Archives for March 2013

My Favorite Moments in Fashion, Hollywood Style

It is my honor to participate in this lovely blogging event (“Fashion in Film Blogathon”), hosted by Angela at The Hollywood Revue. Be sure to check out her blog to read more contributions!

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These are moments when I saw what was on the screen and totally wished that were me looking all elegant, sophisticated or just downright put together in a fashion ensemble. What I have assembled is a bit of a hodgey-podgey collection of clothing that I find either absolutely fabulous but in all likelihood would not wear, for a variety of reasons to fashions I can easily see myself slipping into.

 

AUDREY HEPBURN  Funny Face

So many fashion moments from her but alas I will just pick one. But I love the lithe, youthful vibe I get from her attire in this film.

FunnyFace copy

 

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY  Atonement

Definitely not meant for fuller figures but this dress is stunning.

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GRACE KELLY Rear Window

I love her style – classic, sophisticated personified. That is all …

Rearwindow

 

DREW BARRYMORE  Music & Lyrics

Granted the film is not up there with other screen gems (I did like it though), but I love Drew’s style in this film (and in life).

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AMANDA BYNES What a Girl Wants

To add this one to the list is to admit I have seen the film – more than once 🙂 In spite of the cheesiness of the film, I must give all dap to the costume designer. From the elegant frocks to the lovely relaxed, vintage (I SO still want that sarong), there is no denying that these are some well put together ensembles.

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Well these are some of my personal faves – what are yours?

Check Out My NEW Page for the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival!

As you can imagine I am SUPER excited to be heading to LA next month to cover the upcoming Turner Classic Film Festival! A lifelong fan of classic cinema, it has always been a dream of mine to attend this wonderful event and now the moment has come!

 

In conjunction with my coverage of the I have created a new page on my blog where I will capture all the programming updates leading up to the 25th of April. Stay tuned to the space (and Twitter) for further updates. From what I can tell, it is going to be a wonderful 4 days in Hollywood!

Everybody Has a Plan (Todos Tenemos Un Plan) Argentina, 2012

First off – sorry this review is posted so late; but as the following passage in the Robert Burns poem, To a Mouse states:

But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

I so had the best of intentions last week and while I had bits of my commentary written out, I just could not manage to finish and refine it on time. ANYWAYS, I am finally there and so, here we are.

Normally when I am posting a review/response to a film, I do not look at what others say. This time however and for this film in particular, I was a bit curious. When I read the IMDB rating and the Rotten Tomatoes aggregate, as well as read some of the corresponding reviews, I was a bit surprised. While I would not put this film up there with the great thrillers of this or any other era, it is not the as bad as some would characterize it.

Indeed the film is held together for the most part on the strength of its lead, Viggo Mortensen; but there is another element that captured my notice – the environmental setting, known in Argentina as the Tigre Delta. It seems the perfect location and backdrop for a story shrouded in mystery; one that relies on the revelations of the unknown.

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Directed and written by filmmaker Ana Piterbarg, Everybody Has a Plan (Todos Tenemos Un Plan) tells the story of brothers Agustin and Pedro (Mortensen in a dual role), who could not be any different. By all accounts, Agustin is respectable doctor who lives with his wife in Buenos Aires. Eventually the audience is made privy to the uneasiness that Agustin has with his staid life and is seeking life’s ‘next big adventure.’

His identical twin brother, Pedro, lives in the aforementioned Delta of their childhood. Early on, it was not totally apparent to me what he was involved in, but it definitely looked a little shady. Almost immediately, my suspicions were confirmed.

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At the moment of Pedro’s untimely (?) death Agustin decides to put action to his thoughts about pursuing that adventure, assuming his brother’s identity and returning to the Tigre Delta. Upon his arrival ‘home,’ he soon discovers the many layers of his brother’s less-than-noble activities.

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So what did I think about the film? Off the bat, I must admit, that yes, some of the criticism (and praise) I have read was reasonable. On the plus side thee was the already referred to performance of Viggo Mortensen.

On the negative side, on more than one occasion, I was not sure what this film was trying to be – was it a straightforward crime thriller? an intense family relationship drama? a taught mystery?

Now, this is not to say a film cannot have ALL of these elements but rather that at its most effective, a film more or less follows an identifiable narrative path. The process of moving beyond this convention to surprise and shock an audience is usually left to the most artistically adventurous of filmmakers.

For Mortensen’s part, I can totally see why he would take on this project (he is also credited one of the film’s Producers). Having spent his early years in Argentina, this marks a homecoming of sorts. It is obvious in his portrayal that he is comfortable and at ease with the material and the language.

So to recap, not a great film but definitely a terrible one either (at least in my opinion).

Filmed in Spanish with English subtitles; total running time of 118 minutes.

 

Tuesday’s Overlooked Film: Rabbit Proof Fence (2002)

Happy Tuesday everyone! After this weekend’s delight that was The Sapphires, I was reminded of another film that dealt with some of the issues mentioned, but dealt with in a more dramatic fashion. Rabbit Proof Fence, directed by Phillip Noyce (Dead Calm), saw him return to his native Australia to film an adaptation of Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington Garimara. It is based the true account about the author’s mother a mixed-race Aborigine, who along with two other girls, who ran away from the Moore River Native Settlement in Western Australia, to return to their families, after having been placed there in 1931. The settlements were used by the Australian government to make the “half-castes” ready to integrate into white Australian society as domestics, with the hope that they will eventually marry and further dilute their Aboriginal blood.

Remarkably, in the film (as in real life) the girls walked along 1,500 miles of the Australian rabbit-proof fence to return to their community all the while with the law and an indigenous tracker on their trail.

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The cast included Evelyn Sampi, David Gulpill, Deborah Mailman (of the aforementioned The Sapphires), Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty) and Kenneth Branagh.

Check out the trailer here:

 

Be sure to check out other Overlooked films at Todd Mason’s blog, Sweet Freedom.

“The Sapphires” is Quite the Charmer

The Sapphires (2012) is based on the 2004 stage play of the same name, itself loosely based on a true story. The film is directed by Wayne Blair and co-written by Keith Thompson and Tony Briggs, who also wrote the play (another ‘fun fact’ about Briggs – his mother and aunt are two of the real-life “Sapphires”).

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The year is 1968 and before we anything taking place on the screen, we are given a little historical context for what we will see over the next couple of hours. As someone who has always been fascinated by the plight of indigenous populations, I knew a little about the “Stolen Generation” – that is the Australian policy of taking fair-skinned Aborigines who could “pass” from their settlement homes and integrating them into white society. The next (startling) factoid to appear in black and white was that, until the 1970’s indigenous Australians were classified as part of Australia’s “flora and fauna.”

Set against the tumult of the war in Vietnam, the audience is witness to the journey taken by four young women of the – headstrong Gail (Deborah Mailman), bubbly Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell), cousin Kay (Shari Sebbens), who has been away in “mainstream” Aussie society and Julie (Jessica Mauboy), the young one with the powerful voice. A chance encounter with Dave Lovelace (Chris O’Dowd) failed entertainer extraordinaire takes them from Melbourne to the Vietnamese war zone in a mixture of comedy, tense drama and of course, MUSIC.

In terms of the acting, Chris O’Dowd again proves his comedic/romantic leading man bona fides as the feckless manager who falls for one of the singers. I am not as familiar with many of the other performers, but they are all entertaining in their roles. The other standout for me is Jessica Mauboy, who is featured as Julie, the lead vocalist of The Sapphires; in fact, Ms. Mauboy is a known quantity in her native Australia, where she is a popular R&B singer. SIDE NOTE: she sure has some pipes on her.

Let it be known there is a lot going on here. As I mentioned at the open, the fun of this film is set alongside some serious topics – war, racial discrimination and the like. This is particularly evident in the parallel drawn between the plight of the indigenous population and African Americans half a world away (and in one pivotal scene, on the Vietnamese battlefield. On one hand, it connects to the thread of the essence of what soul music represents – the struggle and the triumph of the human condition.

However at times I felt it was more window-dressing and used as a means of driving the plot and interaction between a couple of the members of the group and less about informing the audience. For my part, I admired the effort, even if the execution was not 100% to my satisfaction.

In spite of these quibbles and although in places, the film fell victim to the conventional tropes one finds in similarly themed movies about the rise (and in this case) stall of a girl group, that does not detract from the wonderful I say WONDERFUL film I had the pleasure of seeing yesterday. It left me laughing, tapping my feet and in some instances, crying. It is all heart and soul.

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A Few Tweets from Today’s #TCMParty for “Dial M for Murder”

In reference to Kelly’s Margot turning the tables on her assailant:

The key is the key …


Be sure to check out the TCM Party schedule and to follow them on Twitter @TCM_Party and Tumblr. Like them on Facebook as well.

The Underground on Film

Last night, I dreamt I was in London again …

Actually I was talking about traveling with a friend of mine and started to reminisce about my lovely times in Londontown. That led me to this topic – a look at the London Underground from the world of cinema.

The Tube/The Underground – whatever you call it (just don’t call it a SUBWAY), is an attraction unto itself for visitors to the English capital city. It has also been the setting for many an interesting films and pivotal scenes in those films. Here is a cool map that conveys this very message. For a larger view of the map, click here.

underrgound film map

In my continued admiration for the U.K. capital city and in honor of  the 150th anniversary of the London Underground system, I have gathered a few of my favorite cinematic scenes from The Underground:

 

THE WINGS OF THE DOVE (1997): couldn’t find the actual clip but there is a snippet of the scene in the trailer. If you do happen to watch the pivotal scene starts with the opening title sequence.

 

V FOR VENDETTA (2005)

 

SLIDING DOORS (1998): this sequence sets the stage for the rest of the film

 

ATONEMENT (2007): this is just the trailer; if I showed you the scene, it would give away a major plot point.

 

SKYFALL (2012): What’s NOT to like? This clip is the culmination of a great underground chase sequence, mind you – but I decided to add it anyway because it DOES include an Underground train 🙂

In related news, earlier this year, the BFI (British Film Institute) took a retrospective look at some great (British-made) films that featured the underground system .

Let me conclude my post by sharing another take on the London Transport system as depicted in the cinema, courtesy of fellow blogger and Anglophile – Ruth @ Flixchatter!

 

For MORE Tube-related Trivia …

Read 150 fun facts about “The Tube” (Source: Telegraph.co.uk).

Tuesday’s Overlooked Film: The Indian Runner (1991)

This week’s pick is 1991’s The Indian Runner, directed by Sean Penn (directorial debut) and starring Viggo Mortensen and David Morse as brothers who could not be more dissimilar.

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The Indian Runner is the tragic tale of two brothers – Joe (Morse), the one who stays on the straight and narrow, a man of the law and Frank (Mortensen), a troubled, restless soul who constantly finds himself on the wrong side of the law. Frank drifts in and out of everyone’s life without much explanation – he just is. This aimless drifting includes a stint in Vietnam (the film is set in the 1960s) and a little later on, serving some time in the slammer. Upon release from prison, he returns home after a double tragedy – the death of their mother and their father’s subsequent suicide.

In spite of his best efforts to get his life together, including sticking around for the impending birth of his daughter and landing a steady job, Frank manages to finds himself again at odds with the law; this provides a continued source of conflict between him and Joe.

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Please be forewarned, this film is a downer that does not let up. That said, as a first time feature it holds together well enough that I think the emotional ride you find yourself on while watching it is well worth it. I am not sure about its video availability but if you have HD cable television, it airs on the MGMHD.

The supporting cast of the film includes Charles Bronson, Patricia Arquette, Sandy Dennis (in her final screen role) and Dennis Hopper (Benicio Del Toro is in it too)!

Fun fact: The film’s screenplay (written by Penn) is based on a Bruce Springsteen song (“The Highway Patrolman”).

Be sure to check out other overlooked/forgotten films by visiting Todd Mason’s blog.

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A Belated St. Paddy’s Day Post: Taking a Look at “The Quiet Man” (1952)

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Hope everyone had a joyful  St. Patrick’s Day ♣ and a great weekend. Mine was spent catching up on Game of Thrones (just in time for the season 3 premier), going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (and getting stuck in post-parade revelry).

Sunday night, however was spent tucking into that blanket known as Turner Classic Movies for at least a bit of their selection of Irish-themed films. You can imagine my (semi) pleasure when I realized I had just caught the beginning of John Ford’s homecoming of sorts, the 1952 Technicolor feature The Quiet Man starring his go-to guy, John Wayne, with Maureen O’Hara, Victor McLaglen, Mildred Natwick and the always entertaining Barry Fitzgerald rounding a solid cast.

SYNOPSIS

Sean Thornton (John Wayne) has returned from America to reclaim his Irish homestead and escape his past. Sean’s eye is caught by Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara), a beautiful but poor maiden, and younger sister of ill-tempered “Red” Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen). The riotous relationship that forms between Sean and Mary Kate, punctuated by Will’s pugnacious attempts to keep them apart, form the main plot, with Sean’s past as the dark undercurrent. (Source: IMDB)

Now I must personally state for the record, that I grew up in a rather anti-Wayne household. Well maybe that may be a bit harsh – my dad was ambivalent at best and my mom could give a care about him. That said, as a classic film buff I (slightly) broke away from the family line and decided to see and judge for myself what I though of Mr. Wayne’s oeuvre.

The result? While I must admit that the ambivalence has translated down the generation, I do give Wayne props for his performance in the western he made with Ford four years after this film, The Searchers.

But I digress. The question of this post is What did I think of The Quiet Man?

Overall, I would say it was an enjoyable watch. The film balanced romance, comedy and drama very effectively and I cannot imagine a more sublime way of capturing the Emerald Isle than in the vibrancy of Technicolor. Honestly that was enough to pass the sniff test for me.

Now on to the acting. As I implied above, I am quite the fan of Barry Fitzgerald and love his screen presence; in this film my response is no different. Maureen O’Hara was solid as the fiery redhead who captures our hero’s heart. As for the main man himself, he does what he needs to make the performance convincing – enough so that it carried me through to the end.

It should also be noted that this film was a departure for Ford and Wayne, who, in case you didn’t know, primarily collaborated on Westerns. The Quiet Man was released by independent studio Republic Pictures, mostly known for it B-movie offerings. Due to the success of the picture, it garnered the studio its only “Best Picture” nomination in its history.

The one thing I did not see coming was the motivation for Sean Thornton’s desire to retire to a quiet, country life – packed quite a punch IMO (Note to self: the clue is in the title).

In end …

  1. Did I like it – yes and more than I anticipated.
  2. Will I be adding The Quiet Man to my video collection any time soon? Very likely not.

 

Have you seen this film? And what did you think of it? Submit in the Comments section below.