comes to mind. --- geography

    Syriana (1989) Next: The French Riviera
  7. cinemaspeak59

    Life Magazine Listing of Noir

    Here is a listing from a Life Magazine Special from November 2016, titled Film Noir: 75 Years of the Greatest Crime Films The Classics 1941 - 1958: The Maltese Falcon 1941 Shadow of a Doubt 1943 Double Indemnity 1944 Laura 1944 Mildred Pierce 1945 Out of the Past 1947 The Third Man 1949 In a Lonely Place 1950 Niagara 1953 The Night of the Hunter 1955 Touch of Evil 1958 Neo Noir 1967 - 1997: Bonnie and Clyde 1967 Dirty Harry 1971 Chinatown 1974 Taxi Driver 1976 Body Heat 1981 Blood Simple 1984 Blue Velvet 1986 Pulp Fiction 1994 L.A. Confidential 1997 The authors admit many worthy films were not included, and for everyone listed 10 others could have been picked. I have no problem with the selection, except I would have taken Leave Her to Heaven (1945) over Niagara. Other films worthy of inclusion are Murder, My Sweet (1944), The Killers (1946) and Kiss Me Deadly (1955).
  8. cinemaspeak59

    TopBilled’s Essentials

    Beside being incredibly funny, Zelig did a fine a job in recreating the 1920s.
  9. cinemaspeak59

    Favorite B-film series...?

    Last week I saw Terror by Night (1946) and loved it, with the very atmospheric and romantic train setting. I plan on rewatching that and several other Sherlock Holmes films starring Basil Rathbone. I remember seeing Jeremy Brett play the role in the PBS films that aired a while back. Both he and Rathbone are great, capturing what you think Sherlock Holmes would be like.
  10. cinemaspeak59

    I Just Watched...

    Yes, the freeze-frame photography was inventive, i.e. the whole world stopped because a bridge game was being decided. Very clever indeed. Unfortunately, I don't play bridge and perhaps my review of the film would have been different if I did play.
  11. cinemaspeak59

    Favorite B-film series...?

    Well, TopBilled, mine are the same as your's. I also like The Falcon and Boston B-l-a-c-k-i-e series as enjoyable detective films.
  12. cinemaspeak59

    I Just Watched...

    Grand Slam (1933) I guess TCM aired this in honor of Glenda Farrell as SOTM. Well, she’s in it alright, but only in a couple of brief scenes. Her character, as the friend – and possibly more – of Frank McHugh’s ghost writer – is a ditzy blonde who is always forgetting something on her person, a shoe, a purse. The leads are Loretta Young and Paul Lukas. Lukas plays a Russian émigré working as a waiter before – it only takes one game – dethroning the reigning bridge expert and becoming the best player in the country. Young and Lukas are the ideal married couple at first, all bohemian charm, before the game of bridge tears them apart. The characters are smug and wooden, and missing is that crackling Warner Bros. pre-code banter and more of Glenda Farrell. Helen Vinson adds a welcome dose of cynicism as a society woman with eyes for Lukas. Overall, an okay picture. The best scene is the one in which Young and Lukas board an outdoor bus at night, and rear projection provides the glittering lights of Manhattan.
  13. cinemaspeak59

    The Prince And The Showgirl

    I'm not bothered that much by rear projection unless I try hard to pay attention to it, in which case it could be a distraction, but overall I'm okay with it. A film I saw a while back, The Good German (2006), directed by Steven Soderbergh, looked it like it used rear projection. The film was shot in color and then changed in post, so it looks like a 1940s film noir, and a beautiful one at that. It looks incredible. The cinematographer was Peter Andrews and the editor was Mary Ann Bernard, both of who are ... Steven Soderbergh, the aliases he uses from time to time.
  14. cinemaspeak59

    Overrated directors / Underrated directors

    This is relative because if you ask about this director in Italy, the answer would be "no". Though it seems Vittorio De Sica slips under the radar when discussing the great non-American filmmakers.
  15. cinemaspeak59

    A new glossary of noir

    How about Ivy (1947) starring Joan Fontaine.
  16. cinemaspeak59

    I Just Watched...

    The Aviator may require a second viewing on my part, because when I saw it in the theater I admired it but found it uneven and not very involving. And I remember the performances as being rather forced. I still give Marty credit for making these pictures.
  17. cinemaspeak59

    I Just Watched...

    Indeed it is. I haven't seen it in years but checking, Paul Newman plays the same character, Eddie Felson. Yes, Goodfellas didn't win but the not-as-good-but-still-good The Departed does.
  18. cinemaspeak59

    I Just Watched...

    I saw The Departed in the theater when it was released. I liked it. It was a solid genre gangster film. Also contained quite a bit of violence, if I remember correctly. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director for Scorsese. I also liked The Color of Money (1986), which is about the sometimes-seedy world of pool. Paul Newman and Tom Cruise starred in that one. If you’ve seen The Hustler (1961), it’s similar.
  19. cinemaspeak59

    31 Days of Oscar 2019

    Dare I say The Last Emperor (1987), in honor of Bernardo Bertolucci's passing. I was blown away by this film when I saw it. I'm not sure if it's ever been on TCM.
  20. cinemaspeak59

    Recently Watched Action/Adventure

    The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2018). Claire Foy steps into the shoes of Lisbeth Salander, the feminist avenger and hacker extraordinaire. Lisbeth’s mission is to hurt men who hurt women. The plot involves a syndicate trying to acquire nuclear weapons. Haven’t we seen this before? The syndicate is led by Lisbeth’s sister, Camilla, played by Sylvia Hoeks, who was great in Blade Runner 2049 and is excellent here. Unfortunately, she doesn’t appear until late in the second act. Camilla has taken over the crime ring from her father, a monster of reprehensibility. The damage he inflicted on his daughters is a theme that appears early on, and then resurfaces at the end. The actions set pieces and fight scenes are above average. Nonetheless, it looks like a pastiche of past similarly-themed films. Claire Foy’s Lisbeth is cold and inscrutable, but Foy is a great actress and finds her character’s humanity. LaKeith Stanfield plays an American NSA officer seeking to obtain the valuable nuclear codes that were stolen from the American government. The film is enhanced by the gray gothic atmosphere provided by the Scandinavian winter. Despite all the fancy weaponry showcased: computer viruses, lethal syringes, the most lasting comes from an old-fashioned emotional guilt-trip one of the characters will have to live with. I give this film a B.
  21. cinemaspeak59

    I Just Watched...

    The Adventurous Blonde (1937). Torchy Blane does it again. Glenda Farrell has a field day playing the savvy, sexy reporter. The plot is convoluted but fun. Rival reporters, tired of being scooped and embarrassed by Torchy, decide to fake a murder by recruiting a pompous actor to play the slain victim. Then they’ll trick Torchy into printing the false story, and finally turn the tables on her. All this while Torchy is about to tie the knot with Steve MacBride (Barton MacLane), her policeman boyfriend. The only hitch is the murder ends up being real. Torchy wouldn't abandon her wedding to solve the case, would she? There's a funny line a rival reporter utters about whether people will believe the fake murder headline: "If it's in the paper it must be true". And I thought about the saying regarding truth and the Internet. I’m glad TCM is showcasing Glenda Farrell as Star of the Month. She’s a delight to watch.
  22. cinemaspeak59

    Noir Alley

    Woman in the Window is wonderfully stylized. Scarlet Street is darker, grittier and its theme of fatalism more in keeping with noir. Usually "it was all a dream" is a crutch for lazy storytelling; somehow, due largely to how great Woman in the Window looks - Joan Bennett's apartment/penthouse, the elegant club Edward G. spends time in - it doesn't hurt the film at all.
  23. I liked the way Dana Andrews orders coffee in Fallen Angel (1945), with that velvety voice of his.
  24. cinemaspeak59

    TopBilled’s Essentials

    Yes, Frank Capra, as an Italian immigrant, had an idealized version of America that, at times, bordered on simplicity. Some of his films were described by the not-always complimentary term Capracorn. As you mention, TopBilled, women US. senators were not unheard of. The inclusion of female senators as participatory characters would have benefited Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
  25. cinemaspeak59

    Movies I watch again and again.

    In the interest of brevity, here are ten: 1. 42nd Street (1933) 2. The Letter (1940) 3. Out of the Past (1947) 4. The Red Shoes (1948) 5. I Vitelloni (1953) 6. Smiles of a Summer Night (1955) 7. Masculin Feminin (1966) 8. My Night at Maud's (1969) 9. Taxi Driver (1976) 10. The Shining (1980) And if I have to compile this list again, the titles will probably change.

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