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21. Notorious (1946)

Annex - Grant, Cary (Notorious)_09

by John Greco

Who ever said Alfred Hitchcock was not a romantic? After all, what could be more romantic than the final scenes in “Notorious” where we see Cary Grant coming to Ingrid Bergman’s rescue just in time to take her away from the murdering Nazi Claude Rains. True for the past two hours Grant forced Ingrid to whore herself  by playing a 20th Century Mata Hari, seducing and sleeping with Rains in order to obtain secret information. He then resents her for agreeing to do this and hates himself for forcing her do it. Yep, no one knew how to treat a woman like Mr. Hitchcock, just ask Janet Leigh in “Psycho” or Grace Kelly in “Dial M for Murder.” Continue Reading »

 

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Lucille and Melanie at John Waters Festival at Lincoln center on Sunday (photos by Broadway Bob and Sam)

edith massey

Cult icon Edith Massey as the evil Queen Carlotta in John Waters’ 1977 “Desperate Living”

by Sam Juliano

Summer made a late appearance, but apparently is not so willing to yield anytime soon for the onset of the cool autumn air and beautiful colors associated with this time of the year.  Football lovers are in their glory and schools are in full swing.  This is a lovely time of the year, but it always moves forward in speed mode it seems.  We must enjoy it while we can.

The site’s long running Romantic Countdown has reached the final leg of the journey with the Top 20 set to roll starting on Tuesday.  At his own site our great friend and renowned writer John Grant has called on the powers that be to consider a publishing venture that would include all the reviews written for this remarkable venture.  Certainly the quality of writing for this countdown, as well as the three others that preceded it (musicals, comedies and westerns) were of a similarly high level of excellence.  The countdown will conclude on Monday October 6th, with the unveiling of the Number 1 film.

Lucille and I (and Sammy, Melanie and Broadway Bob for some) saw four films in theaters over the past week, all in fact over the weekend.  Two were part of the complete John Waters retrospective “Fifty Years of John Waters: How Much Can You Take?” at Lincoln Center, one was an oft-seen classic in a recently opened “theater” and one a new release, that has actually been around in theaters for over two months. Continue Reading »

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By Dean Treadway

Out of the seventeen movies Michael Powell and Emeric Pressberger made together, A Matter of Life and Death was their sixth, sandwiched in between two other humanistic yet fantastical tales, “1945’s “I Know Where I’m Going!” and 1947’s Black Narcissus. This team was, at the time, used to dazzling audiences with their idea-dense, often passionate and visually rich (thanks to their collaboration with legendary cinematographer Jack Cardiff) flights of imagination. Yet A Matter of Life and Death feels somehow different, maybe because it’s such a glorious mashup of so many genres. It first feels almost like science-fiction, with that quick, witty tour of the galaxy at the film’s outset (this is the first glimpse of the subtle but often brilliant special effects featured throughout the movie). Then it most certainly feels like a war picture in the spectacular opening scene between David Niven’s presumably doomed RAF pilot Peter Greene and Kim Hunter’s June, the “Yank girl” he radios as his plane is going down (few movies, if any have had the temerity to begin with such florid and unbound emotions—I mean, what gorgeous close-ups we have here–and yet with the two main characters at the edge of being separated not only by space but by life itself).

For a while, the film becomes a fantasy, as we are taken into another world…a world that may be Heaven (though Powell and Pressberger purportedly wanted to avoid inferring anything such; they balked at the American retitling Stairway to Heaven) or it may be simply another dimension that exists only in a dusty corner of Peter Greene’s brain. It does feel like if the directors truly wished to erase the concept of Heaven from the film, they wouldn’t have had new arrivals in the black-and-white world picking up their made-to-measure wings at the sign-in desk, nor would they have given the young Richard Attenborough—as a breathless newbie–his only line in“It is Heaven, isn’t it?” Either way, the film works in the possibility that all Peter Greene is experiencing—including a ghostly visitation by an erring French “conductor” (Marius Goring)–is a hallucination suffered as a result of something nasty pressing down on his brain. In this way, with the introduction of Roger Lievsay’s Dr. Frank Reeves (he’s magnificent here), the film also becomes a tense medical drama. Continue Reading »

 

2046

 

2046
A hotel room
I write dreams

Continue Reading »

 

west_side_story_collage_by_jackiestarsister-d5xop4u

by Sam Juliano

The film of  West Side Story produces the same brilliant effect as the play.  This does not mean that the stage show has merely been duplicated; on the contrary, to get the same effect, it had to be effectively translated into a second medium.  Because of the quality of the original materials and of the translation, the result is the best film musical ever made.              -Stanley Kauffmann, The New Republic

West Side Story, a cultural institution with a legacy to match any American film in the musical genre or otherwise, is also a curiosity.  Though it originally ran for 732 performances on Broadway starting in 1957 -an impressive number by any barometer – it did not reach the zenith of theatrical and musical fulfillment until it was transferred to the screen  four year later.  The original show is now seen as much more than a classic musical, indeed one of the very few works that fundamentally changed the form of the musical.  One of the greatest of the influences was in the theatricality of its presentation – the seamlessness and cinematic flow of its staging and the integration of script, song, dance and set.  The operatic score by Leonard Bernstein, with book and lyrics from Stephen Sondheim is arguably one of the two greatest ever written for the musical theater – the other is Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s Show Boat, which also represented a radical departure in musical storytelling.  Almost every song from that score is now considered a standard and most of them are regularly performed in concerts, nightclubs and updated recordings.  Cast albums have been produced all over the world in places like the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Sweden and Italy among others, and in various styles, instrumentation and interpretations.   The play continues to be mounted frequently in high schools, universities, community and regional theaters, and in successful revivals around the globe.  The libretto has been translated in over 26 languages, and in high school English classes it has been taught as a companion piece to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the timeless romantic work upon which it was based. Continue Reading »

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 © 2014 by James Clark

      Spy stories tend to get enmeshed in fulsome displays of overt cleverness and irony. Overt irony. Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man (2014) excitingly thinks outside the industry’s box.

Getting to the nub of its protagonist’s grubby accomplishment entails no small measure of mucking about in the narrative’s most murky moments. One of the most rewarding brownouts occurs when our protagonist, German agent, Gunther Bachmann, gets together with Martha, an American security expert based at the Embassy in Berlin, at a scuzzy bar at his home base of Hamburg. The picture of executive composure and sanguine fitness, always seen in a tastefully minimalist dark suit, she addresses her colleague—unkempt, overweight, insomnia-enshrouded—with, “Tell me which way you’re headed…” He sketches for her what she is well aware of, an Islamist terror ring prominently supported by a self-styled progressive fund raiser for humanitarian relief to displaced, innocent, warm-hearted Muslims. Bachmann’s immediate point, though, is that a more obvious and far less professional enemy of infidels, recently arrived in Hamburg, would be more effectively dealt with as a means of shutting down Abdullah the stealthy dealer of war bucks than as a jail-bound illegal small-fry. In the midst of his lobbying that simple dresser hopefully not simplistic, Bachmann becomes irritated that one of the drug-addled habitués of a place Martha responds to with, “Can’t do any better than this?” (no doubt mischievously  chosen by our personally sloppy but professionally formidable and witty charmer of a guide through a minefield that can cut down the best of them) is beating the shit out of a lady friend. He goes over to the attacker and levels him with a heavy blow (not bad for a chain-smoker). But the lady insists, “It’s OK,” and the peace disturbers are quickly peaceful with one another. Martha tells him, “Now I’m really impressed…” But did either of these hawk-eyes consider the simplistic implications of such goodwill, staring them right in the face? Continue Reading »

25. Love Me Tonight

prince

By Stephen Mullen

Love Me Tonight starts with the ringing of bells, then fades in to shots of Paris – rooftops, streets, the Seine. We see a lone bicyclist, hear the swish of his tires on the street, then see an overhead shot of one street, with a man pushing a wheelbarrow. We hear its wheels; he stops, tosses his tools into the street (clank, clank), and he starts working, pounding a steady rhythm. We cut to an overhead shot of a bum, asleep, snoring. Then to a woman sweeping; to steam whistling from a chimney; to windows opening, a baby crying, to a man with a sawhorse, kids in the street, another man opening a store; women hanging out clothes, flapping them off their balconies; two cobblers sit down to their work, pounding nails (bang: tap/tap – bang: tap/tap); a knife grinder grinds, there’s traffic in the streets, there’s a woman pounding a rug, a car horn sounds – all of it mixes together, layered on everything else, a symphony of sounds, finished, so to speak, by a woman opening her window and turning on her gramophone, the whole street come together in music. And the camera goes into one room and finds Maurice Chevalier, dressing for the day, trying to shut out the noise, but not able to resist it – give him a second, and he’ll be singing along. Continue Reading »

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