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LEAST & MOST FAVORITE of the week...


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I saw six movies over the last two weeks.  The Fifth Musketeer certainly shows the value of a good director because despite a top notch cast and Jack Cardiff as cinematographer it is devoid of intelligence and charm.  It's distinctly duller than the vulgar 1998 The Man in the Iron Mask, which tells the same story, and it's not as engaging as the otherwise uninteresting 1993 The Three Musketeers.  Blue is essentially a blue screen while Derek Jarman explains what it's like to die of AIDS.  It's an interesting conceit.  The silent Wizard of Oz is a ghastly mistake.  I don't know why Larry Semon wanted to make the story into a showcase for his wife, but it does not work at all.  The story turned inside out, the witless slapstick, Semon's own creepy and unattractive face, and having a black man play the Cowardly Lion, it all leads to a disaster.

 

Three other movies are much more worthwhile.  Only Lovers Left Alive is Jim Jarmusch's interesting take on vampire myths.  Its sense of cool, with vampires as depressed bohemians, is very well sustained, and if you can adapt it, very rewarding.  A Hen in the Wind is another fine Ozu film, notwithstanding Ozu's own low opinion of the movie and a ending many would find problematic or frankly unacceptable.  Pearls of the Crown is a charming comedy by Sacha Guitry.about three men trying to find the fate of a pearl necklace, four of which are now in the British Crown.  It's sort of a low key Lubtisch in places.

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I watched quite a few movies recently:

 

I, too, watched part of the silent version of The Wizard of Oz.  I didn't even know there was a silent version.  After having watched part of this film, I'll be honest, I didn't watch all of it.  It was horrible.  Good thing MGM came around in '39 to make a new version.  It'd be unfortunate if the 1925 silent version was the only one available.  First off, I'm not a fan of silent films-- unless they're overly slapstick like Chaplin, Keaton and others of that ilk.  The only reason I was watching this was because I had been watching Anchors Aweigh, and this came on afterward.  It was too late to start watching anything else and I was intrigued.  My intrigue soon turned to disgust.  First off, the story was so different than the beloved Judy Garland version that it was hard to follow.  I haven't read Frank L. Baum's original novels, so I can't say how well the '25 or the '39 version stayed true to the book.  I finally turned the silent Wizard of Oz off after they showed a black farmhand excitedly chowing down on a big, juicy watermelon.  Really filmmakers?

 

Maleficent, this movie was excellent.  Angelina Jolie made a perfect Maleficent.  Maleficent has always been my favorite of the Disney villains.  I liked that this live action version answered some questions I had from the cartoon.  Why did Maleficent hate the king so much? In the cartoon, they say that Maleficent cast the spell on Princess Aurora because she was upset that she wasn't invited to the party.  I always felt that there was more to the story than that.  This movie provided more to the backstory.  A few of the storylines were changed, like in the cartoon, when the fairies are giving their gifts to Aurora, Flora and Fauna are able to give their gifts before Maleficent interrupts them with her curse that Aurora will p rick her finger on a spindle and die.  Merriweather then uses her powers to weaken the curse by stating that instead of dying, Aurora will merely fall into a deep sleep and can be awoken with a first from true love.  In the movie, Maleficent casts that curse on Sleeping Beauty, because she is so disillusioned about love.  While watching the movie, I was eagerly awaiting Prince Phillip's arrival.  He is hands down, the hottest of the Disney princes.  In the live-action film, Prince Phillip looks like he's part of a teeny bopper boy band.  Cartoon Prince Phillip wins. 

 

X-Men: The Days of Future Past.  This film was also pretty good.  I am not as familiar with the X-Men storylines, except I have seen X-Men: First Class and both of the Wolverine movies.  I also watched the cartoon when I was little.  I found a couple plot points hard to understand, but on the whole I enjoyed the film.  My only complaint is that they needed more X-Men.  Wolverine, Magneto, Quicksilver, Professor X, Storm, Beast and Mystique were there and there were cameos by Jean Grey, Cyclops and Rogue in the end.  Where was Nightcrawler? Gambit? Colossus?

 

The Moon is Blue- I had this recorded for awhile and finally watched it.  I mainly recorded it because of: 1) William Holden and 2) I read that it had received a condemned rating upon its original release.  Needless to say, I was intrigued.  I wanted to see what was so scandalous for 1953.  I didn't find it too crazy, but I can understand how the frank discussions of sex and virginity could upset people in the 1950s.  What I liked about the film, is that even though the "sex talk" was blunt, it was also subtle at the same time (that probably doesn't make sense, but did to me).  Maggie McNamara, who played the girl both Holden and David Niven lust after, was good; but at the same time, she seemed like a poor man's Audrey Hepburn.  In the film, Holden was supposed to be 30, which frankly, he looked older than that to me, as that is my age (well in a week it will be, yikes!).  David Niven, plays the father of Holden's on and off girlfriend.  Niven looks too young to be a father of someone presumably close to Holden's age.  However, Niven does look older than Holden, so it works for me.  I also coveted Holden's awesome coffee table that converted into a dining room table. Overall, I enjoyed the film and am adding it to my film collection via Warner Brothers Archives shop.   

 

No Time For Sergeants- This film was hilarious.  My only other experience seeing Andy Griffith in a non-Andy Taylor role was in A Face in the Crowd, which I also loved.  His role in 'Sergeants' is a complete 180 from his role in 'Crowd.'  Even though Andy acted like an idiot for the most part in the film, you can't help but like him and feel for him when the other men in the Army outfit are giving him a hard time.  I also enjoyed seeing a young Don Knotts.  He, too, is hilarious.  I loved when Andy ruined his linking circle test by stretching out the loops to fit the other inside. 

 

The Affairs of Annabel- I recorded this film for Lucille Ball.  I thought it was funny and Lucille Ball's gifts for physical comedy were evident in this film.  Lucille Ball also looked very glamorous and was completely believable in the part of a gorgeous actress trying to redeem herself in the public light.  I also watched the sequel Annabel Takes a Tour and I am sad to say that this film was not nearly as good as the first one. 

 

The Clock, I recorded this film for Judy Garland and I really enjoyed it.  It was nice to see Garland in a non-musical role.  She was a very pretty and talented woman and it's a shame that she had so many problems.  While I find it unlikely that two people would meet, fall in love and want to get married in the span of 48 hours, I did find myself rooting for Garland and Robert Walker to jump through all the hoops and be able to marry. 

 

Up next on the DVR:

Written on the Wind

Next Time I Marry

Barefoot Contessa (which I'm already anticipating to be boring)

Leave Her to Heaven

Auntie Mame

The Trouble With Angels

Bend of the River

The Reluctant Debutante

The Courtship of Eddie's Father

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I watched a handful of movies this week, some of which were more successful than others:

 

The Prince and the Showgirl.  This was one of the few Marilyn Monroe films I hadn't seen.  While I would never put Marilyn's acting skills in the same league as those of Bette Davis or Katharine Hepburn; I rather enjoy her work.  At this point in her career, Marilyn was trying to move away from her dingy, sexpot, breathy voice blond image and be taken more seriously (although that image was perfect for Some Like it Hot, but I digress) and I thought she was effective in her role as the showgirl.  She spoke in what I presume was her normal voice and I thought it was a nice change of pace.  I've never been a huge fan of Laurence Olivier (he's good in Rebecca however), and this movie did nothing to change my opinion of him.  I find him rather dull, just like I find Gary Cooper dull.  Monroe and Olivier, to me, were not convincing as a couple in love.  Perhaps someone else in the Olivier part, maybe someone younger and sexier would have fit the bill better.  Overall, I don't see myself re-watching this film.  Monroe has much better and more interesting films on her resume. 

 

The Ex-Mrs. Bradford.  This film I found very entertaining.  I had never really heard much about Jean Arthur, who I quite enjoyed in this film.  The only other exposure I've had to Arthur's work is her role in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  I liked her much better in 'Bradford.' William Powell and Jean Arthur's characters were very similar to Nick and Nora Charles of The Thin Man series.  While I prefer the Powell and Loy pairing, I thought that Powell and Arthur also made a good pair.  I enjoyed the plot and seeing how it unraveled.  I also like that Arthur's character had the upperhand when it came to solving the case.  She was the one who was instructing Powell on what clues to investigate.  Powell was no slouch when it came to solving the mystery either.  I thought that the way the poison was administered to the victims was very clever and strange.  I can't say I'd ever seen that in a film before.  This film may be one that I'll add to my film collection via The Warner Brothers Archives Collection. 

 

The Talk of the Town. Another Jean Arthur film.  This film I recorded mainly because of Cary Grant; but also because I wanted to see Jean Arthur in another film.  I am coming to enjoy her persona and films and will seek her out more in the future.  It was interesting seeing Cary Grant in a very un-Cary Grant like role.  The story was interesting, although the synopsis said something to the effect that a professor and con man compete for the attentions of a teacher.  I didn't really see much competition between the two.  To me, it seemed like Cary Grant and Jean Arthur were working together to get Ronald Coleman to loosen up and stop taking himself and everything else so seriously.  I thought that the basic theme of the film-- the idea of doing what's legally right versus what's morally right was an interesting one.  Cary Grant and Ronald Coleman's characters exemplified both sides of the film's motif very well.  I liked how both male stars' respective characters underwent a change to understand the other's position.  The end was kind of meh.  I can't help but feel sorry for Ronald Coleman.  This was my first Ronald Coleman film.  While I had heard of him, I had no idea what he looked or sounded like.  I found him to be a rather attractive, older man.  He's kind of a cross between Claude Rains and an older Errol Flynn.  A strange combination, I know, but that's what I came up with. 

 

The Shawshank Redemption. This is apparently my dad's favorite movie and despite his having seen it "thousands of times" (his words), I had never seen it.  Well, that was finally remedied tonight.  I watched this film.  I really enjoyed it.  I loved the camaraderie between the prisoners-- especially the relationship between Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman.  The last 30-45 minutes or so was the best part.  What a great twist.  Stephen King truly wrote a great story.  Maybe someday, I'll read the book.  An added bonus in this film, was the clip of Gilda that the prisoners were watching.  Gilda is one of my all-time favorite movies. 

 

Jean Arthur is one of my favorites.    Glad you got to see Talk of the Town and The Ex-Mrs Bradford.    Check out The Devil and Miss Jones,   Only Angels have Wings (with Cary Grant),  and Mr Deeds goes to Town (with Gary Cooper but Jean is great in this).

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I saw three movies this week.  Under the Skin was the best I suppose with Scarlett Johannson playing an alien who looks strikingly like Scarlet Johannson, only as a brunette trolling the streets of Scotland.   I didn't particularly care for Jonathan Glazer's previous films Sexy Beast  or Birth, but this strikes me as an improvement, with a striking score and with Johannson's character learning the value of compassion, with unpleasant consequences.  Pillow Talk was much less amusing, since Doris Day has little attraction to me, nor does Hudson for that matter.  (It says something that the best line comes from Thelma Ritter.)  The value of The Great Beauty depends considerably on whether you think remaking La Dolce Vita is both a good idea, especially with having something especially new to say.  The movie's visual scheme is so striking, one is almost pleased that the movie has a personality.

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I watched a few movies this week-- including an Errol Flynn a-thon, very exciting!

 

THE NEXT TIME I MARRY- I really only recorded this because Lucille Ball was in it.  I had never seen it before either.  The synopsis provided by Dish gave this movie 1.5 stars out of 4.  I would probably rate it a hair higher, maybe a 2/4.  It was average.  Apparently, this was Lucille Ball's first starring role.  While it was definitely not the best role she ever had, it was an adequate enough vehicle for her to show off her evident physical comedy gifts.  The scene where she's in the back of the trailer is very similar to the scene in The Long, Long Trailer when she's in the back of the trailer trying to cook Desi Arnaz dinner.  In fact, some of the same gags were used, such as the driver singing or yelling and effectively drowning out Lucy's cries from inside the trailer.  The scene in the trailer and the scene where she fights a dog for her dinner are probably the funniest parts.  I thought the plot was a little ridiculous-- per her father's will, she has to marry a "regular" person, not someone rich.  Lucy's in love with a Count; but marries this random guy she meets outside to satisfy the terms of the will.  Upon receiving her inheritance, she plans to go to Reno with random guy and divorce him-- which will pave the way for her to marry the Count.  Of course complications ensue.  My biggest complaint was the character name of the random guy she married-- Anthony J. Anthony.  Really?

 

WRITTEN IN THE WIND- I recorded this one because of Lauren Bacall.  I also don't have any issues with Rock Hudson and I thought he was efficient in his role as the peacekeeper and savior of this crazy rich family.  I felt bad for Bacall because her husband, Robert Stack, had so many problems.  My problem now with seeing and hearing Robert Stack in films is that his voice is so engrained in my mind thanks to Unsolved Mysteries, I listen to him speak his dialogue and I keep thinking he's going to end up narrating some crime story or missing person's case or something.  Dorothy Malone was pretty outrageous as Stack's floozy sister, I don't know if she deserved the Oscar for her role; but I guess upon looking at the other nominees that year, I can't comment whether any of the nominees deserved it more than she did.  I heard that upon viewing this film, Humphrey Bogart was not a fan and advised Bacall to not make another film like this one again.  This film was fine; but I don't think I'll be needing to add it to my film collection anytime soon. 

 

AGAINST ALL FLAGS- This was part of my Errol Flynn a-thon and I rather enjoyed it.  Going in to it, I was afraid of how Flynn would look since I knew that starting in the 50s, he was starting to look a little more, shall I say, rugged? I was really hoping that he wouldn't look like crap, because I knew that would lessen the enjoyment for me (shallow, yes, but it's true).  I'm happy to report, that while he does look older than I'm used to, he didn't look horrible.  He was still rather handsome, just looking a bit more distinguished.  He was in pretty good shape too.  Not quite as lithe as he is in say The Sea Hawk or The Adventures of Robin Hood, but this is like 12-15 years later, so I'm willing to cut the guy some slack.  He still looked pretty good.  This was also the first Maureen O'Hara pirate movie I had seen, and I thought she was excellent.  I like her being a strong character and not a lady in distress. 

 

THE MASTER OF BALLANTRAE- Another participant in my "Flynn a-thon." I think I liked Against All Flags better; but I found 'Ballantrae' fair.  Even though he's "matured," Flynn didn't look horrible-- just older.  I found his plaid pants hilarious.  Everyone else is wearing their tartan kilts and here comes Errol with tartan pants.  I wonder what the deal was with that? Did Flynn not want to wear the kilt? I doubt his legs looked horrible.  I believe I read an article somewhere that according to a costume maker, who was tasked with making Flynn's "Don Juan" tights, that Flynn was considered to have "the best pair of male legs in town."  I thought the 'Ballantrae' plot was a little more convoluted than the 'Flags' plot and frankly, slightly less enjoyable.  Not unwatchable though.  On the whole, it was decent. 

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The Ex-Mrs. Bradford.  This film I found very entertaining.  I had never really heard much about Jean Arthur, who I quite enjoyed in this film.  The only other exposure I've had to Arthur's work is her role in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  I liked her much better in 'Bradford.' William Powell and Jean Arthur's characters were very similar to Nick and Nora Charles of The Thin Man series.  While I prefer the Powell and Loy pairing, I thought that Powell and Arthur also made a good pair.  I enjoyed the plot and seeing how it unraveled.  I also like that Arthur's character had the upperhand when it came to solving the case.  She was the one who was instructing Powell on what clues to investigate.  Powell was no slouch when it came to solving the mystery either.  I thought that the way the poison was administered to the victims was very clever and strange.  I can't say I'd ever seen that in a film before.  This film may be one that I'll add to my film collection via The Warner Brothers Archives Collection. 

 

The Talk of the Town. Another Jean Arthur film.  This film I recorded mainly because of Cary Grant; but also because I wanted to see Jean Arthur in another film.  I am coming to enjoy her persona and films and will seek her out more in the future.  It was interesting seeing Cary Grant in a very un-Cary Grant like role.  The story was interesting, although the synopsis said something to the effect that a professor and con man compete for the attentions of a teacher.  I didn't really see much competition between the two.  To me, it seemed like Cary Grant and Jean Arthur were working together to get Ronald Coleman to loosen up and stop taking himself and everything else so seriously.  I thought that the basic theme of the film-- the idea of doing what's legally right versus what's morally right was an interesting one.  Cary Grant and Ronald Coleman's characters exemplified both sides of the film's motif very well.  I liked how both male stars' respective characters underwent a change to understand the other's position.  The end was kind of meh.  I can't help but feel sorry for Ronald Coleman.  This was my first Ronald Coleman film.  While I had heard of him, I had no idea what he looked or sounded like.  I found him to be a rather attractive, older man.  He's kind of a cross between Claude Rains and an older Errol Flynn.  A strange combination, I know, but that's what I came up with. 

 

 

As a major Jean Arthur fan I heartily recommend Easy Living, directed by Mitchell Leisen.  It's a delight, and features one of the most fantastic bathtubs on film!

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As a major Jean Arthur fan I heartily recommend Easy Living, directed by Mitchell Leisen.  It's a delight, and features one of the most fantastic bathtubs on film!

I'll have to be on the lookout for that one on TCM.  For some reason I thought I had seen that as the title sounded familiar, but then I realized I was getting it mixed up with Easy to Wed, a Lucille Ball film.  I haven't seen Easy Living.  I love how opulent homes were in the old movies.  Everything is so fancy.  Even the so called "middle class" people have these gorgeous homes.  I'm looking forward to seeing the beautiful bathtub.  I saw this movie co-starred Edward Arnold.  For some reason, when I read/hear the name Edward Arnold, I always think Eddie Albert from Green Acres and then am disappointed when I realize that it's a completely different person entirely.

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I'll have to be on the lookout for that one on TCM.  For some reason I thought I had seen that as the title sounded familiar, but then I realized I was getting it mixed up with Easy to Wed, a Lucille Ball film.  I haven't seen Easy Living.  I love how opulent homes were in the old movies.  Everything is so fancy.  Even the so called "middle class" people have these gorgeous homes.  I'm looking forward to seeing the beautiful bathtub.  I saw this movie co-starred Edward Arnold.  For some reason, when I read/hear the name Edward Arnold, I always think Eddie Albert from Green Acres and then am disappointed when I realize that it's a completely different person entirely.

I think this was on TCM a year or so ago.  It's one I would really like to see aired more often.

 

Edward Arnold is wonderful in this--I think you might like him.  If not, there's always that bathtub!  I agree, the houses and apartments in old movies were wonderfully over the top.  Not to mention the hotels!  

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New to me - First A Girl, what a delightful little movie. Costumes, settings, cars - all lush. Were they not as expensive as they look back then?

 

Was this a pre-code? Two guys in a bed, two guys and a girl in room, two police men going in to a room to find out if a man is a woman - yikes.

 

I especially liked Sonnie Hale - poor guy died at 57, but managed to have 3 wives!

 

Oh, and I felt sorry for all the birds who gave their lives for the birdcage number.

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I saw five movies last week.  Ida is an interesting, if not entirely successful film.  If not as contemptible as Richard Brody suggests in his blog, it is a movie whose shots "herald their own gravity with their stillness."  What J. Hoberman scornfully said of Schindler's List, with Poland as its own special effect, has been wrongly taken to heart.  The Mark of Zorro was a lot of fun once Fairbanks started moving:  one only wishes there were more scenes of him as Zorro.  The Formula, shown on TCM Canada as a substitute for Kieslowski's trilogy, may be one of dullest "thrillers" ever made.  George C. Scott is given little to do except occasionally whine about 1980 America, and he's not often in physical danger. Moreover the plot is both obvious and needlessly complicated.  The Story of Mankind is basically a curiosity, a children's book turned into a pompous summary of history fit only for children. It's of interest for what people expected children might reasonably be expected to know.  (One might think that Vincent Price's satanic advocate would make more of Christian bigotry, and not focus on a few unrepresentative tyrants.)  Goodbye South, Goodbye is one of the strangest crime dramas you are ever likely to see, with its unique and extremely atypical rhythms in modern Taiwan.

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New to me - First A Girl, what a delightful little movie. Costumes, settings, cars - all lush. Were they not as expensive as they look back then?

 

Was this a pre-code? Two guys in a bed, two guys and a girl in room, two police men going in to a room to find out if a man is a woman - yikes.

 

Being a British film, it didn't have to be made to conform to MPAA standards. As it was released late in 1935, I suspect that the filmmakers were aware of our production code.

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Being a British film, it didn't have to be made to conform to MPAA standards. As it was released late in 1935, I suspect that the filmmakers were aware of our production code.

Thanks, clore. I eventually came to that conclusion. Did the narrow minded censorship of the U.S. ever make it across the pond?

 

It was so refreshing to see this picture.

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I went camping for a few days last week, so it kind of cut into my movie watching time.  However, I did see a couple new films.

 

CRY WOLF- I watched this movie mainly because of Errol Flynn; but it also starred Barbara Stanwyck whom I enjoy.  I was curious to see how this Errol/Barbara pairing would pan out.  While I can't say that this was the best film noir, Errol Flynn or Barbara Stanwyck film I've ever seen-- I found it interesting.  It was interesting to see Errol play such an unlikeable character for most of the film and for him to seem so evil.  Even in Uncertain Glory, when he's a criminal, you can't help but like the guy and root for him to escape his inevitable fate.  In Cry Wolf, I was expecting him to do something awful to Barbara Stanwyck, especially when he found out that she had snuck into a wing of the house he didn't want her in.  She was trying to sneak into his laboratory to see what he was up to.  The plot twist at the end was interesting as well.  Can't say it was the best ending; but it wasn't the worst either.  2.5/4 stars. 

 

THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW- I don't want to start up the Scarlet Street versus The Woman in the Window debate up again.  I haven't seen Scarlet Street, so I cannot comment on the merits of one versus the other.  However, I finally got around to watching The Woman in the Window.  I enjoyed the film very much.  I love film noir in general, so I'm usually satisfied from the get-go.  Aside from Double Indemnity, I hadn't seen any other Edward G. Robinson film noirs.  I've only seen a few of Robinson's films and I'm beginning to enjoy his work.  I'd like to see more of him.  Especially in his gangster films.  In my opinion, you can't go wrong with a few Tommy Gun shootouts and car chases.  I loved how his character kept leaving evidence around even though he was so careful to instruct Joan Bennett to clean up every trace.  I thought for sure he'd hang himself when he kept having the slips of the tongue that seemed to incriminate him.  The police were on his trail and had almost the whole case figured out, but never thought to investigate Robinson.  They seemed to exonerate him immediately even though it was apparent that he knew something. 

 

I enjoyed the other cast members aside from Robinson.  Joan Bennett was great.  She reminded me a lot of Lauren Bacall in her film noir films.  It may be because they had similar voices.  Prior to joining the message boards, I had never heard of Dan Duryea.  This was my first exposure to Duryea and I must say that I enjoyed his performance.  He was like the male version of a femme fatale-- a "man fatale" if you will.  Raymond Massey was excellent as usual.  It was refreshing to see him wearing contemporary clothing and not made up to look like Boris Karloff or Jefferson Smith.  He looked how I imagine Raymond Massey looked in real life. 

 

I don't know how I feel about the ending.  In one way, it seems almost like a cop-out; but then it did tie the film up nicely, so I'm not sure. 

 

I believe that Scarlet Street is on Netflix Instant Queue right now, so I'll definitely have to make time to watch it-- then I can join in the Scarlet Street versus The Woman in the Window debate.  All in all, I look forward to adding this film to my collection and give it 3.5/4 stars.   

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This week I saw an unusually large eight movies.  The Pawnbroker has its virtues, with Rod Steiger giving an unusually dignified performance, and with a downbeat ending.  The Story of Three Loves also has its virtues, though the story of Kirk Douglas as a trapeze artist is both the longest and the one I found least interesting.  I must confess none of the three stories quite moved me.  The Glass Slipper is an interesting example of the live Cinderella genre.  I haven't seen The slipper and the Rose for more than three decades, and I haven't seen Ever After since shortly after it came out.  In this genre, Leslie Caron has a certain charm, and I always like a good ballet.  But Michael Wilding is almost 19 years older than her, and there's a failure of chemistry.  This Land is Mine was perhaps the biggest disappointment of the week.  Charles Laughton is good, actually very good, as the protagonist.  Una O'Connor is good as his mother, and Walter Slezak provides some nuance as the Nazi officer.  But Renoir didn't get a chance to fully show his versatility.  And the screenplay has too many false notes.  (Sanders' character might have been more unctuously flattering, but in real life he would make sure which way the wind was blowing.  The one resister has only the vaguest, least controversial politics conceivable.  And the Nazis had a high idea of Plato, so they wouldn't try to ban him or Tacitus either.)  And given that is the star of the month, Maureen O'Hara is the least convincing person trying to be a European.   Basically remembering all the great movies Renoir made in France, this awkward Hollywood imitation of it is flawed.  Black Moon is Louis Malle's attempt at surrealism, and it strongly suggests that he would be better off sticking what what he knows.  Having seen I'm no Angel and Belle of the Nineties I must say that I like the idea of Mae West Movies more than the execution.  Partly I suppose it's because she doesn't play well with others:  Cary Grant in the former certainly doesn't show his promise here.  The Marx Brothers get to play off themselves, and Margaret Dumont.  Also, their jokes go farther than innuendo.  Finally I saw Arrebato, a 1980 Spanish movie also known as Rapture which stars a mediocre horror film director with a drug problem who encounters an eccentric young man and his peculiar film experiments.  Although not entirely successful, the last few minutes are genuinely creepy, achieving everything The Ring did without any of the melodrama.

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I watched a few movies recently, I still have a ton to watch off my DVR though.  For whatever reason, I've decided to watch The Mary Tyler Moore Show from start to finish and as a result, I've been binge watching it.  I started on Sunday and am a few episodes into Season 2 so far. 

 

Anyway, I did manage to watch a few movies this week.

 

SABOTEUR- I saw this movie in the theater.  It was one of the few Alfred Hitchcock films I hadn't seen.  Prior to this film, my only other exposure to Robert Cummings was Dial M for Murder, What a Way to Go! and an episode of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour where he portrayed himself.  I really enjoyed Cummings' performance in this film.  Plus, he was easy on the eyes so that made the film enjoyable as well.  I also like Priscilla Lane's performance.  Prior to this film, I had seen her in Men Are Such Fools and the much better Arsenic and Old Lace.  This film was fun.  I liked the ending at the Statue of Liberty.  I can see that Hitchcock drew inspiration from himself a decade later when he made North By Northwest and had its climax occur at Mt. Rushmore.  I thought the ending was a bit of a let down.  It ended abruptly and not in a good abrupt way like in The Birds.  What happened? Did Robert Cummings clear his name? What happened to the other saboteurs?

 

TANGLED- I'll admit.  I hadn't seen this Disney film yet.  Why? I really don't know.  I finally got around to watching it and I really enjoyed it.  I think I may have even liked it more than Frozen which I really liked.  I wasn't as familiar with the Rapunzel story-- except that she had really long hair and characters would come to her tower window saying "Rapunzel! Let down your hair!" and she would drop her hair down for them to climb.  Speaking of which, Rapunzel's hair and roots must have been really strong for her to be able to do so much with it without it causing her pain.  The climax of the film was predictable; however, perhaps if one were more familiar with more of the story the climax wouldn't have been so predictable if you knew that that event was supposed to happen.  Anyway, I liked that Rapunzel wasn't your typical damsel in distress.  She actually saved the guy and not the other way around.  Flynn Rider was a great male counterpart to Rapunzel.  Because of this movie, I'm now in a quandary: I've always maintained that Prince Phillip from Sleeping Beauty was the hottest Disney prince; but now I've seen Flynn Rider and I think I may have to knock Prince Phillip down a peg. 

 

DIVE BOMBER- I got the Errol Flynn Signature Collection Volume 2 for my birthday and this movie was the only one included that I hadn't yet seen.  I watched the film and enjoyed it.  Somehow Errol Flynn was extra gorgeous in this film.  I honestly don't know how the man did it.  Anyway, I found the story enjoyable and the Technicolor was gorgeous.  I wish there was more Alexis Smith in the film.  In the scenes she was in, she was great; but there wasn't much of her.  No time for the ladies when you're a doctor in the Navy I suppose.  I thought the little subplot of the guy with the wife he couldn't get rid of was silly and didn't really add much to the film.  I also don't understand what Errol's car accident really added to the film, only that the guy he punched in the eye would later be in Errol's examination room getting a physical for the Navy.  In spite of those small issues, I thought the film was great and liked the relationship between Flynn and Ralph Bellamy.  I liked that Fred MacMurray finally came around and began treating Errol better when he realized that Errol wasn't an idiot.  Some of their flight inventions were silly, like Errol's inflatable belt.  The flight suits were hilarious, it looked like they were going scuba diving.  Although, I wasn't around in 1941, perhaps this is what flight suits looked like.  It was neat seeing a 1941 Hotel Del Coronado in color-- I went there in 2011 and it looked exactly the same as it did in this movie.  Finally, I loved hearing Errol Flynn say "boogie woogie" with his Australian accent.  I could listen to that man talk all day.

 

Up next on the DVR:

Foreign Correspondent

Leave Her to Heaven

Barefoot Contessa

Clash By Night

The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Marines Fly High

Robert and Marian

Presenting Lily Mars

Harper

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman

The Forbidden Street

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I saw five movies this week, and they work rather well.  I'm not really a Harryhausen fan, I suspect most of the Spielberg generation arent't and it doesn't reflect very well on the title character's intelligence in The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad that when he recruits a crew from prisoners, they almost immediately mutiny.  But if you accept this on its own terms it can be enjoyed.  The Housemaid becomes increasingly delirious as it proceeds, and one can't help but wonder about the movie and the repressive quasi-confuscianism of 1960 South Korea.  The Marrying Kind is a surprisingly successful attempt at a realistic picture of marriage, even its 1952 audience had to have the divorce wished away (not entirely unlike the way The Housemaid ends with the adultery plot wished away).  Calcutta is a decent documentary, not as good as Rossellini's India made a decade earlier, and with the topic of overpopulation playing a very prominent role indeed.  The best movie of the week was Lumiere D'Ete with its menage a trois, or menage a cinque becoming increasingly dark, provided with more intelligence than most filmmakers would present in 1943.

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I saw a few movies this week.  I've been trying to clean up my DVR before SUTS starts. 

 

PAPER MOON- This one wasn't one I'd recorded; but I watched it off Netflix Instant Streaming with friends.  I made a separate thread to discuss this movie further.  I loved everything about this film-- the music, the acting, the black and white cinematography, the setting, everything.  I'm definitely looking forward to adding a physical copy of this film to my collection.

 

THE MARINES FLY HIGH- I recorded this movie because it starred one of my favorites-- Lucille Ball.  Unfortunately for Lucy, this film was not among her better efforts.  I actually lost interest in the film part way through and ended up doing something else with this film running in the background.

 

HARPER- I recorded this film for the cast: Paul Newman, Lauren Bacall, Janet Leigh, Shelley WInters and Robert Wagner.  It seemed interesting.  Lauren Bacall is one of my favorites.  I was slightly disappointed as her role wasn't more substantial.  I thought with a second billing she'd have more of a role in this film.  Perhaps she was elevated to second billing based on her name and status in Hollywood as opposed to having a billing that actually reflected how large of a role she played in the plot.  I loved how this 1966 film was able to evoke the mood and feelings of the 1940s film noir.  Paul Newman's Porsche was a hideous car, I was glad to see it get destroyed in the end.  I saw that Harold Gould was part of the cast, and I knew him as Rhoda's dad in Rhoda and Rose Nylund's boyfriend Miles in The Golden Girls.  I kept looking out for him, thinking that perhaps he was the missing man who would be found alive in the end; but I didn't see him.  It was only until the credits that I saw he was the sheriff.  I did not recognize him at all.  I loved Paul Newman's persona and look forward to seeing more of his work. 

 

THE CRUISE OF THE ZACA- Okay, so this was a short film.  I recorded it, because, well you know, Errol Flynn.  I saw that it was going to air about 20 minutes before A Southern Yankee.  I set up my DVR to start recording 'Yankee' about 30 minutes early so I could catch the Flynn flick.  I couldn't care less about the film following The Cruise of the Zaca.  I really enjoyed Errol's marine biology expedition.  I liked seeing him coming out of his home and it was great seeing him indulging in his true passion-- sailing.  From reading his autobiography, Flynn was very interested in marine biology, so I imagine that this whole expedition was very fulfilling for him--especially since he was able to involve his marine biologist dad in the journey as well.  As I understand it, Flynn got along well with his dad, it was his mother whom he had intense disdain.  When Errol climbed out on the pontoons of the helicopter to get a closer picture of the gray whales I was thinking, "oh no Errol! that doesn't look safe, you're gonna fall!" and sure enough, he fell into the ocean.  I am going to imagine that his camera didn't survive the ocean.  He has a wonderful narration voice; although his Australian accent seemed a little thicker than it does in the movies.  Perhaps when making a film, he made a conscientious effort to subdue it a little bit? It was fun to see Flynn in a more candid film and see how he may have been in real life.  Granted, I'm sure he was somewhat putting his best foot forward since he knew he was making a short film; but as far as I can tell, if Flynn was really interested in a project, whether it were a trip or a film or what not, he made more of an effort to "behave" (so to speak).  I think sailing was his true calling and it shows in this film.  After making the effort to DVR this film and watching it, I wanted to see if it was available as a special feature on a Flynn DVD or some other random one (the "Night and Day" DVD for example features a Desi Arnaz' Orchestra short).  Lo and behold, The Cruise of the Zaca is a special feature on The Adventures of Robin Hood blu ray! Which I own! I could have watched this film months ago!

 

THE COURTSHIP OF EDDIE'S FATHER- This film was cute.  I recorded it for Glenn Ford and little "Ronny" Howard.  Shirley Jones was good, hard to believe that in a few years she was going to be Mrs. Partridge.  Glenn Ford was excellent as always; but Ron Howard stole the movie.  He was hilarious.  The film was a little schmaltzy; but it was entertaining.  I loved the end when Ron Howard was having Glenn Ford practice asking Shirley Jones to dinner.  Ron was Shirley and Glenn was himself.  Ron Howard was responding to Glenn Ford's questions and comments using phrases that he thought an adult woman would use.  I laughed out loud when he called Glenn Ford "sugar man."

 

THE ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN- I wrote my thoughts on this film on a separate '50 Foot Woman' thread.  I thought this film was hilarious.  I loved the jazzy music and storyline.  I wish that there would have been more scenes with the '50 foot woman.'  It seems that she could have caused a lot more destruction and mayhem than she did.  However, with only a 65 minute running time, the producers were able to deliver a film with a beginning, middle and end.  The ending line: "She finally got Harry all to herself," was perfect.

 

SUZY- This film was okay.  I liked Jean Harlow well enough and the male co stars, Cary Grant and Franchot Tone were pretty good.The plot was a little convoluted.  The WWI setting isn't made very clear; only because the clothing seemed more contemporary to 1936 rather than the teens.  I was able to deduce that it was WWI only because I didn't remember France having gone to war in 1936.  I liked Cary Grant's singing-- it always fun to see non-musical stars dabbling in song and dance.  It's also exciting when it turns out that that actor could actually sing and/or dance!  I thought it was funny that Grant was supposed to be a French playboy; but he clearly spoke with a British accent.  He didn't even attempt a French one; albeit the idea of Grant speaking with a French accent seems hilarious as well.  Tone's Irish accent was interesting.  It was reminiscent of Bogart's in Dark Victory.   

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I saw five movies last week.  The Spy in Black showed some of Michael Powell's future virtues, even if the TCM didn't have the best sound or picture.  Hard to Handle was a fun Cagney film.  The Criminal Code had some virtues, with Houston and Karloff giving good performances, with the couple at the centre of the film being least successful, and the play the movie was based on working less well.  Devi was an interesting Satyajit Ray film about a woman whose father in law believes, incorrectly, is an incarnation of a goddess.  I think the best film this week was Le Ciel Est a Vous, the sort of film one would think that Hollywood would be good at making.  This story, about a mechanic and his wife who become fascinated with flying, benefits by by more realistic and less histronic than a Hollywood version would be.

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Many of the movies I saw help show the importance of directors.  Fassbinder is not my favorite director, although if you sit down to watch his movies his virtues become more apparent.  World on a Wire, while an interesting movie, is a bit longish.  This is especially so as the concept, while undoubtedly disturbing in 1972, has become almost commonplace in the post-Matrix age.  Similarly The Long Gray Line shows some of Ford's virtues, and some scenes show an admirable restraint.  But to get to them, one has to go through a lot of sentimental stage Irishry, some of Ford's trademark incompetent slapstick, his unwillingness or incapacity to deal with emotional issues with particular depth, for what is basically a very long advertisment for West Point.  Ford made at least a half dozen movies in tribute to the military life, and none of them achieve what The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp does.  Remorques, the third of the Jean Gremillion movies, may be the least of them, but this story of Jean Gabin playing a captain who falls in love with a woman he encounters on a rescue mission is still a fine piece fo work.  Witness for the Prosecution as a short story and play suffers from Agatha Christie's shallo moralism, and a not very surprising twist.  The movie, like Sleuth also suffers from an unconvincing disguise at a crucial point.  But Charles Laughton, Marlene Dietrich and even Tyrone Power almost make it work under Wilder's direction.  And finally there is the movie of the week, Comrades:  almost a love story,  which, notwithstanding the title, is an interesting, thoughtful romantic comedy, with useful things to say about Hong Kong and China in the last two decades of the 20th century, and which includes shots of the World Trade Centre and the Statue of Liberty looking at each other.

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..like Sleuth also suffers from an unconvincing disguise at a crucial point.

 

I remember that (re Sleuth), amazing that the movie tried to get that by the viewers ...

 

But Charles Laughton, Marlene Dietrich and even Tyrone Power almost make it work under Wilder's direction. [my emphasis]

 

I won't put  words in your mind about this, but I do get a certain satisfaction out of seeing the word "even" in view of a discussion thread about Tyrone where I am a distinct minority as to his acting abilities. This isn't a jab at those who like him. Just sayin, a certain, perhaps cheapo satisfaction out of seeing this. But for the record, these Tyrone fans have persuaded me to view some movies of his that I haven't seen and take a further reading, hopefully I'll get to it someday.

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..like Sleuth also suffers from an unconvincing disguise at a crucial point.

 

I remember that (re Sleuth), amazing that the movie tried to get that by the viewers ...

 

But Charles Laughton, Marlene Dietrich and even Tyrone Power almost make it work under Wilder's direction. [my emphasis]

 

I won't put  words in your mind about this, but I do get a certain satisfaction out of seeing the word "even" in view of a discussion thread about Tyrone where I am a distinct minority as to his acting abilities. This isn't a jab at those who like him. Just sayin, a certain, perhaps cheapo satisfaction out of seeing this. But for the record, these Tyrone fans have persuaded me to view some movies of his that I haven't seen and take a further reading, hopefully I'll get to it someday.

 

I wouldn't assume your in the minority as it relates to Tyrone Power (well unless you think he is a really bad actor like, say, George Raft).    At this forum it is really difficult to determine if there is a consensus. 

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I watched quite a few movies this week; some of which I've already discussed at length on various threads:

 

SILVER RIVER- Watched it for my boyfriend Errol Flynn, even though he looked a little rough in this one-- wasn't quite as dreamy as usual, but still the most attractive man in the film (Frankly, I think he looks better in The Adventures of Don Juan which was a couple years later).  Anyway, while I enjoyed the film and typically enjoy the collaborations between Flynn, Ann Sheridan and/or director Raoul Walsh, I found that this one wasn't quite as good as two of their previous films: Gentleman Jim and Uncertain Glory.  One of the main ways I think this film could be improved (I can't believe I'm saying this) would be if it were in color.  Normally I couldn't care less whether something is in color or in black and white; but sometimes films need the color to enhance the overall aesthetic of the film.  This is one of those films.  Ann Sheridan had beautiful costumes that would have been gorgeous to look at in color.  Having the scenery in color would have also added to the look of the film.  Finally, I think that the ending seemed rushed and almost just "tacked on."  There should have been more scenes earlier in the picture showing the progression in Flynn's attitude that would make him want to stay and help clean up the town. 

 

I WAKE UP SCREAMING- I watched this one upon Dargo's recommendation-- the main point of the recommendation was to allow me to give Victor Mature another chance when it came to acknowledging his acting skills.  While my opinion was not changed on Mature's outer appearance (not for me thanks), I have changed my opinion about his acting.  I've seen him in two musicals-- that were terrible.  I also didn't enjoy Mature's singing.  Musicals are not his forte.  I Wake Up Screaming, however, a film noir, is a good genre for him.  This was a great recommendation.  I love film noir, so going into the movie, I already had a positive feeling.  Mature was fantastic as the guy trying to clear his name.  I also liked Betty Grable's character.  It was nice seeing her in a role where she wasn't all bubbly and cute and nice.  I had never seen a Carole Landis movie (but was familiar with the story of her sad demise) and I enjoyed her performance as well.  Laird Cregar who played the main antagonist (but made to seem like the protagonist) was superb.  He was a total creeper-- which is a great quality to have in a film noir character.  I also loved the plot twist at the end.  Excellent film. 

 

THE ROARING TWENTIES- I already made my thoughts on this film clear in the James Cagney thread I reposted; but I loved this film.  Loved the story, the actors, the music, everything.  Great film and I'm glad I picked it up. 

 

AND THEN THERE WERE NONE- I'm a little late to the party with this one.  I just watched it last night.  I was familiar with the 10 Little Indians story; but I didn't realize how morbid the rhyme was.  This story would make a great, creepy slasher horror film, if it hasn't been done already.  The storyline was very similar to Clue-- except that in Clue none of the guests are killed-- it's those who live in the house or visit the house that are.  The whole "one of the guests is also the murderer" plot line that was in Clue was probably inspired by this Agatha Christie story.  I had seen a different incarnation of this film that was awful-- I'm happy to report that this one was better.  I really enjoyed Barry Fitzgerald and Walter Huston's performance.  I also recognized the voice of the actor who played the Butler.  Listening to him talk, I was thinking "He sounds like the caterpillar in Alice and Wonderland," looking him up on imdb, I was happy to see that I was right.  All in all, this was an excellent film and I loved the plot twist at the end involving one of the guests; however, having not read Christie's original novel, I can't help but think that this probably wasn't the actual ending of the story.  Breen code strikes again!

 

AUNTIE MAME- I had watched this movie another time earlier; however, I didn't really watch very intently.  This time, I actually paid attention to the movie and it was like seeing it for the first time.  I obviously didn't really watch it the first time.  Rosalind Russell was amazing.  I love her, she's fantastic in every film I've seen her in.  I loved how eccentric she was.  I loved her wardrobe, her home and how she kept changing the décor, everything.  For some reason, the movie store I go to has this film classified as a musical.  I didn't find much "musical" about it, except that it had music in it.  I recognized the girl who was going to marry Mame's nephew as the potential new stepmother in The Parent Trap.  I realize that she was supposed to be a bore, completely pretentious and obnoxious; but ugh! that voice she used!  After she talked for the first time, out loud, I said "yuck!" Her voice got to be a little much and I thought maybe she overdid it a tad.  The actors playing her parents however, were much better as the rich, bigoted, pretentious people.  I recognized the mom as the woman who played "Blondie" in Footsteps in the Dark.  I loved that Mame had the upper hand on them; and I loved Agnes G ooch.  She was hilarious. 

 

TWO SMART PEOPLE- I recorded this movie because it had one of my favorites-- Lucille Ball.  This film was not among one of her best.  It didn't hold my attention at all.  I can't even say anything more about it; because I thought it was boring.

 

YOUNG AT HEART- I got this through Netflix and mainly for Frank Sinatra.  I enjoy him and like Doris Day most of the time.  Apparently this film was a remake of Four Daughters, which I haven't seen; but I feel like the original is probably better.  Alan Hale Jr. was also in this film; which was a treat just for seeing "The Skipper" 10 years younger.  Unfortunately for the film, the best parts were the scenes of Sinatra singing (I can't even remember what Doris Day did in the movie).  I actually really enjoyed the scenes of him singing Someone to Watch Over Me and One For My Baby, (And One More For the Road) while playing piano.  Sinatra's quiet, subdued performance of both of these songs, brought a nice mellow mood to the film, while at the same time, the songs brought a sort of moodiness that I enjoyed.  That was the highlight, and in fact, on the way to and from work the next day, I listened to nothing but Sinatra.  Sometimes I'm just in a Sinatra mood. 

 

AMERICAN HUSTLE- I got this movie on Netflix because I was curious about it after having heard so much about it.  I really liked the film; but I don't think it'll be one that I'll need to own.  I can't see myself needing to watch it over and over.  The plot was great and had a very clever plot twist at the end.  The cast is excellent.  I loved the soundtrack of 1970s music and I thought the costumes were great.  Whether everything was authentic to what the real 70s were like, I can't say, because I wasn't around then; but whatever version of the 70s were depicted, I liked it.  Although, I have to say, there must have been a large double stick tape budget! It was great seeing Robert De Niro in a small part.  There were also some funny parts to the film, such as Christian Bale's morning combover routine, seeing Bradley Cooper's hair in tight tight curlers (to achieve the permed 'fro look) and Jennifer Lawrence blowing up the "science oven" (i.e. microwave) by putting a TV dinner in a metal tray covered in tin foil inside.  It was a good film; but for me, not one that I'll need to watch over and over.  I recommend it to those who aren't bothered by cursing, mild nudity and drug use in films.

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I saw three movies last week.  The Curse of the Cat People is so visually beautiful and has so many interesting touches, it's a pity that the parents are a bit off which prevents it from being a truly great movie. The Mel Brooks To be or not to Be is so close to Lubtisch's original one wonders why he bothered.  The Missing Picture was the most interesting movie I saw last week.  Imagine a cross of the The Lego Movie with The Killing Fields, though the use of actual propaganda footage from the Khmer Rouge has its own morbid fascination.

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Most Favorite is "Black Fury" (1935) which is a surprise in that I never heard of this film about coal miners before.  Unlike "Matewan" (1987) it has a happy ending.  Love the '1 person can make a difference'  plot at the end, perfectly played by Paul Muni.  There are 2 similarities between the 2 movies, first in the movie "Matewan", C.E. Lively is the company spy.  The 2nd is the eviction of miner families from their homes during the strike.  The Baldwin-Felts Detective agency made the evicted life a nightmare in the "Matewan" film.

 

The miners in "Black Fury" used electric head lamps (aka Edison Electric Miners Cap Lamp) compared to Carbide lamps in "Matewan" which I were told used in my area up to the 1940's  

 

MV5BMTQwMzU0NDY0NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDM4

 

 

 

If any of you haven't seen "Matewan", I strongly recommend it.  It is historically accurate.

Matewan_poster.jpg

 

 

Edison electric Miners Cap Lamp used in "Black Fury"

47.jpg

 

Carbide Lamp in "Matewan"

007.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

I saw four movies over the last four weeks:  Point of Order is an interesting documentary about the Army-McCarthy hearings.  The Wedding Banquet is, like most of Ang Lee's movies, a manipulative crowd-pleaser.  Snowpiercer is a much better movie, which gets more interesting as it proceeds.  The Lego Movie is amusing and clever in places, even if it hits too many Hollywood screenplay beats a bit too neatly.

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