Frank L. Baum‘s book The Wizard of Oz was a downer when it reveals that Oz is a fake. Either he’s posing as a wizard to stop the anarchy that the bad witches represent or the picture show is his way of fitting into the magical world. The adaptation’s loyal to the source material, as Dorothy’s (Judy Garland) shitty life in the middle of nowhere changes when a hurricane transports her into the magical world where, among many things, she meets Glinda the Good Witch of the North. ‘I beg your pardon, but, I’ve never heard of a beautiful witch before.’
She’s not that pretty. And for a good witch she’s not hesitant to make a girl walk alone in heels with three strange men. Or the ‘munchkin’ explosion – this is the kind of high quality film criticism you can expect from me – at ‘The Witch is Dead’ number, one of the munchkins being a very tall child. There was like a hundred of them MGM, you can’t give up now! Yes, seeing this as a young adult, I couldn’t help but snark at some of the film’s dream logic or gay innuendo.
But as the colour sets in, the performances become livelier. Matt Mazur wrote about Margaret Hamilton’s, but my MVP is Ray Bolger. Playing Hunk, his klutziness during the BW parts dialed down to 1930s bit-part standards, but when Dorothy meets Bolger as Scarecrow his physicality astounds. Along with this technicolour cast he is more believable, ushering a new era in cinema. Colour doesn’t hide anything. This should have won Best Picture despite the competition, because it presents a challenge for movies to reach new heights.
That doesn’t mean it abandons all ‘older’ methods and cues. The ‘oh-we-oh’ tune sounds like something you’d hear in a film half a decade earlier than this one but it doesn’t make the film feel dated. The way the film can borrow little hints from older and newer styles is simply magical.
Speaking of Judy Garland, Judgment of Nuremberg is playing at the Lightbox today at 6:30. Vincent Fleming’s The Wizard of Oz is part of TIFF in the Park showing selected musical films. Tomorrow’s is The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.
- This isn’t Kansas Dorothy (growingyoungereachday.wordpress.com)
Doing this post on a whim. Much more actresses have one or two great movies a year, but due to realizing that the great Claudia Cardinale has been in three great movies in 1963, I decided to do some time-wasting and find out which other women have had the same luck.
Yes, I’ll admit that I’ve only seen Cardinale and Williams’ full list while the rest are below because I’ve seen one or two of each actress’ movies. Many of the women on the list are also here because of their supporting roles. It’s hard to carry a great film. Can you imagine trying to do the same for three?
Also, I know nothing about the silent era but I’m sure that I’ll eventually learn that the likes of Lillian Gish and Janet Gaynor have hat tricks under their CV’s, the latter winning the first Best Actress Oscar for three performances. It’s also harder to get names of actresses and movies belonging to world cinema. If I could only double myself and extend the hours of a day.
And yes, Williams is here because as much as I hate parts of Shutter Island, I know a lot of you love it. Although I’m sure her 2011 is looking better than her 2010. Here goes the list.
Olivia de Haviland – 1939 – (Gone with the Wind, Dodge City, The Private Lives of Elizabeth of Essex)
Barbara Stanwyck – 1941 – (The Lady Eve, Meet John Doe, Ball of Fire)
Grace Kelly – 1954 – (Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, The Country Girl)
Claudia Cardinale – 1963 – (8 1/2, The Leopard, The Pink Panther)
Faye Dunaway – 1974 – (Chinatown, The Towering Inferno, Four Musketeers)
Patricia Clarkson – 2003 (Dogville, The Station Agent, All the Real Girls)
Michelle Williams – 2010 – (Shutter Island, Blue Valentine, Meek’s Cutoff)
A factor in making this list involved representing each decade, one actress per decade to be more frank. I chose de Haviland over Bette Davis’s movies in the same year, Kelly over Marilyn Monroe‘s 1953 (it hurt me to do that), Driver over Kirsten Dunst (Driver might be disqualified since her involvement in Mononoke only came through 1998/1999, when Miramax released the film stateside, but Dunst 1999 films are guilty pleasures that I can’t admit to the public yet) or Clarkson over Maggie Gyllenhaal’s 2002. Besides, this post is a picture overload already, as is most of my posts in this blog.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but there’s no actress in the list that has an 80’s hat trick. Great roles and movie seemed spread out generously among the Meryl Streep generation and the Brat Pack girls.
Lastly, I’ll make a list for the boys and the directors, or make hat trick lists for consecutive years or movies, but only if you ask nicely. Or better yet, if you could do the rest 😛
- Princess Mononoke – Japanese Anime (8thumbsup.wordpress.com)
A blogger once said that you need life experience to be a critic. That’s not true. You need life experience to be a great artist.
Zangiku Monogatari – or translated in English, The Story of the Late Chrysanthemums – is about a young actor named Kikunosuke Onoue (Shôtarô Hanayagi), an adopted child of a fifth generation actor, Kikoguro (Gonjurô Kawarazaki). The rules of the game are nepotism instead of meritocracy, and Kikonosuke gets critiqued behind his back while praised in his presence. His brother’s wet-nurse Otoku decides to break that chain by telling him that her aunt doesn’t like his acting. From this revelation, the audience knows that these kids are gonna end up being together through thick and thin, but this isn’t your typical love story. It’s just as much about Kiku’s career, the battle and benefits of both nepotism and meritocracy as they unfold in 19th century Japanese metropolises.
Mizoguchi makes the decision here to use wide shots and long takes. Yes, those long takes lost my attention span a few times, but they depict a city street or a room as a way of reminding us of the old form of the theatre. The characters are in the environment and we’re watching them for minutes without blinking, like we would on a stage. Their emotions radiating through the volumes of their voice, making close-ups unnecessary. Some of the low angles remind us of a view that a lucky audience member would have in a real theatre. Or medium angle shots between walls or tree trunks or plants, from the view of someone peeping into Kiku’s relationships and interactions with others. The most obvious instances of close-ups are of Otoku, either getting fired or reading a flyer promoting Kiku’s performance, and seriously thinking about going even if she’s forbidden.
Kiku chooses Otoku, making his surrogate father disown him. He has to go to Osaka where the competition for actors isn’t as bad. He leaves the theatre with no fans to greet him unlike the other actors. When Kiku’s family make a stop in Osaka for a performance, Otoku pleads for them to give him a chance. Kiku plays a geisha and kills it. The further the camera is from the characters, the more public the place is. That doesn’t stop Kiku from showing his joy to his father, as everyone else watches.
The actors recall the Kabuki acting of the era they’re portraying, complete with gestures and physical restrictions due to their costumes. Hanayagi’s acting choices are an acquired taste, being lifeless and wooden in the first act of the film, keeping in mind that he was playing naiveté and convinces the audience that he’s more than half his real age. He eventually evokes either mean-spiritedness or insightful pathos depending on his fortunes. The actress plays Otoku is the most consistent, caring and emotional, which counts for good acting I guess. Her heart breaks when he’s away from her, which physically manifests through illnesses. I do find her character too passive, altruistic, and distressed. Her sacrifice to petition for a better job for him doesn’t feel earned. What good does it do her that she’s a martyr?
Long story long, while looking for reviews of Andrei Rublev on Google, I read the one from a blog called Precious Bodily Fluids. If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, yes, my blog name’s still weirder. His blog post on the film is the second or third entry on Google by the way, whoo hoo.
Anyway, while he writes about he movie he also mentions six other epic films. Lists suck, but that doesn’t stop me from making them. Gone with the Wind, Seven Samurai, Ben-Hur 1959, The Leopard, The Deer Hunter, Full Metal Jacket, The Thin Red Line. And yes, it’s mostly a boy’s club. Just for when you were wondering.
A Star is Born (George Cukor, 1954)
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Ronald Neame, 1969)
Salo (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1975)
Se7en (David Fincher, 1995)
Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
Ruth from FlixChatter responded to being tagged to do a 15 Directors Meme post she did two-ish weeks ago, and I did some proud begging for her to tag me because I like talking about my favourite directors. Or I think I did – it was hard going past 12. I changed the list compared to my pre-list on her comments section. And it took me a while to respond.
What I look for in a director’s work is beautiful cinematography, theatre-like scripts or energy, decent representation of strong female characters. Lastly, a sense of humour, preferably dark, like coffee I would only drink if I was lazy. List.
- Stanley Kubrick (Full Metal Jacket)
- Charles Laughton (The Night of the Hunter)
- Christopher Nolan (Inception)
- Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill Vol. II)
- Woody Allen (Sleeper, Another Woman)
- Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line ’98)
- Elia Kazan (East of Eden)
- Mike Nichols (The Graduate)
- Michael Haneke (Code Inconnu)
- Jane Campion (Bright Star)
- George Cukor (A Star is Born ’54)
- Alfonso Cuaron (Y Tu Mama Tambien)
- Sidney Lumet (Serpico)
- Lars von Trier (Dogville)
- Fritz Laing (Fury)
And now I have to tag ETA: six bloggers who have lives.
Jose, who talks about classics with wicked witches and fugly whores.
Simon, who reminds us that David Bowie played Andy Warhol in a movie.
Andy, who’s going to see Ellen Ripley cut a bitch.
Nick and Nathaniel. One’s very chipper and the other’s a quipper. Both are getting me really excited for the Oscars.
Farran, who reminded me that my birthday was also Constance Bennett Day.
Via FlixChatter via Encore’s World of TV and Film via SortaThatGuy (can I use your first names if we’ve talked to each other on Twitter or commented on each other’s blog) is a 31 Day Movie Meme. I downloaded movies up to the eighth day, I spreadsheeted it, I mapped out all the movies I saw so that every period got representation in proportionate to how many I’ve seen in said era, or tried to anyway. But I had no time. Thankfully, FourofThem did it in short form and I decided to do the same.
Day 01 – Sequel that should not have been made
—American Psycho II: All American Girl (2002). I saw the ending and it was enough. Poor Mila Kunis.
Day 02 – Movie that you think more people should see
—Ballast (2008). I was alone in the theatre watching this. With a whopping 1000 votes from iMDb. See it, nerds, what are you waiting for?
Day 03 – Favorite Oscar-nominated movie from most recent ballot
— Bright Star (2009). Never changed my opinion on it once. Bu then I’m an English/Art History double major so this was up my alley.
Day 04 – Movie that makes you laugh every time
— In Bruges (2008). Someone should bar me from watching Harry Potter, because if I go and every time Voldemort comes on screen, I’ll scream “Don’t facking talk to me about my cunt facking keeds!”
Day 05 – Movie you loathe
—Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005). Fucking hate Tyler Perry and his sensationalism.
Day 06 – Movie that makes you cry every time
—A Star is Born ’54. Judy’s monologues make me remember that I have a soul.
Day 07 – Least favorite movie by a favorite actor or actress
—Revolutionary Road (2008) for Kate Winslet. Made her pretty only on the outside.
Day 08 – Movie that should be required high school viewing
—Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936). Weird choice, but lets the freaks know that they can fight back. Also Mysterious Skin (2004).
Day 09 – Best scene ever
–The argument between the titular Malcolm X (1992) and his wife. Fences can’t be as good as that.
Day 10 – A movie you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
—Breaking and Entering (2006). Apparently Minghella’s worst film, but so emotionally resonant.
Day 11 – A movie that disappointed you
—Nine (2009), but as a good gay boy I had to haul my ass and my sister’s to see it anyway.
Day 12 – Best soundtrack/background music in a scene
—Vertigo (1958), especially the Prelude and Rooftop scene, judging by my iPod play count.
Day 13 – Favorite animated movie
—Up (2009), or if parts of Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) count. I’m not good at my animation after I turned 13.
Day 14 – Favorite film in black and white
—Waterloo Bridge. It has that one scene that does wonders for black and white cinematography, but what I care about is the content.
Day 15 – Best musical
—Chicago (2002), again, judging by my iPod count. And because it’s really slutty.
Day 16 – Your guilty pleasure movie
—Clueless (1995). When you look at it, it’s really a movie about Rodney King and OJ.
Day 17 – Favorite series of related movies
—The Godfather (1972, 1974, 1990), because I’m boring, and because the last one’s cute.
Day 18 – Favorite title sequence
—Twelve Monkeys (1995), then the tapestry-like The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943).
Day 19 – Best movie cast
—Gosford Park (2001). Rarely do you see Kristin Scott Thomas and other great British actors and actresses together.
Day 20 – Favorite kiss
—Before Night Falls (2000), when a random man takes his glasses off and kisses the audience. Reminds me of many I’ve had.
Day 21 – Favorite romantic couple
–Woody and Diane in Annie Hall (1977). Woody’s disgusting, but their chemistry is ideal.
Day 22 – Favorite final scene/line
–“Adios,” by the Marlene Dietrich character in Touch of Evil. (1958) Fierceness.
Day 23 – Best explosion or action scene
—The Big Heat (1953). No fire, all camera movement. I could feel my walls shake.
Day 24 – Quote you use most often
–“My art has been considered vaginal by critics, which bothers some men. Vagina.” The Big Lebowski (1998). Imagine medium-sized gAsian say that, and then laugh before the next line.
Day 25 – A movie you plan on watching (old or new)
—Get Low (2010), a movie about a swan song, because I’ve seen a lot lately. If I stay in the country, that is.
Day 26 – Freakishly weird movie ending
—Fat Girl (2001). Doesn’t even prepare anyone.
Day 27 – Best villain
—Mieko Harada in Ran (1985), then Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate ’62.
Day 28 – Most over-hyped movie
—No Country for Old Men (2007). This started the iMDb thing of giving ten stars to any male centred movie that just came out.
Day 29 – Movie you have watched more than ten times
–The closest is Gone with the Wind (1939), with at least four.
Day 30 – Saddest death scene
—The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005)
Day 31 – Scene that made you stand up and cheer
–The explosion in The Thing (1982), aided by the crowd.