Monthly Roundup: August Movie Watching Recap

It’s the last day of the year before we enter the ‘brrr’ months. Well, September is still relatively balmy here in the upper Midwest, and after the Sahara-like Summer we’ve been having, I must say I’m looking forward to Autumn.

I know I always say time flies but really, I feel like August just passed by like lightning. Well, out of 31 days, I made 25 posts, well 26 including this one. Thanks to my loyal contributors Ted, Kevin (a.k.a. Jack Deth) and Cecilia for providing awesome content for this blog. It’s getting increasingly tough to do five posts a week, and lately I’ve been taking a blog break midweek and substituting it with a blog on a weekend day.

This month I participated in a few blog-a-thons:

And here are some of the posts you might’ve missed, including a few of Olympics-themed posts I did in honor of its host, London, one of my favorite cities in the world!

Well, what did I manage to watch this month?

Movies I haven’t seen before:

Re-watch:

Well, I only re-watched one movie this month and that was The Bourne Ultimatum. Yeah, even five years after its release it’s still eons better than The Bourne Legacy. It feels like it’s on a whole different league, from story, direction, style and of course acting, and I’m not just talking about Matt Damon who’s excellent as Bourne, but also the supporting cast including the two that was *promised* to be on the latest movie: David Strathairn and Joan Allen. The massively underrated Julia Stiles also have some memorable scenes, boy why doesn’t Hollywood cast her more often?? [scratch head]

I also re-watched the Licence to Kill which confirms once again that Timothy Dalton is my favorite Bond. Even after re-watching Connery’s Bonds I still prefer Dalton’s gritty, no-nonsense style. It doesn’t hurt that he looks so darn good in a wet suit ;) But he’s not just bad ass, as he’s also very convincing in the emotional moments when he found out what happened to his friends Felix and Della. I also love Robert Davi as the villain and Carey Lowell as the tough Bond girl. I always get a kick out of watching a young Benicio del Toro as Davi’s henchman, back when he was still svelte you could actually see his high cheekbones, ahah. I also watched the bonus features which is fun to watch as Dalton did a lot of his own stunts. There are also some creepy stuff going on during filming as the filmmaker and crew were talking about the unexplained accidents and ghostly phenomenon on location at a haunted road in Mexico.

I also watched the bonus features of The Sound of Music. I LOVE Liesl and the actress who played her, Charmian Carr, gave a tour to Salzburg on one of the featurettes. I adore this movie and watching the special features just makes me want to rewatch it again!

Favorite August Movie:

I rarely give a movie a full 5/5 rating but this one was sooo enchanting and totally lives up to my already-high expectations, being that it’s the inspiration of one of my favorite rom-coms Sleepless in Seattle. I don’t even mind seeing this one on the big screen if TCM choose that one as one of the TCM Fathom Events. An Affair to Remember has become my favorite Cary Grant movie now, edging even North by Northwest!


So, what movies did you get to see this month and which one is your favorite?

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‘Small Roles… Big Performances’ Blog-a-thon!

Hello, hello!!

Summer is winding down as August comes to a close… but hey, there are still plenty of Autumn movies to look forward to! In fact, more smaller-budgeted but with more character-driven fares featuring ‘bigger’ performances are often released in the Fall/Winter months, though of course there’s always exceptions to such a rule.

Well, like I mentioned in my Movie Questionnaire post yesterday, I’ve been pondering about doing a blog-a-thon for a while. I have only done ONE blog-a-thon in my 3 years of blogging, that was the Gregory Peck birthday bash last April. Well this one it’s going to be entirely different. It’s sort of inspired by my almost 2-year-old post of seven talented actors who deserve more leading roles and also by Encore Entertainment‘s 90s Essential Performances Showdowns, but this time I’d like to shine the spotlight on performances by under-appreciated actors.

I think the title SMALL ROLES…. BIG PERFORMANCES is pretty self-explanatory but here’s what I have in mind:

  • Highlight a performance from an actor [classics or contemporary] in a supporting role or cameo, it can be as short as five-minutes, as long as that particular scene is memorable and/or makes an impression on you.
  • I’d ask that you choose a performance that was NOT nominated for major awards and as much as possible choose an actor that isn’t generally well-known, the more obscure the better!
  • You could choose to do a write-up of ONE or several (up to three to keep things from being too long) performances. It’s up to you how long you’d like it to be, I don’t want to restrict you if you are passionate about a particular scene, but I think 150 – 400 words is ideal. Write why you love that particular scene and how it’s touched you, be as specific as you’d like to be and you could even elaborate on the actor or share some trivia about the movie in relation to that performance.
  • I recommend using clips/photos/quotes as you see fit. I LOVE what Sati does with her weekly scene spotlight, but feel free to add your own spin to it :D
  • Let me know in the comments or email me [address below] if you’d like to participate, and I will add your post link to the main blog-a-thon post here. If you don’t have a blog but would like to participate, you can email your write-up and I’ll create a post here along with submissions from FlixChatter’s contributors.
  • Deadline: I’m hoping to have the blog-a-thon post be up on Monday, October 1st so please email me your link to rtmaramis@yahoo[dot]com by Friday, September 28.

The idea of this blog-a-thon is to shine a spotlight on the ‘unsung heroes’ if you will, the overlooked performers who add so much richness/entertainment value to the film no matter how brief their appearance is, but yet they don’t get the credit they so deserve.

P.S. I haven’t had a chance to create banners for this blog-a-thon yet, I will let you know when those become available.


I hope you all would take part in this. Please help spread the word, the more the merrier!

The Movie Questionnaire Blog-a-thon

Yes, another blog-a-thon! I’ve been reading a few of these questionnaires around the blogosphere, spearheaded by Alexander from Cinemaniac Reviews. I figure why not join in on the fun.

1. What’s your favorite movie?

Sense & Sensibility – my love for this film knows no bounds

2. Least favorite movie?

Ghost Rider – simply ghastly

3. Name one movie you loved upon initial viewing but eventually grew to hate (or vice-versa).

Conan The Destroyer. Used to LOVE it as a kid and would watch it endlessly… now I can’t imagine watching it again without cringing.

4. Name your biggest guilty pleasure film.

Roger Moore Bond movies, yes even Moonraker :)

5. Favorite quote from a favorite actor/actress (must be a line from a movie)?

…It is bewitching in the idea of one’s happiness entirely depending on one person.
– Elinor Dashwood, Sense & Sensibility

6. Favorite quote from a favorite actor/actress (must NOT be a line from a movie)?

I’d move to Los Angeles if Australia and New Zealand were swallowed up by a huge tidal wave, if there was a bubonic plague in England, and if the continent of Africa disappeared from some Martian attack.
Russell Crowe

7. Three favorite movie scenes?

  • Colonel Brandon’s entrance in Sense & Sensibility
  • Christ giving Judah water scene in Ben-Hur
  • Supes rescues Lois scene in Superman: The Movie

Just three of the top 20 scenes (Part I & Part II) I could watch over and over again

8. Four films that should NOT have won Best Picture?

9. Top five of the year (currently)?

10. Bottom three of the year (currently)?

11. What film gets your vote for the worst or most pointless remake?

That’s got to be Total Recall.

12. Is there any film you think is actually desperate for a remake?

I don’t know if there’s any film that’s desperate for a remake, but it’d be good to see a decent adaptation of Daredevil

13. Name your three favorite film heroes/heroines.

Maximus – Gladiator
Elinor Dashwood – Sense & Sensibility
Edward Fairfax Rochester – Jane Eyre

14. Name your three favorite film villains.

Hans Gruber – Die Hard
Neville Sinclair – The Rocketeer
The Joker – The Dark Knight

15. Best sequel?

Tossup between Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade and Toy Story 3

16. Worst sequel?

Batman & Robin [Same answer for Worst Superhero Movie]

17. Best trilogy?

I’m torn between The Lord of the Rings and Toy Story trilogy, they can’t be more different from each other but each of the films are excellent in my opinion. The first three Bourne films would make my list, too.

18. Worst trilogy?

Fortunately I have not seen too many terrible trilogies, i.e. I skipped the third Matrix and Underworld movie.

19. What’s your favorite word to use in a movie review (if your film blog does not feature reviews, substitute “review” with “-related post”?)

Seems like I say ‘compelling‘ a lot in my reviews. I wish I had more opportunities to use the word ‘discombobulated‘ more, I just LOVE that word! :)

20. Anything else?

Working on all these blog-a-thons just spark up an idea for a future blog-a-thon I’m hoping to assemble. Hope y’all would participate. Stay tuned!


Check out my fellow blog friends’ answers: 

Committed to Celluloid | Cinematic corner | The Cinematic Spectacle


Well, hope you enjoy reading my answers :D Feel free to join in on the blog-a-thon fun!

Musings on Hollywood Relentless Miscasting

I read the other day that Tom Hardy was being considered for lead role in the Jack Ryan spinoff Without Remorse, which prompts me to write this piece.

Filmmakers and studio executives tend to cast the wrong actor/actress for a certain role many times. Some times it works out well, but other times, not so much. For this post, I’m going to start out with my rant about Hollywood miscasting and then ask you, dear readers, some questions about casting.

With the upcoming film Jack Reacher starring Tom Cruise, many fans of the books have been complaining about how Cruise looks nothing like the character from the books.

Now I’ve never read any of Reacher’s novels, but apparently he’s 6’5 and weighs well over 200lbs. (per stats on author Lee Child’s website), while Mr. Cruise is merely 5’7 and weights maybe 170lbs.? That’s definitely a miscast, but I’m still looking forward to seeing Jack Reacher this Winter. Why you ask? Well Tom Cruise is my favorite actor and I dug the teaser trailer they showed us a few weeks back.

Another book adaptation that’s coming to the big screen is Without Remorse written by Tom Clancy. I used to read a lot of Clancy’s novels and many of them were very good but my absolute favorite is Without Remorse. The book’s about a character named John Kelly who later became sort of a super spy for the CIA named John Clark; it’s basically a prequel. It tells the story of how Kelly became known as Clark, think of it as a Casino Royale type of story, instead of James Bond, it’s John Clark. His character appeared in two films, first he’s played by William Dafoe in Clear and Present Danger and then later in The Sum of all Fears, which was portrayed by Liev Schreiber. None of the actors captured the true essence of the character.

According to some reports, Paramount Pictures is trying to sign Tom Hardy for the John Kelly/Clark role. Now I like Hardy as an actor but he’s totally wrong for this part. Clark is described as lean and stands about 6’0″ to 6’4″ tall. Hardy on the other hand, is about 5’10” and rather stocky-looking. If Hardy accepts the role then I’m sure he’ll lose some weight and look leaner; but I still don’t believe he fits the character. To me the right actor for the role would be a younger version of Bruce Willis or Clive Owen, these actors are way too old for the role now though; in the book Clark’s in his 30s. The only actor I believe fits the role right now is Michael Fassbender. He’s the right age and of course he looks the part. Back in the mid 1990s, Keanu Reeves was actually cast as Clark and John McTiernan was going to direct. Fortunately the studio that owns the rights to the book went bankrupt and the film never happened. I like McTiernan as the director but Reeves would’ve been a disaster.

This kind of bone-headed decision really tick me off as a fan, I was too young to remember but apparently there was uproar by fans of the comic books when Michael Keaton was cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman in Tim Burton’s Batman back in the late 80s. My opinion, this was one of the worst castings ever, I like Burton’s two Batman films but Keaton’s no Bruce Wayne/Batman. In fact, I thought Keaton looked kind of silly when he’s in the Batman suit, with his big head and tiny body, he did not look intimating at all. Another awful casting was Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code and Angel and Demons. Hanks a great actor but he’s no Langdon, what a idiotic decision by Ron Howard and Sony Pictures.

Howard again made an awful decision by casting Javier Bardem as Roland in The Dark Tower film adaption of Stephen King’s epic novels. Thankfully the project never took off, Bardem’s a great actor but he would’ve been awful as Roland The Gunslinger. Currently they’re having trouble getting the project green lighted and Russell Crowe is now the front runner for the part of Roland, a better choice but to me the perfect actor to play Roland is Clive Owen. Take a look this drawing of Roland, to me the only actor who fits that photo is Owen. Now I know King said he wrote the part with Clint Eastwood in mind but if you’ve read the 6th book then you know that’s not true, I won’t go into it but I’m still mad about it.

Now here’s my question to you.

Say you’ve written a great script and then you’re lucky enough to have gotten a meeting with executives at one of the big movie studios. They love your script and want to make it into a film. They even agree to let you direct your own script (it’s a dream of mine and many other film maker wannabes out there), so you’re now super excited and can’t wait to get going. But before the executives signed off on the project, they give you a list of actors they want to play the lead. Unfortunately none of the actors fit what you had in mind when you wrote the script. So what would you do? Do you tell the executives that you want a certain actor for the role and risk losing the deal? Or do you suck it up and go with one of the actors they gave you?

I’m going to use myself as an example here, I’m currently finishing up a script and the actor I want to play the lead role is Clive Owen (yes I have a man-crush on Owen), so when I look at the list of actors the executives showed me, Owen isn’t on there. What I would do is tell them I want Clive Owen for this role and not only that, my agent and I have sent the script to his people and that he wants to be in the film for a very cheap price. Of course Owen is not an A-list actor, I think he’s in the C-list category now since he hasn’t starred in any big budgeted films for a while; the studio people will for certain reject him.

So what shall I do? Well it depends, I’ve spent many years writing this script and now I’m finally close to make it into a film; I will have to think hard before agreeing to the deal. Say the list of actors were Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Leo Di Caprio and Will Smith. If I agree to cast one of these actors, I will have the budget that I need to make the film the way I envisioned. If I keep insist on casting Owen then I’ll probably lose the deal with the studio. I could shop the script around and hope one of the smaller studios would bite but I won’t have the big money to spend and I won’t be able to shoot what I wrote in the script. So in the end, I will cave and go with Mr. Cruise as my lead actor.

– post by Ted S.


So what do you think of studio keep mis-casting roles? And would have cast an actor the studio insisted or do you keep your principal and tell the executives to f-off?

Weekend Roundup: Side by Side Documentary Review

Happy Monday, everyone! Hope y’all had a nice weekend. I skipped the cinema again this weekend as it’s quite a hectic one with my hubby Ivan’s triathlon on Saturday morning and we also had people over for dinner this weekend.

But Friday night we had a chance to check out the documentary we’ve been wanting to see for a while. I posted the trailer a while back, check it out if you haven’t already.

Keanu at Berlinale

This is an insightful and thoughtful documentary produced and narrated by none other than Keanu Reeves. I’ve always thought that Keanu is one of those actors who are far more intelligent than meets the eye, and despite his stoic style, I quite like him as an actor and enjoyed a lot of his movies. Here he collaborated with Christopher Kenneally who previously worked with him as production manager in Henry’s Crime to direct the film. I think Keanu is the perfect person to conduct all the interviews, not only has he worked with a variety of directors in over 50 films, he’s also got that friendly, laid-back personality that would help make all the directors feel at ease discussing this hot-button issue. It’s nice to see Christopher and Keanu’s passionate curiosity on this topic as they asked some honest questions on both sides of the spectrum.

Oh I’m sure Nolan would be happy to continue making more 70 mm films, but man those are expensive!!

Does digital kill film?? That’s the key question that’s running through the vein of this film as it investigates the history, process and workflow of both digital and photochemical film creation. It was certainly insightful for people like me who don’t really know much about the technical aspect of film and just what it took to get a film from the set all the way to the reels being delivered to our local cinemas. It does get quite technical at times which went over my head a little, but it’s always fascinating and they did a good job presenting it in layman’s terms with simple charts and graphs. There are also some footage from participating directors shown as examples.

Keanu had a pretty impressive list of filmmakers discussing digital vs. film, George Lucas, James Cameron, David Lynch, David Fincher, Steven Soderbergh, Danny Boyle, the Wachowskis, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, etc. as well as famed cinematographer such as Wally Pfister, Vittorio Storaro, and Anthony Dod Mantle who won an Oscar for his cinematography work in Slumdog Millionaire. There’s also a fascinating interview with Anne V. Coates who edited the 70 mm film of Lawrence of Arabia! I read in Movieline.com that apparently Nolan was the toughest to get for this film, but he got a kick out of Keanu’s snail mail letter using an old-fashioned typewriter. So Nolan agreed to be interviewed during filming The Dark Knight Rises in L.A.

As a cinephile, of course the best part is listening to the arguments each of the filmmakers makes on each of the two form. It’s no surprise that Nolan and Pfister would be the biggest defense of celluloid and that Lucas and Cameron are the champions for digital. But most of them realize the art and beauty of traditional film, but yet can’t deny the power of digital, not to mention the financial benefit and convenience of being able to film scenes that were impossible to do before. For instance, Danny Boyle shared the filming of the exquisite Westminster Bridge scene [undoubtedly one of my favorite scenes in London], and how it’d have been impossible to film those without the use of digital cameras. Scorsese seemed gleeful at the infinite possibilities storytelling could go with digital technique, having just been immersed in 3D technology with HUGO. Seems to me that according to this documentary, there are more filmmakers who are more pro-digital, even David Lynch likes the fact that digital cameras allows him to film for more than 10 minutes at a time.

The film seems pretty comprehensive in discussing the merit of the two forms, it even went briefly into related aspects such as coloring and archival process. Yet it seems to gloss over what it’d all mean to the local movie theaters and the effect of the digital process affect them as more movie studios are pushing to abandon 35 mm film. My dad used to work as a projectionist before he got into film, but that’s surely going to be obsolete now, as most films are going to be projected digitally in no time.

Wherever you are in the film vs. digital debate, this documentary is a must-see for you. No matter how articulate one’s argument about 3D though, I’m still not fond of it until they can figure out how people could see 3D films without those pesky glasses. And for me, whichever form they go with, the most important thing about a movie is still and will always be, the story. I sure hope no matter how advanced film technology goes, filmmakers won’t ever forget the art of storytelling.

4 out of 5 reels


Have you seen this film? Thoughts on the digital vs. film topic?

Music Break: Apollo 13 Main Title – RIP Neil Armstrong

I learned of Mr. Armstrong’s death this afternoon as I was on my computer break all day yesterday. He died from complications from a heart surgery, he was 82.

I felt a sudden loss of words reading that the first man on the moon has now passed on. Though I hadn’t been born on July 20, 1969, I had always been fascinated by that event and real-life heroes like Mr. Armstrong.

“That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Who could forget those words. Though Armstrong later admitted that he missed the ‘a’ in the sentence, I think we all know what he meant and those famous words certainly still gives me goosebumps!

Mr. Armstrong even made a cameo on Apollo 13, one of my favorite historical dramas directed by Ron Howard based on the ill-fated 13th Apollo mission bound for the moon. Unfortunately, I couldn’t embed the exact clip here but you can watch it on the metacafe site. It’s an awesome scene where all the families of the astronauts, played by Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise and Bill Paxton, gather in front of the TV to watch the moonwalk. It’s a great scene, and boy don’t I wish I were right there with them watching Walter Cronkite expresses his amazement at the pictures from the Moon and Armstrong stepping down from the ladder. In that very moment Armstrong spoke those words LIVE on TV, the camera zooms in on Hanks’ face and you just knew how significant that historical moment meant to him… and the rest of us. I love this movie, great performances all around, including in supporting roles from Kathleen Quinlan and Ed Harris.

So for this edition of music break, I thought it’d be appropriate to highlight the astounding music from that film, composed by James Horner. I had planned on showcasing this Oscar-nominated score at some point anyway, so here it is as part of my small tribute to Mr. Armstrong.

Per People.com, Armstrong’s family requested that people do this to honor Neil… “Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

We sure will, Mr. Armstrong. May you rest in peace.


What’s your fondest memory of the first walk on the Moon? Do you like Apollo 13 and its music?

007 Chatter: Best and Worst Bond girls of each Bond actor

In anticipation for Bond 23, a.k.a. Skyfall (view trailer) 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.

Two and a half months away until Skyfall arrives so the countdown continues. This time my pal Ted and I set our sights to the Bond girls! They’re as essential to a Bond movie as his Walter PPK, and they have quite an enduring appeal. Once a Bond girl, always a Bond girl. I subscribe to IN STYLE magazine and within the 600+ pages of the September issue is a segment on guess what, Bond girls!! It marks the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first Bond film, Dr. No. I like the intro they wrote:

It’s the most exclusive sorority in the world — a sisterhood of desire, bikinis and deadly weapons.

I also saw this amazing info-graphic created by CableTV.com that shows every single Bond girls from the 23 Bond movies, yes including Skyfall.

Click to see the full infographic

Well, not every Bond girl is cut from the same cloth however, so here’s our picks of the best and worst from Connery all the way to Daniel Craig [we purposely skip George Lazenby's single Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service]. I do think that Diana Rigg as the ONLY Bond girl that the playboy super-spy married would belong in the BEST list.

So here we go:

TED’s LIST

BEST WORST
Connery Honey Ryder Tiffany Case
Moore Solitaire Mary Goodnight
Dalton Pam Bouvier Kara Milovy
Brosnan Natalya Simonova Christmas Jones
Craig Camille Strawberry Fields

///

Sean Connery

It’s a challenge to choose the best and worst Bond girls from all of Connery’s films, but I believe many people will agree with my choices.

Best: Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder in Dr. No – the scene where she emerged out of the beach is still the best intro to a beautiful woman ever filmed. I instantly fell in love with her as a young teenager and maybe it’s the reason why I tend to date blonde ladies with curves :)

Worst: Jill St. John as Tiffany Case in Diamonds Are Forever – In my opinion this was one of the worst Bond films ever produced and it has probably the worst Bond girl in Jill St. John. Her is a perfect example of damsel in distress, even she spent most of the movie in a bikini, I just found her character annoying.

Roger Moore

Let’s face it most of Moore’s Bond films were pretty dreadful but many of the Bond girls were quite beautiful.

Best: Jane Seymore as Solitaire in Live and Let Die – The first time I saw this film and her character appeared on screen, I thought she’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. I think she’s only the reason why I can watch this Bond flick again and again. This was one of the worst Bond films ever made.

Worst: Britt Ekland as Mary Goodnight in The Man with the Golden Gun – Another bad Bond flick, unfortunately it also have one of the worst Bond girls. Ekland’s character is another damsel in distress and not much else.

Timothy Dalton

He’s only done two Bond films so this one was easy to choose.

Best: Carey Lowell as Pam Bouvier in License to Kill – She’s a sexy lady who can fire a shotgun and flies an airplane. With her long legs and beautiful eyes, yeah I’m in love with her.

Worst: Maryam d’Abo as Kara Milovy in The Living Daylights – I hate to keep repeating myself but again her character is another damsel in distress and not much else.

Pierce Brosnan

He starred in four Bond films, two good ones and two very bad ones.

Best: Izabella Scorupco as Natalya Simonova in GoldenEye – I think her character is more of a sidekick to Bond than just another eye candy. She actually helped Bond get out of trouble in some tight spots.

Worst: Denise Richards as Dr. Christmas Jones in The World Is Not Enough – I mentioned this on an earlier article so I’ll mention it again: Denise Richards played a doctor, Denise Richards played a doctor! Richards’ so unbelievable in this role that I have to wonder if she’d slept with the producers to get the job!

Daniel Craig

He’s the current Bond and so far we’ve only seen two of his films but here are my best and worst.

Best: Olga Kurylenko as Camille in Quantum of Solace – I’m sure many people would’ve gone with Eva Green in Casino Royale but I like Olga better. She and Bond had the same agenda and will do whatever it takes to get it. I really dug the scene where she told Bond what happened to her family and then Bond apologized to her for messing up her attempt at killing General Medrano.

Worst: Gemma Arterton as Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace – I don’t even know why the filmmakers decided to include her in the film, she served no purpose whatsoever to the story. Maybe halfway through filming, they realized they only have one pretty girl so they had bring in another one just to please the audience.

RUTH’s LIST

BEST WORST
Connery Pussy Galore Kissy Suzuki
Moore Octopussy Stacey Sutton
Dalton Pam Bouvier None :)
Brosnan Elektra King & Wai Lin(tie) Christmas Jones
Craig Vesper Lynd Camille Montes

Sean Connery

I have to confess that my memory of Connery’s Bond films are a bit hazy, and I had just seen Dr. No for the first time recently.

Best: Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore in Goldfinger – Not only does she have THE most memorable name in the history of Bond girls, she also has one of the best introduction. Bond’s response “I must be dreaming,” always makes me laugh, I mean it’s just perfect! She’s also a pilot and knows Judo, and though there are hints that miss Galore is gay, Honor Blackman said in the Bond Girls Are Forever documentary that she played the role as if she had been abused in the past.

Worst: Zena Marshall as Miss Taro in Dr. No – Since I just saw this recently, it’s still fresh in my mind. I can’t stand it when Hollywood used to employ Caucasian actress to play an ethnic character. In this case she’s supposed to be a Chinese girl and Zena was made up with heavy eyeliner to make her eyes appear smaller [roll eyes] On top of it, her character is just lame. I’m glad Bond girls have come a long way since then, well most of the time anyway.

Roger Moore

I grew up watching Moore’s Bond films so I remember them fondly. Though I prefer the grittier Bond like Dalton and Craig, Moore’s Bond flicks are guilty pleasures for me. They’re preposterous fun!

Best: Maud Adams as Octopussy in Octopussy – The film is kind of a guilty pleasure of mine, but I really like seeing a Bond girl not only get the title role but she’s also a powerful business woman who’s beautiful as well as shrewd. Swedish-born Adams is the only Bond girl (besides Eunice Gayson as ‘Trench, Sylvia Trench’) who appears in two Bond films. I quite like the way she speaks, sounds seductive and elegant, without sounding like a bimbo.

WorstTanya Roberts as Stacey Sutton in A View To a Kill – For a geologist, Stacey just doesn’t seem that bright to me and unlike Maud, the girlish way Tanya talks annoys the heck out of me. It’s a terribly-written Bond flick to begin with, and having her as the Bond girl certainly doesn’t help matters. She doesn’t seem able to do single darn thing without Bond’s help!

Timothy Dalton

My favorite Bond somehow got a bad rap for being way ahead of its time… and also for being the least promiscuous of them all [in the 007 universe apparently it's a bad thing] as the film comes out in the age of AIDS and safe sex.

Best: Carey Lowell as Pam Bouvier in License to Kill – I like her spunk and as a CIA agent, she definitely doesn’t need Bond’s help to take care of the bad guys. I like the fact that Bouvier has her hair cut short when Bond hints that she needs a makeover. She looks sexy and in control in that sparkling dress and bright red lipstick, no wonder Bond did a double take when he saw her!

Special Honorable Mention: Talisa Soto as Lupi in License to Kill. As the girlfriend of Bond villain Sanchez, no doubt Lupi is pretty much just there for eye candy. But I think she’s quite memorable and she definitely looks stunning in that red lace dress at the casino.

Worst: None. Controversial I know but I quite like ALL of Dalton’s Bond girls.

I know people don’t like Maryam d’Abo as Kara Milovy in The Living Daylights, but to her credit, I don’t think she’s as much a weak Bond girl as people think. The more I watch this movie the more I grow fond of her, yes even her delirious cooing to Bond “You were fantastic. We’re free!” to which Bond replied, “Kara, we’re inside a Russian airbase in the middle of Afghanistan!” But then she redeemed herself and proves her mettle when she’s left behind with the Mujahideen, fighting her way to finally get into the plane with Bond. I also like that she’s the only Bond girl who actually has a legitimate career as a concert cellist.

Pierce Brosnan

I enjoyed the first two of his Bond flicks, but the last two leave much to be desired. Now that I think about it, I’m not too keen on Brosnan’s style as Bond either. He’s just way too smug for his own good, but he does have some terrific Bond girls cast in his movies.

Best: Sophie Marceau and Michelle Yeoh (tie). I can’t pick which one I like best between these two. I like Sophie’s elegance and her background as an heiress who falls for her kidnapper is quite intriguing. The film is crap yes, but I have a soft spot for Sophie as a Bond girl. Michelle is one of those tough girl who could practically kill Bond with her martial arts skill. I like her earlier chase scenes between her and Bond in Carver’s secret lab in Hamburg, Germany.

Special Honorable Mention: Famke Janssen as Xenia Onnatop in Goldeneye. She’s more of a Bond villainness but I think she deserves a mention as who could forget the cigar-smokin’ beauty with killer thighs? I’ve always liked Famke, especially as Dr. Jean Grey in the X-Men movies. I can’t believe she’s now relegated to a damsel-in-distress role as Bryan Mills’ ex-wife in Taken, you’d think after such a bad-ass role she could almost get a role as a female superspy!

Worst: Denise Richards as Dr. Christmas Jones in The World Is Not Enough – Even with our ‘suspension of disbelief’ radar turned on at full force, it’s still hard to take in someone who looks and talks like Denise Richards, dressed in tank top and short shorts, as anything requiring an advanced degree, let alone a nuclear scientist!! Plus, Bond’s quip at the end about ‘Christmas only comes once a year’ is just sooo cringe-worthy!


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Daniel Craig

Though Craig’s only got two movies so far, but one of his Bond girls has become one of my favorites Bond girls of all time. We’ll see how Naomie Harris and Bérénice Marlohe would fare when Skyfall is released.

Best: Eva Green as Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale – I just love her from the moment she appeared on the train to Montenegro. Her banter with Bond is one of my all-time favorite scenes, and not just from a Bond movie. Vesper is no bimbo, but she’s also more than meets the eye. Eva plays Vesper in such a bewitching way that it’s easy to see why even someone like Bond who could have any woman he wanted would give it all up just for her.

Worst: Olga Kurylenko as Camille in Quantum of Solace – Sorry Ted but I just don’t like this movie and though Olga is beautiful, she makes for a boring Bond girl to me. Yes she’s got her own personal vendetta so she has no time to make love with Bond, and that’s completely fine by me, yet she just isn’t a charismatic character. It’s not her fault though, I think the film is just poorly-written.



Well that’s our list. I’m sure every Bond fan has their own pick of best and worst Bond girls, so let’s hear it!

What a glorious feeling! Musings on Singin’ in the Rain

Woo hoo!! I’m so glad there’s such a thing as a TCM anniversary events that allow people like me who miss out on soooo many classic films to actually enjoy them the way it’s meant to be… on the big screen!

Thanks to my pal Michael of It Rains… You Get Wet blog who first told me about this TCM event a few months ago, hence I got to see Casablanca at the cinema too and it was marvelous. My appreciation post for it is overdue I know, but it will happen, so stay tuned :D

I have seen this iconic shot soooo many times, and as a fan of scenes in the rain, surely this one would’ve made it to that list had I seen it before. But the truth is, I don’t know hardly anything about this movie, I didn’t even know that Gene Kelly not only starred in it but he co-directed it with Stanley Donen! I also didn’t know that Debbie Reynolds was only 19 when she made this film. The premise about transition in Hollywood from silent to ‘talkie’ films is a bit reminiscent of The Artist. It’s one of those topics that always fascinates me, and making it a musical parody is just brilliant!

One major complaint I have with these TCM screenings is that they assume everyone has seen the movie! So they put the very revealing interviews, clips, etc. IN FRONT of the film instead of after! They did that with Casablanca too, but I noticed on IMDb’s page forum that someone had the exact same complaint about spoiling the movie to those who haven’t seen it! I hope TCM would fix that for future screenings and run the interview segments afterward!

So does it live up to being American Film Institute (AFI)’s #1 Movie Musical of all time?

I’d say so. The song and dance sequences were absolutely wonderful to watch! I quite like musicals and have seen a number of them, from classics like My Fair Lady and The Sound of Music, to contemporary ones like Moulin Rouge! and Chicago. I could see why this tops them all. Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor were superb, I mean they were truly the best in the business, the whole time I saw them dance I kept thinking, ‘how in the heck did they do that??’ It’s mind-boggling the kind of energy they put into these sequences and of course, the technical aspects such as footwork, doing somersault, etc. are spectacular. Gene Kelly’s jubilant singin’ in the rain sequence is marvelously iconic, definitely deserves a spot on my favorite scenes in the rain list!

I’m also impressed with Debbie Reynolds who did not know how to dance before the film began, but wow her gymnastic background certainly helped pulled it off as I thought she was brilliant. Read on below as to who helped her with dancing tips, no it’s not really her co-star.

Some of my favorite dance sequences

Now, story-wise it’s pretty cute. It’s predictable really, but then you don’t watch these movies for the plot. There were some really cheesy sequences and some went on way too long, I cringed during the scene where Don wooed Kathy in that empty stage, complete with fake moonlight and giant fan for wind-blown effect, ahah. It was just too corny and silly, but I guess it’s a small quibble in the grand scheme of things.

Oh I have to mention the wonderful Jean Hagen as the diva with the high-pitched voice Lina Lamont! She’s such a great comic relief in this movie, the way she was pining for Don because she believed the tabloid stories is hilarious. But the funniest part was the whole mic fiasco as the filmmaker and cast attempt to film their first talking sequence. I was in stitches throughout that whole scene seeing the frustrated director responding to the dumb but defiant actress simply unable to take his direction! I call her Lina Lament as she made everybody suffer, ahah.

“Well I can’t make love to a bush!”

Anyway, I read up about the movie shortly before going to see it, and there were some fascinating trivia. Here are some of them from Wikipedia and IMDb:

• In the famous dance routine in which Gene Kelly sings the title song while twirling an umbrella, splashing through puddles and getting soaked to the skin, Kelly was sick with a 103 °F (39 °C) fever at the time. The rain in the scene caused Kelly’s wool suit to shrink during filming. A common myth is that Kelly managed to perform the entire song in one take, thanks to cameras placed at predetermined locations. However this was not the case as the filming of the sequence took place over 2–3 days.

• Debbie Reynolds was not a dancer at the time she made Singin’ in the Rain — her background was as a gymnast. Kelly apparently insulted her for her lack of dance experience, upsetting her. Fred Astaire was hanging around the studio and found Reynolds crying under a piano. Hearing what had happened, Astaire volunteered to help her with her dancing. Kelly later admitted that he had not been kind to Reynolds and was surprised that she was still willing to talk to him afterwards.

• For the Make Em Laugh number, Gene Kelly asked Donald O’Connor to revive a trick he had done as a young dancer, running up a wall and completing a somersault. The number was so physically taxing that O’Connor, who smoked four packs of cigarettes a day at the time, went to bed (or may have been hospitalized, depending on the source) for a week after its completion, suffering from exhaustion and painful carpet burns. Unfortunately, an accident ruined all of the initial footage, so after a brief rest, O’Connor, ever the professional, agreed to do the difficult number all over again.

This scene is just fabulous and sure to bring a smile to your face no matter how bad your day goes. Bravo Mr. O’Connor!


I’m certainly glad I saw this iconic classic musical on the big screen! I’m hoping to see more of these TCM presents, hopefully they’ll present Roman Holiday soon :D


What did you think of this movie folks? Anybody else seeing this on the first time on the big screen?

Classic Actor Spotlight: Jack Lemmon Part III… Defining Himself

Greetings once again, all and sundry. It has been my distinct pleasure to proffer two heaping helpings of the life, times and career of one of the true greats of the actors’ craft. Trying my best to keep each segment in chronological order to highlight changes and improvements in delivery and venue. Due to unexpected, though much appreciated feedback. I am going to have to warm up the Halden Collider~Way Back Machine in my basement and cheat a bit, though not much. I’m pretty sure you will be pleased with the end result. That said, allow me to introduce …

Jack Lemmon: Defining Himself


Well on his way to being a recognized name in both Comedy and Drama. It seemed that Mr. Lemmon needed a bit of well earned vacation and down time. And what better way to fill that time, than to sign onto another Blake Edwards project that latched onto the wave of boffo box office generated by Ken Annakin’s laugh out loud romp, Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines… With a few obvious and better changes, of course.

The Great Race (1965)

It’s the turn of the 20th century and those odd looking, smoking, choking ‘Horseless Carriages’ are starting to be seen more and more and appear to be catching on in popularity. Enter, The Great Leslie. Entrepreneur and often times daredevil in the vein of Harry Houdini, barnstormer Charles Lindbergh and wing walker Ormer Locklear. Played heroically to a fault and always in spotless white attire and sparkling eyes  by Tony Curtis. Who proposes an automobile race from New York westward, to Paris. Basically, to promote his own prototype, The Leslie Special. Lovingly tended to by engineer and sidekick, Hezekiah Sturdy. Deftly brought to life by always reliable, Keenan Wynn.

Now, anyone so handsome, gallant, clever and heroic NEEDS a villain of equal or greater reputation and stature. And Mr. Lemmon fills that bill with room to spare as Professor Fate. Sneeringly eloquent and often elegant in black greatcoat, suit and nearly always present stove pipe hat. The Professor has his own skin in the game with the ‘Hannibal Twin-8′. Complete with smoke generators, a huge boring drill bit and 3 pound cannon.
Contestants come from far and wide and are whittled down to six. One of note is Maggie DuBois. The beautiful reporter for the New York Sentinel assigned to cover the astonishing event. Delightfully played by Natalie Wood as an emancipated woman long before the sexual revolution. Drawing the attention of both Leslie and Fate during a soiree the evening before the flag drops. Though the principals may be otherwise involved. Night time is the right time for Skullduggery and sabotage. When Fate’s stalwart sidekick and henchman, Maximilian Meen; wondrously mastered by Peter Falk. Applies his trade craft to the three of the cars, one being Fate’s.

The drivers, associates and their machines line up the next morning and the flag is waved. Leslie takes the lead with Fate not far behind as two machines crash through store fronts and assorted street and roadside obstacles. Leaving Leslie, Fate and Miss DuBois in the running. Until her car breaks down and she rides with Leslie and Heekiah. Through the Wild West, encounters with a gunslinger (Larry Storch) and an overblown barroom brawl, courtesy of singer, Lily Olay (Dorothy Provine).

Things only get funnier as the Bering Strait as true love wings its way during a snowstorm and fate kidnaps Miss DuBois. Only to have things kick into high gear when Fate and company arrive in Potsdorf. A small Duchy in the midst of a quiet coup, whose Crown Prince Frederick is under arrest and who also bears an uncanny resemblance to Professor Fate. I’ll let you connect the dots from there as the Duchy is left in a shambles and the racers head towards Paris and the Eiffel Tower…

Overall Consensus:

Though not mentioned as prominently as in earlier critiques. Mr Lemmon and his wily Professor Fate brings all four corners of this tale together quite nicely and delivers it wrapped in a bow. Reacting in ways clever, deft, though not completely thought out or tested. Creating a character who is one third Robert Walker’s Bruno Anthony from Strangers on a Train. One third Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius and one third Snidley Whiplash from the old Bill Scott Dudley Do-Right cartoons of the 1960s. Gleefully popping a child’s balloon one moment. Only to have his rubbery face scrunch up in evil schemes the next. His impersonation of the foppish and just a tad effeminate Crown Prince Frederick at the receiving line of an overly elegant ball is not to be missed! As the fawning crowd responds to upwardly raised hands to laugh. Then stop as they are chopped downward. Very shades of Ernie Kovacs and his dandy creation, Percy Dovetonsils.

In one splendid segment of what was to be one of the last great Hollywood slapstick comedy blockbusters. With many stops pulled out. Including an over the top pie fight between Fate, his handlers. Cooks, chefs, bakers, Miss DuBois, Hezekiah, Maximilian Meen and Leslie, who stays immaculately clean until the last moment.

Nicely rounded out with Oscar-nominated music by Henry Mancini. Between quick sight gags, prat falls and delightfully drawn out attempts at revenge that often blow up in Fate and Max’s faces. Very high kudos to cinematographer, Russell Harlan and editor, Ralph Winters. Who understood what TechniColor was all about and uses its advantages wisely. Also production design and art direction by Fernando Carrere. Set decoration by George James Hopkins and costume deign by Don Feld. For taking the audience on a stylized trip across the world. Without leaving the Warner Brothers Studios.

Which brings us to…

The Out of Towners (1970)

As mentioned briefly in an earlier comment, no one does exasperation as believably as Mr. Lemmon. And in this film the topic is given every opportunity to be toyed with, teased, stretched and pulled in all directions like Silly Putty. On what should have been an overnight vacation and second honeymoon in The Big Apple. With Reservations at the Waldorf Astoria. Dinner, dancing and a 9 a.m. interview for Mr. Lemmon’s  George Kellerman. Up and coming VP of a precision plastic machines in Ohio. Whose sister company is looking for someone like Kellerman to fill a lateral slot.

A journey that begins under sunny cloudless skies as George and his wide Gwen, magnificently underplayed by Sandy Dennis pack up the station wagon and make their flight with time to spare. Once airborne, George’s doubts seem to rise to the fore. Fixated on time and their evening reservations at The Four Seasons as the Boeing 737 buffets ahead of bad weather. A delay is announced from the flight deck and George and Gwen start to regret passing on their in flight meal. The weather doesn’t improve and the flight is diverted to Boston’s Logan Airport instead of JFK.

George is frazzled, though Gwen is upbeat. Until she discovers that their luggage is missing. Which sends them off to report the loss to Billy Dee Williams in the Lost & Found. Then off to find a cab to take them to the train station and then to Grand Central in NY. The ride leaves five minutes to spare. Three of which are wasted over 20 dollars (The only bill he has since his and Gwen’s NY money is in the lost luggage) for a 5 dollar can ride.

The train ride is one from Hell. Cramped, crowded, with no place to sit. And arrives in mid rainstorm over Manhattan. Leaving Gwen and George stuck in the rain amidst a sanitation strike. Near broke and following faulty directions the wrong way as one of Gwen’s heels breaks. Leaving them ripe to be robbed by a friendly man with an umbrella. At wits end, they walk to the local precinct and report their robbery to a desk sergeant (Dolph Sweet) who arranges for a unit to take the Kellermans to the local Armory to sleep for the night. En route, the unit responds to another robbery. George and Gwen are told to sit tight while the cops pursue, are eluded and the thieves hijack the police unit. Dropped in unfamiliar territory, they make their way to Central Park as the rain abates and George cracks a crown. Tired, hungry and fed up to here with the ill hospitality of The Big Apple. They fall asleep under a tree. Only to have Gwen surrender George’s watch to a caped mugger.

The morning comes bright and sunny. As shoeless George searches for Gwen who has found a half empty box of Cracker Jacks for breakfast. Only to lose it to an large, errant Dalmatian. Leaving them time for George to get caught up on current events in about as loud and long argument the two could have while sharing the remains. Before trying to get to the Astoria. En route, they are kicked out of a church. Gwen breaks her other heel. George tries to retrieve it in mid intersection and finally loses it. Screaming at the top of his lungs as pressured neuroses slowly brought to a seething boil throughout leaving Boston and Grand Central Station finally kicks loose internal relief valves. Professing loudly  that the city will never wear them down! Pausing briefly as he smells something strange and steps away from a manhole cover seconds before it blows. Shooting skyward and landing inches away….

Overall Consensus:

As with any Neil Simon play, the magic is in the dialogue. Sometimes overalpping. Often repeated with a slight change of inflection. Yet always clever and fresh. And this film is positively awash in dialogue and telling facial expressions from Mr. Lemmon and Ms. Dennis. As they put up with fate’s or God’s progressively worse ‘sickening factors’ of rain, darkness, piled garbage, stolen wallets and broken heels. And people on the opposite sides of desks or counters who have better things to do. In other words. Just another day or night in Manhattan. Whose names and badge numbers wind up scrawled on a crumpled scrap of paper. George’s growing ‘Who to Sue’ list.

Kudos to Mr. Lemmon for having the bravery to completely and concisely illustrate the ‘Slow Burn’ of running up against a deck of cards stacked so solidly against his meticulously detailed schedule of getting things done. Obstructed so nonchalantly by a city that has other ideas. Wondrously, yet creepily highlighted by locations so dark and foreign looking without landmarks, that you feel the plight of the principals. Equally high marks go to Ms. Dennis’ Gwen. Who lovingly holds her own. While somehow always seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Cinematography by Andrew Laszlo is exceptional. Especially at night. As is an early Quincy Jones’ soundtrack and the ever so brief appearances of secondary characters. Who add to the film’s wickedly dark comedy under Arthur Hiller’s less than subtle touch.

Save The Tiger (1973)

This is the film where Mr. Lemmon comes into his own as a legitimate and recognizable dramatic actor. Giving less than perfect life to Harry Stoner. An executive of an L.A. apparel company that’s come upon rocky, less than prosperous times. Whose recent trip to France to flog spring fashion brings back waves of guilt. For surviving a war begun on Omaha Beach on D-Day. Only to see its snow white sandy beach be the playground for the young, lithe bikinied bottoms and bare chests of those who could care less. Harry’s speech to introduce his company’s lines goes over less than well. Stopping in mid rambling sentence. As a belated mid life crisis stares Harry in the face. And Harry blinks.

Shuttling back to L.A., Harry picks up Myra. A hitch hiking twenty year old free spirit. Played with equal parts curiosity, naivete and ebullience by Laurie Heineman. Who becomes a companion and willing sounding board for Harry as he waxes nostalgic for the long forgotten days and treasured memories of his youth. The post coital scene where Harry and Myra compare cultural, musical, political and sports icons of their times is both melancholy and sweet. Well worth the price of admission or effort to seek out.

Refreshed, if not invigorated, Harry returns to the office and discovers that the company’s financial picture is far less healthy than he had first imagined. Money is owed. Loans are overdue. Designers are squabbling. Sewers and seamstresses aren’t happy with the quality of material. A simple solution would be to torch a company warehouse and collect on its insurance. Though after the idea is broached to a local arsonist. Due diligence is performed and the warehouse is found to be so far below code and standards that several thousand would have to be spent to disguise arson in the first place.

Discussions with Harry’s business partner, Phil Green. Wondrously underplayed by Jack Gilford only buy some time as Harry sees everything he’s been, done and worked for and held dear slip through his fingers. Wanting nothing more than another season….

Overall Consensus:

In what should have been a just over an hour and a half very low budgeted personal project for Mr. Lemmon. A near unknown classic evolved. Through initial viewing and then through word of mouth. Working from a first effort, solid story and screenplay by Steve Shagan. With John G. Avildsen’s deft direction and a prototype film system developed by Fouad Said (‘I Spy’). Cinematography by James Crabe is sharp and uncompromising. Creating a film that is a model of straightforward simplicity and economy of story telling. Aided by a soundtrack composed by a just being recognized Marvin Hamlisch.

Is there action in this film? No. Though there is great power in the spoken words, expressions and body language of a man pushed to his limits. While dealing with changing times, morals, attitude and culture. Well worthy of the Best Actor Oscar win for Mr. Lemmon and a Supporting Actor Nomination for Jack Gilford.

Missing (1982)

Though not a huge fan of Costa~Gavras. Sometimes he gets it right, as with ‘Z’, which was very of its time, external and seething with suspense. And with ‘Missing’. Which is the inverted. Post action packed coup. Pick up the pieces story of a father, Ed Horman. A conservative businessman. Marvelously played to tamped down perfection by Mr. Lemmon. Who fights a near vertical uphill battle with the U.S. State Department and Augusto Pinochet’s newly installed, corrupt fascist government in 1973. Aided by daughter in law, Beth, stoically delivered by Sissy Spacek. The two ask questions very few want to answer between sporadic gunfire and the all too familiar sound of Bell Huey and Jet Ranger helicopters.

Told with occasional flashbacks. We discover that missing son and husband Charlie Horman is a wide eyed naif whose political leanings are just slightly to the right of a 70s stoner hippie, minus the drugs. With dreams of writing either children’s books or the great American novel. Who asks too many questions of people he should have no business knowing. Taking too many notes while being seen by too many people. Making entirely too much noise in a country that is suddenly crawling with too many young Chilean soldiers given the power of life and death. Equipped with U.S. rifles, jeeps and other sinews of war. Charlie is played to ridiculous, near embarrassing perfection by John Shea.

Even with his dumb as a sack of hammers naivete. And stout belief that being an American citizen will get him out of any sticky or surreal situation. There is something noble about Charlie’s quest. Not really following leads, but doing the grunt and groundwork by accident that no US journalist would be able to touch. Even as he is slowly, unwittingly signing his own Death Warrant.

Worthy enough to send his father to his N.Y Senator who knows less than nothing and is quite lame at obfuscating and spouting non-answer answers. Dissatisfied, Ed flies down to Chile. Meets his daughter-in-law, Beth at the airport. And together are given the full press run around from many of the same people Charlie had met and asked questions of only weeks earlier.

Mr. Lemmon’s Ed Horman delivers in many subtle ways. Using all of the tools acquired years earlier. His posture, initially ram rod straight. His words, succinct and sometimes hurtful towards Beth. Who fires back with equal fervor as tiny streams of light, often as slow as molasses begin revealing a trail to dark places neither one really wants to go. Keeping fears under wraps. Never raising his voice as he sits opposite the Chilean liaison and tells him that he will initial, sign or authorize any and all paperwork if he can just see his son.

The absolute high point of the film and pinnacle of Mr. Lemmon’s vast talents. As his body and face seem to deflate while shoulders droop and body sags and shrinks inside its suit seconds before tears threaten to flow, but are stanched. To no real avail…

Overall Concensus:

Mr. Lemmon at the then top of his game delivering much more than required. In a role that would lure other actors into chewing all kinds of angry scenery. The principal projects inwardly in a tightly woven world of surreal external grotesques. Reacting jumpily at first to sporadic gunfire as a  reminder of how dangerous the land is. To almost ignoring or shrugging it off as his journey continues. Never losing hope. Even while trying to find his son’s body amongst hundreds awaiting autopsy. Until a final sit down with another journalist who obliquely lays events bare.

It is then that the old Ed returns. Rigid, robust, knowing just enough and speaking just a bit too loudly as he applies leverage to those who prefer staying in the shadows. Aided along his journey by a notable swath of then unknown, but soon to be known talent. Most notably, Joe Regalbuto and Keith Szarabajka as fellow writers Frank Teruggi and David Holloway.

High marks to Ricardo Aronovich’s cinematography. Also Peter Jamison’s production design in getting parts of Acapulco and its Federal Districts to fill in so believably for parts of Chile in upheaval. Notable for Oscar nominations for its Best Actor, Actress and Film. Not for the faint of heart, but definitely worthy of seeking out.

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

This is the film most people remember and associate Mr. Lemmon with. And rightly so. Not as the lead player, but being a major part of a superb, A List cast. In a brilliant, yet gritty adaptation of David Mamet’s long running, cross country stage play about less than reputable real estate salesmen faced with a tightening economy. Less than stellar clients and poor prospects that must be sold before the much more lucrative, desirable and coveted Glengarry properties can be touched.

Delivered by sarcastic and evilly grinning Blake. Sent by the unseen, all powerful ‘Mitch & Murray’. Malevolently brought to Satanic llife by perfectly coiffed and adorned Alec Baldwin. Brought in a dark and stormy night’s pep talk. Focusing on the branch’s poor numbers with visual aids both standard and exotic. Offset by scathing dialogue that angers more than helps, before revealing the bundled, treasured Glengarry index cards of potential clients. That are to be locked up in Manager, John Williamson’s office vault until the present dross can be closed upon. In two days. Or people will be fired!

Not the most stirring motivational speech for four salesmen who have been around the block more than a few times. Led by the too smooth for his own good, top salesman Ricky Roma. Seamlessly fleshed out by rarely better Al Pacino. Who learned most of what he knows from the branch’s wise old man, Shelley Levene. Salesman, par excellence, who is starting to drop a stitch here and there and hasn’t closed a deal lately. Played with a hint of growing desperation and an ancient bag of tricks by Mr. Lemmon as hospital bills for his daughter continue to pile up.

With Ed Harris as slow and reliably steady, though loud mouthed Dave Moss. Who lives for the sale, but has a hard time closing. And Alan Arkin as quiet follower George Aaronow, who sometimes thinks he should be in another business. All overseen by the bespectacled and somewhat fastidious, milquetoast John Williamson. Marvelously underplayed by Kevin Spacey. Who understands that his neck could be out there as well.

Once the gauntlet has been thrown down. Shelley tries his best to cajole, con, threaten and bribe John out of some of the Glengarry leads. While Dave floats the idea of stealing them to George.To either use or sell to a competitor. As Ricky grudgingly dives in to re-work over plowed soil and possibly sift out a few new clients. Each finds a task and make far too many phone calls, cold calls and introductory offers. Watching Mr. Lemmon work the phones from a cold start. Then lying through his teeth to play on the potential client’s insecurity and greed would put many confidence men to shame. And is worth the price or effort of seeking out as same day appointments are made and the chance to close draws nearer.

Shelley focuses on a couple, the Nyborgs. Closes a questionable deal and arrives at the office full of bluster. Only to find that John’s office has been vandalized and is crowded with cops. Ricky is upset that his client, James Linkg (Jonathan Pryce) has gotten cold feet and wants his uncashed retainer check back. And dave and George are awaiting being questioned. Undaunted, Shelly regales Ricky with the thrill of the sale and closing. Only to have things turn ugly when John steps from his office and is caught in a crossfire of verbal abuse. First by Ricky. Then by Shelley. Who lets slip one tiny, revealing mistake about Lingk’s check that John latches onto. After telling Shelley that the Nyborgs are bankrupt and delusional and the deal has fallen through. Crushed, Shelley asks “Why?” Only to have Williamson reply coldly. “Because I don’t like you.” As the cops and detectives wait to talk to Shelley…

Overall Concensus:

A proven and superb cast in a near flawless film. Written by one of the masters of moody, often profane and sometimes melancholy dialogue. Where words define much more quickly and fully than a tailored suit, cheap watch or aged, washed out, rumpled trench coat. Spoken by men who are in involved in the cut throat world of sales and commissions. Knowing that their potential client is going to be stand offish at first. Until a flaw is revealed that can be exploited and worked on. And ‘Opportunity’ is sold in ways that may be immoral, but not illegal.

In this arena, Mr. Lemmon’s Shelley Levene reigns supreme. Coaxing and cajoling one moment. Then gently applying pressure to innate greed and later, pride in that soothing voice of his. To get names on papers to pieces of land unseen by either the seller or the buyer. Is there remorse afterwards? Possibly, but it is never revealed in the office.


Check out the first two parts of the Jack Lemmon series:
PART I and PART II



Well, what do you think on the third and final post on the Jack Lemmon series? Do share your thoughts about the actor and/or these films in the comments.

Our tribute to Tony Scott and five favorite movies from the late director

It’s less than 24 hrs since I heard the news of Tony Scott’s passing and I still can’t believe what I had heard. The 68-year-old director leaped off the L.A. County’s Vincent Thomas Bridge into the Los Angeles Harbor Sunday night, his black Toyota Prius with his suicide note still parked nearby. I read hours later that he had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain cancer. It’s such a tragic news… my heart is heavy that someone we thought had everything was so bereft of hope to be driven to such an extreme decision, leaving behind his wife and twin young sons. I feel for the family and my prayers go out to them, including his brother and business partner, Sir Ridley. Of all the tweets I saw, I thought this one from director Duncan Jones resonated with me most. Apparently Jones once worked for Mr. Scott in his early career:

I guess I’ve always grown up with Tony Scott’s films, even though I wasn’t too enthusiastic about his newer ones. I think the last film of his I saw was The Taking of Pelham 123 which was actually pretty good, but not all that memorable. But it’s no doubt he’s a talented director who’s got his own style and a penchant for dynamic action flicks. Growing up, TOP GUN was the coolest thing and I was somewhat looking forward to the sequel starring the now megastar Tom Cruise that Scott himself would direct.

So in his memory, Ted and I list our five picks of films we like most from the late British director. [Please don't reprimand me for not including True Romance or Crimson Tide, I'm afraid I have not seen those two yet]

RUTH’s PICKS

1. Spy Game (2001)

One of our friends actually gave his DVD to us and I’m lad he did as I don’t mind watching this one again. It’s perhaps one of my favorite movies with Brad Pitt, though I’m more impressed with the older Pitt look-a-like Robert Redford who plays his spy mentor. It’s perhaps Scott’s most understated work in his resume, it doesn’t have as many explosions or car chases like a typical Bond movie, but still offers a great deal of espionage suspense that I always enjoy. In a way, it’s like the recent Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy in the way it depicted the realistic espionage universe, but with a much more swift pacing. It’s the kind of smart thriller that gets overlooked at the box office as it’s not the ‘bombastic’ kind.

2. Top Gun (1986)

As a kid growing up in the 80s, this was an essential action flick that always brings back so many memories. Surely all the girls in my junior high had a crush on Tom Cruise, and what girl doesn’t like men in uniform? Truth be told, I still have no idea what this movie was really about, but who cares. We watched this for the boys and those fun jet flying sequences. The angst, the romance, the motorcycle ride through the sunset, etc., yeah they’re all cheese, but it was GOOD cheese, and back in the day I thought this movie was the coolest thing ever. No doubt this will be the movie he’s best remembered for.

To this day, I still love Berlin’s ‘Take My Breath Away,‘ though now it’ll be bittersweet as this song was played when I heard the news about Tony Scott’s death :(

3. Enemy of the State (1998)

I quite enjoyed this one when I saw it on the big screen, it could be one of my favorite Will Smith’s movies. There’s plenty of suspense going on in this conspiracy thriller and we’ve got a great, scene-stealing performance from Gene Hackman. Instead of his usual car chases, this movie is full of foot chases, reminds me a bit of Hackman’s classic thriller The French Connection at times. There are also interesting camera angles and showing the action through a surveillance camera that gives it an edge. Scott’s kinetic energy is used to great effect in this one. Smith certainly is one of those actors who looks good running.

4. Beat The Devil – short (2002)

As I’ve mentioned in my Clive Owen post, I LOVE the BMW short films. This one with James Brown and Gary Oldman is one of the best and has Scott’s frenetic signature all over it. Guns, fast cars, with the godfather of soul, not to mention Machete er I mean Danny Trejo behind the wheel opposite The Driver. In just 10 minutes, we’ve got an electrifying drag race through the Las Vegas strip and a huge explosion involving a train. Easily the craziest and most bizarre 10-minute movie I’ve seen, but it sure was fun! Check it out below if you haven’t seen it:

 

5. Deja Vu (2006)

The third collaboration of Scott and Denzel Washington is quite a thrill ride. It’s a sci-fi thriller involving some sort of time travel, but the look of the movie isn’t actually sci-fi-ish. It seems that Scott had a penchant for setting his thriller in a public transportation, this time it takes place mostly on a ferry. Denzel and Val Kilmer are the good guys going opposite Jim Caviezel, in a quietly menacing role just a couple of years after playing Jesus Christ in The Passion of the Christ. Though the plot is hard to comprehend at times, I remember enjoying this one and was largely amused by it.

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TED’s PICKS

Even though I included him on my list of hack directors in Hollywood, I still believe he’s very talented, just that his last few films; he didn’t really want to tell a good story. He prefer to just show off this manic style of editing and over the top action sequences. With that said, Tony Scott made some really great films early in his career. Here are my favorites of his:

1. True Romance (1993)

This film’s one of my favorite of the 90s, it was written by then unknown Quentin Tarantino and yes it’s violent. In fact, thanks to this movie most of the action films today are rated PG-13; I won’t go into details but Google Dan Quayle and this film and you’ll understand why. The film opened in the fall of 1993, it tanked at the box office but it became sort of a cult since. I was still in high school then and saw it with my buddies in theater, I fell in love with the film and have lost count on many times I’ve watched it.

2. Crimson Tide (1995)

This was the first collaboration between Scott and Washington, they later worked together in 4 more films. I thought this was the best film of 1995 and it’s a shame the Oscar voters ignored it. The performances by Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman were spectacular. I know most people dismissed it because it was a Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer production, so they thought it was just a mindless action film. Well the film hardly had any action and it was mostly the intense performances by the leads that made the film so good.

A little fact about this film, it was Disney’s first big budgeted live action film, it was huge gamble but it paid off for the studio. After this film came out, they produced several high priced action flicks; The Rock, Con Air, Pirates of the Carribean films are some examples.

3. Enemy of the State 

The film was supposed to be a Tom Cruise vehicle but because he’s stuck doing Eyes Wide Shut, he had to pass. It would’ve been a third collaboration between Scott and Cruise. I love this movie and in my opinion, it’s Will Smith’s best film. Some of the set pieces were well staged, I especially love the first foot chase and the shootout in the restaurant. Great film!

4. Spy Game

In my opinion this was Scott’s most artistic film to date, I love spy movies and he did an amazing job of capturing the look and feel of how a spy movie should be made. The performances by Brad Pitt and Robert Redford were great too; a very underrated film. I think the film failed at the box office because people thought it was going to be another James Bond type of a movie but it’s not.

5. Revenge (1990)

This is probably my second favorite film of Kevin Costner right behind The Untouchables. What kept this film from being great was that I thought it ended so quickly, I felt it could’ve use another hour of story telling. I think Quentin Tarantino named this film as one of this favorites ever; do check it out if you’ve never seen it.


Rest in Peace Tony Scott. Thank you for your movies.


Now, what’s your favorite Tony Scott film(s)?