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billyweeds
Posted: Wed Jan 22, 2020 9:58 am Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 20505 Location: New York City
gromit wrote:
Forgot what a clunker The Postman Always Rings Twice is....(I) never recall what the title has to do with anything (hint: not much).


Agree completely about the clunker part. Turner was inept and Garfield was stuck with her. And, most importantly, MGM had no facility for films noirs. They were glossy, and therefore the best studio for musicals and costume dramas, but noirs were best left to RKO and Warners.

As for the title, it's pretty clear what it means. If the right hand doesn't get you then the left one will.

"Double Indemnity" told basically the same story a million times better. (It was a Paramount picture, not RKO or Warners, but still better at noir than MGM.)
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bartist
Posted: Sun Jan 26, 2020 7:30 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6559
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beyond_(2014_film)

This is a low budgie film from Scotland that, despite a concluding act that might undermine it as a sci-fi film, had something interesting to say about starting a relationship and a family in a world that often seems in peril. It has many weak spots, but somehow it stayed with me, and reminded me that youth, however much we may romanticize it later, can be a scary and difficult time.

(my auto-correct continues to manifest artificial lack-of-intelligence and wishes to suggest few parakeets appear in this film. While that may be true, the word I tried to type was budget.)

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bartist
Posted: Wed Jan 29, 2020 11:35 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6559
About twenty minutes into "Don't Let Go, " it becomes quite apparent that it is built on the essential theme of "Frequency." For me, this worked better than the earlier film, with better acting (David Oyelowo is capable of rescuing uneven scripting through some sort of presence that... I am unable to describe... just call it "star power") and a tighter time warp (two weeks separate a policeman and his niece, rather than the 20 years that separate father and son in "Frequency). Where the film falters (as do 90% of time warping films I've seen) is in taking on the intellectual mindbending that a proper denouement would require to deal with what aspects of the timeline have been erased, and what may linger in the memories of the uncle and niece as they deal with the fallout that will surely come after a climactic scene. So it's the usual bang bang roll credits.

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gromit
Posted: Fri Jan 31, 2020 8:32 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8713 Location: Shanghai
Been rewatching a host of Westerns.

Man of the West, Winchester 73, The Naked Spur, Yellow Sky.
The first 3 are Anthony Mann films with Gary Cooper and James Stewart, cast against type as bad guys, who are slowly revealed to be fundamentally decent and revert to being good guys. Women being civilizing influences. In Yellow Sky, it's Peck's turn and all he needs to do is shave his beard to become a solid citizen and shed his outlaw/bank robber persona. Kind of the male version of the ugly girl taking off her glasses to reveal she's beautiful.

The first two have fairly weak stories that are well told.
The other tow are better:

Naked Spur sets up a nice weird dynamic. Stewart is a ordinary rancher turned ruthless bounty hunter as he desperately needs the reward money to get back to where he was before having been wronged. he winds up with two unwanted partners. Robert Ryan is a squirelly outlaw who becomes prisoner and is adept at dividing folks. Ralph Meeker as a wild card, dishonorably discharged cavalryman. Very interesting casting and lively screenplay keep this one crackling.

Yellow Sky is a slightly earlier William Wellman film from 1948. Peck manages all right to be a tough gang leader, speaking gruffly, but then goes soft, turns into his old reliable screen self, and fights his old gang in the interests of a gal and her grandpa.
YS really creates a strong feeling of time and place. I liked best how it took it's time to build up tension. Really let's you get immersed by not rushing anything. This might be my favorite Richard Widmark performance. He's cagey and laid back and biding his time, like a coiled snake. And his baddy takes over just when Peck gets good and boring.

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gromit
Posted: Fri Feb 07, 2020 7:53 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8713 Location: Shanghai
Dark Passage (1944) is a really absurd crime drama, with lots of hokey coincidences and a very unconvincing motive for 2 murders. Bogey escapes from San Quentin, where he's doing a life term framed for killing his wife. Bacall-girl happens to find him. and be infatuated with him after attending his trial every day, since her father was similarly railroaded for killing her mother. Bacall also happens to be best friends with Agnes Morehead whose testimony convicted Bogey.

The main gimmick is that for the first 25 minutes or so the camera is Bogey's point of view and we only see maybe his hands in his field of vision. By chance the first person he meets after he leaves Bacall recognizes him and gets him right to his sketchy plastic surgeon friend who is ready for a 3:AM rush job. So he gives him a Humphrey Bogart look. Then things get hokey. Okay, so they start that way and merely continue apace.

One problem with the camera POV is that you have Bogey as your lead, but you don't see him. But we do hear him and so know its him. Underscoring the main problem which the film never addresses. Bogey has a rather distinctive voice, and his voice stays constant pre- and post-op. Yet when he meets Morehead who knew him well, she doesn't recognize his voice, despite being highly worried that he'll come looking for her.

Anyway, the plot contrivances come fast and frequent, and overall its a dopey story told reasonably well, but not well enough to overlook the underlying nonsense.


Last edited by gromit on Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:12 am; edited 1 time in total

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gromit
Posted: Wed Feb 12, 2020 6:28 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8713 Location: Shanghai
Sergeant York & Fighting 69th are basically mirror images of each other. Both WWI films about a single soldier heroically winning a battle, designed as WWII propaganda.

Gary Cooper is a backwoods rube who doesn't want to go to war and his staunch religious conviction makes him a suspect soldier. Cagney is a Brooklynite sharpie who is dying to get at the Germans, but is a suspect soldier because he's a lone wolf. Its not hard to guess who is brave in battle and who isn't, though in the end both come through heroically.

One thing unusual about Sgt. York is that for the first 1'20" it's Farmer York and he only goes off to war for the last hour. It's a long film.

Fighting 69th is supposed to be an Irish unit, and one odd bit of ethnic humor has a Jewish guy, with a big hooked nose, pretending to be Irish.

Cagney plays a jerk.
Cooper won an Oscar.

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Syd
Posted: Thu Feb 13, 2020 7:47 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12593 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
Cagney got one a year after Cooper for playing a non-jerk.

"Sergeant York" could play a double bill with "Hacksaw Ridge," in which the hero stays a conscientious objector and deservedly still wins a slew of medals.

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A man, a plan, a bamboo patch .... Pandamonium!
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carrobin
Posted: Sat Feb 22, 2020 2:01 am Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 7718 Location: NYC
At a hotel again last week, I was checking the premium channels and caught "John Wick." I'm not really an action-violence-carchases fan in general, but that ranks right up there with "The Road Warrior." The dazzling cinematography (mostly night in cities) made it all seem glamorously surreal, but it was the sweet pit bull that got my attention and I stayed with it after he disappeared (left in a safe place). Keanu Reeves was impressive--he used to be the guy I thought of whenever someone used the term "bad actor," but he's really found his niche as the cool, efficient, ridiculously competent Wick, who "walked into a bar and killed three guys...with a pencil!" I have pencils, but never thought of jamming one through an attacker's ear. Good to know if I'm ever in that situation.
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Syd
Posted: Sun Feb 23, 2020 10:06 am Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12593 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
Watched Ad Astra at a movie night last night and was glad I didn't waste money on it at a movie theatre. Generally boring with one moment of action involving pirates on the Moon that didn't fit in well, and really dubious actions by our hero, who will hopefully be arrested and imprisoned after the events in the movie. Brad Pitt's character is known for not having his heartbeat go up even in danger, which also makes him unexciting. Most interesting character is Helen Lantos (played by Ruth Negga) who is the director of the Mars Colony and was actually born on Mars (so is an actual alien, though a human one). I wish we had more time with her.

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A man, a plan, a bamboo patch .... Pandamonium!
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billyweeds
Posted: Sun Feb 23, 2020 11:15 am Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 20505 Location: New York City
Syd wrote:
Brad Pitt's character is known for not having his heartbeat go up even in danger, which also makes him unexciting.


Word. A huge bore. Ironic that, in the same year where Pitt gives a great performance, his best ever, and wins an Oscar for it, he delivers the performing equivalent of a sleeping pill. It's as if this movie were a meditation seminar and he was the facilitator. "Picture yourself on a beach..." Zzzzzzzz.
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bartist
Posted: Sun Feb 23, 2020 12:17 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6559
Syd wrote:
Watched Ad Astra at a movie night last night and was glad I didn't waste money on it at a movie theatre. Generally boring with one moment of action involving pirates on the Moon that didn't fit in well, and really dubious actions by our hero, who will hopefully be arrested and imprisoned after the events in the movie. Brad Pitt's character is known for not having his heartbeat go up even in danger, which also makes him unexciting. Most interesting character is Helen Lantos (played by Ruth Negga) who is the director of the Mars Colony and was actually born on Mars (so is an actual alien, though a human one). I wish we had more time with her.


I found it okay in some respects but it kind of sank in later that the Dad's misanthropy is not too well explained...and others characters are also barely sketched in. Yes, more Helen. I will say that the low-affect boringness of Pitt's hero was a credible stab at something outside the usual space mythos. Not every astronaut is a colorful Buzz Aldrin. That said, the fact that I saw this pic in early October and somehow have forgotten big chunks of it already does suggest it wasn't too exciting. Or that my memory banks are overfilling and need some eternal sunshine cleaning.

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bartist
Posted: Wed Feb 26, 2020 1:22 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6559
The Falling (2014) is an interesting mash-up of Picnic at Hanging Rock and Don't Look Now, set at an English girls school in the late sixties. Death, sex, incest, haunted places, and fainting, lots and lots of fainting. If you found PAHR more or less loathesome, this take on those themes may be a pleasant surprise. Or not. Mass hysteria always has the potential to get tedious. The ending was a bit glib in its resolution of the main characters emotional issues, but I thought the film offered some fodder for reflection. Stars Maisie Williams and Florence Pugh, both rising stars worth watching. If Pugh looks familiar, it's because she was Amy in Women.

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Syd
Posted: Fri Feb 28, 2020 11:47 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12593 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
A couple of really good documentaries:

The Biggest Little Farm is about a couple who adopts a dog from a dog hoarder, and, discovering that the dog barks incessantly, realizes that the solution is to do a kickstarter to buy a farm (the wife dreams to be able to grow every herb and vegetable she needs for for cooking), buys a cheap farm which is a wasteland, and gets an advisor who advocates growing as diverse an ecology as possible and build a demiparadise. Since they're clearly not going to poison every pest that arrives, they have to figure out how to set one pest against another. Sometimes too smug, but really fascinating. It's like a real-life version of "The Man who Planted Trees."

The other was Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport. The Kindertransport was an effort by the British right before World War II to allow German Jewish children to be fostered by British famiilies. Some ten thousand were saved in this way, but they were all separated from their parents, and few saw their parents again, The US had a chance to import another 20,000, but Congress failed to act. (I hope those Congressmen got a quick trip to Hell.) If you get too sanguine, there's a really harrowing episode 70 minutes into the film that the British are still trying to live down. Great and absorbing film, which I unfairly dismissed at the time, since it seemed that every documentary award Oscar was going to a Holocaust film.This one really deserved it.

And the film reminds us that, although 10,000 children were saved by the Kindertransport,1.5 million died during the Holocaust. These kids, despite their ordeal, were the exception.

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bartist
Posted: Wed Mar 11, 2020 7:49 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6559
Finally saw First Reformed, a film with existential depth and fine performances (Ethan Hawke's foremost) but so allusive that it may distract a film buff - many references to Bergman's "Winter Light" and Bresson's "Diary of a Country Priest" (Hawke's pastor may also have stomach cancer, and a poor diet similar to the French priest's). I'm not crazy about pastiche, even if Schrader picked two very fine movies to cut and paste. Fortunately, in the second half the movie becomes very much it's own movie and quite a powerful statement on the redemptive aspects of love. I also enjoyed the collision of political and religious dogma. The film asks us, when we see what capitalism and consumerism is doing to our planet, what would Jesus do? What are our spiritual obligations in terms of stewardship of the natural world that gives us life?

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billyweeds
Posted: Sun Mar 15, 2020 12:52 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 20505 Location: New York City
bartist wrote:
The Falling (2014) is an interesting mash-up of Picnic at Hanging Rock and Don't Look Now, set at an English girls school in the late sixties. Death, sex, incest, haunted places, and fainting, lots and lots of fainting. If you found PAHR more or less loathesome, this take on those themes may be a pleasant surprise. Or not. Mass hysteria always has the potential to get tedious. The ending was a bit glib in its resolution of the main characters emotional issues, but I thought the film offered some fodder for reflection. Stars Maisie Williams and Florence Pugh, both rising stars worth watching. If Pugh looks familiar, it's because she was Amy in Women.


Since I loathe both "Picnic at Hanging Rock" and "Don't Look Now," I think I'll pass on "The Falling."
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