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: Rate The Last Movie You Saw  ( 3529565 )
noodles_leone
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« #19425 : November 24, 2020, 07:28:01 AM »

Peur sur la Ville (1975) 7.5/10

Much better than Le Professionnel. Here is what a good director (from Armenian descent, so even better, of course. My grandfather used to know him) can make with an average+ screenplay that is first and foremost designed to make an American movie in France. The soundtrack is better too (Ennio supposedly wasn't finished with Le Professionnel's soundtrack when it was released and clashed with Lautner who released the film with Ennio's temp track). The legendary (and neverending) double chase scene in the middle still holds up pretty well. The biggest flaw of the movie is that they show the killer WAY too early. We quickly know his face and his ways, eventhough Belmondo catches up late in the movie. Which is a weird choice, that is never used in a playful way and greatly reduces the interest in the plot.

Also, it's pretty fun to watch that movie when in lockdown: it's one of these movies that is very precise with where the characters exactly are. The geography of Paris is well respected and the filmmakers put a great deal of efforts to inform the parisians about where everybody is and how they got here. Also, of course, 1975 Paris was much more interesting looking than 2019 (let alone 2020) Paris... eventhough so similar in most ways. It's the little things, they say.

« : November 24, 2020, 08:11:43 AM noodles_leone »

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« #19426 : November 25, 2020, 08:38:44 AM »

Scream of Stone (1991) - 6/10. "That isn't a mountain . . . it's a scream of stone." Words of wisdom, Brad. Words of wisdom. Is Cerro Torre, in Patagonia, really the most difficult mountain to climb? It's nothing like the tallest, of course. Essentially it's a spire of rock, much of it covered by ice. Looks pretty tough to me. Anyway, a mountain climbing movie . . . Two climbers compete to be first to the summit and first in Mathilda May's heart. Ms. May is terrible, she has lines to read here; in Lifeforce she was much better, nude and mute. Putting a woman in the mix also adds a touch of Hemingway that is inimical to Herzog's vision (he did not write the screenplay). As Mrs. Jenkins asked, rhetorically, "What is Mathilda May doing in this movie?" When she's right, she's right.

Some great photography, though.



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« #19427 : November 27, 2020, 11:22:25 AM »

Juliet of the Spirits (1965) I hadn't seen this before, but I'd heard the colors on the new restoration were fabulous, so when CC's Essential Fellini arrived, that's the first one I took out of the box. What others have said is true: deep greens, vivid reds, incandescent whites, inky blacks. Yes, it is a film with truly wonderful colors.



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« #19428 : November 28, 2020, 01:52:51 AM »

Variety Lights (1950) - 7/10. A beautiful young woman with stars in her eyes runs away with a company of vaudeville performers. She develops and finally leaves the troupe behind. Well conceived and executed bitter-sweet tale.



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« #19429 : November 28, 2020, 08:34:48 AM »

The White Sheik (1952) - 5/10. Newlyweds come to Rome and are separated. Hilarity ensues.



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« #19430 : November 28, 2020, 09:42:55 AM »

The Ogre of Athens (1956) Greek Noir - A lonely forty year old serious Barney Fyfe bank clerk is mistaken for Dragon the Ogre of Athens and lives a whole life in a single day 8/10. Currently streaming on Youtube with English subs.


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« #19431 : November 29, 2020, 01:47:29 PM »

I just read Sidney Lumet's book "Making Movies," so I put in my Netflix DVD queue some of his films I haven;t yet seen. first up is ....

The Hill (1965) 7/10

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0059274/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hill_(film)

This is a story about a British military prison in North Africa during World War II, for soldiers who committed crimes like theft, insubordination, going AWOL, etc. Directed by Sidney Lumet, and filmed in the African desert.

Quotes from wikipedia, I believe from  the NY Times:
"There really isn't a lot of story", said Lumet. "It's all character ? a group of men, prisoners and jailers alike, driven by the same motive force, fear."

Sean Connery agreed to play the lead because it represented such a change of pace from James Bond. "It is only because of my reputation as Bond that the backers put up the money for The Hill", he said


There's not

the actors are all British:

    Sean Connery as Joe Roberts
    Harry Andrews as Regimental Sergeant Major Bert Wilson
    Ian Bannen as Staff Sergeant Charlie Harris
    Alfred Lynch as George Stevens
    Ossie Davis as Jacko King
    Roy Kinnear as Monty Bartlett
    Jack Watson as Jock McGrath
    Ian Hendry as Staff Sergeant Williams
    Sir Michael Redgrave as the Medical Officer
    Norman Bird as the Commandant
    Neil McCarthy as Burton
    Howard Goorney as Walters
    Tony Caunter as Martin



The film actually co-won best Screenplay at Cannes. The DVD has a 7-minute video in the special features, about the making of the film and the subsequent honors at Cannes. It's cool to see Almeria - probably right around the time Leone would have been filming FOD or FAFDM), the piece is on YouTube here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZz_PBuAsHg

As Lumet said, there's not all that much story here. There is a sadistic guard (Hendry), another guard who is humane (Bannen), the head of the camp who is a tad less evil than Williams (Andrews), and an absent commandant who bangs whores and otherwise leaves the running of the camp to Andrews.

The story focuses on the men of one cell (Connery, Watson, Lynch, Davis, Kinnear) and their struggles to survive - and fight back.

I don't believe I have ever seen any of these actors before, besides Connery and Redgrave. And I can say that every members of the cast was absolutely amazing, from top to bottom.


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« #19432 : November 29, 2020, 09:35:21 PM »

Il Bidone / The Swindler (1955) 8/10. MoC Blu-ray. Broderick Crawford in the title role: what a performance! Apparently, he not only learned Italian for the part, he changed his vocal style so completely that he sounded like an entirely different actor. Why the Academy failed to recognize Crawford for this performance is beyond me.

The premise of the picture is a good one: watching a swindler and his accomplices at work, fleecing not the usual fat-cats and deserving dupes in typical American films about confidence tricksters, but the very poorest of post-War Italy. Yeah, ingenious as some of these cons are, there are real victims involved. Does the aggregate misery these swindlers spread also have some kind of blow-back on the perpetrators, a retribution more spiritual than temporal? It is a question worth exploring, and the film takes a decent stab at it.

SPOILERS
Everything in the film works well until the problematic final gambit. How are we to understand Crawford and his attempt to hold out on his gang at the end? Three possibilities present themselves. One, Crawford intended to return the money. Two, Crawford intended to keep all the money for himself. Three, full of self-loathing, Crawford positioned himself so that his accomplices would punish him as he felt he deserved. There are problems with all three explanations. One, if he intended to give the money back, why not leave it behind when he was talking to the crippled girl? Did he really think he would have a better chance to return it after he left with his companions? Two, if he wanted all the money for himself, did he really think he would be able to successfully hold out against the other men? Of course they were going to search him until they found it. A seasoned pro who knew the kind of men he was working with, how did he expect to get away with it? Three, OK, this seems the most plausible, but even if you felt like you wanted to die, would you want to go out with a beating? This must be one of the most awful ways to go. It would be so much easier to give everybody their share, then go home and blow your brains out.

Regardless, the final  moments of the film are too protracted. If Crawford is going to die, why milk it? Yes, I know Fellini wanted to show the children (young, unspoiled) going by on the road above him, a final image of hope to contrast with what is otherwise a scene of despair, but we needed to get there sooner. Why do we have to see Crawford lying out all night long?
END SPOILER

Although I have reservations about the way it ends, otherwise the film is quite good. The party scene alone is worth the price of admission and obviated the need for La Dolce Vita. It is incredible that Fellini could, in rapid succession, produce La Strada, this, and Nights of Cabiria, and then go on for the rest of his career, thoroughly squandering his talent.
After I re-watched this in the new CC set Essential Fellini, I went back and read the above comments from 6 years ago. I'd forgotten what I'd written and was astonished to find that I was in complete agreement with myself. The only thing I'd change is the rating, which I'd now bump to a "9". If it weren't for the ending, the film would be perfect. Well, endings are hard.


Roma (1972) - 1/10. This is Frederico, not really trying anymore. I guess I now know where half of La Grande Bellezza comes from, anyway.



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« #19433 : December 01, 2020, 11:20:33 AM »

Illustrious Corpses (1976) - 4/10. Italian judges are being assassinated. As a result, we get corpses played by Charles Vanel, Alain Curray, Max von Sydow. Inspector Lino Ventura is on the case, but he has no chance of making an arrest because it turns out the ultimate perp is none other than . . . the Italian state itself (Oops, SPOILER!). I guess Francesco Rosi saw The Parallax View and presto, the Italian Paranoid Thriller was conceived. This one makes even less sense than the American variety (why, for instance, would Ventura, who works for the government, get a chance to even start his investigation?).



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« #19434 : December 02, 2020, 10:19:20 AM »

The Painted Bird (2019) - 7/10. Jerzy Kosinski's famous (and infamous) novel, finally adapted for the screen by Czech director Vaclav Marhoul. It's a beautifully shot picture (by Vladimir Smutny), in black and white and 'scope, one of the most beautiful b&w films I can ever remember seeing. The setting for the film is some unspecified Eastern European location during WWII, and to help create greater ambiguity (and thus also, perhaps, to make the events depicted universal) the actors speak in an artificial language, called in press releases "Slavic Esperanto" (I guess the film has to be subtitled for every market?). The film tells the story of a Jewish boy who, separated from his parents, must spend months wandering the country-side. As he goes he encounters superstitious peasants, Nazis, Russian soldiers, pederasts, sadists, and even a sheep fucker. The boy is often victimized by those he meets (but occasionally helped), and when bad things are not happening to him he is a witness to bad things happening to others. In short, it is a compendium of humanity's inhumanity. It isn't a complete downer, though. According to the director, "My goal was to create a series of tableaux that, cumulatively, takes our protagonist on a journey to the very heart of the dark human soul. Each part of the series is a visual clue, a sort of lost fragment of a larger painting, a canvas that draws the protagonist irrevocably toward a final catharsis." Whether that catharsis is worth the journey (which lasts 169 minutes) is open to debate. Well, the film is never boring. Added interest is provided by cameos of easily-recognized actors: Udo Kier, Stellan Skarsgard, Harvey Keitel (as a priest!), Julian Sands. Perhaps these are needlessly distracting, especially when they open their mouths and out comes Slavic Esperanto.



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« #19435 : December 05, 2020, 09:28:59 AM »

Mank (2020) - 3/10. In order to beatify the life and work of St. Mankiewicz, the makers of Mank decided to demonize just about everybody else. Not Welles: he's irrelevant, apparently he did almost nothing on the screenplay. The movie isn't really about Citizen Kane, or the writing of it, anyway, rather, it's about a man who supported Upton Sinclair for governor of California in 1934. It's also the story of a wonderful drunk with a heart of gold, who, in life, was completely ineffectual in every regard, but was able to bear witness to the perfidy about him. That perfidy is performed, in flashback, by a cast of Hollywood A-listers, every one, according to Finchers fils and pere, a shit. Hearst of course is evil, as is Louis B. Mayer, but the recriminations don't end there: Irving Thalberg is presented as utterly craven; Mank's brother Joe comes off as an industry tool; John Houseman is a buffoon; Selznick, an empty suit; even Marion Davies, who is treated respectfully throughout most of the movie, is finally shown to be feckless and vain.  It would be one thing if the characters were entirely the invention of the filmmakers--then they would just be boring. But they bear the names of actual historical people, people who were complex, people who, when summoned back from the dead, should be given substance. Were any of these folks actually talented? Were they at least good at what they did? The film couldn't care less. The important thing was how they got along with Mank, who saved us all, drinking himself to death for our sins. The stench of sanctimony wafting its way to me from the screen really put me off my popcorn.

So I finally saw it, and it turns out I was right, it's the Social Network all over again. Most of the criticisms DJ wrote here are targeted at the formulaic and fortunately imaginary film he made up and have very little to do with the way more ambitious one that was actually presented on screen. From the whole review, there is one legitimate point, though:

Were any of these folks actually talented? Were they at least good at what they did?

I haven't fully made up my mind about that, but I think it has a lot to do with the movie's refusal to give us background information: you either already know Hearst, J. Mankiewicz, Mayer and their colleagues, who they were and what they did... or you can go fuck yourself. That's a pretty bold move, especially for such a verbose screenplay. A move that crushes once and for all the movie's chances to get the Oscar, but who cares, apart from Netflix executives, who, after Roma and The Irishman, vainly keep paying for the some of the least mainstream movies by popular directors in hope for that inaccessible statuette.

I'll wait for a second watch (that's coming very soon, ideally within 48h) to rate Mank, but, just to be clear, as the film heavily underlines, highlights and pinpoints numerous times (a bit too much for my taste but seemingly not nearly enough for some of us) Mank - not Hearst, not Mayer, not the countless studio executives, writers and directors - is the biggest sellout of the story. Which, in a movie which main topic is "What does it mean to be a sellout?" makes him both the protagonist and the villain. He doesn't die for our sins, he embodies our sins. I'll write more about that in the dedicated thread.

Here is a review that actually reviews the flawed but always fascinating Mank instead of reviewing the boring and imaginary Mank vs Welles: the film:
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/03/movies/mank-review.html

« : December 05, 2020, 10:33:47 AM noodles_leone »

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« #19436 : December 05, 2020, 04:20:55 PM »

Here is a review that actually reviews the flawed but always fascinating Mank instead of reviewing the boring and imaginary Mank vs Welles: the film:
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/03/movies/mank-review.html
Quote
Thalberg, while not as vain as Hearst or as volatile as Mayer, is Welles?s true antithesis: a company man, as passionately committed to the workings of the system he helped design as Welles is to his own creative integrity. They are both, in their different ways, heroic (and also tragic) figures in the mythology of movies.

Not Mankiewicz. He is, almost as a matter of principle, a minor player in the Hollywood pageant. The paradoxes of his position are the film?s real subject. He is a bleeding-heart liberal comfortably ensconced in a fundamentally conservative milieu, a court jester whose proximity to power underscores his impotence, a critical intellect whose aloofness renders him ineffectual. Like a lot of East Coast scribes (then and still) he thinks the movies are beneath him, even though he doesn?t mind the money or the company. He finds it easier to crack a joke than to take a stand.

Neither a maverick nor a visionary, he?s an alienated insider, a participant observer, a kibitzer at the table where the big guys make the big bets. Which may just be a verbose way of saying that he?s a writer. I?ll drink to that.
This is a fair assessment. It does not, however, offer any reason why the subject should make for an interesting film. Welles would make a good subject, as would Thalberg. So would Hearst, but, I understand, that's already been done. Writers are not inherently interesting. To make Mank the person interesting you'd have to add a lot of sweetener to the mix. This is what the filmmakers give us to sweeten Mank: The California gubernatorial election of 1934. I don't insist on historical veracity if I get something entertaining in return (looking at you, Quentin). But the California gubernatorial election of 1934 is not it.




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« #19437 : December 05, 2020, 04:43:49 PM »

Panique (1946)

It?s ok, but I don?t think it?s any kind of masterpiece

The whole business with the town spreading rumors is handled quite comedically.

The Criterion BRD has a bonus feature with two French critics, One of them says he believes Hitchcock used several shots/ideas from this movie: the carnival in Strangers on a Train, the voyeuristic shots of Rear Window, and James Stewart hanging off the roof at the beginning of Vertigo.


The Criterion BRD also has a nice bonus feature with Bruce Goldstein, founder of Rialto Pictures and also head of repertory programming at New York?s Film Forum (where DJ and I have seen many classic films). This piece is on The Art of Subtitling - Goldstein is, among other things, subtitle editor at Rialto (Panique is a Rialto release) and he talks here about subtitling, an overlooked aspect of classic film restoration. It?s a really good piece.



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« #19438 : December 07, 2020, 07:20:33 AM »

I need to stay off this topic for a while.  2020 has been such a disturbing year that Mrs. Cusser and I are watching Lifetime Christmas films on DVR for some happy feelings and to see life without social distancing, so at least we can zip through commercials with DVR.

Almost all have the same plot: successful beautiful single gal goes back to her small hometown to save the historic inn, family bakery, Christmas pageant, etc., and runs into either a mysterious stranger/guy from her past that she didn't like/broke up with.  And through the magic of Christmas all is good, and all stories miraculously take exactly to hours to tell...

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« #19439 : December 08, 2020, 03:07:34 AM »

Se7en (1995) 8.5/10
Still great. Of course the 90?s are beginning to show but the film did enough at the time to not look like a movie from the 90?s that it?s mostly aging proof (visually speaking. The ending ?twist? is soooooo 90?s). I?d love Darius Khondji and David Fincher to get back together.

Arizon Junior (1987) 7.5/10
I had seen it once, on TV, in French, 20 years ago. I liked it much better this time around, even though it probably doesn?t have the same unlimited rewatch value as the better comedy efforts by the Coen.


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