cinemaspeak59

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Everything posted by cinemaspeak59

  1. "The Merry Widow" - MGM Remake

    I think Jane Powell would have been a good choice. Deanna Durbin was retired, but she certainly had musical talent.
  2. 'Kong - Skull Island' (2017)

    Yeah, I loved it too. Can't wait for the next one, which the ending hinted at involving Godzilla.
  3. Recently Watched Westerns

    Broken Arrow (1950) is a gorgeously photographed Technicolor Western, and as noted by Ben Mankiewicz in his introduction, the film marked the start of Hollywood portraying Native Americans as human beings rather than crude caricatures. Jimmy Stewart, one of cinema's great humanists, plays a white man who, against the advice of skeptical white settlers, sets out to forge a lasting peace between the settlers and the Apache, who are led by Cochise, played with gravitas and nobility by Jeff Chandler, who was nominated for an Oscar for his role. The only flaw, and it's a minor one, is the familiar Hollywood plot device that has Stewart's character falling in love with a much younger Indian woman, played by Debra Paget. But the acting is effective enough to make this relationship quite touching. Director Delmer Daves maintains a seamless pace, allowing the characters to take center stage. Broken Arrow has everything you want in a Western: action, pathos, and the added redemptive understanding of two cultures bound by a common humanity.
  4. Recently Watched Mystery/Crime/Noir/Etc.

    The Lady in the Lake (1947) contains some of the wittiest, snappiest, funniest dialogue you'll hear in film noir, all delivered courtesy of Robert Montgomery (in his directorial debut) as Philip Marlowe, and noir Hall of Famer Audrey Totter as his love interest/murder suspect. Here's Marlowe explaining why people hire him: "Because I'm dumb, cheap, and keep my mouth shut." It doesn't take long to adjust to the inventive camera angle, which creates intimacy, as if we're walking in Montgomery's shoes, seeing only what he sees. Montgomery talks like he's hard-boiled, but the few times we see him, when he stands in front of a mirror, or breaks the fourth wall, he looks like an affluent playboy. The Lady in the Lake is light on classic noir trappings; the events depicted take place during Christmas season. But the film is a fun puzzle, with a satisfying ending, and at times seems to satirize the elaborateness of the milieu it inhabits.
  5. Room 237 (2012)

    I agree. If all classic or cult films received the same treatment Room 237 gave to The Shining, then we might discover a trove of buried messages in those films as well.
  6. Room 237 (2012)

    Room 237 (2012) examines the hidden clues in Stanley Kubrick’s horror classic The Shining. Several unseen voices describe and dissect overlapping images, running the film backwards, and singling out continuity errors they believe are sign posts to deeper meanings. The result is The Shining is not merely a standard, but highly stylized, haunted house film, but much, much more. No, it’s really about the genocide of the North American Indian; the Holocaust; sexual deviancy; the power of subliminal advertising. And, here’s the kicker, The Shining is Kubrick’s confessional that he faked the moon landing for the government - not necessarily that we never went to the moon - but what the nation saw on television was filmed on a soundstage by Mr. Kubrick. What’s amazing is these theories, conspiratorial or not, supported as they are by editing choices and props used in the picture - the shirt worn by Danny (Nicholson’s son in the movie), Tang orange juice, Nicholson’s type writer – are all remarkably plausible. It all adds up to an utterly fascinating documentary. Source: The Sundance Channel. I’m surprised by the number of people who say The Shining isn't that scary. I’ve never seen a scarier set piece than the Overlook Hotel, and throw in the beckoning call of the twins, the sinister bartender Lloyd (does he represent the Devil?) and the music, and you have one heck of a film. I read in Entertainment Weekly that the ending Kubrick wanted involved the hotel manager, played by Barry Nelson, to visit Danny and his mother in the hospital, and bring Danny a gift: the mysterious ball that was rolled to him in the hotel. Critics at screenings didn’t like it. The studio deemed the film too long already, so it was cut.
  7. Who would you marry?

    I liked the English actresses from the 1930s and 1940s. So, either Valerie Hobson, Heather Angel, or Madeline Carroll.
  8. I VITELLONI (1953)

    Federico Fellini's I Vitelloni still charms. It's spirit of independent cinema has influenced directors such Barry Levinson, (who modeled 1982's Diner after it), Martin Scorsese, Richard Linklater, Noah Baumbach and Whit Stillman. The film captures a certain poetic ordinariness in the lives of its aimless, ambition-free characters (called vitelloni in the vernacular). The group's leader, the philandering Fausto, (Franco Fabrizi) appears to have learned his lesson at film's end. But everything about him hints he'll dutifully attend to his wife and baby before boredom soon sets in, and it won't be long before he resumes chasing women and making his wife miserable. The fun-loving Alberto (the great Alberto Sordi), hides the pain from his breadwinner sister running away with a married man, leaving Alberto and his saintly mother to fend for themselves. Alberto promises to find a job, not easy for someone allergic to work. Riccardo (Riccardo Fellini, brother of the director), hangs in the periphery, with dreams of singing, but mostly he just goes with the flow. The lovable Leopoldo, (Leopoldo Trieste) with aspirations of being a famous dramatist, looks destined to keep scribbling away in obscurity, perhaps marrying his next-door neighbor, and confident his next play will pack the theaters of Rome and Milan. We have Moraldo, (Franco Interlenghi) the film's conscience, full of goodwill, at the end boarding a train, off to who knows where, kissing off the small provincial town. I picture Moraldo biding his time, settling in a big city for a while, and with a decent chance of eventually returning home. And how about the sweet, good-natured young G+uido (G+uido Martufi), who works at the train station? The film closes poignantly with him waving goodbye to his friend Moraldo. Who knows what life has in store, but I believe he'll fare the best. Lastly, there's the seaside town that serves as the setting. It's supposed to be Rimini, Fellini's birthplace, a place Fellini had enormous affection for before, like Moraldo, leaving. (Fellini would revisit his past in 1973's brilliant Amarcord). I Vitelloni has dazzling imagery and sound, from the heady nighttime streets, to the giddy masquerade ball, to the howling wind blowing in from the water. And it would be gross negligence not to mention Nino Rota's hypnotic score. If one wanted to experience the Rome of Fellini's La Dolce Vita, it would be rather hard. The Via Veneto and Trevi Fountain are still there, but the optimism of 1960 has been replaced by a world-weary anxiety (captured in 2013's The Great Beauty). But the vitelloni, those cool dudes, one can find them if you want to. They can be seen in the provinces of Torino, Naples, Catania and throughout Italy. These young men will be dressed to the nines, walking the streets, flirting with women, and lounging in their favorite cafe. They'll chronicle everything on social media, blessed with the conviction that tomorrow, they'll land that job, open up that restaurant, or get cast in that movie. I always debate myself where I Vitelloni ranks in the Fellini canon. Suffice to say, it's one of his most essential and best films.
  9. Well, I finally saw this on TCM, and what a cinematic experience. Rocco and His Brothers is now one of my favorites. The story serves as a history lesson for how Italy was in 1960. There's trenchant social commentary without being didactic (Southern, provincial Italians moving to a big city with all the temptations, being called hicks by the Milanese elite, and feeling like strangers in their own country). And most of all, it's a story about the fragile bonds of family. A great film directed by the great Luchino Visconti, who always had a soft spot for the downtrodden Neapolitan folk. Rocco and His Brothers could have easily descended into melodrama in the hands of a lesser director. But Visconti keeps it grounded in the neorealist tradition. All the performances are wonderful. The ending left an impression on me. When Ciro expresses to his youngest brother Luca, who is still a child, his hope that in 20 years, when Luca enters adulthood, Luca will find the world a better place, is a sentiment passed down through the ages. Alain Delon as Rocco represents an ideal. He’s almost Christ-like in his mission to save lost souls, such as his brother Simone (a smoldering Renato Salvatori), who is on a self-destructive path toward gangsterism. Rocco befriends and falls in love with the prostitute Nadia (Annie Girardot), who has rejected Simone, but it’s more to help her escape her endless cycle of exploitation and violence. Bit characters and scenes stay with you. I was struck by the fashionable laundromat where Rocco works, and his interactions with the attractive female workers. Rocco and His Brothers is an uplifting drama. There’s much tragedy, certainly, but also beauty in a family coping with the timeless, dueling forces of change and continuity.
  10. Recommend Underrated Romance Movies

    Brief Encounter (1945) is a gorgeous, nuanced film, with noirish flourishes. Two married strangers meet in a train station and fall in love. Sometimes, commitment and responsibility, as well as societal norms, prevail over love and happiness.
  11. I Just Watched...

    David Fincher is a great stylist and one of my favorite filmmakers. He's behind a show called Mindhunter that's streaming on Netflix. The show explores the psyche of serial killers. Fincher even directed the first two episodes.
  12. I Just Watched...

    I missed this even though it was on my radar. I agree this formula is always alot of fun. Once they start doing those impersonations I can't stop laughing.
  13. I Just Watched...

    Edward Everett Horton makes everything he’s in better. I liked the nightclub scene where Durbin sings “Gimme a Little Kiss, Will Ya Huh?” The strong but deceptive pull of nostalgia makes one yearn for those types of elegant places where everyone is decked out in tuxedos and evening gowns. The dreamy cinematography by Woody Bredell is classic noir though the script is a little wobbly. Bredell also lensed Phantom Lady (1944) and The Killers (1946). Durbin’s rendition of Silent Night was a tad too risqué considering the song, but it got her out of a jam.
  14. My Favorite Year

    Yes, My Favorite Year is always a treat.
  15. Rocco and His Brothers (1960)

    1960 was quite a year in Italian cinema. In addition to Rocco and His Brothers, there was La Dolce Vita (Fellini) L’Avventura (Antonioni) and Two Women (De Sica).
  16. Masculin Feminin (1966)

    Great Picture. I love this film and keep returning to it. The imagery and conversations are so dazzling and the characters are immensely likable. I could go on and on about the great Godard.
  17. 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 this 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.
  18. Recently Watched Horror

    In his introduction to Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970), Ben Mankiewicz said aficionados rate this movie as the second best in the Hammer canon featuring Christopher Lee, after the first, The Horror of Dracula from 1958. I won’t go so far as to rate them, suffice to say that Taste the Blood of Dracula is very good, with clever camera movements, particularly the snake charmer’s mesmerizing dance in the brothel. Indeed, the brothel sequence was quite stylish, while also offering sly commentary on the hypocrisy of Victorian morality. And of course, there’s Christopher Lee as Dracula, who pops up sparingly, but in this case less is more. Filmed from a distance, with his imposing height, and that enveloping cape, Lee still looks menacing. The supporting role that stood out for me was Ralph Bates as the libertine occultist who sets the plot in motion. Bates’s performance veered into ham acting, but in a good way. I also found him, ironically, the most sympathetic character.
  19. Were the British good at musicals?

    The Red Shoes (1948) I guess could qualify as a musical, although it's a very dark one.
  20. I can't see my user name on the upper right part of the screen that tells me I'm signed in. This means I can't sign out. There's no feature to "Like" another post
  21. An evening of Val Lewton

    The last two Val Lewton productions I saw were I Walked with a Zombie and The Leopard Man. Both films had great sets and photography. They functioned more as psychological horror, which engages the imagination.
  22. Noir Alley

    Here are my some of my thoughts on Framed, which was featured on Noir Alley back in September. I meant to post them earlier. Framed (1947) is an enjoyable B movie noir with a few interesting twists. Glenn Ford, coming off Gilda, plays a boozing, unemployed mining engineer who drifts to a small town looking for work. He stops in a cafe, and that's where Janis Carter, working as a barmaid, sizes him up as the perfect patsy for an embezzling scheme her boyfriend (Barry Sullivan) is planning to pull off. Janis Carter is very good as the sharp as a tack femme fatale. Carter's face can instantly turn from welcoming to predatory, with liquid, all-seeing eyes. Whenever Ford's character starts wising up to her motives, she concocts a story to placate him. She's got all the angles covered, except developing feelings for him. Framed is not as stylish as some of the better-known noirs. But the performances are noteworthy, including Barry Sullivan as the crooked bank executive, and Edgar Buchanan as a good-hearted miner who ultimately becomes the fall guy. Ford brings his customary world weariness, toughness and vulnerability. As for Ms. Carter, some reviews I've read praised her portrayal, while others were not so kind, calling it wooden and lacking subtlety. I'm in the former camp, wishing her career included more roles like this. Director Richard Wallace did a fine job maintaining the suspense, and makes the most of what Columbia Pictures wanted to spend. I liked this film alot.
  23. Jennifer Jones romance dramas

    A case could be made that Tender is the Night is Fitzgerald's best book. I wouldn't mind seeing another filmed version. The subjects it covers are very interesting, and I could see it drawing interest from A-Listers.
  24. Noir Alley

    I tend to agree. Her character in Of Human Bondage didn't kill anyone, but she was nonetheless reprehensible to the max. The Letter could be called a noir: lighting, sets and camera work certainly point in that direction. And in The Letter, Bette's character does commit murder.
  25. I Just Watched...

    I enjoyed your review. I also prefer Woman in the Window. Scarlet Street is grittier, but Woman in the Window is more atmospheric.

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