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cinemaspeak59

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Everything posted by cinemaspeak59

  1. My favorite story was An Act of Kindness. I liked the unexpected ending, and the ghostly appearance of Angela Pleasence’s character, Emily. I thought The Elemental was more funny than scary. Margaret Leighton’s Madame Orloff reminded me of Hermione Gingold’s character in Bell, Book and Candle.
  2. Slums of Beverly Hills (1998) Next: Sarah Silverman
  3. Ah, the question of why Walter Neff goes back to Phyllis. He could not stop thinking about her. Why? I think he was turned on by her ruthlessness and immorality. Neff was lonely. He probably never felt more alive than when he was with her. Double Indemnity is typically noir in its hopeless view of human nature.
  4. Roma, Ricky, played by Al Pacino in Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
  5. It was nice seeing Lugosi and Karloff facing off. Bela looked aristocratic and serious and noble, a complete 180 from Dracula. But when he finally has Karloff’s character where he wants him, that maniacal grin comes out. And Karloff looked truly satanic. I was hoping Bela’s Dracula would show up, just to expose Poelzig as a rank amateur. Yes, these 1930's horror pictures are great.
  6. Ad Astra (2019) Brad Pitt has had a very good year. First, there was Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Now he delivers another memorable performance as taciturn astronaut Roy McBride, who is haunted by the long shadow cast by his father, Cliff McBride, played by a grizzled Tommy Lee Jones. Sixteen years ago, Cliff led a mission to Neptune called the Lima Project in the hope of discovering intelligent life. The ship was lost, and Cliff presumed dead, although an agency called United States Space Command believes he may be alive, living à la Colonel Kurtz. The Lima Project triggered deadly anti-matter surges that threaten to destroy Earth and the entire Solar System. Roy is recruited by Space Command to travel to Neptune and stop the surges. With his nerves of steel and extraordinary skills, Roy could be humanity’s last hope. Pitt’s performance is internalized, powerful and full of gravitas, conveying pain and longing with little or no words. Roy is walled off emotionally, regretful for not being a better husband. Numb rather than angry, he forgives his father for not being there in the service of science. Ad Astra is set in the not too distant future. Mars is a divided planet with murderous space pirates roaming about. The production design reminded me of the Moon Landing images, with a nod to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Director James Gray also helmed the excellent The Lost City of Z (2016). Like that picture, Ad Astra takes its time in developing characters, and gradually slipping in plot details, an expository style with action set pieces that doesn’t necessarily result in a big dramatic denouement. Characters are driven by a higher calling at the expense of family. The supporting cast includes Donald Sutherland, Ruth Negga and Liv Tyler. Grade: A-
  7. There's much to choose from, but I like rewatching these. I can think of many more, though. 42nd Street (1933) Dinner at Eight (1933) Private Lives (1931) Waterloo Bridge (1931) Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
  8. One of my favorite film adaptations was Richard III (1995), in which Ian McKellen played the title character. It's set in a 1930's fascist England. McKellen, as usual, was great.
  9. Absence of Malice (1981) Sally Field is an ethically-challenged reporter. With the help of an even more unscrupulous federal investigator, played by Bob Balaban, she writes a story that implicates Michael Gallagher (Paul Newman) in the disappearance & presumed murder of a union boss. Gallagher is on the radar because his uncle is a mobster. The film employs a procedural narrative that delivers little dramatic tension. The severest act happens off screen. The characters feel slightly underwritten. The exception is Melinda Dillon’s poignant portrayal of Teresa Perrone, Gallagher’s best friend, who occupies the moral epicenter. While everyone else is playing a game of extreme cynicism, not uncommon in journalism and politics, Teresa feels most acutely. I liked the straight-forward approach and lack of style. Of course, Director Sydney Pollack was never known as a stylist. I’m not saying this in the pejorative. I enjoy Pollack’s work. Wilford Brimley makes a needed, late appearance to munch down on some scenery.
  10. Lawrence, I hope you feel better soon. I enjoy reading your reviews and comments very much.
  11. It Chapter Two (2019) The omniscient, seemingly omnipotent clown from hell is back in the second installment based on the Stephen King novel. The setting is 27 years later, 2016, which finds strange, eerily familiar happenings in Derry; this prompts Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), who has never left, to gather the Losers Club back for one last hurrah. They have gone their separate ways, are successful if not necessarily happy. Bill (James McAvoy) is a famous novelist. Ben (Jay Ryan) is a prosperous architect. Richie (Bill Hader) is a standup comic whose insecurities and secrets are etched into his weathered skin. And poor Beverly (Jessica Chastain) can’t escape abusive relationships; this time it’s her brute of a husband. Pennywise, the master manipulator and prankster that it is, inhabits their heads, causing hazy memories and mind-blowing hallucinations. Mike has devoted his life to studying the history of Derry and thinks there’s a way to destroy Pennywise for good, which involves an ancient Indian ritual. Will it work? There are plenty of flashbacks to 1989, which connects the characters to the persons they are now. They’ve retained their sense of humor even in impending death. Derry hasn’t changed much in 27 years. Racism and homophobia are immune to social progress. What also hasn’t changed is the love the Losers Club have for each other. It Chapter Two mixes jump scares with quiet, dread-filled scenes. And kudos to Bill Skarsgård for making Pennywise one of the great monsters in the horror genre. Andy Muschietti is back directing, a wise choice. The close to 3-hour running time doesn’t drag. There’s no sequel jinx here. Grade A-
  12. Nocturne (1946) was a well-crafted noir. The cinematography of Harry J. Wild (great shots of L.A.) and the twisty plot were two big plusses. The performances weren’t bad. George Raft was Gorge Raft: serviceable; a few good expressions; and he gets to play the hero.
  13. Il Bidone should get the Criterion treatment. I saw it over the summer and found it quite moving.
  14. I enjoyed Carol Lynley's work. She had an effective, naturalistic style of acting. May she rest in peace.
  15. Well-acted, well-intentioned, Blue Denim is a film very much of its era. The performances are naturalistic, and Warren Berlinger, as Ernie, provided some needed comic relief. So did Marsha Hunt's character, who could not have been more clueless. Carol Lynley had an interesting voice; it’s monotone-like and comforting. She had a wonderful screen presence. I was sad to hear about her passing.
  16. The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019) is a story about memory, displacement, gentrification, and love letter to a city. Jimmie Fails (Jimmie Fails) dreams of once again living in the elegant Victorian house he grew up in, located in San Fran's Fillmore District. With his best friend Mont, (Jonathan Majors) an aspiring playwright, they make surreptitious visits to clean up the house's garden, paint chipping wood, and other cosmetic upgrades. The white owners tell them to stop, with the wife threatening to call the cops. The husband assures them that no, they won't call the cops. Thanks to a perfect storm of circumstance, Jimmie finds himself living in his beloved abode. But his happiness is short lived. There's a sweetness and poignancy to The Last Black Man in San Francisco reminiscent of early Vittorio De Sica. Directed by Joe Talbot, and with Danny Glover, in a lovely performance, as Mont's blind grandfather. Finn Wittrock has a small role not far removed from his character in The Big Short.
  17. Anthony Hopkins was in Magic (1978) with Ann-Margret
  18. God, Played by George Burns in Oh, God (1977
  19. The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a great show, and Valerie Harper was a big part of it. Her and Mary had great chemistry. She will be missed.
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