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I watched A Farewell to Arms (1932). Do yourself a favour and watch this masterpiece.
It's sexy, moody, romantic, and just damn beautiful to look at, you won't be disappointed.
Don't expect an exact adaptation of the Hemmingway novel, though.
Watched Ivan the Terrible, Sergei Eisenstein's last two movies (although I'm going to refer to them collectively as a single film from here on). I liked it quite a bit, more than I have enjoyed any of Eisenstein's other works (Strike, The Battleship Potemkin, and October—I haven't watched Alexander Nevsky). Visually, it's gorgeous; it's one of those films where you could frame screenshots and hang them on the wall. When it has been discussed previously in this thread, the acting was criticized as being over the top, though I personally didn't have any problems with it—in fact, I actually liked it. It really is a shame that Part III never got made.
Edited by LongTallShorty64 on Nov 2nd 2019 at 10:31:56 AM
Watched The Eagle, a 1925 silent film about an 18th-century Russian lieutenant who becomes a masked avenger ("The Black Eagle") in his hometown when his father is scammed by an evil aristocrat. Without his mask, he infiltrates the aristocrat's household and falls in love with his daughter, leading to a lot of Dramatic Irony when the characters talk about the Black Eagle in his presence. Although it may not sound like it from the description, it's a very light-hearted film that has a lot in common with Robin Hood stories (besides the parallels apparent from what I've already described, the Black Eagle also leads a band of peasants who all have grudges against the aristocrat).
Watched Ossessione, a 1943 Italian unofficial adaptation of The Postman Always Rings Twice directed by Luchino Visconti. I had already watched the 1946 The Postman Always Rings Twice four years ago, and I must say I found the 1946 adaptation way superior to this one. Ossessione focuses way less on plot and way more on characters, which I think was a mistake – the twists and turns in the story were the best parts of The Postman Always Rings Twice! The pacing was also really slow in Ossessione, with a runtime that's 20 minutes longer than The Postman Always Rings Twice used to tell a less complicated story (since not all of the aforementioned twists and turns are featured). All in all, I'd recommend simply watching The Postman Always Rings Twice instead.
Watched the classic Kirk Douglas/Tony Curtis/Janet Leigh historical action film, "The Vikings".
Fabulous film. Well acted, decent plot and characterization, and those Norwegian locations were to die for.
Watched Earth, a 1930 Soviet silent film directed by Alexander Dovzhenko about Ukrainian farmers who get a tractor and look to collectivize – I suppose it could be considered the sickle to Strike's hammer. It's okay, but it certainly doesn't measure up to the likes of The Battleship Potemkin. The runtime is approximately an hour and fifteen minutes, but since there is very little in the way of story, it still feels like it drags. The cinematography is also really uneven: some of the shots are gorgeous, but other times the subject is barely even in frame. And of course, the entire film is massively Harsher in Hindsight due to the Holodomor a couple of years later.
Watched Le Million, a 1931 French musical comedy directed by René Clair. It's a complete farce, a wild chase for a MacGuffin lottery ticket. It's nothing special, but it's not bad. It's one of the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
Watched Tokyo Olympiad, Kon Ichikawa's 1965 film about the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. I've read that the Olympics Committee were not particularly happy about how it turned out, and it's not difficult to see why. As a work of art it's pretty good, but as a sports documentary it's pretty poor. The film sacrifices clarity a lot in favour of prioritizing artistic considerations, and the end result is a film that is interesting and appealing to look at, but where it is often difficult to tell just what is going on.
The film uses techniques such as slow-motion, close-ups (or rather very zoomed in shots), and freeze-frames (including a particularly interesting instance during a volleyball match where it freeze-frames and then zooms in via The Ken Burns Effect before zooming out again and resuming the action) to great artistic and dramatic effect, but usually to the detriment of being a useful documentation of the Olympics for posterity. The gymnastics events are shown as a montage of different athletes performing the different events—beautiful to look at, but impossible to tell anything about how the actual competition is going. The combat sports (boxing, wrestling, judo, fencing...) are shown as a complete frenzy, with the athletes moving quickly (as they do) in tightly framed shots, fairly rapid cutting, and judicious use of Reaction Shots—the way a fictional film would do it (because it looks and feels very dramatic), rather than the way a television broadcast of an actual sports event would (because then it is important that the viewer is always oriented and can tell what's going on). The pentathlon is shown as a series of still images. Some of the races, such as the men's 100-meter dash, have the camera track a single athlete in a fairly zoomed in shot, which means that one loses the ability to see the entire field of athletes and their relative positions in the race. The film also has quite a lot of focus on things only indirectly related to the competitions, such as shots of the onlookers, the athletes eating their meals, and reporters typing away at their typewriters. One of those things that I personally quite enjoyed was the narrator waxing philosophical about the sole competitor from the then-recently independent nation of Chad being significantly older than the country he represents and giving a brief history lesson.
I'm of two minds about this. On the one hand, there's a reason that this and Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia are the only two Olympics movies that basically anybody talks about nowadays, and that's the artistic merits. On the other hand, what's the point of making a documentary about a competition (sports or otherwise) if you're not going to focus on the competition aspect of it?
Watched Dance, Girl, Dance, a 1940 musical (barely) with Maureen O'Hara and Lucille Ball starring as danseuses who find themselves unemployed and pursue careers in ballet and burlesque, respectively. It's a pretty cozy, if mostly forgettable, feel-good kind of film. My partner pointed out that it does a great job at portraying impostor syndrome (though that term would not be around until several decades later), with O'Hara's character repeatedly expressing self-doubt about her dancing skills.
Watched The Man in Grey from 1943. It's a love story about members of the British upper class in the 1800s, a type of story that is of course a dime a dozen (Jane Austen comes to mind). I found the acting and the intrigue to be good, but that was overshadowed by just how racist the movie was, to the point where I had to pause it a few times to be able to get through it. The characters display quite a bit of casual racism which is not really framed as being wrong, and the romantic interest character portrays Othello in Blackface in a Show Within a Show (which I guess is period-accurate, but it's not like the film had to have an Othello performance to begin with, so they could've avoided it altogether). But by far the worst part is that there is a boy servant who is played by a white actor in blackface. This is made even more baffling by the fact that they got adult black actors for some minor parts. If they wanted to have the character be black, they should've cast a black child actor, and if they wanted to use this particular actor, they should've just made the character white.
Watched Silver Lode from 1954 and made a page for it. It's a Western in which four armed men come to a town to kill the protagonist, and the protagonist loses the support of the townspeople over the course of the movie, which plays out pretty much in Real Time. If that sounds familiar, it's because it also describes the much more famous 1952 movie High Noon. I think this movie is actually better however (although admittedly it's been three-quarters of a decade since I saw High Noon), which I attribute mainly to the following differences:
Watched The Gospel According to St. Matthew, the 1964 adaptation of the life of Jesus directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. I have to say that I wasn't a fan; the filmmaking was mediocre (the editing in particular—sound and image alike—was pretty poor at times), and I didn't particularly like the portrayal of Jesus. I prefer it when Jesus is portrayed as phlegmatic, but in this film he was pretty decidedly choleric. As a consequence, he doesn't come across as enlightened and it is kind of difficult to picture him as someone people would want to follow as he's not all that charismatic.
Watched the 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street, what with it being Christmas Eve and all. It's not difficult to see why this is considered a Christmas classic; it's one of the most wholesome and heartwarming films I've watched in a long time. I also find it interesting that the social commentary remains just as relevant today as it was when the film was released, as there is always a risk of that kind of thing becoming dated as years and decades pass.
Watched The Red And The White, a 1967 Hungarian film directed by Miklós Jancsó. It takes place during the Russian civil War, with the Red and White armies (the latter aided by Hungarian Communists) fighting for control of an area surrounding the Volga. Considering when and where it was made, I expected it to be pro-Communist propaganda, but it turned out to be more of an anti-war film. Both the Reds and the Whites commit war crimes (primarily executing prisoners, but also against civilians), to the extent where it felt like the entire film consisted of Obligatory War Crime Scenes. It really plays up the War Is Hell angle, with the tide turning several times such that it never felt really clear which side was winning, which increases the sense of uncertainty and unease. Someone on IMDb wrote about the film that "War seems chaotic and arbitrary", which I think is an apt description—What a Senseless Waste of Human Life would be another way of putting it, I guess. Visually, I particularly liked its use of deep focus and long takes.
I watched two films from the trailblazer, Ida Lupino:
Edited by LongTallShorty64 on Jan 4th 2020 at 11:33:46 AM
Watched The Man Who Had His Hair Cut Short, a Belgian film from 1966. It's difficult to describe it; it starts off as a story about a low-key Stalker with a Crush (from the stalker's perspective), moves on to be a Murder Mystery of sorts, and then becomes a Psychological Thriller with a borderline Gainax Ending. I cannot in good conscience recommend this movie; the beginning was pretty gross (the main character is a teacher and the crush is on one of his students), and the ending was just weird and didn't feel like it really fitted with the rest. The middle portion was actually pretty good, but it doesn't get a particularly satisfying resolution what with all the Genre Shifting going on. By essentially being three different movies in one, it unfortunately doesn't pull any of them off all that well.
The Shop Around The Corner was on TCM earlier today. This has to be a coincidence.
Anyway, I recently saw The Legend Of Lylah Clare, supposedly one of those great bad movies. Admittedly, I thought a film with Kim Novak and Ernest Borgnine couldn't be bad... but its reputation is rather overblown. Give me The Oscar any day.
The Shop Around the Corner is an all-time classic, I will have no disparaging words against it. The whole point is that in real life they couldn't get along but found their "secret-selves" through letters. I guess, it's different strokes for different folks, but I always enjoyed it. If you want to see a really bad movie that uses this premise and makes it even worse, watch the remake, You've Got Mail.
Love Me Tonight has the best, most feminist ending (okay, not the most feminist ending, but it's great nevertheless)! She stops the train herself for what she wants!!! It's awesome and an Inverted Trope where the Race for Your Love is made by the woman, not that man.
Edited by LongTallShorty64 on Jan 4th 2020 at 9:07:22 AM
The Shop Around the Corner also has the bit where Novak explains that she was attracted to Kralik at first, she just made the bad decision to go all Comedie-Francaise on him and screwed everything up. That explanation was left out of the first remake, In The Good Old Summertime, which is one of several reasons I prefer the earlier version. I haven't seen You've Got Mail (and don't intend to) so I don't know how that one handled it.
Edited by Tarlonniel on Jan 4th 2020 at 6:12:40 AM
Oh, I forgot about In the Good Old Summertime. I found it mostly forgettable, not quite as witty, but it does have Judy Garland...and a random Buster Keaton appearance!
Speaking of remakes, I just watched A Song Is Born which is a remake of Ball of Fire. It's literally a Shot-for-Shot Remake; they basically took the original script, added references to music, and that was it. There's line-for-line spots, too; that's how lazy it is (and only made 7 years after the original). It had great music and all (basically all the jazz legends you can think of), but there's no Stanwyck/Cooper chemistry and the supporting characters aren't distinctive like the original and don't add anything.
Edited by LongTallShorty64 on Jan 4th 2020 at 9:23:07 AM
I get that it's meant to be interpreted as their Hidden Depths being revealed through the letters, but I feel like it would be more realistic for them to be disillusioned with the kind of person they thought their pen pal would be when they met. I think that if I found out that somebody I'm friends with online is a person who is a jerk to me in real life, it's more likely that I would view my online friend in a new, negative light than than that I would view the jerk I know in real life in a new, positive light.
About Love Me Tonight: I liked the film, mostly because as a musical, it's pretty darn good. My fiancée did not like the film, in no small part because of the attitudes towards women displayed. I guess the ending can be considered feminist, but to get there you first have to sit through things such as the doctor being something of a creep against her, the main character lightly sexually harassing her, and the main character singing about showing his affections through acts of violence. I'm not sure it really cancels out, is what I'm saying.
I didn't care for that, because it puts the entire blame for them not getting along on her acting like an idiot—it's a Conflict Ball. I think it would have been more interesting if they genuinely did not get along because of preconceived notions about, and knee-jerk reactions to, the other person. Or even just incompatible personalities.
I guess you're referencing the Apache song; pretty sure that was just him singing a song about violent guys which he never is in the movie... And then if I remember even remarks how they don't like the Apache's treatment of women.
And, well, he does follow her around, but that's something you'll see in 1930s a lot (and it's an issue), some worse than others.), but this one is mild at best.
Yes, it's at the masquerade and in-character as the person he's dressed up as. Still, it's Played for Laughs. The following her around and refusing to take no for an answer is relatively benign, but he also kisses her while she's unconscious. Like I said, I'm able to ignore this stuff and enjoy the film anyway, but not everyone will.
Watched Babes in Arms, a 1939 Busby Berkeley musical starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. Fun to watch: Rooney "directing" a scene by replacing both actors (while leaving the actress) and acting it out himself in an overly over-the-top way while Talking to Himself. Not fun to watch: an in-universe Minstrel Show with Rooney, Garland, and the rest in Blackface.
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