Movies postsTuesday August 12, 2014
Lauren Bacall: 1924-2014
I wrote the following for a piece on onscreen chemistry for MSNBC. I began talking about comic opposites and then landed here:
The genre where on-screen chemistry doesn’t require opposites is drama. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, despite obvious differences (and viva those), sizzled in “To Have and Have Not,” in part, because her character, Slim, was as cool as Bogart, which is saying a lot. She plays a pickpocket who uses her sexual allure to separate men from their money. At one point she lands in his lap and kisses him, where we get this exchange before the more-famous exchange about whistling:
Bogart (smiling): What'd you do that for?
Bacall: Been wondering whether I'd like it.
Bogart: What's the decision?
Bacall: I don't know yet.
(She kisses him again; he kisses back; she stands up and smiles.)
Bacall: It's even better when you help.
This may be the coolest woman ever to appear in movies ...
“It's even better when you help.”
‘Fly, Be Free’
This was from the pilot episode of “Mork & Mindy,” which my brother and I watched in September 1978. We laughed so hard.
Here are his biggest box office hits, adjusted for inflation:
|Movie||Studio||Adjusted gross||Unadjusted gross||Year|
|3||Night at the Museum||Fox||$301,889,000||$250,863,268||2006|
|4||Good Morning, Vietnam||BV||$245,778,800||$123,922,370||1987|
|6||Good Will Hunting||Mira.||$240,561,300||$138,433,435||1997|
|10||Dead Poets Society||BV||$196,790,900||$95,860,116||1989|
Not a bad group. Even “Popeye,” his first film, directed by Robert Altman, which in my memory got confused reviews, confused box office, but became a cult hit among my slyer friends, even that movie grossed $150 million, adjusted.
Fly. Be free.
More Breitbart Lies
This one is about George Clooney. They seem to hate the guy. Or find him threatening.
Apparently The Mirror in England has an article, which Breitbart doesn't bother to link to (bad form), with the following headline:
I don't know how true that is, but that's not the lie I'm talking about. The lie is how John Nolte of Breitbart beginshis article:
With his movie career fading into commercial and critical mediocrity and a wedding in sight, 53 year-old left-wing Democrat George Clooney is apparently ready to try politics.
Movie career fading? Commercial and critical mediocrity?
George Clooney's most recent movie was 2014's “The Monuments Men,” not good, but it still grossed $78 million, which isn't bad. His movie before that was 2013's “Gravity,” which grossed $274 million domestically and $716 million worldwide, and was nominated for 10 Oscars, winning seven. His movie before that debaccle? “The Descendants,” which grossed $82 million domestically, $177 worldwide, and was nominated for five Oscars, including best actor for Clooney. And so on.
Try joining us in the reality-based community, Breitbart.
Breitbart? You are about a hundred miles from smart.
The Best Thing I've Seen So Far at SIFF
Before the screening of “Leninland” at SIFF Uptown today they showed a short film. I had no idea they were going to do this, so for the first part of the short I assumed we were watching “Leninland,” about a museum dedicated to Vladimir Lenin in Gorky, Russia, which opened in 1987. More on that later.
This obviously wasn’t that. The camera focused on an older couple in a car. Klára (Judit Pogány) is overweight and in the passenger seat. Her first words warn about the speed limit. At one point she tells her husband, Vilmos (Zsolt Kovács) to turn left, then adds, “Be careful—cars are coming from the opposition direction,” as if he’s never turned left before. She doesn’t do this nastily. She just does it. And she keeps doing it.
Vilmos is a bit intense behind the wheel. At times he gets angry. Early on, he says he’s going to record her one day so she can hear what she sounds like, and eventually he does this. He takes out the small recorder and places it triumphantly on the dashboard. She’s taken aback, stares at the thing, then sits in uncomfortable silence for 15, maybe 30 seconds, chomping at the bit. Finally she just starts talking again in the usual manner: watch out for this, the speed limit is that, what’s this road called again? He gives a small cry. It could be a cry of triumph or frustration. Maybe some combination.
I don’t want to give it away, but if you have a chance to see this Hungarian short, called “Újratervezés” (“My Guide”), do. It’s subtle, sweet, funny, poignant.
Other SIFF 2014 reports:
- How do you solve a problem like SIFF?
- SIFF's Opening Night: Red carpet and Freudian slips
- Nine Thoughts a Week into SIFF
How Do You Solve a Problem Like SIFF?
“Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter,” about a “Fargo”-obsessed Japanese girl who travels to Minnesota, is one of the films I'll be seeing at SIFF this year.
How do you solve a problem like the Seattle International Film Festival? Two-hundred and seventy-six movies from around the world and you've heard of maybe five of them. And you have four weeks. Go.
My friend Vinny simply figures out which country he doesn't know well and/or wants to know more about, and simply goes to see its movies. This year's theme for him is apparently Eastern Europe. He's going to see “Quod Erat Demonstrandum” from Romania, “The Japanese Dog” from Romania, “Tangerines” from Estonia, “Clownwise” from the Czech Republic, and “40 Days of Silence” from Uzbekistan. Not a bad strategy. Unless you wind up with dogs and clowns and Latin. But if you go to any of these movies, say hi. Vinny's nothing if not friendly.
Me, I tend to look through the SIFF guide, pick out what's interesting, and then check out its IMDb rating before buying anything.
Yeah, this can be problematic, too. “The Case Against 8,” for example, a documentary about the Prop 8 battle in California and the fight for marriage equality, is on the docket, but its IMDb rating is 5.2 Why? Homophobes and right-wing nuts. So you parse out that lot. Basically you look for something in the 7s. About 7.5 is nice. Above 8? You grow suspicious. That's a bit too high. Is it a TV show? Yes, it is. Below 6.5 and you grow wary again. Too low. Anything in the 5s, unless it's “The Case Against 8” this year or the Wikileaks doc last year, you avoid. Or I do.
Easy movies, too, get high IMDb ratings. Crowd pleasers. Difficult movies, like Terrence Malick's movies, less so. You just need to figure out which difficult movies are your kind of difficult movies. I guess that's the battle.
I wound up not going to “8” this year because it'll be on HBO soon enough (sorry) and because I already interviewed its principles in January. I also didn't get tickets for movies I really want to see—“The Congress,” “Beyond Beauty: Taiwan from Above,” “Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger”—because schedules conflicted. So it goes.
These were what I wound up with, sorted by IMDb rating:
|The Trip to Italy||UK||8.2|
|Muse of Fire||UK||8.1|
|In Order of Disappearance||Norway||7.8|
|The Bit Player||Philippines||7.6|
|The Last of the Unjust||France/Austria||7.4|
|Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter||Japan||7.4|
|The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared||Sweden||7.1|
|The Better Angels||USA||6.8|
|Our Sunhi||South Korea||6.8|
|Charlie Chaplin shorts||USA||n/a|
To be honest, some of my choices simply related to proximity. “Chinese Puzzle,” for example, will be showing in a place and time that's easy for me. So why not?
But it's all a crapshoot and SIFF doesn't make it any easier. Why not, on its website, give us a sortable table of every movie in the program with relevant data? Right? So you can at least sort by title and country and genre? Wouldn't that help?
With the schedule this year, they included top picks from its half dozen programmers, which is interesting, but it's only helpful if we know what that programmer liked in the past. If, for example, the programmer says their favorite recent SIFF movies have included “The First Grader” and “Frances Ha,” well, they're not for me. If, on the other hand, they liked “Restrepo,” “A Hijacking” and “The Act of Killing,” then I'm theirs. So wouldn't that make sense? To include that? SIFF?
Last year I lucked out. The year before, less so. This year? Who knows? Crapshoot.
Oh, I also have the gala pass. So that includes, among others, the Jimi Hendrix biopic (at the opening, tonight, open bar), and Richard Linklater's “Boyhood.”
Fuck, I'm going to be busy.
What about you? How do you solve a problem like SIFF?
SIFF also needs help with their posters.