What was the last movie you watched?

Mike Bulgakov

G.O.A.T.
"House" by Nobuhiko Obatashi

A surreal dreamstate with amazing visuals and cinematographic wizardry.


NOBUHIKO OBAYASHI
House
How to describe Nobuhiko Obayashi’s indescribable 1977 movie House (Hausu)? As a psychedelic ghost tale? A stream-of-consciousness bedtime story? An episode of Scooby-Doo as directed by Mario Bava? Any of the above will do for this hallucinatory head trip about a schoolgirl who travels with six classmates to her ailing aunt’s creaky country home and comes face-to-face with evil spirits, a demonic house cat, a bloodthirsty piano, and other ghoulish visions, all realized by Obayashi via mattes, animation, and collage effects. Equally absurd and nightmarish, House might have been beamed to Earth from some other planet. Never before available on home video in the United States, it’s one of the most exciting cult discoveries in years.
https://www.criterion.com/films/27523-house
 

Mike Bulgakov

G.O.A.T.
"The Candidate" (1972 film playing on TCM)

I found it pretty drab in terms of characters and the dramatic elements that make a good story, but it’s amusing and the cynicism seems even more perceptive today.

 

ollinger

G.O.A.T.
"Casualties of War" (1989)

War, it seems, can damage one's sense of morality. Point taken. Some overacting by Sean Penn and Michael J. Fox drive the point home relentlessly.
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
As many of you already know the pandemic has delayed the current awards season by several weeks with the Oscars unseasonably scheduled for 4/25, so TCM's annual 31 Days of Oscar is following suit, running from 4/1 till 5/1 with 10-12 new titles each day:


I'd say I've seen just over half of these Oscar winners/nominees, and most of 'em are indeed worth seeing and I'll try to post more frequent updates in the coming weeks. But I just don't have the time or the patience to go through every title and pick out the best, so I'll just stick to my usual routine of highlighting (mostly) my faves and sorting them by date of expiration. Here they are, with alternate streaming services in parentheses (I'm incorporating the remainder of my last list along with choice new titles in between, so some of the below may not be Oscar nominees):

4/5 - Anna Christie, Camille, The Heiress
4/6 - All Fall Down, Bonnie and Clyde (Netflix, HBO Max), Splendor in the Grass, World on a Wire/Welt am Draht (Criterion Channel)
4/7 - I Shot Jesse James (HBO, Criterion), Two Weeks in Another Town
4/8 - Adam's Rib (HBO), the original 1933 King Kong (HBO), Psycho
4/9 - All the King's Men, Almost Famous, Anatomy of a Murder, The Awful Truth, The Band Wagon, Paris, Texas (HBO, Criterion), Wise Blood (HBO, Criterion)
4/10 - Ben-Hur, Born Yesterday, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Carol (Netflix), The Jazz Singer dir. Alan Crosland
4/11 - Charade (Amazon Prime, Fandor, MUBI), The Circus (HBO, Criterion, Fandor, FlixFling), Citizen Kane (HBO), Dark Victory, Vertigo
4/13 - Il bidone (Criterion), Jewel Robbery
4/15 - Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (HBO)
4/16 - The Birds, Finian's Rainbow, Nanook of the North (HBO)
4/17 - The Searchers (HBO), Stagecoach (Prime, HBO, Criterion)
4/19 - Late Spring (HBO, Criterion)
4/22 - A Woman's Face dir. Cukor
4/26 - Pépé le Moko (HBO, Criterion), Show Boat dir. Whale, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
4/27 - Jezebel dir. Wyler
4/28 - Romeo and Juliet dir. Cukor
4/29 - Rebel Without a Cause (HBO)
5/1 - An American in Paris
5/2 - Au revoir les enfants (HBO, Criterion), Blithe Spirit (HBO, Criterion)
5/3 - Bullitt (HBO)

Before I get to the replies, some of you might remember moi going gaga over Garbo's Marguerite Gautier in Camille (click the above link if not), but to see if I was being overly dismissive when I named it the only convincing performance of her career (that I know of) I fast-forwarded through Anna Christie last nite to catch (re-)glimpses of the Hollywood icon in her first sound picture. Well, she might have loosened up in later roles - and I still think she had moments of inspiration in Mata Hari, and maybe The Painted Veil - but it turns out my memory wasn't playing tricks this time:


This scene, with Garbo's famous "Gimme a whiskey" opening line, works better than the rest because her character is supposed to be guarded here, but when she spills her dark secrets in the climactic showdown (link only as this is the 1930 German version*) it's hard to ignore her self-conscious gestures which better function as relics from the silent era. They are semiotic devices, not organic expressions, from an actress clearly not yet comfortable in her own skin. And while I still hold Clarence Brown to account for failing to realize, like Cukor six years later, that his star must be thrust into situations rather than create them, that the rest of the cast was up to the task does suggest Garbo's glamor and mystique did most of her acting in the eyes of her captive audience.

*In the early years of sound pictures Hollywood used to produce foreign-language versions of its biggest releases with most or all of the original cast replaced by native speakers.)

And in that vein let me now moderate my harsh original verdict on Robert Taylor's performance in Camille as Armand Duval. My observation remains valid that he's too timid to make a convincing paramour of Garbo's, but in Taylor's case it's his eyes that make up the difference. Witness how, near the end of this clip, they telegraph his love at first sight:


No wonder Garbo gushes, "I didn't know a rich man [confusing Taylor's Duval with Henry Daniell's Baron de Varville] ever looked like that."

And notice the subtle changes in those puppy dog eyes of his when Garbo's Marguerite, after her fateful meeting with Armand's father, hoodwinks him into thinking she's been leading him on all along:


Not so hard to see why Garbo would initiate that last embrace with his longing gaze squarely in front of hers, and how any woman would struggle to let go when he's so clearly holding onto his last shred of hope.

In fact I'm now tempted to place this couple in the same company as my two all-time faves: Danielle Darrieux's eponymous heroine & Vittorio De Sica's Baron Fabrizio Donati in The Earrings of Madame de.../Madame de… and Burt Lancaster's Don Fabrizio Corbera & Claudia Cardinale's Angelica Sedara in The Leopard/Il gattopardo. Taylor's watered-down virility somewhat ruins the chemistry for me, but he's even more dashing than De Sica and Lancaster (at least at their respective age) and of course Garbo is Garbo. I've probably fast-forwarded through Camille at least a dozen times by now, LOL, and it has these two glorious specimens to thank.

Moving on to Carol, which just had its premiere on TCM. Gotta say the picture quality ain't quite top-notch - Blu-ray clearly beats TCM here, and IIRC even Netflix yielded better results - but you probably won't notice much as it was shot by veteran Edward Lachman in Super 16 mm to evoke the '50s. A more substantial beef: in the intro Ben Mankiewicz quotes Haynes as saying he wanted to explore the two separate worlds inhabited by the two heroines (Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara), but as I've noted he makes the all-too-common mistake (at least among LGBTQ filmmakers) of exploiting the allure of lesbian love to gloss over the real class conflict that would not be so easily avoided IRL. Maybe I should watch the whole thing again to double-check, because whatever its flaws the ending is well-nigh unbeatable:


Now the replies:

"House" by Nobuhiko Obatashi

A surreal dreamstate with amazing visuals and cinematographic wizardry.
Caught this when Criterion was offering free weekly titles on Hulu and I'd yet to sign up for the extra subscription. It's indeed a wild romp, and though I hardly remember any of its silly plot (or what could be called that at any rate) I can still recall LOLing at some of the more outrageous animated scenes.

But you really should check out A Page of Madness, Teinosuke Kinugasa's long-forgotten 1926 avant-garde masterpiece which was revived only when the director discovered it 45 years(!) later in his storehouse. Here's a typical snapshot of the film's sui generis expressionism:


One of the few works of art that earns the hackneyed ahead-of-its-time accolade, especially since Japan had no precursor to begin win. Love it or hate it, this work of inspired madness will make an impact.

P.S. Wanted to answer your Q about Bresson in some detail, so maybe next time.

It's good Friday and King of Kings is on once more. Still makes my eyes water. So soft. haha The memories.
Even as a big Ray admirer I've long avoided this one cuz several scathing reviews made it sound like an impossibly tasteless Hollywood blockbuster, but now I know better and really should give it a go sometime. Somewhat surprised that TCM didn't bring it back for Easter (probably due to the ongoing Oscar showcase, but still).
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
As many of you already know the pandemic has delayed the current awards season by several weeks with the Oscars unseasonably scheduled for 4/25, so TCM's annual 31 Days of Oscar is following suit, running from 4/1 till 5/1 with 10-12 new titles each day:


I'd say I've seen just over half of these Oscar winners/nominees, and most of 'em are indeed worth seeing and I'll try to post more frequent updates in the coming weeks. But I just don't have the time or the patience to go through every title and pick out the best, so I'll just stick to my usual routine of highlighting (mostly) my faves and sorting them by date of expiration. Here they are, with alternate streaming services in parentheses (I'm incorporating the remainder of my last list along with choice new titles in between, so some of the below may not be Oscar nominees):

4/5 - Anna Christie, Camille, The Heiress
4/6 - All Fall Down, Bonnie and Clyde (Netflix, HBO Max), Splendor in the Grass, World on a Wire/Welt am Draht (Criterion Channel)
4/7 - I Shot Jesse James (HBO, Criterion), Two Weeks in Another Town
4/8 - Adam's Rib (HBO), the original 1933 King Kong (HBO), Psycho
4/9 - All the King's Men, Almost Famous, Anatomy of a Murder, The Awful Truth, The Band Wagon, Paris, Texas (HBO, Criterion), Wise Blood (HBO, Criterion)
4/10 - Ben-Hur, Born Yesterday, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Carol (Netflix), The Jazz Singer dir. Alan Crosland
4/11 - Charade (Amazon Prime, Fandor, MUBI), The Circus (HBO, Criterion, Fandor, FlixFling), Citizen Kane (HBO), Dark Victory, Vertigo
4/13 - Il bidone (Criterion), Jewel Robbery
4/15 - Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (HBO)
4/16 - The Birds, Finian's Rainbow, Nanook of the North (HBO)
4/17 - The Searchers (HBO), Stagecoach (Prime, HBO, Criterion)
4/19 - Late Spring (HBO, Criterion)
4/22 - A Woman's Face dir. Cukor
4/26 - Pépé le Moko (HBO, Criterion), Show Boat dir. Whale, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
4/27 - Jezebel dir. Wyler
4/28 - Romeo and Juliet dir. Cukor
4/29 - Rebel Without a Cause (HBO)
5/1 - An American in Paris
5/2 - Au revoir les enfants (HBO, Criterion), Blithe Spirit (HBO, Criterion)
5/3 - Bullitt (HBO)

Before I get to the replies, some of you might remember moi going gaga over Garbo's Marguerite Gautier in Camille (click the above link if not), but to see if I was being overly dismissive when I named it the only convincing performance of her career (that I know of) I fast-forwarded through Anna Christie last nite to catch (re-)glimpses of the Hollywood icon in her first sound picture. Well, she might have loosened up in later roles - and I still think she had moments of inspiration in Mata Hari, and maybe The Painted Veil - but it turns out my memory wasn't playing tricks this time:


This scene, with Garbo's famous "Gimme a whiskey" opening line, works better than the rest because her character is supposed to be guarded here, but when she spills her dark secrets in the climactic showdown (link only as this is the 1930 German version*) it's hard to ignore her self-conscious gestures which better function as relics from the silent era. They are semiotic devices, not organic expressions, from an actress clearly not yet comfortable in her own skin. And while I still hold Clarence Brown to account for failing to realize, like Cukor six years later, that his star must be thrust into situations rather than create them, that the rest of the cast was up to the task does suggest Garbo's glamor and mystique did most of her acting in the eyes of her captive audience.

*In the early years of sound pictures Hollywood used to produce foreign-language versions of its biggest releases with most or all of the original cast replaced by native speakers.)

And in that vein let me now moderate my harsh original verdict on Robert Taylor's performance in Camille as Armand Duval. My observation remains valid that he's too timid to make a convincing paramour of Garbo's, but in Taylor's case it's his eyes that make up the difference. Witness how, near the end of this clip, they telegraph his love at first sight:


No wonder Garbo gushes, "I didn't know a rich man [confusing Taylor's Duval with Henry Daniell's Baron de Varville] ever looked like that."

And notice the subtle changes in those puppy dog eyes of his when Garbo's Marguerite, after her fateful meeting with Armand's father, hoodwinks him into thinking she's been leading him on all along:


Not so hard to see why Garbo would initiate that last embrace with his longing gaze squarely in front of hers, and how any woman would struggle to let go when he's so clearly holding onto his last shred of hope.

In fact I'm now tempted to place this couple in the same company as my two all-time faves: Danielle Darrieux's eponymous heroine & Vittorio De Sica's Baron Fabrizio Donati in The Earrings of Madame de.../Madame de… and Burt Lancaster's Don Fabrizio Corbera & Claudia Cardinale's Angelica Sedara in The Leopard/Il gattopardo. Taylor's watered-down virility somewhat ruins the chemistry for me, but he's even more dashing than De Sica and Lancaster (at least at their respective age) and of course Garbo is Garbo. I've probably fast-forwarded through Camille at least a dozen times by now, LOL, and it has these two glorious specimens to thank.

Moving on to Carol, which just had its premiere on TCM. Gotta say the picture quality ain't quite top-notch - Blu-ray clearly beats TCM here, and IIRC even Netflix yielded better results - but you probably won't notice much as it was shot by veteran Edward Lachman in Super 16 mm to evoke the '50s. A more substantial beef: in the intro Ben Mankiewicz quotes Haynes as saying he wanted to explore the two separate worlds inhabited by the two heroines (Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara), but as I've noted he makes the all-too-common mistake (at least among LGBTQ filmmakers) of exploiting the allure of lesbian love to gloss over the real class conflict that would not be so easily avoided IRL. Maybe I should watch the whole thing again to double-check, because whatever its flaws the ending is well-nigh unbeatable:


Now the replies:



Caught this when Criterion was offering free weekly titles on Hulu and I'd yet to sign up for the extra subscription. It's indeed a wild romp, and though I hardly remember any of its silly plot (or what could be called that at any rate) I can still recall LOLing at some of the more outrageous animated scenes.

But you really should check out A Page of Madness, Teinosuke Kinugasa's long-forgotten 1926 avant-garde masterpiece which was revived only when the director discovered it 45 years(!) later in his storehouse. Here's a typical snapshot of the film's sui generis expressionism:


One of the few works of art that earns the hackneyed ahead-of-its-time accolade, especially since Japan had no precursor to begin win. Love it or hate it, this work of inspired madness will make an impact.

P.S. Wanted to answer your Q about Bresson in some detail, so maybe next time.



Even as a big Ray admirer I've long avoided this one cuz several scathing reviews made it sound like an impossibly tasteless Hollywood blockbuster, but now I know better and really should give it a go sometime. Somewhat surprised that TCM didn't bring it back for Easter (probably due to the ongoing Oscar showcase, but still).
Good to see an Easter film among your faves, that bodes well for you going forward. Congrats.

A list of my faves would contain a tiny bit of overlap with your list above, but would be slanted heavily in another direction, more Shakespeare and Biblical material.

Fortunately, the delay will give me time to assemble a definitive list of great films. I know that you can hardly wait for the end product.
 

Bartelby

Bionic Poster
Anti-Roman Empire films should be banned! The fountainhead of Western civilization is mercilessly caricatured in Ben Hur. Messala was just looking for love!

Good to see an Easter film among your faves, that bodes well for you going forward. Congrats.

A list of my faves would contain a tiny bit of overlap with your list above, but would be slanted heavily in another direction, more Shakespeare and Biblical material.

Fortunately, the delay will give me time to assemble a definitive list of great films. I know that you can hardly wait for the end product.
 
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Mike Bulgakov

G.O.A.T.
Caught this when Criterion was offering free weekly titles on Hulu and I'd yet to sign up for the extra subscription. It's indeed a wild romp, and though I hardly remember any of its silly plot (or what could be called that at any rate) I can still recall LOLing at some of the more outrageous animated scenes.

But you really should check out A Page of Madness, Teinosuke Kinugasa's long-forgotten 1926 avant-garde masterpiece which was revived only when the director discovered it 45 years(!) later in his storehouse. Here's a typical snapshot of the film's sui generis expressionism:

Looks interesting.

I am glad I watched “House” and it really caught my attention early, but by the midpoint it was growing on my nerves and I was impatient for it to end. Nobuhiko Obayashi directed commercials before making feature films, and it sort of felt like a series of surreal Japanese commercials. Obayashi has said that he lost childhood friends in Hiroshima, and the film was about the horror of his memories and the young post-Hiroshima generation. If I hadn’t watched the Criterion extras, I definitely wouldn’t have caught any of this.

Japanese films like this remind me of a whole side of Japan that I was oblivious to until my first adult visit about twenty years ago. I had known about the formalities, hierarchies, business culture, Yakuza, and some of the big name authors and filmmakers, but didn’t know about the wild side of the subcultures and entertainment. The culture of men drinking heavily after work and bushuru, the side streets of surreal fetish bars, the groups of teenagers in Roppongi dressed alike in the latest Tokyo fad, the strange psychedelic commercials and gameshows, the reading of manga fantasies on subways, and many other aspects of Tokyo took me by surprise. Japan is really interesting to me.



 

Mike Bulgakov

G.O.A.T.
David Lynch double:

Hadn't seen "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me" for many years.


I really like "Mulholland Drive" and have seen it a few times.

 
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Poisoned Slice

Bionic Poster
I was looking through Netflix and spied The quick and the dead. I was right on it.

We have Leonardo Di Caprio and Russell Crowe before they were famous. OK, slight exaggeration, but they were not the superstars they are now.

It's amusing when the woman is all ''Ace Hanlon is so hot.'' haha Really? Sure, for Kid (Leo) I could understand. Keith David promised so much. :cautious: Herod just smoking everybody.

Easy Western film with good ol fashioned happy ending.

Gene Herod Hackman is just rotten here (n) In a good way, of course.
 

Poisoned Slice

Bionic Poster
Kid thought he had reached his peak. Herod was having none of it. He knew Titanic was coming.

I'm so damned fast I can wake up at the crack of dawn, rob two banks, a train and a stage coach, shoot the tail feathers off a duck's ass at 300 feet, and still be back in bed before you wake up next to me.
 
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ollinger

G.O.A.T.
"The Upside" (2019)

Bryan Cranston as the wealthy white guy, and Kevin Hart as the black ex-con he hires and befriends. If you think this sounds like a woeful and embarassing collection of stereotypes, you're right. Based on a French film that was much more favorably received. See the French one.
 

Harry_Wild

G.O.A.T.
Burt Lancaster in: Go Tell The Spartans!
Lancaster paid out of pocket to get this movie finished!
It about U.S. Expeditionary rage tag group before U.S. troops were deployed
2 year later.

Movie was a flop at the box office but was one of Lancaster favorite of his movies.
 
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