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Another performance where he "swung a little", as you put it, was the made-for-HBO movie "Barbarians at the Gate". F. Ross Johnson, the chairman of RJR Nabisco, was apparently the type of guy who could sell a dying man a glass of water, and that was definitely in Garner's wheelhouse, but he also showed the dark side that existed underneath that charm; when a character late in the movie says at one point, "Now I know what the 'F' in F. Ross Johnson stands for," it's thanks to Garner's performance that you believe that line.
Toggle Commented 3 days ago on James Garner, 1928-2014 at Some Came Running
Very sorry to hear, Glenn. Their loss. Hope you find something else soon.
Toggle Commented Sep 12, 2013 on Yarbles at Some Came Running
52 PICK-UP is indeed somewhat underrated (and Glover is a great bad guy), but it is limited by the fact Leonard's humor isn't there.
Toggle Commented Aug 21, 2013 on Elmore Leonard, 1925-2013 at Some Came Running
I'd like to put in a good word for "Touch", the one oddball entry in his catalog, as well as even for the Paul Schrader movie (though it doesn't quite measure up to the novel). His style takes what could have been unbelievable and/or maudlin and makes it moving and believable instead (I seem to remember in an intro to one edition of this novel that it was his personal favorite of all of his works, but I may be remembering wrong). Also, I was one of those happy few who watched "Karen Sisco", the TV spinoff of OUT OF SIGHT (still my favorite movie adaptation of Leonard's work), and boy I wish that had gotten a fair shake from the network.
Toggle Commented Aug 20, 2013 on Elmore Leonard, 1925-2013 at Some Came Running
Well, I love SECONDS - it's my favorite Frankenheimer film, even more than THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE - and I think Hudson is very good in it, but all due respect, I guess I'm one of those know-somethings who is not a fan of him otherwise. I think of Hudson's acting the way many people I know think of Gary Cooper.
NOT FADE AWAY was one of my favorite movies of last year, and you summed up much of why I loved it so much. Thank you, Glenn. I still can't believe Gandolfini is dead, and I know we have all the great work he left behind (and I have some fond personal memories of him as well, having interacted with him when he was an occasional customer at the video store I used to work at), but it is indeed a great loss.
Toggle Commented Jun 20, 2013 on James Gandolfini, 1961-2013 at Some Came Running
CLOAK AND DAGGER doesn't seem to get brought up a lot when it comes to discussing Lang's American films (or maybe I just travel in the wrong circles), but I think it's a damn good film. Like you, I had no trouble accepting Cooper as a scientist, and the film effortlessly flows from spy drama to romance and back again. I've read Lang had a different ending in mind that was cut out of the film (or not filmed; I forget which), and it does admittedly end a little abruptly, but I like it quite a bit. As it happens, I recently watched THE DEVIL AND MISS JONES for the first time (along with two other releases from Olive Films; CHAMPION, for the first time, and THE DARK MIRROR, for the second time). I'm a huge fan of Coburn and Arthur (one of the few actors who could say "Golly" on screen and make it seem genuine, rather than an affectation. And oh, that voice!), but except for the films he did for Hitchcock, where he was adequate for the occasion, I've never much liked Robert Cummings, and I find him bland as usual here. And while Coburn took to the role and makes the transition smoothly from Scrooge-like boss to being more generous and open-hearted, Arthur doesn't have as much to do (though she is wonderful in the scene when she realizes she does love Cummings). I don't love THE VERDICT like other Lumet and Paul Newman fans do (I still think the actual verdict is more believable in the novel because there, the testimony of Lindsay Crouse's nurse character isn't suppressed), but it's way more subtle than critics of Lumet give him credit for, as well as, as you point out, more cinematic as well.
Peter, you're not the first person to argue that, and that's a fair point; I just kept thinking, though, "Okay, we get it, you're evil!" And it grated on my ears.
One more hand raised for Beginners, and although I don't dislike Baz's fast editing aesthetic (I think when he's on, he makes it work for him), one interesting contrast between him and what Temple does in Absolute Beginners is how long Temple actually holds a shot for. I'm particularly thinking of the tracking shot that starts the movie after the opening credits. And I love the music (Ray Davies' "Quiet Life" is alone worth the price of admission) and choreography, and I still think Patsy Kensit should have become a bigger star than she did. Oddly enough, the one bum note in the movie, for me, was Bowie; his singing was great (of both the title song and "Motivation"), but his attempt at an American accent was beyond annoying.
"It's not Willis' fault. At least not entirely." Not to get all Jeff Wells here, but yeah, it kind of is. Maybe he's not the star that he used to be, but Willis is still enough of a name that he could have (a) told all of those concerned to take a hike when yet another sequel was proposed (bear in mind I am one of those who still doesn't like sequels in general, but I also think the only one in the series worth a damn besides the first movie was the third one), or (b) he could have decided to make sure the movie, at the very least, was entertaining and not insulting to the audience. And if Willis is doing it for a paycheck or because he likes action movies, hell, he probably has another franchise going well with the RED sequel coming out, as the first one was surprisingly entertaining.
Toggle Commented Feb 14, 2013 on The current cinema at Some Came Running
As much as I still love (or like a lot) many of the movies he directed and/or wrote, I have to say the bloom fell off of Mamet for me long before his political conversion, and it was with "On Directing". Not only was that the first time he indulged in what most people who have commented here (if not all) seemed to agree was a tiresome critical position (in order to elevate someone you like, denigrate someone you don't like even if the comparison between them is tenuous at best) in his screed against Method acting. Far be it for me to say there aren't valid criticisms to be made of the Method, but often, it seemed he made the most specious of them (comparing it to flat roofs?). Not only that, but he has maintained this position in similar books and/or essays he's written about movies and theater, conveniently forgetting some of the best performances involving his screenplays have come from actors identified with the Method; Paul Newman in THE VERDICT, Al Pacino and Alec Baldwin in GLENGARRY GLENN ROSS (is Ed Harris Method? He would seem to be, but I don't know if he's ever identified himself as such), Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman in WAG THE DOG (and De Niro again in RONIN), and Baldwin again in STATE AND MAIN. Changing subjects; I too was disappointed in THE GOOD GERMAN, and even a second viewing didn't change my mind.
I will definitely try to stop by at least for SCARFACE and THE OUTFIT.
BB - I don't know if John Woo, Ringo Lam or Tsui Hark, among others, are to your taste, but remember, their first American films were all with Jean Claude Van Damme. It happens.
Toggle Commented Jan 18, 2013 on Not a tumor at Some Came Running
It's funny how "It's not a tumor" has replaced "I'll be back" as the Ahnuld line of choice. I wish I could measure up more enthusiasm for BROKEN CITY, especially since both Kyle Chandler and Alona Tal (the wisecracking yet adoring assistant) are in it, but the trailer makes it look so generic, and I haven't liked anything Hughes (or his brother) has been involved with since MENACE II SOCIETY.
Toggle Commented Jan 17, 2013 on Not a tumor at Some Came Running
Glenn, this is a good piece about a thorny question and film, but I'd like to raise two points. Firstly, one phrase that always gives me the heebie-jeebies is "that's how they felt at the time", and that's particularly true when it comes to race relations. True, race relations at the time were, on an institutional level, much worse than they are today, but it makes it seem like there were no black public figures making a difference at the time, in film or elsewhere, and so much as I admire Agee as a writer and critic, I call bullshit on that entire defense he wrote. Secondly, if BIRTH OF A NATION is problematic today in addition to how it is as a film (along with, of course, its technical brilliance), it's because the majority of works dealing with the Civil War, or the tensions that arose from it, portray the South as the good guys and the North as the bad guys (there are plenty of people who take issue with GONE WITH THE WIND's racism, for example, if not the Klan specifically). As you sort of imply, one of the nice things about LINCOLN is the corrective it applies to Thaddeus Stevens; you might think his portrayal in BOAN to be hysterical and one-note, and justifiably so, but what of the book "Profiles in Courage", which John F. Kennedy signed his name to, and yet portrays Andrew Johnson as someone of courage but Stevens in just as evil terms as (presumably) Thomas Dixon and Griffith did?
As they are childhood faves, I always remember Durning best from THE STING and THE MUPPET MOVIE. Of course, he was capable of more varied performances than those two (Durning's performance grounds TOOTSIE), but comic villains are very tricky to pull off, and in those films, he did it without letting the seams show at all. And I happen to really like LAKEBOAT, as well as Durning's work in it.
Toggle Commented Dec 27, 2012 on Charles Durning, 1923-2012 at Some Came Running
I didn't like FUNNY PEOPLE at all, and I have to admit I haven't liked much of what Apatow has directed or produced since KNOCKED UP. Having said that, the most appealing parts of KNOCKED UP, for me, were with the Paul Rudd/Leslie Mann characters, and from what I've read, there is one gag in this movie that made me take notice (the Graham Parker joke they mention in last week's Entertainment Weekly), so I will check it out at some point.
Nice piece, Glenn. I haven't seen the movie yet (sometime this week, thanks to a family member's generosity), but I trust Bigelow, and while my sympathies are usually more inclined with Greenwald's than, say, Bill's are, Greenwald really dropped the ball on this one. Till I do see the film, once again, I'm going to be highlighting the arcane points of your post. First of all, I haven't heard that Miller Lite slogan in years, yet it's still embedded in my brain, and weirdly appropriate as a caption for that picture. Secondly, somehow I never knew Pete Townshend lifted "it's the singer not the song" from the Rolling Stones. Live and learn. Finally, I know hindsight is always 20/20, but when you were asked about the South Park creators only being in it for the money, it might be a little too obvious, but as far as comebacks go, what about, "And you're not?" (or "Just like you"). Maybe that opens up the can of worms of why it's okay for one person who makes a lot of money to criticize someone else for making a lot of money (or wanting to), but maybe that's a can of worms worth opening. At any rate, looking forward to seeing the movie, especially after your write-up.
And now that I've seen it, I felt it was very similar to last year's MY WEEK WITH MARILYN; an anecdote stretched out to feature length. And I would agree the best parts of the movie were Williams and Marvel, and it was a shock when I realized who Eleanor Bron was playing. I will admit, however, I seemed to be in the distinct minority of the audience I was watching it with, as there was a lot of laughter, even at the 500th time they made a joke about whether or not Queen Elizabeth II would eat a hot dog. It's that kind of movie.
Ah, well, I'm seeing this at a free screening tomorrow night. Maybe the fact I don't have to pay for it will mean I'm kinder to it than you were, though I agree that's not a necessary corollary (after all the worst movie I saw in the last 10 years or so was at a free screening). I will say, however, I liked Murray's version of THE RAZOR'S EDGE more than you did.
I can't remember if it was this film or M that was the first German-made Lang film that I saw, but it's always been one of my favorites, and I also need to watch it again one of these days. Along with that one, YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE and all of METROPOLIS (I must shamefacedly admit I've not yet seen DIE NIBELUNGEN), my list of favorite Lang films would include SPIES, M, FURY, MAN HUNT, SCARLET STREET, and THE BIG HEAT.
David N - Oh, I agree about Rose, being someone who passionately defends the merits of IMMORTAL BELOVED against any and all comers (and regret never seeing IVANSXTC, as it sounded very good). But while I acknowledge a longer cut of his ANNA KARENINA might have worked more than what was released, I don't know if it could overcome one part that was miscast (I have liked Mia Kirshner in other projects, particularly EXOTICA, but she's out of place in a period piece), one performance that seemed to be channeling another (Sean Bean, whom I normally like, played Vronsky as if he was still playing his bad guy character in GOLDENEYE), and most of all, an actress whose charms elude me in the lead role (and lest you think it's merely because she's uncomfortable in English-speaking roles, I haven't thought much of Sophie Marceau in her French-speaking roles either).
Toggle Commented Nov 16, 2012 on The current cinema at Some Came Running
I am a fan of her acting ability, I do think she's pretty, and I admire her for taking a stand (for now) against Hollywood's usual weight standard for actresses. However, I have to admit, I was more than a little disturbed by that recent NY Times interview she gave where she expressed disdain at the idea of watching a black-and-white expletive deleted silent movie. As I wrote on a friend's Facebook page, I'm trying to write that off as a folly of youth, "trying" being the operative word. That said, given how much I liked the book, I still want to see SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. As for ANNA KARENINA, is it at least better than the Bernard Rose version from 15 years ago? Because that looked beautiful, but was awful otherwise, except for Alfred Molina.
Toggle Commented Nov 16, 2012 on The current cinema at Some Came Running
Petey - no, I don't completely attribute the failure of JADE to Friedkin (though, since I consider him a highly overrated director, he certainly didn't help), I lay most of the blame on Joe Eszterhas' utterly offensive screenplay. So again, the subject DOES matter.
Toggle Commented Nov 13, 2012 on Literary interlude at Some Came Running
I think of ALTERED STATES in the same way I think of FROM DUSK TILL DAWN - the first half, the director is relatively restrained, and then he went batshit crazy in the second half - although, in this case, I prefer the batshit crazy. I find the first half to be indigestible psychobabble, despite the actors who do their best to make it work. At least when it becomes a freak out, Russell knows how to make it creepy. And I am still hoping Criterion releases LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMEN in my lifetime. Come on, guys! And while they're at it, THE RECKLESS MOMENT as well (wouldn't mind a Criterion transfer of CAUGHT either, but don't want to appear too greedy).