cinemaspeak59

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Everything posted by cinemaspeak59

  1. cinemaspeak59

    TopBilled’s Essentials

    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.
  2. cinemaspeak59

    Name the comedy

    Mexican Spitfire (1940) Next: Erik Rhodes
  3. cinemaspeak59

    ONE word titles

    Speedy (1928)
  4. cinemaspeak59

    *A to Z of actresses and actors*:)

    Urban, Karl
  5. cinemaspeak59

    *A to Z of actresses and actors*:)

    Langlet, Amanda
  6. cinemaspeak59

    The Freshman (1925)

    Yes, I found the camera work exceptional also. The football game scenes in particular were great. I'm a fan of Harold Lloyd.
  7. cinemaspeak59

    Carnival of Souls

    Well, I certainly got a jolt last night from watching this picture. The otherworldly organ score certainly ratchets up the scare factor. And that hallucinatory montage of protagonist Mary (a luminous Candace Hilligoss) playing the organ at church, possessed of something that makes her lose control of the notes, so she’s playing a music straight out of hell, while she has visions of the ghosts doing that macabre dance - it was downright brilliant. The message is that death is a cruel master, not to be cheated. Much praise goes to director Herk Harvey, composer Gene Moore, and DP Maurice Prather, and the make-up and effects people for conjuring up this masterful horror classic. The supporting cast, with their low-key, naturalistic acting, were also quite good.
  8. cinemaspeak59

    *A to Z of Filmmakers*

    Beningni, Roberto - Director
  9. cinemaspeak59

    Recently Watched Horror

    Poltergeist (1982) turns the haunted house movie on its head. Past chillers like the original The Haunting and The Shining were set in isolated, spooky environments, in which the dwellings themselves were main characters. Poltergeist takes place in sunny So. Cal., in one of those dreamy suburbs out of the Brady Bunch. What can possibly go wrong living there? Poltergeist is very much of its era, with self-referential Stars Wars props. Special effects substitute for psychological horror, and they’re used very effectively: monstrous trees with arms; a piece of steak that takes on a life of its own; and mini tornadoes that occur in bedrooms. The movie is sort of a Raiders of the Lost Ark-style take on horror, or rather a Steven Spielberg version of the genre, since he co-wrote the screenplay, produced, and was on the set almost every day, advising director Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre). The cast is great, especially JoBeth Williams playing a wife and mother of a family whose normality is shattered by supernatural forces. At first, she’s fascinated, and then terrified, when the restless spirits abduct the youngest daughter, Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke), and take her to the other dimension. The film is notable for the classic shot of Carol Anne sitting in front of the TV watching nothing but static, and uttering “They’re here”. Also good is husband and father Craig T. Nelson, finally figuring it all out, as skeletons are popping out of coffins, screaming at his greedy boss, “You son of a ****, you left the bodies and you only moved the headstones!” Poltergeist is a different kind of ghost story. Gothic horror it’s not. Some of the dialogue is clunky, and a few attempts at humor fall flat. Still, it’s held up quite well over the years. Sadly, Heather O’Rourke, who showed so much promise, left us way too soon.
  10. cinemaspeak59

    The Crowd (1928)

    The Crowd (1928) may very well be one of the first cinematic New York stories. It echoes the works of novelists F. Scott Fitzgerald and John Dos Passos. Stylistically, and from the naturalistic acting, The Crowd preceded the Italian Neo-Realism Movement, which would not come until about 1945. The tale is a simple one: A young married couple beset by tragedy caused by rotten luck, and arguments over money, as disillusionment overtakes optimism. Director King Vidor frames some iconic shots: the couple's heady ride on top of an outdoor bus through Manhattan, when the city's possibilities felt teasingly close at hand; the upward tilt of a skyscraper, and the swoop into the vast office in which protagonist John (James Murray) works; and the long staircase where a young John looks up as his stricken father is carried to bed. Eleanor Boardman as John's loving wife rounds out the cast. The Crowd is a classic of the Silent Era.
  11. 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.
  12. cinemaspeak59

    Movies That Make a Statement

    Never Let Me Go (2010)
  13. cinemaspeak59

    Movies with descriptive titles

    A Special Day (1977)
  14. cinemaspeak59

    Masculin Feminin (1966)

    Jean-Luc Godard's Masculin Feminin rejuvenates with each viewing. The film looks at university students in Paris, in late November and early December of 1965. Paul (Jean-Pierre Leaud), a socialist and public opinion pollster, falls in love with Madeleine (Chantal Goya). He chats her up in a cafe, expressing his distaste for capitalism, the bourgeois, etc., while Madeleine, half-listening, has her compact out, carefully applying make-up. Madeleine's only ambition is to be a famous pop singer (which Goya was at the time). Madeleine and her friends, Elisabeth and Catherine, don't care much for politics. Paul defines himself by what he stands for. Wide-eyed and restless, he spray paints anti-Vietnam War messages on cars and buildings. And, together with his friend Robert, is not above asking a woman having coffee if he can reach across her table for some sugar, just to have a peek at her breasts, a sophomoric move if there ever was one. Paul's liberalism doesn't extend to his music; he likes classical, and never heard of fellow political ally Bob Dylan. I love that the characters aren't bent to conform to stereotypes. The women don't much care for current events, but they aren't portrayed as vacuous. Madeleine endures Paul's diatribes against authoritarianism with amusement, aware they hold for Paul a certain romanticism. Madeleine's initial wariness at Paul's growing attachment gives way. The fluidity of their relationship is quite something. Masculin Feminin epitomizes what made the French New Wave one of the most influential movements in cinema: no rigorous plotting and structure; no need to explain everything that happens. There's a scene in which a woman shoots her husband in public view, and is later seen propositioning a man at a table. The randomness and contradictions work to the film's favor. Masculin Feminin drips with cool and style. The black & white photography has an under-lit beauty. A lyricism runs throughout. Paris as a cafe paradise is well represented, from the traffic noises outside, to the sound of espresso machines, and the ding of spoons tapping the demitasse. There are excursions into Paris's grand boulevards at night, with people coming and going. Everything au courant is thrown at the screen: the Beatles, birth control, the War, De Gaulle, the Republic, workers rights, you name it. If Godard's goal was to have the film serve as a touchstone of a time and place, he certainly succeeded. The film is divided into chapters, each one introduced with what sounds like a gun shot. The last chapter is brilliantly called the Children of Marx and Coca Cola, and Godard encourages audiences to give this name to the film if they prefer. The Children of Marx and Coca Cola, may they live forever.
  15. cinemaspeak59

    Name the comedy

    Death Becomes Her (1992) Next: Sophia Loren
  16. cinemaspeak59

    Name the Western

    Run of the Arrow (1957) Next: Miriam Hopkins
  17. cinemaspeak59

    I Just Watched...

    Waugh’s 1930 novel Vile Bodies is a great read. It’s about the lives of upper-class British university students. These young aristocrats, dubbed Bright Young Things by the British press, enjoyed making mischief and living the high life (in more ways than one). It was a gay-friendly subculture. In 2003 a film called Bright Young Things came out, based on Vile Bodies, and featuring a who’s who of up and comers: James McAvoy, Emily Mortimer, David Tennant and Michael Sheen to name a few. I liked the film very much.
  18. cinemaspeak59

    Sports movies

    I like sports movies that have high school settings. Three that come to mind are: All the Right Moves (1983) Set in small Western Pa. town, it features an affecting performance by Tom Cruise Varsity Blues (1999) Enjoyable coming of age story starring James Van Der Beek, who at the time was in the popular teen drama Dawson's Creek Remember the Titans (2000) With Denzel Washington, and based on a true story, this features an excellent ensemble cast.
  19. cinemaspeak59

    Name the comedy

    THE PREACHER'S WIFE (1996) Next: Robert De Niro
  20. cinemaspeak59

    Recently Watched Westerns

    Yes, that song Joe sings works beautifully. Joe is played by Leigh Whipper, who went uncredited, and his performance is quite moving. This movie packs in so much content and it runs a mere 75 minutes.
  21. cinemaspeak59

    Recently Watched Westerns

    The Ox-Bow Incident (1943). This acclaimed Western has been on my radar for some time, and I was glad to have finally seen it. The accolades are well-deserved. The acting is exceptional. The ensemble cast delivers rich characterizations, notably Henry Fonda as a jaded cowboy returning to find the woman he loves getting married behind his back. Dana Andrews gives a subtle but powerful performance as a wrongly-accused family man facing death for the murder of a well-liked rancher. The bloodthirsty lynch mob - led by a cruel, flashy major, (Frank Conroy) - that has convicted him and two other men on circumstantial evidence has neither the patience nor willingness to gather basic facts that'll prove their innocence. In the second half of the film, the scenery transitions from sprawling outdoor vistas to a stagey setting that allows director William A. Wellman to indulge in studio atmospherics, which gives the proceedings a haunting, allegorical quality. Also featuring Anthony Quinn in an ethnically broad role that Quinn manages to imbue with nuance.
  22. Winter Light is a beautiful, thoughtful, and uplifting meditation on faith.
  23. cinemaspeak59

    Masculin Feminin (1966)

    Yes, I see the truth in that statement. Somehow, singing or making jokes about something serious diminishes its importance.
  24. cinemaspeak59

    First movie that comes to mind. --- geography

    Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) Next: New Orleans
  25. cinemaspeak59

    100 Best Shot Films

    An excellent list. Not much to quibble with. I would have liked to have seen a spot for The Seventh Seal (1957), shot by Gunnar Fischer.

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