Two movie recs. Not movies I've seen recently. And not new. Both of these films are black and white and fabulous. Two very different directors and styles. But there is a serious lack of respect lately for classic films, and since I have mad love for old movies, I'm going to pimp some, despite any critical ability on my part.

Anyway, these films though radically different have a lot in common in ways that appeal to my sad, geeky heart. :)

Stalag 17

Directed by Billy Wilder (I will try to control my BILLY WILDER FANGIRLING!!!) the genius behind Sunset Boulevard and Some Like it Hot. He was a crazy, cynical European ex-pat who in his movies made the world violent and the people often small or outright vicious, but who always let them pull through at the last second with acts of surprising grace and humanity. To me, it is always like he took something completely absurd, that you know is absurd, that he knew was absurd, and then made it normal by exposing it to you in a thousand different ways. You saw what makes the absurd tick, what makes it kind of like you and then once he'd done that, he left you wanting more--and all while making you laugh, (usually anyway).

Stalag 17 is war movie. Or actually, a prisoner of war movie, and one made in Old Hollywood, so Billy has to hint at a lot of things, but hint he does. (If you're looking for teh gay, in a camp of thousand lonely men, might I direct to Harry and Animal and the Betty Grable incident). It's a prison, so even if they are all supposed to be on the same side, there are groups and there are sides and outside of all of them is Sefton, played by William Holden, a fixer and schemer. He has a devoted sidekick but no friends, just a lot of enemies in fact, because of the ways he thinks up to "trick" the men out of their rations. He always seems to come out on top and disparages just about everything, from officers to patriotism to the war itself. It's when he mocks the men for another escape attempt, first telling them why and how it will fail and then, when it does and the escapees are killed by the guards, reminding them that he had said that all along, that he's in trouble. It becomes to everyone that there's a spy in the camp, in their barracks, and as Sefton is the most disliked, as he seems smarter than everyone else, it's pretty easy to guess who the men are going to blame. (You know, blame with their fists and feet as they are looting his belongings). Beaten and in disgrace, all his stuff gone, and even his sidekick avoiding him, Sefton decides to figure out who the real spy is and get his revenge. Meanwhile, there are all sorts of prison camp shenanigans, and a brave officer getting tortured in the camp commandant's office. He has to escape safely, possessing valuable information, but there's no chance of that with an unknown spy loose in the compound.

Of course, anyone who likes complicated heroes can tell instantly that Sefton is really the cynical asshole with a secret love for honor, nobility, and country, but that Wilder lets him remain that cynical asshole on the surface. You know Sefton's going to do right, but it's quite a long way to get there. But Billy Wilder never lets you forget that you are in a prison camp, that there's a war going on. His reminders are small, but effective, like all the small touches in the movie. The comic relief--Harry and Animal--best friends though they didn't know each other back home. Joey, a kid suffering from shell shock. The man reading mail from home finding out his wife just had found a baby though he's been locked up for years. The German guards taunting them with information about the war going on around them that they aren't a part of. The Russian women in the camp next door that the men are constantly trying to get a look at. It's funny and sad and funny again (in a weird, almost Chaplin-like way) but with some fantastic dialogue (oh, did I mention Billy Wilder wrote it too? FANGIRL!!)

Also, and if I may be a shallow slasher, *someone* needs to slash Sefton and the brave officer. For real.

Pickup on South Street.

Now here's a strange one. It's not exactly film noir, and it's not exactly a crime movie. It was hardly a movie made with any sort of Billy Wilder type budget or star power either. And it has a lot of problems writing-wise. That being said, there's a reason that Criterion added it to their collection. It was directed by Samuel Fuller (most well known as the director of The Big Red One) and tells the story of a pickpocket named Skip McCoy, (I know I know, but it was the Fifties) who steals from the wrong girl's purse and ends up with some film that both the Soviets and the US Government is after. Only Skip is a street orphan all grown up, who's been in prison before, in fact who's just been released, and is out to avoid strike number three. He has absolutely no faith in anyone or anything except himself. So he sees no problem in selling this information to the top bidder, which would most likely be the communist agents, because the US Government will just take him and lock him away.

The reason he can't? Well the girl he stole from didn't know what she was carrying. She's a two-bit floozy, yeah, but she's not a traitor. Once she figures out she was lied to she sets out to convince Skip (or to steal it back from him, whatever comes first) to give the film up to the authorities. Her name is Candy (oh yeah) and she's played with sweaty, sexy, faded flower glory by Jean Peters (though in fact, many Hollywood actresses wanted the part, but Fuller felt that only Jean Peters looked pretty yet ordinary enough, her legs "bowed from walking the streets"...sort of a compliment, I guess). To help her we have professional police stoolie Moe (Thelma Ritter, who got a Best Supporting Actress nomination for it) who might rat out to the police, but only certain information, because she needs the money if she wants to get buried properly and not in Potter's Field. Moe, in her way, was the person who raised Skip so he could not be more surprised when even Moe can't believe that he'd consider selling the information to communists, because there are rats and there are rats.

So the communists are after him, and the police, and the government, and Candy. Self-reliant Skip has to get help from somebody, whether he wants it or not, and once he gets it, you can actually see the confusion on his face that somebody would actually help him, protect him. Richard Widmark is Skip, and surprisingly good at being a cold, smirking asshole who's just a little boy inside. Maybe it's that combination that makes Candy fall for him. Neither of them is perfect, neither of them pretend to be, even at the end of the film. They don't live in a world like that.

In fact the sets are a combination of total, despairing poverty and Hollywood fantasy. It's kind of fascinating. You get the sense that people in the audience wouldn't believe streets that dark really existed, so they have them, but it's Hollywood, so nothing too vile is ever seen directly. But Thelma Ritter, as always, is the movie-stealer as old, poor, desperate stoolie Moe. I won't describe it, but her last scene in the movie is completely heart breaking. Even the commie agent is shown as being cruel but mostly frightened, because everyone (even the cops and the government agents interestingly) have someone they have to answer to. Nobody is really free of that, not even with the...happy...ending.
I saw Kung Fu Panda last night...amazing.

Yes, you probably have to enjoy Jack Black at his silliest, and sweetest, but still...honestly...such a funny, cute movie.

I hate most of the newer kid's movies (overmarketed, badly drawn, badly written, watered down stories, overly concerned with celebrity voice talent). But with the small aside that Angelina Jolie's voice distracted me, because it was her, and that there's a little pause in the middle with the story where I kind of thought they shouldn't have skipped ahead so fast, the movie was adorable. And the villain is possible the most badass villain in a kid's cartoon ever (excluding anime, which isn't really for kids most of the time anyway). And *his* voice...Ian McShane. I can't escape the hot. But their solution to having such a scary villain in a story for children was to have him fight Jack Black--brilliant.

I watched "Hard Pill"... A movie written and directed by a gay man about a very depressed and lonely gay man deciding to participate in a study to test a new drug that "cures" homosexuality. Which, yeah, makes you angry just to hear about, really angry, but honestly, the movie is more about this one guy, who is so lonely and just completely incompatible with the gay club/casual sex scene and utterly miserable that he thinks the answer is going to come in a pill like an antidepressant or something.

It was low budget but of much better quality writing than most gay cinema. Though of course there were a lot of things it really should have focused on more.

And of course, I was mainly watching it for Tim Omundson playing teh very gay Brad. All nice and soft-spoken and maybe not flaming but nonetheless carrying a big man-purse on his way to
volunteer and rally for gay marriage and incidentally trying to teach the main character's party boy slut best friend how to actually *date* someone.

(It ends sadly, but still, it was gay Tim Omundson and I am totally that shallow. I want him for my gay boyfriend).
rispacooper: (oookay by blimey)
( Apr. 17th, 2008 12:31 pm)
I HATE Judd Apatow.

I HATE his movies. They are not funny. They insult women and men, and every idiot who thinks there is some sort of universal truth in his crappy sad-sack modern American male angst is full of shit and more ignorant than the average Marin County resident (which is, sorry Marin, pretty ignorant).

Knocked Up was possibly the most insulting piece of shit I've seen since Sorority Boys, though at least SB had Michael Rosenbaum to soften the blow. And Superbad, you know why the boys in that movie couldn't get laid? Because they were assholes. People like that movie for McLovin, the rest of it is utter garbage.

Whatever depth Apatow may have had in Freaks and Geeks has long since been pushed out in favor of dick jokes and fat, slacker losers once again somehow attracting hot, successful (yet somehow still portrayed as crazy, irrational bitches) women.

His men are unlikeable (oh, feel sorry for them, for they are stuck in a perpetual adolescence of their own making). His women are two-dimensional responsible boring citizens sent to redeem and tame they little boys and turn them into proper grown up husband material--and then have the husbands hate them for it. It's annoying and repetitive (Anchorman is saved mostly by Will Ferrell and Steve Carell) and I really, really don't get America's fascination. (But then, America hasn't had a strong woman lead actress in a while, so I guess that says clearly who the audience for movies is).

One more stupidly excited Apatow fan is going to make me lose it.

(And even though Apatow didn't make it, don't even get me started on the problems with Juno).
For you film people out there, or just those who love the brilliant and funny, there's a DVD of Jon Waters giving a "lecture" coming out on Tuesday.
It's called, "This Filthy World" and it's a recording of Waters giving the kind of talk he's apparently often asked to do at colleges...and prisons...and film festivals.

I love John Waters. Not all his movies understand, just the man himself. ("Desperate Living" made me want to cut the screen with a big, big knife and scream a lot about editing, but he acknowledges he was learning as he went back then, and had barely heard of editing so...) He refuses to call this a lecture, and instead calls it vaudeville, and calls himself a carnie. And just yeah...

Topics range from his movies, his actors (Divine, yay!) to bad influences, saying inappropriate things to children, censorship, poppers, gay marriage, and people who hate books ("Don't fuck 'em."). Also, there's random bits like when he became an ordained minister to marry Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder but then talked Johnny out of it. (???? Inorite?) It's hilarious. When he starts talking about Limits, and how some people need them, I was giggling to myself. I mean, when John Waters thinks you've maybe gone too far...

Overall, completely enjoyable in a slightly evil sort of way.
Overall: Meh, with an occasional snicker.

Were those sequins?

Was that paisley?

Mother of...

Catholics say what?
rispacooper: (fuck you by iconsftw)
( Oct. 13th, 2007 07:04 pm)
This is a seriously good documentary about Patricia Douglas, who worked as a chorus girl for MGM in 1937--back when MGM owned Hollywood. She, along with a lot of other young girls working for the studio, was tricked into being entertainment for some boozed up MGM salesman at a convention, and while there she was raped. When she--at seventeen--took the case to court, MGM systematically destroyed her. In fact, pretty much the whole world let her down (as it does today for most rape victims) and the movie doesn't shy away from showing the effect this betrayal had on her even 65 years later.

It's a compelling story, and also a disturbing glimpse of the dark side of old Hollywood, when most of the chorus girls and contract players dealt with abuse and harassment on a daily basis. And yet, interviewing the children of those involved as well as Patricia herself, the film has a tremendous amount of compassion for everyone, and for their motives in doing what the did.
Yeah yeah, it's a remake. Yeah, it's a Western. I don't care. Ya hear me. Don't care don't care. It's Russell Crowe and Christian Bale and it's yet another storyline in which they are hard men (*snicker*) who understand each other even as they are enemies and yet come to know each other, knowing that the other man is the only person to ever really get them, to make them feel alive.....but it's totally not gay. Not at all.

Notice, I'm using an L.A. Confidential icon... Let's say certain parts reminded me of some things. Also, I have to say, every conversation Dan (Christian Bale) and Ben Wade(Russell Crowe) have together is SO Chapter Three of IOS. Seriously.

Then there's the violence and the fine mens and actors obviously enjoying the chance to do an intelligent, yet still shoot 'em up, Western. And then because the slash wasn't writing itself already (Bridal Suite, that's all I'm gonna say) they go and put in Ben Foster playing Ben's evil yet very very devoted number two man--Charlie Prince(ss) who very nearly stole the movie with his creepy love loyalty to Ben. (Though I did get the best idea ever for an icon from him. As soon as I get Photoshop again I'm making it. Stacey knows what I'm talking about).

Overall, highly enjoyable. Teh hawtness. Teh drama. Teh ghei.
Ok so looking at the cover, it says "Romantic Comedy" which makes me have all sorts of thoughts about bad Meg Ryan films (You've Got Mail needs to DIE) and then the description made me think, 'oh single girl looking for love in the big city, meeting only jerks...seen it'. Nonetheless, I was bored and I love Parker Posey, so I gave it a shot. And it's not perfect by any means, but nonetheless I really enjoyed it and found myself thinking about it afterwards, which is usually how I judge a movie to be good.

Plot is as follows, Parker Posey is a 30-something single chick in NY and she is looking for love. She has a decent, if boring, job, friends, family, nice clothes. That's how it starts out. But what gets you is how quietly they start showing the toll her life is really having on her health--emotional and physical. Her job, her life, they are all not what she expected. And her friends and family, who do love her, are busy with their own lives at the same time. She's just unhappy in general and focusing on a vague need to get married, on what she's supposed to be. She concentrates a lot on what she's supposed to be doing.

But she is genuinely lonely. Enter a slightly younger Frenchman. And yeah, a Frenchman, cliche right? Only it works because he's weirdly adorable and because when her reaction to him is almost frightened. Realistically, because she's afraid to trust anymore, to relax. She's so afraid and he persists in his weird (French) way and they are awkward and kind of sexy and so uncertain. (It gets to the point where she has a panic attack in front of him and her embarrassment/pain at that are just so *real*. And yes, I was picturing that bathtub scene with Rene and James).

Anyway, of course there are complications and Things That Must Be Resolved in her life in order for her to find happiness. Those you see when you watch it.

Sidenote: It was directed and I think written by Zoe Cassavetes, John Cassavetes' daughter. Her mom, Gena Rowlands is also in it. Yay for women directors.
rispacooper: (fuck you by iconsftw)
( Jul. 31st, 2007 05:41 pm)
YAY for Hot Fuzz!! A truly awesome film from the makers of Shaun of the Dead. Boo for 300, which honestly, is the kind of mindnumbingly homophobic inaccurate and violent crap that repressed American males love and if I have to listen to one more of them extolling the virtues of Gerard Butler's oiled and ripped body (but they're not gay) I'm going to start screaming obscenities.

That is all.
Was watching "The Untouchables" (movie) last night and for no reason at all started weaving slashy fantasies in my head between George Stone (or Guiseppi Petri, the undercover-Italian, as played by Andy Garcia) and Oscar Wallace (geeky accountant who is handy with a shotgun, as played by Charles Martin Smith). It would be quite awesomely grandly romantic (and tragic, but that's just part of the sweet sweetness).

Stone already has his issues, being Italian and wanting to join the Chicago PD, full of prejudiced, corrupt Irish-Americans who have no interest in any wannabe cop Dago, especially when his own community is so associated with crime as it is. So he changes his name, loses his accent. But he's a prodigy, and incorruptible, and just generally badass. So he's already living with one secret (so clearly this is how my brain works) he's already coded for another one--total gay.

Then you get Wallace, a Federal Agent with a badge who's never held a gun, suddenly in the middle of all this action...who would he turn to for help and advice? Maybe the other young, inexperienced member of the team. Of course, Wallace is secretly badass too, and Stone secretly has his sensitive little Catholic schoolboy side, and this lets things grow into a strange friendship that would never have been possible if not for these special circumstances. And then maybe there's something more, or maybe it's just one-sided on Stone's side (my brain hadn't really decided yet by the crucial moment of the film) and then....

ah the heartbreak.

It's beautiful really. (Am insane) Tell me someone has written this? Because otherwise I am seriously going to have to do Yuletide this year so I can request this fic from someone. (Though of course, I also want more Ivan/Byerly from the Vorkosigan saga...hmmm)

And yes I know neither of these people actually existed and the movie got all its facts wrong. Meh. I don't care. I wants teh glorious manpain!
rispacooper: (Default)
( Jun. 10th, 2007 12:52 pm)
(First, why is it Ocean's *Thirteen*? Just because it's third?) Better than the second, just as fluffy and pointless as the first two. Enjoyable. But less of the fun Danny/Rusty totally ghei interaction and dialogue and more of those supposedly tense moments where we're supposed to think the gang hasn't accounted for every possibility and oh no! they might not get away with it. Please.

However Turk and Virgil are hilarious. Don Cheadle as Basher is as amazing as ever, and I enjoy the stories of our fictionally generous and kind hearted con artists and thieves. And...yeah...the NOSE. The nose totally plays. I am now in love with
Linus' fake nose. I am not generally a Matt Damon fan...but Linus in this movie is just sort of endearing, and his creepy slicked-back hair, big nose, grey military style Nehru jacket (which makes him look oddly like George McFly) was And yeah...making out with Ellen Barkin...a guy could do worse. That was, in this kinky, twisted way, my favorite part of the film although they didn't do enough with it and sort of tossed aside that plotpoint later. I mean, it's crucial for him to distract Ellen Barkin's character Abigail and he (way too excited) volunteers to seduce her and is just adorable and insecure about his evident attraction to this cougar (something he read about in Maxim and confesses to all abashed and even more adorable) and they go through all this effort to show Abigail as someone nice and not as evil as her boss (a totally wasted Al Pacino) and then...her story doesn't get resolved. Grrrrrr. I wonder if it was the age difference? If they thought that would freak people out, like Ellen Barkin isn't hot as fuck).

But, as my friend Ali said afterward, Linus is *so* Danny and Rusty's gay son. And that is just precious.
rispacooper: (Default)
( Apr. 22nd, 2007 11:36 pm)
I know I know, Helen Mirren pwns the Oscars. And yeah, I hate it when all the big awards nominate movies most of America haven't seen due to extremely limited release done just in time to get them nominated. So when it won everything, I was like, well sure, Helen Mirren is awesome. But how many times can she play a queen anyway?

(Answer: As many times as she likes. Same as Judi Dench)

So, The Queen. Intimate potrait of the Windsors as they deal with Princess Diana's death. More intimately, a study of Elizabeth II having to deal with the fact she no longer understands the country she has given everything for. They want her to cry and mourn publicly, when to her it's a private family moment. Meanwhile brand-spankin' new Prime Minister Tony Blair finds himself drawn to the Queen and trying desperately to save her from herself before the public rejects the monarchy altogether.

You know I know those inner family lives of royals movies. (The Windsors basically are WASPs to the max). This is all that, but with...ah so hard to explain. Such extreme dignity. Such respect for everyone involved. I never got why people fixated on Diana either, but to Elizabeth it's absolutely bewildering. You get to see how ridiculous all that centuries-old protocol is, and also how reassuring. The odd love/hate/obessesion the Brits (even Labour leaders) have with their queen.

Honestly, the scene where she greets Tony Blair as P.M. to-be is fantasically done, understated yet powerful. As is the imagery. Elizabeth, encountering the great stag...

Ah, marvelous.

Now it's off to bed, off to bed for me.
Yet another epic Chinese action-soap with stunning visuals, like Hero and House of Flying Daggers. Only this one actually has a plot that interests me. Plus, Gong Li. The woman is hot.

Kind of like...visually stunning (duh) and not dialogue-centered A Lion in Winter. Family drama, but when you're the Imperial Family, your drama affects a lot more than you. I love it.

So you get Chow Yun Fat *lovelovelove* playing wicked and yet awesome Emperor, slowly poisoning his Empress (Gong Li)with a drug that will slowly drive her insane and take away all her mental faculties. And she knows it, but takes her poison anyway, feigning ignorance while she plots revenge.

Awesome. Epic. (Only, you know, Chinese action-soap, so no happy ending). *And* I am totally crushing on Prince Jai even if he did do something kinda pointless at the end there. He's badass in a cutesy way. Wonder who he could be in the Saga, Pooky.

rispacooper: (Default)
( Mar. 21st, 2007 03:33 pm)
Now I'm a dork and had to watch this movie because I'd already seen "Capote" and wanted to watch another movie basically take on the same subject. Like fanfiction, it is so very easy to tell the exact same story in completely different ways.

For those who don't know, both movies are about Truman Capote, brilliant writer and flaming jackass, investigating the infamous murders of the Clutter family in Kansas in 1959, how he wrote In Cold Blood about it, and basically how he got obsessed with the case/killers.

Both movies deal with the fact that Capote was an incredibly manipulative person, brilliant as I said, but lonely and needy. He bonded with one of the murderers, but how close he bonded with Perry Smith, and why, is really what both movies end up trying to explore.

I like both films. Don't get me wrong."Capote" shows off how dark and detached Capote could be, how he shared that in common with both killers. And "Capote" is cinematically the better film. The more polished. But, what it didn't do was show how clever and charming and witty Capote could be, and yet how all of that was just the act he did to keep people near him, loving him. So in "Infamous" you get Capote being brilliant and unapologetically flaming whether he was in Manhattan or in Kansas (what's the point of trying to hide it, with that voice?) but also being vulnerable and honest when he meets someone who is strangely similiar--Perry Smith.

It's here that I have to mention that Perry Smith is played by Daniel Craig, doing almost what he did with Bond. Someone who responds with violence because it's what they know, but who longs for something better. He could slit your throat or help you buy a kitten. Seriously. And Capote can't help responding to that. He is, after all, a guy who promises secrecy and honesty to his friends and then almost gleefully distorts the truth and what's on or off the record in order to make his story better.

(Which brought up interesting detachment/defense mechanisms in writers, at least to me, how he keeps trying to filter his pain through his characters and stay distant...which only works until Perry calls him on it in the most violent --and hot--- way possible).

And that's another thing...while I don't know how open with his sexuality his friends were, the movie doesn't shy away from it. Nor does it shy from the interesting possibility that "Capote" only suggested, that he fell in love with Perry despite his intentions, and Perry fell in love with him despite knowing Capote was full of shit.

Toby Jones, btw, who plays Capote in this....fuckin' amazing. That's all I can say. This movie had me sort of insanely turned on, and laughing, and then about to cry because I LOVE DOOMED AND TRAGIC GAY LOVE.


All in all, watch them both. Liked "Capote". Loved "Infamous".

And oh yes, did I mention Daniel Craig doing sensitive brute in a wifebeater, all tatted up? mmmm.

"You're in control until you're not."


rispacooper: (Default)


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