Movies postsFriday November 28, 2014
'Five Came Back' Trivia Question
According to Mark Harris' book, “Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War,” which Hollywood movie did Joseph Goebbels call “an exemplary propaganda film for [the] German industry to copy”?
Answer in the comments section ...
Berenice Bejo in Seattle
This past week, the Seattle International Film Festival (a year-round organization) put on a mini-French film fest, and last night Berenice Bejo, my No. 2 French film crush (after You Know Who), arrived to introduce her film, “Le dernier diamant” (“The Last Diamond”).
The film? Eh. Her? Pow. Here she is before the show with SIFF's artistic director Carl Spence (who, for some reason, is blurry in all of my amateur shots):
Vive le difference!
No, not that one. This one: As I was thinking the usual idiot thoughts (Pretty ... but wearing oddly baggy clothes ...), Patricia leaned over and said, “I think she's pregnant.”
So far nothing in the media about it. Is this a scoop?
Tom Hardy is the New Marlon Brando
Since I didn't see “Bronson” in 2008, the first time I had the chance to see Tom Hardy in a signifcant big-screen role was in “Inception”; and to me he just leapt. This is what I wrote then:
For his team, Cobb already has Arthur, his point man, and he quickly gathers the rest: Ariadne, who will design the dream, Yusef (Dileep Rao), who will administer the drugs, and Eames (Tom Hardy), the forger, who can impersonate important people from Fisher’s world in the dreamscape. It’s both a good team Cobb has assembled and a good team writer-director Christopher Nolan has assembled. Ellen Page is whip-smart. Cotillard is both dreamy-looking lost love and dangerous femme fatale. But I may have been most impressed with Hardy. He steals every scene. The scam is Cobb’s, the whole story is Cobb’s, and everyone seems to channel their energy into these, and his, obsessions; but Hardy suggests for Eames a life outside of this story. We don’t have much to wonder about with Cobb but we have everything to wonder about with Eames.
Is wondering about a character the key to our interest in the character? And when did I (and everyone) begin to think of the Brando comparison? With “Tinker Tailor”? Not with those blonde locks. “Warrior” maybe? Although the movie was a bit cartoonish, and “The Dark Knight Rises” even more so. Maybe in “Lawless”? He grounds a mediocre movie there. I guess it was his quiet more than anything. It was the suggested toughness. Yeah, it was also the lips and the hair. But in his latest, “The Drop,” the comparison gets ridiculous:
Brando in “On the Waterfront” checks out Hardy in “The Drop.”
He's not doing homage, by the way. There are a lot of similarities between Terry Malloy and Bob Saginowski, but the differences are key. Review up soon. Go see it, if you have the chance.
Siskel, Ebert, and Top 10 Woodys
Woody Allen, with one of the title characters, in “Love and Death.” Gene Siskel recognized the genius before others.
At the end of the 1970s, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert did a “Sneak Previews” episode arguing over who was the funnier filmmaker: Woody Allen or Mel Brooks. Siskel went Allen, Ebert went Brooks. I remember back then talking about it with my dad, the film critic for The Minneapolis Tribune. How could anyone choose Mel Brooks over Woody Allen? Sure he was funny, but ... Brooks has made only five movies in the ’70s, almost all parodies of film genres, and the last two, “Silent Movie” and “High Anxiety,” were hardly winners. Allen made a movie a year. He’d won two Academy Awards. His movie, “Annie Hall,” had won the Oscar for best picture. He kept growing. Plus I thought he was just funnier. Mel over Woody? Was Roger nuts?
“They probably flipped a coin,” my father said, “and Ebert lost.”
Looking over Siskel and Ebert’s annual top 10 lists recently, I see now that Siskel was in fact a bigger Allen fan than Ebert. “Annie Hall” was Siskel’s No. 1 movie of 1977. (No. 8 for Ebert.) “Manhattan” was No. 5 for Siskel in ’79. (It didn’t make Ebert’s list.) Siskel included “Annie Hall” among his best films of the decade and Ebert didn’t. Siskel included “The Purple Rose of Cairo” among his best films of 1985 and Ebert didn’t.
From 1975 to 1989, Woody Allen wrote and directed 14 movies, and half of them, seven, made Siskel’s annual top 10 list. My favorite inclusion is probably “Love and Death” as the third-best movie of 1975—ahead of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Dog Day Afternoon,” “Barry Lyndon” and “Jaws." That’s still when Woody was doing broad comedy, too. But Gene always liked broad comedy.
Roger included five Allen movies during this period: Three at the end of the ‘80s—“Hannah and Her Sisters,” “Radio Days” and “Crimes and Misdemeanors”—and two from the ‘70s: “Annie Hall” and “Interiors.” Ebert would go on to include one more Allen movie on his top 10 list, “Everyone Says I Love You” from 1996, but Siskel’s list is almost the canon, isn’t it?
|Siskel's Top 10 Woodys||Ebert's Top 10 Woodys|
|Love and Death, 1975 (#3)||Annie Hall, 1977 (#8)|
|Annie Hall, 1977 (#1)||Interiors, 1978 (#6)|
|Manhattan, 1979 (#5)||Hannah and Her Sisters, 1986 (#3)|
|The Purple Rose of Cairo, 1985 (#10)||Radio Days, 1987 (#7)|
|Hannah and Her Sisters, 1986 (#1)||Crimes and Misdemeanors, 1989 (#8)|
|Radio Days, 1987 (#7)||Everyone Says I Love You, 1996 (#8)|
|Crimes and Misdemeanors, 1989 (#7)|
Anyway it's interesting to sort it all out this way. Might do more with other directors soon.
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.”