Last Seen Movie - The Latest Movie You Have Seen; ratings

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Re: Last Seen Movie - The Latest Movie You Have Seen; ratings

Postby Reza » Sun May 26, 2019 7:39 am

Den 12. mann / The 12th Man (Harald Zwart, 2019) 8/10

In 1943, during WWII, twelve Norwegian saboteurs are caught by the occupying Nazis. When one (Thomas Gullestad) manages to escape he is relentlessly pursued by an SS officer (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers). This true story is more about man against frigid nature - he has to journey 1200 km across Norway into neutral Sweden crossing icy fjords, snowy fields and mountains with his toe shot off and gangrene setting in - than it is about the menacing danger of getting caught by the Nazis. That danger, however, remains a constant threat as he hobbles on helped along the way by ordinary citizens. There is a touching scene between him and a little girl who draws him a map of his world travels alongside savage moments of graphic torture and shootings as the Nazis grimly go about their business. Rhys-Meyers (speaking German) is very good playing a less campy version of the maniacal blonde Nazi played by look-alike Malcolm McDowell in "The Passage". Tense and harrowing film is stunningly shot by Geir Hartly Andreassen. This is a film you can actually feel the intense cold as you watch the story unfold on the screen.

Hotel du Nord (Marcel Carnè, 1938) 8/10

Atmospheric film has outstanding studio-bound sets (designed by Alexandre Trauner), a great cast but a rather trite plot (clichés galore) about assorted people living in a tatty little boarding house next to a canal in Paris. The camera moves smoothly through the cramped interiors capturing the lives of the inhabitants in various rooms of whom the most prominent are a young couple (Jean-Pierre Aumont and Annabella) who make a suicide-pact, a good hearted prostitute (Arletty) shacked up with her vicious pimp-lover (Louis Jouvet) and a cuckold (Bertrand Blier). When the suicide plan doesn't run according to plan the young despondent girl, still pining for her cowardly boyfriend, takes a job at the hotel as a waitress and attracts the attention of the pimp. The film has the dark overtones of noir as it takes in the joys and despair of youth, the fear of discovery, revenge and jealousy which eventually leads to murder. Annabella and Aumont register no chemistry and come off bland compared to the film's two great stars - Jouvet as the sadistic man who, in hiding from a crime-ridden past, has transformed into an almost romantic figure and the great Arletty who brings a touch of endearment to her part of the sharp whore with a seeming heart of gold. One of the great french classics has many of Carné's touches even though the screenplay (by Jean Aurenche) lacks the poetry found in the director's two collaborations with Jacques Prévert, "Le quai des brumes" and "Le jour se lève". It still remains a must-see.

The Spanish Princess (Lisa Clarke, Birgitte Stærmose, Stephen Woolfenden & Daina Reid, 2019) 8/10

Eight-part tv serial detailing the political alliance between England and Spain with the betrothal of the son of King Henry VII with the daughter of Queen Isabella of Spain. The complex political machinations have Princess Katharine of Arragon (Charlotte Hope) arrive in England, get married to Prince Arthur, the heir to the throne, and become a widow all in the space of a year. She sets her eyes on the throne and deeming herself still a maid tries to gain the affection of Prince Henry (Ruairi O'Connor) who is now heir to the British throne. She is opposed vociferously by Margaret of Beaufort (Harriet Walter who is superbly despicable as the treacherously conniving royal matriarch), the present king's mother and grandmother to the future king. It takes a whole lot of perseverance to overcome every obstacle thrown her way to finally reach her goal as Queen of England. The film, based on the novels by Phillipa Gregory, is a direct sequel to the two tv serials that preceded this one - "The White Queen" and "The White Princess".

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Re: Last Seen Movie - The Latest Movie You Have Seen; ratings

Postby Precious Doll » Sun May 26, 2019 12:58 am

Acute Misfortune (2019) Thomas M. Wright 5/10
Sheherazade (2018) Jean-Bernard Martin 4/10
Interview (1971) Mrinal Sen 7/10
Everybody in Our Family (2012) Radu Jude 7/10
Gundermann (2018) Andreas Diesen 4/10
Never Ever (2016) Benoit Jacquot 1/10
American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace (2018) Various 5/10

Repeat viewings

Absence of Malice (1981) Sydney Pollack 7/10
Phantom Lady (1944) Robert Siodmak 7/10
“Those Koreans. They’re so suspicious, you know, ever since Hiroshima.” Constance Langdon (Jessica Lange) from American Horror Story: Season One

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Re: Last Seen Movie - The Latest Movie You Have Seen; ratings

Postby Reza » Thu May 23, 2019 6:30 pm

Mahanagar / The Big City (Satyajit Ray, 1963) 10/10

Ray's classic films are his way of gently nudging his lower middle-class audience towards accepting change in a Bengal that was rapidly moving into the modern world. Long held old customs and thinking are shown to be obsolete as his characters struggle to hold onto the old ways of the past. A postal clerk (Anil Chatterjee) lives in a small apartment in Calcutta with his elderly parents, his sister (Jaya Bhaduri), wife (Madhabi Mukherjee) and young son. He is the sole breadwinner and finds that his salary can no longer sustain his joint family. When his wife decides to find a job a crisis ensues within the family. His old father is scandalized and gives him the silent treatment thinking his son has lost his self respect by allowing his wife to leave the house to work. When he loses his own job the wife's income comes in handy but he is secretly resentmentful and jealous. Ray's screenplay celebrates female empowerment and as a result shows different evolving relationships - between the husband and wife, the employer and employee and the working woman and her child. Madhabi Mukherjee is superb as the wife whose eyes open up to the "outside world" as she bonds with a co-worker - she wears lipstick, dark glasses and enjoys her job which allows her freedom giving her confidence she lacked in the confines of her home. A moving but bitersweet social drama with Ray's favourite collaborator, Subrata Mitra, on camera while the sparse music score is by Ray himself. The film won the Silver Bear for Ray's direction at the Berlin film festival.

Appointment With Danger (Lewis Allen, 1951) 8/10

Hard hitting noir thriller is basically a police procedural done in semi-documentary fashion and is also an ode to the United States postal service. A tough cynical postal inspector (Alan Ladd) infiltrates a gang in order to get to the murderer of a colleague. A great cast of character actors play off a superb Ladd - the psychotic (Jack Webb) and dimwit thugs (Harry Morgan) and the sympathetic moll (Jan Sterling). Phyllis Thaxter is the nun who witnesses the murder. John F. Seitz provides the noirish camerawork.

Accused (Thornton Freeland, 1936) 6/10

Nifty little British murder-mystery which incorporates itself into the musical genre. The aging leading lady (Florence Desmond) of a tawdry musical stage show in Paris comes on to an actor (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) who rejects her advances. His jealous wife (Dolores del Rio), who has a knife throwing act in the show, is suddenly accused of murder when the actress is found stabbed to death. It's upto the husband of the accused to find the murderer. Fast paced thriller is quite an international hybrid with American Fairbanks (who also produced this British film) and Mexican del Rio in a story set in Paris. The opening musical interludes segue into a murder plot followed by a court room trial. The stars, including a young Googie Withers as a suspect, give it a go.

Bugambilia / Bougainvillea (Emilio Fernández, 1945) 8/10

After a very successful 18-year sojourn in Hollywood Dolores del Rio returned permanently to her native Mexico. She continued her career in a series of highly acclaimed films opposite Pedro Armendáriz, photographed by Gabriel Figueroa and directed by Emilio Fernández who, off-screen, was obsessed by his leading lady which resulted in a highly turbulent and violent relationship. It certainly does not show on the screen as the now mature star still looks radiantly beautiful. This tragic melodrama has her playing the spoilt daughter of a rich mine owner who enjoys flirting with all the young men in town much to the annoyance of all the single women (shades of Scarlett O'Hara). She unexpectedly falls in love with a rugged lower-class man (Pedro Armendáriz) who raises fowl for fighting but due to circumstances - there is a disaster at the mine which kills and injures many men which the townfolk blame on the owner - the two lovers are prevented from uniting. The film is a combination of rising passions with every element of the production team coming together and creating a moving and highly dramatic film. The electric chemistry between the two stars - the vivacious personality and flashing eyes of del Rio and the quietly simmering intensity of Armendáriz - helped the film attain its classic status.

In Caliente (Lloyd Bacon, 1935) 7/10

Musical fluff down Mexico way with Busby Berkeley guiding the extravagant musical dance sequences. Fun plot has a fast talking and drunk magazine editor (Pat O'Brien) hijacked to Mexico by his publisher (the delightful Edward Everett Horton) to save him from the clutches of a golddigger (Glenda Farrell). Things take on a new twist as he runs foul of a Spanish dancer (Dolores del Rio) who plans revenge because he had given her a savage review in his magazine. Of course love blossoms while the mariachi band plays non-stop. Fast paced film has snappy dialogue and an alluring Dolores del Rio (she gets to wear the screen's first two-piece bathing suit) to keep the temperature soaring. The production number "The Lady in Red" audaciously highlights singer Wini Shaw's breasts through her transparent dress as she goes around a dark nightclub lighting a candle at every table. Berkeley choreographs the "Muchacha" number which has del Rio atop a horse that goes up a staircase.

Madame Du Barry (William Dieterle, 1934) 7/10

The notorious Jeanne Bécu, Comtesse du Barry (Dolores del Rio) was the last mistress of King Louis XV of France (Reginald Denny) and extremely powerful behind the throne. An extravagant lifestyle and a kinky sexual appetite are the tongue-in-cheek highlights of Hollywood's version of history which star del Rio performs with infectious glee whether in a catfight with a bitter rival (Verree Teasdale) or standing up to a defiant Marie Antoinette (Anita Louise). All her scenes with Reginald Denny are a delight as they sexually play off each other. Despite the production code being in effect the screenplay manages to get past the censors a number of funny and risquè lines along with del Rio's first appearance at court which she proceeds to do wearing her see-through nightgown. Extravagant film has superb production values with lovely del Rio having a ball of a time as the tart who did well by the King of France.

Fort Algiers (Lesley Selander, 1953) 2/10

Boring hokum has a French spy / chanteuse (Yvonne De Carlo) infiltrate the desert palace of a Berber sheik (Raymond Burr in black face wearing a huge turban) in order to see if he is inciting the local warlords against the French. She is as adept as James Bond with explosives and also charms her host. When the jig is up she has to rely on her Legionnaire lover (Carlos Thompson) to come to the rescue. Laughably bad film which even the charms of De Carlo cannot save.

Der Fußgänger / The Pedestrian (Maximillian Schell, 1973) 6/10

Maximillian Schell's Oscar nominated film tackles the daunting subject of German post-war guilt but does it in a haphazard manner using stylized flashbacks, rapid editing often going off into jarring tangents. A journalist (Peter Hall) and his team investigate an aging German industrialist (Gustav Rudolf Sellner) who may have been responsible for the massacre of a Greek village during World War II. There is also the mysterious recent car crash that killed his son (Maximillian Schell) with rumours that all was not well between the two and the son may have attempted to kill his father upon discovery of his father's Nazi past. Meanwhile the old man spends time with his grandson taking the child around museums which trigger off memories of that notorious wartime episode. There is a scene with the old man's mother (Margarete Schell Noé - Schell's own mother) and her friends sitting around a dining table drinking tea and chatting about the futility of wars. Schell cast many famous actresses - Elisabeth Bergner, Lil Dagover, Françoise Rosay, Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Käthe Haack - to play these old ladies. Such scenes distract from the main focus of Schell's attempt to examine the skeletons in his country's closet although the film raises interesting questions about national responsibility. The film has an outstanding music score by Manos Hatzidakis.

Tarnished Lady (George Cukor, 1931) 3/10

Cukor's first solo film was an attempt by the studio to launch Tallulah Bankhead in her talky debut. While she has personality and that voice the film itself did nothing for her. A selfish woman (Tallulah Bankhead) finds herself on poverty row so she dumps her lover for a rich man (Clive Brook). Once married she is bored with her spoilt life and pines for her lover. Rashly divorcing her husband she discovers her lover is involved with her bitchy friend and ends up in the gutter. Pride keeps her from returning to her husband who is now bankrupt. The stale screenplay fails to help Bankhead and she merely goes through the motions in the kind of film MGM was churning out for Joan Crawford and RKO for Constance Bennett. Cukor's static direction does not help nor does the stiff performance by Clive Brook. Left on her own device Bankhead acts archly almost as if playing to the gallery on stage.

Burnt Offerings (Dan Curtis, 1976) 5/10

One of many horror films made during the 1970s which has as its main plot point a family in danger by unforseen forces. Here its a gothic house in the country rented for the summer by a couple (Oliver Reed & Karen Black), their son and an aunt (Bette Davis) from the owners - an old man in a wheelchair (Burgess Meredith) and his sinister sister (Eileen Heckart). The rent is deceptively low and the only catch is their old mother in one of the top rooms who has to be looked after the tenents. The story, based on the book by Robert Marasco, seems to be a percusor to Stephen King's "The Shining" as the house feeds off its occupants causing a parent to get possessed by an evil spirit - he tries to drown his son in the pool, has recurring dreams of a grinning chauffeur at a funeral and his sex life with his wife (Black's sensuality luckily does not go to waste as witnessed during a scene at the pool) seems to be on the wane. Bette Davis is around for star power but sadly the screenplay does not allow her to do much. As the horror clichés come at you with full force Black begins to wildly overact while Reed surprisingly underplays. There is a twist ending but the story takes far too long to get to it.

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Re: Last Seen Movie - The Latest Movie You Have Seen; ratings

Postby Precious Doll » Sun May 19, 2019 1:05 am

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019) Joe Berlinger 5/10
The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir (2018) Ken Scott 5/10
All Is True (2018) Kenneth Branagh 6/10
Welcome to Marwen (018) Robert Zemeckis 4/10
A Fortunate Man (2018) Bille August 8/10
A Man in a Hurry (2018) Herve Mimran 4/10
Poms (2019) Zara Hayes 4/10
The Taebaek Mountains (1994) Kwon-tae Im 6/10
My Sassy Girl (2001) Jae-young Kwak 4/10
Lunatic (2019) Chris Lilley 6/10 (TV series)

Repeat viewings

Tommy (1975) Ken Russell 10/10
Shoplifters (2018) Hirokazu Koreeda 9/10
Cabaret (1972) Bob Fosse 10/10
“Those Koreans. They’re so suspicious, you know, ever since Hiroshima.” Constance Langdon (Jessica Lange) from American Horror Story: Season One

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Re: Last Seen Movie - The Latest Movie You Have Seen; ratings

Postby Reza » Sat May 18, 2019 12:43 pm

La cage aux rossignols / A Cage of Nightingales (Jean Dréville, 1945) 5/10

A young writer (Noël-Noël) gets a job at a boy's boarding school run by a vicious task master. He changes their lives by getting them to sing in a choir. Innocuous little film, released two years after its premiere in France, was inexplicably nominated for an Oscar for its original story. Hardly original as the plot resembled the old Bing Crosby film "Going My Way". Years later this film inspired the french film "Les choristes" which was nominated for an Oscar in the foreign film category.

Cage of Gold (Basil Dearden, 1950) 6/10

Contrived plot manages to still work thanks to a good cast which enhance this noir-like melodrama. A sweet young girl (Jean Simmons) jilts her doctor boyfriend (James Donald) when the cad (David Farrar) she once loved suddenly comes back into her life. He gets her pregnant, marries her and then runs out on her when he realises she has no money. He returns to France and his old occupation as a smuggler taking up again with his former rich girlfriend (Madeleine Lebeau). When he is wrongly reported to be dead his wife gets married to the doctor and lives happily ever after....until the cad comes back with blackmail on his mind. Farrar is superbly despicable throughout and manages to balance out lovely Simmons and her sweetness. The implausibilities in the plot are covered by Dearden's brisk direction.

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (Chad Stahelski, 2019) 4/10

Never thought I'd ever get to say this but John Wick has worn out his welcome with this third outing. Maybe not John Wick (Keeanu Reeves) himself but this franchise for sure unless they come up with a proper screenplay next time. The films are famous for the bone-crunching fight sequences but when the film just becomes one long repititious fight sequence it gets a tad boring. How many ways can a person be killed? Many ways of course but here it all seems the same as every over-the-top action sequence blurs into each other without any sense of excitement. The whiff of a plot here - Wick has a price on his head and every assassin is out to get him - is just an excuse for the director to work in non-stop action sequences which all seem the same. Even the presence of an eclectic supporting cast - a kick-ass Halle Berry, a droll Anjelica Huston hamming it up as a Russian, Laurence Fishburne and Ian McShane - fail to save this film.

Bakushû / Early Summer (Yasujirō Ozu, 1951) 8/10

Ozu's films have a strange feeling of stillness and a sense of calm as he places his camera at floor level and shoots his actors directly without resorting to the familiar over-the-shoulder shots so common in Hollywood films. It places the audience within the scene being played on the screen. Like most of his films this too is about life as seen from the perspective of a typical middle-class family as they go about their daily existence. The astute screenplay touches on the family structure contrasting the old with the young. An elderly couple live with their married son who is a doctor with two young bratty children. Their unmarried daughter (Setsuko Hara - Ozu's muse), a secretary, also lives with them and the film's main plot revolves around the family wanting her to get married and settle down. Her boss suggests a match for her - a 40-something businessman friend - who her family considers to be an excellent candidate. However, she decides to take a different route causing much consternation for the family who feel her choice of a partner is not a good one. Post-war Japan was starting to see many changes which went against tradition and Ozu highlights the rising role of women who were beginning to break free from tradition and lead their own independent lives. The warmth depicted throughout the film in the playful interactions amongst the family members and also between the daughter and her friends suddenly takes on a chilly air towards the end signifying a seasonal change to autumn. The "early summer" of the title leads towards the next season as life goes on.

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Re: Last Seen Movie - The Latest Movie You Have Seen; ratings

Postby Reza » Wed May 15, 2019 4:21 pm

Le amiche (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1955) 5/10
Landru (Claude Chabrol, 1963) 4/10
The Ambassador's Daughter (Norman Krasna, 1956) 3/10

César et Rosalie (Claude Sautet, 1972) 8/10

Heartfelt mature love story which only the french manage to pull off with great ease. Sautet explores the theme of an eternal love triangle - he would venture down the same route years later with the equally exquisite "Un Coeur en Hiver" - and he has here at his disposal two of the most accomplished stars of french cinema. César (Yves Montand) is a boistrous man's man, a successful businessman and madly in love with Rosalie (Romy Schneider) who is a divorced single mother. She also loves him and finds it attractive that he is self-made, very confident in himself and not selfish in affection towards her and her young daughter. The relationship suddenly takes a turn with the entry into their lives of David (Sami Frey) who was once her great love but left to pursue a career. At first César resists, is jealous and tries to win back Rosalie's wavering love but since these characters are french the problem is resolved in an unusual manner - the ex-boyfriend is invited to move in with them and the two men actually begin to bond. It's unusual to see Montand take on the role of a romantic lover even though he had a reputation of being one offscreen - lover of Edith Piaf, long-time husband of Simone Signoret and (briefly) Marilyn Monroe's lover. A series of highly political films during the 1960s made this part very different but he slips into the romantic mode with great ease. Schneider had a natural heartbreaking manner about her with her lovely flashing eyes and sensual demeanor. Sautet concludes his story allowing the audience to decide. It's almost as if he dare not come to a fixed conclusion allowing the romantic aspect of the story to linger in our memory with a bittersweet tinge. Keep a vigilant eye open to catch the brief appearance of a very young Isabelle Huppert.

Julie (Andrew L. Stone, 1956) 6/10

Overwrought melodrama about domestic violence is a precursor to not only the Julia Roberts film "Sleeping With the Enemy" but hilariously to also "Airport 1975". The silly story and screenplay (inexplicably nominated for an Oscar) is the kind where suspense is created by having the leading lady, who is under terrible threat, trying to get away in a car and finds herself fumbling to get the keys into the ignition which she then fails to do making the audience want to slap her. Since it's a film with Doris Day the film opens deceptively with her singing the title song (also nominated for an Oscar) and then proceeds to plunge right into a scene of an argument with her husband (Louis Jourdan) who is clearly a deranged jealous psychotic who almost kills them both in the car she is driving by jamming his foot on the accelerator. Soon after he admits to murdering her first husband in a jealous rage and threatens to kill her if she leaves him. So naturally she bolts with the help of a friend (Barry Sullivan). The police can do nothing without proper evidence and the rabid man pursues her like a hound. The plot keeps getting more and more prepostrous and ends on a plane (on which she is a stewardess) where there is a shootout, the pilot is killed and she finds herself flying the plane and trying to land it with help from the airport control tower - shades of Karen Black doing the same in "Airport 1975". Day spends the entire moving wringing her hands in distress croaking out her dialogue in great anguish - she hated doing the film because the plot brought unpleasant memories of her two earlier marriages to similarly abusive husbands and now she was being forced by her greedy third husband (a producer on the film who was jealous of her off-screen friendship with actor Louis Jourdan - life imitating art) to shoot this low budget film for the money. Years later she would discover this husband had spent her entire fortune leaving her almost destitute. The only good thing that came out of this movie for the actress was that she fell in love with the film's location (Carmel, California) and after early retirement from the screen lived there with her dogs until the day she died. The film is not believable for a moment starting with the slight-built Louis Jourdan who looks like he could easily have been overpowered by the no-nonsense and robust Doris Day. However, despite the film's absurd situations it falls in the category of "so bad it's deliciously campy and a guilty pleasure" and provides a lot of laughs.

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Re: Last Seen Movie - The Latest Movie You Have Seen; ratings

Postby Reza » Wed May 15, 2019 4:19 pm

Touchez pas au grisbi (Jacques Becker, 1954) 10/10

Nobody played world weary better than Jean Gabin and he did it with great charisma. Becker's superb noir takes us into the realm of gangsters and in particular one who is planning to retire. His life now is a series of quiet evenings spent dining with friends, often with a pretty lady on his arm. Stylishly attired he represents the old school with a strong sense of honour and loyalty towards friends and expects the same in return. Having concluded a job recently - a gold heist which is never seen - he expects to retire in peace. However, it's not to be as a close friend is betrayed by a femme fatale (Jeanne Moreau) and kidnapped by an upstart drug dealer (Lino Ventura) who demands the loot in return for the man. The last third of the film is in complete contrast to what we have seen before as sudden violence erupts before matters come to a close all the while keeping up appearances. French gangster films are in complete contrast to their American counterparts. There is a strong touch of elegance in behaviour as the gangsters are seen more as smartly attired businessmen with impeccable manners calmly going about their business of earning their living. Women are given respect and love but are not to be trusted. True bonding is only between close male friends. This influential film not only revived the post-war career of Gabin (he won the best actor prize at the Venice film festival) but also heavily influenced other classic french films like Jules Dassin's "Rififi" and Jean-Pierre Melville's "Bob le Flambeur". This romantic vision of the Parisienne criminal was a welcome alternative to the stereotypical hoods of the genre as exemplified by Warner Brothers in Hollywood. A masterpiece of french cinema.

The Constant Husband (Sidney Gilliat, 1955) 5/10

Amusing premise quickly runs out of steam after a promising start. A man (Rex Harrison) awakens in a hotel bed in Wales with no recollection of who he is and why he is in that place. With the help of a doctor (Cecil Parker) he traces himself to a home and wife (Kay Kendall) only to later discover he has six other wives as well. The comedy of the situation quickly dries up as the screenplay becomes repititious leading to a court trial for bigamy. Prim Margaret Leighton is the solicitor who defends him by proving him innocent and manages to win the case in more ways than one. Harrison and Kendall lead a delightful cast but this frothy comedy quickly becomes very stale. Shot in lovely technicolor.

Flight to Hong Kong (Joseph M. Newman, 1956) 7/10

Low-budget action thriller with noir overtones is strictly a B movie but is actually quite good. A charming crook (Rory Calhoun) operates a smuggling ring for the mob out of Macao. Like James Bond he has a way with women who fall all over him. Matters come to a head when he decides to go independant and the syndicate comes after him. Barbara Rush is a writer who gets herself in a tizzy over him and enjoys the fact that he is different from all the guys back home. The cynical screenplay has the hero get more hard edged and unsympathetic as the story moves along. Second unit work shot in Hong Kong, Macao, Tokyo, San Francisco and Honolulu is incorporated into the film to give it an exotic touch and provides atmosphere. Calhoun was an interesting actor with an active career in B-films. His early criminal record (incarcerated at San Quentin for various petty crimes) ruthlessly allowed the studio to make him into a scapegoat for Rock Hudson. His indiscretions were "sold" to the newspapers by his agent in exchange for keeping quiet about Hudson's sexuality. This only soldified his "bad boy" image but kept him from becoming a big star like Rock Hudson.

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Re: Last Seen Movie - The Latest Movie You Have Seen; ratings

Postby Reza » Sun May 12, 2019 7:32 am

Gruppo di famiglia in un interno / Conversation Piece (Luchino Visconti, 1974) 9/10

Visconti's penultimate film, which he directed after a recent stroke which had left one side of his body completely paralyzed, is not only autobiographical but continues to explore his refined sense of obsession with all things beautiful and baroque. We enter the world of a lonely retired American professor (Burt Lancaster) living in his cloistered and luxurious palazzo in Rome surrounded by his furniture, paintings, objets d'art, books and music. His solitary life is suddenly invaded by a vulgar marchesa (Silvana Mangano) and her loud and obnoxious companions - a gigolo (Helmut Berger - Visconti's muse and lover), her daughter (Claudia Marsani) and the daughter's boyfriend (Stefano Patrizi) - to whom he is forced to rent out the upper portion of his apartment. Chaos ensues as his quiet reverie - memories of his Italian mother (Dominique Sanda) and wife (Claudia Cardinale) - are interrupted by constant rude squabbles, drug induced orgies, ruffians being invited in and constant noise of workers ripping apart walls upstairs. The film contrasts elegance - the old man's quiet demeanor and opulent abode (Mario Garbuglia's superb production design glowingly shot by the great Pasqualino De Santis) - with the modern sensibilities of the young and the renovated apartment upstairs that looks like a large modern bathroom. Visconti found inspiration in this restricted premise and the relentless talk-fest of the screenplay which perfectly suited the incapacitated director into creating a moving and highly personal film about memory, loneliness, the disentegration of family, decay of traditional values, homosexual longing and death. Lancaster (already a veteran of Visconti's cinema having worked before in "Il gattopardo") is quietly magnificent and is ably matched by lovely Silvana Mangano as the haughty, vulgar woman who, like the old professor, has chosen to "hide" from the past but doing so in the complete opposite manner by going all out with a show of defiance - flaunting her wealth, taking up with an individual (a young leftist lover) her aristocratic family would have rejected. This moving film is an ode to Lancaster's generosity who provided insurance to the film's backers so that the ailing Visconti could complete yet another of his cinematic masterpieces.

Glory at Sea / Gift Horse (Compton Bennett, 1952) 4/10

By the numbers WWII film about a British crew on a loaned out American destroyer. Repititious scenes on the day-to-day activities of the crew under the command of a tough captain (Trevor Howard) who has returned to his post after a court martial and whom the crew gradually learn to admire. Good cast (James Donald, Richard Attenborough, Sonny Tufts, Bernard Lee, Dora Bryan) go through the paces with an action packed finalé of a commando attack on a Nazi-held French coastal bastion. Rather dry story is one of many similar films depicting wartime heroics years after the war was over.

Hostages (David Wheately, 1992) 7/10

Fictionalized docudrama about the crisis in Lebanon and the Middle East during the 1980s when British (Colin Firth), Irish (Ciaran Hinds) and American (Harry Dean Stanton) hostages were kidnapped by different Muslim factions. The film focuses on the families (Natasha Richardson, Kathy Bates) going from pillar to post as the various governments either refuse to negotiate or do so by supposedly providing missiles (to Iran - which President Reagan denied) - in an attempt to broker a release. Extremely brutal recreation of the events showing the torture and squalid living conditions of the hostages during their long incarceration. The screenplay does not paint the captors as evil incarnate - they had their "reasons" - although there is more than a hint of painting the United States as the "Devil's Empire", in hindsight a notion not too far from the truth considering their role of interference in so many countries through the years which unfortunately continues to date with on-going retaliation and repercussions.

Stavisky.... (Alain Resnais, 1974) 5/10

Glossy and atmospheric film with outstanding production design, period costumes, a lovely score by Stephen Sondheim and elegantly cinematography by the great Sacha Vierny. Too bad the pacing is slow and the screenplay merely boils down to a boring talkfest. Resnais stylishly stages the true story of Jewish financier, Stavisky (Jean-Paul Belmondo), a con-man and swindler who sold worthless bonds while moving around high social and political circles in 1930s Paris. His eventual fall from grace, arrest and death reveal him to be a pawn in a swindle with political implications. Charles Boyer, at the tail end of his long and distinguished career and just three years away from his suicide, steals every scene as Stavisky's old aristocratic friend. He was awarded a special prize at the Cannes film festival.

Le Voleur / The Thief of Paris (Louis Malle, 1967) 8/10

An orphan (Jean-Paul Belmondo) is cheated out of his inheritance by his sly Uncle and discovers that the cousin (Geneviève Bujold) he loves is now to be married to someone else. So he robs her inlaws-to-be of all their jewels which results in the marriage plans going awry. It also begins his career as a thief as he plans to get back at the bourgeoise going from strength to strength robbing them blind. Malle enters the territory of Melville and Bresson with this film but does so with tongue firmly in cheek. Belmondo is in his element as the crook with a twinkle in his eye (a precursor to his role in Alain Resnais' "Stavisky") bedding various beautiful women (Marlène Jobert, Françoise Fabian, Barnadette Lafont, Marie Dubois) along the way. Lovely Bujold, at the start of her career, makes a winsome love interest for the agile Belmondo. The film's handsome production design - Belmondo proceeds to viciously destroy exquisite pieces of furniture during his robbery sessions - is complimented by Henri Decaë's lush cinematography. Entertaining film is great fun.

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Re: Last Seen Movie - The Latest Movie You Have Seen; ratings

Postby Reza » Sun May 12, 2019 7:30 am

Ni Liv / Nine Lives (Arne Skouen, 1957) 8/10

True story of Norwegian resistance fighter Jaan Baalsrud's escape from the occupying Nazis during WWII. A sabotage mission goes horribly wrong and when all his fellow soldiers are shot while escaping Baalsrud (Jack Fjeldstad) manages to trek through the snowy winterland of Northern Norway into neutral Sweden. The journey on foot through deep snow and over a treacherous terrain, while wounded, is an endless nightmare which is managed with the help of brave local people. Superbly shot film is a riveting account of one desperate man's courage and determination to outwit not only the marauding Nazis but also nature which is relentless in its ferocity. One of the most famous films out of Norway was deservedly nominated for an Oscar in the foreign film category.

Cold Pursuit (Hans Petter Moland, 2019) 5/10

Notwithstanding the deadpan comedic undertones of this noirish thriller we are strictly in vigilante territory. With Liam Neeson as the star the film can't help be a rehash of almost every film he has made since the death of his wife Natasha Richardson. Not sure if her death made him go this route but he seems to be drawn to the subject in a rather macabre way. An upright citizen (Liam Neeson) of a small town in the Rocky Mountains loses his shit when a drug lord kills his son (the bit part is played by Micheál Richardson - son of Liam and Natasha). He starts to systematically use his hunting skills to knock off, one by one, members of the gang. Into this mix also erupts a gang war between the drug lord (Tom Bateman) and a rival gang led by a Native American (Tom Jackson). The screenplay takes perverse pleasure in ridiculing Native Americans via racist jokes which are not funny. The film got lost in the shuffle after Neeson stupidly dug up an episode from his distant past relating to the press how he had wandered around town with a crowbar hoping to get into a fight with "a black bastard" and kill him after a white female friend of his had been raped by a black assailant. That remark pretty much put to rest the fate of this film with its own racist overtones. The film is a remake of director Moland's own Norwegian film "In Order of Disappearance". Laura Dern, as Neeson's grieving wife, gets totally shortshrifted as she disappears from the movie early on leaving the male cast to take on each other with bone crunching violence. Maybe its time Neeson, a great actor, to reconsider the route his career has taken and return back to meaningful cinema. Alberta and Vancouver were the backdrops for the film's breathtaking snowy locations which substituted for Colorado.

Count Five and Die (Victor Vicas, 1957) 4/10

Extremely dull spy shenanigans in WWII London. The Americans and the British team up to trick the Germans into belueving that the cross-channel invasion would be in Holland instead of France. Jeffrey Hunter and Nigel Patrick lead the teams with help from a Dutch resistance worker (Annemarie Düringer) who may or may not be a German spy. Too much talk in shabby dark rooms, zero suspense and contrived and unconvincing love scenes between Hunter and Düringer kills this story.

Roadblock (Harold Daniels, 1951) 8/10

Fast moving B-noir has the great Charles McGraw getting led astray by femme fatale Joan Dixon. An honest insurance detective decides on a quick-rich scheme the minute he lays eyes on the sexy passenger next to him on a plane. She makes it very clear she wants a rich man so he makes a deal with a racketeer, provides inside information on some big cash on a train with a cut on the side for himself. The fun is in seeing how he tries to evade his fellow detectives who suspect him despite his watertight alibi - a honeymoon in the mountains with the sexy babe who is now his wife. The twist in the plot actually arrives during the opening moments of the story.

Time Out of Mind (Robert Siodmak, 1947) 3/10

Hollywood's sappy attempt at recreating a Gainsborough melodrama in an American setting. The screenplay, based on a long-forgotten bestseller by Rachel Field, tries its best creating the right atmosphere via Siodmak's trademark use of moody and shadowy lighting and the presence of British import Phyllis Calvert. A tough shipping magnate (Leo G. Carroll) lives with his son (Robert Hutton) and daughter (Ella Raines) in an imposing house on a cliff on the sea coast of Maine - the repetitive view of waves crashing on rocks below the house are meant to evoke memories of British films set in Cornwall. A crisis erupts when the son refuses to follow in the footsteps of his seafaring family and decides to pursue instead his passion for music. However, he fails at that too after getting stuck in a loveless marriage to a snooty rich bitch (Helena Carter). The only person who has faith in him is the maid (Phyllis Calvert) who has been in love with him since childhood. The romantic plot makes no sense as its difficult to understand this woman's relentless belief in a man who is an immature whining drunk and failure. The cast gives it a valiant try - Calvert, in particular, is very good - but its all rather dreary and a bore.

Operation Amsterdam (Michael McCarthy, 1959) 9/10

Taut authentic looking WWII film mostly shot on the deserted streets of Amsterdam giving it a very natural feel. A British agent (Tony Britton), along with two Dutch Diamond merchants (Peter Finch & Alexander Knox), are sent on a mission to evacuate dutch industrial uncut diamonds so that the Nazis don't get their hands on them. The story takes place during the space of one day just as the Germans are starting their occupation of the Netherlands and the screenplay superbly conveys the constant danger and surreal atmosphere on the streets. Sporadic bombs go off and while there are snipers shooting off guns in one neighborhood there are people sitting on street cafés drinking coffee in an adjacent one. Nobody can be trusted as the city is rife with fifth columnists. Most of the street scenes were shot during the early hours of the morning giving the streets a deserted look. The entire score, which underlines the suspense, consists of either drums or organ music. There are superb action set pieces filmed in a matter of fact way - a scene of chaos on a harbour as it gets bombed, a shootout between partisans and the german soldiers on the streets, a terrifying straffing by a low-flying german plane on innocent refugees on a deserted country road and a superbly staged car chase through the streets driven by an enigmatic Dutch woman (Eva Bartok) who helps the three men and who may or may not be a traitor. The film also quietly brings to life the dutch dilemma of jewish merchants, about to go under Nazi siege, who were conflicted about giving up their wealth as they thought they could use it as bargaining chips with the germans - the holocaust was still to come and nobody believed the depths of depravity of the Nazi forces. Both Finch and Bartok give superbly nuanced performances with the latter particularly memorable having actually lived through the nightmare in real life of being forcibly married to a Nazi officer at age 15 who repeatedly raped her - the actress has a sad haunted look on her face throughout. This is one of the best war films and deserves a re-evaluation.

Simon and Laura (Muriel Box, 1955) 7/10

Charming if dated satire (based on the popular hit West End stage play by Alan Melville - even the Queen attended a performance) which makes hilarious digs at the BBC and the then newly burgeoning medium of television. There is also an element of Nöel Cowards's "Private Lives" in this amusing story of a long married battling couple, here theatrical actors, who are on the verge of divorce when their agent persuades them to work on a tv soap opera based on themselves as a happily married couple. They agree to participate on the project as a business proposal as they both need the job and the money. Unfortunately the intimate comedy subject is given a lavish widescreen colour treatment which seems jarring. However, its success is mainly due to the delightful cast led by Peter Finch (in his first lead role in films) as Simon and the delightful Kay Kendall as Laura. They are given funny support by a great group of British character actors - Ian Carmichael (who also played the part on stage and many years later the lead role of "Simon" in a tv series version) as the harried BBC producer, Maurice Denham as a droll butler, Thora Hird as a gruff cook, Hubert Gregg as the exasperated agent and Muriel Pavlow as the scriptwriter secretly in love with the producer.

The Spy With a Cold Nose (Daniel Petrie, 1966) 1/10

Hideously unfunny comedy about a dog with a spying device given to the Russian government. The inventor, a bumbling British civil servant (Lionel Jeffries) who thinks he is James Bond, has to try and get the device back when the Russians suspect something smells foul. Not even Laurence Harvey as a randy vet with a plummy english accent nor Dahlia Lavi as a sexy Russian spy (with or without her clothes) can save this mess. A who's who of Brit character actors - Eric Sykes, June Whitfield, Robert Flemyng, Eric Portman, Colin Blakely, Denholm Elliott - also all flounder around miserably.

Masquerade (Basil Dearden, 1965) 7/10

One of numerous James Bond spoofs that came in the wake of the series of films with Connery. This one is exceptionally droll especially when it comes to hearing the plummy intonations of Jack Hawkins and Charles Gray (a rare chance to see both actors together in a film - a year later Gray would start dubbing Hawkins after the latter lost his voice to cancer). The William Goldman screenplay also delights in skewering Britannia - "we are British...these days we invade only when we are invited or when the Americans allow us", a sentiment that actually holds true to this day. The plot revolves around a dusty Arab country, it's oil reserves and the Brits trying to protect their interests which are being threatened by the protectorate eyeing the Soviet Union as a possible new ally instead. So a Yank (Cliff Robertson), is roped in to ensure the 14-year old sheik (who is pro-Brit), the natural heir to the throne, gets to keep it. There is a kidnapping, assorted crosses followed by double crosses, a sleazy knife thrower (Michel Piccoli in his english language debut), a dwarf and then there is the statuesque but very willowy Marisa Mell to keep you awake if by chance you are getting bored. Rugged Spanish locations add to the clever script which keeps up the relentless quip quotient running at breakneck speed mixing humour and action. Robertson is likeable enough as the born loser who finds himself in over his head as he is crossed left right and center but Jack Hawkins is absolutely delightful playing his part with just the right amount of knowing wit using his mellifluous voice to great effect. This is a film that needs to be known better and re-discovered.

Dark Places (Don Sharp, 1974) 6/10

Typical Hammer-like schlock has a haunted house with a mysterious past involving a trio of murders, an heir (Robert Hardy) searching for hidden loot and the three individuals - a realtor (Herbert Lom), a doctor (Christopher Lee) and his slutty sister (Joan Collins) - who are also after the loot and trying to scare the owner off. The plot veers off into the past as the owner slips in and out of the present getting a glimpse of the past occupants including "his" wife (Jean Marsh), a couple of devlish kids and a nanny (Jane Birkin) in whose arms he finds solace. Little known film in the genre of British horror is slow but has an interesting cast and holds interest when things go bump in the night. The only familiar aspect you may get from this film is the fact that not only is Joan Collins very sexy but her "acting style" has remained consistent throughout her 68-year film career - a sexy laugh, a pout and the ability to make her fellow male co-stars (and the male audience) weak at the knees. A lady who has built an active career without actually having an iota of acting chops. That's the sign of a true "star" and one who is still going strong.

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Re: Last Seen Movie - The Latest Movie You Have Seen; ratings

Postby Reza » Sun May 12, 2019 7:28 am

The Expendables 3 (Patrick Hughes, 2014) 7/10
Kings of the Sun (J. Lee Thompson, 1963) 5/10
The River Murders (Rich Cowan, 2011) 5/10

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Re: Last Seen Movie - The Latest Movie You Have Seen; ratings

Postby Reza » Sat May 04, 2019 9:59 am

Dragged Across Concrete (S. Craig Zahler, 2019) 8/10

Zahler's films - this is his third - have its origins in a Tarantino universe with a specific difference. The films revel in creating an extreme slow burn in its plotting along with pithy and rhythmic dialogue often with racial slurs that make you simultaneously laugh and wince - one bit of racial slur, coming at an extremely tense moment, is particularly nasty and outrageous and left me open-mouthed at Zahler's sheer audacity - he also wrote the screenplay. At 158 minutes the film takes its sweet time getting to the punch line but when it does its worth the wait. And needless to say the ride is brutally and unexpectedly violent. A veteran cop (Mel Gibson) and his much younger partner (Vince Vaughn) are suspended from the force after they are annonymously videotaped using brutal means to subdue a criminal during a drug bust. Fed up with a career that has brought no prizes the older cop decides to intercept a gold bullion heist as a means of bringing some respite to his sick wife and constantly harrassed daughter. His partner reluctantly agrees to go along with the plan. Their paths cross with two young African-American criminals (Tory Kittles & Michael Jai White) who have logged onto the heist as the getaway drivers working for a ruthless mastermind. The screenplay spends long moments with the two cops during a stakeout as they wait it out and talk shop. There are equally long stretches as the cops tail the robbers through city streets and on the highway. Zahler also introduces a character in great detail and gets the audience involved in her plight and just when you are starting to wonder what is going on he decides to dispense with her in a violent burst. The film's long climax also moves at a very slow pace but every moment is riveting as the clock ticks and the violence hits home with shocking intensity. Mel Gibson, after being ejected by most of Hollywood for his off-screen dramas, is quietly coming back with an assortment of very interesting smaller films in which he is doing great work - the success and Oscar nomination for "Hacksaw Ridge" was also Hollywood's way of forgiveness. He has played a cop before - most memorably in the "Lethal Weapon" trilogy - but this is a cop drowning under the weight of age and failure and Gibson plays the character in total low-key mode. The film is not for everyone. If you are expecting the usual high energy heist flick it will disappoint. But if you choose to go with its very slow flow you will be rewarded.

Testament of Youth (James Kent, 2015) 10/10

Harrowing coming of age story of a young feminist set during WWI. Poetic adaptation of Vera Brittain's memoir shows the horror of war through her eyes as her priviledged life in a stately home and later at Oxford University collapses as she, one by one, loses her fiance, brother and close friends to the devastation at the front. Stunningly photographed film is carried by Alicia Vikander who gives an exquisite performance. She brings to the screen a character who is infuritaing, loving, bitter and most of all brave and manages to convey depths of emotion through the mere flicker of her eyelids or the slight slump in her posture. This is a great performance in an old fashioned romantic film - it's David Lean without the epic sweep. It's staunchly anti-war message is remarkably put forth without any scenes depicting the actual slaughter on the front. Soldiers in trenches are shown in extreme closeup staring directly at the camera. Their eyes convey the horrors. And the film has my litmus test for great romantic films - a scene set at a train station on the platform as lovers part, one on the moving train and the other running beside with arm stretched out. This always gets me.

Strangers in the Night (Anthony Mann, 1944) 6/10

A portrait of a beautiful young woman called Rosemary which hangs over the fireplace. Her crippled and delusional mother. The timid bird-like companion. The returning shell-shocked war veteran in love with the beautiful Rosemary. And the lovely lady doctor in love with the veteran. All these lives converge in a house on top of an imposing cliff. This was Anthony Mann's first foray into the noir world with more than a few gothic touches. Filmed at Republic studios so it's production values are sub-par due to a low budget but there are flashes of the later Mann films - a swirling camera in constant motion and a deep sense of foreboding. Sadly none of the cast members register strongly except for Virginia Grey who is the sole actor who breathes life into the character of the doctor. The screenplay is obviously cobbled together from far better films and the absurd finalé is not only hilariously bad yet seemingly quite fitting for a film like this which despite its shortcomings still manages to hold attention. A very short running time naturally aids in doing just that.

The Expendables (Sylvester Stallone, 2010) 6/10

The film tries to rustle up the brainless action flicks from the 1980s and despite the awfully stale material manages to just about make this into a guilty pleasure to watch. The once-upon-a-time A-list actors have all seen better days but it's good to see they can still bring a form of charisma to the big screen. CIA operative (Bruce Willis and his smirk with a dry quip about cock sucking) hires a mercenary (Sylvester Stallone who looks like Hell blew up all over his face) to take down a dictator from a Latin country and a renegade CIA agent who is now a druglord (Eric Roberts in full-on sleaze mode). Completely over-the-top and predictable action flick brings to the mix the always reliable Jason Statham along with Jet Li (who has to face-off endless short stature jokes), Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke (who gets to do a monologue with Stallone's director keeping the camera running on his friend) and Arnie Schwarzenegger who was pulled out of the Governor's office to make a cameo appearance. Violent adrenaline fueled film manages to be fun despite the almost incoherent plot.

The Expendables 2: Back For War (Simon West, 2012) 7/10

The old gang (Stallone, Statham, Lundgren, Li, Crews, Couture) is back along with a young hot-shot sniper (Liam Hemsworth), an old adversary (Arnold Schwarznegger), a female (Nan Yu) and yet another old friend from the past (Chuck Norris, who adds to the has-been action star quotient) gets dusted out of mothballs. When their latest mission, given to them by the CIA operative (Bruce Willis), backfires resulting in the death of a team member the gang decide to go after the sadistic mercenary (Jean-Claude Van Damme making a kick-ass villain named "Vilain") who has stolen the plans of a mine housing a shit-load of plutonium. The screenplay is a mixture of outlandish action set pieces and amusing quips which the cast (now very comfortable as a team in this sequel) spout off with great glee with inside jokes aimed at their own screen personas and past films. The Bulgarian locations are an added plus.

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Re: Last Seen Movie - The Latest Movie You Have Seen; ratings

Postby Reza » Mon Apr 29, 2019 4:18 pm

Big Magilla wrote:
Reza wrote:Anatomy of a Murder (Otto Preminger, 1959) 9/10

Duke Ellington's superb jazz score underlines the cynicism in the screenplay (which is based on the book by Robert Traver) and sets the freewheeling tone of the film which makes this a riveting court room thriller. The film drew big controversy in 1959 with its use of the words "bitch", "panties", "contraceptive", "rape", "penetration", "slut", "sperm" and the never before used concept of "sexual penetration" for rape into the trial. All this pales in Preminger's real aim in showing how justice can be manipulated. A small town attorney (James Stewart) takes on the case of defending a man (Ben Gazzara) who is charged with murdering the man who raped his trailer trash wife (newcomer Lee Remick was cast after Lana Turner was fired for creating a row over the film's costumes). He is helped on the case by an old friend and mentor (Arthur O'Connell) who is an alcoholic and his loyal wisecracking secretary (Eve Arden). The actual court case becomes more of a spring board for technical prowess between the defence attorney and the wily city slick prosecutor (George C. Scott). Innocence clearly takes second place in their game of verbal ping pong. Real-life judge (Joseph N. Welch who had presided over the anti-communist McCarthy trials) plays the sardonic and exasperated arbitrator over the case. Superbly directed film has one of Stewart's most memorable performances coming off various cynical Anthony Mann westerns during that decade. He is surrounded by a great cast - a sexy Lee Remick as the trampy wife, Gazzara as the hot-headed husband, O'Connell as the jittery friend and Scott making a huge impact as the reptilian prosecutor. The film, Stewart, Scott, O'Connell, the screenplay, Sam Leavit's superb cinematography and the editing were all nominated for Oscars. Stewart won the best actor prize at the Venice film festival and Duke Ellington won a Grammy for his score.

Reza, Joseph N. Welch was not a judge in real life. He was the lawyer representing the Army at the Army-McCarthy hearings in which his opposing counsel was the infamous Roy Cohn (later Donald Trump's lawyer) representing Sen. Joseph McCarthy's committee. His Golden Globe nominated performance in Anatomy of a Murder was his only film role. He died the following year.


Thanks for the correction.

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Re: Last Seen Movie - The Latest Movie You Have Seen; ratings

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:10 am

Reza wrote:Anatomy of a Murder (Otto Preminger, 1959) 9/10

Duke Ellington's superb jazz score underlines the cynicism in the screenplay (which is based on the book by Robert Traver) and sets the freewheeling tone of the film which makes this a riveting court room thriller. The film drew big controversy in 1959 with its use of the words "bitch", "panties", "contraceptive", "rape", "penetration", "slut", "sperm" and the never before used concept of "sexual penetration" for rape into the trial. All this pales in Preminger's real aim in showing how justice can be manipulated. A small town attorney (James Stewart) takes on the case of defending a man (Ben Gazzara) who is charged with murdering the man who raped his trailer trash wife (newcomer Lee Remick was cast after Lana Turner was fired for creating a row over the film's costumes). He is helped on the case by an old friend and mentor (Arthur O'Connell) who is an alcoholic and his loyal wisecracking secretary (Eve Arden). The actual court case becomes more of a spring board for technical prowess between the defence attorney and the wily city slick prosecutor (George C. Scott). Innocence clearly takes second place in their game of verbal ping pong. Real-life judge (Joseph N. Welch who had presided over the anti-communist McCarthy trials) plays the sardonic and exasperated arbitrator over the case. Superbly directed film has one of Stewart's most memorable performances coming off various cynical Anthony Mann westerns during that decade. He is surrounded by a great cast - a sexy Lee Remick as the trampy wife, Gazzara as the hot-headed husband, O'Connell as the jittery friend and Scott making a huge impact as the reptilian prosecutor. The film, Stewart, Scott, O'Connell, the screenplay, Sam Leavit's superb cinematography and the editing were all nominated for Oscars. Stewart won the best actor prize at the Venice film festival and Duke Ellington won a Grammy for his score.

Reza, Joseph N. Welch was not a judge in real life. He was the lawyer representing the Army at the Army-McCarthy hearings in which his opposing counsel was the infamous Roy Cohn (later Donald Trump's lawyer) representing Sen. Joseph McCarthy's committee. His Golden Globe nominated performance in Anatomy of a Murder was his only film role. He died the following year.
“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” - Voltaire

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Re: Last Seen Movie - The Latest Movie You Have Seen; ratings

Postby Reza » Mon Apr 29, 2019 8:06 am

Random Harvest (Mervyn LeRoy, 1942) 8/10

It takes being bred on a heavy dose of Bollywood melodrama to understand, enjoy and wallow in such schmaltzy material. The artificiality not only begins with the screenplay, based on the bestselling novel by James Hilton, but spills over onto the opulent but obviously fake settings - the quaint British country cottage with the blossom tree upfront surrounded by rose bushes and a gently bubbling stream nearby, the cobbled streets of Liverpool, the imposing high walls and gate of an asylum and a Country Manor with an imposing interior - all courtesy of MGM's backlot. An amnesiac soldier (Ronald Colman) finds himself recovering in an asylum during WWI. Wandering out in a daze he encounters a vivacious young showgirl (Greer Garson - who was on a roll that year winning an Oscar for "Mrs Miniver" and equal acclaim for her part here - a highlight is the scene where she sings "She's Ma Daisy" wearing a kilt and showing her lovely legs) - who takes him under her wings. They get married and move into a cottage living the idyllic life. However, it's not a case of happily ever after for the couple as melodrama sets in with an accident and the amnesiac suddenly able to recall his previous life as Lord of the Manor and an industrialist. He eases back into his old life with huge family, a business to look after and a much younger "niece" (Susan Peters) who is cloyingly in love with him. Will he remember his wife whom he left behind three years before and who, through a twist of fate, has now taken a job as his very efficient office secretary whom he does not recognise? Needless to say he will but it comes about via twists and turns wringing a whole lot of tears along the way. Stiff upper lips galore and sacrifices are the order of the day as this extremely old fashioned plot plays out. What keeps it all cooking along is the absolute conviction of the outstanding cast who seem to live their parts. Colman, although too old, is perfect as the confused gentleman dressed in tweeds with a cravat around his neck. Garson - the grand lady of MGM - could be very artificial but here shows great warmth and a sassy sense of joie de vivre in sharp contrast to her brooding co-star. The film is populated by many character actors in brief parts - Una O'Connor, Henry Travers, Reginald Owen, Rhys Williams, Margaret Wycherly, Alan Napier, Melville Cooper, Jill Esmond, Elisabeth Risdon and Norma Varden. The film was a massive hit - just what the WWII audiences needed - and was nominated for 7 Oscars including Best Film, for LeRoy's direction, for Ronald Colman, Susan Peters, the screenplay, production design and for the memorable score by Herbert Stothart.

Avengers: Endgame (Anthony & Joe Russo, 2019) 9/10

Riproaring, highly satisfying sequel is akin to those classic roadshow films like "Lawrence of Arabia", "Dr Zhivago" & "The Greatest Story Ever Told" - mammoth all-star productions with an interval and a three hour running time. The film's success lies in the fact that it's mostly character driven, has a lot of heart and does not waste time with repetitive battle sequences. But when the final battle comes it is indeed ferocious and well worth the wait. The eight surving Avengers from the previous installment's debacle - Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth looking like a pot-bellied alcoholic California surfer gets huge laughs), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), War Machine (Don Cheadle) & Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) - discover a way to reverse the death knell inflicted by Thanos (Josh Brolin) by going back in time to different eras to collect the six magical stones that brought the dastardly villain power to annihilate 50% of the world's population. These sequences allow the production designers to create the past through outstanding sets and costumes and allow some characters to not only confront themselves while in the past but also face their own parents when they were young. With great dexterity (and one major sacrifice of life) the mission is achieved leading to the final grand stand against Thanos and his army as the eight Avengers along with their resurrected allies - Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Scarlet Witch (Elisabeth Olsen), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) and Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) - engage in a spectacular battle to the death that results in one more major character's sacrifice along with one Avenger passing on his "baton" to another. Since this film is a grand conclusion to the twenty-two film series we also catch a glimpse of many supporting characters who appeared in the Marvel series of films and played by famous stars - Michael Douglas (who appears as himself in the present and via CGI gets to play his younger self from 1970 as well), Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Michelle Pfeiffer, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Natalie Portman, Hayley Atwell, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Angela Bassett, Rene Russo, William Hurt and Linda Cardellini. An ambitious, emotional and euphoric finalé that neatly ties up more than a decade of storytelling in a clear and concise manner.

Anatomy of a Murder (Otto Preminger, 1959) 9/10

Duke Ellington's superb jazz score underlines the cynicism in the screenplay (which is based on the book by Robert Traver) and sets the freewheeling tone of the film which makes this a riveting court room thriller. The film drew big controversy in 1959 with its use of the words "bitch", "panties", "contraceptive", "rape", "penetration", "slut", "sperm" and the never before used concept of "sexual penetration" for rape into the trial. All this pales in Preminger's real aim in showing how justice can be manipulated. A small town attorney (James Stewart) takes on the case of defending a man (Ben Gazzara) who is charged with murdering the man who raped his trailer trash wife (newcomer Lee Remick was cast after Lana Turner was fired for creating a row over the film's costumes). He is helped on the case by an old friend and mentor (Arthur O'Connell) who is an alcoholic and his loyal wisecracking secretary (Eve Arden). The actual court case becomes more of a spring board for technical prowess between the defence attorney and the wily city slick prosecutor (George C. Scott). Innocence clearly takes second place in their game of verbal ping pong. Real-life judge (Joseph N. Welch who had presided over the anti-communist McCarthy trials) plays the sardonic and exasperated arbitrator over the case. Superbly directed film has one of Stewart's most memorable performances coming off various cynical Anthony Mann westerns during that decade. He is surrounded by a great cast - a sexy Lee Remick as the trampy wife, Gazzara as the hot-headed husband, O'Connell as the jittery friend and Scott making a huge impact as the reptilian prosecutor. The film, Stewart, Scott, O'Connell, the screenplay, Sam Leavit's superb cinematography and the editing were all nominated for Oscars. Stewart won the best actor prize at the Venice film festival and Duke Ellington won a Grammy for his score.

The Last Post (Miranda Bowen & Jonny Campbell, 2017) 8/10

The decline and fall of colonial rule is glaringly exposed to contradict the naive view that Empire building was benevolent and instead is shown to be down right oppressive to the native populations. The story, in this six-part BBC miniseries, is set in 1965 amidst a unit of the Royal Military Police using the Aden Emergency as a backdrop. This involved an insurgency against the Occupying Forces of the former British Empire in the Protectorate of South Arabia, which is now a part of Yemen. The emergency eventually hastened the end of British rule in the territory. The main fictional plot revolves around the stationed officers and their families and their eventual violent encounters with the local population. Gradual resistance led to an unsurgency involving shooting and bombing the British officer and civilians. "White Man Go Home" was always the mantra at every colonial post and it's the same in Aden. The characters run the gamut from the newly arrived Captain (Jeremy Neumark Jones) and his naive bride (Jessie Buckley) to a senior officer (Stephen Campbell Moore) and his promiscuous wife (Jessica Raine) who is involved in an affair with the outgoing Captain to a senior Manager (Ben Miles) whose young son is kidnapped by the insurgents demanding the return of their leader. Gripping and atmospheric story captures these characters in a dangerous game that involves a secret meeting between a British Government minister and the terrorist. The film vividly captures British colonial life with South Africa substituting for Aden.

Reza
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Re: Last Seen Movie - The Latest Movie You Have Seen; ratings

Postby Reza » Mon Apr 29, 2019 8:04 am

Sky Giant (Lew Landers, 1938) 5/10

RKO studio programmer, set in a TWA flying school, has various thrilling aerial sequences. The on ground conflict is between the tough ex-Army trainer (Harry Carey Sr.), his rebellious assistant (Richard Dix) and his son (Chester Morris), also a pilot. The two men are also rivals for the same girl (Joan Fontaine). This B-film is one of the early films to depict attempts at mapping the Arctic route from California over the Arctic into Russia. A precussor to the many similar themed films in this genre replete with a crash landing somewhere in the Yukon territory as the two men struggle to survive through an icy landscape. Who gets the girl in the end is the main plot point. Both Dix and Morris were already past their A-list days while Fontaine was just two years away from Hitchcock and full fledged stardom.

Charming Sinners (Robert Milton, 1929). 4/10

Static comedy of manners about infidelity based on Somerset Maugham's play "The Country Wife" which saw great success on Broadway two years before with Ethel Barrymore as the star. As with most early talkies adapted from stage successes this was brought to the screen by Paramount for its contract star Ruth Chatterton who came from a successful stage background. And like all early talkies the film is basically a filmed play with the camera devoid of any movement as characters talk endlessly in drawing rooms. A doctor (an awfully stiff Clive Brook) is having an affair with his scheming patient (Mary Nolan). In order to teach him a lesson his wife (Ruth Chatterton), who is aware of the on-going sexual escapade, thinks about having a fling of her own with a former boyfriend (William Powell). The stars try to breathe life into the boring proceedings with Chatterton and Powell (still some years away from stardom) coming off best. Laura Hope Crews is funny as Chatterton's sophisticated mother who is aware of everyone's sex games.

The Laughing Lady (Victor Schertzinger, 1929). 4/10

Paramount seemed to keep pulling out old Ethel Barrymore stage hits to adapt for the screen for their top contract star Ruth Chatterton. Here she plays a lady who laughs each time she feels anxiety. Saved from drowning her saviour decides to crash her hotel room to make sexual advances. Caught by a maid the escapade causes a scandal, gets her thrown out of the hotel with her baby followed by her husband (who has a shrill mistress on the side) sue for divorce. His business lawyer (Clive Brook as stiff as ever) not only wrangles the divorce but also gets him custody of their child too. Seeking revenge on the lawyer the wife implicates him in a compromising position with herself causing another scandal. Absurd plot moves at a fast pace with Chatterton the sole reason to sit through this rare early talkie which was once thought lost.

Latter Days (C. Jay Cox, 2003) 2/10

An awkward romance between an L.A. party boy (Wes Ramsey) and a mormon missionary (Steve Sandvoss) starts off as a bet but this dismal so-called romantic film has a hackneyed feel to it. And it's certainly not helped by broad characterizations, stereotypical situations and amateurish acting by the two leads. For some reason Jacqueline Bisset, Mary Kay Place and Joseph Gordon-Leavit decided to accept totally disposable roles in this tacky and very boring film.

Prayers For Bobby (Russell Mulcahy, 2009) 7/10

The belief in and interpretation of religion comes very easily to the faithful. But the interpretations of the "words of God" were written by mortal men and were a reflection of the times they lived in. This film raises interesting questions about the importance of seeing religion and the words of the Holy Books (here the Old Testament) in context to the times we live in and makes a strong point about blind faith can sometimes be very dangerous. A family is devastated when a teenager (Ryan Kelley) commits suicide. He comes from a deeply religious family and his conflicted feelings about his sexuality put him at odds with his fanatically devout mother (Sigourney Weaver) who feels the wrath of God will not allow the family to be together in the hereafter because of her son's "aberration". Guilt for causing his mother grief, estrangement from his family and not being able to accept his own sexuality makes him jump off a bridge on a busy highway. The screenplay has all the typical tropes of a sentimental and melodramatic tv film but deep down the story resonates deeply about many religious thoughts some also not dealing solely about sexuality. Thoughtful true story that speaks about prejudice and the strong need for tolerance and acceptance even if the presentation tilts towards being a tad preachy. Weaver is very good as the woman who's faith is shaken up and goes from pillar to post to find answers to questions she realises should never have been cast in stone.

The Virginian (Victor Fleming, 1929) 5/10

Classic and successful early talkie was the first sound version based on the novel by Owen Wister. There had already been two silent versions with Dustin Farnum and Kenneth Harlan playing the title character and there would be a further two sound versions later with Joel MCrea and Bill Pullman along with a tv series with Doug McClure. Gary Cooper became a star with this first sound version as the laconic and good-natured cowboy in love with a school teacher (Mary Brian) and in conflict with a cattle rustler (Walter Huston). The archetypal plot now seems hackneyed as the tropes have been repeated ad nauseum in so many similar westerns. But the film is a fine showcase for Cooper as it was the start of his stardom in Hollywood which lasted well over 30 years.

Lady With a Past (Edward H. Griffith, 1932) 6/10

Amusing comedy with Constance Bennett in one of her typical roles. A vivacious but intellectual socialite (Constance Bennett) finds herself a pariah as all men shun her as they find her boring. On a trip to Paris she reinvents herself with the help of a penniless man (Ben Lyon) who pretends to be her gigolo and escorts her around town which finally attracts the attention of other men. When she spurns the attentions of a fortune hunter he kills himself causing a scandal which brings her yet more popularity. Back in New York she attracts the attention of the man she loved but who had always ignored her. Bennett underplays and is delightful throughout although its highly unbelievable that the plot has her continuously rejected by men when she is so obviously alluring throughout.

Three Faces East (Roy Del Ruth, 1930) 7/10

Exciting WWI spy thriller which was a percursor to Marlene Dietrich's "Dishonored" and Greta Garbo's "Mata Hari". Agent Z-1 (Constance Bennett), a german spy, is assigned to infiltrate the house of a British officer in the Admirality in London. Her assignment is to make contact with another spy who will give her further orders. The other spy is posing as the butler (Erich von Stroheim) and a cat and mouse game ensues with other house guests who suspect both of being spies. But all is not as it seems as alliances change, secrets in the house safe hold the key to Allied victory in Europe and identities of characters are revealed to be not whom they claim. Briskly paced film has the two leads in fine form as romance blooms, there is intrigue upon intrigue and nail biting suspense and double crosses. For an early talkie the camera is surprisingly not static. Ten years later the film was remade as "British Intelligence" with Boris Karloff and Margaret Lindsay.

Bed of Roses (Gregory La Cava, 1933) 8/10

Saucy, briskly paced pre-Code film is astonishingly very bold in presenting its female protagonist as sexually liberated. Of course the character is a prostitute (Constance Bennett), just out of prison, who immediately sets her sight on a rich man and steals from him. When caught she jumps into the river to escape getting caught and ends up meeting and falling in love with a barge owner (Joel McCrea). Since this is a pre-Code film their fairy-tale love story turns gritty and before the two come together she blackmails a rich publisher (John Halliday) into becoming her lover and getting a penthouse apartment in the bargain. The witty screenplay is full of sexual innuendo with Pert Kelton, as the hard boiled hooker friend, getting all the best lines. Bennett's natural classy demeanor is at odds with the low class character she plays here but still manages to wing it via her charming and very sexy presence. Very amusing film has a number of familiar faces - Franklin Pangborn, Jane Darwell - in small parts. McCrea and Bennett have great chemistry and make a good romantic pair.

Law of the Tropics (Ray Enright, 1941) 6/10

From being the most highly paid star in Hollywood during the 1930s Constance Bennett's career ended up in B-movies during the 1940s. Still very beautiful she brings her charm to this breezy drama set on a rubber plantation on the Amazon. Running from the police she finds herself in a makeshift marriage to a foreman (Jeffrey Lynn) with whom she falls in love. Exotic (if fake) locations, a little intrigue, some corny comedy, a good supporting cast - the gorgeous dark-haired Argentine beauty, Mona Maris, is a standout as one of the other Company wives - and the attractive chemistry between Lynn and a mature Bennett make this a very pleasant time at the movies.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000) 9/10

Ang Lee’s exhilarating film is much more than just a martial arts film. What is most unusual about it is the depth and poetry of the main plot which goes beyond its dazzling action sequences and has a swooning quality of romantic and even spiritual nature. The director uses breathless storytelling, ravishing romance and martial-arts miracles to sweep us into an epic adventure beyond our imagination which is what the magic of movies is supposed to achieve. During the 18th century Qing Dynasty a noble warrior (Chow Yun-Fat) wants to retire from his violent career and decides to present his late master’s sword, an exquisitely designed 400-year old blade known as the "Green Destiny", to the district governor. When the sword is suddenly stolen the warrior realizes that the thief might be the person who years before had murdered his master and decides to hunt him down and seek vengeance. Helping him on his mission is his deceased friend’s betrothed (Michelle Yeoh), a machete-wielding security officer, with whom he is in love. The lady also reciprocates his feelings but both, through a rigid sense of honour for the deceased, let their love for each other merely simmer. Thwarting them both is the headstrong teenage daughter (Zhang Ziyi) of the governor, in love with a desert bandit (Chang Chen), and her governess (Cheng Pei-Pei) who has trained her in special martial arts techniques. The hair-raising spectacular stunts were all performed by the actors themselves in scenes that resemble elegant ballet moves shot in rhythm to the soaring Oscar- winning music score by Tan Dun and the weeping solos performed by the world famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The film perfectly combines sensitive acting with a mature and richly textured story which is thoroughly fascinating and downright Shakespearean in its intrigue and deadly double-crosses. The film won 4 Oscars - for best foreign film, for its exquisite cinematography, original score and production design and was nominated for the screenplay, costume design, editing, original song ("A Love Before Time"), for Ang Lee's direction and for best Picture. Both lead actors became international stars after the success of this film.

Badla (Sujoy Ghosh, 2019) 6/10

Slick Bollywood remake of the spanish film, Oriol Paulo's "Contratiempo", is like an Agatha Christie whodunnit. The convoluted mystery is presented in a series of flashbacks seen from the perspective of different characters just like in Kurosawa's "Rashomon". A highly successful entrepreneur (Tapsee Panu) is found in a locked hotel room with the body of her murdered lover. She insists she is innocent and hires a famous lawyer (Amitabh Bachchan) to defend her. Nothing is as it seems with characters shifting alliances as truth and lies get mixed up and supporting characters - a missing teenager and his mother (Amrita Singh) - form an integral part of the murder-mystery. The screenplay tries to be a bit too clever with its twists and turns and with a few too many glaring potholes. Bachchan is mainly relegated to one set - the room where he interogates Panu - and the film is basically a battle of wits between their two characters with periodic flashbacks to the past. Amrita Singh manages to upstage both stars in a strong sympathetic role.


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