Cinecast Episode 427 – Stretching the Bubblegum

Was it the weather or is it the shitty inconvenient way films are released in theaters these days? Or does it depend on your geography or disposition? Or a little bit of everything? In short, we didn’t get to the “main releases” (of boats in storms or feminist westerns) this week and instead opted for some VOD experimentation with Vincent Cassell in Partisan. A solid film with problems is the verdict. The Watch List is fairly eclectic this week but a whole lotta witchin’ going on. From Winona Ryder to Vin Diesel, we cover the gamut. Andrew and Kurt also spend some time in the kitchen cooking up some spaghetti westerns before heading to Southeast Asia for a thriller and some kung-fu. Like a snake in the eagle’s shadow, there is no escape for the good the bad or the ugly; there most certainly will be blood inside Llewyn Davis.

#sorrynotsorry

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

 

 
 

partisan-cinecast

 
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Film on TV: November 22-28

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Limelight, playing on TCM on Saturday

Not too many new ones this week – in fact, almost all of the ones programmed along with TCM’s next installment of Moguls and Movie Stars are ones we’ve seen a bunch before on TCM, but that’s okay – moving into the history of sound era with Warner Bros gangsters, classic musicals, and the Marx Brothers is A-OK with me. TCM has also got one of Bette Davis’s first big films Of Human Bondage early Thursday morning, Chaplin’s last American film Limelight on Saturday, and Sundance has the first part of the Red Riding trilogy on Sunday. Among previously featured films, check out the Hitchcock triple feature on TCM on Friday.

Monday, November 22

7:00am – TCM – Kiss Me Deadly
Fairly iconic noir film, with hard-boiled action, nuclear paranoia, and one of the more memorable non-Hitchcock McGuffins in movie history. Plus some great LA locations. I didn’t quite love it as much as I wanted to the first time I saw it, but I’m due for a rewatch, and it definitely needs to be seen at least once, especially if you’re a noir fan.
1955 USA. Director: Robert Aldrich. Starring: Ralph Meeker, Albert Dekker, Paul Stewart, Cloris Leachman, Marian Carr.

8:15am – IFC – Mrs. Dalloway
Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway is likely my all-time favorite book or very close to it, and it’s a book that you’d never expect could be made into a good film. It depends an awful lot on stream of consciousness, internal monologue and memory, and a subjective experience of time – all stylistic and narrative elements that don’t translate well to film. However, this 1997 version of the novel with Vanessa Redgrave perfectly cast as the older Clarissa Dalloway and Natascha McElhone (why the heck isn’t she in more stuff?) as flashback-Clarissa comes about as close as I think is cinematically possible. It doesn’t come close to matching the book for me, but it is a solid film and captures a lot of Woolf’s spirit.
1997 USA/UK. Director: Marleen Gorris. Starring: Vanessa Redgrave, Natascha McElhone, Michael Kitchen, Alan Cox, Sarah Badel, Lena Headey, John Standing.

2:00pm – Sundance – The Darjeeling Limited
Not perhaps my favorite Wes Anderson film, but that’s not really that much of a negative statement for one of my favorite directors. Certainly the central image of the train is a fitting one for his flat, widescreen visual style, and the Indian setting allows for great use of color, so if nothing else, it looks freaking gorgeous.
2007 USA. Director: Wes Anderson. Starring: Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Angelica Huston.
(repeats at 5:25pm on the 25th and 1:45am on the 26th)

8:00pm – TCM – Moguls and Movie Stars: Brother Can You Spare a Dream
This week Moguls and Movie Stars jumps out of the silent era and into the 1930s, showcasing the films that Hollywood made during and just after the Depression Era – and the films programmed to go along with it tonight are apropos: Warner Bros. backstage musicals and gangster films.

8:30pm – 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 1:35am on the 23rd)

9:00pm – TCM – Footlight Parade
Other Busby Berkeley-choreogaphed films are better known than this one (42nd Street, the Gold Diggers series), but this one is one of my favorites, with James Cagney taking on a musical role and giving the film that extra burst of energy that he brings to everything. Though known mostly for his gangster roles, Cagney was actually a song-and-dance man before he came to the movies, and it’s fun to see him hoofing his stuff.
1933 USA. Director: Lloyd Bacon. Starring: James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell.
Newly Featured!

12:00M – TCM – The Public Enemy
Famous for the scene where James Cagney smashes a grapefruit into Mae Clarke’s face, this is one of the gold standards of early gangster films, along with Little Caesar and Howard Hawks’s Scarface.
1931 USA. Director: William A. Wellman. Starring: James Cagney, Jean Harlow, Edward Woods, Joan Blondell, Mae Clarke.

1:30am (23rd) – TCM – Little Caesar
One of the classic early 1930s gangster films, the one that essentially typecast Edward G. Robinson in the role of the cigar-chewing tough guy. It’s a little more abrupt than some of the others in the genre, but still worth watching if you’re a fan.
1931 USA. Director: Mervyn LeRoy. Starring: Edward G. Robinson, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Glenda Farrell.

3:00am (23rd) – TCM – I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang
Paul Muni plays an initially optimistic and energetic young man who struggles to find a job during the Depression. Eventually he ends up unwillingly involved in a robbery and sentenced to the chain gang. One of Warner Bros’ best “ripped from the headlines” socially conscious films – they did a lot of them in the 1930s.
1931 USA. Director: Mervyn LeRoy. Starring: Paul Muni, Glenda Farrell, Helen Vinson.

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Film on TV: August 30 – September 5

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Requiem for a Dream, playing on IFC on Sunday

A good many repeats this week, but still some very good stuff worth pointing out. The entire Man With No Name trilogy is on TCM on Tuesday, though not in order for whatever reason, along with a bunch of other Clint Eastwood films, most of them westerns, most of which I haven’t seen. I didn’t list them all out separately, so if you’re needing an Eastwood fix, check out the full TCM schedule yourself or just stay tuned to it all day Tuesday. Steve McQueen takes over TCM on Friday, from early creature-feature The Blob through his 1960s and 1970s classics. MGM celebrates itself again with That’s Entertainment! II on TCM on Saturday, but they deserve it. Plus IFC has a late Truffaut (The Last Metro) and an early Aranofsky (Requiem for a Dream) on Sunday.

Monday, August 30

6:45am – Sundance – Ran
Akira Kurosawa’s inspired transposition of King Lear into medieval Japan, mixing Shakespeare and Japanese Noh theatre tradition like nobody’s business.
1985 Japan. Director: Akira Kurosawa. Starring: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu, Daisuke Ryu.
Must See

7:45am – IFC – Paranoid Park
I go back and forth on whether I think Gus Van Sant is brilliant or a pretentious bore – maybe some of both. But I really quite liked the slow, oblique approach in this film about a wanna-be skateboarder kid who relishes hanging out with the bigger skateboarders at the titular skate park – but there’s a death not far from there, and it takes the rest of the movie to slowly reveal what exactly happened that one night near Paranoid Park. Gets by on mood and cinematography.
2007 USA Director: Gus Van Sant. Starring: Gabe Nevins, Daniel Lu, Jake Miller, Taylor Momsen, Lauren McKinney.
(repeats at 12:45pm, and 4:35am on the 31st)

9:00am-11:00am – TCM – Charley Chase/Thelma Todd shorts
The three great silent comedians everyone remembers are Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd. Right behind them and unjustly forgotten was Charley Chase, who did a lot of very funny silent (and early sound) shorts, usually playing a wanna-be dapper, rather sarcastic young man. TCM is playing a few of these shorts as part of their Summer Under the Stars tribute to Thelma Todd, one of his frequent costars. There are several other Todd shorts the rest of the day, so if you’re a fan of silent and early sound comedy, check them out. But I can personally vouch for the Charley Chase ones.
USA. Starring: Charley Chase, Thelma Todd.
Newly Featured!

9:15am – IFC – The Station Agent
One of the most pleasant surprises (for me, anyway) of 2003. Peter Dinklage moves into a train depot to indulge his love for trains and stay away from people, only to find himself befriended by a loquacious Cuban hot-dog stand keeper and an emotionally delicate Patricia Clarkson. A quiet but richly rewarding film.
2003 USA. Director: Thomas McCarthy. Starring: Peter Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson, Bobby Cannavale.
(repeats at 2:15pm)

5:25pm – IFC – Breakfast on Pluto
Patrick is a young Irish boy who before very long becomes Patricia. His story is about more than just his attempts to get people to accept him as a her; his quest for identity and his lost family is played out against the backdrop of the early years of the Troubles, as his friends get more and more involved in IRA factions while he does his best to keep from getting involved in things that are too “serious.” There’s a tough-to-find sweet spot between hilarity and tragedy, and hilarity that masks tragedy, and director Neil Jordan and actor Cillian Murphy found it with this film.
2005 Ireland. Director: Neil Jordan. Starring: Cillian Murphy, Eva Birthistle, Liam Neeson.

9:30pm – TCM – Horse Feathers
Most film comedians do a college-set film at some point, and this is the Marx Brothers entry into higher education. This is a relatively early film for them, and it’s not quite as great as the Duck SoupA Night at the OperaA Day at the Races trifecta, but it’s still really solid, one of my favorites of their pre-1933 films.
1932 USA. Director: Norman Z. McLeod. Starring: The Marx Brothers, Thelma Todd, David Landau.

10:00pm – Sundance – Curse of the Golden Flower
One of the weaker entries in Zhang Yimou’s series of historical martial-arts-on-wires films, but it still has its moments – and the production design, as usual, is flawlessly beautiful. Definitely worth a watch if you’re a fan of the style.
2006 China. Director: Zhang Yimou. Starring: Chow Yun-Fat, Gong Li, Jay Chou, Ye Liu.
(repeats at 3:20am on the 31st)

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Film on TV: May 31-June 6

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, playing on TCM on Monday.

On Monday, TCM pays tribute to Clint Eastwood, showing all three of his Man With No Name Leone films, plus a couple of the Dirty Harry films, and others in between. If you’re an Eastwood fan, be sure to check out the whole schedule at TCM.com. Then on Wednesday, IFC has Lars von Trier’s latest Antichrist, which several of our writers thought very highly of last year – it’s at the very least another solidly-made and thought-provoking if somewhat offputting entry in that provocateur’s filmography. Most everything else are repeats, but some very good ones.

Monday, May 31

8:00am – TCM – A Fistful of Dollars
The first of the Leone-Eastwood “Man With No Name” trilogy has Eastwood loping into a small Texas town out nowhere and finding himself caught in the middle of an ongoing feud between the two powerful families that run the town. In true revisionist Western style, he wavers back and forth between amoral mercenary desires and noble actions – he’s not classical Hollywood’s Western hero, but he draws on that mythology, breathing new life into the genre.
1964 Italy. Director: Sergio Leone. Starring: Clint Eastwood, Marianne Koch, Gian Maria Volonté, Wolfgang Lukschy.

9:45am – TCM – For a Few Dollars More
The follow-up to A Fistful of Dollars, which I have not yet seen myself; but I bought it recently on the cheap, so I really have no excuse. Soon.
1965 Italy. Director: Sergio Leone. Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Gian Maria Volonté, Mara Krupp, Klaus Kinski.
Newly Featured!

10:00am – IFC – The Good German
Steven Soderbergh’s attempt using 1940s equipment and filming techniques didn’t actually turn into a particularly good movie, but as a filmmaking experiment, it’s still fairly interesting. And has George Clooney and Cate Blanchett in gorgeous B&W as former lovers/current spies, if you’re into that sort of thing.
2006 USA. Director: Steven Soderbergh. Starring: George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Tobey Maguire.
(repeats at 12:15am on the 1st)

12:00N – TCM – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The final film of the Leone-Eastwood Man With No Name series, and possibly the height of the spaghetti western genre. Here Eastwood and Eli Wallach as feuding partners-in-bounty-rigging stumble upon a promise of hidden treasure along with Lee Van Cleef and try to get to it while skirting the edges of the Civil War. Breathtaking on nearly every level.
1966 Italy. Director: Sergio Leone. Starring: Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef.
Must See
Newly Featured!

9:45pm – IFC – Black Book
Paul Verhoeven invests Black Book with just enough of his signature over-the-top brashness to give the WWII story of a Dutch Jewish woman infiltrating the Gestapo for the Resistance a healthy dose of panache. Every time you think it won’t go the next step, it does, and it’s ravishingly entertaining the whole time.
2006 Netherlands. Director: Paul Verhoeven. Starring: Carice van Houten, Sebastian Koch, Thom Hoffman.

12:15am (1st) – TCM – Dirty Harry
Eastwood hung up his spaghetti western spurs and picked up a cop’s sidearm to play Harry Callahan, a cop who doesn’t always play by the rules but definitely gets what he’s after; in this case, a serial killer who begins to play a cat-and-mouse game with Callahan.
1977 USA. Director: Don Siegel. Starring: Clint Eastwood, Harry Guardino, Reni Santoni, John Vernon, Andrew Robinson.
Newly Featured!

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TCM Film Festival: Capsule Review Wrap-Up

Just about ready to finally close out the TCM Festival, only running a couple of weeks of weeks late. Heh. Anyway, here are some capsule reviews for the other films I saw but didn’t end up writing full reviews of, for whatever reason. I also threw the couple of shorts programs I saw in here.

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

1966 Italy. Director: Sergio Leone. Starring: Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef.

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I’ve seen The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly before, but never on a big screen, and I felt that experience was deserving of my time. And it was. There’s a lot more to the movie than I remembered, and I was really struck this time by how omnipresent but yet detached the Civil War is from the main story – our bandits come into close contact with it several times (finding the stagecoach of soldiers, getting captured, becoming involved in the standoff over the bridge), but it’s almost always a mere obstacle in their way. It’s kind of a fascinating juxtaposition, really, between all these men fighting a futile war out of duty and our anti-heroic outlaws double-crossing their self-serving way to a treasure. Anyway. I think that kind of thoughtfulness and depth is what makes this movie great, but what makes it awesome is the score, Clint Eastwood’s implacable smirk, Eli Wallach’s desperate maneuvering, and the languid pacing that knows exactly when to pick up. That last showdown scene has some of the best editing ever in film. Oh, I was also a little surprised to note how close a lot of it is shot. Sure there are a lot of wide vista shots, but for a widescreen western, there are a TON of closeups of faces and eyes – far more than you see in 1950s widescreen films, I think. There are times when it’s positively claustrophobic, which makes for an interesting effect on a giant screen in a huge cinema.

A few more capsule reviews after the break.

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IMDB’s Top 250 – How Accurate Is It?

Like all of us who spend a good deal of time here on Row Three, I love movies. However, (and I say this without knowing the depth or breadth of each person’s particular obsession), the way we express this love differs from individual to individual. For instance, one of the particular ways that my affair with all things cinematic has manifested itself is in an enormous excel database, one that I have been maintaining for six years now (in fact, it all started six years ago yesterday). In this database, I have compiled, among other things, daily viewing logs for every day since August 16, 2002 (there’s no real significance to that date…it’s just when I decided to start keeping track of this information), which I cross-reference with an alphabetical list of films and the days on which I viewed them. On March 19, 2003, the day the U.S. first launched the war against Iraq, I was busy watching The Big Bird Cage, a Roger Corman-produced exploitation film starring Pam Grier. The film I’ve seen the most since August 16, 2002 is Robert Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller, which I’ve viewed 10 times in the past 6 years.

One of the spreadsheets I put together as part of this database was a list of IMDB’s Top-250 films, which I did with the express intent of watching every film on that list. To date, I’ve been fairly successful, with only 8 films on the list that I still need to see. The problem is that the top-250 I laid out for myself was from December 15, 2002. Looking at today’s IMDB top 250, the number I have yet to see has jumped to 17. Furthermore, only five of the films I haven’t seen from my original 2002 list are even on the newest top 250. Three of them (The Others, You Can Count on Me and The Man Who Would Be King) have dropped off completely.

Even the five that appear on both lists have shifted positions since 2002, some significantly:

Das Boot (#36 on the list in 2002, #66 on the current list)
Double Indemnity (#44 in 2002, #54 now)
It Happened One Night (#112 then, #130 now)
Arsenic and Old Lace (#131 then, #241 now)
His Girl Friday (#148 then, #231 now)

The new additions to the Top-250 that I haven’t seen are:

The Lives of Others
Oldboy
Kind Hearts and Coronets
Brief Encounter
Sleuth (1972)
The Lady Vanishes
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
The Kid (1921)
Stalker
Ace in the Hole
Hate (La Haine)
Great Expectations (1946)

Now, the additions of The Lives of Others, Oldboy, and The Diving Bell and Butterfly make perfect sense; none of those films had been released at the time the 2002 list was compiled. What’s surprising is that the remaining nine are considerably older, and were around in 2002. Kind Hearts and Coronets, released in 1950 and completely left off the 2002 list, is now #140 on the current Top-250. Why the 110-position surge? I originally thought the answer might be DVD related, that the release of the film to the home market may have influenced its standing, but Kind Hearts and Coronets was first released on DVD in the U.S. three months prior to the 2002 list I copied (I don’t know when it was released in other markets). Has the film found a recent audience, or did a few zealous Alec Guinness fans ‘stack the deck’, taking the time to create hundreds of accounts on IMDB in order to vote it onto the list?

Other films have also changed significantly. Some (released around 2002 amid a great deal of hype, only to see the furor dwindle by 2008) make sense. Others don’t. Here are a few of the other ‘list shifts’:

Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (dropped from #5 in 2002 to #20 today)
Citizen Kane (#4 in 2002 to #29 today)
Lawrence of Arabia (#22 then, #35 now)
Raging Bull (fell 20 places, from #51 then to #71 now)
Touch of Evil (down a whopping 35 places, from #58 then to #93 now)
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Still other films on 2002’s list have now dropped off completely, and not just ones that were at the bottom to begin with:

All the President’s Men (was #171 in 2002…gone today)
The Iron Giant (#198 in 2002, also gone today)
Miller’s Crossing (from #205 to oblivion)
The Untouchables (#215 to nowhere to be found)
Clerks (#217 to nothing)

Of course, not every film has dropped. Some have even increased in popularity over the last 6 years:

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (#27 in 2002, #5 today)
Pulp Fiction (up 13 places, from #19 in 2002 to #6 today)
12 Angry Men (from #24 in 2002 to #10 today)
Fight Club (was #37 in 2002, and now it’s #23)
A Clockwork Orange (jumped from #64 in 2002 to #48 today)
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And for the record, the #’s 1 and 2 films in 2002 were The Godfather (#1), followed by The Shawshank Redemption (#2). Today, #’s 1 and 2 are The Shawshank Redemption (#1) followed by The Godfather (#2)

So, how reliable do you feel the IMDB top-250 list is in determining the likes and dislikes of its contributors? Can it be heavily influenced by a ‘fad’ mentality (The Dark Knight is still sitting at #3 overall on the current list), or does it do a good job in detailing the tastes of the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of film fans who vote on a regular basis?

What do you think?