Archive for the ‘ film comment ’ Category

Another Lazy Sunday

I’m having a pretty lazy Sunday and really don’t feel like writing much.

I went to the movies last night and saw David Fincher’s The Social Network.   I thought the dialogue was smart, the pace fast and the performances all very good.  Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay plays a little fast with the facts but it doesn’t matter.  The Social Network  is not a documentary.  Yes I know no one speaks this way but so what.  By the way no one speaks David Mamet either.  Sorkin makes a dry subject, the writing of code during the founding of  Facebook,  move like a thriller.  I suspect Mr. Sorkin will be up for an Oscar come awards season.   The Social Network is a film about our times and that’s what makes it a must see.   By the way, Justin Timberlake (Heir to the Timberlake Boot Fortune) gives a terrific performance.  This kid really does have talent.

Have you seen Mishka the auto-tune dog?  Pretty funny!

This Funny or Die Video of Mike Tyson & Wayne Brady is pretty funny also.

Click here: Every Little step with Mike Tyson & Wayne Brady

In case you missed it earlier this week Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake gave us The History of Rap.

Saturday, October 2, 2010 was the 120th birthday of one of the greatest screen comedians of all time, the incomparable Groucho Marx.  When I was younger whenever I felt a little down I would pop in a Marx Bros film and it would do more for my spirits then anything else.  Here are several of his videos for your enjoyment.

The Best of Groucho

The Marx Bros Mirror Scene from Duck Soup (1933)

Whatever it is I’m Against it – Groucho Marx (Horse Feathers, 1932)

Lastly I leave you with a video my friend Buddy Katz posted on Facebook that I really liked very much.  It’s the great Bob Marley song One Love performed by musicians from around the world in honor of his birthday on February 6th.  See if you can watch this video without feeling uplifted.

The Week So Far…

Everyday I post various links to Facebook & Twitter in the hopes of either making someone laugh or think.  I realized today that Facebook’s Newsfeed doesn’t really post all of my links.  I asked my sister if she saw a certain link and she said nope.  That sucks!  I think from now on I’m going to mostly post these links here.  Forget about Facebook for the most part.  Ok…I’m lying but I am going to gather the links here at various times of the week.

Monday, September 27, 2010

My first link this week was to the incredible story of Aroldis Chapman who on Friday evening made history by throwing a pitch 105-mph.  The Cincinnati Reds 22 year old pitcher came into the game and blew the opposing batters away by throwing 25 pitches, all over 100 mph.  Amazing…here’s the link to the story by Steve Hanson for Yahoo News:

Chapman Throws the Fastest Pitch Ever Recorded

The next story was about the owner of Segway going over a cliff riding a Segway.  I know it’s a tragedy but I couldn’t help thinking of Wyle E. Coyote riding an Acme scooter over a cliff in the hopes of catching that damn Road Runner…Beep-Beep!

Segway Tycoon Dies in Cliff Plunge

NIKE has an interesting Ad for women with big butts and why it’s ok to have one.  I agree, especially about the one in the ad.

Clear Perpectives, My Butt is Big.

The 15 most bizarre soother designs or as we Latinos call them…bobos.  Some of these designs are kind of gross but pretty funny.

15 Most Bizarre Soother (Bobos) Designs

Rolling Stone magazine released their 100 best guitarists of all time this past week.   At #1 was the unforgettable Jimi Hendrix.  Even though it’s been 40 years since his death and these lists are highly subjective, there is no doubt that he was an amazing artist and a Rock & Roll Icon.  Pete Townshend of The Who, no slouch himself, writes a nice tribute to Hendrix in the story.  My guy, Eric Clapton, comes in 4th on the list but I’m not complaining, it’s an amazing list of talent.  Enjoy!

Rolling Stone Magazine’s 100 Greatest Guitarists

Tuesday, September 28, 2010:

This week’s big Atheist news is a story in The New York Times about a poll by the Independent Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life that shows Atheists knowing more about religion then believers.  Why am I not surprised?

Basic Religion Test Stumps Many Americans

The Coen Brothers have always been interesting filmmakers.  Even when their films seem like their pulling your leg with a shaggy dog story you still come away impressed by their story-telling gifts.  This Christmas they remake a John Wayne ditty True Grit with Jeff Bridges.  Leave it to the Coen Brothers to turn The Duke into The Dude.  Enjoy the trailer:

In Katherine Heigl‘s new movie she plays a single girl who meets a guy she hates and slowly falls in love with him.  Is this woman really going to make the same movie over and over again?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010:

The Hollywood Reporter had a story that George Lucas is going to release all six Star Wars movies in 3D in 2012.  Can someone please take these films away from this guy?  He’s like a woman addicted to plastic surgery, he just can’t stop.

Star Wars Saga Set for 3D

The Kings Speech: One of the hot films that are due for the Fall starring Colin Firth and the always great Geoffrey Rush.  Enjoy the traler!

An interesting short film that I found this morning in Roger Ebert’s Club newsletter, The Gift by Carl Erick Rinsch.

Funny Book trailer for all the Trekkies out there and yes I do count myself as one.  Night of the Living Trekkies!

Arthur Penn died Tuesday evening, he was 88.  Penn was way ahead of his time when he directed the great film Bonnie and Clyde.   If you don’t know his work rent Bonnie & Clyde, Little Big Man, Alice’s Restaurant, The Miracle Worker and one of my favorite films of his, Four Friends.  He was an artist and a very special filmmaker.

Arthur Penn, Director of Bonnie and Clyde Dies at 88

Lastly on the way home I read the news that comedian Greg Giraldo had died of an apparent prescription drug overdose.  I first saw Giraldo on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn back in 2002.  I thought he was a very funny guy and was always very good on the Comedy Central Roasts.  First it was Robert Schimmel and now Giraldo.  Funny people shouldn’t die young, they have too much to offer our hum-drum lives.  It’s a shame. RIP Greg Giraldo.

That’s it for The Week So Far.  If  you liked this let me know, if not fuck you!  I kid, I kid…I’m such a kidder.  Seriously tell me what you think.   I hope you come back and tell your friends.  Oh yeah, and please subscribe!

(To subscribe click the RSS button on the top right column)

See you later in the week with more crap…uh I mean stuff.

Weekend at CinemaRay’s

The Town: I went to see Ben Affleck’s The Town on Friday night.  Right up front I’m not one of those who hates Affleck.  In fact I’m not sure why people turned on him the way they did a few years ago.  He started dating Jennifer Lopez and suddenly he was toxic and the butt of jokes. (pardon the pun JLo)  I don’t get the Lopez hating either but that’s for another blog. Yeah I know he’s made some bad films but who hasn’t?  Oh well,  I very much enjoyed the last film he directed, Gone Baby Gone, I thought it showed some promise.  This latest film I think fulfills that promise.  The Town is taut and exciting though filled with a few conventional crime thriller moves or should I say clichés it nonetheless is a solid entry and he got some nice performances out of his cast.  Especially Jeremy Renner and Blake Lively.  By the way I’ve never seen Gossip Girl so I didn’t even know what Lively looked liked but I thought she turned in a really nice performance here.  The rest of the cast is rounded out by Jon Hamm and Rebecca Hall, both very good as well.  Affleck also co-wrote the screenplay and does a pretty good job as the thief with a conscience.  A solid effort all around for Mr. Affleck who may just yet carve out an Eastwood-like career for himself.

Real Time with Bill Maher:

On another note, Friday’s night’s Bill Maher was kind of disappointing.  He got some good points and a few laughs in but also let Amy Holms & Andrew Breitbart go on and on with their bullshit lies without rebuttal.  Seth McFarlane who was the third person on the panel  is usually good for some pointed comments but he just sat there as if in awe and only managed to make a really lame joke about “doing” Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell (R).  A joke that immediately fell flat.  It seemed like Maher had some sort of deal with Breitbart & Holms that he wouldn’t slam them or even confront them.  In fact at one point he did say he promised he wouldn’t talk about race with Breitbart…what the fuck?  Why would he set any preconditions for anyone to come on?  He did get some digs in on O’Donnell by showing the following clip of her making a moronic statement about evolution but on the whole the hour was sub-par.

The Republican Pledge to America

A few words about the Republican Pledge to America, they must really think Americans are stupid.  This 21 page rehash of everything they’ve been promising for the last 10 years is just full of so much bullshit that it must be hard for them to keep from laughing as they announced it.   The sad truth is that Americans are that stupid and a whole bunch of them have swallowed this line over and over again and I’m sure they have this time around too.  As Paul Krugman pointed out in his column last Friday, if they were to leave Defense, Social Security  and Medicare alone and give tax cuts to the wealthy like they’ve promised plus balance the budget by 2020 they would have to shut down the rest of the Federal Gov’t.  It’s a bogus strategy to regain power and unfortunately it will probably work.  Check out the following Jon Stewart clip from The Daily Show to see what I mean.

Postcards from the Pledge

Regarding political affiliations, I find it distressing that so many people choose a party the same way they choose a favorite sports team.  Once chosen, winning is the only thing that matters.  No thought goes into what their guys are saying or how they are governing.  My team is winning case closed.  Rah Rah Rah!  This shouldn’t be this way and I’m sure I’m not the first person to think this.  Politics and it’s consequences are so much more important than winning and losing a contest.  It’s enough to make one tune out and go away from all this.  Not that it matters but my political affiliation is Independent.  In my life I’ve voted for Republicans as well as Democrats.  The first vote I took was for Ronald Reagan so I’m not a left-wing ideologue in case you were wondering.  But I do think this current crop of Republicans and their Tea Party movement is extreme and in fact some of them seem quite deranged.   I don’t believe in giving my neighbors the reins of government.   I don’t want Joe Blow from up the street who thinks someone took his country away and yearns to go back to the bigoted and segregated times of the 1940’s & 50’s to have the power to go to war on a whim.   That’s what the Tea Party looks like to me.  I want someone who is smarter than I am, has studied the law and has a degree of sophistication about them.  If that’s an elitist then that’s who I want running things.  This idea that we want a president we can have a beer with is beyond stupid.

Greenberg: Just watched Noah Baumbach‘s Greenberg starring Ben Stiller.  Baumbach specializes in making films about annoying and self-involved people who are never boring.  See The Squid and the Whale & Margot at the Wedding to name his two last efforts in annoying characters that never bore and you will see what I’m talking about.  Here Ben Stiller plays the just released from an “insane asylum” Greenberg of the title who is house-sitting for his brother in L.A. and trying to make some sort of sense of a life unplanned for.  His abrasiveness and self-involvement has pretty much stopped him from living his life and unknowingly he has affected those around him.  His childhood friends either resent him or don’t remember him.  The trick I find that Ben Stiller does here very well is to play Greenberg unflinchingly without backing off.  He manages to make an unlikable  character identifiable and therefore human.  No small feat considering what a sourpuss Greenberg is throughout  this very good but small slice of life film.

My Intro to the Blog World & James Cagney

So, this is my first blog.  I’ve tried this before and always lose steam or just get tired of trying to come up with interesting topics.   At one time or another I wanted to write about movies, politics or just create funny stories but for some reason I couldn’t sustain it.  I think it was because I was forcing myself to stick to one narrow topic. This time I think I just want to make it a potpourri of topics that grab my fancy on any given day.  No themes, in fact every paragraph could start another topic of what I want to say.  That said…here I go:

I’ve spent my weekend alone and quietly obsessing over the acting style of James Cagney.  Recently I received as a gift the 4 DVD box sets of the Warner Bro’s Gangsters.  I put it away and never watched any of them because even though I like the films there is always so much to see and read that sometimes it’s difficult to catch up or find the time to enjoy a gift that came out of the blue.

So, this weekend I popped in City for Conquest by director Anatole Litvack, a man who doesn’t exactly light up your memory with classic films though he did some.  Sorry Wrong Number, The Snake Pit and All This and Heaven Too just to name a few.  I didn’t know him…had to look these up, so when his name flashed on the screen I didn’t anticipate anything.  My main objective was Cagney.

James Cagney

I have always been a fan of Cagney since my childhood.  He started off in my memory as the screen tough guy with the New York attitude.  In films like The Roaring twenties, The Public Enemy and Angels with Dirty Faces his persona was striking, tough and pugnacious.  Later on I saw his softer side and his dancing shoes in The Seven Little Foys and his great performance in Yankee Doodle Dandy as the venerable George M. Cohan in both films.  I grew up thinking Cagney was great but in my mind the same as his contemporaries during the 30’s & 40’s, Humphrey Bogart & Edward G. Robinson.  Great tough guy actors who defined the gangster in films for many years until Francis Coppola gave them the operatic touch and  transformed the screen gangster to mythic proportions in The Godfather Trilogy.  This lead to the highly stylized but grittier gangster of the Scorsese era of Goodfellas.  But the 30’s gangster personified by Cagney, Bogart & Robinson were the pioneers within that genre.

Back to Cagney.  I popped in City for Conquest and was transfixed by the immediacy and electrifying performance by James Cagney.  The film is nothing outrageous, two brothers, one a composer and the other a street tough struggle to survive during the depression.  One falls in love, loses her then becomes a boxer who loses his sight and the other finally achieves success and dedicates it to his blind brother.  Melodramatic and corny but relevant to its times.  It also contains one of the only screen appearances of the great director Elia Kazan as a gangster friend of the brothers and who reminded me of a young Robert DeNiro in his looks and mannerisms.  But it’s Cagney who I could not take my eyes off of.  He entered each scene like a bull dog chomping on a bone.  The life force that entered with him was palpable and alive.  For me Cagney was never a realistic actor.  His talent radiated a hyper realism.  Exaggerated but never over the top, tip toeing on the edge where it was easy to fall off and land on the side of parody.  No, his performance was all too alive for that.  Never, even during his quiet moments, do you think Cagney is not in that room, living his characters inner life.  Living the reality of a boxer who loses his sight and blames no one for the chances he took.  Now I’m not saying that this is a lost classic or he should have been awarded an Oscar for his performance here.  But like so many of his performances, and I saw three of them yesterday Conquest, Lady Killer & The Picture Snatcher, Cagney was present and alive in his films.  Constantly chomping at the bit of life, devouring every last bit of meat that was available in a scene.  Actually living a life within imaginary circumstances that acting Guru Sandford Meisner instructed his student to do every day of their lives.  Cagney for me is the embodiment of this acting technique.  He was a very special talent and one of the greatest screen actors the Hollywood studio system ever produced.

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