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filmmaven's coffee chat

a morning discussion of film and popular culture over coffee

Month

December 2015

New Year and Elvis’s Birthday …

Source: New Year and Elvis’s Birthday …

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Why you need to watch Black n White Films…or creating a grown up movie palate ….

Yes..I know ..I know ….Black and White movies look weird, they are slow, nothing explodes and there is very rarely any sex. Plus they are old. Really OLD.

Here is why – you have to choke down the medicine and redefine your taste for old, dusty, choppy, slow, nonexplosive films….its good for you.

There…I said it. Like a dose of castor oil, sometimes you just have to swallow the bitter slime and take it like a woman. Be strong. Be steady.

It will surprise you with masterful dialogue, clothes to die for and sexy beyond words.

Fun watching:

Adam’s Rib (1949, Dir: George Cukor) — Anything written by Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon will be well worth watching; but its not the only reason to pay close attention to this film. Absorb the just at postwar opulence of Hollywood, the slick nod to women in the work place battle, and the full busy streets of big mean powerful vehicles. If you watch with the intent to enjoy the story but a side glance at some of the deeper historical content – you won’t even notice the lack of color.

A Night at the Opera (1935, dir: Sam Wood) — Because of the choppy after school television showings of the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges we often forget about the full length feature films. Note in this one the sly side commentary of Groucho as well as the interesting physical comedy bits ….everyone here is overly serious and extremely silly – how wonderful to pull that off on film! Light, silly and extra goofy – fun for all ages.

The Thin Man (1934, Dir: W.S. Van Dyke) – Quick, slick and silly….This is the start of a series of films that has dominated the mind of all Television mystery male characters from Remington Steele to Castle…the quips, the romance, the cozy mystery with a small element of seriousness. This is a film to watch for set design and costuming — incredible clothes and staging……

Serious and Mysterious:

The 39 steps (1935, dir: Alfred Hitchcock) — Certain, Hitchcock is a full study all on his own ..but taken as how to watch Black and White films this is a must do …..from the music to the clothes to the editing …its one of the best mysteries, adding just enough realism and campy elements to get you lost in the frightening moments of ‘ooohh what is going on??”.

The Public Enemy (1931, dir: William Wellman) – James Cagney actually portrayed a well rounded variety of characters but his most memorable and defining roles are those of gangsters and tough guys….This particular film, if you are watching to educated yourself on the genres and styles of black and white film-making becomes important as the prototype for all gangster movies and character developments even in today’s films.

Key Largo (1948, dir: John Houston) – Dark, tense and ugly…from the weather to the film style to the dialogue …everything is clipped and heavy….the dank damp air fills the screen with real tension and terror. Edward G. Robinson’s Johnny Rocco is so edgy and cruel in his desperation to be relevant in a new age of crime syndicates, you know he will do anything to anyone at any moment. John Houston takes crime thriller to a new level staging this film in one small location over a two day period with one of the most incredible casts of the era. While a heavy influence over modern directors, I can’t think of another film that reaches this level of intensity and gloom.

 

 

Let’s Talk some Trash and a little Boob Tube

So I’m thinking none of you are out there today …Everyone is either recovering from seeing the Star Wars movie or in line to see it again …..Well..Okay …So you’ll read this on Monday RIGHT?

There was a time seeing movies on opening day was a thrill, I was one of those 75 Million. Now, I’m just as happy to wait until the kids are back in school and an afternoon empty theater will be fine. BUT, I know the thrill for this one and so I’m excited for all of you that are out there …..Don’t TELL ME WHAT HAPPENS! Okay?

This is my week: SPOILER ALERT — (If you haven’t seen the Big Bang Theory don’t read any further) 

Luther (BBC AMERICA 2015, Dir: Sam Miller) — What can I say? Watching Idris Elba is a very not guilty pleasure ( I refuse to be guilty enjoying something this much, its like Ben&Jerry’s dipped bacon; you are so past feeling bad about it)…He moves, he thinks, he feels deeply. I found the death of Justin Ripley unsettling and dissatisfying. It almost had to happen – but there was something incredibly awkward and almost gratuitous about it. We start this special 2 part Episode with a visit from Justin with Luther standing literally on the precipice of his life.  There are a few continuity issues that bother me and another dissatisfying death….like…yeah but NO. So now you really have to watch it and decide. Is she or isn’t she?

 

SHAMY

SHAMY DID IT! (Big Bang Theory, CBS)–  Yeah… believe it or not…This was an overly packed episode- With out failure one of the funniest they’ve done. Whil Wheaton is hysterical, and no one else matters but Sheldon and Amy – the other scenes have to be L O L funny to even be noticed…..Very Well Done..I couldn’t imagine how they would handle this scenario…unless it was accidental -some way of making it happen with out Sheldon realizing until it was over?? but the writers deserve extra kudos for making a hilarious yet sensitive television iconic event. In the middle of their 10th season the show is taking a new risk in allowing the characters to mature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday movies to watch while wrapping presents

Are you spending an evening (or two) after everyone is in bed  wrapping gifts?? You’ll need a few things to watch that are just enough of entertaining, mindless and heart warming .

So light a fire (or some candles), pour a glass of wine, get all your supplies out and don’t forget to clear a generous space on the coffee table or the floor for maximum wrapping leverage.

The Holiday (2006, dir & Writer: Nancy Meyers) — its funny because if you asked, I would normally say I don’t care for anyone in this film….except Eli Wallach (more on that later)……Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Jack Black and Kate Winslet in a typical no surprises, sweet film. The dialogue is good, the editing a smidge choppy ….but then enter Eli Wallach …a few moments of Shelley Berman, Rufus Sewell and a odd but interesting award ceremony with Wallach and you have a delightful film.

Home for the Holidays (1995, dir: Jodie Foster) —  Foster has a true talent for making people complex and likable in awkward situations. A strangely delightful cast includes Geraldine Chaplin, Steve Guttenberg, Clair Danes and Amy Yasbeck ….starring the always fun Holly Hunter, a quiet and tense Robert Downey Jr, and the beautifully thoughtful Anne Bancroft….. If you care, you really have to watch the film to follow the dialogue…but if you are wrapping presents and just have it on…its just as well…

The Bishop’s Wife (1947, dir: Henry Koster) — Such a sweet and adorable holiday romp — notice Elsa Lanchester and Monty Wolly…..starring the sauve and softly comical David Niven and Cary Grant with the lovely Loretta Young. Beautifully filmed, great chatty dialogue.

Rant, Shopping, COMING SOON and save me from the long mid-season break …

filmmaven's coffee chat

What to watch now that television has gone on winter break, the Holiday season movies are not out until after next week AND shopping for the right gift has become …a looming deadline?

Its almost here …STAR WARS opens in theaters December 18, 2015 ..but I’m already really annoyed by seeing the merchandise and can’t even have my morning coffee with out pouring Spiced Latte creamer from Chewbacca’s head ….(which by the by, are for sale empty on eBay for 10 bucks for all five, now that does make me laugh).

But …will I recommend that before the big reveal you watch ALL the other Star Wars films to be ready? No. if you haven’ seen them by now (or are just too young to have experienced the first two rounds) hold off….watch them AFTER you experience the new one. I’m using my all around experience to suggest that this will…

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Rant, Shopping, COMING SOON and save me from the long mid-season break …

What to watch now that television has gone on winter break, the Holiday season movies are not out until after next week AND shopping for the right gift has become …a looming deadline?

Its almost here …STAR WARS opens in theaters December 18, 2015 ..but I’m already really annoyed by seeing the merchandise and can’t even have my morning coffee with out pouring Spiced Latte creamer from Chewbacca’s head ….(which by the by, are for sale empty on eBay for 10 bucks for all five, now that does make me laugh).

But …will I recommend that before the big reveal you watch ALL the other Star Wars films to be ready? No. if you haven’ seen them by now (or are just too young to have experienced the first two rounds) hold off….watch them AFTER you experience the new one. I’m using my all around experience to suggest that this will be different and fresh in a way that can stand on its own.

If you are shopping for that new filmmaven prodigy, the box set of Star Wars films is the prefect item (and anyone related to a person who OWNS a light-saber or thinks Howard Walowitz is COOL, please buy it for them!)

It appears once again in the coming soon round of films we are not going any place new …revamps, redux and part 3, 4 and 5 ….What is Sly thinking?? Batman? A Spike Lee based on Greek Tragedy? …..oh wait…something ‘fresh’ …..Will Farrell with Marky Mark…….ooops nope,that was “The Other Guys”.  ooohhh Hollyweird ….you are amusing if not original.

HOW TO SAVE YOURSELF FROM THE MID SEASON BREAK ……

If you aren’t watching AGENTS of SHIELD (ABC)

…its time to get caught up. It just keeps getting better.

If you have a certain type of film/director/actor etc…..find what else they have done and watch something you normally wouldn’t bother with, as in…

Richard Armitage was so good in the Hobbit, so you really need to see …..

North & South (mini Series, 2004) — Surprisingly fun to watch and a good distraction.

MI-5 (TV Series, also called SPOOKS) – Such a great cast and wonderfully intertwined, 8 seasons should keep you really busy all winter break! Don’t stop, its good all the way through. Great pacing, just enough surprises and intrigue.

 

 

 

 

 

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