Author Topic: Antares' Short Summations  (Read 148772 times)

Offline Achim

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #120 on: July 16, 2011, 05:21:18 AM »
some called it anti-American, I think
It was actually shorted for US release to remove the anti-American sections. There is a very detailed feature on this on The Criterion Collection release.

Thinking about this I just realized, that maybe the main protagonists were more likable to a French audience in the 1950s...? :headscratch: maybe it's just our modern sensibilities that take stronger objections at the über-macho, yet partly childish behavior. :hmmmm: In which case, the first hour would have been more "entertaining" to those audiences and the 60min would have purely served as a drag, showing how desperate bored those men were. I'd buy that for a dollar :D

Najemikon

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #121 on: July 16, 2011, 02:23:04 PM »
Thinking about this I just realized, that maybe the main protagonists were more likable to a French audience in the 1950s...? :headscratch: maybe it's just our modern sensibilities that take stronger objections at the über-macho, yet partly childish behavior. :hmmmm: In which case, the first hour would have been more "entertaining" to those audiences and the 60min would have purely served as a drag, showing how desperate bored those men were. I'd buy that for a dollar :D

Yes, they would have understood what Clouzot was trying to say because it related to their climate I suppose. The slow pace would cause the same reaction to them, but they'd recognise the irony. If Clouzot had made Casablanca, he would very likely have chosen similar techniques to mirror the frustration of being trapped in that area. Hollywood chose to ramp up the romance because that's what they do (and for the record, I'm very glad they did!).

I've defended this theory of "it's supposed to look bad; that's why it's brilliant!" before by talking about My Beautiful Laundrette, a film I detest. To me it looked like it was made by a clumsy idiot, but it's also true that I recognised the political subtext that was deeply critical of Thatcher's Britain. I passionately disagreed with that message and still dislike the film more for that, but it is true that despite looking like a piece of shit, I completely understood what Stephen Frears was trying to say. That in itself proves the point, along with the fact that it's a highly regarded film by a successful film-maker, but none of the reviews seemed to notice how badly made it was. :-\ Over the years I've realised it really was supposed to be like that and every edit and shot composition was a means to an end.

You didn't grow up in 80s Britain, so there's a very good chance you would see the film as nothing more than a drama about ethnically different gay lovers running a laundrette. You might even say you liked it... if only it didn't look like crap. ;)
« Last Edit: July 16, 2011, 02:24:54 PM by Jon »

Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #122 on: August 06, 2011, 01:11:51 AM »
The Belles of St. Trinians (1954) 3/5 - Madcap rollicking farce starring Alastair Sim in dual roles, one of which is the headmistress of a private girls school where mayhem is a major part of the curriculum. I found myself chuckling a few times during this film and it does have a bit of an Ealing feeling to it. But all in all, it kind of drags in spots, but never the less, entertains.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2014, 10:58:44 PM by Antares »

Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #123 on: August 07, 2011, 03:49:02 AM »
Ivan's Childhood (1962) 4.5/5 - This is my first film by Andrey Tarkovskiy and if this portends what I can expect from his other works, then I await with baited breath further exploration of his canon. Usually with the first film from any director, you can expect choppy editing or clumsy camera work, but this film looks like the work of a master craftsman. The first time I watch a film, I'm generally watching it for the story. But in this case, I was mesmerized by the framing, elaborate camera angles and the wonderful cinematography. I found myself replaying certain scenes because of how amazing the scene looked and played on screen. Another plus is the first rate work of Nikolay Burlyaev as Ivan. This has to be one of the greatest performances for a child actor ever. After the film was over, I popped over to IMDB to see what else he has been in, and was glad to see that he has had a storied career in the film industry.

If I had to find one fault with film, it would be this...I wish that a little time would have been spent on Ivan's sojourns and exploits behind enemy lines and less with the subplot involving Mascha.

Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #124 on: August 12, 2011, 10:30:56 PM »
Some Came Running (1958) 2/5 - Now this was a major disappointment. I have read many glowing reviews of this film over the years, and I can't for the life of me, understand why. It appeared that it wanted to be a bit like Peyton Place with a smidgen of Ocean’s Eleven thrown in for good measure. Aside from Shirley MacLaine and probably Larry Gates, the acting is way over the top. I’ve always liked Martha Hyer, but in this film she is wasted, playing the role that she had been type cast in over her career, that of the frigid ice queen, who smolders below her icy veneer. Unfortunately, the romance between her and Frank Sinatra is more comical than searing. Sinatra is at the beginning of his somber, too cool to be bothered, phase of his career, and Vincente Minnelli’s direction is more focused on how the color scheme melds, as opposed to how true to life the action on screen is. To be honest, there were moments when I felt that I was watching an episode of Batman, especially in the climactic part of the film. And finally, the usually staid Elmer Bernstein delivers a score that can best be described as manic half the time, and somnabular, the other half.

Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #125 on: August 16, 2011, 03:04:22 AM »
Detour (1945) 4/5 - I've lost count of all the films I've watched in my lifetime, but I can make this assessment without hesitancy...Ann Savage's character Vera, is the most evil bitch I've ever seen in a film. And she's great. I used to think that Out of the Past and Double Indemnity were the truest expression of Film Noir imagery and dialog, but Detour engraves the template that all successive noirs would follow. Sure it's low budget, and it's pieced together rather amateurishly in spots, but this doesn't diminish the power of the film. And the power rests solely in the performance of Ann Savage. I used to think of the ultimate femme fatale as played by Marie Windsor or Audrey Totter as the mold for the quintessential bad girl. But they have nothing on Ann Savage. Every second she's on screen, I felt a whirlwind of emotions towards her character, ranging from disgust and hatred, to lust and longing. It's a shame that they didn't have enough money to make a complete film, as there are many loose ends in the plot that could have been expounded on. Top tier noir!

Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #126 on: September 04, 2011, 02:15:07 AM »
Blackboard Jungle (1955) 3/5 - I can understand why this film caused such a furor back in 1955, with most of America being spoon fed their daily allowance of syrupy, sentimental family sit-coms like Father Knows Best and Ozzie and Harriet. In these white bread comedies, the young folks greatest dilemmas were whether to have a coke or a chocolate shake with their burger at the local malt shop. Blackboard Jungle grabs the viewer by the throat and transports them into the day to day life of troubled teenagers in an inner city public school. The neighborhood is a mixture of delinquent street thugs and the downtrodden poor eeking out their meager existences. Into this hornet's nest arrives a naive ex-soldier who has received a college degree through the GI bill and focuses his efforts on becoming a teacher. Glenn Ford, who at times to me, felt out of place in this urban drama, plays the rookie teacher with just a little too much naive optimism. This isn't a knock on Ford's talents, but I've always felt he was a fish out of water when taken away from a western setting, the kind of film he predominantly made in his career. The rest of the cast though, play their roles to perfection, with Sidney Poitier and Vic Morrow, stealing the show. If you can get by the dated message and presentation, it will make for an interesting time capsule when the "message" film first started to take hold.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2014, 11:00:15 PM by Antares »

Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #127 on: September 05, 2011, 04:30:43 PM »
Two for the Seesaw (1962) 3.5/5 - I would have loved to have seen this made with the original Broadway pairing of Henry Fonda and Anne Bancroft in the lead roles. While Mitchum and MacLaine are good, the chemistry seems a little lacking at times. This must have been considered a little racy in its time, with the early scenes in Gittel's apartment. Overall, I enjoyed it , but I doubt I would venture to seek it out again.

Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #128 on: November 01, 2011, 06:03:41 PM »
The House on 92nd Street (1945) 3/5 - A few years ago I purchased a set from Twentieth Century Fox Home Video containing all the previous releases in their Fox Film Noir collection. The funny thing is, is that only about 30% of the films in the collection are true film noirs. The House on 92nd Street falls into the other 70%. I couldn't find one element in this film that could be described as noirish, but putting that aside, it is a decent crime procedural. The plot takes place just before the beginning of World War II and the FBI are looking for an agent to infiltrate a cell of Nazi spies working in New York City. The agent selected, Bill Dietrich (William Eythe), is of German descent and is given the proper credentials to be accepted into the Nazi espionage training schools in Germany. After his training is completed, he returns to America and becomes a double agent for the FBI. The remainder of the film finds him working for both sides, as his credentials from Berlin give him access to a suspected spy ring operating out of a fashion shop on 92nd street. But all the pieces of the puzzle seem to come just a little too easily as the film progresses, and by the end, you feel like you've watched a Cliff Notes version of a potentially better story. I just wish that there was a little more distraction thrown in to make it a little more interesting.

Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #129 on: November 01, 2011, 11:14:09 PM »
The House on Telegraph Hill (1951) 3/5 - This is another of those films in the Fox Film Noir collection that really has no business being called Film Noir. This is a suspense thriller from the get go. Directed aptly by Robert Wise, the story focuses on an assumed identity, one possible and one impending murder and an inheritance. The assumed identity is that of Valentina Cortese, who procures the papers of a recently deceased woman from the concentration camp where they were both interred. Acquiring these papers, allows her to leave a war torn Europe for the hopes of a new life in America. The murderer is played by Richard Basehart, who prior to my purchase of the Fox Noir collection, was mostly known to me as Admiral Nelson on TV's Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. He plays the charming, yet devious role to perfection. And finally, the inheritance belongs to the aunt of the woman whose identity Cortese has stolen. The main premise is that the deceased woman had a son living in San Francisco with her wealthy Aunt Sophie. After Cortese assumes her identity and makes her way to the city by the bay, she learns of the death of the aunt and that now she is the sole benefactor to the estate. This muddles the plans of Basehart, the boy's trustee, who along with the nanny, was planning to do away with the child and steal the inheritance. He alters his plans and conveniently falls in love with Cortese, proposing marriage, which will also benefit Cortese by making her a legitimate US citizen. The rest of the film plays out as Basehart cunningly plots both the imposter and the child's deaths. But in the end, as all good suspense films prove, foolproof plans aren't always foolproof.

While the film held my attention, I couldn't help but feel that I had seen it all before. It's really only worth it to watch Richard Basehart play such a charming, yet loathsome character.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2011, 11:18:03 PM by Antares »

Najemikon

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #130 on: November 01, 2011, 11:20:56 PM »
I have most of those Fox 'noirs' as well. Very few of them are actually noir as you say, but there are some cracking films in there.

Good to see you reviewing something again, you lazy sod! :tease:

Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #131 on: November 01, 2011, 11:27:56 PM »
It's Noir-vember again over at Filmspotters. It's the only marathon I look forward to. You should join in, it was a great marathon last year.

Najemikon

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #132 on: November 01, 2011, 11:41:59 PM »
I'll take a look, but it's struggle to find the time, hence why I didn't do a horror marathon this year.

Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #133 on: November 02, 2011, 05:35:44 PM »
House of Bamboo (1955) 3/5 - Sam Fuller is one of those directors who I run either hot or cold on, with the cold side winning out more often than not. I can only think of one film that I've seen by him that I truly loved, and that was Pickup on South Street. I think it's because the films I find marginal, tend to suffer from clunky dialog or stilted or wooden acting. And nowhere is this more evident than in Fuller's widescreen color crime drama, House of Bamboo. I have never seen Robert Stack act so terribly in a film before. If you were to take an axe to him, you'd have a pile of kindling in a matter of minutes. He sticks out like a sore thumb, as the rest of the cast perform their parts adequately. The key word there is adequate, as there is nothing above average from anyone in the cast, including Robert Ryan, who seems to be around to pick up a paycheck. It was nice though, to see another performance by DeForest Kelley in his pre-Star days. Maybe this film would have been better in black & white, or maybe it was the locale of the story that throws a monkey wrench into it, but House of Bamboo is run of the mill at best.

Najemikon

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #134 on: November 02, 2011, 08:33:46 PM »
I haven't seen it ages, but I remember having a similar reaction to you the first time, then I read reviews that considered it a parody and it was off centre on purpose. When I saw it again with that in mind, it made more sense.