buy Flomax no prescription Synthroid without prescription buy buspar buy Singulair online buy Prednisone online Amitriptyline lasix without prescription buy buspar online buy super Levitra online Prednisone without prescription buy trazodone without prescription Zithromax No Prescription Propecia Amoxicillin

Monthly Archives: July 2012

You are browsing the site archives by month.

Flick Clique: July 1-7

The Big House (1930). Early talkie from MGM is famous for being the first “prison flick” with all the clichés that go with it (the naive newcomer con, the grizzled vet con, the suave player con). It actually holds up very well with fluid direction very unusual for an early sound film and good performances from the three leads, Chester Morris, Robert Montgomery and an unforgettable Wallace Beery. Frances Marion’s script details Morris and Beery’s attempts to break out of the prison life, and the weak-willed Montgomery’s trying to fit in. It’s gritty, bracing stuff – a lot of the material set up here was also explored in films like Brute Force (since we recently saw this, it was an interesting compare-and-contrast). I wonder if films like this and I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang were responsible for prison reform in the U.S.? This Warner Archive DVD was available for check-out at my local library; I will definitely get more W.A. discs from them just to give them my support.
The Makioka Sisters (1983). Idyllic, involving chronicle of four Japanese sisters in the ’30s who find themselves in a family crisis after their widower father dies. The man’s dying wish was for his second youngest daughter to have a husband so that she could acquire the dowry he set up. The sister in question, a sweet yet passive type, allows for her older, comfortably married sisters to find her a suitable mate – not easy, since there aren’t too many eligible bachelors of good social and financial standing available. Meanwhile, the more modern youngest sister sets her sights on starting a doll-making business while getting involved with the ne’er-do-well son of a department store magnate. Once I got past the initial confusion (at first I thought the two oldest sisters were the mother and aunt of the younger sisters), this was a fascinating drama that somewhat reminded me of the upper-class tribulations in Downton Abbey with the family fussing over the daughters’ marriageability while the coming world war will soon render those concerns quaint and obsolete. Both projects also have the more enlightened younger sibling who is sorta the rebel of the family. Although The Makioka Sisters is statically filmed and ponderous at times, it’s beautifully crafted and contains several notable performances (apparently all four of the actresses who play the sisters are legendary in Japan).
The Saphead (1920). This early Buster Keaton film (his first feature film role, as a matter of fact) has recently gotten a good re-release by Kino. I’m reviewing the DVD edition for DVD Talk. This one isn’t quite the same as other Keaton vehicles, since it was a stage success first – a florid family melodrama, no less – and Keaton was suggested for the film by Douglas Fairbanks, who originated Buster’s part of sad-sack rich boy Bertie on stage. The story revolves around Keaton’s character trying to prove himself with his uncle (William H. Crane), a successful industrialist, so that he can marry Agnes (Beulah Booker), the orphan girl whom the uncle raised from childhood. But wait! The man’s no-good son-in-law (Irving Cummings) receives news from his illegitimate daughter that his former flame, now dying, is threatening to expose their affair. Will he pin it on poor Bertie? Like many earlier silents, the film is pretty stagy and inert, and Keaton doesn’t have much opportunity to do the highly physical comedy he’s known for. Basically, it’s worth a peek for fans but not an especially noteworthy film for anyone else. I will have my full write-up posted this next week, hopefully in time for the DVD’s release this Tuesday.

Flickr Friday: Beany & Cecil Book

Every time we go thrifting, I head straight for the books. Mostly I come across the same junk as always, but occasionally I will come across a battered old kiddie book with cool illustrations. Bob Clampett’s Beany: Cecil Captured for the Zoo, published by Whitman in 1954, was a good recent find (and only 49 cents, too!). Although it had its share of wear and tear, the pages were complete and surprisingly free of food stains, crayon marks or other childhood detritus. These little “Tell-a-Tell” books were fairly popular over a long period of time (I remember them in the mid-’70s). As with the Beany & Cecil, they often used popular animated cartoon characters — and yet the illustrations had that standard “Whitman” look.

Along with the front and back cover, some of my favorite pages from Bob Clampett’s Beany: Cecil Captured for the Zoo got uploaded to the flickr photostream:

Happy 4th of July

Dear readers: be safe and try to resist having the oversized dolls from Disney’s America on Parade (1976) haunt your dreams.

Flick Clique: June 24-30

Céline: Through the Eyes of the World (2010). Watched out of morbid curiosity, this three-hour documentary/concert film chronicles Céline Dion’s 2008-09 Taking Chances tour through six continents, numerous costume changes, and one lost stuffed lamb belonging to her son. The film is overlong and probably would have been better served being split in two, with the behind-the-scenes stuff in one program and the music (much of which I skipped through) in another. Like most big-budget major stadium tours, it’s a tightly controlled affair with every bit of business from Céline’s onstage patter to the backup dancers’ steps pre-planned to a T (contrary to the title, she even states at one point that she doesn’t want to risk anything!). There’s also a lot of footage of Céline visiting dignitaries and celebs, shopping for high-end goods, and acting goofy with her elderly husband and young son (whose long, long hair must constitute as some sort of child abuse). The mega-production of the tour is pretty impressive, oddly, and Céline has the pipes to sell it. Her singing voice is getting more nasally as she gets older, however – during the tour’s stop in Ireland, the film briefly shows the clip of Céline from when she won the Eurovision Song Contest in the same city several years earlier. It surprised me how much purer her voice sounded in 1988. The film’s candid footage takes great pains to make Céline look like a normal person, which she isn’t. Despite all that, in the end she does come across as quite a down-to-earth, fun lady who doesn’t take herself too seriously.
Lawrence Of Arabia (1962). Spotted the two-disc DVD edition at Big Lots for a fiver, so I decided to check it out again. I first saw this on TV about 20 years ago, in a pan-and-scan edition which was probably edited to ribbons. I remember liking the photography and Peter O’Toole, but the film in general dragged and was difficult to understand. The current re-watching finds it still full of beautiful photography, and O’Toole’s star-making performance still holds up — and it’s still somewhat hard to understand, plot-wise, but Christopher (who read the autobiography of the real Lawrence) filled me in on what I couldn’t decipher. Knowing that T. E. Lawrence was gay also adds more shading to O’Toole’s interpretation, giving it more depth than the typical historic epic gets. Although the casting of non-Arabs like Anthony Quinn and Alec Guiness grates, the film is skillfully directed by David Lean with some still-impressive shots that use the abstract beauty of the Arabian desert well. I liked the selflessness and rebellious spirit of O’Toole’s character. The only part I didn’t agree with was starting the film off with Lawrence’s death in a motorcycle accident (the entire prologue could have been cut off, making a more concise/enjoyable film).
Lucy Gallant (1955). A soapy guilty pleasure which I have been wanting to watch for years (ever since it was regularly played on the AMC channel all those eons ago). I finally got to see it during some down time this week, courtesy of Netflix Instant. A mousy-looking Jane Wyman stars as the title character, an heiress on the run whose life gets handed a change in fate when the train she’s boarded conks out in a dusty Texas oil town. Meeting Charlton Heston’s randy oilman and seeing that the womenfolk in town need a style infusion, she decides to set up a local dress shop. Becoming a huge success alienates Heston, however, who goes off to Europe, fights in WWII, and marries/divorces a French model. When he returns to Texas, the now-tycoon Jane wants him back, but he won’t take her until she agrees to give up the business and pop out a few brats for him. Enjoyable but awfully sexist, and with a disappointing ending that attempts to have it both ways and fails miserably. Wyman, normally appealing in stuff like Magnificent Obsession, is so mousy and wan here, stretching credibility for the forward, fashionable gal she’s supposed to be. And Heston’s character is, simply put, a total douche. Things are enlivened considerably by Thelma Ritter as Wyman’s salty pal and a kitschy climactic fashion show hosted by Edith Head. It’s actually a well-made ’50s melodrama, as long as you take the regrettably sexist message with a grain of salt (or perhaps fine wool in a tasteful shade of grey). By the way, the Netflix version of this shot-in-Panavision film has it in 4:3 aspect ratio with a less than thrilling print.