Sunday, September 23, 2012
Finally got around to watching this Harold Lloyd film which is considered one of his greatest and certainly most famous films. The film is pretty good it not hilarously funny. Lloyd is on his way to college but seems more concerned about being accepted socially than getting an education.
As with just about every Harold Lloyd production this is an extremely well made film, with the comic situations integrated very carefully into the story. Along with being the star Lloyd was also the producer and he seemed to be able to get the best out of everyone he worked with.
The Freshman is funny but it also strikes a real nerve with the desire to be one of the "cool people" particularly in school. Lloyd and his team seemed to understand this, the humiliation and clueless nature of his character is painful to watch. The importance of being part of a group is still very relevant in our culture today.
A couple of other points to mention, the crowd scenes at the football game climax were filmed at the 1925 Rose Bowl during half time. The film is also very well cast with Jobyna Ralston playing Lloyd's girlfriend, she's a real charmer.
You would expect that sleaze ball director Michael Winner would be involved with something like this. If you look further at the credits you will also see the writer Tom Holland responsible for such classics as Psycho II, Fright Night and Child's Play, you get the picture.
Anyway this film as been described as a dirty version of a Nancy Drew mystery. Although Nancy Drew seemed more concerned about solving mysteries than when and how she should lose her virginity.
Where is the star of this film Rachel Kelly these days? Apparently she has pretty much dropped off of the IMDB acting planet since 2003. The rest of the cast is equally unmemorable. But considering the material you weren't going to attract A list acting talent.
The director Michael Winner made a lot of films which were almost over the top exploitation films. Apparently he was attracted to this stuff because the list is almost endless. One thing you can say about Winner was that he always shot on location, no sets in his films cinema verite at it's finest. This gave them an authenticity but they also had some what of a hollow sound to them probably due to the difficulties of recording dialog on location.
Saturday, September 22, 2012
This is a simple boy meets girl love story told with a lot of skill and style by the director Paul Fejos. The nothing plot is an excuse to use about every cinematic trick that was known to film up to this period.
Lonesome was filmed during that period when silent films were beginning to transition into sound so there are several sequences where the two leads jabber on which are kind of out of step with the rest of the film.
The film has a lot of charm thanks to the two leads Barbara Kent and Glenn Tyron. Their acting is very impressive considering all the camera razzle dazzle that Fejos uses. Lonesome also doesn't wear out it's welcome as it runs just a little over and hour. The viewer isn't overwhelmed with it's at times frenzied technique.
The film is reminiscent of Murnau's work particularly City Girl which I reviewed earlier. An impressive studio film.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Four big names directors pay tribute to Rod Serling's anthology series and for the most part the segments can't touch and old black and white episode of the series.
John Landis directs, Time Out, the only original episode in the series. This was the notorious episode that killed the actor Vic Morrow and 2 children. It's a hit you over the head story about racism that is about as subtle as a steamroller. Pretty bad.
Steven Spielberg directs Kick the Can and he directs poorly. This slop about elderly people at a nursing home discover their youth brought out the worst of the director the sloppy overblown music, the too glowing photography, the sentimental garbage about old age and childhood, just awful. This is a director barely in control of his story, possibly the worst thing he has ever been associated with.
Joe Dante directs It's a Good Life and sort of redeems the film. Dante is able to indulge his interest in cartoons and does make the segment his own. The problem is that the original episode was a brilliant horror story and Dante chooses cartoonish silliness over horror.
The director of The Road Warrior George Miller, directs Nightmare at 20,000 Feet like it's a Mad Max movie but he has the same probably as Dante he can't really capture the horror of the original black and white episode, still probably the best of the short films. John Lithgow's over the top hysterical performance is pretty fun but he can't top the original actor William Shatner.
Considering how influential The Twilight Zone still is, this is a pretty poor tribute.
Saturday, September 15, 2012
The director Kaneto Shindo wants to pay tribute to the "simple people." The Naked Island is about a family struggling to survive by growing crops on an island off of the coast of Japan. To water these crops the viewer gets to watch a lot of scenes of the mother and father traveling by boat to the mainland to fetch water in buckets. Essentially the first 30 minutes of the film are scenes of two people carrying water buckets up the hill and down the hill up the hill and down the hill up the hill and down the hill.
The black and white photography in this film is quite stunning to look at, the island may not have any water but it is very photogenic. The film contains no dialog so there are none of those pesky subtitles to read.
I don't doubt the sincerity of this film for one minute I just question the concept of it. It seems that if you are going to spend your life working like a dog you might want to farm on a piece of land that maybe has a well on in. Why deliberately attempt to survive in such a hostile environment?
This film has been lauded as a masterpiece by many critics, it's always easier to watch people suffering in the comfort of a movie theater where you get free refills of popcorn and soda when you super size.
Friday, September 14, 2012
Bob's a writer of racy books about the love lives of people in various countries. He's moved to early 1960's suburbia to write a book on the sex lives of women in the burb's in this ethological study disguised as a typical Bob Hope comedy.
There is something deeply disturbing about watching this film's portrayal of suburban life. The housewives are glorified slaves, the husbands are essentially sexist pigs. The housing development is ruled by women during the day and men at night. Hope tries to shake things and gets a lot of blow back.
Hope is as smooth as ever delivering one liners that are a little below par, but he manages to put them over. Lana Turner is Hope's love interest. Turner was one of MGM's big stars and she's kind of at the tail end of her career. Turner was actually a better actress than she was given credit for and she's closer in age to Hope who is playing sort of an over the hill playboy.
An interesting comedy about conformity, loss of identity and the role of women in early 60's society.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Such utter garbage. The first Charlie's Angels film made a lot of money the sequel was inevitable. Following the strict rules of Hollywood sequels, this film is essentially the first film except it's ramped up with more computer effects, the girls dancing in more dance sequences and the action sequences even more over the top and incoherent than the first film.
It's clear that Bill Murray was the major reason the first film was successful. Murray hated being involved involved in Charlie's Angels and declined to get mixed up with the sequel. His presence is sorely missed. Murray was clearly the glue that kept that film from falling completely apart.
The attempt to portray the "Angels" as sleazy and innocent at the same time completely fails. Viewing this film has the effect of making the viewer feel like a dirty old man cruising Internet web sites to find dirty pictures of Hollywood starlets.
Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle wants to be like a Quentin Tarantino film. It's loaded with pop references from musicals, TV shows, Scorsese films and pop music. Unlike Tarantino this film can't take all of those references and reinvent them into something original and entertaining.
Another forgotten sequel to a film based on a television show that was pretty crappy when it was on TV in it's original version .
Sunday, September 9, 2012
After dragging Sean Connery back to the James Bond series for Diamonds Are Forever. The producers, Broccoli and Saltzman tried to get him back for Live and Let Die. Connery declined, the very light weight leading man Roger Moore was cast as Bond and the Roger Moore years commenced for the Bond series.
Live and Let Die had the novelty of using black actors as the bad guys. The film is sort of a blaxploitation film that has been completely scrubbed and sanitized by a bunch of white filmmakers.
Since this was a film shot in the mid 70's and all mid 70's films had to have a car chase, there are a lot of chases with vehicles in this film. If the Bond producers couldn't think of original action situations for their film, they were going to top other car chase films with an elaborate speed boat chase which is still kind of impressive. After that sequence the rest of the film is a letdown as the director Guy Hamilton races as fast as possible to tie up the very loose plot line and wrap up the film.
Overall this is one of the poorest of the Bond series but better than the horrible Quantum of Solace, probably the worst in the series. Roger Moore was known for getting along with almost everyone on set. He made seven Bond films and got better in the role although he essentially played the Bond character like his Saint character Simon Templar.
Saturday, September 8, 2012
There is a lot to enjoy about The Avengers, the film has action, humor and a large entertaining cast of actors actually bringing some conviction to their silly roles as super heroes.
However, this is still a movte based on a comic book.
This film is ridiculously overlong coming in at almost 2 and 1/2 hours. In the good old days of poorly animated Saturday morning cartoons, this would have been 2 half hour segments of a cartoon series (including commercials) that could tell the story a lot more efficiently and quickly.
Still there is some skill and talent involved in making this kind of crap entertaining. There are plenty of other super hero movies that aren't even remotely entertaining in spite of being loaded up with action, computer effects and everything else.
When I first saw this film, it was amusing but looked pretty dumb and obvious with it's satire of TV game shows. 25 years later The Running Man holds up very well and actually plays better since most of the satire isn't really satire any more.
A lot has been written about Richard Dawson essentially playing himself, the host of a game show and he is funny. Dawson the writer and director definitely have the worst elements of the reality show business down, the stupid audience members, the smary banter and even a home version of The Running Game for lucky studio guests.
For all the flash and dash the director loads into the film, this is still another version of The Most Dangerous Game. The film is loaded with ex rock stars, football players, wrestlers and Arnold's legendary one liners.