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:
Wednesday, February 5, 2020
Kirk Douglas, Hollywood legend, has passed at 103.
As a kid, I knew him from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. And, of course, Tough Guys.
Spartacus, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, Out of the Past, and countless, countless other films, Douglas created innumerable memorable roles - Douglas earned his place in cinema history over and over.
He'll be eulogized and memorialized, and as one of the last of a bygone era (Olivia De Havilland predates him and is still alive) he was one of the last of the era that Hollywood still tries to cling to.
Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Today is the birthday of Ida Lupino, born this day in 1918.
A phenomenal actor, she also went on to direct and produce - while continuing to act. While kinda unknown to the general public these days, she has her die-hard fanbase among film fans.
Be cool. Get to know Ida Lupino.
|get you a girl who can do it all|
Thursday, January 30, 2020
It's Academy Awards Season! Our panel of experts sits down to talk about the Oscars! What are they? Why are they? How did they come to be? It's a four hour program full of tiny clips of movies, awkward shots of celebs, and where you walk away with a paper weight, so what's the deal?
The Oscars Theme - Greg Hulme
- 2018 article from NPR: in 2016 after it was revealed that 92% were white and 75% male -
- 2018 article from MotionPictures.org - in 2014, the Academy voter was on average 63 years old, with 76% of the members being male, and 94% of the members being white.
- Preferential voting explanation
Today is the 90th birthday of noted American actor Gene Hackman.
I am unsure if the kids really understand what a big deal Hackman is in movies, but he was one of the most solid actors of the second half of the 20th Century. He was in top-flight movies and elevated the B-movies her appeared in, always bringing something great to the part.
For my Super-Pals, of course he played Lex Luthor in three Superman films, but the role I'll always love best is Royal Tenenbaum, the guy I will surely age into.
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.
Monday, January 27, 2020
PODCAST: "Captain America: Civil War" (2016) - Avengers Chronological Countdown 13 w/ Jamie and Ryan
We get to the dark middle chapter of the Avengers Chronological Countdown as Cap and Tony cannot agree on some paperwork, Bucky says a farewell to arms, a "Cats" understudy becomes a hero and Aunt May is suddenly way more interesting. It's "Captain America: Civil War"! and Jamie and Ryan are going to talk about it!
Captain America: Civil War, Main Theme - Henry Jackman, Captain America: Civil War OST
Complete Chronological Countdown: