[Wintry] Weekend Roundup: House of Cards and All About Eve

BaftaStatuetteHello everyone! Happy post-BAFTA Monday, fellow film fans. I’ve only followed it somewhat via Twitter, seeing people’s reactions on the winners. What’s with the hate against ARGO, I think it deserved the Best Film and Best Director win for Ben Affleck. In fact, it’s perhaps one of my favorite Best Picture contenders, but I remember people were grumbling too when The King’s Speech won. Ah well, I don’t always agree with the winners so it’s nice to be on the other side of that spectrum.

Well, we’ve got sleet/freezing rain/snow mix all day Sunday so I never left the house, which rarely happens. To all my friends in the Northeast affected by the monster storm Nemo, I pray that you’re all ok. I’m not gonna complain that we barely half a foot of snow!

I skipped the cinema again as nothing interest me. I had seen Side Effects a couple of weeks ago so check out my review if you haven’t already. Oh apparently Top Gun IMAX 3D re-release still spells ‘ka-ching’ for Paramount as it raked in $1.9 mil this weekend playing in 300 theaters. I wouldn’t mind rewatching that again on Blu-ray, I’ll see if my pal Ted has the BD 😉

So my weekend viewings consist of a brand new made-for-Netflix show House of Cards, a masterpiece classic All About Eve, and Bel Ami, which was so inferior compared to the other two. I don’t even feel like reviewing that last one. Right after I finished it, I couldn’t help but watch the last episode of North & South just to see this scene. Richard Armitage as John Thornton never fails to beguile me and erase my memory of Robert Pattinson as a cunning Frenchman.

House of Cards (2013)

I’ve only seen two episodes in and both are directed by David Fincher so naturally I expect something great. Well, thankfully it didn’t disappoint. Fincher’s directing style with his signature camera work and framing technique works well for this story. It made me wish he had directed the entire episodes though I reserve judgment until I see the entire first season. Kevin Spacey is perfectly cast Frank Underwood, a ruthless and ambitious politician (is there any other kind?) willing to use and betray anyone to get what he wants in Washington. I’m usually not into political shows, but this one is quite entertaining. Spacey’s got this inherent playfulness in portraying a despicable character, you’re repulsed and captivated by him at the same time.

HouseOfCards_Stills

I just read this interview on Hitfix with Fincher on how the show came about, which was inspired by an early 90s UK TV series of the same name. It’s fascinating to see the casting process as well…

“…One of the responsibilities I put on the cast when we had our first read through is I said, “I want everybody here to know that you represent our first choice – each actor here represents our first choice for these characters. So do not f*** this up.”

The ‘breaking the fourth wall’ style where the character speaks directly at the audience is tricky, but I think it works well here, or at least the filmmaker and actor makes it work. Only Spacey’s character uses this technique though, it gives the feeling that we’re in on it on all of Frank’s schemes. I’m also impressed with the rest of the key players on the show: Robin Wright as Spacey’s equally sly wife, Kate Mara as the ambitious young reporter, and Corey Stoll as a Pennsylvania congressman consumed by his own demons of sex and drug addiction.
I hope the rest of the episodes are as intriguing as the first two, but my hubby and I are definitely hooked for more.
///

All About Eve (1950)

AllboutEvePoster

I’m sooo glad I finally saw this film, special thanks to my friend Vince for his help to get this movie! I initially wanted to see this as I’m participating in Paula and Aurora‘s 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon and I’m going to be featuring the famed costume designer Edith Head. So naturally I want to see some of her Oscar-winning work, and I’ve been wanting to see this one for ages. I also promised Andrew when he made this excellent Scene on a Sunday post on All About Eve over a year ago. It’s a bit late, sorry Andrew, but hey I did get to see it on a Sunday 🙂

This film was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and won six, including Best Picture. As of today, it remains as the only film in Oscar history to receive four female acting nominations (Bette Davis and Ann Baxter as Best Actress, Celeste Holm and Thelma Ritter as Best Supporting Actress). It’s worth noting that out of the four actresses, I’ve only seen Baxter and Holmes in a previous film, thanks to my Gregory Peck marathon. Same with the two male actors Gary Merill and Hugh Marlowe who were excellent in Twelve O’Clock High. George Sanders was excellent as well as the mischievous theater critic.

Andrew said it best on Twitter last night… “… imagine it’s more than half a century old. It’s so (sometimes startlingly) relevant and fresh.” Indeed it was! In fact I was thinking that there are some similarities between House of Cards‘ Frank and Eve Harrington, different end goal but they both used the same conniving, manipulative means to get what they want.

AllboutEveStills

Andrew also asked me which one is my favorite performance. Oh boy, between Davis, Baxter and Holmes, it’s really hard to say. Having seen Bette Davis’ performance for the first time, I was quite mesmerized by her. Baxter perhaps has the hardest role to convincingly portray an innocent small town ingenue to a devious, scheming b*tch climbing her way to the top. At times her delivery is a bit too over the top When she was wearing a black wig in her dressing room following a performance, I was reminded of her seductive pur in The Ten Commandments as she was trying to seduce Moses, ahah. I guess I like Holmes’ character the most because she’s kindhearted and sees the good in people. She’s a fantastic actress and her scene with Baxter in the powder room is especially memorable. Oh, there was also a brief but interesting cameo of a then unknown starlet by the name of Marilyn Monroe as an aspiring actres, but it was kind of a thankless role for her.

There are much to admire about this film… starting with the bewitching story, brought to life by all the talents involved. What this film also has in abundance is style. Visually, its set direction, cinematography, and of course costume design are superb. The brilliant script also makes this film surprisingly funny. Davis’ Margo Channing not only dresses well, but she seems to have an endless supply of great lines as well. She seems to have the best lines when she’s vexed… “I’ll admit I may have seen better days, but I’m still not to be had for the price of a cocktail like a salted peanut.” And of course her most famous line “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night” is delivered with such a perfect sense of irony.

I feel like I can’t do it justice reviewing this film in my weekend roundup post, so let me just say that the iconic status is absolutely well-deserved. Joseph Leo Mankiewicz‘s film lives up to my already high expectations and captivated me from start to finish. Like Casablanca, I’m glad I finally saw one of Hollywood’s finest, and certainly it wouldn’t be the last.

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Well, that’s my Wintry weekend roundup. How ’bout you folks… seen anything good?

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41 thoughts on “[Wintry] Weekend Roundup: House of Cards and All About Eve

  1. I’m watching the BAFTA Awards right now. While its not my first choice I have no problem with it winning. I really like that it’s making the Academy look stupid for not nominating Affleck! 🙂

    1. Indeed Keith! I think NOT being nominated for Oscar has ended up being the best thing for Affleck, ahah. He’s won virtually every other award, deservedly so.

  2. I haven’t seen BAFTA ceremony yet, but I will soon, people whine every year about the winners, I think Argo is a good movie. Certainly better it wins than Zero Dark Thirty 🙂 I really liked first two episodes of House of Cards but then it lost steam for me really quickly.

    1. Yeah I suppose people are always gonna whine no matter who wins. I root for Argo more than ZDT myself. As for House of Cards, I think the first 2 eps are good ’cause it’s Fincher’s. We’ll see how I feel about the rest of the season.

    1. Hi Chris! You should see it once it’s out on dvd, it’s really good man! I’m quite happy that it won Bafta.

      Glad to hear you enjoyed HoC passed the 2nd episodes. Yes Spacey is indeed very good, right in his element!

  3. I’m pretty happy that Argo won. It could have went to worse films. Skyfall winning for British film was awesome too!
    I haven’t seen House of Cards yet but I’m thinking I might have to start watching it sometime soon.
    As a funny coincidence I also watched All About Eve this weekend! I thought it was fantastic, especially Davis’ performance. I also liked the small parts that Thelma Ritter and Marilyn Monroe had. I also really loved how Eve’s bad karma caught up with her in the end.
    Besides that I also watched Platoon for the first time, which was also really good.

    1. Hello Hunter, welcome to FC! Oh Skyfall won Best British film? Awesome!

      Wow that’s cool that you saw All About Eve too. Yes about the karma thing, so eerie to see that other girl doing the same thing she did with Margo’s dress outside her dressing room. Haven’t seen Platoon, but I’m not fond of war films.

  4. jackdeth72

    Hi, Ruth and company:

    Every time I see ‘All About Eve’, the more I am convinced that Hollywood is in desperate need of an eloquent, elegant whip hand and bad guy like George Sanders! Yes, the ladies in attendance are the focus of attention and run the show in this resplendent battle of egos. But there is always going to be a man silently in the shadows pulling the strings.

    I came across a batch of very early Kevin Spacey when I purchased the complete series DVD set of Stephen J. Cannell’s ‘Wiseguy’ from the 1980s. Spacey plays a kind of weird criminal genius named Mel Profitt in several episodes. Who may love his sister, Susan (Joan Severance) a bit too much.

    1. George Sanders was indeed very good, he has the quiet grace of a sly rogue. But I’m glad he did what he did to Eve in that hotel room. She’s even more despicable!

      I actually watched some episodes of Wiseguy but for some reason I only remembered the hunky Ken Wahl in it, ahah.

      1. jackdeth72

        Pssssst, Ruth.

        I think you were supposed to only remember the hunky Ken Wahl at that young an age. 😉

        I thought Wahl’s Vinny Terranova and his handler, Frank McPike, played by Jonathan Banks worked very well together. ‘Wiseguy’, like Michael Mann’s ‘Crime Story’ were great series for young talent who have grown to be heavy hitters today.

        George Sanders was such a cool, eloquent bad guy in so many films. He’d spend five minutes describing how he was going to get rid of you. And by the time he was done. You’d almost be okay with it!

  5. Ted S.

    I didn’t see anything new either, nothing I want to see in theater. I picked up Octopussy at Best Buy and watched it over the weekend. I haven’t seen it in years and it wasn’t as bad as I remembered. This was the one that they almost cast James Brolin as Bond because they weren’t sure if Moore was coming back or not. I think Brolin would’ve been okay as Bond but the producers said they were going to let him speak with an American accent since he couldn’t do British accent, not sure if I like that idea. Then I watched Chuck Norris’ early 80s action flick Lone Wolf McQuade, prob his best film which isn’t saying much since most of his films were pretty awful.

    And yes I do have Top Gun on Blu-ray. 🙂

    1. Oh Octopussy is one of my guilty pleasures. I enjoyed the Bajaj chase in India, sooo much fun! Bond without a British accent and Josh Brolin??! Oh geez, glad that never happen, hope it never will!!

      May I borrow the Top Gun BD one of these days Ted? 😀

      1. Ted S.

        Here’s a clip of Brolin test screening I posted the other day: http://vine.co/v/bnlJBLBEhBq
        He kind of look like Christian Bale when he’s younger but yeah Bond without British accent might’ve been a disaster. One of the main reasons he didn’t get cast was the producers were afraid the film might fail because it’s going up against Connery’s Never Say Never Again; they convinced Moore to come back and it turned out well since the film earned more than Connery’s version.

        I’ll bring in Top Gun.

        1. Oh it’s JAMES not Josh, yeah I can see that. I think he’s better looking than his son back in the day. But without the accent I don’t think it’ll work, I mean he’s a BRITISH agent!

  6. PrairieGirl

    Glad to hear you saw All About Eve, it’s a superb classic. Now, how about Rebecca? (smile). Saw the Side by Side documentary. Never imagined there is so much going on in the film vs. digital movie world. It was so informative hearing from so many cinematographers all at once. Kudos to Keanu Reeves.

    I also watched the third The Following episode On Demand, I have to say I’m through. James Purefoy is the only reason I watched that many episodes. But even irresistible JP can’t keep me tuning in. I would like to by stock in whatever companies supply the raw materials for making fake blood… I think I’d make a fortune!

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, PrairieGirl:

      According to George A. Romero and his special effects genius, Tom Savini. Fake blood is mostly Karo brand high fructose corn syrup. One half teaspoon red food coloring, 2/3 cup water and maybe a drip of India Ink per quart.

      So, buy stock in Karo syrup.

      And yes, the blood and viscera are used to upsetting excess in ‘The Following’. Not a huge fan of James Purefoy as a cult leader and serial killer. I’d have preferred to see a Mark Sheppard or Dominic West as Joe Carroll. Proven actors who can do evil believably.

      1. PrairieGirl

        Hey Jack, I think JP is superb in his serial killer role… he’s the best actor in the show IMHO. But the rest of the actors (Bacon included, he just doesn’t do “bewildered” very well), the concept and the story are just not for me. And I think I remember that same recipe for blood… Bruce Campbell had it in his book “If Chins Could Kill… Confessions of a B Movie Actor.” Gotta love the big BC!

    2. Ahah, I’ll get to Rebecca eventually Becky. This is part of the Edith Head’s Oscar films that I need to catch up on. Glad to hear you like Side By Side, it’s very intriguing isn’t it?

      Can’t say I’m surprised you can’t continue watching The Following. Well let’s hope Purefoy gets another film role we could anticipate soon!

  7. —————
    I am convinced that Hollywood is in desperate need of an eloquent, elegant whip hand and bad guy like George Sanders
    —————
    ^^^^^That, Jack. He was urbane, witty and creepy in a menacing way. Where are the actors like that anymore? All About Eve is a TIMELESS tale that holds up well to this very day.

    I am so glad that you are catching up on the classics Ruth! My personal mantra has always been that in order to have a full well rounded cinematic literacy, i must go back as well as stay in the present and look ahead. In fact old movies is where my passion for film started.

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, iluv:

      Is your “^^^^^” good or bad? 😉

      I love the scene where he puts Betty Davis in her place with his much more high brow, “I made you and I can break you!” soliloquy. The menace in Mr. Sanders voice is as politely scathing as it is palpable.

    2. Yeah, I’m glad I finally caught All About Eve. I like films about the world of theater/films, and this one is surely one of the best. I need to see Sunset Boulevard soon, too.

      1. You will LOVE that one. I am a huge William Holden fan and that is another one that is as relevant today. Billy Wilder’s films are always worth the price of admission.

        1. I missed out on sooo many Billy Wilder’s films, so Sunset Boulevard is another one of his??? Man, he’s a genius! William Holden looks pretty cute in this one I reckon? 😀

      2. PrairieGirl

        Sunset Boulevard is one of the best classics ever. But the only thing it has in common with AAE is there is a movie star as a major character, and another major character who crosses paths with the star (and in SB, a former star). Other than that their plots are quite different, especially the ending. If i was forced to choose, SB is the winner.

  8. I’m four episodes into House of Cards and still loving the show. It doesn’t miss a beat after losing Fincher as director, at least not yet.

    Now that you have seen All About Eve, you’ve gotta tackle Sunset Boulevard. Curious to hear which one you would prefer — I’m a Sunset guy myself, but both are *great* films.

    1. Hi Eric! Glad to hear the show holds up after Fincher stopped directing.

      Yes I need to see Sunset Boulevard. I think both are often compared favorably. I’ll see which one I like the most 😀

  9. So glad you loved All About Eve. That’s definitely a real classic.

    I actually just finished House of Cards over the weekend, and I loved it. I’m really looking forward to season 2. I also rewatched Lincoln, which I liked a lot more on a second viewing, and I finally saw The Paperboy, which was really fun.

    1. Yeah I’m glad I did too, not every classic lives up to its status but this one certainly does.

      Oh you’ve finished House of Cards? When is season 2 supposed to be released? That’s nuts that you saw Lincoln twice, I haven’t even seen it once yet.

        1. Ah I see, so it’s not even being shot yet?? So I guess I won’t be holding my breath. It’s funny that Netflix refuses to release the ratings for the show.

  10. All About Eve I’ve watched bits and pieces of over the years. I’ve put it on my blind spot list, so I’ll try and get to it in 2013. Your 5/5 review has reminded me that it’s a must-see classic! Especially glad to read here it’s still relevant and fresh. I love a script with an endless supply of great lines.

    1. Hi Chris! Oh All About Eve would make a great choice for ‘blind spot’ I think, I’d love to read it once you post your thoughts on it. Yes, the script is wonderful and brought to life by all these excellent actors.

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