Archives for July 2010

On the occassion of your 65th birthday dad (In loving memory)

Today would have been my father’s 65th birthday. He passed away on May 26th. This brief post is dedicated to his memory …

If it were not for the cultural influence my father had on my life this blog would probably not exist.

If not for him I would not have been introduced to the likes of Monty Python and by extension Fawlty Towers. Throw into the mix a heavy dose of Doctor Who (esp. the Tom Baker years) and the result is my admiration of British film and television.

If not for my father I would not wait in anticipation for the twice yearly Twilight Zone marathon that me and my brothers watch constantly (The Howling Man was his favorite). By sheer coincidence this year the marathon did not play.

And now the movies – where do I start?

It is not just the standard issue classics he introduced me to – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is most prominent in my mind (“They were just two fools.” he was apt to say).

Thanks to him I developed an appreciation for Alfred Hitchcock too – in fact, obsession with the Master of Suspense surpassed anything my father could possibly imagine but there was no going back (not that I would ever want to).

If not for my dad, I would not have been exposed to cult classics such as Plan 9 from Outer Space, the original Stepfather, Fright Night, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes;  the list can go on and on. Our appreciation for things cult also extended to being great devotees of the “Mystery Science Theatre 3K” crew (now Cinematic Titanic).

There also cropped up the occasional film that sparked disagreement about its merits (I never got Suture, sorry Dad) – not to mention his love for made-for-SciFi Channel movies (goodness gracious).

With all my study and examination of the art of cinema, in the end my father taught me to sometimes abandon that critical eye and just enjoy a film as entertainment. And I am sure in the days, months and years to come, I will wonder he would have thought of this or that movie. I will miss being able to tell him that this movie is a “must-watch.”

This morning as our family head out to the national cemetery where he is buried (he served in Vietnam; fave Vietnam flick? Hamburger Hill) I will remember all those times we sat down, watched and talked about the movies with warmth and fondness.

We all love you and miss you dearly, Poppa D.

(Sort of ) A Review of “Inception”

Inception was one heck of a ride. There were definitely layers within layers (within layers) but at the core I feel that the story was not directly dealing with the dream landscape but rather is a device by which we get to the heart of the story – a story that taps real (not imagined) human emotions such as longing, loss and guilt. At least, that is what I took away from the film.

I do not want to discuss the plot elements for fear of divulging too many details. If you have seen the trailer, that should provide an interesting entree into what you can expect from the film. Anything else I would attempt to articulate would do not do the movie justice and possibly spoil it for others.

As for the performances, everyone seemed properly cast in their roles. Leonardo DiCaprio has really come into his own as an actor and he is going to go from strength to strength. There is no mistaking that this is an ensemble cast anchored by a central character’s conflict. They all do a magnificent job in orbiting this world that Nolan has created; how could you really go wrong with talents such as Cillian Murphy, Ellen Paige, Michael Caine, Marion Cotillard et al? A stand out performance for me was that of Joseph Gordon Levitt (dude from the television series 3rd Rock from the Sun). He provided more than one chuckle-worthy moment and had probably the best “action” sequence (non-CGI) in recent memory. At the end of one of the longer parts of the sequence, the audience ripped into rapturous applause.

As for the auteur, writer/director Christopher Nolan – I will not belabor you all by talking about what a genius he is, etc. I think enough has been said in that regard. Just know that this film does not disappoint and adds to the tremendous filmography that he has produced over the couple of decades.

In the end, I am recommending that you do go into watching the movie bearing this in mind – it is a story of ideas. Yes it maybe could have been presented in a less mind-bending manner but that is part of the fun – it is a thought exercise in which you are left to answer questions about the plot – are we dreaming, etc. They leave you wondering what way is up and exactly what is that line between reality and what we want to be real. And we arrive at that place exhilarated and wanting more.

*Side note: in some ways I am reminded of The Twilight Zone in particular episodes such as “Perchance to Dream,” “Shadow Play” and the like. Those are just the ones that immediately come to mind.

Quick Reaction to “Gun Crazy” (1950)

Tonight Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is featuring the films of B-movie director Joseph H. Lewis. So far I have watched “So Dark the Night” (a surprisingly clever film featuring a bevvy of French actors). I am currently near the final 1/3 of “Gun Crazy” a film that I have been eager to catch but never had the opportunity. It is perhaps the best known of Mr. Lewis’ films and required viewing for students of the film noir movement.

However as I am watching it I am a little let down; my expectations were of an authentic, gritty crime thriller of sorts but that is not what I have watched. Sure there are dramatic and somewhat tense moments but nothing on the scale that I was looking for in a noir drama. Of particular interest to me was the performance of John Dall. As the male lead I assumed that his character “Bart” would be the primary catalyst of the criminal action – similar to his portrayal of “Brandon” of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rope” (another personal favorite of mine). But instead, he is the trigger-happy, yet reasonable in some ways foil to his more ruthless partner in crime, “Laurie” (Ms. Cummins).

I am still happy that I saw it because in spite of my original expectations being altered as a result of the viewing it is notable in my estimation for one reason – the fact that the female (femme fatale) is so dominant in the relationship and really the one that we should look out for.

Be Sure to Visit July 31st!

Hi all,

As you can see I have not been posting regularly in the past month or so … stay tuned to my blog for a July 31st special post that will explain my recent scant postings.

Until then ….

Travel Advisory

Rue the Rue (de Paradis)On a recent trip to Paris, I thought it would be a great idea to take a location shot of one of my favorite recent films Taken. The task was simple enough a sign of the infamous “Rue de Paradis.” The execution left a lot to be desired. I got hopelessly lost in my quest and soon realized why that location was selected for the particularly scene in the movie. Not that I thought the area was entirely bad but as a non-native visiting a city you really should feel comfortable navigating your way around your environs.  Just as I would not expect tourists to go to certain areas of my nearest city, New York, the same rule holds for other international cities.

So in short, that is my travel advisory when you are “scouting” locations that have been featured in famous films: Know where you are going!

Happy Travels and Filmgoing!

Happy Birthday Olivia!