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Found 4 results

  1. I feel like I just watched the love child of "Do the Right Thing" and "Pulp Fiction." On hallucinogens, because for whatever reason, I could *swear* I remember the story line about Sgt. John Ryan (Matt Dillon) helping his father (Bruce Kirby) off the toilet, but that's forty minutes into the movie, and I remember *nothing* else up to that point; yet, I remember this scene so vividly that ... how could I *not* have seen this film before? This scene isn't exactly a highlight that they'd put on YouTube. "Crash" would make a fine episode of a television series; to win an award signifying "Best Motion Picture" of the entire year? Boy, that's a real stretch - it is hit-you-over-your-head obvious (not the plot; the presentation), in a terribly condescending way. All these different train wrecks have departed towns such as "Meanville," "Nastyland," etc., and they're each taking the express lane to "Luv Station." Meh, like I said - a fine television episode; not best picture material by any means. Although I love the message of this film, it resonates the same with me as Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for Literature - just as some serious author or poet who spent a lifetime honing their craft got cheated out of a literary award, a more serious, less contrived film got cheated out of the Academy Award for Best Picture - that's not to say that Dylan is "bad" at literature, or that Crash is a "bad" movie; just that neither perform - *in these particular categories* - at these (theoretically) most prestigious levels of accolades. An interesting sidenote: Although "Crash" was released in 2004, it didn't qualify for the 2005 Academy Awards because it didn't play for at least one week in Los Angeles. Aug 12, 2015 - "Paul Haggis: Crash Didn't Deserve Best Picture Oscar" by Ben Child on theguardian.com
  2. Towards the beginning of "Argo," they showed some American churches, businesses, etc. with "Free the Hostages" signs - despite the Iranian embassy being stormed in 1979, one of the buildings depicted is still open - it's right across Chain Bridge Road from what is now Santini's (formerly Boston Market). The first picture is from the film; the second picture is from Google Maps. It's also amazing (and not coincidental) that when Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) first enters the CIA Headquarters in Langley, he's actually entering the CIA Headquarters in Langley (just a couple miles from McLean Cleaners) - this is the first time I've ever seen any pictures of the Headquarters (which is way back from the street), and apparently, special access was granted entirely due to honoring Tony Mendez (you should read about him on Wikipedia). *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** I had never heard of the Canadian Caper before reading about Mendez on Wikipedia, which is pretty pathetic, because 1979 is the year I graduated from high school - I guess I was more worried about college life, and the Iranian hostage crisis was only on my mind as much as the television allowed it to be. From my viewpoint, 38 years later? This was an act of war on the part of the Iranian people, period - embassies are designated as foreign countries, and the safe harbor which comes from being within those countries' borders - these Iranians invaded the United States the moment they broke into the embassy - tell me where I'm wrong, please. In the distant future, Rodney King will be remembered as a hero, for his words, "Can we all get along?" They mean more than any crime he ever committed, and he will be regarded as a role model. Within five seconds of first seeing John Chambers (John Goodman), an homage is made to "The Blues Brothers." And it's very, very funny that the name of the movie ("Argo") comes from a crude knock-knock joke. This, for an Oscar-caliber film: 'Knock-knock.' "Who's there?" "Argo." "Argo who?" "Ar Go fuck yourself." What I can't understand is why, when Mendez first meets the six hostages at the Canadian Embassy, he would assume the room *isn't* bugged. I mean, come on ...
  3. 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.
  4. I know nothing about "Blackboard Jungle" except that it's "the other" teen-angst film from 1955 that I was going to watch, along with "Rebel Without a Cause." The notorious high school principal, Mr. Warneke, is played by John Hoyt, who you'll find playing the Chief Medical Officer on the Starship Enterprise before Dr. McCoy came along in the "Star Trek" series pilot, "The Cage." (don't forget, the central action in "The Cage" takes place thirteen years before most of the current cast has come into the picture). It's amazing how many character actors you become familiar with over time - in this movie is someone I've encountered several times recently: "The Maytag Repairman," Jesse White, not credited in this film, but pictured here to the left of Glenn Ford (our right). White was in so many things I've seen lately that I'm thinking of giving him his own thread: And who's that in the glasses playing the student named Santini? It's Jameel Farah in his film debut. Interestingly, the Lebanese-American Farah (born in Toledo, OH) used his real birth name in this film; he eventually changed his stage name to Jamie Farr. You know how people say "the good old days were only old; they were never good?" This is one example of something that's both old *and* good: an ethnic actor unafraid to use his birth name for fear of being ostracized. So many famous actors, like this student, Artie West in the film, to the left of the column with curly hair and a cap on: Unfortunately, this actor, Vic Morrow - like James Dean - became more famous for how he died than how he lived. The opening of this film is a virtual parade of future Hollywood stardom, like that kid in the restroom smoking a cigarette: Twelve years later, he'd have the most successful year in all of Hollywood, winning Best Actor for "In the Heat of the Night" (yep: Sidney Poitier). Then, much later in the film, comes along Richard Deacon for a cameo: *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** With about thirty minutes left, Richard Dadier (Glenn Ford) went from being completely ostracized by his students - with his wife threatened - to borderline accepted, for seemingly no reason. Perhaps it's Miller (Sidney Poitier) who was finally won over, and Miller is (as has been implied the entire film) leader of the gang, so to speak. The transition just seems a little abrupt to me, but regardless, it takes a *lot* of stress off of the viewer. This all happens shortly after Dadier walks in on Miller's gospel group, singing about Moses - a side of Miller that has not yet been seen before (it should be remembered that this film was released just one short year after Brown vs. Board of Education was decided). I've been negligent in not mentioning Dadier's lovely wife Anne (played by Anne Francis). Easily the main sub-plot of the film, Anne wants Richard (Glenn Ford) to move to a better school, with students who are more receptive, but she does have a secret ulterior motive: She has started to get anonymous letters, warning her about another woman - as far as the viewer can tell, these letters are absolutely untrue, and are efforts from the students to destroy Richard - that's why it's a little surprising that this all started happening right around the same time he was becoming accepted by them. With only thirty minutes left in the film, it's going to be interesting to see how this all plays out. I have a hunch that it might be Lois Hammond herself ("the other woman") sending these letters, because she might have a crush on Richard. I say that, yet it's clearly a man who has called twice to warn the (expecting) wife, and that man is shaping up to be Miller (Poitier) - why on earth would he be doing this when Richard has shown absolutely *no* sign of infidelity? Maybe Miller really *does* want Richard to get the hell out of this school, and teach somewhere he can be appreciated - that would be fitting, because Dadier has been good to Miller this entire film, and Miller knows it. I'm writing this paragraph about ten minutes after the last one - Artie West (Vic Morrow) has quietly been perhaps the strongest supporting actor in this movie, and the producer and director have *very* cleverly led the viewers to follow their own biases down one street, when it has been West all along that was the source of all troubles (although I was almost certain West was the one who slugged Richard in the alley). Vic Morrow should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor if he wasn't, because he is *terrific* in this film. About the *only* over-the-top element (and I'm just about at the end) was when Santini (Jameel Farah) stopped West's attack with the American Flag - that was awfully heavy-handed, but I can give this fantastic movie one mulligan. Props also go to Rafael Campos who played Latino student Pete Morales - he was yet another quietly brilliant actor in this movie. If "Blackboard Jungle" was Poitier's springboard to Hollywood stardom (and his career began almost a decade earlier, so it might not have been, but *if* it was), it's perfectly understandable, because he comes across as the type of actor who America would embrace for his role in this film. He was brilliant, but so were any of a dozen other people - even small roles, such as Richard and Anne's doctor (Warner Anderson) were just brilliantly played. It's funny, I thought that the principal, Mr. Warneke (John Hoyt) was going to have such an influential role in this film, but he did almost nothing (which, in-and-of-itself, was *very* influential in terms of how the high school was run), but in terms of the movie, he was nearly non-existent, and it was the command performances of so many other actors that made "Blackboard Jungle" leaps-and-bounds better than "Rebel Without a Cause" - the former is *so* much better than the latter, that they really can't be compared; one is a period piece - a "Catcher in the Rye"-type piece of pablum, famous only for James Dean; the other, "Blackboard Jungle," is one of the finest films I've seen - easily the best "50s-era problem-teen" film I've ever watched, and if this wasn't nominated for Best Picture, and if several people weren't nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, then that's criminal. Do yourself a favor and watch this movie at all costs. I'm not going to "rank" it, but I will say that it's one of the finest movies I've ever seen - top 20? top 30? I don't know ... just see it, trust me and see it. People say this film is dated, and a product of its time; I think it's underrated, and way ahead of its time - it is *so much* more important than "Marty," which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and the acting is *so much* better than it was in "Rebel Without a Cause," which had a lot more nominations - the academy simply wasn't ready for this type of movie in 1955. It's time for "Blackboard Jungle" to have a renaissance.
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