Personal Recommendation Hall of Fame VI

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Feels a bit late to still be doing "first impressions" of my films, but since I've got a replacement, I figure I'd might as well write one so it's not the only one left out:

All About Eve (1950)
I've seen a few people mention this film in passing elsewhere on the forum, and I think it came up when The Asphalt Jungle was nominated in another HoF, since Marilyn Monroe is in both. That's about all I know about it, other than the quick basic summary and the stills I just looked at. I'm confident I haven't seen this one before. Then again, nothing about The Player seemed familiar at first glance either haha.
Happens to me all the time that I watch a movie and I'm still not sure if I've seen it or not, or maybe even just seen bits of it at one time...I loved The Player myself, did you like it? MM has a very small role in All About Eve, I'll be interested in reading your review.

I had absolutely no problems with your review - I was just searching around for colourful language and unusual phraseology to dress up my comments and make them sound eccentric. If I made it sound like I was accusing you of some impropriety I apologize - I enjoy reading your stuff on MoFo. (The comment wasn't even directly aimed at your review - but at an imagined "dark, other side of the coin" ala Magnolia viewpoints on the boards as a whole.)
Cool, I just couldn't wrap my head around what you were meaning by finger-pointing so thought it best to just ask and find out. No worries I just wasn't sure what you meant.



I loved The Player myself, did you like it?
Yeah, it was quite good. Great satire on the film industry, with a lot of interesting camera work, and not to mention that impressive single shot at the start.

I was very distracted by Cynthia Stevenson whenever she was on screen though, because I couldn't remember what show she played the main character's mom on, and it was driving me crazy. I didn't want to look it up, but I had to afterwards. It was Dead Like Me, if anyone was curious.



The world doesn't owe you a damn thing
I watched The Lion in Winter (1968) today. Directed by Anthony Harvey, the film has a good cast including Peter O'Toole, Katharine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins, and Timothy Dalton. It was nominated for 7 Oscars, winning 3. As expected with a cast like this, performances are very good. Hepburn and O'Toole are the two standouts for me. Costumes and set design were well done. My main issue with the film is that I didn't find the story very interesting. The film is 2 hours and 14 minutes and drags on at times. There are some good moments, but overall it feels too long and is not as compelling as it should be. The Lion in Winter is not a bad film, but maybe with a different director it could have been a truly great film. My guess would be that Edarsenal nominated it for me.
And YUP!!
Huge, HUGE fan of this film. O'Toole and Hepburn are excellent together. Yeah, it does drag in parts with, for me, a more theatrical presentation than cinematic, and I could see how another Director could make something visually compelling. Still, love it all the same, lol.

Speaking of visually compelling, I had the distinct pleasure of having Black Narcisuss nominated for me in the First PR HoF, and I do believe I paid it forward in a later one.
Completely agree about Kathleen Byron (Sister Ruth) is quintessentially haunting as she dives into the erotic fervor of the locale with abandon.


A truly gorgeous film.

And sorry to hear that Raise the Red Lantern didn't work for you, Allaby. It's been a while since I saw this in the Second Chance HoF, where it won first place. The symmetry of Asian films continually amazes and enamors me, and RTRL did exactly that for me. When it came to the four wives and the various outlooks on the "game" of securing the No. 1 spot, I found it refreshing that the No. 4 was no naive waif or cared for the "game" at all. Also, having the husband being a more vague character that we don't even see his face was a very good touch and kept the focus on the women and their interaction.

I've always loved and continue to love 12 Monkeys.

I've only once seen Once Upon a Time in America , and it will stay that way. And this comes from a gangster fanboy. Visually, very well done but I felt lost the entire time, and quite frankly, the rape scene ruins any chance I'll watch it again.

Have not seen A Man and a Woman or Magnolia.
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I've watched All About Eve now as well. It's probably too late to write anything about it tonight, but I should have plenty of time tomorrow.

I just have The Best Years of Our Lives left then, which I've intentionally left for last due to its runtime. Hopefully I can get to it tomorrow evening or Sunday, because it's a little too long to watch all of it at once during the work week. Over the years I've started caring less and less about being able to watch films in a single sitting, but I always like to have the option in case it's especially engaging.



I've watched All About Eve now as well. It's probably too late to write anything about it tonight, but I should have plenty of time tomorrow.

I just have The Best Years of Our Lives left then, which I've intentionally left for last due to its runtime. Hopefully I can get to it tomorrow evening or Sunday, because it's a little too long to watch all of it at once during the work week. Over the years I've started caring less and less about being able to watch films in a single sitting, but I always like to have the option in case it's especially engaging.
Both terrific films. Curious what you'll think of them.
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I've watched All About Eve now as well. It's probably too late to write anything about it tonight, but I should have plenty of time tomorrow.

I just have The Best Years of Our Lives left then, which I've intentionally left for last due to its runtime. Hopefully I can get to it tomorrow evening or Sunday, because it's a little too long to watch all of it at once during the work week. Over the years I've started caring less and less about being able to watch films in a single sitting, but I always like to have the option in case it's especially engaging.
Nothing wrong with breaking up a long film and watching it on different days. I did that with Robot. With Magnolia I was planning on watching half and then the other half the next night, but I was hating it so much that I didn't want to spend yet another evening with it so I muscled through it and finished it in one long watch. I think you might like The Best Years of Our Lives, maybe even the time will fly.



The world doesn't owe you a damn thing





Secrets and Lies (1996)

Monica Purley: Can't miss what you never had!
Maurice Purley: Can't you?

Have you ever had a movie COMPLETELY turn around on you in a great way? From one of dread to engagement to endearment?
Such was my voyage with this Mike Leigh film.
I thought at the start of this film that I had only seen Naked. Forgetting that I had also seen and loved Turner with Topsy-Turvy on its second year of Jab's Film Challenge, and I'm dying to and never seem to watch.
So, in the first twenty minutes of introduction of genuinely truly miserable, mis-er-a-ble, beaten down people, trying to hold on to one another. Recognizing the fragmented denizens and the slowly draining light of one or two individuals they cling to, similar to Naked, I thought that would be all there would be.
I paused.
Gleened the other two films and dove back into the waters.
And swam.

Unfolding in a Real-Life Soap Opera setting, I went into this completely blind, and it was the ideal way to go as the Secrets and the fallible attempts to keep them, or as we like to call them, lies come gushing out. The truth of one specific secret that, to my delight, is embraced, triggers a cathartic reaction in the stunted, battered emotional train wreck of familial connections that swept me away, unknowingly.

A tightly woven storyline, it clipped along with the passing away of Hortense's (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) adoptive mother, she locates and meets her biological mum, Cynthia (Brenda Blethyn). MY GOD, can this woman unleash such emotional abandon! And I mean that in the highest of praise.

There was an intriguing side bit involving Cynthia's brother, Maurice (Timothy Spall), a Portrait and Wedding Photographer, and several people getting their portraits done. The snapping of the camera reveals so much in such minuscule time frames. Very impressive.

My aforementioned endearment continues to bloom since watching this last weekend and writing this five days later.

THANK YOU to whoever nominated this for me.








Secrets and Lies (1996)

Monica Purley: Can't miss what you never had!
Maurice Purley: Can't you?

Have you ever had a movie COMPLETELY turn around on you in a great way? From one of dread to engagement to endearment?
Such was my voyage with this Mike Leigh film.
I thought at the start of this film that I had only seen Naked. Forgetting that I had also seen and loved Turner with Topsy-Turvy on its second year of Jab's Film Challenge, and I'm dying to and never seem to watch.
So, in the first twenty minutes of introduction of genuinely truly miserable, mis-er-a-ble, beaten down people, trying to hold on to one another. Recognizing the fragmented denizens and the slowly draining light of one or two individuals they cling to, similar to Naked, I thought that would be all there would be.
I paused.
Gleened the other two films and dove back into the waters.
And swam.

Unfolding in a Real-Life Soap Opera setting, I went into this completely blind, and it was the ideal way to go as the Secrets and the fallible attempts to keep them, or as we like to call them, lies come gushing out. The truth of one specific secret that, to my delight, is embraced, triggers a cathartic reaction in the stunted, battered emotional train wreck of familial connections that swept me away, unknowingly.

A tightly woven storyline, it clipped along with the passing away of Hortense's (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) adoptive mother, she locates and meets her biological mum, Cynthia (Brenda Blethyn). MY GOD, can this woman unleash such emotional abandon! And I mean that in the highest of praise.

There was an intriguing side bit involving Cynthia's brother, Maurice (Timothy Spall), a Portrait and Wedding Photographer, and several people getting their portraits done. The snapping of the camera reveals so much in such minuscule time frames. Very impressive.

My aforementioned endearment continues to bloom since watching this last weekend and writing this five days later.

THANK YOU to whoever nominated this for me.
That's a very good one. Glad you enjoyed it!



10 Foreign Language movies to go


Dead Man - 1995

Directed by Jim Jarmusch

Written by Jim Jarmusch

Starring Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer, Lance Henriksen
Michael Wincott & Eugene Byrd

"Every night and every morn / Some to misery are born / Every morn and every night / Some are born to sweet delight" Dead Man draws inspiration from many sources, one of which is the poetry of William Blake, and it's this poetry that makes it's presence felt most keenly all the way through a film many critics have described as a cinematic poem in itself. To me the film represents a journey from life to death, crossing over the border between worlds - and on the way gaining a sense of perspective relative to the Industrialization of the United States and the demise of Native American culture. Done in the form of an acid western, or what could be considered an anti-western, it significantly signified a departure for Jim Jarmusch, being his first period film. I find it visually stunning, and think the film's score is groundbreakingly alive in it's sound and composition. Narratively, it tells a beautiful story with it's central two characters both witnesses and protagonists that communicate everything the filmmaker is trying to say. I've always liked Jim Jarmusch, and this is surely one of his greatest films.

The film sets off on a train, with William Blake (Johnny Depp) travelling from Cleveland to the frontier town of Machine - an industrial outpost - to accept a position as an accountant at a metalworks. Upon talking to manager John Scholfield (John Hurt) and owner John Dickinson (Robert Mitchum - in his final film role) he finds out he's far too late, after taking two months just to get there. Low on money, and with his parents having died before he set out on his journey, he meets and takes up with a flower-selling ex-prostitute Thel Russell (Mili Avital) who is visited by a former lover, Dickinson's son Charlie (Gabriel Byrne) as he lays with her in bed. He shoots her, and the bullet passes through her body into Blake. He shoots and kills Charlie in return, and makes his escape on stolen horseback - later being discovered by Native American Xebeche - "He Who Talks Loud, Saying Nothing", otherwise known as "Nobody" (Gary Farmer), who proceeds to take Blake on his dying journey - all the while being chased by three bounty hunters (played by Eugene Byrd, Michael Wincott and Lance Henriksen) who have been hired by Dickinson to avenge the death of his son.

I've never seen a western quite like Dead Man, and it's one of the only westerns to really give itself over to a Native American perspective almost completely, except perhaps Dances With Wolves, but in a different way. In this film the industrialization of America feels like a looming disaster, as does the pointless shooting of buffalo on the train scenes just before the credits. Blake and Nobody's journey includes the use of peyote to gain a spiritual insight into what's happening to them, and towards the end, as Blake is nearing his spiritual and dying destiny, Nobody is offered disease spreading blankets but refused most other goods at a trading post. Blake's funereal canoe, dress and the ceremonial aspects of his approaching journey take place at a Makah camp, and it's Nobody who proves to be the guiding hand for a white man who seems lost for nearly all of this film, in a landscape he's not accustomed to and at a crossroads in his life he doesn't understand. Blake's dying journey mirrors that of the Native American culture which burns beside them as they travel, and the environment blighted by the progress brought from others. The stark photography often reminds me of a stark skeletal beauty - a moonscape littered with rocks and death, but one that never looks ugly or decomposed.

This stark cinematography has been handled by Robby Müller, the free-thinking director of photography much used by Wim Wenders and Lars von Trier - capturing the vision of some of my favourite films directed by those two. In this specific case he was inspired by the still photography of Ansel Adams, three examples of which I've included below. It's wonderfully composed, and interesting to watch for the whole feature - creating a visual movie that would be creditable enough if only notable for how it was filmed. This starkness that he captures is enhanced by the crisp and clear monochrome everything is presented in - not a small decision to be made, but an easy one. When you see colour photographs, you get a sense of what had to be sacrificed to portray everything this way (a wonderful cornucopia of vivid colours ranging across the whole spectrum), but this was absolutely crucial for what the film is and what it's about. When looking at a still of Depp lay down next to a shot fawn, the lack of colour adds to that feeling of all that's living having had it's lifeforce sucked out of it, with only the physical being left behind. This is a journey of the dead.


Exciting also is the score from Neil Young, mostly coming from his guitar "Old Black" - powerful notes which loudly punctuate the atmosphere like gunshots. It will sometimes be rhythmic and tuneful, catching itself rolling along into some familiar melody from earlier, and at others marking out lone chords or notes that arise naturally from the film. Young composed and performed live while he had the film playing from all directions around him. Surrounded by the action, he'd pick up instruments and accompany what's happening based on how he felt. It matches what we see so perfectly that it's seamless, but it's also been noted by most as one of the greatest soundtracks as released on the Vapor label, and is a significant piece of work. Musical poetry, as much as Dead Man is cinematic poetry based on William Blake's poetry. Just as the Blake in the film lets his gun speak for him, the music in the film speaks and the vision speaks. It's an incredibly well coordinated film in this way, and it's easy to tune in to any aspect of it to enjoy even more. A music video was released with the main theme playing, and Johnny Depp reading Blake's poetry in the background.

The film itself has had a history that's typical of the worst behaviour the film industry has so often been seen to display, with Harvey Weinstein having capriciously decided to try and wreck it. Jim Jarmusch's refusal to edit the film to Harvey's specifications (although Mirimax had already signed a contract with Jarmusch explicitly stating that he had full control of any final cut) is what created the problem. When he resisted an attempt from Weinstein to bully him into submission, the film was released with restricted press access and minimal promotion and publicity - an attempt to basically destroy any chance it had of success. Some critics really didn't like the film, and I think perhaps Dead Man was far ahead of it's time and would confound some people who were looking to it as a traditional kind of western - and getting instead more of an arthouse kind of film. I'm personally on the same side as anyone who think's it's brilliant and sees it in the same light as films such as McCabe & Mrs. Miller and other revisionist westerns which look inwards towards the soul instead of to the excitement and danger which always captures the imagination of someone imagining the wild frontier. It's a very spiritual kind of film, and speaks not only to one man's soul, but to the soul of a nation and a people.

Something else I really enjoyed about it were all the familiar faces who show up in memorable ways. Alfred Molina as the trading post clerk, who shows favour on a white outlaw but complete disrespect to a Native American. Iggy Pop, Billy Bob Thornton and Jared Harris are a big highlight as a group of eccentric trappers who Blake encounters and must kill - all of them having memorable moments. Crispin Glover is unforgettable, even though he only gets some pre-opening credits screen time. His soot-covered Train Fireman has some amusingly stupefying lines that only an actor of such reputation could deliver so enjoyably. I loved his part. Lance Henriksen's bounty hunter, Cole Wilson, isn't only a cannibal (who we get to see munch on one poor man's skeletonized arm) but is also a damaged soul that is said to have had sex with his mother and father before killing them. Jarmusch's old west (it's set sometime in the 1870s) is one which civilization has a long way to catch up to. Robert Mitchum and John Hurt are both missed and awesome to watch in a film such as this. I absolutely loved all of their scenes.

Stretching out into the leading roles, you find that Gary Farmer has completely stolen the film from Johnny Depp. His Native American, often cursing white men (which is something the actor has said cost him a lot of future work - even if it was in the script) and having such an interesting history is a magnetic presence. His absolutely confounded confusion when meeting the namesake of his favourite English poet (he'd been transported to England as part of a circus as a boy) leads to him concluding that this is indeed the poet's reincarnation. As such, you'll hear Nobody repeat lines of William Blake poetry to Johnny Depp's character, constantly expecting the younger unrelated Blake to suddenly have some kind of comprehension and ancestral memory. These poetic lines also fit neatly into the narrative, as is so typical with all the parts this film is made of fitting so snugly together. Farmer appears to be the one actor who has been granted a very significant amount of freedom of expression, and he uses it, just as the director would have been hoping. His wisdom mixed with confusion creates a mix that's a pleasure to sit back and take in, and that makes Nobody the film's most memorable character - even if Blake is a lone face on promotional material.

Dead Man I add to Broken Flowers, Paterson and The Dead Don't Die as Jarmusch films I'm particularly fond of. I have to admit that I may not have liked Dead Man if I'd seen it in 1995, but now is around about the perfect time to have added it to the collection of this director's films I've seen. I've always held him in particularly high regard, as he so rarely ever disappoints, but I never knew how well-suited he'd be to a period piece. I thought it might have been something he stumbled with, and admit that I was very wrong about that. His wonderfully poetic screenplay is really beautiful and full of deep, soul-searching meaning. His ability to get so much out of actors he's using for just a scene or two is always something notable. Of course, he gets a great amount from everyone he works with. His quirkiness is something I particularly love, and it's not something he uses to fill his films full of whimsy and wonder like Wes Anderson, but instead as a character-building signature which makes all of his films very unique, and unlike any others you can easily think of. There's never a sense that he's overdoing anything - never overreaching and trying too hard to showcase any one aspect of his particular style.

Dead Man has been one of those films which has slowly built in stature, having to be discovered long after it's initial theatrical run, and having to be appreciated in certain circles, but not universally. It sounds and looks like an ordinary western at any one specific moment, but if you watch for any longer than that it's obviously not one. The film is it's own genre, and we have to contort to get it to fit one. When scouting for locations to film in, if Jarmusch saw something scenic and yet typical of the kind of vista captured in many of the westerns he'd seen, he'd make a point of doing a complete 180 degrees and checking out what was facing him in the other direction. He wanted a complete departure from that kind of visually splendid panorama, and instead something more in tune to this specific film. The rhythmic jangle, the dark contrasts and the spiritual journey to take place somewhere unfamiliar. As unfamiliar as it must seem to an accountant from Cleveland leaving this life in a ceremonial boat, taken as a reincarnation of a famous British poet and attended to in Native American tradition, after becoming a murderer though having no ambition of being one. Such was the strange collision of culture and industrial revolution on the old frontier, as death and rebirth entered a whole new era.

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Secret And lies is really good. It kind of shuffled to the middle of my Leigh list as I watched more, but it might be the first of his I really enjoyed.

I think Dead Man is fantastic. One of my favorite Westerns immediately. Really funny movie which always goes a long way with me.

Unsurprisingly, both are movies I have watched once and need a second look.
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Secrets and Lies is great. Someone picked Dead Man for me in a previous hall and I loved it.
I think it was me. I know I picked it for someone. Not this time though.



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I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
Alphaville

I can see why some people love the French new wave, but I can also see why some people absolutely can't stand it. I'm somewhere in between.

I really liked the look of the film, the black and white cinematography. There are several really quite striking images and scenes in here - the swimming pool executions, for one.

The concept of a dystopian world where emotions are forbidden is interesting, but I didn't find that the concept quite held up - supposedly the principle underpinning the society is logic, yet some things in the society make no logical sense. The practicalities, the world building involved in this world are never really explored that much and I don't think Godard really had that much interest in them. It is just an exercise in pitting the (oddly emotionless) protagonist against the baddies of science and machines.

We get everything the 1960s thought was cool - hats, trench coats, shooting and slapping people, smoking and general sexism. Supposedly set in the future, it looks like 1960s Paris. If they had just stopped talking about galaxies and set it in a near-future or alternate reality, it would have seemed a lot more plausible.

It's not a long film, but it felt long. Part of the problem for me was the endless talking - dialogue and voiceover - a lot of general pontificating and very little meaningful interaction between characters.

One thing I wondered was whether this film was an influence on Blade Runner - the whole sci-fi/noir combination, for one thing, and the relationship between Caution and Natasha seemed similar to that between Deckard and Rachel in parts.

I'm glad I watched it, even if I didn't connect with it as much as I would have liked.



I really didn't like Alphaville when I first saw it. I gave it another chance when trying to figure out what to nominate for the Sci-Fi Hall of Fame, but I don't even think I made it halfway through. I do like the concept and some of the visuals though.



Alphaville was the first Goddard that had me thinking I may like this director. I’m still about 50/50 on him. At the end of the day I am probably more of a fan of Karina.





All About Eve (1950)
Directed by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Starring: Anne Baxter, Bette Davis, George Sanders

All About Eve is full of self-obsessed characters who aren't particularly likeable, but are all incredibly compelling to watch. The story is a timeless tale of back-stabbing, manipulation, and personal aspirations. Many who have worked in the entertainment industry, be it on stage or in film, will find the quarrels and character dynamics quite familiar. The rivalry between the theatre and Hollywood is referenced many times as well, typically in a quick, yet witty manner.

There's a fair amount of humour to be found in the dialogue, which is immediately evident in George Sanders' opening narration. His rather scathing commentary and inflated ego sets the perfect tone for the film that follows. His voice is also incredibly easy to listen to, and I enjoyed every time he was on screen. Some of the performances are a little over-the-top, but in exactly the right manner for a story that features stage actors. Bette Davis was every bit as entertaining as she was overly dramatic. A very static camera, which is often a negative point in many films, is used rather successfully in
All About Eve, since it is reminiscent of the theatre - a prominent part of the main characters' lives.

While the film tackles a lot of classic female tropes with a modicum of grace and sophistication, such as an aging star who feels threatened by others, and a sweet girl whose outward persona is just a facade, it also promotes uncomfortably sexist, patriarchal notions. Margo's speech in the car about how a woman can never be complete without a husband, and that any who prioritize their careers over a man are lesser creatures nearly derailed the rest of the film for me. Luckily the final act is strong enough to overcome such a blow, with an appropriate concluding scene that ends
All About Eve on an absolutely fantastic image.


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While I did love that final shot of All About Eve, I also couldn't stop looking at this dude in the reflection who I don't think was supposed to be there.

Computer, enhance:

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