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I've Been Going to the...MOOOOvies


bigstickbonzo
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The Cinefamily Theatre has been running double-bills of Michelangelo Antonioni's first four colour films all weekend and this week, to celebrate a brand-new restored print of Antonioni's first colour film, 1964's "Red Desert". Sunday night I went to see "Red Desert" (w/ Monica Vitti and Richard Harris) and "The Passenger" (w/ Jack Nicholson and Maria Schneider).

It's always hilarious to see how these trailers try to "sell" a movie to an American audience...like it's just your everyday Hollywood "action" movie...hahaha. I couldn't even use the official trailer for "Red Desert" because it was too hokey, too awful, too misleading.

Tuesday night, I will go see two of my favourite Antonioni films: "Blow-Up"(w/ the famous Yardbirds sequence) and "Zabriskie Point", which has one of the best soundtracks of the period: Rolling Stones, Kaleidoscope, Grateful Dead and an amazing sequence with Pink Floyd set to an exploding house in super slo-mo).

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Last night I went to see more Antonioni at the Cinefamily Theatre. This time it was his classic "Blow-Up" from 1966, with David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles, and a host of Mod Birds from that time...Jane Birkin, Verushka.

And of course, this scene with the Jeff Beck-Jimmy Page era Yardbirds:

http://youtu.be/_zeza1xeWKM

Two idiots sitting in the couch next to me(the Cinefamily theatre has love seat couches in the first two rows) left before the end, missing the great closing scene, which I won't give away here, just in case there are some of you who still haven't seen this great and influential film.

I thought they were showing "Zabriskie Point" afterwards, but due to a snafu, I missed it as that was the Tuesday night's program; last night "The Passenger" was the second film. Even though I just saw it Sunday night, I stuck around to see it again, just for fun. Yeah, I know..."for fun" isn't exactly a phrase normally associated with this piece of existentialism. Jack Nicholson is REALLY good in this, so that makes it fun, in a way.

Anyway, all of the 4 Antonioni films I saw this past week still hold up to this day...particularly "Blow-Up" and "The Passenger". "Red Desert" and "Zabriskie Point"(of all the ones, this seemed the most dated) less so, though they are still great in their way, especially in their cinematography and in "Zabriskie Point"'s case, the music score.

Naturally, I would suggest you try to see these on the big screen, if possible...your local college perhaps or a repertory cinema in town, if you have one. But if you don't live in an area where they show old movies in a theatre, I guess renting or netflix is your best bet. Just try to get the Criterion editions if you can...as these have the correct screen ratio and restored colour prints.

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I loved this movie but find it hard to believe I'd never even heard of it until just recently. It's a bit of an emotional roller coaster but if you've never seen it, don't let that stop you from watching it. I have no problem saying it's amongst the best movies I have ever seen.

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I'm posting both covers because as you can tell from the one on the left, it advertises it as a comedy with quotes such as "Laugh out loud funny..." and "Violently funny" despite the fact that Lymelife is anything but a comedy. So much for truth in advertising. That's not to say I was let down by the movie because I wasn't, I just went in expecting a comedy (plus it was filed under Comedy at Blockbuster) and got a drama instead. There's nothing all that out of the ordinary here as it's a pretty typical coming of age story set in the 70s but there's more than a few twists and turns along the way to draw you in.

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Have I been going to the movies? Boy, have I EVER!

Now that Thanksgiving is approaching, the studios get ready to bring out their big Oscar hopefuls, which means any movies that have been out in theatres for awhile will soon be getting the heave-ho. Plus I need to do my homework in preparation for the Oscar Pool...winning the pool helps pay the Christmas bills.

Which means I have been out at the movies every night for the last 6 days. If I haven't made it clear yet, I absolutely must see a film I am interested in on the big screen, in a theatre. Once I have seen it, then I can watch it on dvd or catch it on cable if I so desire. But for that first viewing, that first impression, it has to be in a theatre. I couldn't imagine not seeing "2001", or any of David Lean's films("Lawrence of Arabia", "Bridge Over the River Kwai") on a big theatre screen. I feel I owe it to the filmmakers...the director, the cinematographer, the lighting technicians, who all spend hours and hours composing, lighting and framing their films to look a certain way. To see the results of their effort on a tiny mobile screen or a panned and scanned video copy seems an insult.

But that's one of my quirks...along with never going into a film if I am late.

Friday was a Wim Wenders (one of my favourite German directors) double-bill of "Wings of Desire" and "Faraway, So Close!" at the American Cinematheque's Aero Theatre, with a Q & A with the director between films. As a special bonus treat, Nastassja Kinski also showed up. She still looks lovely as ever. "Wings of Desire" is simply one of those movies you have to see before you die. I remember when it was released in 1987...within 10 minutes my skin was literally tingling. Stunning in its visual poetry and it has one of the great ending soliloquys in cinema history. It is one of those films where you feel yourself vibrate with pleasure. One of the most scintillating and transformative films I have ever seen. "Faraway, So Close!" continues the story from "Wings"...it's okay but it is not as magical as "Wings". It's a more traditionally "plot-driven" film, whereas "Wings" is a film you let envelop you; it's an experiential and emotionally-driven film. Plus, "Faraway" has some stunt casting(LOOK! It's Lou Reed! There's Mikhail Gorbachev!) that doesn't quite work. Oh, there was an American remake of "Wings of Desire" in the 90s with Nic Cage called "City of Angels". STAY AWAY...FAR AWAY from this travesty!

Saturday was a program of short films from the 70s and 80s by African-American filmmakers at the Hammer Museum, screened in conjunction with the current art exhibit, "Now Dig This: Art & Black Los Angeles 1960-1980. Films by Julie Dash, Larry Clark, and others, with most in attendance for a moderated discussion afterwards.

Sunday I went to the new Lars von Trier movie "Melancholia". I have had a love/hate relationship with von Trier for some time now. I first encountered him when I saw his "Zentropa" in 1991. It actually was titled "Europa", but since there was also a movie called "Europa Europa" out at this time, they changed the title in America to "Zentropa". Then von Trier blew my mind with both the Kingdom TV series(like "ER" on acid/crossed with "Twin Peaks") and 1996's "Breaking the Waves", with an unforgettable performance by Emily Watson. But then he seemed more interested in putting his female characters through all manner of indignities and misfortune: Bjork in "Dancer in the Dark"(which I actually liked but would not want to sit through again), Nicole Kidman in "Dogville", and Bryce Dallas Howard in "Manderlay"...the last two films being nigh unwatchable. I was just about ready to write von Trier off for good when he surrpised me with "Antichrist". Yes, some dark and heavy things happen in this film, but in this movie it makes sense thematically and story-wise. Plus it isn't just the female character who suffers...Willem Dafoe gets his share of abuse, too. So I actually was looking forward to seeing "Melancholia", especially since it had an interesting cast: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg(Serge and Jane Birkin's daughter), Kiefer Sutherland, Alexander Skaarsgard, Udo Kier(hilarious as the put-upon wedding planner), Charlotte Rampling. It is good, but not great...certainly not as great as "Breaking the Waves", "Zentropa" or "Antichrist". One problem I had was that I thought he undercut the effectiveness by revealing the end right from the beginning. One hell of a prologue, though.

http://youtu.be/xWQ2YZG8kcA

Monday (at the AMC Santa Monica) I saw "Tower Heist" and "J. Edgar", the new Clint Eastwood movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio as long-time FBI head honcho J. Edgar Hoover. Of course, I doubt that anyone not American or under 50 will have a clue who Hoover was and the shadow he cast on the 20th century. The picture has the same problem that most films about well-known figures have...we already know most of the story and how it ends. That said, it is the usual tasteful Eastwood production, and the cast is almost uniformly excellent, particularly DiCaprio and Armie Hammer and Naomi Watts. I never would have said this a few years ago, but DiCaprio finally doesn't make me laugh when playing grown-up men. For years, he was so young looking, that he appeared a boy playing at being a man. But he's finally gained some gravitas. As usual on his recent films, Eastwood composed the score and his son Kyle plays the piano...that's one way to keep costs down. As for "Tower Heist"...YAWN.

Tuesday (at the Grove Theatres) was the interesting "Drive" and Johnny Depp doing Hunter S. Thompson again in the adaptation of Thompson's posthumously published book "The Rum Diaries". Not as weird and wild as "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" but it has moments...and with both Johnny Depp AND Aaron Eckhart, plenty of eye-candy for the ladies and men who love men.

Finally, last night...went to the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood (the one with the movie star hand-and-foot prints in cement) to see Brad Pitt in "Moneyball" and the cancer movie, "50/50", with Seth Rogen and that guy from "Inception", Joseph Gordon Levitt. Both were all right...you don't even necessarily have to like or know anything about baseball to enjoy "Moneyball". I think I liked "50/50" just a tad better...and usually cancer-themed movies deal with either old people or young kids; rarely 20-somethings. So it was refreshing to see a film deal with how cancer affects a young adult's life.

And on the 7th day, I rest. At least until tonight when I'll be helping out at the bookshop for Michael Lindsey-Hogg's book signing...he filmed a lot of movies featuring the Beatles, Rolling Stones and other rock groups of the swinging sixties. "Let It Be" and "Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus" are two of his more famous films.

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Last night we went to see local film critic Robert Horton at the Shoreline library (north of Seattle) and he did a slideshow on sci-fi films and how from even way back (1902) to the present how films predicted a lot of our current technology and also the foibles of that technology and how things can go wrong...The Hal 9000 and 'West World' being prime examples. A lot of clips he presented were pretty hilarious. :^)

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I'm currently reading the book 'Please Don't Hate Me' by Dmitri Tiomkin who composed and conducted music to such great films as:

It's A Wonderful Life

Meet John Doe

High Noon

Dial 'M' For Murder

The Guns Of Navarone

The Alamo

The Old Man And The Sea

Giant

And many, many more. He was an immigrant from Russia after the lousy Bolsheviks took over and got his start in Vaudeville.

Very interesting life and was close friends with Frank Capra.

:^)

Edited by redrum
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This epic tale of the last days of Jesse James isn't your typical shoot 'em up Western so anyone going into it expecting that type of movie should be forewarned. Instead, it's a detailed character study of the notorious outlaw and, as the title implies, it tells the story of how he meets his demise at the hands of Robert Ford. I didn't really know what to expect of the movie but at the same time I wasn't put off by the fact that it isn't a typical Western. It's full of beautiful cinematography and some outstanding acting from all parties involved. And yes, at over two hours long it can be a bit slow moving but I was never tempted to nod off. It told the largely untold story of Jesse James' last days very well.

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I recently watched "The Wrestler" and "Shutter Island". Both great movies in there own way. I recommend them to you if you like darker type films and also suspenseful. I'm really stuck on alot of B-horror movies from the 80's and also some better budget flicks from John Carpenter.( The Thing, They Live, Escape from New York, Halloween 3)

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Glad I finally got around to seeing this after all of these years, it's a very intense and emotionally moving film. Reading up on it, I had no idea just how controversial it was for it's time.

It's a great film. I'm trying to get my lady to watch it with me as she's a Meryll Streep fan but she doesn't like war films even though I told her it's not all about combat. But I did love the scene where DeNiro flames the commie. When I saw that in the theater the crowd roared it's approval.

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