What Was The Last Movie You Watched?

Discussion in 'The Moving Picture' started by Amy Jeanne, Aug 5, 2007.

  1. Zombie_61

    Zombie_61 I'll Lock Up

    Except for The Birds and North By Northwest, Hitchcock's movies are very "hit and miss" with me. Strangers on a Train and Rear Window bore me, and I've only seen Psycho more than once because I find Anthony Perkins' performance interesting and infinitely watchable.

    I saw the first Halloween movie on it's opening weekend back in '78 and remember really enjoying it. Then I saw Rob Zombie's remake/reboot in 2007, and my main complaint was that his version of Laurie Strode was completely uninteresting so I sat through most of the second half of the movie bored. Since it had been nearly 30 years since I'd seen the original I re-watched it, and was surprised by how boring John Carpenter's version of Laurie Strode was too. o_O I certainly didn't remember it that way.

    I've never seen any of the Saw movies, but I imagine I'm not missing much. I forgot about one other modern "horror" movie that I saw with friends when it debuted: Hostel (2005), which is arguably the poster child for torture porn. Boy, did it suck! :D

    As I mentioned above, I thought Rob's version of Laurie Strode was uninteresting. That's fine for a background character who might have a single line to utter somewhere in the movie, but if it's a character that the movie focuses on to some degree you'd damn well better make that character interesting so the audience wants to watch him or her. That didn't happen in Rob's version and, in fact, I was actually rooting for Michael to kill her and her obnoxious friends because I wanted to watch them die.

    The other problem with both the Halloween and Friday the 13th remakes/reboots is that we learn too much about Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees. The mystique makes the characters who they are; let them remain enigmatic. I don't want or need to know where Michael spent his childhood or how Jason stalks his prey. Not knowing is part of the fun of watching these turkeys.
     
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  2. Seb Lucas

    Seb Lucas I'll Lock Up

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    I agree totally with what you have said here. Slasher/horror films don't interest me - there's generally not enough to them for me to stay interested. But giving origins stories to such characters robs them of their power. In fact origin stories in movies are a big bore to me in general and they recently have even infected the Bond franchise. Bond just is. Please do not explain him or any of the supervillains, it just comes off as try-hard kitsch.

    Re Hitchcock. As an adult movie goer, I've generally consider Hitchcock to be overrated. I love Psycho because of the pared back quality of the cinematography and score and it has the ultimate special effect - Anthony Perkins. But generally I find Hitchcock movies to be bloated formalist tosh. Vertigo - more recently voted one of the greatest films of all time - has moments but is mostly tedious and Stewart is awkward and too old for the role.

    When I think back to Perkins in the role of Norman Bates, I am reminded that special effects, stunts, moving camera, costumes, make up and production design don't matter nearly as much as many movie buffs think. A well-written character and an extraordinary performance cuts across everything.
     
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  3. belfastboy

    belfastboy I'll Lock Up

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    Your last paragraph sums it up so well for me....bang on! In our house we would pare it down another notch and say..."A well written character cuts across everything"....if the performance too is stellar you have a gem.
     
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  4. Zombie_61

    Zombie_61 I'll Lock Up

    Now you've done it; you've introduced a "chicken/egg" scenario into the conversation. I absolutely can't argue the importance of well-written characters; the worlds of literature and cinema are filled with them. But I've seen movies with actors who didn't seem to know what to do with a well-written character, and that tends to bring the movie down. Conversely I've seen actors work wonders with a character that didn't appear to have been on the pages, so... That said, I'm of the opinion that all of the "great" things in life are a perfect storm of the right elements combined in the right proportions at just the right time; no one thing is single-handedly responsible for greatness.
     
  5. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington from 1939 with James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, Edward Arnold and Guy Kibbee

    I'm not above sentimentality and melodrama in movies (or books) - I've seen The Bishop's Wife and Shop Around the Corner more times than I care to admit - I'm just not a big buyer of director Frank Capra's particular brand of mawkishness. Maybe it's too obvious or too grandiose or too in love with itself, but I find my cynicism, not optimism, is awakened by his "single knight charging the corrupt citadel" stories.

    So when naive Jimmy Stewart is plucked from political obscurity to fill the vacated junior senator seat of a Western state because the state's corrupt political machine believes it can control him, you know, immediately with Capra, what you are in for.

    Every point is exaggerated and pounded in with a sledge hammer. The political machine isn't just corrupt, but so corrupt that the state's governor (Kibbee) and senior senator (Rains) snap to attention at every order from the machine's boss (Arnold). And Arnold, who made a career playing venal fat cats in the '30s and '40s, is at his most venal fat cat-ness here - demanding, pushing, shoving, fulsomely charming, bribing and threatening everyone so as to line his pockets.

    But Stewart is Arnold's ridiculously innocent opposite. Upon arriving in Washington, he gushes over every building, every statue of a Founding Father and every inscription propounding the ideals of America (modern progressive won't be filming a remake of this one). With that set up - and the catalyst of a political-machine-sponsored corrupt dam bill butting heads with Stewart's "boys camp" bill (a '40s Fresh-Air-Fund-like idea) - Capra has his David-versus-Goliath narrative in place.

    And I'd have yawned and rolled my eyes all the way through except for the movie's truly saving grace, Jean Arthur. As the experienced secretary to both senators - Rains (the movie's second saving grace) and Stewart - she knows the ins and outs, peccadilloes, cheats and inside baseball of the Senate. With her femininely husky voice, smart eyes and blonde pulchritude, she tries to warn Stewart about the real "ideals" and machinations of the Senate to prevent him from getting cut up into little pieces.

    But this cynical city girl - she can drink with the boys or spot a dirty deal a mile away - starts to like the virtue in Stewart while seeing anew, and disliking, the mendacity in Rains, Arnold and that crew.

    While a lot is fake or caricatures here, Arthur's character's personal life rings true. Despite being past her prime marrying age, this single and intelligent woman has a male suitor, a goofy-but-good-guy reporter, begging her to marry him, but she's in no hurry and is not worried. Feminist icons can be secretaries who sincerely like men, but play the game by their own rules and timeline.

    Also, let's not kid ourselves, part of why Arthur rejects the offer of marriage is because she has eyes for someone else. And that someone else is Stewart who, after initially getting mauled by the political machine, is coaxed back to his feet by Arthur who will also guide him as coach and mentor for his next attempted broadside.

    And in that fight, Stewart's closing Senate speech - we've lost our way from our founding values - is outstanding acting, but it's also designed bravura to be the shining moment of the movie. However, it's Arthur's nuanced and mirthful performance as his stealth Senate tutor during his speech that is the heart, soul and joy of the picture. She's too smart for either of the men in her life, but the heart wants what the heart wants.

    The movie is all Capra; if you love his stuff, you'll love Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. If you, like me, are a lesser fan, then Jean Arthur's performance will carry you through the Capra schmaltz. And there's also the fun time travel to iconic 1940s Washington to keep you engaged while cloyingly good battles comic-book evil.


    Ms. Arthur, what do you think of all these smart men in Washington?
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  6. Worf

    Worf I'll Lock Up

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    Just want to say that I found Zombie, Seb's and Bushman's recent discussion in this thread fascinating. Goodness how refreshing to see differing points of view discussed with passion AND civility. I LOVE this place...

    Da (I'm just a lonely Klingon) Worfster

     
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  7. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    Sounds like they made the same mistake as the Halloween franchise, when for number III they thought they'd try and turn it into an anthology series.... I like Halloween III, but all the same I think it was a mistake to tryu and box that in alongside the Michael Myers character.

    With both Halloween and Chainsaw I love how there are so many reboots and opinions on canon... it gives the characters that mythical quality with the various versions and conflicting details that we might associate with Robin Hood or Arthur. In part, that's what they were alsoshooting for with MadMax.

    The hockey mask is wonderfully iconic. Though possibly my favourite 'mask' detail was actually in the otherwise rather MTVish remake of the original Chainsaw - that moment when Leatherface, having made a new mask, chases the 'final girl' character while wearing her recently murdered boyfriend's face. For me, as something of a genre fan, that alone justified the remake en totale.

    I have a strong affection for that original because of my maternal grandmother, who died last November - my last surviving grandparent. She was always a horror, fan (neither of my parents were, so I can only assume I inherited that from her!), and she often would have said that Halloween was her favourite film - not just her favourite horror film.

    I think a big reason I like seeing remakes is because it's all modern mythology. Like King Arthur or Robin Hood, certain stories are retold every generation, and every generation puts its own spin on them to the extent where you can learn an enormous amount about the time, culture, and teller of the story... For instance, look at the original, 1969 version of Night of the Living Dead, in which the lone survivor is a PoC. Fast forward just about thirty years, and Romero returns to this tory as an executive producer, with Tom Savini in the director's chair. SAvini sticks largely to the same story - script, even - except the last survivor in the house is a woman, and there's an additional epilogue commenting on the unpleasantness of the overreaction to the nasty zombies...

    Increasingly, the female characters are more fleshed out - not just 'scream queens'.

    Another modern trend I notice is that whereas originally we just accepted that evil could exist like a Leatherface or a Jason, these days tere'#s a perceived need to explain how they got to be "like that" - more in a 'desire for backstory over mystery' than 'to be pitied rather than feared' angle in most cases, I think.

    The Saw films were entertaining enough - quite creative and something new in the genre. The downside was the imitative dreck that had nothing clever to say and tought it was just about the torture porn. Narrative matters!

    I think in the original she was simply supposed to be an 'everyteen', so they didn't need three dimensions - she wasacipher for the viewer. But yeah.... in an awful lot of horror films I find myself rooting for the "wrong" person because of the behaviour of others. This kicked in hard when recently watch the superb 2016 film Offensive (similar territory to Straw Dogs, but vastly better and more realistic). When the first of those awful kids gets what was coming them, I actually cheered as a spontaneous reaction!

    Yes, it's a way in which this generation tell those sotries very differently. I enjoy them in a way, though like you I prefer the mystery. I definitely am glad I saw the originals first. IT's the same on the page: much as I enjoyed the comic book backstory they eventually gave Neegan in The Walking Dead, I'm very glad it wasn't there when I was reading the arc in which he is the key antagonist.
     
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  8. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Two from TCM's Nina Foch Day
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    Thanks for watching my movies. Yours truly, NF



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    The Dark Past from 1948 with William Holden, Lee J. Cobb and Nina Foch
    • Decent noir / Freudian psychodrama
    • Escaped convict Holden and his gang (including Foch) take psychiatrist Cobb and his family and friends hostage at their country house
    • All the usual hostage-in-the-country-house stuff happens: a few escape attempt are thwarted, some secrets come out, tempers flare amongst the crooks and hostages, somebody gets shot, etc. - probably fresher material in '48
    • The hook in this one, though, is when Cobb begins to psychoanalyze Holden who resists at first, but then gives in, because one reoccurring nightmare has been haunting criminal Holden his entire life
    • Cobb's professional approach is Freudian-dream-analysis-as-cure on steroids: find the childhood reason for the nightmare and the patient is cured (and criminal reformed). If only, but it was a fairytale that several movies told at the time
    • Hint: the solution is creepily close to an Oedipal Complex
    • Cobb and Holden are engaging antagonists / their psychodrama battle makes the movie worth watching
    • Foch, looking all sunshine and cleanliness, is miscast as the gun moll, but she gives it the college try

    My Name Is Julia Ross 3.jpg
    My Name is Julia Ross
    from 1945 with Nina Foch, Mae Whitty and George Macready
    • This is B-noir at its finest blending elements of Gaslight and Jane Eyre
    • Ms Foch is the innocent young lady hired into a "dream job" in London as the personal secretary to the lovely old lady (Whitty). However, on day two of her new job, she wakes up to find she's in a different house (a classic gothic mansion on a sea-side cliff), being called by another name and, effectively, being held prisoner, but with no idea why
    • Throw into the mix a creepy adult son with an abnormal passion for knives and violence, secret passageways, dispassionate servants and, maybe, a friend on the outside looking for her (or not) and all the elements of a good "I can't get out of this crazy place" movie are present
    • From there it's failed escape attempts, followed by tighter lock-downs, followed by more harrowing attempts, all while Ms. Foch tries to unravel the reason that she's here
    • It's a fun, occasionally tense, fast sixty-plus-minutes film where Ms. Foch shines as the distraught ingenue, while talented Mae Whitty, looking like every one's kind grandmother, is perfect as the mastermind of the nefarious plot

    N.B. Executive Suite from 1954 (re-teaming Foch and Holden) is my favorite Nina Foch movie (it was on, but I didn't see it this time). It has a solid story where, shockingly, Hollywood takes a somewhat balanced look at how business and politics in the executive suite really work. Its all-star cast is pitch perfect, including Foch as the super-efficient, loyal and smart executive secretary. Yes, she's as buttoned-up as her bosses, but she lets her sexual passion peek out from her icy blondness now and then. Hitchcock missed on never casting this tall, aloof, flaxen-haired beauty in one of his films.
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    Last edited: Sep 4, 2020
  9. Bushman

    Bushman My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Tuesday night: Boom Town (1940) with Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, and Frank Morgan. Front half of the movie is good old fashioned Texas roughneck fun. Lots of great vintage workwear. Short John (Tracy) buys a plot of land and with Tall John's (Gable) help, they try establishing their own oil field by ripping off the banker in town (Morgan) to get their tools. They eventually each win and lose fortunes over the course of the movie, and the Johns become bitter rivals. Second half of the movie is Gable and Tracy trying to one-up each other. Eventually Tracy tattles to the government on Gable's monopolizing, and Gable gets dragged into court to defend himself against the Sherman Antitrust Act. Thankfully friendship wins out in the end and Tracy takes the stand to deliver a compelling character testimony for Gable. The movie ends with the main cast, now broke, marching off into the sunset for new oil fields.

    Last night: Alfred Hitchcock's "The Wrong Man" (1956) - I've never actually seen this one before. Great hat/coat movie if you're into the Era fashion. Even better story. I've seen many, many imitators, but they all pale compared to the original. Hitchcock's masterful directing is as stunning as always.

    Just finished: "Corvette Summer" (1976) starring Annie Potts and Mark Hamill, pre-Star Wars. Campy comedy about a man whose car is stolen and reported found in Vegas. Annie Potts, playing a prostitute, tags along on the way hoping to make a name for herself in Vegas. Turns out the reported car was a Datsun. Dejected and penniless, Potts and Hamill cross in and out of each other's stories as they each go through about half a dozen jobs each trying to make enough money to get themselves out of Vegas. It's the classic odd-couple movie. Hamill is a straight man just trying to get his car back, and Potts is just wacky, loose, and fun. The foiling characterizations make for some fun laughs, but the real gold here is seeing Annie Potts and Mark Hamill starring together in their youth.

    Right now: "A Stolen Life" (1946) starring Bette Davis and Glenn Ford. Just started, but I'm thus far hooked!
     
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  10. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Been awhile, but I remember enjoying "Boom Town" owing to Tracy and Gable with a nice assist from Hedy Lamarr.

    Also been awhile since I've seen "The Wrong Man," but think of it is a good, but lesser-Hitchcock effort.

    I saw "Corvette Summer" on TV in the '70s when I was probably elven or twelve - but did just see it on mute on TCM. Next time it's on, I want to watch it to compare it to my childhood view.

    I saw "A Stolen Life" recently and enjoyed it. My comments here if you care: #27363
     
  11. Bushman

    Bushman My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Read your review, and I'd definitely agree. The story is pretty so-so, but I love Bette Davis, and got exactly what I came for. The faux-Maine setting is also still very enticing to watch, and I ended up enjoying the movie more for it.
     
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  12. Julian Shellhammer

    Julian Shellhammer Practically Family

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    The other night it was Murder, My Sweet. Crooner heart-throb Richard Powell breaks out of his typecast image and delivers in his PI role. It was brand new to the missus, who liked it.

    Also, Jewel Robbery from 1932, with William Powell and Kay Francis. Must be one them pre-codes folks talk about, because things like adultery, theft, and kidnapping are served up with arch bon mots and terribly sophisticated attitudes.

    In between older films it's been Rogue One, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and The Force Awakens, from Disney+
     
  13. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Dick Powell made a very hard-to-do career transition. While he's not my favorite noir lead, he is good at it.

    I know I've seen "Jewel Robbery," but a long time ago (or so my memory says). They made a lot of pre-code and, even a few after the code was enforced, sophisticate-jewel-thief movies. One fun one I saw recently was "I Am a Thief" from '34 with Richard Cortez and Mary Astor - both were sophisticated as heck in it. (My comments on the movie here: #27677)

    And William Powell played sophisticated good or bad guys pretty much the same way and always well.

    Also, just remembered, "The Last Mrs Cheyney" (both the '29 and '37 versions) is a good sophisticated-jewel-thief movie.
     
  14. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Here Come the Huggetts from 1948 with Jack Warner, Diana Dors, Petula Clark, Susan Shaw and Jane Hylton

    Post-war English cinema is a treat. Lacking the funds of Hollywood, British filmmakers relied on strong stories, smart dialogue and talented actors to make engaging movies. They had to as they didn't have the budget to paper over weak efforts with whiz-bang special effects, gripping action-adventure sequences, exotic location shots or glamorous star power.

    Here Come the Huggetts is not the best of these efforts, but it's still a small gem of a movie - kind of the British version of America's Four Daughters. The Huggetts are a middle-class family living at a time when England had won the war but was losing its Empire and economic might.

    So, despite pater Huggett being the number two man in a small manufacturing firm, there's little opulence in their household as evidenced when we see the fuss made by his three daughters and wife over the installation of their first telephone. Which was only ordered because the father's boss wants to be able to get in touch with his employee after work hours (not unlike how firms were "giving" employees Blackberrys twenty years ago).

    It is real day-to-day issues like getting a telephone put in or the family camping out overnight to get a good location to see the Royal Wedding (Grandma's corporeal demands defeat that effort at the last minute) that make the Huggetts real and relatable. Just like when mother and daughter fight over the morality of "black market" food that they both know they'll, eventually, shut up about and just eat (rationing continued for many years after the war in England) or when the oldest daughter has doubts right before her wedding.

    The plot - if there is one in this slice-of-life story - involves the arrival of cousin Diana (Diana Dors) who's staying with the Huggetts temporarily while her mom has an operation. Teenager Dors, looking still baby-fat chubby to my eye, is supposedly a va-va-voom girl that throws the house in a tizzy as she kinda steals one of the daughter's boyfriends while nearly costing Mr. Huggett his position with her sloppy effort at the job he obtained for her at his factory.

    But it's really the daughters who bring the interesting teen spirit, in particular, a pre-stardom Petula Clark as the smart but not snarky youngest who gets the craziness of her house. But she loves her family and its nuttiness and shows it when she wonderfully stands up to her dad's intimidating boss on his behalf. And why anyone is looking at a bit lumpy Diana Dors when blonde, lithe and angular middle daughter Susan Shaw is around makes no sense, but watching Shaw go from slightly stuck-up to aware and kinder when her taken-for-granted boyfriend drops her is life made real.

    If you do see it, look for the scene when a gentleman caller, who's not her fiance, shows up for kind-of-engaged oldest daughter Jane Hylton. Few words are exchanged when dad opens the door, but the young man's attempt to overcompensate for his nervousness with a quirky offer to dad of a produced-from-his-coat-pocket peach as dad stays stone faced until giving just an inch of warmth with the slightest hand gesture is writing, directing and acting at its nuanced best.

    The joy of the Huggetts are sincere moments like that or the wonderful relationship Mr. and Mrs. Huggett have as they occasionally grumble at each other, but it's clear that, underneath, their marriage is a well-oiled machine based on love and respect without a lot of having to say it.

    The budget for Here Come the Huggetts was probably a fraction of the average Hollywood offering at the time, but it proves again that filmmaking is at its best when it focuses on telling real stories about real people in a relatable way. All the attention-grabbing big-budget stuff can be fun and enhancing, but nothing beats old-fashioned storytelling done well. I only learned afterwards that this is the second in a series of four Huggett movies; I'll now be on the lookout for the other three.
     
  15. steve u

    steve u One of the Regulars

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    All Is True ,directed by Kenneth Branagh. About William Shakespeare returning home after retirement.
    Only rated 2 stars(out of 4)...
    I really enjoyed the story and acting...TWO THUMBS UP.
     
  16. Touchofevil

    Touchofevil

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    Stumbled across this recently on TCM. I had seen it a few times prior, but Garfield’s performance is what makes me stop and watch. He is one of my favorite actors and it is a shame he passed on so young.
    :D
     
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  17. Touchofevil

    Touchofevil

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    TCM playing whatever is on in the background. Occasionally something will catch my attention for a while and then go back to whatever it is that I am doing.
    :D
     
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  18. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Yup, that's pretty much what my day is like.


    He's very good; I enjoy him a lot. He's like Cary Grant in that I always know it's Cary Grant or Garfield playing a character, but they still pull it off incredibly well.
     
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  19. Trenchfriend

    Trenchfriend I'll Lock Up

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    The flight of the Phoenix (1965).

    James Stewart, M51 jacket??
     
  20. belfastboy

    belfastboy I'll Lock Up

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    Yes, I think we can at least agree with your last sentence. As a writer and only part time performer my bias is very strongly bent towards the writing.
     

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