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Classic cinema - thoughts and questions

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Forostar, Aug 19, 2006.

  1. Shadow

    Shadow Deluxe Edition Staff Member

    My favourite is Robert Altman's McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971). I'd also recommend Little Big Man (1970), which is both comedic and horrifying.
    Forostar and JudasMyGuide like this.
  2. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    Legendary Polish director Andrzej Wajda died.
    https://www.theguardian.com/global/...lish-film-director-andrzej-wajda-dies-aged-90 +

    Andrzej Wajda: great director had Poland written on his heart
    Wajda fought communist censorship and truth-denying propaganda to produce formidable, patriotic films that illuminated Poland’s troubled past – and helped steer its history

    Andrzej Wajda had a viable claim to be Poland’s great national artist of modern times, a virtual cinematic folk memory, a man who sought to intervene in Poland’s history with his movies, converting the ashes of bitterness and historical agony into diamonds of film. He was a director with Poland written on his heart.

    In a staggeringly productive career, so much of which he pursued in the face of bureaucratic opposition and censorship — while working in uneasy harmony with the agencies of the state — Wajda took on the big themes of Polish history, from a country at the very heart of wartime conflict between Nazism and communism,and the cold war collision between west and east. The division of Poland, the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, and the fact that his homeland was at the centre of the most toxic acts of geopolitical bad faith in modern history, was something that Wajda grew up with.

    His father was one of the Polish officers murdered and buried in the Katyn forest by the Soviets — and communist Poland’s government was for decades complicit in the lie that the Soviets were innocent, a propaganda-untruth whose poisonous byproduct was to help shore up Nazi revisionism and denialism. Wajda himself, like so many other Poles, knew the truth – and took the lead once the Soviet empire collapsed. He made a 1991 documentary on the subject of Katyń and then a vigorous and remarkable feature, Katyń, in 2007 — when he was 81 years old — which became one of his four nominations for best foreign language Oscar.

    He is known for two colossal trilogies on these two massive historical phases: his A Generation (1955), Kanał (1957) and Ashes and Diamonds (1958) took on the agonies and divided loyalties of wartime Poland, pioneeringly taking on the 1944 Warsaw uprising. Later his Man of Marble (1977), Man of Iron (1981) and Walesa; Man of Hope (2013) addressed trade unionism in terms of anti-statist dissidence and romantic patriotism.

    A Generation is about the chaotic and fearful lives of Poles under the Nazi occupation, a film which brings in the Warsaw uprising, a subject fully addressed by the next film, Kanał, which was about a company of resistance fighters: the Home Army. The next film, Ashes and Diamonds, takes its audience to the day of Germany’s surrender in Poland, but makes it clear that the country’s allegiance is not simply transferred to the Soviets: on the contrary, some of the Home Army resistance are now the so-called “damned soldiers” who see it as their duty to carry on fighting — against communists. An assassination plot and its grisly, botched aftermath form the narrative.

    The Man of Marble trilogy is in many ways his most formidable achievement, more fascinating for having been completed so late in its own historical span. It is a kind of eastern bloc Citizen Kane — and Wajda’s relationship to Welles is an underappreciated part of his work. In Man of Marble, a young film-maker, Agnieszka, sets out to investigate the truth behind one of communist Poland’s most legendary figures: an inspirational Stakhanovite worker called Birkut, a heroic bricklayer commemorated in many marble statues, but whose whereabouts are now unclear. This young film-maker has to reconstruct what she can from newsreels, an official propaganda film and talking to people who knew him, and she uncovers a shabby story of official mistreatment.

    In Man of Iron, Birkut’s son Maciej has married Agnieszka and is now a steel-worker, union activist and transparently a model for Lech Wałęsa. Wałęsa got his own unfictionalised treatment in the final film, which appeared 20 years later: Wałesa: Man of Hope. Putting his name in the title brought this man out of the metaphorical shadows. These films were instrumental in challenging the sclerotic Soviet rule and supplying some of the cultural energy which was to dislodge the first brick in the Berlin Wall. And Wajda played a clever game with the authorities. Dramatising union activity was not something to which Soviet communist rule could instantly take exception, and yet the fact that this unionism was in fact anti-Moscow made Wajda, like Wałęsa himself, a resonant figure in western circles.

    These films, weighty though they are, form a fraction of Wajda’s huge output, and he was an almost inexhaustible figure, taking on projects all the time, big and small, very often literary adaptations, both classic and relatively unknown. One of his most successful movies — another best foreign film Oscar nomination — was the rather Chekhovian and bittersweet 1979 drama The Maids Of Wilko, based on a short story by Polish poet and author Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz.

    A middle-aged man, Wiktor, suffering what could be a personal or menopausal crisis, takes a sentimental journey to a family property called Wilko where he had once been tutor to some young sisters. But these women are now middle-aged like him, without the carefree gaiety of former times: their reaction to his reappearance is complicated and without the affectionate submission that he might secretly have hoped for. It is a lesson in the inaccessibility of the past.

    Wajda is sometimes called a cinematic poet of lost causes: but he made Poland and Polish cinema a great found cause.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2016
  3. Shadow

    Shadow Deluxe Edition Staff Member

    Don't miss Danton (1983) if you haven't seen it. Incredibly powerful film.
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  4. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    Cheers Shadow. Will try to get it.
  5. terrell39

    terrell39 Ancient Mariner

    Some photos from the Ripley's Wax Museum in San Antonio:


  6. terrell39

    terrell39 Ancient Mariner

    Saw this at Comicpalooza in Houston back in May, but did not buy it:

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  7. Shadow

    Shadow Deluxe Edition Staff Member

    Happy 100th birthday to Kirk Douglas!
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  8. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    Cool Shadow, I didn't think about it! The oldest (known) male actor alive, I assume.
  9. Perun

    Perun Climbing like a monkey Staff Member

  10. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    O man, this man is a hard time for that interviewer.
  11. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

  12. bearfan

    bearfan Ancient Mariner

    I have not seen these
    The Brasher Doubloon
    Fallen Angel
    Stranger on the Third Floor
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  13. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    What a coincidence! Also five! And two I also mentioned. o_O I hadn't thought you were into film noir that much @bearfan. I have seen way, way more, many of them lesser known (b-flicks), but lots of great ones as well.
  14. bearfan

    bearfan Ancient Mariner

    I went through a run about 10 years ago where I watched a ton of older movies including a lot of noir .. that is when I saw the majority of these except for the more famous ones, the Hitchcock movies, Maltese Falcon, Touch of Evil, etc which I had seen before then
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  15. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again


    Thinking of Judgment, and the look of that era, and the films that were made around that time, and Burt Lancaster, I just had to make post about other good films of that age.

    The sixties had some very good moral and political/thriller and of course also war films. I really want to recommend the following wholeheartedly to everyone who haven't seen these, all featuring top actors:

    To Kill a Mocking Bird (moral / with Gregory Peck)

    The Train (one of the best war/action/on location films ever; you'll never see a film with more convincing sound as well! / directed by John Frankenheimer, with Burt Lancaster and Jeanne Moreau)

    The Manchurian Candidate (Cold War neo-noir suspense thriller communist conspiracy / directed by John Frankenheimer, with Frank Sinatra, Janet Leigh and Angela Lansbury)

    Seven Days in May (political thriller / directed by John Frankenheimer, with Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Fredric March, Ava Garner, Edmond O'Brien and Martin Balsam)

    Fail-Safe (Cold War tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States, nuclear crisis / directed by Sidney Lumet, with Henry Fonda (best president role ever!) and Walter Matthau)

    Advise & Consent (political thriller / directed by Otto Preminger, with Henry Fonda, Charles Laughton (his last film), Walter Pidgeon, Gene Tierney, Franchot Tone and Burgess Meredith)

    Inherit the Wind (moral / directed by Stanley Kramer, with Spencer Tracy and Fredric March)
    @Judas, you'll love this one!

    Not early sixties, and the only colour film in this post:
    Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
    (moral / directed by Stanley Kramer, with Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hepburn)

    @bearfan I guess you've seen all these? Judas too perhaps? Which one(s) do you like the most?
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  16. JudasMyGuide

    JudasMyGuide Domini canis

    A very good film and book. I liked how the story was told from the point of view of the little girl, because it gave it completely different dynamic than usual.

    Indeed I mainly remember the filmography. This is where I first really noticed Lancaster and remembered him. There was a time where I was crazy about Frankenheimer.

    This one is a classic. Actually, apart from High Society, this was my first acting Sinatra experience and I liked it a lot (definitely codified by Man with the Golden Arm, but I guess that's obvious). I remember hating the 2004 remake, though otherwise I think Demme is a rather talented director. Maybe I'd be more merciful today.

    This one I almost forgot. In fact, I still don't remember much. It's probably because I saw it only once, when I first discovered Frankenheimer and next to the other movies, this one kind of slipped through the cracks. Although I remember I thought highly of the film at the time. Have to rewatch soon.

    Haven't seen this one yet.

    I have this one for quite some time, but I still haven't managed to get to it. Must watch soon!

    Indeed :D. The main problem I have with the movie is that it plays really loosely with historic facts (the trial itself was supposed to be a publicity stunt, for example, and the law has not been used before or since), but it upgraded it to look more fatalistic and to be more of a shot against McCarthyism (which was really a hot topic at the time). Well, it's like they say - never let the truth get in the way of a good story. :D

    Funnily enough, now, with HUAC and McCarthy gone and the rise of new religious right, fundies, flat earth celebrities and whoever, it's getting even more relevant nowadays. Believe me, the arguments of the "villains" here piss me off a lot, even for completely personal reasons. As St. Augustine of Hippo said:

    Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience.

    Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking non-sense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn.

    The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men.

    If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?

    Reckless and incompetent expounders of holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although “they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.”

    However, the movie is really excellent and I loved every single actor here. That's the wonder of Kramer - he does these heavy-handed, anvilicious moral tales, but he does them so well it actually works. A very cool bloke.

    Another classic. Poitier has class. I think I'll also have to rewatch this one soon.

    Actually, my first Kramer morality tale was Defiant Ones, which was a bit too straightforward at times, and predictable, but still good.

    EDIT: I've decided to put on Inherit the Wind right now, as we've talked about it and...

    1) I almost forgot how flawlessly charismatic Gene Kelly is there,

    2) If I hear "Gimme That Ol' Time Religion" one more time, I'm seriously gonna kill somebody.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2017
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  17. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    Enjoy Advise and Consent, JudasMyGuide! It could be the least good film of the bunch. I'm a big Henry Fonda fan so I liked seeing this. And I love Burgess Meredith as well. I'm more enthusiastic about Fail-Safe. Great acting. Convincing tension!
  18. bearfan

    bearfan Ancient Mariner

    Really good list @Forostar ... all excellent and very tense movie that were incredibly well shot to really punch up the drama. I have The Train on DVD, there is an extra on the disc of how they filmed the train sequences ... primarily using actual trains where they had one chance to get it right.

    I really have nothing against CGI, it lets movies create worlds that could never be created before and in many cases it is really well done, but there is a balance where movies can get too "computer-y" and have so much action there is no real drama. Sometimes less really is more and all the films you listed are prime examples of this.
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  19. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    I (finally) can say I have seen all Kubrick films (including his debut feature film Fear and Desire and three short documentaries). Yesterday I saw Dr. Strangelove for the first time. I thought I had to keep something good for last. Well it was good but not as good as expected. Of course I occasionally laughed about some hilarious lines (the body fluids stuff wasn't that funny to be honest). About the only real thing that happened was this:
    All in all, I expected to have some more fun. I don't get the praise it gets. I find it overrated. The highest rated film by Kubrick? My ass. No way that this was more impressive than most of his other work. Dr. Strangelove is not a crap film, I can admire what was done. I liked how it looks and how it was made (the sets, the inside of the bomber). But it did not entertain/impress me more than basically any other post-1953 Kubrick work.

    These eight Kubrick were in IMDB's top 250 back in 2009:
    And these in 2017:

    7 films:

    Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
    Paths of Glory (1957)
    The Shining (1980)
    A Clockwork Orange (1971)
    Full Metal Jacket (1987)
    2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
    Barry Lyndon (1975)

    The four most popular Kubrick films are in unchanged order. The Killing is out(!). Spartacus is out. Barry Lyndon is in. 2001: A Space Odyssey and Full Metal Jacket have switched positions.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2017
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  20. bearfan

    bearfan Ancient Mariner

    I read
    Makeup Man: From Rocky to Star Trek The Amazing Creations of Hollywood's Michael Westmore
    on the plane earlier this week. Pretty interesting book. I had seen his name on Star Trek credits over the years, but did not really know his family history. His Grandfather came to the US pretty early in the movie days and at one point each of his sons was the main makeup/effects heads at every major studio in Hollywood .. and their kids (including Michael) got into the business as well.

    The book is really a recounting of his work movie by movie/TV show by TV show on how he created some pretty iconic looks ... he worked on most of Stallone's early movies starting with Rocky.

    Fairly interesting info on how he (and his Dad/Uncles) did some pretty cool tricks from the silent pictures to now.


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