Thursday, July 28, 2011

(bleep) it all.

I am just having one of those days where I want people to stay far away from me. I kind of need to stew it off for a while, meaning blogging will be in short supply for the weekend. It'll resume on Monday in time for a new BOOK VS. MOVIE entry.

Anyway, carry on.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


The title of this movie means more that it lets on. In the public eye, the four characters are people who never get a moment's peace. But once out of that view, they're just like everybody else. Even then they want attention.

That is clearly the case with the Actress, played excellently by Theresa Russell. Her fame weary star (who bears more than just a passing resemblance to Marilyn Monroe) has gotten fed up with using her sexuality as a means of attention. "I wish they'd switch me off," she sighs to the Professor (Michael Emil as Albert Einstein).

The two other men in Insignificance aren't as gentle to the Actress as the Professor is. They both abuse her in some form: the Ballplayer (Gary Busey as Joe DiMaggio) emotionally, the Senator (Tony Curtis as Joseph McCarthy) physically. This is why the Actress likes the Professor. He's more captivated by her mind, not her body.

In public view, both the Actress and the Professor appear stable and collected. Behind closed doors, however, they grapple with their personal demons. Both would die with fame still haunting them, but at least they would finally get away from it.

My Rating: ****1/2

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Stunt Man

Why are movies about movies always so entertaining? Is it to see the antics that happen on the set? Or is it to see the pure chaos that goes into making a movie?

Steve Railsback may get all the attention as fugitive turned stunt man Cameron, but the show's all about Peter O'Toole. His Eli Cross is a scene stealer from the very beginning. After all, O'Toole did base his performance off the man who made him a star: David Lean.

One performance I also admire is that of Barbara Hershey. I like her later work in Hannah and Her Sisters and Black Swan, so I was bound to like her here. She's under the control of Eli, but she takes more of a liking to Cameron.

All in all, The Stunt Man is good fun. Even when O'Toole isn't on screen, the movie still has an electric feeling. Those who love movies about movies will get a kick out of this one.

My Rating: ****1/2

Monday, July 25, 2011

I can explain!

If you may have noticed (or not), there was an unplanned hiatus for Defiant Success. For several reasons:

  1. I was out of town,
  2. Where I was staying didn't have internet access, and
  3. Writer's block was knocking me out.
Anyway, blogging shall be normal for now on. Reviews will resume tomorrow.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Apologies if I've been asking a lot of questions these last few days. This writer's block is murder.

Anyway, onto the question. When it comes to deciding on what movie to watch, what do you turn to? Do you head to a major film review site (ie, Rotten Tomatoes) or to a smaller movie blog?

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I'm starting to run on empty for post ideas. Suggestions are appreciated in the comments, but for now I have a question to ask you.

What 2011 release are you anticipating the most?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Ah, the dog days of summer are upon us. For me, that usually means going to Cape Cod, seeing relatives, catching up on reading, the works. But when I'm back home, it means sitting in my air-conditioned room watching movies and surfing the interwebs.

What does summer mean to you?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


To those who are devotees to the company, Criterion had a 50% off sale for all inventory today. And yes, I took full advantage of it. I went to the closest store that sells Criterion DVDs and purchsed:
  • Insignificance
  • Diabolique
  • Wings of Desire
  • The Last Emperor
And these add to the other Criterion DVDs I own, which are:
  • Sweet Smell of Success
  • Ace in the Hole
  • The Night of the Hunter
  • The Thin Red Line
  • 8 1/2
In short, best day ever. Which Criterion DVDs do you own?

Monday, July 11, 2011


I'm on vacation down here in Cape Cod for the next two weeks or so, depending how things pan out. It's all right, but the lack of internet service where I'm staying nearly gets me in a Jack Torrance kind of mood. Okay, maybe not that far but I get kind of twitchy. Anyway, I'll try to keep the site up to date.

What are some memorable vacations of yours, good or bad?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mr. Peanut

We've all read books and seen movies about the joys of marriage and being love, most of the results being hokey. Only a few are brave enough to expose the destructive nature of marriage, Adam Ross' novel Mr. Peanut being one of them.

When we're first introduced to David Pepin, he's contemplating his wife Alice's death. That doesn't mean he hates her. David is madly in love with Alice. It's just their marriage has hit the skids. It was a doomed relationship from the start. After all, they first met in a college class about Hitchcock.

To achieve a better sense of how frayed David and Alice's marriage is, Ross throws in the somewhat sour marriage of Sam and Marilyn Sheppard as a reference. (In fact, Ross puts Sheppard in the role of a detective, regardless of the fact that Sheppard has been dead since 1970.) It makes the reader ponder over this question: if a person is truly discontent with their marriage, can it drive them to murder? (As a sidenote, I strongly believe that Sam Sheppard was wrongly accused of Marilyn's murder.)

Not since Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? have we seen the dark side of marriage. Once in love now just moments away from filing for divorce (or even murder). This, in my opinion, is pretty ballsy stuff for an author's debut. Seriously not one to avoid.

My Rating: *****

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

Counterfeit Casting Mixed Bag

It's Counterfeit Casting time again! Let's see who we have this time around.

Clark Gable
Who was he?
Suave and sophisticated leading man who was also a prankster.

Come on, can't you picture it? This one picture also clears up any disapproval on appearance.

James Cagney
Who was he?
Known for his gangster movies, he managed to stray away from the tough guy image to show his range in other genres.

I saw a few similarities between Cagney in White Heat and Renner in The Town, the main one being their characters have itchy trigger fingers and tempers to match. Plus, Renner has shown his range as an actor prior to The Hurt Locker and The Town.

Robert Redford
Who is he?
Good-looking leading man who can be a goofball from time to time.

Seriously, it seems so accurate. I have no further comment.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Victor Victoria

In a sense, Blake Edwards is a little similar to Billy Wilder. They both ventured into identical themes, particularly alcoholism (Wilder The Lost Weekend, Edwards Days of Wine and Roses) and cross-dressing (Wilder Some Like It Hot, Edwards Victor Victoria). The main difference? Edwards' films didn't have the same zest as Wilder's.

We all know that Julie Andrews can belt a tune. And from Victor Victoria, we also learn that she has wonderful comedic timing. She may not be very convincing as a man appearance wise but when it comes to singing, there's no contest.

The three major supporting actors caught my eye. James Garner has the right mixture of charm and humor. Robert Preston cracked me up with his character's flamboyant nature, as noted in the final scene. Lesley Ann Warren felt, to me, like a dumb blonde a la Marilyn Monroe with a Judy Holliday-like voice, and it works.

Oh my God, you can tell that this is a Blake Edwards movie just from the jokes in it. But you have to admit that Victor Victoria is funny as hell. Not as funny as Some Like It Hot, but very close to.

My Rating: *****

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Three Faces of Eve

Already quite aware of her husband's movies, I decided to catch up on Joanne Woodward's movies. I knew that she was a good actress. After all, I was very impressed by her work in The Fugitive Kind.

Here in The Three Faces of Eve, Woodward plays Eve White, a timid Southern housewife. She suffers from multiple personality disorder, her two other personalities the lively Eve Black and the refined Jane.

I admire Woodward's work in this because of her ability to switch personalities in the blink of an eye. One minute she's the quiet Eve White, the next minute she's the vivacious Eve Black. And bear in mind that The Three Faces of Eve was only Woodward's third movie (and released a year before she married Paul Newman). That showed Hollywood that a new talent has arrived.

Even with Woodward's performance, I felt there was something missing that would have made The Three Faces of Eve great. Perhaps the spark that was there when it was released but has now faded away. Still, it's a movie that's worth checking out.

My Rating: ****1/2

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Inglourious Basterds

I've been a little iffy when it came to Quentin Tarantino. Blood-soaked scripts and foot fetishes aside, I think he's a good director. It's just I need to watch his movies in moderation.

I love how the trailers showed that Inglourious Basterds was going to be all about Brad Pitt. In reality, however, it's an ensemble piece. Each actor plays their role excellently. I personally like Christoph Waltz's work, where one review said this: "As Colonel Hans Landa, he runs the gamut of cinematic Nazi-ness, from the cold menace of Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List to the high camp of Dick Shawn in The Producers."

Back to Tarantino for a moment. Again, I think he's a good director. However, I'm not entirely won over by him. Then again, I've only seen two of his movies. Maybe once I see a few more of his movies my opinion will change.

Man, Inglourious Basterds is one crazy movie. I mean, what do you expect if the title is purposely misspelled? It's a well-acted action movie, which, let's face it, is a rarity by today's standards.

My Rating: *****

Monday, July 4, 2011


Since I'm not feeling up for writing a review, I might as well mention something that happening over at a blog I normally read.

John over at John Likes Movies is hosting a Criterion Collection Blogathon. If you're wondering, yes, I took my part in it. Very cool concept. Be sure to check it out.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Personality Soup

I got inspired by the posts written by Brandie and Meredith. It got me thinking as to which movie characters have tints of my personality. Here's a glimpse into my being.

Eve Harrington's (All About Eve) cunning and bitchy attitude
Madeleine Elster's (Vertigo) mysterious allure
Ida Corwin's (Mildred Pierce) sarcasm
Clementine Kruczynski's (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) quirkiness
Those are the characters that make up my personality. Who makes up yours?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

By now everyone knows of the feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, which started with a simple love triangle between them and Franchot Tone. I still wonder how Robert Aldrich got them in the movie without any problems.

The other movie I saw Davis in was All About Eve. Her role in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is similar to her role in All About Eve: a once-famous name of the stage not willing to slip into obscurity. And even though Davis is a villain in this, it's also tragic to see Jane lose her fleeting fame and eventually her mind.

As for Crawford, the other movie I saw her in was Mildred Pierce. Again, the roles were similar: a woman whose life is under the control of another selfish woman. Her Blanche is similar to Mildred in the sense that both women are easily manipulated by the other (Blanche to Jane, Mildred to Veda), which in hindsight isn't exactly a good thing.

It's hard to say which of the two is better, but I'm leaning towards Davis for the creepiness of her role. It appears like a campy movie on the surface, but under that thin veneer lies a damn good psychological thriller.

My Rating: *****

Friday, July 1, 2011

BOOK VS MOVIE: American Psycho

You know how most adaptations are completely different from the original source? Most of the that's just annoying. Other times, however,  it makes room for slight improvement.

Take for example American Psycho. Bret Easton Ellis' book contains more blood and guts (literally) than a Tarantino movie and a Peckinpah movie combined. But thanks to Mary Harron's adaptation, the story's violence gets toned down considerably. If it wasn't for that factor, I would've avoided the movie like the Black Plague.

The main character of American Psycho is Patrick Bateman. In the book, he comes off as a pretentious douche. But in the movie...he still comes off as a pretentious douche. Almost immediately you take a dislike to him. And yet, you can't bring yourself to completely hate him.

Those who have seen American Psycho can vouch that Christian Bale should have been nominated for an Oscar. After seeing his work, that's a resounding "Hell yes!" Seriously, he had to wait a whole decade before getting some recognition? Lame.

So what do I think of American Psycho? The book was too gruesome and the movie, though less violent, was also a bit too gruesome. That aside, however, I did like them. Sort of.

What's worth checking out?: I'd go with the movie.