Citizen Rules...Cinemaesque Chat-n-Review

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I'll have to give that a watch just to find out if I'll like it.

Sunset Blvd.
Director: Billy Wilder
Writers: Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder
Cast: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim
Genre: Film Noir, Drama Satire

A dead body floating face down in a swimming pool. That's how the movie starts.
Joe Gillis is dead, but why?

A second rate Hollywood script writer, Joe Gillis (Bill Holden), hides out in a run down mansion. He's on the lamb from some outstanding bills he owes. He hides his car in the mansion's garage so it won't be repossessed....BIG mistake for Joe!

In that big mansion is where he meets an aging silent film star, Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson). Norma Desmond was once a big star in silent pictures, but her career ended with the coming of sound films. Norma is eccentric, even delusional. She's hold up in her prison like mansion with her faded dreams.

Norma is in complete denial and believe her fans still love her, they don't. She hires Joe Gillis after he brags about how good of a writer he is. She pays him handsomely to write her big come back movie that she believes will return her to stardom. But Gillis is just using Norma's love and her money for his own greedy ends....And Norma is not someone to take rejection lightly!

Norma Desmond is a caricature of a silent screen actress. Billy Wilder's film is a nod to the 'over the top' films that were made in the silent era. Gloria Swanson plays that role to the hilt. She's a real talent and long after her own silent movie career ended, she proves she still has star power.

Gloria Swanson really gets into character with contorted facial and hand postures. And that crazy cigarette ring suits her to a tee.

Gloria attacks her role with an almost vampire look in her eyes. She's gaudy with an ego to match..."I am big! It's the pictures that got small." That famous line from the movie says it all.

Gloria Swanson was nominated by the Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Over all this film had a whopping 11 Oscar nominations and won 3 Oscars.

Bill Holden
also picked up a nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Bill Holden is perfect as the likeable but somewhat sleazy screen writer, who knows better but can't help using Norma Desmond for her money. He's broke and she's loaded, and that spells trouble.

One of the most memorable scenes (and there's a lot of them) was the New Years Eve Party. Expecting a big lavish party with many guest, Joe Gillis is stunned to find out the party is only for him and Norma. This scene really speaks to the loneliness and isolation of Norma's life.

Sunset Boulevard is one helluva movie!

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I watched Sunset Blvd with my wife. She didn't care for it, and that may be the reason I didn't think much of it. I'm going to watch it again for the 50's list, by myself.

Cricket, Sunset Blvd was a nomination in the Film Noir Hof,. it did really well too.

What didn't your wife like about the film?

I didn't like it so much the first time either as I thought it wasn't believable but then I realized it wasn't trying to be a 100% believable.... then I could see how it succeeds by caricaturization.

I don't know what she didn't like about it, she just lost interest probably about a half hour in. She's not much of a movie buff, so I usually watch them myself. I pick out 1 or 2 a week for her to watch with me, and that was one of them. Her not caring for it may have taken me out of it by itself, so I'm definitely watching it again.

Well I hope you enjoy it a second time around I watch all these movies with my wife, we usually agree but not always of course. I think she will like your nom for the 50s Hof. She liked Twenty Four Eyes.

All That Jazz (1979)
Director: Bob Fosse
Writers: Robert Alan Aurthur, Bob Fosse
Stars: Roy Scheider, Jessica Lange, Leland Palmer
Genre: Surreal Drama, Musical
Length: 123 minutes

Legendary director & choreographer Bob Fosse tells his own life story in the entertainment business. We're treated to the details of his rathersordid life, as played by fictional character Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider). Joe Gideon is Bob Fosse and he's a lout...a womanizing, boozing-pill popping, egotistical talent and one helluva of a dancer & choreographer. Through surreal images and imaginative dance scenes we learn of the toll that Bob Fosse's life style takes on his health.

All That Jazz is quite different in it's style and the dance numbers were amazing. The story premise of a hard drinking-pill popping-womanizing producer who sees his life (or what it could have been) flash before his eyes is an intriguing concept.

BUT the editing of the scenes, which literally cut the action into the middle of the scene before the scene is played out, was annoying. The inter-cutting of the 'woman in white' scenes (played by Jessica Lange) without any explanation at first as to what was going on made for an ecliptic montage of disembodied scenes.

Latter in the film, Joe Gideon is watching a review of his latest movie and the movie reviewer, Leslie Perry says:

"The razzle-dazzle sometimes obliterates...
chopping off the ends of scenes before the drama is played out,
left this reviewer with bewilderment and a four-aspirin headache."

EXACTLY what I was thinking about All That Jazz. I swear that 20 minutes before that quote was said in the movie, I had said out loud 'that the editing was giving me a headache.'

All That Jazz
could have been a great film if the film had been cut more conventionally....This movie gets an 'easy pass' from the public, do to the semi autobiographical story of its director, the legendary Bob Fosse.

How do I rate this? On the first viewing it's confusing but with a second viewing one knows what to expect and then can set back, relax and enjoy the surreal images and amazing Bob Fosse dance numbers.

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I never saw All That Jazz - but it does bring back another memory - back in high school, if anyone found out someone went to see All That Jazz (male students specifically) then they'd really want to watch their back, only use the private bathroom in the nurses office, stay away from the boys locker room, and not get caught in the hallway alone or in-between classes for pretty much the rest of the school year.

Seriously, bullies would use anything as an excuse to beat on you. I remember kids getting beat up because a bully overheard them say they went to see E.T.!

Tea with Mussolini (1999)
Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Writers:John Mortimer, Franco Zeffirelli(autobiography)
Cast: Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, Cher, Lily Tomlin,
Genre: Drama, Light Comedy
Length: 117 minutes

In 1935 in Florence Italy, a group of well-to-do elderly British women, conduct their life around things that they feel is, civility and tea. They've made Florence their home and relish in the art of the ancient city. The Italians have nick named this group the Scorpioni...and they are stubborn. Along comes two boisterous Americans...Elsa a rich, flashy Broadway performer (played by Cher) and a no nonsense lesbian archeologist (played by Lily Tomlin.)

When WWII looms on the horizon their position in the community is threatened by Mussolini's 'black shirts'. Despite being told to leave the country, as they are now enemies of the state, the women stubbornly refuse. Instead they take their complaints to Mussolini himself, putting trust in the dictator to keep his word that they will be safe in Italy.

I liked this film. It wasn't overly serious, in fact sometimes it had a light wit about it. At times it did feel more like a tense drama but when Cher and especially Lily Tomlin were in the scenes it took on a light feel. Which isn't bad as it makes the film very watchable.

I enjoyed the British cast of veteran actors (Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright) and Cher was good in this too. This is based on an actual event and the screen writer of this movie was actually part of this story. I won't tell you which character he was, you'll just have to watch the movie to find out.

Tea with Mussolini,
Is a nice film, with nice settings and was a joint venture between British and Italian film makers. It offers a little of something for everyone.

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The Hustler (1961)
Director: Robert Rossen
Cast: Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott
Genre: Drama
Length: 134 minutes

Fast Eddie (Paul Newman) is a two-bit pool hustler who's a real wiz at the game but his self destructive narcissistic streak keeps him from being the champ. He takes on the legendary "Minnesota Fats" in an all night, high stakes pool game. A game which takes more than shooting skills to win. Fast Eddie also meets Sarah (Piper Laura) setting alone in a train station. Laure is a girl with low self esteem and a lame leg, she uses sex as an escape. The two strike up a relationship based on booze and self destructive behaviors.

The Hustler
is like a classic Greek tragedy where the protagonist rise to glory only to be destroyed by their own character flaws.
It's a study of two very dysfunctional people, with pool as the driving force that causes their flaws to come into play.

Fast Eddie is not likeable, he's not suppose to be. He has an inflated sense of own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultra confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that's vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

Sarah is a manic depressive, she's more sad than likable. Drowning her self pity in alcohol and in sex with strangers. She's the enabler that keeps Fast Eddie going. She makes the mistake of tying herself to Eddie, as if he was an anchor that would keep her stable. But Eddie has no empathy for her, only his need to be important at any cost. The Hustler shows us a very real and very dysfunctional relationship.

Jackie Gleason is Minnesota Fats, he owns the role. Gleason was known for doing outlandish physical comedy on The Honeymooners. Here he keeps his body movements to a minimum and with just a slight nod of his head or a raised eyebrow he can convey more than most actors can do with their whole bodies.

Gerorge C. Scott is the cold, conniving financier of the illicit pool games. He's one of those truly slimy bad guys you love to hate. He's good at being bad and being believable at it.

The director and production team put a lot of effort into the film. In the pool scenes many of the camera angles were done low, looking up at the players. A few shots were done from a high angle, like is done in televised pool tournaments. Both added a tension to the pool scenes. Maybe most impressive is that all those pool halls are real! They actually shot in the pool halls in New York. This gave the film a grimy reality that wouldn't have been there if mainly shot in a studio.

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+rep for a very well-written and enlightening review, Citizen. I don't personally like the film, but you almost makes me like it just by reading your description of it. Good job.

I see and understand all of what you love about this film, but I just didn't find it interesting or deep enough. But there is no doubt that the elements are there and you seem to appreciate them and love them more than myself. Whatever the case might be, the important thing is that you watched a movie you loved and made a great review. Thumbs up for a good one!

Thanks MM! I appreciate that coming from a fellow reviewer. Let me ask you, (or anyone who wants to answer) what do you like better in a review: a review that covers mostly the synopsis?...or a review that focuses on production/cinematography/lighting etc.

Have you seen The Color of Money (1986)?
I did and I didn't really like it compared to The Hustler...but it's been years so I should give that film another chance.

You can't make a rainbow without a little rain.
Have you seen The Color of Money (1986)?
I did and I didn't really like it compared to The Hustler...but it's been years so I should give that film another chance.

I asked because after I watched The Hustler, I liked it enough that it made me want to watch The Color of Money, so I was curious if you felt the same way, but if you've already seen it, then you probably didn't.

But I agree that The Hustler is a better movie than The Color of Money.

OK, this is from memory (and my memory sucks BTW)...I though the Color of Money was a fun entertainment film but not hard hitting like The Hustler. You know I almost nominated a Piper Laurie film for the 50s Hof.