Thursday, 16 May 2019

1963 Page Added...That's It! The 60's are Done!

Movie-Viewing Experiences  22/4/19 - 16/5/19     
A+ = Adored Masterwork   A = Excellent   A- = Very Good   B+ = Good   B = Nice Try   B- = Scrapes Through 
C = Significantly Flawed   D = Pretty Bad   E = Truly Dreadful: Looking Into the Void   F = Absolutely Vile: The Void

d: Anthony & Joe Russo
CAST: Robert Downey Jr; Chris Evans; Chris Hemsworth; Scarlett Johansson; Mark Ruffalo
> They did it! Marvel actually managed to bring 21 movies to a satisfying, memorable conclusion; 3 hours(!!) of multiple multiple characters gathering together, splintering off, coming back without losing track for a moment of what is vital: keeping the dedicated fans (like me) thrilled; impossible to go into too much without ruining the experience, but it is enough to say that some of the leaks/rumours were true (time travel + Ant-Man & Hawkeye play pivotal roles + the death of a major character or two + most heroes come back from the Snap) and some were completely wrong (not telling); climactic battle is more exciting struggle than generic slugfest...I doubt it could have been bettered; there are scenes that will swell a fanboy's heart and there are some which will break it; my grade is cautious...I'll see it again before committing

d: Sebastian Lelio
CAST: Julianne Moore; John Turturro; Michael Cera; Brad Garrett; Caren Pistorius
>  I guess this is what the 1930's&40's used to call a "woman's film" (ref. Stella Dallas + Mildred Pierce), a label which is only marginally less condescending than "weepie"; this tells the story of a middle-aged middle class woman living her life...divorced but okay with it + children have grown and left and she reluctantly gives them space + a looney neighbour upstairs & an ugly stray cat indoors + likes to dance & sing to kitschy songs + isn't alone by choice but a good man is hard to find; a gently told story that doesn't really just nicely meanders along; lifted way-high out of the potential-suds by Julianne's stellar performance: I swooned
Award-Worthy Performance
Julianne Moore

SWEETIE (1989)
d: Jane Campion
CAST: Karen Colston; Genevieve Lemon; Tom Lycos; Jon Darling; Dorothy Barry
> an Australian arty comedy...some would say that constitutes a triple threat...and I wasn't overly hopeful when I hit Play...but impress me, it did; downright-odd woman shacks up with a fella after a foretelling via tea-leaves...unfortunately, her sister (who is indisputably a mental case) forces her way in too...and is not easy to evict; creatively shot with some daring plot choices, this movie takes you on quite a ride even though the core story is mainline: a family made dysfunctional by one difficult child...the black sheep...the one you wish you'd never had, but love anyway; the downbeat, amateurish acting works here, lending an other-worldliness to the events, and the mix of a challenging commentary on the ties that bind, with dark humour, crudeness and clearly-impending doom is surprisingly homogeneous; heroically original

d: Compton Bennett; Andrew Marton
CAST: Stewart Granger; Deborah Kerr; Richard Carlson; Hugo Haas; Siriaque
> one of those action films where a macho man has to put up with a damned woman during a quest...and they fall in love (why can't they ever just stay combatants?); an African adventure based on the classic (sort of) book of the same name, this is filmed beautifully: luscious colour palette & rich light bouncing about the place; something like this will only succeed if the romance doesn't get in the way of the exciting/exotic stuff...fortunately, there are animals everywhere, with bad-tempered elephants, cat-sized spiders, sneaky mambas and smiling crocodiles jazzing up the scenery; Stewart does a reasonable Errol Flynn impersonation and Deborah is obviously warming up for her run of samey-samey 1950's roles, while the indigenous African first-time (only time?) actors seem to be vaguely bemused but physically enthusiastic nonetheless

MID90s (2018)
d: Jonah Hill
CAST: Sunny Suljic; Na-Kel Smith; Lucas Hedges; Gio Galicia; Katherine Waterston
> a peer into L.A. urban youth life, circa 1995; Sunny is a 13YO nice kid who is lumbered with a troubled, bullying big brother (the opening scene is an assault), a Mum who is trying to cope whilst overcoming her own issues, and an absent father (who is never mentioned)...the boy wants to hang out with the cool kids, in this case, late-teen skateboarders...alcohol, drugs, party sex, crime, harm are all there too; a well-told story which I never entirely felt at ease with (you watch a good kid risking wreckage, and a couple of scenes are confronting) but I was always held, primarily due to the amazing performance by real-13YO up&comer
Award-Worthy Performance
Sunny Suljic

d: Leslie Stevens
CAST: Corey Allen; Kate Manx; Warren Oates; Robert Wark; Jerome Cowan
> this is a "rediscovered film" (usually small-budget independent + long-forgotten + bagged by critics on release; admired by critics now), and one of the most sordid movies I have ever seen; a pair of drifters (one a psychopath & the other a dimwit) set up residence in an empty house in L.A....object: to bed the woman next door...yep, this film is about SEX, hot, aggressive, moist SEX...the woman wants it (her hubbie isn't interested anymore) + the psycho wants it (digs the control'n'conquer foreplay) + the dimwit wants it (to prove that his dick works); the "seduction" is the epitome of cat & mouse and therein lies the tension...when it finally tag-teams into rape, all hell breaks loose; while Corey & Warren convince & frighten, newbie Kate is an airhead annoyance; an unsettling but gripping movie which is 6 inches away from being a video nasty

d: Claude Whatham
CAST: Simon West; Suzanna Hamilton; Sophie Neville; Stephen Grendon
> I had to read this book as part of my teacher-training due to its designation as a children's classic...bored me numb (I was more of a Racketty Street Gang guy); four siblings (around 8YO to 13YO) sail off in a small boat with Mum's blessing, making camp on the shore of a lake...they play pirates, drink ginger beer and wear striped pyjamas & khaki shorts...all very Famous Five / Scouting for Boys / playing fields of Eton; still, its gentleness is refreshing and it does my heart good to see a bunch of kids out in nature, physically active without a glowing screen of any sort in hand; the child actors are fine (although one poor kid struggles to keep a straight face when answering to the name of Titty); of course, even back in the 1920's when this was set, children like these never existed, but no matter...childhood-recalled is often the lie we want to tell

d: Nigel Cole
CAST: Brenda Blethyn; Craig Ferguson; Martin Clunes; Valerie Edmond; Bill Bailey
> this is one of those quirky British comedies that come out every year in the long and winding wake of Four Weddings & a Funeral; Brenda lives in a coastal Cornish village...her husband dies and she discovers that she is broke and about to lose her beloved house...being a skilled gardener, she hits upon a get-rich-quick scheme: grow dope; no surprises here whatsoever and no deviations from the by-now well-used formula (nice people + eccentric friends + a little bit of naughtiness + the occasional dropping of the f-word + clueless authority figures + happy ending), resulting in a totally inoffensive (if you can go with drug-dealing as comedy), pleasant diversion to burn away 90 minutes; all actors hit the necessary charm button (although their reactions to inhaling is OTT-zany...must be bloody strong stuff), but what would Vera say?

d: Roger Corman
CAST: Ray Milland; Diana Van der Vlis; Don Rickles; Harold J. Stone; John Hoyt
> like any other comic-reading kid in the 1960's, I was fascinated by the ads for X-Ray Spex... while red-blooded 11 year old boys latched onto the naughty possibilities the blurbs hinted at, I thought it would mean I'd be able to see atoms (yeah, I didn't really get it); this movie has the same kinda premise (a doctor discovers a way to enhance sight via special eyedrops) but doesn't seem to know what to do with it after the initial set-up (and the 11YO naughty stuff...only naked shoulders and backs though), so the story just sort of drifts off: the doctor suffers side effects from the formula + his peers tell him he's gone insane + in a fit of temper, he accidentally kills a friend + runs away to join a freak show + goes to Las Vegas to cheat at cards + becomes enlightened & prophetic; this is a sci-fi movie that deserves a reboot with a fresh script

d: Lloyd Bacon
CAST: Joel McCrea; Brenda Marshall; James Stephenson; Jeffrey Lynn; George Bancroft
> fairly mundane spy movie in the old Warner Bros punchy "Today's Headlines" style; Joel works for the USA Foreign Service and, while stationed in Morocco, meets and marries a refugee from the Spanish Civil War...they return to the States, where his wife starts acting she secretly an enemy agent, or does she just enjoy meeting serious men in dark places?; you've got to give credit to brothers Harry, Albert, Sam & Jack...when all the other movie studios were appeasing 1930's Germany (a lucrative film market), Warners were sticking it to the Nazis with commercial propaganda like this, even if it's not particularly entertaining (Hitchcock was better at this stuff...Foreign Correspondent + Saboteur etc); worth watching to see Joel out-act everybody else, even with dialogue that simply oozes red, white & blue righteousness

THE V.I.P.s (1963)
d: Anthony Asquith
CAST: Elizabeth Taylor; Richard Burton; Louis Jourdan; Margaret Rutherford; Orson Welles; Rod Taylor; Maggie Smith; Elsa Martinelli; Dennis Price; Michael Hordern; Richard Wattis
> ever been stuck in an airport due to a delayed flight? (weather / tech issues / strike / terrorist threat)...not much you can do, apart from stay put, be bored and get angry; this is a movie about that experience, and it is spot-on: you stay put for 2 hours watching it and feel so bored that an urge to throw something at the vapid people on the screen will consume you...even the glorious Margaret Rutherford is less than her normal scene-stealing self (she spends most of the film drugged up, so she's dotty without being exuberant); Liz & Richard & Louis are the inevitable Love Triangle (aren't rich people crap?) + Rod is a businessman (of the "Stone the Flamin' Crows" Aussie ilk) and Maggie is his isn't-he-dreamy devoted secretary + Orson is fat & smarmy

d: Lloyd Bacon
CAST: Marion Davies; Clark Gable; Roscoe Karns; Allen Jenkins; Robert Paige; Ruth Donnelly
> subpar screwball rom-com from the Golden Era; Marion is a dancer in a Broadway show + Clark is a boxer...they can't stand each other...therefore they fall in love...but romance isn't good for their careers...their managers & dependants try to foul it up...yes, it all works out nice; while Clark gives it his 1930's best & Allen provides the usual laffs simply through delivery & Robert hoofs up a storm, Marion's heart just doesn't seem to be in it (she retired from movies the following year); the two musical numbers are awful and awfully long, and the director shows no flair for comic timing (even the double-takes just hang there); the main handicap is the script: it begins weakly and continues that way, setting up potentially-funny situations, then not knowing what to do with them; screwball comedies are supposed to be absurd, not senseless

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