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The Student Nurses (1970)
Hilarious view of a lost Los Angeles.
Caught this movie on EPIX during a bout of insomnia and chortled my way through it. It's pretty bad, but worth watching if only to see late 1960s Los Angeles, which was fairly horrible: brownish skies and hideous architecture (the whole thing looks as if it was shot in the San Fernando valley, except for the "psychedelic" beach scenes and a couple of "love-ins" in Griffith Park).
The acting is uniformly awful, as are the really cheesy, fake "sex scenes." There's no plot at all - just a bunch of "groovy" or "relevant" scenes which basically serve no purpose other than to show how "groovy" or "relevant" the characters are. In fact, the only reason to watch this film is to see the early 1970s clothes, hairstyles, cars, interior design (somewhat cheesy but still cool) and locations. LA has really changed since then.
Also, the music is really terrible, especially the imitation Joni Mitchell/Judy Collins who warbles in the background when the girls are "sad" or "thoughtful."
Surprisingly funny and profound.
I saw this movie because I'm a big John Hawkes fan and to be honest was expecting an arty indie film, but this movie was surprisingly hilarious and poignant. It's really about our fundamental need for the regard of others, for simple human connection, and how this connection can save us, make us whole and cement our place in the universe. It takes some very surprising turns, and oddly enough, features some very wonderful performances by child and teen actors. And of course, Hawkes is wonderful, as is triple-threat writer, director and star Miranda July. Also? I've never seen a movie with a more realistic LA setting (warts and all) than this one. In all, a lovely little film.
3 Girls 3 (1977)
I thought I dreamed this little series...
...because like the other person who wrote about it here, I was a teen when it premiered in the late '70s, and well, my memory is faulty at best. The only reason I remembered it is because today I heard Stevie Wonder's "I Am Singing," and I suddenly recalled that these girls did a terrific version of it on this show. At first I only remembered that Allen was one of the three, but then I recalled Kennedy, who was sort of a comedy staple at the time, and then I finally put Foley together with her roles in "Hair" (the "White Boys/Black Boys" number, which also featured the late Nell Carter) and the pre-Markie Post "Night Court."
Good grief. I wish I could see this show again, if only to prove to myself that I didn't hallucinate it.
One of the best film musicals ever made.
"Gigi" is undoubtedly as good as it is because it was a musical written expressly for the screen (it had been an enormously popular Broadway play starring Audrey Hepburn). Lerner and Loewe were coming off their huge success with "My Fair Lady" on Broadway, and were at the height of their powers when they created the classic songs and screenplay for this film. And although Leslie Caron's vocals were dubbed (thankfully not by Marni Nixon), the rest of the cast acquits themselves with aplomb and a good deal of style, particularly the heartstoppingly suave and beautiful Louis Jourdan (who was much older than he looked at the time, as was Caron -- he was 38, she was 27). The breathtaking Art Nouveau sets and fin de siecle costumes were all designed by Cecil Beaton and are even more gorgeous than those he did for the film version of "My Fair Lady" a few years later.
This film is very faithful to Colette's original short story in both humor and spirit, and while I have no illusions that it is a completely truthful portrait of life in early 20th century Paris, it is a delightful, romantic story, one that is as lovely now as it was in the 1950s, or indeed, at the turn of the century. It really did deserve the Best Picture Oscar.
The most affecting of all the filmed versions.
I think the reason this has endured as everyone's favorite film version of "A Christmas Carol" is, of course, Alastair Sim's amazing performance, but also because it is the least sentimental of all the film treatments. The ghosts aren't pretty young girls or comic figures; Tiny Tim isn't cutesy or twinkling, but rather an unlovely, honestly sweet young boy, and London doesn't look like a Christmas card, but dark and properly harsh. Scrooge's reclamation is hard-won, but when he is reclaimed, Sim's transformation of the character is miraculous -- he actually looks like a different person.
The touch I love the most, though, is the old ballad "Barbara Allen" played through the scenes with Fan and Fred -- it never fails to make me tear up. This movie is as much a holiday must-see as "A Christmas Story" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas."
I Capture the Castle (2003)
A wonderful book; a badly-cast film.
I was thrilled when I learned this book was being turned into a movie, but was dismayed at the casting of the American brothers. Could they have chosen two more boring actors? I doubt it. At least Henry Thomas can act, but he's much, much too wimpy and lightweight for the romantic Simon (I weep for the wasted opportunity that would have been Paul Rudd in this role) and Marc Blucas is a big, big zero here. He's a terrible, stiff, unconvincing actor (as he was on Buffy and in nearly everything else he's ever been in) and impossible to swallow as the object of the flighty Rose's affections.
Still, Romola Garai and Rose Byrne were lovely as Cassandra and Rose, even though the central romances in the story were subverted by the performances of Thomas and Blucas. I was initially appalled by the idea of Bill Nighy and especially Tara Fitzgerald as the girls' parents, but both were quite good. It's too bad one can't totally ignore the two male leads and just concentrate on the good actors, but as they're central to the story, it's impossible. As such, this is a lackluster film adaptation of a wonderful book.