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Blade Runner 2049 -


First viewing since theatres and I've already had to dock at least half a popcorn. Still one of the better films of the decade, but the best doesn't really seem to be out-and-out excellent.
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Mr. Arkadin/Confidential Report, 1955

I know that this film has a complicated history. I have not had time to read up a ton on it, but for reference I watched the "Corinth" edit.

Guy Van Stratten (Robert Arden) is a small time smuggler who happens to be present at the aftermath of a murder. The dying man is able to give Guy's girlfriend, Mily (Patricia Medina) a single name: "Arkadin". Guy eventually becomes entangled with a wealthy, mysterious man named Gregory Arkadin (Orson Welles) and romantically entangled with Arkadin's daughter, Raina (Paola Mori). Arkadin has an extensive network of spies and other figures working for him and is obsessed with collecting information. Claiming amnesia, he hires Guy to learn more about his past.

Because this was a slightly "work in progress" edit, there were certain things I didn't hold too strongly against it (such as some really awful dubbing in a handful of sequences with Arden's character).

The style of the film is incredibly in-your-face, with stark angles and zooms. One part of me appreciated the audacity of it, but the flip side was that there were several times when the style seemed to be trying to impart an intensity or suspense that the narrative itself didn't quite support.

When it comes down to it, Arkadin (in both character and the performance from Welles) is larger than life. There are very few characters who manage to harness that same energy and presence, and many of the in between scenes felt kind of flat. Guy is a decent main character, especially once he really gets on his quest to learn about Arkadin's history, but for a guy who is supposed to have been around the block a few times it takes him a LONG time to figure out certain things that seem pretty obvious from the get go.

With a movie that has such a complicated backstory (apparently a ton of different cuts exist, with varying loyalty to Welles' original vision), it is easy to guess at what could have been. My gut instinct is that Arden's performance would have made this a tricky film, even in a perfectly cut version. The energy of his scenes always depends on who is playing opposite him. There's also something a bit half-baked about Guy's romance with Raina, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that Raina doesn't feel so much like a real person as a prize for Guy and Arkadin to wrestle over in the final act.

Certainly an interesting watch, but doesn't live up to its potential or the promise of those crazy angles/zooms.




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Catchfire (1990) Theatrical cut. This was directed by Dennis Hopper, but he was not happy with it and disowned the film. I can see why he disowned it. This film was pretty bad. It was dull, dragged on, and very poorly written. There is a director's cut that might be better, but this version was an incompetent mess. Too bad, because it had a good and interesting cast. My rating is a 4/10.






Company Limited (1971) - 7.2/10. A very good story about corporate ruthlessness. Portrayed nicely by the master, Ray. Well acted.
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My Favorite Films



It Should Happen To You - 1954 B&W comedy directed by George Cukor and starring Judy Holliday, Jack Lemmon and Peter Lawford. Holliday plays Gladys Glover, a NYC model who's fired for being three quarter of an inch too large. She meets Pete Sheppard (Lemmon), a freelance documentarian and they start keeping company. Their relationship develops in typical movie fashion both despite their not having much in common and even not seeming to like each other very much. It's not a strong script BTW. Anyway, Gladys has these dreams of fame that are never fully explained so she decides to rent a billboard with her name on it. Through more movie logic it turns out a soap company executive (Lawford) also wants that particular space and trades Gladys several other billboards. She quickly gains notoriety and eventually becomes the company spokesmodel. Meanwhile she keeps seeing Pete while also fending off the advances of the rich executive. It ends in a predictable manner with her apparently settling for the only option that was available to women back then which was marriage. I thought the screenplay by Garson Kanin was very much a product of it's time and didn't do right by Holliday. 75/100
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Web of Evidence/Beyond This Place, 1959

In the middle of a bombing raid in WW2, a woman is murdered. 20 years later, Paul Mathry (Van Johnson) arrives in England from America. He was evacuated to America during the War and believed his father had died. Paul is shocked to find that his father is not only alive, but was 20 years earlier convicted of the murder. Paul sets out to learn about the case and begins to uncover some unsettling truths.

Talk about a movie with an identity crisis!

The beginning of this film is really striking with the chaos of the air raid providing cover for the murder (I'm blanking on the name, but there's a TV movie from a few years back with this premise of someone using air raids as a cover for killings). And Paul's arrival and shock is also reasonably compelling. But then the film just splits into so many different parts.

On one hand we have Paul and his investigation, talking to detectives and witnesses. On the other hand we have some shady conversations between the prosecutor and his cronies that lets us know something is up. On top of that we have a subplot about a tentative romance between Paul and a (very obviously traumatized) woman named Lena (Vera Miles) in whose boarding house he is staying.

From a mystery point of view, this film is decently satisfying. It is kind of fun watching Paul track down various witnesses, uncover inconsistencies, and come up against the "system". Because the film incorporates other subplots (especially the romance and later Paul's attempt to actually track down his father), the momentum of the investigation tends to stop and start a bit. There are a lot of conversations in similar looking rooms, and also several conversations that seem to cover the same ground over and over.

Overall this could have been a passable, if a bit subdued, mystery thriller. But the romance . . . yikes.

Paul immediately develops a "vibe" with Lena, one of the women working in the boarding house where he is staying. Right from the beginning when Lena tells another worker that she is nervous about going upstairs alone to deliver a cup of tea it is glaringly obvious that she has been the victim of violence/sexual violence. Then we are subjected to numerous sequences that follow the same pattern--Paul, uninvited, tries to get physically intimate with Lena (trying to kiss her, trying to suck blood out of her cut finger (?!?!)) and Lena pulls away in fear and Paul gives her a look like a puppy that just got kicked. He's just SO CONFUSED. Eventually, another male character tells Paul about the fact that Lena was gang raped, and Paul's response is to run straight to Lena and GRAB HER AGGRESSIVELY and KISS HER and tell her it "DOESN'T MATTER" (?!?!?!). Vera Miles gives a good performance as Lena, but this whole subplot is so stupid and so offensive and it simply doesn't fit with the rest of the film. Paul's treatment of Lena is supposed to come across as "oblivious nice guy", but instead reads more like "petulant entitled dip". The fact that these scenes grind the film to a halt each time only adds insult to injury.

And without getting into spoiler territory, the ending when it finally arrives is very unsatisfying. The conclusion of a mystery should feel like it has naturally built from what came before. While in some ways that is technically true of the solution, there is another way in which it feels like a bit of a cheat and as if parts of it come out of nowhere. The end of the film feels both overdue, but also provoked a bit of a reaction of "Oh, that's it?". It doesn't help that Paul became less sympathetic to me the longer the movie went on. His story is compelling, of course, but as a character he feels poorly defined. Some scenes later between him and his father have a bit of heft, but it's too little too late.

This isn't, like, a horrible movie. But there is very little to recommend it aside from Vera Miles' performance.






French Cancan, 1955

Henri (Jean Gabin) is a down on his luck theater producer running a bankrupt cafe. One day he gets an inspiration to revive the tradition of the French cancan, and he also stumbles on a young laundress, Nini (Francoise Arnoul), whose star quality he hopes to use to add youthful energy to his new show. But a series of romantic entanglements and jealousies threatens the success of the show.

This is one of Ebert's Great Movies, and it is one of Takoma's Meh Movies.

I usually don't read other reviews before writing my own, out of fear of being unduly influenced. But in this case I just had to know why someone loved this movie. And while I certainly saw and liked everything that Ebert did, it did not thrill me and nor did it overcome the elements of the film that I didn't care for.

To begin with the positives, the film has a vibrant, painterly quality in both the color and the framing of various sequences. It looks great and has a sort of unabashed artificiality that makes everything feel like a stage within a stage within a stage. This style creates a lightness and levity to the different scenes and allows the film to flow from one part to the next. The various characters are also well-acted and distinct, from Henri's strong-willed lover, Lola (Maria Felix) to Nini's jealous boyfriend Paolo (Franco Pastorino), to Nina's wealthy suitor Alexandre (Giani Esposito). A really fun character is the older woman, and former cancan dancer, who is brought in to train the new squad of cancan dancers.

The comedy that I enjoyed the most in the film was actually the non-verbal stuff, such as a sequence in rehearsal where Nina is kicking with the opposite leg to the other dancers, finally collapsing in exhaustion when they make it to the end of the number. Or a scene in which several characters wait in a hallway to hear the outcome of a man who has been injured and the scale of the hallway (speaking to the man's wealth) seems to engulf the characters.

As for what I didn't love, it came down to two things.

The first was the romance between Henri and Nini. Just . . . no. He is in his 50s (but the character felt a bit older to me) and she is in her early 20s (but the character felt a bit younger to me). It looked like a man making out with his granddaughter. And the fact that she is clearly treating it as a serious relationship while he simply regards her as the latest on a long list gives the sense that he is taking advantage. The various jealousies that ensue from their relationship are largely directed at Nini instead of at Henri, and that also feels kind of yuck. There's a scene later when Henri gives Nini a big speech about exactly why he doesn't care about her as a person, and while it's supposed to be this neat expression of the pure love of art/theater, it seems to ignore the fact that he knew full well the effect he was having on Nini and many other people. It's one thing to have a pure passion for theater that eclipses love/passion for anything/anyone else, but quite another to treat people poorly and then excuse it with such a stance. I wish the film had confined the relationship between them to mentor/mentee and let the consequences of her performing ripple into the two relationships she already has in her life.

Setting the romance aside, I was also hoping for more spectacle. There were a few scenes that I enjoyed, and the final cancan performance probably looks totally fantastic on the big screen. But this film never grabbed me. And it doesn't help that the final performance follows that speech from Henri that I felt was so insensitive and off-putting. There's this whole subgenre about (often women) artists/dancers who are treated like total crap by male mentors, but it makes them great!!! And I feel perpetually unmoved by these stories. Especially when it doesn't feel like the artist actually is able to consider their own choices because their heads have been so messed with by the time they get to that decision point.

It had its charms, but there are half a dozen dancing/musicals I'd watch again before this one.




Leviathan (1989)

A quite weak monster feature that rips off Alien and The Thing. Poor acting, silly script, and even the effects aren't that good. And could someone explain to me why did they have flamethrowers in an underwater mining station?

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Les dimanches de Ville d'Avray (1962)
aka Sundays and Cybele

The first I heard of this film was a few days ago in the MoFo Movie Roulette. It seemed interesting so I had to give it a go, and it was really good. It's sad and tragic but at the same time a beautiful story of two broken people finding connection and some happiness. The world doesn't approve of or understand their relationship because it goes against the perceived normalcy.

I really liked both of the leads. Pierre felt so vulnerable and lost after his war trauma, and Cybele was desperate for someone to love her after everyone had abandoned her. Cybele went quite high on my favorite child performances. One of the better films that have come to my attention from practically nowhere.
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The Big Heat - 1953 noir directed by the legendary Fritz Lang and starring Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Lee Marvin and Jocelyn Brando (Marlon Brando's older sister). Ford plays homicide Sgt. Dave Bannion, who's called out on a suspicious death that turns out to be a suicide. The dead guy is a bent cop who has left a written confession that implicates local crime boss Mike Lagana (Alexander Scourby) along with a raft of corrupt, high level cops. Since everyone seems bent in the fictional town of Kentport, the dead cop's widow keeps the confession and starts blackmailing Lagana. After the conscientious and tenacious Bannion starts investigating the suicide he's first warned off by his superiors then threatened by Lagana's goons including Vince Stone (a marvelously slimy Lee Marvin). It quickly escalates with Bannion suffering a heavy loss. I've probably seen one too many bleak movies because I thought there might have been a lull or two in the action but when the proceedings heat up they do so in an eruption of hot bullets and even hotter coffee. This is a downright charcoal noir with good performances all around. 90/100



Blade Runner 2049 -



First viewing since theatres and I've already had to dock at least half a popcorn. Still one of the better films of the decade, but the best doesn't really seem to be out-and-out excellent.
For me, 2049 only improved upon rewatch, as my previous issues with the film's length, tone, and pacing bothered me less since I knew what to expect, and while my issues with those aspect were still somewhat there, I was still better able to appreciate what the film did well, whether it be the overwhelming sensory experience of the affair (which still impressed even on my tiny tablet screen), or how, like the best Sci-Fi, it was truely a film driven by big, bold ideas, rather than just repeating every single basic things its predecessor did, Force Awakens-style (although I still liked that movie as well). Anyway, 2049 still isn't a perfect movie for me, but it is a very good one, and one that's only improved with time.



❤️Dominic Sherwood+Katherine McNamara❤️




Snooze factor = Z


[Snooze Factor Ratings]:
Z = didn't nod off at all
Zz = nearly nodded off but managed to stay alert
Zzz = nodded off and missed some of the film but went back to watch what I missed
Zzzz = nodded off and missed some of the film but went back to watch what I missed but nodded off again at the same point and therefore needed to go back a number of times before I got through it...
Zzzzz = nodded off and missed some or the rest of the film but was not interested enough to go back over it
i didnt like this movie at all espcially when they removed mushu and music. to me animated mulan is better
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Nice to see a few more people on here watching and enjoying Sundays And Cybèle, young Patricia Gozzi was very good in that and excellent in her next film Rapture imo. Shame she only made a handful of films.
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Almost famous for having nailed Madonna once





The ending is kinda bad, but overall, it's a good movie.
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'The Painter and the Thief' (2020)


In 2015, Czech artist Barbora Kysilkova had two of her most famous paintings stolen. She then met the thief who was convicted of stealing them, and he not only became her friend but also almost a 'muse' for her inspiration as an artist. This is a very emotional and fascinating documentary. The trouble with it is that it is just a bit too real. It blurs the line of documentary and film. There are positions where the camera is filming at the point where you think it normally wouldn't have been present (inside the jail at the moment a prisoner is released, or inside a pharmacy when something crucial happens). The main protagonists never look at the camera either, which gives the viewer the feeling that they are very comfortable with the crew being there at every moment.

It is a very interesting documentary, it just feels that little bit too 'engineered' to be a great one.




6.4/10



The Big Heat - 1953 noir directed by the legendary Fritz Lang and starring Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Lee Marvin and Jocelyn Brando (Marlon Brando's older sister). Ford plays homicide Sgt. Dave Bannion, who's called out on a suspicious death that turns out to be a suicide. The dead guy is a bent cop who has left a written confession that implicates local crime boss Mike Lagana (Alexander Scourby) along with a raft of corrupt, high level cops. Since everyone seems bent in the fictional town of Kentport, the dead cop's widow keeps the confession and starts blackmailing Lagana. After the conscientious and tenacious Bannion starts investigating the suicide he's first warned off by his superiors then threatened by Lagana's goons including Vince Stone (a marvelously slimy Lee Marvin). It quickly escalates with Bannion suffering a heavy loss. I've probably seen one too many bleak movies because I thought there might have been a lull or two in the action but when the proceedings heat up they do so in an eruption of hot bullets and even hotter coffee. This is a downright charcoal noir with good performances all around. 90/100
I agree. Here's some commentary I did from last year:

The Big Heat (1953)
Directed by the formidable Fritz Lang, with memorable
noir lighting by cinematographer Charles Lang (no relation), the film features one of Glenn Ford’s grittiest roles, while the other stars themselves compete for similar grittiness in this sordid tale of murder, graft and betrayal; all prime noir ingredients.

Ford plays a detective who initially investigates the suspicious suicide of a fellow detective who may have
had ties to the mob which is virtually running the city. As a result, his wife played by Jocelyn Brando (Marlon’s sister), ends up accidentally paying the price. Ford embarks on a possessed revenge hunt which brings him into contact with the incomparable Gloria Grahame, the sadistic Lee Marvin, and the chilling crime boss Alexander Scourby.

In 1953 the good guys still won out in the end, but there is a full array of story
and action packed into the movie’s 90 minutes. There is a surprising amount of frank brutality and violence for its time, unique for its day. In one scene Gloria Grahame is the recipient of a cruel act that was so shocking that it remains today as a memorable example from the era. Lang had a penchant for brutality, and he let out all the stops in this picture.

An interesting point
about this film is that, although films noir are often noted for their use of a femme fatale, here we see Ford used practically as anhomme fatale: all four women who he is involved with meet a violent end.

Despite that noir had already been well developed by 1953, this picture is a prime example of the form in general and Fritz Lang’s style in specific.