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In reply to an earlier post on Dec 20, 2012 5:09:43 PM PST
WAS: Let me take a guess-- we never find out who killed Geiger.

Posted on Dec 20, 2012 6:48:16 PM PST
The Big Sleep:

It is never established who killed the chauffeur, Owen Taylor. Story has it that when the writer preparing the screenplay for the planned Warner Bros. film asked this question of the author of the novel Raymond Chandler, even he didn't know. Owen Taylor was actually a distant cousin of mine. We knew something was wrong when he didn't show up for Christmas dinner.

There's a story of Raymond Chandler having been considered by Warner to write the screenplay for an upcoming Hitchcock film. They didn't get on very well. Chandler was apparently somewhat of a boozer. A meeting was arranged by the Warner studio and when Hitchcock's car pulled up in front of Chandler's residence, Chandler said in a rather loud voice, "Look at that fat bastard trying to get out of his car!" Chander's wife or companion said, "Shhh, he'll hear you." Chandler said, "What do I care if he can hear me?"

The meeting was brief and ended abruptly. Hitchcock and his assistant returned to the car and departed. Hitchcock said nothing for a half-hour. Then staring straight ahead, he softly said, "He's through."

Posted on Dec 21, 2012 8:17:23 AM PST
El Emmarino says:
"Sleepwalk with Me" (2012) - 7/10

Comedy about the life/career struggles of a stand-up comedian who sleepwalks. Story is loosely based on comedian Mike Birbiglia's life. Not the laugh out riot I had anticipated, but entertaining nonetheless. And I *must* say... Lauren Ambrose... just cute as a button.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 21, 2012 8:36:08 AM PST
El: If you like Lauren Ambrose--you should definitely watch Psycho Beach Party.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 21, 2012 9:18:25 AM PST
MCGhee don't let the title fool you,Norma plays both leads a girl who is poor who went to reform school,and a rich girl who went to high class college ,both in love with the same guy!shes not playing a hooker!

Posted on Dec 21, 2012 6:22:15 PM PST
Au revoir les enfants: France during WW2, where Malle is a young boy, shipped off (in a train) to boarding school, where he meets "Jean Bonnet", a kid of mystery. Who is Jean Bonnet?

An incredible film, deliberate in pace and leaking info at all the right times. All the performances are excellent, with the two leads aptly standing out. An ending to knock the air out of your lungs. 9/10

Posted on Dec 21, 2012 7:35:21 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 21, 2012 7:45:49 PM PST
Jonathan says:
'Bottle Shock' (2008, USA, Based on an Inspirational True Story™)

Or, Blotto Shlock. An overextended, hairbrained advertizement for the California wine industry ca. 1976. Jackhammered message: U.S.A. slobs, yea; French snobs, nay.

One thing this proves beyond any doubt: there is no wisdom or sense in the algorithm technique of recommendations: If You Liked 'Sideways', You May NOT Love 'Bottle Shock'. You may in fact hate it, as I did.
It also proves that Alan Rickman, while certainly not a bad actor, can be directed into a bad performance.
And no surprise that Chris Pine gives a terrible performance.
Rachael Taylor is another liability, in a pointless role as wine slut/sex object who labors in the fields and yet looks like she's coming off a Vanity Fair photo shoot in every scene.
That sums up the artificiality of the whole movie.
Despite her model looks (former Miss Teen Tasmania) she appeared disconcertingly as if she was cast to play the sister of Chris Pine: same hair, speech, vacant expression. They are responsible for the dullest subplots in this sketchy story. Which meander on far too long, striking sour notes all along the way.

Worst movie I've seen in some long while. 1 star out of 10. That 1 goes to Freddy Rodríguez, for miraculously delivering a well-rounded performance out of an unbelievably moronically written, stereotyped script.

This 'Shocker' just happens to be the last thing I've seen. And that's what the thread told me to rate! Rest assured, I've been seeing good movies lately too: 'The Culpepper Cattle Co.', 'We Won't Grow Old Together', 'Fire Down Below' with Mitchum and Jack Lemmon, re-seeing 'Million Dollar Baby'. And 'Das Boot' the other night wasn't half-bad, not as good as I remembered.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 21, 2012 8:11:55 PM PST
I like Freddy Rodriguez. I'm kinda surprised he isn't a bigger star by now.

I saw the trailer to 'Bottle Shock' a few years ago, and felt like I'd seen the whole film.

Re: Rachael Taylor
Made a name for herself in a show filmed just north of me, 'McLeod's Daughters'. Avoid!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 21, 2012 9:51:07 PM PST
Jonathan says:
TS: "I saw the trailer to 'Bottle Shock' a few years ago, and felt like I'd seen the whole film."<

That's one of the examples where it can be said that you saw nearly all the semi-good parts, halfway-clever lines in the trailer. The only decent things you missed that weren't in the trailer were Freddy's acting and Bradley Whitford's like 40-second cameo.

I saw the trailer in '08 and I knew I wasn't going to like it. My resistance broke last night when a family member was over who really liked it and tried to convince me I would.
Even sharing a few bottles of wine wasn't enough to get me drunk on this movie's alleged charms, or to fail to notice the fact they didn't research enough to even get place names correct. I know by "Smithsonian Institute," for instance, they meant the Smithsonian Institution, but there was plenty else that couldn't be trusted.

The movie was so bad that it's entirely unfair to compare it to 'Sideways', which was written by someone who knew the territory like the back of his hand. And knew people beyond the stereotypes.

Authenticity can only take a movie so far. But when there isn't anything else in the way of originality or imagination, and nothing authentic to fall back on, it's a puzzlement what people are being entertained by in a movie like this.
I know, it's only a light "entertainment" and I'm not supposed to get so serious about it. Man, I tell ya, this thing was not from the right bottle.

Re: 'McLeod's Daughters'

I saw some of that on the WE ("Women's Entertainment") Channel a few years back. Too late. I can't un-seen it! I didn't recognize Rachael Taylor. She looks like 80 other blonde models around her age now.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 22, 2012 3:10:48 AM PST
C McGhee says:
Michael J. Madsen- Lady of the Night

Thanks for the clarification.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 22, 2012 8:48:30 AM PST
McGhee,I bought it after reading the reviews on Amazon,only silent movie I own so far!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 22, 2012 1:29:10 PM PST
C McGhee says:
Michael J. Mason- only silent movie I own so far!

I'm sure you've heard of Metroplis but there was another great silent that came out the same year (1928) called SUNRISE: A Song of Two Humans & then 1929 brought Louise Brooks in Diary of a Lost Girl & Pandora's Box.

The Man Who Laughs is from 1928 also & By Rocket to the Moon is 1929. 28 & 29 were really good years. Dr Mabuse The Gambler is a good take on the super criminal organization like Spectre, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse is even better from 1933 but that is a talkie.
One thing you should definitely get is two French TV series called Les Vampires & then Fantomas. They are both detective chases super crook & were made in 1915 & 1913 respectively. They are jaw dropping. I could go on but I'm tired :)

Links are below to the correct movies which you can catch some of them on TCM occasionally-

Sunrise - A Song of Two Humans (Limited Edition)
Diary of a Lost Girl
Pandora's Box (The Criterion Collection)
Man Who Laughs (1928)
Woman in the Moon
Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler
Les Vampires
Fantomas: Five Film Collection

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 22, 2012 1:34:30 PM PST
C McGhee says:
Michael J. Madsen- Lady of the Night

Will try & get to it after Christmas. Here's one with the same title but as you can tell from the cover, a different story.

Lady of the Night [Region 2]

Posted on Dec 23, 2012 12:57:55 PM PST
C McGhee says:
Michael J. Madsen- silents

Here's the haunted house movie that all of ours today are based on. You can get other editions but this one is the Restored Kino edition-

The Cat and the Canary (1927) (The Photoplay Restoration)

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 11:18:10 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 26, 2012 11:28:46 AM PST
"Vertigo" (1958) 4/10 Blu-ray disc.

"Vertigo" replaced "Citizen Kane" as "The Greatest of All Motion Pictures" in the most recent "Sight and Sound" critics poll -- something I regard as completely ludicrous. For me, this film doesn't even make it in my list of my five favorite Hitchcock films.

To begin with, the story itself strains credulity: James Stewart plays a semiretired police investigator who is plagued with acrophobia which had played a part in the unintentional death of a fellow officer during the pursuit of a suspect. He receives a request from Gavin Elster, an old college chum he hasn't seen for years, to put a watch on his wife, Madeline, whom he fears is mentally possessed by the spirit of her grandmother who is urging her to commit suicide. At first Stewart, who plays John "Sccottie" Ferguson, is disinclined to accept this task, but Elster asks him to at least get a look at Madeline at Ernie's restaurant (apparently a favorite of Hitchcock's) before he decides. He does this and, of course, is smitten by the appearance of Madeline. ( It should be noted that Stewart was fifty years of age when "Vertigo" was released and 25 years older than Kim Novak.) He agrees to the assignment and follows her as she drives about San Francisco. (Director William Friedkin, who provides the commentary on the newly issued Blu-ray disc, tells us she is driving a green Rolls Royce. She is, in fact driving a green Jaguar sedan, the distinctive hood ornament of which is clearly visible in at least one shot.)

Madeline ends up at the base of the Golden Gate bridge and, while Scottie is watching, suddenly jumps into the bay in an apparent suicide attempt. He, of course, rescues her and drives her back to his apartment in his car, a 1958 De Soto sedan, which, when now compared to Madeline's snappy Jaguar of probably the the same year, looks like a ludicrous example of a typical American car of the late 1950s.

Gradually a relationship of sorts develops between Madeline and Scottie. Finally, one day, Madeleine tells Scottie of dream she has had of an old church mission having a bell tower. Scottie tells her excitedly that there is actually such a place and they drive out to it the next day. They walk through the grounds of the mission and Madeline suddenly runs from Scottie into the mission and climbs the stairs of the bell tower. Scottie chases her but, because of his acrophobia, cannot follow to the top. Through a side window he sees what appears to be Madeline plummeting to her death from the bell tower.

There is an inquest and a clearly biased judge reads the report of the findings, his comments brimming with innuendo concerning Scottie's inability to prevent Madeline's death. (Any lawyer, worth his salt, hearing this, would have gotten this judge bounced from the bench in five minutes for being biased.) Nevertheless Madeline's death is pronounced as being a suicide and Gavin Elster apologizes to Scottie for what he has been put through and says he is leaving for Europe to try to forget. Scottie, riddled with guilt over Madeline's death, suffers a nervous breakdown from which, with the help of his faithful friend "Midge" (Barbara Bel Geddes), he manages to slowly recover. He is seen walking the streets at night, revisiting Ernie' restaurant, obviously still obsessed with the memory of Madeline.

One day he happens to notice a woman who reminds him of Madeline and manages to speak to her; she gives him her name as Judy Barton. It becomes clear to the audience, that she, with radically altered make-up and hair styling, is also being played by Kim Novak. He asks her to dinner and develops a friendship with her. It is at this point we learn through a flashback sequence, that she was, in fact, posing as Madeline and was complicit in a plot hatched by Gavin Elster to murder his real wife. This was accomplished by telling Scottie of Madeline's obsession with a dead spirit and her urges to commit suicide which turn out to be a complete hoax. Elster had planned to have his dead or unconscious wife at the top of the mission tower and with Scottie helpless to follow Judy Barton as Madeline up the tower stairs, Elster throws the body of his actual wife off the tower which makes Scottie believe that he was at least partly responsible for Madeline's suicide, thus reinforcing his guilt over the earlier death of the police officer.

Scottie continues his new relationship with Judy, buying her new clothes and having her change her hair style in an attempt to "reconstruct" Madeline. It is when Scottie notices that the careless Judy is wearing a pendant that belonged to Madeline that he suddenly realizes the hoax. He takes Judy back to the mission and to the top of the bell tower explaining that he now knows what had been done by Gavin Elster and Judy Barton. She edges back to the edge of the tower and when a nun suddenly appears in the doorway behind Scottie, she panics and falls to her death with Scottie staring down horrified and the film abruptly ends. The upshot is that Gavin Elster has managed to escape to Europe and has gotten away with the murder of his wife. This entire scenario is asking a lot for an audience to swallow:

1. In order for Gavin Elster's plan to work, he would have to have known that Scottie knew of the church mission where his plan would be carried out, even though he had not seen Scottie for years.

2. Elster would have had to have known exactly when Scottie would take Judy to the mission and have his wife's body ready to throw off the tower at the right moment.

3. If Scottie had somehow been able to overcome his acrophobia to save "Madeline," Elster's plan would have completely collapsed and he would have been found guilty of murdering his wife. He was taking a big chance that all this would work perfectly.

4. It is very coincidental and unlikely that Scottie would have seen Judy Barton walking on the street of a crowded city following his nervous breakdown and recovery. If Judy Barton were having an affair with Gavin Elster why didn't she go off to Europe with him and more so, why would she continue to live in the same area and risk being spotted by Scottie and not have skipped town after the plan was carried out?

5. Presumably, Elster had already killed his wife when he hatched this plan with Judy. If not, how did Judy, posing as Madeleine, manage to drive Elster's wife's Jaguar everywhere without her knowing? Was Judy doing this for money? If she was Elster's "other woman" why didn't she go to Europe with him? Was Elster keeping the body of his wife in cold storage? A lot of time had passed between Scottie's first seeing the fake Madeline and the fake suicide at the church tower with the real Madeline's body ripening all the time.

While there are some scenes in the film that are cinematographically impressive there are several bits of carelessness. Pancake makeup is clearly seen on Stewart's shirt collars every time he is shown in a close up shot driving his car. During a meeting between Scottie and Elster two drinks with ice cubes are seen on their table. There is an edit point to another angle and the ice cubes in both glasses have suddenly disappeared. Many of the outdoor shots are back plates used in the studio as rear projection and are obvious in the Blu-ray version. All of the apartment scenes are studio sets with often unrealistic plate shots to reproduce the scenes outside the apartment window(s).

James Stewart was 25 years older than Kim Novak and appeared too old to be having a torrid affair with her. Cary Grant, maybe; Jimmy Stewart, never. Even Hitchcock later admitted that Stewart was too old for the part and never used him again in a film.

That some critics found it possible to rate this as the greatest American film ever made, displacing Citizen Kane, is something I find astonishing. This film would possibly be somewhere in my top ten Hitchcock favorites but certainly not among my top five.

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 11:27:56 AM PST
Larry Kelley says:
Bruce: Excellent review!

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 1:38:19 PM PST
How fascinating it is that someone can devote so much space to Vertigo--and yet completely miss the point of the film. (Not to mention the entire point of the Sight and Sound poll; it rated Vertigo as the greatest film ever made, period, not just the greatest American film).

Hint--trying to look at the film as a exercise in naive realism is pointless. It's a film about romantic obsession; its realism is psychological and interior, not documentary and exterior; its logic is that of a dream, not that of day to day life.

I haven't time right now to expound further on just how wrong-headed is the view expressed above. Tomorrow.

Whether or not one agrees with the Sight and Sound poll on this matter is somewhat irrelevant. Vertigo first appeared on the 1982 poll at number 7; 1992, number 6; 2002, rising to number 2. Certainly indicative of rising critical appreciation.

How sad it is that some people are incapable of recognizing differing modes of expression than quotidian realism.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 1:55:12 PM PST
WAS: Well it's not just rising critical appreciation, but you also have to take into account how many more critics were asked this year as opposed to 2002.

I'd call it his best just from what I've seen so far of Hitchcock's work, but judging on how much regard I hold it in, anyone who doesn't put it in his five best needs to take another look.

And on that note, a Merry Christmas to you!

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 3:54:44 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 26, 2012 3:55:58 PM PST
PoM: The size of the poll does not really manifest itself in the outcome, but in the distribution of votes. There was a thread on the 2012 Poll; I analyzed the percentage of those polled voting for first, second, third, and so forth, and compared it with the 2002 poll. You might want to find the thread, and take a look at some of those comments.

I'm going to invoke another of Smith's Laws here; Pierre Rissient is right. I have quoted his dictum to the effect that it is not enough to like a film; one must like it for the right reasons. The inverse is also true: it is not enough to dislike a film; one must dislike it for the right reasons. The reasons above are, of course, not the right reasons. I would go so far as to say that most of the people I have met who are both knowledgeable and sensible about film (certainly not always the same thing) would rank Vertigo as one of the indisputable masterpieces of cinema.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 4:07:00 PM PST
Assuming it is not too stressful for you, try rereading the first paragraph of my entry regarding the "Sight and Sound" rating of "Vertigo" and see what you can make of it.
I assure you, I have not altered that paragraph from my original entry.

Here is an entry from a British film critic that I rather agree with:

In his 2004 book Blockbuster, however, British film critic Tom Shone suggested that Vertigo's critical re-evaluation has led to excessive praise, and argued for a more measured response. Faulting Sight & Sound for "perennially" putting the film on the list of best-ever films, he wrote that "Hitchcock is a director who delights in getting his plot mechanisms buffed up to a nice humming shine, and so the Sight and Sound team praise the one film of his in which this is not the case - it's all loose ends and lopsided angles, its plumbing out on display for the critic to pick over at his leisure."[49]

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 4:09:13 PM PST
Barton Fink

A mind bending movie, one that takes twists and turns unexpectedly. What I want to know is why Turturro wasn't nominated for Best Actor. I would have had him win easily over Anthony Hopkins that year.

10/10, and my pick for the 2nd best Coen brothers film, only behind Fargo

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 4:15:04 PM PST
BGT: One can always find a wrong-headed critic to support any point of view.

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 4:16:23 PM PST
PoM: One of the Coens' most interesting films. It's probably time for me to watch it again. I'm not entirely sure where I would put it in the Coen ranking.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 4:31:41 PM PST
WAS: What I want to know is why Burn After Reading didn't work for you. I thought it was easily almost as funny as The Big Lebowski, and obviously the standout performance was Malkovich.

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 4:43:11 PM PST
PoM: Hard to say. It simply dragged. Again--I am willing to give it another go.

There are those who are very fond of Miller's Crossing as well, and that's one that also just didn't work for me. In that case, I suspect it was largely Gabriel Byrne.
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