Archives for February 2013

Lesson to be Learned from The Third Man (Via Twitter)

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Happy Birthday (Times Two)!

Just wanted to dedicate a little space to extend birthday felicitations to two leading ladies of the silver screen, who ironically enough, shared the screen in the classic films, Father of the Bride and Father’s Little Dividend.

 

First, there was …

The Mother of the Bride (Joan Bennett)

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Ms. Bennett is unfortunately not well renowned for her work nowadays by large swaths of movie lovers, but in her time she sure did leave a mark – for my money at least – in some great classic film noirs. One that I particular liked was Woman in the Window, having previously written about the film on my blog.

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… and there is the Bride herself (Dame Elizabeth Taylor), who I have also covered on this site on the sad occasion of her passing a couple of years ago. She is also personal favorite of my Mom, who singled out her performance in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof as one of her all-time favorites (Mom has taste).

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What are some of your favorite films featuring one (or both) of these actresses?  Share your picks below

Tuesday’s Overlooked Film: Rosewood (1997), directed by John Singleton

For many John Singleton broke new ground with his debut feature Boys N the Hood. While I admit I was quite taken with the film upon its release, it personally has not aged very well for me. The film has a luster to it (a la an afterschool special) that my advanced years would not expect with such a downtrodden subject matter.

However, with the release of 1997’s Rosewood, I think that Singleton has produced his best work to date.

SYNOPSIS

Rosewood is the true story of an almost unknown incident in a small Florida town, ‘Rosewood’ (town’s name was fictionalized for purposes of the film) – the town was inhabited almost entirely by law-abiding African- Americans, most of whom were prosperous, middle-class property landowners. On January 1, 1923, following the false testimony of a white woman against a black man, the town was obliterated by mobs of angry white residents from a neighboring community, who were seeking revenge.

The graphic details of how the inhabitants of Rosewood are on full display for the viewer in this film.

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Although in a supporting role, the shining gem of Rosewood is Mr. Don Cheadle as the resilient Sylvester. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I was not overly convinced by the performance of Ving Rhames as Mann. I think a main reason for this is he is clearly one of the characters who is clearly an invention of the filmmakers – his ‘larger than life” presence in the film at times felt like it took me out of the drama and action that was otherwise rooted in a reality.

The film also stars Jon Voight and Esther Rolle.

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Please make sure to check out other “overlooked” titles by visiting Todd Mason’s Sweet Freedom blog.

Stuff I Learned By Watching the Oscars

Yeah. I got sucked into the fray and ended up watching the Academy Awards last night. It actually was not too bad. But since this is principally a film and not TV blog (although TV does on occasion creep into a post or two), I will not be reviewing or recapping this as a programming event. I leave that to the experts.

What I will gladly do is make a quick list (in no particular order) of the things that I learned by watching this year’s telecast.

    1. They really should have been using the Jaws theme for all these years! (Thanks to my friend QTS for pointing out)
    2. Jennifer Lawrence is definitely one of my favorite people in the world (even if I thought that Chastain should have won for Zero Dark Thirty). photo-4_3_r536_c534
    1. Charlize can cut a rug!!! d235888003913550_charlize_channing_dancing.xxxlarge
    2. I knew Seth MacFarlane liked his pop standards, but dude is a serious musical geek!
    3. Speaking of music – this telecast was more Grammys than the Grammys.
    4. I nominate Kerry Washington as the next Bond girl (did you see that Scandal promo? BTW you really need to be watching that show).

  1. ADELE and JHudson threw down.
  2. Kristen Stewart …
  3. DeNiro is a napper.
  4. Last, but certainly not least – apparently Argo directed itself.

Maybe next year, I will have a full-on Oscar party – stay tuned to this space. I am dying to make Oscar-themed cupcakes!

That’s me done – what was your take on the Academy Awards and the ceremony? Were you pleased with the results?

Share your thoughts below.

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The Oscar Curse: Is it For Real?

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Before I dive into my topic/rant, I would like to send a big shout out to my colleagues Aurora (Once Upon a Screen), Paula (Paula’s Cinema Club) and Kellee (Outspoken & Freckled), who put this wonderful blogging meme together. Be sure to check out their sites to see all the other Oscar-related content bloggers around the world have posted.

Oscar Jinx 

The Oscar Jinx – the Origins

Jinx or curse, whatever – you get the idea. It is a theory as old as the actual awards ceremony themselves – the idea being that upon winning an Academy Award in an acting category, the winner finds themselves on the wrong side of Lady Luck – the offers dry up and they end up in a career paralysis, or simply fade into obscurity.

The first time I had ever heard of such a ‘curse’ was when I heard my dad and brother discussing the career of Louis Gossett Junior, following his win for An Officer and a Gentleman and how it ended up not really doing anything of consequence for his career (there was Enemy Mine, however). In subsequent years, as my passion for cinema grew, I discovered a few more instances of the famed curse, especially how ‘the curse’ impacted one of my favorite actresses Joan Fontaine who after her win in 1942 for Suspicion, said the only thing she gained from bringing home the gold was to be typecast as a “simp” (her words folks, not mine).

A little digging around the web unveiled a lot of interesting featured articles where the writer investigates this ‘phenomenon.’ You are forewarned: the various lists have many repeat customers:

Another observation you may have made is that there sure is a LOT of female representation on this list. This observation, unfortunately, leads to my next topic of discussion, the Oscar “Love” curse.

 

Subcategory: The Oscar “Love” Curse

More recently this curse has created a (more personal) subset of those affected – the Oscar Love curse, whereby love-struck members of the fairer sex (females) are afflicted with relationship woes post their awards triumph. According to “the Wikipedia” – which sourced the lists below – this is real, folks; just take a look at some of the winners (past and present) who apparently have been (un)ceremoniously dumped by their significant others upon winning Oscar:

Best Actress

  • Bette Davis (1936 Dangerous and 1939 Jezebel) and husband Harmon Nelson
  • Joan Crawford (1946 Mildred Pierce) and husband Phillip Terry
  • Jane Wyman (1948 Johnny Belinda) and husband Ronald Reagan
  • Elizabeth Taylor (1961 Butterfield 8 and 1967 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) and husbands Eddie Fisher and Richard Burton
  • Julie Andrews (1965 Mary Poppins) and husband Tony Walton
  • Barbra Streisand (1969 Funny Girl) and husband Elliott Gould
  • Maggie Smith (1970 The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie) and husband Robert Stephens
  • Jane Fonda (1972 Klute) and husband Roger Vadim
  • Liza Minnelli (1973 Cabaret) and husband Peter Allen
  • Cher (1988 Moonstruck) and boyfriend Rob Camilletti
  • Kathy Bates (1991 Misery) and boyfriend later husband Tony Campisi
  • Emma Thompson (1993 Howards End) and husband Kenneth Branagh
  • Jessica Lange (1995 Blue Sky) and longtime partner Sam Shepard
  • Susan Sarandon (1996 Dead Man Walking) and longtime partner Tim Robbins
  • Helen Hunt (1998 As Good as It Gets) and boyfriend later husband Hank Azaria
  • Julia Roberts (2001 Erin Brockovich) and boyfriend Benjamin Bratt
  • Halle Berry (2002 Monster’s Ball) and husband Eric Benet
  • Charlize Theron (2004 Monster) and longtime boyfriend Stuart Townsend
  • Hilary Swank (2000 Boys Don’t Cry and 2005 Million Dollar Baby) and husband Chad Lowe
  • Reese Witherspoon (2006 Walk the Line) and husband Ryan Philippe
  • Kate Winslet (2009 The Reader) and husband Sam Mendes
  • Sandra Bullock (2010 The Blind Side) and husband Jesse James

Supporting Actress

  • Goldie Hawn (1970 Cactus Flower) and husband Gus Trikonis
  • Anjelica Huston (1986 Prizzi’s Honor) and boyfriend Jack Nicholson
  • Geena Davis (1989 The Accidental Tourist) and husband Jeff Goldblum
  • Kim Basinger (1998 L.A. Confidential) and husband Alec Baldwin
  • Renée Zellweger (2004 Cold Mountain) and longtime boyfriend Jack White
  • Jennifer Hudson (2007 Dreamgirls) and longtime boyfriend James Payton

 

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, including –

Best Actress

  • Joanne Woodward (1958 The Three Faces of Eve) and husband Paul Newman were married on January 29, 1958, prior to the March 26th Oscar ceremony and remained so, until Newman’s death in 2008.
  • Sophia Loren (1962 Two Women) and husband Carlo Ponti were married on September 17, 1957. However, the 1962 annulment of their marriage was for legal, rather than personal reasons. Loren and Ponti were formally married on April 9, 1966 and remained so, until Ponti’s death in 2007.
  • Jessica Tandy (1990 Driving Miss Daisy) and husband Hume Cronyn were married on September 27, 1942 and remained so, until Tandy’s death in 1994.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Maggie Smith (1979 California Suite) and husband Beverley Cross were married on August 23, 1975 and remained so, until Cross’s death in 1998.
  • Judi Dench (1999 Shakespeare in Love) and husband Michael Williams were married on February 5, 1971 and remained so, until Williams’ death in 2001.

Side note: Dame Maggie made BOTH lists – BOOM!

Side, side note: my simple observation is that with some of these actresses, notably for the aforementioned Dame Maggie and member of her cohort Dame Judi Dench, their respective wins gave them a “second career” of sorts and they are more popular than ever. This observation in of itself should be an indication of what my final conclusion will be (see below).

 

So With All of this Evidence, Does the “Curse” Hold Water?

In this blogger’s humble opinion, the answer is: maybe kinda sorta  – but maybe not really. WHAT ON EARTH DO I MEAN? My reasoning is quite simple really. YES winning such a prestigious award will change your life – for better or worse, but like with many things in life, it is a combination of preparation, effective decision making and sheer luck that determines the ultimate outcome. Now, that is not to say that ripe acting opportunities are limited. So while the Oscar may get you in the door, it is not a sure-fire ticket to continued success.

Also if you are fortunate enough to win, there is an added pressure to find a vehicle that potentially can match the acclaim of that winning performance. Granted, some folks are lucky enough and lightning WILL strike more than once (see above); but really that is more the exception, not the rule. If anything, the winning performance by an actor is more so an indication of them being the top of their game, the peak of their powers – and as the phrase goes it is all downhill from here in most cases. So sad, but so true.

As it pertains to the “love” curse I suppose especially for those folks whose partner is also in the business there is the chance that a little professional rivalry and/or jealousy exists and will precipitate hurt feelings and such. But seriously, looking at some of these entries on Wikipedia are a bit of a stretch given that in some cases, the relationship ended YEARS after the actress won the statue. In other words, I am calling BUNK on this part of the theory.

In the end, I say take the Oscar and hope for the best …

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But that is just me and my humble opinion; I could probably spend another 1000 words trying to debunk this further, but my fingers are tired.

Now is your turn; how about you? What do you think? Is the Oscar curse, be it professional OR personal something real?

Share your comments below.

Tuesday’s Overlooked Film: The Boy Who Could Fly (1986)

The Boy Who Could Fly is a favorite childhood film, one that I have not thought about for YEARS.

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SYNOPSIS

After the suicide of her terminally ill father, 15-year old Milly (Lucy Deakins) becomes friends with Eric (Jay Underwood), who lost both of his parents to a plane crash. This common, tragic experience allows them to form a very close friendship as a way of coping.

The film also stars Bonnie Bedelia, Fred Savage, Colleen Dewhurst and Fred Gwynne.

I cannot tell you if this film had the most accurate depiction of someone with autism, but I remember being moved by the story, even though at the time I had no idea of how to relate to such a loss (especially for someone so young). I suspect that with the passing years and with the unfortunate loss of one of my parents, the lens through which I enjoy this film is slightly different.

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ILC fun fact: writer/director Nick Castle is also an actor, probably best known as Michael Myers – yeah, he of Halloween fame. Go figure.

Have you seen this film? What did you think about it?

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* Be sure to check out the other overlooked selections on Todd Mason’s Sweet Freedom blog.

Remembering Richard Briers (1934-2013)

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I was so sad to wake up to the news this morning of the passing of veteran British actor Richard Briers. Known primarily for the comedic role he played on television (in BBC’s The Good Life), during his later years in particular, his full acting range was on display, in large part courtesy of his collaboration with Kenneth Branagh in films such as:

  • Henry V (1989)
  • Peter’s Friends (1992)
  • Much Ado About Nothing (1993) * a personal favorite of mine; Briers is pictured with Kate Beckinsale above in a still from the movie.
  • Frankenstein (1994)
  • A Midwinter’s Tale (1995)
  • Hamlet (1996)
  • Love’s Labour’s Lost (2000)
  • As You Like It (2006)

He was also in the films Spice World (1996) and Peter Pan (2003); his last screen appearance was in the British horror-comedy Cockneys vs Zombies (2012).

 

 

Tuesday’s Overlooked Film: Near Dark (1987)

This Tuesday I place my second Kathryn Bigelow entry into ILC’s Overlooked Registry. It is (as my title indicates) Near Dark, the 1987 contemporary vampire thriller movie starring Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton. Over the years, has established quite a cult following.

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Midwestern farm hand Caleb (Pasdar) meets up with a mysterious young woman Mae (Wright), who, it turns out is a vampire who before they part company, bites Caleb, thus initiating him into the realm of the undead. Mae rolls with a vicious cohort of fellow blood suckers led by Jesse Hooker (Henriksen) who reluctantly take Caleb under their wing.

In a parallel story, Caleb’s father (Tim Thomerson) and sister are in a desperate search for Caleb when it becomes apparent that he has been taken against his will.

Eventually the story threads merge into a denouement that one may not expect in a film such as this (at least in my mind anyways).

I will admit that this film is not for everyone (due to the level of blood and violence) and I left it knowing immediately it would require a re-watch on my part, so I can pick up on some of the details I missed in my initial viewing.

On another level I think that Near Dark is a good opportunity to see the early work of Bigelow, who is best known for her latest war films (Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty) and the FBI/Surfer Dude heist-er (Point Break).

Check out the trailer here:

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* Please be sure to check out other overlooked/forgotten films over at Todd Mason’s blog, Sweet Freedom.

BAFTA Poll

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Did you watch the BAFTAs Last Night?

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A Musical Interlude …

Happy Friday everyone!

I have been listening to a lot of Sam Cooke lately. Currently on my reading list (once I get though the backlog of books) is his biography. I have always been fascinated by his tragically short life. So I am really looking forward to digging into the book when the time comes.

What you may ask does this have to do with the world of cinema?

Well, this week as I was making my journey to work, waiting on the subway platform for the express train, an underground troubadour began to sing Cooke’s classic Wonderful World. And whenever I think about that song, I am transported to this film:

Granted this is not Mr. Cooke’s version of the song (rather it is a cover version by Greg Chapman), but I forever associate his vocals whenever I think about this song …

In case you were curious, here is the Sam Cooke version of the song:

Now back to Witness I absolutely love this film. I will refrain from making this a full on recap/review of the film but the juxtaposing of the two worlds is so wonderfully done, my words cannot do it justice. All I can say is that if you have not seen this film – Forshame! JK, but seriously, Witness is well worth the time to catch this one (and yes that is a very young Viggo Mortensen behind Harrison Ford).

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