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I Just Watched...

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14 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

Early in Elton's childhood, when everyone realizes he's a musical prodigy, the little boy Elton bursts into song & dance along with every bystander in the neighborhood singing "Booch is Back". Huh? Why a 1975 song in a 1950 setting? Although I like traditional musicals, it was a confusing failure. 

And every song was set in the wrong time. MrT suggested the songs were chosen because the lyrics "fit" the situation. Huh? Those are someone else's lyrics. If that's the case though, just like other movies that have attempted (Forest Gump, Across The Universe) songs may evoke a remembrance from your life, but it's a lousy way to tell a story.

"Based on a True Fantasy" - Ie., the filmmakers (including Elton's own production company, that also gave us "Gnomeo & Juliet") didn't quite know whether they wanted to do a stylized Baz Luhrmann-style "pop fantasy", where characters in 20's NYC or fin-de-siecle Paris break out into glam Beyonce' hits, or a straight Bohemian-style biopic.

Sounds like we got too little of each, and not enough of one.

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I try not to write about movies I have written about and/or seen before, but seems like it's been quiet of late (I have to admit, I am underwhelmed by the October schedule thus far)

that said, I watched THE BLACK CAT 1934

the_black_cat_1934_by_seizuredemon-d3gzi

THIS IS A FILM I have been slow to "come around" to, I first watched it on either VHS or AMC as a child (8? 9?) and much was lost on me. IT HAS SINCE really grown on me, and I have come to embrace it for the truly unique film it is.

I have stolen something very important from this movie.

I really wish more films ended with TCHAIKOVSKY'S (sp?) OVERTURE FOR ROMEO AND JULIET cranking on the soundtrack as the whole set gets dynamited and the cast flees for their lives...I mean, if YOU can think of a better way to end a movie, LET ME KNOW by all means.

DAVID MANNERS, sigh, every time I get mad at him for kind of ruining every scene he is in in everything I look at those PUPPY DOG EYES and I forgive him...as a huge fan of 1930's horror movies, one of my FAVORITE "leitmotifs" in films of the period is the figure of THE UTTERLY USELESS YOUNG ROMANTIC LEAD who does nothing but get in the way of the wise old Professor who is here to actually get things done. The only romantic male lead in a horror movie of the time that is more worthless is the guy in WHITE ZOMBIE.

 

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1 hour ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

DAVID MANNERS, sigh, every time I get mad at him for kind of ruining every scene he is in in everything I look at those PUPPY DOG EYES and I forgive him...as a huge fan of 1930's horror movies, one of my FAVORITE "leitmotifs" in films of the period is the figure of THE UTTERLY USELESS YOUNG ROMANTIC LEAD who does nothing but get in the way of the wise old Professor who is here to actually get things done. The only romantic male lead in a horror movie of the time that is more worthless is the guy in WHITE ZOMBIE.

I agree Manners was very bland in films like Dracula (1931) and The Mummy (1932), I thought he was pretty good in this one. He even got to show a bit of humor, after he gets fed up with weird goings on in the house, he says "Next time I go to Niagara Falls!". He gets a funny moment at the end too. 
 

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2 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

I try not to write about movies I have written about and/or seen before, but seems like it's been quiet of late (I have to admit, I am underwhelmed by the October schedule thus far)

that said, I watched THE BLACK CAT 1934

the_black_cat_1934_by_seizuredemon-d3gzi

THIS IS A FILM I have been slow to "come around" to, I first watched it on either VHS or AMC as a child (8? 9?) and much was lost on me. IT HAS SINCE really grown on me, and I have come to embrace it for the truly unique film it is.

I have stolen something very important from this movie.

I really wish more films ended with TCHAIKOVSKY'S (sp?) OVERTURE FOR ROMEO AND JULIET cranking on the soundtrack as the whole set gets dynamited and the cast flees for their lives...I mean, if YOU can think of a better way to end a movie, LET ME KNOW by all means.

DAVID MANNERS, sigh, every time I get mad at him for kind of ruining every scene he is in in everything I look at those PUPPY DOG EYES and I forgive him...as a huge fan of 1930's horror movies, one of my FAVORITE "leitmotifs" in films of the period is the figure of THE UTTERLY USELESS YOUNG ROMANTIC LEAD who does nothing but get in the way of the wise old Professor who is here to actually get things done. The only romantic male lead in a horror movie of the time that is more worthless is the guy in WHITE ZOMBIE.

 

LOL. I know. I have a soft spot for David Manners too....

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2 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

 

I really wish more films ended with TCHAIKOVSKY'S (sp?) OVERTURE FOR ROMEO AND JULIET cranking on the soundtrack as the whole set gets dynamited and the cast flees for their lives...I mean, if YOU can think of a better way to end a movie, LET ME KNOW by all means.

 

If things are blowing up, and TCHAIKOVSKY is your thing, producers would probably opt for the obvious ending to The 1812 Overture.  And I doubt that one piece of music would work well for ALL movies.  It would depend on what kind of movie it is.  Like, for a romantic movie, I might suggest this( although I have NO idea what the lady is singing about)-----

 

That's the great Estonian conductor NEEME JARVI directing the orchestra.  We here in Detroit miss his tenure with the DSO, although LEONARD SLATKIN does a fine job.

Sepiatone

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1 hour ago, Hibi said:

LOL. I know. I have a soft spot for David Manners too....

Mine's not soft.

(I'M SORRY, IT WAS TOO EASY TO PASS UP!!!!)

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Really, though- just off the top of my head-

HORROR FILMS OF THE 30'S WITH MALE ROMANTIC LEADS  WHO ARE PRETTY MUCH WORTHLESS WHEN YOU GET RIGHT DOWN TO IT AND DON'T DO JACK TO HELP WITH DISPENSING THE MONSTER-

THE MUMMY, WHITE ZOMBIE, DRACULA, MARK OF THE VAMPIRE, THE INVISIBLE RAY, THE BLACK CAT, WEREWOLF OF LONDON, DRACULA'S DAUGHTER.

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Yeah, it seemed Manners got stuck with a lot of those horror roles. I can't really remember any roles he ever had that had any substance, maybe The Miracle Worker with Stanwyck. Maybe why he got fed up with Hollywood. I think he wrote in his later years.

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5 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

that said, I watched THE BLACK CAT 1934

the_black_cat_1934_by_seizuredemon-d3gzi

I just wanted to say that this is the best caricature I have ever seen of Lugosi and Karloff! High praise to whomever did it. 

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8 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

That's the great Estonian conductor NEEME JARVI directing the orchestra.  We here in Detroit miss his tenure with the DSO, although LEONARD SLATKIN does a fine job.

Sepiatone

Slatkin was conductor of the St. Louis Symphony prior to moving on to Washington.  People there were sad to see him go.  He was very well respected in the Gateway City.

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On 10/11/2019 at 12:23 PM, LornaHansonForbes said:

MALES  WHO ARE PRETTY MUCH WORTHLESS (snipped) AND DON'T DO JACK TO HELP WITH DISPENSING THE MONSTER-

Do I sense some hostility towards men here?

Seriously, though.....there is nothing more frustrating than watching a stupid or dull character? It's what makes us spontaneously yell at the screen-one of my favorite "movie house" human nature phenomenons. I think observing someone making a mistake evokes more involvement, possibly why these men are written as weak.

I once saw a preview screening of some forgettable rom-com and when the girl opened the door to see the "bad boy" standing there, a female voice yelled out "A*$ HOLE"...the only laugh the movie got.

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I just watched Footlight Parade (1933).  Oh, how I love pre-code Hollywood.  The swimming scene in Tarzan and His Mate  (1934)...the stuff dreams are made of.

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3 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

Do I sense some hostility towards men here? [in re: my long list of worthless heroes from horror movies of the 1930s)

actually no, for the most part i find the "useless" romantic male leads of 30's horror movies to be amusing- and sometimes, as is the case with the useless romantic lead in WHITE ZOMBIE- it becomes one of my favorite things about the movie (that the de facto Hero is the old German missionary who can never find a match.)

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The Defector (1966).

An innocent bystander (Montgomery Clift) is roped against his will into a plan to retrieve a MacGuffin from somebody on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

This movie is memorable only for being Clift's last; he died a couple of months before the movie was released.  It otherwise does nothing to stand out against all the other spy movies of the 1960s.  Well, maybe Hardy Kruger's performance is worth mentioning too.

5/10

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The Brothers Warner (2007):  The title of this PBS documentary tips you off that the emphasis is on the family, not the films... it is Cass Warner's recollections and research on her grandfather Harry, and their famous family.   Cass Warner, the writer, director and narrator, shares family stories, photos, and gossip starting with the family's emigration from Russia, and how great-grandfather Benjamin hocked his gold watch and sold the horse to help finance the purchase of a movie theater for three of his sons.  We learn about the growth of the company, expanding from a film exchange company to a true movie studio, but the interesting stuff is the personal pictures, the stories about the wives and relationships, and the vastly different personalities of each of the (eventual) four brothers.  I already knew a lot of the 'business' background, but I never really knew about Lewis.  Lewis was Harry's only son, reportedly a very charming fellow, who his father was grooming to inherit the film empire...but he died unexpectedly when he was just 23 (from an infection that began in an impacted tooth).  Then there's the story of Sam, who was the force behind acquiring Vitagraph and pushed for talking pictures, who died just one day before the film that would prove him right, The Jazz Singer, opened.  Sam's wife Lina, who was disliked by the family - in part because she pressured Sam to take Vitagraph to Paramount - is just one of the women that created cracks in the Warner family solidarity.   Lots of family drama going on here, but of course the final break was Jack's double- crossing Harry regarding the sale of the studio in the 50's.  Cass Warner manages to tell her family story without much sugar-coating and uses the comments of film historians and celebrities to round out the picture.  I like these newsy/nosy 'inside looks', and missed it when it was initially on PBS...glad I found a link to watch.  https://hdflex.net/the-brothers-warner-tv-movie-2007-15832.html 

Image result for the brothers warner documentary

 

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I've been on the lookout for GOTHIC (1986) for some time. The output of KEN RUSSELL intrigues me, moreso since I recently rewatched LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM for the first time in ages and also saw CRIMES OF PASSION for the first time A LITTLE over a year ago.

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It showed up on AMAZON PRIME.

like SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE, I felt as if it was an intriguing premise that did not reach full potential...the story is based on a weekend spent in the early 19th century at a villa near a lake in Switzerland- MARY SHELLEY, LORD BYRON, one of BYRON'S SIDEPIECES, PERCY SHELLEY and JOHN POLIDORI are in attendance. Shenanigans ensue and  From this weekend was birthed Mary's novel FRANKENSTEIN and "Polidori's" novella THE VAMPYRE- which is not as well-known, but still one which I am familiar with and which has been alleged by many (most?) to have been written in fact by Byron.

[i will always bemoan the fact that HAMMER never did a version of THE VAMPYRE]

I sometimes feel like, for all his obvious passion and FLAIR, KEN RUSSELL is kind of a lazy director- this movie, as well as WHITE WORM, would have benefited IMMENSELY from more cuts and camera movement- Russell has a tendency (later on in his work} to film everyone in static shots, as though he were filming a stage play and he doesn't use many close-ups. i wonder if this was due to TIGHT BUDGET (it takes time and money to break down and set up different angles) or if maybe RUSSELL was just a MADMAN who spent half the budget on MESCALINE and RENT BOYS and thus could only afford to shoot the scenes from one angle.

the lighting was also ALL WRONG (TOO BRIGHT!), it needed more BARRY LYNDON candlelight and shadows. As was the set dressing, they did not film at the actual villa in Switzerland (it is a little small) but instead at a GRAND AND OBVIOUSLY ENGLISH COUNTRY ESTATE that was, it would seem barely dressed for most of the scenes- one hallway seems to have very modern lighting and carpeting.

it's kind of a mess, but an intriguing mess, which is what i expected.

The late NATASHA RICHARDSON is excellent as MARY SHELLEY- her mother VANESSA REDGRAVE was so humorless and COLD as a young actress, I am glad that RICHARDSON did not seem to have this issue with her early work. GABRIEL BYRNE makes an intriguing, if too old, "Vampyre" (Lord Byron)- one wonders what his DRACULA might have been. JULIAN SANDS is also in it, he is...not great, BUT HE SHOWS HIS BUTT IN A NAKED NUDE ROOFTOP RAINSTORM SCENE AND IT IS TRULY MAGNIFICENT AND ABSOLUTELY SHOULD'VE GOTTEN A SPECIAL BAFTA CITATION OR SOMETHING, BECAUSE DAYUM!

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1 hour ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

it's kind of a mess, but an intriguing mess, which is what i expected.

I agree, the most memorable (and shocking ) scene was Polidori (Timothy Spall) drinking down a glass full of leeches!

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23 minutes ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

I agree, the most memorable (and shocking ) scene was Polidori (Timothy Spall) drinking down a glass full of leeches!

The entire way the POLIDORI character was portrayed, written, played and costumed got real GD old real GD fast.

I got to wonder why in the HELL anyone would want to spend the weekend...or any length of time with this guy. He was like a more manic, slightly less creepy, overweight TOM CRUISE.

gothic.jpg

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Heathers (1988).  I've seen this movie before, but it never fails to entertain.  It's very much a dark comedy.  If macabre humor isn't your bag, then this isn't the film for you.

This movie features Winona Ryder as Veronica, one-quarter of a popular clique at her high school.  The other three-quarters of the clique are three girls named Heather.  Heather Chandler is the ring-leader.  Heather McNamara is kind of Heather Chandler's lackey.  She really has no backbone and just follows Heather Chandler around like a lost puppy.  Heather Duke, played by Shannen Doherty, plays the remaining quarter of the group.  At first she seemingly acts like she feels bad about some of the things that the Heathers do, but after awhile, I get the sense that she really just wants to be the leader of the clique.  Christian Slater plays JD, an outsider peer of Veronica and the Heathers. 

JD and Veronica become an item.  After a particularly horrible night out at what looks like the worst college party ever (seriously, that party was lame) and being embarrassed by Heather Chandler, Veronica wants to give her a dose of her own medicine.  Veronica, knowing that Heather Chandler will be hung over from the party the next morning, decides that she's going to concoct a gross drink to make Heather Chandler puke. JD on the other hand, wants to pour cleaner into her drink to poison her.  Veronica thinks he's nuts and puts the kibosh on his plan.  However, things go awry, Heather Chandler ends up drinking the poison drink and ends up dying in a spectacular death scene by falling into a glass table.  To save themselves, Veronica and JD decide to stage the scene as a suicide, by forging a suicide note in Heather Chandler's handwriting.

The next morning, after Heather Chandler's "suicide" is discovered, the school is so blase about the incident.  Heather Chandler's death has made her more popular than ever.  As the events of the film unfold, JD reveals himself to be completely insane.  Veronica has to deal with him as well as suicide becoming trendy as a result of hers and JD's murder of Heather Chandler. 

The events of the film are juxtaposed with Veronica furiously writing her manifesto, while wearing a monocle (which really may be the greatest part of this film).  The funerals presented in the film are absurd, especially the various eulogies presented by the minister.  I loved Heather Duke's funeral as it looked like it was a funeral that would take place within a cult or perhaps in space.  Maybe an alien cult funeral. My favorite scene is the very end of the film when Veronica emerges from the ashes, smoking a cigarette.

Such a fun movie with so many memorable lines and scenes. 

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Singles (1992) 

This was a great movie.  Cameron Crowe directed this film about a group of twenty-somethings living in early-90s Seattle.  I'd read that this was one of the quintessential 90s films and I was also interested in the Pacific Northwest setting. My husband was interested in this film because of the early grunge soundtrack.  Three of the top Seattle grunge bands (in some fashion) appear in this film.  

The story is divided into chapters.  The characters tell their story through a series of interviews.  The common link among the characters is the apartment building (a la Melrose Place, sans the soap opera drama).  Kyra Sedgwick appears as Linda, a young professional woman who falls for Steve, played by Campbell Scott.  Bridget Fonda plays Janet, a waitress who is dating Cliff (Matt Dillon), the lead singer of the local grunge back, Citizen D i c k.  Pearl Jam makes up the remaining of Cliff's band.  Eddie Vedder, lead singer of Pearl Jam, appears as Citizen D i c k's drummer, also contributes his voice during a Citizen D i c k live performance. Cliff, in multiple reviews is consistently cited as the weak link of Citizen D i c k.  Sheila Kelley plays Debbie hunt, the quintessential woman who can't find Mr. Right.

Most of the story deals with the trials and tribulations the two couples: Linda and Steve; and Janet and Cliff.  The characters' personal lives are also intertwined slightly, as Janet is Steve's neighbor. Linda and Steve are in love but Linda cannot decide if she wants to commit to him.  Janet loves Cliff, but as the events of the film unfold, she comes to realize that Cliff is a jerk.

Alice in Chains appears as the local bar band that Linda sees when she goes out for a night on the town, and eventually meets Steve.  Chris Cornell appears as one of Cliff's friends who helps him soup up the stereo system in Bridget Fonda's car--which ends up being a disaster.  A demo version of Soundgarden's "Spoonman" is heard on the soundtrack, as well as an early Smashing Pumpkins song. 

I very much enjoyed this film for the characters, the soundtrack and the beautiful Pacific Northwest setting!

 

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Judy (2019)

I saw Renee Zellweger's performance biopic of Judy Garland this past weekend in downtown Portland.  I thought the film was excellent.  I saw the film at a local art house/independent theater, but it was also showing at the regular Regal/Cinemark theaters as well. For the record, my theater was sold out. 

Judy depicts the last year or so of Judy Garland's life (1968-early 1969).  The film begins with Judy and her children (Lorna and Joey Luft) being kicked out of their Roosevelt Hotel suite due to Judy's inability to pay her bills to the hotel.  All of Judy's accounts are in arrears-- she has no money, and no home.  With nowhere else to go, she takes the children to ex-husband Sidney Luft's home so that the kids can get some sleep and get to school the next day.  Sidney is justifiably angry to be awoken at 1am by Judy and even more upset that the children are up so late on a school night.  He's frustrated that Judy cannot get it together for the sake of their children and basically makes it clear that the children need a more stable environment.  He tells Judy to leave the kids with him and essentially kicks her out of the house.

Judy ends up visiting daughter Liza Minnelli at a party.  She meets Mickey Deans (who would become her 5th and final husband).  At first I thought Mickey Deans was Benicio Del Toro and I was fascinated by how young he appeared.  Then I obviously realized that it wasn't him.  Judy ends up spending the night at the party with Mickey--in a platonic fashion, I think.  

She eventually has a meeting with an agent who tells Judy that there may be an opportunity for her to make some good money in London if she appears in a series of nightclub performances.  Judy is reluctant to leave her children, but the agent points out that 1) she's broke and 2) she's homeless.  She will not get custody of her children with no money or a home.  Judy decides to take the job.

While in London, we see Judy have multiple issues with her substance abuse problems and unreliability.  A young woman, Rosalyn, is assigned as Judy's assistant while she's in London, but it's clear from the beginning that Rosalyn is going to end up babysitting Judy.  Judy's performances at the nightclub oscillate between being spectacular to complete disasters.  There are some sweet moments interspersed between Judy's tumultuous professional and personal life.  The ending of the film was particularly poignant and powerful.

As Judy makes her way through her London engagement, she occasionally sees/hears things that trigger memories of her time making The Wizard of Oz at MGM.  Judy's present day life is juxtaposed with flashback sequences featuring a young Judy Garland being "encouraged" by Louis B. Mayer to cooperate with MGM.  She's constantly reminded that MGM will make her a star, she'll be special, etc.  We see Judy's shrew of a stage mom doing everything to follow MGM's directions and ensure that Judy will remain the cash cow that she is.  We're also introduced to the root cause of Judy's substance abuse: the pills that she was given to suppress her appetite and fall asleep.  

Zellweger gives a tour de force performance in this film and I am sure she'll receive an Oscar nomination.  I appreciated that she didn't try to make her voice sound like Garland's, but rather she spoke with the same inflections and mannerisms as Garland. Tone-wise,  Zellweger's voice does not sound like Garland's in the slightest, but she did an excellent job acting and sounding like Garland.  Her singing was excellent--especially her performance of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." 

This was a great film, not worth all the premature criticism it has been receiving. 

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37 minutes ago, speedracer5 said:

This was a great film, not worth all the premature criticism it has been receiving. 

Well done! You are a good writer. I only had to look up one word. I will be interested in this movie when I can watch it at home.

I think this is something TCM should want to put on the channel and maybe get an appropriate family member to be a guest programmer.

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4 minutes ago, Dr. Somnambula said:

Well done! You are a good writer. I only had to look up one word. I will be interested in this movie when I can watch it at home.

I think this is something TCM should want to put on the channel and maybe get an appropriate family member to be a guest programmer.

Thank you.

The entire film is based on the play, End of the Rainbow.  

I wouldn't count on Liza Minnelli coming on to speak about the film.  As far as I know, she did not approve of the production.  Perhaps they could get Lorna or Joey Luft. 

A second best option would be getting the playwright who wrote the source material. I'm honestly surprised that TCM didn't make Judy SOTM (though I think she was SOTM recently) as a tie-in to this film. 

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