Tuesday, January 31, 2006


i haven't watched Casablanca (1942) for years, because of several misconceptions heard along the years according to which this movie is nothing more than a soft soap. however, after watching Michael Curtiz's "Angels with dirty faces", i decided it was high to give a chance to "Casablanca", because i couldn't imagine Curtiz directing something pathetic.
after watching it, i personally believe that there is a good reason as to why "Casablanca" can be found on almost any top ten list of the best movies ever.
detailed review, a synopsis, and a discussion of thematic elements in the film here.
You must remember this
A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh.
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by.
And when two lovers woo
They still say, "I love you."
On that you can rely
No matter what the future brings
As time goes by.
Moonlight and love songs
Never out of date.
Hearts full of passion
Jealousy and hate.
Woman needs man
And man must have his mate
That no one can deny.
It's still the same old story
A fight for love and glory
A case of do or die.
The world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by.
Oh yes, the world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by.

Oscar nominees

Best Motion Picture of the Year Nominees:
Brokeback Mountain (2005) - Diana Ossana, James Schamus
Capote (2005) - Caroline Baron, William Vince, Michael Ohoven
Crash (2004) - Paul Haggis, Cathy Schulman
Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005) - Grant Heslov
Munich (2005) - Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Barry Mendel

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role Nominees:
Philip Seymour Hoffman for Capote (2005)
Terrence Howard for Hustle & Flow (2005)
Heath Ledger for Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Joaquin Phoenix for Walk the Line (2005)
David Strathairn for Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role Nominees:
Judi Dench for Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005)
Felicity Huffman for Transamerica (2005)
Keira Knightley for Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Charlize Theron for North Country (2005)
Reese Witherspoon for Walk the Line (2005)

Best Achievement in Directing Nominees:
George Clooney for Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005)
Paul Haggis for Crash (2004)
Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Bennett Miller for Capote (2005)
Steven Spielberg for Munich (2005)

The rest of the nominations here.

Monday, January 30, 2006

after hours

After hours (1985) is a movie i bought on DVD because i couldn't get my eyes off its cover. This doesn't usually happen to me, but this time i really really liked that image. and i felt inspired by it, cause it seemed like that kind of cover which provides you the insight of the movie, like it's enough to look at it and get an idea on the film's story.

The movie was directed by Martin Scorsese, and there's an interesting story as how he got to direct this movie. The script of the movie was discovered by one of the producers, Amy Robinson, who fell in love with it cause it was amazingly funny. She passed it on to her partner, Griffin Dunne, who laughed out loud as well, while feeling pity for the poor main character. They passed the script forward and obtained two types of reactions: people laughing madly and having the fun of their lives and people throwing the script away, saying that it's unbelievable how many things happen to the guy and they simply cannot stand it. But the result was clear: they were going to produce that movie. They thought about Martin Scorsese, but he was in the middle of directing "The last temptation of Christ" and was, therefore, too busy. Feeling very sorry, Amy remembered having seen a short, Vincent, directed by a young cartoonist named Tim Burton and thought he might like her script. Burton was pleased to accept the offer. But in the mean time, "The last temptation of Christ" project fell apart and Scorsese was surprinsingly available. Therefore, Griffin called Burton in order to try to tell him the news, though not knowing exactly how to put it. It turned out easier than expected, because Burton asked whether they had sent the script to Scorsese first and whether the latter was interested in the movie. And then he just said he would gladly retire, because he would never stand in the way of something Scorsese wanted to develop.

As far as the story is concerned, it suggested me the type of absurd Kafka experience, also reminding me of "The shape of things". And of David Fincher's 1997 "The game". And the music is absolutely extraordionary, it helped create a great atmosphere.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

some like it hot

Some like it hot (1959), directed by Billy Wilder, is the second movie i watch whose action takes place during the Prohibition era (the first one was "The Roaring Twenties"). I enjoyed watching the movie, although i cannot say i placed it among my favourites. Maybe just cause i do not actually like Marilyn Monroe.
Detailed review, synopsis and discussion of the film here.

annie hall

Annie Hall (1977) was the funniest movie i watched in a long while. i simply loved it and would recommend it to anyone. i liked it especially for the manner in which it was directed and for its script; and i liked the way Woody Allen dealt with the role. Now i can hardly wait to watch his 2005 production, Match Point.
Self-entitled "a nervous romance", the movie gives great insights of contemporary love and urban relationships, as bitter-sweet as they are, being centered around the relationship between "neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer and the ditsy Annie Hall". Plus, the way Woody Allen acted made me think a lot about planners, and the natural way that they should express and talk and question and use each circumstance. i'm not sure this makes sense, but these were the connections my tourmented brain made.
As a trivia, i read on filmsite.org that "a real-life relationship and breakup did occur in early 1970 between Allen and co-star Keaton. Keaton's birth name was Diane Hall, her nickname was Annie, and she did have a Grammy Hall. And Woody Allen played a similar role as mentor to Diane Keaton (about New York life, politics, philosophy, and books), as did best friend Tony Roberts to Allen."
Some quotes:
  • "Two elderly women are at a Catskill Mountain resort. And one of 'em says: 'Boy, the food in this place is really terrible.' The other one says: 'Yeah, I know. And such small portions.' Well, that's essentially how I feel about life. Full of loneliness and misery and suffering and unhappiness, and it's all over much too quickly."
  • "The other important joke for me is one that's usually attributed to Groucho Marx but I think it appears originally in Freud's Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious - and it goes like this. I'm paraphrasing. I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member. That's the key joke of my adult life, in terms of my relationships with women."
  • "The universe is expanding...Well, the universe is everything, and if it's expanding, some day it will break apart and that will be the end of everything."
  • A normal-looking kid: "I used to be a heroin addict. Now I'm a methadone addict."
  • "I don't want to live in a city where the only cultural advantage is that you can make a right turn on a red light."
  • "'Why do you always reduce my animal urges to psychoanalytic categories?' he said as he removed her brassiere."
  • "I'm obsessed with uh, with death, I think. Big - big subject with me, yeah. I have a very pessimistic view of life. You should know this about me if we're gonna go out. You know, I - I feel that life is - is divided up into the horrible and the miserable. Those are the two categories, you know. The - the horrible would be like, um, I don't know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don't know how they get through life. It's amazing to me. You know, and the miserable is everyone else. That's - that's - so - so - when you go through life - you should be thankful that you're miserable because you're very lucky to be miserable."

.....hmmm...but come to think about it, there are so many lines i would quote, that one could actually take the whole script and read it as a very funny book. or, much better, watch the movie.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

the wizard of oz

"Gaiety! Glory! Glamour!" is the tagline of 1939's version of "The Wizard of Oz", eventually directed by Victor Fleming adaptation of the beloved book written by L. Frank Baum. And this tagline surely is a good characterization of this movie which had become an all-time classic, as well as favourite musical. Despite the fact that some of the movie's quotes are far more memorable and famous, such as: "There's no place like home", "Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!", "We're not in Kansas anymore," "Follow the Yellow Brick Road". Not to mention the beautiful "Somewhere over the rainbow", which has also inspired lots of covers.

In my opinion, the movie's insight, if i can put it like this, is given by the opening phrase: "For nearly forty years this story has given faithful service to the Young in Heart; and Time has been powerless to put its kindly philosophy out of fashion. To those of you who have been faithful to it in return...and to the Young in Heart...we dedicate this picture." And if you're in this target, there is no possible way that this movie doesn't get to you.

Dorothy is a Kansas girl, living in a Kansas farm - as we find out from the opening sepia-coloured images - together with her Auntie Em, Uncle Henry and their helpers, Hunk, Zeke and Hickory. And she also lives with a little dog that she adores, Toto, and who's in danger because of nasty Almira Gulch wanting to have him killed. However, when a powerful storm comes, Dorothy gets hurt by a crashed window and flies away to a beautiful dream, taking place "somewhere over the rainbow". She becomes the national hero of the Munchkins, after accidentaly killing the Wicked Witch of the East, who had been tourmenting them. And she meets Glinda, a good witch who advises her to go to the Emerald City and look for the wizard of Oz, if she ever wants to return to Kansas. Following the Yellow Brick Road, she further meets other friends, willing to join her on her quest: a mind-less Scarecrow, a heart-less Tin Man, and a courage-less Lion. They have to beat the traps set by the Wicked Witch of the West and finally arrive to the wizard of Oz, who is willing to grant each of their wishes if they bring him the broomstick of the Wicked Witch as a sign that they actually deserve his attention. The four friends discover that each of them actually has everything he wanted all along, and when Dorothy wakes up, she feels more blessed than ever to have such a family.

The movie is also very witty, with phrases such as:

  • "Why, anybody can have a brain. That's a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain. Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have! But they have one thing you haven't got - a diploma. Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Universitatus Committeatum E Pluribus Unum, I hereby confer upon you the honorary degree of Th. D...that's Doctor of Thinkology."
  • "As for you, my fine friend, you're a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate delusion that simply because you run away from danger you have no courage. You're confusing courage with wisdom. Back where I come from, we have men who are called heroes. Once a year, they take their fortitude out of moth balls and parade it down the main street of the city and they have no more courage than you have. But they have one thing that you haven't got - a medal. Therefore, for meritorious conduct, extraordinary valor, conspicuous bravery against Wicked Witches, I award you the Triple Cross. You are now a member of the Legion of Courage."
  • "Therefore, in consideration of your kindness, I take pleasure at this time in presenting you with a small token of our esteem and affection. And remember, my sentimental friend, that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others."
  • and, my favourite one, "Hearts will never be practical until they become unbreakable"

Filmsite.org, which offers as usual the most comprehensive analysis of the movie, points out an interesting sidenote: the plot of The Wizard of Oz has often been used, rightly or wrongly, as a Parable on Populism in the Gilded Age, to explain the political situation at the time of its writing, including the 1896 Presidential election, and the turn-of-the-century Populist movement. Here are a few of the allegorical connections, most of which were originally recognized by Henry M. Littlefield, and published in the American Quarterly in 1967:

  • the Scarecrow - the wise, but naive western farmers
  • the Tin Woodman - the dehumanized, Eastern factory workers
  • the Wicked Witch of the East - the Eastern industrialists and bankers who controlled the people (the Munchkins)
  • the Good Witch of the North - New England, a stronghold of Populists
  • the Good Witch of the South - the South, another Populist area
  • the Wizard - President Grover Cleveland, or Republican Presidential candidate William McKinley
  • the Cowardly Lion - Democratic-Populist Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan
  • Dorothy - a young Mary Lease; or the good-natured American people
  • Dorothy's silver shoes - represents the 'silver standard' (acc. to the Populists, "the free and unlimited coinage of silver")
  • Toto - the 'teetotaling' Prohibitionists (or Temperance Party), an important part of the 'silverite' coalition
  • the Yellow Brick road - the 'gold standard' - paved with gold, but leads nowhere
  • the land of Oz - oz. is the standard abbreviation for ounce, in accordance with the other symbolism
  • Emerald City - Washington, D.C., with a greenish color associated with greenbacks
  • the Poppy field - the threat of anti-imperialism

singin in the rain

Singin in the rain (1952) is one of the most entertaining, optimistic and sweet movies i have ever watched. It's impossible for this movie not to fill you with joy and excitement and not to make you look at life in a more delightful way at least for a little while. It's one of those shows that end on the screen leaving you with the need to sing and dance and smile and want to make the others laugh with you.
The musical co-directed by Stanley Donen and acrobatic dancer-star-choreographer Gene Kelly is a funny satire of the difficulties that troubled Hollywood production studios during the transition from silent to spoken movies. Very comprehensive details can be found here.
And some downloadable goodies here.

Friday, January 27, 2006


Coen Brothers' 1996 "homespun murder story". An excellent movie, in the opinion of an enourmous number of people, including critics, if we consider the fact that Fargo's success implied seven Academy Awards nominations, including Best Supporting Actor (William H. Macy), Best Cinematography (Roger Deakins), Best Director (Joel Coen), Best Film Editing (alias Roderick Jaynes, actually the Coens), and Best Picture (Ethan Coen). And two Oscars for Best Original Screenplay (Joel and Ethan Coen), and Best Actress (Frances McDormand, Joel Coen's real-life wife).
However, i should say that i was not so impressed by this movie. I cannot even agree with critics or viewers characterizing it -like here- as "a satirical comedy, a suspenseful crime drama, and a violent mystery thriller, the Coen Brothers' film is an original mix of black mirth and murder that both delights and disturbs the viewer". I was neither delighted, not disturbed. The movie reminded me of Tarantino movies, it didn't for sure remind me of film noir (the same source considered it: "an anomaly of categorization, the contemporary masterpiece is a film noir (with stark white vistas and backdrops)", and the thing that i mostly enjoyed was actually the people's accent and regional dialect, with phrazes like:"You betcha," "Aw Jeez," "You're darn tootin', "Okie-Dokie," "Yup," "Be there in a jif," and the obsessive "Yah." repeating all the time.
And...that's about it for now. A movie i did appreciate, but by which i wasn't as impressed as i expected to be.

AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes

  1. "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." Gone with the Wind (1939)
  2. "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse." The Godfather (1972)
  3. "You don't understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could've been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am." On the Waterfront (1954)
  4. "Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  5. "Here's looking at you, kid." Casablanca (1942)
  6. "Go ahead, make my day." Sudden Impact (1983)
  7. "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up." Sunset Boulevard (1950)
  8. "May the Force be with you." Star Wars (1977)
  9. "Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night." All About Eve (1950)
  10. "You talking to me?" Taxi Driver (1976)
  11. "What we've got here is failure to communicate." Cool Hand Luke (1967)
  12. "I love the smell of napalm in the morning." Apocalypse Now (1979)
  13. "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Love Story (1970)
  14. "The stuff that dreams are made of." The Maltese Falcon (1941)
  15. "E.T. phone home." E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
  16. "They call me Mister Tibbs!" In the Heat of the Night (1967)
  17. "Rosebud." Citizen Kane (1941)
  18. "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!" White Heat (1949)
  19. "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" Network (1976)
  20. "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." Casablanca (1942)
  21. "A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti." The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  22. "Bond. James Bond." Dr. No (1962)
  23. "There's no place like home." The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  24. "I am big! It's the pictures that got small." Sunset Boulevard (1950)
  25. "Show me the money!" Jerry Maguire (1996)
  26. "Why don't you come up sometime and see me?" She Done Him Wrong (1933)
  27. "I'm walking here! I'm walking here!" Midnight Cowboy (1969)
  28. "Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By.'" Casablanca (1942)
  29. "You can't handle the truth!" A Few Good Men (1992)
  30. "I want to be alone." Grand Hotel (1932)
  31. "After all, tomorrow is another day!" Gone with the Wind (1939)
  32. "Round up the usual suspects." Casablanca (1942)
  33. "I'll have what she's having." When Harry Met Sally... (1989)
  34. "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow." To Have and Have Not (1944)
  35. "You're gonna need a bigger boat." Jaws (1975)
  36. "Badges? We ain't got no badges! We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinking badges!" The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
  37. "I'll be back." The Terminator (1984)
  38. "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth" The Pride of the Yankees (1942)
  39. "If you build it, he will come." Field of Dreams (1989)
  40. "Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." Forrest Gump (1994)
  41. "We rob banks." Bonnie & Clyde (1967)
  42. "Plastics." The Graduate (1967)
  43. "We'll always have Paris." Casablanca (1942)
  44. "I see dead people." The Sixth Sense (1999)
  45. "Stella! Hey, Stella!" A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
  46. "Oh, Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars." Now, Voyager (1942)
  47. "Shane. Shane. Come back!" Shane (1953)
  48. "Well, nobody's perfect." Some Like It Hot (1959)
  49. "It's alive! It's alive!" Frankenstein (1931)
  50. "Houston, we have a problem." Apollo 13 (1995)
  51. "You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?" Dirty Harry(1971)
  52. "You had me at "hello."" Jerry Maguire (1996)
  53. "One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don't know." Animal Crackers (1930)
  54. "There's no crying in baseball!" A League of Their Own (1992)
  55. "La-dee-da, la-dee-da." Annie Hall (1977)
  56. "A boy's best friend is his mother." Psycho (1960)
  57. "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." Wall Street (1987)
  58. "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." The Godfather: Part II (1974)
  59. "As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again." Gone with the Wind (1939)
  60. "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!" Sons of the Desert (1933)
  61. "Say "hello" to my little friend!" Scarface (1983)
  62. "What a dump." Beyond the Forest (1949)
  63. "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?" The Graduate (1967)
  64. "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!" Dr. Strangelove (1964)
  65. "Elementary, my dear Watson." The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1929)
  66. "Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape." Planet of the Apes (1968)
  67. "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine." Casablanca(1942)
  68. "Here's Johnny!" The Shining (1980)
  69. "They're here!" Poltergeist (1982)
  70. "Is it safe?" Marathon Man (1976)
  71. "Wait a minute, wait a minute. You ain't heard nothin' yet!" The Jazz Singer (1927)
  72. "No wire hangers, ever!" Mommie Dearest (1981)
  73. "Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rico?" Little Caesar (1930)
  74. "Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown." Chinatown (1974)
  75. "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers." A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
  76. "Hasta la vista, baby." Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
  77. "Soylent Green is people!" Soylent Green (1973)
  78. "Open the pod bay doors, HAL." 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  79. "Striker: Surely you can't be serious. Rumack: I am serious…and don't call me Shirley." Airplane! (1980)
  80. "Yo, Adrian!" Rocky (1976)
  81. "Hello, gorgeous." Funny Girl (1968)
  82. "Toga! Toga!" National Lampoon's Animal House (1978)
  83. "Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make." Dracula (1931)
  84. "Oh, no, it wasn't the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast." King Kong (1933)
  85. "My precious." The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
  86. "Attica! Attica!" Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
  87. "Sawyer, you're going out a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!" 42nd Street (1933)
  88. "Listen to me, mister. You're my knight in shining armor. Don't you forget it. You're going to get back on that horse, and I'm going to be right behind you, holding on tight, and away we're gonna go, go, go!" On Golden Pond (1981)
  89. "Tell 'em to go out there with all they got and win just one for the Gipper." Knute Rockne All American (1940)
  90. "A martini. Shaken, not stirred." Goldfinger (1964)
  91. "Who's on first." The Naughty Nineties (1945)
  92. "Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac...It's in the hole! It's in the hole! It's in the hole!" Caddyshack (1980)
  93. "Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!" Auntie Mame (1958)
  94. "I feel the need - the need for speed!" Top Gun (1986)
  95. "Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary." Dead Poets Society (1989)
  96. "Snap out of it!" Moonstruck (1987)
  97. "My mother thanks you. My father thanks you. My sister thanks you. And I thank you." Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
  98. "Nobody puts Baby in a corner." Dirty Dancing (1987)
  99. "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!" The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  100. "I'm king of the world!" Titanic (1997)


Thursday, January 26, 2006

the maltese falcon

the awesome 1941 version, directed by John Huston, and adapted after Dashiell Hammett's novel. I knew i should have watched this movie before "The big sleep" and "Chinatown", but, after all, i am really glad i could watch the three of them in a row.
Superb film noir, "The Maltese Falcon" has it all: thrilling detective story, beautifully-managed plot twists, actors who create powerful characters, in other words, both atmosphere and performance.
When a certain Miss Wonderly enters the offices of Spade & Archer detective firm, Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) doesn't believe a word she says, but accepts to take over her case. When his associate is shot to death the first night he goes to shadow Floyd Thursby - the man pointed by Miss Wonderly (Mary Astor), event followed closely by the very Floyd Thursby's death, things are starting to go wild. Miss Wonderly proves to be Brigid O'Shaughnessey, a woman surrounded by a dark mystery, who will attract Spade in a complication that might be worth a great deal of money or his very life. But for a man who claims that he doesn't mind "a reasonable amount of trouble", this is nothing. Also, impressive performances from Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet and Elisha Cook Jr..

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


"Q: Does Chinatown represent a departure for you in either theme or treatment?
Polanski: Every film I make represents a departure for me. You see, it takes so long to make a film. By the time you get to the next one you're already a different man. You've grown up by one or two years.Chinatown is a thriller and the story line is very important. There is a lot of dialogue. But I missed some opportunity for visual inventiveness. I felt sometimes as if I were doing some kind of TV show. I thought I had always been an able, inventive, creative director and there I was putting two people at a table and letting them talk. When I tried to make it look original I saw it start to become pretentious, so concentrated on the performances and kept an ordinary look.
Q: Isn't that better than having the audience acutely aware of the camera, like a thumb in their eye?
Polanski: Yes, but I don't think that's ever happened to me. Only when your camera makes them nauseous do the critics say, "His nervous camera moved relentlessly throughout the entire sequence" and so on. I've read those criticisms of some pictures. It's the same thing with writers. Sometimes a great stylist writes so smoothly that you're not aware of what you're swallowing.". [Interview from Penthouse Magazine 1974]
In order to prepare for directing this movie, Roman Polanski spent some time carefully analysing great mystery movies of the Thirties and Forties, therefore, as Polanski himself admits, "Chinatown" bears the tradition of film noir, and, of course, of Raymond Chandler mystery stories. With an excellent private-eye film noir thriller screenplay written by Oscar-winning Robert Towne, Chinatown manages to create a great atmosphere of mystery, romance, suspense, and thrilling detective work around what might be its tagline: "You may think you know what you're dealing with, but believe me, you don't". After all, as i read somewhere, the film's title itself, referred to a 'state of mind' rather than an actual geographic place, according to Towne.
I've read so many reviews and comments on this movie, that i sincerely do not know what i could add here. I'll just go here or here and remember what the movie was all about. So, i'd only add some quotes:
  • Jake Gittes: So there's this guy Walsh, do you understand? He's tired of screwin' his wife... So his friend says to him, "Hey, why don't you do it like the Chinese do?" So he says, "How do the Chinese do it?" And the guy says, "Well, the Chinese, first they screw a little bit, then they stop, then they go and read a little Confucius, come back, screw a little bit more, then they stop again, go and they screw a little bit... then they go back and they screw a little bit more and then they go out and they contemplate the moon or something like that. Makes it more exciting." So now, the guy goes home and he starts screwin' his own wife, see. So he screws her for a little bit and then he stops, and he goes out of the room and reads Life Magazine. Then he goes back in, he starts screwin' again. He says, "Excuse me for a minute, honey." He goes out and he smokes a cigarette. Now his wife is gettin' sore as hell. He comes back in the room, he starts screwin' again. He gets up to start to leave again to go look at the moon. She looks at him and says, "Hey, whats the matter with ya. You're screwin' just like a Chinaman!"
  • Jake Gittes: You're dumber than you think I think you are.
  • Jake Gittes: Let me explain something to you, Walsh. This business requires a certain amount of finesse.
  • Noah Cross: 'Course I'm respectable. I'm old. Politicians, public buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.
  • Ida Sessions: Are you alone? Jake Gittes: Isn't everybody?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

the big sleep

The Big Sleep is credited as a classic film-noir, as well as a masterpiece of the genre. While there are many people complaining about the quality of the screenplay adapted by William Faulkner from Raymond Chandler's novel with the same name, blaming a plot which is extremely difficult to follow or even to understand, the movie is, in my opinion, one of the best i've watched in the genre.

Now, as far as the plot difficulties are concerned, several readings i've done recently indicated a clear reason. The movie was originally shot in December 1944, shortly after Bogart and Bacall's another classic "To have and have not". The latter was a big hit, and Bogart-Bacall couple was very well received by the public. Maybe that's why i liked so much the presentation in "The Big Sleep" trailer, which said something like: "Bogart and that woman Bacall are in that again".

"The Big Sleep" was supposed to be released in 1945, but, despite the success of "To have and have not", Warner Bros. decided to postpone the moment, due to Bacall's "Confidential Agent" (released in 1945) being received by the audience as a flop. While holding "The Big Sleep" back, Warner Bros. operated some major changes in the movie, in order to adapt it more to the recipe that turned "To have and have not" into a public's favourite. And that implied adding some scenes of dialogue between the main characters (maybe the most memorable being the conversation on horse racing). However, this improvement has severe consequences on the plot's continuity, since scenes which could have helped the viewer figure out the mistery were cut off, in order to allow the longer dialogue scenes, and not lenghten the movie too much. From what i read, the original 1945 version was traced back in 1945, and made available in 1997.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

good night, and good luck

as stated by gareth kay some time ago, Good Night, And Good Luck is a worthy movie, as well as a powerful tale of integrity and the price of truth. Directed by George Clooney , the black and white picture illustrates the American television and journalism industry during the roaring fifties, its plot being built around the attempt of veteran CBS journalist Edward Murrow to bring down Senator Joseph McCarthy. David Strathairn manages a gorgeous performance, and, for some reason, the movie reminded me of the masterpiece Citizen Kane.

Another observation would be that Participate.net (Movies have the power to inspire. You have the power to act. Participate! ) was inspired by "Good night, And Good Luck" for the Report it Now project, which invites people to take the Media into their own hands.

Friday, January 20, 2006

the pillow book

When God made the first clay model of a human being, He painted in the eyes... the lips... and the sex. And then He painted in each person's name lest the person should ever forget it. If God approved of His creation, He brought the painted clay model into life by signing His own name.
Although released in 1996, for some reason, "The Pillow Book" has just entered Romanian cinemas. But it was certainly worth watching. Directed by Peter Greenaway (as if this didn't say everything), the movie is an erotic tale of passion, creation and perfection, developed around the "two things in life which are dependable: the delights of the flesh and the delights of literature." Witty, experimental and mostly enjoyable, the movie slowly introduces you in another world, which quickly imposes its high standards and doesn't bore for a minute, despite all sorts of unconventional use of cinema techniques. The soundtrack is perfectly integrated in the tale, adding a spark of multicultural experience. All in all, the movie manages to combine in a balanced manner the ugly instances, out of which life experience can later extract and manufacture the beauties that matter, with rhetorical questions of creation and genesis, building all this around thirteen originally-written books. 9/10
Quotes that i liked:
  • Nagiko: Where is a book before it is born? Who are a book's parents? Does a book need two parents - a mother and a father? Can a book be born inside another book? Where is the parent book of books? How old does a book have to be before it can give birth?
  • Nagiko: I am certain that there are two things in life which are dependable: the delights of the flesh and the delights of literature. I have had the good fortune to enjoy them both equally.
  • Nagiko: Farewells can be both beautiful and despicable. Saying farewell to one who is loved is very complicated. Why should a person be obligated to stand such sweet pain and such bitter pleasure?
  • Nagiko: The smell of white paper is like the scent of skin of a new lover who has just paid a surprise visit out of a rainy garden. And the black ink is like lacquered hair. And the quill? Well, the quill is like that instrument of pleasure whose purpose is never in doubt but whose surprising efficiency one always, always forgets.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

"He used to be a big shot"

It may come to pass that, at some distant date, we will be confronted with another period similar to the one depicted in this photoplay. If that happens, I pray that the events, as dramatized here, will be remembered. In this film, the characters are composites of people I knew, and the situations are those that actually occurred. Bitter or sweet, mot memories become precious as the years move on. This film is a memory – and I am grateful for it.” This text signed by Mark Hellinger is the foreword of "The Roaring Twenties"(1939), movie directed by Raoul Walsh and situated somewhere on the top of my list for gangster movies.
What i appreciated the most in "The Roaring Twnties" was its documentary attempt – different from the regular plots of late thirties gangster movies – to deal with a very important social and economical matter in the history of the United States: the period of Prohibition, correlated with the aftermath of World War I. The movie follows the life of Eddie Bartlett (beautifully played by brilliant James Cagney), one of the American soldiers who had fought in WWI, only to return home after two years and find a society which didn’t seem to want to reintegrate either him or his fellow-soldiers. Under the circumstances, the only way left for him was to adapt was to take advantage of the Prohibition, and therefore, he becomes part of a network of organized crime, faking and selling alcohol, until the stock market crash in 1929. The drama in Eddie's social life and its brutal fall, after losing everything he had (except for one cab which his back-stabbing partner George Hally - played by Humphrey Bogart), are doubled by the drama in Eddie's love life, the girl (Priscilla Lane) for whom he would sacrifice everything leaving him for the higher-style lawyer Lloyd Hart (Jeffrey Lynn).
In addition to the movie, i also watched a very interesting DVD bonus: the documentary The Roaring Twenties: The World Moves On, in which great names such as Martin Scorsese, Lincoln Hurst, Eric Lax or Alain Silver express their own views on the movie.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Golden Globes 2006

Full list here.

Best Motion Picture - Drama
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Other Nominees:
The Constant Gardener (2005)
Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005)
A History of Violence (2005)
Match Point (2005)

Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Walk the Line (2005)
Other Nominees:
Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005)
Pride & Prejudice (2005)
The Producers (2005)
The Squid and the Whale (2005)

Monday, January 16, 2006

film noir book

Film Noir, written by Alain Silver and James Ursini, is the movie book i am currently reading and it's a really great edition.

"Beginning with a general overview of film noir and covering its most important themes chapter by chapter (lovers plan murder, corrupt police, doomed love, psychological noir, etc.), this copiously illustrated handbook provides instant and in-depth access to the film noir genre for amateurs and aficionados alike. Among the films covered are these "top ten": Double Indemnity, Kiss Me Deadly, Gun Crazy, Criss Cross, Detour, In A Lonely Place, T-Men, Out of the Past, The Reckless Moment, and Touch of Evil." (source: Taschen Books)


apart from the IMDB Top 250, there are some movies which i have to watch or find really soon. I'm just writing them here so that i can remember them:
1. Kiss me deadly, 1955, directed by Robert Aldrich
2. Mean streets, 1973, directed by Martin Scorsese, because it is said to be the first film noir in colours (i'm not kidding)
3. Body Heat, 1981, directed by Lawrence Kasdan

Then, there are two recommendations from Space (which i expect to be either sick, or bearing a hidden meaning):
1. Reefer madness, 1936, directed by Louis J. Gasnier, a must-see drug-exploitation movie, as a symbol of exploitation movies in general.
2. Heavy Metal, 1981, directed by Gerald Potterton and Jimmy T. Murakami

And then, there are two movies which i must have, but i simply cannot find them anywhere:
1. M, 1931, directed by Fritz Lang - i'm dying to see this noir!!
2. Vana Espuma, 1998, directed by Andrés Useche

Sunday, January 15, 2006

the constant gardener

John le Carré's successful book. Fernando Meirelles, who is better known as the director of "Cidade de Deus". Great acting from both Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz. Splendid views. A very high IMDB ranking for a new-comer. All these things might recommend "The Constant Gardener" (2005). And the truth is that this political drama/thriller whose plot develops around a beautiful retrospective romance might actually be worth 129 minutes of one's life.
After his wife, Tessa, is brutally killed somewhere near a lake in Kenya, Justin Quayle, a British diplomat, finds himself in the position to investigate her murder all by himself. While trying to make something out of both the misterious life that his wife lived, and her misterious disappearance, Justin gets trapped in a sick political game, an international conspiracy that implies the usage of Africa as an enourmous laboratory which remourselessly performs all sorts of tests directly on humans. During his quest, Justin gains more and more trust in his dead wife and in the love that kept them together, gradually losing confidence in everybody else.
The well-paced movie is somewhat disturbing and thought-provoking. However, there is one detail which kept me from enjoying this movie at its full potential. And that would be the striking resemblance between the plot of this film and the story from the 1996 brilliant thriller "Extreme Measures", directed by Michael Apted, and starring Hugh Grant and Gene Hackman.
And another observation: for some reason (and i am really curious to find it out), the movie's title was translated into Romanian as the title of another le Carre's novel, "Absolute friends".

Saturday, January 14, 2006

first post

among my many disturbing obsessions, movies are somewhere on top of the list. i adore watching movies, discussing them, paying attention to the way the story is told and, most important, find as many insights and valuable information for my planning activity. it's amazing how many ideas i sometimes get while watching a movie. i used to discuss the films i watched on my main blog, but i ended up developing a whole new blog dedicated exclusively to movies, because when i don't have too much work to do, i watch at least on movie each day. and somehow, i have to remember what i made out of each seen picture.
as far as what i particularly like...i adore film noir, i enjoy early 30s-40s gangster movies, i love thrillers, mostly psychological thrillers, as well as animations, sometimes comedy-romance and...my goal for the next few months is to watch the 250 best movies ever as voted by IMDB users. that's about it, for now :). Be seeing you!