Blogathon

Melting Pot of Injustice…The Crucible

How utterly disgusting the misuse of power, the deceit of people and the abuse of innocence.

That is how I found The Crucible (1996). Don’t get me wrong…not the movie being disgusting but what people are capable of. All for their own agenda. How they destroy the lives of good and innocent people. The reasons are numerous….some for revenge, some in the name of higher institutions, others just to save their own lives because they’ve been pulled into this vicious circle.

The story is set during the Salem witch-hunts in the period of 1692 to 1693. What starts as a group of girls dancing around a fire in the forest while “casting love spells” for those they dream of, becomes a hysterical hunt for anyone and everyone even looking in the wrong direction or saying the wrong word at the wrong time. Little do these girls know what their revelry has unleashed as almost every family in the village has some charge of witchcraft against them. Where formerly the community lived in harmony and happiness (with the usual village politics), even those who are know for their goodness suddenly become suspects and scapegoats for other’s problems, greed or misdoings. Anyone who is different is prejudiced. Anyone who was honest now lies to stay alive.

I’d read Arthur Miller’s The Crucible many years ago at high school and remember enjoying it. Although, I barely remembered the story. I’d been meaning to watch this for ages and starring one of my favourite actors, Daniel Day-Lewis, I no longer had an excuse. One seeing the opening credits I was happy to see that Arthur Miller wrote the screenplay. I always appreciate that in movies because it means the story stays close to what the author envisages. Or, at least wants to be shown in the movie. This certainly paid off in this case as Arthur Miller was nominated for both an Academy Award for “Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published” and BAFTA Award for “Best Screenplay – Adapted”. The movie also received Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations in other categories and won a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor.

The play won the 1953 Tony Award for Best Play. So wow, really quite an achievement for both arts in which it has been presented.

The movie is very powerful and, although I’m not a sensitive person, I found it extremely exhausting to watch. I felt frustrated and disgusted by the characters and wished the “authorities” could just come to their senses and see what was really going on. And wished that those who stood up and tried to challenge the system wouldn’t be shut down. And that people can just be accepted for who they are even if they are different. I can’t remember being that upset with society back at school when reading it. Maybe it is because in the movie the atrocities are visual. Or that time has changed my outlook.

As you already know, the story and screenplay were written by Arthur Miller and is brought to life by a stellar cast of Daniel Day-Lewis, Joan Allen, Winona Ryder, Paul Scofield, Rob Campbell, Jeffrey Jones and many more. Well worth a watch but not light fare.

For other movies that are based on Tony Award winning plays, head on over to Taking Up Room for her Tony Edition of The Fourth Broadway Bound Blogathon over here: here.

 

The perfect excuse to watch Hannie Caulder…

Another movie I‘d somehow avoided until Gill of Realweegiemidget Reviews tempted me with a Christopher Lee Blogathon. Gosh…I didn’t want to say no but, aside from Lord of the Rings, Christopher Lee roles are unknown to me. Ok..maybe the few minutes, if that, in Sleepy Hollow. But, I thought I needed something more. So, off to IMDB I went. And found the perfect excuse to finally watch Hannie Caulder.

Now, this is one movie that ‘d avoided mostly because the DVD cover just didn’t quite do it for me. It looked a bit…I don’t know…how should I say…ahem…let’s settle for “dodgy” or, to clarify, a bit too “sultry”. And secondly, the story premise, well, I wasn’t sure I was in the mood for it. But then, on the other hand, how bad can a 1971 western with Ernest Borgnine and Raquel Welch really be? So, I set my preconceived judgments aside, entered the Blogathon, watched the movie and….was really pleasantly surprised.

Yes, the beginning, where Hannie Caulder (Raquel Welch) is raped wasn’t pleasant, and I’m never enjoy watching these type of scenes but, after that, it got better. Because, Hannie Caulder, in nothing but a poncho, what appears to be some tatty sole-less shoes and one huge amount of revenge on the mind, comes across bounty hunter Thomas Price (Robert Culp, who, I admit, I’d never heard of before now). She eventually convinces him to teach her how to shoot and starts the search for the three Clemens brother miscreants, so superbly played by Ernest Borgnine (who I always enjoy watching), Jack Elam and Strother Martin. As much as these brothers were absolutely vile characters, the actors taking on these roles…well, wow, they played them brilliantly.And that’s where Christopher Lee comes in. He’s a renown gunsmith Bailey, living in a relatively remote (or maybe just out-of-the way) spot in Mexico. Price, finally having learnt of Hannie’s experience, brings her to Bailey to commission the ideal weapon for her. As much as Christopher Lee has a small role here, he brings this only Western character he played to life with such compassion and insight. I thoroughly enjoyed his role where he, to me, sees more than just two people coming for a gun. He sees beyond what Hannie later claims, that she doesn’t care about Price, that’s she’s only using him. As much as Hannie needs to go on once she has her fast-draw and light(er) gun, there is almost this feeling that she, together with Price, could build up something together. Have a life together. That they realise this while at Bailey‘s. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. But, ultimately, I really enjoyed Lee as a father and gunsmith. He also brings some calmness to the movie which balances the chaotic Clemens brothers, who, believe it or not, amongst the havoc they cause, also bring some comic relief.

How the rest of the story pans out, well, I’ll leave that for you to see. No point me giving it away. But, let me just say, don’t be put off by the terrible DVD cover (which in my version has Welch in nothing but poncho/blanket and showing lots of leg and in another has her perched in a revealing dress between the Clemens‘). This is a really good revenge western. And nothing as sultry as the covers would have you think.

Price has his words of wisdom, which resonate far beyond the end credits.

Head on over to the wonderful Blogathon hosts, Realweegiemidget Reviews (here) and Cinematic Catharsis (here) for more on Christopher Lee.

What makes you so sure?

That you’d gun down 4 men? You were sure it was them. You were hell-bent on revenge. You just knew it was them. Even though they begged and pleaded. Claimed they were innocent. Yet blinded by revenge, grief, hatred, you did it anyway.

I’d passed over The Bravados (1958) many a time because it just sounded heavy. And so it was. One of those westerns that isn’t purely for escapism but thought provoking. Jim Douglass (Gregory Peck) rides in to a village constructing some gallows for hanging 4 men. The same four men, it turns out, that Jim has been relentlessly pursuing. They murdered his wife. Those bastards. And he intends to see them pay for it. With their lives of course.

(Stop here if you don’t want spoilers)

But, they escape (with a kidnap victim) . And Jim, with the help of his former love, Josefa Velarde (Joan Collins) hunts them down once more. This time, however, he kills them one by one. They are, after all, kidnappers, villains and rapists (some of them). As he gets to his final outlaw the truth is revealed. The four men had never been to Jim‘s ranch. They just happened to be passing there at the wrong time, when Jim was blinded by events and made assumptions. And failed to see the obvious. The real killer who was never on the run. It is at this point that the heaviness of this movie really hits home. How, no matter how much we often think we know events or the truth, no matter how much someone else tells us otherwise, we act based on our opinions, often to realise too late how horribly wrong we were. When things cannot be undone.

Yes, the 4 outlaws might have been guilty of many crimes (hence the pending hanging) which, in this case weren’t for the murder of a young mother and wife, but, does it justify the revenge taken for one crime that never happened to be “transferred” to other crimes that really were committed? Jim killed the men for all the wrong reasons. It was not his justice to have. As much as the villagers thought otherwise. He knows he is now just as guilty as them. How can he live with himself? I don’t think he does but his belief system is definitely changed. And that makes him deserve a second chance at a life with his daughter and Josefa. She is the voice of reason he needs to come to terms with himself and make a new future.

Josefa raises some interesting points to ponder. About love’s chances lost. What would have been had she and Jim made it as a couple. Would everything have been different? No murder to revenge? No beautiful child? I’m always fascinated by these ideas. That life takes you on a path but would circumstances have made it any different or would the same events have happened anyway? Or, was it all how it was meant to be? That ultimately Josefa and Jim were to be together but only with the journey they had to make to get there.

Gregory Peck, as always, is absolutely convincing, and sometimes even a little scary, in this serious role. He is ruthless, cold and hard as nails. And that’s were Joan Collins balances him out perfectly. She brings a lightness along that is never undermining now is she overshadowed by Peck‘s presence. And isn’t afraid to buy him a beer.

Now, I must admit, this was the first role I’d ever seen Joan Collins in. I’d only ever heard of her or seen photos from the last 20 years or so. But never had I encountered the young beautiful actress I found in The Bravados. While her role was relatively small, I thoroughly enjoyed her and will keep an eye out for other roles.

Amazing that even one of my favourite cowboy actors Gregory Peck couldn’t initially entice me to watch this western (and you all know I’m a huge Gregory Peck and western fan). Neither could perfect villain Lee Van Cleef. But along came the Joan Collins Blogathon, hosted by Gill over at RealWeegieMidgetReviews, and I just couldn’t let her (Gill and Joan) down. So glad I finally watched it. For other entries to this wonderful Blogathon, head on over here: here

The Gundown…(not) so bad. It’s good.

Yep, here we have a movie, deemed by many to be bad (4.5/10 on IMDB and scoreless on Rotten Tomatoes). But, I find it good. No great or excellent, but good. It is one of those movies I find myself watching at least once…let me go check (yes, I’m the nerd who keeps a DVD database including watch frequency)…well, every couple of years. And I even own in on DVD. All too often we expect the caliber of the big epic Hollywood movies and forget the “smaller” ones, those with less attention, often deemed as B-movies. The Gundown (2011) is one worth mentioning.

I came across it a few years back after having watched another poorly rated The Mountie (aka Lawman) (now, that’s a Western I only watched once and still am not sure if I enjoyed it or not), but it introduced me to actor Andrew W. Walker whom I thought did a really decent job of being a cowboy. As it goes with my desperate attempts to find unseen Westerns, I looked him up and voila, came across this one. Here he is quiet Cole Brandt, seeking revenge for the murder of his wife and child. Bringing in two wanted men to the town of Dead River, he inadvertently has more on his hands than he bargained for. Travis McCain (William Shockley) the local thug and brothel/hotel owner has found that forcing the townsfolk to pay him for protection (from his own outlaw gang) is easy work. Of course, he doesn’t count on Cole taking a deputy sheriff position or a liking to Cassey (one of the working ladies).

And so you have a very watchable Western with gun-fights, wagon chases and some romance thrown in. While much of it is predictable (come on, so many movies are anyway) and the acting and dialogue sometimes rigid, it really is a decent bit of escapism. I always enjoy Andrew W. Walker (I admit to watching quite a few of his made for TV romance movies) and together with the supporting cast of Peter Coyote (you’ll recognise him from A Walk to Remember), Sheree J. Wilson* (who does a fine job of taking over the saloon here), Allison Gordon, Paul McCarthy-Boyington amongst others, they manage to hold this one together.

Yes, it isn’t The Magnificent Seven, Once Upon a Time in the West, 3:10 to Yuma or put any another big-budget Western here. But who cares? Sometimes the most unexpected and underrated movie, with no prior expectations becomes perfect.

That’s why Taking Up Room‘s annual So Bad It’s Good Blogathon is welcome because for me, we can unashamedly write about movies that are deemed bad even though we think they are good (well, that’s one way of interpreting the Blogathon and I’ll stick with it). Although, movies we enjoy, no matter what the rating should always be allowed to shine, if only for oneself. Thanks Rebecca for your wonderful Blogathon – it always is fun writing about (and reading others) those “dud” movies. You can find more entries (here)

*Oooh, RealWeegieMidget Reviews, she’s been in 127 episodes of Dallas!?

Home (not so) Sweet Home from the Hill…

“This is a rotten home”, Wade Hunnicut’s own words. Just after admitting “We’re rotten parents”. Not such a sweet home after all. Not at all. But here, finally the realisation hits home (no pun intended) and plans to change things are hinted at. But all too late…

How did we even get to this point? Well, with Home from the Hill, the 1960 movie based on William Humphrey’s book of the same name and directed by Vincente Minnelli. Captain Wade Hunnicutt (Robert Mitchum), his wife Hannah (Eleanor Parker) and Theron (George Hamilton), the wealthiest family in town also appear to be the perfect family. Well, aside from Wade, who is known as a notorious womaniser (and so by the philosophy of “like father like son”, his teen son is deemed the same). He just doesn’t know it yet.

While his parents are silently fighting each other and over their son, Theron has other problems, the teenage problems like girls and growing up. Over and above that, Wade expects Theron to grow up and become a man. The perfect opportunity being the hunt of a massive wild boar. But the cracks are bound to open wider and once they do, it all comes spilling out. Theron finally understand the complexities of his home where he has been shielded the unpleasantries including the realisation that he has a half-brother his father won’t acknowledge. And that’s exactly what eventually leads to the realisation that something has to change. It is just too late…and I’ll leave it at that without totally spoiling it.

Home from the Hill is one of those movies that has had to grow on me, but I’ve also had to grow up. Back when I first saw it as a teen on Super 8 reels, I don’t think the real issues were noticed. I just wasn’t aware of the deeper meanings. I think I must have been young and naive and really just seen the superficial part of it all, the love story. But now, it is all different. The complexities of families. The complexities of homes. The lengths people go to just to keep things together or, the way they throw it all away.

Wade and Hannah try the best they can, despite their differences, to bring up Theron in the most “normal” possible way. Shielding him from their problems. While they are trying to do this, the underlying tensions are very noticeable. Wade‘s shenanigans are obvious. Theron is just so protected that he doesn’t realise what is going on and in his mind the home is perfect. But once it is all out in the open, his views are of a home he is scared to give his own family one day. He doesn’t even want to try.

But, it isn’t only about Theron here. Rafe (George Peppard), the loyal employee of Wade, knows he is also the illegitimate son. Likewise does he know he wasn’t and isn’t wanted, yet vows to make a home like he never had. To make sure a child has a father. To make a difference. And even opens the doors of his home to Theron’s mother as if she was his own.

This drama looks at values of the older and younger generations, how the home is influenced not only by our experiences and upbringing but what we make of it. How change might be too late, yet for other things at the right time. How we make our homes and how we live them. We see how the man who grew up alone is able to provide what the man who grew up with his family can’t. Perfect for the Home Sweet Home Blogathon, because even though much of it is bitter, there is a sweeter note the movie finishes off on. The start of a happy home, a change, to make up for all the darkness before.

Head on over to Realweegiemidget Reviews (here) and Taking up Room (here) for other entries to this Blogathon. Thanks for hosting ladies! Was good to go down memory lane again.

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff Bridges Blogathon Wrap-up

I’ve had absolutely wonderful entries to the Jeff Bridges Blogathon. Thank you to everyone who joined me.

Apologies to those of you who I only linked up today – timezones, different bedtimes and a long day at work made it difficult to get everyone’s linked on 4th December, Jeff Bridges’ Birthday.

Sam Simon of vengonofuoridallefottutepareti tells us about the excellent performance given by Jeff Bridges in his Oscar and Golden Globe winning role of Bad Blake, a washed out singer (and actually excellently sung by Mr Bridges himself) in Crazy Heart (2009). (here)

The Midnite Drive-In guides us through cult classic The Big Lebowski, which, dude, if you haven’t seen, you really should do so, man. This 1998 Coen Brothers movie is rated one of the top 250 by IMDB. Get inspired here.

Realweegiemidget Reviews tackles Jeff Bridges’ role as  homme fatale Jack Forrester in 1985’s Jagged Edge. This court-room thriller has you wondering if Jack is guilty or not. Pop past this post (here) to read all about it.

Taking Up Room tells us about Tron (1982) and the cyber world together with some really interesting things about the sets and costumes. It must be quite an experience finding yourself in a computer program. Here you can read it all.

MovieRob gives us his thoughts about Tron (1982) as well as Tron: Legacy (2010). Both star Jeff Bridges. Here and here are his thoughts about these two movies. Technologies change so be sure to read about his thoughts on the latter.

Read about Tucker: The Man and His Dream of 1988 over at Dubsism (here). Aside from the great movie reviewed you’ll also discover some interesting information around the hidden allegory to the rise and fall of the Alliance of American Football.

Want to read about a little heard of gem of a movie? Head on over to Diary of a Movie Maniac and read about Bad Company here. A western showing a less glorified west, with Jeff Bridges in one of his first starring roles.

Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies reviews The Fabulous Baker Boys of 1998 here. In this one Jeff teams up with real-life brother Beau and take on the role of musicians and the impact when a singer joins them.

And finally, I review the movie that first introduced me to Jeff Bridges, Lolly Madonna XXX here.

Happy reading!

 

Lolly Madonna XXX

Lolly-Madonna_XXX…not a dodgy rated movie but a postcard signed with kisses by Lolly Madonna. And the cause of a whole lot of violence between the Feather and Gutshall families in Lolly Madonna XXX (1973).

Two families, living next door to each other in Tennesse, steal or damage each others’ property. And up to this point, things are relatively harmless and nobody gets hurt. But then, the Gutshalls sons place a postcard into their own postbox which is next to the Feathers’ one. It is addressed to one of the Gutshall sons and states that Lolly Madonna will be waiting at the bus-stop in the village nearby on a particular day. This all with the hope that the Feather boys Thrush (Scott Wilson) and Skylar (Timothy Scott) will find the card (yes, the look into each other’s post boxes) and head off to town to find this girl thus leaving the Gutshalls with a chance to steal some pigs.

BUT…there just happens to be a girl waiting at the bus stop. Not Lolly Madonna but Roonie Gill (Season Hubley). She has no connection to these feuding families at all and is running away from her own troubles. Thrush and Skylar kidnap her while Zeb (Gary Busey) and Ludie (KielMartin) Gutshall go get the livestock. And this is the start of the total destruction of these two families. Even the respective patriarchs Laban Feather (Rod Steiger) and Pap Gutshall (Robert Ryan) fail to restore some order with violence ensuing on both sides. We do, however, have some members of these families who try to keep civil, including Zack Feather (Jeff Bridges) who is tasked with looking after Roonie.

It is Zack who always stood out for me. He is the caring one, the one who seems to want to stay out of it all. And this is also the role which introduced me to a very young Jeff Bridges. And I’ve been a fan ever since. He brings this perfect balance of a young man both loyal to his family yet still trying to do the right thing. And, it turns out that this mostly level headed Feather boy is indirectly responsible for all the mayhem.

LollyMadonna

Directed by Richard C. Sarafian and based on a novel by…wait for it…you’ll never guess…Sue Grafton, I never really know how I feel about this one. At times unpleasant to watch at other times leaving a hopeless and then hopeful feeling, it is most definitely an interesting one to watch with a final climactic shootout. Oh, the futility of it all!

You’ll know most of the cast (also Ed Lauter, Randy Quaid) and yet will probably never have heard of this one. But, I’m forever grateful that this relatively unknown movie introduced me to such a phenomenal actor and artist. I’ve watched pretty much every Jeff Bridges movie since.

For more posts celebrating Jeff Bridges (it is his birthday today), head on over to my Jeff Bridges Blogathon page and read all the entries!

JeffBridgesBlogathon3

The Jeff Bridges Blogathon and a birthday wish…

So, first and foremost:

Happy Birthday Mr. Bridges! Hope you have a wonderful day.

And for Jeff Bridges’ 70th Birthday, I’ve decided to hold the Jeff Bridges Blogathon to honour this wonderful and often underrated actor.

JeffBridgesBlogathon1

As many of you know, I was introduced the wonderful world of movies through my parents’ Super 8 film collection (saved just in time from someone tossing them into the junkyard). And, it is amongst this wonderful collection that there was Lolly Madonna – XXX (and no, don’t get any ideas…that’s XXX as in kisses). The character who caught my attention was none other than Zack Feather played by Jeff Bridges. Since then, I’ve always enjoyed this artist and the movies he’s been in. From the up-to-no-good Jake (Bad Company) to Jack (The Fabulous Baker Boys and The Fisher King), be it Charles Howard (Seabiscuit) or Rooster Cogburn (True Grit) and those myriad other characters, every role he takes on is absolutely perfect.

Born on the 4th December 1949 as Jeffrey Leon Bridges, he has starred in movies such as The Fabulous Baker Boys, Tucker: The Man and his Dream, The Big Lebowski, The Fisher King, Crazy Heart, Hell or High Water, and and and the list goes on. It was year after year that I hoped this great actor would win the coveted Oscar and/or Golden Globe…finally 2010 came and Crazy Heart won him both awards. Photography is another gift of his and the shots I’ve seen are superb. As for his musical talents, those are fantastic too.

So, without further ado, here are the posts of my fellow bloggers in honour of today’s special birthday (I’ll update the entries as the day goes by…late entries welcome, including mine):

 

CrazyHeartPoster vengonofuoridallefottutepareti  (Sam Simon) – Crazy Heart (2009)
TheBigLebowskiPoster The Midnite Drive-InThe Big Lebowski (1998)
Jagged_edge_poster Realweegiemidget Reviews Jagged Edge (1985)
Lolly-Madonna_XXX Thoughts All Sorts – Lolly Madonna XXX (1973)
TronPoster Taking Up Room – Tron (1982)
TronPoster MovieRob – Tron (1982)
TronLegacy MovieRob – Tron Legacy (2010)
Tuckerposter Dubsism – Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)
BadCompany Diary of a Movie Maniac – Bad Company (1972)
FabulousBakerBoys.jpg Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies – The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)

Intense, heavy, tragic, excellent…

Now…where do I even start? This is such a difficult movie to “digest”. I find it extremely disturbing and heart-breaking yet I do consider Brothers (2009) an excellent movie.

Well, I guess I should start at the beginning. We’re introduced to Marine Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire), his wife Grace (Natalie Portman) and their two little girls. We’re also introduced to Sam’s brother, Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) just as he is being released from prison. And then, we discover Sam is about to leave for Afghanistan in the line of duty. Shot down and reported dead, in reality he and good friend Private Joe Willis (Patrick John Flueger) have, in fact, been taken captive and undergo extreme torture* by the Taliban in a remote village.  Back home Grace and the family try to make sense of it all while Tommy additionally needs to deal with getting his own life sorted.

*I barely managed to watch these scenes on my first viewing so please be warned…they are not easy watching. And may disturb you long after the credits roll.

brothers-movieThis in itself is so heartbreaking to watch as every member of the family, from father to son, mother to daughter and even friends have their own personal daemons and grief process. While watching this I found it difficult to even try to understand what these people are going through with such a loss. The blame, the guilt, the hope and the list goes on. And we see how everyone has their own means of dealing with it. This must be so unbelievably difficult.

On the other hand, we also see positive healing in an unexpected manner. Tommy, the son who never followed his father’s military footsteps and instead went the criminal route, finally finds responsibility, a purpose and a way of rebuilding his life.

2009_brothers_011But then, Sam comes home. And things become even more difficult. The effects of Sam’s traumatic and extreme experiences (I won’t go into the details) are of course felt by all. And once again, an entire family must rediscover itself, it’s purpose, redefine relationships and question everything they thought they stood for. It almost becomes even more challenging because when presumed dead, Sam’s family had some means to move on and rebuild. But with him back that normalcy falls away. Relationships are tested. And we are reminded of the emotional impact of war. The ever-lasting after-effects. How, when the physical scars heal, those mental ones are barely, if at all, heal-able. I cannot imagine that anyone can ever fully recover from experiences such as Sam (and countless others) have.

Sam’s final line sums it all up perfectly: “Only the dead have seen the end of war. I have seen the end of war. The question is…can I live again?”. And that’s the sad thing…the lives that are ruined.

Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal as always, deliver stellar performances and even Tobey Maguire is superb in his role, earning a Golden Globe nomination. Overall, absolutely worth watching but as I said, this is a heavy one.

For more Marine related movies, head on over to my blogging friend Gill of Realweegiemidget Reviews (here) and her co-host J-Dub of Dubsism (here) for their The Send in the Marine Blogathon.

MarinesBanner

Grace shines again…

Rear_Window_film_poster…as always. I’m really enjoying watching Grace Kelly and this time I finally got around to a movie that I’ve been meaning to watch for ages. Rear Window (1954).

Here she takes on the role of snob high society fashion expert Lisa, who is desperately trying to win the full attention of her boyfriend Jeff (?, hmm, is he really? Maybe she thinks so…I’m not convinced he does). He, however, is confined to his apartment in a wheelchair due to a broken leg courtesy of some action shot he took (he’s a photographer). Bored, Jeff (James Stewart) spends his days spying on casually watching the comings and goings of the surrounding neighbours. One couple living across the courtyard is constantly fighting until suddenly, the wife is gone. Under very suspicious goings on. Lisa at first isn’t really interested – she’s more worried about serving lobster and being the perfectly styled lady around. Oh, and becoming the undivided attention. However, gradually she is pulled into the mystery of the missing wife. And eventually is fully involved in contributing theories.

I absolutely love watching Grace Kelly go from pretty much being disinterested to being hands-on with this personal investigation going on. An absolute pleasure to watch her transform yet still allow the underlying prim and proper lady to shine through. And she seems to manage this so will in all the movies I’ve seen her in (which, I’m afraid is really a small handful). She has the knack of subtly bringing out a woman who does, in fact, have more substance/strength than we initially believe. And yet she always keeps her poise.

Grace-James

As for the movie, well, let’s just focus on Grace here. She is magnificent. And gives another fine performance.

Here the movie that first introduced my to this actress: Grace Kelly’s Mrs Kane in High Noon and here she is in another Hitchcock movie: To Catch a Thief (1955).

For more of this wonderful lady, head on over to The Wonderful World of Cinema (here), Musings of a Classsic Film Addict (here) and The Flapper Dame (here), the wonderful hosts of The 5th Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon.

GraceKellyBlogathon

In case you missed it: The Jeff Bridges Blogathon

With so much on the go at the moment, I thought I’d just casually mention that the Jeff Bridges Blogathon is a month away. I’d love for you all to join me in celebrating this wonderful actor on his 70th Birthday.

Here’s my original announcement: Announcing the Jeff Bridges Blogathon

JeffBridgesBlogathon1

Northanger Abbey? Gothic?

Northanger Abbey_1I was quite surprised to see an image of this wonderful Jane Austen story on Pale Writer‘s Blogathon announcement. So I learn something everyday…and actually, it is right there, so obvious. Because Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey’s main character is engrossed by Gothic stories, particularly Anne Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho. Ms Radcliffe was, in fact, one of the first writers of Gothic fiction. Or, at least someone key in making it a “genre” if you like. Something else I’ve learnt.

Any excuse to watch the 2007 rendition of Northanger Abbey again…this time for the Gothic influence. It is absolutely wonderful watching Catherine, played perfectly by Felicity Jones, daydream (and dream) of all things “horrid” and terribly suspenseful, all influenced by those novels she loves to engross herself in. I absolutely love how this movie integrates the characters into her various fantasies all dark and moody (I’m not sure how they are portrayed in the book…will find out soon though as I have it waiting patiently on my bedside table to be read) from her daily encounters…including Henry Tilney and his brother. Ultimately, our dreams and daydreams involve people we know, I guess. And don’t we all build up our own expectations of the unknown…like Catherine expects a haunted mansion with ghouls and ghosts. And Henry just loves to tease her about it.

NorthangerAbbey1

Felicity Jones is perfect as Catherine who gives us that wonderful contrast between innocence and her “wild” haunting romantic dreams. I’m enjoying J.J. Field (Henry) more and more…

Her staying over at the Tilneys’ place is a delight. I thoroughly enjoy watching her build up her own mysterious world based on her readings and what she’s heard. The lightning storm adds the perfect atmosphere.

NorthangerAbbey4

All-in-all, a wonderful movie, well worth the watch.

For other entries of the Dark and Deep: The Gothic Horror Blogathon give Pale Writer a visit (here). And be sure to check out my Sleepy Hollow post for the same Blogathon (here). And while not part of this Blogathon, also thematically fitting is a previous post of mine on The Crow both comic and movie over here (here).

gothic-horror-banner

 

Not so sleepy…but very creepy…

…and absolutely wonderful! Full of atmosphere and eccentricity. Oh, those worlds Tim Burton can submerse us in! Welcome to the town of Sleepy Hollow:

SleepyHollow2

Where the headless horseman is in search of such object. A head that is. So intent on his mission that body after body is found clean cut and cauterised, “as though the blade itself were red hot. And yet, no blistering. No scorched flesh”. Ah…”The devil’s fire”.

Or, maybe not. After all, that’s what the constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp, who here reminds us that there once was a brilliant actor before Jack Sparrow) is here to prove. “Murder needs no ghost to come from the grave. We have murders in New York without the benefit of ghouls and goblins.” But Baltus Van Tassel (Michael Gambon) reminds him that “You’re a long way from New York, Constable”. Ichabod isn’t convinced despite shaking in fear that he can barely hold his cuppa “The assassin is a man of flesh and blood and I will discover him.”.

SleepyHollow6

So his investigation begins. With magic and sorcery and curses. Add some greed and other small town secrets and you’ve the start of a potion to behold. The key ingredients though are Tim Burton and the entire cast (Johnny Depp, Michael Gambon, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Christopher Lee and every single other actor and actress involved, with Christopher Walken topping it all off as the Headless Horseman.) Finally, Danny Elfman’s music makes this cauldron of art boil to perfection.

Sleepy-Hollow-Poster-202x300Tim Burton is just phenomenal with the fantastical words he creates for us. No matter which story he tackles, he weaves a gorgeous canvas that is utterly over the top yet at the same time moody and convincing. Don’t be misled by the seeming “lighter” parts he gives us – those bright and dreamy sequences that are as menacing as the dark and misty ones.

This Halloween, enjoy some Gothic Horror with Sleepy Hollow (1999). It is worth every millimeter of film.

And if that isn’t enough, there’s plenty more of the like over at Pale Writer and the bloggers of her Dark and Deep: The Gothic Horror Blogathon (here).

gothic-horror-banner-2

Announcing the Jeff Bridges Blogathon

JeffBridgesI think it’s high time we have a Blogathon in honour of an often underrated but brilliant actors…Jeff Bridges! I was first introduced to this fantastic actor when I was a teen and right from that moment, he was right there on the top of my list of favourites. And there he remains to this day.

So, without further ado, here it is:

I’ll be doing a one day only Blogathon, on Jeff Bridges‘ birthday. So, 4th December 2019 it is. You can submit as many entries as you like and the topics can cover the man himself, his movies, or anything related to this versatile actor. I don’t mind duplicates as everyone is different. No previously published posts though.

JeffBridges00You know the drill I’m sure…sign up in the comments below with your topic/movie of choice and publish it on 4th December 2019. I’ll link them all up on the Blogathon page that day. Oh, and in the meantime, grab a banner from further down (or create your own) and link back to me here.

(Of course, it should go without saying that if you are not a fan, please don’t submit a post i.e. no disrespectful entries please. And, please don’t write about a movie you didn’t really enjoy just because Mr Bridges is in it. We’re here to celebrate after all. )

Here’s the roster so far:

Thoughts All Sorts – Lolly Madonna XXX (1973) and TBC

MovieRob – TBC

Pfeiffer Pfilms & Meg Movies – The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)

Dubsism – Tucker: The Man and his Dream (1988)

Realweegiemidget Reviews – Starman (1984)

The Midnite Drive-In – The Big Lebowski (1998)

Taking Up Room – Tron (1982)

Seven Doors of Cinema – Kiss Me Goodbye (1982)

vengonofuoridallefottutepareti  (Sam Simon) – Crazy Heart (2009)

Diary of a Movie Maniac – Bad Company (1972)

JeffBridgtesBlogathon2

JeffBridgesBlogathon3

JeffBridgesBlogathon1

 

Costumes and all the drama..

220px-Plunkett_&_Macleane…yep, we’re looking at costuming up within a costume drama…and some drama it is…with highway robbers and damsels (definitely not in distress). Let me introduce Plunkett & Macleane (1999). One of my favourites (thank you Paul).

Ah, what a wonderful movie. Plunkett (Robert Carlyle) and Macleane (Jonny Lee Miller) encounter each other one dark and dreary night during some grave robbing ruby retrieving activities. And what a perfect pair of (gentlemen) highwaymen they become…Macleane’s former socialite statues gets him back amongst the wealthy while Plunkett’s criminal know-how… well, you get the basic scenario. Add Lady Rebecca Gibson (Liv Tyler), who’s star-struck by our pair (well, one in particular) and finds it all quite daring and so much more exciting than being the prim and proper niece of powerful Lord Gibson (Michael Gambon). And definitely more adventurous than being “courted” by halitosis suffering General Chance (Ken Stott) who’s always (mostly) one step behind getting the pair behind bars. Ensuring some wonderful entertainment, Lord Rochester (Alan Cumming) and his cronies just round it all off. Especially on the costume side of things:

PlunkettMacleane5

“You forget something. I have morals” Oh please! The morals are long gone. Targeting the rich…not for the poor but for the grand plan of going across to America. For new beginnings. And gosh, the quotes are just wonderful. Actually, the whole movie is just great but if I tell you anything more you’re going to miss out on this gem (hmmm, no pun intended).

With a gentleman highwayman, ruby births (you’ll understand), gallows and balls…what more could you possibly want? Oh, you even get the costumes and the drama (and lots of comedy). I highly recommend.

Let the fireworks begin! Have fun! PlunkettMacleane8

And head over to Moon in Gemini for some other entries in this wonderful Costume Drama Blogathon (here)

cosdra1

Kelly’s Heroes…good fun

Kelly's_Heroes_film_posterI’m not a big “war movie person” but with Kelly’s Heroes (1970) I make an exception. Because this movie isn’t just a war movie, no, it goes far beyond that. It is memories of those Super 8 movie days with my father. And of us quoting various scenes from Kelly’s Heroes by heart…

…for example “Sixty feet of bridge…” aah…but I get ahead of myself. Let’s backtrack just a little…I think I should give you a rough breakdown of the happenings first:

So, we have Kelly, of course, who hears about a stash of gold that would be good for the taking. Problem is, said stash is behind enemy lines. But, fear not, Kelly, being a tough soldier gets together his band of “heroes” with some added takers who end up in the group just because they happen to be in the “right” spot at appropriate time (think “Oddball” here”…I’ll explain later). And off they go…with all sorts of antics along the way. Remember, this isn’t a war war movie, no, it’s more of a comedy war movie (of course, with serious moments along the way).

Anyway, this became one of the most quoted movies in our household…mostly, because the memorable lines come from Donald Sutherland who was my father’s favourite actor. Like when all the bridges are being blown up just as our band of heroes want to cross. And Oddball, yes, Donald Sutherland (who else?) is tasked with finding a bridge…part of his telephonic negotiation goes along the lines of this:

Oddball: “…look baby, I’m kinda hung up. I need sixty feet of bridge.”

Bellamy: “Hey kid. They haven’t got you in the nut ward again?”

Oddball: “Ah Bellamy, for cryin’ out loud………I don’t need you. Sixty feet of bridge I can get almost anywhere. Schmuck!”

Oh boy, and the “negative waves”…always positive even when the bridge gets blown. As for his “battle tactics”:

Oddball: “These tanks are faster than any other tanks in the European Theater of Operations. Forwards or backwards. You see man, we like to feel we can get out of trouble quicker than we got into it.”

kellysheroes1

And when Kelly asks if he has any other weapons:

Oddball: “Well yeah, man, you see, like, all the tanks we come up against are bigger and better than ours, so that all we can hope to do is, like, scare ’em away y’ know. This gun is an ordinary 76mm but we add this piece of pipe onto it and the Krauts think, like uh, maybe it’s a 90mm”

Further explaining that “We have a loudspeaker here, and when we go into battle we play music, very loud. It kind of…calms us down.” and “We got our own ammunition. it’s filled with paint. When we fire it, it makes… pretty pictures. Scares the hell outta people!”

But, it isn’t only Oddball who’s fantastic in this one. The whole bunch of heroes work so well with nobody out-shadowing the other. Clint Eastwood, is of course Kelly, all serious and leader of the group. Second in command, if you like, is Big Joe…ah, what a character – also his own entity and always shouting about as only Telly Savalas can. Crapgame, Don Rickles, is always wheeling and dealing in some way or other. And the list goes on making for a well worthwhile watch.

Another thing that always sticks out for me is the opening (well, not opening but the first piece) song “Burning Bridges” by the Mike Curb Congregation. Back in the day, before online shopping, I searched many a CD store (remember those?) for this title…and finally found it on a compilation CD. Here it is with some snippets from the movie (so, possibly spoiler alert):

Overall, a treat of a war movie.

Thanks to Maddy of Maddy Loves her Classic Films together with Jay of Cinema Essentials for hosting this Blogathon. Head on over to their sites for other great entries.

ww2-2

 

First impressions of…Psycho (1960)

PsychoPosterWe all know that iconic shower scene accompanied by that specific music…don’t we? And we all know which movie it comes from. Yet…until this weekend I’d never dared (yes, “dared” because I’m scared of horrors…but how bad can a 1960s movie really be? And Hitchcock? Why am I such a scaredy Cat??? (no pun intended for those who know me…ok, ok, fine, I couldn’t resist).

So, with The Janet Leigh Blogathon I decided to tackle this one. In that way, it would go from my To Watch List to my Watched List because I’d obviously need to watch it. And it is another case of …why did I wait so long?

Absolutely excellent. The opening credits, or more so, the music sets the scene (gosh, I’m doing well today 😉 ) for a brilliant Hitchcock work. And off course, the symbolic music, those screeching strings have finally made an impact…I’d learnt about how they are the perfect horror music accessory but this movie really shows their ultimate usage. One thing is for sure, I’ll never be quite comfortable in a motel shower again. Ever. I’ll probably also check behind every picture too.

Psycho6

Oh, the story. I won’t go too much into it. I think you’d best discover it yourself. Let’s just say that Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) ends up at the Bates Motel one rainy night. Run by Norman Bates, the creepiest guy out such a lovely, polite man. And well, the rest I won’t give away. I never knew the story until now, so will leave you in as much suspense. Just go watch it.

Moving on to our Blogathon subject…I’d never seen Janet Leigh before (bar the shower scene stills) and was really impressed. I absolutely loved her in this Oscar and Golden Globe nominated role as Marion. Even though we are introduced to her in what is a secret tryst, somehow she is still a sympathetic character from the start. So much so that, knowing the shower scene was coming, I was hoping that, having never seen it, she’d come out of it alive. And, spoiler alert (sort of), what she does to get the story going in the first place, is therefore totally unexpected. Janet Leigh‘s depiction of her inner turmoil is absolutely convincing yet there are moments when you wonder if she’s not a little psycho herself. Yet, somehow you really feel for her. Especially once she checks into the infamous motel (oh, that’s another thing that I “knew” of this movie but really didn’t, if that makes sense…amazing how popular culture impacts us). But somewhere, at the back of my mind, the unfair thought that she ended up in this situation because she wasn’t quite innocent crept in. Would any of this have happened had she gone to the bank?

Fascinating, yet disturbing, is the explanation/reasoning behind the shower scene. The personality/ies of Norman. It somehow reminded me of the movie I’d reviewed a while back, Peacock.

JL banner - Evil 1It isn’t only Janet Leigh who makes this all come together. Hitchcock‘s amazing imagery, the music, the actors, the story, everything just works so well together to present us with the perfect movie. Absolutely worthy of a watch. Maybe even a second or third.

Love Letters to Old Hollywood has more Janet Leigh post right here.

So wonderfully horrendous…agonisingly euphoric…

Reel Infatuation 2019…you just want to cry out of pure frustration yet savour those special butterflies in your stomach. Knowing that you can never have the man…knowing that he doesn’t view you the same way…that helpless feeling knowing that he has his own life. One where you don’t feature. Arrghh….I absolutely love but hate crushes!

And the worst part…this one snuck up on me. I mean I knew him (who doesn’t?) but out of the blue, one day, the besotted-ness just hit me square on. I never saw it coming. I can’t pinpoint what triggered the wiring in my brain to go haywire…something just did. And now…I’m not managing to get over him. What are you????? 16 years old????? Crazy?????

Possibly it was because he was just another guy until that point where he realised things needed to be done and without muscling his way through, but rather even battered and bruised joins the “opposition” and makes some plans taking everyone’s input into account:

KingArthur5

I’m on about a man who speaks his mind. He’s confident and goes after what he wants. When others don’t dare, he does it. He ruffles the feathers and gets stuff done. Who wouldn’t crush on a man like that? He’s also clever and has a plan, even though he’ll often deny it or claim he’s not educated (raised in a brothel)…

…he’s worked his way upwards. He has a drive to better himself. He has used the resources available to him to observe, listen, train, grow, learn…and has become something better. Through pure determination, trial-and-error as well as long hard hours, the fact that he is underestimated gives him an advantage. And definitely doesn’t deter him in business dealings with the “aristocracy” who mock him. He listens. He soaks it up. And then speaks wiser than any of those with formal education.

KingArthur6

He is ultimately respected by his friends (and enemies) and likewise respects them. He doesn’t claim a higher status amongst them and even makes a round table so all are equal:

KingArthur10.jpg

But, I’m not his type. A man like that wants a fit, young and pretty woman. One who can hold her own when the going gets tough. That’s why, he might be single now (I guess he has work to do at this stage), but we all know how things go once Guinevere enters the scene. Don’t we?

But, I can dream on, can’t I?  About the things that make a man total crush material.

Oh…did I mention…I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, but in case you didn’t, my character crush is on Arthur. Not the King. But the man, who grew up not knowing his true background. That gives him so much more character for me. Makes him so much more attractive. The fact that he doesn’t use his status to get ahead.

Head over to my crush posts from previous Blogathon years: Crushing on Will Scarlett and Lucky Luciano (here), Sexy Crush…Peaky Blinders’ Tommy Shelby (here) and Unsuspecting Crush (here)

And now that I’ve disclosed my latest crush you can read about others over at Silver Screenings (here, here and here) or Font and Frock (here) (aka A Smell Press Life)

Sexy, oops, I mean, Mean Villain…

…gosh, what’s on my mind? This is the Great Villain Blogathon…right? And I’d put my name down for Prince John from Robin Hood (2010)…right? And, my mind is clearly elsewhere because I got sidetracked…right? Wrong…because…actually, the real villain here is not Prince John (Oscar Isaac)…he’s merely being, should we say, gently guided, by the sexiest nastiest man with ulterior motives. Oooh….but there’s just something about Godfrey, who just wouldn’t be the same if played by any other actor than Mark Strong.

MarkStrongRobinHood

I’d very quickly realised that Prince John is simply a spoilt brat who wants his way. And he’s too busy having his way (not with his wife) to really pose any threat. Yes, he might have his moments, purely out of having some sort of power kick, but Godfrey, he’s there ever so subtly, or not, steering things. Weaseling his way into everything. Being English “when it suits me” French when that works better.

Godfrey has this presence from the very start. He’s clearly not phased by airs and graces, so comfortable is he around Philip of France during their (and our) first encounter. With that introduction comes…a perfect piece of music that will forever be associated with him…this one:

…it is Godfrey for me…staccato, slightly evasive, yet with an underlying hardness, energy, gradually increasing in drive, just like this man…all to gradually crescendo to a point where he eats the human blood stained oyster. The things people do. He encourages his men to plunder from the dead and doesn’t hesitate a moment to yank on the lance embedded in a dying knight. All in a day’s work it seems. And he’s so smooth when he does this.

And if his initial presence isn’t enough, somehow the scar on his cheek from Robin’s arrow simply makes him meaner in terms of personality as well as looks. Oh, and according to seasoned expert Prince John, the “ladies will love you all the more” for it. It amplifies his sexiness, oh no, did I write that again? “villain-ness” while he’s always listening, always scheming:

Godfrey4

Addressed as “my Lord” by both the French and the English, this man will casually instruct his men to get rid of someone or patiently wait in the sidelines for an opportunity to present itself. Strategically positioning himself during court meetings, saying just the right things, while Prince John is too busy dealing his family and greed issues. Wait…isn’t that an ever so slight (sly) smile on his face as he is about to officially serve the crown? Nicely played Godfrey, nicely played:

Godfrey5.PNG

“Choose carefully the spot Godfrey, where you would place your dagger”, so obvious to everyone including William Marshal (William Hurt). A man to be wary of.

Villain Banners 2019This must be one of the most heartless villains…who gives an old man news of his son, proudly telling him that “I’m the one who killed him” (left in a French ditch)??? To entice a fighting reaction from a blind man…plain mean.

Yet, at the end of the day, things must come to an end for him. And, while cowardly trying to race from the battlefield, this villain has had lots of personality. He has a certain presence that doesn’t even need his “signature” theme music. You notice him in all the scenes he’s in. He’s so bad yet somehow I feel drawn to him. He has the blatant audacity to pursue his goals. The way he holds himself. Confident, almost elegant. And while I obviously don’t support his behaviour, it is this type of character, acted perfectly by Mark Strong, that allows that “guilty pleasure” of being drawn to the bad guy. Because, that’s what movies allow us. Escapism.

For my previous entries to the Great Villain Blogathon, pop past Villain, Villain on the wall (here) and Meanest of the Mean…Ma-Ma (here). I’ve also written a piece on Mark Strong as a character actor in A Strong Character… (here)

And of course all the other entries to the Great Villain Blogathon can be found here (Shadows and Satin), here (Speakeasy) and here (Silver Screenings).

Here some impressions together with his theme song:

10 Things I Hate About You…

10_Things_I_Hate_About_You_film.jpg 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) is already (!!!wow, can’t believe it!!!) 20 years old yet it never feels that way…I still enjoy watching it as much as I did when it came out.

First things first, the plot: Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) transfers to Padua high where he is smitten on first sight with Bianca Stratford (Larisa Oleynik). Telling his new friend Michael (David Krumholtz) that he would like nothing more to date Bianca he finds out that she isn’t allowed to date. This due to strict dad-rules which unexpectedly change: Bianca has a sister Katarina ‘Kat’ (Julia Stiles) who everyone deems scary, anti-social, ant-establishment etc. So, “knowing” that nobody would ever think of even approaching Kat, dad allows Bianca to date if Kat does. And the challenge is on! Find a guy crazy enough to date Kat so that Bianca can do so. Enter Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) the guy who has supposedly eaten a live duck, done time, donated his liver etc..

Based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, you know you’re in for a good one when a character is introduced accompanied by Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation. And that’s the refreshing part…Kat doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her and she is who she is, having “swore I wouldn’t do anything just because everyone else was doing it”. The reasons become clear during the movie but I really think this is such a valid point. As is Patrick’s comment to Cameron of “don’t let anyone ever make you feel like you don’t deserve what you want”. So there you have it…the guy who uses his flip knife in science to dissect a frog isn’t all that bad. Oh, and he even buys her a Fender guitar instead of flowers and chocolates to apologise for messing up:

10-Things-I-Hate-About-You-1999-600x338.jpg

I never tire of watching this one. While it may be predictable, it is still a pleasure watching the characters fall in love. Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger have really good chemistry together and at the same time are convincing in their outward “mean and scary” demeanor yet showing their underlying true personalities in just the right quantities at the right time. But it isn’t just these two. Even Joseph Gordon-Levitt, David Krumholtz, Larisa Oleynik and Andrew Keegan (who plays stud Joey Donner) gel well together with their respective characters being absolutely believable. The magnitude of teen high-school problems and dilemmas come across perfectly.

So, if you haven’t seen this one yet, go give it a go. It really is worth the watch. And, after that, you could even give the series a go. I thoroughly enjoy it too (watching episodes here and there when the mood strikes) and it is a pity that it never got past the first season.

Head on over to Pop Culture Reverie and In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood for some more entries into this It’s a Young World Teen Movie Blogathon. And finally…enjoy the week ahead.rebelbanner