Friday, July 20, 2018
Shirley Booth: Come Back, Little Sheba
Julie Harris: The Member of the Wedding
Bette Davis: The Star
Joan Crawford: Sudden Fear
Susan Hayward: With a Song in My Heart
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Format: Streaming video from Kanopy on laptop.
My main complaint about Italian horror, particularly films from the ‘70s and ‘80s, is that it is long on style and short on coherent narrative. That’s very much true of the films of Dario Argento, a bit less true of those of Mario Bava. Bava still has some coherence problems at times, but he’s very much capable of putting together a story that more or less holds together. I was hopeful heading into Lisa and the Devil (otherwise called Lisa e il Diavolo), and there’s kind of a story here, but mostly it’s a bunch of set up and then a great deal of killing and blood that looks like red paint.
Lisa (Elke Sommer) is vacationing in Spain when her tour takes her by a fresco that depicts the devil, who looks quite a bit like Telly Savalas. This is not coincidental, because Lisa wanders away from her tour group and into a shop where she encounters a man named Leandro, who is played by Telly Savalas. She flees and encounters a man who claims to know her and calls her Elena. The fights with him, and he falls down a set of stone steps to his apparent death.
Monday, July 16, 2018
John Hurt: The Elephant Man
Robert Duvall: The Great Santini
Robert De Niro: Raging Bull (winner)
Peter O’Toole: The Stunt Man
Jack Lemmon: Tribute
Saturday, July 14, 2018
Format: DVD from Sandwich Public Library through interlibrary loan on The New Portable.
I think there’s a fine line between what constitutes a horror movie and what gets called a thriller, at least in my mind. To me, “horror” as a genre implies some element of the supernatural or at least the unnatural. Thrillers are often horrific movies, but for me, they are based more in the real world. This is not a hard and fast rule. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, for instance, is purely a horror movie despite having no supernatural element. With a movie like Don’t Breathe, we’re riding that line as well. My gut tells me this is more of a thriller than a horror movie, but there are certainly elements of horror here.
If you think this suggests that there’s nothing supernatural going on in Don’t Breathe, you’d be correct. We start with three young thieves. These are Alex (Dylan Minnette), Money (Daniel Zovatto), and Rocky (Jane Levy). Alex’s father owns a security company, which gives him information about their homes and security information. The three break into the house, shut down the alarm, and steal. To keep themselves out of trouble, they don’t steal money and they never steal more than $10,000-worth of goods. Break that number, and it becomes a felony offense. Once they are done, they set off the alarm and Money fences what they’ve stolen.
Friday, July 13, 2018
Sam Wood: Kings Row
William Wyler: Mrs. Miniver (winner)
Mervyn LeRoy: Random Harvest
John Farrow: Wake Island
Michael Curtiz: Yankee Doodle Dandy
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Format: DVD from Sycamore Public Library on The New Portable.
Like a lot of the movies that are still on my Oscar list, Donnie Brasco is one that I’ve almost watched a couple of times. These days, I seem to need to be in the mood for a mob movie, and Donnie Brasco is absolutely a mob movie. It’s also a movie that features Al Pacino playing an interesting combination of roles. On the one hand, Pacino made his name playing mob guys. On the other hand, his character here isn’t the boss. In fact, this is almost Pacino playing against type.
Low-level mobster Benjamin “Lefty” Ruggiero (Pacino) is introduced to Donnie Brasco (Johnny Depp), a jewel thief. Lefty wants Donnie to serve as a middleman for a large diamond ring he received as a payment, which Donnie claims is a fake. Donnie gets Lefty something much closer to a real payment, and in gratitude, Lefty more or less brings Donnie into the Mafia, introducing him to several made men including Sonny Black (Michael Madsen).
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Format: Streaming video from Kanopy on laptop.
There are a great many charms to the original version of The Blob from the late 1950s. This starts right away with the bouncy theme song written by no less a luminary than Burt Bacharach. One of the great things about The Blob is that it comes from those halcyon days when aliens were often depicted as something utterly non-human before they idea of big-headed, big-eyed grey aliens became the norm. The Blob is pure pulp, and is also the catalyst for much of Steve McQueen’s career. Even if the movie sucked, it would be noteworthy for that.
In small town Pennsylvania, young Steve Andrews (McQueen) is out on a date with Jane Martin (Aneta Corsaut). Jane thinks Steve is handing her a line as the two sit out in the middle of nowhere looking at the stars, but he claims he’s being honest—he’s never taken another girl here. Just then, a meteor flashes by and impacts close to them. They decide to see if they can find it. Meanwhile, at the site of the impact, a local backwoodsman (Olin Howland) investigates the meteorite and discovers something like an egg. It cracks open and the purplish goo inside attaches itself to his arm. Out on the road, Steve and Jane almost run the man down. Seeing he is in trouble, the put him in the car and drive him to the local doctor’s office.