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Found 10 results

  1. I'm about halfway through "The Remains of the Day" (1988, despite what Wikipedia says), so if anyone else wants to pick it up and join in, I'm a slow reader. I've also seen the film, long ago, so don't worry about any spoilers (although please mark them).
  2. If this movie hadn't been nominated, I probably would have really enjoyed it. If this movie had a different literal take away toward the end, I may have even loved it. But it was, and it didn't. Not to sound cliche, but they don't make movies like this anymore. I felt it had the right amount of whimsy and fantasy, along with a story line that was engaging and kept moving. Interestingly, my wife felt like Ryan Gosling was a star while Emma Stone was lacking - I thought the exact opposite. But these filmmakers aren't dumb, I will give them that. Take the nostalgia from a well done example of a dying genre, combined with the blatant love note to Hollywood, and you wind up with a best picture nominee in a year when options were light.
  3. With Hollywood westerns, a little bit of research goes a long way - in my lifetime, I've had more success with this genre of movie than perhaps any other, all because I do a little research before choosing what to watch. "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962) is the twelfth of fourteen collaborative westerns with John Ford and John Wayne (the first and ninth, respectively, being "Stagecoach" (1939) and "The Searchers" (1956)). It is perhaps the most beautiful western I've ever seen. Loaded with famous actors, every single major and minor star outperforms in this deceptively sad meditation upon grief, love, and any of a half-dozen other basic human traits, all attending a costume party in what is most likely mid-19th-century Colorado, and cloaked as a moral dilemma involving the death of another human being. Never have I seen John Wayne play a more important part with less screen time than in this film. Jimmy Stewart is clearly the star - he has to be - but it's Wayne who completes this movie, and who transcends himself in a role so touching that you may feel your eyes moisten in what is one of the most poignant endings of any film I've ever seen. A death itself cannot be considered tragic (everyone who has ever lived, has died), but certain deaths are inherently more tragic than others, and when a piece of history is buried alongside an anonymous hero, lost forever to the earth, and made known only to an audience who desperately wants to jump inside the screen and construct a proper memorial - that cannot be considered a romance, or an action film, or even a western; it can only be classified as a full-blown tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. The next time you and your date are hunting around, looking for a movie to watch, remember this thread: "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" is required viewing for everyone who cares about great film.
  4. I'm not sure how much Glenn Close is getting paid to star in this revival of Sunset Boulevard 26 years after the original, but she is worth every cent - even considering an imperfect vocal performance. This production was called 'partially staged' in London - when it moved to New York they must have fleshed out the staging a bit, but it is still much lighter than the original. After all, you need the space to hold the 40-piece orchestra on the stage which provides rich sound without being distracting behind the actors. The actor playing Joe Gillis (male lead) was fine, but gave a very by-the-book performance with very by-the-book vocals. The night we saw the performance, the woman playing his young love interest (Betty) was an understudy - she was also fine but gave a very by-the-book performance with somewhat thin vocals. This all leads to the production being a bit of a bore until Close takes the stage - it is hard to imagine anyone else in this role (though I'm sure the other actresses involved in the 1991 casting drama feel differently). Even with her breaking BOTH of the two most dramatic notes of the production (With One Look in the 1st act, and the final note of the show in the second), her overall performance carries the show. At the curtain call, Close's behavior was somewhat... eccentric - her small dog coming on stage for a back-and-forth dialogue to raise money for the theatre fund left several patrons wondering how far off Close really was from her character, Norma Desmond. This production is on stage through early June - if you're in the city before then, it is worth the ticket to see this performance.
  5. Believe it or not, "The Seven Year Itch" is the first film I've ever seen with Marilyn Monroe in it. I see in the opening credits that they'll be using Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto #2 - this could be fun, painful, or anything in-between. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** Speaking of painful, there's the beginning, where the "Manhattan Indians" send their wives and children away to escape the summer heat: RIchard Sherman (Tom Ewell), the middle-aged man left in Manhattan while his wife and son go up to Maine to escape the summer heat, plays his role with comic aplomb. He's got "that face" you've seen before, and I remember seeing him in the Emmy Award-winning, first-season episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents: "The Case of Mr. Pellham" (Season 1, Episode 10) - I guess 1955 was his Ewell's year. Ewell played this role on Broadway also, so he's well-practiced playing the part (and, so far, a perfect choice). Monroe and Ewell start off (I'm writing this as I'm watching) playing their parts with perfect comic ease - Sherman is hilariously smitten with Monroe's character (who has yet to be named), and Monroe is using that "dumb blond" voice which is making Sherman melt. Oh, and the Second Concerto is put to good use here! It's playing itself, not some corny "theme music," and so far it's working out in the best, most respectful way that I could possibly hope for. I'm only thirty minutes into the movie, but up until the point where he's (role-)playing the concerto in a fancy dinner jacket, this movie is just a *great* comedy, and both the acting and the music are delighting me to no end. And it fades into a "dance" that Sherman does with the building janitor, Kruhulik (Robert Strauss) which is so appropriate at this moment - it's like being forced to take a cold shower, and their back-and-forth really adds something to the hilarity of the moment. When I say "hilarious" and "hilarity," and rave about the first 30-40 minutes of this film; I haven't actually laughed at all - I'm just *highly* amused. Seven Year Itch isn't "laugh-out-loud" funny; it's "little giggle" funny, but it's just *so* well-done to this point, and an unexpected joy to watch - I was prepared for something of much lesser quality: Hopefully, it will maintain throughout the film, and if it does, then it must surely be considered one of the great comedy classics - I know it's "famous," but I don't know if it's "lauded" - I haven't looked yet, and am not going to until the film is finished. Goof: When Sherman runs for the refrigerator to get ice for Monroe's visit, he opens a refrigerator, not a freezer (there's a bottle of milk in there); yet, there's a perfectly frozen bowl of ice cubes. I guess this isn't a "goof" so much as a "who cares" - this movie wasn't designed to over-analyze. Aaannnnnnnd ... there's the second roller skate. This is the second film I've recently seen from 1955 that uses the term "tomato" to humorously (and indirectly) refer to a good-looking girl (the first was "Marty," in the scene where Marty's mom is trying to talk him into going to the nightclub - she told him that she heard that it has "lots of tomatoes" (not knowing what the term meant). Another thing I've noticed from TV shows and films from this era is just how popular soda (I'm talking club soda) was as a mixer back then. Seemingly *everyone* has "scotch and soda," "gin and soda," and so-forth. This has nothing whatsoever to do with "The Seven Year Itch," but I've seen it now probably dozens of times. When Monroe runs for the door to get the Champagne, rewind it and look at her shoes: She slides across the floor about a foot while stopping - I'm not sure if this was a mistake or a planned move, but it took some coordination on her part not to fall (not to over-analyze, but I think based on the way she bends her knees, this was a choreographed move; not an accident). Tragically, Marilyn does "The Tongue Thing." But all is forgiven. The look you make upon discovering Marilyn Monroe is in your friend's apartment: This film is much better than I thought it would be: It's genuinely funny, sweet, somewhat innocent, and just good, fun escapism. To state the obvious, Marilyn Monroe was *great* at playing a ditzy blonde, and I don't mean that sarcastically. Incidentally, Alfred Newman (who did the music) is Randy Newman's uncle.
  6. 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!"
  7. I did it. I rented "Saturday Night Fever." I hadn't seen the entire film since I was in high school, in the movie theater, and wanted to see it again - I remember I liked it more than I thought I would, but that was thirty-nine years ago. At the minimum, the film is an icon of the disco era - really, it's *the* icon of the disco era, and that - in-and-of-itself - is historically important enough to give it a second viewing. It goes hand-in-hand with an important, albeit banal, period of our country's history. I never knew (or didn't remember) that the sequel to "Saturday Night Fever" - "Staying Alive" - was written and directed by Sylvester Stallone. Boy, I'll tell you what: Maybe some people can see through this dated, weary film as a "coming-of-age" drama wrapped in disco, but I see it as just plain weary. Yes, it's an icon of an era, but what era? - between "Welcome Back, Kotter," "Saturday Night Fever," "Grease," and "Urban Cowboy," John Travolta was arguably the hottest thing in the late 1970's, but this five-year period - which is when I graduated from high school - is probably *the worst* five-year-period I can think of when it comes to popular film and music. I've always thought that pop culture during my teen years was about as bad as it gets, and re-seeing "Saturday Night Fever" only confirms that. No, it wasn't worse than any other run-of-the-mill rom-com, but run-of-the-mill rom-coms are pretty awful. If *this* film is the cinematic and musical emblem of my high-school years, then that doesn't say much for my high-school years. And to think it took Quentin Tarantino to revive the man.
  8. I decided to watch "Notorious," after reading that it is French director Francois Truffaut's favorite Hitchcock film. Truffaut calls Notorious the quintessential Hitchcock film in his wonderful book, Hitchcock, which I highly recommend for any fan of the master of suspense. Perhaps because of Truffaut's high praise I was expecting too much. I enjoyed the film, but I didn't love it. I am a huge Cary Grant fan, and Ingrid Bergman is a fine actress, so I thought I might agree with Truffaut's assessment that this film is the embodiment of the Hitchcock genre. Maybe my disappointment stemmed from watching a poor quality video on YouTube. There were many buffering issues that took away from my enjoyment of the film. There are some wonderful moments in the film, however. It is well-known for the two-and-a-half minute kiss. At the time, American film studios forbade kisses longer than three seconds. Hitchcock got around this rule by having his stars break away from their liplock for a few seconds, talk and walk a bit, while still embracing and nuzzling, and then resume smooching.
  9. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** In one of the very first scenes of "To Catch a Thief," a woman yells out her window that her jewels have been stolen, and you're immediately transported to Nice - this great webpage on the.hitchcock.zone has all the locations used in filming the movie. In that first scene, the use of the black cat going up-and-down, to-and-fro on the rooftop in the night is Alfred Hitchcock's tongue-in-cheek way of representing the cat burglar, John Robie (Cary Grant), who owns a black cat. When Robie visits his old acquaintance's restaurant, the restaurateur's daughter, Danielle (Brigitte Auber) motorboats him away to safety, all the while mocking him with allusions to cats ("rubbing his fur the wrong way," etc.). Grace Kelly can look rather fetching: <--- The filly from Philly, berried in Grant's tomb. And if you're wondering what that gorgeous car is they're driving, it's a 1955 Sunbeam Alpine Series III Classic Drive. At the end of this telephone call, Bertani (Charles Vanel) and Robie both say what sounds like "Bonjour," which I've never heard in my life as a way to say goodbye - I think this is a mistake, and a big one considering Vanel is French and would know better: Now, why would M. Foussard (Jean Martinelli) want to kill Robie, hmm? I think I've got this one figured out: A little *too* obvious at this point? Then again, there are only 17 minutes left in the movie. There's a *knee* that went up behind Robie at the climax! See that gray lump on the left? Surprisingly, this is not on the IMDB "Goofs" list. Very, very basic question (and I don't rule out the possibility that I'm missing something): If Robie wanted to prove his innocence, why didn't he simply confide in the chief of police, and agree to secretly leave the area for a week or two? If a crime happened during that time, he was, by definition, innocent (assuming he didn't have an accomplice).
  10. 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?
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