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Society ennobler, last seen in Medici's Florence
Stealing Beauty (1996)

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci

This is my second view of the film. Seen many years ago, I needed a re-watch.

Movie full of beautiful aromas. The great Bertolucci masterfully turns Liv Tyler into a flower that magically flies through the scenes. I needed more screen time with Jeremy Irons.

(8/10)

__________________
"Population don't imitate art, population imitate bad television." W.A.
"You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." M.T.





Beau Geste - 1939 version directed by William Wellman. It's a romanticized adventure featuring three brothers, Michael "Beau" Geste (Gary Cooper), Digby (Preston Foster) and John (Ray Milland). They're orphans adopted by Lady Patricia Brandon (Heather Thatcher). Fifteen years pass and the household is running out of money thanks to the gamblings debts of Aunt Patricia's husband.

She makes plans to sell the families valuable "Blue Water" sapphire but it's promptly stolen with Beau taking the rap. He runs away and joins the French Foreign Legion and Digby quickly follows. John soon joins his brothers and they're placed under the command of the cruel and autocratic Sergeant Markoff (Brian Donlevy).

The story is told in flashback but it's well set up and really adds to the overall mystery and quixotic aspects of the tale. This is the kind of story people used to read to their child at bedtime. It's full of heroism and sacrifice and the type of bond that only brothers share. It might be considered old fashioned but it's certainly doesn't come off the least bit dated. I think that's mostly due to the wonderful cast. I'm glad I finally watched this.

90/100




Dark City (1950)

Stars: Charlton Heston, Lizabeth Scott, Dean Jagger, Viveca Lindfors, Jack Webb, Harry Morgan, Ed Begley, Don Defore, and Mike Mazurki.
Director: William Dieterle, DP: Victor Milner, Score: Franz Waxman. Paramount PIctures.

I was surprised that, with all the heavyweights involved in this noir, the end product was rather mediocre. Veterans Dieterle, Milner, and Waxman evidently could not overcome the average screenplay, despite the fact that the story sounds good on paper.

A bookie joint is busted by the police. The owner (Heston) decides to set up private poker games to fleece unsuspecting players. One businessman (Defore) gets set up, and ends up losing a $5000 check that wasn't his. He subsequently commits suicide. The guys in the poker game start getting murdered. Turns out the businessman's brother (Mazurki) is avenging his brother's death. Heston's girlfriend (L. Scott), a chanteuse, is trying to convince Heston to take their relationship more seriously, but he doesn't want to settle down. Heston subsequently goes looking for Mazurki, and the story winds down from there.

There were several faults in the screenplay. There was too much film showing Scott performing songs, for no real reason. The story could have been structured better.

Still, it was absorbing to see Heston in his first appearance (and starring) in a feature motion picture. His action showed nuance, and he had plenty of charisma. Likewise Dean Jagger gave a first rate performance as the police chief.

Of note were Jack Webb and Harry Morgan, who of course later co-starred in the long running TV series Dragnet. It was peculiar seeing Webb as a slime ball. He actually had some chops. If you've never seen Pete Kelly's Blues (1955), he was excellent in it. Morgan has been in a million of them. He also had an excellent run as Col. Sherman T. Potter in the TV series, MASH ('74-'83).

And it's worth mentioning that the title was used in the titles for at least two marvelous books on film noir: Eddie Muller's superb Dark City: the Lost World of Film Noir; and Spencer Selby's Dark City, the Film Noir.

This is a picture worth watching for the actors. Otherwise it has the feel of a "B" crime drama.

Doc's rating: 6/10
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Victim of The Night

Dark City (1950)

Stars: Charlton Heston, Lizabeth Scott, Dean Jagger, Viveca Lindfors, Jack Webb, Harry Morgan, Ed Begley, Don Defore, and Mike Mazurki.
Director: William Dieterle, DP: Victor Milner, Score: Franz Waxman. Paramount PIctures.

I was surprised that, with all the heavyweights involved in this noir, that the end product was rather mediocre. Veterans Dieterle, Milner, and Waxman evidently could not overcome the average screenplay, despite the fact that the story sounds good on paper.

A bookie joint is busted by the police. The owner (Heston) decides to set up private poker games to fleece unsuspecting players. One businessman (Defore) gets set up, and ends up losing a $5000 check that wasn't his. He subsequently commits suicide. The guys in the poker game start getting murdered. Turns out the businessman's brother (Mazurki) is avenging his brother's death. Heston's girlfriend (L. Scott), a chanteuse, is trying to convince Heston to take their relationship more seriously, but he doesn't want to settle down. Heston subsequently goes looking for Mazurki, and the story winds down from there.

There were several faults in the screenplay. There was too much film showing Scott performing songs, for no real reason. The story could have been structured better.

Still, it was absorbing to see Heston in his first appearance (and starring) in a feature motion picture. His action showed nuance, and he had plenty of charisma. Likewise Dean Jagger gave a first rate performance as the police chief.

Of note were Jack Webb and Harry Morgan, who of course later co-starred in the long running TV series Dragnet. It was peculiar seeing Webb as a slime ball. He actually had some chops. If you've never seen Pete Kelly's Blues (1955), he was excellent in it. Morgan has been in a million of them. He also had an excellent run as Col. William T. Potter in the TV series, MASH ('74-'83).

And it's worth mentioning that the title was used in the titles for at least two marvelous books on film noir: Eddie Muller's superb Dark City: the Lost World of Film Noir; and Spencer Selby's Dark City, the Film Noir.

This is a picture worth watching for the actors. Otherwise it has the feel of a "B" crime drama.

Doc's rating: 6/10
Sherman T. Potter, Doc. I know you knew that but I had to mention it.



11 Foreign Language movies to go

By http://www.impawards.com/2021/power_..._dog_ver2.html, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=68573148

The Power of the Dog - (2021)

I was pleased with this, probably because many reviews I've read didn't give it the acclaim I was expecting - perhaps my expectations were lowered, and other people's expectations were high. Kodi Smit-McPhee was awesome, and if I'd seen this before the Oscars I would have been hoping he won Best Supporting Actor (without having seen three out of the five performances though.) I'm interested in the novel now, the story dealing with a delicate interplay between four main characters had me wanting to know more about them, their hidden desires and motivations - not to say the film was unclear in conveying them. Any scene involved with the interplay between Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch - great here) and Peter (Smit-McPhee) was great to watch. Enthralling, low-key story set in 1925 Montana was very enjoyable. I'm glad it at least won Best Director, but to see it lose in so many other categories was deflating - that's the way the Academy cookie crumbles I guess.

8.5/10


By Internet Movie Database, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70054353

Attica - (2021)

I never knew the true story behind what is mostly known as something Al Pacino's Sonny mentions in Dog Day Afternoon - and yet everybody should. The completely shocking story of how a prison riot was resolved in a brutal slaughter of inmates (plus hostages), and savage, uncalled for, revenge through the torture of those who survived. How could something this horrifying happen in 1971 New York, and yet remain this obscure? The documentary (Oscar nominated) is really first-class, and although some have pointedly complained that it doesn't give both sides of the story, a documentary doesn't need to do that in many cases. What happened happened, and I don't think it's open to too much debate, considering the evidence presented. A must-see documentary.

8/10


By Internet Movie Database, Fair use, [url]https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70054353

Four Hours at the Capitol - (2021)

Very basic, 'talking heads'-type documentary about the attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building (something I never thought I'd see in my lifetime.) There's some great footage which gives a sense of how well historical events are going to be recorded in this day and age of body cameras, phones and security footage - but having to sit and listen to crackpots talk about politicians torturing babies and Trump being ordained by God is pretty unpleasant.

4/10


By The poster art can or could be obtained from Netflix., Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67714003

Fear Street Part One: 1994 - (2021)

Something a little different from what I expected, which actually improves during it's second half, taking what initially felt like an average slasher film into supernatural territory. A variety of monstrous killing entities are resurrected in the fictional Shadyside (as opposed to neigbouring Sunnyvale, which had me pondering how much people like R.L. Stine make from their young readers) and go on the hunt for Sam, who has disturbed the bones of a witch. We're not given first-rate performers, and I'm uncertain about director Leigh Janiak, but it has potential, so I'll keep going and have a go at Part Two sometime in the future.

6/10
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My movie ratings often go up or down a point or two after more reflection, research and rewatches.


Latest Review : God's Not Dead (2014)





Awesome, kinda wish they'd go even deeper in the multiverse and showed a bunch of other characters and universes... but I guess that would be too cofusing for the "civilian" audience.
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There has been an awekening.... have you felt it?



Professional horse shoe straightener
Tangerines (2013)

Dir.: Zaza Urushadze




This is superb. It's a tale of an Estonian man who stays in war torn Georgia while his family goes back to their homeland. Based in 1992. The man continues to try and set up a business selling tangerines, but gets visited by 2 factions of the warring sides which spirals into a whole new situation - and to say anymore would spoil the film. But the ending is earth shatteringly beautiful.

9/10






Fear Street Part One: 1994 - (2021)

Something a little different from what I expected, which actually improves during it's second half, taking what initially felt like an average slasher film into supernatural territory. A variety of monstrous killing entities are resurrected in the fictional Shadyside (as opposed to neigbouring Sunnyvale, which had me pondering how much people like R.L. Stine make from their young readers) and go on the hunt for Sam, who has disturbed the bones of a witch. We're not given first-rate performers, and I'm uncertain about director Leigh Janiak, but it has potential, so I'll keep going and have a go at Part Two sometime in the future.

6/10
While still worth a watch Part One is definitely the weakest. The sequels are better. All three are campy fun.



Society ennobler, last seen in Medici's Florence
Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Directed by Kenneth Branagh

My second watch (came across it on the television this evening)

The Branagh version of this classic is a feast of cinematography, production design and costumes filled with mind blowing cast.
Stylish, Stylish, Stylish but... I feel there is something empty in the screenplay adaptation.

(7/10)



The world doesn't you owe you a damn thing




Henry V aka The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fifth with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944)
++

Tell the Dauphin his jest will savor but of shallow wit, when thousands weep more than did laugh at it.

Once more unto the breach! Dear friends, once more; or close the wall up with our English dead!

Laurence Olivier's Henry V opens with historical theatrical production. Actors speak directly to their crowd as the camera follows in and out of behind the stage before transporting us to live locations filmed in Ireland. And then transition back into a stage production in the final scenes.
An enjoyable surprise was seeing the "Father of Pirate Speech" Rober Newton playing an exuberant Rooster in his role as Ancient Pistol. [email protected] delightful!

Now, as it is often done, one is easily swayed to compare renditions of an already firmly ReWatch A Lot Favorite when reviewing a newly watched version. For myself, it is Kenneth Branagh's 1989's rendition.


He was my first. I was twenty-five; in the old-time, smaller Detroit Art Institute movie theater, I sat in the balcony, far right, what's considered the President's Booth.
My God. By the time he finished reciting the Asigncourt Pep Talk, "We few, we happy few," I was hanging halfway over the edge, ready to join him. I sh#t you not.

So, in comparing Old Guard with, at the time, New Guard, I remain a fanboy of Branagh's rendition.

But in no way does it diminish or cast a shadow on Olivier's Ode/Dedication to Classically performed Shakespeare with a tight cast, some great camera work, and a not too shabby Agincourt battle. A definite Must See! for any enthusiast of Shakespeare and Olivier. A far too long, way overdue Must See! for myself and hot diddly [email protected] that the due has been met.
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Sherman T. Potter, Doc. I know you knew that but I had to mention it.
Right you are, Wooley. I edited to correct it. 'Course it left that silly picture attachment at the end...



...

Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69285599

Don't Look Up - (2021)

Okay, on to this year's nominees. I pretty much knew what to expect from Don't Look Up, and yes, it does shove an obvious message right down your throat, but that doesn't make for unsalvageable film - this one giving Leonardo DiCaprio a bit of range, and having an amusing tone throughout (it never got to the stage where I'd actually laugh, but I don't think it was that kind of film.) It was pretty polarizing here when it first came out, with people either loving or hating it - I thought it was pretty decent, but nowhere near worthy of an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. My last "apocalyptic space-debris collision" movie was 2020's Greenland, and this was definitely a step-up from that, which makes me think that a lighter tone makes the subject all the more horrifying.

7/10
You make some interesting points, and I agree with them. However, personally I though DLU was a big fat turkey. Here is my commentary from last year:

Don’t Look Up (2021)

This is one of those shockingly bad films that comes along once in awhile which is packed with big name actors who, despite their best efforts, could not rescue it. It’s difficult to believe that writer/director Adam McKay was the same man who directed and co-wrote
The Big Short (2015), which was a very well done film. Perhaps his co-writer on that project, Charles Randolph, might have made something of this turkey had he been employed.

Right out of the chute the premise of the picture was shaky, and had been done before in several iterations. To try to make an end-of-the-world black comedy humorous would be a very tall order no matter who were the writers. In this case it was the cinematic equivalent of a loud belch at a funeral.

Two scientists (Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence) discover and determine that a large comet will collide with the Earth in 6 month’s time, the impact of which will destroy the planet. The pair eventually are able to take this news to the President of the U.S. (Meryl Streep), and her son and chief of staff (Jonah Hill). They at first pooh-pooh the idea, but then later see it as a move to increase their re-election chances. In addition, a Steve Jobs/Elon Musk type character (Mark Rylance) latches onto the circumstance as a way to make trillions by bombing the comet and mining its large trove of rare earth metals.

Along the way we meet two news anchors, ala the
Today show, one of which (Cate Blanchett) inexplicably falls for the nerdy looking DiCaprio. The other scientist (Lawrence) flees home to Illinois where she has a relationship with a stoner (Timothee Chalamet). We’ll spare you the ending, but it’s as consistently bad as the rest of the film.

The picture was not without some good acting. DiCaprio let out all the stops when screaming to the TV audience that this would be the end of the world. Mark Rylance did a very effective and creepy portrayal of a megalomaniacal CEO whose sole intention was to increase his power and wealth. Some of the other actors did their best, but it’s not possible to breath life into a dead script.

Despite the fact that the title –
Don’t Look Upwas a signal that this was to be a comedy, it was 15 minutes into the movie before there was evidence of it. As the story dragged on, hammering away with one leaden satiric or comedic misfire after another, the task soon became to try to last through a little longer believing that surely the film would improve. It didn’t. By the time the credits and two epilogues wound through at a tedious 138 minutes we’d become numbed but yet flabbergasted that this picture was made at all. If one didn’t know better one could imagine that this was a satire about a cast of social justice types who have attempted to make a satire. At least that would have been novel.

Doc’s rating: 2/10



I watched two movies today that are basically the same movie, except one is a drama and the other is a comedy that was based on that drama. The movies are Zero Hour! (1957) and Airplane! (1980).

Both movies have the same plot, and even some of the same dialogue. An ex-war pilot who was traumatized by his past has to try to land a commercial airplane after both the pilot and copilot, as well as some of the passengers, get sick from food poisoning.

Zero Hour! is the original drama, and it's very good, but because the movies are so similar, and also because I've seen Airplane! so many times over the years, my mind was filling in some of the comedy and momentarily taking me away from the drama during some scenes. If you haven't seen Airplane! yet, I highly recommend watching Zero Hour! first.

On the other hand, now that I've seen the original movie Zero Hour!, I can appreciate the brilliance of Airplane! even more than before. The first time I saw Airplane! many years ago, I thought it was a great movie, but to see the original drama and realize how they turned it around and made such a funny movie from it, raises it up to a whole new level.
Very nice commentary! If you haven't seen it, The High and the Mighty (1954) was the granddaddy of airplane disaster films, and I think you'd like it.


It starred John Wayne, Robert Stack, Claire Trevor, and a handful of other names. I loved the film when it came out, although it's pretty tame today. It did have a very popular theme song with a very catchy whistling motif. I still whistle it today once in awhile!



Germany Year Zero (1948)

I watched this because of the @PHOENIX74 review. It has all the ingredients to be a great movie, but something's still missing. Some of the scenes feel haphazard and pointless, while others are almost perfect in their haunting simplicity (like the lingering shot of the streetcar leaving). Another thing that bothered me was the acting, especially the boy playing Edmund. Still, it's a quite decent film and definitely worth a watch.

--
Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny & Girly (1970)

A British black comedy about a weird family consisting of titular characters and a friend, a person brought to the house by the kids to be their playmate. If the friend doesn't abide by the rules, he's sent to the angels, and a new friend is needed. It's a twisted pentacle drama between one of the friends and the family. Not exactly a laugh-out-loud comedy, but exaggerated enough to lean towards funny. Would have benefited from being more obnoxious. Oh, and Girly is really hot.

--
MP - Minä pelkään (1982)
I'm Afraid

An obscure (back in '82 302 people saw it in theater and now, 40 years later, it gets its second chance on national television) Finnish artsy horror (kinda) mostly about the fear of war. It's technically amateurish and extremely pretentious, but there are moments when it (almost) works.
__________________



Victim of The Night




Henry V aka The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fifth with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944)
++

Tell the Dauphin his jest will savor but of shallow wit, when thousands weep more than did laugh at it.

Once more unto the breach! Dear friends, once more; or close the wall up with our English dead!

Laurence Olivier's Henry V opens with historical theatrical production. Actors speak directly to their crowd as the camera follows in and out of behind the stage before transporting us to live locations filmed in Ireland. And then transition back into a stage production in the final scenes.
An enjoyable surprise was seeing the "Father of Pirate Speech" Rober Newton playing an exuberant Rooster in his role as Ancient Pistol. [email protected] delightful!

Now, as it is often done, one is easily swayed to compare renditions of an already firmly ReWatch A Lot Favorite when reviewing a newly watched version. For myself, it is Kenneth Branagh's 1989's rendition.


He was my first. I was twenty-five; in the old-time, smaller Detroit Art Institute movie theater, I sat in the balcony, far right, what's considered the President's Booth.
My God. By the time he finished reciting the Asigncourt Pep Talk, "We few, we happy few," I was hanging halfway over the edge, ready to join him. I sh#t you not.

So, in comparing Old Guard with, at the time, New Guard, I remain a fanboy of Branagh's rendition.

But in no way does it diminish or cast a shadow on Olivier's Ode/Dedication to Classically performed Shakespeare with a tight cast, some great camera work, and a not too shabby Agincourt battle. A definite Must See! for any enthusiast of Shakespeare and Olivier. A far too long, way overdue Must See! for myself and hot diddly [email protected] that the due has been met.
Wait, when did you go to a Yellowbeard av?



Victim of The Night
--
Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny & Girly (1970)

A British black comedy about a weird family consisting of titular characters and a friend, a person brought to the house by the kids to be their playmate. If the friend doesn't abide by the rules, he's sent to the angels, and a new friend is needed. It's a twisted pentacle drama between one of the friends and the family. Not exactly a laugh-out-loud comedy, but exaggerated enough to lean towards funny. Would have benefited from being more obnoxious. Oh, and Girly is really hot.

--
Given my love of Spider Baby, I probably need to see this.



Given my love of Spider Baby, I probably need to see this.
I liked Spider Baby a bit more. I kinda get why the two seem to be mentioned together, though. My complaint about the lack of obnoxiousness is also shared by both movies (even though Girly isn't as family-friendly as Spider Baby).



11 Foreign Language movies to go

By Netflix - IMP Awards, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61570092

Marriage Story - (2019)

A few years ago I happened upon Hungry Hearts, a 2014 film that gave Adam Driver a go at an angry and confused husband character that I thought he approached quite well - and was great preparation for his role as Charlie Barber, a theater director who is in the process of divorcing his wife, Nicole (Scarlett Johansson). As the film begins when both parties have already decided to separate and divorce, this story itself is about the pain of that process, the justification and guilt both of them feel, and the fight to live the life they want while still having their son in their lives. Nicole has been living in the shadow of her husband, and living his life, while her needs, wants and desires have been left by the wayside. When she hires lawyer Nora Fanshaw (Laura Dern) what was at first an amicable split starts to turn bitter and angry. I spent most of my time watching Marriage Story thinking about Kramer vs Kramer, which I always thought of as an Oscar-backlash film, done disservice by winning Best Picture - Marriage Story didn't win, and retains it's down to earth veracity, heart and emotion. Great performances - and very enjoyable small parts from the likes of Ray Liotta, Julie Hagerty and Alan Alda.

8/10

That's 8/9 Best Picture nominees from the 2020 Academy Awards I've seen - only leaving The Irishman left from that year. Interesting that Marriage Story, The Irishman and Parasite have already had Criterion releases. They certainly aren't wasting any time there. Picking a winner is so tough, because this year had a great many super nominations (as opposed to the year after.) I loved Joker - but how can I look beyond Parasite? Then there's 1917, Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood and JoJo Rabbit. I think the Academy got it right for once, but 2020 was one of the best years I've ever seen for Best Picture nominees.


By http://www.impawards.com/2021/ascension.html, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=68954896

Ascension - (2021)

This documentary looks at the workers inside China's great industrialized machinery, taking a fly-on-the-wall approach, without any narration. You feel like an invisible person walking around factory floors, and after a while you realise this is the right approach. The most interesting part is a look at the place where sophisticated, realistic sex dolls are being put together, with workers there treating what at first seems a really abnormal situation the same as if they were constructing ash trays. Workers are put through very rigorous training regimes, and are industrious ants compared to people in the West, although they have many of the same complaints, interests and personalities. This was interesting, but not for everybody. Oscar nominated for Best Documentary Feature.

6/10


By IMP Awards / tv Movie Poster Gallery / Fear Street Poster (#4 of 4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67714026

Fear Street Part Two: 1978 - (2021)

I have to be honest - the monsters I was looking forward to seeing didn't appear until the very last minute of this Fear Street middle chapter, but if I had to choose either a character-driven slasher film or basically a Halloween Kills murder-athon with no story to it I'd choose the former, which is what we got. In this one, the C. Berman from the end of the 1994 episode takes us back to the events of 1978, where a witches lair is found, along with the formula for killing the witch (unite the witches body with her severed hand), and the witches hand. But the body (found in Part 1) was nowhere to be found. This sets up a last chapter, but in the meanwhile Berman's sister, a young Nick Goode who was sheriff in the first film and various slasher-fodder characters have actual lives, and complex interactions, which is what most empty slasher films lack but so desperately need. When characters in the first Fear Street die, you feel it keenly, because they're fleshed out characters we've come to know. The same goes here, amongst a film which tries to revive the spirit of Friday the 13th, but can't help but being far superior to that film. 1978 felt suspiciously like 2021 except with no mobile phones (references to Stephen King were nice) and I didn't get my monsters, but this was a pretty good entry into a fairly empty genre that counts Halloween as a truly great film but little else.

7/10