Archives for May 2009

On Location – San Francisco

Here is an “on location” shot from 1959’s Vertigo.  It is the Palace of the Legion of Honor Museum; it is one of the many locations in San Francisco where James Stewart follows Kim Novak.

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Photograph Taken August 2007

This film was great in capturing the spirit of San Francisco.  In fact, several tours will take you to the various locations in and around San Fran where Hitchcock shot. Here is about.com‘s guide to the many real life locations featured in the film.

There is also a great book about Vertigo and San Francisco (Footsteps in the Fog).  It is recommended reading for any fan of San Francisco or Alfred Hitchcock.

Programming Alert: James Stewart Birthday Tribute on TCM (5/20)

bday cakeSet your DVRs! Wednesday’s programming will be dedicated to some of the best work of James Stewart. Here they are!

While I like most of his work, I have marked my personal favorite films with an asterisk (*).  Enjoy!

6:30am  Anatomy Of A Murder (1959)
A small-town lawyer gets the case of a lifetime when a military man avenges an attack on his wife.
Cast: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, Arthur O’Connell Dir: Otto Preminger

* 9:30am You Can’t Take It With You (1938)
A girl from a family of freethinkers falls for the son of a conservative banker.
Cast: Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore, James Stewart, Edward Arnold Dir: Frank Capra

11:45am  Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
An idealistic Senate replacement takes on political corruption.
Cast: Jean Arthur, James Stewart, Claude Rains, Edward Arnold Dir: Frank Capra

* 2:00pm  Rear Window (1954)
A photographer with a broken leg uncovers a murder while spying on the neighbors in a nearby apartment building.
Cast: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter Dir: Alfred Hitchcock

* 4:00pm  Vertigo (1958)
A detective falls for the mysterious woman he’s been hired to tail.
Cast: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes, Tom Helmore Dir: Alfred Hitchcock

6:15pm  Bell, Book and Candle (1959)
A beautiful witch puts a love spell on an unknowing publisher.
Cast: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Jack Lemmon, Ernie Kovacs Dir: Richard Quine

For a complete James Stewart filmography, visit the Internet Movie Database.  One film not featured in the birthday tribute but worth noting in Call Northside 777 (1948).

The Weinstein Company – Nine

Just saw the trailer for The Weinstein Company‘s “Nine.”  What do you think?

A Fan's Appreciation of Kate Winslet

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During this year’s awards season, with each award bestowed upon Kate Winslet, observers were less than impressed at time with what they considered her blubbering, drama-fraught acceptance speeches. They were primarily reflecting on the Golden Globes and the Oscars.  When I watched the speeches back, I see something very different.  I felt what the audience saw on stage was a cathartic release of sorts.  After years of being risky and taking less than conventional roles, she was finally rewarded for her efforts.  Yes, she has won awards and plaudits throughout her career but let’s face it, after being the perpetual bridesmaid, one must hope to receive the brass ring someday.

My appreciation for her body of work precedes Titanic.  Her performances in 1994’s Heavenly Creatures (directed by a pre-LOTR Peter Jackson) and 1995’s Sense and Sensibility left me in amazement of what that a person not much older than me (less than a year separate us) could accomplish.

After the out of this world success of Titanic, she could have easily gone Hollywood and become America’s English Sweetheart. Instead, she chose a series of atypical, often unglamorous roles in films such as Hideous Kinky, Holy Smoke, Quills, Enigma, Little Children, and Finding Neverland. One of my personal favorites is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which is quite simply one of the finest, most imaginative love stories I have ever seen.

Her Emmy-nominated turn as not quite herself in Extras displayed her bawdy side as well as her ability to have a laugh at her own expense.  Ironically, during this episode she laments to Ricky Gervais’ Andy Millman that the only way she is going to receive the Oscar that she so covets is to play in a Holocaust picture.

In every performance, what comes through is an individual that gives her all and does not hold back.  This is what her fans love and appreciate about her.

On Location – Florence

I have decided to add a section called “On Location.”  I will post photographs I have taken at locations from some of my favorite movies.  Some you will recognize, while others, maybe not.

For my first entry, here is a shot (albeit at night) of the Piazza della Signoria in Florence from Merchant Ivory’s A Room With a View (1985).  This is used in the scene where Lucy Honeychurch sees the Florentine murdered and she passes out, to be aided by George Emerson.

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Piazza della Signoria

Top Bromances of all Time

This is taken directly from WENN news (via the Internet Movie Database):

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Butch and Sundance … greatest bromance of all

Butch & Sundance Top Bromance Poll

Paul Newman and Robert Redford have topped a new Internet poll listing the top 10 Movie Bromances of all time.

The pair’s Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid roles beat Lethal Weapon’s Murtaugh and Riggs, portrayed by Danny Glover and Mel Gibson, on RoddysRockinReviews.com’s online countdown.

Naming Newman and Redford’s portrayals number one, the website claims Butch and Sundance are the “Bromance of Bromances,” adding, “When things in their wild world goes awry the two have so much devotion to each other that they face their imminent doom together without even blinking.”

Point Break’s Bodhi and Johnny Utah, played by Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves, Star Trek’s Spock and Captain Kirk and Top Gun’s Maverick (Tom Cruise) and Iceman (Val Kilmer) also make the new top 10.

Personally, I could not agree more!  Butch and Sundance is one of my favorites all-time.

What do you think?  Did the public get it right?  What other bromances did the pollsters miss?

Movie Recommendation: My Last Five Girlfriends

Brendan Patricks and Naomie Harris

Brendan Patricks and Naomie Harris

The film’s premise is loosely based on Alain de Botton’s On Love (Essays in Love in the United Kingdom).  The novel is a blend of narrative and non-fiction format, in which the central character mulls over the true meaning of love and our behavior under its influence.

Going one step further, the film expands the protagonist’s (newcomer Brendan Patricks) love life to five women, to whom he is drafting a collective suicide note to at the beginning of the film.  As he is writing the letter, the audience sees, in flashback sequences, the highs and lows of his romantic travails.

Julian Kemp cleverly interweaves the film’s narrative with de Botton’s philosophical observations in a series of quirky and enjoyable asides all dealing with love and fate.  Instead of simply playing these flashbacks straight, the audience goes (literally) on a series of amusing rides representing each of the women in his life.  By the end of the movie, we are brought back to the present with a “twist” that was a bit surprising, but cleverly executed.

The source material initially attracted me to this film.  I am a fan of Status Anxiety, written by de Botton and On Love is presently on my reading list.  Even if you do not have an interest in the central philosophical arguments presented in this film, a love for offbeat romantic comedies will suffice.

The only problem I foresee is where to see it.  I was able to catch this film during this year’s Tribeca Film Festival but I am not sure about its wider theatrical release.  I will try to keep readers posted as to any updates I receive regarding distribution of the film.

Cast & Credits

Primary Cast: Brendan Patricks, Naomie Harris, Jane March, Cécile Cassel, Kelly Adams, Edith Bukovics
Director: Julian Kemp
Screenwriter: Julian Kemp
Producer(s): Marion Pilowsky, David Willing, Michael Kelk
From the United Kingdom
Running Time: 87 minutes

Review in Brief: "Star Trek" (2009)

stAfter a bit of a letdown with last week’s release (Wolverine), I decided to temper my expectations for the weekend’s BIG release, Star Trek.  However as the day drew closer I found myself teaming with expectation.  Ever since I saw the teaser trailer in last years’ Cloverfield, I was both curious and eager to see what JJ Abrams and Co. would do with the franchise.  Let me just say it did not disappoint in the least.  I thought it was a very fresh, hip take on the original television series.  While I do not consider myself a “trekkie” by any stretch of the imagination, I was a follower of the original series.  The subsequent series (Next Generation, etc.) were occasionally part of my television viewing.

I had a less familiar relationship with the movie series.  I have seen a few of the films, most notably The Voyage Home with any other films I saw a result of my brother insisting I sit through them on cable TV.

What I saw last night in IMAX was so refreshing.  It had all the action I was expecting.  My only pre-viewing reservation was that the cast would not be able to pull it off.  Boy was I wrong.  They accomplished two amazing things in their performance:  they were able to remind us about the original characters and in turn the original actors’ portrayal while at the same time bringing their own touch to the roles.  All too often what makes re-imaginings a hard sell is that fact that the actors get caught up in impersonations of the character portrayals.  That did not happen here.

In fact, I laughed a lot more than I have in a Star Trek movie.  Moreover, all the laughter was properly placed and not forced.

For a summer film, it hit all the marks: it wowed, entertained and left you leaving the theater in high spirits.

Shoutout to the TCM Underground!

tcm underground

Over the past several months, I have found myself watching several movies from the TCM Underground that I have recorded due to their late airings.  From what I can gather, the goal of the Underground is to showcase cult films.  Previously I reviewed Two Thousand Maniacs on this blog – it was also shown on the Underground.  These films cover the gambit from your Plan Nine from Outer Space, which by all accounts is just bad on all levels, to Night of the Living Dead, a quintessential well-made cult classic.  Therefore, you can see that all the films do not necessarily have to be bad.  I am just making it a goal of mine to see a few of the really awful ones.  The way I figure, you really do not know how good a movie is until you have sat through a poorly made movie.

An innocent girl! A life destroyed!

An innocent girl! A life destroyed!

It is in that spirit that I viewed 1934’s Road to Ruin.  Reading the movie synopsis on my guide I was certain that it was in the same vein as Reefer Madness and other exploitation cautionary tales made at this time.  Over the course of the next 60 minutes, I knew I was not watching high art but I would be lying if I said the film’s concluding scenes did not a little sadden me.  It just goes to show that any movie, even a turkey, can elicit a visceral response from your audience.

Visit the TCM Underground for more information, including schedules, video clips, wallpapers and more fun stuff!

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To read more about cult cinema, there is a great series of articles in the December 2008 issue of Cineaste magazine.  These articles cover a wide range of topics related to cult films.