What was the last movie you saw?

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Re: What was the last movie you saw?

Postby Jestak » Sat Sep 15, 2012 12:58 am

The Longest Day was originally a book by Irish journalist Cornelius Ryan, telling the story of the Allied landings in Normandy on June 6, 1944--D-Day. In 1962, Daryl F. Zanuck of Fox made it into a 3-hour movie about the invasion. Where the film succeeds, and succeeds impressively, is in conveying the truly epic scale of the D-Day landings, one of the most impressive undertakings in military history. The cast is star-studded--a partial listing of just the Americans in the cast includes Eddie Albert, Paul Anka, Henry Fonda, Jeffrey Hunter, Robert Mitchum, Edmond O'Brien, Robert Ryan, Rod Steiger, Robert Wagner and John Wayne. Among the British contingent were Richard Burton and Sean Connery. However, there are so many characters that virtually none of the big names make a strong impression; one exception is Mitchum, who has a commanding presence as Brigadier General Norman Cota, assistant commander of the US 29th Infantry Division, one of the heroes of the landings on Omaha Beach.
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Re: What was the last movie you saw?

Postby Jestak » Sun Sep 16, 2012 1:50 am

While Kenneth Branagh's film of Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost definitely has some moments, but it is far less successful than some of his other Shakespeare adaptations. The play itself is not really considered one of Shakespeare's best--exactly why I am enough of an expert to say, but the opinion seems to be a near-consensus. Branagh did show a commendable willingness to take risks with this one, both in the setting--updated to the late 1930s and converted to a musical with songs from the likes of Irving Berlin and Cole Porter interpolated--and in some unconventional casting (Alicia Silverstone in Shakespeare? how about Matthew Lillard?). Even though the payoff was uneven, at best, I applaud his willingness to break the mold. Nathan Lane supplies much humor as Costard, and the faux-newsreel footage inserted into the film is often effective.
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Re: What was the last movie you saw?

Postby Jestak » Wed Sep 19, 2012 12:42 am

Tonight I watched Firefox, a rather unimpressive espionage thriller from the early 1980s--a Cold War period piece, effectively. The Soviets have developed a new futuristic fighter, the MIG-Firefox, with thought-controlled weapons activated by the pilot's brain waves. A joint British-US operation attempts to steal the prototype--Major Mitchell Gant (Clint Eastwood, who also directed), a crack pilot whose mother was Russian and is fluent in the language will be smuggled into the USSR to penetrate the airbase and fly the plane out. The final 50-60 minutes of the film have some dazzling aerial sequences, but the film plods up to that point and Eastwood seems uncomfortable both acting and directing this one.
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Re: What was the last movie you saw?

Postby pennybug84 » Wed Sep 19, 2012 2:49 am

Larry Crowne. It was a bit different than I was expecting but I liked it.
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Re: What was the last movie you saw?

Postby Jestak » Thu Sep 20, 2012 12:34 am

Raoul Walsh's White Heat was one of the greatest films for both the director and star James Cagney. Walsh and Cagney revisit the territory of 1930's gangster films--familiar territory for them both--but the influence of film noir is apparent everywhere. Cagney's psychotic gangster, Cody Jarrett, is one of his greatest roles. What's also striking is the way that the lawmen, in the person of undercover cop Edmond O'Brien, are in their own way just as ruthless as Jarrett. And one must mention Margaret Wycherly as Cody's "Ma," who ranks along Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidiate as one of the creepiest screen moms of all time, and also the film's conclusion, which lives up to the title.
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Re: What was the last movie you saw?

Postby Jestak » Sat Sep 22, 2012 12:49 am

My movie for tonight was North West Frontier, a fairly good old fashioned adventure. It's another of the "imperial British" adventures, but the plot also has a lot of similarities to the classic western Stagecoach. The North West Frontier was one of the provinces of British India; today it's part of Pakistan. During a period of unrest in the very early 20th century, a local ruler in that region tasks British Captain Scott (Kenneth More) to take his young son to safety. Also along on a dangerous train journey through hostile territory are the young boy's American governess (Lauren Bacall), a cynical journalist (Herbert Lom) and various others--some Brits, some not. More and the rest of the British players display lots of Victorian era stiff-upper-lip bravery while Bacall gives an effective performance--one of her best when not opposite Bogart. There are some slow moments where the tension slackens, but also some very effective action sequences.
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Re: What was the last movie you saw?

Postby Jestak » Sun Sep 23, 2012 1:13 am

Topsy-Turvy is a wonderful period piece about a fascinating subject. As we open, back in 1884, the partnership of British composer Sir Arthur Sullivan (Allan Corduner) and librettist William S. Gilbert (Jim Broadbent, superb), and their theatrical impresario Richard D'Oyly Carte (Ron Cook) is on the verge of breaking down. Their latest comic opera, Princess Ida, has been far less successful than their previous works like HMS Pinafore or The Pirates of Penzance. Their efforts to create a new operetta have run aground on the twin shoals of Sullivan's desire to be write serious music, not comic operas, and Gilbert's obsession with what his detractors referred to as "magic lozenge" plots. But one day, Gilbert visited a Japanese cultural exhibition in London, and from that visit came the inspiration for the creation of the best-loved, and best, of the Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, The Mikado. The preparation for and opening night of that work are the core of the film. Director Mike Leigh did a marvelous job at evoking the Victorian setting, and the cast are superb, although, Broadbent aside, most of them are not well known in the US. Special mention must be given to those who were cast in the roles of the performers in the operettas, most of whom acquit themselves very well when singing as well as acting--I particularly enjoyed Martin Savage as George Grossmith (the "patter specialist" in the D'Oyly Carte company), Timothy Spall as Richard Temple (who played the title character of The Mikado) and Shirley Henderson as Leonora Braham (Yum-Yum in the original Mikado cast). Highly recommended.
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Re: What was the last movie you saw?

Postby Jestak » Sat Sep 29, 2012 12:30 am

My movie tonight was Kill the Irishman, based (somewhat loosely, I imagine) on the life of Irish-American gangster Danny Greene (Ray Stevenson), a prominent, colorful and violent figure in the Cleveland mob scene in the 1970s who became a minor legend for surviving numerous assassination attempts. This one shows there is still life in the classic "rise and fall" gangster tale. There's nothing really surprising in the story, even if you aren't familiar with the real-life events the film is based on. However, there's a strong lead performance from Stevenson, backed by a strong supporting cast headed by Vincent D'Onofrio, Val Kilmer, Tony LoBianco, Vinnie Jones, and Christopher Walken in a relatively small role. It's not much of a woman's picture but Fionnula Flanagan and Laura Ramsey impress in their relatively brief screen time.
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Re: What was the last movie you saw?

Postby Jestak » Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:36 pm

Pretty Woman is, of course, the movie that launched Julia Roberts to stardom, in the role of hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold Vivian Ward. The whole affair--story, script, etc.--has a definite packaged, carefully planned feel to it. The careful plan is well-executed, but there are no surprises and nothing that stands out--except the star (and Richard Gere notwithstanding, Roberts is the star). Roberts at that stage of her career was just bursting with charm and appeal, and no film better displays those qualities than this one. If you've ever enjoyed any of her work you should like this one pretty well.
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Re: What was the last movie you saw?

Postby smitten_by_twilight » Sat Oct 06, 2012 3:02 am

The Intouchables, a French movie about a disabled aristocrat and his relationship with his Muslim ex-con caretaker. Absolutely wonderful movie, and absolutely hysterical. Hardly sentimental at all, although touching. Highly recommend.
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