Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
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I usually associate David Lean with sweeping epics, so I was pleasantly surprised by this light comedy. Charles Laughton plays Hobson, the blustery owner of a bootmaking shop in 1890s London and father of 3 daughters. The oldest (Brenda de Banzie), not married at the ripe old age of 30 and in danger of becoming an "old maid", pursues and marries (out of spite) the best bootmaker in her father's shop. This of course infuriates her father, who had decided she shouldn't marry and should dedicate her life to caring for him and the bootshop, puts his foot down in efforts to stop her. But fortunately the daughter is as stubborn as he is, and gets her way. Laughton does comedy better than I expected he would, and John Mills as good as well as the unwitting bridegroom. A little side treat was to catch Prunella Scales (of Faulty Towers fame) as a teenager playing Hobson's youngest daughter.
interesting documentary about a nomadic family of camel herders in Mongolia. And it's all about them -- no narration, no talking head "experts". Just a camera following these people around as they share meals, socialize and work. The title refers to a particiular camel who gives birth and then refuses to care for her colt. The colt's health begins to suffer, and the family takes an unusual step - bringing in a violinist to play while one of the women perform a kind of ritual with the camel in order to bring back the camel's maternal instinct. The piece the violinist plays is beautiful, and is just one of several similarly wonderful music interludes. A scene of a young mother singing what seems to be a lullaby to her toddler is magical and moving. A fascinating journey into unfamiliar territory.
This Robert Bresson film is reportedly taken from the transcripts from the Joan of Arc's trial. And it's a well-done film that suffers from one major flaw -- I saw Karl Dreyer's version of Joan's story PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC first. Florence Carrez portrays Joan with stoic determination. She knows she's right and no one will change her mind. Because of this portrayal, the scene where Joan signs the confession riings a bit false. On the other hand, Renee Maria Falconetti's portrayal is of a terrified 19-year-old girl, being held in prison for her beliefs that seem so right and true to her, and totally unable to comprehend how and why she is being portrayed as evil, when everything she does is for God and her country. Her performance is heartbreaking. Carrez' in-your-face attitude is probably more historically accurate -- Joan WAS a warrior after all -- but I like Falconetti better. And I just like Dreyer better as a director than Bresson. Bresson's direction is spare and minimalist, and it leaves me a bit cold. Dreyer's work never fails to move me, especially in the way he gets such real emotion out of his actors. I'll admit to being brought to tears by more than one of his films.
Bresson claims that he made his Joan more of a modern 1960's woman so younger people would identify with her, He gave her a somewhat modern hairstyle and wardrobe. Once again, I prefer Dreyer's Joan, who was even stripped of her hair for the role. One good thing about seeing both films is that I now have a bigger picture of what Joan went through during her trial. Dreyer also used the original transcripts, and the dialogue reflects that, matching word for word in several places. But in many cases they concentrated on different sections of the transcriptions, so seeing Bresson's film filled in the gaps from the Dreyer film.
I"m a big fan of Hayao Miyazaki's work, but this just didn't grab me like my favorite SPIRITED AWAY did. Not to say that it was bad -- not at all. The art was of course terrific, the characters were engaging, but the story was confusing, and Liam Neeson voice is way too familiar to me to believe his character. A good but not great try.
Worthless trash. I put this on as background noise because the cable guide description made it sound decent -- kind of a cross between CANTERBURY TALES and FLESH AND BONE. I saw that Tim Roth was in it, so it seemed OK. How wrong I was. Roth must have done this because he needed some extra money to pay off his Christmas debt. Turns out that it's a soft-core sex comedy, and a badly-done one at that. I should have paid heed to the rest of the cast -- Hayden Christienson and Mischa Barton. I'm glad I only half-watched it. Had I wasted any real time on it, I would be embarrassed and pissed at myself.