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« Reply #11295 on: December 20, 2012, 04:11:13 PM »

Klute (1971) a real snoozefest literally, fell asleep  Sad

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« Reply #11296 on: December 20, 2012, 04:12:36 PM »

Walk on the Wild Side (1962) 8/10


Jane Fonda has a really good performance; Anne Baxter does a perfectly convincing Mexican accent


I like this one also

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« Reply #11297 on: December 20, 2012, 04:22:54 PM »

I'll assume you like other films written by Kaufman.

It's basically a dream movie without the "it's all a dream" twist. It's the most freeform film of all of the Kaufman flicks I've seen - it kind of builds its own logic but it's so full of holes that you'd better throw logical thinking out of the window. The "logic" here is build on dreams and emotion, subconscious. And it's not really a comedy; it's absurd but not laugh-out-loud funny.

I will definitely check it out.

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« Reply #11298 on: December 21, 2012, 04:10:25 AM »

Highway Dragnet (1954) 7/10 Richard Conte, Joan Bennett, Wanda Hendrix, entertaining enough, streaming on Netflix Afro

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« Reply #11299 on: December 21, 2012, 06:08:39 AM »

THE HOBBIT - An Unexpected Journey | 2012 | 4/10

The movie
It shares the flaws (cheesy, terrible characters, ridiculous dialogue scenes) and strong points (some epic battle scenes, it feels adventure here and there (which is enough to get me see a movie), the pleasure of spending a few hours more on Middle Earth) of the LotR movies. What differs from them, though, is that SFX are worst than in the previous ones and it's more for kids. So cheesy jokes are cheesier. Violence is softer. Monsters behave more like humans. That's not a good point.
Terrible score. The best parts are those from the LotR.
All in all, I didn't get  bored, and there were good scenes here and there. As everyone says, the Gollum sequence is great.
They did a pretty good job linking the movie to the LotR series, especially with Gandalf seeing signs of the rise of Sauron everywhere.
It's a bad movie, like the LotR movies are, but the few good points are enough to make me rewatch it on TV.

3D 48fps
I guess it depends the kind of 3D you're watching. Anyway, here, I didn't really notice anything wrong or good with 48fps, 3D made it too dark for me to be able to focus on that.
The 3D isn't good. So far, I've only been convinced by the 3D in Avatar and Prometheus. Other 3D movies look cheap when you notice it, and just dark when you don't.

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« Reply #11300 on: December 21, 2012, 09:44:57 AM »

Obviously, the main character is setting himself up for a life just like all those men in the room; if we fast-forward 30 years, he will be in the same place, just like them, only maybe a few desks forward as some others will have died.

But really, is it so terrible? It ain't glamorous and he's not going to be rich, but not everyone wants to eg. get a higher education, or be an entrepreneur. There are many people who choose a life of a 9-5 job, knowing it will be there every day, the security of a monthly paycheck, which -- as his father says -- may not be large, but will be there every month. The people at work look to be reasonably nice people; the work obviously isn't that hard; there's no mean boss or anything like that. So, he's not going to be Rockefeller, but he can certainly get married, have a family, and live a happy and content life. I certainly wouldn't call his a miserable life.

Not only that, he can probably look forward to a very generous pension.

Yeah, from our point of view, especially here at the end of 2012 in a nowhere economy with a dodgy jobs market, the kid's situation may even look good. But I don't think that's the way the director saw things in 1960. He was no doubt anticipating what Morrissey would be singing to us in 1984: "I was looking for a job and then I found a job/ And heaven knows I'm miserable now." No doubt the kid really wanted to make films, but all his artistic aspirations had to be subordinated to the needs of The Post-War Economic Miracle. (There's evidence that the director saw his leading character as a kindred spirit--the director went on to marry the film's lead actress). It was a different time then--the future looked good, and only hopeful people have the capacity to complain.

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« Reply #11301 on: December 21, 2012, 10:51:27 AM »

It's nice being on vacation. I finally have the chance to see a few films......

First up, a Jean-Louis Trintignant Triple Feature!

The Outside Man (1972) 3/10. How can you take a cast that includes J-LT, Roy Scheider, Ted de Corsia, Angie Dickinson, and Ann Margaret, put them in story about mob hitmen, and produce a dull film? Well, somehow, that's what happened. This is a movie with an almost complete absence of style. The plot is also nowhere, but there's a final shootout in a funeral parlor that almost rises to the level of entertainment.

And Hope To Die/ La course du lièvre à travers les champs (1972) 8/10. J-LT and Robert Ryan, together again for the first time, in a modern-day SW crime caper! J-LT is on the run from knife-weilding gypsies (are there any other kind?) when he runs smack into the middle of Ryan's gang and their plans for a daring heist. Can J-LT earn the gang's trust? Will Ryan allow him to throw his lot in with theirs? And didn't all this happen before, years ago, when they were children? Cue the flashbacks, cue the Francis Lai score with plenty of pan flute. Rene Clement channels Leone, but not only the Westerns. A decade before Once Upon a Time in America went into production, Clement anticipated SL's final epic with this more modest effort. All the elements are here: the unlikely friendship, the contrast between childhood past and present-day adulthood, the daring criminal exploits. Did I mention the pan flute? And dig this cast: J-LT, RR, Lea Massari (dubbed in English, if I'm not mistaken, by the same voice actress who did Jill in OUATITW), Tisa (not-Mia) Farrow, Jean Gavan, Aldo Ray (he plays the one member of the gang who's Jewish). No Leoneaste should die without first seeing this amazing film. The pity is, the yellow layer of the print I saw has totally failed, and I doubt there is anything better in circulation. This film deserves a complete photochemical restoration--something it shall never have.

Amour (2012) 7/10. J-LT and Emmanuelle Riva together again--and really old--for the first time! They play an aging couple who must come to terms with growing infirmity that leads to death. This film is well observed and has great performances--Ms. Riva is especially to be commended--but it has nothing profound to say about its subject. The Schubert on the soundtrack is very nice.

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« Reply #11302 on: December 22, 2012, 11:20:34 PM »

Jack Reacher (2012) 7/10

Decided I just wanted to go to the theater on Thursday night and see something; turned out that Jack Reacher, the new Tom Cruise thriller/action movie, released on Friday, was showing at 12:01 AM, so we saw that. (It was at my favorite theater, the AMC on 34th and 8th, which has the largest screens I have ever seen). I really had no particular interest in this movie and didn't expect it to be all that great, but it turned out to really be not a bad way to spend 2 hours 10 mins.  in a theater. These days, Tom Cruise is basically just a punchline, but seeing this movie reminded me that despite all the personal lunacy surrounding him, he is still a good actor.

The movie opens with a shooter standing above a large crowd and firing into it with a sniper's rifle, killing 5 people. (I am sure that I was not the only viewer reminded of the recent shooting at a school in Newtown, Connecticut). The shooter doesn't do a good job covering his tracks; he leaves behind a shitload of evidence, and is arrested very quickly. It turns out that he is an ex-military guy, and  he simply has one request: CALL JACK REACHER. It turns out he was in the military with Reacher, but I won't spoil the story by saying any more. (Despite the poster that makes this seem like an action-hero movie, this is really as much as much of a plot-driven thriller as it is an action movie, so story does matter, and I won't give away any more).

I should point out that there was a period of about 20 minutes in middle of the movie in which I dozed on and off-- not cuz I wasn't enjoying myself, it's just that I hadn't slept during the previous 30 hours -- though I don't think I missed all that much of the plot; a significant amount of that time was actually during a car chase, and through the dozing, it seemed like it was actually a pretty fun chase!

In a nutshell:  if it's one of those nights where you just want to go to the movie theater, this is not a bad way to spend 130 minutes.

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« Reply #11303 on: December 23, 2012, 06:51:59 AM »

Jack Reacher (2012) 7/10

Decided I just wanted to go to the theater on Thursday night and see something; turned out that Jack Reacher, the new Tom Cruise thriller/action movie, released on Friday, was showing at 12:01 AM, so we saw that. (It was at my favorite theater, the AMC on 34th and 8th, which has the largest screens I have ever seen). I really had no particular interest in this movie and didn't expect it to be all that great, but it turned out to really be a not a bad way to spend 2 hours 10 mins.  in a theater. These days, Tom Cruise is basically just a punchline, but seeing this movie reminded me that despite all the personal lunacy surrounding him, he is still a good actor.

The movie opens with a shooter standing above a large crowd and firing into it with a sniper's rifle, killing 5 people. (I am sure that I was not the only viewer reminded of the recent shooting at a school in Newton, Connecticut). The shooter doesn't do a good job covering his tracks; he leaves behind a shitload of evidence, and is arrested very quickly. It turns out that he is an ex-military guy, and  he simply has one request: CALL JACK REACHER. It turns out he was in the military with Reacher, but I won't spoil the story by saying any more. (Despite the poster that makes this seem like an action-hero movie, this is really as much as much of a plot-driven thriller as it is an action movie, so story does matter, and I won't give away any more).

I should point out that there was a period of about 20 minutes in middle of the movie in which I dozed on and off-- not cuz I wasn't enjoying myself, it's just that I hadn't slept during the previous 30 hours -- though I don't think I missed all that much of the plot; a significant amount of that time was actually during a car chase, and through the dozing, it seemed like it was actually a pretty fun chase!

In a nutshell:  if it's one of those nights where you just want to go to the movie theater, this is not a bad way to spend 130 minutes.
But how was Werner Herzog?!

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« Reply #11304 on: December 23, 2012, 07:32:44 AM »

Now with the weekend here I can finally see some flicks!

Jack Reacher (2012) 9/10. 4K. A shooting spree that kills five people is blamed on an Iraqi War veteran, but a well-groomed drifter appears and begins investigating. Maybe the vet was set up? This is a film based on a book in a popular series featuring the Reacher character (which I haven’t read).  I was going to skip this (who wants to see another Tom Cruise film?), but when I heard that Werner Herzog was in it playing the Prince of Darkness, I had to go. Turns out this is a lot of fun. The plotting is good, the investigation unfolds rather well, Cruise isn’t too annoying, and the cast includes Richard Jenkins (no relation) and Rosamund Pike (nice jugs). Robert Duval shows up as a folksy gun range operator named Gunny. Pittsburg, PA, is the featured location.

But, of course, the main interest is with Werner, brief though his appearance is. SPOILER BEGINS:His character is called the Zec, which, we are told, is Russian for prisoner. Apparently, before he became an American crime lord, the Zec spent time in the Gulag. He explains to an underling—an underling about to be disciplined—that in order to survive, the Zec once had to gnaw off the fingers on his hands. This is an object lesson for the underling; the Zec wants to demonstrate that he will do anything to survive. He shows the man his hands. Is the underling willing to show that he too will do anything to survive? The man, taking the hint, has one question.
“Aren’t you gonna give me a knife?”
“Did I have a knife in Siberia?”
The guy sticks his thumb in his mouth and starts chewing, but he can't really go through with it, so he breaks down crying.
The scene ends with Werner intoning: “I don’t understand. Always the bullet.”
END SPOILER

The film’s big shootout climax occurs in a quarry, and, though clichéd, is actually exciting. Unfortunately, it was here that the automatic systems in the theater malfunctioned, first shutting off the sound, bringing the house lights up, and finally—just as Cruise was winning the hand-to-hand with Henchman #1—stopping the image. So I didn’t get to see what happened to Werner. I’d like to think that just as Cruise was about to apprehend him, he disappeared in a puff of smoke.  Any chance of a Jack Reacher 2?
 
Killer Joe (2012) 7/10. Blu-ray. A family of Texas trailer trash decides to bump off a relative for her insurance, and hires the title character—a police detective who moonlights as a hitman—to do it. Things don’t go as planned. This is a William Friedkin film based on a play by Tracy Letts. Mr. Letts is now a Pulitzer-prize winning playwright (for August: Osage County), but Killer Joe comes from an earlier part of his career. I mention this because although he has a talent for plot construction and an ear for dialogue, True Crime is not his usual beat. His métier is the depiction of obsessive/compulsive characters (his previous collaboration with Friedkin was Bug), but I don’t think he really understands criminal psychology, and late in Killer Joe this failing shows (but more on that anon).

The family members are represented here by Gina Gershon, Thomas Hayden Church, Emile Hirsch, and Juno Temple. Matthew McConaughey plays Joe. All are good—very good—and Temple in fact turns out to be a British actress who can really sell a Texas accent (she had me fooled).  Ms. Gershon gets to play her usual bitch, but late in the action her character is put through the wringer. The scene in question involves Ms. Gershon and a chicken leg, and I’ll say no more, except that Gershon gives a convincing performance. (The chicken, by the way, billed as “K Fry C” was—Ms. Gershon reveals in an interview—actually played by Church’s).

 I believe the entirety of the play occurs inside the family’s trailer, but Friedkin opens things up nicely and for the first 90 minutes I forgot I was watching an adapted play. There was even one bit of cinematic showboating that I found irresistible. Joe is going off shift: in a tracking shot we see him enter the locker room and retrieve his sidearm, then go through the station on his way out of the building. We cut to the exterior where Hirsch is waiting. Hirsch tries to engage Joe in conversation, he’s gotten cold feet about the murder. Joe says nothing, keeps walking, moves past Hirsch. Hirsch follows Joe all the way to his car, still talking. Joe gets in, motions to Hirsh to climb into the passenger seat. The kid wonders momentarily what’s going on, but he gets in and goes back to earbending about his feelings. They drive and we alternate one-shots with POV of the road. All the time Joe is stone cold silent and the kid will not shut up. This is the set up . . . and it pays off beautifully. This scene could not have been in the play and was obviously added (Letts also did the screenplay). If only the filmmakers had been this innovative all the way through to the end of the picture.

After a plot twist which prevents the principals from getting any of the insurance money, we head into the third act, and that’s where things go off the rails. Part of the problem is that we go back to the trailer and never leave, but another problem has to do with the motivations of the characters, especially Joe’s.

Joe always gets his fee up front (“no exceptions”) but since the family had no money they secured Joe’s services with a non-monetary “retainer.” When things don’t turn out as planned, Joe returns to the family—and their trailer—for the retainer.  And here’s the part I don’t get. If you’re a contract killer that means you place ultimate value in money. If you don’t get paid off, you don’t settle, you go after the money. Especially if you know where it is and/or you know someone who can take you to it. Especially if it’s 4 times the amount you originally bargained for. But the last scene in the play/film has Joe going back to the family even though they haven’t got the money. Now, it might be that Joe would decide to take his retainer in addition to the money, but he would secure the money first before going after anything else. And this is where the criminal psychology breaks down and makes the final act come off as phony. It needed to be re-thought, and this is where Friedkin as the director should have stepped in and told Letts to re-write it. But Friedkin was too in awe of Letts, apparently, and Letts, I presume, was happy with a final act that had already worked for several years in the theater. Yeah, as drama, the last act is successful, it’s just not so great as narrative. [There’s an easy fix here, too:  Joe could have shown up in the final act WITH the money, and maybe even an extra problem for the family to deal with—a corpse to dispose of, say.  Then they could have struck another bargain before heading somewhere outdoors for one more scene. I think it’s a real mistake to stay in the trailer through to the end—they all should have gone out to some nice quarry somewhere, to do their business and try another double-cross or something. Oh well.]

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« Reply #11305 on: December 23, 2012, 08:17:55 AM »

the cast includes Richard Jenkins (no relation)


I actually thought of you when I saw this credit (for more reasons than one  Wink)

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« Reply #11306 on: December 23, 2012, 09:05:03 AM »

The Last Metro (1980) 8.5/10 (Thanks for the recommendations  Afro)

There's an extraordinary use of color here (accentuated by the beautiful Criterion blu ray). Catherine Deneuve's bright red lipstick may have been the most important thing in the movie.

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« Reply #11307 on: December 23, 2012, 06:01:44 PM »

Insomnia (2002) 7/10

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« Reply #11308 on: December 24, 2012, 11:17:16 AM »

I actually thought of you when I saw this credit (for more reasons than one  Wink)
You are implying, perhaps, that I'm a Dick? Hey, Merry Christmas to you too!

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« Reply #11309 on: December 24, 2012, 01:54:49 PM »

Now that Christmas Week is finally here I can finally get out to enjoy some 70mm film classics.

Star! (1968) 9/10. The Gertrude Lawrence story, as told by Robert Wise. I'm not keen on bio-pics, 60s musicals, or RW films after The Sand Pebbles, but I'd never seen this and the chance to view it complete (3 hrs) in "Restored 70mm" was too great a temptation (besides, I was going to be on site for Khartoum anyway). I got to the Walter Reid early so I could get the ideal seat (near-but-not-too-near the front with lots of leg room). I began to wonder, though, if this had been such a hot idea when I was almost immediately surrounded by about 25 gay men who also wanted to sit in or near the "sweet spot." In fact, they were all perfect gentlemen (of course). And during intermission I was even able to overhear several knowledgeable conversations about the film, almost as if I'd been given access to an audio commentary.

I know, the film, the film. This was originally a roadshow picture, so it has an overture, entr'acte, and exit music. They did something clever here for the overture: they showed an orchestra pit below a curtained stage, with musicians filing into place and tuning up. The conductor arrives and is applauded. He waves his baton. Then, as the orchestra launches in, the curtains open to reveal a collage of titles, evidently the names of the productions Ms. Lawrence is known for. The titles do not alter, but each time the overture changes movements, the screen behind the titles changes color. Meanwhile, at the bottom of the screen, the musicians work away furiously. This was clever and gave me something to do with my eyes during the part of a film that's usually left black. (The pit, complete with orchestra, reappears at the end of the picture for the final number).

Some people, I've heard, don't like this film because for a three-hour movie there's relatively little story. Ms. Lawrence's biography in fact is used as the scaffold on which to hang a number of stagey production pieces. Yet this is highly appropriate: her life, we are made to understand, was her career. For those wanting a story, there is enough here: her struggle to rise to top of her profession, her various liaisons, her neglect of her daughter, her lifetime friendship with Noel Coward, her eventual happiness. But if you want to see a film about a performer's life, it makes sense to see her doing what she did most often and what she most cared about: performing. The usual approach, I realize, is to show a bit of the professional side of things, but to devote most of the runtime to backstage dramas and whatnot. OK, but since that's been done to death, why not allow the opposite approach? I think Wise was on to something here.

In order for that approach to work you have to have set pieces that really entertain. I was a bit worried at first, since Lawrence started out in Vaudeville and a little of that goes a long way. But by the second half of the picture, when she's conquered Broadway and is appearing in things like Private Lives with Coward, her professional performances really are more interesting than her personal ones (there is a suggestion made that Lawrence could never stop performing, even off stage). And of course, you have to have a talent that can match Lawrence line for line, note for note, hoof for hoof. Without Julie Andrews playing Lawrence, I don't think the picture would have come off. Apart from an early POV shot during Lawrence's childhood, Andrews is in every scene. After Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music I could never take Andrews seriously, and, I now see, that was an error. The woman had enormous talent and charisma--who today could do what she did here?

Even so, 3 hours of Lawrence/Andrews might have been hard to take were it not for the fact of Daniel Massey's Noel Coward. Massey is given many a bot mot to deliver, and he comes close to stealing the show. The son of Raymond (The Fountainhead) and the brother of Anna (Peeping Tom, Frenzy), Massey was in fact Coward's godson (he even appeared as his son in In Which We Serve). Other actors of note are a very young Jenny Agutter (playing Lawrence's daughter) and Richard Crenna (as Lawrence's Destined Match).

The film has a somewhat trite framing device: a producer is playing a newsreel about Lawrence's life privately to Lawrence, late in life, to get her approval. Everytime they come across a new piece of information, it cues a flashback. This newsreel device goes back to Citizen Kane, of course, but I guess since Wise edited that picture, he can be allowed to steal from himself.

I could not believe how good the print of this picture looked. Colors were almost Technicolor worthy. I guess when they say Restored 70mm, that really means something. (It probably helps that the film was shot in Todd-AO).

I was surprised how much I enjoyed this. Is it on the level with Singing In The Rain or The Band Wagon? No . . . but not too far off those.


Khartoum (1966) 5/10. Also in a Restored 70mm print, this looked very good, or, at least, as good as one could expect. The film has always looked rather cheap, with lots of rear projection and too many studio sets. Still, the colors now really pop: those redcoats are wearing some really red coats.

Even with improved visuals, though, this is a pretty dull film. One problem is the plot: everything leading up to the siege of Khartoum--the climax--is largely talk. There's an occasional skirmish or bit of action, but it isn't enough. And then, sieges are not, by their very nature, very exciting. The fall of the city offers some interest, but it's over very quickly.

What makes the film especially dull is the central character, George "Chinese" Gordon, played by Charlton Heston. All we know about the guy is that he's very principled, so that when he feels the need to sacrifice his life for his cause, he's able to do it. But there's never any doubt of this. We know that he goes to Khartoum willing to sacrifice his life, and by the end of the picture, sure enough, that's what he's done. The part is badly written, but Heston's performance doesn't improve things. At times he seems to be trying to affect a British accent; these moments aren't as bad, though, as when he's trying to affect an American one.

I had mis-remembered that Olivier, in blackface, was an embarassment. In fact, if you've seen his Othello, his Islamic fanatic in this picture seems a model of restraint by comparison. The one great performance in this picture is by Ralph Richardson as Gladstone. Unfortunately, he disappears from the second half of the picture.

On to Lord Jim!

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