Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fifteen Films.

From a tagged post in Facebook: 

A list of fifteen movies you've seen that will always stick with you. The annotations are added to explain the reason for the inclusion. I admit that fifteen is not sufficient to list all the films that have significant/not-so-significant impact on my cinematic sensibilities. However, narrowing them down to a manageable number is simply an evidence of its importance. 

Sunset Boulevard
 (Billy Wilder) Holden and Swanson can beat the crap out of Kutcher and Moore. that cougar derogatory is more than just an understatement. Wilder's picture of the industry is a defib at realism. i can watch this over and over, but realizing what might have been if the original morgue scene was filmed. 

Before Sunset (Richard Linklater) intelligent conversations can lead to smart relationships. but the heart/mind aphorism can be tragically ineffectual. sooner or later, the question of cynicism and romanticism pops up and you would be trapped in the corner asking the same thing. 

Pickup on South Street (Samuel Fuller) twenty-five bucks and a continuous replay on the dvd is a "nuff said". but Fuller's grit and the graphic staircase pugilism is noir at its best. 

Le Samourai (Jean Pierre Melville) Musashi with a forty-five is Melvillian hero, apparently. a homage to Kurosawa, maybe, with Delon instead of Mifune. on the noirish battlefields of the Paris and a technicolor disguise of the dark underworld. 

La Nuit Americaine (Francois Truffaut) my first ever dvd is a frenchie unknown except for a handful who see films as art. and who would think, is disapproval. amdist the influx of Hollywood popcorn, a foreign talkie is nowhere to punch a hole through someone else's sound system. 

Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock) a blatant sexual Hitchcock is not Hitchcock at all. he is most effective in subtle, unrevealing ways. which is probably makes Notorious his most erotic. 

Kisapmata (Mike de Leon) like what i've posted in Pinoydvd years back, bent norms are frightening. 

Kyua (Kiyoshi Kurosawa) what a horror film should be sans the gore and the visceral shock. what is more potent terror is the one you cannot/do not see. 

The Red Shoes (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger) a sit down with Brianne marvelled at Moira Shearer's pirouettes and arabesques. though its melodramatic execution and the tragic end are stabs at her childhood perceptions, but a wide-eyed smile is a portent of taste. 

Spoorloos (George Sluizer) beyond paranoia is unrecognized fear. but as soon as the what-ifs are stacked, where do you turn to?

Babae sa Bubungang Lata (Mario O'Hara) another potshot at the industry, with Wilderian reminisces. but this time, a glimpse at behind-the-scenes see a Visconti-esque backdrop. 

Platoon (Oliver Stone) rudimentary awakening at the filmic representation of war--and started an adolescent love affair with the movies. 

Rhapsody in August (Akira Kurosawa) my favorite Kurosawa is a Kurosawa melodrama, atypical and Mifune-less. yet the poignancy of history is clearly magnified in a way Kurosawa would in his conventional genre. 

A Bridge Too Far (Richard Attenborough)war films are a pick-me-up. a sort of fill to counter the lucid gaps of foreign artsies. although primitive effects but a coherent plotline mark Speilberg's Ryan a notch down on my personal preference. 

Blow Up (Michelangelo Antonioni) a mindfuck. lets you think, but what you come up with would screw you over and over. and recovery is merely the beginning of another brain drain. it's an unending cycle that in the end, you might as well consider David Lynch's films as tame. 

Saturday, May 16, 2009

angels and demons

Angels and Demons
 - Ron Howard

It is a popcorn flick. Nothing more than that. But lightyears better than The Da Vinci Code which is dull, tedious and flat-out bad. I have read the book more than 5 years ago and although most of the parts kind of escaped me, I still feel that the plausibility of the plot far exceeds the preposterousness of its supposed sequel. I might have to agree with Stellan Skaarsgard's claim of Dan Brown's inability to write, and the film obviously compensated for the majority of the novel's drawbacks. Certainly, compressing an 300-page/11-hr book into a 2-hr film have to go through arduous process of truncating specific scenes, omitting characters and probably rewriting the overall flow, but astonishingly I agree with it as being somewhat effective. Although Ron Howard's camerawork and the penchant for that Michael Bay technique is not necessary and perhaps gives the movie the impression of being...well, just a popcorn flick.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation - Sofia Coppola 

First, as a rebound from a mindless flick I've treated myself yesterday and secondly, for no reason I have missed this despite glowing feedbacks and a personal penchant for such a genre. Well I don't know for a few people that might have elevated this as a favorite merely for the film being as an "indie" (that in 2003, quite a number of indies had mushroomed that had become the focal point of influence for filmmakers and made LIT as a barometer for future imitations I guess), but I think it is because of its diversion from the collective understanding of an independent film. While reminiscent of Linklater's Before Sunrise or Lean's Brief Encounter, which illustrated the male/female relationship on an obviously romantic level, LIT's approach, while somewhat trudges on a similar plane, gives us something to discern about.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

in memoriam: Richard Widmark

Richard Widmark (1914-2008)

Perhaps one of the most underrated actors of classic hollywood. The ubiquitous face of the American noir---from his debut as the ruthless psychopathic mob-hitman in Kiss of Death (1947) to the scheming old hospital director in Michael Crichton's Coma (1978), Widmark's career spanned decades of heavyhanded roles in a variety of genres. 

Samuel Fuller, who casted Widmark as the conscience-absent grifter in his masterpiece noir Pickup on South Street (1953), said of the actor as having a "strange face with a twisted, arrogant smile, and that didn't fit into anybody's scheme of Hollywood handsomeness". True enough that Widmark did not possess the typical attributes of a leading man, but it was this that caught Fuller's attention (note that he would work with the director for Hell and High Water, and Fixed Bayonets!). 

Friday, October 26, 2007

panic in the streets

Panic in the Streets
Directed by Elia Kazan
Screenplay by Daniel Fuchs and Richard Murphy
Based on the story “Quarantine and Some Like ‘Em Cold” by Edna and Edward Anhart
Released 1950 by Twentieth Century Fox
Cast: Richard Widmark, Paul Douglas, Jack Palance, Barbara Bel Geddes, Zero Mostel

Panic in the Streets was made at the height of the “Communist witchhunts” by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) during the 1950s. The atmosphere of a Soviet invasion hung like a sinister sunlight out to burn the brittle epidermises of the American society. It was probably one reason why Elia Kazan decided to helm a film of propagandist paranoia as an appropriate response to the growing unease of the public regarding Communism.

Clinton Reed (Widmark) is a physician who works for the Public Health Service and is an expert in communicable diseases. He wears his military-style uniform as, primarily, a form of intimidation and unmissable fact to proclaim that he is in-charge. Whether that brings him a sense of personal satisfaction, it somehow inhibits him from pursuing a case that is beyond the juridisction the epaulets on his drabs bequeaths him. When a homicide victim turns up to be an index case of a contagious pneumonic plague, Reed is forced to team up with Police Captain Tom Warren (Douglas) to find out who killed the man who, in fact, maybe a carrier of the plague as a result of a direct contact with the deceased.

The film is festooned with undertones of the public suspicion of Communism and Hollywood’s immediate reply to the threat. Interestingly, the virus as depicted in the film is metaphorically the specific ideology meant to contaminate the unknowing public, which during that time, Communism was rapidly gaining the upperhand. It would also be interesting to notice that this will be the last film Kazan will make with Zero Mostel who plays the killer’s sidekick (Fitch); and Barbara Bel Geddes who plays Widmark’s love half, before the two will be blacklisted by the committee. Kazan, on the other hand, would testify at the hearing but will incur the ire of much of his peers.

Originally titled Outbreak, the film emphasizes on the hunt for the killer rather than the ‘what-ifs’. Albeit lacking modern scientific basis for Reed’s monologue at a conference in the early sequence, it still manages to give certain credibility to the main plot which is to make it as a hardboiled police procedural. Kazan’s neorealistic influences provide significant contribution to its development—which, for example, is the choice of location shooting in New Orleans, and the inclusion of most of the city’s citizens and inhabitants in the cast.

Jack Palance, in his cinematic debut, plays the ruthless gangster/killer Blackie, and along with two of his henchmen Fitch (Mostel) and Poldi, unknowingly become the target of the manhunt. The climactic chase scene results in a predictable conclusion, with the top-billed actor getting all the credit. It seems the disparity that exists between the police force and an attached government official has been linked by a thin thread of popcorn drama.

Nonetheless, the film has moments, of course. It visually represents the microcosm of a 1950s New Orleans, where backstreets reveal a hodgepodge of a poverty-stricken populace and endless social canker amidst a milieu of a terrifying would-be medical catastrophe. And despite the facetiousness of the cause for alarm (evidently, pneumonic plague was still considered as an incurable disease during the early to the middle part of the 20th century—though rare cases are continued to be reported), it manages to instill widespread terror. Furthermore, Kazan’s handiwork on the film is a fitting prelude to his award-winning On the Waterfront, shot four-years later.