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I Just Watched...


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21 hours ago, Tikisoo said:

CinemaInternational- Your posts about movies you've seen are absolutely perfect. You know your audience (classic film aficionados) and how to speak to them. You reveal just enough of the general gist of the plot and just let us know IF the story unfolds successfully, rather than giving us an entire synopsis. 

You know your audience cares about the "look" of the film, as well as dialogue & performance. You reveal if the movie contains trigger negatives for some like violence, nudity, profanity...musicals (haha) 

Thank you. I hope to meet your insightful & thoughtful posts again on the other side.

Thank you very much for the compliment. I try to write the little reviews from the heart and with personal feeling, and I guess it shows. I kind of wish I had waited to put up that post of the many films, because there were a pair  (recently watched) of charming, little-known films from 1992 that deserved a little moment in the sun, and those films were Leaving Normal and Rich in Love. I have already signed up at the Oasis, so yes, you shall be seeing me there. You are a great and erudite poster who brings wit and sophistication to these boards.

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More assorted notes.... I guess this will be my last post in this thread before it shuts down, unless it still allows us to post tomorrow. I wish I had a better collection of films than this dysfunctional lot of a few gems and some utter dross, but it is what it is. 

No Highway in the Sky (1951) seems very unusual at first glance. It is a film with two major stars (James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich), plus one very well known character actress (Glynis Johns) that is at its heart about the decidedly uncinematic topic of aerodynamics and the lack thereof. And yet because of those stars, magnetic as ever, make a somewhat stodgy story into a likable saga as Stewart tries to help prevent a future plane crash. 

The Mark (1961) must have been scandalous at the time and it still might get looks today. It's the saga of a reformed përvert trying to reenter society, and finding it markedly hard to. Stuart Whitman scored a surprise Oscar nomination for the film, and he's quite good, but the film is probably 20 minutes too long, and it is still very uncomfortable material which is an appropriate segue into the next film...

Continuing on the path of controversy is the once notorious 1988 film The Good Mother. Diane Keaton stars as a divorcee who takes on a bohemian lifestyle with painter Liam Neeson, but her world comes crashing down after her 6-year-old daughter, very curious of human anatomy after being read a book by her mother, approached Neeson after he emerged from the shower while mother was away, and put her hand where it should never have been, the child's idea, not his. Fortunately, said scene was not actually depicted on screen, only talked about in the later custody case, but it was enough to get the film labeled as child pornography at the time (the film already had an awkward early scene where a pregnant  woman showed her niece her breasts). And to think that this film was released by the adult branch of the Disney company..... In actually, with the dubious elements off-screen , what is otherwise left is a  generic tearjerker, only really enlivened by a typically strong Keaton performance (who actually has an exceptional scene or two in this ungainly thing), good supporting work from Neeson, Jason Robards (as a lawyer),  Ralph Bellamy (as Keaton's hard as nails grandfather), and Teresa Wright (as her put-upon grandmother), and a melancholy Elmer Bernstein score. And if lurid off-screen material, an overqualified cast, the Disney connection, and surprisingly flat treatment didn't make this bizarre enough, it is directed by Leonard Nimoy (!). A curiosity at best.

Leaving Normal (1992) feels like the flipside of Thelma and Louise, not that anybody really noticed this film at the time. If the 1991 duo of a world-weary waitress and a wife escaping a bad marriage ended up on a dark and ultimately tragic adventure through the Southwest, this 1992 duo end up on a mostly pleasant voyage to Alaska via the Pacific Northwest. I know that reception of this one is wildly divergent, and yes, I imagine that to many it would seem insufferably twee due to its very chatty duo and the  TV-like score. But I found it to be utterly charming and a great showcase for two wonderful actresses that Hollywood found very little use for: Christine Lahti and Meg Tilly. They have this great, sisterly rapport, and watching them do such a wonderful job is a joy. Its also the only film directed by Edward Zwick that feels like an extension of his fine TV work on thirtysomething, My So-Called Life, Relativity, and Once and Again (it seems he signed on for director after another project he was trying to do, called Shakespere in Love was put in turnaround at Universal  after Julia Roberts exited the project.). Leaving Normal is a hidden gem.

The Little Prince (1974) finds Stanley Donen and songwriters Lerner and Loewe staying very close to the original text of the allegorical children's classic, and the film is very inriguing visually aside from two misguided uses of a fish-eye lens. Richard Kiley is in fine vocal form, the child actor does a fine job, and there are memorable scenes involving Bob Fosse and Gene Wilder. A good job with difficult material.

Rich in Love (1992) marked the reteaming of the same writer, producers, and director that made Driving Miss Daisy. But this coming of age saga in modern day South Carolina slipped away quickly. Admittedly, in spite of the movie's great charm, it ends up being like a series of vignettes, but don't let that stop you. Kathryn Erbe (around 27 when this was done, playing a decade younger) stars as a bright, likable teenager who does what she can to glue things in her family together after her mother (Jill Claybugh, not seen onscreen until late in the film) walks out on her marriage and life. Erbe has to serve as a rock for her lonely father (Albert Finney) and to try to smooth the waters with her pregnant sister and her husband (Suzy Amis and Kyle MacLaughlin). It just all unfolds so smoothly, and the cast members are so good in their roles (Piper Laurie, Ethan Hawke, and Alfre Woodard are  all in here too), and it is made with great precision, delicacy and care. It's a sweet little surprise.

Eleni (1985) has a story that could have worked very well. But although Kate Nelligan bellows forth several of her lines at top volume, the direction by Peter Yates is too hemmed in. This is supposed to be a deeply emotional story as John Malkovich, an immigrant, seeks to find out more about his late mother (Nelligan), killed in Greece by Communist forces when he was 9. It turns out that she deliberately sacrificed herself to save her children. Nelligan is very good, the cinematography is superb, but its too muted. This material needs grand emotions and a gushing score like Max Steiner would have done at one time. It needs to be operatic. This doesn't quite get there, except for our heroine's final moment of defiance in the last seconds of her life.

Next up, the 80s hormonal teen double feature. Class (1983) was one of the ultimate high-concept films of the era: a prep school student is drawn into an affair with a married woman, not knowing that she is the mother of his roommate. Well, the film has plenty of lurid moments: Rob Lowe and Andrew McCarthy in lingerie, McCarthy and Jacqueline Bisset getting hot and heavy in a glass elevator, Virginia Madsen having a wardrobe malfunction. And yet, when it isn't resorting to all that, it feels somewhat perceptive, with McCarthy a rather likable presence. It's actually better that it sounds, even if you have to take some lumps to realize that....

It's certainly better than the other one, Secret Admirer (1985), which is going for a romantic roundelay/ comedy of confusion, where Lori Loughlin's anonomous love letters to C. Thomas Howell create much romantic confusion not just among teenagers, but also among some of their parents as well, almost, but not quite, leading to two affairs and definitely leading to an attempted murder. Problem is, aside from Loughlin, the teens in this film are a very unlikable and unappealing lot. I watched the film solely for Leigh Taylor-Young, who plays a night school teacher who almost drifts into one of those aforementioned affairs with Cliff DeYoung. Though she's saddled with a bad curly mullet, her delicate charm in her scenes with DeYoung is by far the best element in the film, a welcome respite from the crassness of the teens, but then the film basically  cuts her  off too. But, at least she came out relatively unscathed.

Light of Day (1987) has a wonderful supporting role for Gena Rowlands as an ailing woman, but the drama is far too somber, and the soundtrack is filled with far too much hard rock music (from Joan Jett, playing her daughter) to make much else of an impact. Michael J. Fox is adequate in the leading role of Rowlands' son.

Forgive me for this next one. Its a brand new film, and I need to vent. The grim quality continues on to one of my rare forays into 21st century cinema. Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022) is currently a frontrunner to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards in a few months. It's actually very ropy. The first few minutes seem normal, detailing a middle-aged woman (Michelle Yeoh) at the end of her rope, with an increasingly estranged husband (Jonathan Ke Kwan, the former child actor from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), a hostile lesbian daughter (Stephanie Hsu), an aged, ailing father (James Hong, from The Sand Pebbles and Chinatown), her business, a laundromat, at the edge of default, and she has a frumpy IRS agent (a completely unrecognizable Jamie Lee Curtis) on her tail. But then it reveals itself to be a massively confusing film involving the "multiverse, where Yeoh is a superhero , and everything, and the personalites of all the others in her life switch sides rapidly. It could be called Attention Deficit Disorder: The Movie. It gives you all these rapid-fire, bloody martial arts scenes and all these bizarre visuals (Hsu bloodily beating a man with two footlong pénïses, Jenny Slate whirling a dog around by its leash in midair, raccoons sitting atop people's heads), and its numbing in its callousness and in its thinking that its audience can't go 30 seconds without having some weird new visual quark being thrust in you face. And with the characters changing personalities often, but never really their looks, its bewildering. It's all hyperstyle, with very little substance, which is an increasingly troublesome issue in films from the last decade. (It ends up seeming as though this visual orgÿ is all about Yeoh strugging to out her daughter to her father or to let her daughter go her own way, which makes it even odder) And it lingers on for 138 minutes. The saving graces in a wildly overpraised film are Yeoh and Kwan, who give such soulful, truly touching performances, that it seems like a grave disservice that their wonderful, charismatic work has to be seen in a film like this, which is far beneath their level. And yet, audiences loved it and it grossed $70 million on the indie circuit, which is unheard of in this current day and age..... But nothing can change that I found it to be immensely irritating and depressing.

After these, it was a relief to slide back to the classics to see No Sad Songs for Me (1950), Margaret Sullavan's final film, where she plays a dying woman who keeps her illness quiet while she searches for someone to take her place (in this case, Vivika Lindfors) to care for her husband and daughter (Wendell Corey and Natalie Wood) after the inevitable happens. This is grade-A tearjerker material, anchored by an exceptional performance from Sullavan. Very affecting and highly reccomended.

The Bad Sister (1931) is one of those rare films where modern viewers do not watch it for its leads. This was where Bette Davis (as the "good" sister) and Humphrey Bogart started, and they already came with their charisma firmly in place. Its a simple Midwestern set melodrama, and while not many seemed to care for it, I found it to be a very efficient, compact, and very likable little film.
 

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Although I had a bad experience with one of this year's probable Oscar contenders (see above), I still decided to go forth with Elvis (2022). Its bizarre to say to say that I am commending director Baz Luhrmann, he of the hyperactive camerawork, anachronistic music, and over-stylization, for restraint, but in spite of his typical spiel turning up again,  it does feel becalmed after what I witnessed last night with Everything Everywhere All At Once. This film has its issues, but its much better; its actually a good film. The story presents the saga of Elvis, from his beginnings to his long, slow, sad fade, as a true tragedy, a death by a thousand cuts. This was accomplished in large part through his Svengali-like manager Colonel Tom Parker, played here by a bejowled Tom Hanks in a fat suit with a Colonel Sanders accent. Hanks' performance is a bit off (he also serves as the crooked narrator), but it is a relief to see him in a part that isn't the same as so many of his parts. But the star of the show is relative newcomer Austin Butler (he was the Manson cult member who was mangled to death in the revisionist ending of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) as Elvis, and he's phenomenal. It's nearly note perfect work, convincing in every emotional detail. The other cast members are mostly unknown to me, but Helen Thompson is also a stand-out as Elvis' ill-fated mother.The film is very sad, but very strong. It is well worth the time.
 

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2 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

I, too, was greatly disappointed in it, as have been a couple of other people I've spoken to personally. After its early-year hype, I was expecting much more.

I'm still trying to wrap my head about what it is about this film that made it so appealing to such a wide range of people. Is it continued public admiration of Michelle Yeoh? A craving for more martial arts films? Because films with Asian characters are having their moment in the sun following the superior films The Farewell, Parasite, and Minari? For being something of an allegory for the pandemic age?  For the visual flash that might appeal to the TikTok crowd? Because of Film Twitter's genuinely obsessive love of films released by A24? Simply for its box office receipts at a time when films are struggling? I am still at a loss because to see the film does not explain anything. I cannot dismiss the two central performances for being dignified and touching amidst so much insanity, but  otherwise it just seems like a major miscalculation. And it is yet another film that is a waste of Jamie Lee Curtis. And yet, barring a surprise, it looks like it will take Best Picture since the new Spielberg film, which I am interested in, is slightly underperforming at the box office in its specialty debut.

It's a strange year for praised films. I just saw and was very moved by Elvis, but I am hesitant to approach Top Gun: Maverick since I was far from a fan of the 1986 original. I read the draft script for Babylon, and found it to be a maddeningly uneven 1920s variation on Boogie Nights crossed with some of the more outrageous elements of Wolf of Wall Street, with scant understanding of character motivation (indeed, one supporting role in Babylon, Tobey Maguire's, is a near direct copy of Alfred Molina's bit in Boogie Nights). There is also much talk about the sequel to Knives Out, but I remember feeling let down a bit by the first one (it wasted Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, and Don Johnson on nothing roles when it looked like they were chomping at the bit to take off into extremely juicy dimensions). The Banshees of Inerishin, Empire of Light,  and the Spielberg film sound interesting though, and I am also eager for Living, a variant on Ikiru starring Bill Nighy, but otherwise I don't know what to think.

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On 11/28/2022 at 1:24 AM, King Rat said:

Thanks so much for your reviews, which I always enjoy so much. About that nude scene in Women in Love: Alan Bates had it in his contract that his genitals would not be shown. Therefore, we keep seeing Alan Bates' bare backside--also on display in Georgy Girl and King of Hearts--and Oliver Reed's frontal view.

Your comments on Morgan are spot-on. It may be the only film where Vanessa Redgrave plays a birdbrained character, and she doesn't get much screen time. I think we're supposed to find David Warner's character sympathetic, which may be the looniest aspect of the film. Irene Handl is very funny as Warner's mother.

"Significantly better than The Survivors" is a standard so low that one shudders at the thought of films that can't reach it. Kristen Vigard was one of the best teen soap stars ever on Guiding Light opposite John Wesley Shipp and Kevin Bacon, but the daily pressure apparently got to her and she either quit or was fired. The Survivors did not launch her on a fabulous career in the movies.

 

Oh, definitely, The Survivors is a dreadful, irritating, and shrill film, and very much an easy pick for the worst film of 1983. I am still amazed that Pauline Kael actually liked it. Walter Matthau was fine in it, Kristin Vigard did have a real screen presence about her, but Robin Williams was out of control there, and the same went for the script and the direction. Just a terrible experience. If The Survivors is a 2 or 3 out of 10, Cadillac Man is about a 7. I just wish though that they had continued to craft it as well as the early scenes.
As for Kristin Vigard, I didn't know she was on a Soap, but that is fascinating. Yes, she did vanish from show business, but not before giving a major vocal gift to a 1996 film. She was the singing voice for the dubbed Illeana Douglas in Grace of My Heart, which was very loosely inspired by the early, pre-recording career of Carole King (Matt Dillon played a much more troubled variation of Brian Wilson, and Bridget Fonda had a brief cameo as a Lesley Gore clone) Anyway, while the film was small and modest, Vigard was given a very memorable song to sing. It was a break-up song called "God Give Me Strength" and it was co-written by Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello. With that performance of that one song,  Vigard blew the whole rest of the film away. It's one of the least heralded but one of the best movie songs of the last 30 years. I know there is a copy of the scene where she sings it on YouTube. I will look to find it to provide it for you.

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1 hour ago, CinemaInternational said:

It's a strange year for praised films. I just saw and was very moved by Elvis, but I am hesitant to approach Top Gun: Maverick since I was far from a fan of the 1986 original. I read the draft script for Babylon, and found it to be a maddeningly uneven 1920s variation on Boogie Nights crossed with some of the more outrageous elements of Wolf of Wall Street, with scant understanding of character motivation (indeed, one supporting role in Babylon, Tobey Maguire's, is a near direct copy of Alfred Molina's bit in Boogie Nights). There is also much talk about the sequel to Knives Out, but I remember feeling let down a bit by the first one (it wasted Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, and Don Johnson on nothing roles when it looked like they were chomping at the bit to take off into extremely juicy dimensions). The Banshees of Inerishin, Empire of Light,  and the Spielberg film sound interesting though, and I am also eager for Living, a variant on Ikiru starring Bill Nighy, but otherwise I don't know what to think.

I still need to see many of the potential awards contenders. I don't think Babylon will factor in much beyond the behind-the-scenes awards (costumes, production design, cinematography), as the word out from the early screenings has been mixed at best, with many outright loathing it. I'm looking forward to Banshees of Inisherin and Empire of Light, and while I'm sure Fabelmans will be fine, it looks a bit too sappy for my tastes. 

I wasn't enamored of the original Top Gun, and felt exactly the same about the sequel. I liked Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, and Sundance fave Cha Cha Real SmoothResurrection had some good performances, but the subject matter will put off many viewers. I also want to see Armageddon TimeTARBardoBones and AllDecision to LeaveLivingThe SonTriangle of SadnessThe Whale, and Women Talking.

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I finally got around to seeing Experiment Perilous, a film that has been on TCM many times but that I have somehow always missed. For anyone expecting directorial flourishes by Jacques Tourneur, except for brief moments toward the end there aren't any. Any competent director could have made this film. If you like Victorian or gaslight noir, and I do, this satisfies the genre, though it isn't at the top level of films like So Evil My Love. Good photography by Tony Audio, and the fine set design earned an Oscar nomination. 

George Brent might not be your top choice as the heroic doctor, but he is competent. Understandably he falls for Hedy Lamarr, as beautiful as ever. Is her husband (Paul Lukas) dangerous, maybe even a murderer. Olive Blakeney has a juicy role in the opening scene as a Lukas' sister, recently released from a mental institution. Margaret Wycherly plays Brent's maid, but this is a very subdued role for her.

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41 minutes ago, King Rat said:

I finally got around to seeing Experiment Perilous, a film that has been on TCM many times but that I have somehow always missed. For anyone expecting directorial flourishes by Jacques Tourneur, except for brief moments toward the end there aren't any. Any competent director could have made this film. If you like Victorian or gaslight noir, and I do, this satisfies the genre, though it isn't at the top level of films like So Evil My Love. Good photography by Tony Audio, and the fine set design earned an Oscar nomination. 

George Brent might not be your top choice as the heroic doctor, but he is competent. Understandably he falls for Hedy Lamarr, as beautiful as ever. Is her husband (Paul Lukas) dangerous, maybe even a murderer. Olive Blakeney has a juicy role in the opening scene as a Lukas' sister, recently released from a mental institution. Margaret Wycherly plays Brent's maid, but this is a very subdued role for her.

I'll miss your reviews, King Rat.

By the way I never "got" Hedy Lamarr. Yes, she was beautiful but she also came across, to me, at least, as personality vacant in her films. Now Ava Gardner on the other hand, there is sensual dark haired beauty whose popularity I can fully understand.

Ava Gardner in The Killers

No wonder Burt Lancaster made a fool of himself over her in The Killers.

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