Personal Recommendation Hall of Fame VI

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I didn't get the love for Five Easy Pieces. I liked it well enough and it was an interesting watch for cinema history.

I'll be real curious to see Hey Fredrick's reaction to Amour.






Autumn Sonata
Ingrid Bergman is Charlotte, mother to Liv Ullman's Eva. Charlotte was a very successful concert pianist whose career was always top priority. Eva is the daughter who tried everything to please her mother but to no avail. After seven years apart Charolette visits Eva. Let the fireworks begin.

The film starts off with Eva's husband Victor telling us a little about Eva and her inability to love anybody. So right off the bat we know somethings is off. Once Charlotte arrives you feel the tension between the two. At first they seem to play little games with each other. Eva plays some Chopin on the piano and she's not very good but her mom is all like, no darling, that's not bad. Apparently, a common refrain from Eva's childhood, but we can see it on Charlotte's face. She thought it was a pretty awful rendition. Eva knows what she's thinking so they kind of dance around it. There are a couple moments like this the director, Ingmar Bergman, films wonderfully by cutting between the two talking about how well they know each other and what the expectations are for each other. Sometimes they're right, sometimes they're not. They both know somethings wrong, we know there's something wrong but they try, a little, to give the appearance all will be fine. So it builds for a bit until finally Eva, with the help of some wine, lays everything out on the table. She recounts her life growing up with Charlotte as her mother and it's brutal. Charlotte does her best to explain things from her perspective but is it enough? Can this relationship be mended?

This is a very intimate movie. A lot of close ups are used. Bergman (Ingmar) also uses flashbacks very effectively. More than anything this is really a masterclass on acting. Both Ingrid and Liv deliver big time. The scene where Eva let's it all out, is fantastic as far as their performances go. Ingrid is so good I was surprised at how much she tells us without saying anything especially when Eva is putting it all out there. She also has you wondering if any of Eva's rant is really getting through to her. In the moment it really seems to be getting to her but...well, did it?

I had started watching this before but didn't make it very far. Needless to say I was a bit apprehensive about sitting through this but it was very good.



10 Foreign Language movies to go
Loved Karen Black, as well as Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces, and Autumn Sonata was one of those rare movies I gave a rating of 10/10 to.
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My movie ratings often go up or down a point or two after more reflection, research and rewatches.

Latest Review : Adaptation (2002)





A Prairie Home Companion (2006)

Robert Altman's film is an odd duck of a film...this is a genre blending of several stories of humor, fantasy, and music. The collection of which doesn't really come together to give the audience a cohesive look. Kevin Kline plays Guy Noir and he's dealing with a Dangerous Woman played by Virginia Madsen who is the angel of death. A different filmmaker would have used that as the opening and closing of the film to structurally hold everything together. But the story just kind of rambles off into different directions leading us back to short radio comedy bits and musical numbers.

In a shock of shockers Meryl Streep is really good in this and she has fun with Lily Tomlin but the film also has Lindsey Lohan. Lohan is pretty bad in this her vocals are notably the weakest and her character is fairly limp. The best moments are with Keilor and his segments he has a bit on duct tape that is pleasant enough and really that's what I would describe this film as...pleasant enough. Altman is one of those directors who can become so self indulgent that my eyes roll to the back of my head and I drift away...this wasn't that.



Thursday Next's Avatar
I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
I'm sure I've never gotten all there is to get out of Five Easy Pieces, but I do love that diner scene.
I kind of hated the diner scene. An obnoxious guy being obnoxious to a waitress?



I kind of hated the diner scene. An obnoxious guy being obnoxious to a waitress?
All I can say is that I can't recall a time that I ordered something so simple and met that kind of resistance.



Regarding the restaurant scene in Five Easy Pieces...My review touches on the reason why people loved that scene back in the day (IMO of course).


Five Easy Pieces
(1970)

At the 43rd Academy Awards in 1971 the youth orientated film, Five Easy Pieces caused a bit of a stir when it was nominated for four Oscars:
Best Picture, Best Lead Actor Jack Nicholson, Best Lead Actress Karen Black and Best Screenplay...it won none of them.

Was it ripped off? Is this baby boomer cult classic really as good as some claim? Let's find out.

At the heart of the story is Bobby Dupea (Jack Nicholson)who's a young wreck loose, adrift and trying to find meaning to his life, as he refuses to follow in the footsteps of his wealthy family. This theme of disillusioned youth struck a cord with the then young baby boomer generation, who like Bobby Dupea was looking for more meaning to life than just the 9-5 grind. Such films were popular at the time, the most well known is Easy Rider.

Here Jack Nicholson plays a more mainstream character, but true to his acting persona is still a free spirit. And that spirited rebellious streak is what struck a note with the baby boomers who longed to chart their own course in life, disregarding conventions of the past.

So it's no surprise that one of the most celebrated parts of the film is the restaurant scene where an older waitress, who represents the older generation refuses to take Bobby's special order and staunchly says no special orders, just what's on the menu. She's adamant and inflexible. Bobby smarts off to the waitress...and when he has had enough, in an act of rage over the inflexibility of the older waitress he swipes the table with his arm knocking dishes and glasses onto the ground.


Some would call him a hero for taking a stand and that's why this film has resonated with a generation. I can't deny Jack Nicholson is a colorful character so he fits this movie like a glove. I personally didn't find much depth to his performance as he seems so flippant in many of his movies that it's hard to take him seriously. Still his scenes with his father who just had a stroke, were very powerful.

For me what makes this film is Karen Black's performance as Rayette Jack Nicholson's waitress girl friend and mental punching bag. And verbally abuse her he does. I'd just seen Karen Black in Hitchcock's film Family Plot and there she was no more interesting than the background furniture, but here she really gets to act, and act she does.

Rayette is simple but loyal, she allows Nicholson's character to show what a lout he really is, by her being such an enabler. I couldn't help caring about her plight and yet with her pouting ways and strange make up that could scare a cat on Halloween...I ultimately believe she belonged with Bobby Dupea. They're a forlorn couple, with no future, who live for the day and hope for a better tomorrow, without ever trying to make their lives any better.



Thursday Next's Avatar
I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
All I can say is that I can't recall a time that I ordered something so simple and met that kind of resistance.
It's one of those scenes that sort of encapsulates the movie. He wants something, he's not getting what he wants because of the system so he gets angry and abusive to people around him, especially the women who are in a worse position than him.



Thursday Next's Avatar
I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
The Scarlet Empress

I watched this ages ago and typed up my thoughts... But apparently forgot to actually post them on here and now I've lost the file. I'll see what I can remember about what I was going to say...

The Scarlet Empress is a really interesting movie time wise because it sits just on the cusp of the Hays code. There's a lot more sex and violence in this movie than I was expecting, little montages of torture, for example, and it makes me wonder how different cinema would have been without the Hays code.

Marlene Dietrich is pretty great, transforming from naive ingenue to scheming empress following an arranged marriage and a series of disappointments and humiliations at the hands of her mother-in-law, unwilling husband and would-be lover.

The real stars of the film, though, are the set and costume design. The Russian court is an elaborate, gothic vision of hell, with gargoyles galore and doors that take several women to open them. You can see the fur trembling on Dietrich's outfits, it's all quite a visual spectacle.



It's one of those scenes that sort of encapsulates the movie. He wants something, he's not getting what he wants because of the system so he gets angry and abusive to people around him, especially the women who are in a worse position than him.
I see it a little different, but I also forget most of the rest of the movie. I don't view the waitress as a woman, but rather a person in the customer service industry. I don't see him as obnoxious in that scene, just the opposite in fact, until he reacts to her rudeness. There is really no excuse for her to not help him get what he wants, other than she shouldn't be in that business. His reaction as far as I can tell is how most people feel like reacting in a situation like that. I would be stunned if a waitress or anyone in customer service treated me like that, and I wouldn't react well either, especially given the fact that I would go into the interaction as nice as pie, which I believe he did as well.

The Scarlet Empress was on my list of contenders for you. My only HoF winner, a 30's HoF with about 6 members but I'll take what I can get.



...The Scarlet Empress was on my list of contenders for you. My only HoF winner, a 30's HoF with about 6 members but I'll take what I can get.
It was an excellent movie, I thought highly of it.





Amour

This is a pretty a pretty simple story. A husband is tasked with caring for his stoke victim wife. It's an emotionally heavy film and it's the kind of film that is especially tough for me to watch. I can appreciate the performances, they're all great, I can appreciate what Haenke was doing but at the end of the day the subject matter is something I try to avoid. Watching people deteriorate from sickness hits a little too close.

The biggest thing that bothered me is that George should not be trying to do this on his own but that's the movie. Yeah, he had issues with the care that was helping (the helper was rightfully admonished for her performance) but George and Anne appear to be people of means with connections - find somebody new. If you slap your dying wife out of frustration, you're not helping anybody at that point. The movie almost takes the PoV of look how tough this is on George, which it obviously is, which is why he needs help. These events are tough on everybody, but there is somebody having a worse go of it than you, George.

George's love for his wife was unquestioned from me and I think the ending supported this. He's just out of his league trying to care for Anne. This is a good movie but one I'll never watch again.



Amour gets rough in patches which isnít surprising with the director. I can tell you that spouses trying to help each other long past their ability is not uncommon though. In fact itís probably more common than the alternative.
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Yea that's a tough one to watch. My wife and I will probably be in that situation as we really have no other family besides out of state or distant relatives.



I have a customer who is dealing with this right now. They're looking for a place for her husband to stay because she just can't do it anymore. It's a pretty messed up situation as all the places they're looking at want a minimum two year commitment. They are not rich people so what's she to do? She does have help that stops by daily but the help is only there for an hour or so.