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WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby charliechaplinfan » October 20th, 2013, 9:08 am

Another fan of Night Nurse and Baby Face here and Stany too of course.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

RedRiver
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby RedRiver » October 20th, 2013, 2:14 pm

Wendy J. Favell!

My recorder is the last of it's kind (...) I'll never be able to find another like it

And we call this progress!

I love the way you describe the beginning of the film... Wellman's shorthand to get us into the story is always so good.

We see the same speeding ambulance in the last shot as well. Bookends!

the way we got into the meat and potatoes of the story within about 2 minutes.

Old movies are wonderful in that regard. (CRASH! Millionaire Deeds Killed in Car Wreck. Unknown Heir Sought. Knock! Knock! Longfellow Deeds?) This all happens in about ten seconds!

How else are you going to direct a movie that's only 72 minutes long?

Nowadays, you fill about 40 minutes with superfluous footage and close-ups of investor products. "This character drives a SAAB 9000!"

Great post, Wendy!

kingrat
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby kingrat » October 21st, 2013, 11:41 am

We both liked The Fifth Estate, which is apparently bombing at the box office. Too bad. If you're interested in the story of WikiLeaks, this is a well-made film, with Benedict Cumberbatch terrific as Julian Assange. Essentially, the movie is a variation on The Great Gatsby, with the idealistic young German computer whiz Daniel (played by Daniel Bruhl) in the Nick Carroway role and Julian Assange as Gatsby. At first Daniel is mesmerized by Assange, but he sees the darker side later on. The filmmakers try to take an even-handed approach to WikiLeaks. Laura Linney and Stanley Tucci are among the fine supporting cast, and so is Matthew from Downton Abbey.

In the classic era Hollywood made biopics about scientists and intellectuals, among others, but in recent years this genre has mostly been about entertainers. The only recent exception has been computer geniuses, as the success of The Social Network has led to Jobs and The Fifth Estate.

RedRiver
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby RedRiver » October 22nd, 2013, 11:13 am

I watched SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK last night, while attempting to make sense of my new DVD player. I liked it. It has strong characters and an escalating story. But there's a lot of material I've seen before. Crazy people smashing things. The quirky football obsession (DINER comes to mind). A dance contest? Really? Time to retire that old warhorse!

Young Jennifer Lawrence (from a place called Kentucky) is fine, as is everyone in the cast. The intensity is contagious. It could be my expectations were misguided. I expected a hard-hitting drama about mental illness. In the long run, this is a romance. "You're the best thing that ever happened to me." And this is the best line the writers could come up with? This is not a bad movie at all. But the publicity suggested it was the greatest film since HEY THERE, IT'S YOGI BEAR! The truth is, I could have used a "pic-a-nic basket"!

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JackFavell
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby JackFavell » October 22nd, 2013, 11:40 am

I guess I was lucky to see it before I knew much about it and before the hype kicked in. It's definitely a small romance picture. That being said, I thought it was exceptionally good for a movie of that genre today.

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CineMaven
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby CineMaven » October 22nd, 2013, 3:24 pm

"Night Nurse" and "Baby Face." Whew! Stanwyck in the 30's. She's starting to come into her own. Love her in both.

"Silver Lining Playbook." I loved that film. I was totally engaged by it and vested in every character. Reviews? Ha! Make up your own mind.

I've got two films ahead of me that I am chomping at the bit to see: "12 Years A Slave" and "Blue Is the Warmest Color." Sight unseen, and I won't need any reviews.
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JackFavell
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby JackFavell » October 23rd, 2013, 7:07 am

I watched Man of the Moment (1935) yesterday, starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Laura La Plante, not to mention an extremely silly Margaret Lockwood. I enjoyed the film immensely, thanks to La Plante, who was quite gifted as an actress and comedienne. I've never seen her in a sound film before and her voice was deliciously alto toned...very lovely. And best of all, it matches her screen persona. She reminded me a great deal of Carole Lombard and a little of Marion Davies. She had that energy, the ability to be silly and do pratfalls without it seeming worked or fussy. A natural talent. She seems perfectly at home in front of the camera, and has an easy, relaxed presence. I like her better than Davies, who sometimes seems a little forced. La Plante is someone you just want to watch, she's a splendid personality. This would be her last film until 1947. It's a shame she left Hollywood, because she was an excellent actress, both comic and dramatic, everything I've seen her in so far has been quite good. She made the most of this little trifling movie, and I kept watching because of her.

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JackFavell
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby JackFavell » October 23rd, 2013, 7:24 am

I also watched Yevgeni Bauer's film, Grezy or Daydreams (1915), a VERY well directed picture about a man who so misses his dead wife that he falls in love with her double (where HAVE I seen that story before...? hmmmm.). The new lover is an opera actress who is course and vulgar, and tension arises because she cannot live up to the memory of the dead woman. All ends in tragedy. (I just know I've seen this story before...)

The lighting was masterful, with small notes that suggest the supernatural, for instance a small key light on a woman's face in a darkish room. I am pretty sure I've never seen this in a movie from this time before. There is the use of double exposure to create a ghost image of the wife, and an excellent set-piece that takes place at the opera, a positively surreal re-creation of a graveyard, with the members of the company rising from the graves to sing their roles.

Interesting and moody, a must see for Vertigo fans.

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JackFavell
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby JackFavell » October 23rd, 2013, 11:09 am

Sorry to keep posting here, but I thought I would post this short review here as well as in the Foreign Films thread.

Ashes and Diamonds made me want to see more and more of Wajda, I LOVED his style of filmmaking, expressing the unsaid, politically and emotionally... showing a people who are corrupted by everything, by their personal history and the history of the government they live under, and by things not even done yet, bureaucracies put in place by actions taken long ago. This movie was a real revelation to me, I instinctively responded to Wajda's imagery and simple but also complex story. He's going to be a favorite.. I've always wanted to see his films...I somehow knew I would feel connected to him. Now I've seen one, and I feel like I met a new lover, someone I can totally give my heart to.

The film is loaded with meaning. It's about alienation and decaying beauty and how one's beliefs can come to seem meaningless in the face of time and of love, and how one's love can be usurped by the hand of death, through beliefs formed before we knew what we were. Death is dealt here by a faceless factotum whose allegiance shifts with the wind, but the enemy is also us. We are sacrificed for no reason at all, because a superior said so and an underling decided he wouldn't take responsibility. It can come from one side or the other, and it hardly matters which, they are indistinguishable.

Incredible, beautiful filmmaking by Wajda and his cinematographer Jerzy Wojcik who created not only a story with something to tell, but a gorgeous filmic world that feels real. The film has the decadent beauty of a last stand.

"So often are you as a blazing torch
with flakes of burning hemp falling about you.
Flaming, you know not if flames bring
freedom or death,
consuming all that you most cherish.
Will only ashes remain?
and chaos, whirling into the void?
Or will the ashes hold
the glory of a star-like diamond,
the Morning Star of everlasting triumph..."

MikeBSG
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby MikeBSG » October 24th, 2013, 6:44 am

Yevgeny Bauer is a real find. He was a giant of the pre-1917 Russian film industry. I haven't seen "Daydreams," but his "Death of a Swan" and "After Death" are very good. ("Swan" is near feature length. "After Death" is about a half hour.) They are almost horror movies in their style and intensity. But as I understand it, most of Bauer's films are melodramas, with women being ruined by men and ruining men.

Bauer died in 1917 while traveling to the Crimea to set up a film studio there. (Which gives me a chance to mention "Slave of Love," a wonderful Soviet film from the 1970s about the White attempt to establish a film studio in the Crimea during the Russian Civil War.)

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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby MikeBSG » October 24th, 2013, 6:50 am

Yesterday I watched "Swingers" (1996) directed by Doug Liman.

This was the first time I had seen the film, and while it did already seem familiar in its story of hapless guys seeking female companionship in the Los Angeles bar scene, it was very funny and I frequently laughed out loud.

To my surprise, I thought this movie had an Italian feel. I had to think of the films of Dino Risi, in particular "The Easy Life" (?) and "The Sign of Venus." In both those films, you have someone who is always cool and always attracts the opposite sex, palling around with someone who, frankly, does not have that quality/ability. "Swingers," however, ended things happily.

The scene with Jon Favreau messing up when he was trying to leave a message on a woman's answering machine, however, is priceless.

I watched "Swingers" because I tried to watch the 2010 "Brighton Rock." I just could not get into that film at all and called it quits after about 7 minutes.

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JackFavell
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby JackFavell » October 24th, 2013, 9:11 am

Oooh, Mike, thanks for the info on Bauer, I am quite intrigued and want to see more. Slave of Love sounds wonderful, I'll see if I can find that one too.

I remember seeing Swingers when it first came out and liking it tremendously... you've made me laugh again thinking of Jon Favreau leaving those answering machine messages. I love the style of the film.

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JackFavell
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby JackFavell » October 24th, 2013, 10:23 am

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Yesterday, I watched Frank Borzage's Lazybones (1925). I don't remember ever seeing a film with a star more suited to his role. Buck Jones was just wonderful, understated, moving...never more than what was called for, never less. He is the rock, the foundation of the movie. His performance was so...I don't know....thoughtful and transcendent, it could be in a movie made today and still be considered a great one. He was unlike any other actor I've seen. Relaxed, just letting the other actors play upon him. Reacting, letting the mood catch him.

It seems to me that this is the quintessential Frank Borzage film, explaining everything about the director's themes that you would ever need to know. The film itself was perfection, every event, every person, every emotion was related to every other one and we saw how it all played out, how actions reflected back on themselves. The story played out most beautifully, without ever seeming forced or contrived. Borzage contrasts lives so vividly, and without judgment. Even the people who drive his plots, that others might call villains, those who are in control of other people's lives, have their own reasons and we can feel a little something for them, because they are so deluded and warped. We just feel sad for them in the end, because they lose what they had in the first place in the pursuit of what they thought was the most important thing. Ruthless ambition, ugly attitudes about what a man or woman ought to be cause so many problems in this world, don't they?

In this film, a mother wants her two lovely daughters to make acceptable matches, and that doesn't include the youngest striking up an affair with Lazybones - whose real name is Steve Tuttle (played by Jones).

Borzage's outsiders, the ones the plot swirls around, are usually seen as odd or different, but we the audience immediately see the good aspects of that person, even the angelic in them, no matter what their outward appearance is, no matter their 'affliction'. Lazybones, or Steve, is simply lazy, always off daydreaming or napping. He's big-hearted, taking in a child, helping a mother keep her terrible secret even when It costs him his own love. He does it because it's the right thing to do, he doesn't even think twice about it. Borzage does something wonderful here. He doesn't make his hero exceptional, nor does he have him dreaming big thoughts. He's just stopping and smelling the flowers all the time. No one sees his value except his mother, and even she probably gets a little exasperated with him for not fixing the fence or doing other jobs around the house. During the war, he distinguishes himself, through no fault of his own, and the town reverses its shallow opinion of him.... and yet that reversal, and the way they treated him before, it never affects him, either way. He's secure in himself, and imparts that to the growing child he adopts. It's a lovely premise, one I think put forward by the writer, Frances Marion, who, along with Borzage never crafted a finer or a more perfect movie. It's a movie of reverses and how we deal with them. Perhaps ignoring those who would hurt us and simply living our life truly is the best thing on earth we could do.

Lazybones is very beautiful film to look at, with cinematography by Glen MacWIlliams and George Schneiderman. The sun on grass and in the air and trees seems alive, like it seemed when we were kids. Things float in the air while we are watching the characters move about. We immediately see why Steve spends his time outside. The differences between the indoors and the outdoors is marked. I think this is a technique of Borzage's to equate Steve with the outdoors, something good and natural, maybe not bound by human materialism. The storyline was also beautifully constructed with occasional scenes of Lazybones' fishing attempts at an old tree to mark the passage of time. The movie flows like a river, without breaks at all, it's simply ABOUT time passing slowly. It's got a country feel, laconic and easy, which is terribly pleasing. It fits the gentle nature of the film and the leading man to a T. There are parables here, with a strict and perfect mirroring of characters: sisters, mothers, lovers, daughters. Every character has a double to show contrast, and this makes the framework of the film quite remarkable. Constructed, but with the look of something unconstructed, as if it happened naturally. How Borzage planned this I don't know, because the film seems carefree and spontaneous, not worked out to the nth degree. The film holds together like a delicate string of pearls.

All the actors are perfect. Notice how I keep using the word perfect? Well, it is and they are. Not one falls off in any way, even young [b]Virginia Marshall[/b], as Steve's adopted girl. She's brilliant, lovely, natural... heartbreaking. Zasu Pitts is a standout as Ruth, the young mother with a terrible secret, she's as good here as I've seen her, but Jane Novak is just as good as her indecisive sister, who slowly comes to believe the scandal surrounding the sudden appearance of a baby at Lazybones' place.

Borzage has Pitts' Ruth bear the brunt of her mother's striving for money and position. There's a staggering scene in which the mother (played by the remarkable Emily Fitzroy) beats her because she has found out about the baby and is crushed that her dreams for her daughter are ruined. The mother forces her to abandon it in order to accept the suitor she has found for her. Even though the mother would be considered a villain in any other movie, Borzage gives her a humanity that is surprising. She has her reasons, even if they are deluded and she has become warped by them. The scene of the beating is actually quite an impressive acting challenge for Fitzroy, the camera stays on her as she works out her disappointment on her daughter... she slows, and one can see her feelings changing...she knows she is wrong. There are complex emotions going on within her, she hides and subverts the feeling that she has made a mistake, blindly going forward with her plans for Ruth's marriage, to a man it turns out isn't worth it. All her planning, her subversion of nature and the natural pairing of her children leads to naught.

Just as good is Edythe Chapman, as Steve's patient, understanding, wise and humorous mother. She makes you understand how Steve got to be how he is. Her trust in him makes it all worthwhile, and she never comes off as foolish or fussy. Just a warm-hearted woman with a big strapping son who she loves.

But the biggest surprise in the cast is Buck Jones as Lazybones. He's just tremendous. When I say tremendous, I mean even better than that. There just aren't any words to describe his performance. Thoughts flicker openly over his face, never rushed or hurried, always kind and gentle. He's like Gary Cooper, but even more so. So very expressive, without even looking like he's trying. He simply is. He's a marvel as the character whose one greatness is just to be nice. Borzage finds the truth in the actor's reactions, never lets any of it become sentimental or maudlin. It's one of the most lovely films I've ever seen, easy to watch, thanks to Jones. I fell in love with this character at once. Jones actually cries on camera, not like any actor I've ever seen before - it's so real - not covered up or trying too hard or using any standard shorthand for sadness, but overcome with simple emotion, letting the camera capture the tears flowing without shame. He wipes his nose and it's over. His whole performance is as real as if you could reach out and touch him. He's a living breathing person, fully there. Things happen to him, life washes over him, and he's still fully himself. It's an amazing thing to see, especially when we think of acting in silent pictures. We don't think it's like this.

This is a movie I would show to someone who hadn't seen a silent movie before. Although the plot is a simple one, very much of it's time, it's nothing like what we have come to think of nowadays as a silent film. None of it is trite or standard or pat. No character does what is expected. No plot point works out in a traditional way. It's a real bona fide GREAT movie.

RedRiver
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby RedRiver » October 24th, 2013, 1:22 pm

I like SWINGERS. It's quirky, and not entirely predictable. The offbeat atmosphere serves it well. We need more small movies like this; less IRON MAN 12!

There was a 2010 filming of BRIGHTON ROCK? Graham Greene's superb novel? Tell me more!

MikeBSG
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby MikeBSG » October 24th, 2013, 2:29 pm

The 2010 "Brighton Rock" updates the action of Greene's novel to the early 1960s and the Mods vs. Rockers violence in Britain.

The movie was directed by Rowan Joffe.

Sam Riley played Pinkie. Andrea Riesenborough played Ida. Helen Mirren and John Hurt had supporting roles.

The movie started in a very oblique way, almost to the point that I decided you had to be already familiar with Greene's novel to understand what was going on. The action was shot from odd angles, the dialogue was very oblique, and, as I said, I gave up about 7 minutes in. I'll try to see the 1947 movie some day.


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