05 January 2011

Odds and Ends to Kick Off Another Year of Film Blogging

New Year Quiz (answer at the bottom of this post). What current American actor has appeared in films directed by Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Clint Eastwood, George Clooney, The Coen Brothers, Steven Soderbergh, Gus Van Sant and Robert Redford?

I can compile a top ten best films list for over a dozen directors. But only for Woody Allen and Alfred Hitchcock can I create a top 20 (I may eventually get there with Ingmar Bergman). Both Allen and Hitch have had a few turkeys, but the overall consistencies of their prodigious careers is truly astounding. Woody is, of course, still going.

Quick, name another movie Keir Dullea was in besides 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

The missus just asked what I was doing. I replied, "writing a blog post, just a few odd items." Her reply: "you're an odd item." Calls 'em as she sees 'em she does.

Did the U.S. Congress really repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell? It's almost as if the United States has decided to join the 21st century. Now if the country can stop giving the filthy rich tax breaks, reduce military spending....Who am I kidding?

I received the Rossellini War Trilogy for Christmas. I hope to find time to expound glowing on it here at  length in the near future. For now I want to express my gushing enthusiasm for this package which includes Rome Open City (1945), Paisan (1946) and Germany Year Zero (1948). Not only are they three terrific films but Criterion has provided the set with some truly special special features.

I never got around to writing about Tony Curtis after his death a few months ago. I wanted to extoll his acting skills which were more considerable than people sometimes realize. As proof I suggest seeing his performances in Sweet Smell of Success (1957), The Boston Strangler (1968) and The Defiant Ones (1958). Case closed.

Have you ever tried to sit down and watch an American football game from start to finish without any other tasks at hand? Either you need a mind of mush or your mind will turn into one at the end of the three plus hours. Why? The endless commercial interruptions. They speak to a certain vapidity to the American culture that I find particularly disturbing. If I must watch a game I've got two approaches. One is to DVR it and start watching about 40 minutes after the start so I can fast forward through the ads. The other is to have some other tasks at hand such as house cleaning, the crossword puzzle or translating the dictionary into esperanto.

You know who was a really funny actress? Irene Dunne. Just one example is when she pretends to be Cary Grant's sister in The Awful Truth (1937). I've been slow to warm up to Ms. Dunne, but she was an excellent film partner for Grant. They teamed several times and I particularly liked her in My Favorite Wife (1940). I think she deserves a full post. Maybe one of my legion of readers will write one. If so, I'll link it.

Speaking of wives again...I tried to convince mine that I should get Lasik surgery. She said no dice because its elective surgery and we'd have to pay for it. I came up with a perfect solution: she and some big galoot drag me into the optician's office, tie me up and force me to have the surgery. When the bill comes I tell the insurance company I did not "elect" to have the surgery but was forced to, as the doctor will testify. Problem solved.

May I recommend I Knew it Was You: Rediscovering John Cazale (2009)? I can? Goody. A short but excellent documentary on the actor who appeared in only five films before succumbing to lung caner. All five movies were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. He's best remembered as the middle Corleone bother, Fredo. The documentary not only offers insight into the man, but into the craft of acting, something at which Cazale excelled. Don't take my word for it, see what his acting contemporaries said of him. The documentary premiered on HBO and is now available on Digital Video Disc (DVD).

Quiz answer: Matt Damon


Tudor Queen said...

Keir Dullea was in "David and Lisa".

Love 'odds and ends' columns, btw.

Wurtsboro Boy said...

Also "Bunny Lake is Missing"