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gromit
Posted: Thu Nov 11, 2021 2:19 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8977 Location: Shanghai
Fail-Safe. Apparently Kubrick insisted that dr. Strangelove be released first (Jan 1964). And when this came out in Oct '64, audiences chuckled despite the serious attempts here at tension. I can see how the fighting in the war room (even though it's not called that here), and some of the arty intense close-ups could be read as parody, or at least invoke the Strangelove comparison.

This does play out as a serious treatment of a bomber group and ultimately one nuclear armed bomber mistakenly being sent to obliterate Moscow. The cast is pretty terrific. Having not just one but two generals crack/go flakey might be a bit much.

It's a bit of an odd decision to have the president (Henry Fonda) isolated in some deep bunker with only a translator (Larry Hagman) in the room with him. I guess they wanted to show his isolation and loneliness, but you's expect plenty of staff and advisors surrounding and supporting him. This isn't Hitler in his end bunker, though maybe a 1964 audience less than a generation removed from WWII might make that connection.
It kind of works, but drawing tension from the undramatic scenario of one guy on a phone and the other translating the other party is risky and hard to achieve.

Overall, a very strong cast. They manage to humanize and economically provide back stories to a few of the military leaders. But we don't get to know the bomber crew. Hell, we hardly see their faces due to oxygen masks they wear. Dr. S did a much better job of introducing the bomber crew and getting us to engage with them as real people.

In a slight twist, here we have a civilian advisor all gung-ho and a general advocating peace. There's a good deal about machines and their relative safety and human ability to control them. Though this leaves us looking at the "big board" (to use Dr. S. terminology) a bit much. The screenplay sometimes pokes through with stagey dialogue which could have been smoothed over. But there are some good touches/flourishes as well.

The resolution would make more sense and have more chance of fewer deaths if they simply agreed to let a lone Soviet bomber nuke a US city. They were already on high alert and presumably at their fail-safe points. Then the Russians would know for sure it was on the level and not any kind of trick, and could/might decide not to do the retaliatory nuke strike.
Also, a bit iffy how they give up once the bomber pilot's wife doesn't work. Why not tell the pilot he can speak to any commander he wants, and that they'll all verify it is indeed the president orders, that the bomber was sent in error and needs to be recalled, etc.


A solid cold war thriller. Maybe not as tense as intended. Not sure the arty touches, mostly extreme closeups, were well-integrated. By the time the ending links to the opening, no one really remembers or cares about the initial dream. Though I liked the disorienting opening dream sequence.
.

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bartist
Posted: Thu Nov 11, 2021 3:52 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6850 Location: Black Hills
I recall admiring the minimalist approach in the bunker, and the film generally. The two films sometimes mash together in the mind if you haven't seen them in a while, so I have to force myself not to see Slim Pickens riding a bomb down in both films.

Am on the fence about "Pig" because it's Nic Cage and a truffle pig and I've been burned before on plotlines like that. Is Mark Truffalo in the cast? Sorry. Please report back on your viewing experience.

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gromit
Posted: Fri Nov 12, 2021 6:48 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8977 Location: Shanghai
I really liked the casting in Fail Safe.
The writing frequently showed through too obviously, which was a little distracting. But at least the writing tried to be ambitious at times.

One thing interesting in the film is that despite the USSR and USA surveilling each other relentlessly, both sides have underestimated the other's technology. So it's easy to see how things could go wrong as neither side is prepared to engage the other, while both are overconfident that they are sufficiently prepared. Overall, there's an over-reliance on technology, which malfunctions; but we also see human's crack and malfunction under pressure.

I quite like political films and paranoid thrillers. And enjoyed Fail Safe.

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gromit
Posted: Fri Nov 12, 2021 6:51 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8977 Location: Shanghai
PIG might go on shortly, as I can't get my VPN to work and so can't watch an NBA game. A movie is the backup plan. Which the cat's prefer, as they get pet a lot when we watch movies.

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knox
Posted: Sat Nov 13, 2021 11:01 am Reply with quote
Joined: 18 Mar 2010 Posts: 1241 Location: St. Louis
Many cats see TV as 2D unreal boringness but I had one that was fascinated by movies with animals prominently featured.

I remember being impressed by Hagman. A relative nobody and newbie at that time. He has a grueling job as translator and his flawless timing and understated but very intense delivery made me think he was the one more deserving of the Oscar nod.

Speaking of Cold War era classics, just saw this in the Guardian and realized I have virtually no memory of Spielbergs first film. Maybe time to review.

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2021/nov/13/duel-at-50-steven-spielberg-debut-thriller
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Syd
Posted: Sat Nov 13, 2021 11:21 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12772 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
knox wrote:
Many cats see TV as 2D unreal boringness but I had one that was fascinated by movies with animals prominently featured.

I remember being impressed by Hagman. A relative nobody and newbie at that time. He has a grueling job as translator and his flawless timing and understated but very intense delivery made me think he was the one more deserving of the Oscar nod.

Speaking of Cold War era classics, just saw this in the Guardian and realized I have virtually no memory of Spielbergs first film. Maybe time to review.

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2021/nov/13/duel-at-50-steven-spielberg-debut-thriller


I watch a lot of natural history documentaries. They're a good way to entertain cats. If I remember, they really liked Kedithe film about the cats of Istanbul.

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gromit
Posted: Sun Nov 14, 2021 6:17 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8977 Location: Shanghai
My cats like watching cricket fighting. That and billiards are the only sports they follow.

Yeah, Hagman is good in a somewhat weird role.

Took me a while to warm up to President Fonda as he's such a cold fish. The film makes some missteps such as when Fonda starts lecturing the Soviet leaders after the US has overwhelmingly farked up and obliterated Moscow.
Maybe that's all you can do get when you are only showing one end of a phone conversation and want to make a didactic point.

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gromit
Posted: Sun Nov 14, 2021 1:34 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8977 Location: Shanghai
Glad I finally caught up Claudine, a film I primarily knew because of the soundtrack. A lot more realistic and gritty than I was expecting. Deals frankly with sexuality and difficult family dynamics and had more direct and blunt dialogue than expected. A good 70's film, focusing on ordinary black people.

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grace
Posted: Mon Nov 15, 2021 2:10 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 11 Nov 2005 Posts: 3209
knox wrote:
Many cats see TV as 2D unreal boringness but I had one that was fascinated by movies with animals prominently featured.

.....

Speaking of Cold War era classics, just saw this in the Guardian and realized I have virtually no memory of Spielbergs first film. Maybe time to review.

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2021/nov/13/duel-at-50-steven-spielberg-debut-thriller


Duel was an ABC Movie of the Week -- I remember it well and believe that many people on my commute viewed it as a driver training film.

My cats love the TV. One can handle bird videos on YouTube, but the other wigs out just way too much. They both like Little House on the Prairie, though.
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Syd
Posted: Mon Nov 15, 2021 9:41 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12772 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
Duel is very well done and it certainly stuck in my memory. As far as being memorable, it's like Ida Lupino's "The Hitch-Hiker", which is also a fine film, and makes you wonder what she could have done with more opportunities in feature films. She certainly had a great career in Television.

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bartist
Posted: Wed Nov 17, 2021 1:14 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6850 Location: Black Hills
Thanks for the Pig pan, Gromit. Sometimes I just wonder at Nic Cage's penchant for self-harm in his project choices.

I remember Duel, but don't think I ever actually saw it. Strange - sort of like saying I spent childhood in a coma ward. So now I will. I certainly remember McCloud, who my spouse refers to as "the moustache guy," because she can't remember names. (lifelong quirk, not dementia) I have seen John Dahl's tribute to Duel, which was quite memorable. Almost too much so.

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Befade
Posted: Wed Nov 17, 2021 2:20 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 3770 Location: AZ
My cat pays attention when cats meow on Instagram. And she’s glued to nature shows featuring lions and tigers.

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bartist
Posted: Wed Nov 17, 2021 7:39 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6850 Location: Black Hills
At Syd's recommend, I finally saw Departures and quite liked it. The film is somewhat more serious and meditative than that opening scene ("there is, uh, a thing... ") may suggest. It's a simple elegant telling of a story about acceptance, as it concerns a socially stigmatized profession in Japan. There is a plot element with giving each other stones that makes for a beautiful scene at the end, very well done and moving.

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gromit
Posted: Fri Dec 03, 2021 7:13 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8977 Location: Shanghai
Death in the Garden is very much mid-career Bunuel. A little melodramatic, a bit cheesy, gruff and rank about violence and sexuality, a few humorous nuggets. It starts as basically a Western with the gold miners being kicked off their claims by the gov't, so they rebel ineffectively. There's a great character intro, as a lone stranger looking rather James Deanish enters the town walking his horse, and strolls right past the firing line of soldiers just after the townspeople fled. He's ordered to stop by the armed force and contemptuously flips them the bird and keeps walking. Then we meet a prostitute who turns him in, the police who set him up, a well-meaning priest who is endlessly unhelpful, etc.

All of the prime roles played by famous French actors, Michel Piccolo, Simone Signoret, Charles Vanel, et al as Bunuel was transitioning from working in France to becoming a Mexican based director. It's a bit odd to watch a film set in Latin America yet have everyone speak in French. And of course I'm following with English subtitles.

Midway through, the principles flee through the jungle. And it becomes a survival adventure. It's all fairly entertaining and interesting. Corruption and greed seem to be the main themes. With everyone looking out for themselves while occasionally trusting others who are doing so. A bit unsettling how the women are just pawns and possessions. 1956 in an unspecified Latin America country ...

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Befade
Posted: Sun Dec 26, 2021 6:54 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 3770 Location: AZ
I just watched Ken Russell’s Women in Love. Never read the book. I thought of you, Carol, because you’ve always mentioned a connection to Alan Bates. He played the D.H. Lawrence character. He was wasn’t familiar to me. Glenda Jackson was a revelation. And shocking to see a naked male wrestling scene in a movie from the 60’s or anytime. It did seem dated. One woman thinks a man should be devoted only to her, satisfied in life with only her. The other, her sister believes a man should be harshly judged for his profession and depended on only for sex.

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