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The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

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The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Old 02-07-13, 09:52 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by lisadoris
[to MinLShaw] BTW, I'll PM you a black film syllabus is a few days - I hope to teach my film class in the fall so I should be thinking about it anyway.
Would you consider posting it, so any other interested individuals can see it, too, please?
Old 02-07-13, 09:53 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by lisadoris
Yeah I watched Imitation of Life for the first time a few days ago. I was saving my comments until I watched the 1959 version. I had the same reaction to this film that I had to Pinky: it seemed to be written by someone who had no freaking clue abut how black people thought and acted at the time. Would Delilah have been disappointed that Peola wanted to pass, absolutely. Would she have "outed" her in public on multiple occasions? Absolutely not. Even in New York, in the 1930s, that would have been dangerous and Delilah was wise enough to know that. I'm sure this was a progressive film when it was released but it's an eyeball rolling mess today (though the performances were still quite solid).
You both need to see the 1959 version, one of the favorite Hollywood movies of many black women of a certain age. There are major differences between the 1934 and 1959 versions, but I'm singling out two. The 1959 version ends sooner and much more effectively. Also, the actress who plays Peola in the 1934 version, Fredi Washington, was actually a light-skinned black actress. (Unlike Jeanne Crain in PINKY.) The actress who plays the equivalent character in 1959, renamed Sarah Jane, was half- Jewish and half- Mexican. She's Susan Kohner, daughter of a powerful Hollywood agent and famous today as the mother of Chris and Paul Weitz, makers of the AMERICAN PIE movies. Kohner's mother, Mexican actress Lupita Tovar, who played Eva Seward in the Spanish-languge version of DRACULA (1931), is still with us, as of this writing, and aged 102! A third thing about the 1959 version: I believe Juanita Moore (who's 92 now and still with us) took great pains to avoid stereotype in her portrayal of Annie, (the 1959 equivalent of Delilah).

There's a story about singer Billie Holliday, on tour with a black band traveling in the segregated south, and her remark upon seeing a light-skinned bandmate coming out of a white restaurant. As he walked past her and his bandmates without acknowledging them, she shouted, "Well, all right for you, Peola!"

I'm curious to read the original novel by Fannie Hurst that IMITATION OF LIFE is based on. I just learned that it's actually in print:
http://www.amazon.com/Imitation-Life...s=Fannie+Hurst

Last edited by Ash Ketchum; 02-07-13 at 04:28 PM.
Old 02-07-13, 10:06 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by MinLShaw
[How to watch Two Arabian Knights]Per Wikipedia:

My advice is to build a time machine and go back to 2004 and set your DVR. Or, I suppose, just go back to 1927 and find a theater screening it.
Well, that's unhelpful!

Who do I write to at TCM to have them work out the rights to stick those three onto one of their exclusive DVD sets (which I won't be able to afford, but can gaze wistfully at), then..?

Nuts.
Old 02-07-13, 10:08 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum
Between [WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?] and CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, I have to conclude that Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee perfected whining as an American art form. ("Wah, wah, wah, you didn't love us, Big Daddy" "Wah, wah, wah, we can't have any children").
I dare you to find a Theater critic/fan/lecturer and say that to them!
Old 02-07-13, 10:11 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by shadokitty
Thanks for pointing out Ferdinand the Bull and Brave Little Tailor, as I have been watching quite a few shorts so far. I want to keep an active list, but a lot of times, I don't have time to sit through a 2+ hour movie it seems, except at night.
I made myself a list of all the Disney-made nominated/winning animated shorts - from Wikipedia - and so far all of them have been on YouTube. I can only assume Disney doesn't mind much, since they're 'only' shorts...

It looks like many of the non-Disney ones are there, too.
Old 02-07-13, 10:27 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by MinLShaw
[The Old Mill]

Spoiler:
Tucked into the bonus features on the Platinum and Diamond Editions of Bambi is a 1937 Silly Symphony short, The Old Mill...

The big draw here is the animation of the storm. It's still impressive 75+ years later, but when you mentally place it beside any live action depiction of a storm in a film of its era, it becomes apparent almost immediately just why this would have wowed the Academy...

There's not much in the way of a plot or character development, but that's okay. Sometimes a short story can be merely an idea or a setting and if it's handled correctly, it's still satisfying. Such is the case with The Old Mill.
I agree, broadly, with both those points. I've been very impressed - as I usually am with almost every animated film, regardless of quality - with the technical skill on display. I'm impressed by artists generally, sequential artists (esp. comics) in particular, but animators... the skill involved in making it look even mildly 'realistic' baffles and impresses me every time.

The storm was indeed great, but my thought on the relative lack of plot was more along the lines of 'if you put SO MUCH effort into animating something, why wasn't there slightly more point..?' Even when the story is simplistic and obvious (e.g. The Pointer), it just seems to me that there's more return for the effort if there's something going on above and beyond impressive images.

But, it - rightly, as the award is for animation, not plot - won the Oscar.
Old 02-07-13, 10:40 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by MinLShaw
I just shared a link to your post in a tweet to @AmazonVideo, the official Twitter feed for Amazon Instant Video. I'll letcha know if I hear anything from 'em.
I appreciate that. Doubt they'll change anything - I e-mailed about the Hound problem, and never heard a thing. Their 'real' customer service is excellent, however, so maybe I pressed the wrong button.

Today I'm getting frequent "This video is not available in your country" messages, which is more weird than annoying, as they vanish when I try to watch something a second time.

I also found out that there's a "recently added" list option on the Amazon Video thing via PlayStation 3, which I'm told isn't very good, but does at least exist, unlike an iPad one. The variety of ways one can filter results on a computer is very handy, but sometimes throws up some oddities - probably depending on how the listing was put together, and it's accuracy (e.g. some documentaries show up in the time period of their subject, not creation).

I did put some time in last night to see which qualifying films are available in the pre-1960 category, and there are a lot more (now? always?) than I'd seen a few weeks ago, albeit without the ones highlighted earlier. Around the World in 80 Days came back, though, so if I have a spare three hours, I'll hopefully get to it.

As much as I complain, Amazon Prime is REALLY handy. I have a number of Oscar-y films on DVD, but I'm mainly watching things through Amazon. Even if I have the DVD, it's so much easier to stream it than dig it out...!
Old 02-07-13, 10:43 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Just saw my first ever Ingmar Bergman film, The Virgin Spring on TCM. Maybe it was because I was still waking up and haven't had my coffee yet, but it seemed like a lot of the movie went over my head. I think I'll need to watch it again sometime when I am more awake, as it did seem like a good movie.
Old 02-07-13, 10:48 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by ntnon
I agree, broadly, with both those points. I've been very impressed - as I usually am with almost every animated film, regardless of quality - with the technical skill on display. I'm impressed by artists generally, sequential artists (esp. comics) in particular, but animators... the skill involved in making it look even mildly 'realistic' baffles and impresses me every time.

The storm was indeed great, but my thought on the relative lack of plot was more along the lines of 'if you put SO MUCH effort into animating something, why wasn't there slightly more point..?' Even when the story is simplistic and obvious (e.g. The Pointer), it just seems to me that there's more return for the effort if there's something going on above and beyond impressive images.

But, it - rightly, as the award is for animation, not plot - won the Oscar.
Sometimes there's value in using the medium to explore the experience. I, for one, am grateful that THE OLD MILL didn't add a "story" or "characterization" to its simple and direct examination of the moment.
Old 02-07-13, 03:52 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by ntnon
Would you consider posting it, so any other interested individuals can see it, too, please?
Actually I finished the list earlier this week. I like to let things sit awhile before taking a final look. Iíll put it up on Google Docs and post the link in this thread over the weekend. Folks can take a look and PM me with other film suggestions.

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum
You both need to see the 1959 version, one of the favorite Hollywood movies of many black women of a certain age. There are major differences between the 1934 and 1959 versions, but I'm singling out two. The 1959 version ends sooner and much more effectively. Also, the actress who plays Peola in the 1934 version, Fredi Washington, was actually a light-skinned black actress. (Unlike Jeanne Crain in PINKY.) The actress who plays the equivalent character in 1959, renamed Sarah Jane, was half- Jewish and half- Mexican. She's Susan Kohner, daughter of a powerful Hollywood agent and famous today as the mother of Chris and Paul Weitz, makers of the AMERICAN PIE movies. Kohner's mother, Mexican actress Lupita Tovar, who played Eva Seward in the Spanish-languge version of DRACULA (1931), is still with us, as of this writing, and aged 102! A third thing about the 1959 version: I believe Juanita Moore (who's 92 now and still with us) took great pains to avoid stereotype in her portrayal of Annie, (the 1959 equivalent of Delilah).
The 59 version is next in my Netflix queue so hopefully Iíll get to watch it this weekend. When I told my students I was watching Imitation of Life, they just gushed about it. I ended up having to explain to one of my students what passing meant and I had to explain to another student that racial violence was not limited to the south (I shouldnít be amazed at what my students donít know but I am). The Billie Holliday story is just hilarious! I needed that laugh since Iím about to watch The Help.
Old 02-07-13, 05:04 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Kind of a long one, but I wanted to just respond to everything at once.

Imitation of Life

Originally Posted by lisadoris
Yeah I watched Imitation of Life for the first time a few days ago. I was saving my comments until I watched the 1959 version. I had the same reaction to this film that I had to Pinky: it seemed to be written by someone who had no freaking clue abut how black people thought and acted at the time. Would Delilah have been disappointed that Peola wanted to pass, absolutely. Would she have "outed" her in public on multiple occasions? Absolutely not. Even in New York, in the 1930s, that would have been dangerous and Delilah was wise enough to know that. I'm sure this was a progressive film when it was released but it's an eyeball rolling mess today (though the performances were still quite solid).
Yeah, it's one big celebration of white privilege. It's frustrating to talk about this kind of movie because so often, there are white people who become defensive and insist things like "Well, that's how it was" and "Bea was good to Delilah, how is this bad?" I forgot to mention that Claudette Colbert, charming as she was in this, doesn't seem to be in the same film as Louise Beavers. On one level, that actually works since Bea and Delilah lived very different lives with very different character arcs. On the other hand, the incongruity detracts from what should have been the value of the story.

Originally Posted by lisadoris
When I told my students I was watching Imitation of Life, they just gushed about it. I ended up having to explain to one of my students what passing meant and I had to explain to another student that racial violence was not limited to the south (I shouldnít be amazed at what my students donít know but I am).
Yeah, the whole "South was racist, North was good" reductive narrative has quite a stranglehold on how a lot of Americans understand the history of race relations. As a Southerner, I've taken an almost perverse comfort in hearing examples that disprove that notion. That, of course, is always tempered by the sadness and anger that accompany hearing stories of racism.

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum
You both need to see the 1959 version, one of the favorite Hollywood movies of many black women of a certain age.
As I say way too often, "It's on my To See list."

Kohner's mother, Mexican actress Lupita Tovar, who played Eva Seward in the Spanish-languge version of DRACULA (1931), is still with us, as of this writing, and aged 102!
That production of Dracula is amazing, and while it's not eligible for this challenge, I would encourage everyone to make a point to see it in October for the Horror Challenge.

Two Arabian Knights, TCM

Originally Posted by ntnon
Who do I write to at TCM to have them work out the rights to stick those three onto one of their exclusive DVD sets (which I won't be able to afford, but can gaze wistfully at), then..?
TCM has a contact page. "Request movie" is one of the options in the category field. Also, I tweeted @tcm and inquired. If I hear back from them, I'll letcha know.

The Old Mill

Originally Posted by ntnon
The storm was indeed great, but my thought on the relative lack of plot was more along the lines of 'if you put SO MUCH effort into animating something, why wasn't there slightly more point..?' Even when the story is simplistic and obvious (e.g. The Pointer), it just seems to me that there's more return for the effort if there's something going on above and beyond impressive images.
Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum
Sometimes there's value in using the medium to explore the experience. I, for one, am grateful that THE OLD MILL didn't add a "story" or "characterization" to its simple and direct examination of the moment.
I agree with Ash, especially for the short film format. I like vignettes, and that's all The Old Mill really is.

I would say that there is a sort of allegorical value to The Old Mill. These animals have taken refuge in an abandoned mill, making it their home. There's the storm itself, threatening...but doesn't last. Also, note that there are several species of animals living together in that mill - including some that the bats and owl would naturally have considered prey. These are animals making the most of their situation, choosing cooperation and pragmatism over selfishness and vanity. You don't have to see any of this to it, but I think it's there if you read it.

The Virgin Spring, Ingmar Bergman

Originally Posted by shadokitty
Just saw my first ever Ingmar Bergman film, The Virgin Spring on TCM. Maybe it was because I was still waking up and haven't had my coffee yet, but it seemed like a lot of the movie went over my head. I think I'll need to watch it again sometime when I am more awake, as it did seem like a good movie.
You're the second person I know online who watched their first Bergman movie in the last 24 hours, and started with one that I would never have encouraged! (The other person picked Persona.)

As I articulated to him: Because he wrote his own stories and collaborated with so many of the same cast and crew throughout his career, Bergman's filmography feels a lot like a sort of filmed theater troupe.

It's not that you "need" to see any one Bergman film first, mind you. There's no story continuity, and each film stands on its own. But I do feel, having now seen more than a dozen of his films, that the key to appreciating them is to view them as part of a singular body of work. Some of his films (The Virgin Spring, Persona, Hour of the Wolf) are such outliers that I don't think their ambition and intent are as obvious outside the context of being seen specifically as Ingmar Bergman films.

It's a bit like listening to Johnny Cash. Everyone always wants to start with At Folsom Prison because it's so iconic, or At San Quentin. Those are great performances, but you don't get the same meaning out of those if you start there because those prison albums in the late 60s represented a bit of a rebellion on Cash's part as an artist. You don't get that by starting with them.

Personally, I would recommend starting with Summer with Monika, Summer Interlude, Sawdust & Tinsel, The Magician or Smiles of a Summer Night. Each of these represents a core facet of Bergman's storytelling proclivities, either distilled or from a part of his career during which he had finally put it all together. These films are more accessible and create a more helpful baseline for exploring the rest of his work.

There are other Bergman films eligible for this challenge, and several that qualify for our Historical Appreciation Challenge in June, but the big month to explore him is in September during our Criterion Challenge.
Old 02-07-13, 10:10 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by mrcellophane
The Hours is one of my favorite films, but I definitely see the ways that it would alienate viewers. I am a huge fan of Virginia Woolf and Michael Cunningham (who wrote the book on which the film is based) so I have a natural bias. You should check out the film's trailer; the makers either hadn't seen the film or were really pissed that it wasn't a thriller/horror film.



The Invisible War was so painful. I liked that the filmmakers didn't sensationalize and presented the stories and facts in a very straightforward way. I will be truthful and say that I wouldn't have watched it if it hadn't been nominated for an Oscar. The subject matter really saddened and angered me.

You also gave me a good idea! I did some research and found some articles about the problems with The Blind Side (a film I don't like). I teach Composition classes, and I ask my students to develop an evaluation/ethical argument centered around a film that touches on gender, race, or religion. In every class, there is always some student who writes about the awesomeness of this film and cannot grasp the problems in its portrayal of race relations. Perhaps bringing in some articles about the negative reactions will help balance views.
I had the same reaction to the Invisible War - very powerful - the higher up military attitude pissed me off to no avail.

saw the Documentary shorts this afternoon:

KING'S POINT - or as I like to call the 10th inner circle of hell - short film about seniors living and dying at a Florida retirement community - major depressing - I hope I never have to live like that when I'm past 65, if I do, please run me over with a bus.

MONDAYS AT RACINE - quite moving story about sisters Cynthia and Rachel and their Long Island hair salon 'Racine' who offer free beauty services for women undergoing chemotherapy (every third Monday of the month)

INOCENTE - 15 year old Inocente is an aspiring homeless teenager immigrant living in San Diego trying to pursue her talent's as an artist - I thought this was very fascinating and the detail to her artwork and how it was filmed went hand in hand.

REDEMPTION - low income/poor New Yorkers collecting plastic, glass bottles for the redeeming of 5 cents each. - the weakest of the films which elicited a "and... ??" from me.

and the best and my favorite for the last; OPEN HEART, which is about 8 Rwanda children who endure high-risk heart surgery in Sudan. Of the five films, the directors (Jon Alpert & Matthew O'Neill) have a strong sense of narrative, cinematography, music and emotional pull - the ending had me in tears.

how'd I rank them:

5. Redemption
4. King's Point
3. Mondays at Racine
2. Inocente
1. Open Heart

Originally Posted by mrcellophane
I'm very excited! This is the first year ever that watching all the films nominated for Academy Awards has been a possibility for me. Not sure if I have the stamina to accomplish this task, but I'm going to give it the ol' college try! This evening I'm going to a screening of all the documentary shorts. After looking at the lineup, I am in for one heck of a depressing time.
I'm very curious in knowing what you thought.

Last edited by Giles; 02-07-13 at 10:22 PM.
Old 02-08-13, 12:17 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Just finished watching Anatomy of a Murder... that is a very good film. I'm tempted to put it on a par with 12 Angry Men, and certainly the twisty-turny courtroom scenes and legal arguments also evoke To Kill a Mockingbird (which I hope to watch soon, too).

I was struck by James Stewart - I've seen several of his films over the last few months, and he plays the same character in all of them! But it's the right character, and comes across really well. The humour bubbling under the surface also lightens some scenes just enough to make the harsher and more serious both that much more watchable and serious.

One thing I noticed, too, happened about five minutes after the 2-hour mark. It certainly appeared to be an ad-lib, because when James Stewart threatens to punch George C. Scott into Lake Superior, Mr. Scott certainly seems to break character and actually laugh! A great - if terribly minor - reacting moment to a mildly odd statement by Stewart's character.

Not sure what the moral is, though. Nothing is what it seems, however open-and-shut it appears? There are always extenuating circumstances? A good lawyer can get you off a clear-cut murder charge?!

A spin-off TV series starring Stewart and O'Connell would have been great. Although I guess The Defenders may be similar enough in style to fill in (having never seen the original, but really enjoyed the other O'Connell and Belushi semi-remake of a couple of years ago).
Old 02-08-13, 12:26 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum
Sometimes there's value in using the medium to explore the experience. I, for one, am grateful that THE OLD MILL didn't add a "story" or "characterization" to its simple and direct examination of the moment.
Hm. I don't tend to think initially in those terms, so that's a particularly thought-provoking insight, eloquently expressed. Thanks!

(Although I will attempt to clarify that I wasn't suggesting it should have added a story - particularly in a short film where time is at a premium - just a rumination on the sheer amount of work involved... But, with your point about exploration and examination, I will rethink that thought.)
Old 02-08-13, 03:27 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

At least my sleep pattern has been consistent the last week, even if I have been awake until morning and then sleeping through most of the daytime. I very nearly decided to re-watch Being John Malkovich a little after midnight but then I decided instead on Ed Wood. From my Letterboxddiary:
Spoiler:
I first saw Ed Wood on DVD late at night in bed while my wife slept. I missed some of the dialog because I didn't want to turn up the TV and risk waking her, and also because she snored through some of it. That's not at all relevant, of course.

Though the film is titled Ed Wood and Johnny Depp is the top-billed actor in the titular role, I found that Wood himself isn't really the focus of the film. It's a biopic, but most of what we learn about Wood is tossed out to us in expository dialog thrown into chatter with other characters.

For instance, there's Wood's service in the military in World War II. He throws that into conversation with George Weiss by recounting his fear of being wounded and discovered to be a transvestite. He later pulls out his dentures to scare a trick-or-treating boy, remarking that he lost his real teeth in the war. These little references are all that exist of that entire part of Wood's life. We learn even less about his family life, save that he grew up in Poughkeepsie and his dad worked at the Post Office.

The focus of Ed Wood is confined only to the production of three films: Glen or Glenda, Bride of the Atom/Bride of the Monster and Plan 9 from Outer Space. It's amusing to watch such a low-budget affair be reenacted, but hardly the stuff of compelling storytelling.

What makes Ed Wood so engaging is Wood's relationship with the aging Bela Lugosi. The film was nominated for, and won, two Academy Awards: Martin Landau as Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Lugosi, and Rick Baker, Ve Neill, Yolanda Toussieng for their Makeup - specifically, I'm sure, their work on Landau.

Landau's cantankerous Lugosi is amusing but also tragic. It's sad to see anyone enslaved to addiction, or reduced to feeling so discarded as we see Lugosi. That we have fond memories of the actor's screen work initially makes it sadder in some ways, but then it feels unsavory to even think of Dracula. How sad to have one's entire life defined by just one thing like that!

Ed Wood was re-ranked on my Flickchart to #225/1479

Ed Wood
67th Academy Awards (1994)
(W) ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE -- Martin Landau {"Bela Lugosi"}
(W) MAKEUP -- Rick Baker, Ve Neill, Yolanda Toussieng
Old 02-08-13, 09:57 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

I got halfway through The Sand Pebbles last night. One of the better movies I've watched for this challenge so far.
Old 02-08-13, 11:06 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by MinLShaw
At least my sleep pattern has been consistent the last week, even if I have been awake until morning and then sleeping through most of the daytime. I very nearly decided to re-watch Being John Malkovich a little after midnight but then I decided instead on Ed Wood. From my Letterboxddiary:

Ed Wood
67th Academy Awards (1994)
(W) ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE -- Martin Landau {"Bela Lugosi"}
(W) MAKEUP -- Rick Baker, Ve Neill, Yolanda Toussieng
When I saw ED WOOD in a theater back in 1994, I immediately went home afterward and watched BRIDE OF THE MONSTER, which I appreciated much more after seeing ED WOOD. I was there at the World's Worst Film Festival in 1980 where packed houses rediscovered Wood at screenings of PLAN NINE and GLEN OR GLENDA two years after a neglected Wood died in Los Angeles.

I see ED WOOD as less of a biopic than Tim Burton's whimsical take on a modern Hollywood folk hero with some flourishes more suited to a folk tale than a historical drama (e.g. the fictional sitdown with Orson Welles). After the movie came and went, I had occasion to talk to two people who knew Bela Lugosi and they were appalled at the movie's portrayal of him. Film historian William K. Everson insisted Lugosi never used the profanity that the film has him spout. A few years later, at Everson's memorial service, I met and chatted with Alex Gordon, the man who introduced Lugosi to Ed Wood and was author of the original screenplay for BRIDE OF THE MONSTER. He was, of course, upset at his entire absence from ED WOOD.
Old 02-08-13, 12:17 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum
I see ED WOOD as less of a biopic than Tim Burton's whimsical take on a modern Hollywood folk hero with some flourishes more suited to a folk tale than a historical drama (e.g. the fictional sitdown with Orson Welles).
That sounds about right.

After the movie came and went, I had occasion to talk to two people who knew Bela Lugosi and they were appalled at the movie's portrayal of him. Film historian William K. Everson insisted Lugosi never used the profanity that the film has him spout.
I've always wondered about that. It feels incongruous with a guy who would be so meticulous about the refined mannerisms of Count Dracula to so casually bandy about that kind of language. Still, the scenes where Landau's Lugosi articulates his despair at being cast aside by the industry or his enthusiasm for acting - and through acting, being vital not just professionally, but as a human being - these things ring very true. Their veracity for Lugosi himself I can't attest, obviously, but they feel right for that kind of person. Those scenes are where we find the most humanity in the entire film.
Old 02-08-13, 01:46 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by MinLShaw



That production of Dracula is amazing, and while it's not eligible for this challenge, I would encourage everyone to make a point to see it in October for the Horror Challenge.
While no Universal Dracula films are eligible for this challenge that I am aware of, since Bride of Frankenstein is eligible, I think I may watch that sometime during this challenge to get my Universal monster fix. I think it is the only classic horror that I know of that is eligible for this challenge, at least that I own. On another note, just got an office chair today, so can be comfortable when streaming movies at my computer now.
Old 02-08-13, 02:06 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Originally Posted by MinLShaw
That sounds about right.



I've always wondered about that. It feels incongruous with a guy who would be so meticulous about the refined mannerisms of Count Dracula to so casually bandy about that kind of language. Still, the scenes where Landau's Lugosi articulates his despair at being cast aside by the industry or his enthusiasm for acting - and through acting, being vital not just professionally, but as a human being - these things ring very true. Their veracity for Lugosi himself I can't attest, obviously, but they feel right for that kind of person. Those scenes are where we find the most humanity in the entire film.
Wood's friendship with Lugosi is indeed the most remarkable and fascinating part of the whole Wood story. Lugosi's fall from grace is very sad and somewhat baffling. There were enough low-budget horror/sci-fi and other genre films being made in the 1950s for Lugosi to have been able to keep working steadily. What happened? I find it hard to believe it was the morphine addiction alone that discouraged employers. I have a biography of Lugosi that I must read to find out.
Old 02-08-13, 04:30 PM
  #196  
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Gah. Today's the 2nd of my free-for-all marathon days (Days where I could go all out in watching movies continuously back-to-back) but I'm tellin' ya, all these films that exceed 2 hours are beginning to put the hurt on me. And *gasp* here's what's upcoming in my DVR:
Before Night Falls-133 min
Remains of the Day-134 min
Flight of the Phoenix-142 min
Anne of the Thousand Days-145 min
The Keys of the Kingdom-137 min
Camelot-179 min
Yeah, Yeah, I know I could take a break and go on the prowl for some Shorts, but for this challenge, I really wanted to focus on Feature Films that I've never seen yet.

On the plus side for this challenge, John Huston has really started to catapult into my top-10 all-time favorite directors. Earlier, I wrapped up his Night of the Iguana. Though the movie went on a bit too long (Shocker), I never knew Ava Gardner could act like that! But the icing on the Huston cake was last night's viewing of Life & Times of Judge Roy Bean which I absolutely loved.
Old 02-09-13, 04:28 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Decided to take care of the DOCUMENTARY (Feature) checklist item and re-visited Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine. My observations, as shared in my Letterboxd diary:
Spoiler:
This was my second viewing of Bowling for Columbine, which I had previously viewed on DVD several years ago. Given the renewed attention paid to our gun violence culture in the last several months, it seemed an appropriate time to revisit Michael Moore's 2002 documentary film.

Moore is, of course, highly polarizing depending on one's politics. As a liberal, I'm not instantly made defensive by his views or questions though I did find this time through that there were some awfully smug sections. The montage of U.S. interventions set to Louis Armstrong's recording of "What a Wonderful World", for instance, was tacky rather than clever.

I'm philosophically okay with the section of the film that shows us the Columbine massacre, including excerpts from 911 calls and news coverage. It can feel "manipulative" to show us that, but an honest discussion of the subject merits us not turning our eyes away from the horror we're discussing.

This time through, I did find the film a bit disorganized. At times, Moore tries to connect our gun culture with the military-industrial complex but it's a superficial connection that rests solely on the use of weapons that kill. If U.S. military operations contribute to our gun culture - or vice versa - Bowling for Columbine fails to establish the causal relationship.

The penultimate passage, in which Moore leads two Columbine survivors to K-Mart's headquarters and effectively shames them into ceasing to sell ammunition, takes us completely out of the realm of the traditional documentary. Moore is not a chronicler of events; he's causing them. The documentary genre has always been one of bias and manipulation, of course, but there's a shamelessness about Moore's willingness to insert himself into his research that can be off-putting.

Still, for all the questions of taste, it's hard to deny that Moore asks some of the most important questions that we have yet to answer a decade later. Why are we so much more prone to gun violence than the rest of the industrialized world? What can we do about it?

The gem of the film, of course, is the sit-down with Charlton Heston. I'll give Heston credit for this much: To have had no real preparation for the interview, he's awfully measured throughout. Contrast that with, say, Alex Jones's recent tirade in his interview with Piers Morgan.

As a film, Bowling for Columbine wants to explore several sub-topics and to find or establish connections but it's too haphazard to convincingly draw any conclusions. What it does offer, though, is a terrific collection of interviews and statistics from which we might begin to have a thoughtful discussion of the questions raised or implied, and that's the hallmark of a well-crafted documentary.

Bowling for Columbine was re-ranked on my Flickchart to #529/1479

Bowling for Columbine
75th Academy Awards (2002)
(W) DOCUMENTARY (Feature) -- Michael Moore, Michael Donovan
Old 02-09-13, 09:21 AM
  #198  
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Watched Chernoble Heart for the first time. Sad about the children.
Old 02-09-13, 10:04 AM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Thank God for Hayao Miyazaki. If not for him, I wouldn't be able to watch any anime for this challenge. I reacquainted myself with SPIRITED AWAY (2002) this morning. I watched the English dub because that's the version that won the Oscar (Best Animated Feature). I normally reject English dubs, but the quality of the dub here is surprisingly good because they recruited good actors rather than celebrities. It's a wild, imaginative movie that holds up well because it goes down roads that no Disney or Pixar animated film would ever go. Up next: HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE, the only Miyazaki movie I haven't seen more than once.
Old 02-09-13, 02:23 PM
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Re: The 7th Annual Academy Award Movie Challenge (1/24 - 2/24)

Just realized reading the thread discussion on it the other day that I never saw all of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. I remedied that and was very impressed. Tracy & Hepburn's performances were great and Poitier's a icon of acting.

Right now I cracking the plastic on The Maltese Falcon Blu-ray. The transfer looks clean, not too bright though. I love film noir so it doesn't matter.

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