speedracer5

I Just Watched...

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3 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Loy are awful, and you would never know from this that either would be capable of acting their way out of a paper bag

Well, she is pretty anyway. I might worship her on that basis alone. I'll make sure I pronounce her name right. Needless to say, I haven't seen the movie. Godesses can be mean.

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Sepiatone said: I would say that personally, nobody's opinion either favorable or not has ever "steered" me towards or away from any movie. Preferring instead to do my OWN thinking,

Lest I sound like a blindly following sheep, I will elaborate: If someone's comments lead me to believe a movie is long, slowly paced or poorly edited, it just helps me decide to skip it. I'll be skipping it anyway, by inevitably falling asleep through it.
There are so many movies out there to see, opinions & impressions from regular classic movie viewers is helpful for me to make an informed decision. I especially like hearing about "bad" movies everyone likes, like JOHNNY GUITAR- those kind of comments let me know it's a must see for me.

And everyone here should know by now that I just can't take violence in movies. I actually need to know this kind of info beforehand, since it's not always evident. I once watched 20 minutes of GOODFELLAS with my 88 y/o Mom (thinking if SHE watched it, I could too) and was traumatized for months afterwards.

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11 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

The Black Watch (1929) - Silly, creaky war film from Fox and director John Ford. Victor McLaglen stars as Captain Donald King, a member of a Scots regiment of His Majesty's Armed Forces during WW1. While his company receives orders to ship out to the front, King is given a different assignment, He is to go undercover to India, where he will pretend to be a drunk who gets chased out of the service so that he can infiltrate a gang of Muslim rebels who worship a woman named Yasmani (Myrna Loy) as a goddess. Naturally things get further complicated when King falls for Yasmani. Also featuring David Torrence, Lumsden Hare, David Rollins, Cyril Chadwick, Claud King, Roy D'Arcy, Mitchell Lewis, Walter Long, Francis Ford, and Randolph Scott & John Wayne as extras.

This was director Ford's first sound movie, and it shows. For the first 45 minutes or so, I was prepared to call this one a complete turkey, just horrible in nearly every way, but by the end I thought...pretty much the same thing, except it plunged into pure camp, and Ford manages to shoot some visually interesting shots when the action moves to "The Cave of the Echoes". McLaglen and Loy are awful, and you would never know from this that either would be capable of acting their way out of a paper bag. Ford certainly hadn't grasped sound acting, and virtually everyone is terrible, drawing lines out to ludicrous length and over emoting like the worst silent film ham. Loy looks great, and she has a lengthy scene in a white, virtually see-through shirt. I was left wondering what kind of East Indian Muslims also worshiped random white ladies as goddesses, but that train of thought led nowhere. The fiery, shadowy Cave interiors are atmospheric, and the scene where McLaglen is "forced" to wrestle the Muslim champion is amusing, as I would think it was harder to stop Victor McLaglen from wrestling random guys on the set every day.  (5/10, or 7/10 on a so-bad-its-good scale)

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So you loved THE BLACK WATCH, too, eh, Lawrence?

The McLaglen-Loy love scenes are priceless. When is the last time you such such unbridled passion on the screen? Just kidding. They are pure camp, with the wooden delivery by both actors of stilted dialogue making you wonder how bad the out takes must have been if this is the one that John Ford finally selected.

Loy does look great but she's miserably miscast and gives a truly wretched performance. And her slow dialogue delivery (a problem with a lot of actors in the early talkies, I find), man, John Ford certainly wasn't helping her here at all, was he? I guess in these dialogue scenes he was struggling as much as the actors. Did other early Ford talkies have dialogue scenes this bad?

Boy, would both Ford and McLaglen learn how to work in the talkies, however. Six years later the same duo would both walk about with Academy Awards for another collaboration of their's.

But, as you said, the visuals of the action scene towards the end compensates a little bit for what had preceded it. Ford is clearly more comfortable here. This is an early talkie antique of Ford and it really shows. By the way this film is an adaption of Talbot Mundy's novel King of the Khyber Rifles (the closest I came to that novel was reading the Classics Illustrated version of it as a kid).

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11 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Way Back Home (1931) - Horribly corny "simple folk" comedy/drama from RKO and director William Seiter. Old man preacher Seth Parker (Phillips Lord) and his wife (Effie Palmer) have trouble with their two wards: young Robbie (Frankie Darro) was left with them by his mother before she passed and made them swear to keep the boy safely away from his abusive father. Naturally, the brute (Stanley Fields) shows up and wants the kid back. Meanwhile, their other ward, Mary Lucy (Bette Davis), has been kicked out of her own home by her parents, her disapprove of her fraternizing with the low-born David (Frank Albertson). Also featuring Oscar Apfel, Sophia M. Lord, Bennett Kilpack, and Raymond Hunter.

Seth Parker was a popular radio show at the time, the creation of 29 year old Phillips Lord, who plays him in the movie under a big phony white beard and wig. It was considered dated and hackneyed even in 1931, with little appeal to younger listeners, so the screenwriters spiced it up a bit with the David/Albertson romance and some "high-speed" wagon chases at the end. That didn't save the movie for me, however, and I found it dull, tedious, and dumb, with bad performances and hoary dialogue that is nearly as dusty as the backroads of California that stand in for Maine. Davis isn't bad, and she's said to have liked the movie, since it allowed her to play an attractive girl at a time when the studios weren't giving her those kind of roles. Still, even she's not enough to save this dud.   (4/10)

Source: TCM.

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A film definitely for the hinterlands. I only recorded it for Bette Davis and she was hardly in it. So I FF'd through most of it and only watched her scenes. A nothing part, but it was very early in her career. Cornball is right!!!

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Madame Bovary (1949) A splendid adaptation of this famous story. The framing device of having the author (James Mason) clue us in is not only a good one but a necessary one. Any telling of her story that understates her early history makes her come across as just another perfidious, manipulating, and selfish woman and who might simply be taken for evil incarnate (there are adaptation extant who do this and give up to right to call their story by the title Madame Bovary). But with Emma it's innocence >>> obsession >>>disillusionment >>> etc. etc. etc. It gives us the option to understand her and perhaps view her with sympathy. Whether or not she retains this status at the end will be up to the individual viewer.

Jennifer Jones is competent (perhaps better than that). The both sides of Emma are believable. The same with Van Heflen, he makes Charles a real person and not merely a cardboard dolt. Louis Jourdain is perfectly cast as Rodolphe and for obvious reasons. All he needs to do is move and speak and he does the job. Alf Kjellen is unknown by me but was fine although Leon is generally portrayed as a younger and slightly less polished man than here. Frank Allenby as Lheureux, the money-lender is particularly good.

The vulgar depiction of the wedding reception was a little exaggerated but yet can the overkill serve as a more accurate view to what was certainly going through Emma's mind? ... Emma disdainfully looks out the window one morning and can correctly anticipate the monotony of life in Yonville (Yawnville?) ... The waltz scene is a highlight. Exhilarating for Emma who comes as close as she probably will to what she is looking for, and exhilarating for us from the point of view of good cinema. Later in the story Emma has a breakdown and her recovery stabilizes her for a time, calming her mind and keeps her far-flung aspirations at bay for awhile. But later an event occurs and the sound of the waltz returns like a leitmotif in her head and Emma dances the waltz again, whirling around solo in her room. The passion is back! ...

Loved it.

*** 1/2

out of four

 

 

 

 

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Letty Lynton (1932) - Pre-Code melodrama from MGM and director Clarence Brown. Joan Crawford stars as the title woman, a wealthy socialite who's been traveling the globe in search of thrills and romance. She's had a fling in Montevideo with Emile (Nils Asther), but she's grown bored and he's grown too possessive, so she sneaks off to a ship headed to her home in NYC. On board, she meets the equally wealthy Jerry Darrow (Robert Montgomery), and the two fall in love, with a quick marriage planned. However, when they make landfall in America, Emile is there waiting for Letty, and he threatens to ruin her forever. Also featuring May Robson, Lewis Stone, Emma Dunn, Louise Closser Hale, Walter Walker, and William Pawley.

This short (83 minutes) romantic drama isn't very extraordinary story-wise, and Montgomery is kind of bland. Crawford looks good, and has a couple of big acting moments. Asther is also good as a real heel, and both his look and demeanor are not like I'm used to seeing him. There are a couple of things that make this film noteworthy, though. For one, without going into spoiler territory, the film's resolution is very Pre-Code, and even for that era it's surprising. Secondly, this was a major film in terms of Crawford's look. Crawford wears a ruffled-shoulder dress, designed by Adrian, that was a huge sensation with the public, selling out across the country. This film also marks the debut of Sidney Guilaroff, the NYC hairdresser who Crawford discovered and brought to Hollywood, where he would become one of the most sought after of the period, working at MGM for 40 years, and becoming the first hairdresser to receive onscreen credit. Film fashion maven Edith Head later called Letty Lynton "the most influential film in history." That seems a bit of an overstatement, but for those with eye toward fashion and looks, the movie seems like a must-see.   (6/10)

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The Wet Parade (1932) - Drama detailing the evils of alcohol, based on the book by Upton Sinclair, from MGM and director Victor Fleming. The story follows two families: the southern Chilcotes, and the northern Tarletons. Roger Chilcote (Lewis Stone) is the family patriarch, as well as a hopeless drunk who has squandered the family fortune, although he's doted upon by his daughter Maggie May (Dorothy Jordan). Roger's son Roger Jr. (Neil Hamilton) is an aspiring writer who is developing his own alcohol problem. Meanwhile, Pow Tarleton (Walter Huston) owns a NYC hotel, although his son Kip (Robert Young) has to run things since his dad is constantly drunk. Eventually the Chilcotes and the Tarletons intersect, and there's enough hardship and heartbreak to go around. Also featuring Jimmy Durante, Wallace Ford, John Miljan, Emma Dunn, Frederick Burton, John Larkin, Gertrude Howard, Clarence Muse, Clara Blandick, Joan Marsh, Berton Churchill, and Myrna Loy.

This is rather rickety, with many of the technical faults of the early sound films. It's also over long at nearly two hours, although it still feels like much of what was probably in the book was rushed over. Stone and Huston both get to ham it up as their respective family burdens. I'm not too familiar with Dorothy Jordan, but she's okay, if unexceptional. Robert Young is young and good at selling righteous sincerity. In an odd bit of casting, Jimmy Durante plays a Treasury Department prohibition agent who mentors Young. Myrna Loy is the main reason I watched this, but she doesn't show up (with platinum hair) until the film's final quarter, playing a speakeasy owner based on Texas Guinan.   (6/10)

Source: TCM.

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Taxi Driver (1976).

Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is a Vietnam Vet who, broken by the experience, is now working as a cabbie in New York of the era when Ford was telling the city to drop dead.  Bickle doesn't like what he sees, so he decides to fix things in his own way, in part by helping out a young prostitute (Jodie Foster).

Everybody says this is one of the greatest American movies of all time, but I found it an incoherent, meandering, baffling mess, with a lead character who was such a jerk I didn't care what happened to him.  (For what it's worth, I was also left cold by Scorsese's earlier Mean Streets, but to nowhere near this extent.)

4/10

 

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The Perfect Specimen (1937) - Lighthearted comedy from Warner Brothers and director Michael Curtiz. Wealthy and domineering Leona Wicks (May Robson) runs a tyrannical household, and nothing is more important to her than her grandson and heir Gerald (Errol Flynn). He's been raised in seclusion on her palatial estate and tutored in every subject imaginable since infancy in order to make him into "the perfect specimen", a man more than capable of taking over the family's interest when the time comes. However, his sheltered upbringing has made him bored and restless, and when the beautiful Mona Carter (Joan Blondell) comes literally crashing through the gate, he takes her advice to journey out into the world and see what's out there, an odyssey they take together which leads to love, naturally. Also featuring Edward Everett Horton, Dick Foran, Beverly Roberts, Harry Davenport, Allen Jenkins, Dennie Moore, Hugh O'Connell, James Burke, Granville Bates, and Hugh Herbert.

Flynn and Blondell make a great couple, with his easy physical grace and put-on naivete meshing well with Blondell's earthy sense and beauty. I also liked Jenkins and Moore as another that they literally bump into and form an unlikely friendship with. The movie lost a point or two from me, though, as soon as Hugh Herbert showed up and started to be "funny". Robson is good at playing cantankerous old ladies, but she nearly crosses the line from humorous to insufferable. Still, this was a very fun comedy, one that should be better known, and one that could easily be remade to some success in any era.    (7/10)

Source: TCM.

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I, Tonya (2017).

I borrowed this movie from RedBox earlier this week.  While I wasn't sure if I wanted to pay the big movie bucks to see this film in the theaters, I'll admit that I was waiting for it to hit RedBox.  It finally came out on March 13.  I had plans that evening (pub trivia!) that I had to wait another day and watch it on the 14th.  Anyway.  This film was awesome.  

Tonya Harding was from Portland, Oregon.  She practiced at the ice rinks in two of the local area malls.  One of her ice rinks at Lloyd Center Mall in NE Portland is still standing and has recently been remodeled.  Her other ice rink, at the Clackamas Town Center in SE Portland was torn out when the mall remodeled about a decade ago.  The area that housed the ice rink and skate rental areas was converted into a 20-screen movie theater (obviously more space was added from somewhere as well.  Lol).  Harding was also one of few women in the world who could land the triple axel, a jump that is considered one of the most difficult jumps to master.  As a native Oregonian who was in the fourth grade during the whole Tonya/Nancy debacle, I was very up to date on all the drama.  This story was front page news for much of 1994.  

For anyone who may not know, this is what went down in January of 1994:

The US Figure Skating Championships were taking place in Detroit, MI.  This competition was also going to determine who was going to represent the United States in the next month's Olympic competition in Lilehammer, Norway.  The day before the competition, Nancy Kerrigan was coming off the ice after a practice session where she was attacked by an assailant with a telescopic police baton.  She was nailed in the thigh, which was fortunate for her, as the real plan was to nail her in the knee.  The assailant bungled the assault.  Kerrigan's thigh was badly bruised.  The infamous "why me? whyyyyyy?" video of Kerrigan bawling is the aftermath of the attack.  Because of YouTube and the internet, it will forever be immortalized as well.  Kerrigan was forced to drop out of the competition.  Tonya Harding won the gold and my girl, Michelle Kwan won silver.  When the Olympics rolled around, Harding and Kerrigan (!) were chosen to represent the US.  My girl, Michelle Kwan was named an alternate.  Kwan was ripped off if you ask me.  Anyway, I digress.  The Olympics roll around and Harding suffers her infamous broken skate lace incident and ends up falling on her jumps.  She comes in eighth.  Kerrigan wins silver and is a poor sport about it.  My girl, Oksana Baiul had just edged Kerrigan out and won the gold medal.  

After the Championships, investigations were in full swing.  The assailant was quickly captured, because he was an idiot.  Then it came out that he had been hired by an associate of Harding's bodyguard and ex-husband.  Everyone who planned this attack on Kerrigan were so incompetent, they deserved everything they got.  The original plan was to slice Kerrigan's ACL, but then they decided that that was too extreme (you think?), so they settled on breaking her leg.  Of course, the hit man missed, only bruised Kerrigan's leg, so she was able to compete in the Olympics.  Harding's bodyguard, her ex-husband, the bodyguard, the getaway driver and assailant were all charged and served jail time.  Harding kept switching her story from not knowing anything about the plot to having heard about it, but not participating in it.  She was eventually charged with hindering prosecution and was banned for life from the United States Figure Skating Association.  She was also stripped of her 1994 gold medal from the US Figure Skating Championships.  

I, Tonya provides a pretty interesting look at Harding's early life.  In real life, Harding's mother was allegedly abusive and pushed her daughter very hard in figure skating.  No doubt due to the expense involved--Harding and her mother were not wealthy.  The film depicts Harding's mother, LaVona Golden, as being a monster who pushes her 4-year old daughter into figure skating--even forcing the coach to take her on, even though the coach very politely declined the offer.  Golden is shown as hitting her daughter with objects, hiring people to heckle her in the stands (she skates better when angry, it is explained), forcing her to continue skating despite having to go to the bathroom and even throwing a steak knife at her.  Harding is then shown as a teenager getting involved in a very violent on-and-off again relationship with Jeff Gilooly, who eventually becomes one of the masterminds in the Kerrigan assault.  The film depicts Harding's life as very violent and tumultuous.  

Aside from her personal life, Harding is depicted as having a very hot temper--especially when it comes to what she perceives as low marks from the figure skating judges.  In the film, Harding is depicted as having an uphill battle when it came to getting the scores that she felt she deserved for her routines.  Harding could perform the difficult triple axel and her technical score should have reflected it as such.  The judges are shown admonishing Harding for her tacky homemade costumes and less classy music.  I used to be a very avid figure skating viewer back in the 1990s (I was up on my figure skaters back then) and I always thought that Harding seemed a bit trashy in comparison to her competitors.  Her costumes did have a homemade quality about them (cheap fabrics, craftsmanship not has good, tacky flourishes like bows, ill-fitting) and she didn't choose to skate to ballets and classical music--she selected instrumental themes from movies and lesser (in the eyes of the judges anyway) sources.  The judges never wanted Harding to be an elite skater.  However, she could skate and her performance in the 1994 US Figure Skating Championships demonstrated that.  She did not need to resort to collaborating in an attack on a competitor.  Even if she didn't actively participate in carrying out the attack, she was aware of it.  The film makes it seem like Harding and Gilooly were merely planning on sending threatening letters to Kerrigan as a means to psych her out during the Olympics.  It was the bodyguard who took it upon himself to change the plan to breaking Kerrigan's leg.  In I, Tonya, Harding insists that she was only complicit in the scheme when it was a threatening letter, not an actual physical attack.  

I, Tonya very much makes Harding out to be a victim.  She is a victim of her childhood, a victim of her mother, a victim of her ex-husband and finally a victim of the US Figure Skating Association.  She may have been a victim of abuse.  Her mother disputes the allegations of abuse stating that Tonya has lied so much that she doesn't even know what a lie is.  Maybe that's true, maybe it's not.  We don't know.  It is certain however, that while Tonya may not have intended for Kerrigan to be attacked, she knew about it and did nothing to try and prevent it.  In Portland, Harding & co.'s unraveling came when her garbage was located was located in a trash can behind a restaurant in NW Portland.  It seems that this restaurant was located about five miles from the transfer station.  Apparently, whomever it was in Harding's gang that was responsible for disposing of the trash (maybe it was Harding herself, who knows) decided to dump it in the garbage cans behind the restaurant instead of completing the trip to the transfer station.  When a restaurant employee was emptying the trash, she saw a bunch of bags that did not look like the restaurant's typical garbage.  Upon closer examination, many documents related to the Kerrigan incident were located, including an envelope with Kerrigan's practice schedule and practice rink name listed.  It was determined that the handwriting on the envelope was Harding's and this was the key evidence that proved that Harding was involved in the crime to some degree. (Author's Note: Why didn't they just burn the trash? Bumbling criminals!).  While Harding may not have intended for this all to happen, there is no doubt that she knew about what had happened or would happen.  She deserved to be stripped of her medal and banned.

Margot Robbie did an amazing job as Harding.  While she doesn't particularly resemble her (she's much prettier and taller), I thought she was great at bringing Harding's somewhat white trash aesthetic to life.  I, Tonya used great computer technology to make it appear that Robbie had landed the triple axel.  Apparently Robbie took extensive figure skating lessons prior to the filming and was able to do much of her own skating; but neither she, nor her skating double could do the triple axel. I also thought the costumers did an amazing job at bringing the "fashion" of the 80s/90s hair, makeup and clothing to life.  I also loved that they re-created all the costumes Harding wore during her original competitions.  

Allison Janney was hilarious as Harding's mother.  While I'm not sure if she was supposed to be funny, she was so outrageous that it was funny rather than horrifying--though some of the incidents like throwing the steak knife at Harding's arm was pretty shocking.  I loved Harding's mother's bird.  It is a crimson-bellied conure, and he was so cute.  While he has different coloring than my bird, he has the same type of head.  I liked when the bird was picking at Harding's mother's oxygen tube on her face.

The rest of the cast was fine--nothing remarkable.  The bodyguard was such an idiot.  My husband and I laughed so much when he said that he was an expert in "counter espionage" as told in some travel magazine.  We were wondering if this was true, because it was so stupid.  Then at the the end of the film, they showed a clip of the real bodyguard mentioning his expertise in "counter espionage" and we were laughing so hard.  

While I'm not entirely sure as to how truthful I, Tonya was, but it was fun to watch.  Harding's story has changed so many times throughout the years (and continues to change) that it's hard to know what actually happened.  I loved how it was filmed in an interview style and with the characters breaking the fourth wall.  I loved the scene where Harding herself attacks Kerrigan.  It was so over-the-top that it was funny.  I was never a big fan of Kerrigan, I always thought she was really full of herself and a snob.  Not that I wanted to see her attacked, but I found this scene hilarious.  I actually liked Harding better than Kerrigan when I watched figure skating and it's a shame that she lost her career.

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39 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

The Perfect Specimen (1937)

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I think it's pretty obvious that Warners was trying to emulate the success of It Happened One Night to a degree with this amusing light comedy, Flynn's first screen attempt at the genre. He's not bad in the film, though the supporting cast is a big help. Robin Hood was just around the corner for the actor.

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27 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

The Perfect Specimen (1937) - Lighthearted comedy from Warner Brothers and director Michael Curtiz. Wealthy and domineering Leona Wicks (May Robson) runs a tyrannical household, and nothing is more important to her than her grandson and heir Gerald (Errol Flynn). He's been raised in seclusion on her palatial estate and tutored in every subject imaginable since infancy in order to make him into "the perfect specimen", a man more than capable of taking over the family's interest when the time comes. However, his sheltered upbringing has made him bored and restless, and when the beautiful Mona Carter (Joan Blondell) comes literally crashing through the gate, he takes her advice to journey out into the world and see what's out there, an odyssey they take together which leads to love, naturally. Also featuring Edward Everett Horton, Dick Foran, Beverly Roberts, Harry Davenport, Allen Jenkins, Dennie Moore, Hugh O'Connell, James Burke, Granville Bates, and Hugh Herbert.

Flynn and Blondell make a great couple, with his easy physical grace and put-on naivete meshing well with Blondell's earthy sense and beauty. I also liked Jenkins and Moore as another that they literally bump into and form an unlikely friendship with. The movie lost a point or two from me, though, as soon as Hugh Herbert showed up and started to be "funny". Robson is good at playing cantankerous old ladies, but she nearly crosses the line from humorous to insufferable. Still, this was a very fun comedy, one that should be better known, and one that could easily be remade to some success in any era.    (7/10)

Source: TCM.

How did you watch this film on TCM? As far as I know, it can't air on TCM due to rights issues. I've heard the radio show version of this film multiple times, but haven't been able to see the film.

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6 minutes ago, speedracer5 said:

How did you watch this film on TCM? As far as I know, it can't air on TCM due to rights issues. I've heard the radio show version of this film multiple times, but haven't been able to see the film.

Your search for The Perfect Specimen is over, Speedy. You can download a free copy of this film at:

http://rarefilmm.com/

Just scan through the pages of films available there until you come to it.

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King of Chinatown (1939) - B-movie crime drama from Paramount Pictures and director Nick Grinde. Frank Baturin (Akim Tamiroff) is the "king of Chinatown", a benevolent gangster (!) who runs a lucrative gambling house in the area. Most of the neighborhood likes him, but aged herbalist Dr. Chang Ling (Sidney Toler) still thinks he's just a crook. When Baturin is shot in an assassination attempt, Ling's gifted surgeon daughter Mary (Anna May Wong) saves his life. The two become friends, but the violent underworld threatens to bring them all down. Also featuring J. Carrol Naish, Anthony Quinn, Philip Ahn, Roscoe Karns, Bernadene Hayes, Ray Mayer, and Richard Denning.

Running less than an hour long, this minor gangster effort could have been something special with a fleshed out script and some fine tuning. Seeing an Asian woman depicted as not only a medical doctor but a gifted surgeon was very unusual for the time, and Wong imbues her role with grace and dignity. Philip Ahn plays a lawyer, and his character is treated with respect, and there's no cringe-worthy racial stereotyping going on. You would think with Tamiroff, Naish, and Quinn in the cast that there wouldn't be a single piece of scenery left intact, but they keep the ham in check. Toler had already appeared as Charlie Chan once by this point, and he adds a long white beard to his standard Chinese characterization. The story gets resolved too neatly and too quickly, which is a shame as the film had a lot of potential.   (6/10)

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The Shape of Water (2017)

 

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What we have here is a very good film that could have been great. Many of the pieces are in there, but a few other pieces take away from things.

 Sally Hawkins gives a beautiful performance. To better judge it, I rewatched a few scenes to really capture her facial reactions and body language, and she is just note perfect. Richard Jenkins as her quiet roommate/best friend gives a low key and exceeding effective performance. Octavia Spencer does not get quite enough to do, but what she has is very good in her hands. The production has a really nice, glossy, seemingly accurate 1962 look about it. Alexandre Desplat's score is enchanting. And certain scenes like the opening, Elisa's meeting with the fishman with the eggs, the brief black and white dance number, the closing moments, they are so pure in their simplicity and in their sense of wonder, it is hard not to give in. I also appreciated the nods to 20th Century Fox musicals.

But, there are a few things not so pleasing... the sex and violence just both feel too visceral for what is, at heart, a fairy tale. Its jarring whenever it turns up (especially that shot of the headless cat body, the occasional flashes of large amounts of blood and severed fingers,  and the electric cattle prod toward both the fishman and Michael Stuhlbarg). And speaking of jarring, I felt that Michael Shannon's villain was exceedingly miscalculated. It was just too menacing a character for this type of ethereal film, and some of the sidepoints about him (the sex scene with his wife, his mocking Spencer with the story of Delilah... twice, the Cadillac) are just plain unnecessary. 

But, overall, though, it is a finely wrought film, one that made me cry, and one that has at times, that sense of wonder so rarely seen nowadays. It would not have been my pick of the Best Picture nominees I have seen so far (Hello, Lady Bird) but it is a worthy pick and better than many a recent winner of the award.

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Sky Murder (1940) - Third and final of the Nick Carter series of comedic mysteries, from MGM and director George B. Seitz. Carter (Walter Pidgeon) and his compatriot "Beeswax" Bartholomew (Donald Meek) investigate a murder that takes place aboard a passenger plane full of beautiful models. The culprit's trail leads to a gang of Fifth Columnists. Also featuring Karen Verne, Joyce Compton, Edward Ashley, Tom Conway, George Lessey, Chill Wills, Dorothy Tree, Frank Reicher, Byron Foulger, Tom Neal, Cy Kendall, and Grady Sutton.

This was pretty forgettable, save for Meek's unlikely turn as an action hero who carries bees in his pocket. His rather ludicrous character also overshadowed Pidgeon in the other Carter film I've seen (Phantom Raiders), so I think I'd have liked a series just featuring his oddball apiarist solving crimes.   (6/10)

Source: TCM.

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Manchester By The Sea (2016)  Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) a janitor/handyman argues with a customer who threatens to call the police, gets chewed out by his boss for chronic misbehavior, and minutes later starts a fist fight with two guys in a bar he doesn't even know. Set in the current day and all happening in Manchester by the Sea. Location specificity is a good thing in stories like this. The scenery would not thrill a travel agent but it provides ambience here. Shoveling snow in one minute and bad news the next, oh so cold. Chandler's brother dies and learns that he has been named in the will as his 16-year-old nephew's guardian. Whoa, that wasn't discussed. Chandler doggedly fulfills obligations despite being enmeshed in a sea of troubles. Something has happened to him that everyone knows and no one talks about, the proverbial elephant not just in the room, but everywhere. Despite those rocky first impressions, Affleck reveals Chandler to be quite even tempered in the main, often quite reticent and circumspect almost to mesmerizing effect, I felt a certain Brando-esque appeal there (without the mumbling).  Affleck gives Chandler a quiet nobility and courage that emanates from the sheer act of facing up. Affleck won Best Actor for this. Lucas Hedges as the nephew and Michelle Williams (as Chandler's ex) give good support.

 

***

out of 4

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10 hours ago, Fedya said:

Taxi Driver (1976).

Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is a Vietnam Vet who, broken by the experience, is now working as a cabbie in New York of the era when Ford was telling the city to drop dead.  Bickle doesn't like what he sees, so he decides to fix things in his own way, in part by helping out a young prostitute (Jodie Foster).

Everybody says this is one of the greatest American movies of all time, but I found it an incoherent, meandering, baffling mess, with a lead character who was such a jerk I didn't care what happened to him.  (For what it's worth, I was also left cold by Scorsese's earlier Mean Streets, but to nowhere near this extent.)

4/10

 

Hint stick to Disney or pre 60s movies....B)

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38 minutes ago, cigarjoe said:

Hint stick to Disney or pre 60s movies....B)

Speaking personally, just because someone didn't like it didn't mean it's not thematically confused...  

Would you have preferred it if Fedya had gone the Cybil Shepherd route and said "Gee, he's creepy, oily, a loner, conversationally challenged, stalks me at work, and took me to a porno for our first date, but there's just something unexplainably sad and magnetic about him..."?  :lol:

9 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

I, Tonya (2017).

Aside from her personal life, Harding is depicted as having a very hot temper--especially when it comes to what she perceives as low marks from the figure skating judges.  In the film, Harding is depicted as having an uphill battle when it came to getting the scores that she felt she deserved for her routines.  Harding could perform the difficult triple axel and her technical score should have reflected it as such.  The judges are shown admonishing Harding for her tacky homemade costumes and less classy music. 

I remember the real-life incident, when Tonya was playing her fifteen-notorious-minutes fame to the Jerry-Springer crowd, saying "I've got dollar signs in my eyes, I did it for those Olympic promotional tie-in deals!"

And then when some of us were curious to tune in her Olympic competition, IIRC, she fell on her rear so many times, we thought the only Olympic tie-in deal she'd get would be from a pillow company.

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1 hour ago, cigarjoe said:

Hint stick to Disney or pre 60s movies....B)

You know, I had the exact same reaction to TAXI DRIVER as Fedya:  "I found it an incoherent, meandering, baffling mess, with a lead character who was such a jerk." 

Sometimes- especially if others like it a lot- I'll give the movie another view, just in case I missed something or was distracted when first seeing it. But I really just couldn't sit through Taxi Driver twice. 

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12 hours ago, Fedya said:

Taxi Driver (1976).

Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is a Vietnam Vet who, broken by the experience, is now working as a cabbie in New York of the era when Ford was telling the city to drop dead.  Bickle doesn't like what he sees, so he decides to fix things in his own way, in part by helping out a young prostitute (Jodie Foster).

Everybody says this is one of the greatest American movies of all time, but I found it an incoherent, meandering, baffling mess, with a lead character who was such a jerk I didn't care what happened to him.  (For what it's worth, I was also left cold by Scorsese's earlier Mean Streets, but to nowhere near this extent.)

4/10

 

I love TAXI DRIVER, but it’s a film that I can totally get and respect someone not liking AT ALL (The same way I don’t like A CLOCKWORK ORANGE but can totally understand anyone who loves it.)

It’s a challenging and disturbing film, and when I saw it on the big screen in a revival movie theater house when I was a teenager, it made me very uncomfortable (Quite frankly I was more than a little concerned about ending up like Travis Bickel myself.)

The thing I like about TAXI DRIVER the most, oddly, is the final violent confrontation sCENE- Which it has been building to for the entire film, and then when it happens it’s fast and ugly- no slow, operatic, romantic glorification of the bloodshed the way we have today.

its a major film, but one that I get is not meant to be liked or loved

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42 minutes ago, TikiSoo said:

You know, I had the exact same reaction to TAXI DRIVER as Fedya:  "I found it an incoherent, meandering, baffling mess, with a lead character who was such a jerk." 

Sometimes- especially if others like it a lot- I'll give the movie another view, just in case I missed something or was distracted when first seeing it. But I really just couldn't sit through Taxi Driver twice. 

The first time I saw Taxi Driver I didn't like it, repelled by the violence and its portrayal of a sick mind.

But in repeat viewings I found myself drawn into this dark portrait of alienation and madness in the seedy side of a big city. The hypnotic camerawork, Bernard Hermann's musical accompaniment, the performances, with a memorably, at times, eerie one from De Niro.

I realize this film is not for everyone, and that's fine. But whenever I'm in a big city, particularly at night, my mind sometimes flashes to this film and I get a chill as I wonder if a Travis Bickle might be near.

taxi-driver-1976-movie-still.jpg

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1 hour ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

The thing I like about TAXI DRIVER the most, oddly, is the final violent confrontation sCENE- Which it has been building to for the entire film, and then when it happens it’s fast and ugly- no slow, operatic, romantic glorification of the bloodshed the way we have today.

Oddly, it seemed to me that scene was playing out in slow motion.

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2 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

Hint stick to Disney or pre 60s movies....B)

Oh, there are a lot of more recent (at least, more recent than Taxi Driver) movies with difficult themes that I really liked.  There are other movies where I found the characters difficult, but understood why the movies are highly regarded: Albert Finney's alcoholic in Under the Volcano is a great example of this, and I'd say Ingrid Bergman and Liv Ullmann in Autumn Sonata are the same way.

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TAXI DRIVER, like A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, isn't going to be to everyone's taste. 

I admit, I too was put off by the film first time I saw it, but I gave it another viewing recently and actually got hooked into it a second time.

Still, I don't blame anyone who doesn't like the movie. It certainly does have more than its share of violence.

Scorsese's movies, like Kubrick's, are more akin to an acquired taste, you either like them or you don't.

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