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....Love Night of the Hunter. It looks amazing as you say, too bad Laughton didn't direct anything else...
I read somewhere that Laughton hated directing and only directed this one movie. I thought he made wise choices in how he handled the movie and I'd like to have seen him direct more.

I liked Night of the Hunter, but I didn't love it. I remember thinking there were a couple of small plot holes, but offhand, I can't remember what they were. But I thought Robert Mitchum was terrific in it.
Mitchum is the man! I can't image anyone else doing the role.

This photo wasn't in the movie, it looks like a publication photo, but it is cool!




The Illusionist (2006)
Director: Neil Burger
Writers: Neil Burger(screenplay), Steven Millhauser(short story)
Cast: Edward Norton, Jessica Biel, Paul Giamatti
Genre: Period Drama, Mystery


About: An acclaimed stage Illusionist, named Eisenheim. Who in 19th century Vienna performs stage illusions that transcend the believable. Some believe he has real powers and is not just a stage magician. When he meets up with a childhood love (Jessica Biel) who's now a Duchess, betrothed to wed the Crown Prince Leopold, he begins a series of dangerous illusions in attempt to win her love and discredit the Crown Prince. The Crown Prince is not a man to be trifled with and Eiseneheim and the Duchess's affair brings danger to the pair.

Review: This was recommended to me after I reviewed another movie, The Prestige (2006). Both movies were made in the same year and are about 19th century magicians...but that's where the similarity ends. This film The Illusionist is a PG-13 Drama Romance with a healthy dose of mystery included.

Edward Norton is Eiseneheim, the Illusionist. Usually Norton is a powerhouse in his films but here he choose to play the illusionist as a very quiet, soft spoken and mysterious person. It's not a stand out performance, but then again it's what the movie needs to balance out the other characters, who are more verbose.



Paul Giamatti is a police inspector employed by the antagonistic Duke. What works well is, even though Giamatti's character is told to investigate and stop Eisenheim, he still manages to make the audience care about his character, while giving us a three dimensional performances.



The Duchess played by Jesica Biel could have been replaced with any actresses, and it wouldn't have mattered. She wasn't bad, but she didn't stand out either, sort of luke warm. The actor who played the belligerent Prince Leopold, made a good bad guy and was pretty darn intense.

The illusions are done on screen by CG, which made them look unbelievable, but then again Eisenheim is suppose to have the power to raise spirits and talk to them, all which is said to be unbelievable.




I saw both The Prestige and The Illusionist around the time they were released on DVD. I vaguely remember that I liked The Prestige more than The Illusionist, but it's weird that I remember bits and pieces of The Prestige, but I don't remember anything about The Illusionist. I'll have to rewatch The Illusionist when I get a chance.
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The Duchess played by Jesica Biel could have been replaced with any actresses, and it wouldn't have mattered.

LOL! My favorite line from that review! Funny because it's true.
I'm no Biel hater and she certainly is gorgeous, but yeah I don't think she's had a stand out performance yet.

The guy who played the Prince is Rufus Sewell and this actor seems born to play bad guys. He's just got naturally hateful and creepy eyes. Just saw him in an occult thriller called "Bless the Child" (2000) and while the movie was just alright, Sewell as a Satan-worshiping self-help guru was just creepy as hell - not even his performance, just the look in his eyes! He just seems evil. I'm wondering if he could even play a good guy?

More trivia - Sewell was also in the John Adams series along with Paul Giomatti in the starring role. Sewell played Adams' sometimes nemesis Alexander Hamilton.



"Their hollow shells with little meat, we scarcely know who they are or what they want as they drift about town."
I felt this way too, but I always felt a like it was more about their own feelings of distance and ambiguity. How do you get to know people who don't even know themselves? These are kids in a tiny west Texas town that is, as you said, dying while they are growing. They have no role models and no outlet to the world. I always felt like the most striking aspect of the book was how lost and uncertain the kids were, something I thought was portrayed well in the film. The only people they knew who had made it through to adulthood are sad and full of regret, even if they were good people. Cloris Leachmans character is a great example.



Pah, you beat me to The Illusionist - managed to snag a second-hand copy for the princely sum of £1.26 delivered and it landed this morning ..... I'll have to shelve watching it for a while now so as to maintain a modicum of 'independence' in my movie viewing
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Pah, you beat me to The Illusionist - managed to snag a second-hand copy for the princely sum of £1.26 delivered and it landed this morning ..... I'll have to shelve watching it for a while now so as to maintain a modicum of 'independence' in my movie viewing
I would love you to review it, so I can see if great minds do indeed think alike Cool Xmas avatar BTW




The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015)
Director: Matthew Brown
Writers: Matthew Brown
Cast: Dev Patel, Jeremy Irons, Malcolm Sinclair
Genre: Biography, Drama


About: The short life of Srinivasa Ramanujan, a man born into poverty in India, during the early 20th century. After traveling to England he went on to become one of the most important mathematicians of our time, with his ground breaking theorems.

Review: I hate math! But, I loved this up-close and personal look at a genius who's mind was on pair with Issac Newton. And yet today his name is not well known outside of mathematics academic circles. His story is a moving one and makes one wonder how many geniuses languished in the gutters of poverty through the course of human history? The world nearly never learned of his genius had it not been for a mathematics professor at Cambridge, England Professor G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons).

Dev Patel
plays the stellar genius who experiences mathematical formulas as the thoughts of God. Dev Patel made a name for himself in a much different role as the good natured and always optimistic, young Indian entrepreneur in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011).

I would have thought a movie about math would be boring, but this was very well done, interesting too. It's not a big movie, but it tells an important story.








The Diamond Queen
BBC 3 part documentary
Total length 3 hours

After watching the movie The Queen, I got in the mood to watch more about her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. I found this at my library and it's a 3 part BBC documentary on the then upcoming Diamond Jubilee of the Queen.

It's compose of archival footage with many interviews from the royal family especially from Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and his younger brother Prince Henry of Wales. And the daughters of Sarah Fergusen and Prince Andrew, Princess Beatrice of York, Princess Eugenie of York. Among others royal members and former Prime Ministers.

I thought this was exceptional well done, with much inside information and it was very respectful to the queen.





The Big Sleep (Howard Hawks, 1946)
Director: Howard Hawks
Writers: William Faulkner(screenplay), Leigh Brackett (screenplay)
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Ridgely
Genre: Film Noir


About
: Private detective Philip Marlowe who's hired to take on a case by a rich, eccentric man and runs into his two lovely daughters.

Review
: I watched this a couple of times and I still don't know who killed who? But it doesn't matter! I loved it anyway, it's such a neat movie to watch.

Director Howard Hawks broke the rules when he decided to de-emphasize a structured plot and instead focus on character development, quick dialogue and entertaining scenes. Hawks was amazed that audience loved the film despite the lack of traditionalism in story telling. I though it was pretty awesome myself!

I watched the 1946 theatrical release, this is the version most people watch. The Big Sleep was shot in 1944 during WWII and just as the film was being finished, the war was coming to an end. Warner Brothers Studio had a lot of war themed movies in the pipeline and wanted to get those out before they became passe. So The Big Sleep was put on the shelf and it's release held.

Meanwhile Lauren Bacall who had shot to stardom in her first film,To Have and Have Not, had her second film released Confidential Agent which critics hated her in. They had considered her a major talent but after Confidential Agent, the questioned even if she could act at all and her future as an actresses was in serious doubt.

Seeing how The Big Sleep was in limbo, Jack Warner ordered additional scenes to be shot of Bacall that would allow her to shine with her the sexual innuendos and insolence that made her a star in To Have and Have Not. Thus the original 1945 film was never released but a reworked film came out in 1946.




For me, The Queen was an inside look at Queen Elizabeth and her royal family, that's what I liked about it. The death of Diana was just the catalyst to allow the movie to study the Queen in depth.
I don't think the film studies the Queen in depth, I think the film was about the Queen's behavior during a particular time.




Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
Director: Robert Aldrich
Writers: Mickey Spillane(novel), A.I. Bezzerides(screenplay)
Cast: Ralph Meeker, Albert Dekker, Paul Stewart
Genre: Film Noir


About: An ill fated woman stranded on a loan road during the middle of the night, has a chance encounter with detective Mike Hammer. Her strange story pulls the detective into a convoluted mystery, involving suspicious people and a glowing box.

Review: I love that ending! It's fun! it's ripped right out of the pages of an old pulp fiction magazine. Some classic director, I forget who, once said whatever you do with your movie make sure the ending wows them, that's what the audiences remember, the ending. Damn straight! and I always remember the ending to Kiss Me Deadly.

You know this movie isn't as polished as the really well known noirs. If Sunset Blvd or The Sweet Smell of Success was a rock band, they'd be a polished band that had been making music long enough to get every last note perfect...But Kiss Me Deadly is like a garage band, raw, ballsy and with lots of off notes. It ain't polished, but brother it rocks!

Ralph Meeker made a really good Mike Hammer. Mike Hammer has been played by other actors, but Ralph Meeker really nailed the no non-sense detective.

In some ways these really raw noirs are my favorites, they risk more and they're just flat out fun. This one was made for a shoe string budget and shot in only 3 weeks. It's not polished but there's something special about it's energy.




Kiss Me Deadly gets the same rating from me, a fun movie - if little things (primarily in the first third: such as the woman's legs going still before she stops screaming or the overpaced clock by the popcorn seller) had been attended to it would be a little higher.



I love the pulp fiction feel to Kiss Me Deadly. Not many Noirs have that same trashy-feel. Pulp fiction: as in the cheaply made monthly detective & crime story magazines that were popular at the time and printed on low grade pulp paper. Gawd, I hate Tarantino for usurping that term!



I have no problem at all with the pulpy feel to it - I used to read many of those trashy feeling periodicals when I was a kid - but that doesn't excuse the odd bit of laziness here and there. As for Tarantino - I generally love his films




The Killers (Robert Siodmak,1946)

Director: Robert Siodmak
Writers: Anthony Veiller(screenplay), Ernest Hemingway(story)
Cast: Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien
Genre: Film Noir, Crime Drama

About: Two hit men come to a small town and kill their 'target', a man named Swede (Burt Lancaster). Swede has been expecting the pair of gunmen and doesn't even try to save himself...Told through flashbacks as an insurance investigator (Edmond O'Brien) tries to unravel the mystery of the death of the Swede, who has a life insurance policy that is now payable. The investigation uncovers an entanglement by a beautiful femme fatale Kitty (Ava Garndner) and a story of treachery, entrapment and crime.



Review
: I love the opening where the two hitman are waiting at a roadside diner. Has William Conrad ever been more imposing on the screen? Has any hitman for that matter of fact been more imposing in a noir? These two are a big part of the film even though they don't have much screen time. One last thing about the muscle, I love the way the director Robert Siodmak shows the hit with blinding light flashes. Very cool! Very powerful.
This has got to be one of the most dramatic opening scenes in any Noir.

Well the other dynamic duel is The Swede, Burt Lancaster in his first movie role...and Kitty, Ava Gardner in her first big movie role. The couple have a dynamic and doomed chemistry together. Like a moth to a flame, Swede faces his destiny knowing the outcome. It's this finality that makes the movie work for me, more so than the insurance investigation that follows the hit.

I love the way Robert Sidomak constructs his story by flashbacks and real time investigation. This is one of the great noirs and Ava Gardner is the queen of femme fatales.





The Killers is going to become one of my favorite movies for sure.



The Duchess played by Jesica Biel could have been replaced with any actresses, and it wouldn't have mattered.

LOL! My favorite line from that review! Funny because it's true.
I'm no Biel hater and she certainly is gorgeous, but yeah I don't think she's had a stand out performance yet.
Couldn't agree more...she's such a nothing actress...if I ever do a "Why do they even have an acting career?" thread, she would definitely be in the top five.