What is the last film you watched? (2017)

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

Unread post by boblipton » Thu Jan 05, 2017 2:01 pm

i saw and reviewed Girl on the Train last year in this thread's previous iteration. My discussion was not as succinct as yours.

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

Unread post by Donald Binks » Thu Jan 05, 2017 2:34 pm

boblipton wrote:i saw and reviewed Girl on the Train last year in this thread's previous iteration. My discussion was not as succinct as yours.

Bob
I only bothered to write about it as I was incredulous that one film critic had included it in his list of ten best films of 2016. (Must say something about the quality of last year's film-making?)

Generally speaking I don't bother to write about a lot of modern pictures I see unless I think they are worthwhile saying something about. Most that I look at I can't get past the first two reels, they are that bad.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

Unread post by odinthor » Thu Jan 05, 2017 5:50 pm

Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot (1953), which is to say Mr. Hulot’s Holiday, starring and directed by Jacques Tati. There is a calm atmosphere which sets the greatest achievements apart, above the rough and tumble of lesser works—those of more dubious merits which must still prove their worth to a yet more dubious audience. Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot exists in this calm and ethereal category, a bit of perfection which, without being self-conscious (for contrast, Étaix’s films, for all of their many felicities, are marred by a nervous, inward-looking self-consciousness), is calm, and yet completely madcap.

Who is Monsieur Hulot? Where does he come from? Where does he go? What does he expect? The answers to these questions, and even the mystery which prompts them, are outside the world of this film; and, could we answer these questions, the nature of this film would suffer. As with an absurdist play—I’m thinking of Beckett’s En Attendant Godot (perversely, there is also something of Ibsen’s Når vi døde vågner present)—we are thrown into a world all its own, and without understanding we have to accept as is the existence of the show’s environment and those within it. We are not given the support which a story would provide—there is no story as we might anticipate in a movie. We can only sit back and let wash over us successive events which are connected not by plot but only by general location and the mix of recurring characters—a morose waiter, a beleaguered hotel manager, children, the hotel guests of various conditions and nationalities, vendors, beach-goers, locals, a glob of taffy, the intractability of mechanisms.

Most of the above remarks could apply to deep-dyed tragedy; but happily this is a work of profound yet unostentatious hilarity. It’s playful, often in unexpected ways (for instance, those taking in the subtitles will find that the English subtitles usually have nothing to do with the passages of English being spoken). Tati’s comic touch is delicate but confident. The film trusts the audience member’s intelligence and powers of observation with the same beguiling innocence with which M. Hulot conducts himself towards the other characters and the world in general. Neither events nor people are good or bad; they are simply as they are, to be dealt with moment by moment as one can. And I find that it is this simple and successful trust which stays with me after viewing the film. Tati has given us not only hilarity but also a chance to feel once again the innocent confidence we lost somewhere along the way when we grew from childhood to adulthood. This is a precious gift.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

Unread post by Donald Binks » Thu Jan 05, 2017 6:01 pm

odinthor wrote:Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot (1953), which is to say Mr. Hulot’s Holiday, starring and directed by Jacques Tati. There is a calm atmosphere .......This is a precious gift.
I play this picture once a year. To me it is a recollection of an age of innocence gone by and reminds me in a way of holidays taken in my youth. M. Tati was a great observer of life and the silliness of human beings. By placing these observations on the screen he did us all a great service.

I just wish I could serve in tennis as he does!
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

Unread post by Changsham » Fri Jan 06, 2017 12:26 am

Recently watched historically fascinating KOLBERG 1944, the Nazi epic historical drama made to rival GONE WITH THE WIND and grand in scope as WAR AND PEACE. This was made at a time of desperation for Nazi Germany and was propaganda minister Josef Goebbels grandest ever propaganda film project. It cost a fortune with a cast of thousands featuring spectacular battle scenes and mass wanton destruction. This film was meant to be an allegorical reflection of the current dire situation of the war. The film setting is the siege of Kolberg in Pomerania by the French during the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century. The message in this desperate propaganda mistep is clear, all German people civilian or otherwise must eschew defeatism and immerse themselves completely in total war with the implication that the enemy will wilt when faced with the German people's iron resolve and sue for peace. Lots of patriotic singing and martial music here.

Quite unexpectedly this film avoids the nastier aspects of Nazi propaganda. There are no hints of racism or even hatred or deriding of the enemy other than portrayals of the usual moustache twirling stereotypes. The real bad guys here are their own Prussian generals who are portrayed as cowardly, defeatist and incompetent. Just like the Nazi hierarchy who were blaming the German military misfortunes on their own generals. Anyone else too with defeatist thoughts was an enemy. Suggesing, thinking aloud or joking of possible German defeat was a capital offence in the dying days of Nazi Germany.

FIlm stars Heinrich George as the bulldog like town mayor Nettlebeck who will never surrender and urges his people to do the same and never mind most will die and their town will be destroyed. His role clearly represents the Nazi political thinking at the time. Paul Wegener is the buffoonish town fort garrison commander General Loucadou who would rather surrender than fight just like the discredited WWII military leadership have done. Horst Casper is Colonel Gneiseneu, an oratorical patriot and untainted lower ranking army officer whom I suspect is based on the Joseph Goebbels persona is sent by the king(Hitler) to defend the city after the removal of the general. The female lead is Kristina Soderbaum as Maria a farm girl who basically is head cheerleader for stirring the citizens into a lemming like frenzy. Soderbaum made a career of playing virginal aryan beauties perpetually in danger of defilement by subhumans during the Nazi era though in this film she avoids her regular fate. Later on it was reported she regretted much of her work during this period.

The quality of the AGFA colour restored print on DVD is acceptable. Appears put together from multiple sources. The colour is a bit washed out and the contrast was bad in outdoor sunny scenes. I understand the early AGFA colour film fades badly over time. There is a lot of clumsy editing in the film particulary in the battle scenes where most of the gore was removed in its hasty truncated released version during the wars dying days. This film had a very limited release in 1945 in one or two bombed out cities then forgotten after wars end. Has English subtitles.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Fri Jan 06, 2017 6:02 am

The nice thing about having a poor memory is that if I don't look at a movie for a decade or so, I can look at it again with fairly fresh eyes.

The merchant marine goes to war in Action in the North Atlantic. This flag-waver uses Warner's stock company and headlines it with new superstar Humphrey Bogart as First Officer to Raymond Massey's skipper as they get their ship torpedoed out from under them and then go to sea again, heading to Murmansk for good old Uncle Joe. Terrific performances and great special effects and model work keep this taut and interesting under Lloyd Bacon's usual fine direction.

The mid-to-late-1930s Warner B comedies were more remarkable for their frenzy than their funniness, as everyone overplays their roles, especially Jane Wyman in Public Wedding. Miss Wyman gets fake-married to William Hopper for publicity for their carny show, discovers it's real and decides to make a go of it. No one is particularly amusing until Marie Wilson shows up, takes down the pace a notch and misunderstands everything.

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

Unread post by R Michael Pyle » Fri Jan 06, 2017 7:55 am

boblipton wrote:The nice thing about having a poor memory is that if I don't look at a movie for a decade or so, I can look at it again with fairly fresh eyes.

The merchant marine goes to war in Action in the North Atlantic. This flag-waver uses Warner's stock company and headlines it with new superstar Humphrey Bogart as First Officer to Raymond Massey's skipper as they get their ship torpedoed out from under them and then go to sea again, heading to Murmansk for good old Uncle Joe. Terrific performances and great special effects and model work keep this taut and interesting under Lloyd Bacon's usual fine direction.Bob
I just love the last line Minor Watson delivers in a stentorian voice sounding like a Roman senator:
"No, Sir, those are United States Merchant Marines!!"

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

Unread post by boblipton » Fri Jan 06, 2017 8:02 am

Minor Watson -- what a name! -- has some good moments in this one. I love him in The Jackie Robinson Story when he's asking what Robinson will do when a player slides at him spikes up and calls him a Black bastard. You need gravitas to speak a line like tht, and he had it.

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

Unread post by R Michael Pyle » Fri Jan 06, 2017 8:52 am

boblipton wrote:Minor Watson -- what a name! -- has some good moments in this one. I love him in The Jackie Robinson Story when he's asking what Robinson will do when a player slides at him spikes up and calls him a Black bastard. You need gravitas to speak a line like tht, and he had it.

Bob
Yeah, certainly...but what I always think about is Branch Rickey himself. Speaking of balls...and I don't mean base ones...

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

Unread post by Big Silent Fan » Fri Jan 06, 2017 11:36 am

Just finished watching "City Streets" (1931) on YouTube with Gary Cooper and Sylvia Sidney. More than the restored picture, it was the high quality sound heard, both in studio shots as well as sound of the beach and other outdoor sounds. I was going to say outdoor noise, but none of the audio was noisy. Surprising for such an early pre-code film.

A nice story about bootleggers and how the duo managed to escape the mob in the end. Both actors did a good job with this story.

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

Unread post by Daniel Eagan » Fri Jan 06, 2017 2:04 pm

Please be considerate about giving away the endings to movies.

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

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Fri Jan 06, 2017 2:39 pm

boblipton wrote:The nice thing about having a poor memory is that if I don't look at a movie for a decade or so, I can look at it again with fairly fresh eyes.

Of course ther is the danger of getting another helping of 'turkey'...

The merchant marine goes to war in Action in the North Atlantic. This flag-waver uses Warner's stock company and headlines it with new superstar Humphrey Bogart as First Officer to Raymond Massey's skipper as they get their ship torpedoed out from under them and then go to sea again, heading to Murmansk for good old Uncle Joe. Terrific performances and great special effects and model work keep this taut and interesting under Lloyd Bacon's usual fine direction.

Not seen this one in ages, the main thing I remember is Alan Hale's concern for his moggies,

The mid-to-late-1930s Warner B comedies were more remarkable for their frenzy than their funniness, as everyone overplays their roles, especially Jane Wyman in Public Wedding. Miss Wyman gets fake-married to William Hopper for publicity for their carny show, discovers it's real and decides to make a go of it. No one is particularly amusing until Marie Wilson shows up, takes down the pace a notch and misunderstands everything.

Bob

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

Unread post by boblipton » Sat Jan 07, 2017 12:35 pm

Inspired by Matt, I took a look at Taxi! (1932) for the first time in a while. This is the one in which Jimmy Cagney speaks in Yiddish and calls someone a "Dirty (yellow-bellied) rat", although not at the same time. It's Jimmy at high-speed and ready to go off like a firecracker, just the way he was meant to be, but with Loretta Young. The only trouble with this movie is the ending, which is eh.

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

Unread post by R Michael Pyle » Sat Jan 07, 2017 1:38 pm

boblipton wrote:Inspired by Matt, I took a look at Taxi! (1932) for the first time in a while. This is the one in which Jimmy Cagney speaks in Tiddish and calls someone a "Dirty (yellow-bellied) rat", although not at the same time. It's Jimmy at high-speed and ready to go off like a firecracker, just the way he was meant to be, but with Loretta Young. The only trouble with this movie is the ending, which is eh.

Bob
I watched "Taxi", too, and this was probably my 4th time. I had an interesting reaction to it this time, though; I thought Cagney was absolutely fabulous, and I really enjoyed his acting, his pizzazz, his chutzpah; but this time I was being the critic a tad more than usual and came away thinking that the story was just crap, about as potentially credulous as...no, I'll forgo that one...

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

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Sat Jan 07, 2017 2:28 pm

LAUGHING AT LIFE (1933) sounded almost like an entry in the Quirt - Flagg series, but in this one it's just Victor McLaglen knocking around the world. At the start, we realise he's in trouble with the law (in the shape of William 'Stage' Boyd), and after socking the fellow, he goes on the run, ending up in several countries, and usually in trouble. Along the way (SPOILER) we find that his wife has died and his son has gone missing, although that doesn't stop him from enlisting in the Army and ending up in chokey, amongst other things.

Unfortunately for this film, the soundtrack (until the later scenes) is in poor condition, making a good deal of it rather hard to follow. And despite some dreadful process work, the film is quite lively at times. There also appears to be some missing footage around the middle of the film, as there is a bit of a jump in addition to finding his son is now grown up! Some familiar faces, Conchita Montenegro, J Farrell MacDonald, Henry B Walthall all help, but the above problems mitigate against proper enjoyment of the movie. Subtitles, please!

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

Unread post by drednm » Sat Jan 07, 2017 9:00 pm

Watched the charmingly offbeat Railway Children (1970), a 1905-set story of a London mother who takes her children to Yorkshire after the father is hauled away by the police. In those gentler days, the family copes well in the countryside with the help of various locals and passengers on the trains that pass by. The three children are left to themselves while mother writes stories to make ends meet but manage to have a series of adventures. Stylishly directed by actor Lionel Jeffries and starring Dinah Sheridan as mother and Jenny Agutter as the oldest child.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Sun Jan 08, 2017 6:30 am

After an abortive attempt to watch STORM CENTER (1956) [it was uploaded in reverse, then went out of synch, then packed in!] I found an odd little film called BLACK DAWN / DAWN TO DAWN (1933). Written, produced, and with music by Cameron MacPherson [his only film], BLACK DAWN is set on a small, poor farm, where the daughter (Julie Haydon) does all the work for her semi-invalid father (Ole M Ness). Forbidden to socialise, especially with men, she is taking a rest in a haystack, when along comes a strapping young fellow (Frank Ehrloff) who may be her saving...

Watching BLACK DAWN, I felt that the players were either semi-professionals or amateurs, but all three have credits in IMDb. Haydon comes over best, perhaps due to her sympathetic role or maybe her beauty which shines through her drab clothing and workload. Perhaps the film is a little predictable in spots, but it does have atmosphere and is strikingly shot and scored, making interesting comparison with more professional works such as Vidor's OUR DAILY BREAD and THE GRAPES OF WRATH, not forgetting documentaries by Pare Lorentz and others. The director, Josef Berne, went on to make quite a lot of movies, mainly shorts and second features, but it would be interesting to see if any had the individual feel of this one.

Followed this with COME TO DINNER (1933), described in the credits as a 'satire', but I would say 'parody' was more suitable given the subject matter. A 'Broadway Brevity', with players unknown to me and a host of chorus girls (perhaps the same troupe as in THE MILD WEST) take off DINNER AT EIGHT with moderately amusing and sometimes clever results. Considering the vast length of time since I've seen the original, one spots the spoofed pretty easily. Silly, but a pleasant couple of reels.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

Unread post by R Michael Pyle » Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:21 am

I re-watched a couple I'd not seen for some time.

First up was "Manhattan Melodrama" (1934) with Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, and William Powell. Along for the ride are young Mickey Rooney, Leo Carrillo, Nat Pendleton, Isabel Jewell, and several other fine character actors of the day. Reprised a few years later in a little different way as "Angels with Dirty Faces". Two young kids from different cultural raisings are great friends anyway - best friends - but grow up - one becoming a lawyer/prosecutor/district attorney/governor, the other a kingpin racketeer and gambler, etc. Loy is caught in the middle, but ends up with the...well, you guess... Though - there is a twist just near the end - a big one...

Next up watched "Kid Galahad" (1937) with Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, Wayne Morris, Jane Bryan, and many others. Not a bad little boxing/racketeer jaunt that takes us for a ride that we know how it'll turn out, but it's fun getting there. Bogart without any smiles at all is a tough, tough guy in this one. Robinson has the best part, but he's not the best in the show. Best in the show was Soledad Jiménez as Robinson and Bryan's mother. She shines in any number of films, but is little remembered except by expert film historians. Robinson did get to shine in one particular scene as he spoke a very genuine native (for the movie) Italian. Robinson, born in Romania, spoke a number of languages very well. There were a couple of scenes where I kept knowing a certain reporter in the scenes, but couldn't think of his name. Upon a little digging, I discovered it was the silent leading actor Kenneth Harlan who ended up being relegated to uncredited parts like this one. Fourteen years earlier he'd been the Virginian in the eponymously titled film. I've been trying to re-visit a lot of Bogarts that I've not watched for some time. Yes, they're good...

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

Unread post by boblipton » Sun Jan 08, 2017 12:42 pm

That favorite of Nitrateville, Oscar-winner Jackie Chan, showed up in a new movie at the theater this week: Railroad Tigers, a patriotic comedy about how a gang of clumsy railroad thieves realize they are Chinese patriots first. It's a well-done movie as it starts out light-hearted and inept and culminates in a vicious and bloody battle at the end in a well-constructed plot arc. It has the usual tropes of set-during-wartime movies and it's worth noting that seventy years after the war ended, the Chinese film-makers are as racist as Americans were in the middle of the fight.

Jackie and associates do their usual clowning, but I fear that he has reached the stage where he has stuntmen do the actual falling; Jackie wears a hat and there always seems to be a well-timed cut from close medium shot to long medium shot where you can't see his face -- although it's the same hat.

I also saw Hidden Figures, another historical movie. This is about NASA computers -- not the machines, but the Black women who did the calculations; their travails due to sex and race, mixed in with some staid but well-executed re-enactments of the events of the early days of the Mercury flights.

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

Unread post by Connoisseur » Sun Jan 08, 2017 12:47 pm

On New Year’s Eve, we uncorked the Blu Ray restauration of Powell and Pressburger’s ‘Tales of Hoffman’, vintage 1951. Having seen the movie in the past, it still meant a revelation: An opulent firework of music and of colours, cleverly designed for each of the segments, each of which shows a love adventure of Hoffman, the poet, all unhappy, and all spoiled by spooky characters. Last summer, I saw some of the places in Bamberg, Bavaria, where the real Hoffmann lived. Offenbach took some of his writings and attributed the adventures therein to Hoffmann himself. Beyond literary fame that makes Hoffmann a bigger than life person. Style would have demanded to drink wine to the movie from Lutter & Wegner, a wine company still existing, in which cellars Hoffmann loved to drink, in which Offenbach put the prologue of his opera. It is something like Auerbachs Keller in Leipzig of Goethe fame. So happy New Year with better luck than Hoffmann had in love, according to Offenbach!

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

Unread post by boblipton » Sun Jan 08, 2017 1:15 pm

Because of a long-standing love of Offenbach's operettas, Tales of Hoffman was the first Pressberger & Powell movie with which I was familiar. I have long wished to locate a soundtrack album, having a high opinion of the translation of the lyrics.

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

Unread post by Daniel Eagan » Sun Jan 08, 2017 6:37 pm

Reviewed Railroad Tigers and just wanted to add to Mr. Lipton's comments the fact that although Chan isn't really doing his own stunts anymore, he is letting his co-stars recreate many of his bits from years ago. In fact the plot is set up as if it were being performed by the Seven Little Fortunes, his old opera troupe. And for those interested, it has the best railway footage I've seen in many years. Chan and his stunt team even redo some of the gags from Keaton's The General.

Thanks to MoMA's Contenders series, I got to see Johnnie To's Three on the big screen. In my opinion To is the best action and suspense director alive today, although he occasionally lets his stories get away from him. His previous release was Office, a 3-D musical similar in tone to The Apartment that took place on expertly stylized sets. Three is set almost entirely inside a hospital ward for traumatic head injuries. There's an over-extended brain surgeon who's starting to lose her patients, a gangster with a bullet in his head who is refusing surgery, and a by-the-books cop who will be fired unless he stops a spate of fatal jewel robberies. To juggles their three story lines and several others with skill and humor that puts most Hollywood product to shame.

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

Unread post by Rick Lanham » Sun Jan 08, 2017 6:45 pm

boblipton wrote:Because of a long-standing love of Offenbach's operettas, Tales of Hoffman was the first Pressberger & Powell movie with which I was familiar. I have long wished to locate a soundtrack album, having a high opinion of the translation of the lyrics.

Bob
The reviews of this CD seem to be saying that it is the soundtrack of the film.
Hope it's what you want. TOH is one of my favorite films too.

https://www.amazon.com/Hoffmann-Contes- ... soundtrack" target="_blank

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

Unread post by odinthor » Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:31 pm

Mon Oncle (1958), which is to say “My Uncle.” Starring and directed by Jacques Tati. It is very difficult to discuss the rich subtleties of the films of Jacques Tati. I can readily imagine many people taking in a Tati movie and then, after patiently observing the goings-on for 90 minutes or two hours, turning to a companion and saying, with a baffled and querulous voice, “I thought you said this was a comedy…?” Rather than to look for jokes and pratfalls, one has to survey the confluence of events and their dynamics from an observational and empathetic plateau. And yet, the events and their dynamics in Tati are not part of a plot as we generally understand “plot” (and, for me at least, it is a welcome liberation to be free of the weary contrivances of cinema storymaking). The overall theme of Mon Oncle—as it will be even more intensely in Tati’s next film, Playtime, as we shall perhaps see—is the onset of technology and its effect on individuals and their relationships. Far from feeling dated, this film from half a century ago and more seems completely engaged with current concerns, even more critically now than when it was released, as today’s would-be individuals struggle against—or surrender to—the marshalling effects of cyberdom.

Here, Tati’s Monsieur Hulot is his nephew’s unconsciously like-minded friend, Hulot’s open and innocent simplicity in dealing with the world providing a spiritual bond with the open and innocent simplicity of a child dealing with the rich and challenging voyage of discovery we all go through—with greater success, or less—in growing up. The child’s parents—Hulot’s sister and her husband—are especially ensconced in a techy plasticized world of efficient and sterile surroundings due to the husband’s career. Hulot does not fit into such a world well; and there you pretty much have the outlines of the whole show. In truth, I’m a bit dubious about what serves as the denouement or resolution here—which I won’t reveal—as it seems to me that it presents as the situation’s difficulty what the rest of the film presents as the situation’s saving grace. Hm!

There is an intriguing surreal element here as we see Hulot’s neighbor’s daughter grow up some ten or twelve years in the tale’s couple of weeks? couple of months? And we have dogs—delightful mostly stray dogs, reveling in their freedom. There’s a certain poignancy in learning that, having filmed these dogs for the show, Tati then found good homes for them. Were they happier in their new homes than they had been as free beings outside society? And so we see that this bit of real life presents us with something like the film’s central issue. Can we consider Tati as an exponent of New Wave? His concerns are largely those of New Wave cinema; and I found myself thinking of such other films as Masculin Féminin and Weekend as having certain parallels. Aside from New Wave, I can also think of Tati as a sort of more cheerful Bergman in their shared insight and attention to detail both in production and in the motivating minutiæ of human life.

Mon Oncle is a film as amusing as it is intelligent, one which will make the philosophic viewer reflect on life, society, progress, and the individual. Highly recommended.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

Unread post by silentfilm » Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:44 pm

We screened THE MAD DOCTOR (1940) and our movie group this last weekend, starring Basil Rathbone and Ellen Drew. Rathbone is a suave doctor from Vienna, who marries women and then murders them for their money. The film starts with a doctor (Ralph Morgan) being called to Rathbone's house, but Rathbone's wife has already died. Morgan is suspicious, but thinks that nobody would believe him that there was foul play involved.

The story switches to New York, where Rathbone arrives and is immediately attracted to socialite Ellen Drew. Her boyfriend is a newspaper reporter, and is immediately suspicious of Rathbone. Unfortunately, Miss Drew is suicidal, and Rathbone decides to "treat" her and then marry her. Martin Kosleck plays Rathbone's evil accomplice, who is obviously gay although the film couldn't say that due to the censorship of the time. While it took a little while to get going, the last third of the film is a taught thriller that is outstanding. Rathbone murders someone on the subway platform, and it is quite chilling.

I also saw La La Land (2016) this weekend and loved it.

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

Unread post by Donald Binks » Mon Jan 09, 2017 3:37 pm

Trying to watch "A Ticket in Tatts" (1934) is a bit of a grueling exercise. This is so because the print I watched has been spliced so many times. There is more film cement than actual celluloid. Having a film jump around constantly is very disconcerting, especially where the cuts occur in the middle of dialogue. When this happens, it sometimes makes the conversation completely devoid of comprehension. Also, despite being a "noiseless recording" there is a lot of static on the soundtrack. At times this is accompanied by hums, buzzes, clicks and other extraneous noises of all persuasions. Still, this may be the only copy of the film in existence, so one makes the best of it.

What is the meaning of the title I hear you ask in earnest curiosity? Well "Tattersalls" have been in the business of selling lottery tickets in Australia since the late 19th century. They started off in Tasmania then moved to Victoria, now they are nation wide. The original lottery was a ticket system where one purchased a numbered ticket in order to have a chance at winning the first prize of an unbelievable sum of ten thousand pounds. (Now of course the lotto, the later method of making people wonder when their numbers will turn up, has prizes in the millions). When something lucky happened to someone, it used to be a common expression "You oughter buy a ticket in Tatts" with the hopeful thought that their luck hadn't run out.

Back to the picture. This was the third and last starring vehicle George Wallace made for Frank Thring's Efftee Films company. He was to have starred in another two films for Efftee but Thring's death two years after this film was made put the nails in that coffin.

Wallace was basically a knockabout comedian who had hit the big time in Variety (Vaudeville) in the 1920's. It was only natural that he should try his hand at the new-fangled talking pictures - and he was one of the big stars to have actually made a go of them. His on stage rival Roy "Mo" Rene only made the one picture and it was an out and out flop. Wallace's pictures were all a box office success and they sold well in other markets, especially throughout the (British) Empire.

Wallace's character was essentially that of a dim-witted oaf with a big heart who stumbled and bumbled his way through life with everything working out in the end more by accident than purpose. Such was his character that he immediately won over the sympathy and support of the audience. His visual appearance matched this character admirably for he was virtually a stomach on two legs with a face that looked like a prize-fighter's who had gone ten too many rounds. Looking at him you would never for once imagined that he was an impressive dancer. He could tap with the best of them and by combining his talents in this direction with a series of well-timed prat falls managed to win laughter as well as admiration for his skills. He could sing too - often with appalling lyrics he invented himself - with of course the purpose of being amusing, which they were.

Despite this being his third film, it is perhaps the most disappointing of the trio. It relies on a rather flimsy main story and is cluttered up with characters who never seem to be out of the peripheral. George after a disaster in a grocer's shop, gets to look after a horse. It is Melbourne Cup time and he has to thwart attempts by nefarious characters who wish to have this horse, which looks a winner, put out of action.

Luckily we are not too bogged down with all the other characters and side stories. Wallace is given a lot to do. In some rather incongruous manner, a scene in a rather swank night club is inserted which gives Wallace an excuse to feature some of the material from his stage acts - which is very welcome and gives a clear indication of just how good he was.

Most of the rest of the cast are Poms (English) who have settled in Oz. They and a few Aussies manage to effect received pronunciation which jars against the broad Aussie accent Wallace utilises throughout. Although 'speaking correctly' was an idea promulgated at one time in Australia with a great deal of futility in most cases, one thinks that Thring's reasoning was that overseas film sales would benefit from having a perhaps more understandable dialect. Most Australian audiences would have smirked at all of them "putting on the dog".

For me, the film is a wonderful nostalgia trip in lots of ways. The opening scenes are set in the country and the grocer's shop is one of those large general stores that used to sell everything. The grocer himself used to serve at the counter and had a wonderful way of serving up butter using two wooden paddles. The whole experience of this kind of shop was wonderful as I remember from my now far distant youth. The actual plot of doping a horse is said to be based on the stories associated with the horse "Pharlap" a few years previous to the making of this film. A lot of the scenes are therefore photographed at the Flemington Racecourse and it was interesting to see how it once looked.

There are not too many notes available on this picture so I am not able to tell you the name of one other act that appears - most notably in the night club scene. This surprised me and was really top notch. Also, I am lead to believe that the orchestra that appears at the club is actually the Harry Jacobs orchestra which used to play at Palais Pictures in St. Kilda.

Hopefully further elements to this film may one day be located enabling it to be presented in a far better condition, but we are really lucky to have anything at all left.
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Donald Binks

"So, she said: "Elly, it's no use letting Lou have the sherry glasses..."She won't appreciate them,
she won't polish them..."You know what she's like." So I said:..."

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

Unread post by Jim Roots » Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:06 pm

Donald Binks wrote: Also, despite being a "noiseless recording" there is a lot of static on the soundtrack. At times this is accompanied by hums, buzzes, clicks and other extraneous noises of all persuasions.
But wait! Isn't that just an Australian speaking accent?

Jim

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

Unread post by Donald Binks » Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:13 pm

Jim Roots wrote:
Donald Binks wrote: Also, despite being a "noiseless recording" there is a lot of static on the soundtrack. At times this is accompanied by hums, buzzes, clicks and other extraneous noises of all persuasions.
But wait! Isn't that just an Australian speaking accent?

Jim
We in the Commonwealth should stick together! It's them Yanks what talk funny! :D
Regards from
Donald Binks

"So, she said: "Elly, it's no use letting Lou have the sherry glasses..."She won't appreciate them,
she won't polish them..."You know what she's like." So I said:..."

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

Unread post by drednm » Tue Jan 10, 2017 11:08 am

Fragment of Fear (1970) is a paranoiac's delight, a descent into a Kafkaesque hell of lies, deceits, and revenge. While vacationing in Italy, a recovering drug addict and writer (David Hemmings) is chatting with an aunt who soon turns up murdered. Shaken by this seemingly odd event, he keeps running into weird people, phone calls, warnings, threats, etc. until he becomes a suspect in the very events he's trying to figure out. No one seems to believe anything he says. The police are no help, his fiancee grows wary, and someone seems to be watching him in his apartment. Perhaps a tad slow in places, this nonetheless is a superior film and even more apt in our world of social media and online IDs, etc. Hemmimgs is quite good. Supporting cast includes Flora Robson, Daniel Massey, Mona Washbourne, Roland Culver, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Arthur Lowe, Yootha Joyce, and Gayle Hunnicutt (oddly cast).
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

Unread post by Donald Binks » Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:33 pm

When I started watching "Doctor Bull" (1933) I thought this was going to be an uninteresting picture with nothing much happening, but as I progressed I found it gradually opened out and made quite a succinct observation on life in a small country town as seen through the eyes of the local doctor.

The local doctor in this instance was played by Will Rogers who is given to much home-spun philosophy and a penchant for "telling things they way they is" without much degree of sympathy or tact. As Mr. Rogers had a stage act given over to this kind of thing, he falls effortlessly into the part and what's more gives it a fair amount of realism.

There were only two other players in the cast whose names stood out - Andy Devine, who plays a "soda jerk" (is this the correct expression?) who is the town hypochondriac and as such a continual bane of annoyance to the good doctor - and Louise Dresser. who passes by relatively noticeably as the wife to the town's No. 1 rich man. All the other names I had not heard of to any great extent, but that is not to demean their performances as all did their bit quite well to contribute to the whole.

As is power for the course with small towns, this one is rife with gossip-mongery and do-righters who suspect that their Doctor is engaging in scandalous behaviour by regularly visiting a single woman - who is not chaperoned. Oh! The wickedness of it! As you can imagine, there has to be a plot twist which enables the Doctor to come out on top - but I won't give it all away.

The script has naturally been written in order to provide a number of interesting incidents and thus the level of it all actually being a possibility happening are somewhat diminished - but, we have to remember that this is only a film, and so we go along and accept it all in the name of entertainment.

This film is very nostalgic, it oozes charm, and reminds one of a more innocent age. A time when the telephone was relatively new and even then thought of as a bit of a nuisance - but the main thing about the instrument was that you didn't have to dial numbers or speak to a robot as one does now. There was actually a real person to connect you. It was also a time when people still rode around in a horse and buggy if they couldn't afford a motor-car, and the doctor actually came to you rather than you having to get out of your sick bed and go and traipse off to see him. One sheds a tear for what we have lost in our continuous quest for "the new".

Finally, as this was a Fox Film, I want to ask a question - did Fox Films have an announcing logo at the commencement of their films - like the lady with the torch for Columbia and a roaring lion for M.G.M.? All the Fox films I have seen just seem to go straight to the main title of the film with nothing beforehand?

The soundtrack on this picture must have been a bit indistinct for at one stage I said to myself. "Crikey! I must be going deaf?" I missed a few words of the dialogue here and there. I later found out it must have been the fault of the film as I watched another picture later and everything was as right as rain.
Regards from
Donald Binks

"So, she said: "Elly, it's no use letting Lou have the sherry glasses..."She won't appreciate them,
she won't polish them..."You know what she's like." So I said:..."

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