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by Sam Juliano

Some of the most beautiful days of the entire year around the metropolitan area were enjoyed at a time when sweltering heat usually confines most indoors.  Yet, breezy, low-humidity low 70’s weather defined most of the past week.  The hottest days of the summer are set for later in the week, though an immediate cold front will restrict that rise to only a couple of days.

Labor Day barbecues are being planned, while for some the school year is set to start the day after the holiday.   September looms.  And the Fall season inches closer.  The marathon Romantic Countdown continues to move forward.  It is two-thirds complete, and will roll on until October 6th.

This past week was not much of a movie going week for the first time in quite a while.  Lucille and I did see one new release, LUCY, and also wound up seeing THE GIVER for a second time, to appease my cousin Robert McCartney, who was hot to trot to see it. Continue Reading »

it happened one night

By Brandie Ashe

It’s a simple enough story: girl meets boy and decides to elope. Girl’s wealthy father takes her away from her new husband and attempts to annul the marriage. Girl escapes her father’s control and tries to make it back to her husband with all manner of detectives on her trail. Girl meets a down-on-his-luck reporter who offers to return her to her husband in exchange for the exclusive rights to her story. Girl and reporter fall in love during one of the craziest road trips ever put to film.

It’s immensely hilarious and zany and clever. It’s appealingly romantic and truly sexy. It helped kick start an entire genre of films. It won a slew of Academy Awards. Eighty years after its release, it remains a favorite of many a movie fan.

Funny to think, then, that neither of its stars even wanted to make the damn picture in the first place.

Frank Capra’s 1934 screwball classic It Happened One Night remains a textbook example of effective romantic comedy. It is truly one of the greatest films ever made. And yet stars Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert had their qualms about doing the picture at all; Gable was loaned to Columbia to make the film as punishment for defying boss Louis B. Mayer over at MGM, while Colbert only agreed to shoot Night for the $50,000 salary and the promise of a short production time. In fact, upon the conclusion of filming, Colbert reportedly told friends that she had just completed “the worst picture in the world.” But both stars underestimated the appeal of this movie and their performances in it, because both were ultimately awarded Oscars for their work. Continue Reading »

33. The Apartment

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. Continue Reading »

Doom

by Stephen Mullen

There’s no romance like a doomed romance, and no one does doomed romance like Kenji Mizoguchi. Couples form, usually ill-considered pairings, and they suffer – and suffer and suffer and suffer some more. Though not always together – women suffer more than men, usually for the benefit of men, who go on to better things because of the suffering of a woman; think of The Tale of the Last Chrysanthemum, or Ugetsu, for that matter. But that is something that distinguishes Chikamatsu Monogatari from the rest. It is a tale of doomed romance, and the lovers suffer, they suffer indeed – but they suffer together, and, by Mizoguchi standards, the ending (this isn’t exactly a spoiler, since the film is also known as The Tale of Crucified Lovers) is a positively joyous one. They die, yes, but they die together.

It is a convoluted tale, set in 17th century Kyoto, derived from two classic Japanese authors, Chikamatsu and Saikaku. A woman, Osan, is married to a printer – the Great Printer of Kyoto. She has a useless brother who begs money from her, but her husband is a cheapskate; her husband also lusts for a maid, Otama – who pines for Mohei, the printers best employee; Otama tells Ishun (the printer) that she and Mohei plan to marry, hoping he will leave her alone – it backfires, and he just grows jealous. Mohei, meanwhile, is kind of Osan, who asks him for help for her brother – he is glad to get her money, but he has to embezzle it to get it. A co-worker catches him, and tries to blackmail him – sparking repentance and honesty in Mohei, to everyone’s sorrow. He tells the Great Printer – who is already jealous, and when Otama jumps in saying he did it for her, it all gets worse. Ishun, for all his wealth, is a penny pincher and a philanderer, and here Mohei is stealing his money and his girl! So he locks up Mohei, while the women talk – and when Otama admits to Ishun’s lust for her, Osan plans to trap him by hiding in Otama’s bed – but Mohei escapes and goes to Otama (he thinks) before Ishun gets there – and they are caught together (Mohei and Osan). Ishun, fearing the disgrace to him from this, tells Osan to kill herself – instead she runs away – with Mohei. And so their fates are sealed. Continue Reading »

boyhood1
© 2014 by James Clark

Boyhood (2014), seemingly in its trailer to be nothing so much as a Disney cash cow, is a uniquely forward-looking movie. Joining a roster of contemporary films on the case of what the old Surrealists referred to as the “more,” it is decidedly and thrillingly distant from “art” films as we have come to know them. Strikingly estranged from those blue-chip sagas of horrifyingly rugged individualism with their burdens of physical carnage and emotional massacre, it dares, in the confines of the Lone Star State, to convey the subversive phenomenon (shocking in iconoclastic circles because apparently rather conventional) of slow, uncertain maturation toward something new. Adding to its pariah status within the orbit of very tough love is its gusto for discovery about how mainstream domesticity fosters, however willy-nilly, migration away from mainstream domesticity.

The boyhood of Mason, our protagonist, might be imagined to be a variation upon James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. But that would be feeble imagining. Moored as he is to a channel of its own reckoning, Linklater has nothing to do with precious softies—being in fact much closer to Anton Corbijn’s sharp kick in the gut to those clever dandies, Jules and Jim, namely, his movie about the ill-starred band, Joy Division, titled, Control (2007). We’re firmly in Texas, here (Linklater’s home-state); but not the gun-crazy Texas of the Coens and David Lynch, nor the virus-paced, transcendental-mystic Texas of Terrence Malick, nor the mass-homicide-friendly Texas of Quentin Tarantino. We’re in a Texas where it’s a big deal that a sophomore co-ed (Mason’s sister, Samantha, whom we saw to be a precociously [sophomoric] smart-assed nine-year-old [her divorced mother’s pointing out the family’s needing to move to Houston, where her mother would help with the kids while she goes to college to enable supporting them financially, eliciting from her, “Fine, Mother. Do whatever you want. We’re not moving…No.No.No!” [and she makes snappy popping sounds with her lips to register as a robot]]) cannot, in contrast to other family members and friends giving droll toasts to Mason on his graduating from high school, do more than have a bit of stage fright and mumble, “Good luck…” Her succumbing to such disarray—when her brother, whom she had made the butt of so many of her self-confident barbs, was now able to face with considerable poise and eagerness the challenges of his own imminent stint in college—is arresting in its glimpse of that viscosity weighing upon the narrative’s myriad efforts to catch and control fire. Continue Reading »

Photo-1-Sunset

Streetwise drifter Hal and small-town beauty queen Madge (William Holden and Kim Novak) bask in the delicious glow of sudden, explosive love at a Labor Day picnic. Because this film is based, however, on William Inge’s award-winning play about strained human relationships, the couple’s bliss gets complicated in a hurry.

by Pierre de Plume

Falling in love with love is falling for make believe,
Falling in love with love is playing the fool.
Caring too much is such a juvenile fancy,
Learning to trust is just for children in school.
I fell in love with love one night when the moon was full,
I was unwise with eyes unable to see.
I fell in love with love, with love everlasting,
But love fell out with me.

“Falling in Love With Love,” lyrics by Lorenz Hart,
from the Broadway musical “The Boys From Syracuse” (1938)

Despite the cynicism expressed in the above lyrics about romantic love, I believe most of us are nevertheless a little bit in love with love. What keeps us going, I also believe, is the hope that our lives somehow will transcend the pragmatic aspects and conjoin at some level with our idealized notions of eros and, therefore, personal fulfillment.

Picnic, the film adaptation of William Inge’s Pulitzer Prize–winning play, seems designed to encourage viewers to indulge this fantasy while at the same time showing us the dangerous pitfalls and turmoil that adventurous, even unbridled love may bring. These themes are made evident not only through the film’s central romance but also through most of its characters. Continue Reading »

36. Manhattan

get-attachment

by Shubhajit Lahiri

Manhattan came possibly as a conclusion to the most remarkable purple patch in Woody Allen’s prolific and brilliant career as a filmmaker. The phenomenal streak began with Love and Death, his first masterpiece in my reckoning and the film that, despite its farcical nature, marked his transition to serio-comic cinema. He followed that up with Annie Hall, one of the great works of American cinema and the beginning of his love affair with urban neurotic relationships and New York. Next came Interiors, a stark chamber drama that stunned the audience with its deathly serious tone and made his fascination with Bergman clear. Manhattan, which ranks amongst many as Woody’s greatest work, marked the culmination of all his great hallmarks and signatures. Though he continued to make stellar works in the years to come (Hannah and Her Sisters, Crimes and Misdemeanors, and Husbands and Wives are the ones that place highest in my opinion), the above streak ensured that cinephiles and film students start considering Woody as a serious and accomplished auteur, and hence, in turn, his elevation to the pantheon of great filmmakers, artistes and social commentators.

Continue Reading »

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