Arrrrgh, I should’ve known better than to trust this movie. A remake with insufficient imagination to justify its existence. A simple thriller with a lot of very good performances, that’s all. I’m probably wrong and it’s probably a Great Film, but I’m gonna go with my gut until proven wrong.

Let’s go: Martin Sheen is the police chief and Leo DiCaprio is his mole. Jack Nicholson is the ganglord and Matt Damon is his mole. Vera Farmiga is the psychiatrist girlfriend. Alec Baldwin is another police guy, and Marky Mark is Sheen’s assistant, one of Scorsese’s new characters.

So what’s different? The relationships with Vera are more developed – she’s marrying Matt and having an affair with Leo. Marky speaks for Sheen, spitting a stream of profanities at anyone in front of him. He kills Matt in the final scene as revenge for Sheen’s death. Most importantly, little things like taking the cellphone out of the evidence bag when Matt first calls Leo and having no recording gear in Leo’s arm cast when the gangsters bust it. Changes for the sake of changing things, removing memorable details that worked well in the original. I like the bit with the psychiatrist and the Marky Mark character – both help justify the longer running time of the remake – but they’ve stripped Leo’s close relationship with the cop boss, making the falling death from the building a lot less meaningful (except through Marky’s revenge bit). I especially don’t get that. I missed Chris Doyle’s cinematography and didn’t appreciate much of the music (especially the Comfortably Numb remake). The move to Boston worked well at least. A perfectly fine movie as long as I hadn’t loved the original. It’s my own fault that I did, I guess.

Katy would not have liked it. Or would she?

Tristana’s (uncle?) guardian decides to start sleeping with her. She has an artist boyfriend. When she gets sick, the uncle has her leg cut off to save her, but when he gets sick, she opens the windows to the cold air and he dies. Also she has dreams where his head is a bell clapper.

Catherine Deneuve is very good as Tristana, and Fernando Rey is good as Don Lope. The movie is dreamlike and slow in that special late-period-Bunuel style that I’ve never appreciated. Pretty okay overall.

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Katy would not have liked it. An open-road hitchhiking serial killer movie. The trucker (“wheeler”) and the cowboy (“walker”) vie for the same victim. Mean, violent fun. No eye gouging that I can remember, but it has the MOH trademark naked woman (being tortured to death).

Interesting thing about it, really the only thing that sets it apart from your standard trucker serial killer movie is that every single character is either killer or victim. No bystanders here… if we see someone, they’re kill-or-be-killed. A familiar-looking Fairuza Balk stars (ed norton’s excitable gf in American History X) with Michael Moriarty, a Cohen regular.




The “worst movie of 2006” label affixed to this is one of the most kneejerk backlashes I’ve seen. And people are attacking M. Night for his acting, but I think they meant to say his casting, putting himself in the martyred messiah role. Whatever.

Paul Giamatti is a superintendent with a tragic past who thinks he has no purpose in life. Bryce Dallas Howard (Ivy in The Village) is a fairy come to earth to do… something. Paul has to send her back to her homeland by keeping the evil grass wolf away long enough that the giant eagle can pick her up. To do this, he has to find some key people who live in the building. He gathers them all together, finds out he’s done it wrong, and gathers a different group instead. Meanwhile they throw a building party and a pessimistic film critic gets taken out by the wolf. Jeffrey Wright from Broken Flowers is in there as a crossword puzzler, and the kid from Heroes is his son. And Bryce tells M Night that he’ll write a book that will inspire a great leader to change the world.

Moving story about finding your purpose, about helping others find theirs, about hope for the future. A fairy tale. I loved it, especially towards the end. The eagle pickup shot from inside the pool is terrific. Amazing looking movie, bizarre/cool compositions confused me at first but turns out it was shot by Christopher Doyle so that explains everything. Katy thought it was okay, but lacked in execution in a few places, “some of the dialogue was terrible” and she “totally disagrees” with me for thinking it was awesome.

Katy thought Belle was dumb and the final scene looked crappy/fake and bits were stolen from Cinderella, but even she was impressed by the handheld candelabras.

One of the most beautiful movies ever, of course. Lighting, set design and costumes are completely perfect, acting and story and effects are all great. Probably not much needed to say since I’ve seen this a bunch of times now.

Learned from commentary: actor Jean Marais (Avenant, The Beast, The Prince) was Cocteau’s lover and suggested he make this film. René Clément (Forbidden Games, Purple Noon) co-directed. Beauty Josette Day starred in Cocteau’s Les Parents Terribles, which I barely remember. Given the post-WWII shortages, Cocteau’s illnesses and all the other problems involved in making this, it must be one of the biggest film triumphs in history.

Katy watched with me! Unfortunately we agreed that it was not too great a movie. Jet Li spends far too long being an unlikeable jerk, and only after his behavior leads to the death of his wife and kid does he shape up. Then after spending years in exile farming with a blind girl, Jet comes back to town just in time to defend China’s honor in a symbolic match against four foreign competitors, during which he is poisoned to death. Good sportsmanship beats personal triumph, and China is respected in the world again. This all ends one year before the 1911 Revolution which ended the last imperial dynasty.

Anyway yeah, your standard action movie with the quick cuts and the pretty pictures and the fast fights and the tragic deaths and the not worth watching again.

There’s something to be said for filming everything at weird angles and heightening your entire movie at once and having arrogant cheesehead lead characters… casting yourself as a rich & powerful murderer and casting your wife as your daughter… using flashbacks and narration and tossing in some goofy comedy scenes. The movie kept me guessing, stylistically if not story-wise.

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Stars a bunch of non-stars, like Robert Arden and Paola Mori. Akim Tamiroff, the reluctant old guy in the beat-up apartment in the only non-flashback scenes, was in The Trial, Touch of Evil, some Preston Sturges movies, Ocean’s Eleven and Alphaville.

Arden, with the high-class name of Guy Van Stratten, is the cheesehead who starts chasing after Arkadin’s daughter Raina. Arkadin hires Guy to dig up Arkadin’s own past, then follows, killing people Guy meets with. Arkadin is thwarted at the airport after tying up the last loose end (Akim Tamiroff) then leaps from his private plane when he believes that Guy has told the daughter all that’s happened.

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Liked the movie but it’s not like “let’s have some friends over and watch mr. arkadin”. This was the corinth version… gotta check out the others sometime.

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I’ll probably remember the feeling of Satantango, the length of it, the way it moves and the way it looks, a lot longer than I’ll remember the plot and characters. So here:

The money from the harvest has come in. Mr. Schmidt is planning to run off with Mr. Kraner and their wives instead of splitting fairly eight ways. Futaki, sleeping with Mrs. Schmidt, finds out and wants in. The doctor watches all this from his room getting drunk on fruit brandy. But the news is that Irimias and Petrina, long thought dead, are approaching town.

At the bar, Mr. and Mrs. Halics frolic with the innkeeper and a talkative Kelemen (“Irimias hugged me and the waitresses jumped like grasshoppers and I was plodding and plodding and plodding”) while the Doctor fails to make the long walk in the cold rain to get more brandy, the town prostitutes have no customers, and a young neglected girl kills her cat then herself.

Irimias shows up at the funeral and rebukes everyone, tells them he will help them start a new life with meaning and honor if they give up all their cash. They abandon the town and head for a crumbling manor, but Irimias shows up soon and says the time is not yet right, that they must scatter and live quietly until attitudes shift enough that they can begin this new life. Irimias fiddles around trying to get lots of gunpowder, finally submits some kind of report to the police captain informing on the former townsfolk, whom he clearly detests. The doctor, alone at home after a hospital visit, boards up his windows.

Simply amazing to sit in a dark theater for eight hours, surrounded by this movie. Time expands and contracts, bends and warps, loops back upon itself. The black-and-white cinematography, the scattered diehard audience, the closeness to the screen, the jitters and scratches and cuts in the film, the swing between almost inaudible dialogue and ear-splitting bell-ringing, the middle-of-the-night drive home from Nashville… the most perfectly realized cinema experience I’ve had for years. A true cinephile/cult film. Seeing it at home on video over the course of a few nights was to study the movie, to follows the story and see what the movie might look and sound like… it was a preview. Seeing it in Nashville is to be part of something, to feel like there’s a point to cinema besides my own living-room amusement. The movie gives hope, if not to the dismal and defeated small-town Hungarian people, then at least to me.

Delightful comedy, light and funny. Jimmy is a serious writer stooping to cover a society wedding with photographer Ruth. Katharine is marrying some schlub and Cary is her ex-husband, C.K. Dexter Haven, intent on making everything difficult for everyone. Katharine has important rich parents and a typically movie-precocious younger sister. K. almost falls for Jimmy at the end, but decides to remarry Cary, leaving Jimmy with Ruth and the schlub to wander off alone. Exactly the kind of movie they don’t make anymore (sorry, Intolerable Cruelty). Katy watched with me and was delighted.

George Cukor: My Fair Lady, Adam’s Rib, Bhowani Junction, fired from Gone with the Wind the year before.

Katharine Hepburn: after Bringing Up Baby and Sylvia Scarlett, before Adam’s Rib, Summertime and The African Queen.

Cary Grant: after His Girl Friday, Only Angels Have Wings and The Awful Truth, before Suspicion, Notorious and Arsenic & Old Lace.

James Stewart: after Shop Around The Corner and Mr. Smith, before Wonderful Life, Northside 777 and Rope.

Philadelphia Story: in the IMDB top 200, won two oscars (screenplay and jimmy stewart), nominated for four more, got beaten by Rebecca, John Ford, and Ginger Rogers (also playing a girl from Philadelphia).

Everyone who worked on this movie is dead (Ruth Hussey died last year).