MORE DREAMS FROM THE FIELD

RECOMMENDED READING

In the June 18 Akron Beacon Journal Clint O’Connor interviews Akronite actor Dwier Brown who played the father in Field of Dreams and later wrote the book If You Build It  —  a Book About Fathers, Fate and Field of Dreams.  O’Connor’s article contains some good and useful information about the film; and, most importantly, O’Connor writes knowingly and sensitively of a film which treats the father/son motif as knowingly and sensitively as few films have.  (Clint O’Connor, “‘Field of Dreams’ Isn’t Just a Film.”  Akron Beacon Journal, 6/18/17).

Field of Dreams
Philip Alden (writer/director)
1989
based on the book Shoeless Joe by William P. Kinsella

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On Thursday, June 22 in the Akron Beacon Journal Clint O’Connor appears again, this time interviewing Akron’s own (San Francisco’s own, cinema’s own) Kurtiss Hare.  In an illuminating full-page piece, O’Connor talks with Hare who, through the Nightlight Cinema, brings the best and most challenging of world cinema right to the door of northeast Ohio.

Akron Beacon Journalhttp://www.ohio.com

NEXT FRIDAY POST July 14
Until Bastille Day, then,
See you at the movies,
Rick

 

TOMMY KELLY PLUS NIGHTLIGHT NEWS

A BRIGHT STAR SHINING ALL TOO BRIEFLY

Tommy Kelly’s death was reported in the New York Times in the middle of last month.  He died at the end of January in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Tommy Kelly is outstanding in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, David O. Selznick’s 1938 color production.  He is a gentler Tom than Mark Twain originally conceived, but he is a youthful charmer and just the right Tom for that era’s filmgoing public.

Kelly’s next and only other starring role, released the same year, was in Peck’s Bad Boy with the Circus in which  —  perfectly cast  —  he is excellent.  Then in 1939 he actually played a mean kid in They Shall Have Music.  And  —  it was 1939  —  yes:  Tommy Kelly is in Selznick’s Gone with the Wind.  He is a member of the small band playing “Dixie” in the sequence which has Scarlett and Melanie and much of Atlanta awaiting casulaty lists from Gettysburg.

Over the years I watched for Kelly in his small roles:  the kid brother in Irene; the kid brother (Deanna Durbin’s this time) in Nice Girl?;  an Andy Hardy adjunct (Love Finds).  Then, a young man now, he was an ugly-spirited hood in He Walked By Night and in 1950, he was one of Oliver Wendell Holmes’ secretaries in The Magnificent Yankee.  In 1957 he appeared briefly in Silk Stockings.

Kelly spent most of life as a teacher and at one time held a supervisory educational position in the Peace Corps.  According to Margaret Fox’s excellent obituary for the New York Times (2/14/16) Kelly, from the Bronx, underwent extensive speech and voice coaching before the shooting of Tom Sawyer.  As a longtime Kelly follower, I found this a revelation and a surprise.  There is not a trace of Bronx in his Tom.  At age twelve, he was already a pro and was always a pro.

So long, Tommy Kelly, and thank you for everything

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FOR AKRONITES AND OTHER NORTHEASTERN OHIOANS:  NEWS AND CAUSE FOR PRIDE

Nightlight Productions has a received a Knight Arts Challenge grant from the Knight Foundation for “Purchasing equipment that will allow the Nightlight to create broadcast-quality content, including Skype-based Q & A sessions with directors and filmmakers, pre-show content, promotional materials and more.”  (My quote is from Kerry Clawson and Dorothy Shinn in the Akron Beacon Journal (3/15/16).)  Thanks to them both and congratulations to Kurtiss Hare and his board and ensemble.

NEXT FRIDAY POST April 8

Until then.
Rick

The Great Tommy Kelly

The Great Tommy Kelly

SHOWING ALERTS FOR OHIO NORTHEASTERNERS

HOU HSIAO-HSIEN

Akron’s Nightlight Cinema will show The Assassin, latest film of Hou Hsiao-hsien and his first in several years, from October 30 through November 5.  Check the Nightlight’s website for times.

BILLY WILDER

ReelMassillon will present Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole at the Massillon Museum on November 5 at 7:00.  This is one of Wilder’s best and most incisive films.  When I heard him speak at the UCLA film school, he talked about the controversial reception given the work at the time of its release  —  it was not a financial  success  — and revealed the the hurt of receiving comments about having his nerve, as an immigrant, to be criticizing America.  Who understood America better than Billy Wilder?

If you don’t know Ace in the Hole, here is your opportunity.

Billy Wilder’s ten masterpieces:

1. Double Indemnity
2. The Lost Weekend
3. A Foreign Affair
4. Sunset Boulevard
5. Ace in the Hole
6. Love in the Afternoon
7. Some Like It Hot
8. The Apartment
9. Kiss Me, Stupid
10. The Fortune Cookie

Upon its release Kiss Me, Stupid, number 9 on my chronological list, was critically trounced.  In recent years it has been gradually rehabilitated, and it deserves to be.  The tone, especially the ending, is unusual and makes it one of the most European films made in Hollywood. (Acknowledgment to Ephraim Katz and Richard Giifford for facts and insight,)

ReelMassillon is sponsored by the Massillon Museum, the Lions Lincoln Theatre, Historic Massillon Main Street, ArtsinStark and KinoArts.

Next regular post FRIDAY October 30
Until then,
See you at the movies,
Rick

SPECIAL SHOWING ALERT

if you are in northeast Ohio…..Robert Wise Revisited

On Thursday June 18 at 7:00 PM at the Lincoln Theatre in Massillon, OH, Kurtiss Hare will present Robert Wise’s 1959 ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW.  This is another in Hare’s series through ArtsinStark in partnership with the Massillon Museum, the Lions Lincoln Theatre, Historic Massillon Main Street and KinoArts.

Next Regular Post  Friday June 22

See you then,
Rick

AMERICA AGAIN AND FRANCE ENCORE, PLUS SWEDEN

RECENTLY VIEWED

ALEXANDER
Oliver Stone
2004

 

Alexander marks my first disappointment in Colin Farrell.  I never believe he is the world’s greatest warrior.  He creates a consistent and very human character.  But he lacks charisma.  He lacks that heroic madness, if you will, that must have been Alexander’s.

He is also handicapped by his voice.  As a field commander ordering his troops he must do much shouting, even yelling.  He is always hoarse for those moments.  This is a natural phenomenon; but life is not art, and the actor is hard to listen to.  (He is always understandable, however.)

The storyline, though distractingly cluttered by flashbacks, follows familiar legends and available history.  Philip, Alexander’s father and Philip’s death; Aristotle, his teacher;  his breaking of the horse Bucephalus; his friend and possibly-more-than-friend Hephaistios (the film is delightfully ambiguous here); the long march to India.  Jonathan Rhys-Davies is threateningly impressive as Cassander.  Jared Leto conveys Hephaistios well with almost no dialog.  Christopher Plummer is a believable, enjoyable Aristotle.  As our narrator Ptolemy, Anthony Hopkins continues to follow in the footsteps of, say, Lee J. Cobb, Anthony Quinn  —  you name others:  playing not the role but a great actor playing the role.  This thespian failing came late for the heretofore marvelous Quinn but unusually early to John Malkovich who seems to have had the balance to step back from this particular professional pit.

Angelina Jolie  —   as Colin Farrell’s mother, God save the mark  —  is surprisingly effective at every over-the-top moment.  An alive and colorful performance.

I find myself wondering what kind of search was made before casting Connor Paolo as young Alexander.  The resemblance to Farrell is remarkable, or rather, the certainty that this is just how Farrell/Alexander would have looked at that age.

The film I recently viewed was described on its sleeve as a director’s cut.  There is apparently an even longer director’s cut, much longer.  At this time I cannot know how the performances I have described would play out in a longer version.

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Les Cousins(The Cousins)
Claude Chabrol
1959

I recently viewed this early New Wave-er for the first time in many years.  If it occasionally appears somewhat obvious now, this tale of the country cousin come to town and the city cousin and  his student cohorts who seek to corrupt him, is still gripping  —  nay, harrowing.  I had not grasped before how deliberate is their destruction of Charles.  They want him to fail because his very goodness makes them feel judged.  Both cousins are appealing.  They are, after all, Gérard Blain and Jean-Claude Brialy (hélas, both gone now).  Their role reversals (from the previous year’s Le Beau Serge) is an interesting counterpoint.

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Force Majeure
Ruben Östlund
2014

This is a powerful domestic drama which looks at tensions within a Swedish family during a brief vacation at a Swiss ski resort.  An avalanche, which can be as symbolic as you wish, triggers long-submerged resentment and emotional outbreak.  Some of the year’s best ensemble playing, rivaling Land Ho!, is delivered by Johannes Bah Kuhnke and Lisa Loven Kongsli as the husband and wife and Kristofer Hirju and Fanni Metelius as their visiting friends.  The children are good too (Vincent Wettergren and Clara Wettergren) and are never trivialized by sentimentality.

Don’t miss this.

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And if you are in northeast Ohio don’t miss Kurtiss Hare’s presentation of National Gallery at 7:00 P.M. tonight at the Lincoln Theatre in Massillon, Ohio, part of his ReelMassillon series.

NEXT Friday POST December 19.

Until then,
See you at the movies,
Rick

ALERT: SPECIAL RECOMMENDATION

Personal Recommendation

Last evening I saw FORCE MAJEURE as part of Kurtiss Hare’s ReelMassillon series.  If you are in northeast Ohio, be sure to get to the Nightlight Cinema in Akron to see this remarkable feature on or before November 26.  It is riveting and has some of the best acting I have seen this year.

Don’t miss FORCE MAJEURE.

See you there,
Rick

 

AT LONG LAST PLUS THE MISSING MAN

Rick’s Journal  –  MY FILM CAREER

There are movies we somehow always miss, for whatever or varied reasons.  As a moviegoer, you know what I mean, I’m sure.  It is always a satisfying feeling to place a check mark against one of these on that list of the unseen, even when the at-long-last viewing has been a disappointment.  My latest AT LONG LAST is Raintree County from 1957, directed by Edward Dmytryk the Uneven (But Interesting).

I can’t imagine what Maltin AND Halliwell mean by describing it as MGM’s attempt to out-do Gone with the Wind.  There is little to relate the two films except for the Civil War as background for some of the years covered by each.  An interesting novel (by Ross Lockridge, Jr.),  has been simplified and makes for an overlong and dull movie.  Gone with the Wind‘s four hours, with not a dull moment, could not even cover all that novel’s narrative.  And Raintree County‘s plot hinges on miscegenation which never rears its head in novel or film of The Wind.  There is no comparison between the two as to quality.

Elizabeth Taylor is very good in the first part of Raintree County, though her Southern accent distractingly comes and goes.  As the story progresses, though,  and details her plantation past and her growing madness, she is less consistent  in characterization and generally lacking in depth.

Did Montgomery Clift’s automobile accident and subsequent surgery result in an unusually long shooting schedule for the film?  He at least in not inconsistent, and this may be his best performance.  Clift was always a self-conscious actor.  (Our university theater director:  There’s nothing wrong with being self-conscious, unless you’re an actor.  If you’re self-conscious, go to your room and close the door and be self-conscious as much as you like.  But don’t get in front of a camera.)  But here Clift creates a character, and there are none of those falsely modest watch-my-great-method-acting mannerisms.

An ambitious supporting cast is largely wasted.  But Eva Marie Saint as the torch-carrying childhood sweetheart is excellent.  Lee Marvin is glorious fun.  And a different Tom Drake is very good in his small part.  Nigel Patrick is perfectly cast, and his character may be the best written in the script.  Though not much happens that changes him, his consistency is thorough, and enjoyable.

THE MISSING MAN

Life‘s just published “Gone With the Wind, the great American movie 75 years later,” available on newsstands, is a good job.  It boasts an introduction by knowledgeable Molly Haskell (author of Why We Still Give a Damn) and offers some photographs that even this GWTW-er has never seen, even some of Vivien Leigh new to me.

The concluding section, “Life After Tara,”  which treats Vivien Leigh in a manner I like and approve, also capsules the post-GWTW careers of Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland and Hattie McDaniel.  I wish the text had not ignored LESLIE HOWARD.  While the little time remaining to him allowed but few films (as actor, director and producer), an acknowledgment of his World War ll death would have been appropriate  —  and appreciated.

Turner Classic Movies regularly shows some of Howard’s best perfornances.  If you don’t know them, you should:  It’s Love I’m After, Intermezzo, Pygmalion and The 49th Parallel.  TCM does not show Stand-In often, but it is in their collection  —  a shrewdly funny movie about making movies.  Watch for it.  Howard and Bogart naturally play well together, admirably aided and abetted by Joan Blondell who, in one scene, does a splendid send-up of Shirley Temple (in 1937!).

 

ARE YOU IN NORTHEAST OHIO?  —  Tonight at the Lincoln Theatre in downtown Massillon, Ohio Kurtiss Hare is showing, as part of his ReelMassillon series, Force Majeure, Sweden’s submission for this year’s best foreign language film Academy Award.  At 7:00 P.M.

NEXT FRIDAY POST December 5.  See you then, I hope.

Meanwhile,
See you at the movies,
Rick