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dave jenkins
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« Reply #14790 on: February 16, 2015, 10:13:21 AM »

The Oscar (1966) 35mm print with total yellow layer failure and uncountable scratches. Filmmaking: 1/10; Entertainment value: 9/10. I think I've mentioned before that Jonathan Demme has this on-going series up at the Jacob Burns where he brings rarely seen films to the attention of Westchester film buffs. Thanks to him I've actually seen DYS on the big screen. Not every film he curates is a gem, but when I heard he was bringing The Oscar I saddled up and rode on over. I'd seen the ending on TV once--on Turner, maybe?--but I'd never been all the way through it. It's one of those it's-so-bad-it's-good films--where good actors, given atrocious lines of dialog, try to sell scenes to audiences who aren't buying. Well, Demme intro'd the film, saying he had some good news and some bad news. The good news was that we were seeing the film on film; the bad news was that the film was pink. Demme claimed this was the best copy of the print they could find (but the one shown on Turner wasn't like this, so there must be something better out there). Anyway, I'm thinking, When are they going to offer us a refund? Turns out, though, that visually the film is nowhere to begin with (lots of cheap-looking interiors); the value in the film is in the words and the performances, both of which come through regardless of the color of the images.

Okay, here's the story: It's Oscar night, and Frankie Fane (Stephen Boyd) has a Best Actor nom. He's sitting in the Pantages (or wherever) and Bob Hope, emceeing, is doing his opening bit (all A material, natch). Across the auditorium sits Tony Bennett (as Hymie Kelly!!!), Frankie's long-suffering second banana, the guy who knows where all the bodies are buried. Hymie looks over at Frankie and: cue voice-over, cue flashback; we get the whole story of how Frankie got to Oscar night. Which begins with Frankie and Hymie on the road with Jill St. John doing a burlesque act. The only thing: if this is supposed to be happening many years before Frankie's rise to fame, why is Ms. St. John sporting a 60s do? Anyway, the trio run into bad cop Broderick Crawford, and the act pretty much dissolves. So they head to NYC to try their luck there. Jill gets a job with Ed Begley, but Ed doesn't want Frankie hanging around, so Frankie is at loose ends. Then one night at a party (in "the Village") he meets Elke Sommer; she declines his invitation to bed, but she does find him a job as a stock boy. One night Elke has to drop off some costumes at a theatrical rehearsal, and Frank, tagging along, ends up demonstrating to the actors how knife fights are really done. In the seats is Eleanor Parker, a talent scout from Galaxy Pictures, looking for new talent. She offers Frankie a shot at the big time. But first, he needs an agent: enter Uncle Milty who, after some pleading, agrees to take Frankie on. Then it's off to see studio head Joseph Cotton out on the coast. Joe has some reservations about Mr. Fane but finally agrees to sign him. The good life begun, Frankie sends for Hymie. Before long they're living in a Bel Air mansion, with a pre-Barney Miller Jack Soo as their house boy! Then one night at a party, who should Frankie run into but Elke Sommer . . . and on and on it goes. And I didn't even get to the part where Frankie meets Borgnine and Edie Adams.

What's amazing about this film is that the main character has absolutely no redeeming features. Zero. Frankie is in it for Frankie and nobody else. He can't even pretend to like other people. He's the flattest character ever portrayed on the screen. And then there's the dialog (credited in part to Harlan Ellison). Samples can be found here http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060801/trivia?tab=qt&ref_=tt_trv_qu , but you really can't appreciate most of it until you see it performed.  If you ever get the chance, take it, even if you have to experience it in pink.

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« Reply #14791 on: February 16, 2015, 11:12:13 AM »

Just saw the second half of Exodus, I've seen it once before in full.

watching TCM straight during 31 Days of Oscar; between Exodus and Giant, they showed this 1945 short called Hitler Lives?, a propaganda film for why we have to occupy Germany and never let them rise again. I see someone posted it to YouTube (the guy who posted it says it was directed by Don Siegel; I didn't see that written anywhere on the credits, but IMDB also credits him as director. This sort of video would never be made today; can you imagine someone making a video like this about America's modern-day enemies, like certain Middle Eastern countries? Glad to see there was no political correctness then
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEYeJKCFQgA

(it just so happened that last night, I was reading about all the former Nazis that were employed by the OSS and NASA years after WWII; of course the US gov't doesn't really give much of a shit about those who suffer from or commit genocide. And of course, at the time this film was made, America had its own issues with racism and racial purity. And forced sterilizations. No concentration camps, though.)

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« Reply #14792 on: February 16, 2015, 01:23:06 PM »

RE Night Moves

The look and feel of it is too much of its time and cheap, I understand why DJ made the Rockford Files/TV comment.
Not only that, but look at the cast: Edward Binns, Jimmy Woods, Anthony Costello, John Crawford--these guys all made appearances in Rockford episodes (John Crawford twice). And then, in the middle of the bar scene, Binns starts mixing it up with Dennis Dugan--Richie Brockelman himself! Many of the other actors did TV crime shows of the era--Cannon, Harry O, Beretta, and the like. Hackman was the only film actor in the cast. A cheap-o production all around.

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« Reply #14793 on: February 16, 2015, 02:06:23 PM »

Not only that, but look at the cast: Edward Binns, Jimmy Woods, Anthony Costello, John Crawford--these guys all made appearances in Rockford episodes (John Crawford twice). And then, in the middle of the bar scene, Binns starts mixing it up with Dennis Dugan--Richie Brockelman himself! Many of the other actors did TV crime shows of the era--Cannon, Harry O, Beretta, and the like. Hackman was the only film actor in the cast. A cheap-o production all around.

That makes a lot of sense considering it feels like a made-for-tv movie. The composer Michael Small never did anything of note in his career, unless there's something I'm overlooking.





I think you've not watched the best TV shows, because yes, some do take mental effort. Breaking Bad has more depth than 90% of the films you've seen this year, including a lot of 8 to 9/10. It's filled with telling visual metaphors, mirroring elements (half burned faces, people making faces that are similar to greek masks, lost items appearing in the foreground 5 seasons later...), references to itself, foreign cultures or whatever that take really serious mental effort to discover and analyse. People wrote books about it.

I'm often quoting BB because it's the bet TV show ever, but TV each year, new good shows are being released and push forward the boundaries of the medium. But it has been the same for years with shows like The Soprano or The Wire. You may love or hate them but you cannot assert that they require less mental effort than a good movie. Because they don't.

I've watched enough TV to back up my previous statement. If I'm overtired/sick/hungover/have a headache I can still binge watch a TV season/series (time permitting), where I could not watch a non-comedy feature narrative (ex a Will Ferrell movie) in the same state. Television constantly feeds the viewer information, it is a very user-friendly experience. Nobody ever asks "what's going on" while watching any TV series, and for a lack of a better phrase, the "what's going on" element of films is what makes them vastly superior. TV has its place in the culture, and a lot of good can come out of the format, but it will never come close to delivering the type of experience that the best films can provide. I mean, we're on a freaking Sergio Leone themed message board..

There are also people I know (who aren't exactly the most sophisticated viewers) that love shows like Breaking Bad but couldn't make it ten minutes into watching stuff like Chinatown, The Godfather, etc.

It depends. 40 hours of content takes character development and evolution in a world even 4 hours movies cannot even dream of. TV shows' format lie smewhere between movies and novels. It's just something else.
I guarantee you that the evolution of Walter White over 5 seasons is something that could never have happened in a movie (not with so much power). Now, are why 40h? Why not 20? I have to admit that most of the case, 3 seasons are enough and they're just doing more seasons for more money (just like nowadays serious films have to last 2 to 3 hours while most of them would be much better in 90 minutes).

I prefer the cinema feel to the infamous "made for TV" feel. The thing is that many TV shows nowadays have the cinema feel I love.

TV has to extend their stories creating a lot of filler, and while that filler is still good in the best shows, it's still filler. It's also a very formulaic medium, flawed by design.


TV can never deliver anything like...


Natural Born Killers (1994)

This is the Zabriskie Point of the 90s, a giant swing and a miss from an intellectual standpoint, a not so funny black comedy and satire way overdone...but it's brilliant as a visual experience. Even with the overkill of Dutch Angles, this is one of the more impressive filmed and edited movies. There is a lot to be learned by watching this, like what to do and what not to do (mostly the latter). While Stone clearly made this as an assault on the media, it's sort of hypocritical in that he's also fascinated with serial killers or just sensational news items in general. Why else would a chunk of the movie contain an interview of Woody Harrelson's character? A beautiful disaster 8/10

Just a couple side notes, only the dialogue about key lime pie in the opening scene reminds me of Tarantino, everything else...not so much. The acting is excellent and the music is good too.

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« Reply #14794 on: February 16, 2015, 02:50:22 PM »

Not only that, but look at the cast: Edward Binns, Jimmy Woods, Anthony Costello, John Crawford--these guys all made appearances in Rockford episodes (John Crawford twice). And then, in the middle of the bar scene, Binns starts mixing it up with Dennis Dugan--Richie Brockelman himself! Many of the other actors did TV crime shows of the era--Cannon, Harry O, Beretta, and the like. Hackman was the only film actor in the cast. A cheap-o production all around.

It doesn't look cheap for a second. It surely wasn't meant to be an expensive film, but it looks less cheap than many similar films. Every scene is directed and cut in a way TV did not do then. Take just a simple shot in which Hackman arrives with his car at the house where the girl is he's looking for. No way a TV series would intercut it with shots from Hackman in the car. They would simply had followed the arriving car with the camera.

And the acting is throughout excellent. Intense and realistic. Who cares what the actors did outside this film.

And then I read just a text by German filmmaker Dominik Graf (German's best genre director), who co-wrote some of his scores, and funnily he praises the score, and also explains why it is a great one. And Penn cites it also as a remarkable score. One of his 2 best. (the other one is for Mickey One ).

I just get the notion that you guys might understand zero from scores. Wink

Apart form that I never read such strange and odd things about this film. There must be 2 films called Night Moves, the one by Penn, and some kind of TV movie you all deem so.

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« Reply #14795 on: February 16, 2015, 03:21:58 PM »

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJX6p2JxFP0&t=0m36s

This is not a good score, it has aged terribly and feels like the standard thing you hear when watching 70s TV.

Now compare that to:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dG0ykzh47q8

or

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsQC4HPruDQ

or even

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEsX71ZcYRU


And as far as the look of the movie, here's the trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdlLWziBggM

As far as lighting, film stock (probable), set design, etc how does this not look cheap?

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« Reply #14796 on: February 16, 2015, 03:30:55 PM »

I Want to Live! (1958) 8/10

This is the movie Leone was watching on TV in bed with his wife when he suddenly said, "I don't feel so well," and slumped over, dead.

Very good movie. Susan Hayward won Best Actress Oscar for this, playing Barbara Graham, a real-life woman of loose morals who is put on trial for murder and proclaims her innocence. If you don't know what happens by now, don't read this post any further.

Only thing I'd criticize: I don't think the whole part with the writer Ed Montgomery (Simon Oakland) was properly brought out. This movie is supposed to be based on Montgomery's research and correspondence with Barbara Graham, but somehow it feels that not enough is mentioned of that, it doesn't feel like it's brought out properly.

Oh, one more thing: The shrink who sees her says she is completely amoral. Doesn't seem that way to me. Immoral, maybe. But not amoral. At the end, she gets religion and seems to really have a heart; and she genuinely cares for hers on. If someone is actually amoral, I'm not sure they'd suddenly get morals at the end. To my unprofessional mind, her actions at the end don't seem to be that of one who is amoral.
This movie really is terrific at the end, once Graham is brought to San Quentin and is waiting to be executed. I have no idea if they filmed at the real San Quentin death house or if it's on sets, but it all feels very real.

Interesting note: Robert Osborne said he interviewed Susan Hayward and asked her whether she thought Graham was innocent or guilty. Hayward hesitated at first, but then said that after all the research she did in preparing for this role, she believes Graham was guilty.

Some people feel this movie portrays Graham as factually innocent, but I don't. IMO this movie leaves the question open ... it probably leans toward innocent (or 'not guilty') but I think it really doesn't attempt to answer the question firmly one way or another. Put it this way: I think the movie's position is that the evidence against Graham was flimsy testimony from other crooks who were given deals to testify and Graham's past really worked against her, but as to whether or not she was actually guilty ... nobody knows but her.


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« Reply #14797 on: February 16, 2015, 03:56:12 PM »

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJX6p2JxFP0&t=0m36s

This is not a good score, it has aged terribly and feels like the standard thing you hear when watching 70s TV.

I don't need to compare. I don't care much for the score, for me it is not very important for the film's qualities. It is sparse and in the background. But what Graf writes about it is pretty interesting. There are qualities in scores which are not that obvious, but I'm not the one to write about them. But you all here probably also not.
Penn's assessment, which is pretty modest as he calls the 2 best of his film's scores "interesting", and especially Grafs description make me cautious for judging it easily.


Quote
As far as lighting, film stock (probable), set design, etc how does this not look cheap?

I watched it on DVD, and to me it looks fine. Much better as on that faded clip.

The question is at what the film aims, what look the film wants to have. Don't forget that lo-fi music is often better than hi-fi music.

For me Night Moves is pure film, in every second.

And if you want to compare it with Altman. Well, Zsigmond's photography is very often wrong for me in Altman's films. It looks too beautiful for his kind of films. Such things are a matter of taste. Penn has mostly a different approach towards camera and music. And Night Moves is a silent movie.

Comparing Night Moves to TV is a joke imo. And I love the Rockford Files btw.


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« Reply #14798 on: February 16, 2015, 04:12:06 PM »

I've watched enough TV to back up my previous statement. If I'm overtired/sick/hungover/have a headache I can still binge watch a TV season/series (time permitting), where I could not watch a non-comedy feature narrative (ex a Will Ferrell movie) in the same state. Television constantly feeds the viewer information, it is a very user-friendly experience. Nobody ever asks "what's going on" while watching any TV series, and for a lack of a better phrase, the "what's going on" element of films is what makes them vastly superior. TV has its place in the culture, and a lot of good can come out of the format, but it will never come close to delivering the type of experience that the best films can provide. I mean, we're on a freaking Sergio Leone themed message board..
There are also people I know (who aren't exactly the most sophisticated viewers) that love shows like Breaking Bad but couldn't make it ten minutes into watching stuff like Chinatown, The Godfather, etc.


Well, either I'm stupid or you didn't look deep enough in some good tv shows but everything is not spoon feed in Breaking Bad or in Twin Peaks. Same for Black Mirror. Just look at the pilot of a Better Call Saul: 50 minutes of smart things expressed in a smart way that keeps you wondering what's going on. The fact that most shows keep something easy to follow in the foreground doesn't mean you don't have to work hard to get the juicy stuff. Just like the Godfather can be easily watched by the most ignorant guy: if he can stand slow pacing, he will usually enjoy it (it did great in theater, mainly not because it's great but because it presented mafia in a cool way). He will not understand the meaning of the door being closed on Michael's wife while his hands are being kissed by everyone, that's it.


TV has to extend their stories creating a lot of filler, and while that filler is still good in the best shows, it's still filler. It's also a very formulaic medium, flawed by design.

Agreed! Most great shows I know have a hard time fixing this. But some do, and anyway, what media/art isn't flawed by design? Cinema is in so many ways.

All in all I agree with pretty much everything you say, except that IMO you don't realize that there are many great shows around that are REALLY great. They're what you call cinema. And there are more of them every year.

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« Reply #14799 on: February 17, 2015, 11:10:41 AM »

House of Games  4/5

The way Mamet shoots is bare bones but everything else seems to be on point.

Thief 5/5

HOLY SHIT does the blu ray look amazing.

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« Reply #14800 on: February 17, 2015, 11:35:46 AM »

RE: I WANT TO LIVE!

Frayling has said that FAFDM is the first mainstream movie - you know, besides films like REEFER MADNESS - where marijuana is smoked. There's definitely a brief shot of a couple of guys smoking a joint in I WANT TO LIVE!, which was released in 1958 - although it's not a main character; it's just a wild club with a lot of wild stuff going on so they also show a shot of a couple of extras sharing a joint; I forgot Frayling's exact words, maybe he said that FAFDM is the first mainstream film in which the villain smokes marijuana







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« Reply #14801 on: February 17, 2015, 12:24:46 PM »

RE: I WANT TO LIVE!

Frayling has said that FAFDM is the first mainstream movie - you know, besides films like REEFER MADNESS - where marijuana is smoked. There's definitely a brief shot of a couple of guys smoking a joint in I WANT TO LIVE!, which was released in 1958 - although it's not a main character; it's just a wild club with a lot of wild stuff going on so they also show a shot of a couple of extras sharing a joint; I forgot Frayling's exact words, maybe he said that FAFDM is the first mainstream film in which the villain smokes marijuana
Except that in FAFDM it's Jimson weed. Frayling is limited to what he knows from popular culture.

More info here: http://www.texasbeyondhistory.net/ethnobot/images/jimsonweed.html

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« Reply #14802 on: February 17, 2015, 03:04:44 PM »

I know we've had the debate about what Indio is smoking. I don't know if that will ever be settled. I have no knowledge of that stuff and therefore no opinion.
Supposedly, after seeing the script, Benito Stefanelli started smoking weed on the set of FAFDM.

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« Reply #14803 on: February 18, 2015, 03:37:05 AM »

Supposedly, after seeing the script, Benito Stefanelli started smoking weed on the set of FAFDM.

Ahhh that's why they were always laughing  Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin

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« Reply #14804 on: February 18, 2015, 07:34:20 AM »

I know we've had the debate about what Indio is smoking. I don't know if that will ever be settled. I have no knowledge of that stuff and therefore no opinion.
Frayling decided it was Mary Jane, and then took Leone to task for not knowing the proper effects the stuff produces. But it's actually Jimson weed that causes hallucinations (i.e. flashbacks). The proper identification of the weed obviates Frayling's objections.

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