Everybody’s Chattin’ + MARCH Viewing Recap

EverybodysChattin

Happy April everyone!!

Let’s start off with some lists and non-review posts

  • Chris is back with his ‘What is’ series, this time he posted about Aspect Ratio
  • Sati posted 11 things she looks forward to in Game of Thrones 5
  • Mike posted about the superb contemporary noir that is Michael Mann’s HEAT, part of his Looking Back 20 Years series
  • The entries to Andrew’s A Fistful of Moments blogathon‘s been popping up a lot this week, I really love Irene‘s and Anna‘s lists, which include two films that’ll surely be on my own list!
  • Speaking of lists, Dan just posted about Top 10 Crazy Movie Doctors

Now on to reviews!

  • Mark reviewed Inherent Vice
  • Stu reviewed Animal Kingdom
  • Cindy reviewed Vincente Minnelli’s 1958 classic Some Came Running
  • Jordan posted his Bite Sized Reviews on Digital Shortbread, including Russell Crowe’s scariest performance as a skinhead in Romper Stomper
  • Steven just reviewed one of 2015 Oscar’s Best Foreign Language nominee Wild Tales
  • Last but not least, Michael just reviewed a space film classic Apollo 13


Before I get to my March recap, I simply have to share this awesome video mash-up…  SUPERMANDREAS. A guy by the name of Nick Acosta decided to re-edit the San Andreas trailer to take out Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and put in Christopher Reeve as Superman in the 1978 film. It’s such a hoot!!


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MarchRecap2015I saw a dozen new-to-me movies this month, quite an improvement over January and February. Minneapolis-StPaul Film Fest (MSPIFF) is coming in mid April so I hope I’ll see more movies this month! Plus the weather’s getting nicer, MUCH nicer than it was around this time last year, so I think I’ll be getting Spring Fever in no time!

Posts You Might’ve Missed

Music Break: 5 Fave Sci-fi Scores About Robot

Music Break: Disney’s Animated Classic Cinderella

St Patrick’s Day Special: 5 Scenes set in Ireland

BLOGATHON:

Thursday Movie Picks #35: Fairy Tale Adaptations

Thursday Movie Picks #36: Movies adapted from Young Adult Novels

Thursday Movie Picks #37: Mother-Daughter Movies

March Blind Spot Pick:

WINGS (1927)

New-to-me Movies:

Antarctica: A Year on Ice (2013)

Cinderella (2015)

Coherence (2013)

Furious 7 (2015)

Lucy (2014)

Royal Deceit (1994)

Shaft (2000)

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015)

The Congress (2013)

The Importance of Being Earnest (2002)

The Two Faces of January (2014)

Woman in Gold (2015)

I’m so behind on new releases reviews, I’m more caught up on writing the ones I saw on rental. I have both The Congress and Shaft reviews done in my draft folder, but I’m planning on writing my review of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Woman in Gold this weekend. I enjoyed both though neither is far from perfect, but I think the casting of three of my favorite Dames: Judi Dench & Maggie Smith in Marigold Hotel, and Helen Mirren in Woman in Gold made me like ’em more. Well, I saw Furious 7 on IMAX last night and here’s my initial reaction:

Rewatches:

Phantom of the Opera (2004)

Mansfield Park 

BBC’s North & South (2004)

BBC’s Jane Eyre (2006)

Movies of the Month

MarchMoviesOftheMonthI can’t pick between these two, so it’s a tie! I’ve been lucky in picking my Blindspot films as Wings is yet another classic that lives up to the hype… and then some. As for Cinderella, well what can I say? I enjoyed it and it’s definitely a movie I’d add to my collection once the Blu-ray is released.


Hope you enjoyed today’s post… stay tuned for our list of ‘Perfect Cinematic Moments’ sometime tomorrow!

 

March 2015 Blind Spot: WINGS (1927)

Wings1927PosterI was pretty excited to finally watch this movie. I’m not usually into silent films, but this one came highly recommended. The film starts off with a light, whimsical tone in small town America where Jack (Charles ‘Buddy’ Rogers) is working on his beloved car and dreaming of flying. The girl next door Mary (Clara Bow) is in love with Jack but he is blind to her affections. But he’s not the only one with unrequited love, as Jack is in love with Sylvia (Jobyna Ralston) who actually loves David (Richard Arlen).

Most of the film is about World War I, featuring some impressive aerial scenes as well as some intense ground battles that seem less bloody as the film is shot in black and white. Per IMDb trivia, real soldiers from the army’s 2nd Infantry Division, stationed in Corpus Christi, Texas, were used as extras. It’s really astonishing what they’d accomplished here long before CGI was used. Apparently the actors were actually working the planes themselves with a camera strapped to the engine cowling. IMDb trivia also noted that actors had to get the plane up in the air, keep it up, fly it so that clouds or German fighter planes could be seen in the background, operate the (motorized) camera and land the plane and act at the same time. Here’s the scene of the first Dogfight scene:

The story focuses primarily on the relationship between two fighter pilots Jack and David from two different walks of life. What began as a rivalry, as they’re in love with the same woman, turns into a genuine friendship. Despite being from a privileged family, David is really likable and even noble young man. He could’ve easily just told Jack that Sylvia didn’t love him but he couldn’t bring himself to let his friend know that Sylvia only gave Jack the locket with her picture as she felt sorry for him. 

Wings1927_RogersArlenThe most heart-wrenching scene was when David’s dying, as his plane was shot by Jack himself. He had stolen a German plane after his plane crashed, and of course Jack didn’t know it was David piloting it so he kept shooting at it. It’s especially tragic as just before their mission, David had told Jack he had a hunch he wouldn’t be coming home.

Wings1927_DeathbedKissThe film featured the first kiss between two men, but it’s really not as controversial as people might’ve made it out to be. The scene is about a deep, profound friendship between the two men, as well as Jack being overwhelmed with a sense of guilt and sadness. It’s really quite a moving scene, in fact, I couldn’t help tearing up watching it. The scene that followed when Jack had to tell David’s parents is equally heart-wrenching. I think the film succeeds in showing the true brutality of war, not just in the bloody war scenes, but in the scenes where families are crestfallen when they learn their loved ones have perished.

The film is rated PG-13 for the brutal war scenes, as well as a brief scene of nudity as a girl was changing her clothes. I think some of the violence are quite graphic for its day – pilots getting shot and bleeding to death, soldier getting crushed by tank and frequent shots of blood spurting out as people get shot. Surely it’s nothing compared to today’s war films though.

Wings1927_dogfightscene

Now, you can’t review this film without mentioning Gary Cooper. Yes he’s only got a 2-minute cameo but apparently his brief appearance here launched his career. Can’t say I’m surprised, I’m sure both men and women would’ve said ‘Who’s THAT?’ when he came on screen. He’s absolutely striking and even the scene of him just woken up… sleepy eyed, clenched jaw, and messy hair… he’s really quite mesmerizing. It’s fitting as the two characters who shared the scene with him were also captivated by Cooper’s Cadet White. I think he’s the only classic actor who could give even Gregory Peck a run for his money, and undoubtedly the two actors were often compared to each other in terms of looks and acting style. [note to self: watch more Gary Cooper films] 😉

Wings1927_GaryCooper2

There are lots of love going on during filming as the Arlen & Ralston got married shortly after filming and Cooper had a longtime affair with silent star Clara Bow. The silent film star was pretty fun to watch with her cherubic face and big, expressive eyes. Her scenes are a bit sentimental, consisting mostly of her crying and fawning over Jack. I thought there’d be more to her character considering miss Bow had been quite famous by the mid 20s. The whole bar scene where she tried to seduce Jack who’s completely wasted is pretty silly, but the scene when they’re alone in the room must’ve been quite risqué for that era, not to mention the brief breast-flashing scene. This was pre-Hayes code as this was released a few years before censorship was enforced starting in 1930.

Wings1927_ClaraBow

Despite the nearly 2.5-hour running time, I wasn’t bored watching it. The cinematography is quite stunning, and the aerial stunts live up to the film’s title! Director William Wellman had about 80+ films to his credit but this is the first film of his I’ve ever seen. Well I might have to check out more of his work now. I also like the music, which is always key in silent films, and I read that the entire score was written and recording using Wurlitzer Pipe Organ. Wings won the first ever Academy Awards and it also won Best Engineering Effects, akin to Best Special Effects in today’s Oscar. I do think it merit both awards, though I think both Rogers and Arlen were good enough to be nominated in the acting category.

Glad I finally saw this one. It’s not perfect as the story is a bit melodramatic at times, in fact, the film tries to incorporate the love-during-wartime story but the romance isn’t as convincing to me. The war aspect certainly works better, but still it’s more emotionally-engaging than I had expected, especially the friendship between the two leading men. I think it’d have looked pretty amazing on the big screen too, given the masterful digital restoration by Paramount to coincide with its 100-year anniversary celebration. You can watch a 15-min video of the restoration on Youtube, the process of cleaning up, fixing all the scratches, tinting, etc. whilst maintaining the level of authenticity of the original art. The restored sound work makes the war scenes felt really suspenseful… sounds of planes flying, bullets spraying, bomb exploding, they definitely adds to the realism of the piece. Wings definitely takes flight, in more ways than one.

4halfReels


The Blind Spot series was originally spearheaded by Ryan at The Matinee,
and I was also inspired by Dan’s list at Public Transportation Snob.

2015BlindSpotCheck out my list of 2015 Blind Spot Films


Have you seen WINGS? Well, what did YOU think?

2015 BLIND SPOT series: My 12 film picks

2015BlindSpotOk so I’ve completed my first Blind Spot series! Well ok I might’ve missed a couple for one reason or another – Time Bandits and How The West Was Won – but I’d still watch them at some point. The Blind Spot series was originally spearheaded by Ryan at The Matinee, and I was also inspired by Dan’s list at Public Transportation Snob.

It’s been great catching up on classic films that’ve somehow eluded me all these years. Most of them have ranged from good to excellent. Now, I try to cover a variety of genres here, and include at least one that I don’t normally go for. In this case, I include a silent film, Wings, which happens to be the first silent film to win Best Picture Oscar back in 1927. I ended up including two Hitchcock films. I had picked Rear Window initially, but upon reading Cindy’s review of Marnie, I just had to include that, too. And thanks to Michael for helping me decide which film noir to include, The Big Sleep.

Anyhoo, here’s my 12 picks in alphabetical order:

  1. 2001 A Space Odyssey (1968)
  2. A Place in the Sun (1951)
  3. A Star Is Born (1954)
  4. The Big Sleep (1946)
  5. Breathless (1960)
  6. Giant (1956)
  7. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (1967)
  8. Marnie (1964)
  9. The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
  10. Rear Window (1954)
  11. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
  12. Wings (1927)


Boy, it’s a lot tougher than I thought to put this together, but I’m excited to finally getting around to watching them! Like I did this year, I will just pick at random which film I want to see in a given month.


Well, have you seen any of these? Which one(s) are your favorite?