Escape from Elba
Exiles of the New York Times
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Author Topic: Movies  (Read 53431 times)
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whiskeypriest
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« Reply #990 on: July 08, 2007, 02:33:36 PM »

As a longtime fan of The Third Man, this is a skillful hommage that I won't soon be able to forget.

 

You are probably unaware of this, but The Third Man is my favorite movie, ever.  So you think I would enjoy The Good German?
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madupont
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« Reply #991 on: July 08, 2007, 02:51:26 PM »

barton,

Saw it last week or so, and i really didn't emphasize much about Toby's role as a convincing G.I. --because I guess that i was already aware of that element which was quite wide-spread at the time, I don't suppose however that I would have even heard about it except that I had "foreign friends" in the  theatre who had been living through these things, one who had married an American and arrived as a war-bride so I also got her husband's point of view.

But I have to take exception at Homage to Orson Welles particular late in the day contribution to mood in the hollows of Austria, although we all loved zither music and it started a trend in a few decades with the flower-child, new Hippie in the coffee houses of the Sixties among performing musicians when we weren't reading poetry. That particular Orson Welles is shattered by Woody Allen with a little help from, I think it was Carol Kane and others, by doing a send up rendition.

As I look back, it occurs to me that Cate Blanchett was less Marlena Dietrich after all, at least not in purist terms, but half way between, since Dietrich had the use of a man with the favourable knowledge of lighting there was. So there is a rather contained performance by Cate of those qualities that made up the real eine Berliner, Lotte Lenya who coud grimace at you in a superior taunt and laugh in your face. That was the war as we knew it.  

That's why I concentrated on the American journalist who has supposedly embedded himself into back then, a strange premise but nevertheless George Clooney who did it like the late 1940s on the cusp of the bad 1950s gray flannel suited American male actually was. Kind of lovable.

The only Orson Welles directorial  honor belongs into digging up those accurate character actors that Orson always loved so well*, and although they are visiting American personnel and a Congressman, whose best scene is played visiting Cate in the hospital with hope or confidence of arranging a little future hanky-panky, they are treated as Orson had. Even Beau Bridges is, like the rest of them ,given a German-American name!  So that we can contrast them to the real Germans now in a Soviet framework.  I thought the historic shots as well as the current shooting of the Soviet army personnel was right on target or as good as Eisenstein gets!  But I hinted at most of this in posts back a bit into last week's heap of incoming over the transom reviews submitted.  I was only miffed when they could not transfer my beautiful picture of George at the bar in the rathskeller asking me what I'll have?   This guy is so much better than any of the male leads of that era (and this) that I can't believe he exists since he expresses more than average intelligence and then goes and applies it in the real world. What an artist.  I just wanted him to know that I will be there when Von Trier's re-opens.

that asterisk up there is to indicate that some of the best actors still around that made early television "deep immersion theatre", started out in Orson Welles films as character actors or types.
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Bart
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« Reply #992 on: July 08, 2007, 03:09:38 PM »

Mad, I'm going to plead hot weather fatigue and just admit that I'm not sure what you are talking about re TGG.  You have some interesting insights there, but I'm uncertain what your point is.

Whisky --

"You are probably unaware of this, but The Third Man is my favorite movie, ever.  So you think I would enjoy The Good German?"

Heh, heh. 

Soderbergh really went all out making this a 40s movie -- he converted the aspect ratio by blanking out the sides of the screen, only used fixed-lens shots (no modern zooms) consistent with the period, etc.  The visual artistry is stunning.  And it is so rife with Third Man references, in terms both of plot and specific shots, that you will probably undergo sensory overload the first viewing and have to see it twice to really follow. 
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harrie
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« Reply #993 on: July 08, 2007, 05:59:44 PM »

BTW, I checked and "Rescue Dawn" (in which the aforementioned Bale emaciates himself as a POW) is opening in a couple weeks in the U.S.  I must also note that this character, a German-American pilot shot down in Laos, is named "Dieter."  This orthographic accident would almost be funny if it didn't remind me of what Bale is doing to himself.

Werner Herzog (director of Rescue Dawn) and Steve Zahn (supporting role in RD) were on one of those AMC movie shows today; the way Herzog ran the set, Bale might not have had to work too hard on the weight loss program.  Zahn was saying that he was used to having a trailer, a chair on set, craft services -- none of which were on this film.  He wasn't complaining, just saying that it was very different from other sets on which he's worked.

But Zahn pointed out that it might be particularly difficult for an actor to come out of his air-conditioned trailer, grab a handful of M&M's and walk out to hear a director saying "You've been in the jungle for weeks and you're starving...."  The spartan atmosphere on the set helped to maintain the correct frame of mind, even though Herzog says he's not a Method director, he doesn't believe in that stuff, etc.  So I guess he's just cheap.

For the record, I like Steve Zahn a lot.  Not in a dreamy pinup way, but he really works a role -- I never think he's just clocking the time to get this flick over and get his check.  In even some of the really bad movies he's made (I'm thinking of Happy, Texas though I actually enjoyed its goofiness), he's credible.  Just my opinion, of course.  Maybe I should reserve that opinion 'til I see Daddy Day Care.  Hmmmm.

Anyway, Rescue Dawn looks like it may be a pretty cool flick.
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harrie
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« Reply #994 on: July 08, 2007, 06:01:45 PM »

Oh, and for the record, my favorite Billy Wilder pics are Stalag 17 and Sunset Boulevard.   The Apartment is up there too, though.
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weezo
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« Reply #995 on: July 08, 2007, 09:01:19 PM »

Just watched "Coming to America" with Eddie Murphy, and tears came to my mind at the end when he pulls up the veil and finds his beloved at the altar with him. It is such a wonderful movie! I've seen it many time, and never enough times. What a talented actor! I like him more in this one than any of the Nutty Professor's movies. This is a true, heartwarming romance like few others.

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madupont
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« Reply #996 on: July 08, 2007, 10:32:09 PM »

barton, well I'm so glad you liked it despite not seeing my point. I didn't like it that much but I thought I would emphasize the good points that are there in terms of movie-making; things that  are ingenious devices.

I really don't think that The Good German and The Third Man are on the same wave length.
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madupont
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« Reply #997 on: July 09, 2007, 02:02:45 AM »

This will be what I call,The King of Scotland, post 2. from me.

Terror in Glasgow? Scots Are Perplexed  http://tinyurl.com/33dj7d

That is as good a title as any for a review of the film that I saw on Saturday night.  Which begins as a comedy of errors, when a rather thankless clod who doesn't know what to do with himself goes off to Africa for the adventure of it all, randomly chosen of course.

It is such a classic moral story. What happens when extreme naivety meets craziness and doesn't recognize that it is but falls right into line by getting a swelled head about being a special friend  to a despot who seems to be probably just an exhuberent too hyper fellow at first  so that Dr. Naivete  doesn't heed warnings from those he never liked anyway, and pretty soon doesn't even notice the signs nor the signals of a natural catastrophe likely to head his way if he doesn't wise up and if he were not so blind.

For of course he has come to Uganda, to practice his profession, like all those who came before him, and does it without knowing a thing about the people among whom he will be living.

I don't want to give away anything further, so I'll change the subject and say that I didn't recognize Gillian Anderson in the least. Perfect disguise as a typical British colonial sticking around after the Independence; or was she really  someone who came back to the situation  because of the desperation on every hand in the shadow of a great wealth of luxury?

Also in hindsight, the explanations for factors are written right into the screen play and are tossed at you to see if you catch on. When after you know that a t-shirt from Scotland is going to a little boy named Campbell, and then you suddenly find yourself in a frantic scene where you discover the child is an epileptic, when you've stabilized the patient would you not consider a more thorough inquiry determining the  patient's medical history, that is --to determine from which side of the family the tendency for the epilepsy was acquired? That is, if you were the doctor. This particular doctor does not. If  he had, he might have begun to discern what was wrong with the particular eccentric ruler who is his patron and is the child's father.

At least, the director Peter Morgan realizes he can use that as a tie-in, even if he invents it out of whole-cloth, to support  the dramatic situation he goes on to create.  Morgan is very good at this dramatic creativity. Which means that we should not overlook that this is the most startling performance we have yet seen out of Forest Whitaker.   I mean, Bird, directed by Clint Eastwood, gave us a scary musician. Likewise his role as a terrorist opposite Steven Rea. Heavy dude.  This is also true of his walking Zen Assassin from the hood. Which I can not entirely separate in my mind, although I am at the same time positive it was a separate performance as a terribly menacing, matter of fact, killer for hire. Just when you think you've seen everything, he comes back again with blacking applied to his complexion and a bad case of acne and heat rash and presents us with this bigger than life embodiment of the definitive dictator whose civility and sanity is so basically self-understood  by  an environment of exposure to it his entire life that he can in an instant turn it on and turn it off in perfect imitation of his British precursors. Buga-buga-boo. You have met The Boogey Man
(and I bet you didn't even know that history made him inevitable from all  we contributed to history to make that possible).
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Bart
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« Reply #998 on: July 09, 2007, 10:16:12 AM »

Madupont:

"I really don't think that The Good German and The Third Man are on the same wave length. "

My original post on TGG was very sketchy, just a few observations.  For example, my not mentioning all the find ensemble of actors doesn't mean I wasn't impressed by their performances.  I only mentioned Maguire because it was interesting to see him play against his usual type, not because I thought he was central.  And my comparing it to TTM was mainly in terms of particular shots, i.e. visual composition.  Although essential similarities of plot and theme also emerge.  Both involve a detective story, a search for a shadowy figure who only appears toward the end; both involve corruption in post-WWII Berlin; both involve murders covering the tracks of an atrocity, etc.

Be interesting if Whisky sees TGG, and we can all chat about this some more.

 
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TrojanHorse
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« Reply #999 on: July 09, 2007, 11:13:48 AM »

Mad

I looked up a few WFB Jr clippings specifically because we were talking about "affected" New England accents and I think it's fair to say that most folks are not WFB Jr Fans.  I used to enjoy the Gore Vidal-- William F. Buckley debates back in the day -- ditto the notion that it turned me on to a new way of thinking...

I won't go so far as to say that I despise him.  I  can always learn something by listening to the argument of an carefully articulated person -- regardless of whether I agree with the underlying argument or not.  But I've noticed (like so many others on both sides of the political spectrum) that he can be a bully sometimes...

I thought that post on the war was interesting and shows that he's not "tied" to a party line or anything...even though I don't expect him to be changing his stripes any time soon...

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TrojanHorse
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« Reply #1000 on: July 09, 2007, 11:14:29 AM »

Just watched "Coming to America" with Eddie Murphy, and tears came to my mind at the end when he pulls up the veil and finds his beloved at the altar with him. It is such a wonderful movie! I've seen it many time, and never enough times. What a talented actor! I like him more in this one than any of the Nutty Professor's movies. This is a true, heartwarming romance like few others.



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madupont
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« Reply #1001 on: July 09, 2007, 01:03:25 PM »

barton,re:#1010

Believe me, I'm not being critical of Toby Maquire.
"Although essential similarities of plot and theme also emerge.  Both involve a detective story, a search for a shadowy figure who only appears toward the end; both involve corruption in post-WWII Berlin; both involve murders covering the tracks of an atrocity, etc."/ quote, barton

"...deliciously eccentric messages being sent out by Woody Allen in his rich, not easily categorized new black-and-white comedy, "Shadows and Fog." ...
Kleinman (Mr. Allen) is a timid clerk in the kind of unidentified Middle European city once so beloved by Kafka, Kafka's imitators, the masters of the German Expressionist cinema of the 1920's and their imitators. It is always night in this closed world of miasmic fog, cobbled alleys and street lamps that shed too little light but cast photogenically deep shadows.

Authority here is absolute and inscrutable. It may be represented by the police,...a pastiche of references to the works of others, but it's a brazen, irrepressible original in the way it uses those references. How many times did you laugh while watching Steven Soderbergh's polite and doomy... [The Good German, for instance?madupont, actually I laughed a lot.]

Mr. Allen sends up his sources to rediscover and celebrate them. Carlo Di Palma's black-and-white cinematography recalls the glories of a technology all but forgotten today... /end of Vincent Canby.

"had already been released abroad: "Shadows and Fog" opened in Paris on Feb. 12 and was seen soon thereafter at the Berlin Film Festival and in commercial runs throughout Europe.

This gift to Europe, as the Europeans like to see it, has provoked a renewed flurry of articles and adulation -- the two are usually inseparable here -- attesting to Mr. Allen's supposedly European sensibility. This makes special sense with this new film. "Shadows and Fog" is in black and white and overtly indebted to such German Expressionist film makers as Fritz Lang, G. W. Pabst and F. W. Murnau...

"Shadows and Fog," the critic of Le Monde concluded, "possesses all the fantasy and seriousness, mysterious construction and burlesque complications of a Shakespeare comedy." ... In Europe, his seriousness is taken at full, hyper-serious value. He is admired for his refusal to become part of the commercial Hollywood film apparatus, for the ensemble he has created (on both sides of the camera), ...and for the very cinematic references that strike some Americans as derivative. ..."The ideas and themes I'm most personally responsive to are European, as opposed to the frontier mentality of directors like Ford and Peckinpah. Perhaps it subliminally gets into your system. Sometimes it's more obvious, sometimes it's less. I know it's a weak theory; I'm just speculating."

In other words, Mr. Allen appeals to sophisticates on both sides of the Atlantic. His European success may simply mean that Europe boasts more sophisticated film lovers, especially per capita, than America.

The French are not utterly uncritical of Mr. Allen's films. L'Express, a weekly magazine, conceded that "Shadows and Fog" was "no masterpiece" on the order of "Annie Hall" and "Manhattan," but airily added: "So what?" .../end of JOHN ROCKWELL
Published: April 5, 1992, Sunday  The New York Times



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TrojanHorse
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« Reply #1002 on: July 09, 2007, 09:57:48 PM »

Used to be on almost any given weekend, you could cruise through a relatively small radius of downtown L.A. and find a working production crew.

The reason you could find them on the weekends, is that downtown L.A. was (and for the most part still is) a complete ghost town on the weekends.  This makes it very easy for a crew to dress up a couple of blocks and make it appear to be downtown NY or Chicago, or where ever...

Downtown is starting to go through a bit of a renaissance - with lots of "housing" projects on the boards.  Once a large number of residents are there permanently and the accompanying restaurants etc are open full time, it will be much harder for crews to use this area of town...
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Dzimas
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« Reply #1003 on: July 10, 2007, 07:49:57 AM »

Barton, thanks for the head's up on The Good German.  I see it is out on DVD.  I received the Criterion edition of The Tin Drum not so long ago.  Great novel, and I thought Volker Schlöndorff did a pretty good job transposing the story onto the screen. 
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Dzimas
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« Reply #1004 on: July 10, 2007, 07:56:14 AM »

I kind of gave up on Woody Allen after the sordid break-up with Mia Farrow.  He hasn't done anything that has really captured my interest since then.  But, I enjoyed watching Crimes and Misdemeanors again the other night.  Pretty complex film, weaving in so much of Jewish religious thought into the narrative.  Kind of like a Guide to the Perplexed. Couldn't help but think that Allen was drawing a parallel between his fictional Levy and Primo Levi.  The usual digs against television, this time in the persona played by Alan Alda.  Some really biting and funny scenes in this regard.
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