Let's share some thoughts on some films I've just seen...

Here's the place to talk about DVDs (or VHS) films and movies you have seen on television and recommend or don't recommend. Discuss actors and scores, too.

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Wallingford
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Let's share some thoughts on some films I've just seen...

Post by Wallingford » Thu Apr 02, 2015 3:24 pm

It's time to revive the flagging Movie Forum. During my recovery these last three months, my brain somehow or other didn't have much desire to listen to music, so instead I thought I'd catch up on a few of the 600+ movies I've dubbed to DVD but haven't watched yet. You're invited to share your impressions of any of these films. I have a four-star rating system for nearly all these movies, and which I'll provide once I can find a keyboard that has a "1/2" function key.

Here are the films:

Meet John Doe
Charade
It's A Pleasure
Smart Woman
The Artist
Balto
Balto 2
The Nut Job
Blue Velvet
Monkey Business
Up the Down Staircase
Baby, the Rain Must Fall
Sense & Sensibility
The Spikes Gang
Au Revoir, Les Enfants
The Last Metro
Professional Sweetheart
Lullaby of Broadway
Skippy
R.P.M.
Royal Wedding
Love is Better Than Ever
Cries & Whispers
In the Line of Fire
Toys in the Attic
Shoot the Piano Player
The Major & the Minor
Barabbas
In the Heat of the Night
Cinderfella
Four Sons
The Apartment
Avalon
They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
Ali Baba Goes To Town
Big Eyes
It Happened One Night
Wholly Moses!
Last edited by Wallingford on Sun May 03, 2015 9:40 pm, edited 3 times in total.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

John F
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Re: Let's share some thoughts on some films I've just seen..

Post by John F » Fri Apr 03, 2015 5:37 am

Good heavens! What a list, and not one film by Bergman, Fellini, or Truffaut among them. I can't share thoughts about movies I have no thoughts about. :)
John Francis

lennygoran
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Re: Let's share some thoughts on some films I've just seen..

Post by lennygoran » Fri Apr 03, 2015 7:14 am

Wallingford wrote:
Here are the films:
Charade
Monkey Business
The Last Metro
Cries & Whispers
In the Heat of the Night
Over the years these are the only ones I remember seeing but it's been so long ago-my impression is that I liked them all but my memory is such I couldn't even discuss them. :( I loved the Marx Bros night at the Opera and there was a documentary of some sort recently on PBS on Jerry Lewis--I didn't realize just how much of the movie business details he was involved in-a very knowledgeable guy! Regards, Len

Wallingford
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Re: Let's share some thoughts on some films I've just seen..

Post by Wallingford » Fri Apr 03, 2015 3:43 pm

Actually, Truffaut directed The Last Metro, and Bergman did Cries & Whispers.

And the Monkey Business I listed isn't the Marx Brothers one (which I didn't see), but an early 50s flick with Cary Grant as a scientist who accidentally stumbles across a serum reverting humans back to the simian stage.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

John F
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Re: Let's share some thoughts on some films I've just seen..

Post by John F » Fri Apr 03, 2015 4:04 pm

Sorry! I skimmed the list too fast.
John Francis

Wallingford
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Re: Let's share some thoughts on some films I've just seen..

Post by Wallingford » Mon Apr 06, 2015 3:05 pm

Let's start with a couple of musicals.

First, It's A Pleasure, directed by William A. Seiter and starring Sonja Heine and Michael O'Shea. A romantic comedy about a hockey star who's gone off the wagon and his troubled marriage to a skater. ***1/2

Next, Lullaby of Broadway, directed by David Butler and starring Doris Day and Gene Nelson. I give it *** although I strangely don't remember a thing about it now!

Also, Royal Wedding directed by Stanley Donen and starring Gene Kelly and Jane Powell. They're a brother-and-sister dancing team who go to London to see Queen Elizabeth II get married (she's not in the picture). Another crisis-and-all-ends-happily movie; Kelly dancing on the ceiling is a decided highlight! ***1/2
Last edited by Wallingford on Thu Apr 09, 2015 2:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

piston
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Re: Let's share some thoughts on some films I've just seen..

Post by piston » Mon Apr 06, 2015 6:19 pm

Can a composer's life be well known, or well imagined in the case of a semi-fictional biopic, paying only tangential attention to his music, except for a sprinkling of his most popular works here and there and a couple of early works as background music to his artistic struggles? As is so often the case in such movies today, the 2000 Villa-Lobos biopic Uma Vida de Paixão (A Life of Passion) begins with the end of his life, connects his death with a scene from the operation room of a New York hospital where they removed his bladder ("re-section") because of cancer, and, with Villa-Lobos under anesthesia, jumps back and forth through time, when he was a child, a young artist in Brazil, in Paris, a "nationalistic" mouthpiece and government official for Brazil's dictator in the thirties and early forties, an often bed-ridden Brazilian in America, a successful composer back in Brazil at the end of his life.

Some colorful music-related scenes include his highly fictionalized journey into the Brazilian jungle, in search of the magic bird Uirapuru, a love scene with his late-life companion Mindinha to the aria of Bachinas Brasilieras no. 5 (even though that could have been composed after they first got in bed), and a few more, such as his "Little train" music. But the film producer really flopped on the big football stadium concert V-L directed and never got into the more serious, intense, for the most part non-nationalistic music of 1945-59, i.e., the very period he had serious health issues and no longer lived life so carelessly.

It's a real paradox! If you want to do a biopic of a composer which immediately focuses on his declining health and ultimate death and uses that period as an organizing framework for the whole movie, why overlook his whole creative output during his last 14 years?!

Inevitably, the film producer also had to tackle the issue of V-L's actual wife, Lucillia, the pianist and piano teacher who supported him for many years, both emotionally and financially, before he was appointed as Brazil's minister of music culture in the thirties (yes, when he began his extra-marital affair with Mindinha). As the only person who believed in him at first and who refused separation for the rest of his life, she could have been portrayed quite positively, an extremely faithful wife. But the picture here is ambivalent at best: she abandons him to his fate on his second trip to Paris, when she tells him that he's a mediocre composer. She'll also tell him that he's mediocre in bed (they were childless), etc. Of course, none of this is based on historical records.

C-
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

Wallingford
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Re: Let's share some thoughts on some films I've just seen..

Post by Wallingford » Thu Apr 09, 2015 1:59 pm

Here are some films from my list above which I'd give the full four stars:

The Artist -- A nice story, well told. Although I don't know why so many critics did handstands over this one, and half of them, 25 years ago, gave lackluster reviews to Charles Lane's silent black-and-white comedy-drama Sidewalk Stories. The latter is almost as good, though it has just a few lapses (and one perhaps unnecessary excuse ror an "R" rating)....the two films are similar in that, at the very end, the soundtrack gradually fades in to make its clincher point.

Au Revoir, Les Enfants -- A good, true-to-life war drama from director/co-writer Louis Malle. I've enjoyed everything I've seen from this director (My Dinner With Andre, Vanya On 42nd Street), and the juvenile actors are motivated to fine performances all the way around. The film draws on Malle's own experience as a Catholic school youth who befriends a Jewish student hiding his identity.

In The Heat Of The Night -- Great early exercise in blunt race relations drama. Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger match wits extremely well; it got Best Picture, though director Norman Jewison sadly didn't win.
Last edited by Wallingford on Thu Apr 09, 2015 2:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

Wallingford
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Location: Brush, Colorado

Re: Let's share some thoughts on some films I've just seen..

Post by Wallingford » Thu Apr 09, 2015 2:10 pm

Another four-star pick: Up The Down Staircase.

Director Robert Mulligan gives this 60s high school drama an admirably naturalistic feel: lots of intentionally jittery camerawork. There is real catharsis in the conclusion as the young lady teacher ponders whether or not to continue with the challenging way of life she's been drawn into.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

John F
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Re: Let's share some thoughts on some films I've just seen..

Post by John F » Thu Apr 09, 2015 11:30 pm

piston wrote:Can a composer's life be well known, or well imagined in the case of a semi-fictional biopic, paying only tangential attention to his music, except for a sprinkling of his most popular works here and there and a couple of early works as background music to his artistic struggles?
Can anybody's life be well known? Yes, if the purpose is to report what he/she did, said, and experienced - the outer life. Not in a movie, that's far too short, but possibly in a TV series and certainly in a book. But the composer's inner life, anybody's inner life, is out of reach except by inference from the outer life. Attempts by biographers to psychoanalyze their subject, such as Maynard Solomon's biography of Mozart, reach for the impossible.

The music is partly of the outer life; dates, places, occasions, premieres, what the composer may have said about it. But the creative process, which is what people really want to know about, is of the inner life and remains hidden, unless the composer partly reveals it by something like Beethoven's sketch books. And even then, the essential mystery remains.

Even autobiographies tell us little of the inner life of the man (or woman) or the music. When a Stravinsky says that he was a vehicle for his music more than its creator, that tells us nothing about where the musical ideas came from and how they evolved, by effort or inspiration or both, into the finished composition. Few composers we care about have bothered to tell the stories of their lives, outer or inner; they're too busy writing music, performing it, teaching, earning a living however they can.
John Francis

Belle
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Re: Let's share some thoughts on some films I've just seen..

Post by Belle » Tue Apr 21, 2015 3:10 pm

Wallingford wrote:Another four-star pick: Up The Down Staircase.

Director Robert Mulligan gives this 60s high school drama an admirably naturalistic feel: lots of intentionally jittery camerawork. There is real catharsis in the conclusion as the young lady teacher ponders whether or not to continue with the challenging way of life she's been drawn into.
I've read your list and many of those films are superb. You speak about Robert Mulligan; he's not right up there in the pantheon of greats like Murnau, Hitchcock, Griffith, Lang, von Sternberg, Ford, Hawks, Eisenstein, Cukor etc., but I think "To Kill a Mockingbird" is one of only a handful of truly great film masterpieces in the history of cinema. It is sublime, magisterial, profound yet deceptively simple. And the values....'that you can never know a man until you walk in his shoes', as dramatized by Harper Lee, are rendered so poignantly in this film. I've run out of superlatives and I grow to love it more and more as my life progresses. The music was composed by Elmer Bernstein - his very finest achievement.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wwf96OEaYBg

I forgot to mention the transcendent performance of Gregory Peck. Strength, depth, complexity, patience, compassion, intelligence, love, gentle humour and irony - so deftly portrayed.

Wallingford
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Re: Let's share some thoughts on some films I've just seen..

Post by Wallingford » Sat Apr 25, 2015 7:37 pm

I've got To Kill A Mockingbird in my "play" pile.

I see where it made #2 on the AFI list of "the hundred most inspiring movies of all time," second only to It's A Wonderful Life. (Not that I don't think the American Film Institute's really a lot of hooey.)
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

Wallingford
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Location: Brush, Colorado

Re: Let's share some thoughts on some films I've just seen..

Post by Wallingford » Sat Apr 25, 2015 7:51 pm

Switching to a film on the list that considerably disappointed me: Sense & Sensibilty.

Now let me say first that its director, Ang Lee, I consider to be one of our finest living filmmakers. I think he fully deserved the two Best Director Oscars he won for Brokeback Mountain and Life Of Pi (even without having seen most of the movies of their respective years!). And I like the other films of his that I've seen--Eat Drink Man Woman, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon....I have a limited liking for his big mainstream effort, though (Hulk).

But S&S put me off: the British dialogue was incomprehensible! Now, I'm a buff of British comedy and can nearly always understand the dialogue; but here, I had to press "rewind" dozens of times in order to catch what it was the actors were muttering. Even cranking up the volume wouldn't help. I remember having only one other experience like this--when I went to see Howards' End at a local art movie house 23 years ago. People all around me were merrily guffawing, to the point of where I couldn't make out anything at all...very frustrating.

But I'll say it again: Lee is one of our finest, and I heartily look forward to his next movie, whatever it'll be.
Last edited by Wallingford on Fri May 01, 2015 4:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

jbuck919
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Re: Let's share some thoughts on some films I've just seen..

Post by jbuck919 » Thu Apr 30, 2015 8:35 pm

Wallingford wrote:Here are some films from my list above which I'd give the full four stars:

The Artist -- A nice story, well told. Although I don't know why so many critics did handstands over this one, and half of them, 25 years ago, gave lackluster reviews to Charles Lane's silent black-and-white comedy-drama Sidewalk Stories. The latter is almost as good, though it has just a few lapses (and one perhaps unnecessary excuse ror an "R" rating)....the two films are similar in that, at the very end, the soundtrack gradually fades in to make its clincher point.

Au Revoir, Les Enfants -- A good, true-to-life war drama from director/co-writer Louis Malle. I've enjoyed everything I've seen from this director (My Dinner With Andre, Vanya On 42nd Street), and the juvenile actors are motivated to fine performances all the way around. The film draws on Malle's own experience as a Catholic school youth who befriends a Jewish student hiding his identity.

In The Heat Of The Night -- Great early exercise in blunt race relations drama. Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger match wits extremely well; it got Best Picture, though director Norman Jewison sadly didn't win.
I've seen the second one, which is excellent. (And if anyone is looking for a classic director of the art cinema sort....) Going back to your original list there are a few that have been on may way, way in the back burner for a long, long time, like Charade which I started watching once but never went back to finish.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Wallingford
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Re: Let's share some thoughts on some films I've just seen..

Post by Wallingford » Sun May 03, 2015 5:35 pm

My list has since been updated to include movies I've seen since.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

jbuck919
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Re: Let's share some thoughts on some films I've just seen..

Post by jbuck919 » Thu May 07, 2015 6:01 am

Wallingford wrote:My list has since been updated to include movies I've seen since.
I can't remember if it was on your original list but obviously The Artist is a must. It has the added caché of being in French if it were in anything (there is no dialogue), and may indicate what a director has to do to win the Oscar (best picture and best director 2011) with a "foreign language" film.

But speaking of the French, your original list did include Cinderfella Goodness, man, you and a million Parisians have got to be kidding about Jerry Lewis.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Wallingford
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Re: Let's share some thoughts on some films I've just seen..

Post by Wallingford » Thu May 07, 2015 6:49 pm

jbuck919 wrote:Goodness, man, you and a million Parisians have got to be kidding about Jerry Lewis.
Actually, I'm holding off on any opinion of Lewis until I get to see The Day The Clown Cried. Which I won't get to, as it's unreleased.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

Wallingford
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Location: Brush, Colorado

Re: Let's share some thoughts on some films I've just seen..

Post by Wallingford » Thu May 07, 2015 8:02 pm

Here's a real one-star pic: Wholly Moses!, starring Dudley Moore.

I knew, even at time of release (early '80), that this was meant as Hollywood's big mainstream rip-off of Monty Python's Life Of Brian. You see, whereas the latter was about a mensch whose life paralleled Christ's (being born just across the street), Wholly Moses! is about a Jewish baby named Herschel who takes a ride on the high seas just like Moses, who "wrongfully" takes the credit for leading his people out of Egypt as well as being the bearer of the 10 Commandments.

Whereas Life Of Brian ranks (in my book, anyway) as a comedic classic of classics--it managed to be sacrilegious without ever being blasphemous--Wholly Moses! features a cavalcade of comic talent (Moore, Laraine Newman as his love interest, James Coco, Dom DeLuise, Richard Pryor, Paul Sand, Madeline Kahn, Jack Gilford) and wastes it entireley on a lame script. Downright stupid in places.

I only just watched it (after 35 years) because I found a VHS copy for half a buck.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

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