Citizen Rules...Cinemaesque Chat-n-Review

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I agree with you comments. I'm always surprised that this film appears on lists of the great films...
~Doc
I'm glad someone agrees with me I love the old classics, so I was surprised that I didn't love Gaslight.

Have you seen the original 1940 British version of Gaslight? I read that MGM when they acquired the rights to Gaslight actively tried to destroy all the prints from the 1940 version. Luckily it still survives and I'll be watching that soon.





The Cameraman's Revenge (1912)

Also known as:
The Revenge of a Kinematograph Cameraman (1912)
Mest kinematograficheskogo operatora (original title)


Director: Wladyslaw Starewicz
Writer: Wladyslaw Starewicz
Genre: Stop Motion Animation Short Film
Length: 12 minutes


"A jilted husband takes his revenge by filming his wife and her lover and showing the result at the local cinema. This was one of Starewicz' first animated films, and stars very realistic animated beetles."

This is one of the most unusual short films that you will see. Where else are you going to see a 105 year old movie with stop-motion animated dead bugs? These bugs live quite the soap opera life! Who knew bugs could be so animated, pardon the pun!

The director, writer and cameraman was
Ladislas Starevich, a Polish heritage, Russian born film maker who was not only interested in film but in Natural History and indeed he was the director of a Natural History museum in Lithuanian. He mainly made films with dead animals, doing stop motion animation and puppetry with his film subjects.

The Cameraman's Revenge is more interesting, than entertaining...I mean how much character development can you get from the dead bugs?

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The Cameraman's Revenge (1912) 12 minute short film
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The Mystery of the Leaping Fish (1916)


Director
: John Emerson
Writers: Tod Browning (script), Anita Loos (titles)
Cast: Douglas Fairbanks, Bessie Love, Allan Sears
Genre: Comedy Short Film
Length: 25 minutes



Detective Coke Ennyday uses science and drugs to help him in his detective work. By the clock on his wall he efficiently divides his day into 4 time periods: Sleep, Eat, Dope & Drink. While on the job Detective Coke Ennyday, injects himself with cocaine to gain superhuman strength to fight the bad guys...and if that's not enough he gives his enemies overdoses of coke and they vaporize right out of existence....weird stuff!

If you noticed the opening credits this was written by Tod Browning. Yea, that Tod Browning who directed Dracula (1931) and Freaks (1932), here he was the writer, and so it's not surprising this is one helluva strange film! Supposedly he wrote this while in the hospital after being critically injured in a car wreck. I wonder if this is an opiate inspired story, akin to the writings of Edgar Allen Poe.

Douglas Fairbanks made this early in his career and ended up hating it, and wanted the film to be taken out of circulation after he became one of the biggest stars of the silent era. After the Hays Production Code came out in 1934 this film wouldn't be shown for a long time.

This is a parody of Sherlock Holmes (who I believed used cocaine in some of the novels). Coke Ennyday, like Sherlock Holmes is a 'scientific detective' who uses gadgets along with copious amounts of cocaine to get the job done. Like Sherlock he wears the same style of detective's hat and checkered overcoat...and smokes a pipe (who knows what's in it).

I thought his helper who's dressed in black with studs was an odd looking character! Not sure what he was suppose to be? Then again the entire film is odd, with the idea of a cocaine using detective, 'busting' opium smugglers who use the 'leaping fish' to bring in huge blocks of opium...which Coke Ennyday readily consumes.

I had forgotten that the very charming Bessie Love was in this. She's the Fish Blower, no seriously, that's what she's called.

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Mystery of the Leaping Fish (1916) 26 minutes




The Rink
(1916)

Director: Charles Chaplin
Cast: Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance, James T. Kelley
Genre: Comedy, Short Film
Length
: 25 minutes


"After causing restaurant chaos at work, a bumbling waiter tears up the local roller rink with his skating."


Glad to see another Chaplin film, I haven't see many and the man is a genius! He's not only a genius at comedy but at staging his prat falls and stunts too. Good old Charlie has an innate sense of human nature, and that's when he's at his funniest...when he uses his understand of people and their habitats. Like when as a waiter, he determines the bill by finding food remnants on the customers clothing!

Loved the scenes in the old time skating ring, or rink as they called it. I didn't know skating went back that far. And boy can Charlie skate! I use go roller skating when I was young, but I couldn't do all those tricks that Charlie did.

This was based on a comedy sketch outline and then more was added to make it 25 minutes. As a result it does have some moments that aren't as brilliant as the skating scene or the inept waiter scenes. But over all an oldie and a goodie.

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The Rink (1916) 25 minutes
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Mildred Pierce (1945)

Director: Michael Curtiz
Writers: Ranald MacDougall (screenplay), James M. Cain (novel)
Cast: Joan Crawford, Ann Bylth, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott, Eve Arden
Genre: Drama, Film Noir


"A hard-working mother inches towards disaster as she divorces her husband and starts a successful restaurant business to support her spoiled daughter."

Joan Crawford made a huge comeback in 1945's Mildred Pierce. Director Michael Curtiz was reluctant to hire the one huge movie star, who had a reputation for being difficult to work with and in the last few years hadn't been been as popular as she once was. It's a good thing for Miss Crawford that she was given the title role as a working class mom who works herself to the bone, to give her only child, a spoiled daughter all the luxuries she had been denied in her life.


That's Butterfly McQueen to the left, best known for her role in Gone With the Wind.


Eve Arden left, Zachary Scott center and Ann Blyth right.

This might sound like a soapy opera, but thanks to the flashback opening scenes that starts the movie with Joan being taken to police headquarters for a murder she seems to have committed. But did she? That's the mystery, that's the rub and Mildred Pierce has several sub stories running along with the main theme that makes this movie a master piece.

Nominated for 6 Oscars, and winning one, Best Actress for Joan Crawford and one and only time she would win that. Joan gives her all to movie, she pours herself into her role....a role that was not unlike her own life. Ann Blyth plays her spoiled rotten daughter to perfection. She was nominated for best supporting actress.

The script is as fresh as the day it was made, and the story compelling.


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Never Weaken (1921)

Director: Fred C. Newmeyer
Writers: Hal Roach & Sam Taylor (story)
Cast: Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis, Roy Brooks
Genre: Comedy Short Film
Length: 28 minutes


Harold Lloyd is nuts! He's known for his high climbing comedy antics and did many of his own stunts. That photo is not a blue screen or a rear projection trick...Harold and the crew were actually up there on the skyscrapers, for real.

I'm glad this was nominated as Harold Lloyd today is underseen. He had a really accessible on-screen personality and the average person could easily relate to his everyday type of character. His movies have a different feel than Charlie Chaplin's and Buster Keaton's. Harold carved out a niche for himself and was very popular at the time. I remember being in grade school and watching Harold Lloyd in the morning before school. I swear his stunts would give me nightmares! I've always enjoyed his films.

I enjoyed this short too, it was a fun watch. Harold is so communicative that I just now had to stop and think if it was a silent or not. In my mind it was, as if I had heard the dialogue.

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Never Weaken (1921) 28 minutes
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Little Women (1994)

Director: Gillian Armstrong
Writers: Louisa May Alcott (novel), Robin Swicord (screenplay)
Cast: Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder, Kirsten Dunst,
Claire Danes Christian Bale
Genre: Literary Based Drama


"Louisa May Alcott's autobiographical account of her life with her three sisters in Concord, Massachusetts in the 1860s. With their father fighting in the American Civil War, sisters Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth are at home with their mother. "


You won't see that shot in the movie, as that's the real Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts that Jo (Louise May Alcott) lived in. I've been there and in a way I feel I know these people. I've seen Little Women a number of times and have watched the other movie versions too, as well as a documentary on the real Alcott family...Visiting their home just made it all that much realer. For me it's hard to separate the real story from the movie, and that's partially why I love this movie so.


Left to right: Kirsten Dunst, Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, Trini Alvarado.

I've spent so much time with this film that it's hard for me to just critique it as I would another movie. I do know that the ensemble cast is very strong and bring the characters to life. It's the cast and the acting that is so special. Especially Winona Ryder, and little Kirsten Dunst who steals the movie. Christian Bale and Claire Danes are both excellent in this too. And can Claire cry or what!

Mostly I like the fact that these people existed and we get to know them just a bit by watching Little Women.




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I won't dance. Don't ask me...
So you love Little Woman endlessly. I'm nor surprised. It's one of my fav movies too
I'm sure you know M.L. Alcott didn't get married like her alterego played by Winona Ryder. When I was reading biography of Alcott, I had the feeling, it was her dream to get married.



So you love Little Woman endlessly. I'm nor surprised. It's one of my fav movies too
I'm sure you know M.L. Alcott didn't get married like her alterego played by Winona Ryder. When I was reading biography of Alcott, I had the feeling, it was her dream to get married.
I must have known she never married, but forgot it! I've seen the movie so many times I just think of her as Winona Ryder

Another fan of Mildred Pierce here, and that's a movie that went in a totally different direction than I expected. You see the 2011 miniseries?
I've not seen the miniseries yet, but I did add it to my Netflix DVD queue. Have you seen it? If so is it any good?



I won't dance. Don't ask me...
I must have known she never married, but forgot it! I've seen the movie so many times I just think of her as Winona Ryder
Here the same, so I felt sorry for her, coz I thought she wanted to her life be like in the book.



Here the same, so I felt sorry for her, coz I thought she wanted to her life be like in the book.
I've never read the book, I'm not much of a reader. I have seen the other older movie versions of Little Women. I like the 1994 version the best.




A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)

Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Writer: Ana Lily Amirpour
Cast: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh
Genre: Drama, Horror
Language: Persian



"In the Iranian ghost-town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, the townspeople are unaware they are being stalked by a lonesome female vampire."

I enjoyed this!...It's very stylish, very atmospheric and beautifully filmed. I loved the compositions that were used. It made the film feel like a work of art, like looking into a painting and pondering the mysteries that lay there on the canvas. It was like each shot had it's own feeling that came from the composition. So very rewarding to watch. To me this felt like sophisticated film making, and the type of film that is open to interpretation by the viewer.




This is director Ana Lily Amirpour's first feature length film, impressive! Part of the reason I enjoyed this is: I liked the vampire girl, she was soulful and sullen, with just enough mystery to make me wonder what drove her to do the things she did. I liked the lead actor too. He seemed like a nice guy, someone I could relate to, so it was easy to root for him.

My favorite scene came after the costume ball, when he's lost and meets her on the street and they then go back to her place. That was one of the most beautifully filmed romantic scenes, that I've seen...and they didn't even kiss!...and they didn't need to, just the atmosphere and the way that it was filmed, made watching the two seem like nothing else in the world mattered at that moment but their love.

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Europa Europa (1990)

Director: Agnieszka Holland
Writers: Paul Hengge & Agnieszka Holland
Cast: Solomon Perel, Marco Hofschneider, René Hofschneider
Genre: Drama, History, War
Language: German

A Jewish boy living with his family in Nazi Germany, comes under attack and flees with his brother to Poland. Only along the way they get separated and he ends up in communist Soviet Union. Later he flees the Soviet forces as they invade Poland and is mistaken for a Aryan German and ends up joining the Nazi Hitler Youth, where he had to hide his true identity to keep alive. CR

I liked it...I never dreamed it was going to be so entertaining! A very fun watch. I don't know if I was supposed to be so amused by it, but I was and I laughed out loud at some of his predicaments. Just thinking about his wacky girlfriend or the scene at the Soviet orphanage school, cracks me up.

Right at the start I was hooked into the story line and it held my attention fast. The film really did feel 'big' in that it felt like we were traveling from Germany to Poland to Russia, and back again. It gave a good sweep of WWII from different viewpoints and did it well.




What amazed me was how light and entertaining the film felt for such a serious subject matter. A lot of ironic/funny stuff like: the seduction by the big German woman on the train, who's yelling 'my Fuhrer, my Fuhrer'...and the scene where he surrendered to the Polish army, only to 'capture' them and become a hero to the German army, ha...I mean man! did this kid get around or what! He did everything, went everywhere! which I thought was pretty cool and reminded me of Forest Gump.

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The Ascent (1977)

Voskhozhdenie (original title)
Director: Larisa Shepitko
Writers: Vasiliy Bykov (novel), Yuri Klepikov (screenplay)
Cast: Boris Plotnikov, Vladimir Gostyukhin, Sergey Yakovlev
Genre: Drama, War
Language: Russian

During a brutal Russian winter in World War II on the Eastern Front, two Soviet partisan fighters trek cross country to find food for themselves and their starving comrades, what they find is nothing but misery. CR

I liked this! It was very focus on the human cost of the Soviet Union's struggle with Nazi Germany in WWII. What's great about this is, it's a very personal movie, it really makes you feel like you are there....and, you sure in the hell don't want to be there!

Damn the struggle the Soviet soldiers and partisan went through was horrific. The stark black and white photography made the film feel all the more cold and hopeless.

I liked the way we follow just the two soldiers around. There's no back story, none is needed. There's no love interest or secondary story lines, none is needed. There's just the cold brutality of war and the choices one has to make. This reminded me of an English language film about Soviet partisans in WWII, which was also powerful but unfortunately I can't remember what it was called.

I thought the cinematography was amazing for the subject matter as it was both simple and effective. There's no artsy shots that I recall, but...the shots were very effective and contributed to the emotions of the scene. So I would call that amazing cinematography.

My favorite shot (or I should say the shot that had they biggest visual impact on me) was the long, slow march up the hill to the scaffolding to be hung. Damn! the long shot down from behind really such in the reality of the moment. That didn't look like a movie, that looked frightfully real.

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Orlando (1992)

Director: Sally Potter
Writers: Sally Potter, Virginia Woolf (novel)
Cast
: Tilda Swinton, Billy Zane, Quentin Crisp
Genre: Period Drama, Fantasy


"Young nobleman Orlando is commanded by Queen Elizabeth I to stay forever young. Miraculously, he does just that. The film follows him as he moves through several centuries of British, including changing his sex to female."

A unique film.

Here we have a film that takes a subtle look at gender identity and what it means to be a person without the roles of gender defining who they are. Of course in the film Orlando's social status is all based on his/hers gender at the time. But we see that Orlando is always the same person inside, despite what body parts he/she is sporting.



If this film was made today it probably would have been a graphic R film with lots of tawdry sex and forcing a message down our throats using a club to get it's message across. I like that Orlando was subtle, very subtle, like a delicate poem that can be interpreted many a different way. Indeed Orlando the person is about something more ethereal in life, than just what gender they are.

A very understated film, thank goodness!

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The Godfather: Part II (1974)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Writers: Francis Ford Coppola (screenplay), Mario Puzo (screenplay & novel)
Cast: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall
Genre: Drama


"The early life and career of Vito Corleone in 1920s New York City is portrayed, while his son, Michael, expands and tightens his grip on the family crime syndicate."

I don't get why this is so highly rated? I mean it's currently 9.0 at IMDB...Whilst the greats like Citizen Kane is only 8.4 and Lawrence of Arabia is at 8.3...

I have to say that Godfather Part II is one of the most overrated films of all time! IMO of course...It ain't bad, but it sure in the hell isn't near perfect, like it's IMDB rating would suggest. It's mostly a soap opera, or to be polite a mini series. And I've seen many a mini series that covered powerful, multi generational families and the power struggles that went on with in them. Those mini series were much more developed in their stories than Godfather Part II, which lacks character arches or in depth story development.

Most of the power play schemes that happened are half thought out and we never get the context of why these people all do what it is they do. I'm pretty sure if this wasn't about organized crime, no one would really care about it.

Godfather Part II reminds of another movie based on a highly popular novel, Dune (1984). Like Dune, GPII skips over vast amounts of material in attempt to cover the entire book. Scenes don't have proper set up and motivation, they just happened. That's not surprising as bothDuneand GPII are lengthy novels and trying to do them justices requires a mini series length film. Which leaves fans of the novels with a visual record of the story, but for non fans (like me) I felt left out in the cold, like huge blocks of the story were missing.

I can say I was never bored and the film making process was done well, but as much as I don't hate this film (and I don't hate it) I sure don't love it either. I have to say I prefer the first Godfather, though I wasn't a huge fan of that either.