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 Posted:   Jul 12, 2020 - 2:03 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Emily Brontë's WUTHERING HEIGHTS (1992) - 8/10

Previously, I've seen the 1939 Samuel Goldwyn/Laurence Olivier-Merle Oberon version of WUTHERING HEIGHTS and the 1970 AIP/Timothy Dalton-Anna Calder-Marshall version. The latter I saw in 2007, and the former was well before then. Despite my hazy memories of both, this 1992 version, starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche seemed to cover more ground than I remembered from those earlier versions. And indeed, this film is touted as being the "first time Emily Brontë's full story is told." So, given that this version runs just one minute longer than those previous films, this new film has to move. And so it does. The film is packed with incident, with one story development cascading after another.

WUTHERING HEIGHTS is not like the romances of Jane Austen. It's a dark tale of obsessive love, betrayal, and revenge--and also a ghost story (although that aspect is downplayed in this version). The film is narrated by a briefly glimpsed Emily Brontë, played by an uncredited Sinéad O'Connor, who warns us that we should not smile at anything we are are about to see. By film's end, it's easy to see why someone like Bernard Herrmann would find this tragic tale a suitable subject for an opera.

The picture is finely acted, and boasts an impressive production, shot in Yorkshire, England. I was surprised then, to find out that this film did not receive a U.S. theatrical release, and premiered in America on television (on the Bravo Channel, I believe, back in the days when such fare prevailed on that network, rather than reality series.). This lack of U.S. theatrical exposure might be explained by the anonymity of the film's cast. Ralph Fiennes was entirely unknown to American film-goers. This was his first theatrical feature. Juliette Binoche's biggest American release had come in 1988's THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING, an art-house film that had made $10 million in the U.S. but had barely cracked the top 90 films of its year at the box office. In this film, Binoche not only plays "Cathy", but has almost as much screen time playing "Catherine," Cathy's daughter--giving a hint as to how much additional story is told in this version.

British television director Peter Kosminsky helmed the film, the first of only two features he's directed to date. Ryûichi Sakamoto provides an excellent score for the picture, lushly romantic when that is called for, but colder and more forceful when things turn darker. The CD was only released in Japan, on the Eastworld label. This version of WUTHERING HEIGHTS is not as romantic as prior versions, but is likely closer to what Emily Brontë had in mind.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 12, 2020 - 2:32 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

I always loved the 1939 version of Wuthering Heights. Loved Olivier and Oberon as well as Newman's score. However, that movie only covered the first half of Bronte's novel. Moreover, in the novel, Kathy dies in childbirth, and that isn't what happens in the 1939 movie.

The Fiennes-Binoche version is excellent and does cover the whole novel. I cried when Fiennes pulled Kathy's body out of her coffin. Such anguish! I also loved the music. There have been several movies made of this novel. I liked most of them. Tom Hardy did one I think for the BBC that is rarely seen. I ordered it on DVD, and it was good.

Excellent review, Bob.

 
 Posted:   Jul 12, 2020 - 2:53 PM   
 By:   MusicMad   (Member)

Road to Bali (1952) ... 7/10

Our lovable duo (heroes?) are in good form in this 6th (from 7) Road film ... lovely Technicolor revealing they got as far as the Paramount back-lot. Dorothy Lamour adds to the fun but it is Bing Crosby and Bob Hope who provide most of the jokes ... for every joke that is sign-posted there are two others off-the cuff and it's wonderful seeing these two in great form.

So non-PC that it's hard to know where to start but if you're willing to transport yourself to an era in which it was acceptable for white Americans to portray any nationality (and to applaud the US way-of-life and environment as the ultimate dream) then you may enjoy the fun.

A few good musical numbers happily break the narrative (I particularly like Chicago Style and The Merry Go Runaround by Van Heusen and Burke), otherwise it's jokes galore ... plus a few cameos (non-speaking) ... and a stolen few feet of celluloid from a famous film!

Enjoyable, if a little over-long.
Mitch

 
 Posted:   Jul 12, 2020 - 8:43 PM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

Coco- 3-5

It was… okay. It had some clever story elements and some good payoffs. The ending was very emotional. But as with most Pixar films and animated films in general they're just so talky and jokey. The only parts I really enjoyed were the few times it slowed down and had a serious moment. I'm also not a fan of Pixar's animation. It just doesn't wow me. Its good, serves its purpose but that's about it.

Animation should be a visual language first. I think Disney and Dreamworks animation is much better. And being a movie about a kid who wants to be a musician. I thought the music was totally forgettable. Both the songs and the score. Doesn't hold a candle next to classic Disney musicals. Ive never liked the music in Pixar films.

So, long story short. I thought it was generally okay. Amusing at times. But the jokes and constant physical humor tires me out. So do the obnoxious voice acting. I Didn’t have any huge complaints and I wouldn't say don't see it. I liked Disney’s Moana a lot more though.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 13, 2020 - 10:45 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

CHEYENNE TAKES OVER (1947) - 5/10

This film was the seventh of eight westerns that Lash La Rue starred in for PRC before they folded, and he moved on to an even lesser-known distributor (Screen Guild Productions). In it, he plays his standard PRC character, Marshal "Cheyenne Davis." Along with his pal "Fuzzy" (Al St. John), he travels to the El Lobos Ranch for some R&R, only to find the owner dead and gone and the ranch being run by "Wayne Dawson" (George Chesebro). When local saloon owner "Fay Wilkins" (Nancy Gates) tells Cheyenne that she saw Dawson kill someone in her saloon, Cheyenne sets out to find out who this Dawson fellow is, and what happened to the original owner.

Lash uses his lash twice in this film--once at the beginning to snap a gun out of a bad guy's hand, and once at the end to pull someone off a horse during a chase. Those are the highlights in an otherwise routine C-western. Snagging Nancy Gates as the female lead here was a coup for PRC. She was between doing swashbucklers at RKO (1945's THE SPANISH MAIN and 1952's AT SWORD'S POINT) and would go on to co-star with Frank Sinatra in two films--1954's presidential assassination classic SUDDENLY and Vincente Minnelli's SOME CAME RUNNING (1958).

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 13, 2020 - 11:04 AM   
 By:   Xebec   (Member)

Damage
6/10
Jeremy Irons is excellent again as he cheats with his son's girlfriend.

Lolita
6/10
Jeremy Irons and Dominique Swain are both very good. Some nice moments of humour and they have great chemistry onscreen. I found the story itself creepy as hell though. It's a well made film and looks great. Morricone's score works as it plays quietly in the background throughout. Irons excels at doing voice-overs too.

M. Butterfly
3/10
Jeremy Irons cheats in his wife with a Chinese bloke who is also a spy. Nice Howard Shore score.

 
 Posted:   Jul 13, 2020 - 2:59 PM   
 By:   MusicMad   (Member)

Mahler (1974) ... 5/10

Ken Russell's imagining of the great composer's tortured life, told in flashback (as usual), highlighting various significant events ... you know the format. You won't know the style unless you're aware of this auteur's output.

I recall one or more reviews of the classic Lawrence of Arabia which posit the thought that at the end you know no more of the titular subject than you did at the start ... the same could be said of this biography but that might be unfair since we do learn that Mahler had a difficult childhood, a turbulent marriage, suffered the tragedy of losing a child, and was forever abused because of his religion.

Each of these "events" is set-out but in such a way that you might forget what happened because you're so dumb-founded by the portrayal. As two extreme examples: his dream of his death with his wife dancing and simulating sexual acts on his coffin; his conversion to Catholicism (in order to obtain a prestigious conducting job) have to be seen to be believed.

What the actors, Robert Powell, Georgina Hale, Antonia Ellis and a host of well-known others thought of these scenes, and others, is anyone's guess.

Some wonderful scenery, backed by lots of glorious music almost make it worthwhile but I think I'll stick to the music in future. I'm glad I watched it but I won't be revisiting ... I don't think there's anything else to learn of Mahler from this portrayal.
Mitch

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 14, 2020 - 11:58 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

CONNIE AND CARLA (2014) - 7/10

"Connie" (Nia Vardalos) and "Carla" (Toni Collette) have been friends since grade school, sharing a love of musical theater. All their adult lives, they have pursued a career in that area, but have risen no further than dinner theaters, and currently have been reduced to playing airport lounges. One day, they see their lounge manager get bumped off by two mafia goons because of a gambling debt. When the goons spot them, the pair must flee for their lives. Thus begins this good-natured mash-up of SOME LIKE IT HOT and VICTOR/VICTORIA.

Connie and Carla bid a hasty goodbye to their boyfriends and families and head from Chicago to L.A. Looking for work, they discover that dinner theater is unknown in La-La-Land. Accidentally finding themselves in a drag bar one night, they watch the floor show as the drag queens perform to all of the show tunes they grew up loving. Connie and Carla decide that with with the proper clothes, wigs, and makeup, they could pass for men playing women. Their big advantage is that they can actually sing the songs, rather than just lip-syncing to recordings as the other performers do. And soon they are the headliners at the club.

The main romantic entanglement comes when Connie falls for "Jeff" (David Duchovny), a guy who has just found out that the brother he hasn't seen in 15 years (Stephen Spinella) is one of the drag performers at the club. Jeff, of course, thinks Connie is a man.

While these plot lines have been done before, and better, this film has two saving graces. First, it's done without any condescension to the drag performers. Connie and Carla are totally accepted for who they are (or appear to be, anyway), and they in return become completely integrated into the performing and personal lives of the men they are working with. Second, the film is chock full of stage routines, done in full regalia, with Vardalos and Collette credibly singing all manner of show tunes, backed by only a piano or small combo. They do a fine job on all of the numbers, and it gets better as they include some of the other performers into their act. (The Epic/Sony Music Soundtrax CD contains more complete versions of nine of these numbers, but found room for only one cue from Randy Edelman's score, even though the CD clocks in under 28 minutes)

Universal tried to give this $27 million film a wide release, opening it in more than a thousand theaters. But it was never destined to be a mass-market hit, and should have been treated as an art-house film. Ultimately, it did art-house business, grossing only $8 million in the U.S.. If you are not a fan of musical theater, you will probably suffer through every minute of this film, but for those predisposed to the form, the periodic musical interludes bring to life this "Laverne and Shirley" story of friendship, with two appealing performers at its center.

 
 Posted:   Jul 15, 2020 - 6:07 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)

Mahler (1974) ... 5/10

Ken Russell's imagining of the great composer's tortured life, told in flashback (as usual), highlighting various significant events ... you know the format. You won't know the style unless you're aware of this auteur's output.



Just watched the original trailer; like you said, seems to be made in the same lurid over-the-top spirit as Russel's other composer "biographies" (I don't really think they were ever intended as "serious" biographies of the composers, but rather as some sort of zany interpretation of their life and music.) I seem to largely agree with your review before even watching the film. :-D
In any way, looks indeed like a film I'd be interested in seeing at least once, though I don't necessarily need it on Blu-ray or watch it over and over again.


I'm a big Mahler fan and Robert Powell sure looks the part here at times. I should check this out.

 
 Posted:   Jul 15, 2020 - 6:20 AM   
 By:   MusicMad   (Member)

Mahler (1974) ...In any way, looks indeed like a film I'd be interested in seeing at least once, though I don't necessarily need it on Blu-ray or watch it over and over again.


I'm a big Mahler fan and Robert Powell sure looks the part here at times. I should check this out.


I accessed the film via my subscription to Medici.tv ... I happened to see it highlighted on the menu screen as I was not aware the film was included in their library. Last week I watched the Abbado/Lucerne Festival Orchestra performance of Mahler's Symphony #02 "Resurrection" from 2003 (amused at identifying some orchestra members as being from the BPO smile) ...

... only to realise after a while that this is one of the recordings I have on CD/NAS drive. Absolutely fabulous!

 
 Posted:   Jul 15, 2020 - 6:47 AM   
 By:   Damian   (Member)

Sequestro Di Persona 5/10-ish. Ok mafia in the mountains/small village setting. Stars Franco Nero ( mum didn't recognise him this time) , Charlotte Rampling and Frank Wolff. It was a bit slow not much action,more talk. Scenery was lovely and Riz was fine.
Followed by Blood Friday 3/10 with Raimond Harmsdorf. Cheap effort some action.Ok for a second feature.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 15, 2020 - 10:00 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

COLORADO SERENADE (1946) - 7/10

This is one of the five or so color Eddie Dean westerns from PRC, and the Cinecolor is a nice change from the black-and-white monotones of the rest of the studio's output. The visuals seem to enhance the story as well. This one is about a father-son crime team. Dad (Warner Richmond) hides out in an abandoned mine, sitting on a stash of stolen Federal gold, while the son (Dennis Moore) runs the local saloon as a front for robbing stagecoaches to steal the gold. In comes a judge (Forrest Taylor) on the trail of the stolen gold. The judge has an interesting backstory that he relates to Eddie Dean. He reveals that his own son was kidnapped as a child by a man the judge had convicted of murder.

As is usual with the Dean color productions, they up the running time to over an hour as opposed to the 50+ minute times that are the norm. A fourth song is added here as well, up from the usual three in a Dean film.

 
 Posted:   Jul 16, 2020 - 2:04 AM   
 By:   MusicMad   (Member)

Face/Off (1997) ... 3/10

I've not seen this for some years and whilst I had recollections that it was a good action movie with a unique twist ... the protagonist and antagonist switch roles ... last evening it came across as a lazy shoot-em-up lacking in substance.

Under-cover cops/spies are two-a-penny in the film world and there's often a lot of suspense in watching: how long before he/she is found-out ... In this, the filmmakers merely make it part of a joke: there is no suspense, just ridicule. For action, the balletic prancing about and unending firepower unleashed became tiresome after the first shoot-out.

Neither lead actor is a favourite (my wife particularly dislikes Nicolas Cage) but to their credit, each carried the switch well ... not the swapping of bodies but that of hard all-action hero/villian to humane family man.

I struggled to match Joan Allen with her roles in the Jason Bourne franchise and it was a shame Gina Gershon's role was so limited. A few other known faces appeared to aid the story-line but this was very much a two-man film.

John Powell's score registered only a couple of times ... there was good atmospheric soundscape at the time of the operations and a nice melody came in towards the end. When they were playing at JB007 in the speedboats the lack of a distinct action theme was most telling ... it would have helped the viewer suspend disbelief.

The DVD is now in the recycle box.
Mitch

 
 Posted:   Jul 16, 2020 - 3:42 AM   
 By:   SBD   (Member)

Face/Off (1997) ... 3/10

I've not seen this for some years and whilst I had recollections that it was a good action movie with a unique twist ... the protagonist and antagonist switch roles ... last evening it came across as a lazy shoot-em-up lacking in substance.

Under-cover cops/spies are two-a-penny in the film world and there's often a lot of suspense in watching: how long before he/she is found-out ... In this, the filmmakers merely make it part of a joke: there is no suspense, just ridicule. For action, the balletic prancing about and unending firepower unleashed became tiresome after the first shoot-out.

Mitch


I really feel like I'm the only one who doesn't see the big to-do about this movie. There's a neat premise that the film (all two and a half hours of it!) just forgets about. People complain about remakes, but this could genuinely use one; one that gets at what it would be like for two people of different moral and social classes to be each other.

 
 Posted:   Jul 16, 2020 - 3:57 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)

Last week I watched the Abbado/Lucerne Festival Orchestra performance of Mahler's Symphony #02 "Resurrection" from 2003 (amused at identifying some orchestra members as being from the BPO smile) ...

... only to realise after a while that this is one of the recordings I have on CD/NAS drive. Absolutely fabulous!


Yes, that's a great recording. I got that on CD (and therefore on my NAS as well); it's coupled with an equally wonderful recording of Debussy's La Mer.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 16, 2020 - 10:33 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

BORDER FEUD (1947) - 5/10

Lash La Rue is back as "Marshal Cheyenne Davis," who travels to the town of Red Gulch, Nevada, where the co-owners of the Blue Girl gold mine, "Jim Condon" (Brad Slaven) and "Bob Hart" (Kenneth Farrell) are enraged in a deadly feud. Each believes the other is stealing gold shipments, unaware that their feud is being encouraged by "Jack Barton" (Bob Duncan), a saloon proprietor who hopes that the Hart family and the Condon family will murder each other so that he can take over the mine.

The law has intercepted a hired killer engaged by Barton's unknown backer. So, Cheyenne travels to Red Gulch posing as the killer, in hopes of smoking out this shadowy figure, known only as "E". The plot gets a little too complicated for its own good when Cheyenne rides into town with his badge on, and somehow convinces Barton that he is the killer posing as a marshal (when actually he is a marshal posing as a killer posing as a marshal). Pretty standard, otherwise.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 16, 2020 - 2:25 PM   
 By:   Xebec   (Member)

Cleanin' Up the Town - Remembering Ghostbusters (documentary)
7.5/20
Nothing too new but fun nonetheless. About one minute on the music. Some weird editing flubs in it, with name cards passing too quickly or split up in parts, and some facts shown onscreen and cool storyboards whizzing by withoutvyou neing able to register them. Also no budget I think to play any of the music or the theme tune.

 
 Posted:   Jul 17, 2020 - 8:19 AM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

The Martian- 0-5

I hate this film! OMG, its soooo cringe worthy. Based on a self published book which the author uploaded for free on the internet for anyone to read. It became hugely popular and touted for being an extremely scientifically accurate story. it was eventually picked up by a publisher and the movie rights were purchased. It made the author, a seemingly nice guy a millionaire.

Now I don't know what happened but the film the novel is based on is anything but scientifically accurate. It's science is complete garbage. Worse yet in true Hollywood style the protagonist is an annoying smart @ss and over achiever. Worse than that in true Hollywood style, all the NASA scientists are your typical weirdo antisocial nerds. Worse than that in true Hollywood style we can't have a sci fi film where a female isn't the commander of the mission. Worse than that in true Hollywood style we can't have a sci fi film where China doesn't come to the rescue.

Cringe worthy and annoying in every way. I'd rather watch a Disney Star Wars movie.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 17, 2020 - 10:50 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Worse than that in true Hollywood style we can't have a sci fi film where a female isn't the commander of the mission.


This is solium's idea of women in space:

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 17, 2020 - 11:51 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

ITHACA (2016) - 8/10

This film is adapted from William Saroyan’s 1943 novel "The Human Comedy." It's set during the summer of 1942, and its premise is simple: Fourteen-year-old "Homer Macauley" (Alex Neustadter) wants to become the best telegraph messenger his home town has ever seen. After the death of his father (Tom Hanks, in a spirit-like cameo) and departure of big brother "Marcus" (Jack Quaid) to the war in Europe, he is the man of the house and bread needs to be won. Seeking to help out his mother (Meg Ryan), sister "Bess" (Christine Nelson), and younger brother, "Ulysses" (Spencer Howell), the more telegram deliveries and pick-ups he makes, the better.

The telegraph office is managed by "Tom Spangler" (Hamish Linklater), previously the best telegraph messenger his home town had ever seen, and the person on the telegraph key is old man "Willie Grogan" (Sam Shepard). Being a bicycle-riding telegraph messenger would be every young man's dream job...except for periodically having to deliver the messages that begin "The Department of War regrets..."

It's those heart-wrenching deliveries, which invariably seem to be read first by mothers and wives, that cause Homer to quickly come to grips with the realities of adulthood and the world. This sets up a conclusion that one can see coming from way off in the distance, although that doesn't make it any less effective.

THE HUMAN COMEDY was filmed under that title in 1943 with Mickey Rooney as Homer. It was also adapted for television in 1959 with Robert Mulligan directing. (One wonders if this was one reason that drove Mulligan to produce and direct SUMMER OF '42 a dozen years later.) ITHACA marks actress Meg Ryan's directorial debut. She does fine in directing the actors in this elegiac story, and the film is beautifully shot by Andrew Dunn on location in Virginia, filling in for ...who knows where? The location of Ithaca is never identified. It's Everytown, USA. John Mellencamp provides a subtle, homespun score.

The film has its shortcomings. Ryan doesn't do much with her acting role, and the adventures of Marcus in the army are not well-integrated with the rest of the film. Sadly, the film was deemed noncommercial, and after some film festival showings and a release in a few theaters, it was dumped onto video. Despite its faults, the film deserves to be more widely seen.

 
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