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It Happened One Night (1934)

Director: Frank Capra
Writers: Robert Riskin (screenplay), Samuel Hopkins Adams (short story)
Cast: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly
Genre: Comedy Romance


"A spoiled heiress running away from her family is helped by a man who is actually a reporter in need of a story."

The movie that made Frank Capra a household name and was the first film to win all of the top five Academy Award categories, I.E. Oscar Grand Slam: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay. The Grand Slam wasn't repeated until One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest in 1976. The only other film to do this was The Silence of the Lamb.


Left to right: Little Shirley Temple presents the Oscar for Best Actress to Claudette Colbert, who didn't expect to win and had to be fetched from the train station. Middle, director Frank Capra holds his Oscar for Best Director a win that marked the start of a bright directing career...Right, Lionel Barrymore admires the Oscar that Clark Gable just won for Best Actor.

It Happened One Night
was a small budget film from a then smaller studio, Columbia. Neither Clark Gable or Claudette Colbert had much hope of this quickie film shot mostly on location in only 30 days of making much of an impact. But it did! Audiences loved the smart ass banter between the two leads, and unlike other romantic comedies of the time, the two actors never get all lovey dovey. Gable never even kisses Claudette. This made the film stand out. The everyday working man played by Clark Gable was someone audiences could relate to. And they loved seeing the rich girl having to rough it on the open road, which was just desserts for a depression era audience.

This is not a screwball comedy, I don't know when this was labeled a screwball comedy, but it's not. It's more of a comic road trip movie, in which the rich spoiled girl at every turn loses a bit of something, until she's penniless and without a change of clothes or even food to eat. It's very much like the John Candy film Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Claudette Colbert is very charming in this, her leg, hitch hiking scene has become a classic. Clark Gable is really in fine form and played a role that he hadn't done before which was the roguish smart ass. He would go on to big things and often played similar characters based on his role here.


It Happened One Night
is one of the great classic films of the 1930s!

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The Shape of Water (2017)

Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writers: Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor (screenplay)
Cast: Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon
Genre: Drama-Romance, Fantasy


Winner of the Oscar for Best Picture

I'd call this, The Shape of Things to Come. Because this is where Hollywood is heading: Dumbed down, sappy scripts...with really good actors and stylish sets...Add to that mix, a few socially relative messages tacked on for 21st sensibilities, and you get the illusion of something far more grandiose than the potboiler script can actually deliver...The Shape of Water masquerades as something far greater than it really is.

It's a film that's all dressed up with a du jour color pallet, in this case it's teal, not green, TEAL. Teal is everywhere in the sets and clothing...that is until our girl Friday takes a, um spin, with the creature and starts seeing cherry red.

All these go-nowhere add-ons creates an illusion of film grandiose and these mag wheels and racing stripes on mom's 4 door car, won it an Oscar.

Did I mention that the movie dragged for me! I didn't buy into the romance that happened way to quick, and the Soviet spies were a dopey script idea right out of a B budget movie. Come to think of it, if this had been a low budget movie made in the early 1980s, it would be one of those so bad you like it flicks.

Though I have to say, as over the top that his cattle-prod wielding ass was,
Michael Shannon the actor was damn good in this. He was so intense and so into his character that I was kind of rooting for him. I mean he's hard not to like, he's so over the top and yet totally focused, he's a fine actor. Too bad this wasn't done in a black comedy style, then the finger ripping scene would have been a hoot!

I liked Richard Jenkins in this and I really liked Sally Hawkins too, then again I always like her. I thought her deep friendship with her closeted gay next door neighbor was the best part of the film. That felt real and special.

But I wish the creature idea had been left at the Marvel/DC doorstep, and a more serious film about outsider people struggling in the early 1960s and feeling isolated because of their differences....that would have made a much more stronger film, than what we get.






Wonder Wheel (2017)

Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Cast: Kate Winslet, Jim Belushi, Justin Timberlake, Juno Temple
Genre: Drama

"On Coney Island in the 1950s, a lifeguard tells the story of a middle-aged carousel operator, his beleaguered wife, and the visitor who turns their lives upside-down."


Oh yeah...Weird Woody finally put out another good one! Seen this the other night and I'm already wanting to see it again!

Allen uses the lifeguard character at the beginning of his film to serendipitously tell the viewer that Wonder Wheel contains symbolism, as the lifeguard says: he's working on a play and the poet in him loves symbolism...And the romantic in him loves very dramatic characters.

And that's what you get, stunning use of colors and creative lighting, the likes of which I've never seen before. The colors in context come from the neon lights of Coney Island but in the deeper scheme of things the colors and lighting change, as does the mood of the scene or change in the character's mood. It's all quite nicely done.

The family is colorful too, to say the least, in a dismal but connectable way. The lifeguard mentions the works of Eugene O'Neill and that's Woody letting you know O'Neill is his muse for Wonder Wheel.

Hugo Kudos to the actors!

I've never been a big fan of Jim Belushi's but OMG he delivers in this one. I didn't even think of him as Belushi. He really comes across like a real life Ralph Kramden from the 50s The Honeymooners. But not as comical, but every bit there.

Kate Winslet has been a favorite of mine for a long while, here she takes it up a couple notches! I read online that she was unsure if she could plays such an intensely troubled person while delivering brutal honest. But she does!

Great story too and smooth long takes with out jarring edits, as you would expect from a skilled film maker like Woody Allen.

So far this is my favorite film of 2017

+




Aguirre, The Wrath of God (1972)

Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (original title)
Director: Werner Herzog
Writer: Werner Herzog
Cast: Klaus Kinski, Ruy Guerra, Helena Rojo
Genre: Adventure, Drama


"In the 16th century, the ruthless and insane Don Lope de Aguirre leads a Spanish expedition in search of El Dorado."

One of the most visually stunning films I've ever seen! I was hooked at the very first scene. All those men coming over the Peruvian mountains on those steep narrow paths, and in the background is more men snaking up the mountain side far into the distance. Talk about depth in the composition. That scene went on a long time....and I'm so glad it did. Werner Herzog gives the viewer ample time to just 'be there' on the mountain side where time seems to stand still. That intentional slowness by holding the shots makes then the journey by those 100's of men carrying tons of weight seem all the more arduousness. Such brilliant direction & cinematography.

I loved the first river scene with the camera mounted low on the raft... we can feel the muddy river spinning the raft around and around. It all seems so hopeless for the men as the river looks as it will swallow them up at any second.

The jungle scenes too added to this foreboding feeling that the men were heading deeper into this beautiful hell...and it's all because of a driven mad man, Aguirre played with equally contorted madness by Klaus Kinski.



In the last part of the movie we can feel the weight of this doomed journey, as the raft is battered and the surviving men are forced to eat algae that they pluck from between the water soaked logs of the raft. We see hope is lost as the men drift deeper into the unknown, all for the lust of the golden pipe dream of El Dorado.

Very impressive film, one that I want to watch again.

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It took you 890 reviews to finally watch The Godfather? Practically the essential New Hollywood movie?

I feel it's the greatest movie ever made. That's why I reviewed that one first. It spoke to me in ways Ihad never seen in movies before. And while I've only seen 750 movies or so, I'm getting through a lot of classics and trying to get through top 100 movie lists from websites and magazines. Really, The Godfather screams "this is what a film has to be" to me, and never faisl to deliver. But it may be a "watch more than once" movie.

Of course, I loved the third film almost as much as the first to. Coppola's my favorite director.



It took you 890 reviews to finally watch The Godfather?
Even worse than that it took me 10,000 movies until I finally watched it. I just wasn't that interested in seeing it. I'm glad I did watch it though.
Coppola's my favorite director
Coppola's good. Have you seen Rumble Fish? that's one of his more artsy type films. I thought it was pretty special.



The Station Agent (2003)

Director: Tom McCarthy
Writer: Tom McCarthy
Cast: Peter Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson, Bobby Cannavale
Genre: Drama, Comedy


A week in the life of Finn, a 'little person'...as we experience his world and the way people relate to him, after he relocates to an abandoned train station in rural New Jersey.

I liked it! This is a Citizen Rules type movie It was refreshing to see a film that wasn't preachy, wasn't in your face, and didn't spoonfeed the audience. The Station Agent is much more subtle that that. Subtle is something I look for in movies.


Another film with the same subject matter might have shown Finn being harassed and bullied because of his size. Then he would find a mentor, learn to fight back and triumph in the end. That would be cliched...and it's been done a zillion times.

Thank goodness The Station Agent is fresh and more grounded in reality. I'd call it a slice of life as most of what happens is low key. Finn only gets shoved around once, and it's not because he's a 'little person' but because he interferes in a scuffle between Michelle Williams' character and her redneck boyfriend. And yet on Finn's face we can see his inner emotions as he's pushed into a car, hurting his arm and unable to fend off the bigger guy. That scene says a lot about the inner workings of Finn's mind and how all the chance encounters he's had with people has made him withdrawn and untrusting of others.



He just wants to be left alone to read his books...and yet there are people who want to be his friend, if he can just put aside the past hurt and learn to trust them.

I liked Peter Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson in this. I don't think I've seen Peter Dinklage before but I have seen Patricia Clarkson and always seem to like her and the movies she's in.

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Glory (1989)

Director: Edward Zwick
Writers: Kevin Jarre (screenplay), Lincoln Kirstein (book)
Cast: Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes
Genre: Drama, History

"Robert Gould Shaw leads the U.S. Civil War's first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices from both his own Union Army, and the Confederates."

That was my favorite scene from the movie. I loved the location and staging of the attack on Fort Wagner. There's something about the tranquility of the ocean and the softness of the sand, that contrasted so poignantly with the men dying in such a lovely spot.

My other favorite scene was the military training camp where the soldiers were drilled in the disciplines of soldiering. That set looked real to me. I haven't read anything about the movie, but I bet that was an actual set, maybe even from the Civil War era. The bricks were weathered and in places the walls had crumbled away. It looked old, very old. Very cool.

I was OK with the music score as it made the story, and the movie feel grand. I believe the director chose that score and made the film the way he did so as to impart a larger than life, momentous feeling to his story of the soldiers' struggle to gain respect by gaining the right to die in battle.

I didn't care for Matthew Broderick or his second in command the tall blonde guy...I did like Morgan Freeman and the black actor with the glasses was good too...It really wasn't an actors movie as much as it was a thematic movie, and a powerful theme it was.





Glory (1989)

[font=Book Antiqua][size=5][size=4][font=Arial Narrow][size=3]Director: Edward Zwick
Writers: Kevin Jarre (screenplay), Lincoln Kirstein (book)
Cast: Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes
Genre: Drama, History


and the black actor with the glasses was good too...It really wasn't an actors movie as much as it was a thematic movie, and a powerful theme it was.

The actor with the glasses is named Andre Braugher...his other film credits include Primal Fear and Get on the Bus. He won an Emmy for his role on the NBC drama Homicide: Life on the Street and currently co-stars with Andy Samberg on the FOX sitcom Brooklyn Nine Nine.



Only a 3? I give this movie a solid 5 any day. It's one where I've never started watching it and was able to turn it off (even though I've seen it many times). It's a personal favorite as far as period pieces, war movies, and historical / racial dramas.

I do admit that Broderick and Elwes were odd choices, but I somehow think they were supposed to add to the contrast of races and age (plus there's the contrast of placing 2 young comedic white actors in dead-serious lead roles).



Only a 3? I give this movie a solid 5 any day. It's one where I've never started watching it and was able to turn it off (even though I've seen it many times). It's a personal favorite as far as period pieces, war movies, and historical / racial dramas.

I do admit that Broderick and Elwes were odd choices, but I somehow think they were supposed to add to the contrast of races and age (plus there's the contrast of placing 2 young comedic white actors in dead-serious lead roles).
Nah, I didn't care for it all that much. I hate to rank on 'Ferris Bueller' but Matthew Broderick was one of the weak points of the film. It's a weird film in that it seems like I should like it, but just the way it was edited and put together didn't seem fulfilling to me.

It was in the 15th Hall of Fame and here's my voting list.

1 American Graffiti (1973)
2 Rebecca (1940)
3 The Elephant Man
4 The Station Agent (2003)
5 L'Avventura (1960)
6 In the Mood For Love(2000)
7 Aguirre,The Wrath of God (1972)
8 Out of the Blue (1980)
9 Glory (1989)
10 Shallow Grave (1994)
11 Hedwig Angry Inch (2001)



I understand. Perhaps a future viewing down the road might change it's score.
I admit that initially Broderick was a bit hard to swallow (at the time he was typecast as a teen-movie protagonist), but I did like the movie a lot after my first viewing and still like it today.

Beyond Broderick, I love the cast - the regiment soldiers are convincing: the whole antagonism between former slave "Trip" and educated northerner "Thomas" (with Morgan Freeman serving as referee and trying to maintain unity). While actors like Bob Gunton, Cliff De Young and Richard Riehle made for some good "villains."




The Yards (2000)

Director: James Gray
Writers: James Gray, Matt Reeves
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Joaquin Phoenix, Charlize Theron
Genre: Crime Drama


A hidden gem...why this film isn't more well known is beyond me?

It has it all: An intelligent script based on true events about crime and corruption among the contractors who repair the subway cars in Queens, New York. It has a family run crime business, feeling to it, that fans of The Godfather should enjoy. And it has a damn good performance from one of the best actors working today, Joaquin Phoenix.



It has at it's heart, a man who was just released from jail and is trying to go straight (Mark Wahlberg). He's in need of a job and ends up working for his corrupt uncle (James Cain) and finds himself in a dark rail yard, sabotaging trains. Then he finds he's been ID by a cop and his uncle decides he's a threat to the business and most go....Heavy stuff and it's handled very well.

My favorite thing about the movie is the sub story about a determined and sometimes emotionally controlling man (Joaquin Phoenix) and his distant girlfriend (Charlize Theron), who's growing increasingly scared of her boyfriend.



The best thing about The Yards is that all of it's story is grounded and so feels real and not like some over the top Hollywood and as it's based on real incidents the story is even more impressive.


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It's been quite some time since I watched The Yards, but I do remember not being especially enamored with it, aside from really liking Phoenix's performance.

If you're interested, Joaquin and director James Gray worked on three other movies together - We Own the Night, Two Lovers, and The Immigrant. I'm not crazy about the first two, again aside from the performances, but I really enjoyed The Immigrant.



It's been quite some time since I watched The Yards, but I do remember not being especially enamored with it, aside from really liking Phoenix's performance.

If you're interested, Joaquin and director James Gray worked on three other movies together - We Own the Night, Two Lovers, and The Immigrant. I'm not crazy about the first two, again aside from the performances, but I really enjoyed The Immigrant.
The immigrant is a great film though I thought two lovers was good aswell.



It's been quite some time since I watched The Yards, but I do remember not being especially enamored with it, aside from really liking Phoenix's performance.

If you're interested, Joaquin and director James Gray worked on three other movies together - We Own the Night, Two Lovers, and The Immigrant. I'm not crazy about the first two, again aside from the performances, but I really enjoyed The Immigrant.
Thanks...I've seen The Immigrant, but not the others that you mentioned. I'll have to look them up.



It's been quite some time since I watched The Yards, but I do remember not being especially enamored with it, aside from really liking Phoenix's performance.

If you're interested, Joaquin and director James Gray worked on three other movies together - We Own the Night, Two Lovers, and The Immigrant. I'm not crazy about the first two, again aside from the performances, but I really enjoyed The Immigrant.
Thanks...I've seen The Immigrant, but not the others that you mentioned. I'll have to look them up.
You may also like reservation road aswell.




American Graffiti (1973)

Director: George Lucas
Writers: George Lucas, Gloria Katz, Willard Huyck
Cast: Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Charles Martin Smith, Cindy Williams, Candy Clark, Mackenzie Phillips, Wolfman Jack

Genre
: Drama Comedy
Serendipity......That says it all.



Watching this last night for the first time in years was an emotional experience for me. I could write a novel why, but I won't...besides who cares about my teen years, right? Instead I'll tell you something I learned about the movie's history.

I had always thought of American Graffiti as this big Hollywood film made by a famous director. Boy was I wrong!

American Graffiti was made by an unknown at the time director who was literally fresh out of film school. Today we think of George Lucas as a powerhouse director, with billions of dollars. When he made this movie he was just a young guy and had won a 'grant' from Universal to make a tiny budget, auteur film, with him having creative control. That was part of Universal's independent film maker project which was inspired by the success of the 'indie home made movie' Easy Rider. There was about a half dozen films made in this program by up and coming film makers.

Lucas wrote the script and the studio gave him funding of only $775,000 and 28 days to shoot it. Richard Dreyfus called it 'gorilla film making'. They worked around the clock and lived on location in motel. The actors were all unknowns, many were working other jobs besides acting just to make a living.

What Lucas final showed the studio the movie it was something they had never seen. An unconventional story that followed four different characters in a unrelated way. There were no big character arcs, no big plots. Instead it was shot documentary style, with the actors improvising some of their lines. Lucas deliberately used the takes that had small flubs in them so as to make these people look real, like we are there following them around. This was shot on the street with cameras mounted on the cars, not in a studio, for more reality.



At a movie screening the audience loved it! But the head of Universal studio hated it. He told the producer, Francis Ford Coppola that the film was to unconventional and wouldn't be released. Coppola then tells the studio head that the young director is a visionary and the studio head should get down on his knees and thank the young director for giving the studio such an amazing film.



Instead of accepting the film, the studio shelved it and even considered releasing it on TV. They just could not see how a movie could have four inter cut stories going on at the same time....Today most TV dramas and many movies are made in the multi story inter cut style that American Graffiti introduced.

Is this the best movie ever made, probably not..but it's one of the most influential ground breaking films to be made. The auteur's stamp is all over this film, if you care to look for it.

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