Citizen Rules...Cinemaesque Chat-n-Review

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Quills (Philip Kaufman, 2000)

To my surprise I liked this...I wasn't sure what to expect, in fact the movie was different than I had imaged. I know I'm liking a movie if it gets me interested from the start and keeps me interested until the very end...and I don't start checking the time remaining. And Quills kept me interested.

Quills reminded me of Perfume: The Story of a Murder (2006). Both movies took a fanciful, lighter look at distrurbing events and both were period pieces but done in a more modern stylish artsy way.

I loved the look of this film, the color palette was a washed out antique green, very cool and it set the mood. Geoffrey Rush was just amazing in this as the brilliantly talented and demented...and yet likable Marquis de Sade. Another actor might have made the Marquis too dark or too much a super villain type, but I like the balance that Rush brought to the roll. And like Kate Winslet, she's so good, she could do so much just with a look on her face.

Amazingly enough I thought Joaquin Phoenix was rather bland in his role as the priest who tried compassionately to run the insane asylum. I do think Phoenix is one of the best actors working today, but for whatever reason he wasn't able to find an inner depth to his priest. I did like the gone-mad version of him in the last few minutes of the film though.

Michael Caine was another real standout. He's also likable and yet he's cast as the antagonist. I kind of like a movie where the antagonist are more likable than the protagonist.

I wasn't a fan of one scene where the inmates stage a play for Michael Caine. It just seemed so silly the way the inmates were acting that it reminded me of a Monty Python movie. Just too much over the top.

But overall I did like Quills. Good cast, good movie.





Moonstruck (Norman Jewison, 1987)

I'd seen this once before but totally forgot it...that's my life's story, ha...I watch a movie and it goes in and then out of my memory. Only a few great films stick with me and Moonstruck wasn't one of them. But it was good to rewatch it and I did like it, I guess. Actually it didn't do much for me.

I certainly don't have any big complaints or anything like that. I haven't seen Cher in much of anything so I was surprised at just how good she was and how much I liked her in this. I liked Nicolas Cage too, he even had hair here. Olympia Dukakis was good of course. Though, I thought Vincent Gardenia as her husband was a poor casting choice. He had no screen presences. I wonder why he got the job? Danny Aiello's character didn't do much for me either. But I did like John Mahoney. Mahoney was great in every scene he was in. I just wished he was in more scenes.


The other thing I liked about Moonstruck was it didn't try to go to big, or for to many laughs. Instead it took an even pace and never went way over the top. It was also a big plus seeing the sights and streets of New York city, and the way this was filmed made it feel like a very personal story. Not a bad film to watch on a rainy day.


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Pride (Matthew Warchus, 2014)

I liked it. I liked the overall story, especially as it covered an interesting real event in time that I'd never heard of. And I liked that it had the potential for rooting for the underdogs with a happy ending too. I thought the film was well cast and I liked the leads...and I even liked where it was filmed, as it seemed very authentic to me. But I wanted more story. I wanted to know more about these people and how the times that they lived in effected them. It felt like each scene was more of a brief montage than a complete chapter. It's like the film jumps into the middle of a scene without giving us much time to experience any emotions or any set up to what is about to happen. This made the film seem choppy and hard to follow at times.



It was all so: quick, fast and loud...and then the scene is over and the next one starts...In that way it reminded me of the sci fi indy film Coherence (2013) feeling like a movie where everything starts and ends in the middle. It was all just too brief, I liked it so I wanted more story.

If Pride had been in the hands of a more capable director who was able to flesh out the individual stories more, this might have been an Oscar contender, hell it might have won an Oscar.





Wedding Crashers (David Dobkin, 2005)

I like Owen Wilson's style of comedy, there I said it! He's like this flaky Southern California dude who's into holistic foods and mood rings, and yet he's always trying to be honest with everyone. I can dig it! I liked his laid back philosophy that he lays on Rachel McAdams. However I didn't like Vince Vaughn. At first his fast talking dialogue drove me crazy and he seemed like a jerk. I kept thinking if he was cast as some strong man villain he'd be perfect. But I must admit by the time we get to the Senator's house I was liking his character a whole bunch more.

BTW did Owen Wilson really feel up Jane Seymour in the movie? Or was that a breast stunt double? Kind of looked real to me. At any rate Jane Seymour was funny in this, as was Christoper Walken as the senator and Rachel McAdams was great too.

I though the movie was 20-30 minutes to long and it would have been much funnier if instead of being lawyers, they worked in a hardware store or in construction, you know regular guys. That would have allowed a juxtaposition between the posh world of the weddings, compared to their real life as working stiffs.

Here's where everyone is going to disagree me with me...All through the movie we hear about this guy named Chazz who invented Wedding Crashing, he was some kind of living legend. I knew when Owen Wilson went to meet Chazz it just couldn't be nobody, Chazz had to be something BIG!..........Will Ferrell owned that role, that to me was funny! It was a good pay off and I'm not sure who else could've been Chazz, though for some reason I could see Jon Lovitz as a burn out Wedding Crasher.

The funniest line...was Owen Wilson getting all serious to Rachel McAdams at the wedding of her sister. He interrupts the whole damn wedding to tell her how he feels...and he's doing a good job of it too. Then, he says, "I did crash a funeral yesterday" OMG! you could hear a pin drop...That made me laugh out loud. I loved the way everyone was so shocked in the church. I even watched that scene twice it was so funny.





Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)


Hmm, ah...I don't know what to really write here. I guess that's because I don't know what to really make of Tree of Life. I know it was a really well made film, but I'm not sure to what ends it was trying to achieve?

I gather that this is a Christian themed movie? I heard a lot about God and grace and so I believe the film's idea is that: we're all connected through a higher grand plan than stretches back to the dawn of time, everything that happens is because of that master plan...and ultimately that which is lost will be found.

Do I have that right? Is that what the film is about? If so I don't have a problem with that. I can like a film regardless of it's message. Unless that message is hammered over your head repeatedly, but Tree of Life didn't do that.

I liked the narrative part, it was very different in how the cinematography and direction only showed us the moments in the families life and from up close. It was like we were witnessing events without the film taking a all-knowing narrative view. And in that way we're never quite sure what's happening, or will happen, and we really don't need to know that because the film is about the moments that make up a life.

Though I couldn't shake the feeling that writer & director Terrence Malick 'borrowed' the idea of his film from Tarkovsky's Solaris. Some of the visual sequences in the montages were strikingly similar to Tarkovsky's vision of the Solaris planet. And the whole idea/vision of lost loved ones all coming together in the end...with a visual montage climax presenting that idea was much a Solaris thing.

I'd call this a solid movie. I'm just not sure what to make of the film.








The Ox-Bow Incident (William Wellman 1942)

The title says it all...The Ox-Box Incident...It's about a tragic incident. It's not an action driven film, nor is it a character driven film. It's a study of a moment in time, a chain of events that lead to an incident.

The director puts us in the shoes of the hanging posse. He did that by not giving a backstory on the characters. We don't know anymore about the accused men, than the posse knows. We don't even know much about the outsiders played by Henry Fonda and Henry Morgan. As far as we know they might end up with a rope around their necks.

The events take place in real time as they occur...there's no flashbacks or intercut stories. The film's one focus is on an incident that happened at the Ox-Bow. I think that worked brilliantly and makes this film much more different than other westerns of the 1940s.

I found the events to be very believable because the actors play it very realistically. That's import, as if suspension of disbelief doesn't come into being then a film isn't believable and then the emotional impact of what you're watching has little effect. The Ox-Bow Incident had great effect on me!

And that's thanks to the streamlined script, the director and the actors. Henry Fonda is the star and does a great job but it's Dana Andrews who pulls off the near impossible of being a scared, innocent man who's about to be hung. I can't see many actors of that time being able to do what Dana Andrews did.

It's a haunting film that has stayed with me.






Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959)

What a great movie! And what an influential movie Rio Bravo was. It's so good that it was remade twice more and by the same director too, Howard Hawks. But it's Rio Bravo that's the 1st and best of the three....and it inspired the next wave of spaghetti westerns too.

I know a lot of people don't like John Wayne, why? Maybe because of his politics? I never was a fan of his until I actually starting watching his movies! Then he just grew on me. Wayne is in top form here, doing the character he does best. BTW I've seen him do other roles and he was a much better actor than was ever given credit for.

I'm also a big fan of Dean Martin...Dino and his 'drunk trying to go straight' is one of his plumb roles. I liked the way they give him a rough and tumbled look with dirty & tattered clothes and Martin makes the most of it too. I like the way we follow Martin's struggle away from the bottle back to redemption and in that way the character's are more important than the plot. And that's by design.

...And the rest: Angie Dickson: decent I could have seen a more gritty actress playing her role, but she's serviceable,. Ricky Nelson: for an actor turned pop star he did OK, no complaints here. Walter Brennan: what's a western without Walter Brennan? He provides the comic relief so that the serious moments can be, well, more serious. Shout out to Ward Bond too. This was his last film and he pairs very well with John Wayne.

I noticed the music score which had a trumpet playing a Mexican sounding melancholy melody. I stopped the film and said to my wife, 'the soundtrack sounds alot like the spaghetti westerns'. Then after watching the film I read the IMDB trivia and seen this:

The score includes the hauntingly ominous "El DegŁello" theme, which is heard several times. Colorado identifies the tune as "The Cutthroat Song".... Composer Ennio Morricone recalled that Sergio Leone asked him to write "Dimitri Tiomkin music" for A Fistful of Dollars (1964). The trumpet theme is similar to Tiomkin's "DegŁello" (the Italian title of Rio Bravo was Un dollaro d'onore, "A Dollar of Honor").
Then I also read this:
The film was a huge success in Italy, laying the groundwork for the following decade's Spaghetti Western boom.
But most importantly I read this trivia at IMDB:
Howard Hawks...saw how popular western TV shows had become, and realized that audiences cared more about the characters, than the plots to the shows... Rather than making a movie that centered around one main plot, he decided he wanted to make a completely character driven western with several story-lines running through it simultaneously...
And that's exactly what the film does, it gives us time with the characters as if we were part of the story. Such a good movie!





The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford 1962)

This is a good example of a movie I needed to rewatch! Yes, I'd seen it before and liked it, but I didn't remember a damn thing about it. It's interesting that this movie comes at the end of director John Ford's brilliant career and it marks the end of an era in westerns. With the coming of Clint Eastwood and the much more action packed, violent spaghetti westerns that would dominate the 1960s, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance hearkens back to the heyday of westerns. And yet it's modern in that it revolves around the changing events of a fictional western town through time, much like America had changed during the 20th century. We see the western frontier town go from the wild west days when a bad man like Liberty Valance could rule the roast...to the later days when rule of law and societal norms had caught up to the little town of Shinbone.

Director John Ford diminishes the characters impact and makes the changing times of an American icon (IE the western town) the principal theme. Initially I was surprised that John Wayne had such little impact in the film, I mean this is not The Searchers or Rooster Cogburn. Here the Duke is just another gear in the machinery that highlights Americana, family and the old west. I guess that surprised me some as I expected with the big name actors that this would be their film...but John Ford wisely puts them into the background so that the overall themes of change can come more into focus.





The Cowboys (Mark Rydell 1972)

John Wayne has more dimensions to him than meets the casual observers eye. Here in The Cowboys we see he's tough as nails on the outside while having a soft spot for the boys he hires (hmm, that sounds odd!) What I mean to say is: he's lost his own two sons and has now grown old. His concern is for his wife's well being and later for the welfare of the boys he hires to work for him. He comes to think of them like his own sons. So unlike other of Duke's films we see a softer side, we see a man who loves his wife and is even gentle and kind to her.

I loved the way the film takes it time and never rushes. It allows us to spend time so that we can feel we're a part of the story. A lot of movies just don't linger on the moment, The Cowboys does and does so at the right times.

The other impressive thing is the actual cattle drive. Think about it, this isn't CG crap and it's not just close ups of three cows in somebodies pasture. We see a large cattle drive in stunning wide angle, distance shots as they travel through the vast country side. I mean we see a lot of terrain, and it's easy to forget how hard on-location shooting is for the film maker, especially when done in so many different and rugged landscapes. Most films today would not have spent the time and money to do this.

Oh, big shout out to the best psycho-bad guy around, Bruce Dern! Damn! he was impressive as the unhinged cattle rustler...very believable and so very daunting.

+




The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Sergio Leone 1966)

I'd seen this several times before but not for almost 20 years, after watching this again, I'm not as impressed as I use to be.

Don't get me wrong, I think this is a very important film. It has some very impressive camera work and the score by Ennio Morricone is the stuff of legend! The film is certainly ground breaking and clearly would shape Quentin Tarantino's future movie making. I was amazed at just how similar in tone and style TGTBTU was to some of Tarantino's films. And maybe that's why I didn't like this as much as I had expected to. The overtly obvious sound effects and stuff like flying hats that are shot, just seemed more silly than great and I'm not a fan of super close ups either.

But there's no denying there's greatness here. The cemetery scene when Tuco (Eli Wallach) goes running from grave to grave, then ends up in the center of the cemetery running circles, as the camera spins around...causing the background to fly by...OMG...that was a thing of genius! And the Civil War set on the hill side, amazing. The set was so big in scope and by using the three dimensional hill sides and the valley below, then brought the huge scale of war to the viewer.

You know I had always thought of TGTBTU as a Clint Eastwood film. But he's really not the draw here, it's Eli Wallach as Tuco the Rat who steals every scene he's in. For the record Eastwood is good here as the 'Good' and it's nice to see Lee Van Cleef the 'Bad' get to showcase his talents.

TGTBTU is an impressive film alright, but at 3 hours it's too long for it's basically simply story line. I felt the length in this film and checked the time remaining more than once...where as in The Cowboys at 2 hours 20 minutes, I never once checked the time and ended the movie wishing it had been longer. So ultimately TGTBTU felt like a film maker singing his own praises by making an epic, and yet the story couldn't support the epic run time, at least for me.

+




The Salvation (Kristian Levring 2014)

This was just plain silly. The opening scene in the stagecoach station had promise and I hoped it would be a movie with fleshed out characters, deep themes and an intelligent script...But nope I got none of that.

Instead The Salvation plays out like a bad 1990s slasher movie were the people's actions are so implausible that you want them to get killed just for being so stupid. And true to it's slasher styling, the bad guy is as one dimensional as they come. I couldn't believe the scene where the bad dude comes into town and announces that the town's folks better find the killer of his brother within two hours OR he will kill two town's folks and so does...and old lady and a double amputee, OMG! Talk about an unbelievably situation. No time was spend building up why the bad guy was so evil or had so much power over the town's folks. Later on we see the wimpy sheriff and a half dozen of his deputies in a scene and they're armed, so we know the town's folks have guns, so they could have fought back.

The whole film infuriated me: example Mads Milkkelson has escaped and is armed with a repeating rifle and is hiding behind a big rock as a dozen or so of the bad men ride in close formation out in the open of the prairie. Mads' character is both an ex soldier and expert hunter, he could have killed everyone one of those men. With no cover they'd dropped like flies. The whole movie was like that with a lazy script that seemed best suited for a video game.

-




The Cowboys (Mark Rydell 1972)

John Wayne has more dimensions to him than meets the casual observers eye. Here in The Cowboys we see he's tough as nails on the outside while having a soft spot for the boys he hires (hmm, that sounds odd!) What I mean to say is: he's lost his own two sons and has now grown old. His concern is for his wife's well being and later for the welfare of the boys he hires to work for him. He comes to think of them like his own sons. So unlike other of Duke's films we see a softer side, we see a man who loves his wife and is even gentle and kind to her.

I loved the way the film takes it time and never rushes. It allows us to spend time so that we can feel we're a part of the story. A lot of movies just don't linger on the moment, The Cowboys does and does so at the right times.

The other impressive thing is the actual cattle drive. Think about it, this isn't CG crap and it's not just close ups of three cows in somebodies pasture. We see a large cattle drive in stunning wide angle, distance shots as they travel through the vast country side. I mean we see a lot of terrain, and it's easy to forget how hard on-location shooting is for the film maker, especially when done in so many different and rugged landscapes. Most films today would not have spent the time and money to do this.

Oh, big shout out to the best psycho-bad guy around, Bruce Dern! Damn! he was impressive as the unhinged cattle rustler...very believable and so very daunting.

+
Ah, my favorite western (for the guy who doesn't like westerns)!

Great cinematography in this film - lots of epic vistas!

I had the collector's DVD for The Cowboys (before the DVD went bad) and loved the extras (as Bruce Dern and a few of the cast members came together) - a favorite story was how the kid Dern terrorized in the film would avoid him ever afterwards on the set because Dern was so convincing that their scene together terrified the kid in real life! Now that's acting - and they say the kid wasn't acting in the film - the fear he shows toward Dern in their scene was 100% genuine!

Another story told on the DVD was how some cast members went out to dinner with John Wayne, he went to the bathroom and came back with his pants all wet - he told how he was at a urinal next to another customer who looked over at him and said "Y-y-you're- you're... J-John Wayne!" as the guy turned toward Wayne... in such shock that he continued to urinate... all over Wayne's pants!




The Breakfast Club (John Hughes, 1985)

[left]I feel kinda bad using that photo and even though it's pretty cool it does crop out Anthony Michael Hall from the original photo. Oh well, no one will miss the brain. Oh, that was Bender talking btw, not me

Brain-Brian...a coincidence? Or a hidden message?




Enjoyed reading your review of this film...it's re-watch appeal is endless. Nice to hear someone address the darkness of Bender and Brian's stories. In my opinion, Anthony Michael Hall delivers the strongest performance in the film.




Being There (Hal Ashby, 1979)




Very impressed that you saw this, Citizen, doesn't strike me as your type of film. I agree with everything you said and rated it the same you did. BTW, just to clarify, Sellers did receive a Best Actor nomination for the film...he lost to Dustin Hoffman for Kramer VS Kramer.



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Pretty Baby (Louis Malle, 1978)
I have never had any desire to see this film, despite the presence of Susan Sarandon, who I LOVE, but after reading your review, I'm adding it to my watchlist.



[quote=Citizen Rules;2094308]

Quills (Philip Kaufman, 2000)

/QUOTE]

Another movie I never had any desire to see until reading your review...adding this to jmy watchlist too.



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Moonstruck (Norman Jewison, 1987)
I liked Moonstruck but always felt it was overrated. Cher was good, but she did not deserve the Best Actress Oscar over Glenn Close for Fatal Attraction. LOVED Nicolas Cage in this though.



[quote=Citizen Rules;2094312]

Pride (Matthew Warchus, 2014)

/QUOTE]

Never heard of this film, but it sounds interesting...will be adding it to my watchlist as well.




Wedding Crashers (David Dobkin, 2005)
Thank you for admitting to being a fan of Owen Wilson. I am too and there aren't too many of us around here. This is a great film and I do agree that it is a tad overlong. I also agree that Will Farrell had me on the floor for the five minutes he was onscreen




The Ox-Bow Incident (William Wellman 1942)
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As you know westerns are not my thing, but it was your review of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford that motivated me to watch that film, which I rated
. so I'm trusting your instinct on this one too and will be adding it to my watchlist.