Saturday, March 22, 2014

Tootsie and Me

I loved this movie when I saw it in 1982. Loved him in the role, and the beautiful love story at the core. Loved walking out into the sun that day at age 12, and comparing the blue sky to that New York blue sky in the film. I remember hoping they'd make it as a couple.

LOVED seeing it again at the Oxford Theatre last week, and walking out into the exact same blue sky matching the end of the film.
I love it's wit, charm, look, humour and it's performances. I love how beautifully early '80s it is. I appreciate Charles Durning and Dabney Coleman a helluva lot better too.

I love Tootsie - and I love it when a movie you loved in youth is every bit as good or better as an adult.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Some thoughts on UNFORGIVEN and 3:10 TO YUMA

I enjoy discovering the genetic material of moviemaking.

Clint Eastwood's UNFORGIVEN is an elegy to the genre, and an excellent example of a revisionist western  ...or is it?
I think it's an extremely interesting film for the fact that it sets itself up in the traditional ways of western storytelling then meta-rides through it's own contempt for the genre wilst utilizing it's tricks to both defy and embolden our ideas of "a western" at the same time. Even the decision to open the story with the respect for women that the genre is know for a definitive lack-of, is a genre-challenging choice that should let us in on the fact that this is going to be a layered intelligent film. The screenplay flirts with conventions while undermining its power with the same tools. Unforgiven, like Will Munny, hates itself whilst respectfully acknowledging the only language it can speak to us in - the language of fear.

I remember seeing it for the first time - I was a wild 21 year old, and the fear in Clint in that end scene - it threw me off, and I wondered why? Why the effect in me, and why the choice to end the film on the note of a seemingly powerful character's fear. Like Chinatown and The French Connection I wasn't sure if I liked it, but it called to me - I needed to understand why Unforgiven was told.

There's a lot of fear in the movie 3:10 TO YUMA as well, and I think this element of humanization is always the way revisionist genre will go. We create stories that mythologize the things we believe in on a grand scale - makes for great entertainment, but association with this is a bit trickier ..broader than the world we reside in. This is where realism, or at least the move towards it has to begin, so that we the audience can find ourselves within the story being told, no matter which character we find association within.
Even as far back as 1957, I think the audience of 3:10 would have been equally split between the motivations of Dan(the good guy) vs the motivations of Ben(the bad guy), and I'd even guess Elmore Leonard's choice of names was deliberate - they're pretty close. Each of these men is trying to be something specific and different, but each seems very much activated by fear. We see each of these men make decisions from different motivations and we understand them.

So much for color-coding cowboys, eh?
Will Munny could easily be Glenn Ford's character and may just be..
as well as being many of Clint's younger, wilder characters.
Is Unforgiven's Director not saying straight up "I've played a lot of violent irresponsible characters - perhaps it's time to atone, at at least address atonement."
Gleaned from David Webb Peoples' screenplay is that yes, Munny was a rather bad cat - drunk, violent and not unlike the scheming womanizer Ben of 3:10, who may just go on to become a better man.
But what does Clint ultimately say about the western and the western archetype by playing this aged antihero who rises to defend the honour of whores?
Plenty, but it's complex. Like his character in Gran Torino, I think Mr. Eastwood is at a point of maturation and recognition of much larger elements to the human story. The phrase "no more" is used quite a bit, illustrating a definite acknowledgement of everything that came before, both in his own career and the genre itself. As the Director of Unforgiven I think Clint saw an opportunity to comment very deeply on his own perception of violence, and when/why it is ugly but necessary. Or maybe it evolved as he recognized it within himself - the grand comment from filmdom's senior tough guy might be "..there's always a smarter way to face your fears than violence".

3:10 to Yuma is an excellent example of a revisionist genre film, whilst Unforgiven is either the ultimate revisionist western, or an extraordinary film-career-socio-commentary-meta-film on the ridiculousness of North American violence really well-disguised as one.


Monday, June 17, 2013



..blah blah..
I don't know what everyone's so excited about - fantastic new Superman actor - thoughtful sharp script - cutting edge effects - a cast that challenges the '78 Superman - yeah, what gives..

anyway, I'm off to see Man of Steel for a third time - I'll be back with a proper review..


Saturday, March 30, 2013


I watched an excellent action film this month and it was fun as hell, though bittersweet.
From beginning to end this tale of a man on his own - of impossible odds against a group of terrorists, looks, acts, and feels like the movie I'd absolutely hoped for with Die Hard 5. It was logical - he saves a building in the first - an airport in the second - a city in the third(his city) - the eastern seaboard in number four, and logically - inevitably would be the whole country in number five. Not only would he save the country, but the actual president in his house - goofy, overly patriotic ..perhaps, but Die Hard evolution, baby..
..could have been huge and so much fun if that guy up there kicking ass and saving lives while saying hilarious shit was named John McClane,
but nope.

OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN was a blast, and so close to what A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD should ..could have been - that it embarrasses the makers of the latter.

DH5 is the equivalent of a direct-to-video DH, but my immediate review - the "out-the-door-chatting-with-buddy" review was..

"Ugh - that felt like a two hour television pilot for a high-budget-but-shitty-anyway TV show called DIE HARD: Next Gen or somesuch starring his son, where Bruce Willis would do the occasional lazy cameo during sweeps week."

"Where's the phone? I gotta dial this in..."

The film is fucking atrocious.
It's a messy ill-paced disaster and I honestly can't believe they let this go out as a DIE HARD movie.
The character deserves way better. I would have thought the actor himself would deserve "good quality" but what if someone doesn't know what that is anymore?

I'll never forget seeing DIE HARD at the Oxford Theatre back in 'ol '88. Great memory, that one - Jim, Steve, and I - utterly floored.
DH5 was the inverse experience.
I wish I could ask BW if he cares about keeping that franchise intact ..his true hero if you will, but I think I just got the answer. Too bad.

Go see OHF instead - lotta fun.


Monday, December 31, 2012


SKYFALL is the 50th anniversary James Bond movie, and it's the best film they've made yet. It's filled with love of the character, his history, and all delivered in a well-paced tightly written juggernaut of an action/spy thriller.

The film is a MASTERPIECE, and here are a few of the reasons I think so...

1) Bond - By the end of this one, Daniel Craig IS the Ian Flemming character.
2) M - I love Judi Dench, and the Motherly relationship explored so well
3) M's death scene - emotional and anything but gimmicky ..very well delivered.
4) Javier Bardem's SILVA, best single Bond villain yet
5) Silva's intro scene - exceptional
6) Silva's "advances" on Bond - ballsy stuff, and watch Bond for his disappointment - extremely courageous performance matching the writing perfectly
7) CINEMATOGRAPHY - Roger Deakins is a genius - this is a BEAUTIFUL FILM
8) DIRECTION - Sam Mendes might be made for Bond ..very surprising
9) Moneypenny - yum yum.. she is one charismatic actress
10) Ralph Fiennes - Great addition, and a character well-played
11) Q - I like 'im - great chemistry with Bond
12) The Cuff - Bond fixes himself as he lands off the tractor on the train - Great Moment
13) The Casino - Beautiful, and evocative of Bond in the '70s
14) Silva's Island - too cool ..great Art Design, and a particularly nice evolution of the Bond Baddie Secret Lair - wish I could visit that crazy spot
15) The SUITS, they are nice
16) Bond Assassination and FALL ...what a scene, and it led perfectly into...
17) The Titles - Gorgeous, and thematic ..very nice.
18) The Relationships - Enemy/friend - the character writing is really solid
19) The New MI6 - Stylish, and subterranean - cool
20) Silva's girlfriend - Lovely, but mysterious ..again, evoked memories of the '70s
21) Her Death - Surprising, and his line "Your lovers are here" was oddly chilling
22) The rescue by MI6 - Bond doesn't usually get "the Cavalry" but it worked
23) Silva's "monster face" and origin ..dramatic, but not ridiculous(Robert Carlyle anyone?)
24) The LIGHT FIGHT - simply one of the best staged/photographed fight scenes in Cinema History
25) Bond AGES, and we see it's effects - very human, but still the spy we love
26) M makes mistakes, and is going to be "fired"
27) Mallory's arc from "jerkoff" to "M"
28) Great Script overall
29) Bond's visit to M's house
30) The ASTON MARTIN DB7 - Glorious, and a very nice touch that Connery's car is Craig's Bond's one passion he reveals.
31) SKYFALL is a great title, and almost makes up for "Quantum of Solace"
32) Skyfall the place - Stark and beautiful - Interesting thing to finally give us some real humanity with JB
33) Good origin tale, and hey ..we knew he and Batman had similar pasts - how could they not?
34) Kincade - I love Albert Finney, and do wonder if Connery would have been asked to play this role ..regardless, he was fantastic, and it was a treat to watch he and Judi Dench flirt it up
35) Watching the three of them turn JB's family home into a "Home Alone" movie was pretty fun
36) The attack on Skyfall, and his car - rough to watch
37) The Final fight with Silva - personal, and well done
38) Almost forgot how much I liked the Adele song too
39) It was long - I love a GOOD long movie
40) The "exploding pen" comment from Q
41) The Women - far less focus on "Bond Girls" and more on making the females relevant
42) Kincade doesn't die
43) Bond on the roof/top of MI6 - nice metaphor
44) The central plot is Silva's revenge on M - Bond is simply in the way - I like that
45) THE BAD GUY WINS - Never happened before - he has one goal, and he does achieve it
46) The Moneypenny reveal
47) The Bulldog gift from M ..nice
48) A BILLION - It made over one billion dollars, and that means someone just might say "Whatever you just did - do it again". Good.
49) "James Bond will Return" - nice 50th anniv. homage to those old ones that had the next film title in a promise at the end
50) THE EJECTOR SEAT GAG!!! - I sooo love that moment "Oh go ahead, Bond - eject me - see if I care.."
What a brilliant moment, not unlike the third "Indy" movie where the first film is reduced to one sound bite joke I thought this was so Mother/Son and just so damn charming. I'll miss her in the series, but boy - what a note to go out on.

Funny, I've seen it twice but having just finished this I think I'll see it again.
How often does a franchise produce it's best work at age 50? Gives me a little faith...

The irony of Bond's "no parents" for this kid is that I've lost mine too
 ..but man I wish I could have taken them to see it.