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Everything posted by EricJ

  1. EricJ

    Sports movies

    Most of the circus tricks aren't in the rules, so once black players could get in the NBA, there was no need for "negro-league" basketball or baseball (qv. Bingo Long's Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings) except as exhibition teams. And never had a better dream-team than the 70's lineup most of us children of 70's TV-culture grew up with--I'd forgotten Meadowlark's crazy ball control or bouncing a free-throw. "Fast Break", and no. "Pittsburgh" was the one with Stockard Channing as the astrologist/sports-nut who coaches the team, and Jonathan Winters as the token dopey-white owner.
  2. EricJ

    I Just Watched...

    "Oh, I hate working on deadlines..."
  3. EricJ

    Sports movies

    I remember Siskel & Ebert staring at the smugly-Coen-stylized "Kinky bowling warriors" scene, and--like most sober people watching Big Lebowski--shrugged, "So...what are we supposed to make of that?: That bowlers take themselves too seriously?" (Basically, either you have the same love for the Coens that they have for themselves, or you DON'T.) I'm not crazy about the Farrelly Brothers either, but at least they managed to make Kingpin before they burned themselves out and went mainstream. And am I going to mention Dreamer as the low point of mid-late 70's underdog-sports movies, where we officially proclaimed the genre dead?...Nahh. 😛 Unless it's the Pittsburgh Pisces, with Meadowlark Lemon up against Dr. J: (The only time we saw Harlem Globetrotters moves onscreen outside of Saturday morning or Gilligan's Island.)
  4. EricJ

    Sports movies

    Well, that's pretty much WHY Thenryb put Eight Men Out on his list: You could make a separate list for Best Baseball movies, topped with The Natural and Eight Men Out. (Field of Dreams would rank lower for being "too hippie", Bull Durham close behind, A League of Their Own for being too Lifetime-Network, and Pride of the Yankees would be pretty far down the list. And just because Disney later drowned us in two dozen other bad saintly-coach and/or ragtag-team sports epics hoping "The Mighty Ducks" would happen again, doesn't mean that 2004's Miracle isn't one of THE best sports movies ever made, period, full-stop:
  5. EricJ

    I Just Watched...

    Some of the good ones came out in the 80's (like Misery)-- Christine (1983) feels like the purest straight "text" version of King's style, via John Carpenter; everyone started going back and watching David Cronenberg's The Dead Zone (1983) during the '16 Trump campaign, and Cat's Eye (1985) is more of a fun tongue-in-cheek fluff-diversion to clear the palate. The 70's stories, like Brian dePalma's Carrie (1976), were a little too early in his writing style, and his 90's-00's stories were starting to drift out of genre-horror, although I'll still defend what Tom Holland could make out of Thinner (1996)--If we couldn't have prime 80's Holland direct prime 80's King, this is the next best thing. Actually, they were promoting it because the '60 videotape was just being released on VHS! at the time. And where it was probably the best version on TV we had for about twelve years, until they put the '00 Cathy Rigby production on DVD. I believe Rigby's performance will solve a lot of the 1960 problems you may have had with Mary's production. "Gaudy" was certainly the word for a lot of late-50's/early 60's TV variety. (A rare package of 50's kinescope stage productions surfaced on Amazon Prime, including the original B/W 50's first Mary Martin version, but it's fairly identical, improvement.)
  6. EricJ

    Screen Legends, according to Starz

    "Screen legends" out of the movies they HAVE. Movies on cable/streaming don't exist before 1985, you know.
  7. Private Life of Sherlock Holmes has some occasional Wilder-ish moments, mostly in side comic situations where Watson finds people constantly mistaking his relationship with Holmes--not that the movie itself doesn't, either--but they feel like Wilder's own stylistic additions to a big-budget early 70's UA movie that anyone could have directed. It's Wilder with a big budget, but could just as easily have been Blake Edwards with a big budget. (Albeit slightly better.) It's a few steps above what the Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly movie wanted so desperately to be, but...........WASN'T. 😱
  8. Okay, I'll cite the same Bugs Bunny quote I used every other time I heard some easily impressed Criterion fan rapture over Terrence Malick's "vision": "Tell us your story from the beginning:" "Well, in the beginning, the volcanoes were erupting, the earth was forming!...Then, in a little pool, two tiny amoeba--" "No, no, that's TOO far back!" 😄 (And Honest Trailers already did the joke about Boyhood, ie. that we already had a movie where we got to watch the young cast grow up into teen years as they were filmed in real time over the course of ten years--Namely, the Harry Potter movies.) Btw, was it Gene Siskel who first officially coined the "Hours of your life you'll never get back" phrase, or does anyone remember an earlier usage before 1978-81?
  9. EricJ

    I Just Watched...

    I'm not sure which is funnier, Marlon Brando as Don Corleone ice skating, or Brando as Corleone discussing Curious George. ("Yeah, yeah, the...'Man with the Yellow Hat'.")
  10. EricJ

    I Just Watched...

    Back when we still had a TCM/Filmstruck blog, the blogger tended to get a little, um, overexcited during Gay Cinema themed month, point out that veteran Lewton writer Dewitt Bodeen was "one of us, one of us! ", and tried to find all the buddy-shoutout "hidden lesbian subtexts" in Cat People that were sure to be there. (And, like most "hateful/intolerant" folks who objected, I was kicked off for asking what she made of Irena & Amy's "secret" relationship in Curse of the Cat People. I don't recall whether there was anybody left to comment on the blog, by the time it moved to Tumblr.) So, yeah, I was sniffing a little in that direction, although we're told how free-spirited the sister was, I took the "Suicide" angle more to be that of the self-destructive party life in the artists' Village community. Which, again, six o' one... (Accdg. to IMDb, Bodeen's original draft just had the heroine investigating a string of murders before she might become the Seventh Victim--But like most Lewton title-switches, we can only guess what was on Val's mind.)
  11. In fact, not to show off or anything, but believe that IS California Suite in the picture?
  12. EricJ

    I Just Watched...

    The Seventh Victim (1943) The last RKO film on Warner's Val Lewton boxset that I could never find at the library, but it just turned up on Amazon VOD, and I had a free digital rental, so thought I'd clean up the oversight. I'm not sure if this is the film that officially caused RKO to rein in their errant art-horror guru--and stick him with Boris Karloff to make sure they got actual horror, just like Universal--but, more than most Lewton films that started out as a completely different story, this one's probably his most...muddled. The story feels like it spends so much time trying to be an "allegory" for something, it's hard to nail down what the flipping heck it IS. Supposedly, we follow virginal girls'-school student Kim Hunter, as she has to go to NY to track down her missing sister who disappeared into the Greenwich Village life, and later discovers her sister has been marked for death by a sinister occult organization among the city elite, and you can never tell who might be In On It--Call it "Rosemary's Sister". There's an intriguing beginning with a private detective, two helpful male romantic-leads, and the usual Cat People-esque Val Lewton nervous street chases, but once we meet the sister, the story keeps trying to lecture us on something else. We learn that the sister was starting to feel unfulfilled and suicidal, but once the Sinister Organization catches up with her, to "sacrifice" her into silence, their method is to sit her at a table and browbeat her into trying to drink a glass of poison--after all, she wanted to kill herself, didn't she?--like Eyes Wide Shut re-enacting the Death of Socrates. And although we're told who the Sinister Occult Organization is, we never actually see them doing anything sinister or occult: With a few rewrites, the baddies could just as easily have been secret Nazi saboteurs, and, in DeWitt Bodeen's earlier murder-mystery draft of the story, probably were. The movie ends with our two heroes catching up with the baddies and self-righteously lecturing them, for reasons that seem to go a lot deeper than just being Sinister or Occult. Unlike the usual tight Lewton button-pushing (there's a neat chill that foreshadows Hitchcock's shower scene, seventeen years early), there's so much Message, Metaphor and Allegory muddling the thriller, it feels like a screenwriter wanted to get something off his chest--It's the kind of story that a screenwriter would write after going through his own personal issues, and forget to not make them so personal for the studio.
  13. A while back, we had one female movie blogger/essayist who (wishfully) thought Norma was the tragic martyred "heroine" of the movie, still preserving her pure love for Hollywood gone by, and sadly crushed by it as her "We had faces then" went unheard... And the reaction from most of the actual movie fans was: "Nnnno. No, no, no, no, no. NO." She's what Joe could have become if he stayed around longer--The movie opens with studio hopeful Joe floating in a pool, and as we learn, it was Hollywood that pulled the trigger. To borrow the Eagles' metaphor, no one ever checks out of the Hotel Hollywood, and certainly not on their own two feet.
  14. More than that, though--Think one of the reasons a foreign genre-based hit, like "Let the Right One In", "Shall We Dance?" or "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo", even when they do become hits in mainstream cineplexes with subtitles, immediately have studios thinking they "have" to do big-budget Americanized remakes with A-list stars, is a sort of snobbery about the type of films that foreigns have been associated with. We see "French" and think it'll be artsy and obscure, "German" and think it'll be disturbing and experimental, or "Swedish" and think it'll be full of whispering sad people, but when a country produces a real action movie, horror or fantasy, Hollywood studios think those countries have gotten "too big for their britches": Hey, Norway, you're not allowed to make "Trollhunter", you're one of those European countries, you're just supposed to make obscure talky dramas about forbidden affairs, play arthouses, and just get snooty critics' awards! "Snobbery", yes, but here's the thing: HOW did they get that reputation in the first place? Nobody's exactly innocent.
  15. I didn't mean YOU-you, I meant the rhetoric reader. Most people picked that up. We've actually had very few foreign-language Picture nominees, and those were considered to be the good ones of the indies--It's just the glut of indies itself that's been considered the bane of the Post-'04 Oscars, and yes, isolating it down to just "Americans don't like non-American films" did come off a bit too snobby in adopting that as what looked like one oversimplified explanation. Okay, you liked Roma, we've established that. If this were a five-nomination year, it would make the "A"-list five-nomination cut. It's just the Academy still stubbornly sticking to its failed '08 idea that "Eight or ten nominations would bring in more commercial films"--When, as it turned out, exactly the OPPOSITE happened, and glutted the Picture races with minor cerebral indie films more suited for just a handful of Acting and Writing nominations just to fill out the list, and caused the natives to turn restless. Most of us spotted it the first year, when a lot of buzz about "Gee, will Quentin Tarantino get something for 'Inglorious Basterds' like he usually does?", or "'District 9' will probably get a Picture nom, it's, like, really metaphorical about South Africa!" gave us the distinct hint that the voters were starting to get a little desperate and guess.
  16. Those are the black marks, but Front Page is worth watching for being the "real" (un-coded) version of the original 20's play, tailored for Wilder's usual Lemmon/Matthau team-up. (Btw, I am the first person so far to mention the funny Lemmon/Matthau team-up in The Fortune Cookie, I'm guessing?) Reportedly, it was originally going to be a Dan Aykroyd & Bill Murray TV-news "Front Page", on the heels of Ghostbusters' success, but Murray was starting to act like a diva and wanted to get out of comedies, and the project fell into studio-hell mutation.
  17. Wilder reportedly threw out much of the original play of The Seven Year Itch since it didn't fit his image of what he wanted to use Marilyn and Tom for--You can throw out the play if you're making a theatrical comedy, but you can't make a hit Broadway musical and throw out the freakin' SONGS!! (Reminiscent of a line from one comedy, where a high school drama club says "We're doing the Non-Musical Version of 'Grease'--We couldn't get the song rights.") I remember hearing an instrumental of the titular Broadway tune on some elevator Muzak when I was a kid, and couldn't identify it for years until it turned up as the incidental music for Wilder's opening of the movie. And it was another decade or two before I even found out the name of the song.
  18. MissW leaped on the "foreign" thing for quick Merkan-culture bashing, but it's not "foreign", it's INDIES (mostly caused by fans and voters now using the National Board of Reviews list to pick their Draft Day choices from) that have been causing the rumblings of mutiny among Oscar fans. And for what lit that particular match in the fire, I triple-dog-dare you to sit all the way through Terence Malick's Tree of Life, and why everyone thought that was "soulful" and "visionary" to take Picture away from "Hugo" and "The Artist"--Boyhood in '14 was only icing on the cake. (And at this point, I'd normally do my standard default Bugs Bunny joke about "Tree of Life", but I'll save it for any thread-drift. )
  19. To take example, let's just dissect the issue and say that, for one, it's getting harder and harder to tell the "Secret persecuted gay relationship" indie Picture nominees apart, after Moonlight, Carol and The Imitation Game. Yes, every actor or filmmaker within the community feels they "have" to make one (does Ian McKellen make movies about anything else anymore?), and every, er, sympathetic voter or critic has to demand that it become forefront in our Oscar attention, but that doesn't mean a market isn't being glutted. For any indie genre. Before you leap on that, that's not THE issue I'm complaining about, but let's take that as one cherrypicked microcosm symptom and start there. The one year we had Oprah championing black-empowerment and telling the public "If you don't vote for 'Selma' for Picture, you're racist!" was bad enough, but when it was compiled by Harvey Fierstein saying "If you don't vote for 'Imitation Game' for Picture, you're intolerant!", that's when Oscars' indie-obsession started getting a little too calculated and noisome. ...Remember, they can still be in British or American English and STILL be placid or overbearing enough to drive away our interest.
  20. I mentioned the movie's "motif" use of Khachaturian's "Sabre Dance" throughout the movie ('cause it's, like, Russian, get it?) over in the Classical Music thread--And by the time they bring it out again for the wild car chase in the climax, you realize, no other movie DESERVES to use it on the soundtrack quite as well. If the only other image we associate with "Sabre Dance" is somebody frantically keeping twelve plates spinning on the Ed Sullivan show, that's exactly what Wilder's comedy is doing. 😵 I always said that Rumpole of the Bailey was "Witness for the Prosecution: the Series". And Laughton would have made a good Horace Rumpole, if the books had existed in the 40's.
  21. EricJ

    I Just Watched...

    Before video, the only place I'd ever heard this movie described was in Michael Medved's original "Fifty Worst Films", and no, I didn't believe it was real.
  22. Fresh in my mind from another thread, I'm sticking up for One, Two, Three as my pick--A perfect example of what the Three Stooges displayed in "You Nazty Spy", namely that our most powerful Yankee weapon is to hit a banana-cream pie in the face of fascist dictators. The Zuckers' "Hot Shots, Part Deux" proved that you could go gleefully lowbrow against Saddam Hussein, but Billy Wilder had Nikita Kruschev to deal with in 1961. And even if the Farrelly Brothers had done a Cold War comedy, they couldn't have gone more enthusiastically inappropriate and politically-incorrect than Billy Wilder manages to take Russia and East Berlin apart, and James Cagney is yankee-doodle-dandy enough to keep up with the brassy speed of Wilder's farce. 😆 (Some Like It Hot is okay, but it needed an actress fast enough to keep up with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis--Marilyn is nice, but speedy sardonic zingers aren't her comic specialty. At least Seven Year Itch fell more within her speed for comedy.)
  23. Or, that we've had "Art" indies rammed up our collective Oscar behinds for the last decade, we've stopped seeking them out because we've stopped being able to tell them apart. In any other five-nomination year of the 80's or 90's, Roma would be the Critical Darling that would invariably lose to the populist favorite (which is why every single culturally-paranoid regional NBOR critic would give it Best of the Year to thumb their nose at "the superhero movie"), but now that we've gotten EIGHT of them a year at the Oscars, every year, for the last ten years, "Fatigue" is the polite way of putting it. Any other way would be censored by the Mods.
  24. EricJ

    Favorite Rapid Fire Insult Movies

    Or as Benny Hill parodied: (actress storms off of failed commercial) "Who do I have to sleep with to get OFF this job??" (Benny follows offstage) "...Er, if you've got a moment, I could tell you? "
  25. Gags only took the project because, oo, Barbara Streisand! (And, ironically, not so much because of Judy Garland.) Barbara Streisand later became power-mad in the late-70's to early 80's after her Star is Born and Funny Lady, going from producing to directing "Yentl", and eventually getting a Best Director/Picture nomination for "Prince of Tides". I don't see Mr. G going on to the same influence in the industry. Mr. G is sort of like the rainbow Quentin Tarantino, parasitically attaching "herself" to every single cult fan-influence "she" grew up with, and demanding the same love and more attention for it. And I say that not only as a Hatsune Miku fan who wishes Gags would mind "her" own danged business, but also as a Muppets fan who had to watch Gags do three separate TV specials with the Muppets just because the Disney movie had frustratingly cut out "her" big number with Miss Piggy.

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