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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I thought we might have a thread for capsule reviews of older titles. I've arbitrarily picked 30 years (from 2009). For more recent titles, see:


1979 does not seem that long ago to me; the summer of ALIEN and APOCALYPSE NOW and "1941" and LIFE OF BRIAN...ah, such, such were the days...

I'm not going to get into Best/Worst/Top 100, etc. I'm also not going to argue the merits of these films; just post some thoughts and move on.

-Bill
 

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Discussion Starter #2
 Tommy (1975) , directed by Ken Russell.


Famous at one time, now pretty much forgotten. Finally got around to seeing it. An interesting mid-70s artifact and Ken Russell is often...well, "interesting"...but once is probably enough. There are a few notable songs but not enough other music to make an opera. Rather feeble meandering plot. The weird god-help-us staging and stunts are now just kind of puzzling.


Similar to THE WALL a few years later, it is about rock-star alienation in that generation who lost fathers doing WW2. Throw in a bit of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and a lot of PRIVILEGE (1967), a much better film.


Quite a lot of Ann-Margret dancing and writhing (once in puddle of baked beans) and she had an Oscar nomination for it. I wonder if the director was smitten with her? She and Oliver Reed anchor the film.


Three stars from Maltin, IMDB has it at 6.2.


-Bill
 

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Two of my favourites with short reviews.


The Godfather(1972)

4.9/5

The life and times of the Corleone mafia family led by "Godfather" Don Vito Corleone. Arguably one of, if not the greatest movie ever made. Tops many movie lists and with good reason. All performances in this movie add to its greatness, particularly Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan and Robert Duvall. The story, which is very engaging, is delivered to the screen via Francis Ford Coppola's brilliant direction. A must see for all who appreciate great films and want to experience a milestone in cinematic history.


One Flew Over the Cookoo's Nest(1975)

4.8/5

A man trying to find a way to shorten his prison sentence, finds his way into a mental hospital. If you want to see great acting, watch this movie. Great performances by all actors, but Nicholson really put his stamp on this movie. Winning nearly major award at award ceremonies in the USA and England, including 5 Oscars. The story and dialog never get stale and keeps you wanting more throughout. A classic if there ever was one, that has stood the test of time.
 
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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Omega Man (1971)

I have an inordinate fondness for this one because I saw it at the theater when I was in high school. It also helps to be a fan of science fiction, Charlton Heston, and "siege" stories. There is something exciting about a siege, probably due to childhood nightmares: "they're out there, trying to break in and get us." You can make fine films about that, eg THE SEVEN SAMURAI.

The best scenes are the early ones of the dead city, with the semi-mad scientist in his "honky paradise", arrogant and callous. The rest looks very 1971 (as it should, of course!): jogging suits, proud afro hairstyles, hip racial banter, discreet female nudity. The action music is lush and sometimes strangely chosen.

I read the Richard Matheson story long ago and I don't think any of the film versions have used one important element (Vincent Price, maybe?): that our hero has become a monster ("I Am Legend") because he indiscriminately kills the "vampires" as well people who are infected but not crazy; indeed he was not even aware that they existed.

Available on Blu-ray.

Thinking of "last man and woman" stories: when are we going to get THE WORLD, THE FLESH AND THE DEVIL on disc?

Later: Since I wrote this, The World, the Flesh and the Devil has become available on disc, and I found a good DVD edition of The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price, like Omega Man based on Richard Matheson's I Am Legend.



-Bill
 

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Discussion Starter #5
 The Furies (1950) , directed by Anthony Mann.


Willful daughter of a rich rancher gets very angry when she doesn't get what she wants. As I recall someone saying after her death, there is nothing like the glint in Barbara Stanwyck's eye when she decides she has to kill someone.


Finely photographed gothic western. The music doesn't quite fit; it is more like a generic cowboy soundtrack. I wonder if the director had any control over that.


7.6 at the IMDB. Criterion DVD.


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Discussion Starter #6
 Red Ensign (1934) , directed by Michael Powell.


Minor early film by Powell, a shipbuilding romance. Most valuable are those clips of the yards at work, the concentrated industrial effort. Movies are all fantasies, but they can feature more or less of the real world, and the glimpses of reality are sometimes better than the featured story.


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"Logan's Run" (1976)


Utopia never lives up to the billing. In this 23rd century paradise, you can do as you please without real consequence...but only for awhile. All must sacrifice their lives at age 30, in hopes of "renewal" at a ceremony called "Carousel." Those who get wise to the nonsense and seek to escape that fate are known as "runners," and "Sandmen" have the job of hunting them down and killing them.


That's the premise, and this movie creates an interesting rendition of that future world. More importantly, it presents the audience with a couple of lead characters whom I enjoyed following on an unexpected adventure. The special effects are cheesy, but the story is worthy of your time.


Available on bluray. Note that the PG rating was from a different era. This would likely earn an R if rated today, for violence, some gore, and frank sexuality.
 
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Quote:
Available on bluray. Note that the PG rating was from a different era. This would likely earn an R if rated today, for violence, some gore, and frank sexuality.

... and nudity.



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Quote:
Originally Posted by PooperScooper /forum/post/17571025


... and nudity.

This reminds me that Jenny Agutter really belongs in the "hottest girls" thread. Between Logan's Run and American Werewolf in London, she really scorched up cinema screens in the late '70s/early '80s.
 

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Discussion Starter #10

Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Z /forum/post/17572128


This reminds me that Jenny Agutter really belongs in the "hottest girls" thread. Between Logan's Run and American Werewolf in London, she really scorched up cinema screens in the late '70s/early '80s.

Hence the need for WALKABOUT on Blu-ray.


[Update: now available, Walkabout ].


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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Z /forum/post/17572128


This reminds me that Jenny Agutter really belongs in the "hottest girls" thread. Between Logan's Run and American Werewolf in London, she really scorched up cinema screens in the late '70s/early '80s.

You haven't really seen her till you've seen "Equus".


1977, another candidate for this thread.

Quote:
A psychiatrist, Martin Dysart, investigates the savage blinding of six horses with a metal spike in a stable in Hampshire, England. The atrocity was committed by an unassuming seventeen-year-old stable boy named Alan Strang, the only son of an opinionated but inwardly-timid father and a genteel, religious mother. As Dysart exposes the truths behind the boy's demons, he finds himself face-to-face with his own.

This film really defies any logical descriptions.
 

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This showed up in HD on cable. Hadn't seen it in a loooong time.


Donald Pleasence, Stehpen Boyd, Raquel Welch


A diplomat needs special medical treatment that requires a crew and submarine type vehicle to be miniaturized and injected into the bloodstream to go into the brain and fix the problem.


Won Oscar for best Visual Effects. Effects are quite cheesy compared to today.
No surprise there. Seeing this as a kid I was quite impressed.


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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Ikiru (1952), directed by Akira Kurosawa.

First review

Sad bureaucrat in post-war Japan discovers he is dying; his life falls apart and he becomes rudderless until discovering a chance to make some meaning in his life. The second part is told in flashbacks after his death as his family and coworkers try to understand what he did and why.

Tremendous film-making, outstanding in every respect. Gorgeous, gritty composition. Biting political commentary, spiritually moving.

Criterion DVD. Like many of the Criterion Japanese films the commentary track is very useful, although you miss the musical cues when listening.

8.1 at the IMDB.

Second review

Ikiru: "To Live".

Early on we have the bitter comedy of bureaucratic paper shuffling: poor neighborhood mothers want an open sewer repaired so their kids won't be sick. They are kicked from office to office, no one ever even considering helping them. The government office workers don't actually do any useful work.

That is what middle-level chief Watanabe -- a man who "never lived" -- has learned: preserve your place by doing nothing. He is approaching 30 years at work and his ambition and idealism died decades earlier. His office nickname is "The Mummy".

As often happens in life, serious illness focuses the mind and reorients his existence. With only a few months to live, mortality is a terrible thing. In another darkly comic bit, another man harangues him in the hospital waiting room: "When you have fatal stomach cancer they tell you it is just a mild ulcer". Watanabe keeps edging away, but then sees the doctor who tells him it is just a mild ulcer...

Now work seems even more pointless. Doing nothing is not going to save him. What will? He tries to lose himself in the city night life, but that isn't for him. He sings "The Gondola Song", a romantic tune of his youth, very sadly and brings the party to a stop.

Then the example of one of his office workers, an energetic uncomplicated young woman, inspires him.

Remember those mothers with the broken sewer?

The film is 2h23m long and with 50 minutes left we are at his funeral. The sewer has been fixed and a playground built on the spot. Flashbacks show his unremitting dogged begging of the government clerks and officials. After he dies the city officials want credit but the poor people know the truth: Watanabe has become a little saint for them. You could begin to see it in his last days: his vision, his fearlessness, his disregard of honor and reputation.

His coworkers argue the point, but aren't even sure he knew he was sick. In the end it is impossible for them to emulate him, no matter how much some of them want to.

On his last night he sat in the playground swing and sang "The Gondola Song" again, now transcendently happy.

Is mortality a terrible thing?

Familiar cast and crew: the IMDB shows 30 names overlapping with The Seven Samurai (1954), including 16 of the actors. In fact, five of the seven samurai appear. Same composer and cinematographer.

Available on Criterion Blu-ray with a valuable commentary track. The image quality is just fair at best. Still a lot of print damage.




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Life of Brian


Condemned as heresey by the Cathloic Church based only on a plot summary that led them to believe that Brian WAS Jesus. The movie takes place at the same time as Jesus was born, and Brian is MISTAKEN as the Saviour, once at birth and again later in his life. It is this second mistake that will change your views on religion forever. As with any Python film, as the plot runs out, weirdness enters in the form of a totally offbeat interlude. However this film recovers with at least a semblence of an ending.


No one is safe from the Python's skewer, not the Romans, the Jews or even the Samaritans. Don't mix politics and religion at the dinner table, fire up this DVD instead.


"I think it was "Blessed are the cheesemakers". "

"Oh, it's blessed are the MEEK! Oh, I'm glad they're getting something, they have a hell of a time."


"It is a sign that we should remove our left shoe! No! It is a sign that we should follow him!"


"He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty boy!"


"Cured?"

"Yes sir, bloody miracle, sir. Bless you!"

"Who cured you?"

"Jesus did, sir. I was hopping along, minding my own business, all of a sudden, up he comes, cures me! One minute I'm a leper with a trade, next minute my livelihood's gone. Not so much as a by-your-leave! "You're cured, mate." Bloody do-gooder."


"Look, I don't think it should be a sin, just for saying "Jehovah".All I did was say to my wife, "That piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah!""


"Look, you've got it all wrong! You don't NEED to follow ME, You don't NEED to follow ANYBODY! You've got to think for your selves! You're ALL individuals!"

Crowd: "Yes! We're all individuals!"

"You're all different!"

Crowd: "Yes, we ARE all different!"

ONE Man in crowd: "I'm not..."


"I'm not the Messiah! Will you please listen? I am not the Messiah, do you understand? Honestly!"

"Only the true Messiah denies His divinity."

"What? Well, what sort of chance does that give me? All right! I am the Messiah!"

"He is! He is the Messiah!"


"All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us? "
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958)

Much better than it's title! Would be a good companion to INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS or IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE, both more ambitious films. They are more politically oriented, emphasizing fear of invasion and infiltration; this film is about "fear of marriage" from a woman's point of view: what if my husband should become a space monster at exactly the wrong moment? Yuk!

Great 1950s look, with convertibles, sports jackets, cocktail bars and serious brassieres (but maybe that's just Gloria Talbott).

Only 78 minutes.



-Bill
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
The Wild Bunch (1969), directed by Sam Peckinpah.

A sad brutal epic, it could not be improved.

You seldom see such a concentration of acting talent. Many fine performances. In particular, I will see anything with Robert Ryan, one of the great film noir actors.

When I first saw this, famous for its new level of violence, I thought of it as an anti-western, or as someone put it, the gravestone of westerns. Now I see the old mythic power is still there: honor among thieves (although it is a bit of a struggle). Separating the Men from the "gutter trash". Mexico as a land of suffering and savagery, always waiting for its deliverer. The great heroic gesture, ending in death.

On Blu-ray.



-Bill
 
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