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"The Pleasure of His Company" tells the story of an absentee father
(Fred Astaire) who after leaving when his daughter Jessica (Debbie
Reynolds) was a little girl, returns a few days before her wedding to
Roger (Tab Hunter).
According to his ex-wife (Lili Palmer) "in fifteen years he's written to Jessica three times, he's remembered her birthday twice, and he's never heard of Christmas".
Playwrights Samuel Taylor and Cornelia Otis Skinner take a disturbingly light view of this, and expect the audience to find the absentee dad a lovable heel, despite that after basically forgetting her for years, he's now come back to "rescue" her from the boy she loves by seducing her - there's no better word for it to join him travelling the world, and stands a chance since his daughter has something of crush there's no better word for it on her absentee dad.
The fact that the movie is an entertaining diversion is due to the professionalism of Taylor and Skinner, but more so to some very good performances from Debbie Reynolds, too old for the part (likewise Astaire) and particularly Lili Palmer showing true comic flair. Astaire I found irritating but that might have much to do with his part which is largely caricature.
There is one very short dialogue in which Tab Hunter confronts Astaire about his absenteeism and idle life. They are a welcome, but very brief few seconds of sanity and reality.
Tab Hunter acquits himself very well, showing signs of the actor he could have become. But sadly this was to be his last "A" film. Tired of being exploited by his studio he took the bold step of buying out his contract, in the hope of being offered more serious roles. By that point he had the talent and certainly the looks; perhaps it was the silly name that got in the way.
"The Pleasure of His Company" remains a mixed bag. Worth seeing for the actors, but leaving something of a bad taste.
To compare "The Star" to "Sunset Boulevard" and "All About Eve" is to
do an injustice to those films. They are classics because at their helm
were Billy Wilder and Jospeh Mankiewicz, directors of great
intelligence and above all great style qualities blatantly missing in
"The Star" has no style whatsoever. All it has is a big star, Bette Davis. Ironically her character boasts having directed more than one director and that's exactly what seems to be happening here. Hers was a talent that needed to be harnessed by a strong director. Stuart Heisler clearly leaves Davis to her own devices and what results is an over the top, campy, mannered performance. Of course her fans will eat it up. But this is not good acting. Its acting that weakens what from the start is not a strongly scripted film.
"The Star" should have been memorable as a film about ageing in Hollywood, an ever pertinent subject, rather than being memorable as Bette Davis camp fest.
The feisty tough as nails grandmother is hardly new to the cinema, but
at this point in time she can now be uninhibitedly foul-mouthed and
At some point we are supposed to make the transition of warming to Grandma whose crusty exterior shields and warm loving centre deep down. For me this did not happen. At the start I found Lily Tomlin's character obnoxious and infantile, (and somewhat of a stretch as an academic and a supposed intellectual) and by the end of the movie I found her even more obnoxious and infantile.
"Grandma" is peopled with an unappealing bunch of caricatures devoid of nuance or subtlety. This is screen writing by numbers. Pushing all the right buttons, and judging from the positive reviews, succeeding in eliciting the required response. I have always found this approach manipulative and insulting.
Lily Tomlin's performance poses no challenge to her at all. It's an extended sketch. Doing cranky is not that hard. It's a pity, because an intelligently written screenplay and an astute director could have given Tomlin a real chance to extend herself.
One can understand the BBC's desire to remake "Cider with Rosie" and
"Lady Chatterley's Lover", and perhaps even "An Inspector Calls",
although the last has at least two fine filmed versions, but their
decision to remake "The Go-Between" was a misguided one.
Jospeh Losey's 1971 version is one of those rare occasions in which everything seemed to be right - a top notch cast, beautiful cinematography, a terrific Michel Legrand score and a superb Harold Pinter screenplay. L.P. Hartley himself was moved to tears after seeing the film. So then why remake it? How could it possibly fare in comparison?
This television version does not even begin to complete with its predecessor. Adrian Hodge shows little faith in his audience forgoing any subtlety in his dialogue and general characterisation. The cast are a pale and uncharismatic bunch.
Seek out Hartley's novel and Losey's film they are masterpieces. Skip this one.
I would have to agree with the reviewer who judged "Plen Sud" as
regressive as far as the work of director Sebastian Lifshitz goes. "The
Wild Side" was a fine film and "Presque Rien" simply outstanding.
"Plein Sud" has the feeling of a director out of control and worse a director devoid of vision. The film ambles, has unnecessary musical interludes and is imbued with an off putting vagueness of intention.
Where the film fails most is the lack of chemistry between the players especially between the Yannick Renier and Theo Frilet characters. Liftshitz's previous films abounded with a sense of genuine feeling between the characters. Remove that from a film and not much remains.
There are shots on the beach which are replicas from "Presque Rien" - and in my book that is not a good sign.
There are films which exude a sense of everything going right - sadly, "Plein Sud" is the flip side.
"Tomorrow is Another Day" is a B movie; those often looked down upon stepchildren of the Hollywood system peopled with so called second stringers. When a B movie is as good as "Tomorrow is Another Day", one realizes just what an amazing factory Hollywood was in its heyday. Helmed by the not too well known director Felix E. Feist it stars Ruth Roman and Steve Cochran in the leads. They were both dependable performers with a fairly strong screen presence, but here they both turn in compelling performances and indeed carry the film wonderfully. These characters have come from tough backgrounds and as the film progresses we sense them softening as their relationship develops. The transition is subtle and well handled. While the story itself may have its pitfalls, the dialogue is crisp and credible with some of those wonderful noir one liners one comes to expect from such fare. What elevates "Tomorrow is Another Day" so far above its peers is the wonderful work of cameraman Robert Burks. No wonder Burks was often chosen by Hitchcock for his masterly work, ("The Birds" and others.) Despite the modest proportions of this B movie, Burk takes great pains with each shot; selecting interesting and effective angles. It's his work that puts the stamp of class on this movie. While certainly not a classic, the poorly titled "Tomorrow is Another Day" offers a very satisfying movie watching experience.
If you have ever read Graham Greene's short story "May We Borrow Your
Husband" you are more than likely to be quite perplexed by this screen
adaptation. Greene's story is a fairly breezy affair laced with a
biting wit. This screen adaptation is handled in a very dour manner.
The credit should rather state "suggested " by a story of Graham Greene
since only its bare bones are up on the screen. The whimsical title
which is so fitting to Greene's story is totally out of place and
should have been abandoned. It is perfunctorily inserted in the opening
scene, simply to justify the use of the original title.
Besides taking the starring role, Dirk Bogarde himself had a hand in the screenplay and therein lies the interest of this venture. One senses Bogarde has invested much in this project and to some extent seems to be playing himself. Apparently he even wore his own clothing in this film. A lot has been written about Dirk Bogarde and there have been a number of illuminating film documentaries too. He was a talented, intelligent man, but a man not entirely at peace with himself. The often irritable person we see in "May We Borrow Your Husband" confirms much of what comes across in accounts from those who knew him. Most interesting is his cat and mouse treatment of homosexuality.
In his long career Bogarde was associated with some films containing overt homosexual elements ("Victim", "Death in Venice") and many with a strong gay undercurrent ("The Damned", "The Singer not the Song",. "The Servant", "Darling" and more.) And yet to the very end of his days, he staunchly refused to acknowledge his own homosexuality. He rose to fame at a time when being outed would have ended his career before it began. One can empathise with the difficulties of having to guard this secret while riding the wave of huge adoration from the British public similarly to Rock Hudson in the USA. But when the climate of acceptance changed, Bogarde would not budge an inch from his original stand on this issue. He wrote an autobiography made up of seven volumes in which he chose to omit the major story of his life, his 40 year relationship with Tony Forwood. In these writings his lover is portrayed as his manager/driver and is usually mentioned by surname only. There is no hint of this astonishingly enduring relationship.
While being attracted to Greene's biting tale of uncertain sexuality, Bogarde clearly was not impressed by the humor. For him being homosexual was no laughing matter. So what we are left with is this unappealing, ponderous and hugely misguided adaptation.
Fans of Graham Greene are advised to steer clear, but those interest in Bogarde will find much of interest.
Sidney Lumet has a mighty reputation for adaptations of classic theater
to the screen. "Long Day's Journey Into Night" remains something of a
masterpiece while "Twelve Angry Men", "A View From the Bridge" and "The
Fugitive Kind" are works of distinction. (I have intentionally passed
over "Equus" which to my mind was a largely misguided effort).
Like "A View from the Bridge", "The Sea Gull" seems to have been absurdly banished to oblivion. It seems incomprehensible that such a fine film of Chekhov's classic play should deserve such a fate, especially when so many mediocrities are rereleased. The stellar cast alone is reason enough for making "The Sea Gull" available..
Lumet does great service to Chekhov in thankfully preserving the play. The cast is astonishing with all turning in finely tuned and thoroughly convincing performances. Vanessa Redgrave's Nina is luminescent and David Warner brings to Konstantin a palpable intensity. As many critics have noted, the casting of Simone Signoret as Arkadina is problematic since her heavy accent is somewhat out of place, especially when her brother is played by Harry Andrews. English does not come easy to Signoret and some of her speeches are slightly clumsy. Still, overall this does not spoil the film. Arkadina is a prima donna actress and Signoret brings such presence and charisma that one soon forgets the accent.
What more could you ask when a classic play is beautifully filmed, wonderfully acted and superbly directed ? That it should be made available to all who value art.
"Eyes Wide Open" has a wonderful sense of sincerity to it. It's a
small, unpretentious film which manages to plunge to emotional depths
without being showy or sensational. This restraint imbues the film with
much power and conviction in telling the story of a family man whose
inner world is torn apart when he falls in love with a young man. What
makes this scenario unique is that the milieu in which this is played
out, is that of the ultra Orthodox Jewish society in Jerusalem. As with
all extreme religions there is of course no place for deviants from the
Aharon, the protagonist, is a deeply religious man searching for truths who has to face the truth of his own heart. In perhaps the most poignant scene of the film, he confesses to his horrified spiritual mentor that he feels he's truly come alive for the first time.
"Eyes Wide Open" is the debut feature film of director Haim Tabakman. It is unusual for a first time director to demonstrate such assurance of style and tone. What would make or break a film of this nature is the quality of the performances. All the secondary parts are well played, but it is Zohar Strauss utterly convincing lead performance which makes the film work. There is not one false moment. This makes the inherent tragic situation an extremely moving one to behold. Highly recommended.
This relentlessly feel good movie strives and succeeds in all it sets
out to do. It reassures us all that not only is all well with the
world, it really is a pretty wonderful place. Walt Disney would be
Disney's family fare of the sixties portrayed characters as totally one dimensional. The mean were mean, the kind were kind, etc. etc. Characters simply had no inner conflicts or doubts. Audiences, particularly children, found this spoon fed story telling very enjoyable. If only life were that simple.
Well in "The Blind Side" life is that simple. The characters in the movie are unashamedly one dimensional. This good natured family doesn't bat an eyelid about taking in an underprivileged over-sized young black teenager into their smart home. They might as well have picked up a stray pet. Those squeaky clean smiling children take to Big Mike from the projects without a hint of hesitation.
There is nothing wrong with movies reaffirming the basic goodness of mankind. God knows there are enough that have succeeded in proving the opposite. But pandering to the need to believe in such goodness in such a simplistic, needless to say, unrealistic manner is misguided. It's making us feel good at the cost of integrity - and succeeding.
Sandra Bullock does with the role exactly what she's demanded to do and that really is not very much in the way of an acting stretch. We've seen her good nature shine numerous times before. Why this time it garnered her an Oscar is very probably as she herself put it, she
simply wore them down.
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