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Full Version: TM2YC's 1001 Movies (Chronological up to page 48/post 480)
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(08-23-2020, 05:11 PM)mnkykungfu Wrote: [ -> ]^For me, Smith has been riding on the coattails of his own serendipitous success with diminishing returns ever since.

I don't dislike some of his later stuff as much as some but it's undeniable that he went off the boil. I thought 'Clerks II' was great. Write what you know Mr Smith, you're really good at it and on that note... Hopefully 'Clerks III' finally gets filmed because IIRC the plot will be based around the fictional characters making a low budget movie about themselves working in a convenience store.

(08-23-2020, 05:11 PM)mnkykungfu Wrote: [ -> ]TM2YC, have you read Peter Biskind's Down and Dirty Pictures

No but I've heard of it. One for the Christmas list Wink .

Seeing as it's Sir Sean Connery's 90th birthday today, why not re-watch this classic...

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The Untouchables (1987)
Director: Brian De Palma
Country: United States
Length: 119 minutes
Type: Drama, Crime, Action

I could watch Brian De Palma's film every month and not grow tired of it. Ennio Morricone's score contains at least 4 or 5 distinct themes that are all some of the greatest pieces of music ever written for a film. His tension theme is the most tense thing ever, his romance theme is almost ludicrously lush and romantic, the death theme is achingly tragic, the swaggering gangster theme has all the swagger and the hero theme as the Untouchables ride into "battle" is gloriously heroic. It elevates everything to fantasy heights and the characters are heightened too. Sean Connery is the most Irish, grizzled, Copiest-Cop imaginable (without actually needing to do the Irish accent) and Kevin Costner's version of FBI agent Elliot Ness radiates selfless purity, goodness and towering nobility.  Andy Garcia and Charles Martin Smith's agents have less screen time but what an impact they make. Billy Drago and Robert De Niro are also perfect as the villains, striding round with the malevolent confidence that they own everything and everybody.

De Palma's camera setups are a masterclass in how to make a film look huge and expensive without spending an extra dime, often just by pointing the lens upwards so his character's faces are framed against the vast marbled Art Deco ceilings of Chicago's 1920s interior architecture, or by using sweeping crane shots to loose people among the towering skyscrapers. It makes you feel you're back in the prohibition era when the city was at the height of it's money, power and influence. Two scenes are such masterpieces not because of how much happens in them, or what was spent on them, purely because of the way he uses the camera. The voyeuristic stalking of Malone in his apartment and the showdown on the steps of Union Station. Apparently the budget wouldn't allow for the original train chase envisioned, so De Palma improvised the iconic nerve shredding scene with the baby carriage instead (inspired by 'Battleship Potempkin').

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Young Frankenstein (1974)
Director: Mel Brooks
Country: United States
Length: 105 minutes
Type: Comedy, Horror

This was my 2nd or 3rd time watching 'Young Frankenstein' and while I do really enjoy it, I'm still not getting why it's #13 on the AFI's funniest films ever list (I'm more of a 'Spaceballs' man). It feels like the editing is paced to leave room for laughter after each line, so it probably works better with a cinema audience. This time I noticed references to 'Citizen Kane', the Marx Brothers and 'Shanghai Express', not just to the Universal horror films of the 30s, which it recreates so perfectly. Mel Brooks and cinematographer Gerald Hirschfeld have the lighting, direction, editing and style of those old movies so perfected that it could easily pass for the genuine thing. Gene Wilder's hilarious, unhinged, yet serious performance as the grandson of Frankenstein dominates the film but supporting players Teri Garr, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman and Gene Hackman shine too.

This is still my favourite line (it's so Groucho Marx):

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My Life to Live (1962)
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Country: French
Length: 85 minutes
Type: Drama

One of many Jean-Luc Godard films starring New Wave actor Anna Karina. She plays Nana, a beautiful, sad, stylish twenty-something Parisian shop-girl who falls into prostitution. Although 'Vivre sa Vie: Film en Douze Tableaux' has many experimental stylistically unusual elements (such as silent film interludes, shooting actors from behind, 4th wall breaks, jump cuts etc) in line with Godard's other films, it looks much more classic, composed and artful. There is a lovely scene where Nana goes to the cinema and watches Falconetti's tear streaked face in Carl Theodor Dreyer's 1928 silent 'The Passion of Joan of Arc', crying in mirrored sympathy. Some of the 12 chapters like that one really worked for me but I found others overlong, meandering and pretentious.

(03-25-2018, 05:18 AM)TM2YC Wrote: [ -> ]80 years ago...

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 An elderly and very much in love couple (Bark and Lucy) lose their house and have to stay separately with their children's families. They all try to make it work but can't and the couple slowly fear that they won't ever be together again. There are devastatingly heartbreaking yet subtle moments but it's also full of kindness and love.

I was just listening to Filmspotting's "Best of 2014" podcast, and they mentioned Love is Strange, which sounds remarkably like this.  I wonder if it's an intentional remake/update?
(08-27-2020, 06:45 PM)mnkykungfu Wrote: [ -> ]
(03-25-2018, 05:18 AM)TM2YC Wrote: [ -> ] An elderly and very much in love couple (Bark and Lucy) lose their house and have to stay separately with their children's families. They all try to make it work but can't and the couple slowly fear that they won't ever be together again. There are devastatingly heartbreaking yet subtle moments but it's also full of kindness and love.

I was just listening to Filmspotting's "Best of 2014" podcast, and they mentioned Love is Strange, which sounds remarkably like this.  I wonder if it's an intentional remake/update?

Oh yeah! I thought that at that time from the promotion but had completely forgotten that that movie existed. Back on the watchlist it goes Smile . You surely can't go wrong with Alfred Molina and John Lithgow. Yasujiro Ozu's 'Tokyo Story' (aka "Sight & Sound magazine's 'best film of all time'") is also a loose remake of 'Make Way for Tomorrow'.
^Hmm... I just watched that this past year and still didn't make that connection.  I guess I was more focused on the elderly couple's relationship dynamics with the rest of their family.  I haven't seen MWfT or LiS, but they both seemed more focused on the romance between the couple?
(08-28-2020, 04:01 PM)mnkykungfu Wrote: [ -> ]the elderly couple's relationship dynamics with the rest of their family.

That's the bit that's similar eg. "make way for tomorrow (because we don't have time for the past)". In both films the elderly couple's children don't have time for them and see them as just a burden and the couple have difficulty adjusting to the next generation's faster pace of life. The plotting is changed a lot to translate from 1930s American, to 1950s Japanese family dynamics.

I've just read there is a 2003 Bollywood remake too. This song between the separated parents is really nice:

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Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962)

Director: Agnes Varda
Country: France
Length: 90 minutes
Type: Drama

Agnes Varda's second film is a portrait of an Edith Piaf type young Parisian chanteuse as she waits for a cancer diagnosis, filling the hour or two with existential angst and encounters with friends. Corinne Marchand's Cleo is a pleasant but spoiled and vain diva yet her present emotional turmoil makes her very sympathetic. There is an amazing scene where Cleo is singing this beautiful sad song (with film composer Michel Legrand) and the camera rotates round her until the room and other people disappear and she is framed in black.  Since it takes place in more-or-less real time, when Cleo is required to move about the city to get to the next scene/meeting, we travel with her in taxis, buses and cars, observing the people and places of Paris, as she contemplates her own life. It's a simple, yet innovative and pleasurable way to structure a film. More director should do it. I liked the way Varda places a note that the aspect ratio should be "1.66:1" prominently in the opening titles, so the projectionists couldn't help but get it right.

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Total Recall (1990)
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Country: United States
Length: 113 minutes
Type: Sci-Fi, Action

I'd forgotten just how amazingly violent 'Total Recall' was, it'd be unthinkable for a studio to release a mainstream popcorn movie like this nowadays, especially when it was the most expensive film ever made at the time. It's like Paul Verhoeven mandated that every death should be on par with the infamous Kenny shooting from 'Robocop'. Arnie is a ton of fun in the many top action scenes but I always felt he was an odd fit for this film. It's aiming for something more intellectual, thought provoking and interesting, than the muscle bound Austrian is capable of portraying. So you could either take it as a cerebral thriller dumbed-down for an action crowd, or the thinking man's action film. It's always fascinating to ponder whether you're watching reality, or a dream... although technically it's both at different points because it's either set in an imaginary man's reality, or a real man's imagination. The FX (mostly) still hold up, featuring spectacular models, matte paintings, early CGI experiments, animatronics and back/front projection. However, the middle act starts to feel confined inside the Mars city set, you don't feel the connection with the huge Mars complex we see outside in establishing shots. Jerry Goldsmith's score is a classic.

(08-28-2020, 04:35 PM)TM2YC Wrote: [ -> ]
(08-28-2020, 04:01 PM)mnkykungfu Wrote: [ -> ]the elderly couple's relationship dynamics with the rest of their family.

That's the bit that's similar eg. "make way for tomorrow (because we don't have time for the past)". 

I've just read there is a 2003 Bollywood remake too. This song between the separated parents is really nice:
Interesting.  I wonder if that carries over to Love is Strange, too.  I haven't been able to access Bollywood yet.  Probably due to my distaste for most conventional musicals.  If they find a way to turn this into a rock opera version, I'll be on board.  Wink
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The Apartment (1960)
Director: Billy Wilder
Country: United States
Length: 125 minutes
Type: Romantic-Comedy

Considering how much I love the work of Director Billy Wilder, I don't know why it's taken me so long to get around to this one. His films are usually in one of two modes, energetic joyful comedy, or dark nihilistic drama, excelling equally in both. 'The Apartment' is the sweet-spot between the two, hilarious, tragic, intelligent and romantic. This is going right up there with my favourite films. Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine have delightful chemistry as two kind and unhappy people. It would've been unthinkable to have done a mainstream drama, let alone a comedy about sex and suicide in the previous decade. You could almost re-shoot this thing today without needing to change a line.

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La Jetée (1962)
Director: Chris Marker
Country: France
Length: 28 minutes
Type: Sci-Fi

The French title translates literally as 'The Pier'/'The Jetty' but it refers to a scene set on an Airport viewing platform, so something like "Observation Deck" might be more accurate but would be lacking in poetic imagery. I've been a fan of 1995's '12 Monkeys' since it came out, so I don't know why it's taken 25-years to set aside 28-minutes to watch the film that inspired it (it's virtually a remake). Director/Writer Chris Marker manages to construct a compelling Sci-Fi/time-travel narrative with the most minimal ingredients. Apart from one brief moving shot, it's entirely made from still images, with a narrator explaining what you are seeing and choral music setting the tone. 'La Jetée' is clearly a massive influence on all cyclical time-travel cinema, like 'The Terminator' and 'Back to the Future'. You can also detect visual influences on disparate things like the LP art for 'With the Beatles', Lou Reed's sunglasses and the post-apocalyptic worlds of 2000AD magazine.

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Spartacus (1960)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Country: United States
Length: 184 minutes
Type: Epic, War

'Spartacus' would be the crowning jewel in the filmographies of other directors but not Stanley Kubrick, who more or less disowned it. He lacked his usual "total creative control" having been brought in a week into filming after Anthony Mann was fired. Kubrick had disputes with the Cinematographer Russell Metty, writer Dalton Trumbo, star Kirk Douglas (who also produced), was not allowed to shoot it in the format he liked and didn't have final cut (scenes of violence and a homoerotic sequence were removed). It's a shame because it's arguably the film that made Kubrick's reputation. That the 30-year old Director of modest and controversial black & white movies could take the reins on a colossal and troubled Technirama production, turn it around and make it into the biggest hit Universal had ever had financially and critically is arguably one of the main reasons Kubrick had near carte blanche for the rest of his career. Without 'Spartacus', he probably wouldn't have been allowed to make all the other unusual masterpieces that he did have full control of.

It's not perfect, the 3-hour run time does drag a little in the middle after you've seen it 10 or 20 times. Some of the stylised coloured lighting looks very dated, very 1960s, very 'Star Trek: The Original Series'. The interior sets look a bit phony but there is also a lot of dramatic location filming and some incredibly beautiful and seamless matte paintings to balance it out. It's all heavily romanticised but sticks pretty close to the broad historical facts of the slave uprising (if the contemporaneous sources were accurate). The 6K restoration on the 55th Anniversary blu-ray looks incredible, including the addition of the aforementioned deleted homoerotic scene. Laurence Olivier hadn't recorded his dialogue for it, so Antony Hopkins did a note-perfect impersonation, you'd never tell. Without this important scene, it wasn't clear why Antoninus fled from the home of Crassus, or why Crassus was so obsessed with him.

This re-watch re-doubled my appreciation for Peter Ustinov's fantastic performance as Batiatus. I noticed that there is almost nothing in his script which invites us to sympathise, or to like his character. His words and deeds are equally as bad as the other slave-owning characters but when Ustinov is acting them out they become the words of a lovable rogue. Another actor could have played Batiatus with the same script and made him a villain. To have him, Laurence Olivier and Charles Laughton, three of the all-time greats on screen together is a real treat, not to mention stars Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis. Laughton's wiley fictional politician Gracchus feels modeled on Cicero and Crassus' lust for power seems intended to echo the then recent dictators of the 20th Century.

The horrible irony of the final gladiatorial duel, where two friends fight with every sinew to kill the other, to save their companion from the worse fate of Crucifixion is dramatic genius from writer Dalton Trumbo. Trumbo had been jailed for refusing to "name names" at the notorious HUAC hearings. It's difficult to not see his iconic "I'm Spartacus!" scene as a celebration of those who had the courage to not betray their friends. Kirk Douglas bravely insisted that the blacklisted Trumbo be given full public credit. Anti-communist groups protested the film but once President Kennedy crossed their picket lines to enjoy 'Spartacus', the Hollywood blacklist was effectively ended.

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Gladiator (2000)
Director: Ridley Scott
Country: United States / United Kingdom
Length: 155 minutes
Type: Epic, Historical, Action

'Gladiator' is one of probably only a handful of movies I watched as many as 5 times in it's original theatrical window (also 'Mad Max: Fury Road' and 'Dredd'). The action, drama, scale, immersive power of the soundmix and the thundering majesty of Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard's score (influenced by Holst and Wagner), all demanded to be seen and heard on the big screen. I think Ridley Scott realised 2000 was the perfect time to bring back the old Hollywood "sword & sandals" epic. A moment in time when CGI had progressed to a point that made the full enormity of his vision possible but also a time when 90% of it still had to be achieved with massive sets, real stunts, crowd scenes and location shooting. At the time I remember there was a huge fuss made about the groundbreaking shot that whirls around the arena, with a 360-degree CGI set extension to the roof. It still holds up 100% twenty years later. A few of the big digital matte paintings of Rome show their age but even those still look pretty great.  I watched a Widescreen HDTV open-matte version, rather than my official matted CinemaScope blu-ray, it looks so much bigger and more epic with the expanded field of view.

Between the heart-pounding opening battle in the forest, all the various gladiatorial clashes that escalate across the first half and then the ending duel, it has to said that the pace gets a bit slack. Even in the classic original Theatrical Cut which I re-watched today, not to mention the 3-hour Extended Cut (which I've not seen in a long while). Among all the lavish costumes and sets, the one prop that looks rubbish is Maximus' gladiator helmet. I always hated the anachronistic design but up close in HD, it looks so bad, plasticy and impractical. I wonder if Scott made a last minute change to the design on a whim and the poor prop department had like an hour to weather it down and try to make it look believable. Or perhaps Scott noticed the mask in among some set dressing, never intended to be in closeup and swapped it for the original fine detailed prop? The attempt to complete Oliver Reed's scenes after he died mid-production, with a combination of doubles and early CGI head-swapping isn't totally successful but was preferable to recasting such a powerful performance. Considering Scott choose to cast three legendary, 1960s, elderly drinkers in prominent roles, it's a lucky only one of them died during filming. Richard Harris and David Hemmings would follow Reed to "the big pub in the sky" within a couple of years of 'Gladiator'.  I'm glad they were all cast because they're so damn good, not to mention Sir Derek Jacobi, who adds oodles of RSC class. I notice Jacobi's fictional Senator Gracchus shares the same name as Charles Laughton's character from 'Spartacus' and is broadly the same character. A deft populist politician but one who still has some principles he's prepared to die for. Scott's film certainly borrows freely from films like 'Spartacus' and 'Ben-Hur'. 'Gladiator's $300 million profits put Ridley Scott permanently back on the Director A-list after a patchy career filled with as many bombs and misfires, as hits and classics. Although this was hardly his first movie, it made an instant mega-star out of Russell Crowe,while Joaquin Phoenix has had his pick of projects ever since.