Wet Blog-a-thon: Ten Indelible Rain/Wet Scenes

Rain just makes everything so much more dramatic in movies… so when I saw this Wet Blog-a-thon open invitation at Andrew’s blog, I knew I just had to take part. Of course the first thing that came to mind is something romantic, which is what I did a couple of years ago with the Jane Austen’s beautiful rain scenes.

The power of rain isn’t just limited to the romantic sense of course, and in this poll by LOVEFILM earlier this year, action apparently won over romance. The brutal and beautifully-filmed Battle of Helm’s Deep scene in The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers was voted best rain scene and I must stay it’s one of the best scenes of the entire trilogy. You can view the very scene here. So this year, I’m going to list ten memorable and powerful rain/wet scenes used to great effect to signify everything from passion, tenderness, healing, vengeance, bravery, and defiance. It’s by no means a comprehensive list of course, just some I could think of at the top of my head today. So here we go:

Road to Perdition – Ambush in the rain

This atmospheric scene is sooo beautifully-filmed by Conrad L. Hall. It’s intense, brutal and incredibly poignant. The most heart-wrenching scene is when Paul Newman said to Tom Hanks character just before he entered the car… “I’m glad it was you” in his final surrender to an employee he loved as his own son.


Ben-Hur – Cleansing water from heaven

The redemptive quality of this film never fails to move me. On the eve of Christ’s crucifixion, as His body still hangs on the cross, Judah’s mother and sister were miraculously healed from their leprosy.


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The Guns of Navarone – Cliff climbing in the rain

One of the most intense action scenes in this movie involve a massive amount of water. They’re both filmed in the studio, but I thought the special effects were pretty good for the day and it signifies just what an impossible mission this team of six had to go through. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the exact scene I was referring to, but here’s a trailer of the film that shows a snippet of it:


Casino Royale – Shower Scene

Bond shows his tender side here as Vesper is traumatized by the brutal killing she unwittingly got involved in. There is nothing erotic or sexual in this scene, instead it packs an emotional wallop that makes Bond/Vesper relationship one of the best and most convincing romances in a Bond movie.


Titanic – Rose Dawson arrives in New York

This is apparently Nick’s favorite rain scene and I could see why. It’s a hopeful scene as Rose finally arrives in America, but more importantly, it signifies Rose’s defiance to her ‘fate’ and her undying love for lowly Jack Dawson.

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300 – “It does look like rain.”

I like the stylized way Zack Snyder shot this scene. The music is cool, a modern take of a war theme that captures the optimistic and euphoria the Spartans feels watching Xerxes’ army destroyed by the storm. It also has one of my favorite quotes from the movie: Only one among us keeps his Spartan reserve. Only he. Only our king. Gerry Butler’s Leonidas is at his at his most solemn and dignified.


Blade Runner – Tears in the rain

It’s no wonder this scene is always present in most people’s favorite rain scenes. It’s undoubtedly Rutger Hauer’s most famous scene that he’ll always be known for. I just realized recently that the scene was unscripted! According to Wiki, Hauer wrote the speech himself and when he’s done with that scene, the cast and crew actually applauded and some even cried. Isn’t that cool or what?


Shawshank Redemption – Taste of Freedom 

One of the best prison film ever and definitely one of those movies everyone must see. The taste of freedom has never looked so gut-wrenching than the moment Tim Robins’ Andy came out of the sewer pipe and feels the taste of rain water for the first time in 20 years. Powerful stuff.


The Truman Show – the curiously isolated rain shower

This scene is whimsical but also tremendously sad at the same time. Truman has been suspicious of his surrounding for a while, but nothing quite prepares him for what’s really been done to him. Truly one of Jim Carrey’s best work and one of my all time favorites.


V for Vendetta – Evey is reborn

Undoubtedly one of Natalie Portman’s bravura performances even before Black Swan, this is a pivotal scene involving her character Evey being liberated from the fear that’s controlling her. Whether or not one agrees with V’s radical method, it certainly makes for an intriguing piece of cinema. As she stands in the pouring rain with outstretched arms, the scene is intercut with scenes of ‘V’ himself escaping from the burned down prison of the totalitarian regime.



Well, these are just ten I can think of right now. What are some of your favorite wet/rainy movie scenes?

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The Avengers Initiative: Profile on Agent Phil Coulson

Happy Sunday all!

It’s The Avengers Week over at The Focused Filmographer blog as part of the countdown to the Marvel movie’s US release. My pal Terrence asked me to participate in The Avengers Initiative, so today I present you the profile on the least likely hero of all — but certainly just as valiant — the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson. Find out more about the actor who portrayed Coulson, Clark Gregg, what Joss Whedon said about the agent’s man-crush on Captain America, and much more!

Read the full post on Terrence’s blog by clicking the banner below!

Are you as excited as I am for this movie? What are your thoughts on Agent Coulson?

Everybody’s Chattin’ … and the Bond casting poll update

HAPPY FRIDAY, all! 

Man, I just realized I haven’t done an Everybody’s Chattin’ post in ages. As you can tell, I’m not big on structure or keeping up w/ series like my blog friends [you know who you are :D] but I promise I’ll keep this post more regularly from now on.

Now, before I get on the links, I just want to update you with the results of the Bond casting poll from a week ago. My Twitter pals might already know this but the winner with 173 votes is… drum roll please…

Richard Armitage!

Well I know the Armitage Army is quite a fervent bunch ahah, but hey, just look at this guy, I wholeheartedly endorse this lean, 6’2″, green-eyed actor as the super spy. In fact, as I’m going to start watching BBC’s Spooks in between Sherlock to see more Richard in all kinds of Bondian action!

Ok, it’s Friday, so a bit of confession can’t hurt :)

Well, after watching some Spooks clips and The Hobbit behind the scenes & press conference videos, last night I had a dream I was part of The Hobbit set in New Zealand. It was during break and the couple of hundred of cast and crew are all sitting in this lush park of some sort. It was almost dark and we’re all sitting in clusters of people and somehow, in my group is Thorin himself [Richard is playing the leader of the dwarfs y’see] and Frodo [Elijah Woods] or someone who look like him. I honestly can’t remember the whole details, the only part I did remember is asking Richard how long he’s been on location. It was quite noisy with so many people around us and so he had to lean very close to me to hear what I was saying, tee-hee… he replied that it must have been around 10 months or so. In any case, it’s one of those dreams you really don’t want to wake up from. Oh man, to be amongst the cast of the most anticipated movies of all time AND sitting next to such a gorgeous creature! :D :D

Now time for the links!

  • Ryan over at the fantabulous The Matinee gets the spotlight on him as he’s being interviewed by Kid on the Front Row on his blogging history, podcasting, etc. A very insightful post on a truly inspirational blogger, check it out!
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  • I always love an unconventional movie lists, and recently Andrew from Encore’s Entertainment did a Nurse Appreciation post by listing some of his favorite nurses in movies.
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  • Tyler of Southern Vision has come up with a bunch of interesting art-house lists, this time he turned his attention to war films. Check out which films make his Top Ten.

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  • The Elephant Man is one of those films I’ve been meaning to see for a while, and Andina reminded me why in her excellent review of this David Lynch film.
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  • Ok, last but not least, the Ten Best Actor Relay Race that I did a couple of weeks ago is now in Sam Fragoso’s hands this week. Check out his blog Duke & the Movies to see which actor he took out and added in. The race is definitely getting more and more interesting, well done Nostra!

Oh, with The Avengers only a week away, my pal Terrence is gearing up for his Avengers Initiative, a week’s worth of Avengers-related posts from friends, including yours truly. You don’t want to miss all the fun!


Well, before you click away to these awesome posts, tell me what’s your viewing plans this weekend?

Classic Flix Review: The French Connection (1971)

Greetings all and sundry! I am going to take a well deserved respite from Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck and take a few moments to wax poetic and nostalgic about a film that solidly grabbed my attention more than forty years ago. One that firmly anchored the concept of the ‘Partner Film’. Which is very different than a ‘Cop’ or ‘Buddy’ film. The basis for a delightfully suspenseful Procedural. Which also that puts front and center, superb on location shooting in and around Manhattan and its seven boroughs. To these ends, allow me to introduce or re-introduce you to:

The French Connection (1971)

A film that begins not in the city that never sleeps, but in the narrow, rain damped side streets of Marseilles and its many cubby hole hostels and boarding houses. We see a man amble down a cobbled sidewalk to enter a hostel. Check his mail and enter his room. Where someone in the shadows shoots him and walks off with a hunk of his target’s bagged Baguette.

Cut to the snowy, cold, pre Christmas streets of New York’s Bedford-Stuyvesant. Where a team of undercover Narcotics cops; Gene Hackman’s ‘Popeye’ Doyle in Santa Claus mufti and Roy Scheider’s ‘Cloudy’ Russo, in dock worker drag watch a buy for heroin happen. Cloudy announces himself. The junkie runs and Popeye gives chase across streets and through alleys. To catch the buyer and shake him down hard after Cloudy has his coat and arm slashed by the junkie’s switch blade. Questions precede ignorance. The junk is booked as evidence and another drug arrest is made by the team that leads all boroughs in arrests, but very few convictions.

Paperwork follows. Also a talking to by Captain Simonson. Well played by Eddie Egan, the hero of Robin Moore’s original book. Who wants Popeye and Cloudy to bring in something that could go before a Grand Jury and get convictions. To that end Popeye and Cloudy decide to do some after hour bar-hopping. That leads to them spotting a relatively small time local thief sharing drinks with three of the biggest drug connections through the boroughs. Curious and curiouser, Popeye and Cloudy tail the local hood, Sal Boca, hungrily played by a loud and boorish Tony Lo Bianco. He and his wife, Angie run a Brooklyn luncheonette and really have no business rubbing elbows with such heavy hitters.

More information is needed. So Popeye and Cloudy show in great detail the proper way to take down an after hours Brooklyn bar. The undercover cop they seek is taken aside and relays that a large shipment of heroin is due in and a lot of people are going to get well. Warrants for wiretaps are sought. Popeye and Cloudy stake out Sal and Angie’s luncheonette and shake down their snitches for more to go on. While at a Staten Island junkyard cars are being auctioned. And a big, black Lincoln is bought by one of Sal’s cousins. Then sent off to Marseilles.

Enter Charnier. The smooth, suave, sophisticated Puppet Master and Mastermind who loads said Lincoln with sixty kilos of 89% pure heroin. To be trans-shipped to New York under the protective entourage of a french celebrity whose gambling markers Charnier has bought up. A pretty slick operation that starts to show signs of cracking as wire taps bring in the Feds. Who want nothing to do with Doyle or Russo as stake outs continue and a test is made of the incoming product. Sal’s higher ups are leery and want to take their time. Sal pushes on as Charnier and his crew arrive in Manhattan. Jacking up the overall pressure to get things done by about five fold. First Cloudy, then Popeye notice Charnier’s new face and start nosing around in earnest. Watching their new prey enjoy a sumptuous meal while Popeye noshes on pizza and lousy coffee in sub zero temperatures.

The game is afoot as Charnier leaves and Popeye and Cloudy try to give chase as ‘The Frog’ slips away on a subway car under Grand Central Station. But not before Popeye and Charnier get a good long look at each other. Pressure builds up as the Frog’s celebrity flunky starts to get cold feet. A contract is put out on Doyle and is not quite carried out the next day by one of Charnier’s henchmen. Who misses with a scoped rifle from just over 100 yards and starts what is considered to be the second greatest chase in cinematic history. With a commandeered Pontiac LeMans versus a speeding elevated train. And ends with the shooter being back shot on the train’s stairs by Popeye before he passes out.

What to do? What to do? Popeye, Cloudy and the Feds stake out Charnier’s Lincoln and scoop it up as it is about to be stripped on a Bed~Stuy side street. The Lincoln is impounded and stripped from bumper to bumper. Invoices are checked and weights compared and the Lincoln is heavier than it should be by over 150 pounds. The extra weight is found in its rocker panels below the sedan’s door. The car is quickly reassembled and fluids topped off before being returned to Charnier and company.’

The final act begins with Charnier and his minions traveling to Sal’s cousin’s junk yard. Where the deal is completed. Money is exchanged for heroin and all is well with the world. Until the Frog and company leave and run into a road block led by a waving Popeye. Who follows the Lincoln as it is funneled back to the yard surrounded by hidden cops and anxious Feds.

I’ll leave the story right here. So as not to tip my hand too much and violate Spoiler Territory.

Now, what Makes This Film Good?

William Friedkin at the controls of an at its time, history making and record breaking story focused in and all around Manhattan and filmed during one of coldest, most miserable winters on record. Which only adds to the atmosphere and slowly building tension and suspense as a less than fabulous looking city plays a supporting character. Backing up a cast of relative unknowns who were given large, meaty parts and pursued them with gusto and confidence.

Especially Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider who were allowed to hang out with Eddie Egan and his partner, Sonny Grosso to learns the ins and outs of police work. Taking down bars and criminals and understanding the bond between two people who may not like, but understand and will back each other up. Watching them on the screen is what makes the film more than the sum of its parts.

The same can be said of the ensemble of bad guys and girls. Tony Lo Bianco rocks out loud as the small timer with enormous dreams beyond his reach. Urged on somewhat annoyingly by Arlene Farber as Sal’s wife, Angie. And Sal’s faceless fat, quiet and content higher ups in organized crime. The tension between them is palpable. While Fernando Rey’s smugly arrogant and elegant Charnier moves blissfully along. Until things start going from annoying to bad to very near fatal.

Kudos to Owen Roizman for finding countless corners, both busy and deserted, alley ways and abandoned sites of construction and destruction that add authenticity to a time of the city’s faded splendor. Also camera man Enrique Bravo for coming up with a new and unique use of a wheelchair to use in place of a rolling dolly shot early on when the Christmas junkie is taken down.

Editing is superb throughout. Handled by Gerald B. Greenberg who took the extra time to cut the snippets of the elevated train chase and Hackman in pursuit to a heart stopping fare thee well. As is the bass and cello heavy soundtrack masterfully handled by Don Ellis.

What Makes This Film Great?

Friedkin, Hackman and Scheider swinging for the fences and connecting. The latter, completely comfortable in their own skins portraying cops with no outside friends or social lives. Following leads that appear thin at first, yet slowly bearing fruit later on. Working from a screenplay from Ernest Tidyman after Shaft and before Report To The Commissioner that rings true. Especially between Popeye, Cloudy and the Feds. And when Scheider takes his time to un-cuff Hackman’s ankle from the head board of an abandoned one night stand before  another day of work.

Bill Hickman has not gotten enough love for his hair raising chase with the elevated train. Even if it was done after weeks of timing a string of stop lights in Bensonhurst and having police with sirens chasing him. A flawless piece of action that still stands the test of time and comes in just under his stunt driven chase in Bullitt.

The Film’s Mystique:

Friedkin working with a relatively small budget and spending it well and frugally. Rejecting original ideas of using Paul Newman or Jackie Gleason for the lead. Which would have wreaked havoc financially and opting for young and hungry talent. Hackman wisely jumped on the role after Peter Boyle, much to later chagrin, turned it down.

The French Connection was nominated to the National Film Registry in 1971 and accepted in 2005.


Check out Jack’s profile page and links to his other reviews


What do you think of The French Connection? Do share ‘em in the comments.

THIS JUST IN! John Hillcoat’s ‘Lawless’ Trailer

The first time I heard about this movie was when there’s news circulating about Shia LeBeouf and Tom Hardy clashing on the set and got into a bar brawl. Now, I don’t really care about what’s really going on between those two, but the movie they’re working on does sound intriguing. Formerly called The Wettest County in the World, which is a bad title but at least not as generic as this new one, is one of those movies I’d watch just for the cast! Besides the two I’ve mentioned, we’ve got Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce, Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain!

Now check out the brand new trailer:

Hardy, LaBeouf and Jason Clarke play three brothers who find their bootlegging business under threat in Prohibition-era Franklin County, Virginia. The story is based on the true-life tales of Matt Bondurant’s own grandfather and great-uncles, who were the inspiration of the events in his novel The Wettest County in the World.

Man, that’s a pretty intense trailer! I’m guessing this’ll be a hard R like most of Hillcoat’s previous films, i.e. The Proposition, The Road. The Aussie director seems to have a penchant for the utterly dark and bleak stuff. I do like the setting in the Prohibition era, there’s something so riveting about that period and the true-story aspect of it certainly adds to the intrigue.

I think we can expect some fine performances as well as some really bad ass shoot-outs! Hardy looks like he’d steal the show here, but LaBeouf actually doesn’t look too bad. I think he gets a bad rap after Transformers like R-Patz with Twilight, but I think he’s got potential. The main draw for me are Hardy and Chastain whose career are stratospheric to say the least, as well as the two veterans Oldman and Pearce, the latter is barely recognizable here with that hideous haircut. We’ll see who’ll be chewing the scenery the most between those two.

This movie will be premiering in 2012 Cannes Film Festival this May, and the US release date is set for August 31.


What do you think of this trailer? Will you be watching this one?

Posters Spotlight: Cool Minimalist Posters of The Avengers & The Dark Knight Rises

The comics world are colliding right before us come May 4th. As many of you already know, the third trailer for The Dark Knight Rises will be shown in front of The Avengers on its release in two weeks! I think it’s a win-win for DC, Marvel AND us moviegoers, I mean both movies are hugely anticipated and certainly there’s room for two major blockbusters this Summer. It’s not the first time DC is using a Marvel movie to promote their product, as back in 2008, the third trailer for The Dark Knight was shown in front of Iron Man.

Anyway, since my pal Terrence is dedicating his Time to Vote Tuesday to Christopher Nolan, I figure I’d highlight some of my favorite minimalist posters from the two of this year’s surefire blockbusters from DC and Marvel.

The Dark Knight Rises

I love the simplicity of these two posters, stark and no-frills but delivers its maximum impact. The small amount of red against mostly black & white design emphasizes its significance, Bane’s red eyes look pure evil and that trace of blood from Batman’s mouth is a chilling hint of what’s to come to our hero. I like that clever tagline signifying the end of Nolan’s trilogy as well as the downfall of a legend. Brilliant!

Click each poster to see a larger version

Source: ComicBookMovie


This one has a vintage look to it that I love, it’s gritty and has that dark, edgy quality about it that fits the vision that Nolan’s created for the dark knight. DEVIANART designer Ryan Luckoo is so darn creative to create Bane’s mask out of the skyline of Gotham, complete with the two bats making up the eyes. LOVE it!


Since the Bane/Batman face-off is going to be a huge part of TDKR, naturally some designers like to mix the two together in the design, like this one by Chaz Russo that I think did a pretty darn good job in keeping it simple and uncluttered. Bane’s eye just looks so menacing even being drawn in a simple way, and keeping with the broken glass theme is awesome.

The Avengers

Now, I think creating a poster with sooo many characters are definitely tricky. Truth be told, I don’t really care for any of the official poster design of this movie. But these minimalist posters actually did a much more attractive design than the official ones, and the retro look makes it even more compelling. I much prefer these than the glossy, overly-photoshop-ed versions the studio churned out.

I LOVE everything about this design. The blue color is fresh and retro-cool, and the silhouettes perfectly captures each character’s superpowers and personality. Man, I’d love to get this one for my entertainment room!

Source: DeviantArt


This one somehow makes me think of a design for an International Summit or something that’d be hanging off of a UN office. But hey, the Avengers is not only global, it’s across all kinds of universe so I think it’s fitting. I LOVE each details of each character, it’s vibrant without being overwhelming and it even has a heroic vibe to it.

Source: LiveForFilms


This one I could see working well as t-shirt or buttons for each movie. I love that each is color-coded and also has a vintage vibe to it. I’d love to see what it’d look with all of them together as ONE poster though, maybe have the ‘A’ of the Avengers logo being prominent and the small icons underneath it or something?

Source: OrangeInks


What do you think of these, folks? Any other TDKR or Avengers poster that caught your eye?

Scenes Spotlight: Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 in Sense & Sensibility

Today’s the Bard’s 448’s birthday!

I didn’t realize it until Garrison Keillor, the host of NPR Writer’s Almanac, talked about it this afternoon on my way home from work. At the end of the segment, Mr. Keillor read one of William Shakespeare‘s most famous love sonnets published in 1609: Sonnet 116

Of course it was such a delight as that sonnet was used in my favorite film of all time, Sense and Sensibility. In fact, since I regretfully wasn’t taught Shakespeare back in high school, that is perhaps my introduction to this beautiful sonnet that talks about what LOVE is [or supposed to be], and what LOVE is not.

The sonnet appears twice in the Ang Lee film, though it wasn’t part of the Jane Austen’s novel. Emma Thompson who deservedly won an Oscar for the screenplay must have been a fan of this particular poem, and why not, it’s so beautiful and poignant.

The first instance the sonnet was spoken was in this scene when Willoughby asked Marianne what her favorite sonnet was… and of course, as soon as he started reciting it, she was done for.


The second time it’s spoken, the circumstances between the two has changed dramatically… it’s such an emotionally-charged scene that is filled with deep pathos of a young woman mourning the loss of her first love…


So whether or not his intention was honorable in the beginning, Willoughby’s love is not exactly ‘an ever-fixed mark.’ Winslet’s rendition of the sonnet here is so heart-wrenching… it’s as if she could barely notice the soaking-rain and though she should’ve been shivering in the cold, the stormy weather still can’t drown out the bitterness of Willoughby’s betrayal.

This is just one of the reasons I love this movie so much… the use of the sonnet is so fitting, so brilliant and so iconic that I think I’d forever associate this sonnet with this film. It goes to show just how timeless Shakespeare’s work really is.


Thoughts on this movie? Feel free to share YOUR favorite Shakespeare-related work in movies.

Weekend Viewing Roundup – a mixed bag of 3 genres & 1 addictive TV series

Happy Monday everyone!

Did you have a great weekend? It was a good one for me as well as bittersweet as one of my good friends is going back to our home country for a year for personal reasons, so we had a farewell dinner on Saturday night. I skipped the cinema again and opted for home-cinema viewing and also working on my Avengers assignment for my pal Terrence of The Focused Filmographer as part of the countdown for the movie. The posts will be revealed next week, though I’m so jealous that folks in Europe will see this first as it opens about a week before we get to see it here in the US!

My blog friend Jaina was fortunate enough to be at the London premiere last Thursday when ALL of the cast members were there, right around the corner of her office!! She took a bunch of photos of the event which you can check out on her blog. She was kind enough to let me use one of them as you can see above. Oh man, I’m so jealous yet happy that she got to be a part of such a fun event!

Well, as part of the Avengers countdown, I re-watched the first Iron Man movie and it’s still as entertaining as ever. Can’t believe that it’s been four years ago since that one came out and now we’ve got Tony Stark as part of the assembly of superheroes on a mission. It’s amazing how the Stark Industries is so key in the whole Avengers universe which of course began with Tony’s dad Howard with Steve Rogers’ transformation into Captain America in the 40s.


Now, part of my goal this year is to catch up on some classic movies that’ve long eluded me for whatever reason. One of those movies are The French Connection, prompted by a review that my good friend Jack Deth gave me last week. I’ll publish that review at a later date, but let me just say that it’s one heck of an excellent thriller. It’s gritty, chock-full of suspense cop thriller by William Friedkin. Two of the major reasons I’m curious to see this movie is Gene Hackman’s performance, and that famous car chase that wasn’t really a car chase as the driver was chasing an elevated subway train above him. This film did NOT disappoint on both counts! People always remember the car chase and rightly so, but I think the foot chase scenes of Hackman & Fernando Rey through NYC streets and subways are just as thrilling!

I’m glad I finally got to see the film, it’s definitely a great thriller with great performances by Hackman and Roy Schneider, a sharp script, and great editing. That iconic car chase scene is really icing on the cake, I could see how it has inspired a bunch of other urban car chases in movies. Fogs is right in selecting it as one of those Movies Everyone Should See.


Another film I saw this weekend is a 1994 CBS miniseries Scarlett, which is a follow-up to the epic civil war saga Gone with the Wind where Scarlett is determined to win back Rhett. So did Rhett really mean it when he said “frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn?”

Well, when Rhett is played by none other than Timothy Dalton, I certainly have to find that out. Interesting that both Scarlett and Rhett are played by Brits this time, Joanne Whalley is from Manchester and Dalton of course is Welsh, but I think both did a decent job with their Southern accent, though Dalton’s inimitable Welsh brogue did slip out every once in a while :) I have only finished Disc 1 but I enjoyed it so far, especially with Sean Bean appearing later on. I’m loving the Bond connection here, one Bond actor and Bond villain together in a movie, the 007-fangirl in me is loving this!


Oh and I finally finished the first season of BBC’s Sherlock… and it ended with a titillating cliffhanger!! Darn, I wish season 2 is available on Netflix already. The wait until May is going to be torture!


Well, that’s my summary of my weekend roundup. What did YOU see this weekend?

Classic Flix Review: Out of the Past (1947)

Greetings, once again! It isn’t often that I’ve been given the opportunity to indulge in a Trifecta or triple play regarding one of Hollywood’s premier Tough Guys, Robert Mitchum. I covered his Scary attributes in The Night of the Hunter. I am going to dial it back a bit and explore another arena where the actor reigned supreme. Intimidation. Best illustrated in a film from 1947. Directed with sly gusto, elan and eerie shadows by Jacques Tourneur. Who instinctively knew when bright sunlight and its absence were called for. Where to put them and for how long. To that end, allow me to introduce:

Out of the Past (1947)

The film begins in bright California sunshine as a convertible rolls into the small rural, rustic town of Bridgeport, California. Locked somewhere between Lake Tahoe, Reno and far away from L.A. Its latest visitor is an elder errand boy for a higher power looking for Jeff Bailey. Superbly realized by Robert Mitchum. Quiet, unassuming. Just wanting to get by while seeing the town’s naive ‘Good Girl’, Ann Miller. Played well and memorably by Virginia Huston. Who knows nothing of Jeff’s past and whose parents do not approve. Though they wholehearted approve of local policeman, Jim. Well and briefly played by Richard Webb. The errand boy and Jeff talk. Jeff agrees and takes Ann with him. The long road trip allows plenty of time for Jeff to fill Ann in on his past as a private investigator in New York who had once rubbed elbows with that higher power. Failed mobster, Whit Sterling. A role creepily brought to life by Kirk Douglas. Absolutely reveling in his well toned physicality as he dutifully fends off subpoenas and possible future federal investigation. Whit needs to get his house in order. And to do that, his old (kept) girlfriend, Kathie needs to be found. Kathie may or may not have shot Whit and absconded with $40,000. May have headed south and may or may not be hiding in Acapulco.

Jeff slinks into Acapulco and begins haunting the local bars and cantinas. Striking gold very early as Kathie makes her entrance from scorching afternoon sunlight into the bar’s soft shadows. Radiating beauty and sensuality with practiced fluid ease. To say that Jeff was hit by a lightning bolt would be understatement. Jeff strikes up a conversation that quickly evolves into acquaintance and a torrid love affair. Pillow talk slowly reveals Jeff’s true purpose. Kathie denies shooting Whit, but hints that the two of them could run away together with the forty grand.

Jeff goes to his hotel room to pack and finds Whit and the errand boy waiting for him. Jeff asks to be taken off the case, but Whit will not take no for an answer. Jeff then lies. Saying that Kathie slipped through his net and is on a steamer headed south. Whit lets Jeff go and soon, Jeff and Kathie are headed to San Francisco. Where they try to maintain a low profile. Until they are spotted spending the day playing the ponies by Jeff’s old partner, Fisher. Played with oily, thuggish aplomb by Steve Brodie. Who is given the slip while quickly putting two and two together and smelling money.

Jeff and Kathie split up and when Jeff arrives at their rural bungalow. Shadowy, angular Noir kicks into high gear as Jeff finds Fisher waiting with Kathie. Fisher wants a piece of what Jeff and Kathie have to keep quiet. Punches are thrown. Many connect. More heard than seen. Except for the expression on Kathie’s slowly smiling face. Fisher drops his pistol. Kathie picks it up and kills Fisher, much to Jeff’s dismay. As she splits to leave Jeff to clean up the mess. After things are tidied up. Jeff happens upon Kathie’s bank book and finds a recent deposit of $40,000.

Fully briefed in, Ann waits as Jeff meets Whit for a final proposition. Away from the prodigal girlfriend, Kathie’s eyes and ears. It seems that things have gone from bad to worse in regard to Whit’s organization and the feds. The IRS is breathing down Whit’s neck openly discussing prosecution for tax evasion. An affidavit about a shady land deal is being kept by Whit’s lawyer, Leonard Eels. Who is using it to blackmail Whit. Jeff correctly figures that Eels also has Kathie’s affidavit implicating Jeff in Fisher’s murder.

Nightmare Alley ramps up as Ann returns to Cambridge and Jeff heads to San Francisco that night for a bout of tailing, stalking and skulking about. Avoiding Kathie as Jeff makes off with the lawyer’s papers and heads to Bridgeport. Kathie feels the walls closing in. She dispatches Whit’s errand boy to kill Jeff, but the attempt is thwarted. While Jeff drives to Lake Tahoe and talks Whit into turning Kathie over to the cops for Fisher’s murder. Before the deal is sealed, Jeff discovers Whit shot dead.

Before a word can be spoken, Kathie announces herself in charge with a superb coup under her belt. Then gives Jeff and ultimatum. Stay with her or face three murder raps. Whit’s. His errand boy and Fisher. Jeff agrees, but has time to make a quick call to Jim and his officers to set up a roadblock. As the two roll up on it, Kathie shoots Jeff. The police open up. The car crashes and the police find Jeff and Kathie dead amongst the missing forty grand.

What Makes This Film Good?

Where to begin? A superb screenplay by Daniel Mainwaring based on his hard boiled novel, Build My Gallows High with James M. Cain close by to kibitz. Lateraled to the machinations of Nicholas Musuraca and the little to no budget, magic pedigree of Jacques Tourneur’s Cat People and  I Walked with a Zombie. A master of limited lighting, smoke and myriad shadows. Instinctively aware of benefits of sunlight to accentuate the positive. And the variations of its absence to titillate the darker side of ominous tension and fear. Well versed in how emotions play into a dream scape of his own making. That appears familiar, yet slightly off kilter and other worldly once the action moves to San Francisco at night. In other words, Grade A Prime Noir!

A story that starts out at a regular pace, but slowly starts to wind tighter and tighter once Jeff and Ann begin their road trip to Lake Tahoe. And Jeff begins telling his sordid tale in flashback with occasional narration. Where nothing and no one is as it seems.The first hurdle is reached with Kirk Douglas and his smooth and oily, somewhat intimidating Whit Sterling. Swelled, broad chest and all. Obliquely speaking in cautious sentences that rarely connects point A to B. Lest there be microphones connected to the law close by. Radiating supreme confidence as his empire shows cracks from strain and threatens to fall.

Aided by Roy Webb’s sometimes eerie orchestration that seethes with mood when Jeff and Kathie are together. Deftly focusing the attention of the audience throughout. Kudos to Darrell Silvera’s sometimes spartan set direction played against Edward Stevenson’s choices in sheer, opulent, flattering gowns for Jane Greer’s Kathie.

What Makes This Film Great?

Robert Mitchum well in his prime. Seeming incredibly tall and nearly as wide across. His face and body intersected by shadows. Proving to the world that he was made for Noir and foggy, rainy San Francisco nights. Snap brim Fedora, Trench coat and all. Not quite ready for the bad craziness that would plant him on the map with Night of the Hunter. Mitchum reveals more of himself and his character in 97 minutes than in the lion’s share of his works. Relying on his physical presence to get his message across. Occasionally offsetting that with wisps of smitten, shambling, puppy dog silliness after he’s fallen Hook, Line and Sinker for Jane Greer’s femme fatale, Kathie. Knowing this relationship won’t have a happy ending. Though enjoying the ride and really not caring as he plays every card in his hand and still comes up short.

Jane Greer setting the bar incredibly high for all later gorgeous, manipulative women in film. Using elegance and poise to catch the attention of her prey. Then using raw sensuality to keep him well and fully trapped. Shrewd and obviously used to getting what she wants. Greer’s Kathie Moffat does whatever is necessary to stay one step ahead. And looks great doing it!

The Film’s Mystique:

Considered by many to be the crème de la crème of Film Noir. Out of the Past along with Detour set and exceeded many of the ground rules for Film Noir. Basically due to budgeting. Lighting cost money. So, the fewer lights that are required. The more money is saved. In this film, that premise is writ large. Relying on Sunlight for scenes in and around Cambridge. While leaving San Francisco shadow slashed and swirling in fog. Tourneur’s natural playground.

Creating a gem that was nominated for the National Film Registry in 1947 and was selected in 1991.


Check out Jack’s profile page and links to his other reviews


Thoughts on Out of The Past? Do share ‘em in the comments.

007 Chatter: Seven actors we think could play the next James Bond

In anticipation for Bond 23, a.k.a. Skyfall coming on November 9th, 2012, Ted and I are starting a new monthly series called 007 CHATTER… look for it sometime in the first week of each month.

I’ve also added a new category for this, so click on 007 Chatter on the category drop-down menu for all Bond-related posts.

A few weeks ago Daniel Craig said in an interview that he would love to keep playing Bond until the producers tells him he couldn’t anymore. Now I personally think  Craig at 44 is already showing his age, I mean he looked like he’s already in his mid 50s in most of the photos from Skyfall [like this one]. I honestly can’t imagine how old he’d look five years from now!

Anyway, regardless of when Craig will hang up his Bond mantel, we thought it couldn’t hurt to come up with a list of actors we believe would be great as the next 007. Btw, although we’ve seen some people suggesting that non-Caucasian actors should also be consider playing Bond, we actually won’t be doing that here and here’s Ted’s reasoning why [which I agree]:

Let’s be real here as much as I like to see a non-white actor playing the part, there’s no way the studio or the producers would consider it. I don’t want to sound like a jackass or anything but some of  you probably remember the uproar when Craig was cast as Bond in Casino Royale back in the mid 2000s. The media and fans alike were all over him, they called him ugly, too short, he’s blond and can’t drive stick gear and he’s white! Imagine the backlash the producers will get if they cast a non-white actor for the role. I’m being realistic here so I don’t believe we’ll ever see a non Caucasian actor as 007, well, not in my life time anyway.

So again, it’s not like we’re opposed of the idea of a black Bond, the opposite is true, but we’re just being realistic in that we don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon.

Anyway, with without further ado, here are the actors Ted and I believe should be considered for the next James Bond, starting with the two we both absolutely in agreement with.

RUTH’s & TED’s PICKS:

Luke Evans

TED:
He’s not a household name yet but that will change when The Hobbit opens this December. He’s playing Bard in the movie and for those who’ve read the novel, you know how vital his character is to the story. Apparently Peter Jackson has expanded the role, in the novel he didn’t appear until half through the book.

I believe people will think of him as the next Bond once they see him in action, actually if you saw him in Immortals then you know he can definitely play an action hero. I think Evans has the look and acting chops to play Bond. He’s young enough and by the time Craig’s done with the role, he’ll be in a perfect age to play Bond. I say he’s a mix of Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton, two of my favorite Bond actors.

RUTH:
Aside from Immortals, which is the first film I saw Luke in, I also saw a few interviews with him and he certainly oozes charisma. Bond should be handsome but not a pretty boy that’s why I think Luke is perfect. He’s tough-looking with that manly square-jawed face, but still has that elegant quality, not thuggish the way some people criticize Craig for. Oh, I’ve also seen him in person at Comic-con (not personally, though I had a pretty good seat at Hall H during The Raven panel). Mr. Evans looked appropriately rugged ;)
… 

Richard Armitage 

TED:
Another actor who I think will be a household name after The Hobbit came out. He’s playing Thorin, and again for those who read the book, you know he’s pretty much the second lead in the story. I first saw Armitage in the excellent British TV series MI-5 and thought to myself this guy will be great as 007. I think he’s the combinations of Pierce Brosnan and Sean Connery, but I believe he’ll be a much better Bond than Brosnan. With his deep voice and piercing blue eyes, I think he’ll be quite popular with the female Bond fans.

RUTH:
I was thrilled when Ted suggested him as I’ve been a fan of his since I saw him in BBC’s North & South. Interestingly, both him and Evans will be in The Hobbit [man, what I’d give to work for just a day on the set of that film!!] The tall, lean actor has since done mostly TV works, most notably as the baddie Guy of Gisbourne in BBC’s Robin Hood and most recently the MI-5 series where he’s very much Bond-like! Not sure if the Bond producers have seen him on that show or not, but can’t imagine they’d have to look to far for their next candidate! Oh and btw, I think he’s the most like Dalton to me: both are the same height at 6’2″ (which was the tallest Bond so far), intense with piercing eyes, AND has that irresistibly deep, raspy voice to boot!

TED’s PICKS

Joshua Bowman

I don’t think many people know this guy unless you’re a fan of the TV show Revenge. I started watching the show last year and noticed him and I thought he could be a good James Bond. He’s quite young so hopefully he’ll grow as an actor and maybe when he’s old enough, the producers of Bond films will give him a call.

Christian Bale 

Yes I know he already played another iconic character but how cool would it be if Nolan decides he wants to do a Bond flick and demands that the producers cast Bale as the next Bond? Come on now my fellow Nolan fan boys and girls, you know you’ll be jumping up and down with excitement. I don’t think I need to say anything more about why Bale will be great as the next 007, we all know he can act and also be an action hero.

RUTH’s note:
I actually suggested Bale as Bond in this post I did back in 2010. Check out the awesome fan-made video of Bale as the suave super spy!

RUTH’s PICKS

Karl Urban

RUTH:
If you’ve read my review of RED from 2010, then you know that I’ve been pushing for Urban as Bond. I first saw him in the Lord of the Rings movie, and even amongst such a massive cast, he was quite memorable. He’s also great as Kiril in the second Bourne movie and also in JJ Abram’s Star Trek. What I love about Urban — well other than the fact that he’s devastatingly handsome — is that he’s got that quiet intensity. He barely talked as the Bourne villain but he’s got such a strong screen presence that he really didn’t need to. He can also be funny as he displayed in Star Trek. But seeing him in RED makes me think he’d be perfect as Bond! Yes I know that the last Bond actor from Down Under wasn’t successful but hey, let bygones be bygones okay? I’d say give this one at least a screen test!

TED’s Note:
I like Urban but I think he’s still somehow looks too young for Bond and he needs to beef up a bit. Maybe his role in Judge Dredd will get him notice even more.

Jason O’Mara

The first time I saw O’Mara was in the ABC series Life on Mars. Though he’s playing American, right away I thought he’s a Brit. I was close, he’s Irish. Most recently he starred in the recently-canceled dinosaur sci-fi Terranova and seeing him do some of the action scenes make me think he’d be good as Bond. He’s tall and lean [ALWAYS a plus, in my book Bond should be at least 6 feet tall], rugged, but can also clean up well. I also think he’s got that effortless swagger without being cocky. If he got the job, he’d be the second Irish James Bond since Pierce Brosnan.

TED’s Note:
Good choice here since he already played a secret agent in the underrated TV show called The Agency a few years back. He might already be on the producer’s short list of actors to take over the role of Bond.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Ok, this is kind of an off-the-beaten-path choice as he’s neither British/Irish nor Australian, but hey, if he could pull off a convincing British accent, why not? Most of you know him as the king’s slayer in Game of Thrones, but I first saw him in the prematurely-canceled New Amsterdam on CBS and took immediate liking to him. Yes, he’s a blond but then again, so is Craig. I think seeing him in the Danish crime thriller Headhunters trailer recently makes me think he’s got that edge about him that’d work as Bond. I think I’d rather see Nikolaj rising out of the water in a Speedo than Daniel [ooops, did I just say that out loud?] ;)

If you select ‘Other,’ please let us know in the comments who it is.


Ok, so these are our picks. Time to discuss amongst yourself. I’m sure you all have an opinion [or two] about Bond casting :D