Another quizzical music biography by Mr. Haynes. Someone said that any of his music movies (“Karen Carpenter Story”, Bowie doc “Velvet Goldmine”) could be titled “I’m Not There”. Dylan is actually there, playing harmonica in close-up at the very very end.

Dylans:

Rimbaud / in interview room giving evasive answers / guy from “Perfume”

Woody / train-hopping authentic-sounding blues kid actually a runaway / Marcus Carl Franklin from “Be Kind Rewind”

Billy / quiet recluse living in a western town of his own imagination / Richard Gere

Robbie / guy playing Dylan in typical hollywood bio-pic / Heath Ledger

Jack / fame-shunning Christian folk singer / Christian (heh) Bale

Jude (also heh) / the well-known “don’t look back” 60’s dylan who cavorts with the Beatles and flippantly defies fan and media expectations / Cate Blanchett in one of my favorite performances of the year

Aaand Charlotte Gainsbourg is Robbie’s estranged wife, who is the heart of the movie, the only character with actual human emotion and understandable actions. She barely belongs except to keep the thing reigned in a little.

Fascinating movie, amazing music (Dylan of course) and b/w/color cinematography (Ed Lachman – The Limey, Far From Heaven, A Prairie Home Companion). Must see again and again.

Katy might have misinterpreted my comment that I hate the characters and don’t like the story but thought the movie was pretty good. Well, I’m not here to expain, only to repeat.

Big wide colorful movie with long motion camera shots, some catchy musical numbers, definitely preferable to the non-musical version of the Pygmalion story.

Audrey Hepburn is the best part as Eliza Doolittle, cute and expressive. She nails the early scenes where she’s gotta howl hideously. Got no problem with actors Rex Harrison (lead actor in Unfaithfully Yours) as the thoroughly unlikeable Henry Higgins or Wilfrid Hyde-White (of The Browning Version, The Third Man, Let’s Make Love) as Henry’s more pleasant colleague, though their non-singing scenes were a little wearisome since I don’t like either one of ’em and I know how it’s all going to end up. More enjoyable (but with less screen time) were Stanley Holloway (of Brief Encounter) as Eliza’s singing, drunken father and Gladys Cooper (of The Pirate and Rebecca) as Henry’s posh mother.

I guess George Bernard Shaw is mostly known for this story, though I wouldn’t know why. Alan Jay Lerner, who made the musical version, also did Camelot, Gigi, Brigadoon, Paint Your Wagon and An American In Paris. Director Cukor did a lotta things, incl. musicals A Star Is Born, Let’s Make Love and Les Girls, and almost directed Gone With The Wind. He won his only Oscar for this movie. Pretty much everyone involved in this was at least nominated, except for Audrey (Julie Andrews, who played Eliza on Broadway but wasn’t offered the movie part, won for Mary Poppins).

Good songs: “why can’t the english learn to speak english”… “i could have danced all night”… “with a little bit of luck”… some lesser ones: “you did it” and “get me to the church on time”.

Funny, at the end Eliza has been “bettered”, become classier, can’t go back to the street where she lived, the flower shops, and (until the final scene) she is miserable for it. And her formerly poor, happy-go-lucky drunken father has come into money unexpectedly and is miserable for it. Second musical I’ve seen in a row (after Hallelujah I’m a Bum) where people get rich and wish they hadn’t.

I get Henry’s character and his lame “i’ve grown accustomed to her face” late realization song, but I don’t get what Eliza’s still doing with him at the end of the film. Not a very romantic romance movie. When it comes to movies about obsessively re-shaping young women, I prefer Vertigo.

Co-directed with Gunther von Fritsch, but I’ve never heard of that guy.

Watched the first Cat People again, and I still like it. Cool movie. Male lead Kent Smith (later of The Fountainhead and Party Girl) is like a ten-year-old in love, simple and naive, which only makes Simone Simon (who has the most excellent mouth of any actress) more interesting and mysterious. Smith’s character name is Oliver Reed. Oliver Reed the actor was only five when this came out.

Curse, the sequel, has Kent and his friend (now wife) Alice returning from the first movie, now with their young daughter Amy, who is seeing the ghost (?) of Simone Simon in the back yard. Not super interesting movie, and even if it was, I wasn’t paying much attention, but it did have a rollicking Christmas carol singalong. Has a nice spooky part at the end, when the reclusive Old Lady Farren (who the young girl befriends) dies on the stairwell and the woman’s grown daughter threatens to kill Amy since Farren preferred Amy to her own daughter (whom she accused of being an impostor, “my daughter is dead!”). So two “ghosts” in one movie, although clearly daughter Farren is not really dead, and the returned Simone Simon might be in the little girl’s imagination. So, it’s like Cat People, another spook movie that might not contain any actual spooks.

Man has accident. Needs new face.

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Fortunately he’s friends with a brilliant tissue-replacement surgeon who wants to test his theories that facially-scarred people can reintegrate into society if their faces could appear normal again.

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They find someone with a good face to copy (note: it’s the miner from Pitfall)

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The doctor works hard in his all-glass laboratory.

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The procedure is a success!

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But the doctor’s psychological theories were wrong – the burnt man uses his new face to create a sociopath alternate personality, kind of like Hollow Man but not at all like Darkman.

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Meanwhile, a young woman with a similarly deformed face has an unhealthy relationship with her brother.

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Completely beautiful movie, obviously.

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If Pitfall was a weird movie, this one just dives off a steep cliff of weirdness.

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And it doesn’t end well. For anyone.

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A surprisingly great movie. I mean, it’s Cronenberg so I oughtta like it, but at the same time it’s a late 90’s virtual reality thriller… not the kind of thing you can easily recommend to people, after the blitz that was Dark City, The Cell, The 13th Floor, The Matrix, and to a lesser extent, 1995’s Strange Days / Virtuosity / Johnny Mnemonic. But Cronie has been comfy working with virtually unreal worlds for decades, after Naked Lunch and Videodrome, and his movie easily stands above those others (not to knock Dark City).

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It’s not the story, which is fine, or the is-it-real-or-not bits, which are well played and not overdone or inexplicable, it’s the look of the thing, the sleek style and great lighting… the compositions, which are uniformly attractive without calling attention to themselves or drowning the film in stylistic tricks. It’s genre sci-fi filmmaking that is so good it looks effortless. It won a silver bear in Berlin for outstanding artistic achievement, but was understandably ignored everywhere else.

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Jude Law and Jennifer Jason Leigh (spoiler alert: last 90 seconds) are underground realists out to destroy the creators of virtual-reality video games. They play the premiere of a new game with its creator (Don McKellar)’s participation, along with gamers Ian Holm, Willem Dafoe and others.

Next level: JJL is premiering her new game to a crowd of excited gamers, but when an underground realist tries to assassinate her, security guard JL comes somewhat to the rescue and they go on the run together. Along the way they meet Willem Dafoe, Ian Holm and Don McKellar, but it’s never clear who’s on their side.

Various sub-levels back and forth. The “game pods” are organic, and plug into bio-ports in your spine, but on some levels it’s a mini gamepod that merges with your spine directly. There’s spy business at a chinese restaurant, acknowledged fake accents, CGI insects, a few killings and close calls, and the deadly spoooores.

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Has the game-life analogies you’d expect from the genre and the body-horror, sexuality and organic technology mix you’d expect from Cronenberg. Seeing the movie for a second (third?) time, it’s nice to see that the movie really doesn’t trick you, that the ending makes sense. Whether the ending is the really real “real world” or if we’re still within a simulation doesn’t matter, since of course the movie itself is a simulated reality.

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OCT 2019: Watched with Dana, who said “ewwww” a hundred times, so I think it was a hit.

The missing link between Bonfire of the Vanities and Carlito’s Way.

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Movie’s chugging along fine for a half hour, then helloooo awkward voiceover. Something must’ve gone wrong in the editing process, or maybe test screening audiences were confused.

John Lithgow:
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I love how De Palma keeps trying to make artful tributes to Psycho, then Gus Van Sant just up and remakes Psycho, the dummy. Killing the female lead 40 minutes in… check. Same shot in the police station from Dressed To Kill, also in a police station. Characters named Dante and Cain, heh. With the knife to the hand, the wig/dress costume, the elevator scene and the multiple personalities, this thing has Dressed To Kill written all over it. De P. is referencing himself more than Hitch this time around.

John Lithgow:
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The fun is to figure out which characters are John Lithgow and which aren’t (spoilers: his twin brother and the kid at the restrooms are, his dad is not). Whole movie is worth it for the awesomely choreographed long-shot slow-motion finale at a hotel.

John Lithgow:
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DVD box says: “When Jenny cheated on her husband, he didn’t just leave… he split”. But he was split from the start, and the cheating only got him to try to blame her new guy for one of Lithgow’s murders (it only stuck for about 10 minutes).

John Lithgow:
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Looked for a second opinion but it’s (the only one?) missing from Reverse Shot’s De Palma discussion page. Maybe I’m alone, but I think it’s a real cool movie.

aaaaand John Lithgow:
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Ah, Preston Sturges movies… always worth watching over and over.

You’d think I’d really know who Henry Fonda is, but you’d be wrong. Anyway, now after this and Return of Frank James, I could probably pick him out of a lineup. Terrific, funny cast between him, Barbara Stanwyck, Charles Coburn as the card shark and William Demarest (the dad in Morgan’s Creek) as Muggsy. Writing is at least as good as the acting… was beaten for an oscar by a Robert Montgomery / Claude Rains comedy.

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Henry’s been up the amazon collecting snakes and meets Stanwyck on the ship back home. They fall in love while she’s conning him out of some money with partner Coburn, and when he finds out about the con he leaves her wanting payback. She reinvents herself as The Lady Eve and gets invited to his family estate via mutual monocled friend Eric Blore (played a valet in Sullivan’s Travels). They get married then she runs off and reappears as her card-playing self to have an “affair” with Henry… the end. Overcomplicated, but a proper comedy should be.

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Did Katy like it? Don’t know for sure but I’d think so.

Update Jan 2015: Katy definitely likes it.

Yay!

A purely textural, immersive experience, defies all description or explanation. The actors in a film become their characters, teleporting to Poland, psychics and unknowns, and of course, Rabbits.

Sam writes: “most impressive to me was its function as a purely visceral machine. The sound in the theater was booming, giving his shock-moments of menacing narrative intrusion a physical as well as mental impact. The endless distorted close-ups, his use of darkness and blinding brightness, and the excellently interpolated sequences of abstraction (and those verging on it) contribute at least as much to this effect. Perhaps this is what has been missing in his films since Eraserhead: his attempts at messing with our imagination were only interesting inasmuch as we were interested in his, while in these two very medium-specific movies he ropes our physiological responses into the mix, and cuts far deeper in every way. In an era when the loudest and flashiest action films can actually seem boring (even when combined with artistic pretention as in Children of Men), the emergence of a truly shaking cinematic experience is good news indeed.”

Katy didn’t go.

First movie of my Rivette Fest, to get acquainted with his work before seeing Out 1 in March. But Sam just told me that his late movies, like this one, have little in common with the early batch. So maybe my efforts are misdirected, but whatever the case, I enjoyed this one.

Lab rat Sandrine Bonnaire (Rivette’s Joan of Arc, also starred in Vagabond, East/West, Intimate Strangers, and Chabrol’s The Ceremony) hears from her brother Paul (Grégoire Colin, young star of The Intruder and Dreamlife of Angels) that old family friend Walser (Jerzy Radziwilowicz: Rivette’s Julien, Godard’s director in Passion, star of Man of Iron and Man of Marble) may have killed their father.

it all starts with a photo:
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angry brother:
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Rounding out a star-studded cast is their mom Francoise Fabian (of 5×2, Belle de Jour, and the title role in My Night at Maud’s) and Walser’s girlfriend Laure Marsac (of nothing in particular).

Sandrine confronts Walser and accidentally kills the girlfriend. Later, the gf’s twin sister (also Laure Marsac) shows up. Everyone is sleeping with Walser except for the brother, who’s still all hopping mad. Eventually the twin sister accidentally kills Sandrine (both deaths were caused by someone jumping in front of Walser).

dig the mobile:
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dig the sexy girl:
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Movie is usually captivating, but every time Sandrine rides the train in the first half, it shows us the entire train ride. Goes beyond “setting the mood” and starts to get boring. Much improved in the second half (unlike most movies). A twisty little mystery movie… liked it.

a long train ride:
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final shot:
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