What's on your Daily Viewing List?

bujaki

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Post #2:
The Black Shield of Falworth (iTunes) 1954. How many times did I see this movie as a child in my local house? And then, when I found it that Howard Pyle's novel "Men of Iron" was the basis for the film I devoured the book. I must have been around 12-13, with a very good command of English by then and I so enjoyed the book. By then, of course, the film was unavailable. This is probably the first viewing since childhood in all its wide splendor, and the novel is a distant memory. Leigh and Rush are lovely maidens. It's an enjoyable romp, but the medieval period was much, much dirtier.
Pony Express (iTunes) 1953. For Rhonda (RIP), who shared a bathtub scene with Jan Sterling. It could have only been bettered had she shared it with Arlene Dahl. So-so western with C. Heston playing Buffalo Bill with Rhonda and Sterling vying for his affections. Poor Sterling got the short end of the stick. Secessionist traitors try to get California to secede by plotting to ruin the Pony Express inaugural run. Buffalo Bill was 14 when the fictional events occurred. Heston was slightly older. So were the two jaguars lusting after him.
 
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bujaki

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Post #3:
The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (iTunes) 1946. Stanwyck in another femme fatale role with an ending reminiscent of Double Indemnity. Victor Milner's lighting really shines (wrong term) in this noir penned by Robert Rossen, directed with an extremely sure hand by Lewis Milestone. And what a trio of performances from Heflin, Stanwyck and Douglas throwing sparks in their ensemble scenes (trios, duets), sometimes joined by Lizabeth Scott in her second film appearance (still learning). Judith Anderson makes a quick exit, but an indelible impression upon the youngsters. Excellent film. This HD stream looks quite good.
The Black Orchid (iTunes) 1958. Okay, so I saw this on release and remember just the funeral procession at the beginning. I'm sure I didn't understand anything else about the film, centering, as it does, on a widower's courtship of a young widow. The psychological issues affecting the widower's daughter are daunting, to say the least. Sophia Loren looks ravishing; she won the Volpi Cup at the Venice Film Festival for this film. A. Quinn delivers a subtle and endearing performance. Beautiful transfer of this VV title.
 

bujaki

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Fargo (FX) A character I really liked and respected got bumped off. Sad.
Destination Murder (TCM) 1950. The moment Stanley Clements left his seat and theater during intermission and committed the crime, I knew I had seen the film. Nevertheless, I stuck with it. Entertaining. The villain speaking in the third person was no doubt a dig by Eddie to a Page Six personality.
Danzón (TCM app) 1991. Directed by Maria Rojo. A woman in her '30s in Mexico City loves to dance and meets every Wednesday with a partner with whom she shares nothing but the passion for dancing. One day he disappears and she sets out to Veracruz on a quest, hoping to find him. It's like a trip to Oz, where she will find the virtues Dorothy found before returning home and finding her partner there all along. Her adventures in Veracruz where she stayed in a hotel peopled by prostitutes, their babies, their pimps; transvestites she meets by chance and who offer to help her in her search; a young man who falls for her and with whom she has a brief fling; all things she would have never experienced back in the capital. She returns from Oz a happier, more fulfilled woman, and the smile on her lips and eyes as she resumes dancing with her partner is simply radiant.
 

Robin9

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I was going to watch A Kid For Two Farthings today but I suddenly had an urge to see You'll Never Get Rich again. Twilight Time's Blu-ray disc is superb and I loved all the song and dance numbers. The rest of the screenplay is third rate or worse but Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth and Cole Porter more than make up for that.
 

bujaki

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The Man Who Understood Women (FMC) 1959. Written and directed by Nunnally Johnson. Starring Leslie Caron and Henry Fonda. An attempt at a Shavian or Wilde comedy of manners set in (by accident) in the world of filmmaking. Filled with bons mots and rueful observations on human nature, marital love and fidelity; and the acceptance of forgiveness and yes, understanding. Not a remastered print but shown in the good taste of its original AR and decent, unfaded color. I think I detected directional sound.
Libeled Lady (HBO Max) 1936. As delightful now as when I saw it decades ago. A team of stars you can't beat even now. And Harlow without a bra is still quite a sight. Comedy at its best in a transfer that is superb.
 
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bujaki

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New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players Gala Virtual performances and fund raiser. Members of the troupe were joined by Robert Cuccioli and Victoria Clarke in performances of the G&S canon.
Blithe Spirit 1956. Kinescope of a production directed by Coward and starring the author, Claudette Colbert, Lauren Bacall, and best of all, Mildred Natwick (nominated for an Emmy in the role she played on B'way) as Mme. Arcati. Bright and breezy and altogether delightful as judiciously pruned by Mr. Coward.
Good News 1930. Wow, I saw this first so long ago (1974?) that I thought it was time to see it again. A bit creaky and shot at the end of the musical vogue so many musical numbers were cut or shortened, but what was left was very good. The Varsity Drag is spectacular and staged very imaginatively (watch for Ann Dvorak in the chorus). Good News is also very good, both numbers enlivened by the future Penny Singleton. The Best Things in Life Are Free is thrown away, but is such a lovely song. Bessie Love shines through, as usual. I haven't seen the remake in a long, long while, but I've never really liked it much, particularly since it stars a certain woman I dislike very much.
Havana (HBO Max) 1990. Avoided by me and my wife (she lived the revolution) until last night. OK, so it's a reworking of Casablanca and Redford should have left Cuba with Tomas Milian...But Olin is one seriously beautiful woman, and that's all there is to it. Good to see my fellow islander Raul Julia. Dave Grusin's score sometimes seemed to be channeling Morricone.
Tomka and His Friends (TCM app) 1977. Excellent film about a group of Albanian children who help partisans fight the Nazi occupying forces; their revenge is particularly sweet since the nasty Nazis have taken over their only playing field. Told from the children's point of view.
 
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Matt Hough

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I videotaped the 1930 Good News many years ago off TCM, and I watched it one time but saved the tape. I really should trot it out and watch it again. The 1947 version is so wonderfully slick and colorful that despite not having much of a 1920s feel, I always have a good time when I watch it. I need to see if the 1930 version affects me similarly.
 
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Adam Lenhardt

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Vampires vs. the Bronx
Originally Released: 10/02/2020
Watched: 10/18/2020
1080p digital streaming on Netflix via Residence Inn TV

Vampires vs. The Bronx (2020) Poster


Vampires are a metaphor for rich white people gentrifying predominantly poor black and Hispanic neighborhoods in this horror-comedy from longtime "SNL" director Oz Rodriguez. It hits its message hard and without subtlety, and doesn't find much to explore beyond the surface of the setup. That being said, it doesn't take itself too seriously, either. The teenage protagonists are likable, and the young performers playing them are all solid. Zoe Saldana, Method Man, Shea Whigham, and Sarah Gadon all have fun camping it up in the supporting adult roles. Is it an instant horror classic? No. Is it a fun enough way to spend an evening? Yes.

* * *​
Nocturne
Originally Released: 10/13/2020
Watched: 10/21/2020
4k digital streaming on Amazon Prime Video via Roku Ultra

Nocturne (2020) Poster


This is one of four horror movies released this year on Prime Video under the "Welcome to the Blumhouse" branding.

Moira Wilson, the star pupil in the Linberg Art School's elite classical music program, has scratched backward text and symbols into the wall of one of the music rooms. She plays a haunting (and haunted) piece on her violin and then, at exactly midnight, jumps to her death from the balcony.

Six weeks later, twin piano prodigy sisters Vivien and Juliet Lowe return to Linberg to finish out their senior year of high school. Juliet, two minutes the younger, was drawn to the piano first and was the more promising musician early on. But Vivien has the confidence and charisma that Juliet lacks. Now Vivien is bound for Julliard while Juliet is dismissed as a "fine piano player".

Just when Juliet has resigned herself to being forever eclipsed by her dominant twin sister, Moira's theory book comes into her possession and changes the trajectory of both sisters forever.

I really admired the craft of this one. It exists in a very psychological space; even as the end credits rolled, I wasn't sure whether supernatural forces were at play or if everything that had happened was just the result of Juliet imposing significance on a troubled dead girl's notebook. Writer/director Zu Quirke, in her feature-length debut, stays inside Juliet's head for the entire movie. There is a lot of surreal imagery, but it's an open question whether it is generated by external forces or simply the product of Juliet's imagination.

Sydney Sweeney looks like a starlet but approaches her craft like a character actor. Every role I've seen her in has felt different than all of the roles that came before. She plays Juliet like someone who threw in the towel a long time ago but can't bear to leave the ring. It's a terrific performance; Juliet resents her sister's success, and feels like Vivien robbed her of her dream. But her biggest obstacle was always herself. Both sisters had the ambition, but only Vivien had the will to achieve it. Sweeney allows Juliet's inadequacy to come out in some really ugly ways.

Madison Iseman has the less psychologically complicated role as Vivien, but she does a good job embodying Vivien's imperious nature. Vivien is selfish, condescending, and arrogant. She takes it for granted that she should succeed and that Juliet should fail. But she has a steel that Juliet lacks. It's hard to argue that Vivien hasn't earned her success.

The girls' parents are a notable departure from the norm when it comes to movies about highly driven youth. They not only aren't pushing their daughter toward greatness in classical music, they're skeptical about the whole endeavor.

The use of music and cinematography is superb. It's one of those scores that is very intentionally foregrounded in the soundtrack, and weaves in and out between diegetic music and traditional score in ways that further muddy what is real and what is in Juliet's head. Horror movies don't have a great track record when it comes to depicting mental illness, and this one is no exception. But the tropes, while extremely problematic, do propel the story forward.

The ending is open to interpretation, with two very plausible possibilities. Neither is what I would call happy.
 

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