Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Counterfeit Casting Mixed Bag

Now normally I mention the actor and then bring up three candidates to possibly portray them. A few times, however, I can only think of one candidate. So here are a few of those examples I thought of.

Dean Martin
Who was he?
A man who knew how to croon and make the women swoon. He also loved a good joke.

A womanizing drinker who's easy on the eyes? Hmm, that description of Dino sounds a lot like Hamm's Don Draper, don't you think? And Hamm's appearances on Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock show that he can be, well, a ham.

Ingrid Bergman
Who was she?
A very talented leading lady who, like a fine wine, got better with age.

Have these two ever given a bad performance? They've been in a bad movie or two, yes, but their performances weren't tampered.

Anthony Perkins
Who was he?
An actor who usually played people with their own little quirks.

Both Perkins and Garfield have played people that are insecure with the goings on in their lives (Perkins in Psycho, Garfield in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus). Plus, the resemblance is uncanny, no?

Boy, that was easier than the usual format. Might become a regular thing when I'm stuck on "casting". Let me know if you come up with any for these actors.

Monday, May 30, 2011


Recently news broke out that 3-D is becoming less popular among the masses. (Thank goodness!) I was never a fan of it to begin with and hearing it'll be dead in the water made me happy.

I ask you this: what's your opinion on 3-D?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Stranger

Albert Camus' The Stranger is a different kind of book. It doesn't provide any positive insight on anything that happens to the lead character. The whole novel is one antagonistic view after another.

Camus commonly wrote nihilism and absurdity as themes in his works. In The Stranger, the lead character shows no regards to the way society runs. In fact, I don't think he even remotely cares about society in general. I wouldn't call him self-centered; I'd call him aloof.

Another thing about the lead character of The Stranger that's shown is his lack of emotions. He is blank when he receives news of his mother's death, even blanker when he forms a relationship with a co-worker the day after his mother's funeral. With the events that follow, it's assumed that he's cold hearted. But is he really?

The Stranger is one of those novels that makes you think when you're done reading it. I didn't like it very much because it rambles seeral times. It's still good though.

My Rating: ****

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Mildred Pierce

This year I was introduced to the work of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Interestingly enough, the films I first saw them in (Davis in All About Eve, Crawford in Mildred Pierce) had them in similar roles: a woman's life slowly gets controlled by a ruthless younger woman.

Now Crawford's Mildred Pierce isn't exactly like Davis' Margo Channing (Margo is a veteran of stage, Mildred a rookie in business), but they are both at an insecure stage of their lives. Enter the younger woman, here to make their lives more troublesome. Mildred knows that her life's becoming more complicated, but she's willing to turn a blind eye. Big mistake.

Oh, what to say about Ann Blyth's Veda? How about these three words: what a brat. Seriously, is she ever happy at what her mother does for her? If you think Anne Baxter's Eve Harrington is bad, you haven't seen Veda.

Mildred Pierce has to be one of the best movies I saw. It's a film noir and a women's picture mixed together. A good combo if you ask me. Crawford is excellent while Blyth is ruthless. A must-see in my book.

My Rating: *****

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Adventures of Robin Hood

Who doesn't love an adventure? Most adventure movies today are a tad flimsy, but older one weren't so.

Now what I said in the opening paragraph implies that I'm against today's movies. Well, yes and no. Yes because they lack originality way too much; no because a few gems shine out. Anyway, back to that review.

I've seen interpretations of him (The Princess Bride, My Favorite Year), but I hadn't seen the real McCoy in action. Errol Flynn was definitely the right man to play Robin Hood. He has the correct amount of wit and charisma for the role.

The Adventures of Robin Hood has this certain zest that wows people when they first see it. That can definitely apply to me when I saw it. It's an excellent movie that's great for all ages.

My Rating: *****

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold

During the 1960's, the Cold War had everyone in a state of panic. Also during this time period, a new genre was becoming popular through different forms of media: the spy caper.

Richard Burton, an actor I admire, is the star of The Spy Who Came In from the Cold. I was a little uncertain if he could carry a movie on his own since the only other movies I've seen him in have him alongside other silver screen greats (Elizabeth Taylor in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Deborah Kerr and Ava Gardner in The Night of the Iguana, Peter O'Toole in Becket). So does he hold his own? Well, yes and no. Yes because he gives a very good performance, no because the story falters periodically throughout the movie.

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold is based on a work by John le Carre. Having previously seen The Constant Gardener, I have come to this conclusion: John le Carre's work bores me. He has good concepts in his stories, but it seems he doesn't know how to make them appealing to the masses.

That said however, I did like The Spy Who Came in from the Cold but barely. (I'm not sure, but I think I dozed off when I watched it.) It's not great, but it's pretty good.

My Rating: ****

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The African Queen

I like it when actors I admire work together in a movie. Usually the chemistry works, but I don't mind if it doesn't.

The pairing of Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen is an amusing one since they have completely different personalities. Bogart is brash and a little uncivilized; Hepburn, however, is refined and couth. Even with that in mind, their moments on screen are wonderful.

A lot of people know the living hell that was the production of The African Queen. Most of the people involved got sick, but Bogart and director John Huston escaped illness because of their drinking. Bogart even quipped this: "Whenever a fly bit Huston or me, it dropped dead."

The African Queen has Bogart and Hepburn in some of their best work. Huston, of course, knew how to churn out great performances from his leads. The African Queen also has a little bit of everything: action, romance and one hell of a story.

My Rating: *****

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Of course I've stated that most of my favorite movies are from the 1950's. But what do I think of movies set in the 1950's?

Barry Levinson's Diner focuses on five best friends in 1959 Baltimore reflecting on what their futures hold for them. They're college age, but maturity hasn't really kicked in for any of them yet.

The highlight of Diner is the screenplay. The dialogue just flows naturally. It doesn't sound superficial in any of the lines. It sounds like normal conversation. Good thing it got nominated too.

Although far from being one of the best movies I've seen, I have to say Diner is a very good movie. The performances are very good, the story is very good and the mood is quite good. The only problem I had was that the story had a few weak spots. That aside, Diner, as I said before, is very good.

My Rating: ****1/2

Monday, May 23, 2011


I was asked this on Formspring the other day. Being uncreative at that time, I decided to save it for a more suitable audience.

If a book you recently read was to be adapted into a movie, who could you see as the main characters?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Stage Door

Recently I've taken a shine to movies about show business. There's something alluring about the lead character trying to get their name in lights or seeing those lights burn out.

Katharine Hepburn usually plays the aloof leading lady in most of her roles. Here in Stage Door, she's in that type of role. She appears to haughty air to her, but she actually justs wants to get along with the other girls at the boarding house.

The two supporting women that captured my attention were Ginger Rogers and Lucille Ball. They have some of the snappiest lines in a movie full of them. Both are bubbly people, a factor which separates them from the sour grapes of the boarding house.

Although Stage Door is figuratively and literally a chick flick, I loved it. I also think it will appeal to both sexes. It has one of Hepburn's best roles, and that can also be applied to Rogers and Ball. In short, I adore Stage Door.

My Rating: *****

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fifteen Movie Questions Meme

Seeing the response from the Seven Questions Movie Meme I started last year, I'm thinking about starting another one. This one will also have movie questions, but the numbers, as shown in the title, is different.

  1. Movie you love with a passion.
  2. Movie you vow to never watch.
  3. Movie that literally left you speechless.
  4. Movie you always recommend.
  5. Actor/actress you always watch, no matter how crappy the movie.
  6. Actor/actress you don't get the appeal for.
  7. Actor/actress, living or dead, you'd love to meet.
  8. Sexiest actor/actress you've seen. (Picture required!)
  9. Dream cast.
  10. Favorite actor pairing.
  11. Favorite movie setting.
  12. Favorite decade for movies.
  13. Chick flick or action movie?
  14. Hero, villain or anti-hero?
  15. Black and white or color?
Onto the tagging! By the way, this can be as many as you want.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Counterfeit Casting: Tony Curtis

Now this is one I've been thinking deeply about for a while. I've been wondering who could portray an actor I very much admire. Who could play the blue-eyed beauty that was Tony Curtis?

CANDIDATE #1: Leonardo DiCaprio
Early on in their careers, they were both destined to be in nothing but heartthrob roles. However, they proved that they were more than just a pretty face. Plus, someone pointed out that there is a resemblance between the two, which I can see.
I can't think of anything.

CANDIDATE #2: Jude Law
Both Curtis and Law have played a cad more than once in their movies. And in a way, their personal lives are similar. By that I mean they couldn't really be satisfied being with only one woman at a time. (No offense to either of them.)
I'm not sure if Law can do a Bronx accent.

CANDIDATE #3: Joaquin Phoenix
Phoenix, like Curtis, doesn't get enough recognition for his acting. In Curtis' case, it was his selection of some of his roles, say, post-Spartacus; for Phoenix, it's his off-screen antics. To sum things up, although their names are recognizable, not many are aware of their skill as actors.
Like what I said for Law, I'm not sure if Phoenix can do a Bronx accent.

Who would you cast to portray Tony Curtis?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pondering on Remakes

With all the remakes in production, it makes you wonder (and worry) if your favorite classic movie will be one of those remakes.

A number of classic film fans are, how should I put this, annoyed that The Thin Man is getting remade with Johnny Depp as Nick Charles. I have to admit that Depp doesn't have the same charm William Powell had.

Kevin, someone I follow and talk to on Twitter, just hated the news of Seven Samurai getting the remake treatment again. He also doesn't approve of how Baz Luhrmann is going with that adaptation of The Great Gatsby, but that's for another post.

Knowing my devotion to it, you can tell that I will be pissed if Sweet Smell of Success gets remade. If that happens, I will be crying, screaming and plotting to kill the yutz of a producer who's behind the production.

Which movie(s) would you hate to see remade?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

You Can Count on Me

Even though most of the movies reviewed here feature actors that have since passed on, I do try to catch up on more recent movies, like You Can Count on Me.

Laura Linney is an actress who should get more praise than she already gets. She is a really good actress. Here she plays the independent-minded woman, a role she would revisit in the years to come. From the choice of performances she has done, I think that her work in You Can Count on Me is one of her best.

Though Linney got top billing (and eventually an Oscar nomination), it's Mark Ruffalo who's the star. He is almost a child himself, unaware of where to go and what to do. You can see that confused child in his eyes. He doesn't show it, but he seeks out the love and acceptance that was absent from his own childhood. How he didn't get nominated as well, I'll never know.

Even with all the acclaim it got upon its release, You Can Count on Me is actually quite underrated. Linney and Ruffalo give some of the best performances of the last decade. Though I felt it was a tad melodramatic in some scenes, it's truly one of the best movies of the past decade.

My Rating: ****1/2

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Counterfeit Casting: Elizabeth Taylor

This one was the hardest one to do. Basically because the only person who could play her was herself. But let's see what I can accomplish. Who could play the silver screen siren that was Elizabeth Taylor?

CANDIDATE #1: Kristin Scott Thomas
I've only seen The English Patient but I like what I saw from her. She reminded me of Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof since both played women stuck in dead end marriages.
I can't think of anything.

CANDIDATE #2: Marion Cotillard
Cotillard is someone I'm curious about with the way her career's going. She has this certain aura that, like Taylor, has people notice her.
Her accent might be a bit of a problem.

CANDIDATE #3: Rachel Weisz
Weisz is a good actress and knows how to handle a heavy role, judging by her work in The Constant Gardener.
I don't see much resemblance between Weisz and Taylor.

So who would you cast to play the violet-eyed legend?

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Favorite Year

Oh, Marya and Kristen. Why did you two get me so interested in Peter O'Toole in the last few weeks? I'm blaming you two, but I'm also thanking you.

Although I like O'Toole's serious work, I really like it when he does comedy. He previously showed his comedic side in How to Steal a Million and The Ruling Class. Here in My Favorite Year, he continues to crack me up with his wit, lines and physical humor.

Here, O'Toole is Alan Swann, a homage to Errol Flynn. He is to appear on a comedy/variety show, but the writers are concerned that he won't show up sober or show up at all. Knowing what Flynn's lifestyle was back in the day, it's clear that Swann is a definitive homage to Flynn.

My Favorite Year has one of O'Toole's most enjoyable performances. The thing is though is that the movie kind of loses something when he's not on screen, which is the main flaw of My Favorite Year. Many laughs come from My Favorite Year, especially from O'Toole's performance.

My Rating: ****

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Lion in Winter

In my review of Becket a few days ago, I stated that it was a very good movie but I wasn't entirely blown away by it. Four years after that was released, a somewhat follow-up was released.

Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn, both legend of the silver screen (and favorites to AMPAS), are beyond excellent in The Lion in Winter. O'Toole gets a more in-depth role that what he had in Becket. For Hepburn, she gives one of the best performances of her career. Their scenes together made the movie feel like a 12th century version of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.

The Lion in Winter also has Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton in their film debuts. Both actors are better known for their later roles (Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter, Dalton as James Bond), but they definitely leave an impact here.

Once I heard the first lines from James Goldman's script and the first notes of John Barry's score, I knew I was hooked. I've stated countless times before I'm not that crazy about costume dramas, but I believe that The Lion in Winter changed my opinion drastically.

My Rating: *****

Friday, May 13, 2011


I'm usually not a fan of costume dramas since they feel a tad stuffy to me. But I do like the performances in them.

Peter O'Toole is becoming an actor I'm starting to like. Two of his Oscar-nominated performances (Lawrence of Arabia, The Ruling Class) and a lighter performance (How to Steal a Million) out of the way, I was already aware of his work. Here, he continues to impress me.

Richard Burton I was also familiar with. Having seen Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Night of the Iguana beforehand, I was quite aware of his talent. If you ask me, Burton gives the best performance in Becket.

As stated above, I'm not a fan of costume dramas because of their stuffiness. Had it not been for O'Toole and Burton's performances, I probably wouldn't have watched it. Throw in the fact that the writer didn't do enough research as well. But Becket is still a very good movie. Although it's neither O'Toole's or Burton's best work (for O'Toole, it's Lawrence of Arabia; Burton Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), they give good performances. So if you're a fan of costume dramas like Andrew and not me, you'll like Becket.

My Rating: ****1/2

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Counterfeit Casting: Errol Flynn

This entry shall be on the Tasmanian Devil himself, Errol Flynn. Dashing, daring, romantic. Who could display Flynn's iconic traits?

CANDIDATE #1: Orlando Bloom
Oh, as if you haven't seen any of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. That alone is proof that Bloom can play a swashbuckler, one of Flynn's repertoire. And the Lord of the Rings movies show that Bloom is handy with a bow and arrow like Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood (and can rock a pair of tights).
I can't think of anything.

CANDIDATE #2: Jude Law
All right, so I'm cheating since Law already played Flynn in The Aviator (where this picture is from). But he was only in one scene. I want to see what he would've done with a more expanded part.
Again, I can't think of anything.

CANDIDATE #3: Cary Elwes
Three words: The Princess Bride. Seriously, how can you not think of Westley when doing comparisons to Flynn? AND Elwes played Robin Hood! That's gotta count for something, right?
Elwes is a tad past his prime. Maybe cast him as Flynn in his later years?

I know that #2 will get an eager response from a certain someone, as with #1. But who do think could play Errol Flynn?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Elmer Gantry

Once the 1960's rolled around, you could tell that the rules of censorship for movies were starting to fall apart. Dialogue became vicious, performances more ruthless and movies had no boundaries.

That statement can definitely be applied to Elmer Gantry. It shows the intense nature of people's religious beliefs of the time the movie's set.

Burt Lancaster, as we all know, was a powerful presence on screen. His performance reminded me of Robert Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter. Both men are wolves in preacher's clothing, but they also have a chilling aura when they stand at the pulpit. It's an excellent piece of acting from Lancaster, but it pales in comparison to the ruthlessness of J.J. Hunsecker.

It's clear on how Lancaster (and, to a lesser extent, Shirley Jones) won an Oscar, but I don't understand how Jean Simmons wasn't even nominated. She gives honestly one of the best performances I've seen. She may be one of the many corrupted by Gantry's views, but she keeps her morals intact.

To sum things up nicely, Elmer Gantry is an excellent movie. Wonderful work from Lancaster and Simmons as mentioned above. If you ask me, it's a really powerful movie.

My Rating: *****

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Eve though the 1950's were my favorite time period for movies, there were a few misfires from that time.

By now you should know that William Holden is one of my favorite actors. It's not because he look great without a shirt (which he does) but the fact he possesses an anti-hero persona. As Hal Carter, Holden is bit of an anti-hero (and shirtless for most of the movie). It's a good performance, but it's far from being ranked among his best work as an actor.

Kim Novak is becoming an actress I'm slowly starting to like. She has this aloof personality that most actresses don't possess. As Madge Owens, she accepts being called the prettiest girl in town even though she can't stand the attention. Like what I said for Holden, Novak gives a good performance though it's far from being ranked among her best work.

For my money, the best work comes from Rosalind Russell who, had she not been so stubborn with the campaigning, would've most likely won an Oscar. The movie itself I wasn't too crazy about. It has its moments, but it falters ultimately.

My Rating: ***1/2

Monday, May 9, 2011

Prince of the City

Sidney Lumet was a great director. He managed to churn out excellent performances from his actors (Paul Newman in The Verdict, Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon). Perhaps it was because Lumet himself was an actor knew how an actor's mind works.

In the case of Prince of the City, Lumet got a phenomenal performance out of Treat Williams, who plays narcotics detective Danny Ciello. We witness him falling to pieces before our eyes, watching him trying to figure out what's right in the world he lives in.

Lumet had previously covered police corruption eight years earlier with Serpico. (Interestingly enough, Al Pacino, the star of Serpico, was offered to be in Prince of the City.) Apparently Lumet made Prince of the City to get a more accurate depiction of the New York Police Department than what was shown in Serpico. And by my money I think he nailed it.

Lumet knew how to show the anatomy of a crime in his movies, as shown in 12 Angry Men and Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. Prince of the City may not get among the ranks of Network or 12 Angry Men, but it's an excellent movie, even if it's nearly three hours long (which, by the way, is my only complaint).

My Rating: ****1/2

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Counterfeit Casting: Audrey Hepburn

This one had been stewing in my head for a while. I was seriously wondering who could portray such an icon of elegance. Who could play the screen beauty that was Audrey Hepburn?

CANDIDATE #1: Keira Knightley
Appearance? Check. Comparisons to a T? Check.
Knightley isn't exactly as graceful as Hepburn. She's more of a tomboy.

CANDIDATE #2: Natalie Portman
Like Hepburn, Portman has a fragile nature as shown in Black Swan.
Like Knightley, however, Portman is more of a tomboy.

CANDIDATE #3: Anne Hathaway
She has the same bubbly nature Hepburn had in some of her movies.
Judging by the trailer for One Day, Hathaway needs a little more practice when it comes to accents.

Who would you have as Hepburn?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Wild Bunch

When the 1960's were coming to an end, there was a revolutionary movement happening in the world of film. It was the beginning of the "New Hollywood" generation, one filled with obscenity, blood and the occasional nude scene.

One of the more prolific movies from that time was Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch. It was released in 1969, the same year Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and True Grit, two other famous westerns, were released. The main difference between The Wild Bunch and those two? Let's just say The Wild Bunch isn't family friendly.

Man, and I thought the finale for Bonnie and Clyde was nasty. You only need to watch about five minutes of The Wild Bunch to see how Peckinpah earned his nickname "Bloody Sam". Ugh, nasty.

Don't get me wrong. Violence aside, I think The Wild Bunch is one of the best westerns I've seen. It shows humanity slowly adapting to changes in the world and those not willing to accept those changes. It's not for the squeamish, yes, but it's also not one to miss.

My Rating: ****1/2

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Life in Movies

I was commissioned by Andy to partake in this blogathon. It's a simple concept, really: just name your favorite movies released every year since you were born. And for those wondering, yes, I have seen movies released within the last twenty years. (GASP!) Anyway, onto business.

1993: The Nightmare Before Christmas
Animated and weird. Sounds like my life and that's how I like it.

1994: Ed Wood
What I said about the previous entry can describe Johnny Depp's performance in this perfectly.

1995: Se7en
Four words: "WHAT'S IN THE BOX??????"

1996: Primal Fear
Best. Acting. Debut. Ever.

1997: Boogie Nights
No, not for the ending (I know it's fake), but for the performances. P.T. Anderson sure knows how to crank out good ones.

1998: The Thin Red Line
Yeah, I liked this a million times better than Saving Private Ryan. Deal with it.

1999: The Talented Mr. Ripley
Matt Damon being creepy and Jude Law being sexy. 'Nuff said.

2000: Requiem for a Dream
Probably the only movie that had me in tears by the end. Damn you, Aronofsky!

2001: Amelie
One of the most enjoyable movies I have seen in a long time.

2002: Road to Perdition
Was 2002 the "Year of the Underrated"? Sure seems like it.

2003: Mystic River
One of the first movies that left a big enough impact on me.

2004: Closer
Like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? but with less alcohol.

2005: Brokeback Mountain
Fuck the controversy. One of the best romances the silver screen has shown.

2006: The Prestige
My fave Nolan movie.

2007: Into the Wild
Loved the book, adored the movie.

2008: Milk
It deepens my thoughts on gay rights drastically.

2009: An Education
I have high hopes for Carey Mulligan after seeing this.

2010: The Social Network
"Did I adequately answer your condescending question?"