Category Archives: History

“Jodorowsky’s Dune” (2014) – Review

Original-Dune-poster

Director:  Frank Pavich

With:  Alejandro Jodorowsky, Michel Seydoux, H.R. Giger, Chris Foss, and Brontis Jordowsky

IMDb Log Line:  The story of cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ambitious but ultimately doomed film adaptaion of the seminal science fiction novel.

Pros:

  1. Interviews with truly visionary eccentrics
  2. Incredible artwork by Moebius, H.R. Giger, Chris Foss
  3. The Dune storyboard book
  4. Jodorowsky’s reaction to watching David Lynch’s Dune

Cons:

  1. Though Jodorowsky is obviously emotional towards all the work done toward his Dune, that emotion does not translate to the audience except in a few scenes
  2. Only for cineofiles

Review:  

Grade = C+

Click on Image to view Trailer

Click on Image to view Trailer

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9 Best Marlon Brando Films

Marlon Brando is considered by some to be the best American actor, though I do not agree.  He is in the Top Ten, possibly Top Five.  Acting style in film can be classified as either before Brando or after.  He brought Method to the big screen and forever changed how we, the audience, expected roles to be performed. His main negative is his relatively small body of work when compared to other actors. That being said, his performances are typically memorable and unique.

Normally when creating a list like this I try and limit myself to five choices. In Brando’s case I saved the Top Five for roles in which he was the lead actor, and the bottom four (I could not come up with a fifth) for supporting characters.

 

#9 The Freshman

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Click on image to view trailer

Carmine Sabatini is basically Don Corleone as a nice guy with a comedic spin. He has good chemistry with Matthew Broderick, and he parodies himself well.

#8 Superman The Movie

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Click on image for “Goodbye, my son” scene.

Though not on screen long, his Jor-El haunts the remainder of the film. With the distinctive Kryptonian look created by the art and costume designers and his calm demeanor as Krypton crumble, Brando’s Jor-El conveys wisdom, strength, and foresight. And later in the movie when he appears as a holographic tutor for Clark Kent in the Fortress of Solitude, and Superman chooses to go against his command to not interfere with human history you understand the importance of that decision. This is where Clark the boy unyokes himself from the ghost of his father to become a man. The chose is made more poignant because the role of Jor-El was imbued with much power because of Brando’s performance.

#7 Missouri Breaks

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Click on image to view trailer

A truly bizarre yet captivating performance from Brando in an admittedly off-beat Western. He and Jack Nicholson work well together, with Nicholson saying Brando acted everyone off screen. This film marks Brando’s transition from leading man to character actor.

 

#6 Apocalypse Now

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Click on image to view “Meeting Kurtz” scene

Unlike Jor-El where Brando creates a performance that informs the remainder of the movie, his Col. Kurtz has to live up to the expectation of the character.  He does.  Though notoriously difficult to work with during the shoot, Brando creates a character for the ages.  After watching Apocalypse Now the first time, you now have the personification of Kurtz in your mind in all other viewings.  That image only enhances the experience of the film.

 

#5 The Godfather

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Click on image to view Bonassara scene

Though Brando won the Academy Award for Leading Man as Vito Corleone, The Godfather is really the story of his son, Michael.  Paramount Studios pushed Brando to the Academy because he was the known actor.  That being said, the Oscar is richly deserved.  His portrayal of a mafia don would be the standard bearing for all others to follow.  When someone imagines the glamorous side of the mob, it is to Don Vito Corleone they dream of being.  Brando also gave the character a humanity typically not seen for such a role.  You felt his loss when he verbalized how he wished Michael did not follow him into the family business; how he imagined a Senator Corleone.

 

#4 Morituri

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An overlooked performance in an overlooked film. Brando plays a apolitical sympathetic German blackmailed by British Secret Service to assume the identity of an SS Officer, and travel with a German freighter with necessary cargo. The performance like the film is understated and intelligent. (As a side note, the film is incredibly shot in high contrast black & white film.)

 

#3 Last Tango In Paris

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Click on image to view ballroom drunk scene

Brando at his most vulnerable as an American Expat in Paris.  A broken man looking to feel alive again, and finding that feeling in a young woman.  The little private world they create for themselves cannot last, but he does fight for it in the end.  He himself claimed he never felt more raw, exposed, vulnerable, then when he was filming this movie.

#2 On The Waterfront

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Click on image to view Terry & Edie scene

It was a tough call between the #1 and #2 slot.  Brando’s Terry Malloy is the vulnerable brute the bad guys take advantage of in order to get their way.  From his classic “I could have been a contender” speech, to his fiddling with Edie’s dropped glove in the park on the swings, Brando creates an empathic character you care about.

 

#1 A Streetcar Named Desire

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Click on image to view “Napoleonic Code” scene.

Because this is the role that changed what we expect from actors and their performances.  Mumbled lines, animal passion, brute strength, no one had seen anything like Brando’s performance as Stanley Kowalski.  Clear diction?  Not for this type of man.  Sexual innuendo?  No, only raw passion and animal lust.  Brando’s Stanley was no fictionalized version of the working man but the real deal.


Ennio Morricone – The 5 Obstructions Blogathon

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Click on image to be taken to Obstructions Overview.

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Click on image to be taken to Obstruction 5

ENNIO MORRICONE
Composer

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Ennio Morricone is a film composer most associated with Sergio Leone. He was born November 10th, 1928, in Rome, Italy; studied at the Conservatory of the National Academy of Santa Cecelia; was a classmate of Sergio Leone; has 516 composer credits–the most recent of which is from 2013’s Vengeance Rides a Horse; and winner of a 2007 Honorary Academy Award.

His first composer credit is The Fascist (1961). His first Leone film is A Fistful of Dollars (1964). Notable other films are The Battle of Algiers; The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; Once Upon A Time In the West; Burn; Two Mules for Sister Sarah; Days of Heaven; The Thing (1982); The Untouchables; and Frantic among others. His work is so distinctive it is often sampled in other films; most notably in the work of Quentin Tarantino, such as in Django Unchained and Inglorious Basterds.

Trivia: Heavy-metal band Metallica starts their shows with Morricone’s instrumental The Ecstasy Of Gold (from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)] before appearing on stage.

Quote: “You can’t save a bad movie with a good score.”

Morricone is definitely in my Top Five film composers of all time, and most likely in the top three. He creates music that is distinctive, creates place and motion, and stays with you long after the film is done.

A few years back at the Miami International Film Festival (MIFF), they had a screening of a restored copy of Once Upon A Time In The West. Having the chance to watch the film on the big screen in an old movie palace, I could not resist and convinced my husband to come with me. He not being a fan of Westerns, it was a tough sell. After the film–which he loved–his main take away was the power of the musical score and how he never heard anything like that before–least of all in a Western.

Below are some samples of Morricone’s work:

Battle of Algiers

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Click on image to listen to “Battle of Algiers” theme

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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Click on image to view and listen to “Il Trio”

Once Upon A Time In the West

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Click on image to listen to “Armonica”

Days Of Heaven

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Click on image to listen to “Harvest”

The Untouchables

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Click on image to listen to “Al Capone” theme

Frantic

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Click on image to listen to “Frantic” theme

The Thing

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Click on image to listen to “The Thing” theme.

Ennio Morricone, one of the great music composers in film history.

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Click on image to be taken to IMDb.


“Room 237” (2013) – Review

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Director: Rodney Ascher

With: Bill Blakemore, Geoffrey Cocks, Juli Kearns, and Jay Weidner

Room 237 is proof positive that if you are looking for hidden meaning in something, you’ll find it even if it isn’t there. Room 237 is a documentary about people who are overly obsessed with the movie The Shining. In voiceover only we are introduced to the principal theorists: Bill Blakemore, Geoffrey Cocks, Juli Kearns, and Jay Weidner. With the use of film clips, animation, and dramatization, we are presented their suppositions.

One person believes the entire film is about the Native American genocide as Americans moved West. There are obvious Indian motifs in the film:  the photos of chiefs on the wall, images of buffalo throughout the hotel. Another person believes the film represents Kubrick’s research of the Nazi’s and their final solution, which went into effect in 1942. He finds the number 42 everywhere. There are forty-two vehicles in the hotel parking lot; forty-two pieces of cutlery, utensils, and plates on the floor of the kitchen after they have been spilled; two times three times seven is forty-two. What about the hotel itself. It’s layout is impossible. How can the hotel manager’s office have a giant window with trees. What about the hotel manager during Jack’s interview? When he shakes Jack’s hand his crotch lines-up with his “in” tray and it symbolizes an erection. Still another person believes The Shining is infested with clues that the lunar landing footage was a hoax–just the footage not the landing–and the entire film he Kubrick’s guilt-trip about being the person who staged the landing for film. Jack’s tirade about his responsibilities to his employers is actually Kubrick’s tirade about why he filmed the staged landing.

Ascher’s, the director, decision not to show the theorists is a wise one. The style lends itself to a “Deep Throat” quality. Their anonymity adds weight to their testimony. It’s only after their views and ideas get more and more outlandish do we start to doubt their credibility. Can’t you see that “Ski” poster in the Game Room? From a distance doesn’t it look like an outline of the Minotaur. Obviously this foreshadows Jack in the Maze.

In the end this is a documentary about obsession. How left unchecked it can take over your life. One of the theorists believes he will be audited by the IRS next year and is being watched by the Federal Government. Another believes his life is now very similar to Jack’s.

Room 237 is best enjoyed if you have watched and are a fan of The Shining, and know how Stanley Kubrick operated. But as a stand-alone film without the required background information it cannot hold your attention.

Grade = C

PS I watched The Shining the following day, and I did look at it differently. I will admit I noticed something in story development I did not before. I’ll follow-up with that thread in my upcoming review in two weeks.

Click on image to view trailer.

Click on image to view trailer.


NostalgiThon – “Pete’s Dragon” (1977)

Click on banner to see other participants

Click on banner to see other participants

Click on image to view trailer

Click on image to view trailer

Director:  Don Chaffey

Writer:  Malcolm Marmorstein

Stars:  Sean Marshall, Helen Reddy, Jim Dale, Mickey Rooney, Red Buttons, and Shelly Winters

Probably a little over a year ago we decided to watch old kids movies we liked while we where growing-up, but wondered what we would think of today.  For the most part it was not a found trip down memory lane.  I genuinely felt for my parents for having to sit through the Cat From Outer Space and Escape to Witch Mountain.  But an interesting thing happened with Pete’s Dragon.

Before I continue you need to know some information about me.  I was born in 1973 and I am gay, but do not have the stereotypical gay gene that makes me automatically love musicals and song & dance numbers.

That being said, an interesting thing started to happen as we watched the movie.  I started singing along to the songs and even anticipated lines of dialogue.  After mutual shocked looks at each other, very clear memories of me as a child came rushing into my head of listening to the album of Pete’s Dragon on a turntable with headphones on.  I was amazed by the memories, and that I completely forgot about them.  The other thing that threw me off was trying to figure out how old I was when I first watched the film.

My best guess is I watched somewhere between 1979-1982, putting me between 5-9 years old.  These would be the years where I would go to summer camp and once a week we would see afternoon screenings of children’s films.  I’m assuming it was probably in ’79 or ’80.  I have clear memories of watching Raiders of the Lost Ark on the big screen, and most definitely all the classic films from 1982.  In other words, my movie tastes where moving away from young kiddy fair and I would not have been hooked onto listening to the album.  And by the way, I mean the movie was on an album you could listen to–not just the soundtrack, but everything including dialogue.

But what about the movie itself?  Does it hold-up?  For the most part yes.  It’s aimed squarely at young kids, but it doesn’t bore the adults.  The songs are catching and stay in your head.  The acting is adequate.  The special effects fair surprisingly well.

As for the story, here is the plot summary from IMDb:

“A young troubled boy named Pete (Sean Marshall) and his guardian dragon Elliott elude the abusive Gogan family, who all use Pete as a slave instead of a loved child. When Pete can successfully run away from them with his dragon, he stumbles into the town of Passamaquaddy- an ocean front harbor town filled with superstitious fishermen, drunken hooligans and wary townsfolk. Pete’s arrival does not mix well with the citizens, as his dragon Elliott accidentally causes town rioting and gossip among the town drunks about the dragon. Expecting to be an outcast yet again, Pete is taken in by the kind Nora (Helen Reddy) who lives in a lighthouse with her father Lampy (Mickey Rooney). While Pete bonds with Nora and Lampy, the townsfolk have not lowered their guards and suspicions about the dragon. And when Dr. Terminus (Jim Dale) arrives, a phony con artist posing as a doctor, he sees Elliott the Dragon as the ultimate profit to his fame. With Passamaquaddy filled with superstition, greed and lack of imagination, life will not be easy before the town can ever believe Pete’s dragon. Written by commanderblue

I can’t tell you this is a must watch as an essential childhood experience, but if it happens to be on TV one day give it a go.  You’ll have fun with Pete and his dragon Elliot.


Movie Confessions Blogathon

A fellow movie review blogger, MyFilmViews, invited me to be part of a blogathon.  In this case the theme are movie confessions.  Below are my answers to the questions sent followed by some thoughts:

  1. Which classic movie don’t you like/can’t enjoy and why?  The Night of the Hunter.  I know it is meant to be surreal.  I know it has one of Robert Mitchum’s greatest performance.  I know it is a misunderstood masterpiece.  And I know “The Preacher” is one of the most iconic characters of all time.  But I also know when I saw this film for the first time my reaction was underwhelming “Ehh”.  It didn’t do anything for me.  I neither loved it nor loathed it.  It didn’t stay with me and pop into my mind from time to time.  
  2. Which ten classic movies haven’t you seen yet?  The 400 Blows, The Apartment, Taxi Driver, Gone with the Wind, Do the Right Thing, The Seven Samurai, The Seventh Seal, Some Like It Hot, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Battleship Potemkin
  3. Have you ever sneaked into another movie at the cinema?  To the best of my memory, no.
  4. Which actor/actress do you think is overrated?  Katherine Hepburn.  I’m not saying she is a bad actress, but for someone that appears to be acting the same way in all the limited films I have seen her in I can’t believe she has been nominated twelve times and won four.
  5. From which great director have you never seen any movie (and why)?  Ingmar Bergman.  I have no good reason why I have never watched any of his films; I just don’t feel any urge to.
  6. Which movie do you love, but is generally hated?  Hudson Hawk.  It’s #1 Guilty Pleasure, and I have no idea why it is hated so much.  It’s not great art, but it’s a good popcorn movie.
  7. Have you ever been one “one of those annoying people” at the cinema?  Borderline yes.  I don’t remember if I was having a conversation with my mother or returning a phone call to my sister with her, but we did it while the end credits were rolling.  Since this was done after the film and during the credits, I am not sure if it qualifies.
  8. Did you ever watch a movie, which you knew in advance would be bad, just because a specific actor/actress was in it?  Which one and why?  In a theatre no, but at home yes.  I’ll usually watch anything with Harrison Ford and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  I’m a big fan of both and try to watch all their films.  Best example of this would be G.I. Joe.
  9. Did you ever not watch a specific movie because it had subtitles?  No
  10. Are there any movies in your collection that you have has for more than five years and never watched?  The 400 Blows.  But after a recent review by AndyWatchesMovies I set a goal to myself to watch before Labor Day–first weekend in September.
  11. Which are the worst movies in your collection and why do you still own them?  Though not from my point-of-view, but Hudson Hawk.  Also Candy, which is the worse movie ever made starring the most number of famous people.  I keep it just for that reason.
  12. Do you have any confessions about your movie watching setup at home?  My TV is small; it is in an armoire with the doors typically closed unless we are watching the TV.  As such, and movies I watch with a lot of action I usually watch laying on the floor in front of the TV instead of the sofa behind the coffee table.  Otherwise it is difficult for me to see all the details of the action.
  13. Any other confessions you want to make?  I’m typically biased against European films.  I stereotype them as being painfully slow and poorly edited.  I know this is not true, but I blame a film school professor of mine who loved those types of films for giving me this perception.  Most people naturally assume I am a sci-fi film fan, but I have actually seen very few of them. I am not a fan of gross-out horror films.  I usually watch comedies as rentals and not in the theatre.

So there you go, my answers to the questions.  Overall I had a great time working on this.  It reminded me there are still a lot of classic movies I have not watched yet, and reminded me that liking a film is purely subjective.  We all have out guilty pleasures that we like to watch and other people will give us an odd stare for.

As a thank you, here is the link to MyFilmViews post on these questions, as well as other bloggers who are participating:

Click on image to be redirected

Also, here are some links to earlier posts of mine that touch on some of my responses to the above questions:


Miami International Film Festival – Venues

As I said yesterday, one of the great things about the Miami International Film Festival is its use of the many venues in and around Miami and Miami Beach.  Below is the listing of the venues with at least one interior and exterior shot, and my opinion of it–if I have one.  The listing is in alphabetic order.  Also, I focused on a few of these locations in my Art House post from way back when.

Colony Theatre (Miami Beach)

Corner of Lincoln Road & Lennox Avenue

I’ve been to a few things at The Colony.  Before or after the show you can grab a drink and a quick bite to eat at Segafredo’s.  It’s one block away from the Regal South Beach.

Coral Gables Are Cinema (Coral Gables)

On Aragon Avenue across the sheet from Books & Books

There is plenty of parking since it is located in a Parking Garage.  It’s easy to miss because the City of Coral Gables does not allow them to put up any permanent signage on the building.

Festival Village Stages (Miami Beach)

1111 Lincoln Road-The coolest garage in the City

From the MIFF website, I believe they are talking about 1111 Lincoln Road for the Festival Village Stages.  But it may be an actual stage they move around on Lincoln Road in front of the garage.  This is in front of Regal South Beach on the other side of Lincoln Road Mall.

Freedom Tower (Miami)

The Ellis Island for quite a few Cubans during the 60s–my Family not included.

They’ll be using the Freedom Tower for seminars and parties.  I’m not sure if they are going to use the above interior, or the larger back area which was the old Printing Press for the “Miami News” paper.

Gusman Center for the Performing Arts (Miami)

The Gusman is where they show all the films with big names attached that are going to be at the Festival.  These few photos do not do it justice.  I’m going to reblog a post from “Little Beach Bum” who has many photos and a brief history of the facility in her blog.  On a side note, this is where my High School Graduation was.

Miami Beach Cinematheque (Miami Beach)

1st Floor inside the Old City Hall on Washington Avenue & 12th Street

After the recent renovation

The Cinematheque use to be in a make-shitt facility in the lobby of a hotel with folding chairs.  Their recent move is a great improvement.

O-Cinema (Miami)

Recently repainted exterior (which they do fairly often)

They are going to be almost doubling their seating soon.

Kareem and Vivian, the Owners, do am excellent job with programing.  I saw “Troll Hunter” there.

Regal South Beach (Miami Beach)

Corner of Lincoln Road & Alton Road

One of the smaller theatres.

Regal South Beach is the local multiplex on the Beach.  They do a great job hosting the many different film festivals in South Florida, as well as programing smaller independent films.  This is where the bulk of the festival screenings will occur.

The Historic Alfred I. DuPont Building (Miami)

This is where the opening night party will be held.  On a “too much information” note:  the Ground Floor Men’s Room have pedal flush urinals.

The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse (Miami)

This is in the Wynwood Section of Miami, just North of Downtown.  It’s gritty, dirty, and full of many art galleries.  They are going to use this facility for two Director Seminars.

Tower Theatre (Miami)

In Little Havana (8th Street–Calle Ocho–just West of Downtown)

 It’s always a fun mixture of people when the audience exits and mixes with the locals.  There is a domino park right next door.

Villa 221 (Miami)

Just West of Biscayne Blvd on 22nd Street (maybe 21st)

Back Yard

They are going to have performance artist one night for a party.

Wynwood Walls (Miami)

The festival will be screening more shorts at this location.

I hope you enjoyed.