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A few reviews
(08-26-2019, 04:29 AM)TM2YC Wrote:
(08-25-2019, 06:55 PM)bionicbob Wrote: the tv pilot filming.  I want to see that pilot!  I want to see the rest of that story!

Those were beautiful scenes for DiCaprio, when he's describing the book to the girl and struggling to get his performance right.
I just listened to Empire Magazine's ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD spoiler cast, and I learned the western pilot being filmed in the movie, was an actual TV Western called the Lancers.  I pride myself on being a tv western addict, but I had never heard of that one before.

Here is the original tv scene that Tarantino recreated...
"... let's go exploring!" -- CALVIN.
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^ On that thought...

After seeing 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' I fancied watching some tangentially related late-60s/early-70s films set in Los Angeles. 'Easy Rider' was shot in the same year as Tarantino's is set and represents the new wave that Dalton feels left behind by, also his cowboy outfit looks inspired by that of Dennis Hopper's. 'Chinatown' is Directed by Roman Polanski, who features in the Tarantino film and 'The Long Goodbye' is about a man from a different era, out of step with the hip new L.A.

Easy Rider (1969)
I first watched 'Easy Rider' a very long time ago, so this was basically like seeing it new. The iconic jukebox Pop/Rock soundtrack is terrific, a choice that was apparently groundbreaking in 1969. The plot is minimal, two bikers (Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper) score big on a drug deal (with Phil Spector) and set off on a road-trip from L.A. to New Orleans in time for Mardi Gras. It's more about their experiences along the way, 1969 America seen through new counter-cultural eyes. They befriend a delightfully shambolic lawyer along the way (played by Jack Nicholson) but their long hair, wild clothes and free spirits attract anger from rednecks. The shots of Monument Valley have rarely looked more beautiful as they ride through. The editing is bold and unusual but the tight 95-minute runtime makes what could be a meandering experience sail by.

The Long Goodbye (1973)
Robert Altman re-invents the Film-Noir detective genre, with Elliott Gould playing Philip Marlowe as a disheveled slob, mumbling the trademark Noir voiceover out loud to his cat. Arnold Schwarzenegger has an early cameo as a heavy for an oddball gangster who orders all his men to strip down to their pants in a bizarre attempt to intimidate Gould. Marlowe lives opposite an apartment filled with topless hippie girls doing yoga on the balcony, a fact that only he seems unimpressed by. There is a running gag where characters interact with a parking attendant who does flawless impersonations of Hollywood actors. It's a bit like the odd 70s twist Paul Thomas Anderson's 'Inherent Vice' put on the genre, except the plot isn't virtually incomprehensible. 'The Long Goodbye' is a kooky character study and an enjoyable watch.

Chinatown (1974)
I couldn't remember if I've seen this before, or I'm just familiar with a few scenes. Roman Polanski's film is stylistically a fairly traditional Film-Noir, updated with for the 70s with even more violence, cynicism and darker themes than were permissible back in the heyday of the genre. Robert Towne's script cleverly uses our expectations of certain Noir character tropes to throw in a few twists and it's a solidly structured mystery, unlike some other convoluted/nonsensical detective films. It occurred to me that Leonardo DiCaprio sometimes does a close imitation of Jack Nicholson's style of acting in this film. If you loved 1997's 'L.A. Confidential', then you are sure to like this too.

...plus I watched 'Rebel Without a Cause' (review here) which is also shot/set in L.A. and features a teenage Dennis Hopper. Co-star Natalie Wood's mysterious yacht death in 1972 was apparently the inspiration for a similar suspicious death which is mentioned in Tarantino's film.

Spoilers for 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood':

I was reading about the Manson family's ranch and a stuntman and former soldier called Donald "shorty" Shea. He lived and worked at the Spahn Western set and tried to help the elderly owner (played by Bruce Dern in the film) to evict the Manson family but they brutally murdered him and buried the body at the ranch. So it isn't just Sharon Tate and her friends that stuntman/veteran Cliff gets "revenge" for at the end of the film. Cliff is shown offering to help the owner of the ranch, then beating up Clem Grogan (one of Shea's real life killers) and escaping the ranch alive.
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The official BFI 79th best British film...

Far from the Madding Crowd (1967)
I was engrossed in every minute of the nearly 3-hour runtime (including an intermission) of this John Schlesinger adaptation of Thomas Hardy's novel. An early Victorian world of folk songs, barn dances and wassails that still exists in rural pockets of England today. The central character's moods lie in sympathy with the changing of the seasons, the violence of nature and the well being of the local country folk. The three suitors vying for the hand of Bathsheba Everdene (Julie Christie) each reflect facets of her personality. Terence Stamp is imperious and callous, Peter Finch is grave and romantic and Alan Bates is kind and practical. The glorious colour Cinematography by future Director Nicolas Roeg picks out the golden wheat, green fields and blood red of Stamp's tunic.

The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)

[Image: Taking_of_Pelham_123_%282009_film%29.jpg]

Critics savaged this now decade-old remake as a shallow remake of a 70s classic (which I haven't seen), but it's a perfectly respectable popcorn streamer on its own terms, with Denzel and Travolta doing solid work. (It's certainly better than the absurd recent Liam Neeson-led NYC transportation thriller The Commuter.) I'm knocking a point off, however, for Tony Scott's pointlessly frenetic photography and editing during the action bits. An amusing detail is the brief but repeated usage of some rather crappy Google Earth graphics zooming around the city - when Premium Rush used the same technique three years later, the visuals were much better, and not at all embarrassing.

Grade: B

Mindhunter Season Two (2009)

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Mindhunter's second season is... fine. (As was its first.) The team is called upon to catch an active predator this season, namely the perpetrator of the Atlanta Child Murders, which I'd never heard of. The humdrum romantic travails of the protagonists remain mostly dull, though there's a more sinister (and controversial, from a storytelling standpoint) B-plot this time around. I'm not a true crime buff, though I love Fincher's Zodiac, and despite the gruesome subject matter, the itself is low-key enough that the time goes by fairly pleasantly, with great acting all around.

Grade: B
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^ Disappointing to read Mindhunter S2 is only "fine". The same creator/writer/producer of S1 doesn't seem to have been involved this time. Hopefully I like it when I get a chance to see it.

Au Revoir Les Enfants (1987)
This is the first Louis Malle film I've watched and is now one of my favourites. Malle based it on his own experiences of attending a Catholic boarding school in Nazi occupied France that secretly hid a few Jewish children (see Père Jacques). The film and the superb young cast perfectly capture the way boys behave at an age teetering between childhood and manhood. The camera never takes us away from their world of tedious lessons and playground roughhousing, so we experience some of their blissful ignorance of the dangers we know are closing in. The scene showing the school kids enjoying a Charlie Chaplin silent short was designed to make me love this movie.

^ Well, I wasn't as fond of the first season as you were, so you might love S2. I myself enjoyed it a bit more than S1, frankly...

Stay (2019, on US Amazon Prime)

[Image: Stay-Still.jpg]

A no-budget indie I happened upon. A beautiful young woman wakes up in an unfamiliar home with an electric shock collar around her neck. Her captor, when not shocking her, or threatening her family if she doesn't follow his commands to cook and clean and act graciously, is himself a relatively (given the context) pleasant young man. The movie takes itself seriously enough to mostly maintain credible psychological interactions, though certain details (how he captured her, how he can apparently afford to not work, why her only real attempt at violence is unplanned and ineffective) are elided.

The dramatic hook of the story is whether Stockholm Syndrome can be deliberately inflicted upon an intelligent, modern-day woman without the use of drugs or seriously injuring violence, though the captor doesn't appear to have developed credible long-term plans for their future as a mutually willing couple. Despite some first-rate camera angles in the first scene, the visuals are generally dully proficient and overlit, shot on a cheap camera and without much style. Though the premise suggests an exploitation vibe, the male gaze is avoided, and viewers hoping for a live-action non-consent Literotica wank story will be disappointed. The leads are decent enough actors; the woman is quite the beauty, and the guy somewhat resembles Brandon Routh.

Ultimately, however...

The woman's opening narration teases a victory on the captor's part the rest of the story skimps out on, which is more credible but also less interesting. There comes a point at which a safe and morally upright treatment of an inherently vile and sleazy story renders the whole thing somewhat pointless from an audience perspective, though as a learning feature for those involved, I imagine one could do far worse. Still, given that this is a movie available for public streaming, I won't grade on a amateur's curve.

(08-30-2019, 04:26 PM)Gaith Wrote:
(08-30-2019, 03:27 PM)TM2YC Wrote: a US 2015 Lionsgate blu-ray that looks substantially better than both

That's actually the one I've got (along with the initial 2006 release), which I assumed was the same transfer as the 2009 Skynet Edition, as blu-ray.com didn't review it. So, I've got the best one, then! Sweet! Tongue

My copy of the 2015 Region A Lionsgate blu-ray turned up from the US and it is a lot better the the 2009 "Skynet" Region B blu-ray. I did a comparison of the same frame from all three releases: http://www.framecompare.com/image-compar...n/D7YZGNNX

Ahhh Smile , finally a half decent version of Terminator 2 to enjoy at home.

Fear Eats the Soul (1974)
West-German Director Rainer Werner Fassbinder is rapidly becoming one of my favourites. The way he composes figures inside the 4:3 frame is so powerful, conveying their emotions through relations with negative space and environment. Emmi, a short, podgy, old, white German cleaning lady takes refuge in a bar on a rainy night and strikes up a charming love affair with Ali, a tall, muscular, much younger, black Moroccan immigrant worker. They are blissfully happy together at first but their visual mismatch and (then) controversial interracial relationship brings derision, vitriol and miserable isolation from friends, work colleagues and family. Brigitte Mira's performance is the highlight, her face drooping with misery, crumpled with nervousness, or lighting up with joy.

This fan made trailer is really nice and captures the spirit of the piece:

The official BFI 33rd best British film...

Alfie (1966)
When people do the standard "My name is Michael Caine" impression, it's probably his performance as Alfie that they are thinking of. Alfie is a seemingly callous and self-centered womaniser who refers to women as "It" instead of "She" and evaluates them like used cars in a near constant 4th-wall breaking monologue. However, under his practiced bravado we see glimpses of feeling, loneliness and regret as his youth begins to fade. It's the 50 megawatt warmth of Michael Caine's personality shining out of the screen which makes us care about what is a quite mean and dark character on the page, so it's not surprising the 2004 remake got mixed reviews with a different actor. After 'Alfie', Director Lewis Gilbert's next job was joining the Bond franchise, starting with 'You Only Live Twice'.

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Fight Club (1999)
I hadn't seen this in such a long time, so a 20th Anniversary Cinema screening was great to see. The satire is both acuity of it's time and timeless. Filmed a few months before the Columbine massacre, the scene where Edward Norton threatens his office manager with "pumping round after round into colleagues and co-workers" is chilling. The terrifying scene where he dreams of being in a crashing plane, the shots of skyscrapers being blown up and all the stuff about secret terror cells, seems to predict the events of September 11th, two years later. On the other hand, apart from the odd shot of a CRT television, you wouldn't know this was shot 20 years ago, fashions and the political, social and economic context have changed so little. I hadn't fully appreciated the cynical undercurrent of criticism beneath the film's anarchistic surface before. Tyler's anti-authoritarian and anti-consumer movement becomes the kind of corporate organisation he has rejected, it has it's own strict rules (famously), it's uniforms, filing systems, mandated tasks, routines and oppressive orthodoxies.

Some of the editing ideas don't translate to DLP cinema, the real change marks, the Tyler subliminal glitches, the film burns and gate distortion would have probably felt like possible genuine Andy Kaufman-esque problems with the projection back in the 35mm days, today the deliberate mistakes are reproduced with cold digital precision. Jeff Cronenweth's striking hi-contrast Cinematography has the unusual look of being lurid, dirty and over processed but also artfully lit in every shot. So why do most of his films with David Fincher since then look like low-contrast, monochromatic grey/green/brown smears. Worth seeing just to hear Pixies' 'Where Is My Mind?' on big cinema speakers.

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The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979)
Again Director Rainer Werner Fassbinder explores post-war Germany, starting with the marriage ceremony of the title during an Allied bombing raid (symbolising what is to come for the couple). Maria (Hanna Schygulla) dedicates her life to her husband despite war, imprisonment, geographical separation and fate conspiring to keep them apart and disaster striking whenever they meet. Schygulla is captivating in the lead role, Fassbinder has such empathy for his damaged characters and the film looks much more visually polished than some of his other films. Another masterpiece.

The official BFI 47th best British film...

I'm All Right Jack (1959)
'I'm All Right Jack' is an Ealing Studios style farce (but from British Lion Films) satirising dysfunctional industrial relations. Everybody gets it with both barrels from the belligerent trade unionists, to the corrupt bosses. Ian Carmichael plays a naive middle-class graduate who fails to attain his expected managerial position, ends up on the militant shopfloor and so unwittingly becomes the cause of nationwide unrest. Peter Sellers plays his resolutely communist shop steward, comically trapped between sheltering this struggling new worker and railing against the upset he causes. The rest of the stellar cast is a whose-who of 50s Comedy including Terry-Thomas, Miles Malleson, Richard Attenborough, Dennis Price, Margaret Rutherford and John Le Mesurier.


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