Blog Directory CineVerse

Baseball meets Broadway

Sunday, April 26, 2015

With baseball sesaon now in full swing, it's only fitting that we fete one of the favorite musicals from the 1950s: "Damn Yankees” (1958; 111 minutes), directed by George Abbott and Stanley Donen, chosen by Rose Krc, which is scheduled for April 29.

Read more...

Heads up on date swap

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Due to a scheduling conflict, CineVerse will be switching 2 dates on its May/June 2015 calendar. Now, "The Awful Truth" will be scheduled for May 6, and "The Grey" is set for May 13. Please make a note on your own calendar and try to join us on each of these dates.

Read more...

More great movies on tap for May and June

Eager to learn what's on the CineVerse schedule for May and June? Check out our new calendar, covering the next several weeks, which is available by visiting http://1drv.ms/1DOUIeo.

Read more...

With a little help from my friends

"The Intouchables" is a crowd-pleaser of a foreign film with some interesting, thought-provoking content and characters. Our CineVerse group took a look under the hood of this high-revving vehicle and came away with the following assessment:

WHAT DID YOU FIND INTERESTING, DIFFERENT, OR SURPRISING ABOUT THIS FILM?
It’s actually based on a true story, which gives the characters, setup, and situations more credibility and relevance.
It’s a buddy picture, but it uses the formula of a romantic comedy to underscore the friendship and camaraderie between the two male leads.  This is a platonic relationship, but the viewer feels the love and affection between the two men.  Consider the classic structure it follows: man meets man, man loses man, man gets man back, with a twist: the returned man is replaced by a woman.
Also, unlike other buddy pictures, the film does not employ toilet humor, raunchy subplots, or ridiculous action sequences in an attempt to entertain us.
The filmmakers are not afraid to give us a character who can be irritating, politically incorrect, inappropriate, and annoying; Driss often acts entitled, insensitively, and without a filter.  Yet, he is the force that gives the film life, energy, exuberance, and humor.
Additionally, the movie arguably refrains from maudlin and over sentimental tones, refusing, for example, to wallow in sympathy for Driss or Philippe and their respective situations.  Likewise, Driss doesn’t feel sorry for Philippe and vice versa, which endears each of these characters to one another and saves the movie from devolving into a Lifetime Channel flick or Hallmark melodrama.
Similarly, the film broaches topics and subject matter that normally be depressing and heavy, but applies an uplifting and comical approach to make for a very crowd-pleasing movie.
The film has strong French sensibilities, and plays well as a foreign movie, inviting Americans into a cultural landscape that is refreshingly different from our own; however, as some critics have pointed out, The Intouchables has an “American flavor”, which makes it appealing to U.S. audiences.  It very much feels like a Hollywood movie.  

THIS FILM HAS BEEN ACCUSED BY SOME CRITICS AS BEING RACIALLY INAPPROPRIATE.  DO YOU AGREE, AND IF SO, WHY?
For some film critics, scholars, and analysts, Driss falls within the category of the “Magical Negro”, a term used to describe a token black character who aids a white protagonist in completing his quest or mission.  Past films with such a character include The Green Mile, The Legend of Bagger Vance, and The Defiant Ones.
Detractors of this movie say that it perpetuates offensive racial tropes and stereotypes, and “Uncle Tom racism”.  Consider that their real Driss is Middle Eastern, which begs the question, why did they turn him into a black character?
One reviewer from the New York Times insisted that the film used caricatures that are “astonishingly brazen, as ancient comic archetypes –a pompous master and a clowning servant right out of Moliere – are updated with vague social relevance, an overlay of Hollywood-style sentimentality, and a conception of race that might kindly be called cartoonish.”
Daphnee Denis, blogger for Slate.com, wrote: “In Variety, Jay Weissberg describes it as “the kind of Uncle Tom racism one hopes has permanently exited American screens.” Stephen Holden in the New York Times says the film exploits “every hoary stereotype of the black man as cultural liberator.” In their words, Omar Sy, who plays Driss, is a French Viola Davis, only more compromised: Like the Oscar-nominated actress from The Help, they express regret that Sy is getting his due as an actor for such a demeaning role—in this case, the part of a “Magical Negro.”
However, defenders of the picture indicate that Driss is not a token black character, and that both Philippe and Driss aid each other.  Consider that the character of Driss is fleshed out more and given a more considerable back story than Philippe, whose back story hinted at, only talked about, and given less emphasis. 
Note, as well, that Driss grows and matures as the picture progresses.  Through his experiences with Philippe, he learns to care more about people, including his brother, Philippe’s daughter, and his mother/aunt.  He also demonstrates a greater appreciation for art and music, such as recognizing Dali and Vivaldi when he sees and hears their works. 
Denis noted: “The movie isn’t really about servitude. While American critics see a modern-day version of a black domestic and his white master, the French see a guy from the projects and a man who needs help to go to the bathroom. Both men have received their fair share of humiliation. Driss has little to no support in life—even his family gives up on him after he gets out of prison. And no one dares get close to Philippe because they’re scared he’ll break. They’re both pariahs, “untouchables.” Yet Driss touches Philippe, and Philippe accepts Driss’s touch.”

HOW DO YOU INTERPRET THE TITLE OF THE FILM: “THE INTOUCHABLES”?
It could be a play on the popular film “The Untouchables”, also a buddy movie but decidedly more of an action/adventure drama than this drama/comedy.
While there is no such word as “Intouchables”, the fabricated word could be a play on being “in touch”, suggesting that the two male protagonists have made a strong connection.

FILMS THAT REMIND YOU OF THE INTOUCHABLES:
Driving Miss Daisy
The Help
The Blind Side
The Soloist
Lincoln

Read more...

France lends a helping hand

Sunday, April 19, 2015

On April 22, CineVerse brings back World Cinema Wednesday with a touching title from France: “The Intouchables” (2011; 112minutes), directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, chosen by Carole Bogaard.

Plus: Stick around for a trailer reel preview of the May/June CineVerse schedule

Read more...

Goodness gracious great Balls of Fire

Friday, April 17, 2015

Imagine Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with a dash of sex appeal and you have "Ball of Fire," Howard Hawks' subdued screwball comedy from 1941. Our group came to the following conclusions about this film:

WHAT STRIKES YOU AS DISTINCTIVE, CURIOUS, SURPRISING, OR UNEXPECTED ABOUT “BALL OF FIRE”?
It’s considered the last substantial screwball comedy released prior to WWII.
It inspired a remake years later as the musical “A Song is Born”, also directed by Howard Hawks; many of the shots, sets, costumes, and actor mannerisms closely resemble those in the remake.
It features a wealth of talent from Hollywood’s golden age—including director Howard Hawks, producer Samuel Goldwyn, cinematographer Gregg Toland, co-writer Billy Wilder, stars Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper, and a cameo by Gene Krupa.
Toland shoots the professor in deep focus, as was his pioneering trademark style; the result is that they are depicted as harmonizing well together, with each having equal importance to their group.
Cooper is an interesting, if not offbeat casting choice—he’s not known for playing a stuffed shirt bookworm intellectual; instead, he was often cast as a populist everyman who made up in looks, bravery and honesty what he lacked in the brains department.
It’s actually a modernized retelling of “Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs,” only told in reverse in that the girl is educating the 7 men
It’s loaded with coded adult content in its language and situations: consider how Sugarpuss is a strip tease dancer who shows off her legs and attractive figure, how she and others use suggestive lines and double entendres like “Once I watched my big brother shave,” “this is yum-yum,” and “brother, we’re going to have some hoy toy toy,” “Shove in your clutch,” and “I figured on working all night.”
This is certainly less frenetic and slower-paced as a screwball than Hawks’ other two previous outings “Bringing Up Baby” and “His Girl Friday.” Hawks remarked that the tone was more subdued here because, he said in an interview: “…it was about pedantic people. When you've got professors saying lines, they can't speak 'em like crime reporters. So we naturally slowed up - couldn't do anything about it. Also, it was a little bit further from truth and a little more allegorical. It actually was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - with the striptease dancer as Snow White. It didn't have the same reality as the other comedies and we couldn't make it go with the same speed."

HAWKS WAS KNOWN FOR RECYCLING AND BORROWING ELEMENTS FROM FILMS HE HAD ALREADY DIRECTED OR THAT HE REMADE
He directed His Girl Friday, a remake of The Front Page
He helmed the classic western Rio Bravo, then remade it first as El Dorado and then as Rio Lobo

OTHER FILMS BY HOWARD HAWKS:
Scarface
Only Angels Have Wings
Bringing Up Baby
His Girl Friday
Sergeant York
The Big Sleep
To Have and Have Not
Red River
The Thing from Another World
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Rio Bravo

Read more...

Dressed up like a million dollar trooper, trying hard to look like Gary Cooper

Sunday, April 12, 2015

On April 15, CineVerse reprises its current monthly series, Sophisticatd Screwballs: Masterful Romantic Comedies from Hollywood's Golden Age, with part 4--“Ball of Fire” (1941; 111 minutes), directed by Howard Hawks.

Read more...

Long night's journey into film appreciation

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Filming a virtually verbatim production of Eugene O'Neil's "Long Day's Journey Into Night" would have been a challenging proposition, considering the sheer amount of verbiage, depressing scenario and claustrophobic confines of the dominant setting--the living room of the Tyrone family house. Still, the filmmakers acquit themselves nicely in this 1962 picture. Here's a recap of what CineVerse found meaningful about "Journey":


WHAT DID YOU FIND INTERESTING ABOUT THIS STORY AND ABOUT THIS FILM THAT PERHAPS YOU DIDN’T ANTICIPATE?
This is not a play that necessarily translates to a vibrant cinematic experience: instead, it’s very stage bound and arguably visually uninteresting in that there are not a lot of sets/settings, characters, camera movements, or creative edits. 
o Lumet doesn’t let the camera get in the way with showy setups, flashy camera movies, ostentatious cutting or other director-centric methods.
o Instead, he employs many uninterrupted master shots, refrains from using close-ups whenever possible, and minimizes camera movement. Two exceptions are: when he does a 360 degree circular tracking shot following Kathryn Hepburn around the room; and the penultimate shot that slowly zooms out from the quartet and displays unique window lighting, then suddenly cuts to a close up of Hepburn.
Yet, it is faithful and accurate to the actual play—cutting very little from the original and not adapting/reinterpreting the source material but actually using the play as the screenplay. The film is not given a tacked on happy Hollywood ending, and the hard edges of the characters are not softened for commercial appeal.
Despite a lack of visually arresting and naturally cinematic elements, despite the talkiness and dearth of action or plot, the story is absorbing because of the interesting characters and fascinating relationships and intelligent dialogue.
Part of what helps keep our interest is the way the play and the interactions between its characters are smartly structured: 
o Consider how the story consists primarily of various combinations of interactions between the 4 personalities—it presents the characters in virtually every possible combination: duo, trio, and quartet.
o Movie reviewer Dan Mancini suggested: “The characters' interactions reveal the family's history to us in complex non-linear fashion. For example, the secondary information we glean from a conversation between, say, Edmund and (James) may give us added insight into previous conversations between Edmund and Mary, and (James) and Mary, as well as illuminating a subsequent talk between Edmund and Jamie. In this way, O'Neill establishes the deep interconnectedness of the family.”  
o Many scenes also follow a circular construction in which, according to film reviewer Glenn Erickson: “characters start out on an even basis, move into an argument, and then retreat with apologies. Nothing is solved and nobody is moved is moved to action that might solve anything.” 
o It’s also written as an ensemble piece, without focusing on any one particular character as the lead, making the audience equally interested in all 4 primary roles. Likewise, each character has his/her unique flaw: mother’s is her morphine addiction; father’s is his alcoholism and parsimonious nature; Jamie’s is a lackadaisical attitude toward responsibility and a penchant for booze and women; Edmund’s is tuberculosis and alcoholism.
o The catalyst that sets all in motion here? The knowledge that Edmund is sick and waiting for his diagnosis.

WHAT ARE THE STANDOUT THEMES OF THIS PLAY/FILM?
The burdensome weight of memory and regret.
The power of the past to haunt the present and the future: the family seems doomed to relieve the mistakes and failures of the past day in, day out. Mary says: “The past is the present and the future, too.”
Inability to communicate: each family member knows how to fight and attack, but doesn’t listen, empathize or communicate well.
Tragedy and despair: things are not about to get better for this clan.

OTHER MOVIES DIRECTED BY SIDNEY LUMET 
12 Angry Men
Serpico
Murder on the Orient Express
Dog Day Afternoon
Network
The Verdict
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)

Read more...

CineVerse comes to the Oak Lawn library...sort of

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Make plans to join your friendly neighborhood CineVerrse moderator, Erik Martin, as he guest hosts Cinema Chat, the Oak Lawn Public Library's monthly film screening and discussion event, on Saturday, April 11, from 1-4 p.m.

This time out, the library will be featuring the Best Picture Oscar-nominated "Whiplash" (2014, 107 minutes). Erik will lead an open group discussion of the movie immediately following the screening. For more details on this free and no-registration-required event, held in the lower level theater, click here.

Read more...

  © Blogger template Cumulus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP