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cinemaspeak59

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Everything posted by cinemaspeak59

  1. Favorite film: Safety Last! (1923) Favorite short: Number, Please? (1920)
  2. Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969). A sex farce about the sexual revolution sweeping America during the late 1960s. The counter culture comes full circle in affluent Angelinos Bob (Robert Culp), Carol (Natalie Wood), Ted (Elliott Gould) and Alice (Dyan Cannon). Bob and Carol view themselves as in tune with the times, with occasional but not unlikeable smugness. The film begins with them visiting a retreat for spiritual and mental awakening. And they come away changed, especially Carol. So much so that Bob decides to have an affair and confess it to Carol. Carol thinks it’s so wonderful she has one herself. I loved Natalie Wood’s explaining to her angry husband, who walks in on her: “I wanted to do it. Because, I wanted to do it. I…. wanted to do it”, while Bob’s head is about to explode. He eventually calms down. Bob and Carol need to stay true to their ideals, and anger over an affair is an outdated 1950s response. Moreover, there's a difference between sex and love. Their best friends, Ted and Alice, are solid philistines. But it’s only a matter of time before Ted and Alice realize they’re missing out. The performances are pitch perfect. Natalie Wood continues the hilarious neurosis of her Sex and the Single Girl (1964) character. Dyan Cannon’s moral abhorrence becomes a comedy sketch when she’s talking to her shrink, and in another sequence denying Ted sex as he begs like a teenager whose life depends on it. Inevitably, the couples swap partners, and it’s filmed with remarkable poignancy. The film remains fresh, and modern. Paul Mazursky directed and co-wrote it with Larry Tucker. They have affection for the characters, without mocking them, even the square Ted and Alice.
  3. The Story of Alexander Graham Bell Book and Candle
  4. Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation (2019) In theaters now
  5. Peter O'Toole was in Lawrence of Arabia with Anthony Quinn
  6. I saw The Blue Lamp several years ago, when TCM aired it. I remember it as procedural-like, dealing with a different type of post-war criminal, as opposed to say, organized crime types. And yes, it's a fine piece of film making.
  7. Along the Coast (1958) A documentary short from Agnès Varda that looks at the French Riviera. Varda introduces the tourists, regular people, examining their beach habits and beach attire. The short functions as a fashion retrospective on swimsuits and hats. Interspersed are scenes from the Cannes Film Festival, with celebrities such as Sophia Loren. Varda closes with a look at the plant life that adds to the region’s beauty. Filmed in vivid color, this documentary reminds us that, yes, the French Riviera is very beautiful. This was made in conjunction with the French Tourism Bureau.
  8. Terrific discussion on Pickup on South Street. One of the things I liked were the love scenes between Skip and Candy, the way he stroked her face, almost massaging it. The scene was beautifully lit, with the bay in the background, and the twinkling lights of New York (vividly created on the Fox sound stages). Candy gave Skip a shot at redemption, and he took it. Was the ending a little too pat? Perhaps. Moe’s death jolted Skip out of his cynical and dangerous moral equivalency. He finally had to pick a side. I think the women, Candy and Moe, were the heroes, even with their flaws.
  9. High Life (2018). Directed by Claire Denis, I admired this film’s lo-fi minimalism. After a while, though, the story of a group of people traveling in space, in a ship that looks like a boxcar, grew confoundingly pretentious. Who are these people, who look like models in a perfume commercial? We learn they’re guinea pigs serving death sentences who are sent on a mission to harness energy from a black hole. High Life seems to confuse ambivalence as high art. Starring Robert Pattinson in a performance I found overly restrained to the point of being listless. The only character generating any interest was Juliette Binoche’s de facto leader. She plays a doctor with a Dr. Moreau complex, only this time sticking with humans, chewing up the scenery and spitting it out. The ship has a special room where the passengers can pleasure themselves. The scene in which Binoche’s character enters the room, and what she does, is one of the most extreme examples of self-indulgence I’ve seen. She makes Meg Ryan’s histrionics in When Harry Met Sally look like a poetry recitation. Grade C+.
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