What is the last film you watched? (2017)

Open, general discussion of classic sound-era films, personalities and history.
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oldposterho

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Dec 29, 2017 5:35 pm

Tip o' the hat for the Christmas Holiday recommendation above, although I wish I could have seen this last week as a noir Christmas is the best Christmas. My first (conscious) Deanna Durbin film and, while I realize it was against type, I can see why she'd be popular, lovely voice, easy on the eyes, and a terrific actress.

The story was a little static but it was fun watching Mankiewicz dip his bucket in the Citizen Kane well again for the film's structure. I wonder if that was a part of the original Maugham story? Gene Kelly was also quite interesting as the heel and it's always a treat to watch Gale Sondergaard tear a role apart.

I would also add that this a film that was definitely let down by the Production Code. I suspect as a pre-Code film it would have been able to develop some of the freakier subtexts that were only hinted at.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Dec 30, 2017 8:03 am

Yesterday evening I watched the largely forgotten Soviet 1935 science fiction film "Loss of Sensation", directed by Alexandr Andriyevsky. Some people have noted certain similarities between this film and Fritz Lang's 1927 silent masterpiece "Metropolis". For instance does "Loss of Sensation" also have a "Morloch"-like machine. Naturally, there are also dissimilarities between these two films. The Soviet film is, for example, burdened with too much communist propaganda. The cinematography is at times Expressionistic or avant garde.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Dec 30, 2017 9:58 am

Loss of Sensation has to be one of the most gloriously bonkers films that you are ever likely to come across. Yes the acting is clunky in places, yes the direction is equally so, and yes the politics is smothered on in Barbara Cartland style, but that's all part of what makes it so much fun.

The film starts off with a scene that mirrors what Chaplin was doing in Modern Times and Clair in A Nous La Liberte around that time. The film's protagonist, Jim Ripple, is called in to take part in a time and motion study. Workers stand not at a straight production line, but in the centre of a series of round ones carrying out some never explained action on an unnamed piece of machinery. At intervals the top-hatted and cigar smoking capitalist bosses crank up the speed until eventually one man is driven mad.

Feeling ashamed by his role, Ripple retreats to a bar to get drunk. Then inspired by the evening's entertainment, a puppet show to the accompaniment of an avant garde jazz sound track, he has a lightbulb moment. He will build a robot to carry out all the hard tasks in the factory. Only his inspiration goes even further. Just as the puppets danced to modern jazz, so will his robots. And so he builds a series of 10 foot tall robots, that he controls by playing his saxophone. And these aren't delicate little robots like Maria in Metropolis. They're powered by petrol engines, and rev up noisily like WW2 tanks.

OK the film eventually makes its way to the expected struggle between the workers and the bosses but never in a way that is so clunkily obvious as its politics.

And for a bit of background info, this was one of the last films produced by Mezhrabpomfilm, an organisation originally set up by German communists to help famine relief in Russia, but which subsequently diversified into becoming one of the most interesting film production companies of the time. It was eventually shut down at both ends in the mid thirties, by the Russians for being too foreign, and by the Germans for being too communist. The Berlinale ran a retrospective on their work in 2012, and the accompanying documentary, Die rote Traumfabrik, is up on You Tube. Only in German, but the clips are clearly labelled.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mezhrabpomfilm" target="_blank
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEDxi6ODZx0" target="_blank
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Dec 30, 2017 11:19 am

Limbo (199) by John Sayles is a rambling story set in Alaska. It tells of two people wandering through life. Donna (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) works as a saloon singer. She has a moody teenaged daughter. Joe (David Strathairn) used to be a fisherman, until he has a bad accident. now he works as a handyman. Just as they are starting a relationship, Joe's half brother blows into town with a big favor to ask. The four end up taking a boat out for a trip along the coast. The film takes off into unexpected paths just as you settle into a certain narrative. It ends up being a fascination look at the likes of ordinary people and has a truly surprising ending. Sayles has bee around now for something like 40 years. I suppose he's an acquired taste, but I've been (mostly) a fan since his Return of the Secaucus Seven in 1979. Beautiful photography by Haskell Wexler.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Dec 30, 2017 11:25 am

drednm wrote:Limbo (199) by John Sayles is a rambling story set in Alaska. It tells of two people wandering through life. Donna (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) works as a saloon singer. She has a moody teenaged daughter. Joe (David Strathairn) used to be a fisherman, until he has a bad accident. now he works as a handyman. Just as they are starting a relationship, Joe's half brother blows into town with a big favor to ask. The four end up taking a boat out for a trip along the coast. The film takes off into unexpected paths just as you settle into a certain narrative. It ends up being a fascination look at the likes of ordinary people and has a truly surprising ending. Sayles has bee around now for something like 40 years. I suppose he's an acquired taste, but I've been (mostly) a fan since his Return of the Secaucus Seven in 1979. Beautiful photography by Haskell Wexler.


This movie is a particular favorite of mine among Sayles’ pictures. My cousin thinks it lacks an ending. I think that it ends the story it wishes to tell and leaves the rest in a Preston Sturges epilogue, to finish as you wish.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Sun Dec 31, 2017 7:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Dec 30, 2017 11:46 am

boblipton wrote:
drednm wrote:Limbo (199) by John Sayles is a rambling story set in Alaska. It tells of two people wandering through life. Donna (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) works as a saloon singer. She has a moody teenaged daughter. Joe (David Strathairn) used to be a fisherman, until he has a bad accident. now he works as a handyman. Just as they are starting a relationship, Joe's half brother blows into town with a big favor to ask. The four end up taking a boat out for a trip along the coast. The film takes off into unexpected paths just as you settle into a certain narrative. It ends up being a fascination look at the likes of ordinary people and has a truly surprising ending. Sayles has bee around now for something like 40 years. I suppose he's an acquired taste, but I've been (mostly) a fan since his Return of the Secaucus Seven in 1979. Beautiful photography by Haskell Wexler.


This movie is a particular favorite f mine among Sayles’ pictures. My cousin thinks it lacks an ending. I think that it ends the story it wishes to tell and leaves the rest in a Preston Sturges epilogue, to finish as you wish.

Bob


We agree. The first half is good; the second half is excellent. The ending is perfect.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Dec 30, 2017 2:45 pm

As well as being an early Jessie Matthews outing, THE MIDSHIPMAID (1932) boasts early appearances by John Mills, Basil Sydney, Nigel Bruce and George Zucco in addition to Fred Kerr, Anthony Bushell and Claude Allister. Based on a play by Ian Hay and Stephen King-Hall (of 'The Middle Watch'), with music by Noel Gay, it tells of pompous economics expert Kerr being hired by the Navy to put things in order, accompanied by his lovely daughter. Of course the chaps in the wardroom all fancy her, but who will take her from the unfortunate Allister?

Although this wasn't his last film, Kerr seems rather gaunt in this one, with his appearance (with hindsight) coming over as rather distressing. The film itself is a rather hit-and-miss affair, amusing and lively in parts, rather heavy in others. While not actually becoming tiresome, one feels it could have been more entertaining, although it was aimed at a somewhat earlier audience.

Despite dire warnings, I watched THEY NEVER LEARN (1956) which has producer-director E J Fancey's daughter Adrienne Scott as a platinum blonde policewoman going to Holloway women's prison in order to infiltrate a gang of forgers, which includes a pre-bonkbuster Jackie Collins and Graham Stark. As my learned colleague above has pointed out, this featurette is rather economically made, with a fair bit of padding as well as what looked like repeat shots. An amusing moment is when one of the villains is heading towards Westminster Cathedral, site of Edmund Gwenn's unfortunate assassination attempt in FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT, which we then see a few moments later! The inside shots are I suspect nothing of the sort! Hard to sit through for much of its brief running time, and very scrappy, its main interest is as an example of its type.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Dec 30, 2017 3:30 pm

My father always told me that it is far better to remain poor but honest because by becoming rich through dishonesty will only open up a can of worms and thus ultimately lead to a life of misery. His message was obviously in mind when "Hacker" (2016) was produced. (Not to be confused with a film with the same name made in 2017).

We have seen that the invention of new things - whilst of great benefit in most ways, can often have a few problems associated with them, although not always as was predicted in films. For example, television apart from being a conversation ender, has yet to inflict deadly rays upon the viewer. On the other hand we are all aware that since the advent of computers, lots of things have become messed up.

Callan McAuliffe is a young Canadian man of Ukrainian descent who finds himself a whizz at computering. He starts off in a small way hacking into systems and stealing credit card details. He then purchases things with these stolen cards and flogs them off to make money. Along the way he meets up with an experienced light finger expert, Daniel Eric Gold and the two of them expand the operation, making more and more money. The two then later meet up with Lorraine Nicholson - who has connections and the three of them expand operations and hit the big time in the world of fraudulent activity.

To someone like me who finds the workings of a computer one of the greatest modern mysteries known to man, this whole picture was quite fascinating as far as how one can get into systems and manipulate them to one's advantage. Added to this fascination was the sense of excitement generated as one goes along with all of the adventures and sees the escalation of the schemes.

This is quite an adventure story. We are whisked along with it, from Toronto, to Hong Kong to Bangkok. It moves well, tells its story clearly and carefully explains the characters. The story is well structured and there are some very nice little forays into back alleys and a twist at the end which finishes it off rather nicely.

It is also a good film for people who may be inclined to go down the wrong track to watch.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Dec 30, 2017 3:35 pm

"Flatliners" (2017) is a re-make of the film of the same name only made in 1990. The original film would still play, so one queries why it was decided to have another go at it? Especially so as there is nothing new in it and it basically is much the same as the original.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Dec 30, 2017 3:42 pm

"Barracuda" (2017) is a strange film of a strange story. An English girl turns up out of the blue in Texas and claims to be the half sister of this woman. Early on we get the feeling that something is not quite right - apart from the awkwardness of the situation of having someone suddenly turn up on the doorstep.

We get to see a lot of ordinariness in this picture and one often has to stifle a yawn, but one persists in the hope that there will be some explanation and possibly a revelation towards the end which will make the sitting through it all worth it. Alas, even though there are some frightful goings on near to the end, there is nothing presented to give any meaning to it all.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Dec 30, 2017 3:54 pm

"The Honourable Wally Norman" (2003) is a mildly amusing film about a man who basically has no political ambition, being catapulted into office due to a clerical error.

This is a film that people who have a jaundiced view of politics and politicians, such as I, will identify with as it accurately points a finger at all the foibles in the "system". For instance we have the entrenched candidate who has been the local member for years and thus knows every single perk and makes sure he gets every one of them; we have all the party hacks who are maneuvering people around as if they are pieces on a chess board; we have some enthusiastic people around who really haven't a clue as to what is going on and we have the usual throng of incompetents who are in the political machine as most of them wouldn't be offered a job outside of it.

A capable ensemble cast has been assembled headed by Kevin Harrington as Wally, Alan Cassell as the incumbent, Shaun Micallef as the opposition, Greig Pickhaver as a hack and Bryan Dawe as a reporter.

Whilst not being a world-beater, it is nevertheless a pleasant little film bound to bring out the occasional titter.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Dec 31, 2017 6:46 am

Some canny old-time actors, including Celeste Holm, Robert Lansing, Robert Alda and Lana Turner, with a younger favorite of mine, Meredith Baxter, do their futile best in Bittersweet Love (1976). She's in love and knocked up, when Lana Turner tells her she's actually the half-sister of the zygote's father. Kenneth Wannberg's twee, tinkly score will give you morning sickness.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Sun Dec 31, 2017 7:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Dec 31, 2017 12:37 pm

Meeting Venus (1991) is a difficult film to understand ... literally. This multinational production was mostly filmed in Hungary and is filled with Euro actors, many of whom seem to be speaking phonetically. Story concerns the clash/romance of an American opera diva (Glenn Close) and a Hungarian conductor (Niels Arestrup) as they try to mount a production of Tannhäuser in Paris. The film is filled with Euro politics past and present as the various artistes from around Europe parade their opinions and prejudices. Arestrup has to deal with oversized egos as well as unions, money problems, and jealousies. These people are still carping about Wagner's place in the pantheon Nazi Germany! Watchable for Close, who is dubbed by no less than Kiri Te Kanawa. The music, when they finally get to it, is wonderful.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Dec 31, 2017 3:19 pm

Little people inhabit Mikio Naruse's Hideko no shashô-sean (1941; aka Hideko the Bus Conductress), She greets the passengers, takes the fares on a shabby bus out in the countryside, and thanks them when they depart. Business is poor; a competing company has new buses. Cheerful Hideko ropes her driver and a visiting writer into having her recite a script about local sights as they travel along their route. Little do they know that their money-grubbing boss has plans that will upset their happiness. For the moment, they are content.

For Mikio Naruse, with his stories of small tragedies in a constantly changing Japan, this short film is as good a life as it can get for the little people he cares about. They are kind, well-meaning people who wish to be moral. Happiness is such a fleeting emotion. Perhaps we should all learn to be satisfied with that.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Tue Jan 30, 2018 5:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Dec 31, 2017 5:25 pm

"Shortwave" (2016). When you can't say anything at all nice...
"
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Dec 31, 2017 5:39 pm

Observing people on aeroplanes, there are lots who are very casual about going up in them, treating the experience as no more than sitting down in a chair. I, on the other hand, am of the white knuckle brigade, even though I have travelled on them since 1953. The thought of going down, rather abruptly, is never too far from my mind. Thank goodness then that I didn't watch "The Mountain Between Us" (2017), before embarking on an aeroplane journey!

This is a nice adventure story, even though it is a tad far-fetched methinks. Idris Elba and Kate Winslet being of the current crop of impatient people who have to be everywhere yesterday, decide to hire a small aeroplane together. Unfortunately they traverse a storm and the pilot crashes the thing in snow high in mountainous terrain. He's dead, but the two of them survive, miraculously. The rest of the picture is then taken up with the two of them trying to make their way towards some semblance of civilisation. On the way they fall in love.

I liked the way that Mr. Elba seemed to know exactly what to do at all times and lead the mission. Ms. Winslet was therefore relegated to the role of the insipid female who moans, cries and generally wants to do silly things.

It's entertaining as long as one allows one's imagination to be stretched a bit. (I made notes in case I ever am in an aeroplane that comes down in snow in the mountains).
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Dec 31, 2017 5:56 pm

I'm a great admirer of the acting chops of Gary Oldman. No matter how fantastic the situation or superhuman the character ihe plays, he always manages to convey the impression he is a decent, flawed human being floundering his way through a situation, and doing credit to human decency. that's quite an accomplishment when you're playing Jim Gordon in The Dark Knight, but arguably even more when it's Sid Vicious, Ludwig von Beethoven or Dracula. So, when I decided to see His Darkest Hour (2017) as my last theatrical movie for the year, I wasn't surprised at how he humanized Churchill, but how generous the script was to those around him, particularly to Ben Mendelsohn as the King.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Sun Dec 31, 2017 6:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
“Oh, yeah, I’ve been there. Pretty cool place. The people who live there? They love it. They’re nuts.”

That we do. And that we are.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Dec 31, 2017 6:00 pm

boblipton wrote:I'm a great admirer of the acting chop of Gary Oldman. No matter how fantastic the situation or superhuman the character ihe plays, he always manages to convey the impression he is a decent, flawed human being floundering his way through a situation, and doing credit to human decency. that's quite an accomplishment when you're playing Jim Gordon in The Dark Knight, but arguably even more when it's Sid Vicious, Ludwig von Beethoven or Dracula. So, when I decided to see His Darkest Hour (2017) as my last theatrical movie for the year, I wasn't surprised at how he humanized Churchill, but how generous the script was to those around him, particularly to Ben Mendelsohn as the King.

Bob


I too have an admiration or Mr. Oldman's acting abilities and look forward to seeing this picture. The late Sir Winston seems to be the flavour of the month at the moment as I only recently saw Brian Cox do his impersonation of the fellah.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostTue Jan 02, 2018 1:15 pm

Donald Binks wrote:
boblipton wrote:I'm a great admirer of the acting chop of Gary Oldman. No matter how fantastic the situation or superhuman the character ihe plays, he always manages to convey the impression he is a decent, flawed human being floundering his way through a situation, and doing credit to human decency. that's quite an accomplishment when you're playing Jim Gordon in The Dark Knight, but arguably even more when it's Sid Vicious, Ludwig von Beethoven or Dracula. So, when I decided to see His Darkest Hour (2017) as my last theatrical movie for the year, I wasn't surprised at how he humanized Churchill, but how generous the script was to those around him, particularly to Ben Mendelsohn as the King.

I too have an admiration or Mr. Oldman's acting abilities and look forward to seeing this picture. The late Sir Winston seems to be the flavour of the month at the moment as I only recently saw Brian Cox do his impersonation of the fellah.

Sad to learn that The Darkest Hour was to be John Hurt's last film project, he was going to play Neville Chamberlain, but his cancer had progressed too far by the time filming started. Chamberlain, as the film points out, was suffering from cancer at the time these events took place and he died six months or so after Dunkirk. Seasoned actor Ronald Pickup does a fine job as Chamberlain, however, and bears a decent resemblance to the late P.M., so the film doesn't suffer for it.

Speaking of replacing actors, saw All the Money in the World on Saturday, my last film of 2017, and thought Christopher Plummer was outstanding as J. Paul Getty, hard to imagine how Kevin Spacey (under multiple layers of latex) would have been better, although I understand Plummer was director Ridley Scott's original choice for the role. Only once did I detect digital trickery used to insert Plummer into the film in Spacey's place (a flashback scene in the Arabian desert which would have been quite costly to reshoot), and I understand most of his other scenes were reshoots on the same (or similar) locations and sets.
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