Saturday, February 9, 2019
Format: Amazon Prime Streaming
Viewing: 7th or so
So, here's a curious one: could Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988) be made today?
I'm going to say "no".
Is the movie still still as oddly brilliant and funny as it was in 1988? More so, I think. The older I get, the more I relish Caine's role and dialog in particular. And Glenne Headley's breathy, wide-eyed Ohioan is, of course, absolutely terrific knowing what we know at the film's conclusion.
But I suspect the twitter scold-squad would be up in arms about pretty much everything Steve Martin does in this movie if it arrived now.
However, I am pretty sure in another 20 years, this movie will still be around and revered as a classic comedy by those in the know, part of Martin's filmography of rediscovered classics and Caine's occasional and often successful dive into comedy. And, of course, Headley will be rightfully mourned.
I mean, Ruprecht is timeless, and I look forward to future generations wondering where he got the trident.
format: Amazon Prime Streaming
I recently read the David Goodis novel, which Goodis himself adapted as a screenplay for The Burglar (1957). Surprise: the book is better. An existential noir thriller that *really* piles on Goodis' weirdness with women, the book is singularly bleak piece of fiction that, honestly, would probably not work terribly well as a film (the ending would be, also, logistically unfilmable in 1957*).
The movie hits a lot of the same beats and maintains the motivations of the book, but it's just not as well fleshed out, and they clearly were worried about the audience getting lost along the way so they're more concrete in trying to state the vague mess of issues plaguing Duryea's titular burglar.
Jayne Mansfield is about as far from the Gladden on the novel as one could get in personality and build, but it does shake up the mix a bit and puts a point on the creeping sexual stress as the story shows up on the screen - it's simply different from the frail, skinny girl of the novel.
There's some terrific imagery and cinematography in the film, and pitch perfect noir-esque build of sweaty claustrophobia once the game is revealed, all of which is mind-boggling, as this was the director's first time out (Paul Wendkos, who went on to make Gidget movies!), and a DP who, really, doesn't show much on his filmography to show how he got to this point.
Honestly, I think they cut too much from the book to give the other burglars any real personality or show why Duryea's character is so wound up, but it's still basically intact, and as a B picture, it's got some good stuff going for it.
*it involves a lot of stuff of people swimming in the choppy Atlantic. Sort of.
Friday, February 8, 2019
Format: Amazon Streaming (Prime)
A lot of ink got spilled and a lot of gushing occurred when Eighth Grade (2018) hit cinemas last year. And, of course, you'll note the trend that this kneecaps movies for me when I do get around to seeing them, so I won't linger on that too much, but all of the praise certainly colored how I went into the film (cheerfully, willingly, curiously!), and my reaction by the film's conclusion.
Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Format: TCM on DVR
So, this is a musical version of The Philadelphia Story - the classic flick starring Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant. Apparently that play became the movie of The Philadelphia Story, which became the stage musical High Society, which became this movie.
This movie isn't... great. It's not bad, and I laughed out loud at a number of things, but on the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia. And I say that as someone who is a fan of Bing Crosby movies and likes Cole Porter.
What this movie does do is let Louis Armstrong play himself, and give him time to appear quite a bit in the movie. And he's not bad!
This is also the movie that dares to remind you that Grace Kelly was very, very good looking* - which, as she is not Kate Hepburn, seems to be the primary driver for why men are after her (ladies, believe it or not, personality and wit go really, really far. Be a Kate Hepburn.).
I dunno. I wish the music had more zip and it didn't feel like an echo of something else, but Bing looks like he's having a ball with Frank, and a gentleman in tophat and tails, suffering from a hangover, yells at a bird, and that was one of the funniest things I've seen in, like, a week.
*again, very attractive, that Grace Kelly
Boy howdy, is there a lot of media out there! And, boy howdy, are people both cavalier about jumping in mid-discussion about a movie or TV show to insert a movie or TV show you really should be watching.
In this era of way-too-much-content, where I'm already burning out on TV shows just because, man, I dunno, another episode? and a raft of new movies that trend for seemingly no reason (like, why DID you stop and watch Birdbox? I'm not saying it's bad, it's just... it just showed up so you watched it) we've all gotten pretty bad about telling people what they *should* be watching.
Back in the 90's when seeing a movie or TV show took some effort, you actually wanted a running list of things from trusted sources so when you went to the local video monger and they were out of VHS copies, oh, The English Patient, you would go and get Faces of Death III or whatever your friends had said might be worth a watch. If someone said "I like Larry Sanders" and you found out about in season 3, that kinda sorta meant you were given a pass to not watch the show, because no one had the expectation you'd drop everything in your life and track down copies of episodes.
NO MORE. We may not be able to educate our children or work out public transportation, but we can all watch Gator at the same time if we feel like it. If someone suggests catching up on the entirety of The Simpsons, you can do so. Somehow, people are able to "binge" watching 10-22 hours of TV in a week or two, plow through entire shows in a matter of a few weeks or less.
I'm not wired that way. At all. I don't even like watching more than one Avengers movie per every two weeks or so for the PodCast. Seeing episodes backed up on the DVR is enough to just make me quit on a TV show. And while I deeply believe in, like, and will defend a handful of TV shows, I don't necessarily get the urge to insist others watch the shows. Likely an after-effect of really going to the mat for Star Trek and Max Headroom as a kid.
And, movies... ahhh... movies. If there's one thing that's true, it's that all of us know, in our heart of hearts, that we have amazing taste in film, and everyone else's taste is suspect at best. It's a nicety when people agree on a movie, but we also may find ourselves in deep disagreement about, say, Aquaman (sorry, Max. We'll need to talk about that sometime.).
But what I really, really believe is that we all need to slow our roll on movie and TV recommendations. If we can learn caution when it comes to suggesting music to others (and if you aren't exercising caution there, I assure you, your co-workers are making fun of you), we can learn to do same with moving picture media.
And it's not that I don't WANT recommendations, it's that I want thoughtful recommendations. If you're going to suggest I spend a few hours doing something other than eating cotton candy and watching puppies play, I'd like a reason WHY.
THUS - The Form.
From now on, we're taking our recs from you and from people anywhere in my life via an easy to use Google Form. If you can't take the five minutes to fill it out, how much do you really want for me to watch that movie, anyway?, is what I say.
The good news is, the few of you who will actually use The Form will be captured in a spreadsheet I can review and use. Those of you too good for The Form? Well.
Without further ado: THE FORM
Format: TCM on DVR (Noir Alley from months ago)
This is an oddball one to slot in with noir in some ways - but I think it fits. It's just sort of a weird set-up to have your antagonist of the film a Nazi war criminal.
I really don't want to say too much or give too much away - I really didn't know much going into The Stranger (1946), and if you've not yet seen it - try not to learn too much and go give it a shot.
Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Format: Kino Lorber BluRay
Simon and Ryan delve into Film Noir via Neo-Noir, Altman-directed entry "The Long Goodbye" (1973), an oddball of a film with a lot to offer. We explore the role of Philip Marlowe in the world of fiction, some of the mechanics of noir, and whether or not any of this actually works as a movie.
The Long Goodbye - Music by John Williams/ Lyrics by Johnny Mercer/ performed by Jack Sheldon
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Monday, February 4, 2019
Today marks what would have been the 101st birthday of screen actor, director and producer Ida Lupino. Ida Lupino passed in 1995.
I first came to note Lupino in High Sierra, I believe (I can't recall anymore), and have gone on to try and watch whatever I see going by on TCM. Yes, she's a terrific actor and has a presence that stills like the one above don't always capture. There's an intelligence to her work that - when I learned she had gone on to do work behind the camera and established her own production company, just sort of made sense. She had the misfortune of being a woman born two or three decades too early, who still managed to carve out a place for herself in a field controlled by men.
In 2018, a few retrospectives took place honoring her work and legacy. Did I watch any of her films from these retrospectives on my own time? No. Something I need to rectify.
But I am glad that Lupino's reputation is getting elevated and the strides she made during her career are being seen by today's film fans and makers.
Anyway, I hereby pledge that before Ms. Lupino's 102nd, and pending availability, I will watch the following projects which she directed:
- Never Fear (1950)
- Outrage (1950)
- Hard, Fast and Beautiful (1951)
- On Dangerous Ground (1951)
- The Hitch-Hiker (1953)
- The Bigamist (1953)
- The Twilight Zone: The Masks (1964)
Sunday, February 3, 2019
Format: Amazon Streaming
I really, really wish I'd seen Annihilation (2018) without all the hype and teeth gnashing about "why aren't people seeing this?", etc... Much like any movie with Oscar buzz, this sets the table for expectations 9 out of 10 movies given this treatment can't possibly match.