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lshap
Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 7:12 am Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 12 May 2004 Posts: 4246 Location: Montreal
Carry on...

jeremy wrote:
I just watched the film "Henry and June" on TV. It was based on Henry and June: From the Unexpurgated Diary of Ana´s Nin, an exploration of the author's relationship with Henry and June Miller in 1930s Paris. I have never read the book, but I understand that it is more worthy than I once imagined. When I was growing up, the books of Ana´s Nin, with their tastefully risque covers, were marketed as erotica, which to my preternaturally cynical and puritan mind was pornography without pictures aimed at those who would never venture into a sex shop. It appears that Ana´s Nin was something of a bold and free spirit, an intelligent and sensual woman who did not let duty, convention or the feelings of others inhibit her search for sensation.

Alas, in the film she comes across as wilfully selfish. I found the framing of her sexual exploration as some sort search for truth to be self-serving and not a little tiresome. I was also troubled by her ready acquiesence to forced sex. None of the characters were particularly sympathetic, least of all Henry Miller, who in Fred Ward's uninspiring portrayal came across as a bit of a boor. As a whole, the film, built around Ana´s Nin's bed hopping, had no sense of narrative or growth, and consequently, for all its sex and conscious sophistication, felt slow. In fact, never the equal of its pretensions, I thought it was interminable, not even the lesbian sex scenes, which helped make it America's first NC-17 film, stirred my interest; much. I think the film suffered because its souce material was a diary, and the screenwriters did not so enough with it to fashion a movie.

Patricia didn't think it was so bad, but I seem to have less patience for films that waste my time these days.

gromit wrote:
I saw Henry and June in a theater when it first came out. Long and dull.

marantzo wrote:
I saw Henry and June in the theatre (in Montreal, The Egyptian) and thought it was excellent. Fred Ward was very good as Henry Miller and I know my Henry Miller. The Nin character was what Jeremy said. And it fit with how I thought she was, but my idea of her personality may not be accurate. Henry's character was vulgar, maybe a better description would be brash, but certainly not a bore for me. Miller, in life could do things that wouldn't inspire sympathy and in his writings he doesn't sugarcoat it.

I didn't find the film dull at all, though I had the same reaction to Nin's search for...whatever...not that interesting or entertaining. Not a woman that I would have any patience with, but Henry didn't seem to mind as long as he could have her as an enabler and sexual playmate.

jeremy wrote:
Gary,

I did not mean to imply that Henry Miller was a bore, just that, from the film's perspective, his part was to provide a bit of rough for Ms Nin. Whereas, I was more interested in the creative process that led to the writing of Tropic Of Capricorn.

marantzo wrote:
To me the Nin's character was peripheral even though she was basically the narrator and the central person. My central character was Henry. He was the one who had a real story, unlike Nin who was a spoiled elite intellectual exploring ways to expand her life's philosophy. Or whatever.

I was very impressed with Ward's performance. He had Miller's voice and mannerisms down perfectly and he even looked like him.

Like I said, I really liked the movie.

marantzo wrote:
Oh yeah, Uma Thurman was also very good. I think that was the first time I saw her.

jeremy wrote:
Uma Thurman, eho played June Miller, and portuguese actress Maria de Medeiros as Anais Nin, got to meet again on the set of Pulp Fiction. A fact, the playful Quentiin Tarantino, would have ben well aware of.

Joe Vitus wrote:
I thought Henry and June was hypnotic and magnificent when I saw it (more than once) on the big screen. But as a home viewing experience, without the overwhelming visuals a big screen can provide, allowing you to luxuriate in the world Philip Kaufman created, I found the story thin and unengaging.

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gromit
Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 7:46 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8620 Location: Shanghai
Well, somebody hasn't been reading Couch lately.
Tsk, tsk, thx.

The discussion for Overlooked Films begins with 5 selections from Billy starting here near the Top of Page 1896 of Couch.

The idea for this forum is that we all must have some favorite films we believe are under-appreciated and need a wider audience. So share them, and write a brief in favor of the films to persuade others to give your obsession a try.

My initial suggestions is that everyone can list five overlooked/underseen films, with reasons for their convictions, and others can comment on those they have seen or want to see, maybe even other related films the original poster might want to pursue, etc.
Hopefully this can freshen up your Netflix Q's and spur discussion. And don't worry about 5 necessarily, tossing out one title at a time and an appreciation of it is also welcome.

Billy's picks: Smile, Night Moves, Lili, Boy A, and Tunes of Glory.

I'm interested in watching Smile and Lili -- the two I haven't seen -- but I'm a little constrained in what is available. The selection here is great and I have essentially my own private dvd store at home, but I'm limited to what the good pirates of China issue.

I might give Night Moves another try, but vaguely recall a decent film with a hokey ending. One of those morally ambiguous independent characters floating along with loads of freedom and not much grounding, in that 70's microcosm way ... or am I off-base? Not a film I remember that well.


Last edited by gromit on Wed Nov 24, 2010 8:06 am; edited 2 times in total

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gromit
Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 7:47 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8620 Location: Shanghai
Since Billy is on vacation and Lorne is on acid, here are Billy's overlooked posts:

billyweeds wrote:
Okay. Here are five overlooked films which are all brilliant in one way or another.

First we have Smile. This is the 1975 satirical comedy directed by Michael Ritchie about a California teenage beauty pageant. I'ts a multi-dramedy centered around a specific event, which makes it remarkably similar to Nashville, which came out the same year and eclipsed it. I prefer Smile. Not only is it laugh-out-loud-funny, it has real heart and emotion and catharsis and all the good stuff that Nashville has, and accomplishes it in far less running time and with no pretension, making it a more satisfying movie than the big N. Terrific performances by Barbara Feldon, Nicholas Pryor, Annette O'Toole, Joan Prather, Maria O'Brien (Edmond's daughter), Geoffrey Lewis (Juliette's father), and--particularly--an amazingly funny/sad Bruce Dern and an indelibly acerbic Michael Kidd are the icing on the cake.

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gromit
Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 7:52 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8620 Location: Shanghai
billyweeds wrote:
Next, a movie I just saw and fits right into the overlooked category, since it came out two years ago, disappeared without a trace, and which I only discovered by researching the career of Andrew Garfield, the young actor who is so wonderful in The Social Network.

Garfield has the leading role in Boy A, the second "overlooked" film on my list. He plays a 23-year-old just released from prison for a crime which is kept secret from the audience for a large part of the running time but which is announced in all the publicity as a come-on, because it's so intriguing. Since it therefore hardly counts as a spoiler, I will play along and tell you that the young man was jailed for _____________.

As played by Garfield, he is extremely sympathetic and likable as well as being tortured. It's a tour de force of emotion and charisma and brands Garfield as a great talent. The whole movie is up to his level, however. It's gut-wrenching, with several performances of particular skill and sensitive direction by John Crowley (whose Intermission is another overlooked film, though not quite at the level of Boy A).

Oh no, somebody censored Billy.
I think it's best not to know the background story until it is revealed in the film. I think it effectively adds to the tension, mystery, presentation.
Plus it's fun to censor Billy.
Anyone want to read Billy's full unexpurgated post, with hideous spoilers, can do so here: http://www.thirdeyefilm.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=210222#210222

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gromit
Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 7:54 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8620 Location: Shanghai
billyweeds wrote:
Night Moves, released (like Smile) in 1975, stars Gene Hackman in a neo-noir directed by the recently deceased Arthur Penn. It establishes a mood early on of desperation and angst which never leaves. The pace is languid and seductive, the color photography as well-suited to noir as any color photography ever has been, and the plot is suitably complex and twisted. Melanie Griffith plays a missing nymphet who Hackman is hired to track down. There are romantic involvements, plots within plots, and a Florida setting that's perfect. Jennifer Warren is ultra-sexy as the woman who Hackman hooks up with, and the supporting cast--including Edward Binns, Susan Clark, Janet Ward, and Harris Yulin--is aces. This is a great movie that slipped between the cracks.

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gromit
Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 7:54 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8620 Location: Shanghai
billyweeds wrote:
Lili (1953) is not so much an "overlooked" film as a largely forgotten one. Leslie Caron's performance as a French teenager, newly orphaned and more-or-less homeless, who becomes involved with a disabled puppeteer and--memorably--his puppets, was nominated for the Oscar, so the movie was not in need of immediate appreciation. But in the intervening years the movie has lost a lot of its reputation and is probably thought of, if at all, as a syrupy MGM bauble. Not remotely so. This is a human drama whose tears are thoroughly earned, with a performance by Caron that was robbed of the Oscar by the charming but nowhere near as profound work of Audrey Hepburn in her heat-seeking career-maker Roman Holiday. Lili has honest sentiment, delightful music, laughs, heart, soul, and--always and above all--the stunning work of Caron, whose performance ranks in my all-time top five.

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gromit
Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 7:55 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8620 Location: Shanghai
billyweeds wrote:
And speaking of all-time favorite performances, another of mine is from the 1960 drama Tunes of Glory. When this film was first released, critics hopped on a John Mills bandwagon, apparently feeling it was time the second-billed star, a great actor who'd been unfairly overlooked himself, got his due. It was a weird happenstance that in their zeal to overcompensate the eminently worthy Mills, they all but dismissed Alec Guinness in what for me is his career peak, a performance that puts all his great comedy work and his Oscarwinning turn in River Kwai in the shade. Guinness plays Jock, the blowhard leader of a Scottish regiment, who undergoes a dark night of the soul. The movie can be accused of being somewhat theatrical, with a climax that would be just as effective on a stage and seems to have been directed for the proscenium arch more than the movie camera. But no matter. It's a great film with one of the greatest of all film performances. And I don't mean John Mills.

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billyweeds
Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 12:12 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 20426 Location: New York City
On vacation in Paris, but not out of touch. Thanks! (The Louvre and Notre-Dame say hello.)

And thanks for censoring me. Would that the publicity people for the movie had been as discreet.
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gromit
Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 12:37 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8620 Location: Shanghai
I always find it difficult to know which films are best watched with some prior information in mind, and which are best coming from a void.

Most of the time, I put on a film with little or no knowledge of the plot/background. For films such as Boy A, this pays off. But there are some films, especially those dealing with historical eras/characters, which are confusing to go in to cold.

I actually have had one or two films recently in which I stopped the film 1/3 of the way in and did a little wiki-research to figure out what was going on.

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Marj
Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 12:46 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 10497 Location: Manhattan
I tend to do a something similar, gromit. But usually after the movie is over. Then I watch it again. I did that with a film called Hillary and Jackie, which probably falls into the category of overlooked films. I had to review it for the publication I narrate for, and since it's coming out this month, I'll post it soon.
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billyweeds
Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 12:49 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 20426 Location: New York City
BTW--If anyone rents Smile--and I hope you do--be careful to rent the right one. There are two, and the one I'm talking about was released in 1975.
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marantzo
Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 1:31 pm Reply with quote
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Billy if you go to or are staying on the Left Bank drop into Le Petit Cluny cafe for the best coffee anywhere. It's on St Michel Blvd. just off the corner of Rue St. Germaine.

My first overlooked film, which I have mentioned endlessly through the years, is The Culpepper Cattle Co. (1972). I will post a synopsis later.
jeremy
Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 3:01 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 6794 Location: Derby, England and Hamilton, New Zealand (yes they are about 12,000 miles apart)
Billy is really making the case that Tunes Of Glory contains an overlooked or underestimated performance rather than it being an overlooked film. I'd certainly agree that Alec Guiness's playing of the boorish officer is a great performance, but would also suggest that it needed John Mills' counterpoint.

For the reasons Billy mentions, and due to its narrow focus and being rich in dialogue, I'd always assumed that Tunes Of Glory was based on a play, and was suprised to learn it was a adapted novel. Although its much less true than it was, I am always struck betwen the similarities between the cultures of too island nations and erstwhile military powers, Japan and Great Britain. Both had a highly developed sense of honour and organiosed themselves in away that depended on rigid codes of behaviour to function. I sense that the Japanese would have been acutely aware of John Mill's dilemma and distress.

I think films like Tunes Of Glory are almost destined to be 'overlooked' and would therefore question whether the term is applicable to them. Similarly to David Mamet's The Winslow Boy, Tunes of Glory a wordy, slow burn, unshowy, even dour British-based film was never going to storm the box office or ring down the ages. It was well-received, and is keenly remembered by those, like Billy, who are open to such dramas. In this respect, though we can't help cheer-leading for it, we want the world to acknowledge its greatness, it could be argued that it succeeded on its own terms.

I'd have prabably never watched the film had my father not recommended it to me as worthy of my attention when he noticed it showing on TV. So in this case, perhaps forgotten or lost is a better term than overlooked. I suspect that not only would a lot of the younger generation not know of the film, it would also be of no interest to them. Worse, many would struggle to understand the world and motivations of the characters. Or am I doing them and their imaginations a disservice.

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gromit
Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 3:30 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8620 Location: Shanghai
Tunes of Glory is in the Criterion Collection, which is why I know and watched it.

Jeremy, any thoughts on Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964), which is one of my overlooked candidates.
Is this well-known in UK-land?

Here's my earlier brief write-up:
Terrific acting by Richard Attenborough and Kim Stanley. Impressive camerawork.
Real creepy tale, well-told. Very impressive.
Tension builds as their plot slowly unfolds.
I thought this was a stellar film.
One of those films where the progression of things just leads inexorably downward and it feels creepy to watch things slide out of hand.
Probably my favorite British film, competing with a couple Carol Reeds.

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Syd
Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 3:38 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12543 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
When I first saw the title "Tunes of Glory," I assumed it was one of Guinness's comic roles. which it is anything but. Not a musical either. Smile I came across it when I was going through Guinness's Ealing comedies.

I'm one of those more impressed with John Mills' performance, but it's a hell of a pairing. The two actors could easily have switched roles and we'd still have a great movie.

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