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cinemaspeak59

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Everything posted by cinemaspeak59

  1. It (2017) A winning formula that blends horror and coming-of-age story, with echoes of Stand by Me, also based on a Stephen King book. The Losers Club, as they call themselves, must fend off town bullies and the murderous supernatural clown, Pennywise, played with evil glee by Bill Skarsgård, in the scariest clown makeup & costume I've seen. Skillfully directed by Andy Muschietti, with a brilliant opening sequence. Everyone should be lucky to have friends as good as the Losers Club.
  2. Persona (1966) is one of the most studied and challenging films in history, inviting analysis from historians, critics and psychiatrists. I saw Persona several years ago, before revisiting it last week. I find it not dramatically different from other Ingmar Bergman films. The internal dialogue, frank discussions on sex, confusion about one’s place in the universe, brutally harsh judgements of the artist – these were present before Persona, and after. When asked the film, Bergman said he trusted audiences to form their own conclusions. An answer I found refreshing. I don’t think Bergman, who also wrote the screenplay, was out to create a puzzle that must be “solved”. There’s no gamesmanship. I admire the film’s aesthetic, the impeccable chemistry between Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson, and its humanity. There’s warmth and comfort in the writing. I go back to the bedroom confessional: Liv Ullmann’s Elisabet, the actress who mysteriously stopped speaking, sitting on the bed; Andersson’s Alma, the nurse charged with Elisabet’s care, at the other end of the room. Alma vividly recalls a sexual experience on the beach, with a couple of voyeurs, salaciously detailing everything, subverting the image Elisabet may have had of her, as a prude. In that scene, the patient, Elisabet, transforms to therapist, and Alma becomes the patient. A rich irony. Persona is a women’s’ picture in the best sense of the term.
  3. Oswald, Lee Harvey, played by Gary Oldman in JFK (1991)
  4. I agree completely about Kathryn Grayson. In her earlier roles she came across as bland and dull. But in Kiss Me Kate she truly shines. It makes you hope MGM, or another studio, would have given her parts with a hard edge.
  5. Merrily We Live (1938) Next: Holly Hunter
  6. I saw Hour of the Wolf last night and found it beguiling. It’s considered Bergman’s only foray into horror. Much like Persona, viewers are on their own to interpret the film. There’ve been various theories about what the film is trying to say. My take, having just seen it, is Bergman returning to one of his favorite themes: questioning the importance of art, and his judgment of the artist as deceiver, unnecessary, and brought down from external and internal forces. As you mention, there are so many haunting images. I particularly like the ghostly woman, dressed in white, who appears to Liv Ullmann’s Alma, in daylight, and tells, more like warns, Alma about the diary. Who is she? From her clothes, she resembles someone from the turn of the century. Did Alma imagine her? The castle inhabitants, the boy, are they real? This film warrants repeat viewings, although getting a concrete answer, for me anyway, isn’t the point. Sven Nykvist’s cinematography is stunning.
  7. I loved Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Pitt and DiCaprio have great chemistry, and then there’s the electric dialogue of Tarantino. It’s also a love letter to Los Angeles, and the entertainment industry, at a time when Hollywood was going through profound changes. And the ending was very satisfying.
  8. Horror Hotel (1960) Also known by its UK title The City of the Dead. Tidy, effective thriller with the indomitable Christopher Lee as a professor of witchcraft, who sends an eager student to the fog-shrouded hamlet of Whitewood Mass. to do research on the subject. The prologue, set in 1692, establishes the history of Whitewood, and features the witch Elizabeth Selwyn being burned alive as gleeful Puritans cheer and mock. I find Puritans tailor-made for horror, with their costumes, and especially those high buckled hats. The filmmakers have an array of tricks to elevate scares: a ghostly hitchhiker, demonically-possessed townspeople, satanic rituals and pacts for immortality. Patricia Jessel as the witch delivers a creepy performance, as does Valentine Dyall as her partner Jethrow Keane. Filling out the tropes is a blind pastor with no church goers and warning about the evil present. Betta St. John plays his saintly granddaughter, owner of a bookstore that, surprise, has useful volumes on witchcraft. This is old school horror done right.
  9. Brilliant indeed. The color had a nightmarish quality about it.
  10. Cloris Leachman was in Kiss Me Deadly with Paul Stewart
  11. (Le) Samouraï (1967) "The Samurai"
  12. Herbert Marshall was in The Painted Veil with George Brent
  13. Bride of Frankenstein (1935) Next: non-traditional living arrangements P.S. I was replying to TB's bad hair day (sorry about that).
  14. Agree completely. It starts off fine, but the third act was way over the top. The creature effects were great, as were the outer space sets, and I liked the way the decomposed corpses looked and then sprang to life. The eerie music helped alot.
  15. Out of the Past (1947) Next: Movies that feature a feline
  16. Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) Next: Cathy O'Donnell
  17. Velma Valento, played by Claire Trevor in Murder, My Sweet (1944)
  18. Lota, the Panther Woman, played by Kathleen Burke in Island of Lost Souls (1932)
  19. Somewhere in Fellini's filmography is the overlooked Il Bidone (The Swindle), from 1955. About a trio of small-time con artists who bilk the poor by posing as priests and housing officials, Il Bidone shares with its two predecessors, I Vitelloni and La Strada, futile struggles to create destiny and moral epiphanies that come too late in the game. Italy's post war economic conditions certainly contribute to why people existed in society’s margins as crooks, hookers, freeloaders, and circus buffoons, a nod to neorealism Il Bidone boasts an affecting performance by Broderick Crawford, as Augusto, the leader of swindlers that includes familiar Fellini faces Richard Basehart, as weak-willed Picasso, and Franco Fabrizi as Roberto, reprising his no-good scoundrel role from I Vitelloni. There's a scene in which Augusto meets seasoned pro Rinaldo who, unlike Augusto, has made enough money to go legitimate, with a beautiful wife, a fashionable apartment, all which Augusto experiences when he's invited to Rinaldo’s extravagant New Year’s Eve party. It's here he faces the humiliation – it won’t be the last - that at 48 he's too old for his line of work. An encounter with a crippled girl whose family he’s about to fleece provides a Saint Paul moment for Augusto, a last chance to go straight. With Giulietta Masina, who plays Richard Basehart’s patient loving wife. Nino Rota's score give Il Bidone a lyrical touch. And there are the evocative studio sets and Rome streets that Fellini uses so well to create atmosphere.
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