RETURN OF RICK’S FLICKS

Rick’s Flicks is back after a three-month unforeseen, unavoidable delay.  Thank you for staying with me.  Please keep coming back.

RECOMMENDED READING

Glenn Frankel’s book High Noon is a must-read not just for devotees of one of the great westerns.  It is of interest for anyone pursuing Hollywood history or the work of Fred Zinneman, Carl Foreman or Stanley Kramer, or the career of Gary Cooper.  Subtitled the Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American classic, Frankel’s page-turner of a book reads like a novel.  Much of it amounts to a mini-history of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee which called to its hearings some of the major figures who created High Noon.

Gary Cooper in HIGH NOON

The most intriguing parts of the book are those which look at who was responsible for the writing and, especially, who really did the editing.  Frankel rehearses the fabled history of the editing of High Noon.  He makes it a good detective story  and, for this reader, comes up with a plausible and fair judgment of the competing narratives.

NEXT FRIDAY POST May 4

Until then, see you at the movies,

Rick

ODDS AND ENDS, SEGMENTS AND SPLICES

AWARDS

The insanity of awards season is upon us.  The New York Film Critics Circle has announced its awards for 2017.  The once prestigious body which often made more thoughtful, meaningful choices than the Academy  —   Charles Chaplin did win; so did Great Garbo, twice  —  has announced that this year’s best picture is neither the best directed nor the best written.  And the best directed film is not the year’s best.  Neither is the best written.  And so it goes.  This body of voters is comprised of four of the country’s most discriminating and knowledgeable critics.  Is a puzzlement.

MORE REFLECTIONS ON THE SEASON OF AWARDS

“The wonderful thing about the Academy Awards is that they are fundamentally trivial.  To pretend otherwise is to trivialize movies.”  (A.O. Scott in “Are Oscars Worth All This Fuss?” from the New York Times, 2/24/08).

Coupled with this from his same article:  “…I am…bothered by the disproportionate importance that the Academy Awards have taken on, and by the distorting influence they exercise over the way we make, market and see movies in this country.”

But my favorite passage in Scott’s article comes with his discussion of what is now called The Oscar Show.  He comments on “the overproduced underwhelming renditions of the nominated songs.”  Hear!  Hear!

REMINDER for my readers in Akron or Cleveland or nearby:  The Cleveland Cinematheque is showing The Earrings of Madame de… this Saturday and Sunday.  (See Rick’s Flicks for December 22.)

NEXT FRIDAY POST JANUARY 19

Until then,
See you at the movies,
Rick

THE END OF MORE THAN ONE ERA

Danielle Darrieux, super star of the French screen, died on October 17 in Bois-le-Roi at age 100  .  Few performers can boast of a career lasting nine decades.

With Daniel Gelin in La Ronde

Most obituaries of long-lived artists these days are disappointments, appearing to be authored by writers who think films began when they started going to see them.  And the obituaries for Darrieux, with the exception of the New York Times, seemed interested mainly in the fact that she was not successful in American movies, failing to mention her outstanding films and the great directors with whom she worked on native ground.

Memorableperformances from her filmography of 100 titles:

 Mayerling,  Anatole Litvak, 1935
La
Ronde , Max Ophüls, 1950
Le
Plaisir, Max Ophüls, 1952
The Earrings of Madme
de…, Max Ophüls, 1953
The Rouge et le noir, Claude Autant-Lara 1954

The hazard of a complete and accurate obituary is finding included the accusations against Darrieux as a collaborator during World War ll because she worked at an occupying German film company.  She denied the accusation and worked after the war to clear her name.

IF YOU LIVE IN NORTHEAST OHIO John Ewing is showing The Earrings of Madame de … at the Cleveland Cinematheque on January 6 at 5:00 and on January 7 at 8:35.

NEXT FRIDAY POST January 5

Until then,
See you at the movies,
Rick

A DON’T MISS FROM 2013

If you missed The Immigrant as I did on its first release, find it and view it now.

Incomparable Cotillard
photo by Anguerde

Of what better leads can one dream?  Cotillard, Phoenix and Renner.  All three are as fine as film acting can be.  Marion Cotillard is excruciatingly subtle, especially when she speaks with her eyes rather than with words.

Joaquin Phoenix adds one more portrait to a stout list of self-doubting and/or self-hating melancholy souls.  Jeremy Renner as the small-time magician dancing and  floating through life may suffer less, may be a shallower character.  But he proves himself capable of making his own kind of sacrifice.  Renner is so versatile that it seems not quite accurate to describe him as perfectly cast here.

Joaquin Phoenix
photo by Aphrodite

Set during one of the peaks of historic immigration as waves of newcomers inundate Ellis Island, the story is a tale not often told of the perils, in the situation, for a woman  alone on the island, or even on the boat before arrival.

It is an ugly story, beautifully told.

Jeremy Renner
photo by handbook

 

 

The engrossing cinematography captures the sepia of era photographs.  And the final shot ranks at least with that of The Third Man as two of the greatest final frames in film history.

The Immigrant James Gray 2013
photography Darius Khondji
production design Happy Massee

NEXT FRIDAY POST December 22

Until then,
See you at the movies,
Rick

NOT TO MISS

DON’T MISS Lady Bird.  It is at least as good as you are reading and hearing that it is.  First-time director Greta Gerwig (who also wrote the screenplay) draws excellent performances from her cast.  All the work is good, but Saorise Ronan, Laurie Metcalf and Beanie Feldstein are outstanding.    One of the best achievements of Gerwig and Ronan is that we’re always on the side of Lady Bird, almost always pulling for her, though she is not always that likable.

Lady Bird
Greta Girwig
2017

NEXT POST Friday  December 8

Until then,
See you at the movies  —
Off the couch and out of the house
To a theater showing Lady Bird,
Rick

DAVID THOMSON’S REFLECTIONS AND MY OWN

“The Oscar Farce”
David Thomson
The Wall Street Journal, 2/27-28/17

In a mean-spirited piece on Academy Awards and the audience for popular culture, Thomson, writing about the phenomenon of viewers not viewing as they once did  —  and not feeling, while viewing, as they once felt  —  makes two interesting points about narrative today.

Speaking of the technology available to today’s filmmaker, Thomson says:  “We are depressed because that technology somehow betrays our allegiance to narrative and our longing for the untamed actuality of the world out there.”

And he concludes:  “So don’t bother to trust the movies or attend them in the old way.  As we drift away from narrative and from caring about what we watch, the Academy looks as substantial as an abandoned set for Rick’s Café, while Oscar is made of melting ice cream.”  (In both quotations the italics are mine.)

For many years I have resented the modern-day fact of life that greeting card companies can purchase and overuse my favorite lines from my favorite films.  I am now concerned about the mini-dramas created for television commercials.  Is the only narrative, the only fiction (besides football) that today’s average pop culture absorber will ever experience is what he or she finds in these fifteen-second scenarios which often seem bent on making fun of fiction itself?

Comments?

NEXT Friday POST December 1

Until then,
See you AT A THEATER at the movies,
Rick