Thursday, December 17, 2020

October November Film Diary

 October

  1. The Addams Family - with kids 2 & 3.
  2. Demolition Man - Stupid comic book fun, never seen it before. I enjoyed it. A lot smarter and funnier than I was expecting.
  3. Addams Family Values - with kids 2 & 3. One of those rare films that is better than the original - or at least funnier. Number 2 Daughter agrees that Values funnier but maintains that the first one is a better film.
  4. The Magnificent Ambersons - which, despite my love for Orson Welles, I had never seen before. I was bowled over. Loved it.

    Got slightly thrown out of the movie when the thought, "where the hell have I seen that staircase before?" crashed into my head...



    ... it took me a few minutes to work out it was used in The Cat People and then settle back into the film.
    Hate when that happens.

  5. Valentin - Argentinian film set firmly in Cinema Paradiso / Amalie feelgoodland (it said so on the case) - and it just didn't quite work for me. To much talking and every sequence seemed to end in a fade out, or a cross-fade. Fades to black (or should that be 'fade to blacks'?) and crossfades are useful useful tools but at the end of every scene?
  6. Men in Black 3 - it was a Men in Black movie.
  7. Inkheart - I wanted to like this so much more than I did. It was okay but seriously lacking something (and had too much of something else). I wish I knew what. All the pieces were there for a Sunday afternoon escapist movie but it just didn't work for me.
  8. Dune (1984) - Dr. David Lynch then...
  9. Dune (1984) - Dir. Alan Smithee. Back to back, with only a break for a pee and a stretch of the legs, I watch two different versions of the staggering work of genius that is Dune. The 130 minute cinema release, and the 183 minute TV edit from which Lynch had his name removed. Five hours of my life well spent. The Longer TV edit has a lot more exposition. Some of it clunkingly bad. The opening is different instead of Virginia Madsen's face filling the screen we are straight into the opening titles followed by a shot of the book Dune by Frank Herbert followed by what seems an eternity of badly painted, not so badly painted, and downright shoddy artworks (pre production design studies?) under a rostrum camera. While we are looking at this lot - as male voice over gives us a quick history of the known universe and the current situation - sometimes going over the same points several times and giving every character their full title each time they are mentioned, before sliding into the same 'secret report from inside the guild' that the shorter version opens with.... And then we're back into the film proper. Some scenes are longer some neatly explain what is going on some you can see why they were excised. A few shots are used well out of context - the arrival of any ship anywhere that wasn't in the cinema cut is signalled by the use of a shot of a ship arriving in Arrakis very late in the movie, and the brief 3 shot insert of Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam nipping off planet to examine Paul is achieved by using a close up of Sian Philips sitting in a chair taken from a scene set in her character's destination and a couple of shots of ship's crew taken from the much later James Bond villain's fatal error "stupidly not killing your enemies straight away while you've got them helpless" sequence. What really clunks things up is that every time a new character is introduced on screen a voice over tells us who they are and what they do. This really shows when Piter De Vries, Thufir Hawat, and Gurney Halleck all walk into Paul's room together and things just stop for a couple of minutes as we get a line up of close ups and voice over - only for Paul (as a character point) to immediately tell us who they are all over again. The fade to black at commercial break slots are a bit obvious too. And because this was originally aired on TV the pretty boy, heartplug murder sequence was cut. That scene ends with the Baron getting his black oily shower. Not the only cut but the most obvious. It's not all bad. More Jack Nance for one thing and a few other characters get to do a bit more than than just appear on screen and get their names in the credits. Virginia Madsen as Irulan still only gets the one line right at the start and then gets to stand around looking decorative a couple of times. Linda Hunt's screen time doubles and Sian Philips gets to do some more grade A nostril flaring - but, on the down side, there is more Sting. I don't think I'll be doing that again.
Abandoned in October Jesus' Son - "an edgy and often excruciatingly funny story of a young man's journey through Seventies American Drug culture"... I guess all the edginess and excruciatingly funny stuff comes later on, after the 15 minute mark because that's all I could stand. I find stupid, self-indulgent, drug-using arseholes a pain in the arse in real life I don't need to wallow in their squalor in my fiction.

November
  1. The First Great Train Robbery - RIP Sean Connery.
  2. Les bronzés 3: amis pour la vie (aka French Fried Vacation 3: Friends Forever) - As part of my ad hoc teach myself French by immersion (or at least 'by sticking my toe in') method I buy DVDs of French films with no English subtitles and watch them with the French subtitles on. Les bronzés 3: (as the '3' in the title might suggest) is a threequel (un troiquel ?). The previous film in the series was made 27 years before. It wasn't good. Apparently the people in it are famous - one of those angry young comedy groups that changed the face of French Comedy before going their own way and getting old, fat and unfunny like most angry young comedy groups the world over. From what I can gather the film was critically roasted in France. No one liked it. But it made a shitload of money because everyone went to see it. Whether the enjoyed it or not when they got there I don't know. I know I didn't.
  3. Highlander - I finally convinced number two daughter to sit down and watch Highlander with me. The open-mouthed What the F&*K is going on? expression she wore for the whole show and whimpers of "What? What? I'm confused..." made my night. Number One Son (aged 11) who joined us said, "This is going to give me nightmares for years... all that head chopping off - and snogging!"
  4. National Lampoon's Vacation - I was surprised at how unfunny this was. Painfully slow and laboured and was Chevy Chase ever funny? I guess some people must have thought so but this hasn't aged well.
  5. Who was that Lady? - Tony Curtis, Dean Martin and Janet Leigh in a farce that started out being almost mildly amusing but soon sank under its own weight. Another one of those films bought for 50p from a charity shop because I had never heard of it and watched in the hope that I would discover some forgotten gem. Ah well. One of these days.
  6. Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman (2003) - Holy crap that was a lot of fun. Insanely violent. sometimes very slow and beautiful and funny - and it ended in a tap dance routine!
  7. The Joneses -
  8. You'll Never Get Rich - Heaven is watching Rita Hayworth dance.
  9. Paris When it Sizzles - Bingo! "One of those films bought for 50p from a charity shop because I had never heard of it and watched in the hope that I would discover some forgotten gem..." (see Who was that Lady? four movies up this list) and this is it, paydirt! William Holden is a scriptwriter with a deadline and Audrey Hepburn is the typist he hires to type the script he hasn't written. Holed up in a swanky Parisian hotel room they hammer out, re write, tear up, and start again a dozen or so scripts which play out as we watch the scripts getting everso more absurd and overwrought and funny as they go along - in the end it gets very metafictional and Pirandellolike with one character starting to speak but being told he's "only the Third Policeman and shouldn't even have any lines - shut up!". Coincidentally this also has Tony Curtis in it, hamming up it wonderfully in one version and then later in another,critiquing his own acting, and, co co incidentally, the second film this month in which characters read pages which contain what we see on screen. I had the most fun with it I have had with a film in ages. Definitely on the rewatch with the kids list.
  10. The Caine Mutiny - it seemed an appropriate film to watch with the American Election fiasco finally grinding towards its obvious from weeks ago conclusion. I was surprised to see it was in colour. I've seen it before but that must have been back in the days when I only had a black and white TV. Which is a LOOOONG time ago now. I met the director once. He signed a book for me.
  11. The Fantastic Mister Fox - Number 2 Daughter refused to watch anything with me ever again! (after I conned her into watching Highlander) unless I watched this with her first. So I did.
  12. The Importance of Being Ernest - second film in a WEEK which I would have sworn was in Black and White but is in reality in colour. Very funny and probably one of the most perfectly cast films in history.
  13. Lucy - D#2 get our movie watching back on an even keel. Both of us liked the ideas in the first half but thought Besson ran out of ideas and just filled the screen with SFX (and second-hand car stunts from Taxi) till it was time to go home.

Abandoned in November:
The Very Brady Sequel - Don't tell anyone but I really like the Brady Bunch Movie. It's one of my guilty pleasure, feelgood movies. It's just silly. So I've been kind of looking forward to the sequel for a while now. I lasted about 30 minutes.
The Passionate Stranger - 1950's British film in which a terribly respectable writer leaves the manuscript of her racy romance novel (which bears an uncanny resemblance to real life as a starting point) where her chauffeur can read it. He reads the fictionalised account of a romantically repressed woman falling in love with her chauffeur as a roman à clef and tries to seduce her. I never found out what complications ensued because I was bored rigid by the time they hove into sight. There was a nice idea in here. The central section, where the novel comes to life as the chauffeur reads it, is in colour while the 'real life' is in black and white. The opening section is light and whimsical - no more or less than any number of British 'Comedies' of the day - but the central section is so bloody DULL. It's played, and filmed, too straight. It just looks like a bad British movie instead of the parody of a bad romantic novel that it supposed to be. It would have worked better if they had cranked everything up to eleven and really gone for it. Piled on the cliche, turned up the acting to the kind of sweaty overwrought levels that would make Gainsborough films look like Noel Coward and had FUN with it. The best bit of the whole film was Patricia Dainton's dual role as timid Scottish maid in the Black and white sections to sultry 'no better than she aught to be' seductive English maid in the book sequence. If they had taken that performance as a benchmark and ramped it up from there...



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