So Few

Dec. 15th, 2013 09:49 pm
onyxlynx: Some trees and a fountain at a cemetery (A Fine and Private Place)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
 Joan Fontaine, one of the great stars of the '40s, is dead.
kareila: (Default)
[personal profile] kareila

I sought this out at my local library because I saw a review online claiming this was the best cinematic adaptation of a fairy tale yet to be filmed. I don't quite agree with that, but there is a great deal here of interest.

This is a black and white, French language film. The subtitles are adequate but fail to capture certain subtleties of the dialogue, such as the delightful moment when Beauty switches from calling Beast "la bête" (the beast) to "ma bête" (my beast). Both are simply subtitled as "Beast!" in the version I watched.

The special effects are impressive. Unseen hands tend to Beauty. Statues come to life. The Beast's hands smoke whenever he kills. And the ending... I don't want to spoil it, but it is lovely.

If you want to spend an hour and a half on some old-fashioned character development and cinematic sleight of hand, this is a good pick.
franzeska: (Default)
[personal profile] franzeska
Last year, I bought the first Film Noir Reader and set out to watch the noir canon. I didn't get very far before getting distracted, but the idea has been rattling around in my brain ever since. Noir isn't really a genre, particularly not one defined by plot content, and it wasn't a movement; nobody making noirs at the time would have called them that. Even defining what noir is is tricky, never mind figuring out which films count. Everybody watches the dozen most famous films and stops there. Bogie, private eyes, and a bad ending: That's noir, right?

Well, sure, that's one thing noir was, but there are noirs that aren't about cops and PIs at all, and lots of them don't star any big names. Tons of them were short, trashy B movies nobody watches these days, and I think that's a pity. That's why I picked The Madonna's Secret. It's not really very good, but it provides a great look at what was going on in the styles of the time. (Ok, ok, I confess: it's also quite short and available on Netflix instant view. Ahem.)

The Madonna's Secret )

My overall verdict: Freud soup with a great lighting director.

What are your favorite noirs? What dead lady portrait movie should I watch next?

Does anybody else have the Film Noir Reader series? (I highly recommend them.) Any other favorite books and blogs on noir?

I think this particular "gem" is ripe for remaking, preferably with a more naturalistic acting style and more focus on the supposed serial killer motive. Do you have any classic noirs you'd love to see them remake? And what's up with that Johnny Depp Thin Man? (Can we hope it will be more like a faithful adaptation of the novel and less like a hideous murdering of the movies?)
laughingrat: Harpo, Zeppo, Chico, and Groucho (The Four Marx Bros.)
[personal profile] laughingrat
For those who don't follow Letters of Note, they recently published a facsimile and transcript of Groucho Marx's famous letter to Warner Bros. regarding the upcoming Marx Bros. film, "A Night in Casablanca." Quite possibly the most amusing made-up feud in Hollywood!
onyxlynx: BxW F. Lang & T. von Harbou each reading. (Fritz Lang Thea von Harbou)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
OK, I was late again.  It's a failing; I keep running afoul of Solnick's Law (Public Transit is early if you're late and late if you're early), but my coffee, though decaf these days, still must have milk, and I ran out this morning.  Yeah, yeah.  So I missed the pre-movie entertainment and the early scenes  Fortunately, 1) I've seen this before, and 2) I read more Rebecca-esque novels in my youth than was strictly good for me.  Possibly, so had the audience.  The audience laughed at every overwrought line, every appearance of Mrs. Danvers, and the Favelle blackmail attempt.  If one was not watching the screen, one would swear one had wandered into a comedy.

Have I mentioned that I hate reviews that review the audience?  All right.

The seacoast and woods were almost entirely rear projection; in some places this is more obvious than in others.  Other than that, the photography was crisp and lit well (of course; it was a movie).  The class stuff...was noticeable.  (It only starts with the insanely long dinner table; there is also the matter of everyone expecting her to know the arcane rules of the house.)  I remember there being fairly broad hints of Rebecca's *ahem* strong appetite for sex in the book (Forever Amber, which was racy for the '40s, came out in '44); this is reduced in the movie to dark declarations 4 days into the first marriage and Mrs. Danvers.  There is also the fact that the Second Mrs. de Winter does not have a first name that anyone utters.  Unlike Rebecca.  Whose death in the book was relatively straightforward and in the movie is sort of um misdirected.

Lord Sir Laurence Olivier was dishy, even though there was always a sense that he was Holding Back.  The character, Maxim de Winter, as someone in the movie suggested, could use a light sedative.  Joan Fontaine moused around until the scene where she tells Mrs. Danvers "I am Mrs. de Winter now" (and the audience applauded) and then develops a fighting spirit, the better to keep Max from the gallows cold.

In North by Northwest, Hitchcock indicated consummation by a train entering a tunnel.  In Rebecca, Max and Nameless, fully dressed, embrace and kiss hungrily before one of those human-high fireplaces--with a fire going.

Oh baby.

[ETA:  Revised for intelligibility and sense-making.  I'd sleep on it, but then I'd forget things like the last-stage-of-the-Kane-marriage-dinner-table.  This is perhaps why I did not become a theatre critic.]

Got Weird?

Jan. 23rd, 2010 10:53 am
onyxlynx: BxW F. Lang & T. von Harbou each reading. (Fritz Lang Thea von Harbou)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
 No, not really, but Rebecca is showing in 2 weeks.  (Again on the first Friday of the month, although the place that offered pork buns and featured a huge whacking Printer is now vacant.  The wine & cheese & crackers joint is still with us, and they had better art, usually, anyway.)  This time, I'm actually going to try picking up all that subtext lying around.  (Some of the book's little hints are not in the movie.)  Notes.  *sigh*
onyxlynx: Winged Duesenberg hood ornament (1920)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
 I got into '30s movies by happenstance; there was a glut of ghosted autobiographies of that era's stars, the magazines Modern Screen and Photoplay on rainy afternoons, and a paperback copy of the life of Louis B. Mayer.  (I did not know then the autobiographies were ghostwritten.)  I became fascinated by the rich descriptions of these movies, and when I could, I sought them out on TV, although some, like Grand Hotel, were only shown at 3:00 AM.

(Sorry; I keep doing that.)

Eventually I noticed that the films of the Depression had, er, problems.  There was the relegation of actors of color to servant roles.  There was a certain amount of handwaving around class.  There was the way women's roles were contorted into specific shapes.  (Other issues exist, but this is not a term paper.)

OK.  The Women.  Certain things were dictated by the 1934 Production Code; a number of movies have their characters divorce, but the divorce disappears when the original characters get back together, or find themselves in court the day the decree is supposed to go into effect.  Similarly, Joan Crawford's character's parting shot is occasioned by the inability to say 'bitch' on screen.

Where was I?  Oh, right.  The Women is fast-paced in the manner of classic screwball comedy; actually the slower portions meant to show emotion are pretty snappy.  The sound was slightly muddy, which meant that when the lines were layered over each other, they were unintelligible.  There's a fashion show in the middle (because in a movie about women, there must be fashion), in color, with some items that would still look good now, and some that  would require a funeral pyre to destroy even the memories of ugly.  

Then there's the ending.

Which we can spoil now.

A choir?  As she runs to meet offstage Steven?  And the look on her face...

By the way, even though there are no men appearing on-screen, this movie would still fail the Bechdel test.

Links laid on in the morning; also, slightly edited for clarity because I know better than to write at 1 am...

kittenbiscuits: (ingrid cig)
[personal profile] kittenbiscuits
Last night I watched the film All the King's Men. This is one that has been on my DVR since recording it way back during the 31 Days of Oscar festival on TCM. And it wasn't that I was procrastinating on watching it, I was saving it because I knew it was a good one, and I try to really savor the good ones. ;) More about the film here... )
kittenbiscuits: (ingrid cig)
[personal profile] kittenbiscuits
So I thought I would post something for discussion. Hope that's alright! Have any of you seen the film The Hucksters starring Clark Cable and Deborah Kerr? It's Ms. Kerr's American film debut and the supporting cast is amazing. More about the film here... )


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