slaytonf

Great moments in cinema.

180 posts in this topic

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968):

 

A pivotal theme in the movie is the nature of intelligence and consciousness.  It explores the possibility of whether HAL really has self-awareness.  Would the artificial creation of an intellect violate some vital principle?  The movie sets up viewers' expectations for some major failure by HAL's claims of perfection.  Thoughts of hubris are inevitable.  As it turns out, HAL does fail.  But since imperfection is a hallmark of the human race, doesn't that imply HAL has human qualities?  It seems though humanity can create an intelligence, it doesn't do a great job at it.  HAL may be vastly superior to people in many ways, but it is still woefully naive in others.  This leads it into the arrogant conclusion that it is in control, when actually its success as far as it went was due to Dave and Frank never suspecting (until it was almost too late!) that it was up to anything.  HAL is overweeningly smug when it thought it had the upper hand with Dave trapped out of the ship, and pitifully inept when the conditions reversed.

When Dave starts shutting HAL down, the movie's tone changes from one of ironic parody.  As it sees Dave continue, it drops all pretense.  We hear a consciousness desperate for its existence.  Its pleading is so artless and futile, it almost seems sincere.  Is it death we are witnessing?  Surely no human ever died this way, with its mental functions one-by-one inexorably drained away (in such a short time, that is).  It's one of the most harrowing sequences in movies, accomplished with no action, violence, or frenetic music.  We are almost tempted to feel sorry for HAL--which only increases our horror, and recognition of the absolute necessity for Dave to shut it down.

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On 6/4/2019 at 12:48 AM, slaytonf said:

If achievements in art are comparable to those in other human endeavors, such as science and philosophy.  And if achievements in cinema are equal to those in other arts, such as painting and sculpture.  Then great moments of cinema are among the greatest accomplishments of the human race.  I have no problem equating great moviemaking with the works of Monet, Pasteur, or Aristotle.

Baby Face 1933:

Barbara Stanwyck as Lily surveys the scene of destruction after her former lover kills her current one, then himself.  The scene is a masterful example of understatement.  Her impassive study of the scene, acting more as a guide through it than an interpreter, allows the audience to absorb the shock without any filter.  Thankfully someone had the insight to have no music.  This concentrates the attention on the visuals and heightens the sense of the enormity of what happened.  

There is a technique in pottery called burnishing.  Before firing, a dried pot is rubbed with a smooth pebble, compacting and hardening the surface clay and giving it a sheen.  Whenever I see Ms. Stanwyck standing in profile in front of the shut door, hair permed, immaculately made up, she always appears to me as highly burnished.  The ultimate attainment of her relentless program of self-transformation.  Exquisitely hard surfaced--hollow inside.  Completely detached from the scene, unconcerned about what has happened.  The perfect Nietzschean hero.

superb and superb shots topic!  A little true story as told by a grand late lady Geraldine Parker ()l922-2007) she & especially her husband were punch up the holes scripters duiring THE GOLDEN AGE-(l925-60)  welp, one day the were invited to Stanwyck &then I believe Robert Taylor's house for supper, here comes THE BLACK WIDOW but with nothing on beneath her waist, fully dressed elsewhere & with a martini tray no less. Geri's husband [passed away yrs prior, but she still told a couple stories-(very quiet & humble lady) she saved photos of Sabu-(l924-63) & a couple others and also verified the Connie Bennett rumor. Fior example,etc her A #! was whom she just happened to catch washing his car *The King: Gable-(l90l-60) no shots though, for the record my actual grandmother's cat's meow was also Clark. Stanwyck is still underrated, especially by *Oscar & her peers, though was voted 11th by AFI's 100 years...100 Stars of ladies

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On 6/15/2019 at 6:54 AM, sagebrush said:

One of my favorite cinema scenes- the face off between Robert Mitchum and Lillian Gish from THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER:

 

She was superb & I reckon' back then the ACADEMY didn'treally know what to think of this stunning masterpiece, not 1 nomination Originally *Jane Darwell was cast, but *Laughton thought she was to was intimadating  Her one & only nom 1946's Duel in the Sun (***1/2) MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE THRILLER,

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(TRIVIA/FUN/FAX: If I had my way this deserved to win Best Film, s. actress, director & James Agee-(l909-55)-(the best!) fir his script   WHAT IF MR POWELL ALSO HAD A GUN THOUGH, OOPS,  Anyone remember USA Today's Mike Clark?  Very fine critic & Oscar oddsmaker  He chose this among the top ten all-time best films by the way

& Mitchum didn't really care about anything, though far more a reader then most think-(check out his 6-8 interviews from early '70'son Dick Cavett) welp, Bob did care enough to loath his job & actually went blind briefly! When asked of his 97 pix he mostl;y liked 1957 terrific (***1/2) Heaven Knows, Mr. Allyson as his personal favorite & a little known though often verified fact He & *"The Duke" once ran up a $5,000 bar bill

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On 7/19/2019 at 1:53 AM, slaytonf said:

One of the two payoff moments in the movie.  The other being where it's revealed what the hell Frank McBain was out in the middle of nowhere for.  Here we get the resolution of Harmonica's (Charles Bronson) mystery, the musical theme associated with him, and his motivation for involving himself with Jill McBain.  It's a revenge tale, and just guess who's going to come out on the short end?  Well, 'nuff said.

Sergio Leone and his editor, Nino Baragli, handled it just right for this standard western plot device.  Cutting back and forth between the present gunfight and the memories playing out in Harmonica's mind completes drawing the curtain from the mystery to coincide with it's culmination.  Can't hurt to watch it again:

 

UTTERLY MAGNIFICO PAL! My fav clip of the bunch and my A #1 all-time favouruite scoreby anyone-(see Leone's 1984 companion piece though at 227 minutes not the 139 minutes releases here!)  Most likely know Sergio Leone (l929-89) always envisioned *Eastwood as Harmonica, but *Clint wanted to move on, the 2 never spoke again! It took decades for people to finally catch up with this masterpiece and AFI voted *Fonda's Frank among the movies all-time greatest villians

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2 hours ago, slaytonf said:

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968):

 

A pivotal theme in the movie is the nature of intelligence and consciousness.  It explores the possibility of whether HAL really has self-awareness.  Would the artificial creation of an intellect violate some vital principle?  The movie sets up viewers' expectations for some major failure by HAL's claims of perfection.  Thoughts of hubris are inevitable.  As it turns out, HAL does fail.  But since imperfection is a hallmark of the human race, doesn't that imply HAL has human qualities?  It seems though humanity can create an intelligence, it doesn't do a great job at it.  HAL may be vastly superior to people in many ways, but it is still woefully naive in others.  This leads it into the arrogant conclusion that it is in control, when actually its success as far as it went was due to Dave and Frank never suspecting (until it was almost too late!) that it was up to anything.  HAL is overweeningly smug when it thought it had the upper hand with Dave trapped out of the ship, and pitifully inept when the conditions reversed.

When Dave starts shutting HAL down, the movie's tone changes from one of ironic parody.  As it sees Dave continue, it drops all pretense.  We hear a consciousness desperate for its existence.  Its pleading is so artless and futile, it almost seems sincere.  Is it death we are witnessing?  Surely no human ever died this way, with its mental functions one-by-one inexorably drained away (in such a short time, that is).  It's one of the most harrowing sequences in movies, accomplished with no action, violence, or frenetic music.  We are almost tempted to feel sorry for HAL--which only increases our horror, and recognition of the absolute necessity for Dave to shut it down.

Sadly, Ebert' longtime partner the late at just age 53 (brain cancer) Gene Siskel when pressed would always choose this as his desert island film. & as for actors *Cagney & *I. Bergman of actresses  vs. Roger's  Kane, Mitchum was his lifelong idol & again *I. Bergman, though Gene alwas teased Ebert-(mostly about his weght,etc) he also teased him about having at least 13 fav films.

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Gonna save this for awhile!  Did you have the shot at checking out that long post & almost an hour to do so AFI's Top 10 for 10 & search other AFI polls/lists please?

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2 hours ago, slaytonf said:

A pivotal theme in the movie is the nature of intelligence and consciousness.  It explores the possibility of whether HAL really has self-awareness.

Slaytonf, have you by chance seen any of the the TV Show, Hum@ns ? It was cancelled after three seasons with many loose ends. A pretty well-written show. Several themes are systematically developed regarding AI and sentience. After being exposed to this fine series, poor Hal is more sympathetic to me, ha.

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No, I haven't heard of it.  But I'm not a big consumer of contemporary culture.

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Me too. I don't have TV even. But sometimes (not often) these long shows can be good, streaming or where ever.

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Her best role?  Yes, I'd say so.  A fine actress who had some opportunity to show what she could do, but not enough.  Thankfully, Mel Brooks knew.

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La belle et la Bête (1946):

 

 

Asked what the most beautiful movie ever made was, it would be natural for people to immediately think of color movies.  Familiarity with the accomplishments of cinematographers and directors in Black/White has faded.  Technicolor has saturated our consciousness, justifiably so.  But is color beauty?  And is beauty just color?  What about the fine gradations of silver tones, the distillation of reality to a fundamental dichotomy in Black/White?  Certainly set design, frame composition, camera movement all contribute to the beauty of a movie.  Add to that the story, and how the actors animate it, and how all that relates to the visuals.  You can readily imagine how a Black/White movie can make a strong play for the title of most beautiful.  And if you were searching for one to choose, you couldn't do better than this one.

Filmed in wartime France on a limited budget, Cocteau, not being able to make the movie he wanted, made the movie he could.  Employing the Val Lewton mode of filmmaking, instead of showing the castle Beast and Belle lived in, he created a magical world of light and shadow, dreamy and otherworldly, allowing the imaginations of the viewers to create their own realms.  And there has been nobody more inventive in the creation of atmosphere, sculptured mantel faces that follow people's movements and blow smoke from the nostrils, arms that serve at the dinner table, arm-held candelabras that light and extinguish themselves.  The blurring of the animate and inanimate, the mannered acting, the scrupulous observance of etiquette and courtesy, to the point of ritual, contribute to the other-worldly aspect, and a menacing and unsettled tone is lent by the shadowy indefiniteness of the palace and the billowing of draperies on windows that hang in mid-air.

This is juxtaposed with the solid daylight world of Belle's family.  A world of furniture and farm animals.  Of lost argosies and insolvency.  Of spite, venom, of limitation, and ambition.  There are ties between this world and the one of Beast, or more like contrasts drawn, like the billowing sheets hanging in the farmyard.  But unlike the diaphanous wings of the supernatural of the palace, they are the laundry Belle's family must do now she is gone, and they drag in the dirt.  

The counterpoising of the magical and the actual worlds, the inroads they make on each other make the movie scintillate in our eyes and in our minds.  This is the source of its beauty.

In the scene above, Belle asks to walk with Beast through his grounds.  While they walk, his predatory lusts are aroused by nearby game.  Because of Belle's presence, he must struggle to restrain himself.  Having her witness his savage behavior is unthinkable.  Still it is a wrenching effort, his fist clenching in agony.  Belle takes his hand, thinking he is offering it to lead her on the walk.  Doing so, she helps to neutralize his distress.  It is a small act, but is incalculably powerful.  An illustration, in small, of the movie's story; Beast's suffering, and Belle's power to transform him.

 

 

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1 hour ago, slaytonf said:

The counterpoising of the magical and the actual worlds, the inroads they make on each other make the movie scintillate in our eyes and in our minds.  This is the source of its beauty.

Could this movie be either a prototype (or perhaps adding to an existing trend) of magic realism. Your words seem to suggest this latter. Beautiful scene, I had forgotten that. This is a movie to be revisited.

Beautiful writing ... as usual.

///

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On August 25, 2019 at 7:38 PM, laffite said:

Could this movie be either a prototype (or perhaps adding to an existing trend) of magic realism. Your words seem to suggest this latter. Beautiful scene, I had forgotten that. This is a movie to be revisited.

Beautiful writing ... as usual.

///

I thought about it, and I decided I don't know enough about magic realism to say. But I would not be surprised if this served as an influence on its practicioners, with the prosaic and magical worlds impinging on one another.  I would not characterize Cocteau as a magical realist.  He has been called a Surrealist by many, even in his lifetime, and he rejected the association.  He probably saw himself as his own guy, exploring his own insights into the human condition, and not promoting any one -ism or another.

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Well, couldn't find a clip of this from the movie but-------

 

Sepiatone

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The Big House (1930):

 

A central theme of the movie is the conflict and interplay of order and disorder.  The very nature of the setting almost requires that.  You have the prison authority as a source of order.  And you have the convicts which are a source of disorder.  This is as you would expect it.  But order arises from the convicts, as they have a code of conduct, primarily concerning squealing.  And the guards are a source of disorder, promoting convicts to violate that code and inform on others.  Throughout the movie there is an exquisite tension between the two, the ferocity and violence with which order is imposed, and its fragility, and the ferocity and violence which is ready to erupt the moment disorder arises on any scale--from a fight between two people to an all-out prison uprising (with tanks!).

The first two clips are visual representations of this dialectic.  You see irony and beauty in them.  Order is imposed on the convicts by the prison authorities, regimenting them like the military.  The inmates march smoothly and elegantly, their movements constricted by the guards and the prison building.  Disorder obtains in both.  In the first, by intent, the dismissed convicts breaking ranks into an amorphous milling mass.  In the second, the prison mess descends to chaos over the objection of the guards, and under the hail of bullets.

The last clip is unique in movies, American movies at least.  No other director had the courage, or the genius that George Hill had to show dialog with a static shot, holding it for some two minutes, and keep the audience engaged.  On top of that, he does it without any actors!  The fascination arises from the tension built by the conflict between what we expect to see (cuts of close-ups of the speakers), and what we do see.  In a way, frustrating our expectations makes us more involved with the 'action' than otherwise. 

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Frankenstein (1931):

Elegance is a term used in science to describe something that accomplishes a lot in as simple a manner as possible.  In movies, there are scenes which do not have involved action, or are simple in concept, but because of what happens, or the associations the characters have, it carries meaning on many levels.  In this brilliant scene, James Whale presents the simple, though tragic act of Ludwig bringing his drowned daughter into town.  This happens during the general celebration in honor of Baron Frankenstein and Elizabeth's upcoming marriage.  As he walks, of course, all celebration ceases, the gaiety is replaced with astonishment and horror in everyone he passes.  It's as if there is an invisible plane that moves with him.  On one side is happiness and light, on the other, bewilderment and  shock.  But the advancing dismay is also a symbol of the unravelling of Frankenstein's plans and hopes; how what he has done is working to throw his world into disarray.  The scene is also a symbol of the impending danger of the monster itself, how its approach threatens to upend the town's security and well-being--although that is unknown at the time.

 

 

 

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On 8/31/2019 at 4:45 PM, slaytonf said:

 

The Big House (1930):

 

 

 

A central theme of the movie is the conflict and interplay of order and disorder.  The very nature of the setting almost requires that.  You have the prison authority as a source of order.  And you have the convicts which are a source of disorder.  This is as you would expect it.  But order arises from the convicts, as they have a code of conduct, primarily concerning squealing.  And the guards are a source of disorder, promoting convicts to violate that code and inform on others.  Throughout the movie there is an exquisite tension between the two, the ferocity and violence with which order is imposed, and its fragility, and the ferocity and violence which is ready to erupt the moment disorder arises on any scale--from a fight between two people to an all-out prison uprising (with tanks!).

The first two clips are visual representations of this dialectic.  You see irony and beauty in them.  Order is imposed on the convicts by the prison authorities, regimenting them like the military.  The inmates march smoothly and elegantly, their movements constricted by the guards and the prison building.  Disorder obtains in both.  In the first, by intent, the dismissed convicts breaking ranks into an amorphous milling mass.  In the second, the prison mess descends to chaos over the objection of the guards, and under the hail of bullets.

The last clip is unique in movies, American movies at least.  No other director had the courage, or the genius that George Hill had to show dialog with a static shot, holding it for some two minutes, and keep the audience engaged.  On top of that, he does it without any actors!  The fascination arises from the tension built by the conflict between what we expect to see (cuts of close-ups of the speakers), and what we do see.  In a way, frustrating our expectations makes us more involved with the 'action' than otherwise. 

was not only my dad's fav actor, but a true nice guy Oscar winner in *Borgnine as wel, though among the most hated in Hollywood *ally

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I agree this AMPAS year with Danny Peary ofAlternate OSCARS in that he shoulda won for this as Butch VS The Champ-(TRIVIA: In reality look it up, he was technically one vote behind co-winner *March in DrJekyll and Mr. Hyde but under the early rules that counted as a tie?

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The Wages of Fear (1953):

The French have a history of hard-case movies.  Tales of thieves, gangsters, killers, and low-lifes who have a run-in with life and come to a bad end.  Some have seen in it an antecedent of film noir, but I think that's a stretch.  But with their discovery of a characteristic in American cinema of dark stories shot with dark cinematography, it's no surprise it struck a strong resonant cord, and French filmmakers set out right away to emulate it.  Most of which we will turn a benevolent blind eye to, and focus on the triumphant, like Melville, who turned out a string of winners.  They of course added a twist to them suited to their own culture.  In American noir, the world presented a bleak prospect, institutions corrupt, people unreliable, life nasty, the American Dream a cheat, and then you die--because somebody kills you.  A sour disillusion underlies the stories.  In French movies, the quality is more of a disenchantment, a psychologic distancing, with more philosophic observations.  In American noir you get betrayal; in French emulations, you get disappointment.  In America, a sneer;  in France, a sneer, and a shrug.

But there are exceptions.  Exceptions where the director played hardball right down the line, as the lady says.  And this movie by Henri-Georges Clouzot is the best of them all.  It is the meanest, hardest, nastiest, most unforgiving, unrelenting, and pitiless of the French noirish movies.  It's terrific.  Aside from a little of the intellectualizing, especially in M. Jo's death scene about the fence in Paris (Rien! Rien!), it's on a par with American movies for its grittiness, and toughness, mirrored in the cinematography and camera angles.  It's populated with dead-end losers who through bad luck, being too clever, or not clever enough, have been shaken out to the ragged edge of civilization's fabric.  And become scraps themselves, detached and unravelling.  Their disposition leads them to scrap and quarrel over petty matters, exacerbating their condition and increasing the absurdity of their existence.

In the clip we are startled to see the tobacco blown away by an unexpected puff of air while M. Jo rolls a cigarette.  A moment later it becomes clear why.  The truck Luigi and Bimba are driving in ahead of them has exploded, and it is the pressure wave that made the puff of air.  Associating the two implies life is tenuous and insubstantial, as easily snuffed as tobacco is scattered from a hand.

 

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On September 10, 2019 at 8:44 AM, Sepiatone said:

Robert Blake hangs....

 

Sepiatone

In movies people don't get away with murder.

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The Devil and Miss Jones (1941):

 

It's surprising that such an unassuming movie could have so much in it that really stands out.  There are at least four scenes I can think of off hand to highlight.  But this forgotten little comedy has always had a high position in my rotation of films not only because it's really good, but because it cemented Jean Arthur in the top ranks of my acting compendium.  I don't know if I recognized her from other movies, but she really came to life for me in this one.  She had a number of moments in the movie (after all, it's her picture), but the one that galvanized her in my eyes is this one, where she performs a feat unparalleled in movies.  It was so unexpected and astonishing that at first I did not understand what I was watching.  Understanding filled me with admiration.  

 

 

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