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Messages - Juan Miranda

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Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Wings of Desire (1987)
« on: July 18, 2011, 01:42:32 PM »
Got out again before the whole Royal Wedding nonsense.

Or "shitey bollocks" as it was known at Casa Miranda.

Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Wings of Desire (1987)
« on: July 17, 2011, 04:29:58 AM »
Saw it in 3D at the Renoir last Sunday. Are you in Europe Dave?

I also felt pretty sure that in HD 2-D the film wouldn't really lose anything.


Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Wings of Desire (1987)
« on: July 15, 2011, 10:49:57 AM »
PINA. Something of a return to form for Wenders. I care nothing for contemporary dance (or dance in general for that matter) but I found this interesting and occassionaly stunning film making, with it's internal monologues/memories recalling the overheard voices of WOD. A return too to Wuppertal, the German town with that bizarre overhead rail system we saw in ALICE IN THE CITIES.

General Discussion / Re: Eli Wallach at the NFT on video 2006
« on: July 15, 2011, 10:39:44 AM »
I too was at that talk, old thread on it here:

was whether or not he was familiar with this web board an would he consider posting here.

I did mention the Leone forum to him last time I met him at the premier of the restored print of Hammer's DRACULA a couple of years ago when I had the chace to chat for ages. I mentioned examples of some of the great detective work which had gone into some threads in particular (CJ's own Timeline for one), and while he acknowledged that there were many great fans of Sergio's movies "out there", I didn't get the feeling he would be rushing onto the web to join us here anytime soon, if ever.

As for a Leone THE LEOPARD, I think he's already made it in his head and is loving it. If nothing else he pointed out Visconti's picture was a commercial disaster in its day, something it most likely wouldn't have been if Sergio had brought his particular dynamism to it.

He didn't have time to elaborate on the awfulness of the Cleopatra scene as there was a line waiting to have a word with him. I quipped that "age can wither her" and let somebody else talk to him.


The Cinema Museum Auditorium

Well once again thanks to Paulo for flagging this up in the first place as it was a very interesting night out. I’d never even heard of the London Cinema Museum before even though it’s only about a 15 minute walk away from where I work. Trying to find it was a bit of a nightmare, and I’d have missed the start of the event if I hadn’t accidently met another punter trying to find the place too, who’d been there a couple of times before.

Sir Chris takes the stage

Turns out the building is part of a Victorian workhouse where Charlie Chaplin spent some time as a child when his mother was destitute (dramatised in Richard Attenborough’s CHAPLIN, though shot on Cheney Road in King’s Cross). I’ll have to visit the venue again as it is jammed with thousands of objects related to the history of cinemas (and not Cinema), right down to old movie house carpets and fold down chairs. All these items even fill the place with a nostalgic musty scent of long gone ABC’s, Rex’s, Regal’s, Roxy’s, Palace’s or any other pre-multi-plex flea pits older board members may have known.


And onto the stage comes Sir Chris, nicely miked up for a crisp, clear sound for his presentation. His initial quotes by and about Leone are the only notes he uses all evening (mostly photo copies of pages from STDWD). For the rest he wings it, wonderfully relaxed, occasionally bubbling with excitement about his subject still, as though he’s only just seen A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS for the first time and marvelling that such a thing exists. With the bizarre exception of a moment when, invoking Leone’s fascination with Pupi Sicilliani he used a glove puppet to imitate Leone’s directorial style, I’m pretty sure the lecture was much the same as the one I heard him give a few years ago at the Estorik, but like any great story you want to hear it again.

The clips were different too, and longer, starting with the corrida from GBU, beautifully projected from a Blu-Ray DVD (though I heard Sir Chris later saying that the sound of the guns is all wrong in the mix on this release) and the chariot race from BEN HUR, which Leone worked on as 1st assistant director for the second unit under Andrew Marton. The only clip in the second half was the Cattle Corner scene from OUTIW almost in full which Frayling declared was Leone’s “greatest ever sequence”. Little moments from these clips prompted the observations (can’t remember if they are mentioned in STDWD and I don’t have my copy of the book to hand) that Lee Van Cleef is missing part of one of his fingers because of an accident when building a doll’s house for his daughter (an anecdote from Mrs Van Cleef) and that the squaw in the station ticket office was played by Woody Strode’s wife.


Some other interesting quotes included his description of GBU as “Surrealism rides the range” after showing a slide of the Di Chirico painting Leone owned and was influenced by, and the fact that novelist Graham Green was a huge fan of OUATIW and called it “A Dance of Death” during an interview on the stage of the NFT which caused a major stir as at the time as few, apart from our Chris, ever admitted to liking Leone’s work at all. Indeed the evening finished suitably when Frayling was himself asked why he had championed these films so much, and he invoked their fresh and hip feel when he first saw them in the 1960’s as a young man, how he felt Leone was “a prophet without honour” in his own country, how Leone was, once upon a time, cruelly neglected critically because he didn’t make films about Italy, playfully speculating on how THE LEAPORD would have turned out if Leone had made it and not Visconti. Aptly he closed with a memory of when a street was named after Sergio in Almeria and Mrs. Leone was present too to cut the ribbon (“Like a scene from a Fellini film” he recalled) and afterwards she embraced him with tears in her eyes and said “You were the first person to take my husband seriously”. In itself an almost Leoniesque anecdote? But the man was clearly moved in the telling, as I was listening and there the all too brief Q&A section ended.

As to the questions posed by the board, some of them were answered, some I’m afraid not. During his presentation Frayling made it clear he believes the sole originator of the poncho was Leone himself, who used stills of Eastwood to sketch the character outline on and later pass his ideas to Carlo Simi to polish. Nothing to do with Clint.

Discussing duster tailoring

I’m afraid I wasn’t able to find out anything new about Harry Grey, and as this was a presentation about Leone’s westerns Frayling did say early on he wasn’t going to talk about OUATUA tonight (and as it turned out GUI LA TESTA was pretty much ignored too). However, having met him before I was quite happy chatting to him briefly during the interval and I asked him about the current restoration project of that film. He told me he wasn’t in any way involved it the work for the new print Leone’s children are producing but that he had seen the extra footage. He sounded enthusiastic summarising it until he described the Cleopatra sequence as “awful”. He hopes that down the line in the future he will be asked to provide a DVD commentary but then of course he’d “have to talk for even longer.” So maybe one day... I’m afraid I didn’t get the time or the opportunity to ask about Murlock, might have if the Q&A had went on for a tiny bit longer.

Through the medium of puppets

All photos by me, BTW.

Anybody have any questions they would like me to ask Sir C on their behalf in a couple of weeks?

Got my ticket. I'll report back next month.  :)

Thanks for the heads up, Paulo.

Other Films / Re: Ride Lonesome (1959)
« on: October 19, 2010, 12:04:49 PM »
Saw it this week. Great little film, and it did remind me thoughout of Leone. Pernell Roberts was superb, I'd never seen him in anything before. Similarly Karen Steele was new to me. Certainly watchable but at first I was convinced her voice had been dubbed by Janet Leigh (an impression which quickly wore off). Some of Burt Kennedy's best dialogue revolved around her character, with Roberts and Coburn making a great double act.

My main gripe was the music, Heinz Roemheld's score was just dreadful, an ambling, tension free intrusion. That and the badly underwritten character Van Cleef plays. In acting terms I feel he simply blows his first and only close up dialogue scene. He could almost be reading it out loud for the fist time it's so carelessly done, the one or two mannerisms he attempts pure ham. But still, a movie well worth catching.

Off-Topic Discussion / Re: TimeLapse Videos
« on: October 19, 2010, 11:45:49 AM »
Here's one I did in the Theatre I work in these days. Obviously there wasn't much "directing" involved, but it was my idea to do the thing at all/where to place the camera, so I gave myself the director credit. Shot it at one frame every twenty seconds, ramping it up to 1 per second towards the end. I also altered the speed during editing, which was done on not very good Windows Movie Maker software, which doesn't get along great with stills, hence the annoying glitches now and then...

Off-Topic Discussion / Re: British Horror Thread
« on: October 13, 2010, 04:16:31 PM »
100% sure?

Wish I was wrong, but yes, 100%.  :-[

Off-Topic Discussion / Re: British Horror Thread
« on: October 12, 2010, 04:02:44 PM »
Circus of Horrors (1960)  I don't think this belong in this thread, in spite of the title. But wherever it belongs to it sucks.

COH is stupid, but it rocks! Sadly no extra "continental" material was filmed. Some spoilers ahead...

Anton Diffring plays a completely focused (i.e. crazy) plastic surgeon, who's hands can seemingly perform miracles. Some times. Fleeing a badly botched operation in England which drove his patient insane, he and his side kicks Kenneth Griffith and Jane Hylton (playing a hapless brother and sister) end up in France, having changed their identities. Indeed Diffring claims to have a whole new face constructed by his protégé Griffiths, which seems to have involved shaving off his beard and most of his eyebrows. Remarkable surgery!

Diffring "before" and "after". What a transformation

Accidentally meeting a child disfigured in the war (the film begins in 1947), who's father Donald Pleasence owns a run down circus, Diffring instantly concocts a cunning plan. He'll make the little girl beautiful, buy the circus, staff it with disfigured murderers, prostitutes and other ner-do-wells, cure them through his experiments, blackmail them into staying with his circus after they have learned complex acrobatic and animal training skills, travel Europe with his successful show and then... via all this, triumphantly re-enter the legitimate world of medicine.

No, it made no sense to me either, and poor Donald Pleasence isn't around long enough to see it happen - he is almost instantly killed by a bear after drunkenly trying to dance with it, celebrating his daughter's beautification. Diffring shows his true villain colours, by standing by and cruelly watching as Pleasence rolls around on the ground with a motionless stuffed bruin plonked on top of him. See those moths fly! Cut to "Ten years later" in Berlin, and his "Circus Shueler" is seemingly Europe's biggest attraction, though it also has a reputation as the “jinx circus” as so many of it's lovely young performers are killed in bizarre accidents. And what a collection of beauties Diffring has created. One of the film's chief pleasures is the amount of buxom flesh on display. Yvonne Monlaur (who also graced THE BRIDES OF DRACULA), Vanda Hudson and the incomparable Yvonne Romain (of CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF fame) all look magnificent, and the whole thing has a risqué feel surprising given that this was a British film made in the late 1950's.


Another novelty is the extreme gore as various members of the cast meet grizzly ends, in blood gushing colour, at a time when colour in itself was still a box office draw, in the UK at least.

As such the film's real star is Douglas Slocombe, who's sumptuous cinematography still looks vibrant, intense and almost lurid, with it's saturated palate of rich primary reds, greens and blues, combined with powerful framing (Slocombe also shot DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES, THE SERVANT, THE MUSIC LOVERS, THE SAILOR WHO FELL FROM GRACE WITH THE SEA etc. and ended his career on the Indiana Jones films). It's a fabulous picture to look at from start to finish.

Where it does drag a bit for me are the seemingly endless circus acts. We see horses, elephants, chimps and lions all making Buzby Berkley type formations, which were entertaining back in the 50's and 60's, but are very dated and yawnsome to watch today (never mind the contemporary animal welfare issues). And there are A LOT of these scenes, as well as having to sit through Erika Remberg's entire aerial act three times, with it's truly horrible accompanying Tony Hatch “pop” song, LOOK FOR A STAR.

Some may ask “is it a horror film?” It certainly has gore, and the plastic surgery and madness theme in international horror has enjoyed a long shelf life. If you look at the movie more closely,  Diffring is compared to Frankenstein and even God, performing not just surgery, but creating new beings of unnatural loveliness. The first exhibit the undercover policeman investigates when the circus arrives in Britain is a tableaux of “Adam and Eve”, and he later comments on the remarkable beauty of the carnival performers built by Diffring's knife. All solid genre worry warts.

Yvonne Romain, a dead heat in a Zeppelin race

CIRCUS OF HORRORS is still an enjoyable picture, particularly for it's dazzling surface. It would be rare that a cinematographer at Hammer could wring out quite such a range of tones from the same Eastmancolour film stock as Slocombe does here, and it's performers all dive into it with a relish again lacking in too much contemporaneous Hammer productions, thank's in part to Scottish born Sidney Hayers' efficient direction. However, the plot's utterly absurd premise and over-exposure of Billy Smart's Circus acts remain caveats. A real curiosity. Look out too for an uncredited Kenny Baker (R2D2) and Kenneth Griffiths's fellow THE PRISONER star Peter Swanwick, who played the creepy Supervisor.

More of Diffring's hidious creations

I'm sure Juan Miranda will be happy to hear that. :D

Si senor.

General Discussion / Re: Western Books
« on: September 23, 2010, 10:08:20 AM »
An oldie but pretty damn superb.

Written with real love and passion, one film maker's appriciation for another rather than an academic work. It includes a candid if often exasperated account of Anderson's real life meetings with Ford over the years. Included are a wealth of great frame grabs and stills. My only quibble is with Anderson's grim determination not to like THE SEARCHERS. Here's a good pic of some Ford/Leone crossover players having a break while shooting THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE.

Can you imagine being at that that table?

Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Wings of Desire (1987)
« on: September 08, 2010, 07:28:45 AM »
Which one would you advise me (appart from Wings of Desire

ALICE IN THE CITIES is a lovely film. KING'S OF THE ROAD is one of my friend's fave movies of all time but I find the protaganists annoying. I haven't seen that much of Wenders output, and the double stink whammy of FARAWAY, SO CLOSE! and UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD meant I haven't any of his new work since 1993.

I blame Bono.

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