Limelight 1

Five years after Monsieur Verdoux, twelve after The Great Dictator, and his third-to-last movie. This would be an interesting one to read more about. Charlie plays a clown (Calvero), used to be the most famous in the country but now all washed up. Meets a ballerina on the verge of success but with suicidal tendencies. She tells of a songwriter she once fell for, but insists she’s now fallen for Calvero, wants to marry him. He says that’s ridiculous, that he’s a failing old man and she’s a lovely young woman. Interesting philosophy, since Chaplin (63) wrote + directed and the lead actress (21) was much closer in age to Chaplin’s real wife (26). Anyway, they help each other out, Calvero fades away and lets the girl do her own thing without him. Doesn’t work – she tracks him down, gets him huge sold-out final gig, after which he conveniently dies leaving her to her dark handsome composer and a future as a world-famous ballerina

Limelight 2

Not a comedy, drama all the way, with a few funny bits. Sweet story, good looking movie, totally enjoyed it. I guess the most “personal” movie I’ve seen of his… seems more so than the Great Dictator.

At Calvero’s final gig, he’s doing some of the same jokes he does at the beginning of the movie that get walkouts and disinterest. But at the big sold-out show, audiences are hooting their appreciation, thunderous applause, love love loving it. The jokes haven’t gotten better, but the reception has. Old star suddenly propped up by current new stars and given a benefit gig with hugely overappreciative audience, seemed to me like the crowd is applauding themselves for supporting the old man, the kind of award-show self-important applause that has more to do with being important enough to attend the Big Event and cultured enough to recognize the Famous Talent than it does the actual performance. Don’t know if that’s what Chaplin intended, but anyway, the applause made Calvero feel a whole lot better.

Buster Keaton was in it!

Limelight 3

A motion-slideshow travelogue with narration, from the big squares and queen-attended events to the alleys and streams. The camera is always still, except once in a mall going up an escalator, I can’t imagine why.

London 1

Some interesting photography, but mostly full of references I missed and shots of boring stuff. Didn’t enjoy much. Would only recommend for a few funny quotes, most of which are conveniently gathered here anyway. Sure made me not want to visit London.

London 2

EDIT: Oops, I should’ve re-read the Cinema Scope article that got me renting this in the first place. Buncha stuff about Chris Marker and essay films, anyway.

Oops, wasn’t paying enough attention and will have to see this again. At least I determined that it’s worth seeing again. Julie Christie and George C Scott are a blast, and the editing is wonderfuly disturbing. Lot of relationship stuff in here, specifically about divorce. George is leaving his wife to feel free again, chasing Julie as his symbol of freedom. Julie is beaten almost to death at the end, I think by her husband, and ends up staying with him. So much for freedom. Ohhhhh, “cinematography by Nicolas Roeg” explains a lot.

Petulia 1

Petulia 2

Still conflicted about Taxi Driver. Sure it’s a good movie, has a real nice look to it (ugly, but at least purposefully, professionally ugly), good acting, neat character. Just doesn’t fly out at me as a Great Film or justify the 30 years of hype. Guess I just wasn’t meant to understand American 70’s Cinema. Was really nice to see this on the big screen, even if Lefont decapitated some actors and credits… good texture to it, very nice print. Wish they’d have played King of Comedy instead, but that might not have even pulled in the 50 loners and misfits who bothered to attend this one.

Jan 2010:
Watched again on DVD with Katy, who enjoyed it but kept commenting how obvious everything was – same thing I said when I first saw it. It’s still a nice movie, but watching a widescreen DVD on our square TV (similar problem as with Standard Operating Procedure) you lose all the detailed CG-animation magic that was added when sitting in front at the movie theater – so, all the story problems without the razzle-dazzle that made me overlook them last time.

all I wrote 7/16/2006 was:
Couldn’t help thinking of the Doc Hollywood comparisons I’d read before seeing this. Fun movie, looked great. More obvious than other Pixar movies. Nice enough preview for Ratatouille, our Next Great Hope. Patton Oswalt is in it!

Yay, exactly lives up to expectations. Great adaptation of the book, great casting and animation and interpretation. Which means it gets fully depressing at the end, and makes me sad just to think about it. Sits inside the mind of a drug addict and tears his mind apart, turns it into not just a paranoid government conspiracy but a small-scale personal tragedy. Amazingly, unexpectedly, Linklater casts his jovial stoner hero from Dazed & Confused as the first addict whose mind falls apart… seems like a personal comment thrown into what is otherwise PK Dick’s vision (even including Dick’s list of dedications from the end of the book).

“We were all very happy for a while, sitting around not toiling but just bullshitting and playing, but it was for such a terrible brief time, and then the punishment was beyond belief.” “There is no moral to this novel; it is not bourgeois; it does not say they were wrong to play when they should have toiled; it just tells what the consequences were.” – PK Dick

Amphetamine (1966)
Where Did Our Love Go? (1966)

Warren Sonbert started his career just like Stan Brakhage (Desistfilm) – sitting around his apartment, shooting his friends doing daily stuff. But where Brakhage used camera tricks and crazy editing, Sonbert (12 years later) relied on his friends’ outrageous antics (drug use, homosexuality, knowing Andy Warhol) to make his movies interesting. It didn’t work for me, but the mid-60’s pop songs he strung together on the soundtrack made for good listening.

Honor and Obey (1988)
Friendly Witness (1989)

Then Sonbert travelled the world for a number of years, reviewing operas and shooting everything he came across with his portable Bolex. And like the dude who did “Ashes & Snow”, he one day sat down and edited all his stuff through the years into some movies. Unlike “Ashes” though, it’s quickly and intuitively edited, the shot order making sense only to the director, if anybody. “Honor and Obey” is completely Brakhage-silent, and Friendly Witness starts with the same 60’s pop songs from before, then uses opera over the second half. Slightly more excitingly edited than “Honor” and would’ve been preferable anyway if only for the pop songs. Completely wonderful films, great color, great framing, lots of animal shots, shots from planes, on water, on children. Loved ’em. Didn’t understand ’em, of course, but didn’t have to.

Initial bad signs:
Characters live in a universe where the hellraiser movies exist, wear hellraiser t-shirts.
The story centers around an online game
Lance Henriksen is the special guest star

Hellworld 1

Amazingly it isn’t the not-even-clever inside references, the netspeak or the video game nonsense that sinks this movie right into the crapper… it’s the stupid story and corny acting. Never since Blair Witch II has there been so much teen-actor mugging in a horror movie! The story falls into the twilight-zone groove of Inferno, but not as good… Lance very obviously drugs their drinks and they’re asleep the whole movie. Two kids get rescued by the cops, and Lance gets chopped to bits by a cenobite for mis-using Pinhead’s props for a lame it-was-all-a-dream ending. Possible Aliens reference:

Hellworld 2

When this typical 80’s couple…

Crimes 1

meets THIS typical 80’s couple…

Crimes 2

… only a big ol’ Psycho-referencing ending can ensue:

Crimes 3

Fantastically fun, over-the-top movie, with crazy crazy acting by Kathleen Turner and Anthony Perkins. Normal guy with frigid wife falls for fantasy-fulfillment prostitute (who’s a clothing designer I think by day) who is being stalked by creepy bible-quoting porn addict (Perkins, on break between Psychos 2 and 3). There’s nothing here to dislike. Ken Russell audio commentary is a treat to save for later.