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LEAST & MOST FAVORITE of the week...

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Watchmen was clearly the least impressive movie I saw last week. It's unimaginative, at times idiotically close to the book. At other times the changes it does make are flawed (does every fight have to be more violent than in the actual book) and having every fight in slow motion gets really annoying. Tarzan and his Mate was better, and with nudity!, while A Prophet is an interesting crime thriller. Dancing Lady is not very special, while The Americanization of Emily lacks something.

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I saw several movies last week. Certified Copy was clearly the best, one of the best movies of last year, and which I recommend for everyone to see if you are able. Drowning by Numbers by contrast was clearly my least favorite. I don't really like Greenaway: his visuals are always interesting, but I don't like his attitude. It's kind of smarmy, I don't like the way he combines sex, violence and cheap misanthropy. Why would a boy interested in games attempt to circumcise himself, and then hang himself? Why would a woman marry someone and then kill him three weeks later. I think I might have liked The Ear better had the video worked properly. As it stands it just stopped and started very unpleasantly. The Devil, Probably and Ulysses' Gaze are very good movies, even if they aren't as supreme as the best works of Bernanos and Angelopoulos. The Story of Women is also a good movie. It suffers from a mistranslated title. One might think that it was a didactic movie about the essence of being a woman. In fact a more accurate translation would be "Women's Business," which fits better the subject matter of a working class French women who carries out abortions and is executed by the Vichy government to show its moral seriousness. I would think that Isabelle Huppert gave the Best Actress performance of 1988, though to be fair I haven't seen Jodie Foster in The Accused.

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Favorite of the week: definitely *Ashes and Diamonds*, a great film brilliantly directed. If you're reluctant to watch a Polish film with subtitles, think of it as film noir. Black & white, chiaroscuro lighting, and since this is set in Poland as the Nazis leave and the Soviets roll in, more doom than any 10 American noirs.

 

Least favorite: *The Flame Within*. Edmund Goulding's film, which he wrote and directed, begins well, as doctors dressed in clown costumes for a New Year's Eve ball get called away to perform surgery. Alas, it gets stagy after that, and the less than 75 minute running time seems long. Ann Harding, Herbert Marshall, Maureen O'Sullivan, and Louis Hayward deserve better.

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I saw a large number of films last week. A League of their Own was surprisingly charming and competent. I (Heart) Huckabees was probably the film I liked the most last week, an offbeat and original comedy. This was striking since I didn't particularly care for the other two David Russell films I saw last week. Reign of Terror/Black Book did show some of the old Anthony Mann competence, but it was so silly as history that I didn't particularly care for it. The Incredible Shrinking Man was surprisingly effective. It shows that simple situations are often the best. Viy is a Soviet film based on a story by Gogol. It's OK in it's own way, I guess.

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I appreciated the cinematography of THE BLACK BOOK. I thought Robert Cummings and Arlene Dahl were photographed very well.

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Clearly The Tree of Life was the best movie I saw last week, and indeed it is the best movie I've seen made in the last six to seven years. If you were to say that it was the finest movies ever made, I wouldn't object, and only comparisons to The Mirror and Pather Panchali helps put its exhilaration into perspective.

 

As for the others, Chang isn't really a good ethnographic movie, compared to Tabu or even Nanook of the North. Interesting, "Chang" refers to a local term for elephants. It is not a reference to the Chinese, and in facts takes place in the jungle. Nevertheless the use of elephants and tigers endangering people shows some of the skill the filmmakers would use more famously in King Kong. 1941 is one of Steven Spielberg's less admired movies, and having seen it, I'm not suprised. The only thing Spielberg really brings to the movie is enough financial backing to waste it in gags of mass destruction. Both Summertime, Major Barbara and The Thief of Bagdad are pretty good. Robert Marley is particularly good, even though it's absurd for him to play Wendy Hiller's father. Flight of the Lost Balloon has many flaws. It's casually racist, the villain is more interesting than the hero and heroine, and the direction needs to be tightened up. Also, the strategem under the movie is far too complicated, and the screenwriter seems to have forgotten that the movie has ended with the villain winning the treasure. Nevertheless I hardly think it's as horrible as the Maltin film guide says it is. True, I am a sucker for movies involving balloons. But I think this works rather well. It's seems better than The Island at the top of the world, another movie involving balloons which I also saw as a child, and which I rewatched in the nineties and was disappointed with. I am Love is not very interesting to be frank.

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Not so hot last week in film: Jailhouse Rock had a more interesting Elvis Presley, but otherwise was not my cup of tea. Lion in the Desert was competent, and Anthony Quinn was surprisingly restrained, but otherwise uninspired. Together struck was a rather crude and obvious movie. So the best movie I saw last week was Wild Reeds which I saw piece by piece on youtube. But I actually think the movie I liked best last week was rewatching Pierrot Le Fou.

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This year in film was more interesting: Blue Collar is interesting as a Hollywood attempt to portray working class life, something that it would soon stop doing with any attempt at realism. Keitel is good, of course, and Pryor is also good, but having the UAW the villain is grossly unfair and shows Paul Schrader's ignorance and his histronic temper. (And it also reminds of Pauline Kael's crack: "For Schrader to call himself a **** would be vanity: he doesn't know how to turn a trick.") Romeo and Juliet is perhaps the dullest of the three unsatisfactory film versions of the play, with Leslie Howard and Moira Shearer doing nothing to project romantic love. I like Costa Gavras, and State of Siege shows interesting aspects, but I saw it a badly dubbed English version.

 

Ship of Fools reminds me once again that no one squanders acting talent like Stanley Kramer. Black Cat White Cat is one the most inventively chaotic comedies I've seen in years. But Miracle on 34th Street is perhaps the best movie I've seen this week, almost entirely due to Edmund Gwenn's remarkable performance. Pride and Prejudice showed some signs of wit and intelligence, though I didn't fully catch the third quarter and that disrupted the rthym of the movie. The Four Feathers and Son of the Sheik didn't capture my full attention. Lagaan was, by contrast, the kind of entertaining crowd pleaser that Hollywood doesn't seem interested in making anymore.

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Not a very good week I'm afraid. I got to see What's Eating Gilbert Grape and Sense and Sensibility in versions arbitrarily butchered to meet weird time limits. The Land of the Pharoahs was more interesting, as was Sanjuro, which unfortunately I was not able to give my full attention. They won't Forget strikes me as a rather gutless version of the Leo Frank case. The contrast with I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang is striking. It doesn't make clear that the stand-in for Frank was innocent, partly I suspect because the motion picture code prevented portraits of miscarriages of justice as part of upholding the reputation of law and order. Rather oddly, it doesn't even make clear what the motive for the crime was. They made me a Fugitive was more interesting, while by contrast When Father was Away on Business, is perhaps the elast interesting of the four Emir Kusturica movies I've seen. Colossal Youth, I must confess, is not easy to warm up too.

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I also saw Georgy Girl this week, oddly enough the same week that its director, Silvio Narizzano died. I didn't know that he also directed Why shoot the Teacher.

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One of my favorites I saw this week was the 1958 movie SNOWFIRE. It's been a very hard to find movie for decades until TCM showed it a few months ago. It was on again Saturday morning, July 30. Before that I hadn't seen it since its broadcast on a local channel way back in 1974.

The movie means a lot to a lot of people - check out the IMDb comments some time. So I'm a bit surprised that I haven't seen anyone posting any comments about it here either time TCM ran it.

Has anyone else seen it?

 

A tip:

If you have kids, especially girls, who like horses, don't let them miss it!

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>One of my favorites I saw this week was the 1958 movie SNOWFIRE. Has anyone else seen it?

 

I stumbled upon this and was immediately upset I didn't record it. I am creating a "horsey film library" for the students at my stable. This movie is a supreme example of what horses are NOT like in real life. For example; I owned a pure white horse for 30 years and she was only pure white for about 30 minutes after bathing. A wild horse would be covered in dirt, grass & manuer stains it's entire life.

 

Back to "best & worst"...

I yawned over the Red Skelton and Joe E Brown days. AN IDEAL HUSBAND put me to sleep despite fave Paulette Goddard.

 

I very much enjoyed seeing Josephine Baker for the first time in PRINCESSE TAM TAM. I can absolutely see why she was such a treasured entertainer. Cute movie although somewhat clumsily edited.

 

And yesterday I fully enjoyed BOY ON A DOLPHIN. I always remember how gorgeous Sophia is in that, but forget what a fun & enjoyable movie it is.

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> {quote:title=TikiSoo wrote:}{quote}

> > One of my favorites I saw this week was the 1958 movie SNOWFIRE. Has anyone else seen it?

> I stumbled upon this and was immediately upset I didn't record it. I am creating a "horsey film library" for the students at my stable. This movie is a supreme example of what horses are NOT like in real life. For example; I owned a pure white horse for 30 years and she was only pure white for about 30 minutes after bathing. A wild horse would be covered in dirt, grass & manuer stains it's entire life.

>

Hi, Soo,

Knowing you're a horse person, and considering you an expert (much more than I'll ever be, certainly - cats are my fave critters) if the biggest issue you had with SNOWFIRE was the appearance of the horse, does that mean you were okay with the parts about the horse talking to the girl? That's good, because I gotta admit, they had me pretty well convinced!

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I caught Terry Gilliam's *The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus* on Encore HD this week, and I think it was my favorite film of the week. I'm a Gilliam fan, like most of his films. Some I would say are the best of modern film. *The Imaginarium* is good, if not quite his very best, but lots of fun, and very typically Gilliam.

 

Edited by: ValentineXavier on Jul 31, 2011 6:48 PM

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skimpole, I saw *Tree of Life* yesterday. I still haven't decided what I thought of it; I think I need to see it again. Also, unfortunately, I missed the first 10 minutes or so of the film.

I would love to hear in more detail why you feel it is such an outstanding movie.

 

"...it is the best movie I've seen made in the last six to seven years. If you were to say that it was the finest movies ever made, I wouldn't object."

 

That is high praise indeed. I'm not saying I disagree with you; but, embarrassing though this is to admit, I think I just "didn't get it". If you could outline a few specifics about *Tree of Life* that you feel merit it the extremely good opinion you have of it, I'd genuinely appreciate it.

 

Sometimes I like Terrance Mallick a lot, and sometimes he leaves me cold. *Badlands* is one of my favourite movies, but *The Thin Red Line* left me indifferent and even slightly bored ( as I recall - to be fair, it was a while ago now that I saw it.)

 

I'm not "challenging" you, on the contrary, I'd love to hear your thoughts on why you think *Tree of Life* is such a great film. I may learn something.

 

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Just watched the webcast of the THE TURN OF THE SCREW, streamed on the Guardian site from Glyndebourne, Not exactly a movie, but a thrilling production of a Benjamin Britten opera based on a novel which also became the Deborah Kerr film THE INNOCENTS. Least favorite movie of the week (which I did not watch)? Easy: NORTH BY NORTHWEST.

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Last week I saw four movies, The Tender Trap, The Heartbreak Kid, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, and Bad Education. I suppose the last was the best of them. I don't really warm to Almodovar for some reason. The original The Heartbreak Kid, which was the one I saw, didn't strike me as terribly funny, though it may be that I simply didn't warm to the topic.

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I saw four movies for the first time last week. Allegro non Troppo is a seventies parody/tribute to Fantasia from Italy. It is clealry intended for adults, and it's a mixed bag. Bruno Bozzetto is an interesting animator, more for his satric attitude than for his images. Obviously technically he can't be compared to Disney. And the occasional sexual overtones are no more mature than in Bashki. So the supposedly more adult attitude turns out to be a wash. There are amusing sequences to Dvorak, a variation on The Rite of Spring using Ravel's Bolero as well as Debussy and Stravinsky. Interestingly the Stravinsky used (The Firebird) is the same as in Fantasia 2000. Although not very memorable, Allegro's story of a Garden of Eden snake tormented by demons is more memorable than the redone Disney. Or at least I haven't forgotten what it was yet. Street Scene is interesting, like many of Vidor's movies, although I wasn't able to give it my full attention. Ariel is a very dry Finnish comedy, or what would be social realist melodrama in other hands. I think my attitude towards Julie and Julia is the same as most critics: Meryl Streep's performance is remarkable, actually the one of the best I've seen her in. But Amy Adams character is insufferable in her triviality and sense of privilege. I think the movie I most enjoyed last week was rewatching Excalibur. It is visually very striking: John Boorman has no fear of appearing silly, and this carries him over some silly moments (such as the fog machine "Dragon's Breath.")

 

Edited by: skimpole on Oct 3, 2011 2:35 AM

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Five movies last week. Capitalism is the Crisis was being shown for free at the movie theatre three blocks from my house. It's like a cruder, less detailed, less pretty much everything version of Inside Job, not nearly as convincing, and with community college professors making the points instead of people from first rate universities. I wanted to see Swing High, Swing Low, but the cable company has complicated its transmission system and only after I recorded it did I realize that I had recorded it incorrectly. I did see the 1937 A Star is Born which seemed very much like a less interesting version of the 1954 one. It's not that Janet Gaynor and Frederic March are bad, it's just that they're less interesting than Judy Garland and James Mason. It's not that Andy Devine and Adolphe Menjou are bad, but they're not the reason one wants to see the movie. River's Edge was much better actually, even if the local cable movie company insisted on showing a cleaned up PG rated version earlier in the day, and then showing the movie properly in the middle of the night. If you can't show the proper version in the afternoon, then why show it all? The Big Clock was OK, though somewhat confused in altering the story so that Ray Milland didn't have a romantic connection with the victim. Ali Zaoua is a Moroccan movie about a street kid who is killed by other street kids, and his friends have an idea to "bury him like a prince" like in a fairy tale. I'm not sure the idea works very well.

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I suppose I might have liked Crumb this week if I had a higher opinion of his work. But as I do not, and find his seedy style quite inapt for doing works on Kafka or the book of Genesis, I wasn't all that impressed. The original version of The Fly has some interesting suprises. I never realized that it was in coor, or that the characters were French. Unfortunately, in retrospect it suffers because everyone who has heard of it knows the basic plot, yet it seeks to make a mystery of it for half the movie. Bitter Rice is interesting, a sort of socially conscious film noir, if not as deep as other Italian neorealist movies. The Set-up was probably the best movie I saw last week, and its simple, well-executed plot, shows how hollow Rocky was. The 1963 Cleopatra is interesting. It's a better movie than Ben-Hur. It's certainly more intelligent and less sanctimonious, and Rex Harrison is very good. And so, for that matter, is the scene where Roddy McDowell reacts to news of Marc Antony's death. The sense of respect from a deadly, and not particularly scrupulous, enemy is striking. On the other hand, it is not clear why we should care for Cleopatra is this movie about dueling megalomaniacs. That I would suggest is the main problem with the movie.

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Amazingly, my favorite of the week was the Stephen King interview about horror films. I think he is a very thoughtful, well spoken man who truly enjoys the genre and whose writing is often streotyped "horror" just like films.

My only criticism is WHY does every filmmaker feel the need to include "chapter titles"? You can use them for editing purposes, but it just stops the flow of a documentary when kept in the final cut.

 

The worst film I saw was last night's THE BAD SEED. I had heard so much about it, how good it was and was psyched to catch it in a perfect time slot for me to watch.

What a horrible, stagey rotten film that was!

 

The story could have been ok, but the acting was stilted, everyone read their lines off meter, especially the mother. It almost could have been excused for the daughter, making her seem calculated. But the mother's ragings were downright comical. And the drunken mother of the killed boy, man was she off the wall!

The camera work did nothing to tell the story, it just followed single performers, coming off as totally weird looking.

 

THE BAD SEED makes JOHNNY GUITAR seem like a masterpiece.

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I saw the The Bad Seed last night on TCM. Patty McCormack's character was so convincing and evil. I truly hated this kid. When Christine gave Rhoda the sleeping pills, I yelled YESSSSS but, I was really disappointed when Christine didn't wait long enough for the pills to kick in before shooting herself......lol

Honestly, I think Patty McCormack should have won the oscar for her performance. Don't they say if the actor/actress can get the viewer to really hate the character then, they did a good job.

 

Did anyone else out there watch the movie and dislike Rhoda as much as me???

Also, did Patty McCormack appear in any other movies that might have been on TCM, does anyone know?

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