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Archive for November, 2012

by John Greco

Office politics has changed a lot over the years but sex in the workplace, in one form or another, is alive and well. Billy Wilder’s superb comedy/drama is a time capsule look back at one man’s struggle on how to succeed in business by lending out his apartment to four middle level company executives on various nights for their extramarital liaisons. In exchange, the four executives praise our antihero at work, writing glowing reports on him to senior management, including putting in good words with Mr. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray) the top dog at personnel.

C.C. “Bud” Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is the original lonely guy, an actuarial, crunching out numbers for a major insurance company. Baxter works at a drab grey desk in a large corporate office building, populated by faceless individuals all working at hundreds of other drab grey desks.

Baxter’s home life consists of frozen dinners, watching TV and cleaning up the empty liquor bottles left over from the night’s escapades, bottles which he leaves outside his apartment door for garbage pickup, suggesting, to his neighbors, Dr. Dreyfuss (Jack Kruschen) and his wife, that Baxter leads a wild life of swinging parties. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(UK 1995-1998 636m) DVD1/2

I love my brick!

p  Geoffrey Perkins, Lissa Evans, Mary Bell  d  Declan Lowney  w  Graham Linehan, Arthur Matthews  m  The Divine Comedy

Dermot Morgan (Father Ted Crilly), Ardal O’Hanlon (Father Dougal Maguire), Frank Kelly (Father Jack Hackett), Pauline McLynn (Mrs Doyle), Maurice O’Donoghue (Father Dick Byrne), Dan Wycherley (Father Cyril Macduff), Jim Norton (Bishop Len Brennan), Graham Norton (Father Noel Furlong),

Father Ted wasn’t a perfect comedy series.  In truth the second series was not up to the standard of the first and third.  Perhaps it was overexposure.  Perhaps it was merely a certain complacency that set in after the rapturous acclaim for the first series.  The fact remains, though, that the third series was a triumph, and also a very poignant one.  Star Dermot Morgan tragically died but days before the first episode of that final series aired on Channel 4, and thus it had a sense of the dedicatory about it.  Actually, it had been agreed that series three would have been the last anyway, so let us savour what we have, and over a decade on from the airing of that last episode, and we last said goodbye to our heroes as they headed disconsolately back from the airport to the Craggy Island Parochial House, it has lost not one bit of its truly mad genius. (more…)

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by Dennis Polifroni

(USA 1934 70m) DVD

p William le Baron d Norman Z. McLeod w Jack Cunningham story W.C.Fields,

J. P. McEvoy ph Henry Sharp art Hans Dreier, John B.Goodman

W.C. Fields (Harold Bissonette), Kathleen Howard (Amelia Bissonette), Jean Rouverol (Mildred Bissonette), Julian Madison (John Durston), Tommy Bupp (Norman Bissonette), Baby le Roy (Baby Ellwood Dunk), Charles Sellon (Mr Muckle), Tammany Young (Everett Hicks), Morgan Wallace (Jasper Fitchmueller), Josephine Whittell (Mrs Dunk), T.Roy Barnes (salesman)

There is a deep, almost personal connection I have with the work of W. C. Fields. Unlike the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, The Stooges, yeah, even my beloved Chaplin, Fields holds a special place in my heart. To me, he’s more connective, speaks to me directly, and comes off as a real person.

My father, the greatest guy I ever knew (and know), is the toughest man I ever met. Standing up at a height of 6-feet 5-inches and built like a stone statue of a Greek god, he is the very essence, even at his current age (70), of what the ideal male form is. In his working life, he pounded steel with a hammer and blow-torch, carried and fused miles and miles of electric cables up hundreds of flights, over-hauled cars and created and monitored a thriving restaurant through years of sweat and determination. My father was a rock. He worked long hours, never missed a days work and, through thick and thin, ALWAYS provided for his family. He was a dreamer as well. After years of physical labor he saw his dreams of owning his own business (the aforementioned restaurant) come to fruition and he struggled every day that he oversaw his business to make it the rousing success it is still remembered as. Even when he retired he dreamt. Florida was always on his mind. An avid golfer and a lover of athletics, my father dreamt of a simple place in the sunshine state, overlooking green grass and bodies of moving water, that he could nestle into and live out the rest of his days in fresh air and peace. (more…)

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by Sachin Gandhi

The phrase “Love is Blind” is thrown around so much that it has become a cliche. However, in the case of Preston Sturges’ perfect comedy The Lady Eve the phrase actually sticks. In fact, the film is a literal depiction of the phrase because love causes the protagonist Charles (Henry Fonda) to blindly ignore all obvious evidence in favor of his heart; not once but twice.

One can understand Charles tripping over love’s heel in the first instance because encountering the delightful Jean (Barbara Stanwyck) after spending a year in the Amazon is not really a fair match-up, especially since Jean has planned to seduce him. Jean wouldn’t have noticed Charles but he inadvertently makes himself a target not only for her but all the other woman on a traveling ship. When Charles is able to halt a traveling ship to get on board from his private boat, he alerts everyone that he is someone important. Jean, along with her father ‘Colonel’ Harrington (Charles Coburn) and Gerald (Melville Cooper), learn that Charles is wealthy due to his family brewery business, Pike’s Ale (The Ale that Won for Yale). The trio are professional card sharks and make a living out of conning people. So, a wealthy person like Charles becomes an instant opportunity. Charles’ wealth also makes him attractive to every other woman on the ship, who try to get his attention, but he is not impressed by any of them. However, Jean trumps them by getting Charles all to herself. Of course, it does not take much effort for Jean to win over Charles. He is intoxicated by her perfume and with a few maneuvers, including getting him to kneel down to put a pair of shoes on her, she gets Charles light headed and blurry-eyed. Charles’ bodyguard Muggsy (William Demarest) suspects a trap is being laid out by Jean and the Colonel but Charles ignores Muggsy’s warning, especially since he wins $600 off the Colonel and Jean. In an expected turn of events, Jean also starts to fall for Charles and plans to settle down with him to leave her criminal past behind. She even tries to minimize Charles’ loss in the next round of cards against her father’s plans. When she leaves the card table, Charles asks the Colonel for permission to marry his daughter. The Colonel has no problems with their relationship and uses the marriage topic to con $32,000 out of Charles. For his part, Charles is not bothered at such a loss because of his family wealth which increases with each passing second: “everytime the clock ticks, 14 people swig a bottle of pike”. After acquiring the Colonel’s permission, Charles proposes to Jean on a moonlit deck and she genuinely accepts his offer. Colonel Harrington finally believes his daughter’s seriousness and asks her to wait to reveal the truth until they get off the ship in order to preserve his and Gerald’s dignity. In the meantime, Muggsy’s investigations uncover a photo where Jean, Colonel and Gerald are documented as professional card players. Charles feels betrayed and does not give Jean a chance to explain matters. She is heart broken and wants revenge as they disembark the ship and go their separate ways. (more…)

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(c) 2012 by James Clark

In The Devil, Probably, Robert Bresson examines how headstrong and lost bright students can be. Moreover, the fascination of such a plummet is revealed to be due in great measure to a hunger to coincide with priorities embodied in an unusually assertive advocate of a life of inquiry, in accordance with the successes of that rationality stemming from Plato’s Academy. Whereas the academic trappings of that film are never in doubt—even while he places himself in the firing line dispensing his demise, the protagonist rattles on donnishly, “Shall I tell you…—they slowly creep up on us in a film, namely, Lars von Trier’s The Idiots (1998), taking upon itself Bresson’s problematic of clannish young intellectuals demonstrating what a formidable nuisance they can be, as organized for sustaining (far beyond school days) an inflected fealty to an antiquated moment of history. Both films place special emphasis upon the irony that their little Lost Patrol is spurred on, by charismatic leadership, to bruit hither and yon that they are headed for reality never before cresting in that way. (In fairness, both rebellions do touch upon innovation, to absolutely no effect.)

Whereas Bresson adopts an antiseptic narrative (as bending to the hegemony of rational factuality) never betraying for a moment the slightest shred of carnal pulse (an enervation embellished with wryly induced observations like, “God doesn’t reveal himself through mediocrity”)—and counting upon an eccentric thread of metaphor to allude to such renegade manoeuvres—von Trier (far less wedded than Bresson to modest income; and far more intent upon staging incipient cloudbursts to rain upon underwhelming parades) plants within the swarming, comprising the energies of The Idiots, a protagonist, Karen, who is not at all a co-ed (being a 30-something adult with clearly no stake in making waves) and who becomes caught up in the studious idiocy by reason of happening to be at one of the sites where the swarmers’ unusual but hardly unconventional exercises take place. (more…)

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by Jaime Grijalba.

You may want to zoom in.

          FADE IN                                                          

          EXT. MANHATTAN - MORNING                                         

          Shots of Manhattan: buildings, skyscrapers, a modern             
          snapshot of New York today. People walking down streets          
          looking at their iPhones or looking at cinema markees            
          announcing 3D movies. The music of George Gershwin, of           
          course, fills the atmosphere.                                    

                              JAIME (V.O.)                                 
                    Chapter One. He had never been to                      
                    New York. He just thought about it                     
                    in the most incredible ways,                           
                    thinking of it as a snapshot of                        
                    1979, as Woody Allen had pictured                      
                    it in his film. He idolized it as                      
                    he knew that it was the center of                      
                    the world of contemporary                              
                    culture... No, no, that’s not too                      
                    preachy... Ok, let’s start again.                      
                         (clears throat)                         
 (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(UK 1967 1,295m) DVD1/2

The aristocracy of wealth

p  Donald Wilson  d  David Giles, James Cellan Jones  w  Lennox Philips, Donald Wilson, etc.  novels  John Galsworthy  m  Eric Coates  art  Spencer Chapman, Julia Trevelyan Oman

Eric Porter (Soames), Nyree Dawn Porter (Irene), Kenneth More (young Jolyon), Susan Hampshire (Fleur), June Barry (June), Margaret Tyzack (Winifred), Joseph O’Conor (old Jolyon), Ursula Howells (Frances), Lana Morris (Helene), John Welsh (uncle James), Fay Compton (Ann), John Bennett (Philip Bosinney), Terence Alexander (Monty), Nicholas Pennell (Michael Mont), Martin Jarvis (John), Michael York (Joly), Nora Swinburne (Aunt Hester), Terence Alexander (Monty), John Barcroft (George), A.J.Brown (Roger), John Baskcomb (Timothy), Cyril Luckham (Sir Lawrence Mont), Geraldine Sherman (Victorine Bicket), Terry Scully (Tony Bicket), Derek Francis (Elderson), George Woodbridge (Swithin), Nora Nicholson (Aunt Juley), Kynaston Reeves (Nicholas), John Bailey (Aubrey Greene), Austin Trevor (Botterill), Karin Fernald (Anne Wilmot), Alan Rowe (Settlewhite), Maggie Jones (Smither), John Phillips (Sir Alex McGown), George Benson (Marquess of Shropshire), Caroline Blakiston (Marjorie Ferrar),

Where would we be without The Forsyte Saga?  It was made as the flagship of the BBC’s fledgling new channel, BBC2, running for six months in the first half of 1967.  So popular was it that, armed with numerous BAFTA awards, it then showed on BBC1 the following year and literally stopped the nation on Sunday evenings and whole episodes were not so much talked about for days as months.  It was like a cultured soap opera, the intelligentsia’s antidote to Coronation Street.  Some critics may point at the BBC’s using black and white when colour was literally just around the corner – literally, with Susan Hampshire appearing in colour in Vanity Fair before the year was out.  However, the producers felt they had the cast they wanted and any delays would have meant losing several cast members, so they decided to shoot straight away.  Much as though colour would have been beneficial in some ways, monochrome suited the stuffed-shirt world of the Forsytes, and added to the sense of the funereal about their undertakings.  (more…)

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by Richard R.D. Finch

“All you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right kind of people,” millionaire Alexander Bullock (Eugene Pallette) remarks to a friend near the beginning of My Man Godfrey. For the next hour and a half the movie sets out to illustrate that quip, using Bullock’s two daughters, his wife, and their social set as its prime examples. As hard as he tries, Alexander Bullock isn’t ever able to introduce any sanity into his eccentric family, but a mystery man played by William Powell is. Powell is Godfrey Smith, a homeless man living in a packing box at the city dump who is claimed by both Bullock daughters, Cornelia (Gail Patrick) and Irene (Carole Lombard), in the film’s famous opening, where the two are competing for the last item they need to win a society scavenger hunt—a real Forgotten Man. Godfrey doesn’t respond to the imperious Cornelia, but he does take an immediate liking to her sweet, slightly ditzy younger sister and allows himself to be claimed by her. Irene, elated at besting her domineering sister for once, in turn takes such a shine to Godfrey that she impulsively hires him as the new family butler. For the rest of the movie we follow along as Godfrey becomes embroiled in the antics of this nutty family that practically embodies the expression “the idle rich.” (more…)

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Two screen caps for the THE LIFE OF PI, a ravishing action/animation hybrid that all matters considered is one of the most breathtaking films of 2012.

by Sam Juliano

Turkey Day is behind us now, with the focus has shifting to gifts, decorations and greetings cards.  This is the time of the year when everything happens so quick that you only need to blink your eye and the new year has arrived.  To be sure it’s always an exciting time, especially for the film lovers and culture mavens, who are invariably treated to some of the most prominent works of the calendar year.  Just as the film fanatics fervently discuss Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook and Anna Karenina, the focus has now shifted to The Life of Pi, Rust and Bone, The Central Park Five and Hitchcock.  Then things really accelerate with the upcoming releases of Killing Them Softly, The Central Park Five, Zero Dark Thirty, The Hobbit, Django Unchained, Hyde Park on the Hudson, Amour, and Les Miserables.  Tom Hooper’s musical, based on the beloved and long-running Broadway show, was screened for critics in New York and Los Angeles on Friday night, and the response has been rapturous.  Some key insiders are saying they wept, cheered and were bowled over, and that the film is clearly the film to beat for the Best Picture Oscar and some critics’ awards.  As one who always names this show as one of my favorites, and like so many others adores the score, I can only say I am all smiles on these early reports, though there are obviously some other films here to salivate for including the long-awaited Amour, which Allan has given a five star rating to in a still-to-be-published review.  In any event i want to thank our dear friend Dee Dee for again adorning the site’s sidebar with a lovely Thanksgiving reference point and greeting for viewers!  She has kept the holiday spirit in full force at WitD for over four years running! (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(USA 2012 144mm)

To the poison

p  Megan Ellison, Daniel Lupi, Paul Thomas Anderson, JoAnne Sellar  d/w  Paul Thomas Anderson  ph  Mihai Malaimare Jnr  ed  Leslie Jones, Peter McNulty  m  Jonny Greenwood  art  David Crank, Jack Fisk, Amy Wells  cos  Mark Bridges

Joaquin Phoenix (Freddie Quell), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Lancaster Dodd), Amy Adams (Peggy Dodd (Jesse Clemons (Val Dodd), Laura Dern (Helen Sullivan), Lena Endre (Mrs Solstad), Madison Beaty (Doris Salstad), Ambys Childers (Elizabeth Dodd), Patty McCormack (Mildred Drummond), Amy Ferguson (Martha), W.Earl Brown,

When I first heard of The Master, long before it even went into pre-production, it had already become somewhat mythic.  It was supposed to be the film that looked at the sinister heart of cult beliefs and religions, a thinly disguised attack on Scientologists that to many potential viewers may have seemed long overdue.  But bear in mind the hotshots for whom L.Ron Hubbard’s dubious philosophy is part of their bloodstream, in particular the same Thomas Cruise Mapother IV who gave his greatest performance, and in money terms his seal of approval, in Magnolia by the self-same Paul Thomas Anderson.  There was a danger that modern cinema’s greatest potential master was out to blow himself up, like the naïve genius of Citizen Kane all over again.

When the finished film finally arrived, however, it turned out to be anything but that we might have expected or, for him at least, feared.  Indeed it’s hard at times to believe that it’s an original film at all.  You look at this mixed-up, anti-social, psychotic, almost impenetrable protagonists Freddie Quell and he feels like the antihero to one of the great American novels; that’s the genius, PTA has made the first great cine-novel.  It may be accentuated by the period (it’s set in the decade after World War II), but there are aspects of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, Kerouac, even Ayn Rand.  (more…)

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