Archives for July 2012

Tuesday’s Overlooked: Special Edition (Infected: The Movie)

Today is July 31st. It would have been my dad’s 67th birthday. Heck it is his 67th birthday. Not a day goes by that I do not think about him. This post is written in his memory …

As a child, this film was a constant source of annoyance for me because when my father played it (he taped it off TV), he played it loudly and often at the most inopportune times (like when I was trying to sleep). Having been primarily raised on a steady diet of easy listening (courtesy of my mother), R&B, Hip-Hop (when it was RAP) and a few bits of the old Rock ‘n Roll, the sounds of this post-punk alt-rock band (The The is their name) was more than a slight departure for me.

However, as with so many things in our lives, the years have made this music less of an ear sore and something that is now recalled as being a fond youthful remembrance – not only because of its association with my father, but because, if I am completely honest with myself, some of the music is actually alright.

With the release of 1986 album, Infected, Matt Johnson (the sole constant member of The The), with the aid of a host of guest musicians, put together a feature length piece that was comprised of music videos shot in various locations around the world.

Here is just one sample (featuring ‘Buffalo Stance’ Neneh Cherry – yes I AM dating myself):

It would not be a stretch for me to say that this music is not suited to everyone’s taste; nonetheless, when I thought about what movie to choose this week, I could not think of a better title to reflect my father’s varied and often offbeat tastes.

Stuff I Learned this Weekend …

Here’s a brief roundup of some of the stuff that I came to my attention this past weekend (mostly cinema-related but not always). Enjoy!

1) I am pretty hyped for the upcoming Bond flick, Skyfall

(Still don’t know who will win in a fight between he and Aaron Cross:

2) I was right about TDKR – as was proven by my somewhat skeptical brother 🙂

3) Director Danny Boyle has a very furtive imagination indeed (not that it ever was in doubt, really …)!
It’s the Shire!

4) I actually like a lot of Rolling Stones music (the old stuff of course).

5) It’s confirmed, there is an Alamo Drafthouse comin’ to my neck of the woods … yipee!

Weekend Viewing

Here are a few of the films that are scheduled for release today:

  • The Watch
  • Step Up Revolution
  • Killer Joe
  • Ruby Sparks

In all likelihood, I will be staying away from the cinema (yet I STILL need to get to Beasts of the Southern Wild!). And since  I love sport(s) and I love London , this weekend is all about the start of the Olympics for me anyway; it gets a cinematic launch, courtesy of Mr. Danny Boyle and his Opening Ceremony!

In between, I expect to get through the last episode and a half The Shadow Line and get started on my “mission catch-up” with The Walking Dead on Netflix.

What will you be watching this weekend?

Are you excited about the Olympics?

Run-up to the Olympics: Chariots of Fire (1981)

Continuing on the Olympic theme I started yesterday, I have decided to spotlight a couple of Olympic-themed films.

Let’s start in the location of this year’s games – the United Kingdom, or rather England to be exact. The first film I will highlight is the multiple Academy Award winning feature, Chariots of Fire. 

SYNOPSIS

Chariots of Fire is a 1981 British film. It tells the fact-based story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics: Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God, and Harold Abrahams, an English Jew who runs to overcome prejudice. (Source: Wikipedia)

This is a film I have only seen within the past five years – as a youth I always felt that this film was always inaccessible to me. It always seemed a bit cold and remote to me.

After having seen it, I can honestly say that the needle has shifted, if only slightly. Do not get me wrong it is a well-crafted film, but the performances in particular felt a little stilted and stagey for my tastes. One would think that a film about running would have some “pace” to it; instead, I feel like the film was dragged down as a result of it. You certainly felt all of the 124 minute running time.

On the positive side, I did like the framing device by which the story was told – and oh yeah and that musical score (Vangelis) is iconic.

Tuesday’s Overlooked, Olympic Edition: The Jesse Owens Story (TV, 1984)

Ahead of the Opening Ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics (this Friday), I decided to dig through the archives for a film that may have gotten lost over the years. What I came up with is a television movie from the 1980s that I remember well – mainly because as a child I was made to sit down and watch the film due to its historical subject matter.

The Jesse Owens Story is just that – a biopic of the Olympian which chronicles his life and times. The highlight (of course) is his triumph at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

While it does follow many of the standard televisual tropes, I recall it being an entertaining movie with a solid dramatic turn by Dorian Harewood.

There is not much multimedia I can find for this film, save for the following clip:

This title is available for purchase at Amazon.


* Be sure to read about additional titles over at Todd Mason’s blog, Sweet Freedom.

TDKR = Epic Awesomeness

PLEASE NOTE: This is not necessarily a review. Partially because I am lazy and do not have the time to produce the fully developed, well-reasoned analysis this film deserves. Also, whenever possible I enjoy bucking convention when it comes to a critical reaction to a film; I think it makes things more exciting 🙂

I do recognize, however, that after seeing The Dark Knight Rises this past Friday, I could not let the moment pass without letting the readers (at least) know what I thought of the film – as if the title of this post were not indication enough.

As we know, films like these that come in 3’s usually can be a bit of a let down in its closing installment. So automatically, the expectation and excitement I had for this film was a bit tempered. But, as you will see by the following aspects of the film that I have highlighted below, The Dark Knight Rises left me with an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction and completion.

 

The slow burn. I felt like the action that awaited us largely in the remainder of the movie was well earned by the dramatic tension, pathos and humor experienced in the early stages of the film.

 

Anne Hathaway. While I have my favorite actors/actresses, I try not to invest too much time and energy in those thesps that I look upon less favorably. In the case of Anne Hathaway, on the best of days, I have remained relatively ambivalent about her. Here in The Dark Knight Rises, she delivered the goods. I was quite impressed with her performance. And better yet, I want her personal trainer 🙂

 

The cast at large. As with many comic book adapts, the law of diminishing returns holds. When I saw the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises I was a little apprehensive – there were too many people that I recognized! How would they all get a fair share of screen time? Well leave it to Nolan to balance everyone’s role and create a true ensemble piece.

 

Those nice little surprises. From the cameos to little plot twists, this installment gave it to you all.

 

It truly was a communal cinematic experience. In a world of flat panel monitors and home cinemas, people have started to question the need for the multiplex, movie house, or any incarnation of film exhibition that lies in between.  A large part of my enjoyment from watching the film was that I was in a room full of strangers who were laughing, crying and clapping along. In other words, we are all there to have a good time – and we did. And in the wake of the unspeakable tragedy of this past weekend, that was a warm, reassuring experience to have.

 

I could not have imagined a better send off for the Christopher Nolan “Dark Knight” canon.

(For the uninitiated, not to worry – you can always catch up on the first two in The Dark Knight trilogy by signing up and watch movies online for free).

Clips and Bits

Greetings everyone! Welcome to another edition of the (rather sporadic) Clip and Bits, where I highlight some fun bits of information I have gathered over the past week or so.

 

1. Another Good Read

As far a aggregators go, one of the best ones (at least a favorite of mine) in the BBC Film iPaper. I may have mentioned it before, but the layout and snippets that this bulletin follow are great. This week (of course) has LOADS of information surrounding The Dark Knight Rises, but there are also some great general reads as well. Check it out when you get a moment.

 

 

2. Speaking of The Dark Knight Rises … 

On my way home from work on Monday, I ‘stumbled upon’ the setup for the red carpet premiere of the film. Honestly I had NO clue that it was playing at on of ‘my locals,’ so it came as a pleasant surprise. Here is an iPhone snap as I did my walk-by.

 

3. From a Distance … a Comic-Con Recap

While I was not cool enough to partake in the festivities in sunny San Diego, I was following the proceedings on the Internets. Here is a pretty good movie recap, courtesy of E!. For my part, I wish I could have been there for The Hobbit panel – it looks quite exciting actually. One film that I am getting more curious about is The Man of Steel. The poster looks kinda cool, but there is that rather prescient fear that it will again be a case of style over substance.

Needless to say I think I am going to join the queue of fanboys and fangirls in 2013 and participate in the festivities!

Tuesday’s Overlooked Film: The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934)

We seek him here, we seek him there,
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
Is he in heaven?—Is he in hell?
That demmed, elusive Pimpernel.

Howard and Merle Oberon

The appeal of this film for me is the fact that I LOVE the source material. It is that perfect balance of action, suspense and romantic drama.  When I realized that there a B&W filmed version of Baroness Orczy’s classic.

SYNOPSIS

A British aristocrat’s effete facade masks a swashbuckling hero rescuing victims of the French revolution.

I think that about sums it up. The performances were great, especially those of our star, Leslie Howard and Raymond Massey as the republican villain Citizen Chauvelin.

Here is the trailer for your enjoyment:

For those of you who have not seen this, it will be on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) July 31st at 8:00PM. Set your DVRs!

Celeste Holm (1917-2012)

With the passing of Celeste Holm this past weekend, we lost yet another stalwart film, television and stage performer (and Academy Award winner to boot). In honor of her life and body of work, I have decided to feature a few of my favorite performances of hers.

The Snake Pit (1948): This is a favorite film of mine; a groundbreaking film at the time in that it explored mental illness and the facilities and people who are left to care for the mentally indigent. Her role (like so many of her roles) is a supporting one, but you remember her time onscreen.

A Letter to Three Wives (1949); voiceover as “Addie Ross” – while never seen onscreen (and not receiving an official screen credit), her presence looms large over all of the movie’s proceedings. For it is her “letter” that tells us that she has run off with one of our principal players’ (Linda Darnell, Jeanne Crain, Ann Sothern) husbands. Another old-school gem that you must see if you have not already done so.

All About Eve (1950) – yes the film is all about Eve Harrington and Margo Chandler, but Holm, as Karen Richards, Margo’s close friend, who brings the star-struck and plotting Eve into ‘their’ world. She is also there to offer the odd pithy one-liner.

 

What are some of your favorite Holm’s film performances?

What To Watch (Or Not) This Weekend :)

Oh well, another weekend is upon us and unfortunately in the cinemas, the pickings are rather slim. Let the countdown to TDKR begins (I suppose).

Among the choices are (along with some immediate reactions):

  • Ice Age: Continental Drift 3D – Haven’t seen the others so no interest in this third installment.
  • Red Lights – I only saw the trailer for this one this week; I suspect that is by design. Does not bode well for the film, despite having highly regarded talent involved.
  • The Imposter – Heard about this one earlier in the year; may be worth a peak especially if you like documentaries that have a mystery at the heart of them.
  • Trishna – Saw this at TFF a few months back; an ambitious adaptation of Tess D’Urbervilles. Ultimatley it did not do much for me.
  • Easy Money – A “Martin Scorcese Presents” production; had not previously heard of it until I checked out this week’s releases.
  • Farewell, My Queen – Really liked this film and have previously raved about it. Although it is in limited release, be sure to catch it if you can.

I for one, am headed out to Brooklyn NY on Saturday for a screening of Hitchcock’s Rear Window. I cannot wait!

How about you?