WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

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jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

I saw an interesting new movie, which has been broadcast a few times on one of the myriad cable movie channels I get - it was either HBO or Encore or Starz. It's called You Kill Me (2007), and stars Ben Kingsley, Tea Leoni, Dennis Farina, Luke Wilson and Bill Pullman. Have you seen it?

I don't know anything about it -- it has the feel of an indie. It's a rather fanciful story of a mob hitman (Kingley) who drinks too much, joins AA, meets a woman, backslides, gets better, and prevails in the end. Kingsley does a not too terrible American accent. He is very trim and buff here, wearing very sleekly tailored suits. He looks a lot like Patrick Stewart in The X-Men. The whole idea of a hitman deserving redemption and then going back to his profession is a bit odd as presented here, but the underlying idea is quite provocative: where does an outlaw go for help?

Leoni, not my favorite actress by any means, plays a rather prickly woman who becomes involved with Kingsley, to the benefit of both. She keeps her prickliness to a minimum, and plays nicely off of Sir Ben. Kingsley speaks with a kind of "wiseguy" accent, not altogether appropriate, since he's supposed to be from Buffalo. He sounds more Manhattan Little Italy than Buffalo - sort of reminded me of Robert Loggia. But it's a good effort.

In any event, his character, though clearly not an educated man, is smart and has a very dry sense of humor, the thing that first attracts Leoni to him. The movie opens a lot of plot and character points that never really go anywhere, but the performances are very good and I have now sat through it twice. I think this is the kind of movie the critics would call an "interesting failure."
feaito

Post by feaito »

I watched a very interesting film starring Tyrone Power and Joan Fontaine: "This Above All" (1942). Both stars shine in their respective roles; Fontaine as a very down-to-earth British aristocrat and Ty as man from the lower classes who falls in love with her. Fontaine's eyes and face really glow in this film. Her role is so different from her previous, better known parts in "Rebecca" (1940) and "Suspicion" (1941).

She plays a very determined, opinionated, straightforward, unpretentious and self-assured lady. Ty plays a bitter man, quite the iconoclast, who has lost faith in humanity and who loathes people from the higher classes, only to end finally falling for Fontaine, who's not at all the prototype of the members of her class anyway. In fact she's very critical of her own class.

The movie is based upon a famous novel of its time and is set in WWII England. The film has many sensitive and romantic moments and is full of vignettes. Ty and Joan have a great chemistry, which surprised me quite a bit. Ty plays very skillfullly and convincingly his role and I did not recall he had such a meaty role before his better known "serious" roles after WWII in such films as "The Razor's Edge" (1946) and "Nightmare Alley" (1947). Tyrone Power was a far better actor than many critics have lead us to believe.

I read that the plot of the novel had to be altered when it was adapted for the screen because of restrictions due to the Production Code, so some parts do not work as well or ring as true as they should, especially the ending which seems quite aprubt and left me wondering. But thanks to the skills of its two stars and Litvak's talent, in all it's a very worthwhile film.
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Ann Harding
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Post by Ann Harding »

Yesterday evening, I went to see a great melodrama: To Each His Own (1946) by Mitchell Leisen with Olivia de Havilland. I saw a marvellous restored print from the UCLA Film & TV archive. 8)
Jody Norris (O. de Havilland) reminisces about her past. She was the daughter of the local drugstore owner in a small American town. One day, she fell for a pilot (who died shortly afterwards) and got pregnant by him. She attempted to hide the baby and to make it look like an adopted child. Unfortunately, another woman adopted him and she lost all hope to recover the child. Years later, she is now a successful but very lonely business woman in London. She learns that her son -now a pilot himself- will be coming to London soon.....
The script by Charles Brackett contains all the usual clichés about sacrificial mothers (here, a single mother!) we find in so many melodramas. But, somehow, the film never feels trite and boring. Olivia de Havilland gives a wonderful performance aging from 20 to 50 extremely successfully through make up (though I think they made her look a bit too grim...). The beginning takes place in London during the war as Olivia is doing a volunteer nightwatch on the roofs of London. It allows her to connect with another lonely soul, Lord Desham (Roland Culver) as well as to show him her metal: he trips and nearly falls from the roof and she has to rescue him! Mitchell Leisen knew how to direct melodramas as well as comedies extremely successfully. I am now looking forward to another Leisen with de Havilland, Hold Back the Dawn (1941) which I will go to see on Saturday. 8) :D
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knitwit45
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Post by knitwit45 »

Christine, you are in for such a treat. Hold Back the Dawn is one of the absolutely most romantic films I have ever seen. Olivia is superb, she is naive, feisty, courageous, despairing...the whole gamut! And Charles Boyer was never sexier! Paulette Goddard is wonderful, as are all the other supporting characters. I am so envious that you will see this for the first time on a big screen as it was meant to be seen.


Enjoy! and be sure to let us know what you think.

Nancy
"Life is not the way it's supposed to be.. It's the way it is..
The way we cope with it, is what makes the difference." ~ Virginia Satir
""Most people pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it." ~ Soren Kierkegaard
MikeBSG
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Post by MikeBSG »

I recently watched two British comedies from the Fifties.

"The Maggie," directed by Alexander Mackendrick, was okay. An obnoxious American businessman encounters a shrewd Scottish captain of a "puffer," a small steamship.

In some ways, this was the missing link between "I Know Where I'm Going" and "Local Hero." However, IKWIG was more romantic and LH was funnier. "the Maggie" wasn't a bad film, just a so-so one. I tend to find that the presence of Alec Guinness makes or breaks Ealing comedies. If he's in it, terrific. If he isn't, and he isn't in "The Maggie," the film is only smileable.

"The Naked Truth" starred Peter Sellers and Terry thomas and was a fast moving spoof of tabloid newspapers. In some ways, this reminded me of "Kind Hearts and Coronets" in part because Dennis Price had a role and in part because there is some dark humor here. Very energetic, cleverly plotted and with a superb cast. I'm a bit surprised it isn't better known than it is. (I guess "Your Past is Showing" is the alternative title for this one.)
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moira finnie
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Post by moira finnie »

Mike,
Having recently seen The Maggie (1954) and found it uneven but wonderful to see Paul Douglas in anything, I wonder if you found that you could have used subtitles occasionally to help decipher the Scottish burr of some of the players? Thanks.
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MikeBSG
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Post by MikeBSG »

Possibly subtitles might have helped, although I blamed my inability to follow bits of dialogue on the fact that I was watching the TV with the window open and traffic noise drifted in from outside. (And I wasn't especially moved enough to close the window.)

Perhaps, though, my problem with the movie was that a movie about getting someplace slowly lacks something. In some ways, "The Maggie" reminded me of John Frankenheimer's "The Train," in which the French resistance tries to stop a German train taking artwork out of France. There the Germans and the French each had conflicting goals that they were actively pursuing. In "The Maggie," the American and the Scots both had the same goal, getting the stuff to the new house, but the "sabotage" by the Scots of the American's plan was inadvertant.
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Ann Harding
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Post by Ann Harding »

Yesterday, I saw two Mitchell Leisen pictures.
Image
Take a Letter Darling (1942)

In this very funny comedy, Rosalind Russell is a very tough executive of an advertising agency. She hires regularly a new 'secretary' as the job is quite peculiar. She uses them to pose as her fiancee so that she can discuss business with old businessmen while their wives are entertained by the 'fiancee'. Fred MacMurray, a penniless painter, accepts the job as he needs the money desperately. But, he soon starts to feel like gigolo rather than a secretary while his boss is starting have some feelings for her handsome secretary...

If the film is not quite up to the very high standards of Midnight or Easy Living, it's still extremely enjoyable. The character parts are played by the likes of Robert Benchley or Cecil Kellaway. Fred MacMurray is an excellent foil to Rosalind Russell's antics. There are numerous delightful scenes, like when Russell tripped him up as she is becoming jealous of his relationship with another woman. Worth investigating! 8)

Image
Hold Back The Dawn (1941)

George Iscovescu (Charles Boyer) is a Romanian refugee staying in a Mexican border town trying to get a Visa to the US. He is desperate to get this visa like many other European refugees in the same seedy hotel. He meets Anita (Paulette Goddard) a former dancing partner and lover who tells him how to get one very quickly: he needs to marry an American citizen. Immediately Georges goes around town looking for a potential wife. He meets Emmy (Olivia de Havilland), a very trusting and sweet school teacher. Georges courts her insistantly and they get married the next day....

This film bears the hallmark of a brilliant Wilder & Brackett script. Wilder had been himself a refugee in a Mexican border town a few years back. He knew what he was taking about! the various characters in the hotel have all terrible stories, like the Austrian couple expecting a baby. Boyer plays remarkably his part. He is a totally amoral gigolo at the beginning and slowly, under Emmy's influence, he becomes a different person. The two ladies are also absolutely superb. Paulette Goddard has some of the best lines of the pictures and Olivia de Havilland gives a moving portrayal of a trusting girl who discovers suddenly that the man she loved was a liar. Certainly on the best Leisen pictures I have seen so far. It really needs a DVD release ASAP!!! :D
jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

I just finished watching Second Serve (1986) on TV, with Vanessa Redgrave as the transgendered tennis player Renee Richards.

Normally, I avoid Redgrave, whose overly intense, self-regarding "look at me, I'm ACTING" style generally alienates me from whatever character she's playing. However, I'd seen this made for TV movie when it was first broadcast and remembered liking it, and I wasn't disappointed the second time.

Redgrave, in a Victor/Victoria/Victor and back to Victoria tour-de-force, plays Dr. Richards in both his male (as Dr. Richard Radley) and female aspects, and does it very, very well. This movie is not bad, as made for TVs go, but has the simplistic, all's well that ends well feel to it that most of these do. In any event, I found Redgrave completely convincing as a man who feels he has too many female tendencies to ignore, and as the conflicted woman that man becomes.

I recall her in an interview telling about how she had to study male everyday behavior to rid herself of female mannerisms she had never really thought about: how to stand and sit, how to walk, how to light a smoke a cigarette, how to knock back a drink. Her speaking voice was electronically altered to sound more male, and she has a visibly fake adam's apple on her neck, but otherwise, she's all boy. It's a very well-thought out and satisfying performance that makes this minor movie worth seeing.
feaito

Post by feaito »

Christine you watched two great films on the big screen, as it should be. I envy you :wink:

Yesterday I watched two contemporary films: a 2007 Japanese version of "Genghis Khan" which seemed all right to me, full of action and very melodramatic performances and the wonderful, amusing "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day" (2008), with Frances McDormand expertly playing the title role. Very well set and very absorbing. Ciaran Hinds, Amy Adams and Shirley Henderson are also in it.

But the film which made this weekend worthwhile was one I recorded off Cinecanal Classics: "The Lost Moment" (1947), an eerie, gothic atmospheric, mysterious film based upon a Henry James novel titled "The Aspern Papers".

I have not read James' novel but the film is truly enthralling and absorbing, with an intriguing plot and very good performances. It is the kind of film that captures my attention completely making me forget the world.

It is set in Venice where an American publisher arrives -disguised as writer- in order to obtain some mysterious letters that were written by a famous poet of the first half of the XIXth Century to a beauty of her day, Juliana Borderau, the daughter of famous painter, who is still living in the very same house in which she met the author and who is 105 years old. She lives with her young niece, Tina Borderau, who's deftly portrayed by Susan Hayward.

Agnes Moorehead plays the 105 old legendary beauty and Robert Cummings the publisher. The film builds into a long awaited climax and is just fantastic in my humble opinion. I wasn't disappointed by the high expectations I had. The B&W cinematography and the camera work are very good. The story unfolds at a perfect pace and the yearning never stops until the end. The film has that definite melancholy quality I love.

Agnes Moorehead is utterly believable as the very old woman, underneath lots of make-up. Her voice truly sounds like that of a very old lady.

I loved this film and I feel it is quite irrelevant if it's faithful or not to its source or if it is a succesful adaptation of the novel to the screen (I read some comments regarding this matter on the net)-after all, I think it's almost an impossible task to translate a Henry James novel to the screen and please everybody-, because as a film, in its own right, it is a lost gem.

It was the only film that was directed by Martin Gabel, who was also an actor and co-starred with Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery in Hitchcock's "Marnie" (1964).

It will be definitely a film I will revisit many times :D
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Post by Synnove »

I saw Heathers last weekend, with my sister and a couple of friends. I've seen it before, and it has kept on haunting me.

The story is about how one girl who is a member of the most powerful clique in school (the Heathers of the title) wants to break free of their control, falls in love with a rebellious guy who turns out to be a psycho, and accidentally starts a killing spree.

Some parts of Heathers are clunky and strange. Sometimes people like the popular Heathers clique, and especially its leader Heather Chandler, sprout lines that sound unrealistic to me. Like when Heather Chandler talks about her ideology, how she "always wears red", thinks of the geeks as "the scum of the school" and so on. I just think, yeah right, she's going to refer to them as commoners and peasants next. But most of the time the realism when it comes to dialogue is pretty striking. I was quite shocked by the foul language the otherwise so polished-looking girls used. Maybe because the swearwords in my language are more related to biblical things, and less to fornication. I've always thought American swearwords sound harsher, which is why it's such a shock to hear them used so often by such young people.

One thing which does resonate for me about Heathers is the way the popular girls are expected to sleep with college guys because they will be viewed as uptight and uncool otherwise. This is the only scene where the evil high school despot Heather Chandler is seen to not be entirely in control. Later on, the other Heathers are also seen as being pretty much victims when it comes to guys. Actually, they are not necessarily so much victims of the guys as they are of their own insecurities, and the pressure they are under to live up to their cool status. These scenes in the movie perfectly illustrate the reason why I never wanted to be a "popular" girl myself.

Finally, there is the theme of how some people get so cracked by this relentless bullying and class structure that they go berserk and start killing other students. Heathers is a black comedy, which can be controversial today, since the story has now entered into the relm of reality. The idea that someone would take it into his/her head to blow up the school doesn't seem like such an improbable scenario anymore, sadly. This has also given Heathers a completely new relevance. It makes for a more moving film experience, in spite of the sometimes clumsy handling of the story. Recommended if you're looking for a darker high school movie.
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charliechaplinfan
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Post by charliechaplinfan »

I've just watched Sorry Wrong Number with Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster, it's truly gripping and chilling, I was glad I wasn't in the house by myself in the end. I didn't think the film would end that way but it's an appropriate ending.

Once again I find Barbara Stanwyck a great actress, brilliant at bringing characters to life. I've recently acquirred a few of Barbara Stanwyck's late 40's early 50's movies and for an actress who had been making films for twenty years, she's still on top form making/ choosing some great pictures.

For longevity and quality of her films, is she the female Cary Grant?
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin
MikeBSG
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Post by MikeBSG »

Thanks for the interesting comments on "Heathers." I only saw it once after it first came out, and I liked the movie a lot. What I responded to in the movie was the fact that the characters' problems were not caused by the teachers but by their fellow students. That basically summed up my high school career (1975-9), and it always annoyed me to watch movies in which it was "the kids" vs. "the adults." Really, most of "the adults" were watching the clock and waiting for retirement, and "the kids" delighted in torturing each other over any deviation from the norm. I got the impression that as long as stuff didn't get on the 6 PM news, "the adults" didn't really care what happened.

But, as you noted, high school bullying has eventually made the 6 PM news on several sad occasions. I have to think of Shaw's line from "Major Barbara": "Nothing is ever done in this world until men are willing to kill each other if it is not done." A wise man, Shaw.
Synnove
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Post by Synnove »

Yes, in Heathers, the only teacher who really cared was too spaced out to be taken seriously.

Judging from high school movies like Heathers, but also more conventional comedies, high school seems like it can be very traumatic. We did have cliques, but I can't remember the same hatred existing between them. I never felt that I couldn't talk to the more popular girls, for instance. Bullying is a pretty big issue here as well, of course, but it's different. I don't think the same kind of clique structure exists in high school here, maybe because we don't have so many extra-curricular activities like sports, cheerleading and so on. People don't so obviously identify themselves with things like that. By the time you reach high school age, you've begun to build a social life outside of school, and school just becomes a place were you go to class and hand in homework. Of course, it's still painful to sit at the lunch table all by yourself, but it's not the whole world anymore.

Then again, I've never gone to American high school so I'm not really authorized to make a comparison.
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Bogie
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Post by Bogie »

I've been slacking off so much :(

HOWEVER...I'll be watching tons of movies for the next week.

Nonetheless I did catch one movie last night called Invitation to a Gunfighter starring Yul Brynner. This was a movie that was a complete missed opportunity. Brynner plays a gunfighter who's hired to knock off a former Reb soldier (George Segal) in a New Mexico town. The town and town boss still believe the war is going on deep in their minds as they believe that Segal's character is an evil widowmaking killer. Anyways things get pretty complicated. Brynner isn't exactly what he is on paper, the town is more bigoted and crooked then upright and moral and the town boss played by Pat Hingle is a pretty dispicable man.

The sad thing about this movie is that it buries itself into too many layers of subtext and it's way too talky without actually SHOWING the problems inherent in the town and such. Brynner's character should've been explored a lot more deeply instead we get some weird subplot about one of the townswomen being in love with the Reb but married to a guy that hates the Reb's guts while kinda falling in love with Brynner.

The movie is very complicated in that sense. There's also a scene where Brynner more or less lays waste to the town which I think was intended to be analogous to Jesus tearing down the Temple but because the movie didn't show enough of why this was necessary it lost a lot of the impact it could've had.

This movie gets 2 out of 5 stars for me. It's also a pretty talky and very slow movie picture.

QUESTION: Was Yul Brynner always bald in film? Every movie i've seen the guy is bald. Did he have a condition or something?
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