Kathy (Kathleen Ryan of The Sound of Fury) likes Johnny (James Mason, before The Reckless Moment). He is just out of prison, planning a new heist with his boys. They’re worried that Johnny can’t handle it, but after Johnny is wounded fighting with a guard (whom he kills), his compatriots prove jumpy and incompetent, losing Johnny then hiding at the wrong woman’s house (she turns them into the cops). Now a bloody and delirious Johnny staggers about the city at night during a police manhunt, while Kathy and Robert Beatty (2001: A Space Odyssey) search for him.

Mike D’Angelo:

Current Letterboxd one-sheet proclaims this “the most exciting motion picture ever made!”, which is not just hyperbole but essentially the antithesis of how the film actually works. Mason was already Britain’s top star at the time, yet Odd Man Out incapacitates him almost immediately, leaving him mostly or entirely unconscious for the duration; he’s the passive fulcrum around which a bevy of reactive dramas pivot, collectively providing a portrait of an entire community.

That the movie never specifies the I.R.A., referring only to “the Organization,” in no way renders it any less politically charged, opening disclaimer notwithstanding — there’s a world of bitter truth in the cab driver’s parting admonition “If you get back to your friends, you’ll tell ’em I helped you. Me, Gin Jimmy. But if the police get you, you won’t mention my name, huh?”

Priests and cabbies and passers-by and concerned citizens get involved, and finally Johnny ends up part of a drunken artists’ circus. He’s taken to a pub by parakeet lover Shell (F.J. McCormick, who died a few months after the film’s release) whose crazed painter friend (second-billed Robert Newton, a David Lean regular) insists on painting the dying man. Kathy finds Mason in the end – but so do the police.

Shell (left) and the mad painter:

Features a bunch of Reed’s trademarked sharp wall shadows. Oscar-nominated (for editing) same year as The Bishop’s Wife, Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, Black Narcissus and Song of the South, a weird oscar year.

the Story of Film bubbles of influence, times five:

The contemporary Film Quarterly review was written by Force of Evil writer/director Abraham Polonsky. He’s not a huge fan, especially calling out the inspecific nature of Mason’s organization, as if the film could’ve been made if he’d been named a IRA leader.

The closer we examine Odd Man Out, its confusions of motive, its drift from facing out toward what conditions morality to the inner world which denies it, the more adequately we estimate our own reactions, the clearer it becomes that the film, although invested with all the trappings of realism, is nothing more than an enormous fantasy, a fantasy of the unconscious, a confession, a private dream. Odd Man Out is actually a stereotype of realism in the literary form of melodrama. Its content, as differentiated from its mechanical form, is essentially antirealistic, a consideration of a metaphysical and not a social struggle. In treating social events it is necessary to know their precise historical conditions in order to evalute the operation of moral choices. In a metaphysical inquiry we are mainly interested in defining the abstract terms for logical manipulation. Nowadays a whole literary school has arisen, antirealistic in nature, which is devoted to deciding whether organization-as-such is evil (not whether this organization is evil or not), and whether man’s inner agony is a condition of physical existence (not whether this social existence or that creates terror and anxiety in his spirit). Such questions are not considered useful from the point of view of reality.

He contrasts it with Monsieur Verdoux, “a free film, made with an artist’s freedom from censorship, freely invented, and always brought into relation to a living social condition.”

One of those Totoro/Coraline stories where the kids move to a new place and discover wonders there…kind of… but also one of the kids is a mermaid-seal, and so was her mom, and the girl needs to recover the seal pelt her dad chucked into the ocean or else all the mythological creatures in the land will be turned to stone.

Triumph of animation and design, as foretold by The Secret of Kells. It’s Irish, so Brendan Gleeson is in it (as the dad). I loved it despite the fact that owls were the villains.

Big Hero 6 and How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Miniscule and Princess Kaguya took most of the awards this was nominated for. Admittedly it was a great year for animation, also with Boxtrolls and Cheatin’ and The Lego Movie but I’m surprised this didn’t get more love.

Last film watched in 2015, and it’s a good one. Impossibly gorgeous and perfectly-lit Saoirse Ronan is in every scene, which should be enough of a recommendation, but it’s also a good story – a small-scale immigrant drama and minor love triangle given epic scale through grand filmmaking.

Eilis (which looks like Ellis, as in the island, now that I see it written) is sent abroad to New York by beneveolent priest Jim Broadbent, leaving her mother and sister Rose behind in Ireland. After a rough ship ride she settles in at her department store job with Parker Posey doppelganger Jessica Paré and a boarding house run by Julie Walters with other girls (incl. Arrow star Emily Rickards) who are looking for men and enjoying the night life. Quiet Eilis manages to attract a serious guy – an Italian plumber named Tony (Emory Cohen of Afterschool) with big dreams of a family housing business. After her sister’s sudden death she returns to Ireland to see her mom and friends, starts hanging out with Domhnall Gleeson, locally considered a major catch. Will she abandon her Tony and her golden dreams of America to stay comfortably at home with Gleeson? No!

Novel by Colm Tóibín, adapted by Nick Hornby, directed by Crowley (Boy A, Closed Circuit). Up for three oscars, but not everyone loved it.

M. D’Angelo:

… feels weirdly sanitized, like somebody’s pseudo-nostalgic conception of the ’50s based on movies from that era. (Compare and contrast with Carol, which admittedly inhabits a different milieu but is unmistakably grounded in lived experience.)

Apparently-wealthy London music critic Ray Milland (with The X-Ray Eyes) and his sister Pamela (Ruth Hussey, photographer in The Philadelphia Story) spontaneously buy a haunted house on the cliffs of Ireland from Commander Donald Crisp (a DW Griffith silent actor). The commander’s granddaughter Stella (Gail Russell, who’d drink herself to death at age 36) has a ghostly obsession with the house, keeps wanting to visit and then almost committing suicide on the cliffs. Ray’s got a thing for the girl, who is way too young for him (he even mentions this once) so they keep allowing her to come over, and Pamela tries to figure out the ghostly presence in the house, but the commander is unhelpful with family history.

Stella and Ray – lot of nice candlelight in this movie:

Turns out he had reason to be unhelpful, since Stella’s real mom isn’t his dead daughter but a model named Carmel hired by Stella’s philandering dad. Ghost-mom is trying to murder the girl, while ghost-bio-mom Carmel wants her protected. The ghosts are mostly conveyed by Pamela looking intense and commenting on some odor or sound in the room, but we get some light visuals at the end when Ray sees them with his x-ray eyes.

The whole mystery gang:

A seance is faked with the help of old doctor Scott (Alan Napier, also appearing with Ray in Ministry of Fear), who I suspect isn’t the best doctor, in order to convince Stella to stay away from the house (or something). This doesn’t work, and Stella keeps running towards the cliff (maybe they should build a guard rail). The Commander takes drastic action, has the girl committed to a nuthouse run by ghost-mom’s nut friend Holloway (famed writer Cornelia Skinner, with Ray again in Girl in the Red Velvet Swing). Escapes and rescues ensue, Ray ends up with Stella, and Pamela with the doctor (I didn’t see that coming).

L-R: Stella, her dead mom, her dead mom’s obsessive girlfriend:

“From the Most Popular Mystery Romance since Rebecca” – the book must have been racier than the movie since there was hardly any romance to be found here. IMDB says it reused sets from I Married a Witch, and F.S. Nehme says the censorship boards and decency leagues of the time decried the implied romantic affair between evil-ghost-mom and her evil madhouse friend.

Based on the poster I thought it was a Bug’s Life legend, but no that’s a human ghost girl hiding behind leaves. No-fun ol’ Abbot (Brendan Gleeson) thinks only about defending the town of Kells from viking invaders, but his nephew Brendan would rather follow the illustrator Aidan who comes to town hoping to complete a treasured book. Brendan gets help in the forest from the fairy Aisling, gathering berries for ink and a magnifying crystal from a cave creature (for drawing fine detail) and feathers from a goose’s butt. Turns out the Abbot’s defense plans weren’t all that, and the town gets sacked and nearly everyone dies, but Brendan completes the book, and so Irish culture lives on, I suppose. After a rewatch of Once, this was #2 in our Ireland Films Series.

Terrific design and compositions in this movie – some of it presumably based on Irish art and the real Book of Kells. Similar in ways to The Tale of Princess Kaguya, a simple/ancient folk tale animated with a singular style, and with one breathless centerpiece scene. In this one, it’s Aisling’s song, when she gives Aidan’s cat the power to retrieve a key to free the imprisoned Brendan. The real Book is an illustrated bible, but the movie avoids (almost?) any talk of bibles or religion, despite taking place in an abbey.

Also watched a 2001 short called Pitch n Putt with Beckett and Joyce, in which a tempermental, foul-mouthed, eyepatched James Joyce attempts to play mini-golf with an unresponsive Sam Beckett. Made Katy laugh, therefore good short.

Another Brendan Gleeson action/comedy written/directed by a man named McDonagh – but this isn’t the guy who made In Bruges, it’s his brother. You see how that could be confusing.

There’s a serial killer on the loose, perhaps, and Gleeson is the local cop on the scene. Or it’s a drug crew faking the serial-killer thing to throw people off their scent. A young cop disappears and his wife is bugging Gleeson to find him. And FBI agent Don Cheadle (his character is from Atlanta, yay) shows up but finds his fancy training is no match for Gleeson’s down-homey knowledge and instincts. Also, Gleeson is a huge racist and thief, but that’s all played for laughs.

Our mismatched team takes on the druggies (incl. Liam Cunningham, priest in the super long-shot of Hunger, and Mark Strong, dude who lives in a trailer for most of Tinker Tailor) by themselves at the end. Gleeson blows up. Or he swims away with a half-billion in cash, depending who you believe. Anyway, it’s a diverting-enough picture, but my favorite bit was an excerpt from The Shout, which Gleeson sits at home watching between murders.

Salman Rushdie came better prepared this time. He’s a fan of John Huston in general, but after programming the long-unseen Wise Blood last year for his “great adaptations” series, he turned out not to like the adaptation very much. This one he talked about as if he’d just watched it.

It’s quite a strange movie, and seems profoundly appropriate as a great action/adventure director’s final film. Opens with some friends arriving at a small party hosted by a couple of older women, spends ninety minutes at the party, then a short cab ride home with Anjelica Huston (oscar-winning for her previous John Huston film) and her husband Donal McCann (obviously not a huge film actor, was in Rawhead Rex the previous year, and not even in the lead). She confesses to her husband about a boy who loved her when she was in high school, who loved her with a passion her husband has never known, who died when she left town. And after she falls asleep, he looks out the window, his thoughts in voiceover are the James Joyce story’s celebrated final paragraph.

Ebert has a really wonderful write-up on the film:

The Dead ends in sadness, but it is one of the great romantic films, fearless in its regard for regret and tenderness. John Huston … had an instinctive sympathy for the kindness with which the guests at the Misses Morkan’s party accepted one another’s lives and failings. … Gabriel is the witness to it all. An early shot shows the back of his head, regarding everyone in the room. Later he will see his wife, finally, as the person she really is and always has been. And he will see himself, with his ambitions as a journalist, the bright light of his family, the pride of his aunts, as a paltry fellow resting on unworthy accomplishments. Did these thoughts go through John Huston’s mind as he chose his last film and directed it? How could they not? And if all those sad things were true, then he could at least communicate them with grace and poetry, in a film as quiet and forgiving as the falling snow.

The only actor I recognized (besides Huston, of course) was Colm Meaney in a minor role. Also in the room here Dan O’Herlihy (Buñuel’s Robinson Crusoe), Donal Donnelly (of Richard Lester’s The Knack) as a drunk, Helena Carroll (The Friends of Eddie Coyle) as one of the hostesses (don’t know if she’s the one in charge or the one who sings a song who McCann imagines dead in the final monologue) and Marie Kean (Barry Lyndon’s mother).

Romero is just making mediocre genre movies and putting zombies in ’em now. This one’s a dumb 80’s actioner (buncha dudes act tough and spit bad dialogue punctuated by explosions) crossed with a silly-ass Irish family-feud revenge drama… with zombies in it. Shamus Muldoon is warring with Patrick O’Flynn on a small island off Ireland Delaware. One wants to kill all the local zombies, the other wants to keep ’em around attached to chains, like the last few minutes of Shaun of the Dead turned into a pretend-serious idea… “pretend” because whenever the drama threatens to get heavy, the movie throws in some cartoony business to show it’s all in good fun. The comedy destroys the drama since the drama wasn’t so good to begin with. At least Land of the Dead had new ideas (the zombies starting to communicate and organize) and kept some of the satirical edge of the first three. The last couple have felt like GA Romero’s Cash-in of the Dead… funny, since they barely played theaters (but they look cheap as hell so surely still made a profit for someone).

The O’Flynn gang:

Oh yeah, so a four-man army-deserter group are in search of money (why?), team up with a mysterious teen (who turns out not to be mysterious), and follow an exiled O’Flynn back to the island (of the dead) to look for his twin daughters and fight Muldoon, who’s trying to make the dead learn to eat animals instead of people (why?). At the end, the lesson (told to us in voiceover) is that people fight each other for stupid reasons.

The only shot I really liked:

More than one actor in this was also in Boondock Saints II and the Saw series. Mysterious Teen appeared in Land of the Dead and played Rodrick in Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Our beardy hero was also in Land, and I’m pretty sure there’s a plot reference early on to Diary, but any connections to the other films seem like an afterthought. In competition at Venice, either because of that European tendency to fake-appreciate poor American genre flicks, or because they hadn’t seen the finished product when they allowed it in.

Hilarious cartoon explosion-aftermath:

Hilarious cartoon burning-head-used-as-cigarette-lighter:

That’s Steve McQueen the artist who everyone pretended to have heard of when this came out, a naked Warholian who recreates Buster Keaton stunts and projects them onto art gallery walls, not Steve McQueen the actor who everyone has actually heard of, who jumped a nazi barbed-wire fence on a motorcycle.

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For a director who talks up innovation and rulebreaking, he’s made a rather classic-looking film, with much attention paid to capturing beautiful shots in what should be an ugly story – a hunger strike unto death by physically abused political prisoners inside the shit-smeared walls of a British prison. I expected more subjective views, more filmic art-stuff a la Diving Bell and the Butterfly (also by a former art-gallery sensationalist) but it seems most of the experimentalism was narrative, and who knows if that’s due to McQueen or experienced co-screenwriter Enda Walsh.

I ultimately got less, narratively and emotionally, than from the more conventional IRA/prison flick In the Name of the Father.

Extremely-long-take centerpiece, in which priest Liam Cunningham (Wind That Shakes The Barley, The Mummy 3) fails to talk Bobby (Michael Fassbender, the Inglorious Basterds brit who gets shot up in the basement bar):
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Prison guard who gets his own arc, ending with execution in his senile mum’s lap:
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Another prison guard, who does not enjoy beating prisoners:
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Secret messages:
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