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Author Topic: Rate The Last Movie You Saw  (Read 1767180 times)
drinkanddestroy
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« Reply #10335 on: April 03, 2012, 04:23:31 AM »

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

After we read the book in 11th grade, our English teacher showed us the movie. This was 11 years ago, and I have not seen it since (and don't think I saw it fully that time either) so I decided it was time for a re-watch.

Sometimes, when watching a classic movie, I wish that I wasn't aware of its classic status, so that i can judge it on its own, my judgment unburdened by its legacy. Well, (to paraphrase something I believe I recall Groggy writing in his review of The Maltese Falcon,) what can I say, except that it lives up to its name? What a wonderful movie. Gregory Peck certainly deserved his Best Actor Oscar. In law school, I took a class on Human Rights & the Law, and on Law & Literature, both by a professor who is very involved in the Law & Culture (he even created a Forum on Law, Culture, & Society in my law school). So in short, he has probably read every word and seen every minute of the legal world in popular culture, and hell tell you that there was no better portrayal of a lawyer in the history of a American popular culture than Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. Can't argue with that.
I should just mention that if the girl who played Scout was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, then the boy who played Jem should have been nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. As great as she was, he was even better.


-------------------

There's a gentleman whom I love reading as a movie critic cuz he is very entertaining; but he also fancies himself a political commentator, and when movies involve political issues, as they so often do, it seems he loses his senses and and talents as a critic, and becomes just another leftist occupier flower child nutjob. I'm talking, of course, about Roger Ebert, a man whom I probably quote way too often, cuz I love reading him, but I think I am now gonna make a commitment never to read his reviews on any movie that involves a political issue, specifically the issue of racism.

Here is his review on this movie. Do yourself a favor and do not click this link http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20011111/REVIEWS/60103002/1023

For Ebert, of course, even this movie, which is one of the most famous statements on racism in cinema history, is not liberal enough. He goes on and on about how much the focus is on the whites, and how little the focus is on the blacks. It's a long review, but I'm going to quote one 5-paragraph section from the middle of the review:

The courtroom scenes are the most celebrated in the movie; they make it perfectly clear that Tom Robinson is innocent, that no rape occurred, that Maybelle came on to Robinson, that he tried to flee, that Bob Ewell beat his own daughter, and she lied about it out of shame for feeling attracted to a black man. Atticus' summation to the jury is one of Gregory Peck's great scenes, but of course the all-white jury finds Tom Robinson guilty anyway. The verdict is greeted by an uncanny quiet: No whoops of triumph from Bob Ewell, no cries of protests by the blacks in the courtroom gallery. The whites file out quickly, but the blacks remain and stand silently in honor of Atticus as he walks out a little later. Scout and her brother sat up with the blacks throughout the trial, and now a minister tells her: "Miss Jean Louise, stand up, your father's passin'."

The problem here, for me, is that the conviction of Tom Robinson is not the point of the scene, which looks right past him to focus on the nobility of Atticus Finch. I also wonder at the general lack of emotion in the courtroom, and the movie only grows more puzzling by what happens next. Atticus is told by the sheriff that while Tom Robinson was being taken for safekeeping to nearby Abbottsville, he broke loose and tried to run away. As Atticus repeats the story: "The deputy called out to him to stop. Tom didn't stop. He shot at him to wound him and missed his aim. Killed him. The deputy says Tom just ran like a crazy man."

That Scout could believe it happened just like this is credible. That Atticus Finch, an adult liberal resident of the Deep South in 1932, has no questions about this version is incredible. In 1962 it is possible that some (white) audiences would believe that Tom Robinson was accidentally killed while trying to escape, but in 2001 such stories are met with a weary cynicism.

The construction of the following scene is highly implausible. Atticus drives out to Tom Robinson's house to break the sad news to his widow, Helen. She is played by Kim Hamilton (who is not credited, and indeed has no speaking lines in a film that finds time for dialog by two superfluous white neighbors of the Finches). On the porch are several male friends and relatives. Bob Ewell, the vile father who beat his girl into lying, lurches out of the shadows and says to one of them, "Boy, go in the house and bring out Atticus Finch." One of the men does so, Ewell spits in Atticus's face, Atticus stares him down and drives away. The black people in this scene are not treated as characters, but as props, and kept entirely in long shot. The close-ups are reserved for the white hero and villain.

It may be that in 1932 the situation was such in Alabama that this white man, who the people on that porch had seen lie to convict Tom Robinson, could walk up to them alone after they had just learned he had been killed, call one of them "boy," and not be touched. If black fear of whites was that deep in those days, then the rest of the movie exists in a dream world.



Boy, if someone ever missed the point of a movie, it was Ebert here. This movie is emphatically NOT the story of the trial of a black man. It is the story of a young girl, Scout Finch, the lessons her distinguished father taught her, how she observed those lessons during the formative years of her life, and how it presumably shaped her into adult life (the movie is narrated by an adult Scout, looking back on  those years). So yes, to Scout, it is Atticus's actions during the trial that matter more than the trial itself. It is Atticus's defense of Tom Robinson that matter more than what happened to Tom Robinson.
And yes, based on the place blacks held in society at that time, I certainly think it far from implausible that the blacks would have reacted the way they did when Bob Ewell showed up to confront Atticus.

Earlier in the review, Ebert says:
The novel, which focuses on the coming of age of three young children, especially the tomboy Scout, gains strength from her point of view: It sees the good and evil of the world through the eyes of a six-year-old child. The movie shifts the emphasis to the character of her father, Atticus Finch, but from this new point of view doesn't see as much as an adult in that time and place should see.


Yes, there are moments when the POV switches from Scout to Atticus. There are moments in the movie where Atticus has a scene that does not involve the children. But those are few and far between, and on the whole, the movie is really about the children observing their father's actions and learning from them. If the trial or the fate of Tom Robinson ever became the focus of the movie, it would be dead wrong, not to mention unfaithful to the story -- which is about a girl observing her father -- be it as a sharpshooter nailing a wild dog; a compassionate lawyer accepting a client's installment payments of food; showing compassion to Boo Radley by allowing him to live his life in peace and anonymity, or defending an innocent black man -- doing the right thing, no matter how hard it may be.

Apparently, no movie is ever "liberal enough" for a degenerate white self-hater like Ebert (who gave the movie 2.5 out of 4 stars) and who can't seem to get over the fact that a movie can involve the trial of a black man, be a tremendous statement against racism, yet the trial itself is not the main focus of the movie.
What a piece of shit Ebert is. (I still laugh whenever thinking about how he gave 3.5 stars to Capitalism: A Love Story, and Zero Stars to The Green Beret)

And what a terrific movie To Kill a Mockingbird is! Afro Afro  Afro (doing Ebert one better  Wink)

One additional point I wanna make, and perhaps it relates somehow to the above: In the book, there is a scene where the children go with Calpurnia to the black church for services one Sunday; this scene is not in the movie. However, when the children are trying to get into the courtroom, which is full, they suddenly shout "Reverend!" to the black priest who is there, who lets them come up and sit in the gallery with the blacks. This is the first time we are introduced to the Reverend in the movie; it seems strange that the kids would know the black Reverend, though we've never seen them interact before. Therefore, I would guess that the scene where the kids visit the church was probably shot (or at least in the script), but not included in the final cut. If that scene had not been in the script, then I am sure there would have been some other introduction of the black priest/black community (perhaps Calpurnia would have mentioned that she took them to services there) that it would make sense that the kids know the priest and feel comfortable going to sit upstairs with him and the other blacks in the community.
I rented this movie off iTunes, which is just the bare-bones movie, with no special features. Maybe someday I'll put the actual dvd on my Netflix queue, just to see the special features and whether in fact, this scene was shot and deleted, or whether this issue is discussed at all in the special features....


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« Reply #10336 on: April 03, 2012, 04:40:17 AM »

Ebert has a valid point in that the trial becomes more prominent than the childhood sections in the film. Of course it would, it's more cinematic. That's the criticism, though I think it's a bit overdone. Nothing to do with "not being liberal enough."

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« Reply #10337 on: April 03, 2012, 04:53:05 AM »

Ebert has a valid point in that the trial becomes more prominent than the childhood sections in the film. Of course it would, it's more cinematic. That's the criticism, though I think it's a bit overdone. Nothing to do with "not being liberal enough."

The point of the movie, as I said, is Scout observing her father's courageous actions. Now, of course, the most courageous of them all -- and the one that teaches her the biggest lesson -- is the trial. Therefore, the trial gets the most focus, more than eg. the shooting of the wild dog, or the other kind and courageous actions he did. But it doesn't change the fact that all these experiences by Atticus, -- including the trial --  and all the actions he takes in them, are only important insofar as Scout witnesses them. (And if Scout had not snuck into the courtroom, then the trial wouldn't have been shown at all, no matter how important it was in real life; imagine what Ebert would have said to that  Grin)

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« Reply #10338 on: April 03, 2012, 02:51:24 PM »

Did you know that the character of Dill is purportedly based upon Truman Capote, who had been a childhood friend of Harper Lee when he was sent to live with relatives in Lee's hometown each summer. Truman Capote, in turn, based one of his characters in his literary work "Other Voices, Other Rooms" upon his recollection of Harper Lee.

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« Reply #10339 on: April 03, 2012, 03:06:06 PM »

Did you know that the character of Dill is purportedly based upon Truman Capote, who had been a childhood friend of Harper Lee when he was sent to live with relatives in Lee's hometown each summer. Truman Capote, in turn, based one of his characters in his literary work "Other Voices, Other Rooms" upon his recollection of Harper Lee.

did Capote wear high black socks and sandals as a kid too?  Wink

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« Reply #10340 on: April 03, 2012, 03:22:55 PM »

did Capote wear high black socks and sandals as a kid too?  Wink

Probably he did look a bit weird ;-)

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« Reply #10341 on: April 03, 2012, 03:27:56 PM »

The point of the movie, as I said, is Scout observing her father's courageous actions. Now, of course, the most courageous of them all -- and the one that teaches her the biggest lesson -- is the trial. Therefore, the trial gets the most focus, more than eg. the shooting of the wild dog, or the other kind and courageous actions he did.

Thank you.

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« Reply #10342 on: April 03, 2012, 03:39:18 PM »

Thank you.

I'm not sure what that mean, but I'll take it  Wink

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« Reply #10343 on: April 03, 2012, 03:43:19 PM »

Probably he did look a bit weird ;-)

That kid who plays Dill is a bit too self-conscious as an actor; he sounds as if he is acting, like he is reading his lines from a script; they don't come naturally. (His dorkiness does kind of fit with the high black socks and sandals, which btw stay the same between 2 summers; I just hope he changed the socks  Wink) The kids who played Jem and Scout sound much more natural and were terrific. But IMO Jem was better; there are quite a few times where you can see Scout giggling, or trying her best not to; Jem was absolutely perfect. I really can't believe Scout would get an Oscar nomination but not Jem (then again, I didn't see all the other performances of 1962, so I really can't judge it against the competition).

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« Reply #10344 on: April 04, 2012, 08:33:25 AM »

Two with Lyle Bettger, the New Swine Find of 1950.

Union Station (1950) 6/10. Lyle's got a plan: kidnap a blind heiress and shake down her old man for $100,000. His only mistake: choosing Union Station as his frequent rendevous point, the province of one William Holden, railroad cop! Bill is soon on the case, thanks to sharp-eyed Nancy Olsen who notices Lyle carrying iron and acting suspicious. In this town the railroad police seem to be a division of the city cops, so Barry Fitzgerald quickly arrives with reinforcements (the exact setting is obscured, but it could be Chicago--there's one unintentionally funny sequence where a baddie is stampeded to death in a stockyard!). Jan Sterling is in the picture, as Lyle's moll, but when she becomes a liability, Lyle unceremoniously kicks her to the curb--literally. Then there's the exciting final chase, beneath the station, through the power generating plant, down the airshaft, into the "city tunnel" (a well-lit soundstage). Wounded, on the run, clutching a bag with his ill-gotten gains, Lyle is oblivious when the lid pops and money starts pouring out (Were you watching, Stanley?). The message of the film is clear: don't mess with Railroad Cop!

No Man of Her Own (1950) 10/10. Not really a noir--call it a woman's picture with noir trimmings. Barbara Stanwyck is in NY, broke, pregnant, and jilted by Lyle Bettger. Lyle's all heart: he buys her a rail ticket back to San Francisco. Turns out to be the best thing he could have done, though. On the train she meets a kind couple her own age who are also expecting, and when the train crashes and the couple are killed, Barbara is mistakenly identified as the dead man's wife. Turns out the guy was from money, and since the family hadn't yet met the wife, it's easy for Barbara to go on pretending she's the mother of the family's heir. She's no grifter, though; Barbara is doing it for da chile. Her new brother-in-law (John Lund in Handsome-Block-of-Wood mode) has his suspicions, but he soon succumbs to Barbara's charms. Things are going swimmingly--and then Bad Penny Lyle turns up. It's not long before several people have a motive for murder. Referring to Lyle at the end, a police detective remarks, "He must have been quite a guy. Everyone who knew him wanted him dead." The rock-solid plot is derived from a novel by William Irish (Cornell Woolrich).

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« Reply #10345 on: April 04, 2012, 10:04:26 AM »

Thanks for the reviews Jinks. I've been hearing good things about No Man of Her Own; Savant had a glowing review of it not long ago.

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« Reply #10346 on: April 04, 2012, 11:45:17 AM »

Yeah, he tipped me to it as well.

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« Reply #10347 on: April 05, 2012, 07:14:42 AM »

Rage in Heaven (1941) - 7/10. Ingrid Bergman has a choice between marrying kind, stalwart George Sanders or psychotic Robert Montgomery--and she chooses Montgomery! Montgomery can't forgive the fact that George and Ingrid were attracted to each other, however, so he contrives their ruin. Piling up the circumstantial evidence, Montgomery commits suicide (hey, I said he was psycho) in such a way as to cause the blame to fall on Sanders. Convicted and awaiting execution as the clock ticks, George must rely on Ingrid and Oscar Homolka (as a French headshrinker!) to find proof of his innocence. From a novel by James Hilton.

Grand Central Murder (1941) - 7/10. A gold-digging Broadway star is murdered in a private railroad car, and the suspects are this deep. Inspector Sam Levene assembles such usual suspects as Van Heflin, Virginia Grey, Tom Conway (George Sanders' brother) and "Horace" McNally(in his pre-Stephen billing). In flashbacks, the suspects recount their parts in the events leading up to the Event. There is a clever variation on the locked-room puzzle, using an ingenious method of murder that isn't revealed until the end. This is one of those jokey murder mysteries where nothing is taken too seriously, even the deaths of the characters. Entertaining.

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« Reply #10348 on: April 05, 2012, 09:54:45 AM »

GOON (2011)

I just saw this movie in a theater: it's a comedy about enforcers in hockey (the guys whose job it is to fight to protect the skill players on their team from being pushed around by the other team). For some reason, I was under the false impression that it was a serious documentary-type story; in fact, it is nothing but a dumbass comedy with ridiculous potty humor. (What should I have expected from a movie featuring Jason Biggs's dad and Stifler from American Pie?)

Interesting thing is that the issue of enforcers/fighting in hockey is an important current issue, as the roles of enforcers and fighting are now being questioned do to concerns over concussions, and the deaths of three enforcers last summer, two by suicide, and one (Derek Boogard of my New York Rangers) by overdose of oxycodone and alcohol. Makes it all the more strange that one of the characters in the movie (the goalie) is hooked on Percocet, in a comedic way. You wonder if they should have reconsidered certain parts of the movie, in light of recent sad events...

This movie is a complete waste of time. I wonder why Liev Schreiber would take a supporting acting role in it; hasn't he been getting good roles?

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« Reply #10349 on: April 05, 2012, 12:52:16 PM »

Johnny Eager (1941) - 6/10. A district attorney's daughter (Lana Turner) falls for a block of wood (Robert Taylor)  who the D.A. is trying to put in jail. Said block begins by manipulating the daughter to get to her old man, but finally feels love's touch himself at the point of dying. Van Heflin plays a literate lush, the gangster's friend and conscience. Turner is incandescent (but disappears from the middle of the picture), Heflin is very, very good, and Taylor does his usual thing. This works well at the beginning when his character is supposed to be cold and unfeeling, not so well later when he's supposed to grow a heart and start emoting (the glycerin tears don't help). Some good lines, but the interesting premise is squandered on a rather aimless plot.

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