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Old 11-18-2019, 06:41 AM   #2441
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I might do a detailed review later, but I watched Arrow's release of Man of a Thousand Faces, a dramatized account of the life of Lon Chaney, the famous and ground-breaking silent film star whose prowess in make-up and disguises allowed him to portray a gallery of characters including his celebrated turns as The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Phantom of the Opera. James Cagney's portrayal is sincere, but the film is more interested in being a shameless tearjerker than a portrayal of a dedicated actor.

Apart from that I have been watching episodes of Ultra Q, the vintage Japanese SF/Monster series by the company of Eiji Tusuburaya, the man behind the 1954 Godzilla suit and SFX. Each episode has a different story, in which either mutation or alien presence generates a monster that has to be dealt with. Interestingly, some episodes end on an apocalyptic note with the threat not vanquished, but the next episode just starts with a clean plate. This would have been great fun to watch as a kid, and even now it is interesting. Excellent presentation with strong A/V specs on Mill Creek's extremely reasonable 4-BD release.


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Old 11-19-2019, 08:08 AM   #2442
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After a gap of a couple months of half-hearted searching around for solutions, I finally managed to reset and reconnect my Chromecast device to my receiver-display and renewed my Netflix subscription, so The Irishman should be possible, sometime this weekend I guess.

But last night I watched the new Eddie Murphy movie, Dolemite Is My Name. Based on events from the life of scrappy black musician-comedian-actor-producer Rudy Ray Moore, the film is a lot like Tim Burton's film of Ed Wood. We see Rudy as a man driven by enthusiasm and a hunger for fame, undeterred by lack of experience or even talent, willing to do whatever it takes to make a splash. He finds his mojo in the creation of the badass persona of Dolemite, fuelling a tour of stand-up comedy acts and then decides to go bigger by making the jump to movies, even if it means he has to make it on his own.

DIMN is no realistic biography, it's a frequently funny (although the stand-up ghetto humor at the start mostly escapes me) and warm-hearted venture, only the high level of cussing and frequent nudity put it beyond family-friendly. Murphy seems to be having a mother-frakkin' good time in the lead and he has a lovely supporting cast. Wesley Snipes gives an incongruously fey yet compelling turn as Martin D'Urville who directed Moore's movie Dolemite. DIMN is shot with the soft-focus lighting style that is Hollywood's trademark for nostalgic glamour. While it runs a little longer than ideal, it remains likable enough to sit all the way through.

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Old 11-21-2019, 10:41 AM   #2443
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A close friend had a theory of how Feroze Khan's film Dayavan came about. The way he figured it, FK and his friends, including Vinod Khanna, were having one of their customary all-night drinking sessions when they heard over the news that a Tamil movie called Nayakan had won Kamalahaasan and several others National awards and was going to be sent as India's entry to the Oscars that year.

FK orders his Man Friday "Arre woh Madraasi ke picture ka tape laa re, dekhte hai itna kya bada kiya hai". Viewing the tape over more drinks, FK in complete disbelief repeatedly spits whisky at the screen, all the while copiously swearing "B**** C****, isko National Award diya hai! Oscar ko bhej raha hai, M**** C****! G**** maarke rakhna chahiye iska!" He then immediately calls up his production guy and orders him to buy the remake rights for Nayakan. The rest as they say is history.

I suspect a similar thing happened with Section 375. Someone educated in the Abbas-Mustan School of Cinematic Arts watched Chaitanya Tamhane's National Award winning and Oscar submitted Court and said, "Is mein kya hai? Ek court scene ko adjourn, adjourn bolke paanch scene banana hai, beech mein lawyer log ka lunch-dinner dikhana hai, thoda Marathi aur English bolna hai. Aur haan, background music thoda kam volume pe chalana hai."

A film that professes to be a timely debate on the complexities of justice in rape trials and relies on imbecilic jack-in-the-box tricks to play with audience sympathies. Perhaps embarrassed by his wig, Akshay Khanna is so low-key he's in the basement. Richa Chadha, brilliant in Masaan, collapses under the dual whammy of awful make-up and pedestrian characterization. Ugly's Rahul Bhat plays another shady creep, with diminishing returns. Other members of the cast seem confused about what film they're in, which appears consistent with the state of the mind of the people that wrote and directed it.


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Old 11-21-2019, 11:55 AM   #2444
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ravenus View Post
A close friend had a theory of how Feroze Khan's film Dayavan came about. The way he figured it, FK and his friends, including Vinod Khanna, were having one of their customary all-night drinking sessions when they heard over the news that a Tamil movie called Nayakan had won Kamalahaasan and several others National awards and was going to be sent as India's entry to the Oscars that year.

FK orders his Man Friday "Arre woh Madraasi ke picture ka tape laa re, dekhte hai itna kya bada kiya hai". Viewing the tape over more drinks, FK in complete disbelief repeatedly spits whisky at the screen, all the while copiously swearing "B**** C****, isko National Award diya hai! Oscar ko bhej raha hai, M**** C****! G**** maarke rakhna chahiye iska!" He then immediately calls up his production guy and orders him to buy the remake rights for Nayakan. The rest as they say is history.
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Old 11-23-2019, 06:04 AM   #2445
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While not the most devilishly plotted of serial killer thrillers, HG Clouzot's film of The Murderer Lives at 21 is immensely fun a la The Thin Man, packed with hilarious dialog and great chemistry between the leads. I can comfortably re-watch this more than Clouzot's acclaimed work like Les Diaboliques and Le Corbeau. Eureka's disc, which I got after the price finally dropped below 15 quid, has a decent though not perfect transfer (grain retention is less than it should be). The LPCM 2.0 track functions within its limitations. Being one of the older Eureka authorings, it has chapter stops (thank heavens!). The only on-disc extra is a 15 min introduction in English by Ginette Vincendeau who talks about Clouzot's debut as a director and his associations with the German film company which led to some controversy. There's a booklet with 3 short essays and accompanying stills.

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Old 11-23-2019, 02:55 PM   #2446
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It’s taken some 15 years but my top 3 films of all time has finally been disturbed and Chinatown drops from number 2 to number 3.

Replacing it at number 2 is Satyajit Ray’s monumentally staggering The Music Room (Jalsaghar). Similar in theme to Visconti’s great The Leopard but, for me anyway, the execution is even more emotionally resonant because the scope is less epic and more personal.

The land baron who is just unwilling to acknowledge let alone embrace the looming societal and environmental changes that were on the horizon in the late 1920s/late 1930s East India is superbly portrayed by Chhabi Biswas who is in nearly every shot of the movie. The character is hubristic, narcissistic, and pathetic, yet Ray and Biswas manage to still evoke so much empathy and conflicted feelings in the viewer.

This was my first Ray film and the technique is absolutely phenomenal, there is some fabulously applause worthy cinematography and foreshadowing throughout and when the movie segues into its three varied musical interludes, it does not feel like at like the musical numbers in Hollywood or Bollywood musicals, but an organic extension and contribution to the mood and narrative already constructed.

My favourite of these musical interludes was the second one, more so for how it played in the narrative and character development as Biswas’ character’s mind is for once not on his beloved music but the fate of his wife and son. This sequence features some of the best use of subjective POV technique in any film, I particularly loved the way the singer’s voice sounds like a wailing cry for help towards the end of the musical interlude as Biswas’ character gets up to leave having realised the potential fate of his wife and son.

A perfect 10.

Criterion’s blu is from a somewhat compromised source with a fair bit of blooming in the whites, some minor but noticeable image instability and the occasional light damage. But for an Indian film, most of which have very poorly cared for original materials, it is a fantastic presentation and frequently looks jaw dropping. The audio is also surprisingly pretty good if a little thin.
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Old 11-23-2019, 04:55 PM   #2447
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^I'm shocked that you are seeing the film for the first time, but great that you did. I first saw it sometime in the 90's when Doordarshan had a retrospective of Ray films after his death, and it became my favorite by him, rivaled only by the exquisite Aranyer Din Ratri.

Compared to any previous viewings the Criterion transfer is a revelation. The included feature-length Benegal documentary on Ray is also a must-watch.
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Old 11-23-2019, 10:37 PM   #2448
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Quote:
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^I'm shocked that you are seeing the film for the first time, but great that you did. I first saw it sometime in the 90's when Doordarshan had a retrospective of Ray films after his death, and it became my favorite by him, rivaled only by the exquisite Aranyer Din Ratri.

Compared to any previous viewings the Criterion transfer is a revelation. The included feature-length Benegal documentary on Ray is also a must-watch.
Yeah I hope to see the included Benegal documentary soon and also move on to more Ray (I have all the Criterions and the AE boxset).

As for why it took so long, we moved to Australia when I was 9 years old in 1990 so I never really saw much on Indian TV apart from cartoons. And I didn’t really get into film till about the early 2000s. Then, as much as I had read about Ray, all the DVDs looked to be of poor quality so I waited. But I have no real explanation of why it took 8 years from when this blu came out
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Old 11-24-2019, 01:42 PM   #2449
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I'd originally planned to watch Martin Scorsese's The Irishman, but learned that it would come on Netflix only after Wednesday. By lucky chance his well-received previous film Silence was available to stream (although for some reason it seems to have disappeared now, almost like they were just waiting for me to watch before taking it off their shelves).

For anyone that doesn't know, Silence looks at the struggle of Christian missionaries in 17th Century Japan and the actions of Japanese officialdom to root out the foreign religion. The film is seen primarily through the eyes of Rodriguez (everybody's favorite Catholic Andrew Garfield), who undergoes repeated crises of faith when he is asked to renounce his God with the threat of having his followers tortured.

It's a story with a lot of potential and to be sure there are several interesting moments (especially when the characters discuss the relevance of Christianity in Japanese culture) and some terrific shoreline imagery, but I didn't feel as successfully involved with it. While it may be historically true I felt the Japanese officials were came across as caricature villains - it didn't help that Issey Ogata as the Inoue (governor?) sounded like a cross between Kenneth Williams of the Carry On series and Yoda. Also, Rodriguez's visions and messages from Jesus were very on-the-nose and cheapened the experience for me.

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Old 11-24-2019, 08:15 PM   #2450
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^I found the 1971 adaptation by Masahiro Shinoda to be a lot more rewarding than this one, but like you said, this has its own merits too.
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Old 11-28-2019, 09:03 AM   #2451
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Saw the interesting romcom Harold and Maude last night on the Eureka/MoC blu-ray.

Harold and Maude is one of those cute boy-meets-girl romantic comedies...in which boy is a depressed suicidal immature adolescent and girl is an 80-year old bohemian. To their credit writer Colin Higgins and director Hal Ashby carry off the concept without appearing sordid or diluting it too much. Also to be applauded are the performances by Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort who nail difficult characters in a reasonably credible manner. Of course, "cute" is still the overall feel of the film, most of the courtship, despite Ruth's flirtatious overtures in the beginning, is conducted in a chaste manner, and her homilies remain in wholesome territory. But it is still a pleasant, even joyous film in which two people that look at life in different ways - a young man that seeks to escape it, an old woman that looks to embrace it - find a common ground in each other. Wonderful cinematography and a catchy soundtrack from Cat Stevens play an important part.

Eureka's disc features a strong transfer and punchy audio (mono and stereo options). The extras include a nice half hour conversation with critic David Cairns who recalls the first time he screened the film for an audience, and discusses Higgins' and Ashby's careers. There is also a director's commentary.

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Old 12-02-2019, 06:52 AM   #2452
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I saw the Tamil film Aruvi on Amazon Prime yesterday. It's really hard attempting to give one's impressions of a film where describing anything of the plot would take away from the surprise element of its twists and turns, essential for the proper impact of the movie. Suffice to say, it's one of the most unusual and ambitious Indian movies with a female lead that I have seen, seamless blending both social commentary and a wonderful portrait of a complex individual. Aditi Balan in the lead gives a performance that should be made standard curriculum in any acting course. By the (shamelessly sentimental yet wholly earned) ending, I was bawling like a child. Mandatory watching for anyone interested in off the beaten track cinema.

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