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Found 11 results

  1. George Kennedy is probably best-known for "Airport," but his finest performance might have been in "Cool Hand Luke," in which he was Paul Newman's superior-turned-fanboy. Here's Bob Hope introducing Patty Duke, who presented the 1968 Academy Award for "Best Supporting Actor."
  2. 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.
  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. So, a friend of mine told me that if I didn't mind "Django Unchained," I wouldn't mind "Inglourious Basterds." I didn't mind it, and actually somewhat enjoyed it. Christoph Waltz, in both movies, is really good - there's a certain "Intellectual 'It Factor'" to his demeanor that makes him highly likable and highly unlikable at the same time, all the while being believable, even when in unbelievable situations. Didn't I just say something similar about Tom Cruise and "Jack Reacher?" As one example of me (or is it "my") not hating "Inglourious Basterds," I'm just not on the same page as this review: Aug 21, 2009 - "Review: 'Inglourious Basterds'" by Peter Rainer on csmonitor.com (Forget that it's the Christian Science Monitor - that is an intelligent publication that, yes, has it's biases, but is worth more than dumbed-down criticism for the masses. That said, I'm surprised that this review got a "non-rotten tomato" on rottentomatoes.com For those of you who didn't recognize the term "OSS" just before Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) shouted "Bingo!" - I began this thread last year, and this is the first time I've heard the OSS mentioned since that day.. Had this fantasy been reality, there probably would have been no bombings of Hiroshima or Nagasaki, as all necessary personnel could have been diverted to the Pacific Theater.
  5. I had two criteria for a film to watch: 1) Something Oscar-worthy (don't worry, hardcore film fans - I do not take the Academy seriously; I'm just using it as a rough guide - this is probably as annoying to you as it is for me to see people blogging about eating their way through such-and-such's list of "the 50 best restaurants" - trust me, I know how you feel, and 2) Something with which I was completely unfamiliar: "Dallas Buyers Club" fits the bill on both counts, and as of this moment, I know absolutely *nothing* about it. And here I go ... *** SPOILER ALERT *** Wow, it's amazing that I'm just over 1/3 of the way through the film, and Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is essentially gone from this Earth - I cannot imagine what awaits during the second-half of this film. I can already tell that Matthew McConaughey either won or was nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award, but I'm not looking - he is amazingly convincing in his role: He must have lost over fifty pounds to play this part unless they're being extremely clever with makeup and body doubles. I'm now halfway through, and I really like this film - people who didn't have to suffer through their friends and family dying of AIDS aren't going to feel the resonance as much as people who did, but boy, I can imagine *exactly* what you felt watching this. If anyone would have asked me, "What is AZT?" before this movie started, it would have sounded familiar, but I wouldn't have been able to link it - that's like someone unfamiliar with cancer not being able to link platinum-based chemo, and this is - to put it mildly - a good refresher course of what I heard and read about in my mid-20s. Refresher course or not, there is a *zero*-percent chance that Ron could strong-arm T.J. (Kevin Rankin) for as hard or as long as he did in the grocery store. That was so distressingly unrealistic. Possible correction: I watched it a second time, and I think Ron might be grabbing T.J.'s doo-dads, which would explain things. And I *love* the friendship with Rayon (Jared Leto), and this reminds me of what turned out to be one of the most powerful subplots on "All in the Family" - the Bunker's long-lasting friendship with Beverly LaSalle. Okay, the sex scene was runner-up to "When Harry Met Sally." The moment that Denise (Denine Tyler, who's in the process of becoming famous as hell) tells Ron that the woman out in line 'doesn't have HIV; she has full-blown AIDS,' and then not ten seconds later you hear the most honorable and hilarious moaning coming from the bathroom - this is the take-home comic scene from the movie: He has sex with her because he finds out that she *does* have full-blown AIDS. Lemme tell you - humor aside, it is *so* difficult for me to watch this movie now, knowing what I know, and living what I've lived. When I was watching it "live" in the mid-1980s, I was watching it from a white, upper-middle-class, suburban, perspective: in other words, The Washington Post, the three networks, channel 5 and channel 20 - and that's the entirety of what I knew. (People who were immersed in the situation: Think about what I just said - it was like hearing about Watergate 10-15 years before ... it was this boring news story about something that was happening somewhere else, although even with that viewpoint, it was very easy (and very hard) to see the misery of the patients.) Remember Sergeant Leonard Matlovich's Time Magazine cover? "I am a homosexual." - do you remember that? That's the *only* article I remember. I wonder if Matlovich is looked upon as an unqualified hero, as a mixed-figure like Shannon Faulkner, or as something other than those two?
  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. *** SPOILER ALERT *** --- Do not read past this point if you haven't seen the movie. In the scene which takes place in Jimmy Malone's (Sean Connery's) house (there's only one in the entire film), shortly before he winds up his Victrola, and the knife-man sneaks in, Amazon X-Ray says "References: 'A Clockwork Orange' (1971)," but it doesn't say how. Furthermore, a ten-minute internet search revealed absolutely no details of any reference to "A Clockwork Orange" during this scene, and I've seen A Clockwork Orange at least five times. Does anyone know what the reference is? Incidentally, this scene contains one of my all-time favorite movie lines - when Jimmy Malone looks up at Elliot Ness (Kevin Costner), and with his final bit of energy, choking on his own blood, does his best to scream out (and it's the third time in the movie he says this), "What are you prepared to do?!" I believe it was this single line that might have put Sean Connery over-the-top for winning the Best Supporting Actor Award. Shortly afterwards, at the train station, the "other" scene that everyone remembers from this film is the baby carriage rolling down the stairs backwards. This is a direct homage to the legendary "Odessa Steps" scene from "The Battleship Potemkin" (I've started the video just before it occurs - feel free to rewind and watch the entire scene). Incidentally, even though nobody has picked up on this in twelve years, this post, too, was an homage to the same scene (if you watch to the end, you'll understand why). It was also an homage to bacon; just not that kind of bacon. It was also one of the best posts I've ever written, and can be found in "DonRocks' Greatest Hits."
  8. 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.
  9. I'm going to watch "Arthur" again soon, and was just watching a highlight clip from it - one particular scene recalled a *hilarious* story that happened over thirty years ago. I used to (lovingly) call my mom "Eva," and one day I was sitting at the kitchen table having some sort of family meal - my young niece (probably 3 or 4 years old) was there, and my mom said something - I can't remember what - that was most likely a combination of amusing and annoying (she was probably trying to force food on me as she was wont to do). Putting on my absolute best "Arthur-style" English accent, I imitated this scene in the YouTube video - the one where Dudley Moore said, "Susan, you're *such* an ahss-hole" - I said to my mom, "Eva, you're *such* an ahss-hole." All of a sudden, my niece (who was too young to recognize such a term spoken in such a mock-accent) started crying frantically. We all started saying, "What's wrong? What's wrong?" She turned to my mom and said, while crying, "Donald called you a nostril!"
  10. I've never been a fan of Quentin Tarantino because I'm very much against the use of gratuitous violence in film. That said, I've only seen "Pulp Fiction" and (probably all of) "Reservoir Dogs," which are 12 and 14 years old, respectively: There's something about "Django Unchained" which called out to me, despite me suspecting it would probably be Tarantino-esque; violence was terribly real in the days of slavery, and so here was a film in which I could perhaps justify it - perhaps even enjoy it, in a vengeful sort of way - depending on how it was used, and for what purposes. I also had a rough week at the office, and needed some mindless escapism - Tarantino is about as mindless as it gets: A bloodhound gift-wrapped as an intellect. Maybe Django (played by Jamie Foxx) will get some sort of revenge at the end of all this, and shoot the bastards who deserve it. That's the kind of week it has been for me. *** SPOILER ALERT *** It's a safe bet that I'll be discussing things from this point forward that will ruin the movie for you - as usual, I'm writing while watching, so my comments will arrive in mostly chronological order. As usual, I'm writing this as I go, and so far, Dr. King Schultz (played by Christoph Waltz, who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor), worries me. He has been almost superhuman in killing the Speck brothers, and now he has taken on an entire town, killing the sheriff in cold blood, and getting everything he wanted in the process. He's a little too good to be true, I'm afraid, though I admit it was satisfying to see the poor, chained-up slaves have the final say against the remaining Speck brother - I only hope they followed the North Star as recommended by Schultz. The scene where they were arguing about the eye-holes in the KKK masks was the first time I've ever seen comedy surrounding a KKK meeting, and it was brilliantly done, too - acting both as comic relief, a suspense-builder (for what we dread is about to happen), and most importantly, foreshadowing - for what actually happened. This guy Schultz is no dummy. With almost two hours remaining in the film, Schultz and Django have just partnered, and I'm afraid that things are going a little *too* good - there's plenty of time left for lots of terrible things to happen. I sure hope Schultz isn't guilty of a last-minute betrayal; he sure seems like a decent fellow so far. Okay, this Mandingo fighting is making me physically sick to my stomach (some movie fans will remember the 1975 Blaxploitation Film, "Mandingo"). This is the side of Tarantino I don't like - there's nothing left to the imagination, and if he could do it in 3D, he would, if he could do it so that you could smell the blood, he would, if he could do it so that you were there in the room with fighters, he would, if he could do it so that you felt the pain, he would. There's no subtlety with Tarantino - even in this film, over a decade later, he's still doing body horror under the very thin veil of "high art" - he is the most contemptible of directors: the kind that substitutes gross-out shock value for true artistry. When Leonardo DiCaprio perks up upon hearing the outlandish amount that Schultz and Django are willing to pay for a top-level Mandingo fighter, he just goes to show that even the most heinous, sadistic people will gladly sell their principles if the price is right. This is a universal theme. Tarantino could have made the dog-killing scene much worse, but then the film would have carried an NR-17 rating - I honestly wonder if that's the reason he chose to make most of it impressionistic. Assuming there *were* slave owners as sadistic as Calvin Candie (DiCaprio) - and I assume there were - this is just 165 years ago, and we, as a species, haven't evolved all that far from this. In fact, genetically, we've scarcely evolved at all - there are still people, Americans, who would be doing this if given the right. Maybe Tarantino is a better director than I give him credit for, because he's being quite successful at making me hate people. --- Comic Relief: The Candyland plantation is located in Greenville, MS (trivia: there are more towns and cities named "Greenville" in the 50 United States than with any other name - at least, that's what I remember reading about ten years ago). Greenville is near the Mississippi Delta, and not far from both Arkansas and Louisiana. Some real-life people born in Greenville that you may have heard of are Jim Henson, Shelby Foote (these two men alone have provided PBS with a disproportionate share of talent), George Scott, Frank White, and Mary Wilson. These are the ones I know, but there are others whom you may know that I'm not familiar with. Well, I guess this wasn't really "comedy," but at least it wasn't someone getting ripped to shreds by three angry dogs - back to the film. --- The best scene in the movie so far is when they ride into the Candyland estate, and the elderly butler gives Django the biggest eat-shit look I've ever seen. [Edit: Hoo boy was I wrong, and I had *no idea* this was Samuel L. Jackson at first, either.] Vintage Quentin Tarantino: A director with finesse wouldn't have felt any need to see Broomhilda graphically pulled from the hotbox; (s)he would have simply shown Django's facial expressions the entire time, and let viewers use their imagination. Any excuse for gore, violence, and shock value: That's Quentin Tarantino. I know, I know, it'll make Revenge Time all the more sweet to watch, right? That said, the scene at the dinner table with the wise old butler is suspense at its finest, and I mean it is *masterful*. The entire course of events, from the hotbox up until the handshake was masterful - a flash of brilliance from a sadistic provocateur. Oh, look! A bloodbath juxtaposed with rap - how intellectual. And ... I just stopped watching the film before the potential castration scene - I have no need for this in my life, and shame on Hollywood for a Best Picture nomination for this piece of sadistic garbage. Since I try to always finish what I start, I may or may not finish the film later, but I will most certainly read the synopsis of the plot before I do, because at this point, I no longer care what happens: they can castrate Django ... or not. They can kill Django ... or not. They can kill Broomhilda ... or not. The two can magically escape and ride off into the sunset ... or not. I couldn't care less. Franco Nero in a cameo:
  11. In my ongoing quest to watch some of the 2015 Best Picture Nominees, I watched "Bridge of Spies," Steven Spielberg's historical drama about Rudolf Abel, Francis Gary Powers, Frederick Pryor, and James B. Donovan and the role he played in negotiating the prisoner exchange. Out of the four nominees I've seen, this would be the one most likely to get my vote, although not by much - they've all been quite good; none of them are what I would classify as great - in my mind, this has shaped out to be a pretty weak year for nominees. Still, I really enjoyed "Bridge of Spies," and Tom Hanks was terrific in his role as Donovan, as was Mark Rylance in his role as Abel - Rylance's was the type of screen presence that stays with you for years, and from what I can tell so far, he was fully justified in winning his Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. It's interesting that three of the four nominees I've seen so far have been historical dramas (the other being "The Martian"), and with so many historical dramas on the nominee list, it's somewhat surprising that one of them won, as one might figure the vote would be split between them, and that something completely different (like "The Martian") could walk in and steal the award. I also had no idea this was a Spielberg film until the end. We have several "Spotlight" fans here, and the reason I personally preferred "Bridge of Spies" (although on another day, I could change my mind the other way), was because, not only was it not overplayed, but it also had a tiny bit of that Hollywood "oomph" that I enjoy as escapism - it wasn't at "The Martian" level of escapism; here, it was just a seasoning.
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