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post #1411 of 1428 Old 09-28-2014, 03:43 PM
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the 6th screen grab sold it to me
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post #1412 of 1428 Old 09-29-2014, 07:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Brief Encounter (1945), directed by David Lean.

It begins at the end: a man and a woman in a railway diner, very sad. This is obviously good-bye, their last meeting. Whatever they might have said is ruined by the arrival of a noisy gossiping woman, so they don't have their final moments in private.

The rest of the movie is shown in flash-backs of the previous few weeks. They met in the same place. Both are married. We never meet his family but we do see hers and she obviously loves them: good kids, decent if dull husband.

The love affair is emotional; they never cross into physical infidelity, although we have close calls. But even that restrained, repressed degree requires lying and generates paranoia. Lying is too easy once you start. It can't go on.

In the end we have a few minor miracles: that they end it with some amount of dignity, that her sudden urge to suicide is prevented by she doesn't know what, and finally that her husband, although not aware of the details, understands and forgives.

This is a great classic "women's picture" and shows up on many "Best British Films" lists. Tremendously sensitive performances by Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard. The soapy nature of the story is improved by a screenplay that moves along, lovely photography, and clever lighting and transitions.

In this case I think the massive locomotives roaring through the train-yard are less of a sexual metaphor and more about the impersonal, frantic energy of modern life, leaving no time to think or stop and enjoy the moment. Their greatest act of rebellion in to break the timetables, missing their trains.

From a Noel Coward play.

Criterion Blu-ray.



-Bill
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post #1413 of 1428 Old 09-30-2014, 08:45 AM
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I'm with you on that, Bill. I sat through M.A.S.H. once and that was enough. Thought it was just ok. I could have walked out of NASHVILLE midway through (but didn't) and not felt the least bit deprived or curious about what happened next. But I liked Altman's THREE WOMEN quite a bit. In fact, it is one of those rare movies where, on its initial release, I turned around the following weekend and paid to see it a second time. Couldn't stop thinking about it.
I agree that Altman's work is a mixed bag. Like you, I have never liked Nashville, which it seems to me is a talky, bloated mess. Don't remember enough about 3 Women to comment one way or the other. I confess that I fell in love with M.A.S.H. when I saw it first run in one of the old OKC movie palaces and have loved it ever since.

Believe it or not, my favorite Altman movie is his obscure TV movie, The Caine Mutiny Court Martial (1988). Although Altman's casting choices struck me as odd, the cast performs well and the screenplay takes the time necessary to tell Herman Wouk's classic tale adequately. 8 Stars out of 10, highly recommended!
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post #1414 of 1428 Old 09-30-2014, 11:35 AM
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Coma (1978), written and directed by Michael Crichton.....
-Bill
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I liked Coma too. Michael Crichton certainly was not the greatest screenwriter or director who ever came along but he made a number of movies I really liked, among them Westworld (1973) and The Great Train Robbery (1978)....
I just watched WESTWORLD again (on the cruddy DVD) while convalescing last week (arthroscopic surgery; apologies for misspellings, limited use of right hand). Might look dated, but in fact the theme of an "amusement resort" where cosplay violence and sex (in that order) are the primary attractions is as relevant today as ever. Nicely executed (ignore all that early 70s "future tech" set dressing), and Yul Brynner's performance as a robot caricature of his role in THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN is inspired, arguably on of his best. The shot where smiles is Grade-A chilling.

Spoiler!


Crichton sure made some snoozers (LOOKER, anyone?), but this wasn't one of them. Forty dang years later and it's still entertaining and a bit thought-provoking.

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Four Sided Triangle (1953), directed by Terence Fisher.....
-Bill
There's a lot of gold in that era of British cinema. This reminds me of a film I've wanted to see again for years ... The Mind Benders (1963).[1] When ALTERED STATES came out I recalled seeing this as Saturday afternoon filler on a local TV station (KTVU, Oakland, CA) or maybe as a featured flick on Bob Wilkins' famed Creature Features weekly show. Really effective, artfully crafted suspense flick, a la DEAD OF NIGHT, THE THIRD MAN.

[1] The Mind Benders (film) - Wikipedia

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Brief Encounter (1945), directed by David Lean.
...
-Bill
Another b/w Brit classic. The subtle metaphors go so deep ... their deviation from societal mores and regimented "acceptable behavior" is mirrored in the distraction from the train schedules, and the sub-drama beneath all the humdrum conversation and interactions in the public train station is almost unbearable. I get depressed about the state of modern commercial filmmaking when I think of how great a film could be made from such a small, simple idea as this.

Anyone who only knows Trevor Howard from THE THIRD MAN and SUPERMAN THE MOVIE and his other well-known roles will be surprised here.

Don't think it's on BD yet, but the Criterion DVD of Pygmalion is really great, another treat. I'm sorry that I missed out on Criterion's big DVD sell-off a couple of years ago, their DVDs are/were better than some outfits' BDs. (Been revisiting a few while recuperating at home. Next stop: Kurosawa!)
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post #1415 of 1428 Old 10-05-2014, 06:53 AM - Thread Starter
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House of Usher (1960), produced and directed by Roger Corman.

A young man tries to retrieve his fiance from the ultimate decaying old mansion, but her brother isn't having it. Doomed, doomed, doomed, all are doomed in this life and the next.

The first of the long-running Corman Poe series was a huge success and put American International on the map. The action picks up in the second half, but the first is mostly gothic dialogue and situations.

Price's sensitive and blonde Roderick Usher is a worthy invention: morose to the point of mental illness, probably hereditary, but not a villain in his own eyes, or even in ours. He does what he must: extinguish the Usher blood line.

Corman's commentaries are always worth a listen, although I've heard some of this before from the other discs in the set:

  • These films do not take place in any sort of real world, but rather in a Freudian landscape of the unconscious mind.
  • He's always generous in his praise of the actors and crew. He enjoys recounting their later successes.
  • The crew he assembled stayed together as a unit and was often hired as such by other filmmakers.
  • His first Cinemascope film. It didn't need scope ratio but American International wanted it for marketing purposes and he used it as well as he could.
  • It was his idea to make one 15-day color film instead of two 10-day b&w films.
  • One day of rehearsal.
  • Instead of traditional story boards he would draw overhead diagrams on the blank facing pages of the script.

Richard Matheson screenplay, adapted from Poe.

Available on Blu-ray. Director's commentary track, plus a short second one giving a fluffy Price biography.



-Bill
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post #1416 of 1428 Old 10-07-2014, 11:49 PM
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House of Usher (1960), produced and directed by Roger Corman.


-Bill
Easily the scariest of Corman's Poe series, IMO. I suspect the last 20 minutes or so would still scare the hell out of a post-The Exorcist, post-CGI Spectacular Effects audience supposedly so inured to horror they no longer squirm in their seats and fight the urge to cover their eyes at key moments. I think they still would if they sat for this one, especially, as I mentioned, during those last 20 minutes. Corman's smash-cut to that last pic you posted alone, along with the sound effects and music, would be enough to raise the short hairs on the back of one's neck unlike just about anything produced in, oh, I'd say the last couple of decades or more.
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post #1417 of 1428 Old 10-08-2014, 04:15 AM
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Exorcist and cgi used in the same sentence...

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post #1418 of 1428 Old 10-09-2014, 04:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Roman Holiday (1953), produced and directed by William Wyler.

A young princess, tightly scheduled and over-managed on a European PR tour, longs to break free and experience life with the common people. Maybe sleep in pajamas, just the tops. Or nothing at all. Under the influence of a sedative she does escape and encounters American reporter Gregory Peck, who helps her with grudging gallantry until he learns her identity and senses a Big Story.

This is gold, head and shoulders above even good romantic comedies in its depth and warmth and beautiful settings, filmed entirely in Rome. It says "Introducing" Audrey Hepburn; she has earlier IMDB listings but it is an auspicious early starring role. Incandescent beauty and comic charm.

In panic, waking up after a night of amnesia, her hand darts under the blanket to check for undergarments. He: "Lose something?" She (with relief): "No."

We see how even a rough gentleman handled a drunken woman in film in those days: put her in a cab. Driver doesn't want her? Ok, take her home, here are those pajamas, but you sleep on the sofa, not in my bed.

Peck's is a well-known character -- the cynical reporter with his gambling buddies and ranting hard-bitten editor -- but he makes him likeable with a light comic touch, vulnerable to romantic allure.

In a lovely scene toward the end she's out of her clothes again and in a bathrobe and they share a little wine. Both thinking: this is when we could have sex. And they don't.

Unusually for Hollywood, the story ends on a moment of honesty, and the couple part with no hope of meeting again, both of them understanding this is best. It's intriguing that director Wyler would be so good at this. Most of his titles were more dramatic films:


...although he did other comedies, such as How to Steal a Million (1966), also with Hepburn.

Edith Head costumes. I noticed Georges Auric's fine score more this time.

Where's the Blu-ray?



-Bill
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post #1419 of 1428 Old 10-09-2014, 10:42 AM
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have you done frankenhiemers "The Train"?

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post #1420 of 1428 Old 10-09-2014, 10:47 AM - Thread Starter
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have you done frankenhiemers "The Train"?
No, but I have the Twilight Time Blu-ray on hand. Someday soon.

-Bill
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post #1421 of 1428 Old 10-11-2014, 04:18 PM
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Coma (1978), written and directed by Michael Crichton.

-Bill
I saw this a long time ago and I remember that it creeped me out to see authorities portrayed with such machiavellianism. I enjoyed this movie.


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3 Women (1977), written, produced and directed by Robert Altman.

-Bill
I really enjoyed this one
Great review as always!
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post #1422 of 1428 Old 10-13-2014, 03:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Joe Kidd (1972), directed by John Sturges.

Joe can reduce his jail time by guiding a hunt for a pesky Mexican land reformer. First he refuses, then agrees, then wishes he hadn't, then has to kill all of the killers. Which we don't mind: they are unlovely goons, although sometimes showing wit and tough-guy character.

Now that I've read more Elmore Leonard I see his touch in this story and like it better than before. The community of lawmen and bad-men, the gun-thugs and their ways, and his sympathy for the poor and the underdog.

That works best in the first half; in the second it turns into a more improbable action picture, as when he runs the train through the saloon. I'm also not sure why hunted man Luis Chama agrees to come back for trial. It seems brave but naive; does he have any reason to trust the system?

Lalo Schifrin score.

Available on Blu-ray.



-Bill
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post #1423 of 1428 Old 10-17-2014, 11:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Marnie (1964), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Has the beautiful and slightly psychotic embezzler finally met her match in a studly businessman who forces her to marry him? Does he know what does and does not come with that arrangement?

In some ways this is a return to Hitchcock's women's thrillers of the 1940s, updated to allow the heroine to be a thief like Cary Grant and somewhat deranged like Gregory Peck.

Like all romances it is about the woman finding her way and getting her man (whether she originally wanted him or not). The genre requires an estimable heroine -- no pushover or whiner -- and a masterful hero worthy of her.

Sean Connery delivers on the second aspect and makes the film better than it otherwise might have been. Calm, masculine, forceful and yet large-hearted. Like Marnie he can't really control himself: his obsession with her is his one weakness. For women this sort of fascination is appealing in an attractive man, but much less so in a creepy stalker. But Connery can force sex on the honeymoon, driving her to a suicide attempt, and be forgiven.

As in The Birds, Tippi Hedron is less satisfactory as a beginning actress, but this also helps project her cool, dissociated persona.

Problems: it doesn't have enough tension to be a good thriller, and not enough puzzle to be a mystery. The second half is all about uncovering Marnie's childhood trauma. Psychological detection is not always riveting.

There is one clever bit of camera work: a natural split-screen where a cleaning woman mops the floor while Marnie cleans out the safe. Otherwise it is visually uninteresting; Hitchcock's steep angles had become a bit too characteristic by then.

Edith Head costumes. Bernard Herrmann's score is lushly romantic with some psycho segments.

Available on Blu-ray. Good color and a good-looking image, although with huge grain.



-Bill
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post #1424 of 1428 Old 10-17-2014, 07:12 PM
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Marnie (1964), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.


-Bill
This one is shown theatrically far less than most other Hitchcock masterpieces of the era. Which is too bad because I believe watching it in a theater with an audience offers as much more cinematically magical experience than watching it the way we usually watch movies on DVD/Blu-ray today. I never liked this movie much on tv or even in my home theater in my living room. But it has a much stronger gravitational pull to its story and themes in a theatrical setting with an audience. You are so right about Sean Connery. I actually think this is one of his best, most authentic and fully rounded performances. He would not often be called upon to portray the nervous or rejected lover in his movies.
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post #1425 of 1428 Old 10-17-2014, 07:53 PM - Thread Starter
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You are so right about Sean Connery. I actually think this is one of his best, most authentic and fully rounded performances. He would not often be called upon to portray the nervous or rejected lover in his movies.
He certainly had something, so often obscured by 007 in those days. He said he really didn't mind playing Bond, but the movies took too much time.

-Bill
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post #1426 of 1428 Old 10-21-2014, 08:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Dementia 13 (1963), written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

The family gathers at a gloomy Irish castle for "let's make Mother write us into the Will" shenanigans The brothers have American wives for some reason, one of whom will go to great lengths to get what she wants. But who is that guy with an axe who pops up when least wanted, and how high can the body count go?

On the one hand this is a minor thriller with a plot that's hard to follow at times, but on the other:

  • Coppola's first film (age 24) has that Roger Corman fast and cheap look which really adds to the entertainment value of this sort of picture. Nightmares are sometimes barebones and minimalistic in production value.
  • Despite that you can still see the film student's eye and recognize his interest in making something a bit better than average.
  • The frantic harpsichord score is just what you want in a cheap midnight movie.
  • Patrick Magee fanclub!

Produced by Roger Corman, who brought in Jack Hill -- another beginning director -- to shoot additional scenes. I don't know to what extent, but would imagine they involved women doing more midnight swimming in their underwear and exploring the spooky castle in a transparent nightgown.

Available on Blu-ray from HD Cinema Classics.

The good:

  • They include a DVD made from the same remastering effort and you can see the Blu-ray is better.
  • Blacks are often inky.

The bad:

  • The cleanup has involved heavy denoising which smears out the fine detail and introduces larger artifacts in some scenes. It may be the worst case I have seen on Blu-ray.
  • Blacks are persistently crushed and whites blown out.
  • No English subtitles.



-Bill
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post #1427 of 1428 Old 10-27-2014, 04:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Blithe Spirit (1945), directed by David Lean.

It's unwise to hold a seance even for laughs: what if your first wife returns from beyond and moves in? This seriously complicates relations with the second missus.

Coolly witty with much sexual innuendo flying by but leaving no mark at all. The zany medium is supposed to be a figure of fun, but is more likeable than the bloodless hero or either of his wives. Still, all the actors are fine and it's a gorgeous drawing-room comedy.

From a Noel Coward play. He produced the film but was unhappy with the result, saying that Lean had drained the comedy from the story.

Criterion Blu-ray with lovely detail and Technicolor image. Are British and US Technicolor different? Each has a distinct look.



-Bill
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post #1428 of 1428 Old Yesterday, 07:14 AM - Thread Starter
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Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter (1974), written, produced and directed by Brian Clemens.

When vampires drain youth and life from local maidens, Captain Kronos arrives to clean up the village. His companion is a wry hunchbacked doctor of vampyric studies, and a lusty wench they free from the stocks becomes their sidekick for a while.

A cult Hammer film I'd never heard of, it was intended to be the start of a series but the studio was struggling and it didn't do well, sitting on the shelf for two years before finally being released. The director's conception was that Kronos -- as hinted by his name -- was a time traveler who would appear in different times and places, wherever evil needed to be fought. That might explain his Japanese katana sword.

An action hero was a new direction for Hammer: the vampires are not the central characters and their identity is a mystery to be solved. It has a milder rating than other films: gore is minimized and we have just flashes of passion and nudity, nothing like the stimulating boobage of The Vampire Lovers (1970).

The budget seems even more constrained than usual: they had costumes and some real mansion locations, but that's about it. The swordfighting looks rudimentary to me. On the other hand it moves along faster than other Hammer films, and the romantic chemistry between Horst Janson and beautiful Caroline Munro is nicely done: both erotic and companionable.

Kronos might have supernatural powers; that's left for another day. He also delivers more devout lines than usual; on a mission from God?

Laurie Johnson score.

Imported region B Blu-ray with a rather good image. Two commentary tracks but no subtitles. The commentaries are chatty reminiscences by the cast, crew and a Hammer scholar.



-Bill

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