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Michael M

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Posted: 2 years, 11 months ago at Mar 5 16:33

I'm currently working on a new project and maybe you could help me out.

It's pretty simple.

You just need to click on the link underneath and provide your 10 favorite movies.


Thanks in advance! :)
Posted: 8 years, 11 months ago at Mar 31 0:30
thanx 4 your vote Micheal :)
Posted: 9 years, 1 month ago at Jan 10 7:28
37 films?! Just with Myrna Loy?! That it just...wow! I haven't even watched that many films with Cary Grant! And I watch Cary Grant all the time!
And out of all what film did you enjoyed the most?
Posted: 9 years, 1 month ago at Jan 9 22:45
You Can't Take It With You is so beautiful and touching I can't even drscribe how much I loved it. I think it's the perfect 30's film.
I'm really interested in Broadway Bill since I saw it on your list. I really admire Warner Baxter. He just appeals to me. Would you tell me more about it?
Posted: 10 years, 2 months ago at Dec 30 0:05
Yeah, Go West was a very pleasant surprise. Didn't know though that Buster Keaton worked on that with them, that's cool. I'd watch Love Happy again before I'd revisit The Big Store, if that's at all helpful. Course I doubt I'll ever re-watch The Big Store. Ugh.
Posted: 10 years, 2 months ago at Dec 25 23:37
For being a great friend and follower, I thank you and wish you a...
Posted: 10 years, 2 months ago at Dec 10 4:40
hi how are you?
please check my new poll
Posted: 10 years, 4 months ago at Oct 15 19:45
About "Fried Green Tomatoes" - I did like that bee scene, but for different reasons that you. I wasn't in suspense about if the character would get hurt, because it wasn't established that she had a bee allergy or anything.

I just assumed (correctly) that she was some kind of weirdo who doesn't mind being covered with bees, so I watched the scene with a dread fascination wondering "What the HELL is she doing and why the hell isn't she freaked out???"
By the way, bees freak me out too!

I thought the movie actually was engaging earlier than that, when the crazy shit happened with the train. I've seen stuff like that in plenty of other movies, but it was still a "Whoa!" moment for me. The movie didn't lose me until the bee scene, it actually lost me a little later. =P
Posted: 10 years, 5 months ago at Sep 19 0:25
Thanks so much for the comments, dear comrade. I loved them so. Your wit continues to charm and surprise me...I especially loved your use of the term 'Garbology'. So perfect! I really appreciate you taking the time to read that massive list and your funny comments on the pics I uploaded too. Your insight into those movies Garbo could have made was cool to read.

What a treat it must have been watching "Queen Christina" and "Ninotchka" all in one day, and what a coincidence that you should experience them so close to my first exposure to the latter. I don't think I could handle both in a single day...just too much awesomeness for a 24 hour period.

I'm currently coming off an emotionally draining second viewing of "Queen Christina", exactly 12 months after the first time I saw it. This just goes to show that some good things are even sweeter when you've waited a long time for them - this applies to your comments on my list too. I was wondering how you'd react to the list and your reaction did not disappoint. Cheers, mate!
Posted: 10 years, 5 months ago at Sep 15 17:12
My new video is a tribute to Audrey Hepburn! Hope you like it!
Posted: 10 years, 6 months ago at Aug 30 6:13
Forgive me, Michael...for I have sinned. I didn't like "Gold Diggers of 1935" AT ALL. This is the first time I've disliked a Busby Berkley picture and it feels weird.

I waited and waited for the "Lullaby of Broadway" scene which had been hyped up by you and others and when it came, I was just as bored by it as the rest of the movie.

I guess at this point I've seen enough of this guy's movies to feel like sometimes he's formulaic in a detrimental way. Also, I officially can't stand Dick Powell, especially when he sings.

This reminds me of how I felt last month after I watched the second part of Ray Harryhausen's Sinbad trilogy. The same formula that worked before is being used, yet somehow, the magic is missing.

This movie felt less inspired to me than than other Berkley stuff I've seen. Maybe I just missed Ginger Rogers. =) Anyway, since you always have so many recommendations...I'm sure I'll see another one that I like soon enough.
Posted: 10 years, 6 months ago at Aug 21 23:25
Thank you for the vote :D
Posted: 10 years, 6 months ago at Aug 21 19:39
It took me a while to make this list so fill free to comment or vote :) Evolution of Godzilla
Posted: 10 years, 6 months ago at Aug 14 0:11
I just watched "The Swimmer".

You loved it.
We both loved it.

*Raises arms dramatically*

Posted: 10 years, 6 months ago at Aug 12 20:50
I'm impressed that you found something to say about my updated 'watched list', even though you knew which movies I was going to add since I told you about them recently. Yes, it was bittersweet getting to the final movie I had to see to complete G.G.'s filmography...and also disappointing because to me it was not one of her better movies.

I'm so pissed that some of her films are lost. It means I'll never be able to get the satisfaction of reading 'You have seen 100% of this person's movies' on listal, since people added films even more lost than "The Divine Woman" to the database.

I've at least seen the couple of minutes of "The Divine Woman" that are available on DVD. Apparently the Swedish Film Institute found more of it in 2011. I want to go there someday and see those as well. Too bad the truly, completely lost ones won't ever be seen by me. Yes, I really wish I had a time machine so I could see them.

I had to stay up ridiculously late to watch "Mister Roberts", but it was worth the trouble. Unfortunately, I was too tired to make it a triple feature and watch "A Big Hand For The Little Lady" at 2:45 in the morning...another day perhaps.

By the way, I think I can now officially say you're the most generous voter on listal ever. You actually voted for a 'Best of' list with "Superbabies 2" on it! You are unbelievable! 99% of the time I just can't bring myself to vote for a list that gives even a little bit of praise to a movie I can't stand.
Edit: 10 years, 6 months ago
Posted: 10 years, 6 months ago at Aug 12 5:23
I decided to stay up late to watch "Mister Roberts" on television and while I'm still watching it, I couldn't wait till I was finished to come on here and tell you I love it and thank you for recommending it to me so emphatically.

This is exactly what I want from a movie with an all-star ensemble cast: every actor given a character with good dialogue that plays to their specific strengths as a screen personality.

And I'm pretty sure Cagney in this movie is going to be my favourite angry ship captain ever. Yes, I like him even more than Bogie in "The Caine Mutiny" and Laughton in your beloved "Mutiny on the Bounty".

I guess I shouldn't be surprised because I love Cagney so much, but one can never be sure that they'll love a movie and its performances just because the cast features some favourite familiar faces. Thankfully, this seems to be one that's just as good as it looks on paper. =)
Posted: 10 years, 7 months ago at Aug 2 3:39
The vacation is going very well. I had some free time between going to different places and seeing different things to check in with you and listal.

Sorry to hear about your computer. I know what that's like. I've been through excruciating computer problems over the years. I'm definitely going to make it a priority to track down that picture you recommended after I get home.

I edited my comment on your 'watched' list in response to your clarification that 'hate' is overstating your opinion. =) I agree that "Auntie Mame" ran too long.

I'm still interested in seeing "Papillion" because of its cast and reputation, even though several people with opinions I respect have made significant criticisms about it (i.e. you and Ebert).

Saturday promises to be a very cool day. I'm sure hearing from you then will make it even better.
Posted: 10 years, 7 months ago at Aug 2 0:08
I see that your mancrush on Gable continues with your latest viewing of a Gable movie. Can't say I blame ya. I also notice you added "The Swimmer" to your 'want to see' list. I watched it last summer and do not hesitate to give it a recommendation. It's Burt Lancaster's favourite of the movies he made and I understand why. Excellent picture.

Thanks for the vote and comment on my 'Julyary'. I can sympathize with your irritation towards the kid in "Walkabout", but I think you're exaggerating a bit. There's no way he was as infuriating as Jar Jar Binks. =P
Posted: 10 years, 7 months ago at Jul 24 3:31
I loved your rant and totally agree with it. It's very silly how much hoopla there is about a kid being born. That happens all over the world to countless people every week and day. I don't see any reason to care about this more than any other birth.

I managed to avoid hearing about the "news" for awhile, then eventually it was unavoidable. I was having lunch with a friend in a restaurant and "the big event" was all over the TVs in there.

I've got a lot of love for "The Gay Divorcee", but not quite as much as you, I reckon. It's funny that you bring up the stalker thing, because I had a similar thought. For awhile I was thinking, "Wait a minute, isn't this behaviour kind of 'stalker-ish'?".

Fred and Ginger somehow made it work, though. I don't know if anyone else could have done that. I feel like Astaire was too sweet to come across creepy. I loved "Night and Day" too. Will discuss it and San Fran with you in more detail soon.
Posted: 10 years, 7 months ago at Jul 23 3:32
Got yourself a hold of "The Lady Eve", eh? I know you said you tried to watch it before and couldn't get into it. Give it time.

I was thinking of what you said when I watched it again recently and I can see how the early scenes could annoy some people. It gets REALLY good after that, so I say the sometimes overwritten beginning is worth enduring.

Unfortunately, it gets a little sloppy towards the end as well. What a creamy, delicious middle, though! =) I hope you at least enjoy that part. It's one of Miss Stanwyck's finest hours, even if the script eventually lets her down a bit.

I'd like to know what you think of "Elmer Gantry" as well. I had a chance to watch it on television once. Then, I found out about its running time and felt too lazy to give it a shot. =)

About me

As of the beginning of 2016, I am no longer active on Listal. Mother of mercy, is this the end of Michael M? Nope, I now post content on my blog.

"Good Night and Good Luck."

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It’s Really Happening To Ya!

Posted : 8 years, 1 month ago on 30 December 2015 03:10 (A review of The Red Shoes)

It’s a close call but The Red Shoes is my favourite Kate Bush album; a record which really is all killer and no filler. This is her most pop sounding album, not that being necessarily being a bad thing as pop music is an art form itself, while the album still has Kate’s stamp of unusualness. The back cover of the album shows an array of fruit which is appropriate as The Red Shoes contains some of her most rich compositions. Bush was going through emotional turmoil at the time of the record’s production with a series of personal bereavements and it shows on the album. The album has both the happiest and saddest songs of her career with songs of both despair and hope.


To discuss the happy side of the album, the lead single Rubberband Girl feels very distant from the grace of Running Up That Hill or The Sensual World; instead, this is probably the most danceable song Kate Bush has ever done. If Kate Bush was going to do at least one song which echoes a mainstream pop dance song, at least it still has her trademark weirdness. If Kate had to outdo the epic nature of This Women’s Work with another haunting cinematic in nature ballad then she certainly achieved that with Moments of Pleasure; a song about the journey of life itself with every lyric being a piece of powerful imagery. There’s no point even identifying any single examples, all the lyrics to this song are so majestic.  Eat the Music is her most erotic song, loaded with sexual imagery in a seemingly innocent tune. Constellation of the Heart on the other hand, what a jam! This regularly appears on lists of worst/least best Kate Bush songs, but sorry, I absolutely love it. Why Should I Love You? features Prince on back vocals, and it’s clear he definitely had a part to play in this song’s evolution with the final product feeling like something out of Paisley Park; not that there’s anything wrong with it. I highly recommend listening to the un-Princed demo; I find both are excellent in their own way. The vocals on the demo are haunting even if the song does meander a bit; the album version tightens it up. Big Stripy Lie is the least pop/most avant-garde song on the album, one which isn’t pleasant to listen to but it’s not supposed to be; it is, after all, Kate taking on organised religion. The title track of the album continues the line of Kate’s Celtic infused songs, and in my view one of her most energetic; I don’t know about you but this song gets me pumped every time I hear it.


Moving away from happy street to depression alley, these sad songs on The Red Shoes contains some of Bush’s most powerful vocal performances from the impassioned plea in Top of the City (a song which may be about literally about suicide) to The Song of Solomon; her only song in which she curses. But if you think The Song of Solomon is sad bastard music then you ain’t heard You’re the One. What strikes me about this song is that there is no hidden meaning; the lyrics and obvious and direct. Right from the first line, “It’s alright I’ll come round when you’re not in, and I’ll pick up all my things”, you know what you’re in for. It’s such a desperate song and she sure saved the most tragic track for the end of the album. Every song on The Red Shoes is a fascinating piece of work; a rare album in which I can say I find every song memorable.

The songs on The Red Shoes were given more of a live band feel as it was proposed Kate would tour the album. Sadly this never materialised but what we got in its place was a 40-minute film featuring a selection of songs from The Red Shoes and directed and starring Kate entitled ‘The Line, The Cross and The Curve’. Anyone who is a fan of Kate Bush and her Kate Bush-isms, this film is pure nirvana. Granted Kate’s acting isn’t the greatest but its still Kate, I could watch her in a feature-length film and still be completely entranced even if her acting is dodgy. Ok, I’ll try and keep the fanboy sentiment aside. It seems hard to believe this is Kate Bush’s first (and only) foray as a film director as the direction itself is superb. It’s a low budget film but that doesn’t get in the way. Ok, the shot of her legs moving uncontrollably is a rather poor special effect and unintentionally funny but you could see it as part of the film’s camp appeal which has always been an element to Kate Bush’s work (dancing devils anyone?). The film is full of breathtaking imagery and recaptures the warm and soft colours reminiscent of Powell and Pressburger and even the ending is suspenseful. It’s a shame this was Kate Bush’s only foray into filmmaking; she later dismissed the film as “a load of bollocks”. How can an artist create such a powerful piece of work but for them to think little of it themselves? Unfortunately, this would be the last we’d see of Kate for 12 years.

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Is Murder an Art?

Posted : 8 years, 3 months ago on 23 November 2015 11:16 (A review of Rope)

Rope is one of those rare movies which is totally engrossing within less than five minutes, no doubt in my top 5 films by the master himself. Hitchcock successfully recreates the theatrical experience for the big screen. The set of Rope looks a bit fake and washed out and even the colour cinematography has a washed out feel to it, this all being part of the charm of course. The actors strand in unnatural positions when talking, avoiding having their back facing the audience when speaking; unnatural for real life that is, normal for the warped reality of a stage play. Above all, the entire movie takes place in real time through a series of ten minute takes and all this happens while there is a dead body in the room.


The characters played by Farley Granger and John Doll, as well as their teacher (James Stewart), hold a Nazi-like ideology that murder is “an art a few superior beings should be allowed to practice”, rather than those such as say, people who are Harvard undergraduates. The character’s discussion on the justification for murder is chilling as they make it sound scarily convincing. Rope is based a true story from the 1920’s and adapted into a play in 1929 although it’s clear the movie is set during the period it was made due to the fashions and the mentioning of movie stars from the era. It does seem unlikely in the aftermath of the atrocities during the Second World War that people would be so openly discussing such fascist ideas which were more common in the United States during the 20’s and 30’s.


The movie is about homosexuality although I didn’t catch onto this. I’m not the best person when it comes to identifying gay characters unless they’re really gay (hey sisters!). I’ve heard criticism of Stewart being miscast in the role as he apparently doesn’t make a convincing gay character thus the homosexual love triangle from the play is not present in the film. Judging the film on its own merits however Rope is a major step in his evolution as an actor, away from his gawky roles he was known for up until this point. His breakdown at the end is one of the acting highlights of his career and gives me the chills watching it.

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Once Upon a Time In Hill Valley

Posted : 8 years, 4 months ago on 21 October 2015 09:43 (A review of Back to the Future Part III)

*** This review contains spoilers ***

While I loved Back to the Future Part II for how frantic and fast-paced it is, I love Part III for largely the opposite reason; for being more simple and laid back. You need a dark chapter like Part II before you can have something more romantic and light-hearted like Part III. I love the western setting, there’s a certain innocence to it and is classic in every sense of the word. There’s monument valley, cowboys, Indians, a saloon as well as the atypical western music score. It’s also fun to see Marty and Doc in a date much further back in time as well as seeing the images, quotes and motifs from the first film reapplied in the western setting. The film shows us Hill Valley during its early days thus over the course of three films we get the entire history (and near future) of this town, making it a character onto itself even if the western setting does raise the question about Hill Valley’s geographical location.


Part III is the Doc’s movie; it gave his character a whole new dimension as his scientific ethics are challenged by falling in love for the first time. I don’t think many people realise it but Doc Brown is a pretty dark character. He blew his family’s fortune on inventions which don’t work (at least until he invented time travel) and is ostracised from the rest of Hill Valley so it’s about time something finally went right in his life and he finds a love. Plus it’s cute, two geeks falling in love who were previously separated by space and time for that added romantic element.


My only complaint with Part III (really my only complaint with any film in the trilogy) is that the film pulls the liar revealed, one of my most dreaded of movie clichés. We know the Doc and Clara are going to get back together towards the end of the movie, so do really need to have the movie abruptly stop for a period. But I’m more forgiving of it in this instance as their separation does contribute to the suspense during the film’s finale which is one of the highlights of the entire trilogy. The interactions between Marty and Doc, on the other hand, are just as great as ever, even more so that they have to find a way to get the DeLorean up to 88 miles per hour with the technology available to them in 1885. Although I do have to ask is Doc not going against his principles at the end by creating another time machine, oh well, it’s still a great ending. Back to the Future Part III is my least favourite of the series but I still love it. Unlike other film franchises, the trilogy is done and dusted. It’s not polluted with further sequels, prequels, remakes, reboots, re-whatevers, and hopefully, it will stay that way.


The End.

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It’s a Wonderful Future

Posted : 8 years, 4 months ago on 21 October 2015 09:41 (A review of Back to the Future Part II)

*** This review contains spoilers ***

Back to the Future Part II is one of the most relentless films I’ve ever seen. A one hour and forty minute film yet it feels like only a fraction of that length. As the characters are already introduced to us, the movie immediately gets the ball rolling. I love how frantic and faced paced Part II is; the movie almost never pauses and is one hell of a thrill ride. How many movie sequels return to the events of the first film? I can’t imagine the effort that went into recreating the scenes from the first film from different perspectives, it makes you see the first film in a whole different light. The film’s portrayal of 2015, on the other hand, is the future we all wish we could have, unlike most movies which predict a future of doom and gloom. I still want those self-tying shoelaces and the pizza which can be cooked with a few seconds - its fun watching all those future gizmos. Although they got some things right; the large, flat, wide screen TV with multiple channels or the market for nostalgia with the Cafe 80’s.


Part II takes The Empire Strikes Back route by being darker than the first film; the alternate 1985 is like an even darker version of It’s a Wonderful Life. Part II is Biff’s movie; while he doesn’t have the most complex personality. What makes him such a great character is all the different incarnations he has from different ages, timelines as well as his relatives. Thomas F. Wilson has by far the juiciest role in the film, playing no less than five variations of the same character and even having the young Biff interact with the old Biff. I find it funny that the universe could get destroyed just because this one guy has to be an asshole. Also, I’m not the first person to notice this but it’s dawned on me how much the alternate 1985 Biff looks like Donald Trump. If the first Back to the Future showed the good side of capitalism: this movie shows the bad side of capitalism.


Back to the Future Part II is one of the best examples I’ve seen of single actors playing multiple roles and how they seamlessly have them appear side by side and interact with each other. It still makes me wonder how they did those effects. Today, of course, they would be achieved using CGI but not back then and that’s part of the fun of these effects - on top of being cool to look at - you find yourself asking “how did they do that?” Robert Zemeicks had just directed the technically challenging Who Framed Rodger Rabbit and then directed a film as complex as this followed by directing the third Back to the Future; someone had a busy set of years working. They also got a new actress for the role of Jennifer and even then they manage to make the change in casting appear seamless.


Part II is by far the most and I do mean by far the most complex of the trilogy, these movies seriously screw with your head if you think about them too much. For example, (presuming time travel exists) if you go to the future you can’t actually meet your future self, as you skipped the intervening time period by travelling forward in time, your older self would not exist in that timeline; instead you would find your loved ones mourning over the day you disappeared or how about when old Biff returns to the future after giving his younger self the almanac, should he not have returned the future which he changed? I’ll admit the first time I saw it I found the plot a bit confusing; it took me a number of viewings until I finally figured out why the old Biff is in pain when he returns to 2015. I don’t see these inaccuracies as a bad thing if anything they strengthen our love for these films. Part of the fun of the trilogy is discussing the time travel mechanics and trying to find explanations for any possible inaccuracy. Also one other thing I’ve always wondered, why does Marty make no effort to protect the letter from the rain when his life depends on it? The scene in which Doc tries to explain to Marty that they are in an alternative 1985 must have been similar to the interactions between Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale when they were writing this film.


To Be Concluded...

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Spaceman From Pluto

Posted : 8 years, 4 months ago on 21 October 2015 09:40 (A review of Back to the Future)

*** This review contains spoilers ***

An aura of ‘cool’ permeates everything about Back to the Future. I could imagine seeing this film when it came out in 1985 (of course I wasn’t alive) and watching Marty McFly riding through Hill Valley on his skateboard while holding onto the back of a truck to The Power of Love by Huey Lewis and the News and thinking to myself, “omg, this is just the coolest film ever”. To me Marty McFly is the personification of cool, he rides skateboards, has a hot girlfriend, plays guitar. Yet his life is far from perfect; his dad is a dweb, his mum is an alcoholic and his uncle is in prison. This brings him down to a relatable level, plus he hangs out with a crazy old scientist. Why? I don’t want to know. I like the mystery of not knowing how this unconventional friendship came to be. The technical jargon between Marty and Doc is a never-ending pleasure to listen and even lines which shouldn’t be memorable are somehow highly quotable (“Wait a minute Doc, are you telling me that it’s 8:25...dam I’m late for school!”). Likewise taking the coolest looking, commercially available car and making that the time machine is yet another stroke of genius. Notice the scene in which we see the DeLorean for the first time; it’s impossible for Doc Brown to get inside the DeLorean while it is inside the truck so he would have had to get into the car and drive it into the truck and just wait there until Marty would show up and then drive it out and exit the car. I guess Doc thought he had made a time machine that looked so badass he really had to give it an impressive introduction to Marty. The whole movie has the best uses of product placements I’ve seen in a film; never before have I been happier to see advertisements for Pepsi and Texaco. The pacing of Back to the Future is perfect, the film never lets up; the odds keep stacking up against Marty and the suspense towards the end of the film is crazy.


Even though most of the film takes place in the 1950’s, Back To The Future is the film which defines the 1980’s. The ending in which Marty finds his family has been changed for the better and he gets the 4x4 vehicle he wanted; it’s a wish fulfilment fantasy and very much a capitalist, 80’s ideal. It’s an uplifting ending, providing you ignore the fact that Marty now has to adjust to living with a family he has no previous memory off. It makes sense that Marty goes back to the year 1955, the time period of when adolescence had a voice and began an economic force for the first time in history; plus just take a look at the title of what won Best Picture that year. Marty’s mother being attracted to her son is weirdly funny plus his mother being the opposite of her adult herself; makes you question your own parents claims about their day. I’m always struck by the moment when Marty tell his relatives in 1955 he has two TVs and they think he’s joking yet if you told someone in 1985 that households today own upwards of 6-7 TVs, they would have the same reaction.


Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Back To The Future; to me these are the trilogy of trilogies. The three film sagas I can watch again and again, always notice something new on each viewing, discussing every character to no end, coming up with crazy fan theories and trying to find an explanation to any possible plot hole. I’m sure there are still plenty of subtle gags, use of foreshadowing and who knows what lurked within this film which I still haven’t noticed. Is it possible for a film to be 100% perfect, one which has absolutely nothing wrong with it no matter how minuscule? I can’t think of another film (or series) which has a better use of repeating images and motifs. If I could only bring one DVD to a desert island, it would be my trilogy box set so I could spend my time uncovering every last secret in the trilogy. I love how self-contained the movies are; there are so closely connected to each other and the perfect film trilogy to watch in one go (as I have done several times).


But what is it that makes Back to the Future immensely beloved by such a wide audience? I can tell you why I love it but I have a weird and eccentric film taste. Perhaps it’s due to time travel is something we all fantasize about, as well as the idea of seeing your parents when they were young. The themes the film explores such as family, coming of age, the generation gap and the optimistic message of free will, that our future isn’t written; it’s whatever you make it.


To Be Continued...

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The Other Jimmy Stewart Christmas Movie

Posted : 8 years, 4 months ago on 11 October 2015 11:27 (A review of The Shop Around the Corner)

The Shop Around the Corner was the first Ernst Lubitsch film I saw and as soon as the characters started interacting with each other I instantly knew this was a guy who knew how to handle dialogue in what is referred to as the so-called ‘Lubitsch Touch’. With such levels of subtly, this is the kind of movie that needs to be watched multiple times and gets better every time you do so. Often there will be a verbal joke in which I am unaware it even is a joke and it will take a few seconds to catch onto it. Most of Lubitsch’s films were set in Europe as this was where he was from. The shop of Shop Around the Corner is in Budapest, Hungary. The world this movie is set was on the brink of destruction in 1940 but there is no mention of this in the film. Just like how the film harkens back to a more peaceful time it also acts like a nostalgia portal to a time before the internet or big corporate businesses. A shop which is a physical, hands-on and above all a communal experience. The shop is a world onto its own populated by unforgettable characters.


Like Lubitsch, most of Margaret Sullavan’s movies also took place in Europe, I don’t know of the reason for this, however; a big coincidence or did she deliberately choose to star in movies with European settings? James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan aren’t remotely Hungarian but classic Hollywood movies aren’t exactly known for their realism in this regard. I also find it humorous how Klara is able to get a job by walking into a store and proving she is capable of selling items; if only it were that easy in real life!


The Shop Around the Corner is one of the prime examples of the classic “they hate each other but are really in love”; in fact, they really hate each other. Stewart’s Alfred Kralik is actually a real asshole; he’s brash and very opinionated. Likewise, Margaret Sullavan isn’t a sexy, glamorous Hollywood star; Klara Novak is a down to Earth, intellectual. As the movie progresses you so badly want these two characters to end up together to the point that it hurts. These aren’t two performers with great chemistry, these are two performers with incredible lifelike chemistry which blends the dividing line between fiction and reality. If ever there was an on-screen couple how where made for each other, this is it.

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Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Posted : 8 years, 4 months ago on 11 October 2015 11:15 (A review of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington)

*** This review contains spoilers ***

If anyone asks me why James Stewart is my favourite actor I just say watch the final scene of Mr Smith Goes to Washington. The final scene of this movie is simply of the greatest things I have ever witnessed in any film ever. That may sound like a hyperbole but I’ll never forget the very exact feeling of goosebumps I had when first watching it. Mr Smith Goes to Washington is one of a small handful of films I would call life-changing, one of the films which helped to mold the way I think and ultimately turn me into the person I am today. It encouraged me to be more skeptical, not to believe everything you here and stand for what you believe despite great opposition. It’s thanks to films like these why cinema is my bible. As much however as Capra is criticised for his films being overly idealist, Mr Smith Goes to Washington does not exactly paint the most glowing picture of the American political system. To quote Thomas Paine (Claude Raines), “The duty of a true patriot is to protect his country from its government”.

One of my favourite scenes in Mr Smith is that in which Clarissa Saunders (Jean Arthur) attempt to explain to Jefferson Smith (James Stewart) the entire procedure of creating a bill and submitting it to Congress. For starters, the scene is incredibly funny with the comedic timing and Stewart’s childlike reactions. Secondly, it’s a very informative civics lesson and thirdly, this scene shows us how Jefferson Smith acts of the film’s ambassador the for the average Joe watching film who’s just as confounded by Sauder’s lecture as Smith is. The scene lays out in an entertaining manner the political hoo-ha for the politically lay; my knowledge on politics was very limited when I first watched Mr Smith Goes to Washington but that wasn’t a barrier to being engrossed in the film’s state of affairs.

This is as good an opportunity as any to raise the question, why is Jean Arthur such a forgotten actress? Despite working with several big-name directors, co-starring with famous actors and appearing in a number of beloved classics, her presence is incredibly overlooked as the definitive urbanite career woman with her wit, warmth, and innocence. Also, that voice! Her role as Saunders is the opposite of Mr Smith. She is cynical, jaded and knows the ins and outs of the system with its corruption and cronyism. It takes Smith, the Americaphille who appears to know more about American history than the people working in Washington to restore faith in her with his childlike optimism and perseverance.

Along with the attack on the American political system, Mr Smith Goes to Washington is just as harsh with its portrayal of the press as a pack of ravenous vultures. The scene in which Smith confronts the reporters in a bar is truly shocking as they flat up tell him about their lack of journalistic ethics as reality hits Smith like a ton of bricks (also among the crowd of reporters if Jack Carson, always a scene-stealer). I just have to question the morals on the part of Smith prior to this scene in which he literally goes around punching reporters in the face although it could be argued this was more of a social norm back then between men.

Another striking monologue is that in which Smith’s mentor Thomas Paine justifies corruption as a comprise in order to achieve good deeds, a process which has existed since the birth democracy as he puts it. As convincing as he might sound at first, through the course of the film you can tell he’s a man who knows he’s sold out on is ideals partially from the complete look of shame which bestows Claude Rains’ face. Even at the beginning of the film just look at the reaction of Paine’s face when Smith declares “Dad used to tell me Joe Paine was the finest man there ever was”.

The relationship between Paine and the business mogul James Taylor (Edward Arnold) is like that of The Emperor and Darth Vader. Taylor hovers above Paine only for his conscious to be put to the ultimate test by the end of the film. Taylor’s ability to control the media of Smith’s home state and preventing any of his words from the Senate reaching the state is frightening. I can just be glad that in the age of the internet and mass communication that such control of the narrative isn’t as easy as it once was.

Mr Smith Goes to Washington is very snappy and faced paced; with the culmination of some of Hollywood’s finest character, acting talent helps carry the exposition in an entertaining and at times screwball like manner. The final 30 minutes of the film in which Smith filibusters is one of the greatest things ever caught on celluloid with its immense hair-raising build up to an exhausted, out of breath James Stewart declaring that he will fight for this lost cause, even if this room gets filled with lies like these!

Like other political films to arise from classic Hollywood, no party is mentioned during the film nor do we know what state Smith is from and which he fights so hard for. Those on the modern right could see Mr Smith as a little guy standing up against big government and the Washington elites. By contrast, those on the left can view Smith as a rebel fighting against corporate, capitalist fat cats like James Taylor. Independents could see Smith as someone who stood alone without backing from any party to fight for his beliefs. Like many of Capra’s films, Mr Smith Goes to Washington is hard to place on the political spectrum. Anyone can see what they want to within the film which is part of its enduring power.  Really, if I ever met someone in elected office, I will be asking them if they have seen this film. Mr Capra and Mr Stewart, thank you for this film.

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Old School

Posted : 8 years, 4 months ago on 11 October 2015 11:07 (A review of Vivacious Lady)

Sex! Now that I’ve got your attention, it’s fascinating to see just how many references to the birds and the bees permeate the seemingly innocent veneer of Vivacious Lady. James Stewart and Ginger Rodgers where dating during the filming and it’s certainly apparent on screen with the levels of sexual tension between the two with these stars never appearing more youthful than they do here. There are many code breaking moments in Vivacious Lady from the opening scene with the exotic dancers in the nightclub and their tail feathers being pushed in Stewart’s face to Stewart breaking into a women’s only apartment block after visiting hours.


It’s clear that the University in the fictional town of Old Sharon is full of students eager to get it on from every other male student wolf whistling Ginger to the large number of couples occupying the boathouse at night. I mean the President of University and Stewart’s father played by Charles Coburn even comes right out and says it, “We are having the usual spring difficulties between our male and female students a little early this season. Too much fraternising in the lockers”.  - The Hays Code? What code?


However on closer examination of Vivacious Lady something dawned on me - there’s a very unusual incest thing going on between the main characters. Francey (Ginger Rogers) was going out with Peter’s (James Stewart) brother Keith (James Ellison) before they met, however, Francey marries Peter shortly after they meet for the first time even though she was still going out with Keith at the time. Even when Keith finds out he is perfectly ok with this arrangement and himself and Francey continue to act in an overly intimate manner throughout the film for people who are cousins. Likewise just get look at this dialogue exchange:

“I remember I married you”

“Oh no, she married me”

“So were cousins”

“You and your cousins can use that drawing room now.”


Incest aside, unlike other screwball comedies Vivacious Lady is actually more grounded in reality with its use of more deadpan humour. There are no over the top misunderstandings or histrionics (not that there’s anything wrong with that sort of thing) but rather the characters react in a manner in which people would in real life. Just look at the reaction of Peter’s father whenever he tells him he got married, it's lifelike but manages to be no less funny. This was one of the four films in which Beulah Bondi played Jimmy Stewart’s mother; I can’t imagine a more convincing choice to be the mother of the on-screen, boy next door Jimmy Stewart persona. Likewise, is there a better choice to play an overly conservative father than Charles Coburn? I can speak for a friend of mine who couldn’t believe just how much he related to Jimmy Stewart and the manner he acts towards Ginger Rogers such as Stewart’s attempts to make advances but keeps backing away under nerves. The two of them really do feel like a bunch of young love-struck kids.

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All In The Family

Posted : 8 years, 4 months ago on 11 October 2015 11:02 (A review of After the Thin Man)

*** This review contains spoilers ***

After the Thin Man clearly has a much higher budget than the first film so it does loose the grittier, low budget charm of the original but it still works in its own glossier way. I don’t think any of The Thin Man sequels reached the standard of the first film but this was the best of them.


After the Thin Man gives William Powell some of the best comedic moments of his career; the scene in which he has a conversation with the snoring gentlemen I could watch over and over; he manages to maintain composure and still act sarcastic no matter how frustrated he gets. Although my favourite part of the film is just watching Nick and Nora trying to get an important clue from Asta by chasing him through their giant manner of a house. Just how does a retired detective and a woman who doesn’t work manage to afford to live in a palace like this during the great depression anyway? Every movie in the series had a long sequence in which Nick would go sleuthing on his own in the dark with no dialogue or music, and rightfully so, it’s so captivating. The plot is even the easiest in the series and I was actually just barely able to keep up with it.


The film’s most notable contribution to cinema is having James Stewart’s first really notable screen role. This would be the only time in his career in which he would play a villain as the suspiciously motivated David Graham. At the end of the film when he’s revealed to be the murder culprit, he has a breakdown and threatens everyone at gunpoint before being thwarted and then arrested. Jimmy Stewart as a heartless murderer who is sent to prison, what kind of crazy movie is this? It’s disheartening in a way to see this but of course, this was before he became forever enshrined as the everyman. He does pull off the role and displays he was a natural acting talent from the start of his career and shows he could have potentially portrayed convincing villains. Also look out for the Asian bodyguard who throws his hat to get a gun from Jimmy Stewart’s hand, Oddjob anyone?

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Do Believe the Truth!

Posted : 8 years, 5 months ago on 22 September 2015 06:17 (A review of Dig Out Your Soul)

Alas! A great Oasis album! The best Oasis album since Be Here Now (yes I am a “best since Be Here Now” person, not a “best since Morning Glory” person) one which is great from start to finish, unlike the patchy efforts of Heathen Chemistry and Don’t Believe the Truth.  Dig Out Your Soul is the most ambitious Oasis album since Be Here Now. Their previous three albums missed the large-scale orchestras and choirs present in their 90’s output and instead relied more on the acoustic side of things. Dig Out Your Soul brought it all back, creating the most richly textured Oasis album - one soaked in a trippy, psychedelic, moody, 60’s inspired atmosphere.


The first good sign with Dig Out Your Soul is the album cover - it rocks! I haven’t seen an Oasis album cover that good since The Masterplan but onto the actual songs, the first two tracks are excellent and they’re not singles. The structure of Bag It Up reminds me of Rock ‘n’Roll Star in how the final portion of the song has no vocals with epic over the top instrumentation. This along with The Turning and The Shock of Lightning are the most balls to wall rockers Oasis have done since the 90’s. Waiting For the Rapture is a good mid-tempo rocker, although I do feel the demo version is more atmospheric.  I consider I’m Outta Time to be the best song Liam ever wrote. Oasis aren’t the first band to come to mind when I think of love songs; with several of their songs such as Wonderwall I’m unsure whether they would be classified as love songs but this is one song which can undeniably be classified as such and such a beauty at that. Falling Down is one of Noel’s finest accomplishments, showcasing Oasis vision of the apocalypse. It’s strangely prophetic this dark and brooding song would be Oasis’ final single, as well as with the album as a whole; signaling the final days of a band whose popularity was shrinking. The album still isn’t without its weak songs, coming in the form of Ain’t Got Nothin’ and The Nature of Reality. With the later, I can tell you a lot of Oasis fans hate this song with a passion: Me? I think it’s more mediocre than terrible.


The other important aspect of Dig Out Your Soul which I’ve not heard anyone else mention is this may be a concept album, or at least that’s the impression I get. The songs tell a story of an impending apocalypse as we are told to “Bag It Up” because we are “Waiting for The Rapture” which occurs with “The Shock of the Lightning”. The use of a John Lennon quote sampled in I’m Outta Time reinforces the apocalyptic theme (“It’s every Englishman’s inalienable right to live where the hell he likes. What’s it going to do, vanish? It’s not going to be there when I get back.”) even more so as Lennon said this shortly before his own untimely death in 1980. The remaining songs dealing with the aftermath of the apocalypse such as the alien sounding (Get Off Your) High Horse Lady and To Be Where There’s Life (I believe the title of that one explains itself). This all culminates in the album’s final song Soldier On, that we will soldier on until the very end.


Dig Out Your Soul can proudly sit beside Oasis’ first three albums and partially makes up for the band’s lackluster run during the 2000’s but hey, we don’t look back in anger, I heard you say.


Oasis:  1991 - 2009


Dig Out Your Soul Era B-Sides and Rarities

In 2005 CD singles were on their last legs, by 2008/9 they had all but gone, becoming designated to collector’s items. With the three singles to come of Dig Out Your Soul, only one B-side was produced. Those Swollen Hand Blues from the Falling Down single - a good trippy, psychedelic number. The box set of Dig Out Your Soul contained a CD of bonus material comprised of alternative versions of songs, remixes and two alum outtakes, Boy With The Blues and I Believe In All. The rarities produced for Dig Out Your Soul won’t give the likes of Live Forever a run for its money but they are with unearthing.

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