Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

I Just Watched...


speedracer5
 Share

Recommended Posts

birds18.jpg.76f794ea6dd01091e517240aace3c1c4.jpg

The Birds from 1963 with Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy and Suzanne Pleshette

 
 
The Birds is an excellent movie without much of a plot. Basically, the entire story is a girl chases a boy while an old girlfriend, a mother and some birds get in the way. 
 
Did Hitchcock make a movie starring his famous macguffin? From Wikipedia: "In fiction, a macguffin is an object, device, or event that is necessary to the plot and the motivation of the characters, but insignificant, unimportant, or irrelevant in itself."
 
Is Hitchcock trolling us in The Birds? Do you really care about the why of the birds or are they just the thing that Hedren and Taylor have to overcome so that they can be together?
 
Hedren is a spoiled socialite with a checkered sexual past (nude swimming in a fountain in Rome at a time when that was still shocking). Taylor's the pragmatic lawyer with an old-school mom, Jessica Tandy, who has no truck for Hedren's rich-girl antics. 
 
In a crazy get-the-guy Hail Mary, Hedren uses a flimsy excuse about bringing some love birds to Taylor's younger sister, whom she doesn't even know, to drive forty miles to Bodega Bay to see a man she only briefly met once in San Francisco. Something is going very right in your life when lithe, blonde, beautiful and rich Tippie Hedren is using subterfuge just to be with you.
 
Once in Bodega Bay, while Hedren is trying to find reasons to keep seeing Taylor, she stumbles upon what she thinks are her real obstacles: Taylor's still-pining-for-him ex-girlfriend, Suzanne Pleshette, and Taylor's Oedipal-Complex mother, Jessica Tandy. 
 
Then the bird attacks start. At first, it's a small isolated event here or there. Yet, eventually, the Bird Wars begin and gulls and crows mass and attack off and on, while Hedren's never-changed-once-during-the-weekend pale-green suit gets dirtier and, one imagines, riper over the following few days. 
 
Hitchcock, though, knows how to do suspense and fear. In the first mass bird attack, we see Hedren sitting perfectly quaffed on a bench outside of a lost-in-time schoolhouse as the sounds of kids singing gently waft out. The camera keeps returning to Hedren as crows eerily mass on the monkey bars and overhead wires behind her; the dread builds as the background becomes ominously populated with birds.    
 
Then comes the attack, which for the time was visually impressive, but today, the effect isn't too scary or realistic. After that, it's wash-rinse-repeat as we see the birds attack a few more times over the next few days (the in-town attack is pretty darn good action). Taylor, Hedren and the town slowly realize something more than "a few isolated incidents" is going on. 
 
That's pretty much it though. It's cinematically impressive and engaging in that 1950s/1960s way Hitchcock mastered, but other than a few quick speeches, we never learn much more about the birds, nor do we really care because they're the macguffin. 
 
At the end, as torn-and-frayed Hedren, Rod Taylor, his mother and his sister drive away from the bird hell of Bodega Bay, we're left with this slightly altered story: a girl chases a boy and some birds kill the girl's rival (ex-girlfriend Suzanne Pleshette) and cow the won't-cut-the-apron-strings mother, so the girl can get the boy. 
 
Not shown in the movie, but as their car slowly leaves Bodega Bay, with Taylor and Hedren presumably on their way to matrimony, Hedren gives a discreet thank-you nod to the birds. 
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I feel like a glutton for punishment and misery. This year had already seen screenings of Looking for Mr. Goodbar and Rosewood (the true story of a race massacre after a horrific lie in Florida in 1923), and both films greatly disturbed me. But following the third film in this mosaic of misery, I feel absolutely destroyed. It's 1989's Casualties of War, the unfortunately true story of a rape/murder committed by four members of a five-man platoon in Vietnam in 1966. The fifth man, who tried and failed to save the victim, ultimately turned the other four in. This is a no-holds-barred film with visuals and sounds I don't think I will ever forget. I was crying buckets during this, with Michael J. Fox touching as the would-be helper, and Thuy Thu Le unforgettable as the victim. It's truly a horrifying film, and if you have any bit of a heart, it will break and snap it apart. I feel it is one of the most devastating films I have ever seen, and therefore I feel it achieved its aim. Its a great film, but one that will haunt you forever.... I think though that Pauline Kael's marathon review sums this up better than I ever could though.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 minutes ago, CinemaInternational said:

Quiet side note. Why exactly did Platoon and The Deer Hunter emerge in the public eye as the definitive Vietnam films? Casualties of War, Heaven and Earth, In Country, and the TV series China Beach seem the more meaningful offerings.

Casualties of War was considered an overwrought melodrama at the time. It got fairly poor reviews, as far as I can recall. Michael J. Fox was considered too "lightweight" for the material (he was still known primarily for his TV sitcom roles and Back to the Future) and Sean Penn was on a downswing career wise, and was singled out for being too hammy. 

As for the others you list, it's more of a question of when they came out. For one, despite the Best Picture Oscar win, The Deer Hunter was considered controversial even at the time of its release, with many attacking a perceived racist depiction of the Vietnamese, and the metaphorical use of Russian Roulette. There were protests at the time against it. However, it was one of the first major studio films to tackle the subject matter. Platoon garnered a lot of acclaim because of when it came out (before the glut of similar films and shows over the next several years), and the fact that it was more straightforward than previous Vietnam War films like Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now. Both In Country (and the similar Jacknife and Distant Thunder) and Heaven and Earth came out after the mid-to-late 80's Vietnam War movie boom (Hamburger Hill, Full Metal JacketBorn on the Fourth of July) and audiences and critics were growing tired of the subject. Particularly with H & E, critics were souring on Oliver Stone in general by that time, and the fact the film had Asian leads meant few saw it. 

I can't say much about China Beach or Tour of Duty from which it was a spin-off, as I never watched either regularly. I know China Beach had some critical acclaim at the time. I think one reason it hasn't been talked about as much since then was that it was difficult to see in its original form, as there were a lot of music rights issues. I don't know if they were resolved, or if all the available episodes now have altered soundtracks.

  • Like 4
  • Thanks 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

Casualties of War was considered an overwrought melodrama at the time. It got fairly poor reviews, as far as I can recall. Michael J. Fox was considered too "lightweight" for the material (he was still known primarily for his TV sitcom roles and Back to the Future) and Sean Penn was on a downswing career wise, and was singled out for being too hammy. 

As for the others you list, it's more of a question of when they came out. For one, despite the Best Picture Oscar win, The Deer Hunter was considered controversial even at the time of its release, with many attacking a perceived racist depiction of the Vietnamese, and the metaphorical use of Russian Roulette. There were protests at the time against it. Platoon garnered a lot of acclaim because of when it came out, and the fact that it was more straightforward than previous Vietnam War films like Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now. Both In Country (and the similar Jacknife and Distant Thunder) and Heaven and Earth came out after the mid-to-late 80's Vietnam War movie boom (Hamburger Hill, Full Metal JacketBorn on the Fourth of July) and audiences and critics were growing tired of the subject. Particularly with H & E, critics were souring on Oliver Stone in general by that time, and the fact the film had Asian leads meant few saw it. 

I can't say much about China Beach or Tour of Duty from which it was a spin-off, as I never watched either regularly. I know China Beach had some critical acclaim at the time. I think one reason it hasn't been talked about as much since then was that it was difficult to see in its original form, as there were a lot of music rights issues. I don't know if they were resolved, or if all the available episodes now have altered soundtracks.

I understand now. Thank you.

As for China Beach, most of the music was cleared for the DVD release. Over 250 songs were cleared for use, while 17 songs (including one Beatles song, two Willie Nelsons, one Beach Boys, one Eagles, and one Petula Clark) could not be licensed. So the DVD set (which can be found reasonably on Ebay, and highly recommended because it is a great show, my pick for the best network TV series ever aired) still features songs from such costly heavy hitters as Diana Ross and the Supremes,  John Lennon, Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, and many others intact.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, CinemaInternational said:

I feel like a glutton for punishment and misery. This year had already seen screenings of Looking for Mr. Goodbar and Rosewood (the true story of a race massacre after a horrific lie in Florida in 1923), and both films greatly disturbed me. But following the third film in this mosaic of misery, I feel absolutely destroyed. It's 1989's Casualties of War, the unfortunately true story of a rape/murder committed by four members of a five-man platoon in Vietnam in 1966. The fifth man, who tried and failed to save the victim, ultimately turned the other four in. This is a no-holds-barred film with visuals and sounds I don't think I will ever forget. I was crying buckets during this, with Michael J. Fox touching as the would-be helper, and Thuy Thu Le unforgettable as the victim. It's truly a horrifying film, and if you have any bit of a heart, it will break and snap it apart. I feel it is one of the most devastating films I have ever seen, and therefore I feel it achieved its aim. Its a great film, but one that will haunt you forever.... I think though that Pauline Kael's marathon review sums this up better than I ever could though.

PAULINE KAEL had a little bit of a "thing" for MICHAEL J FOX, which is strange to see in PAULINE KAEL, but she writes very adoring reviews of his work

Link to comment
Share on other sites

it's funny you all mention this, because i tried watching APOCALYPSE NOW REDUX on NETFLIX (REDUX being extra footage and remastering) and turned it off about an hour or so in, not long after they head into the jungle and away from ROBERT DUVALL.

I guess I'm just a woke fool, but i dunno, while it was well-shot and well-made and even very well-acted, I just didn't feel like venturing any further into it.

something about it...turned me off (for lack of a better way of saying it)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1/9 The French Connection (20th Century Fox, 1971)
Source: Amazon Prime

I spent that weekend at my mother's birthday (January 8, the same day as Elvis! She was born one year earlier. A music buff friend of mine told me David Bowie was also born Jan 8, at least a dozen years after her. Mom has outlived both of them) about 210 miles south of where I live, so I didn't watch TCM at all on the seventh or the eighth. I got home Sunday night with whatever TCM was airing already underway, and I don't like starting in the middle of a movie, so as I'd done with Network the night before I left town, I fired up The French Connection for $3.99 on Amazon Prime. There's been some discussion on here recently about the value of this streaming service. Some of you like it. Some of you are satisfied to never give this corporate giant a penny. One user on here pointed out to me that you can watch movies on it without having a subscription, and to my memory, I started out that way, but I think I have access to more free material with a membership? Not sure, but something I need to look into.

Okay, anyway, I've been very slow about launching into a review of The French Connection, a film that led to a firestorm of controversy on these message boards in recent months and personally rattled my soul so much that I gave serious thought to leaving the message boards altogether. When I said as much on here once, it took JamesJazzGuitar about six seconds to post "If that's the way you feel, you probably should leave then." I would like to think I'm above trolling online for sympathy or empathy, but I got zero posts or PMs saying, "NO! We'd miss you to much, sewhite! Please don't go! You have so many interesting things to say!" But any self-delusions I've created in my head about my relative value around here have certainly been dispelled. I did get a couple of PMs dismissing other people as jerks, "losers living in their parents' basements" as one member described them, and Eucalyptus P. Millstone wrote some kind, supportive words, which greatly surprised but moved me. 

I don't know that I HAVE to review the controversy before getting into the movie, but I'm on a roll now: somebody calling himself VikingHead, whom I don't think ever had more than four or five total posts - I assume he was inspired by the guy wearing the Viking helmet in the Capitol Dome raids, so I was possibly disinclined to treat him with a lot of dignity - watched an airing of French Connection on TCM and noticed that a scene in which the protagonist Popye Doyle (Gene Hackman) uttered the "N" word had been deleted from the movie. This made him unhappy. Quite unhappy. And several other people chimed in on their opposition to censorship, and spoke of artistic freedom and integrity, and at one level it all sounded very high-minded. But a large number of those people also took a sentence or two to sneer at TCM and the "woke" culture they felt the network was promoting. "I hate anything 'woke'" or an equivalent phrase   was uttered more than once. There has been an onslaught of this sentiment among TCM Message Board users in multiple threads, most having nothing to do with The French Connection. The loudest TCM Message Board members also really hate the promotional piece about blackface and the one about looking at old movies from a modern context. 

I will put aside at least for the moment the fact that TCM doesn't appear to have edited the movie but rather appears to have aired a cut that had already been edited by Disney, the new owners of 20th Century Fox Films content. I say this based on having watched the movie twice on Amazon Prime in the past six weeks and noticing the scene in question is also absent when the film is accessed from there. Also, numerous posters on here have more or less confirmed what I thought, noting the scene is no longer available in any format in which you might try to view they movie, on newer issues of the DVD or on any other streaming service, for example. On my most recent viewing of the movie, I think I could pinpoint where the edit is. It's an early scene where Roy Scheider approaches Hackman at the police station, and then it feels like we have a jump cut to where Scheider wants to go out the door and go home but Hackman wants them to get a drink. In between, I think we're missing the bit where Hackman tells Scheider "don't trust a ...", and when Scheider replies he didn't know the person they were talking about was black, Hackman says, "Dont' trust anybody". It's kind of a funny moment that highlights Doyle's paranoia, which culminates in its logical extreme in the final scene. Why only it got removed and a very loud racial slur of Latinos stays in later in the movie, I can't say, though I'm sure people on here have their theories.

Given all this unhappiness about woke content (to be fair, most of the comments on here I've read don't say "I want more racism!" but instead something along the lines of "Yes, I KNOW racism is bad! Stop lecturing to me about it!"), it seemed pretty obvious to me what the message was behind Viking Head's message. But I still wanted to hear him say it more plainly than he already had, so I asked him a simple question, "Wait - are you saying you WANT to hear a white guy uttering the 'N' word?" Well, whatever my intent was - I think it was something along the lines of getting a very obvious racist to own up more explicitly to his racism - it went very poorly for me. I haven't viewed the thread in question in a long tme - I assume it's on Page 6 or 7 by now if it hasn't been deleted altogether. But as long as I continued to monitor the thread, there were zero people except for me who said "Wow, Viking Head, what you said was kinda racist, and it makes me unhappy." There were on the other hand several dozen posters who let me know in no uncertain terms that what I'd said was wrong, stupid, insulting, evil, ignorant of the facts and just generally beyond the pale. I though I'd tossed of a semi-clever bon mot that might merit a haha emoji or two. Instead, it turned into weeks of me being semi-nervous about getting on here, until I got to accept the state of things with some gallows humor: "Time to get on the TCM Message Boards and see who's yelling at me today ,,,,", which most days for several weeks was a lot of people.

There was a guy who no longer posts on here I prefer not to name, but Un-something or other. He'd already given me an online caning when I responded to a poster who groused about Mario Cantone being a co-host. That poster made me cringe as he listed all the "flamboyant' things he feared Cantone would do on the air, though at the very end of his post he had something nice to say about at least one other homosexual celebrity - I've forgotten who - which kind of made me go "Awwww", so I posted and said, "Gee, for 99 per cent of your post, I was ready to dismiss you as a homophobe, but what you said at the end is making me rethink it." Well, Un-something or other lost his mind and compared me to Robespierre, whom I had to look up on Wikipedia. Still unsure I understand the comparison. But Un-something or other seemed to suggest I had some devious agenda to have people like the anti-Cantone poster removed from these threads. I assume he assumed so from my use of the word "dismiss", which I only intended to use on a personal level, not in any sense that I have any power to get anyone removed from these boards. But Un-something or other was sure I was evil personified and was pretty apoplectic that I dared to say what I said and became equally infuriated at my inability to grasp why I'm such a sh*tty person.

So, when I specifically asked Viking Head if he wanted to hear white people saying the "N" word, Un-something or other popped on again and ranted, "COME ON MAN!" and added something about it being just as egregious if not more so when black people use the N word, with which I don't necessarily agree. My understanding as a relatively ignorant white guy is that they've softened the hard "R" sound at the end, and even when they don't, they've chosen to appropriate the word, to steal it away from all the white racists and use it in a more positive, affirming context. Un-something or other reminded me of my days as a student teacher more than 20 years ago when I sat in the teacher's breakroom of a small town Texas elementary school and listened to all the white adults in the room moan that February was about to start and they were going to be forced to teach black history. "Woke" culture was ruling the education agenda in a hardcore Republican state like Texas even then, apparently, though the word "woke" didn't exist yet, and cranky white people were unhappy about it. EVERYBODY was unhappy about that situation. White people: Why don't we have a WHITE history month, huh?" (Me: "Ummm .... the other 11 months of the year?") Black people: Oh, sure, the Man made damn sure that Black History Month is the SHORTEST month of the year.

Even James Jazz Guitar, a poster whom I resepct tremendously and who has stated that he's half-Japanese and I assume has experienced racism much more directly than I have, informed me he thought it was a "punk move" to question Viking Head's belief system in the manner than I did, which stung me deeply. I had no idea the nuclear bomb I was setting off with my one-sentence post, a nuclear bomb with a target radius of only myself. To this day, nobody besides me ever had anything to negative to say to Viking Head that I'm aware of. And with the most recent French Connection airing, another poster with an incredibly small number of total posts (or Viking Head using a different name?) started a thread complaining about the exact same thing. I largely stayed off of that one, but people generally seemed more hip that the censorship was likely a Disney decision not a TCM one, and the thread veered down a sidepath of Disney content over the years, one poster commenting on the rated-R "filth" Disney put out under their Touchstone and Buena Vista imprints and their content advisory warning for insensitive material in recent re-releases of older stuff. Vautrin made a funny post that there were multiple other movies airing on TCM the same week that still had the "N" word in them for people who needed to hear it so badly. It was in the spirit of what I tried to say months ago, but the way I said it only made everybody hate me. Ugh, that was a lot of personal history I didn't care to rehash, and I've probably only reopened old wounds, so apologies. Just thought I had to get out why I'll probably have intense personal reactions when watching (or reviewing) this movie.

(Edit: oh Un-something or other went on to accuse TCM of essentially conspiring to cover up the guilt of a buddy of theirs whom he believes to be a murderer and went on to describe with great glee how he imagined the psyche of the alleged murderer, a well known limousine liberal, was disintegrating. Then he stopped posting. One person on here suggested he'd been removed, but I don't know if that's so.)

Whew. Well, I've bored people so much already with all this personal history, I don't want to run another 10 paragraphs on the movie itself. So, very quickly, The French Connection is probably the epitome of the gritty '70s cop drama. Two French nationals, a longshoreman-type turned drug dealer and his hitman accomplice  (Fernando Rey and Marcell Bozzuffi), want to smuggle a large amount of heroin into the United States and contrive to do so by hiding it in the car of a French TV actor (Frederic de Pasquale) who's coming to America to make a movie. Meanwhile Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle  and Buddy Russo (Hackman and Scheider) are two NYPD narcotics bureau cops who often work undercover and make lots of arrests, but only of small-time dealers, putting no dent in the city's massive drug trade. While getting a drink after work, they spot a "big spender" clearly out of his league sharing a table with known connections to organized crime and the drug trade. They tail the guy and the girl he's with, who turns out to be his wife. They're Sal and Angie Boca (Tony LoBianco and Arlene Farber), small-time crooks with records who are currently at least putting on a facade of going staright, raining a combination newsstand/luncheonette. Popeye and Buddy have gotten rumors from their informant that something big is about to go down, and Popeye has a hunch that an incoming shipment might be heading in  Sal's direction. In fact, Sal and his connections are planning to purchase the shipment from the Frenchmen valued at $32 million, but the Frenchmen are canny - they're aware they're being tailed practically from the moment they arrive in America. Popeye and Buddy get a reluctant okay from their captain (Eddie Egan) to pursue their hunches, but they're paired with a federal agent (Bill Hickman) who has an atagonistic relationship with Popeye, believing him to have been responsible for the death of a colleague. And so a cat-and-mouse game ensues. Popeye and Buddy become increasingly frustrated at their inability to keep tabs on the Frenchmen, but after the very thrilling chase scne in which the hitman tries to assassinate Popeye, the detectives realize it's more critical for them to discover the location of the drugs themselves.

The action scenes are first-rate: I prefer the car-train chase in this movie to the chase scene in Bulitt any day. The meticulous drudgery of police work gives the viewer a you-or-there sense of what being on the job is really like. Don Ellis provides a jittery, skittery trumpet score, though there are long scenes without music. The acting is fantastic all the way around - Hackman won an Oscar; Scheider, who was also in Klute that year, was nominated; and Rey is a very suave and debonair villain, and I enjoy hearing him speak at least a little English. The only semi-triumphant ending takes a very dark turn (and I presume sets up the sequel, a farily rare occurrence in those days, which I haven't seen, but I think moves the action to France). And N-word controversy aside, the movie certainly doesn't take a very flattering view toward black people, mostly portrayed as guys drinking at bars in the middle of the day and trying to hide their drugs when the white cops bust in. The train conductor and the cop that Bozzuffi shoots were both black, I think. All directed by William Friedkin, briefly really a big deal, and I believe a TCM guest host before. He also directed The Exorcist and To Live and Die in LA.

Total films seen this year: Okay, I went back and counted, and this makes 16.

The French Connection (1971) - IMDb

 

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

also I have to say that I have come to the conclusion that YOU KNOW WHAT? I JUST DON'T LIKE ROBERT DUVALL.

I get that he is a very good actor and I get that it is quite possibly my problem...

but i still don't like him.

Perhaps it is because of his unlikable characters in this and Great Santini.....

Re: Netflix, I guess I should sign up for a month to catch up with this year's Oscar contenders, but I'm really dreading it. I really don't care for Netflix originals. Confession time: I would rather see Hudson Hawk again (the 1991 mega-flop with Bruce Willis that was an extremely guilty pleasure for me) since its on there  than to have to deal with Don't Look Up. (and I feel I would be a bit mixed on The Last Daughter, Tick Tick Boom, Passing, and Power of the Dog as well)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, CinemaInternational said:

Re: Netflix, I guess I should sign up for a month to catch up with this year's Oscar contenders, but I'm really dreading it. I really don't care for Netflix originals. Confession time: I would rather see Hudson Hawk again (the 1991 mega-flop with Bruce Willis that was an extremely guilty pleasure for me) since its on there  than to have to deal with Don't Look Up. (and I feel I would be a bit mixed on The Last Daughter, Tick Tick Boom, Passing, and Power of the Dog as well)

Our tastes in movies seem to have diverged greatly over the last year or two, so I'd say based on that, since I hated Don't Look Up and Tick Tick Boom, you would love them, while I enjoyed The Lost Daughter and The Power of the Dog, so you'd hate them. I was middle-of-the-road on Passing, so I couldn't say.

(I say this only half-jokingly - based on your Letterboxd ratings as of late, we seem to have differing views on a lot of things)

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

Our tastes in movies seem to have diverged greatly over the last year or two, so I'd say based on that, since I hated Don't Look Up and Tick Tick Boom, you would love them, while I enjoyed The Lost Daughter and The Power of the Dog, so you'd hate them. I was middle-of-the-road on Passing, so I couldn't say.

(I say this only half-jokingly - based on your Letterboxd ratings as of late, we seem to have differing views on a lot of things)

I tend to be generous on Letterboxd. Probably a bad habit I picked up.  I am a fan of musicals, so you're right I would probably cut Tick a little leeway, but I feel in my bones already that Don't Look Up is something that would make me unhappy. As for the others, well, I thought Olivia Colman was wonderful in The Father, so I probably should give Lost Daughter a look, and Campion did impress me greatly with The Piano and Portrait of the Lady so maybe  I shoud'nt have such doubts about Power of the Dog...

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, CinemaInternational said:

I tend to be generous on Letterboxd. Probably a bad habit I picked up.  I am a fan of musicals, so you're right I would probably cut Tick a little leeway, but I feel in my bones already that Don't Look Up is something that would make me unhappy. As for the others, well, I thought Olivia Colman was wonderful in The Father, so I probably should give Lost Daughter a look, and Campion did impress me greatly with The Piano and Portrait of the Lady so maybe  I shoud'nt have such doubts about Power of the Dog...

I still need to see Belfast and Licorice Pizza, but otherwise I think I'm caught up on most of this year's Oscar hopefuls. I also want to see House of Gucci and Nightmare Alley, as well as a few more of the foreign language and documentary features.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just now, LawrenceA said:

I still need to see Belfast and Licorice Pizza, but otherwise I think I'm caught up on most this year's Oscar hopefuls. I also want to see House of Gucci and Nightmare Alley, as well as a few more of the foreign language and documentary features.

Nightmare Alley is on HBO now, so that should be easy to see. I've heard great things about Belfast and Licorice Pizza, and they are probably the two contenders this year that I want to see most. Gucci, I can't really make heads or tails about. I've seen some people love it and others truly despise it. Critics were right down the middle too, and Jared Leto looks poised to possibly become the fourth person to be up for an Oscar and a Razzie for the same performance. I heard one compare it to a two and a half hour R-rated episode of Dynasty.  Maybe this schizophrenia comes from the scriptwriter, someone who was up for both an Oscar and a Razzie in the past. I don't know what your reaction or mine will be to it quite frankly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

35 minutes ago, CinemaInternational said:

Perhaps it is because of his unlikable characters in this and Great Santini.....

Re: Netflix, I guess I should sign up for a month to catch up with this year's Oscar contenders, but I'm really dreading it. I really don't care for Netflix originals. Confession time: I would rather see Hudson Hawk again (the 1991 mega-flop with Bruce Willis that was an extremely guilty pleasure for me) since its on there  than to have to deal with Don't Look Up. (and I feel I would be a bit mixed on The Last Daughter, Tick Tick Boom, Passing, and Power of the Dog as well)

DON'T. DO NOT. DON'T,

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

YOU KNOW WHAT? I JUST DON'T LIKE ROBERT DUVALL

I mostly love Robert Duvall. I was just highly praiseworthy of him in my review of Network, and he was the human heart, if there was one, to Godfathers I and II. People have many reasons for not liking III, but his absence from that film was a big turn-off for me. He's kind of ossified into the Santini-esque authoritarian A-hole type. His role as Robert Downey, Jr.'s father in The Judge and from what I can gather in Widows (haven't seen that one, but I'm guessing from the trailer), he's still doing that bit. Either that, or a riff on his Lonseome Dove/Tender Mercies wiened old cowboy type. I've never seen Lonesome Dove but there are a group of men all about my age who can't rave enough about it. Anyway, I loved him in a lot of things. The Apostle. The first time I saw Apocalypse Now, I got giddy watching his over-the-top performance. I was like, "Man, I just rented this thing to see Brando!" His uncredited bit in The Conversation. There's plenty of Duvall I don't like, but he contributed. I fear he's at an age where he's going to be gone soon without me seeing much or any more product from him, and I will miss him.

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1/10 Mandalay (Warner Bros., 1934)
Source: TCM

Night Two of Kay Francis' SOTM run kicks off with this "woman in peril in an exotic location" thriller from the '30s, the decade of the "women's picture". I think I was sleepy when I was watching it. I was confused about which actor was playing which male lead role, which led me into misuderstanding the plot for a while. But it all straigthened out for me as the movie progressed. I certainly doubt it was a B-movie, as we keep being told Francis was Warner Bros. biggest female star until supplanted by Bette Davis by the late '30s, but it's got a B-movie running time of 65 mnutes, and you've got to pay attention, as the story moves rapidly.

Francis plays Tanya, a Russian who I think is a refugee from the revolution. She's sailing with her lover Tony (Ricardo Cortez) in Maynmar, then called Burma, which I had to look up on a Wikipedia map. It's in southeast Asia, just northwest of Laos and Thailand and due east of Bangladesh. It had been a British colony for 110 years at the time the film was made. He talks her into going into Rangoon and into a nightclub in town which has an amoral owner who goes by the name of Nick and is played by a white guy (Warner Oland) but who I assume is supposed to be Asian, given the racial slur Francis hurls at him later in the movie (and yes, all you people wailing over The French Connection, the racial slur was fully intact when this movie aired on TCM on January 10, so no doubt you can take great joy in that). Unknown to her, Nick and Tony have made a deal earlier in the movie, where Nick is going to let Tony make money by running guns for him, and in return Tony needs to take Tanya to Nick's nightclub and abandon her there. This all plays out in a very protracted opening act in which it very slowly dawns on Tanya that something bad is up. 

Now, with no one to help her, the implication is Tanya is forced into a life of prostitution (I think we called it "white slavery" in more overtly racist times), though this is handled with the usual heavy subtlety of the murky years before total Hays Code clampdown. For all we know, maybe Tanya's just doing musical numbers in the club? She gamely decides to make the best of it and we enter Phase II of the many characers Francis plays in this film. Phase I was "frightened female victim", but Phase 2 is more of a Marlene Dietrich raunchy showgirl type who goes by the name "Spot White", I guess so visitors to the nightclub seeking the "white prize" will know who to ask for. She's so good at her job, apparently, the police commissioner (Reginald Owen) decides to deport her so as to keep undue attention from being drawn to his region. Realizing he's been one of her customers upon being summoned into his office, she blackmails him for 100,000 rupee, enough for her to start a new life.

And now we have Francis Phase 3, where she's taken on a whole new identity as "Marjorie", trying to make sure Nick, who's unhappy about her departure, has no idea where she is. She boards a steamer for the titular Mandalay - not the dreary English estate Joan Fontaine remembers in Rebecca, but aother city in Maynmar - where she encounters Dr. Gregory Burton (Lyle Talbot). This is where my confusion began, as I thought Talbot and Cortez were the same actor, and I was confused by Francis was so friendly to Talbot after what "he" had done to her. Maybe he doesn't recognize her in her new identity? I asked myself. Anyway, my misunderstanding. This is the first meeting of these two characters. Tragic events unfold. Burton iss an alcoholic who, just like Michael Rennie in Phone Call from a Stranger,  performs an operation while drunk and kills the patient. He decides to travel to an area plagued by a deadly tropical fever and aid the native population as much as he can. Tanya, now "Marjorie", falls in love with him in spite of herself and decides to accompany him. I kind of dug this "optimism amidst fatalism". If they can both survive this crazy quixotic adventure then maybe they've redeemed themselves from the sins of their past and can start life over again together.

But we move into the final act when it's revealed Tony is also on board - and he defnitely recognizes Tanya (it's onl when Cortez reappeared did I realize he and Talbot were two different people. I was like "Ohhhh ....."). He wants her back in his life, and what she'll do to get away from him and what consequences she'll face for her decisions take up the final stretch of the movie (though it's only a 65-minute movie. I guess it wasn't that long of a stretch).

It's definitely a pre-Code film. There's adultery and murder and various sins that go unforgiven. Francis made a lot of these films for Warner Bros., some of which we've been blessed with getting to see during this run, and they were either unable to be re-released once the Production Code hardened in mid-1934 or they were only released with severe cuts. There's some implied nudity involving a towel in a playful early scene between Francis and Cortez that I commented on in another thread. Francis gets to show off a parade of increasingly over-the-top dresses, which strech credulity, especially given that she's traveled halfway around the world. 

As I noted, Francis gets to play several different characters in the same movie, and I don't know that she excels at any of them - this Star of the Month run hasn't really warmed me up to her all that much - but she does show considerable range in 65 minutes. I can't say much for the male actors, either, as I thought they were the same person, since most of the plot kept them in separate locations until nearly the very end. Francis was paired with the same male stars again and again, I've learned - she made six movies with William Powell and either four or six with Edward G. Robinson. She made four movies with Cortez - one of them at RKO, Transgression. In both that movie and this one, their characters have sexual tension but aren't meant to be the couple we cheer for, mostly because the Cortez character in these films is a louse. I though he gave a pretty good sense of menace in this movie. Oland is more of the flip-side Charlie Chan in this one - what if Chan was the Asian Rick Blaine, oh, and was totally evil?

Speaking of Rick Blaine, Mandalay was directed by Michael Curtiz, who was under contract to Warner Bros. from the silent era to the early '50s and of course gave the world Casablanca and The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Total films seen this year: 17

Mandalay (1934) - IMDb

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

I mostly love Robert Duvall. I was just highly praiseworthy of him in my review of Network, and he was the human heart, if there was one, to Godfathers I and II. People have many reasons for not liking III, but his absence from that film was a big turn-off for me. He's kind of ossified into the Santini-esque authoritarian A-hole type. His role as Robert Downey, Jr.'s father in The Judge and from what I can gather in Widows (haven't seen that one, but I'm guessing from the trailer), he's still doing that bit. Either that, or a riff on his Lonseome Dove/Tender Mercies wiened old cowboy type. I've never seen Lonesome Dove but there are a group of men all about my age who can't rave enough about it. Anyway, I loved him in a lot of things. The Apostle. The first time I saw Apocalypse Now, I got giddy watching his over-the-top performance. I was like, "Man, I just rented this thing to see Brando!" His uncredited bit in The Conversation. There's plenty of Duvall I don't like, but he contributed. I fear he's at an age where he's going to be gone soon without me seeing much or any more product from him, and I will miss him.

I have always appreciated Robert Duvall as a fine actor but have had a difficult time actually liking him, acknowledging that there are still a large number of his performances that I have yet to see.

However, his wise, gutsy portrayal of a former Texas Ranger in Lonesome Dove seethes with tremendous authenticity. He accepts life for what it is but, despite his penchant for sexual activity with any professional lady who may come his way (and a few of them seem to be in most cow towns, it seems) he still holds a tender place in his heart for one special lady from his past, the one that got away. He can even get a little emotional thinking about her, if no one is watching.

Duvall brings a sense of a violent past but not one who revelled in it, as well as a directness in his dealings with others, and the ability to laugh at life, at times, that makes his character most appealing. He also demonstrates the courage and skill of an experienced westerner that makes his character a comforting one to have in one's corner. Because the West in Lonesome Dove, while it is full of vast, beautiful horizons, is also a place where one can suddenly encounter cruel, soulless men with a penchant towards inexplicable violence.

At one time Duvall said he considered his performance in Lonesome Dove to be his best work as an actor. Mind you, I don't know when he said that so he may no longer feel that way. Certainly it's the best performance that I have seen of him.

Movie ScreenShots: Lonesome Dove (1989) | Lonesome dove movie, Lonesome  dove, Old movies classic

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, CinemaInternational said:

Well, The Turning Point is a fantastic noir. Great dialogue, strong performances, downbeat ending, great photography. Its not going to be on Watch TCM, so please catch the 10 AM screening if you missed the midnight one.

Do you mean THE BREAKING POINT?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So many laud LONESOME DOVE, I better see if the li-berry has it. 

I tried watching POWER OF THE DOG a few weeks ago and couldn't finish it. I was bored by the performances, story line, pretty much everything. I can't even tell you what it's about. Maybe I fell asleep & missed something?

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

So many laud LONESOME DOVE, I better see if the li-berry has it. 

 

You won't be sorry, Tiki Soo. It's a mini series with a great feeling of authenticity combined with wonderful performances. It's in four parts. I found Part One a little slow but after that it really takes off. Duvall, again, is superb, but that is to take nothing about from the performances of Tommy Lee Jones, Anjelica Huston, Robert Urich and the rest. Wait till you see Frederic Forrest as a half bred renegade butcher called Blue Duck.

By the way, years before the mini series, Peter Bogdanovich had been hoping to make a big feature film of it with a dream cast (James Stewart, John Wayne and Henry Fonda). Those hopes died when John Ford talked Wayne (who would have had the role eventually played by Tommy Lee Jones) out of doing it. I don't know why Ford was leery of the Lonesome Dove screenplay (which was then turned into a novel). I can only speculate and my speculation may be completely off base.

"When the legend becomes fact, print the legend," the message from Man Who Shot Liberty Valance to me pretty much also sums up the romanticism and sense of American myth that Ford wanted to present in all his westerns. I certainly don't think of Ford's westerns as being realistic presentations of the American West but, instead, the west as Pappy Ford wished it could have been to a very large extent.

Lonesome Dove offers none of that fake romanticism but is, it seems to me, a far more honest, realistic presentation of the west than Ford ever gave us. Yet, despite the harshness to be seen, at times (and even brutality, though the series is never excessively visually violent) there is also the inspiration of men (and women) made of a fine grit that helped to conquer that wilderness (at the expense of the native peoples already there, unfortunately).

It's a mini series of so many fine moments, some of them small yet memorable. One of my favourites occurs when Duvall, having temporarily stopped off from a cattle drive north at the Nebraska ranch of his former sweetheart (Huston) is now ready to depart. Huston, in tears, is joined by Diane Lane, as a young prostitute who also loves Duvall. Huston makes one last attempt to talk Duvall out of leaving, of heading to Montana where there are Indians who can outfight him. "It makes no sense," she says.

"Well, I know it don't" Duvall says astride his horse, "but I'd like to see one more place that's unsettled before I take up the rocking chair."

Then, as the music builds, there is a closeup of Duvall on his horse as he removes his hat in a gallant gesture and holds it to his chest.

"Ladies," he says, his final word to them, as he then turns his horse and rides away, his figure and that of the horse gradually becoming smaller against the horizon. He's a rambling man who will meet his destiny no matter what it may be, as two women who love him watch in tears, both afraid they will never see him again.

It's a moment that would have done John Ford proud.

 

Lonesome Dove : Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Danny Glover, Diane Lane,  Anjelica Huston, Rick Schroder, Simon Wincer: Movies & TV - Amazon.com

 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, CinemaInternational said:

Well, The Turning Point is a fantastic noir. Great dialogue, strong performances, downbeat ending, great photography. Its not going to be on Watch TCM, so please catch the 10 AM screening if you missed the midnight one.

Agree!  It was a good noir, and one that I'd never seen before.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it has been over 10 years now, but one night a long time ago, I saw the 1968 film TARGETS directed by PETER BOGDONAVICH with a fair amount of input, I think from POLLY PLATT

The story of a mass shooter on the loose in the SAN FERNANDO VALLEY whose killing spree coincides with a drive-in film screening and appearance by famous retiring horror star BYRON ORLOK (BORIS KARLOFF)

See the source image

It so moved and inspired me and I liked it so much, (and the story of its making, which I won't get into, is also fascinating) that it marked the inception of an idea that would later become a screenplay I wrote a couple years ago- and which I am awfully fond of.

I had not seen the film in all this time, and I was a little anxious that maybe I had overpraised it in memory (i do that a lot)- and especially since I was reading PAULINE KAEL and came across her downright cruel review of the film wherein she completely misses what a profound piece of art it is.

It is an astoundingly prescient film and a touchstone in the horror genre because it quite clearly, but not with a heavy hand, demonstrates that the quaint painted horrors of old- gothic crumbling castles and bats and such- are NOTHING compared to the horrors of life in the second half of the 20th century and beyond.

it's a brilliant film and well-shot and YOU CLASSIC CAR JUNKIES WILL ABSOLUTELY PLOTZ YOURSELVES WITH ALL THE CARS, THERE IS EVEN AN OLDSMOBILE DEALERSHIP IN ONE SCENE!!!!!!

marvelously shot and constructed, impossible to look away from, and a tremendous job from KARLOFF- who recites a brief version of APPOINTMENT IN SAMARRA that is wonderful. the only off spot is BOGDONAVICH casting himself as a screenwriter- he and KARLOFF have a clunky scene together.

other than that though, one HELL of a movie! and  a real lesson in clever screenwriting.

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

© 2022 Turner Classic Movies Inc. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...