22nd Hall of Fame

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State of Siege


Costa-Gravis political pot boiler about the fate a kidnapped American who is blamed for training in the use of torture and in being a part of counter insurgency and collusion with the government.
We see debate between the american, Philip Michael Santore (Yves Montand) and his captors. As each allegation is brought against him and he attempts to deny it, they engage in a discussion over their beliefs and politics.
Mean while, the government starts to hunt the liberation group down.
The film draws a fine line between the two, as the guerillas are doing what they must to survive, while the Government does what they want to stay in power.
This film is never boring, and Gravas keeps the tension throughout, even with the interrogations and the resulting search. All the while, we’re privy to how the government really works as we see reporters asking their own questions of the validity of some of the accusations.
Really good pick, and as mentioned previously, I had thought I’d seen it already but may have confused with possibly Army of Shadows.



Mildred Pierce

Poor Mildred. All she wants is her oldest daughters love. So much so she’ll buy her anything to attain it. Expensive dress. Check. Expensive car. Check.
Heck, she’ll even marry a man she doesn’t love due to his social status to keep her happy. As you can imagine, it’s all down hill from there.
The film opens with the death of said man. We are then treated to a flashback that explains how Mildred, played with equal parts vulnerability and determination by Joan Crawford, arrived to this moment. As told to the detectives.
From one unhappy marriage to another. Along the way, she opens a restaurant business. Her eldest daughter, Veda, a spoiled brat played convincingly by Ann Blyth, looks down upon her with contempt. It is their relationship that is at the heart of the story. We never really know why she has such contempt for her mother. I don’t think she could even explain it.
As we follow Mildred’s story, we understand her pain. She’s willing to sacrifice so much for Veda.
Curtiz does a good job of capturing the city and the beach, particularly at the beginning as she walks along the boardwalk alone At night and we see the dampness along the boards. And all the while, he completely captures the inner despair Mildred feels as she desperately attempts to recapture Vedas live and respect.
And of course the closeups of Crawford’s face as we see her sadness. Her eyes, and her body language.
Shout out to her assistant, played by Eve Arden,who stole most scenes she was in. She had some great one liners.
This was a great nomination. Even better, it was a good film. Not at all what I expected.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Shine (1996)

This was a film that had been on top of my watchlist for quite some time now, and I'm glad I finally gave it a go. Sorry for the following review, is quite messy, but I'm tired and have so much on my mind about this film that I can't organize it properly.

A strict father projects his own failures on his talented son who grows surrounded by pressure and extremely poor social skills. The kid eventually snaps when perfoming the monumental Rach 3, one of the most challenging pieces ever written for piano, both technically and musically. This piece had the aditional weight of being the one which, in David's mind, would finally satisfy his dad's never-ending appetite for perfection.

As a story telling device, the film is very well constructed. It never tries to simplify the musical universe, which is more than most music films do, and focuses more on the humane side of the story which is something that a non musically educated viewer can understand and relate to. The perfomances are quite good by everyone involved, with the obvious highlight going to Geoffrey Rush who has some moments of brilliancy (the scene where he meets his father in his room, suddenly becoming so fragile and child-like is exceptional) in a all around very solid perfomance.
The soundtrack is obviously one of the best parts of this film, with a few emblematic pieces of the classical repertoire and a few that I wasn't expecting to hear.
It falls sometimes into the typical cliches found in biopics. I didn't like the way the relationship with the astrologist is explored, it feels too sudden, too fast and almost unbalanced, like she was taking advantage of him, or at least as if that whole relationship was only the tool to show him getting back to doing concerts.

As a musician, this story is not a new one for me. It's not uncommon that amazing young talents just lose their way, falling into depression, schizophrenia or any other mental illness more or less serious, usually for not having enough emotional support nor ways to blow some steam. I know a particular case, of a guy a bit older than me, who is a hell of a pianist but that behaves exactly the character on this film. He doesn't know how to behave with other people, he's always awkward, when I talked to him about driving a car he told me he could never do it because he sees numbers all the time in front of his eyes. But when this man sits in front of a piano, he's no longer the weird man staring on his shoes and fidgeting with fingers, he's a god. I'm sure it's the only time when he sees clearly, when he gives himself to this obsession, the same that took everything else away from him.
David Helfgott obviously had the seeds of his mental illness with him from the start, but there are so many ways the turning point could be avoided. The father has, obviously, the greatest responsability, but not the totality of it. The kid should have played tennis or studied chemistry or did anything else as an hobbie, to learn that living solely for music (or anything really) can lead to this.
Because that didn't happen, music became his cross to carry, not his passion. He began taking pleasure of not missing any notes and not from actually making music, something that commonly happens to many musicians, even those with no mental illness. And there's a moment that ilustrates that perfectly: when he's playing the Rachmaninoff Concerto and the sound shuts up and he can only hear the tapping of his fingers, like the mechanical perfection of a swiss clock. Music shouldn't be about that. It shouldn't be about competition or prizes. It should be about sharing this magical bubble created by musician and composer to which the audience is invited and where mistakes are allowed, but lack of passion isnt'. The fact that there is something called "concert musicians vs competition musicians" (meaning some musicians are amazing at concerts but don't fill the necessary requirements to win competitions, whatever the f*** that is) is a disgrace. And that's the other part of the guilt: the culture surrounding classical music that will forever crush the spirit of the most fragile musicians, no matter how talented.
So it's no surprise David finds the passion again when he's playing on a restaurant, with no added pressure to be perfect. Then there's the moment when he cries after the concert, like he found redemption finally, like it all makes sense... That moment brought me to tears, so thank you ed for the nomination.

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Very glad to hear you enjoyed it.
Thanks for sharing the story of your friend, I've known a few and in my youth, I was that person and chickened out from going that rabbit hole and the tragedy that following it always brings to the mind, heart and life. Being the prize exacted for creative genius.

I agree about the "concert musicians vs competition musicians" (or as I prefer to call them: passionate vs technical musicians). Both being extraordinary but, for me, it is the former that captures my heart and my complete attention and only my respect for the latter. One particular classical guitarist, Tatyana Ryzhkova whom I enjoy watching on youtube is of the former and there is such an enchanting playfulness that, while I TRY to study her technique I am forever captured by how she "converses" with her instrument and the music she is playing.
__________________
They say: that after people make love there's a kind of melancholia, the petite mort, the little death. Well, I'm here to tell you, after a romantic night with yourself there's a very acute sensation of failed suicide. ~Dylan Moran



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?



Dronnegin aka Queen of Hearts

Gustav: What are you most afraid of?
Anne: That everything will disappear.

It has been my movie watching experience that nearly all Directors set out to create an emotional state, convey it and ignite us with it. For May el-Toukhy it appears that emotion is Anger to the point of Rage.
And for me, it was an utter and complete success.

A little too much in fact because it was nearly impossible to appreciate the talent and nuance that went into making this film. The camera work, the composition, story arching, all of it was difficult to see beyond my seething disgust at what transpires.
My sole attention remained on the methodical sociopath, Anne. Who's professional psychiatric manipulations in the beginning, are easily missed. Then, as the spiral begins, are made more and more evident. Even her refusal to take blame is hinted at when her boss asks her, to just once, admit that she made a mistake.
Trine Dyrholm is exceptional at the layers of emotions that play out and even more so at the ones hidden beneath the cold veneer of this self-preserving -- and forgive the use of word, because all others fail -- c#nt.
For me, there was never a moment in that first hour of the film with any kind of sympathy or attachment to the character, Anne. Her every action was all a professional facade hiding the immoral predator that lurked, biding it's time for the proper victim. There are countless moments in that first hour that hint at it. How she controls her "cases", her home, her husband and, when it comes to seduction of Gustav, it is not out of the blue, but calculated. Each and every step. Even that initial blowjob, there is a cold detachment of a predator claiming what it's about to devour.

When her sister catches them, her reaction isn't shame or guilt. It is fear of being found out. Of (as the quote I chose) losing everything. To the point of destroying Gustav.
In the final scene, her lips part, as if to say something.
Is it a confession?
Hell no.
She's taking that evil secret to her grave and anyone else who dares to attempt to reveal it will be pulverized.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?



The Last Picture Show

Sam the Lion: If she was here I'd probably be just as crazy now as I was then in about 5 minutes. Ain't that ridiculous?... Naw, it ain't really. 'Cause being crazy about a woman like her is always the right thing to do. Being an old decrepit bag of bones, that's what's ridiculous. Gettin' old.

Considering this is a film about regret in a dead end town and those who inhabit it, I severely expected this to be a very difficult watch.
It wasn't.
And, by the way, I saw this BEFORE Queen of Hearts, so it wasn't by comparison of already being in that state of mind to make it easier. Though, I must say, it definitely didn't assist me in my watch of a far more difficult film.
With TLPS there is a kind of poetry to it all that I was familiar with on my multiple viewings of Paper Moon that begins with the opening scene traversing down the dirt street of mostly abandoned buildings, that will, by the final closing of the film, include the Movie House that is, along with everyone and everything else, an excellent visualization of the crux of the story and the state of mind of the townsfolk.

Now, I scarcely knew anything about this film going in and as I discovered the cast and their personal stories and interactions, I must say, I found myself caught up in all of it. Especially the adults. Though that could be me being an old codger and finding an easy connection to them and what they were going through. Ben Johnson's stoic and wise Sam the Lion, Eilleen Brennan's good-spirited Genevieve, Ellen Burstyn's Lois Farrow trying her best to help her daughter avoid the mistakes she's made. Which is, as many parents know, pointless and therefore, utterly frustrating. And, finally, the heart-breakingly beautiful performance by Cloris Leachman as Ruth. There is a reason that her comedic endeavors are so memorable and she does the same in this dramatic performance.
Not to say their youthful counterparts do not rise to the occasion. Bridges, Bottoms and Shepard and even Quaid are given some excellent characters to really shine in and they truly do. Bogdanovich filming them in an Old Hollywood-esque style. Especially Sybil Shepard who is forever lighted and framed like so many old time goddesses and Noir femme-fatales.

With a story line that traverses a year in the life, we see beneath the Happy Days persona of the Fifties to, like any other era, the less than pristine world that is outside the Movies. It amazed me that since the very few films of Bogdanovich I have seen I really enjoy each of them, that I do not seek out more of them.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
And that leaves me with Joker.
If anyone has a link for it, PLEASE, let me know since my original search for a streaming rental is no longer available.
THANKS!!



Queen of Hearts

Affairs always have messy endings. The beginnings usually start off fine. It’s the endings that are tricky. Anne learnt his lesson the hard way.
She seems to have it all. A successful career as a lawyer where she seems to help girls who themselves are victims. Twin girls she calls the birth of as being the best day of her life. Her sister, who she calls her best friend. And a husband who seems to be a decent man. So why does she risk it all for a Meaningless affair with his underaged step son? Did she feel unfulfilled? Probably. Or she herself a predator? Most likely.
The director does an amazing job at framing the scenes. Like when Peter drives away with his son, we see Anne and her daughters through the back window, as they appear further away. Or the scene where they are leaving at the end, Peter and his daughters are far ahead of Anne as she walks alone.
And a scene during Christmas where the girls get a dog as a gift. The Stepson, Gustav, must have been jealous about them having the life he never had.
Maybe he wanted revenge against his father? His motives are easier to discern. Until it seems he may have had actual feelings for Anne. It’s hard to tell. What is known, is he was a victim



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
THANKS CR!
Actually just found a rental and finished watching it.
Liked it a lot!
As I thought it would be, it WAS the ideal ending to this HoF.
I'll have a review up shortly



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?



Joker

Card: Forgive my Laughter: I have a Condition.

Coming from a guy who read comic books as a kid/teenager and graphic novels into my adulthood, I thought this was quite an excellent Origin Tale of Joker despite the flak that it has gotten from the comic book crowd. Taking the psychological fragmentation of a poor, desolate unknown, pitiful weakling that knows naught but sadness and abuse. As opposed to a criminal falling into a vat of acid or a similar glamorized mythos. Which, in my mind, is a far better route and it is done amazingly well.
Joaquin Phoenix is a master at portraying the more broken, victimized psyches and, as usual, Joaquin goes the extra mile, adding the malnutrition physique to Arthur Fleck. Creating an additional layer to this abused creature and the awkward infant steps of what would become the psychotic King of Chaos that all other comic book villains aspire to.

Phillips weaves a tension filled street of Gotham, it's cruel grittiness far more realistic than a lot of predecessors and we see the vulnerability and the tortured soul that was only hinted at and never shown in regards to the various possible origins of Joker. Giving us the foundering first steps as Arthur decides that his life is no longer a tragedy but a [email protected] comedy.

I can very easily see myself rewatching this and enjoying it a little more, each time.
A [email protected] FINE ending to this HoF!



So we have everything we need (well except me tallying the final 3 ballots into the mix). But this is going to be damn insanely close, probably the most cluttered HOF to date. There's legitimately 7 films or so that have a shot (not trying to spoil anything, but it's the truth).

I'd like to propose Monday around 3PM central for an unveil.



I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
Any guesses as to the winner? Before it started I would have said Inglourious Basterds, but I, Daniel Blake looks like a solid contender.



The thing isolated becomes incomprehensible
I'm betting in IB, but I'm glad I, Daniel Blake at least challenges the clear favourite! Also Dronningen and Matrix may be surprise winners!



My guess is each of these noms will finish in these 4 groups. Though I have no idea about the order within the groups.

Top group
Shine
I, Daniel Blake
Queen of Hearts

Second group
The Matrix
Inglourious Basterds
Joker

Third group
Mildred Pierce
Blue Ruin

Fourth group
The Last Picture Show
State of Siege
Waco The Rules of Engagement