Classic Film : What classics did you watch this week? (2/6-2/12)

What classics did you watch this week? (2/6-2/12)

Welcome to the very last ever What Classics Did You Watch Last Week thread. If you don't already know what to do by now, it's probably too late to learn.

You know who else was just following orders? HITLER!

Re: What classics did you watch this week? (2/6-2/12)

The Thoughts That Once We Had (Thom Andersen, 2015) 5/10
[movie clip show interrupted by quotes, cinema essay]

J'ai rencontré le Père Noël / I Believe in Santa Claus (Christian Gion, 1984) (w/ Rifftrax commentary) 4/10
[French colonial propaganda Christmas musical for children]

La guerre du feu / Quest for Fire (Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1981) (2nd viewing) 8-/10 (from 6)
[prehistoric adventure, sci-fi survival movie, interracial romance]

Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, 2016) 8-/10
[actor in a leading role academy award winner]

Going My Home (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2012)
[down-to-earth soap opera/sitcom/"home drama" = Kore-eda family drama lite]
Episode 6: "Ryota Hits Upon a Bad Plan" 7/10
Episode 7: "Just What is a 'Hometown' to You?" 7/10

Bill Burr: Walk Your Way Out (Jay Karas, 2017) 7/10
[standup comedy show]

A Colour Box (Len Lye, 1935) 6+/10
A Colour Box (Len Lye, 1935) (2nd viewing) 6+/10
A Colour Box (Len Lye, 1935) (3rd viewing) 6+/10
[abstract animation short]

Dawn of the Dead (George A. Romero, 1978) (3+rd viewing) 6/10 (from 7)
[post-apocalyptic logically impaired low budget action drama]

RiffTrax short: Perc! Pop! Sprinkle! (1969) 3/10
[(un)educational film]

Arnulf Rainer (1960) & Antiphon (2012) projected side-by-side (Peter Kubelka, 2014) -/10
Austrian avant-garde filmmaker Peter Kubelka's 'Arnulf Rainer' is, as he says, "storyless, color- and image-free". The seminal structural film is stripped of all content to create what is probably the most minimalist work that can still be rightfully called a film, as it marries picture and sound by means of being either "picture on" or "picture off" and "sound on" or "sound off". So during any given moment (frame) the film is in one of four possible modes:
-) white frame, no sound
-) white frame, white noise
-) black frame, no sound
-) black frame, white noise

Those limited means are all Kubelka allows himself to work with in order to create excitement, anticipation, surprise, humor and many other things that cinema is capable of evoking in a viewer. ''Arnulf Rainer' works with its unpredictability, when for example after a passage of rapid flicker a long passage follows that only uses black frames, one waits for the flicker to kick in again. Or when after a long passage in which the sound is perfectly in sync with the flicker (e.g. consistently alternating between white frame + noise and black frame + silence) it creates disorientation when suddenly this pattern is subverted.

The analog nature of film and film projection adds another unpredictable component, for no frame is truly monochromatically white, instead what you might see are blemishes on the film stock or discolorations on the screen. Nor is any moment of white noise truly identical to another, neither on the filmstrip itself nor the way they come out of the speakers. In physical reality and in your perception of it alike, none of the film's four modes ever is identical to the same mode. On the screen and in the room each moment reverberates, light from a white frame bleeds into the next black frames and the sound waves echo in the room. On your senses they leave residues behind, momentarily blinding you with the screen's light or making your ears ring from the noise for the next few seconds.

Taken as just an object in itself 'Arnulf Rainer' seems to do very little, but this exactly is its strength. Certainly it is a film more interesting to talk about than it is watching it, but this shouldn't devalue it. It is more to be seen as a provocation that ultimately poses the question: "What is film?" A simple question with many answers. What is film but sound and picture. By having set out to make a film that limits it to ONE sound and ONE picture (or their absence) Kubelka created a study of the medium of film and our understanding of it that still hasn't ended today. Not without reason has Kubelka made very few films but has been giving countless lectures that are as much about human perception and senses as they are about film, and continues to give them to this day.

In 2012 Kubelka released a "negative" version of 'Arnulf Rainer' titled 'Antiphon'. All the black frames are now white frames, parts that were noise are now silent, and so on. Kubelka truly puts the experimental into "experimental film" when at screenings/lectures he shows the two films in a variety of ways, including next to each other on the same screen or even superimposed on top of each other. Superimposed do the two films simply cancel each other out, creating one constant picture and one constant sound? I can't answer this question, you'll have to attend a screening and witness it for yourself.



Notable Online Media:

[top 2:]
How to Direct like David Fincher - Visual Style Breakdown
Donald Trump Doesn't Understand Citizen Kane - Renegade Cut
[rest:]
A.O. Scott, "Better Living Through Criticism" [half]
Movie Science: Arrival
The Dark Knight: Visual Echoes
Scenes with a Live Audience - Fun Edit
Why I Left the Left
Do I have ADHD?
Trump vs. Bernie in the First Ever @midnight Presidential Debate [third]
Sean Spicer Press Conference (Melissa McCarthy) - SNL
Heidi - Japanese Version
Heidi Theme in German [billionth viewing]
my surviving Xtranormal films
a lot of Bombay TV films


- just another film blog -
http://perception-de-ambiguity.tumblr.com

Re: What classics did you watch this week? (2/6-2/12)

Ended it with a warhorse.

The Grapes of Wrath (1940) - John Ford - 9/10 - Yes

jj

Oz June David Mad Sky Otto Petulia Wild Story Rat Negro

Wow! My very last reviews on the WCDYWTW thread. Hard to believe but it's been a great run. I have to give a big shout out to DFC who began the thread originally before turning the reins over to Zetes. Both men did an outstanding job of maintaining the thread and I'm proud to say both of them have crossed over from CFB pals to genuine friends outside the IMDb (I've even met one of them). Thank you to all who read the reviews and gave constructive feedback, both positive and negative, through the years. A special thanks to lqualls-dchin and rcocean, both of who have been consistent in their support week after week. To all you terrific contributors to this weekly thread, an oasis of civilization in the CFB desert, thank you for your contributions. I've learned a lot and discovered a lot of gems from you guys. Thank you to those who have contacted me via PM re my meager contributions and given me their contact information. You'll be hearing from me. And now on to the movies!

The Wizard Of Oz (1939)

When a tornado rages over the Kansas landscape, a young girl (Judy Garland) and her dog are carried off in their house and when it lands, it's in a strange and colorful land called Oz. But how to get back home? Glinda (Billie Burke), the good witch, suggests visiting the wizard of Oz in the Emerald city and it's down the yellow brick road to see the wizard. Well, what can one say that hasn't already been said about one of the most beloved film classics of all time? It's seeped into our collective consciousness and pop culture. Well, I hate to be the spoilsport but I'm just not enamored of the film as most people. It's got a genial sweetness to it and Judy Garland alone should be reason to watch the film (and she is). Her rendition of Over The Rainbow is one of the great movie moments of all time. But I find its message of "there's no place like home" disturbing. Who'd want to go back to Kansas after they've been to Oz? But thematically the film suggests that everything we need is "home" and there's no need to go out into the world and seek adventure or anything else. Hmmm ..... But perhaps I'm projecting something into the film that was never intended but I'm dubious. The hummable songs are by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg. With Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Margaret Hamilton, Jack Haley and Frank Morgan.

June Moon (1949)

A young lyricist (Jack Lemmon) meets a young dental assistant (Eva Marie Saint) on a train going to New York and is instantly smitten with her. But as he gets pulled into the Manhattan nightlife by the gold digging sister in law (Jean Carson) of his writing partner (Edward Andrews), he loses his way. Based on the 1929 Broadway play by George S. Kaufman and Ring Lardner, this version performed live in the early days of television is most notable for seeing the pre-stardom Lemmon and Saint at such an early stage of their careers. Neither had yet made their feature film debut and although their star quality hadn't manifested itself yet, they're an attractive and engaging pair. As for the piece itself, in spite of its happy ending, there's an underlying thread of acrimony running through it, a sense of dissatisfaction among its characters. Directed by Walter Hart. With Glenda Farrell, David Opatoshu and Joshua Shelley.

David And Bathsheba (1951)

The King of Israel (Gregory Peck) lusts after the wife (Susan Hayward) of one of his soldiers (Kieron Moore). They begin an adulterous affair but God will have none of it so he sends a drought upon Israel. Directed by Henry King (Song Of Bernadette), this is a rather ponderous affair. It plays it straight and seriously when what it really needs is some good old fashioned DeMille vulgarity! The closest it ever comes to that is Gwen Verdon in dark Egyptian make up doing a bump and grind in front of the King. Peck and Hayward are the real deal when it comes to star wattage but star power can do only so much and they're not able to kick some life into this sanctimonious tale. By the time the movie reaches its conclusion and psalm 23 ("the Lord is my shepherd") is set to Alfred Newman's music as Peck and Hayward walk nobly to the rain, you just might be ready to toss your cookies! Unlike its biblical counterpart, the screenwriters make Bathsheba a deliberate temptress luring David rather than the victim of his lust. But audiences ate this stuff up and the film was a big hit. With Raymond Massey, Jayne Meadows, James Robertson Justice, John Sutton and George Zucco.

The Mad Magician (1954)

Set in the late 1800s, a magician and master of disguise (Vincent Price) has his new show canceled when his employer (Donald Randolph) has him served with an injunction. Their contract states that all new works and inventions by the magician are owned by the company. It isn't long before the employer mysteriously "disappears" and it won't be the last death! Directed by John Brahm (1944's The Lodger), this was Price's third foray into 3D following House Of Wax and Dangerous Mission. The plot is basically a rehash of Wax but shot in B&W instead of color and without much style. The main problem I had with it is that I found Price's character enormously sympathetic for a villain and some of the supporting characters like the snooping landlady (Lenita Lane) who helps solve the mystery quite annoying. When you find yourself rooting for the bad guy (I wasn't rooting for Price in House Of Wax), clearly something is awry. Which doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. At 1 hour and 13 minutes, it's too brief to wear out its welcome and there's a nice supporting performance by Eva Gabor as Price's conniving ex-wife. With Mary Murphy, Patrick O'Neal, John Emery, Jay Novello and Corey Allen.

Subway In The Sky (1959)

Set in Berlin, a military doctor (Van Johnson) is suspected of drug peddling and murder. He escapes from the military police and sneaks into his wife's (Katherine Kath) apartment since she is the only one who can prove his innocence. Instead, he finds his wife gone and a nightclub chanteuse (Hildegard Knef) living there instead. Based on the play by Ian Main by way of the novel by Bruce Birch and directed by Muriel Box (Rattle Of A Simple Man). For a rather stage bound thriller, the majority of the film takes place in a penthouse apartment, this is pleasantly entertaining. It's rather easy to identify the real killer and most of the suspense comes from whether the police will catch an innocent man before he can prove his innocence. The real murderer is a real twisted piece of work and there's one last shocking killing. All in all, a pedestrian piece of film making but who says it has to be great to be enjoyable? Johnson is serviceable but it's Knef who takes over the film and she even gets to sing! With Cec Linder, Vivian Matalon, Albert Lieven and Edward Judd.

Otto E Mezzo (aka 8 1/2) (1963)

An internationally renowned Italian film director (Marcello Mastroianni) finds himself with a frightening form of director's block. He's paralyzed with doubts and as costs mount on an elaborate film he's set to direct, he has no script! There's a saying that you don't know what you have until you don't have it anymore. When I was younger and attended every new Fellini that opened with anticipation, I don't think I appreciated the enormity of his contribution to cinema. He's been gone for over 20 years now and revisiting 8 1/2, I was astounded by his imagination and creativity. There has never been another director quite like him and when one uses the term "Fellini-esque", one instantly knows what is being referenced. The visuals alone (the B&W cinematography is by Gianni Di Venanzo) justify watching the film but Fellini offers a complex examination of an artist on the brink of artistic bankruptcy. He doesn't give the film's protagonist or us a solution but he does tie the director's inability to create with his flaws and limitations as a human being. A highly influential film on many directors including Woody Allen, Francois Truffaut and Bob Fosse. The massive cast includes Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimee, Barbara Steele, Sandra Milo, Rossella Falk, Madeleine LeBeau and Eddra Gale.

Petulia (1968)

An eccentric socialite (Julie Christie), who's married, stumbles into the life of a divorced doctor (George C. Scott) and attempts to pull him out of his shell. Set in San Francisco at the end of the 60s, Richard Lester (A Hard Day's Night) takes what appears at first to be an updated screwball comedy and plunges quickly into something darker. Christie's Petulia is a victim of domestic abuse and married to a psychotic (Richard Chamberlain), who may be a repressed homosexual, while Scott's Archie is shut off from his feelings. It's clear from the beginning that they're all wrong for each other but their emotional pain is so great that perhaps they can comfort each other. Lester and his cinematographer Nicholas Roeg and editor Antony Gibbs give us a fragmented puzzle as broken as its protagonists as it flash backs and flash forwards until its painfully poignant last shot. Its look and style may date it but its foundation is solid. One of the best films of its decade. The haunting score is by John Barry. With Shirley Knight, Joseph Cotten, Arthur Hill, Kathleen Widdoes, Pippa Scott, Rene Auberjonois, Austin Pendelton and Janis Joplin.

The Wild Party (1975)

Set in the 1920s, a once popular silent film comedian (James Coco) throws a lavish party to showcase his comeback movie and invites the Hollywood elite as well as the hangers on. But the party slowly descends into an evening of debauchery and eventual tragedy. Loosely based on the epic 1928 book length narrative poem by Joseph Moncure March, the film invites comparison to the Fatty Arbuckle scandal especially with the casting of the rotund Coco in the lead role. This is an odd little film. Directed by James Ivory (Howards End), not only is the rhyming spoken narrative unusual but there's so much dancing and singing that the film is a borderline musical. It looks smashing but the screenplay by Walter Marks is so poorly constructed that it's hard to imagine how the film could have worked. Coco's character is so inconsistent that he makes no sense and no explanation or backstory is offered to clear it up or give reasons. It's a pity the film isn't better because it contains a very good performance by Raquel Welch as Coco's mistress. She's quite vulnerable and touching as the faithful girlfriend who withstands the constant and erratic abuse dished out to her. With Perry King, David Dukes, Tiffany Bolling, Royal Dano and Bobo Lewis.

Storyville (1992)

The lawyer son (James Spader) of a powerful Louisiana family is a rising political figure in the state. But a night of sexual games with a Vietnamese prostitute (Charlotte Lewis) not only puts his political career in jeopardy but spirals into blackmail and murder. In the South, it's said that the past is never dead and here, its fingers are far reaching. Based on the novel Juryman by Frank Galbally and Robert Macklin and directed by Mark Frost, the co-creator and writer of Twin Peaks with David Lynch. It's an uneven film to be sure but overall, I found it a rather engrossing potboiler. I suspect it's inherent in the novel (which I haven't read) but the actions of Spader's character seem illogical and very stupid for someone aiming for a political career. Sure, there are a proliferation of sex scandals in politics every year but Spader's actions seem so self destructive for someone who appears to have a solid head on his shoulders as well as a moral backbone. If you can get past that then you might enjoy the murder mystery aspect of the film including an extremely well done courtroom shoot out. There's an evocative underscore by Carter Burwell. The cast includes Jason Robards, Piper Laurie, Joanne Whalley, Michael Parks, Steve Forrest, Woody Strode and Michael Warren.

Rat Race (2001)

A Las Vegas casino tycoon (John Cleese) stashes two million dollars in a locker in Silver Springs, New Mexico. He then randomly selects a handful of people and gives them each a key to the locker. The first to get there gets the two million. Sounds easy, doesn't it but the impediments and obstacles in getting there are anything but easy! Directed by Jerry Zucker (Airplane!), the film comes off as a homage to It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World. The premise is the same, a group of greedy people willing to do anything to get rich but whereas the Stanley Kramer film remained cynical and mean spirited to the very end, Rat Race goes all sappy and sentimental on us. But up until then, it's quite funny if politically incorrect in its humor (lesbians, Jews and PETA are likely to be offended and pedophile jokes? Really?) But the cast which is heavily cast with comic actors are up for it and if you're a fan of those everyone running around hysterically in a frenzy movies like Mad World, 1941 or Russians Are Coming then you should find much to like here. If you're not, it's just as well you pass it up. The large cast includes Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding Jr., Rowan Atkinson, Kathy Bates, Seth Green, Jon Lovitz, Kathy Najimy, Wayne Knight, Dean Cain, Amy Smart, Breckin Meyer, Lanai Chapman and Gloria Allred.

I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

An unfinished manuscript by the American writer James Baldwin (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) reflects on racism in America while reminiscing not only on his own life but his friendships with slain African American civil rights leaders Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Medgar Evers. I'm often leery of documentaries because their film makers have an agenda (which is perfectly fine) but too often manipulate images to suit their agenda or set up situations that will accommodate their viewpoint (don't get me started on Michael Moore!). Raoul Peck's powerful documentary stands out because the words are those of Baldwin, not the film maker and the images are irrefutable (no re-enactments here), disturbing as they are. In 2017, as we see the last stand of a white patriarchal power trying to turn the clock back, Raoul Peck's film is more relevant than ever. My only quibble is minor and that is that some of the movie clips used are out of context and make no sense. I mean is Doris Day swooning over Rock Hudson really the face of racism? But stuff like that constitutes seconds and what Peck has done bringing Baldwin's powerful and unfettered words makes us realize that we're stepping backward. Highly recommended.

In ancient Egypt, cats were worshipped as gods. They have never forgotten this

Re: Oz June David Mad Sky Otto Petulia Wild Story Rat Negro

Ah Addison. you've finally seen my only moments on the big screen. Hint: I am throwing a pie at a man wearing a big dress and wig.

Best wishes for your future endeavors! Over and out.

Re: Oz June David Mad Sky Otto Petulia Wild Story Rat Negro

Though MGM has a big reputation for its "literate" output (Irving Thalberg was big believer in the "great books" approach), it should be said that the MGM machine tended to mangle the source material more than it tried for an approximation. THE WIZARD OF OZ is an example: though the sets and costumes are pretty spectacular, the story is domesticated in typical MGM fashion. It should be said that THE WIZARD OF OZ is one of those movies made by committee (in spite of the credits), with an assembly line of directors providing the material to be edited together. (The "Over the Rainbow" sequence was directed by King Vidor, who was always proud of that fact.) This is also the movie where a star is born: Judy Garland had shown her potential in bits and pieces in small roles in BROADWAY MELODY OF 1938 and LOVE FINDS ANDY HARDY, but here she carries the movie, though Margaret Hamilton, Bert Lahr and Ray Bolger provide stellar support.

A lot of the biblical epics of the 1950s are almost unwatchable now. It's hard to know how to take them, because they're usually ponderous and so sobersided. And DAVID AND BATHSHEBA is a case in point. But Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward really are movie stars, and that's obvious here.

I've never seen THE MAD MAGICIAN in 3D, but i can't imagine that it would be much better. It's unusual because it's kind of a drab movie (that's why when i found out it had been done in 3D i was surprised), but Vincent Price soldiers on and is able to give a performance in spite of the material.

SUBWAY IN THE SKY has a derivative feel to it: by 1959, there were so many international thrillers (often set in some "exotic" city) that this one couldn't help but seem a rather pale imitation. By the 1950s, a lot of American movie stars were making films in Europe; Van Johnson had already gone the British route in 23 PACES TO BAKER STREET but he's not quite the right actor for international intrigue. However, Hildegarde Knef had already been in a number of these international thrillers, such as DIPLOMATIC COURIER and THE MAN BETWEEN, she was quite effective in those films and she's good here.

Yes, it is hard to remember just what an original Fellini was, because his influence has been so ubiquitous. But the experience of seeing 8 1/2 on its original release was (as they used to say) mind-blowing. And talk about dazzling: few black-and-white films have been so magical. Of course, the title refers to the fact that (according to Fellini) this was his eighth (and a half) feature film. (The previous seven were: VARIETY LIGHTS, THE WHITE SHEIK, I VITELLONI, LA STRADA, IL BIDONE, NOTTI DI CABIRIA, LA DOLCE VITA, and Fellini regarded his episode of LOVE IN THE CITY as his half film.) And 8 1/2 cemented Marcello Mastroianni's status as the leading Italian film actor of his generation.

Richard Lester himself considers PETULIA his best movie. It was also one of the films photographed by Nicolas Roeg which showed off the beauty of Julie Christie (the others were FAHRENHEIT 451 and FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD). But PETULIA showed, not just Lester's virtuosity, but his sensitivity to actors, because some people gave just about their best performances in this film: not just Julie Christie, but George C. Scott, Shirley Knight, Richard Chamberlain, Pippa Scott, Kathleen Widdoes.

The Merchant-Ivory films are very erratic; in a lot of cases, the literary material is misunderstood, and there's often a problem with casting, and the films become static. The pictorial aspects just sit there. For me, the problem is a lot of the books being adapted are ones i like (such as Jean Rhys's QUARTET) and the results are hard to recognize. THE WILD PARTY was the source of two separate musicals in the 1990s, neither was satisfying. And the film was always a sad disappointment. It needed more flash and drive. But it's one of the rare instances when Raquel Welch showed she could act.

STORYVILLE was one of those TV "events" which seemed to be all flash with a huge cast, but little narrative center. I remember it because this was the period when James Spader was getting a lot of roles, and he never seemed to be cast properly. But i also remember how big the cast was, and the complications just got out of hand, so that even when people were trying to give good performances, they were defeated by how illogical their characters were.

RAT RACE was fun, and one thing i remember was how wholeheartedly the cast threw themselves into it.

Your comments on I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO are spot-on; though there are so many documentaries now being released, it's rare for a documentary to really have artistic qualities. But Raoul Peck mixes readings of James Baldwin's (unfinished) manuscript with some wonderful footage of various appearances by Baldwin. His intelligence is bracing and it's frighteningly relevant in the current political climate.

Well, if this is your last review on the IMDB boards, it's a good place to end!

Amy Adams double feature +

Frank Disney Grillo

The end is here!

1:Goofy short: Foul Hunting (1947) 7

Jumping into the duck pond with Goofy,director Jack Hannah gives the short a fluid quality,with the water animation having an excellent slippery appearance. Flying down to Goofy,Hannah paints the ducks in bright,refreshing green which make them stand out on the screen. Staying in one location,the screenplay by Dick Kinney and Bob North give the film a slap-stick zest in very funny set pieces where the ducks turn the tables,and Goofy gets hunted.

2: Boileau/Narcejac adaptation Faces in the Dark (1960) 8

Unmasking this near-forgotten title, Renown present a sparkling transfer,with the dialogue and Mikis Theodorakis's off-beat wah-wah score being clear,and there only being a few specs of dirt on the images of the dark.

Ridding Hammond of his sight in the first 5 minutes (!) of this Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac adaptation,the screenplay by Ephraim Kogan & John Tully cuts a lean and mean British Film Noir. Changing sight of the original novel limiting the pov to the darkness of Hammond's mind,the writers brilliantly retain the isolation Noir spirit,with sharp-tooth inner monologues bringing to light the mad darkness Hammond is trapped in,and the echoes of doubt he now has of those out of sight. Playfully nodding to the French to English transfer,the writers hit a fantastic ambiguous note for Hammond's friends and family, shining in the clipped exchanges Christine has with her husband,which carry (some) element of care with a decayed frustration over Hammond's blindness to other points of view.

Spraying the dark mist of the original novel across the screen,director David Eady and cinematographer Ken Hodges turn Hammond's upper-crust country house into a Noir maze,via ever winding ultra-stylish shadows guarding Hammond from seeing the darkest events taking place. Largely staying away from any Gothic "monster" lighting for Hammond, Eady looks into his burnt eyes with coiled close-ups stabbing the pompous outlook he had on life,with a new Noir loner grasp from Hammond to catch an eyeful of the true feelings of those around him. Joined by an elegant, thoughtful Mai Zetterling as Christiane, John Gregson gives a fantastic performance as Hammond,thanks to Gregson punching Hammond's narrow bitterness with a gradual Film Noir fear of lies coming from the faces in the dark.

3:Disconnect (2012) 8

Completely unaware of what his son is doing under his nose, Frank Grillo gives a very good performance as Mike Dixon,with Grillo carrying Dixon's blue collar outlook on family life with a no- nonsense approach to his job. Trying to find light in their marriage, Paula Patton and Alexander Skarsgård give excellent performances as the Hull's,whilst Michael Nyqvist stays on edge round them as a possible online "friend."

Logging off from comedies, Jason Bateman dives into the burnt-out desperation of Ben's dad Rich Boyd,as Andrea Riseborough digs Dunham's glammed up nails into the seedy world of the "dark web." Avoiding any happy online stories such as finding a date or a rare film,the screenplay by Andrew Stern gives the criss-crossing stories an earthy grittiness,where the black mirrors of the online world are unable to reflect the search for peace from the Hull's or the battle Rich takes on to uncoil the wires round his family. Webbing the film in a dazzling slow-motion final, director Henry Alex Rubin & cinematographer Ken Seng keep to the offline mood of Stern's screenplay,via jagged camera moves crossing the wires of each offline profile.

4:Mother of Tears (2007). A Crap-tastic 7.

Whilst stripping the film of the distinctive appearance of Suspiria and Inferno,co-writer (along with Jace Anderson / Walter Fasano/ Adam Gierasch and Simona Simonetti) director Dario Argento & cinematographer Frederic Fasano unearth a dusty, golden appearance that keeps the horrors linked to the nightmare unearthed. Tearing the limbs out of anything even slightly subtle,Argento attacks the low budget for a piece of gloriously weird,pure Horror kitsch. Making the end of the world look like a Friday night out,Argento jumps over the limited extras with practical bonkers delights,from gallons of over the top gore and bad CGI ghosts,to a random cheeky monkey and the witches looking like a Goth band.

Criss-crossed from various screenplays written over 30 years,the writers struggle to keep any of the original elements of the first two films intact,with bone-dry scenes involving "research" featuring characters showing illustrations in books for scenes the budget can't cover. Rolling down an Adventure Horror path,the writers push the mammoth flaws aside for hilariously odd shocks,that leaps from Mandy fighting hobos on the eve of the apocalypse,to Mandy being unable to spank a demonic monkey. Reuniting with her dad, (who lingers a bit too long at her naked body) sexy Asia Argento gives a fittingly peculiar performance as Mandy,who largely appears oddly relaxed at the end of the world,as her dad closes the urn on The Three Mothers.

Re: What classics did you watch this week? (2/6-2/12)

I don't think I've posted on one of these threads in about a decade, but I'd like to make a final post now in honor of the CFB board (and DFC's and zetes' hard work), though my choices are few, and only the final two are first viewings:

The Hasty Heart (1949) - touching, with an exceptional performance by Richard Todd.

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) - as good as ever, but not as interesting to me this time 'round

Hidden Figures (2016) - well-done, classically styled film with excellent performances

Arrival (2016) - intriguing narrative, extremely well done, with a marvelous performance by Amy Adams; worth a second viewing, I would say

The time of the singing of the birds has come.

Feb 12th very final dropping

I thought that my final dropping would have been last week, but nope, here's one more.

Anyway, I've been watching 1930s whodunits, all of which I mentioned on my whodunit thread on the noir board.

Thanks for your contributions to these threads, folks!



~~~~~
Proud to be Canadian! 🇨🇦

Re: What classics did you watch this week? (2/6-2/12)

1st views -

Bicycle Thieves (1948) Wow. Why did I wait till now? REALLY lives up to its reputation. 9/10
What Dreams May Come (1998) 2/10
Sphere (1998) 2/10

Others -

The Hospital (1971) 7/10
Rashomon (1950) 7/10
Scent of a Woman (1992) 7.5/10
Home from the Hill (1960) 8/10



"He was a poet, a scholar and a mighty warrior."

Re: What classics did you watch this week? (2/6-2/12)

Hi OldAussie - So happy (for you - I'm actually also a bit envious) you got to see BICYCLE THIEVES and HOME FROM THE HILL - both which, as you know, I haven't seen yet. SPHERE is a real stinker isn't it?.

As for WHAT DREAMS MAY COME. While I'm hardly surprised - knowing you are a caring and laid back, but also somewhat flinty, somehat cynical old commie from Oz and (I think) an atheist, at your low rating for Vincent Ward's WHAT DREAMS MAY COME, I rated it a fair bit higher than you because it contains some of the most glowingly, achingly lovely scenes I have ever seen on the big screen. Surely, even you have to admit it would be glorious if there really is a heaven and it is like the one depicted in this film?

The following image is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in a film, and when I saw the picture on the big screen I burst into tears and clutched this image to my heart for weeks afterwards. It fired up my dreams and gave me hope for a while. Of course, I came back down to earth eventually but, I will hold onto this image forever.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120889/mediaviewer/rm1902366208

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, I had the most loyal, loving and faithful golden retriever. His name was Jake, he was my soul mate, he was my constant companion for nearly 15 years, I loved him with all my heart, and he loved me unconditionally in return.

I was shattered when this beautiful animal passed away, but I have consoled myself with the fact that while "death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal".

Still, for weeks after seeing WHAT DREAMS MAY COME I would go to sleep at night and dream that that when Jake (who was still alive at that time) inevitably passed away, he would go to heaven and be waiting for me when my time came. I mean, imagine dying, waking up in heaven, and as you walk into the most beautiful, peaceful place you have ever encountered you look into the distance and there, with a wet nose, a twinkle in his eye, a huge shaggy canine smile and a tail wagging manically and joyfully, is the dog you loved with all your being, and he is going to be together with you for eternity?

I saw THE FOUNDER, 20th CENTURY WOMEN and GOLD on the big screen this week. And I watched THE NEW CENTURIONS - for the first time since seeing it at the cinema in 1972, and HELL OR HIGH WATER - which I had already seen at the movies, on Blu Ray.

Not sure if 20TH CENTURY WOMEN - which I loved but the missus didn't much care for, will be to your taste, and the heavily flawed, yet often fascinating and seldom boring GOLD is a mixed bag (great performance by McConaughey, though), but THE FOUNDER is excellent and thought provoking with an absolutely brilliant performance by Michael Keaton - so look out for it dude, and, if you haven't seen HELL OR HIGH WATER yet, I can let on that you have a treat of epic proportions awaiting you. HELL OR HIGH WATER is a keeper mate.

Re: What classics did you watch this week? (2/6-2/12)

My son bought the Blu-ray of BICYCLE THIEVES about a year ago and I wish I'd gotten to it sooner. A beautiful depiction of a father/son relationship with 2 great performances by the 2 actors. And there may well have been a tear in my eyes at the end.

HOME FROM THE HILL is another depiction of father/sons in a much more melodramatic fashion. Vincente Minnelli directed 2 of my absolute favourites of the time in The Bad and the Beautiful and Some Came Running and this one is possibly just a notch below them. Mitchum and Peppard are excellent. The DVD is labelled Region 1 but plays on my region 4 machine. Unfortunately as a library copy it had several bad scratches and jumped a couple of times.

WHAT DREAMS MAY COME is one of those movies where I could feel I was being terribly manipulated. And as a communist/atheist, a film with this one's point of view has to be pretty darn good to maintain my suspension of disbelief. It failed on me.

THE FOUNDER and HELL OR HIGH WATER are both on my watch list.


"He was a poet, a scholar and a mighty warrior."

Germany digs Hitler, Roschdy Zem really digs Chaplin

In honor of the thread's estimable host's sig, a Hitler double-header:

Dani Levy's My Führer: The Truly Truest Truth About Adolf Hitler is set in the dark days – well, for the Germans at least – of late 1944 when the Nazis are losing the war, which isn't surprising since they can't even deliver a prisoner from one room to another without the proper paperwork, even when bombs are falling all around, and Hitler has fallen into deep depressions. To rally the German people and inspire their leader anew, Goebbels plans a grand rally of a million people in an unblemished Berlin (courtesy of movie sets to hide the massive bomb damage) where he will deliver the greatest speech of his career, but to do it he'll need to be coached by Adolf Gruenbaum (the great Ulrich Mühe in his penultimate feature before his untimely death), once Germany's greatest actor but now a concentration camp inmate. Of course, not everything is quite as it seems. While Goebbels is all conciliatory charm and everyone tells Gruenbaum not to take the Final Solution personally, he wants the Jewish actor not to inspire Hitler but to reawaken his hatred as he gets inside his head – and that's just one of his ulterior motives…

So far so The Fuhrer's Speech, but this black comedy is not without historical precedent: before the Night of Long Knives that violently purged the SA, Hitler fell into one of his periodic clinical depressions that offered Ernst Roem an opportunity to snatch the Party leadership and was allegedly talked out of it by the stage psychic, conman, Bela Lugosi lookalike and closet Jew Erik Jan Hanussen, who may also have given him some tips on showmanship along the way. And this is very much a film about staged reality and the way that people can become wrapped up in the lies they are telling: even with Berlin in ruins Goebbels and Bormann think they can still win the war with just a few changes of key personnel, Hitler constantly convinces himself of whatever lie or fantasy he's spinning even after he knows the truth and it even mocks Gruenbaum's humanist principles that not only prevent him from taking action but also make him stop his wife smothering Hitler to death when he's in their bed: in part caught up in his project, in part making excuses to justify his actions because he needs something to believe in – even a lie…

It's a film that went through a fairly major overhaul in post-production, where the focus shifted from Hitler's perspective to seeing the story through Gruenbaum's eyes, which makes more sense not just because the film ends on a note about the enduring fascination with Hitler being in part our desire to explain what can never be explained but because Helge Schneider is absolutely awful as the führer. It doesn't help that he's under some very obvious prosthetic makeup that makes him look more like Monty Python's Mr Creosote after a few months in a health farm, but he's clearly in a completely different film to Mühe, who is never less than completely believable even when the script struggles to make its big idea work. But it's Sylvester Groth's excellent award winning turn as Goebbels (a role he reprised in Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds) that is the film's real star turn, and it's when he's sharing the screen with Mühe lying with charming finesse that the film catches fire. That doesn't happen often enough to make the film more than an ambitious and occasionally intriguing failure, but it is enough to make it worth a look if it crosses your path.


“Yesterday I was moving the 12th army. Today it's a newspaper rack.”

A man suddenly wakes up in the street to find himself 69 years in the future. His friends are nowhere to be found, the city he knew in ruins has been rebuilt, its people gone mad, no-one salutes him anymore and those that do recognise him either think he's an impersonator or want a selfie. Such is the fate of Adolf Hitler in Er Ist Wieder Da aka Look Who's Back, thrown into the Germany of 2014 to find it run by a clumsy woman with the charisma of a wet noodle and with a right wing opposition that can't even build an Ikea shelf let alone a Fourth Reich. Worse, people think he's a comedian staying scrupulously in character – worse for us, as it turns out…

Discovered by Fabian Busch's down on his luck TV freelancer in desperate need of a scoop, Hitler hits the road, part funded by the former führer doing caricatured sketches of the tourists in Bayreuth (“Hang the picture at home. Hang yourself next to it”) en route to becoming a Youtube and TV superstar finding a frighteningly receptive audience for his beliefs, and one that barely needs prompting: as he notes, “It sufficed to put out a few keywords as bait and soon I had them wriggling on the line.” And those keywords are worryingly familiar – at times word for word – for anyone following Trump's presidential campaign rhetoric. Even more worrying, director David Wnendt takes a Borat approach to Timur Verme's bestselling novel and includes many scenes where Hitler interacts with real Germans in improvised scenes on the street: few take him to task and many think he's just saying what needs to be said in his quest to make Germany great again. But while the media embraces his ratings winning offensive with open arms with Katja Reimann's TV exec his Leni Reifenstahl, justifying it as bold post-modern comic irony, he's as honest as he was first time round: “In 1933, people were not fooled by propaganda. They elected a leader who openly disclosed his plans in great clarity. If I am a monster you have to condemn all the people who voted for this monster. Were they all monsters? No, they were ordinary people.”

Not that it's all smooth sailing. As long as he railing against immigration, politicians, the limitations of democracy and the dilution of pure German blood, he can do no wrong. His apparent downfall is triggered by the one thing that will unite everyone against him: harming a cute animal. But even then, people just can't stay mad at Hitler for very long, and even the people who hate him buy his new book. The film ends with Hitler in the ascendant, not as politician but as all-conquering multimedia superstar, looking at the political disenchantment and nodding to himself “I can work with this…”

Yet for all the bleakness of the message – even bleaker now than when it debuted in German cinemas in 2015 – it's often incredibly funny, whether it's Wnendt framing some outrageous sight gags in the background, the machinations of Christoph Maria Herbe's demoted TV exec to sabotage Hitler's career to get Reimann's job backfiring spectacularly (Herbe even gets to play a TV ratings version of that scene in Downfall) or Oliver Masucci never once breaking character as he adapts to a modern world with frightening ease (he dismisses the new right as lightweights but rather likes the sound of the Green Party). And much of the film's success comes down to Masucci's truly astonishing performance. It's almost certainly the best screen Hitler ever, and the most frighteningly believable, fully capturing the focused intensity and self-belief and posture with remarkable accuracy, pulling off the balancing act between a Hitler you can laugh at while never losing sight of just how dangerous he was by descending into blustering parody, as befits a film about the dangers of taking someone deadly serious as a mere joke. After all, back then people were laughing at first too…


The Price of Fame aka La Rancon de la Gloire was one of those films that flew completely under the radar, a box-office disaster even in its native France, where it had the misfortune to open the day of the Charlie Hebdo massacre - probably the very worst possible time to open a black comedy with a French-Moroccan lead, a co-star who made his name playing a serial killer and a dubious sounding premise (especially ironic since director Xavier Beauvois' previous film Of Gods and Men had dealt with fundamentalist terrorists). And the premise certainly sounds tasteless: an affectionate tragic-comedy about two immigrants barely eeking out a living in Switzerland who find themselves kidnapping Charlie Chaplin and holding him for ransom – after he's died and been buried. Why Chaplin? “He was our friend. Chaplin was the friend of the homeless, the friend of the immigrant, the friend of the poor. We're all of those things.”

It's a story so utterly absurd it could only be true – Chaplin was actually the third dead celebrity to be taken from his resting place that year after Maria Callas and Elvis' remains had already been ‘borrowed' - and while Beauvois has changed some details (the actual kidnappers were Bulgarian and Polish immigrants but here are Belgian and Algerian), it's broadly faithful to the facts. Even more surprising, it even has the Chaplin family's seal of approval, featuring two of the Chaplins, granddaughter Dolores and son Eugene, while Chaplin's Limelight theme soars on the soundtrack as they drive away into the night with the Little Tramp's coffin. The film even suggests that Chaplin would have approved of finding himself in the spotlight again in such a blackly comic fashion.

That tacit approval isn't that hard to understand since, rather than go the Bring Me the Corpse of Charlie Chaplin route, it's a gentle, understated film and a strangely sweet and life affirming one, mixing often contradictory elements with surprising success РMichel Legrand's wonderfully grand old fashioned score compliments the near naturalism of the low key early scenes detailing their life at the very bottom of the heap in a shared hovel rather than smothers or sugarcoats it. And in Roschdy Zem and Benǫt Poelvoorde's inept kidnappers it has two almost Chaplinesque figures (Zem is even motivated by needing to find the money to pay for his wife's operation) in an increasingly farcical situation: they don't speak English so can't negotiate a ransom and three others have already tried to claim it (one of them voiced by Michel Legrand) before they can get through on the phone to Chaplin's devoted butler (Peter Coyote). And Beauvois takes much of his inspiration from silent cinema, the film's best moments played without dialogue but with music: Zem awkwardly dancing to Sophia Loren and Peter Sellers on the radio, a silent moment of grace between the two men after they think their problems will soon be behind them and, best of all the music drowning out Poelvoorde's dialogue as he outlines his scheme, turning it into pure silent movie pantomime.

Sadly it's a film that doesn't quite work even though you find yourself wanting it to. It's never as funny as you feel it could have been and the ending doesn't really convince thanks to a circus subplot with Chiara Mastroianni and a rushed courtroom epilogue, but there's still a lot to like in a film that proved as ill-fated as the scheme it details.


Two years after stealing Charlie Chaplin's corpse, Roschdy Zem moved behind the camera but kept things in the family by hiring Chaplin's grandson James Thierrée (as well as some of the cast of La Rancon de la Gloire's, including its director in a small role) to co-star in Chocolat, a fictionalised account of the first black superstar, the circus clown Chocolat (Omar Sy) who was for a few years the toast of la Belle Epoque Paris, and his troubled relationship with his white partner and the real brains behind their groundbreaking double act Foottit (Thierrée).

As the film tells it, Foottit was down on his luck after his act had fallen out of fashion when he came across Chocolat, an escaped slave playing a savage to scare the crowds in a cheap provincial circus and saw the chance for a new kind of comedy team. Of course, to a modern audience what was revolutionary a hundred years ago now seems outdated, with much of their act dependent on politically incorrect jokes and a black man being kicked in the arse by a white man to make rich people laugh. Yet Zem doesn't assume a modern viewpoint and treat this as an outrage but for the most part celebrates the physicality of the two performers as their act becomes more ambitious: the notion that he's becoming a stereotype of the ‘whipped and happy' Negro isn't overlooked, but the stereotyping and discontent comes more from outside the act than within it.

The film takes quite a bit of dramatic licence with those facts that are well documented, and it's debatable whether they help or hinder the film. Chocolat was already a performer (and servant) with another clown at the Nouveau Cirque in Paris and far from his act with Foottit fundamentally revolving around a white man kicking a black man in the arse to make rich people laugh, as the short film we see the Lumiere Brothers (played by Denis and Bruno Podalydès) making and which is shown at the end of the film, part of the joke was that the black man gave as good as he got, which was still a genuinely daring notion. By making Foottit fluent in French and concentrating purely on the physicality, it skips over the fact that much of his act was built around malapropisms because of the Englishman's poor grasp of the language, a novelty in France but something that did him no favours in Britain.

Nor did they fall out dramatically as Chocolat became vaguely politicised and wanted to play Othello rather than Hamlet as happens in the film: both also regularly worked solo during their partnership and drifted apart because Foottit wanted to pass on the act to his sons (for some reason the film strongly hints that Foottit was a repressed crying on the inside homosexual). Yet it gets a lot right even if it's not exactly the way it was. Foottit was the brains of the outfit, if not quite the innovator he's often credited with being, certainly as revolutionary a figure in clowning as Charlie Chaplin was in cinema, and one who was famous before and after his work with Chocolat - indeed, his greatest success was his infamous solo impersonation of Sarah Bernhardt's endless death scene from Cleopatre that is recreated briefly in the film, albeit clumsily staged in front of a less than enraptured audience - while Chocolat's character flaws – his lack of discipline and laziness when it came to rehearsals, ruinous gambling, overspending, drinking and womanising - are recognised as just as big a part of his downfall as racism and changing tastes.

Both men did outlive their fame and die before their time after becoming alcoholics, though Foottit managed his decline rather better. While the film ends with a tearful but soberly shot reconciliation that implies both men lost their way when their partnership ended, both men continued to work sporadically (indeed, rather than a forgotten man sweeping up the sawdust, Chocolat was a jobbing bottom of the bill performer in the provinces when he died).

It's worth noting the extent of the changes because they hint at a much more intriguing and ambitious film that perhaps should have been made where this feels more like the film that could be made. Not that Zem's film is bad: it's beautifully produced and designed, the performances are excellent (Thierrée looking strikingly like his grandfather at times) and it holds your attention admirably. It's just that it never really moves you, feeling like an attempt to condense a more difficult story that could have used more time to tell into a classic rise and fall biopic narrative that celebrates only a small part of both men's talents and sells short much of the real drama.


"Security - release the badgers."

Gone Tokyo Nazis Chile

Gone with the Wind (1939) / Victor Fleming. “The Moviest Movie Of Them All.” Just about everything that can be said about GWTW has been said, I think, but it showed up on TCM's 31 Days Of Oscar festival so I DVR'd it. I hadn't seen it for decades. Thinking back, it must have been 40 or more years ago that I last watched it all the way through. This time I focused as best I could on the Good Parts – it's picture of slavery and of the Old South as a world of gentility filled with dashing Cavaliers and delicate damsels has been chewed over extensively. I wanted to look at it as an example of movie storytelling. From that aspect, this is indeed a deathless classic. The main ingredient is the audacious casting of an English stage and film actress as the (for the late 1930s) beloved heroine, Scarlett O'Hara. Vivien Leigh carries this huge film with her astonishing performance. Clark Gable may not have thought himself to have been right for Rhett Butler, but he lights up the screen whenever he is on it, even, at times, overshadowing Leigh. Most of us can recite the rest of the cast by heart. Music, cinematography, Technicolor – everything goes toward making this the classic it is. Yet, in the back of all our minds, no matter how we try to ignore it and think of other things, we know, as Pres. Lincoln wrote in a letter to a Kentucky newspaper editor, “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.” This is a sentiment found nowhere in “Gone With The Wind.”

Destination Tokyo (1943) / Delmer Daves. Suspenseful but padded WWII submarine adventure. Ace U.S. submarine commander Capt. Cassidy (Cary Grant) is given a dangerous secret mission to sneak his ship into heavily mined Tokyo harbor to prepare the way for Doolittle's Raid on that city, the first American bombs to fall on Japan. If you are thinking that Cary Grant is an unlikely candidate as a navy captain of a submarine, you would be misled. He gives one of his best dramatic performances. Consider also, that Grant had turned down the role, eventually given to Humphry Bogart, as a desert tank commander in “Sahara” to take the “Tokyo” assignment which had been turned down by Clark Gable. He is given some good support from some up-and-coming young actors. John Garfield is the most prominent of the names at the time of the film. Dane Clark, John Forsythe, Warner Anderson, and William Prince make the most of their chances in very early movie appearances. In the naïve, gee-whiz, country boy from Kansas role is Robert Hutton in his first credited movie. Instead of the usual stereotype, Hutton finds a real character to play and transcends the script he has been handed. More gossip: Cary Grant and Hutton's cousin, heiress Barbara Hutton, were practically newlyweds when the film was shot. Whether that influenced Hutton's casting is unknown. However he got on board, he came through impressively. The padding I mentioned earlier takes the form of way too much male bonding, joking around, and crew members pranking each other. It was, I guess, supposed to be heartwarming and funny, but I wanted them to just get on with the story – which is a terrific one and keeps one biting one's nails.

Anthropoid (2016) / Sean Ellis. On the Eastern European front of the Big War, some Czech ex-pats led by Josef Gabcík (Cillian Murphy) parachute into Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia with a very serious mission: assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi architect of the Holocaust who is currently in Prague to direct the pacification of the population. While remaining undetected they must find a way to get close to Heydrich and to convince the Resistance fighters to help them which they are reluctant to do, knowing the horrific reprisals that will result. In spite of some good scenes and some serious acting, this film is something of a lost opportunity. There is a lack of urgency at the center of the script and direction plus some pretty routine staging of the war action and resulting gun battles. I expected to be moved by the sacrifices of these dedicated people, but watched most of the movie feeling uninvolved. Too bad.

Neruda (2016) / Pablo Larrain. I am happy that for my last review on the last weekly thread is of one of the best movies I have seen in a long, long time. While grounded in the life and history of the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), this is a poetic fantasy (a poem in movie form about a poet) that counters Neruda's flight from Chile in the late 1940s when his country's fascist government outlawed the Communist Party with a young police inspector who pursues him. Inspector Peluchonneau (Gael García Bernal), who narrates, is given the job of finding Neruda and arresting him. Neruda, himself (Luis Gnecco), doesn't want to be caught but enjoys the thrill of the chase. As the cat-and-mouse game goes on, the events, the thoughts, the motivations get more dreamlike. Music (as in Larrain's “Jackie”) plays an enormous part in setting the mood. To repeat my previous metaphor, I felt like I was experiencing a poem on the movie screen. It is not easy to describe; most of the professional reviews I have looked at describe the movie in realistic terms of a police manhunt. Nothing could be further from what I experienced in the theater. This may take some time to digest but my first impression is that this is a fine and great film.


“I know that, in spite of the poets, youth is not the happiest season"

Anthropoid isa bit of a letdown, isn't it?

Despite having a great and ultimately tragic true story – the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich and the Nazis monstrous revenge on the Czechs – that has already inspired four previous films that's attracted talents as diverse as Fritz Lang, Bertolt Brecht, Douglas Sirk, Jiri Sequens and Lewis Gilbert, Anthropoid is one of those solid films that isn't exactly bad but really should be a lot better. While in some ways it may be the most accurate, it never translates that into a compelling human drama despite decent performances from Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan as the two assassins.

Although the film literally hits the ground running with them landing in occupied territory and almost immediately inadvertently falling into the hands of Czechs who will sell them out, the biggest problem is the absence of the very real threat the real assassins faced in a country ruled by terror where betrayal was always moments away. People talk about the Nazis and we see them in the background, but the heavy yoke is never really seen or felt until after the assassination so that the fears of reprisals that turned out to be horrendously underestimated carry no weight. Worse, the massacre and destruction of the entire town of Lidice feels almost glossed over in a brief line or two of dialogue that understates the scale of and arbitrary rationale for the atrocity. There's one striking torture scene played on the face of a bespectacled bureaucrat checking a statement from an offscreen informer as he's being beaten to jog his memory that shows that director Sean Ellis can do this without going overboard, but it happens so late in the film that Heydrich's assassination becomes more of an abstract practical problem than a dangerous necessity. And just as Heydrich is reduced to a name and a brief bit of archive footage, it never manages to make you really care about the characters despite giving them moments of human fallibility so their fate never hurts the way it should, something Lewis Gilbert's Operation Daybreak did surprisingly powerfully despite the questionable accuracy of its source novel.

It raises intriguing questions – was the mission just a suicidal gesture by the marginalized Czech government in exile to prove their countrymen could still fight? Was it worth wiping out what was left of the Czech resistance to carry out? Were thousands of lives simply being sacrificed to impress the very allies who had willingly and contemptuously given Czechoslovakia, that far away country “of whom we know nothing,” to the Nazis without a fight for a few months of peace (and who would sell it out again after the war)? What happens when platitudes about true patriots being willing to die for their country are tested by the reality? – and then ignores them beyond the odd line about regretting nothing or the whole nation being behind them that feel like the price of co-operation from a Czech government who are still working from the old propaganda movie playbook.

It's at its best in its two most visceral scenes, the horribly botched assassination – Heydrich died of sepsis rather than his wounds because his doctor decided not to treat him with antibiotics – and the German assault on the cathedral where the seven men were hiding. Yet it botches the horrifying epilogue as the Nazis gassed and then flooded the crypt where the last few men were hiding (the most genuinely moving part of Lewis Gilbert's film by far), opting for a stylised approach that adds a hideously misjudged spiritual reunion moment for one character that simply doesn't ring true and takes you out of the film. It's not the only old war movie moment the film throws in (Murphy's the hard-bitten one who really cares deeply while Dornan's the idealist whose nerve threatens to fail while both men inevitably fall in doomed love with the women they use as cover for their surveillance trips), but it's the most wildly misjudged in a film that at once honours the real people involved while never bringing them to life again on the screen.


"Security - release the badgers."

Dinner at Eight

Dinner at Eight (1933, George Cukor) is a fitting final film to review for the soon-to-be-departed Classic Film Board: a bona fide classic comedy whose actual subjects are aging and the imminence of death. It's about a number of bourgeois New Yorkers who've harbored themselves in self-delusional bubbles on the verge of being punctured by the encroaching, merciless reality of the Great Depression. Underneath all the witty repartee, the country club niceties, and the inflated egos are sad stories of the death of giants and the the dissolution of fortunes. Each character is lost in their crumbling vanity, exemplified by Billie Burke as she struggles hysterically to orchestrate a dinner party emblematic of a gratuitous lifestyle that will soon be made inaccessible, if not by bankruptcy then by mortality. I can't help but see a parallel with the pre-code era itself, with its knives about to be dulled by the sanitizing forces of the Hays Code. In any event, despite the gloom hovering in the background and which, occasionally, overtakes the screen (quite literally in the case of John Barrymore), the lightness generally prevails through the farcical set-ups and the egotistical barbs the characters spit at one another. Cukor displays his own visual wit, too, in his blocking and his editing (best moment: the cut from a couple on a couch to a close-up of a wiggly, gelatinous dinner). The origins are clearly theatrical, with long, dialogue-rich scenes that play out leisurely, letting the hypocrisies and vanities of its pathetic yet sympathetic ensemble take shape, and it's adapted well, with fluid camerawork that feels neither showy nor stagy. It's sophisticated and bittersweet. (35mm, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0023948/) (Second Viewing)

Re: What classics did you watch this week? (2/6-2/12)

-OUR TOWN 1940 7.8
William Holden, Martha Scott

-RISEN 2016 7.5
Joseph fiennes

Documentary

-HISTORY: INVASION IM MORGENGRAUEN DIE LANDUNG IN DER NORMANDIE/BATTLE
OF NORMANDY



--Every man's death diminishes me...because I am involved in mankind--

No films - just a thank you.

Thanks to Zetes and the previous hosts of this thread and to all those who over the years contributed to it. A big learn and share operation and invaluable.





The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: No films - just a thank you.

...and you did a great job of hosting the threads on the noir board! Then MDF took them over and he did a great job as well.



~~~~~
Proud to be Canadian! 🇨🇦

Re: No films - just a thank you.

And a big thank you to you for so many great recs - especially westerns.
When I retired some 6 years ago I'd seen one Mann western [Winchester '73] and now I'm at 8. I'd seen one Boetticher [Man From The Alamo] and now it's 7.
And the list goes on......


"He was a poet, a scholar and a mighty warrior."
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