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It's funny that I'm completely fine with the wacky and unrealistic things that happen later on, but for some reason I just can't suspend my disbelief for that cab ride....
I liked After Hours, but I didn't like the way the cab ride was filmed. It was speeded up and looked like an old comic silent movie. Other than that I liked the way the film was shot...I just have a thing about speeding up a film to make a car ride or car chase look more exciting. It just doesn't work for me.



I just have a thing about speeding up a film to make a car ride or car chase look more exciting. It just doesn't work for me.
I automatically play the Benny Hill theme in my mind whenever something is unrealistically sped up haha.

I actually didn't have that reaction to the cab in After Hours though. It has a zany energy, and since it's an obvious exaggeration of how people assume that taxi drivers are maniacs behind the wheel, it didn't really bother me. And like I said in my last post, the contrast between the cab ride and the money slowly falling was amusing.



Letter from an Unknown Woman



Just my second watch here, but glad I gave it another chance. Joan Fontaines performance is certainly at the forefront here, it's too bad her chemistry couldn't be a bit better with the male lead but I don't really fault her for it, I'd say maybe it is the writing that made it feel a bit off. That's not to really say the writing to the film was bad either, I just think it took a route that made it hard for the romance to feel 100% sincere. I thought the film was pretty well directed too, and really the story itself was well told. I gave it an unfavorable rating the first time around but I really thought it was solid across the board this time. It's just real genuine film making in my opinion, not necessarily anything wowed me but a consistently good film that checks off most of the boxes for what you want in a film.

- a whole full star more than last time around.



Letter from an Unknown Woman

I gave it an unfavorable rating the first time around but I really thought it was solid across the board this time.

- a whole full star more than last time around.
Very cool that you were able to form a new opinion by a second watch. I've only seen it once (so far) I gave it a
I wonder if my opinion will change or not?



I just finished watching Anatomy of a Murder. I'd seen part of it before on tv, but didn't get the chance to see the entire thing due to its runtime. I was thinking that I could alternate new watches with rewatches (I was counting this one as new since I hadn't seen all of it), but I only have 1 rewatch left, so I guess my math was way off on that haha.



Also answers to Jabba

Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
First Watch: No
Director: Otto Preminger

This was a film I first watched years ago, though I remembered very little about it. In fact I had confused the little I remembered with Witness for the Prosecution so it was like a new experience for me to revisit this. In this short review, I will focus more on the essence of the story than in technical details because I find it a more alluring subject in this case.

The first thing you notice in the film is its 160 minute run time. While in some films this can have detrimental effects, Anatomy of a Murder uses time expertly to introduce its characters and give them an intricate backstory and motivation. From the legal team, to the victims and even some of the secondary players acting as witnesses, we are given plenty of information to appreciate their stance on the case and understand where they are coming from. Their motives range from recovering from alcoholism, the desire to get back into practicing serious law, material gain, freedom and various other reasons belonging to a very diverse spectrum, which gives the story a unique color.

The story makes sure to always move within a gray area, without portraying its characters in a clear black or white, showing that sometimes the law is unclear as is life. Paul Biegler is the epitome of this. A well versed lawyer and former DA, who does not care whether his client committed the crime or not, but focuses solely on working on Manion's behalf. He is not above using artificial outbursts or tricks to sway the jury and in the end isn't concerned with anything but the trial's verdict. He is a man -as stated by himself early on- in love with law, and all he wants is to be in service of it. He values the letter of the law more than its spirit (or unwritten law if you will) and this flies in the face of a true protagonist. Yet you can't help but sympathize with his efforts because his character is laid out honestly throughout the film and he never seems to try to hide his wants and needs behind excuses.

An important aspect of the trial which differentiates Anatomy of a Murder from the vast majority of court room dramas is that the accused has admittedly committed the crime he is charged with. Much like in Primal Fear, the question becomes is he mentally unstable or not? Unlike Gregory Hoblit's masterpiece though, Anatomy of a Murder does not rely on some twist or uncertainty in regards to the defendant's mental state to present its story. From the very start Lt. Frederick Manion is a brass and violent character who doesn't even claim to have been in a temporary rage until it is hinted to him by his lawyer as the only possible defense. He was by all intents and purposes, clear on what he did at the time and in an ideal world he would have been found guilty. The world of Anatomy of a Murder is far from an ideal world though. Much like the real world, it follows the rule of law which can be exploited by many -even if sometimes these are good people with honest motives. Unlike Martin Vail in Primal Fear, Paul Biegler isn't tricked by his client in regards to his innocence. He finds the very concept of truth irrelevant in a court room. This is where Anatomy of a Murder's brilliance lies: it accurately depicts the real world while refusing to condemn either side. It shows you the truth and then points out how irrelevant the truth is in these situations. More importantly, it manages to do that using a mosaic of characters most of whom are arguably likable even after all is said and done.




Letter from an Unknown Woman
(Max Ophüls, 1948)


*spoilers*

I had seen this only once before and was very impressed with it. I wondered if my opinion would change with a second viewing and it did somewhat. I'll write about that...but first here's what I previously wrote about it.

Letter from an Unknown Woman, Joan Fontaine is Lisa, a school age girl living in Vienna in 1900. Joan was 31 years old when making this film but looks and plays a school girl realistically. If you've never seen her in a film this is a good one to watch, she's a fine actress.

Louis Jordan plays Stefan the older, worldly man. A pianist who's music is renowned in Austria. He's a suave man whom women admire and Lisa loves from afar. Louis Jordan is suave on the screen too, he fits this role like a glove.

Letter from an Unknown Woman is a poignant, serious film about unrequited love. It can be very touching at times and yet somber.
I think women might like this film, but so would us guys.


I watched this last night and while I still liked the film my view of Lisa and even Stefan changed. I had previously thought of Lisa as this sweet, enduring young woman who found the love of her life but could never win him. The movie felt like a testament to unrequited love.

This time around I viewed Lisa as a sadly pathetic creature, someone with no self respect and no will power. She literally waste her entire life with her obsession for a man she doesn't even know. Lisa is even willing to destroy her husband's and son's happiness just to chase her pipe dream. In some ways she's even more pathetic than Stefan. Stefan has a one night stand with her and then moves on. But he doesn't know she's pregnant and so forgets her. When he meets her at the opera and wants her, he doesn't know she's a married woman...So he didn't deserve to be called out in a duel to most likely die. That wreck of humanity is on Lisa's head.

I now see the film as a monument to the folly of dedicating one's self to overindulges. With Stefan it's women and booze, which causes him to throw away his brilliant music career. Stefan reminded me of Joaquin Phoenix's character in The Libertine.

Lisa's downfall is her own obsession with an unhealthy dream. I believe people like her do exist.
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The world doesn't owe you a damn thing
A very brilliantly written synopsis of Anatomy, @Jabs!! Love your character analysis.
Like Cosmic, I've watched Anatomy yesterday as well. A first time view I've been meaning to see since the 50s Countdown.

Interesting concept, @Citizen Rules regarding LFAUW. Seeing them as less tragic and more foolish/pathetic.
Such are the majority if us with crushes and it seems, for me, Letter takes it to a grander extreme. Like a good romantic tragedy should be. lol
__________________
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Also answers to Jabba
Thanks @edarsenal. I hope I will get another review up this weekend.


I am holding on reading the other reviews until I watch the films myself, so I will comment on what you guys write when I am ready.





Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
Directed By: Otto Preminger
Starring: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara

Anatomy of a Murder is a film that follows proper courtroom procedure, and instead of featuring a dramatic case with surprising reveals, its story is a refreshingly honest look at the US justice system as a whole. The legality of almost any action can be open to interpretation with the right justification, and swaying the jury is frequently prioritized over discovering and upholding the truth. I appreciated those realistic themes, and was a little surprised by the film's bold use of language that would've been practically scandalous at the time, such as mentioning rape and discussing women's undergarments.

Since we witness the case unfold through Biegler's perspective, there is a lot of ambiguity regarding what actually happened on the night of Quill's murder and the alleged sexual assault of Laura Manion. Both the prosecution and the defence are shown to occasionally behave in a morally grey manner, which cleverly avoids colouring one side as inherently more just than the other. This puts the audience in a similar position to the jury, where opinions have to be formed on what limited evidence was presented. While some viewers may be disappointed by the lack of closure at the end of the film, I think it's a great reflection on how, in reality, facts are not the only things that matter in a court of law.

Instead of cutting between different angles, the camera tends to organically move around the room. The longer takes suit the film's slower pace well, and while I am not personally a fan of jazz, the score and diegetic music never felt out of place. The opening credits did a great job getting me in the right mood for the film as well, and while the runtime was a little on the long side, it didn't feel like a chore to watch. The performances were solid across the board, and I wouldn't have objected to some more scenes with George C. Scott. I wasn't able to watch all of Anatomy of a Murder when it was on tv over a decade ago, but I'm glad I managed to make time for it now.


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The world doesn't owe you a damn thing
Thanks @edarsenal. I hope I will get another review up this weekend.


I am holding on reading the other reviews until I watch the films myself, so I will comment on what you guys write when I am ready.
that's always the safe route to go. Most folks will post SPOILERS but a lot of us will simply read after watching the movie.



The world doesn't owe you a damn thing


Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
Directed By: Otto Preminger
Starring: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara

The performances were solid across the board, and I wouldn't have objected to some more scenes with George C. Scott.
Yeah, me too. There was such a still waters going on with the character. He was dangerously calm and at ease that it almost put you at unease. I was thoroughly caught up in his character. Hell, all of them.



Warning: Spoilers for Le Trou below.

Some parts of the story seemed a little too convenient and unrealistic with the two most obvious ones being the noise level during the first attempts at digging the tunnel (while a bit later noise is a huge matter for consideration) as well as the creation of the passepartout which allows them access underground which is essentially just an unrefined hunk of metal (even though later on it is deemed necessary to manufacture a key).
Since it was established that Roland had previously escaped from other prisons, I thought it was plausible that he'd be able to make a crude lockpick and later craft it into a more well-defined key. But I definitely agree with the level of noise created by their digging, especially in their cell. There would need to be some heavy construction outside to drown out those sounds haha.





Le Trou (1960)
Directed By: Jacques Becker
Starring: Marc Michel, Philippe Leroy, Jean Keraudy

Le Trou is an interesting and tense film that doesn't contain any music outside of the ending credits, just ambient sounds. It's absence is not missed, since the film is able to create atmosphere without relying on a dramatic soundtrack. Noises frequently take the place of a score, such as the rhythmic clanks of digging tools and the laboured grunting of the inmates as they work. Certain sounds, such as the running tap that can be heard in the background of a number of scenes, are also cleverly used to signal plot points before the film actively draws attention to them.

The actors definitely had their work cut out for them, since they are often seen digging the tunnels and filing bars themselves, with one continuous shot in particular clearly showcasing the effort and cooperation needed for them to succeed. The planning that went into the escape was very impressive, as was the ingenuity of the characters. Making the hourglass, cutting objects in a way that they could still stand in place when needed, and the sleeping inmate puppets were all great ideas to help avoid suspicion. Even outside of this escape plan, the prisoners as a whole have creative solutions to their problems, like the manner in which they pass packages between the cells.

As clever as those inventions are, the most remarkable aspect of the film is the portrayal of the prison system. The wardens and guards are not the cruel, sadistic men we almost always see in these types of films. The prison is still an oppressive, authoritative institution, but the men manning the gates are just doing their jobs, and don't harbour resentment towards the inmates. Because of this, the drama doesn't centre around conflicts between the guards and prisoners, which is quite refreshing. Instead, we get an engaging story that doesn't follow the expected conventions. Le Trou is definitely a unique film, and I enjoyed watching it very much.


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Also answers to Jabba
Warning: Spoilers for Le Trou below.
Since it was established that Roland had previously escaped from other prisons, I thought it was plausible that he'd be able to make a crude lockpick and later craft it into a more well-defined key.

He took a piece of metal and just shoved it in the keyhole and opened it. That is not how keyholes work. It is not how anything works.


I would maybe buy it if he at least refined it a little bit first but in my experience just shoving something in a hole and jiggling it never gives the result you are hoping for. Pun fully intended.



It didn't bother me since the keys the guards were using didn't seem that advanced. I assume that someone who knew what he was doing could probably pick those locks quite easily.

The doors in an apartment I shared awhile ago could actually be opened using a butter knife. One of my room mates frequently locked their keys in their room, and it was never any trouble to break back in haha.

You'd think a prison would have better security than that, but I assume that given Roland's expertise, he could've gotten around the locks no matter how complicated they were, so having the solution look so simple seemed fitting somehow.




Farewell My Concubine
(Kaige Chen, 1993)


I really liked the premise of the film: the telling of the lives of two Peking opera stars set agaisnt the dramatic changes that took place in China during the mid 20th century.

I liked how the film showed the two men much later in life and foreshadowed the idea that there was much friction between them...Then flashes back to the beginning, to tell their intertwined stories starting at early childhood in the opera training school. I liked the actors/characters, I liked the historical aspect, I even liked the soap opera style drama...

...but I found the film lacking in it's scene construction and pacing. Even though I was interested in the story lines of the two men and the woman, I struggled as it's a very slow paced movie. The scenes felt overly long without ever coming to much fruition. The individual scenes had this odd pacing that made me feel like I didn't get the emotional story that I should of. They didn't flow in the way they fit into the overall story, but felt like they were pieced together in a patchwork.

I got a feeling this was an ambitious film made by a director who hadn't quite perfected his craft. Or maybe the weird scene pacing could have been fixed in the editing room. Orson Welles once said movies weren't made on the set, they were made great in the editing room. I do like slow cinema but it took me two nights to get through the 3 hour movie which felt very long to me.

I can't say I enjoyed the opera scenes, just not my thing. Though this was made for a Chinese audience and not me, so I can't really complain about that. The opening 40 minutes was mostly in the orphanage where despite the amount of film time spent on it, all I really got was the head master liked to beat small children. Couldn't that message been done in 10 minutes? The film really felt like it needed to be re-edited.

I wasn't a fan of the score either, I don't mean the opera scenes, I mean the background instrument they used which sounded like a wind chime and was reused with the same note over and over.

The costumes and sets were colorful but yet I didn't get a sweeping epic sense from the cinematography. However I am glad I watched it.


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The world doesn't owe you a damn thing



Anatomy of a Murder

A courtroom drama that actually stays clear of the more common tropes of this genre. The focus is on how things are seen through the law and the judicial system and the winning of a case. Not through what is, necessarily, morally right. No one is specifically The Bad Guy and there is no stand out Good Guy. There is the Defense, the Prosecution, the Judge, the Plaintiff, the evidence, and, to such a lesser degree than most courtroom dramas, there is the Jury.
A lot of times we see someone who has been arrested for a crime they did not commit. Not here. We have the guilty party. In full admittance of their guilt of premeditated murder. An open and shut case in theory. What we get is the wide spectrum of grays of, not only the people involved, but in the manipulation of the law. Or if that is too cynical a word. . . well, sh#t, there is no less cynical wording for finding the loophole and taking full advantage of it to win the freedom of an army lieutenant who shoots the bartender who, supposedly, has raped his wife.
And that is only a small bit of the gray spectrum that we are given to judge on our own terms.
Did the rape happen? Was it violent jealousy? In fact, these questions, or any other that are proposed, even answered and seem like red herrings to keep us guessing. Which you would think is a frustrating scenario, but it really is far from it. The ambiguity takes a second chair and it's the perception of law and the judicial court that presides and, in the end, decides.
With an incredibly solid cast that keeps every scene interesting. The pace of the film moves at a very enjoyable speed. Anatomy of Murder touches on a variety of human aspects that fleshes out the intricacies, and at times, the sleight of hand of the courtroom. The flaws of not only the plaintiff and his wife, but of those within the judicial system. Blended rather well with the occasional peeks at their strengths.

This films as a secondary meaning to the title of this HoF since it has become a second chance to see this film and I'm quite thankful for that.




Memento (2000) *spoilers*

I guessed the outcome of the movie at the 4:56 mark, I did! I swear I actually checked the time, and the film had just started. I didn't know the particulars of the ending of course, but I did get the who-done-it part right.

I don't know how to review this, as I don't like bloody thriller crime movies, maybe it was well done but it's sure not for me.

Guy Pearce looked more like a leading man from a soap opera, than the part he was playing. I'd cast someone like Paul Dano, or Ryan Gosling instead. Both of them have this odd out of touch feeling about them.

After an hour I got real tired of the 'I won't remember you bit', it just seemed like the director was milking it instead of exploring it. And the whole mind trip thing that Nolan is known for, I could care less about that. I thought the reasoning at the end of the film for what happened with Guy Pearce felt somewhat inorganic to the rest of the story.


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I think Guy Pearce was just goofy in this and looked more to me like a leading man from a soap opera, really he was poorly cast. I'd cast someone like Paul Dano, or Ryan Gosling instead.
Dano and Gosling were definitely too young to play that role when the film was made, but I guess you mean that they are current actors who you would cast if the film were being made now. Supposedly there is actually a remake of Memento in the works, so you might get to see someone else try the part.

Warning: Potential Spoilers Below.

I've grown to like Pearce in Memento, but he did seem a bit odd when I first saw it. I don't think he works as a sympathetic character (which we're supposed to believe he is at the start), but when you know his real motives, that fake smile of Pearce's seems fitting. He's an ass who thinks he's smarter than he really is, but he's not fooling anyone.

He was definitely miscast in Prometheus though haha.