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Found 11 results

  1. This is one of the most interesting movies I've ever seen: The black-and-white part interleaves with the color part. The black-and-white part moves forward in time. The color part moves backwards in time (within each segment it moves forwards, but overall, it moves backwards). They converge in the middle. It's a good story, worth watching.
  2. "Straw Dogs" is a divisive film that, well, stars Dustin Hoffman and Susan George (it's unlikely that you can name a second film that Susan George was in), but regarding the film, *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** suffice it to say that Director Sam Peckinpah's nickname was "Bloody Sam." A very typical early-70s filming of a gorgeous, cinematic, English landscape, the inevitable denouement being something you can see coming, but not necessarily something you want to see happening. Note Peckinpah's rapid-fire cuts coming into being once the cat is found. *** END SPOILERS *** "Straw Dogs" was remade in 2011. PS - I'm pretty sure that John Niles (Peter Arne) was the inspiration for Anton Chigurh. Also, the red nose during the break-in is *exactly* like the false nose during the break-in during "A Clockwork Orange."
  3. I just finished watching "Psycho" for the third or fourth time - enough so that I was able to study details instead of worrying about the plot. People can talk about "Citizen Kane," or "Vertigo," or <pick your choice> as "Best Ever," but for me, personally, since "Psycho" scared the holy hell out of me when I was about twelve-years old (introduced by, of all people, Count Gore de Vol - I guess I first saw it in 1973), this is a film that has appealed to my most basal childhood terrors, and also still resonates with me as a 57-year-old man. I suppose the ending is now dated, since *everyone* knows about "what happened," and also the concepts are no longer novel with the audience - in that respect, I can see "Vertigo" remaining fresher in the public eye - but for me, I might have to pick "Psycho" as my all-time favorite movie. Maybe. Here are a couple of interesting details that are in no way spoilers: In Norman's bedroom, there sits on the turntable, of all things, Beethoven's Eroica Symphony. Why? Maybe the proximity of the word, which actually means "Hero" and not "Erotica," but if anyone knows for sure, please chime in. When Norman first realizes "what happened," he recoils in horror, knocking a picture of a stuffed bird off the wall and onto the floor. The penultimate person you see in the film, opening and closing the door, is an uncredited Ted Knight: Blink, and you'll miss him:
  4. I have seen a lot of Alfred Hitchcock films, and "Vertigo" is one of my favorites. I can watch this movie over and over, and find something new and interesting each time. My most recent viewing was in the National Gallery of Art East building. I was delighted to see a restored version of this film on the big screen. "Vertigo" has everything I want in a Hitchcock film: suspense, romance, interesting cinematography and a fantastic score. Kim Novak beautifully embodies the iconic Hitchcock heroine--cool, blonde and sophisticated. Jimmy Stewart is wonderful as Scottie, the retired police detective with a fear of heights. Critics have written that the way Scottie objectifies Novak's character is emblematic of the way Hitchcock viewed women, making this one of his most personal films. SPOILERS FOLLOW! I live in the San Francisco Bay area, so I also enjoyed seeing the City and surrounding areas depicted in "Vertigo." There is so much to appreciate in this film, but the heartbreaking ending is what resonates most with me. "Vertigo" depicts the objectification of a manipulative and manipulated woman who, in the end, becomes sympathetic and real. The viewer can't help but root for their fatally flawed love to succeed. It is heart-wrenching to watch these two people, who love each other so much, in unbearable pain over what cannot be, and what cannot be undone.
  5. "Strangers on a Train," is regarded by many critics as one of the top five or six films by Alfred Hitchcock. Roger Ebert, in this review, says only three or four Hitchcock films are superior to it. Having seen most of the other films lauded as his "best," as well as some more obscure Hitchcock movies from his earlier days, I wanted to see for myself how this film stacked up against the others. The movie, based on the 1950 novel of the same name by Patricia Highsmith, tells the story of two strangers who meet on a train and discuss "swapping" murders. While I found this film flawed, there were some things I really enjoyed about it. ***SPOILERS FOLLOW*** There is stunning camera work in this film. I love the shot of the shadows as Bruno follows Miriam and her beaus through the "Tunnel of Love." Miriam's scream, as they exit the tunnel, enhances the suspense even more. Miriam's demise, shown through the reflection of her discarded eyeglasses, is brilliantly done. This is Hitchcock at his finest. When Bruno arrives at Guy's gate with news of what he has done, we see his face obscured by the shadow of the gate, while Guy stands on the other side, fully lit by a street light. Once Guy hears the news, and begins to feel complicit in the crime, he joins Bruno on the other side of the gate, both of their faces masked by prison-like bars. Another wonderfully shot scene is when Guy spots Bruno in the crowd at this tennis match. All of the spectators' heads are moving in unison, watching the match, except one. The camera locks onto Bruno's face, staring creepily ahead--at Guy, and at us. Another fun thing about this film is that much of the story takes place in the D.C. area, with several beautiful shots of the city. The plot, however, is quite implausible, which made it hard for me to get emotionally involved in the story. Some of the acting is top-notch, including a fine performance by the director's daughter, Patricia Hitchcock. Laura Elliott (also known as Kasey Rogers) is great as the unlikeable Miriam, and Robert Walker does a fine job portraying the creepy Bruno. Ruth Roman, on the other hand, a gives a one-note performance as Guy's girlfriend, displaying her full range of emotions by wiggling her lower jaw and exposing her bottom teeth. The film is melodramatic and dated, but I think any fan of filmmaking and of Alfred Hitchcock will find some things to enjoy in "Strangers on a Train."
  6. "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" is one of "those" movies that I never saw because I'm the youngest child - I've seen small clips of the film, and heard it mentioned enough when I was young, to the point where I honestly thought that I had seen it, but I hadn't, and I had, and I hadn't. "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane" received five Academy Award nominations, with Norma Koch winning the award for "Best Costume Design - Black and White." This was Produced and Directed by Robert Aldrich, and is a classic tale of sibling rivalry (that's something of an understatement) between Jane and Blanche Hudson (Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, respectively). This movie is made more diabolically delicious by the fact that Joan Crawford and Bette Davis actually hated each other in real life. And isn't it ironic that this most legendary of cat fights was caused by a dog? Of note is an important role played by Maidie Norman as the family's maid, Elvira. Norman, a woman of color, was often reduced to playing roles as domestic servants, but she refused to play them subserviently: "In the beginning, I made a pledge that I would play no role that deprived black women of their dignity," she said. About the role of Elvira, on Wikipedia: "Norman recalled that the character was originally written as a 'doltish, yessum character.' She rewrote the dialogue which she called 'old slavery-time talk' in an effort to dignify the character." Compare the role of Elvira to that of Mammy played by Hattie McDaniel in "Gone with the Wind" - as lovable and funny as Mammy was, she was only one small step away from being a House Slave (in fact, she *was* a House Slave), and the dialog - and the attitude - in these two roles, written only 23-years apart, could not be more different. If you're going to remember a third person from "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" why not make it Maidie Norman? (It's easy to remember "Maidie," since she always portrayed maids - and then there was the Norman conquest.) In one very subtle, inconspicuous scene, Jane (Bette Davis) - who had previously shown abusive behavior towards Elvira - was in the early stages of keeping people out of the house at all costs. Jane gave Elvira "the day off with pay," to which Elvira replied: "See you next Tuesday ..." - think about that one for a moment ... #CUNx Look at these two screen-shots, captured less than 1/2 second apart from each other: Remember Denzel Washington's "Ultimate Eat Shit and Die Glare," while he was being whipped, in "Glory?" Or Sidney Poitier's "Slap Heard 'Round the World" during "In the Heat of the Night?" Neither of these scenes exist without Maidie Norman. Sidney Poitier was born in 1927, and I fervently hope this somehow reaches him - I believe Poitier would be the first to agree, and that he could add many more examples: The importance of his wisdom and experience cannot be measured. My only regret is that Maidie Norman will never have a chance to see this. Incidentally, the actor receiving third billing, Victor Buono, made his debut in this film, and went on to play the villain King Tut on "Batman." Great, ingenious film - every bit as Hitchcockian as "Charade," with twice the horror: I thought I had it all figured out ... just like they wanted me to think, but I hadn't, and I had, and I hadn't ....
  7. Having survived decades of verbal abuse, I am familiar with the term "gaslighting" as it is used to describe psychological manipulation designed to make a person doubt themself. It is impossible to read anything about Narcissistic personality disorder without seeing a section on gaslighting. While I was very familiar with the term, I never questioned why it was called that. I had NO idea this term came from a 1938 play, by the same name, on which this film is based. MINOR SPOILERS FOLLOW "Gaslight" is a brilliantly acted, beautifully directed film that stands the test of time. Ingrid Bergman is outstanding as the wife who is driven to think she is going insane by her controlling husband. She is radiant and so convincing as the happy young women whose life begins to spiral out of control. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress for this role, and I think it is well deserved. Her speech at the end of the film was the highlight for me. I didn't get up off of my couch and cheer, but I wanted to. Bergman's character, Paula, thinks she is going insane. One thing that makes her believe this is the way the gas lights dim each evening, even though there is no one in the house who could be dimming them. Charles Boyer is perfect as her charmingly sinister husband, and an 18-year old Angela Lansbury makes her film debut as the housemaid. If you are looking for this movie to stream online, don't get it confused with the 1940 British version with the same title. If you have lived with someone who has attempted to control or manipulate you, this film will resonate. If you haven't, you will still get swept up in the mystery and intrigue of a very well-crafted film noir.
  8. Since I recently watched "The Maltese Falcon," I decided to have a go at "Suspicion," both films being from 1941. The glass of milk scene was my favorite part of the film - it was Hitchcock at his best. *** MINOR SPOILER FOLLOWS *** I didn't realize until after the movie that Cary Grant's menace is developed by Hitchcock by never having him walking into a scene; he merely "appears" - I'm not sure if that hold true for the entire film, but apparently, it happens quite a bit. Grant's performance was terrific - both childish and increasingly creepy as the film progressed. Will he or won't he?
  9. I watched this film recently, and enjoyed it while at the same time, thought it didn't represent what I "normally" think about Alfred Hitchcock as a Director. A friend and I recently watched Hitchcock being interviewed, and he acknowledged (at that time) that this was his favorite film, and we figured out he was referring to "in terms of technical, cinematic aspects" - remember, this is the era of "Citizen Kane" (1941), which seems very dated, and in parts almost boring, but in the early 1940s, some of the cinematic devices used were groundbreaking, and Hitchcock was undoubtedly proud of incorporating modern cinematographic technique into "Shadow of a Doubt. I'd like to jump up-and-down, screaming, 'Watch 'Shadow of a Doubt!'", but I recommend this film for people wanting to peel a layer off of Hitchcock's media-bound reputation, helping to expose him for more of an avant-garde director than he's given credit for being - no, Hitchcock isn't avant-garde but the man wasn't some formulaic weaver of yarns, either - he had plenty of tricks up his sleeve, and used them.
  10. I thought I'd start this thread to see if anyone is watching Hannibal on NBC. The first season is available on Amazon Prime and we're two episodes into season two, Friday nights at 10 and probably OnDemand. While watching this past week's episode, and seeing Dr. Lecter make an amazing osso bucco (albeit from a human leg) I thought how much this show was about the food and insane appetites of the title character. When I was thinking about starting this thread, Andy Greenwald wrote a fantastic spoiler-free article on Grantland: Night of the Manhunter and the food stylist for the show has created a blog for her work: Feeding Hannibal. Both of these, and just the pure beauty of the show, made me think it was worthy of discussion or even turning other people onto the show. Sure it's bloody and about horrific killings, but Bryan Fuller is truly a television auteur with a unique eye and voice. His other work is worth looking out for as well, Pushing Daisies and Wonderfalls were both built around restaurants and a little bit of the supernatural.
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