Cinecast Episode 475 – Swimming Pools for Everyone

It was a distinct possibility that this week was going to be a war of words between your hosts over Kong: Skull Island (SPOILERS!), but no, as it turns out the movie is pretty damn good no matter what your cinematic bent. This isn’t the 25 foot, Pete Jackson Kong either. This is a 100 foot chain-swinging, spear-throwing, body crushing version. And thanks to some pretty impeccable film making, every moment is awesome.

Meanwhile, in The Watch List, Kurt got to hang with the new Xavier Dolan film, It’s Only the End of the World, checked out the much lauded documentary on race in america, I am Not Your Negro and watched Walter Hill make another run at The Warriors. Andrew watched Robert Redford and Susan Sarandon flying WWI bi-planes and then Chris Pratt and J-Law chasing the stars in Passengers (It is like a 4-hour version of the opening credits to “Star Trek: Enterprise). Some more goodies in here so check it out.

Drop the needle on a John Fogerty track and strap into the Helo for a thrill ride.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!

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Friday One Sheet: Skull Island

For the past few months, I have been deeply impressed with the poster campaign for the upcoming King Kong picture, Skull Island. From wide British Quad highlighting the scale of the beast, to this unabashed homage to Apocalypse Now! the promise from these graphic designs has been a muscular undiluted B-film with an big budget (of which There are enough these days.)

But along comes this Japanese poster which is all Kaiju hand-painted collage goodness! This poster is exceptional, both historically, and from a contemporary point of view, it also promises lots of secondary creature (tentacles, spines, tongues oh my!), and strong imagery. It is busy, but in the best possible way, and I would happily hang this one on a wall, if I could get my hands on it.

Film on TV: July 12-18

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Beauty and the Beast, playing on Sunday on TCM

I do apologize for being late with this once again; I had it mostly ready to go last night but then completely forgot to finish it. I blame the Mad Men blu-rays and feeling a bit under-the-weather toward the end of the night. In any case, there’s a ton of good stuff yet to come this week, so hold on tight. Biggest recommendations I have of the newly featured stuff: Ernst Lubitsch’s fantastic Nazi comedy To Be or Not to Be on Tuesday night, Joseph H. Lewis’s low-budget noir opus Gun Crazy on Wednesday night, underseen French character study Look at Me early Friday morning, Jean Cocteau’s breathtakingly gorgeous Beauty and the Beast Sunday night, and Ingmar Bergman’s meditative classic The Seventh Seal in the wee hours of Sunday night/Monday morning. That should do you even aside from all the other great stuff playing this week.

Tuesday, July 13

6:30am – Sundance – The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
Luis Bu˜uel made a career out of making surrealist anti-bourgeois films, and this is one of the most surreal, most anti-bourgeois, and best films he ever made, about a dinner party that just can’t quite get started due to completely absurd interruptions.
1972 France. Director: Luis Buñuel. Starring: Fernando Rey, Paul Fankeur, Delphine Seyrig, Stéphane Audran, Jean-Pierre Cassel.
(repeats at 1:15pm)

6:30pm – Sundance – Wendy & Lucy
This is a favorite among Row Three writers, and I’m ashamed to say I still haven’t managed to catch up with it, despite it being ever-available to me on Netflix Instant Watch. Hopefully someone will jump into the comments and extoll it for us.
2008 USA. Director: Kelly Reichardt. Starring: Michelle Williams, Will Oldham, Michell Worthey, John Robinson.
(repeats at 5:15am on the 14th)

8:00pm – TCM – To Be or Not to Be
If you never listen to anything else I ever say, listen to this: To Be or Not To Be is one of the greatest films of all time, and you should see it. It’s a comedy about Nazi Germany. I know. Jack Benny plays the leader of a Polish theatre troupe, specializing in playing Hamlet alongside his philandering wife, played by Carole Lombard. I know. When Hitler takes over Poland, the troupe engages in an act of espionage both dangerous and ridiculous. I know! It’s simultaneously hilarious, ominous, and heartbreaking. Director Ernst Lubitsch’s finest hour? For me it is. Carole Lombard’s best role (the final one of her career, before she was killed in a plane crash returning from a war bond tour)? For me it is.
1943 USA. Director: Ernst Lubitsch. Starring: Jack Benny, Carole Lombard, Robert Stack, Felix Bressart, Lionel Atwill, Sig Ruman.
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Film on TV: May 3-9

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The Searchers, playing on TCM on Tuesday

There are three films playing this week that I honestly can’t believe I haven’t featured before. TCM is playing John Ford’s classic The Searchers on Tuesday and King Kong on Saturday, both of which are definitely must-sees if you haven’t seen them before. Then one of my all-time favorite films (I’ve probably seen it fifteen times) Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is on Sunday on Fox Movie Channel; I don’t always include Fox Movie in this column, so that could explain why that one hasn’t come up before. Other notable newly featured films include the better-than-you’d-expect noirish Nightmare Alley, a more than adequate adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s difficult-to-film novel Mrs. Dalloway, Tommy Lee Jones’s strong directorial debut The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, and the unjustly forgotten William Powell-led mystery The Kennel Murder Case. Lots of variety and good stuff to choose from this week.

Monday, May 3

4:15pm – TCM – Midnight
Solid Billy Wilder/Charles Brackett-penned screwball comedy that ought to be better known than it is. Claudette Colbert ends up in the middle of a millionare-wife-gigolo triangle, paid by the millionaire husband to break up the wife and gigolo by impersonating a baroness; meanwhile, a poor taxi driver she’d met previously is smitten with her and seeks her out, only to find her in her new guise. Sparkling dialogue and a strong cast give this a sophisticated twist that doesn’t quite match Lubitsch at his best, but is on the same track.
1939 USA. Director: Mitchell Leisen. Starring: Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche, John Barrymore, Mary Astor, Francis Lederer.

9:00am – Fox Movie – Nightmare Alley
Fox didn’t make too many noir films, and this one just barely sneaks in by virtue of…some high contrast lighting here and there? Okay, we’ll give it to them. Anyway, Tyrone Power gives one of his better performances here as an opportunistic carney who takes a chance to turn a sideshow fortune telling act into a high-profile nightclub show, no matter who he takes down on his way to the top. What it does to his personal life and his own psyche is pretty dark and kind of fascinating, and Helen Walker is great as a psychiatrist who may have her own angle to work. Also, look out for one of the more off-putting definitions of the word “geek.”
1947 USA. Director: Edmund Goulding. Starring: Tyrone Power, Joan Blondell, Coleen Gray, Helen Walker.
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10:00pm – Fox Movie – Miller’s Crossing
The Coen brothers take on 1930s gangland with this film, and do so admirably well. As they do most things. I have to admit I wasn’t quite as enamored of it as I usually am of Coen films, but it definitely has its moments.
1990 USA. Director: Joel Coen. Starring: Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, John Turturro, Jon Polito, Albert Finney.

3:30am (4th) – TCM – Oklahoma!
I can’t begin to guess how many times I watched Oklahoma! growing up, but it’s well into double-digits. It’s a routine but darker-than-usual story for a musical, about minor conflicts between farmers and cowboys, a couple of young lovers, and the obsessive farmhand who wants the girl for himself. But the way the music and dancing is integrated is wonderful (and groundbreaking in the 1943 play the film is based on).
1955 USA. Director: Fred Zinnemann. Starring: Gordon MacRae, Shirley Jones, Rod Steiger, Gloria Grahame, Gene Nelson, Eddie Albert, Charlotte Greenwood, James Whitmore.

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TCM Film Festival: King Kong (1933)

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Seventy-seven years ago, King Kong premiered at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. The year was 1933, and it was the same week that President Roosevelt declared a national bank holiday in order to stop bank runs in a desperate Depression. But King Kong captured people’s imaginations and was an immediate hit, and has been beloved by generations since. Today, a newly restored version of the film premiered at that same Chinese Theatre to an enthusiastic audience – most of whom had seen it before, but a few hadn’t, and most of us had never had the opportunity to see it on a big screen. And the Chinese is one of the biggest, and I can easily say that seventy-seven years on, the big guy still doesn’t disappoint.

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25 Awesome Characters of the Decade

Not really an actual ranked top 25 list (though I make a case for the “top” 10). Rather, this is just sort of a half-assed list of some of the more memorable and fun characters the silver screen has graced upon us over the past ten years. With so many great characters and roles to choose from, whittling this down to just 25 is damn near impossible (hence the cheating of a few honorable mentions at the bottom). Still, these names are hard to argue with; but if you’ve got a couple of characters we might’ve missed, by all means drop them into the comment section at your leisure. Remember though, these are great, memorable characters, not necessarily great, Oscar worthy performances.

25) V (V for Vendetta)
24) Ronnie J. McGorvey (Little Children)
23) Randy “The Ram” Robinson (The Wrestler)
22) Brick Top (Snatch)
21) Marv (Sin City)
20) Giselle (Enchanted)
19) Haley Stark (Hard Candy)
18) Miranda Priestly (The Devil Wears Prada)
17) Charlie/Donald Kaufman
16) Elvis Presley (Bubba Ho-Tep)
15) Bob, Dick, Barry (High Fidelity)
14) Hans Landa (Inglourious Basterds)
13) Royal Tenenbaum (The Royal Tenenbaums)
12) Barry Egan (Punch Drunk Love)
11) Juno (Juno)
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George Miller Making Cars for “Mad Max 4”

More bad assery is on the way from George Miller. The new Mad Max picture is definitely in the works and the proof of that lies in the video below in which Mr. Miller shows us some of the vehicles that are in production for the feature.

Towards the end of the video Miller talks a little bit about the future of film in New Zealand and how he views cinema in general; name dropping some favorite directors of ours around here. Prepare for another high octane romp from Mad Max and Miller. The apocalypse is coming!

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Film on TV: September 7-13

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The New World, playing Thursday, September 10th, at 10:05pm on IFC.

 

A lot of good stuff this week, including a bunch we haven’t featured yet in these posts. I added in a few playing on Fox Movie Channel this week; on my channel guide, FMC is right next to IFC, and I keep seeing great stuff on there as I’m setting my DVR, so I figured it’d be a good idea to go ahead and start monitoring it as well.

Monday, September 7th

9:00am – TCM – King Kong
The granddaddy of special effects monster films still holds up pretty well, considering it’s almost 80 years old. The real beauty is that even though the effects are obvious today, you’ll care enough about Kong that it won’t matter. For more, check out guest author Chris Edwards’ great post.
1933 USA. Director: Merian C.Copper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. Starring: Robert Armstrong, Fay Wray, Bruce Cabot.
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5:30pm – TCM – The Dot and the Line
A Chuck Jones-directed animated short is almost always worth highlighting. This is a later one, post-Looney Tunes, and shows very well his later experimentation into minimalist art. A straight line falls in love with a dot, but she’s enamored of an unruly squiggle. There’s an undercurrent of distrust toward the “anything goes” hippie culture of the 1960s, which is kind of interesting, too.
1965 USA. Director: Chuck Jones. Starring: Robert Morley.
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8:00pm – IFC – Office Space
Anyone who’s ever worked in an office will identify with Office Space immediately – with the paper-jamming printers, the piles of beaurocratic paperwork, and the difficulty of keeping up with staplers if not the plot to make off with boatloads of money due to an accounting loophole. In fact, if you do or have worked an office job, I’m gonna call this required viewing.
1999 USA. Director: Mike Judge. Starring: Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston.
(repeats at 1:30am on the 8th)

9:30pm – IFC – Secretary
Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader – making sado-masochism fun since 2002! But seriously, this was Maggie’s breakout role, and it’s still probably her best, as a damaged young woman whose only outlet is pain. And despite the subject, Secretary is somehow one of the sweetest and most tender romances of recent years.
2002 USA. Director: Steven Shainberg. Starring:James Spader, Maggie Gyllenhaal.
(repeats at 3:00am on the 8th)

10:00pm – TCM – I’m Not Scared
While playing one day, a young Italian boy discovers another boy chained up in a dark hole and befriends him. But why is he there, and is it safe to tell anyone about it? A well-done little thriller, with a good many twists and turns and a great performance from twelve-year-old Giuseppe Cristiano.
2003 Italy. Director: Gabriele Salvatores. Starring: Giuseppe Cristiano, Mattia Di Pierro.
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King Kong (1933)

[Chris Edwards, who writes extensively about silent films on his blog, Silent Volume, has written the following review of King Kong. To see the full programme click on the Dirty Thirties header image above.]

“You’ll have to think of a lotta new adjectives when I get back!”

That’s Carl Denham’s promise as he storms out of a business meeting and into the New York City night. He’s a movie director; the type who makes BIG pictures; always exciting, always 100% authentic, filmed on location. Adventure, folks: straight from the planet’s last corners of untouched savagery, captured by the lens, offered to you. He’s got the funding, the equipment, and a boat ready to set sale for his next shoot. All he needs now is a girl.

“STRICT-ly business,” Denham assures Ann Darrow, the indigent beauty he finds on the street that very evening. His boat leaves in hours, to where he can’t say, but Ann’s welcome to come along. She barely hesitates. “There are a lot of girls like me,” she explains, describing her place in the legions of Depression-struck unemployed, from whose ranks Denham has deigned to pick her. She has looks, but no support, and better the risks of a voyage than the life of a thief.

We know what she’s in for. Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) will spend much of the next ninety minutes in the clutches of a 50-foot ape. She’ll take a terrifying trip to the top of a tower. She’ll scream twice for every single sentence of dialogue she’ll speak. This is King Kong, a film needing no introduction. Our only question, really, is what spectacle remains in the ‘special-effects wonder’ of…. 1933? Would you like to know more…?