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Found 10 results

  1. One of the cool things about retro-watching classic Hollywood films are the secondary screens listing the secondary actors and actresses. For example, take "All About Eve" (1950): And I have to give yet-another shout-out to Edith Head, who has won more Academy Awards (8) than any woman in history (Walt Disney has her beat with 22, which could be a difficult number to surpass): : I know two things about "All About Eve" going into the film: 1) It's one of the most famous movies ever made, and 2) I know nothing else about it. That is a *good* combination - I know it has Bette Davis in it (and also Marilyn Monroe from the above screen - if it's even possible, you might not recognize her at first unless you knew she was in the film (*)), and that it won an Academy Award for Best Picture from 1950, but that's about it - if I were writing a review of the film, you'd be getting a *v-e-r-y* pure critique, but I can hardly call what I do "reviews" so much as "calls for discussion" (because I want to enjoy the movie). I'm on the border of doing a separate thread for Gary Merrill - I've seen him in more than enough things where he deserves one: Likewise George Sanders, who not only plays the entitled critic Addison DeWitt in "All About Eve," but also played the scoundrel Jack Favell ten years before in "Rebecca." I've seen so many of these actors over the past month - Hugh Marlowe (who played Lloyd Richards) was an important character in "The Day the Earth Stood Still," released just a year after this was. And can anyone give a better "eat-shit" look than Bette Davis? *** SPOILER ALERT *** We all "know what happens" at the beginning of the film; it's how we get there that's the mystery. Yet, there are hints and clues throughout the movie (Eve (Anne Baxter) getting caught preening in front of the mirror with Margo's (Bette Davis's) gorgeous dress, for example). Interestingly, the one brash person in the world of Margo - Birdie (Thelma Ritter) - is also the one who plays the fool, and I mean the Fool in King Lear: Pay attention to everything she says in the film so you don't need to watch it twice. (*) This is such a great screen shot - remember my comment above about Marilyn Monroe. You can't really see Addison DeWitt (George Sanders), but it captures the essence of the three females *so well* (remember, Monroe wasn't famous yet, and she has a very minor role, but it still represents her in a picture-perfect way): A very interesting thing I noticed about "All About Eve" is the motif in the theme song, which is repeated in numerous places throughout the film - the first five notes are *exactly* the same as the first five notes in that of "Gone with the Wind." Perhaps my favorite exchange of dialogue in the film, between a furious Margo Channing (Davis, the actress) and an equally furious Lloyd Richards (Marlowe, the playwright). An angry screaming match: Richards: "Just when does an actress decide they're her words she's saying, and her thoughts she's expressing?" Channing: "Usually at the point when she has to rewrite and rethink them, to keep the audience from leaving the theater!" Richards: "It's about time the piano realized it has *not* written the concerto!" One thing about Addison DeWitt, the rogue theater critic: He knows what he's doing. Yes, he's corrupt as hell, but he still knows what he's doing, and only someone so full of self-interest would take the time to do the research that he did, all about Eve. If you understand the symbolism of this final scene, I like you, and want you to be a frequent poster in this forum; if you don't, please keep at it, watch as many great movies as you can, read as much as your time permits, and let's discuss things along the way. Likewise, if you understand why this is a genuinely great motion picture, but possibly a touch overrated, please also be a regular contributor (I don't really know why I'm saying these things, because I want everyone to be regular contributors here). "All About Eve" is a must-see for all serious students of film.
  2. When I was young, I saw a film titled, "Man in the Wilderness" (1971), which I still remember. "The Revenant" is based upon the same story (also titled "The Revenant," but written nearly 30-years after "Man in the Wilderness" was filmed). Of the two, the latter is *way* more spectacular, and - from what I remember - just plain better: a lot, lot, lot better. Leonard DiCaprio's performance won him an Academy Award for Best Actor, and from the other performances I've seen in 2015, it is fully deserved. Both DiCaprio and Supporting Actor Tom Hardy give two of the greatest performances I've ever seen in a single film - off the top of my head, I can't think of one movie with two better performances. "Midnight Cowboy," maybe, or "Rush?" If you enjoy films dealing with the human struggle to survive against all odds (and don't mind a bit, okay, a *lot* of graphic oomph), you'll really like "The Revenant" - it's not condescending at all. It even mentions Pawnee! Is Emmanuel Lubezki the best Cinematographer in the world? Don't be so sure he's not. Unless you've seen the film, you'll have no idea what this is, but it's a clear homage to prehistoric cave art, and just a beautiful shot: How good is "The Revenant?" I'm going to try and find, and watch, "Man in the Wilderness" - right now, knowing full well that I'm going to be disappointed. And there's no way that "Spotlight" - good as it was - should have taken Best Picture honors from "The Revenant." --- ETA - Make sure to watch "Man in the Wilderness" *afterwards*, and don't make the mistake of assuming that "The Bear" scene will be any less troubling.
  3. Why hadn't I seen "No Country for Old Men" before ?! As entertainment, this was pretty darned intense, and very, very well-done. As art, I need to think about it some more, but I think there's a lot to extract from this film. I don't like the sudden, undramatic loss of the anti-protagonist, but there must be a reason for this.
  4. "Kings and Queens of England & Britain" by Ben Johnson on historic-uk.com The above is a useful historic guideline for the film, especially the part at the end dealing with the House of Windsor, which was formed in 1917. In fact, you can look forward to 100th-anniversary events being publicized for this coming July 17th. Before I get to the spoilers, let me say that I found the first 15 minutes of this film intensely boring; now, 30 minutes in, it seems to have blossomed, and has become very enjoyable to watch. If you find it tedious in the beginning, push through, and I suspect you'll be rewarded (again, I'm only 30 minutes into the movie as I type this, so I can't be sure, but it did win an Academy Award for Best Picture, which is worth something). *** SPOILER ALERT *** (Do not read if you're going to see the film) Near the beginning of "The King's Speech," speech therapist (and amateur actor) Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) is auditioning for Shakespeare's Richard III by reading the "Now is the winter of our discontent" speech, those lines followed by, "made glorious summer by this sun of York ...." To me, this is an obvious quibble on "son of York," as the future King George VI (Colin Firth)- his soon-to-be patient with the stuttering problem - currently holds the title Duke of York (which is given to the second-born son of the current King). The closeness of "sun of York" and "son (or Duke) of York" is too much for simple coincidence - this was a clever piece of dialogue that probably went mostly unnoticed. Needless to say, there's also an obvious parallel between the kyphosis of Richard III and the stuttering of the Duke of York. About 40 minutes in, it's clear George V (Michel Gambon) is near death, and he "signs his duties" away for others to execute. A couple interesting facts about the death of George V: 1) In 1986 (fifty years after the death), his physician's private diary was unsealed, and it turns out George V was euthanized with lethal doses of morphine and cocaine - this was known to absolutely nobody for fifty years, and 2) the morning after George V's death, the great German composer Paul Hindemith (a name very well-known in classical music circles) composed Trauermusik ("Mourning Music") in just six hours, and the piece was played on the BBC radio network that same evening. Wow, when you first see Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall) at the party, it seems *just* like Winston Churchill - until he turns around and you see his face. You won't recognize this, but Spall played Beadle Bamford in the film of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street." This film makes a wonderful history lesson regarding the 20th-century English monarchy. However, it is painted accurately only in broad brush strokes. For example, in real life (not in the film), Churchill was a staunch supporter of King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), and urged him not to abdicate the throne. A memorable quote, made during a conversation between King George V's sons, shortly after his death, and the ascension of David as King Edward VIII: Duke of York: "David, I've been trying to see you." King Edward VIII: "I've been terribly busy." Duke of York: "Doing what?" King Edward VIII: "Kinging." *Damn* Derek Jacobi is a good actor. Oh my goodness, the King is about to give his war speech, and they've chosen to play the 2nd movement of Beethoven's 7th Symphony as background music. I'm not going to denigrate this work by telling you what other movie it was played in, but I will say that this is one of the greatest movements ever written in the history of classical-romantic music, and very fitting for such a grave occasion. What's interesting is that they played the opening chord twice (when it's only supposed to be played once), imitating a stutter. Also, how ironic is it that Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany? And for the duration of the speech, Lionel Logue was quite literally conducting King George VI - that was not coincidence. And how wonderful that the closing music is the most famous piece for clarinet ever written, the Mozart Concerto.
  5. I remember my father taking me to see "Patton" in 1970, and being awestruck by the opening scene - the one where Patton comes and gives a speech in front of that *amazing* American flag - other than that, I remember it being really long! What a difference 47 years makes when it comes to seeing a film about the quirks and eccentricities of a WWII General. I'm not going to issue any spoilers, especially because this is all based on historical facts about the WWII North African Theater, and its three principles: Patton, Montgomery, and Rommel. Some historical facts which you should know about (and will know about, if you watch the film). Note that since the location for this part of the war (and film) was North Africa, you can assume these are in Morocco, Tunisia, etc. You can consider these spoilers if you really want to, but since you should know about the events anyway, I'm not marking them as such (don't feel badly - I didn't either). The Battle of the Kasserine Pass - The first major conflict between allied and axis troops, at the two-mile-wide Kasserine Pass in the Atlas Mountains of Tunisia, during which we got the shit kicked out of us: 6,500 American casualties with over 1,000 dead. It was this battle which the Americans, caught sleeping, decided to bring in General Patton to run the North African campaign, and he became a three-star general (and placed in charge of General Omar Bradley, a two-star general). The Battle of El Guettar - Rommel had planned a massive Panzer attack in southern Tunisia, but Patton was more than ready for them. The Germans were pretty much devastated, and at this point, the two rival leaders had each other's full respect (the amount of respect shown to other competent leaders and soldiers in this film is quite touching, and has nothing to do with politics - they're like boxers in the 15th round, slugging it out. --- Aside: One of my treasures - my absolute treasures - is my father's Master's Degree diploma from Columbia Universty, which is hand-signed by none other than University President Dwight David Eisenhower - he came home from the war, and served in that capacity from 1948-1953, and anyone who got a diploma during that time, received a hand-signature of Eisenhower on their diploma (note that this is *before* he was U.S. President, so people didn't know he was going to be *as* famous as he was). This isn't all that rare, or valuable, but just imagine how much it means to me. How much does it mean? When the last of my parents passed away, this is the *only* thing of theirs that I wanted, out of all their tangible possessions - I'm hoping that, two-hundred years from now, it will be passed down to a distant relative of mine, and they will treasure it nearly as much as I do (it would be comparable to having something hand-signed by Benjamin Franklin today). I'm so proud of my father for serving his country in WWII, even though he was "only" in Occupied Japan after the war as over (he was a chauffeur who drove a limousine for a general, and received an honorable discharge). For the lucky recipient of this diploma, here is our family tree. --- The Allied Invasion of Sicily - Patton, a whack-job who believes in reincarnation, destiny, fate, etc., vies with British Commander Montgomery for getting the glory in taking over Sicily. They're both willing to sacrifice foot-soldiers so *they* can get the headlines and the glory for having taken over the important Italian outpost. The Sicilian campaign reveals both Patton an Montgomery to be egocentric, self-centered generals who put themselves before their troops, and this is the first part of the film that concretely shows just what bad people they are - they don't care about the greater good; they care about having their name in spotlights. These are *exactly* the types of people who need to be the generals in a science-fiction film, invading the aliens (who have superior weapons) and in the process, gain a significant dose of humility by virtue of laser beams, electric heat-rays, etc. God, would it be *awesome* to see Patton taken down a couple of notches by being forced to be humble. I love this line: A reporter who brought some priests to join Patton on his march towards Palermo, said (in front of the priests), "Colonel Davis showed us around your quarters, General Patton, and I was interested to see a bible by your bed. You actually find time to read it?" Patton: "I sure do. Every God-damned day." Oomph, a really bad moment in the movie: Patton's forward-moving line is stalled because of a couple stubborn jackasses (literally, jackasses), and he openly complains about it, and then shoots them. But, there was very clearly a body-double that did the shooting, and they didn't make any type of effort to hide that fact - this is one of the worst scenes in the film, as this is clearly not George C. Scott (yet, the person shooting the jackasses has a three-star general's helmet on). To me, this stands out as being the worst individual moment in the film thus far. There have been several scenes which definitively show that Patton has no tolerance for "cowards" in his army. There is to be no "combat fatigue," no "cases of nerves," etc. He will openly scream in these soldiers faces, scream and call them "God Damned Cowards!" and send them back out to the front lines. A general sympathetic to human needs he most certainly was not. I would be fascinated to hear peoples' viewpoints on this complex man - perhaps someone who we needed in extraordinary times; but these extraordinary times have come about (I mean, *truly* come about) perhaps twice in the last century; the other 95% of the time, these guys are just plain crotchety old bastards - but when you *really* need them, you *really* need them. I'm pretty sure this film tried to stay true to the gist of real-life, so it wasn't embellished except for what was needed for dramatic effect. That said, there was *plenty* of dramatic effect - for example, when Patton was being criticized for not including Russia in a statement about post-WWII world-rule, a newsreel by "Senator Clayborne Foss" was entirely fictional (there was no Senator Clayborne Foss) - the clip used is bogus, so while the main facts of the movie are true, there are plenty of liberties taken. I suppose you could take this as a *** SPOILER ALERT *** The deeper you get into this film, the more you realize that Patton isn't in this war for the good of the world; he's in it for himself. Why should what *he* wants matter, when what an enlisted man wants doesn't matter - at least when it comes to individual needs and also the greater good? I'm 2/3 of the way through the film now, and I'm liking Patton as a person less-and-less, and although he might be the person I'd want leading me in combat (and I mean "in the field of battle"), I don't think I'd want him making strategic decisions, because his first priority always seems like it's for himself. I wonder if the real General Patton was this much of an egoist? This all said, the personal rivalry between Patton and Montgomery was *highly* amusing. Patton said it best: "Hell, I know I'm a prima donna - I admit it. The thing I can't stand about Monty is that he *won't* admit it." Of course, all the humor quickly evaporates when Operation Market Garden costs Patton's troops an unspeakable amount of casualties. I have to say, the ending of this movie resonated more with me than the ending of any movie I've seen in a long, long time.
  6. Not only have I never seen "Million Dollar Baby," I know nothing about it other than that it's a boxing movie directed by and starring Clint Eastwood and Hillary Swank, and won a Best Picture award - I didn't even know Morgan Freeman was in it until five minutes ago. This falls within that "post-Karen, pre-DR period" where I went a long time without seeing any movies. I spent many years, decades ago, being a student of film, but I let it slip because I got busy with other aspects of life - although I have a lot of catching up to do, it's coming back very, very quickly. Well, for once, I watched the entire film without writing any of the review during the movie - that's because it was so damned good that I didn't want to pry myself away from the film. This movie is a masterpiece, and not only must it surely be Clint Eastwood's finest directorial effort, but Eastwood also *composed the score*! I think that right now, he can take his place as the most important - or legendary - figure in all of Hollywood: He is our generation's version of the stereotypical Hollywood legend. "Million Dollar Baby" goes on my Top 10 List, or Top 20 List, or Top 5 List, or whatever number happens to resonate with me on a particular day. It's not a "boxing movie" any more than "Unforgiven" is a "western." I'm forcing myself to look at this without looking at any awards, but I do know it won Best Picture. I could also see it winning Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and numerous others - in fact, I'd be surprised if it didn't. How much did this movie affect me? I want to hurry up and finish writing this review so I can see an interview with Hillary Swank about the film, just to know she's okay. *** SPOILER ALERT *** Going into the plot would be redundant and pointless. Just allow me to say that "Million Dollar Baby" is one of the finest films I've ever seen, and that it should be among the pantheon of all-time Hollywood greats. How can Clint Eastwood keep getting better-and-better as he keeps getting older-and-older? I enjoyed "Gran Torino," but that was at a whole other level. Note, however, that both films involve Eastwood coming to terms with religion, atoning for past sins, giving up his life for others, and presenting Catholic Priests - not as characters to be mocked, but as supportive figures, which he badly needs. It's as if Eastwood realizes he's approaching the end of life, and he's displaying all his foibles for us on the big screen. Make *sure* to see "Million Dollar Baby" at least once in your life; just do *not* be prepared to come away feeling the way you did after you saw "Rocky." This is one of the best films I've ever seen, but it's also one of the most depressing films I've ever seen, and it's not a "boxing" film per se. I have one question: When Maggie (Hillary Swank) fought for the title, why wasn't she awarded the bout? How is it possible that she wasn't? It would have been *so* much easier to take the ending had she only known that she was, ever so briefly, the champion of the world - which she rightly was.
  7. I had never before seen "Ordinary People," a quadruple Oscar winner for 1980 which included the award for Best Picture. This was Timothy Hutton's first major role, and because of that, he was nominated for (and won) the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor even though, in my mind, he clearly had the lead role in this film. I'm not sure how nominees are made, but perhaps it's the motion-picture companies that submit entrants to the Academy for consideration, and Paramount neither billed, nor perhaps nominated, Timothy Hutton as a lead actor due to his inexperience - while Donald Sutherland was extremely strong, it was Hutton who made this film what it was. Mary Tyler Moore, to me, will always be Laura Petrie, and to some, she will always be Mary Richards, both slightly neurotic, but lovable, characters in polar opposite roles (the former, a homemaker; the latter, a career-oriented woman) - but in both cases, slightly neurotic and intentionally a bit silly. I have since seen her in two major roles in motion pictures ("Thoroughly Modern Millie" and now "Ordinary People"), and in both roles, she seemed completely out of her element - yes, she's typecast to me, and there's nothing I can do about it, just as Leonard Nimoy will always be Spock, and therein lies the difference between "bias" and "prejudice" - prejudice is something that is much, much more difficult to overcome, and goes deeper than a simple "preconceived notion." The music in Ordinary People was "composed" (more appropriately, "arranged") by Marvin Hamlisch, and aside from an extremely astute and clever use of Pachelbel's Canon, which clearly represented Timothy Hutton and Friends reliving the same agonies over, and over again, without a logical endpoint, there wasn't much "there" there - in fact, there was a particularly cloying violin solo during a sad moment to which I said, aloud, "They can lose the violin anytime now." Ordinary People is a great movie - whether or not it merits being named "Best Picture" is up for debate, as two of its competitors were, in my mind, *clearly* superior films: "Elephant Man" and "Raging Bull," both of which were not just "great," but transcendent.
  8. I'm breaking recent protocol by posting about "Marty," the Academy Award-winning film from 1955, because I haven't seen it recently; I'm pretty sure all the other movies I've posted about, I saw right before or during my initial post. But I've seen Marty twice, and have seen it within the past couple of years, and I think it's a splendid film - it watches like it could have been adapted from a play, but it wasn't. "Marty" is the shortest film ever to win the Best Picture award, with a runtime of only 90 minutes. Ernest Borgnine gives a magnificent performance (before Marty, he was known as a "tough guy" in films), and the scene at the dinner table with his mom is one of the saddest things I've ever watched in a movie (I also want to alert you that this scene is in the trailer). This movie isn't hard to find, and it's not boring *at all*, despite having no action, or guns, or profanity - it's a human drama of the most poignant type, that just about all of us can relate to. Try and find it if you can, and in the meantime, here's the original trailer - if you watch it, you'll have an idea what the film is about, but it won't ruin it for you; nevertheless, I'm going to announce a slight SPOILER ALERT:
  9. I've never seen "All Quiet on the Western Front," and since I've also never seen the 1929 version of "Broadway Melody" (and don't know how to find it), this will be the oldest "talkie" I've ever seen to win the Best Picture Award. I'm also eager to see a movie about WWI, especially from a German perspective - could this be an early version of "Das Boot?" As I start this movie, I'm realizing it's pre-Hitler (sort of), and that alone gives me the creeps. I can tell from the first scene, in the classroom, that this is going to be a really good movie - in just two short years, they really learned how to use sound to their cinematographic advantage - already, even just ten minutes into the film, the young boys have garnered my sympathy - no difference here between German and American high-school kids; they're just kids - bright-eyed kids who succumb to authority figures and peer pressure. It was a fascinating moment to see Himmelstoß, the former lowly postal carrier, instantly becoming a sado-nut drill leader, turning on the boys he was formerly friends with - boy does this foreshadow Hitler for me ... put a uniform on certain average schmoes, and they become Supermen in their own minds. The new soldiers' revenge scene on Himmelstoß was most satisfying to watch. I'm just now realizing "Wings", the first film to win Best Picture, was also WWI-themed - that makes 2 of the first 3 (I'm assuming "Broadway Melody" isn't going to be quite so bellicose). Boy, the extended bunker scene (the one where they kill the rats) is amazing - the cinematography in this film is just terrific, and I cannot believe it was made in 1930 - the industry really learned a lot from the silent age, but the techniques were completely different, and for them to have learned how to use sound to their advantage in just a couple years - to *this* degree - is remarkable. At this point, the film is only one-third over! I'm also reminded that in our History Forum, there's a pretty good thread on World War I - it's worth a skim if you haven't seen it before. After the bunker scene, when the German soldiers head outside to the trench, the wide-angled scene of advancing allied infantrymen look so much like the little plastic soldiers I played with a a child - these poor boys really *were* just numbers - not individuals - on both sides. There's absolutely a correlation between this scene and the one shortly before it, when the German soldiers were killing rats by the dozens - both the rats and the allied soldiers were just being hopelessly massacred in numbers too great to count. I hope you all don't mind that I'm writing in such a choppy, almost random, format - I'm typing as ideas hit me, and writing a well-organized, long-form review just isn't in my blood. This is what I do best - brainstorming in short form - in hopes that something will grab someone, and we can start a conversation about a point or two. So I continue ... (I love this movie so far, in case you can't tell) ... Like "The Thin Man," this is another Pre-Code film, and there are some amazingly shocking scenes you just don't see after the code began being rigorously enforced on Jul 1, 1934 - for example, a young German soldier went to the bathroom in his pants upon hearing the first shell explode (it wasn't graphic, but it was obvious), and when the allied troops were storming the German trench, there was one scene when a grenade was thrown at them, and after the explosion, all you saw was a pair of severed hands, clutching onto the barbed wire fence - it was intensely graphic considering this was 1930. When the allies - what was left of them - made it into the trench, and hand-to-hand combat commenced, all I could think of was that these men, killing each other, could just as easily have been having a beer together in a tavern, as friends. This is all so stupid (not the film, but the whole damned concept of war) - I know, I know, I sound like a bleeding-heart softy, which means the film is working exactly as it set out to do. I'm very much into this movie, and seeing these people being mowed down in such massive numbers is just incredible to behold, even in a movie - I'm not sure I've ever seen so many people killed in such a short amount of time in a film (I'm not talking about doomsday scenarios like "Knowing," but rather people being slaughtered as individuals). Eight minutes might not seem like a long time, but during this one scene, it was an eternity - the producers certainly didn't skimp on the action. I'm now halfway through this 133-minute film (the non-restored version is 152 minutes, which is interesting), and the boots taken from Franz Kemmerich after he passes have played a disproportionately large role so far - something is going to happen involving them. When Himmelstoß (the drill sergeant) bursts into the bunker, demanding immediate attention and respect, and gets nothing but howls and sarcastic comments, it is poetic justice, and reminds me somewhat of Platoon, although I'm not quite sure why. Perhaps it's the first time the young soldiers displayed a "to hell with this" attitude now that they've seen and tasted death up close. I haven't watched the scene yet, but I'm pretty sure Himmelstoß won't be getting his way this time around. (And sure enough, later in the film, poetic justice is executed.) Goof: When the Germans advanced through heavy fire, then noticed a moment of silence, and decided to counter-attack, they ran through a churchyard (and what I believe to have been a cemetery) which had just been devastated by mortar fire, but the scene that shows them running through it features a pre-devastated churchyard. Oops! That's more than a goof; that's somewhat moronic - what possible reason could there have been for this? "All Quiet on the Western Front" cost a *whopping* $1.25 million to make, and the funds were committed just after the depression began. That, my friends, is cojones. (It grossed $1.5 million, and perhaps just as importantly, won the Academy Award for Best Picture, so the sizable gamble paid off handsomely - I wonder if this was the most expensive movie ever made as of 1930.) The scene in the trench with the dying Frenchman was one of the greatest scenes in the film - the Frenchman (Raymond Griffith) played his role *perfectly*, with the one tiny exception of a half-blink at one moment, which nobody would notice unless they were looking for it. It's so fitting that he died with a look of serenity on his face. Amazon X-Ray said he was noticeably breathing, but I didn't really see it. The Dying Room creeped me out. Lew Ayres (the star who played Paul Baí¼mer, who came back from The Dying Room), was married to Ginger Rogers from 1934-1940 - his 2nd marriage of 3; her 2nd of 5. I loved the scene when Paul was out on furlough, and he was in a tavern drinking with some older men who sounded like typical G-men, telling Paul how to win the war, and that 'he doesn't know what he's doing,' and that 'they can see the big picture.' Some things in life are a constant, I guess. Lew Ayres became a conscientious objector in real life - partially because of his role in this film - and was blacklisted by Hollywood in the 1940s because of it. Interestingly, he's buried next to Frank Zappa at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. The schoolroom scene, which echoed the beginning of the movie, was not only structurally important to the film, but just a joy to watch as well, although I can't help thinking they could have made that scene even more powerful than they did. Paul clearly still shows a modicum of respect for his old professor, not really wanting to humiliate him in front of his students. Here's a little factoid that I didn't know, and you might not either: from 1928-1931, International Sound Versions of "talkies" were made, replacing dialogue with music and subtitles in various foreign languages, so the movie could be seen around the world. Although this might seem similar to how things are done now, the alternative to this was to actually re-shoot the entire film as a Foreign Language Version (for example, "Dracula" was re-shot with new actors speaking Spanish). Needless to say, Foreign Language Versions were reserved for the high-budget blockbusters of the day. The ending of "All Quiet on the Western Front" was fantastic. If anyone knows of any WWI-specific films (this fits more into the general "War is Hell" category) - films that go into detail about historical events - I would be interested in knowing what you think. That said, I'll probably end up watching a documentary for this. Having glanced at the SparkNotes for the book, I can see that the movie deviates some, but not so much that you won't get something out of reading the study guide. Anyway, this is surely one of the greatest movies in history, especially when you consider the topic, the scope, the time period (twelve years after the war ended), and everything about the film.
  10. "Platoon" was the first film in a trilogy by Oliver Stone (a director whom I respect more than I like), the other two films being "Born on the Fourth of July" (1989) and "Heaven & Earth" (1993). I saw it in the theater when it first came out, and I still remember Willem Dafoe's face when he realizes he's about to be betrayed - that was an extremely powerful moment, and he was really good in this movie. Pretty cheesy opening the movie with Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings" - sure, it's a great piece, but if you're going to drop $6 million making a movie, let's have an original score, please? There are plenty of talented composers out there who need the work and the money, and they would have done just fine - you would have even had something you could have called your very own. In case anyone's wondering how big a platoon is, here's a chart of Unit Sizes. A platoon consists of 25-40 people, and is usually led by a lieutenant - it's the smallest military unit led by a commissioned officer. "Platoon" takes place in 1967 somewhere near the Cambodian border, and depicts the Bravo Company and 25th Infantry. Interestingly, Forest Whitaker and Johnny Depp (!) are both in this movie. Speaking of which, it is essential to use this Cast list when watching on streaming video - it allows you to stop the movie as many times as you wish, in order to memorize names and faces (quite a luxury, in this film). This movie is exhausting to watch - it makes one wonder just how exhausting it must have been to actually be there. Have there been any articles written about how closely Platoon reflected actual trench warfare? Because if this is how it was (and I suspect it is, at least in certain situations), boy did this suck for the soldiers on *both* sides.
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