Saturday, March 28, 2020
Format: Amazon Prime Streaming
Decade: 1980's (oh, how very 1980's. Specifically, how very EARLY 1980's)
On facebook a friend (Hi, Laura S.) asked if I'd ever seen Sorceress (1982), and I was pretty sure I hadn't. When I went to look it up on Amazon Prime, I realized I'd once watched the first two and a half minutes of the movie and then gave up. People - this was a mistake.
The poster above does absolutely nothing to relate anything about the events or actual characters of the movie. There is a sort of lion-winged thing, a blonde woman and an ape guy. A snake appears on screen for about five seconds. But there are two blonde women: that's the entire thing of the movie. And it seems like that should have made the poster. The titular sorceress of the film: not shown.
Friday, March 27, 2020
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
I've been meaning to read some Dorothy B. Hughes, and now I'm deadly curious. She wrote the novel this movie - a gritty, all-in-one-night (well, two nights) - is based on, and it sounds like the book is even meaner.
But you kind of have to know that anything that's called "Ride the Pink Horse" is either a children's book, porn or something rough and tumble enough that it can have a goofy name and walk away with it. Sort of the "Boy Named 'Sue"" effect. I won't pretend Ride the Pink Horse (1947) is a great film, but it's different and interesting enough that I can see why it's got it's own reputation among noiristas and landed a Criterion edition release.
Monday, March 23, 2020
Format: TCM on DVR
This movie had a lot of things converge to recommend it. It's from the same writing team that did On the Town from a few years prior, it was directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, it *starred* Gene Kelly, and, if I'm being honest, Cyd Charisse.
Sunday, March 22, 2020
I had never seen Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971), and I remember asking Stuart about it about a year or two ago, and he sort of said "it's the psychedelic one" and sort of gave an amused shrug, so... I didn't really know what to expect.
Saturday, March 21, 2020
Well, the poster is an amazing summary of this film, so I'll let it speak for itself.
Friday, March 20, 2020
It's a neo-noir! Join JAL and Ryan as we delve into a modern mystery thriller full of twists and turns in the world of Hollywood-pointed Los Angeles! There's murder, suspects and a personal assistant on the run, languidly pursued by no less than John Cho! Join us as we talk the world and rules of noir and doing it without pointing out that you're doing noir!
Gemini - Keegan DeWitt, Gemini OST
Noir Watch Playlist:
Monday, March 9, 2020
Format: Amazon Streaming
It's the inaugural episode of Jamie's Cinema Classic Selections! If you liked Cats, we've got us some more movies to discuss.
For no reason in particular we decided to watch "Xanadu" (1980) and talk about it. It seems neither of us had ever seen it, and, honestly, we now have more questions than answers. Not a musical, not-not a musical, starring a legend of the silver screen in his swan song and an up-and-coming film siren in the movie that kept her off the big screen for decades - it's roller skating, disco, rock, big band, 40's and 80's, and more rollerskating! XANADU!
Magic - Olivia Newton John, Xanadu OST
Xanadu - Olivia Newton John, Xanadu OST
and just in case you missed it:
Sunday, March 1, 2020
Saturday, February 29, 2020
Format: Cable TV
Decade: 1970's, baby!
I have no idea why we aren't all constantly talking about Phantom of the Paradise (1974).
Written and directed by Brian DePalma, starring and with songs by Paul Williams, it's a 70's-splosion take on Phantom of the Opera and Faust, with impressionistic and stylized art design and cinematography mixed with oddball performances and larger-than-life glam rock fantasy - it's a hell of a thing to watch (and hear).
For my music-aficionado pals and those of you who like something just amazingly, audaciously over the top - give it a shot.
Friday, February 14, 2020
Monday, February 10, 2020
Format: Alamo Slaughter Lane
Uh. Look. I wasn't really planning to see this movie. I wasn't a fan of Suicide Squad or even Margot Robbie's take on Harley Quinn in the movie, which many found winning. She's kind of a perky Mary Sue for fans of My Chemical Romance. I get it.
Friday, the movie was, at one point, tracking over 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, and has settled in at a comfortable 80% as of this writing. Filmmakers I like vouched for it, and Jamie expressed some interest, and I have an Alamo Season Pass, so money is already sunk for tickets, so we went.
Sunday, February 9, 2020
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
This film lands somewhere just on the other side of what could have been an interesting one-set play, but requires film as the medium to tell the story Jean Renoir had in mind, and we'd lose some key scenes and beautiful visuals.
Muller's intro and outro on Noir City are more than what most of the hosts on TCM provide - there's lots of contextualizing, from historical notes to researched portions that shed light on aspects of the film you might not have picked up on as a modern viewer or not knowing what was happening with the creators of the film either professionally or personally. And the outros usually leave you with something similar, but best saved for after you've already seen the movie. And this movie had plenty of curious stuff surrounding it, not the least of which was that I never knew famed French director Jean Renoir (Rules of the Game) was the son of the famed painter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Fleeing the Germans, Renoir came to the states and made the least memorable films of his career. There's a long and painful story behind the making and release of The Woman on the Beach (1947), but the end result was a deeply shortened final film following reshoots and months and months in the edit room.
I don't actually doubt that the film counts as noir, but it's a noir living inside a melodrama. The stakes are almost entirely personal, and no crimes, exactly fit into the picture.
Coast Guardsman "Scott" (played by Robert Ryan) is recovering from a ship going down under him and suffering from what we'd now call PTSD. He's found a nice girl (Nan Leslie) in the coastal town where he's recuperating, and would marry her, but they have a schedule they're sticking to. He keeps seeing a woman on the beach (natch) collecting firewood and hanging around, and eventually finds she (Joan Bennett) is married to a well known painter who has gone blind (Charles Bickford). The robust and younger figure Scott (Ryan) cuts is appealing, and Peggy and Scott feel a mutual attraction. The artist, Tod, is no charmer but Peggy doesn't feel she can leave him as she's responsible for him losing his eyesight. Apparently they used to have bursts of boozing and passion, both angry and sexual (and at the same time, I'd gather).
Scott doesn't believe Tod is blind and believes he has to rescue Peggy (Bennett), becoming an obsession - but it becomes clear that Scott isn't the first gentleman Peggy has lured in.
The movie begins with some fascinating and oddball visuals of Ryan drowning, super imposed underwater in a series of effects shots - visual representations of his PTSD-fueled dreams. But the cinematography captures the world of the film as a desolate beachfront, sand and scrub against weather, water and sun. And plenty of "shot on location" footage brings the movie to life - including a scene in which Scott tests whether Tod is actually blind, clearing the question for both audience and himself.
The movie isn't color by numbers, and doesn't resolve its conflicts in ways that I realize maybe I'd come to expect from the movies appearing on Noir Alley, but it does have tight ending that I still didn't really see coming til it occurred.
|Robert Ryan and Joan Bennett (and some beach)|
Brief at 75 minutes, it's worth a spin. Joan Bennett is pretty great (they suggest she's aging in the film, but looks younger than her mid-30's, so.... good genes, there, Joan), as is all the cast. Maybe the weirdest to see in the film is a pre-Beverly Hillbillies Irene Ryan, playing a colorful but not over-the-top local woman and friend to Ryan's fiancee.
According to Muller, the movie was far longer in its original cut and tested badly - which would be obvious, this isn't a movie for teens and kids and the usual folks who show up for "movie" because it's free. Although made inside the studio system, The Woman on the Beach reads more like an arthouse film, and it's kind of amazing it hasn't been remade in the years since in exactly that context. The sort of confused love triangles are more reminiscent of The Piano than anything I can readily think of - especially those 90's and 00's potboilers about infidelity.
Thursday, February 6, 2020
Format: DVD (Simon owns this?)
It's a PodCast - Where else can I listen?
Oh my. Well, there's a lot of tarantulas, and that's a problem, see? But don't worry! Shatner is on the case! And while he's in a love triangle with his brother's widow and a sexy scientist, he's gotta help save the Harvest Festival because spiders are here. Drama! Thrills! Romance! Woody Strode! SimonUK! Ryan!
Things I Treasure - Dorsey Burnette
Peaceful Verde Valley - Dorsey Burnette
Green Side of the Mountain - Dorsey Burnette
The SimonUK Cinema Series:
Thursday, January 30, 2020
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
The Hayes Era produced some interesting bedfellows between Hollywood and public officials. Esepcially as we headed into the HUAC years and Hollywood watched as colleagues were dragged out in front of cameras or placed in rooms to testify, naming names. An odd side-effect was the over-compensation and big hug some movies gave law enforcement in some movies as they attempted to illustrate the complicated scenarios the officials were on about.
Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
A movie full of interesting ideas and what I'd give a solid B- for execution, The Big Night (1951) follows a sweet kid as he spends a long night trying to get back at the man who humiliated and beat his father in front of a crowd of people.
On his 16th birthday and believing himself to be entering the world of manhood, Georgie LaMain returns home to his father's Bar & Grill where he's met with a small, sad party made up by the tavern dwellers. Moments after the candles are blown out on his cake - with little explanation - local sports writer Al Judge enters the place and orders Georgie's father from behind the bar and to remover his shirt. He then beats him mercilessly with a cane and takes his leave.
Monday, January 20, 2020
Friday, January 17, 2020
Ahoy! We sail into the NSFW new year with a tale of unlikely adventure and horror as a very 1980-era Michael Caine heads to the Bermuda Triangle to look into some missing boats only to find: a secret civilization of PIRATES. And not fun, yo-ho-ho pirates, but, like, crazy inbred weirdo pirates. It's a whole scene, man.
Island Magic - Ennio Morricone, The Island OST
A few months ago, I had purchased a BluRay collection of films, all shot by noir-famous cinematographer John Alton.* I'd had great intentions, but never made it into the disc. For whatever reason, I finally did crack open the case and put in the BluRay and I get what the hubbub is about.
This was my first viewing of Raw Deal (1948), a fairly staple noir film, but one that I'd just not made time for before - which is a shame, because I liked a lot of the movie, and would probably use it to illustrate some classic noir tropes and definitely as a teaching tool for the epitome of noir cinematography from the height of the movement.
Saturday, January 11, 2020
Friday, January 10, 2020
Format: Amazon Streaming
This movie never states that it's based on real events - but once it's underway, it's very specific to the point where I finally had to check to see if the character portrayed by Eddie Redmayne in the film existed. Spoiler - He did!
But. Half of this movie is real and half is made up, and I am just, honestly, confused why they made this choice - except that I basically get the decision from an optics, casting and audience standpoint. The film swaps out one of the two people who made the real-life trip with a fictional female balloon pilot (Felicity Jones) who is overcoming serious and dramatic baggage tied to ballooning. All of which is made up. Even as she performs feats to save their lives that the real pilot was forced to do. But here, it's someone else.
But, again, the scientist in the film was real and really did go up in a balloon, but with a less-surprising male balloonist.
I honestly have no idea what I just watched, is what I guess I'm saying. I've read articles that are more reflective of my "yes, I understand why they did it, but..." perspective, and others that are really surprisingly blase about "facts" and "what occurred" and seem to think that's some old fashioned thinking and casually suggest if you are questioning the choice, you are both racist and sexist.
Look - I get that "based on a true story" movies change facts all the time, combine people into single characters, etc... - and, honestly, it's part of why I often avoid Hollywood's interpretation of history. But they generally don't swap out one of two main characters with a completely fictional person.
So - I have no idea what I just watched. It was okay. But I tend to think history is hard enough to get a grip on without making up fictional characters in their lives as seemingly major players. So, next time you ask me if I've seen a movie based on a true story and I kinda shrug and say "nope". You now know why.
I watched this just before Togo, which was also based on true events and changed quite a bit, but the basic facts were generally adhered to.