LET'S TALK ABOUT IT - SEPT 2023
Bara medlemmar i LibraryThing kan skriva.
Shifting to quarterly in Oct would allow me to synch with my book review thread, which I restart quarterly. Also meaning to suggest restarting the RIP thread annually (quarterly updates might be a little too morbid!). The thread for books *about* movies (as opposed to the thread about movies based on books) currently is indefinite chronologically; since it doesn't get a lot of traffic, maybe restart annually as well? Opinion surveys can generate interest, but my experience with Twitter/X is surveys can get rather bloody minded if a particular topic strikes a raw nerve, so one must be careful.
PS I'm fine w/TV/movies Watched also shifting to quarterly.
I like Carol420's idea of a conversation-starter topic, something like the "Questions for the Avid Reader" topic in the Club Read group, where a new questions is put forth once a week or so. I'd be willing to take a shot at organizing such a thing if there were any interest.
How does this sound?
New RIP thread beginning Jan 2024, restart Jan 2025 (if at least one administrator is still alive).
Use the current chat thread to include "conversation starters" which Keith is free to initiate, but I restart chat thread in 2024 (annual update) -- any other chat topic is fine of course; I tend to focus more on the intersection of economics & aesthetics. Topics can become dated would be my reasoning, so a broad timeline could be helpful.
Leave the "books about" thread open ended unless it gets unwieldly.
Currently the Movies Based On Books thread is updated monthly: change to open-ended in October; revisit if it gets unwieldly.
I'd like to do the What We're Watching thread as a quarterly beginning in Oct & revisit the quarterly experiment at the end of 2024 barring unexpected external disasters.
I'll take a couple of days to come up with a good first conversation starter, then shoot for a new one once a week.
(*I've taken on the job of semi-official interlocutor, but interesting questions are always welcome, so if you have suggestions or thoughts about possible questions, please do share.)
QUESTION #1: What's your favorite movie and why?
For most of us, it's probably more accurate to say "favorite movies," because it's so hard to pick just one, so if you're feeling torn, feel free to answer with two or three. And if you're in a different mood tomorrow, chime in again with that day's favorite.
And don't worry that your favorite is too obscure or too popular to be worth talking about. If it's obscure, then surely everyone would welcome hearing about it. And if it's popular, well, there's not a movie in the world that everyone has seen, and none of us have heard your thoughts about it. So whether it's Casablanca or that 1940s Romanian noir vampire musical you've always loved, share it with us!
I also liked Air Force One, Harrison Ford, Glen Close. Harison Ford was the ideal portrayal of what a "perfect President" should be. He got the job done in 125 minutes!...and was still smiling.
I also love any Stephen King book that was sever made into a movie...I own them all...but my favorite is Pet Semetary. I love being scared to death:) actually none of those types of movies or books eve scared me. My husband thinks there is something really wrong with me:))
And Disney's Beauty and the Beast -- the 1991 animated film, thank you very much; we will not speak of the 2017 "live-action" remake -- is a damn near perfect movie. Every time I see Belle come down that grand staircase in her yellow gown while Angela Lansbury starts to sing the title song, I get teary-eyed. I have always identified strongly with Belle. "What's that you say? You want to take me away from this closed-minded little town, lock me up in a gorgeous castle with a fleet of servants devoted to my every need and a massive library of all the books I could want, where I will meet the gorgeous man (well, eventually he'll be a gorgeous man...) of my dreams? Yes, please!"
As an addendum, to my favorites list, after I finished grad school & started working in a library in the late 70s, the cheap rerun theaters on New Haven's College Street began to close down, & one of the last movies I caught was McCabe and Mrs Miller, probably my favorite Western, above even The Wild Bunch & The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly (both go back to college days in NY). The first run theaters moved out to the suburbs off one of the highways in Orange CT, though the York hung around on New Haven's Broadway area for a while, & I remember watching Kubrick's Barry Lyndon & Altman's The Long Goodbye there several times. After that, lacking driving ability all my life, most of my movie memories originate from the early 90s when I finally got a TV & VHS, then DVD player, and, via the rental shops of downtown New Haven, I was introduced to Mizoguchi's Ugetsu & Max Ophuls' Letter from an Unknown Woman & (just remembered) Arthur Penn's The Miracle Worker! I think I caught Kubrick's The Shining about the time I was watching Altman films early in my working career, having become a fan of Shelley Duvall, so I'm guessing it was at one of the rerun theaters before my movie hiatus in the 80s.
I should note however that Astaire in a tribute to the great Bill Robinson appears in blackface for the only time in his career. Although well intentioned it makes one wince now.
Another number that struck me as on the cringe-y side was "Slap that bass" in Shall We Dance, not blackface, where Astaire does tap in the stylized engine room of an ocean liner, to an adoring audience of black stokers; "thank you for lending your prestige to our musical & dance culture"
Richard Brody. New Yorker, 08/25/2023. What We Lose When Streaming Companies Choose What We Watch.
If their name is on the poster, you're going to be in the theater on opening weekend. If their face pops up on the TV while you're flipping channels, you're going to stop and watch. And even the slightest rumor of their next project is enough to fill you with anticipation. Who are the filmmakers -- actors, directors, craftspeople -- on your must-see list?
But I think my biggest "I'm there" name doesn't belong to any single person: It's Pixar. Twenty-seven movies, only one outright stinker in the bunch (Cars 2 -- who thought that putting Mater at the center of any story was a good idea, much less a James Bond spoof?). I don't always agree with the general consensus on which are the truly great Pixar movies -- Wall-E is by a long shot the most overrated, and Coco doesn't get nearly as much love as it deserves -- but there's no name that fills me with as much certainty that I'm in for a good time.
She can also play comedy beautifully as fans of ‘The Lady Eve’ will know. I have acquired those of her films that I can but here in the UK availability is limited and I always feel lucky if I find one being screened on TV that I did not know. I love all of the great female stars of the 30’s and 40’s but Barbara Stanwyck is the one who shines brightest for me.
>33 Maura49: My mother loved Film Noir. I bought several for her from Amazon and E-Bay. There was a man on E-Bay that was selling a huge collection that he had recorded onto DVD's. The whole collection, there was over 50 of them, for $100.00. I don't remember the titles of all of them, just the ones she always asked to watch the most. She loved 'The Woman in The Window", "The Missing Corpse" , 'The Fat Man" (that was Rock Hudson), "Framed" (Glenn Ford), I like "Inner Sanctum". (someone named Charles Russell that I had never heard of). I always hoped that if I had to stay to pause or stop the DVD for her to go to the kitchen or the bathroom, that she would want that one. For some reason she never wanted to learn to operate the DVD player. The most god-awful thing I ever watched from that batch was a thing called...and I couldn't possibly make this up..."I Am a Fugitive from A Chain Gang", made in the early 1930's and staring (if you could call it that) ... someone called Mervyn LeRoy. I would watch the whole bunch including that one, again if I could have her back.
What a great collection of noirs. I must make notes.
Which is not, of course, to say that your distaste for the movie is wrong. People like/hate what they like/hate, and the minority views are often the most interesting. (Hmmm... there might be a weekly discussion question in there somewhere....)
Everybody's got one or two movies where they feel at odds with the general consensus -- a movie or an actor the world loves that you just don't get, or something you love that no one else takes seriously. What are your biggest divergences from what "they say"?
b. "general consensus": I didn't like the Top Gun sequel & haven't bothered to watch the original; glamorized militarism -- Lion King & Toy Story, meh -- could be an age thing; too old to appreciate when I saw them -- on the other hand, A Few Good Men also meh when I saw it in my sunset years
I have tried repeatedly, but I just can't sit through The Godfather. As soon as Marlon Brando starts mumbling, I'm out, because I can't understand a word he's saying.
And I don't really get the fuss about Daniel Day-Lewis or Daniel Craig. I mean, they're perfectly fine actors, but their performances don't thrill me the way they seem to thrill most people. I don't even think they're particularly attractive; they've both got immobile faces that might as well be carved from stone for all they communicate.
I'd say one of my favorite films is Terminator (the original). On a lighter tone, The Jerk is classic comedy, and Ghostbusters and Drugstore Cowboy are also favorites.
I have a wide ranging taste in film and a physical media collection to match. I haven't put any of it on LibraryThing at this point. I've been using a free database app called Memento for several years that I find works for me. Does anyone use LibraryThing to index their media outside of books?
I know I'm a day late...but the wish is just as warm...have a happy Yom Kippur to all our friends who celebrate.
Twenty-five years ago, we were living through a golden age of romantic comedy. In 1998 alone, we had There's Something About Mary, The Wedding Singer, Sliding Doors,and You've Got Mail; and How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Shakespeare in Love were at least rom-com adjacent.
But now? It feels like it's been years since there was a successful romantic comedy in the theaters. The genre hasn't vanished entirely, but it seems to have been moved mostly to streaming services, and the primary target audience for much of the genre is teenaged girls.
What has brought the once mighty rom-com to such a sorry state? Can this genre be saved?
Streaming algorithms, of course. I joke. Okay, I'm only partially joking.
I think the simplest answer is there have been a multitude of factors.
Hollywood saw what brought the most money (superhero films, franchises/IPs) and romcoms weren't part of that equation. Add the pandemic, which exacerbated movie theatre versus streaming tensions even further, and one can argue it's been a perfect storm for romcoms. And while we have a variety of comedians, how many actors/comedians are associated with the romcom genre itself? The trend for longer films (to make it feel like more bang for your buck at your theatre) works against the genre. A change in attitudes/cultures, too, I reckon played a role - what is funny now, what isn't going to be simultaneously offensive. I read two fairly recent reviews of You've Got Mail from letterboxd friends, which while praising the film in general were creeped out by Tom Hanks's character and his duplicity. Anecdotal evidence, I know, but it asks a question.
The above article was updated January 2023.
I don't have any qualms about it being "saved." It will evolve. We'll still have romance films, heck romcom films, too, but they'll look different just as much 1980s romcoms aren't the same as 1930s romcoms (which also weren't the same pre-Hays Code versus post-Hays code enforcement). I doubt we'll have a proliferation of them any time soon though. The entire mood of 2010s/2020s films has been the serious or bigger, the better, something that doesn't fit well with the romcom genre as a whole.
And yes, the loss of the mid-budget movie has been a huge factor. Movies today are either multi-million dollar special effects extravaganzas or art-house/foreign movies that will play to crowds of ten people for one week in LA and NY; no one wants to make movies about relatively normal people living relatively normal lives. And that's related to:
how many actors/comedians are associated with the romcom genre itself?
In an era when the movie itself is the star, when people are going to see the stunts and the effects and the Stuff Blowed Up Real Good, there are no movie stars. And the romcom depends on movie stars. What do we remember about the classic romcoms? We remember Tom & Meg or Julia & Hugh or Cary & Katherine
A quirkier piece of the problem: There is very often a moment in a romcom where the plot hinges on whether Partner A will be able to contact Partner B in time to stop them from (leaving, making a crucial mistake, saying the wrong thing to person C...); the cell phone essentially eliminates the "how do I reach them?" crisis.
In answer to the question...The movie industry is like any other public driven business...it will produce whatever the public will buy at any given time. Romance seems to be making somewhat of a comeback...at least in the literary industry. You can get romance books in dozens of different genera. I think the "romance" had to be tempered more on the screen than on the page. Reading about the romantic antics of the two of any sex was much easier to "filter" in your head than on the screen. Actually, I never saw much "comical" about romance...seems as foreign as a romantic murder.
By the way, >48 KeithChaffee:. Thank you for putting in so much time and effort into this group. I really am happy to see it getting new members and coming alive again. As I told >44 featherbear:...I was the absolutely the last person on the face of the Earth to admin this group. I inherited it in 2020 from the friend that I told I would "help". I don't watch television and I watch very few movies. I think the last movie I watched was in 2018. Thanks again.
"The Hollywood strikes haven’t just been negotiating what the next contract (or the fall TV season) is going to look like. They’re part of an existential fight over what television’s next iteration will be.
"The battle is being fought against the backdrop of two seismic shifts: the much-discussed decline of prestige television and the beginning of the end of television’s disruption by streaming services.
"...There will probably be more revivals. More reboots. And, if some executives have their way, a heavier reliance on formulas and algorithms, perhaps assisted by new technologies like AI."
Coleman Spilde. Daily Beast, 10/01/2023: ‘Fallen Leaves’: The Gorgeous Finnish Rom-Com Genre Fans Must See.
"Romantic comedies have become a dime a dozen, which means it’s become increasingly difficult to find one that’s more than just decent. There are plenty of films that slap together a collection of tropes, hire a few beautiful or interesting-looking actors, and call it a wrap. But Fallen Leaves, an international selection from Finland that screened Sept. 26 at the New York Film Festival, is primed to invigorate a genre grown stale—and do it in the most deliciously glacial, unassuming way possible."
Ashley Fetters Maloy. WaPo, 09/30/2023: The New York Film Festival opens with the industry in limbo. "NEW YORK — The New York Film Festival got off to a stylish start Friday night with a party at Central Park’s famed Tavern on the Green — or as stylish as you can get when none of the striking actors in this season’s slate of films are expected to attend." New York downpours didn't help.
"In an moment decades in the making, representatives from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Sunday night presented Howard University with a replacement Oscar for Hattie McDaniel’s 1940 best supporting actress award.
"The Oscar — for McDaniel’s performance as “Mammy” in the 1939 big-screen epic “Gone With the Wind” — was the first awarded to a Black actor. As a nod to the significance of that award, McDaniel bequeathed her Oscar to the university before her death in 1952.
"On the night of the ceremony — Feb. 29, 1940 — the nightclub hosting the award banquet would not allow the actress to sit at the same table as her White co-stars.
"Black newspapers and political figures criticized McDaniel’s on-screen role for embracing a racial stereotype. Others attacked the film for presenting a romanticized picture of the antebellum South. The Black newspaper the Chicago Defender blasted the film as a “weapon of terror against Black America.”
The original Oscar went missing sometime in the 1960s or 1970s.
The proprietor of your local rep house calls and tells you that they're planning a special "Community Month." As one of the community's most beloved lovers of film, you are being invited to program a 4-film marathon. You have free choice of titles -- if it's a real movie and hasn't been completely lost, the theater will show it -- and of themes. Your choice might be as simple as four favorite Bogart movies, or as esoteric as four great German films about bisexual crime-fighting librarians. Your only restriction is that no more than one of your titles can be longer than three hours.
What's your theme? What movies do you choose, and why? Do you have any opinion on the order in which the films are shown?
If you are ambitious and enjoy doing this sort of thing, do feel free to offer more than one possible marathon for our contemplation.
Old age comes to mind; I'd probably show them in chronological order; there are probably other worthy candidates, though it's not a common trope at least in Western movies, but my memory isn't what it used to be; other suggestions? I've provided the directors.
1937 Make Way for Tomorrow (Leo McCarey)
1953 Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu)
1958 Ballad of Narayama (Keisuke Kinoshita; there's a 1983 remake by Shohei Imamura I haven't seen; I'd program it as an extra just so I could view it)
1974 Harry and Tonto (Paul Mazursky; haven't seen this for many years, though)
Lesser known World War 2 movies; more intense than any horror movie, & without any of the heroic moments of Private Ryan:
1956 Attack! (Robert Aldrich)
1959 The Bridge aka Die Brucke (Bernhard Wicki)
1962 Hell Is For Heroes (Don Siegal)
1977 Cross of Iron (Sam Peckinpah; seen this only once years ago, so I'd program it just so I could view it again; possibly not on the same level of intensity as the other 3)
Still contemplating another possible idea, but for now, I offer you a lineup of four international films, all of which feature striking visuals.
Ten Canoes (Australia; Rolf de Heer & Peter Djigirr; 2006) -- The first full-length feature to be made entirely in Australian Aboriginal languages. A young man finds himself attracted to the youngest wife of his older brother, who tells him a legend/fable about another young man in the same situation.
Wild Tales (Argentina; Damian Szifron; 2014) -- Six short films on the theme of anger and retribution. The highlight is a road-rage duel that turns into something like a live-action Road Runner cartoon.
Blancanieves (Spain; Pablo Berger; 2012) -- A black-and-white silent retelling of Snow White, with bits of other fairytales thrown in, set against a backdrop of bullfighting in 1920s Seville. Magnificent performance from Maribel Verdu as the stepmother.
Tears of the Black Tiger (Thailand; Wisit Sasanatieng; 2000) -- A young woman reluctantly agrees to her father's demand that she marry the local police chief; her childhood sweetheart is the infamous bandit known as the Black Tiger. The movie is filmed in color so vivid as to make Technicolor look like Whistler's Mother -- the bandits wear turqouise shirts and raspberry ascots; the bride wears a gown of carnation pink; a climactic shootout takes place on the greenest lawn you've ever seen. It's like a collaboration between Douglas Sirk and John Ford .
Rango (Gore Verbinski, 2011) -- Surely the Western is part of American mythology? Johnny Depp voices a timid chameleon who wanders into a desert town and winds up as its sheriff, tasked with ridding the place of Rattlesnake Jake (Bill Nighy). Both an homage to and a parody of the classic Western.
ParaNorman (Sam Fell & Chris Butler, 2012) -- No one believes that 11-year-old Norman can talk to ghosts, but when his small Massachusetts town is threatened by an ancient witch's curse, Norman must come to the rescue. A minor bit of historical interest here, as one of the supporting players is the first openly gay character in an animated film.
Wolfwalkers (Thom Moore & Ross Stewart, 2020) -- In 1650, a group of Irish villagers are trying to kill or chase away a pack of wolves from the local forest, under orders from the Lord Protector (never specifically named as Oliver Cromwell, but that's who it is), setting up a distinctly Irish werewolf story.
Sita Sings the Blues (Nina Paley, 2008) -- Scenes from Paley's own life, woven together with scenes from the Indian epic The Ramayana, with musical commentary on both drawn from the recordings of 1930s jazz singer Annette Hanshaw; each layer of the film gets its own animated style, from contemporary "squigglevision" to intricately cut-out shadow puppets.
I enjoy "conversation" movies. Initially, I wanted to do a "girl talk," list -- ensemble women in conversation -- then a one on one male/female, but in both cases I couldn't come up with a fourth -- so I made a single "Conversations" list, again presented in chronological order with director:
1939 The Women (George Cukor)
1969 My Night at Maud's (Eric Rohmer)
1995 Before Sunrise (Richard Linklater)
2007 Death Proof (Quentin Tarantino)
Incomplete combinations -- missing the elusive #4; suggestions welcome:
1939 The Women (Cukor)
2007 Death Proof (Tarantino)
2022 Women Talking (Sarah Polley)
Comment: if this wasn't a "female ensemble" list -- I do enjoy Tarantino's The Hateful Eight; would also break my unwritten rule of no repeat directors, which is why the other Sunrise pix couldn't make the one on one or the combined lists:
"One on One"
1969 My Night at Maud's (Rohmer)
1974 Scenes From a Marriage (Ingmar Bergman)
1995 Before Sunrise (Linklater)
On a completely different note. I doubt Shelley Duvall could have fulfilled a complete TCM Night Under the Stars presentation, but I've always been fond of her beginning with her bit part, largely silent, in McCabe and Mrs. Miller, but she had significant roles in 4 feature films; in this case I have to break the "one director" rule; she was obviously an Altman favorite:
Shelley Duvall in
1974 Thieves Like Us (Robert Altman)
1977 3 Women (Altman)
1980 The Shining (Stanley Kubrick)
1980 Popeye (Altman)
There's always the musical remake of The Women (musical only in the sense that one of the characters has a nightclub act and we hear her sing a few songs). But The Opposite Sex (1956) isn't a very good movie, as its list of stars would suggest. June Allyson, Joan Collins, and Dolores Gray suggests a bad day of being turned down by everyone the casting director actually wanted.
François Ozon's 8 Women (2002), on the other hand, is a delight. Ozon had wanted to do a remake of The Women, but his rights deal fell through, so instead he adapted a French play from the late 1950s, and assembled a stunning cast: Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Emmanuelle Béart, Fanny Ardant, Virginie Ledoyen, Danielle Darrieux, Ludivine Sagnier and Firmine Richard. They are gathered at the isolated family home for Christmas when the patriarch is found stabbed to death; which of them is the killer? And this one really is a musical, with songs that advance the story.
A possible fourth for the "One on One" list: A Love Song (2022). There are a few brief appearances from other characters, but it's basically a two-hander for veteran character actors Dale Dickey and Wes Studi, playing former classmates who meet to see if the spark they once felt for each other might be rekindled. Neither Dickey nor Studi often get to play a starring role, or is thought of as a romantic lead -- this was reportedly the first on-screen kiss for both -- but they are lovely here.
My most recently finished book (Celeste Holm Syndrome by David Lazar) was a bit of a disappointment, but it did start me thinking about character actors, those useful utility players who fill out the supporting cast of a movie.
What exactly is a character actor, anyway? Who are your favorite character actors, past or present?
I'll pick one recent favorite of each type. Margo Martindale is a relative chameleon. There are certainly traits in common to most of her characters -- a blunt practicality, a down-to-earth quality -- but she can range from the villainy of Mags Bennett on Justified to the goodness of the mother superior on Mrs. Davis. Her filmography includes titles as varied as The Rocketeer, August: Osage County, and Cocaine Bear.
On the other hand, Leslie Jordan really only had one character in his toolbox -- the sharp-tongued Southern queen -- but he played that one character to perfection. There were variations -- his Will & Grace character was smarter and meaner; his character in the ensemble sitcom The Cool Kids was sweeter and a bit more befuddled -- but when he showed up, you knew basically what to expect.
Before the year is over, we'll be getting a second film version of The Color Purple (this one based on the musical) and a third version of the Willy Wonka story. Hardly a month goes by without the announcement of plans to remake some beloved movie or other.
Do you have favorite remakes? What makes a remake worthwhile? Which movies should (or shouldn't) be remade? Is there any movie you'd like to see a new version of?
Two films that shouldn’t be remade would be Disney’s Song of the South & D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation. For that matter, I don’t think we need a remake of Gone with the Wind, even in the form of a musical.
Tarantino has an essay on Paul Schrader’s Hardcore (1979) as a remake of John Ford’s The Searchers (1979), where the issue of the racist quest is addressed. Too soon at this moment in time, but I could foresee a future film revisiting The Searchers in the 21st century within the context of the Hamas massacre aftermath.
The exception, I would argue, is foreign-language films; given the historic reluctance of most American moviegoers to foreign films -- what Bong Joon-Ho called the "one-inch barrier" of subtitles -- there might be good reason to remake even the very best foreign films, if you can do so well, as a way of getting at least some part of their brilliance to a new audience.
It is interesting how differently the idea of revisiting the classics is seen in the worlds of film and theater. One doesn't "remake" a play; one "revives" it, using exactly the same script. And audiences are thrilled at the opportunity to see a new cast tackle the same roles. Could you do that with movies? Use the same script to make a new Silence of the Lambs, say, with Emma Stone and Edward Norton in the Foster and Hopkins roles?
Probably not, and the crucial difference is that movies endure and remain available in a way that stage performances do not. Today's audiences can never see Jessica Tandy's Blanche Dubois; if they want the thrill of seeing that role on stage, a revival is the only way to do it. But Foster's Clarice Starling lives forever, easily accessible to anyone who wants to see it. The few times that anyone has attempted something like a "revival" in film, the reaction has generally been awful; Gus Van Sant's Psycho comes to mind.
Looks as if the most direct remake is probably Martin Ritt's 1964 western The Outrage, with the intriguing cast of Paul Newman, Laurence Harvey, Claire Bloom, Edward G. Robinson, and William Shatner.
Random thought: I believe in Hollywood the oral history one of the interviewees from the silent era recalled changing a drama to a comedy simply by changing the intertitles. In the sound era, I thought of Woody Allen's What's Up Tiger Lily? for the use of subtitles for a comic effect. Were there any more such usages?
I love silent movies (metropolis and sunrise probably my favs) animation and yes about Pixar; they rarely miss. ET and Coco were great, still love Toy Story. dISNEY has to be lion king. fav romcom is probably when harry met sally, and french kiss. Also love musicals: Oliver, My Fair Lady need to think about newer ones Fav indie King of Hearts is the first to come to mind
"There is very often a moment in a romcom where the plot hinges on whether Partner A will be able to contact Partner B in time to stop them from (leaving, making a crucial mistake, saying the wrong thing to person C...); the cell phone essentially eliminates the "how do I reach them?" crisis.'
Watching older movies often makes me thing "for want of a cell phone"
One of the best remakes was the new little women I loved it as a kid and was hesitant to try it. But it turned out great. not only did they not mess with the plot but they updated it to make it in more real to us. The ending was pure genius
and dont get me started on cloud atlas one of my all time fav books. Great cast but they just made a huge mess of it.
QUESTION #8: Books to movies!
This is Library Thing, after all, so we had to get here eventually. Do you have favorite movies adapted from books? Are there certain types of books that you think adapt to film better than others? What book are you wishing someone would make a movie of?
I believe it was in high school I first encountered the Charles Laughton directed Night of the Hunter (1955) -- on TV, alone late at night, rest of the family was still asleep. Out of context, tuned in when Mitchum was toying with then pursuing the children down to the river. Wanted to find out what I'd missed & bought a paperback of the novel by Davis Grubb, which as I recall filled in the blanks with a hallucinatory tone that I still recall.
Also encountered -- in this case numerous times -- always alone, since it was usually on TV late at night -- I remember one time during the holidays when everyone had gone home, alone in the graduate school lounge -- A Christmas Carol (1951, aka Scrooge); this is the one with Alastair Sim. The loneliness of Scrooge struck a nerve with me, heightened by the viewing occasion. Read the novel/novella several times over the years, eventually wrote my dissertation on Dickens.
The Shining (1980), directed by Stanley Kubrick. Identified with the Jack Nicholson character recalling my struggles with writing said dissertation, though I couldn't imagine having a family like Shelley Duvall & Danny Lloyd much less hurting them. Eventually read the Stephen King novel (a used paperback with a yellow cover); hardly remember the novel, though I generally like his novels & sometimes think of him as the Dickens we deserve.
Le Plasir (1952). In this case I had read a translation of Guy de Maupassant's short novel/story (?) La Maison Tellier in a Modern Library collection before seeing the film, and when I eventually watched the Max Ophuls movie some time later -- an anthology with La Maison at the center -- I had a kind of mild shock of recognition since it seemed familiar/non familiar. The story moved me -- the madam of a brothel temporarily closes up to attend the marriage of a relative in the country, and takes her employees with her. Maupassant humanizes the women who would have been the equivalent of untouchables in the Victorian novels with which I was familiar, and Ophuls does justice to the original. The image of the windows being closed at night after the brothel reopens lingers (or are the windows being reopened? Can't remember).
In the best of all possible worlds, movies wouldn't be based on -- subtenants of -- books; movies would converse with (not remake) other movies, and books would be part of the visual furniture or thematic content (bookcase crashes down on obsessive graduate student) of cinema. But in the real world of movies, films based on books are inextricably part of the landscape, though wishing a book would become a movie seems like a curse, a "be careful what you wish for" spell. So pardon me if I don't.
No one has nominated The Wizard of Oz?! I notice that Criterion Channel has an entire documentary on how all of David Lynch’s oeuvre (Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, Twin Peaks etc etc) all reflect his obsession with Wizard -- the movie, probably not the book. When I get a minute …
I mentioned earlier that it’s sometimes easy to overlook the fact that a movie is based on a book. I just re-watched Sam Peckinpah’s Cross of Iron (1977) on Amazon Prime – at 128 min. perhaps a longer version than the one I saw originally in Honolulu in the theater. It’s based on a book by Willi Heinrich, which I’ve never heard of. Odd combination of Howard Hawks & Robert Aldrich – the movie anyway. No idea how Peckinpah or his screenwriters adapted or messed with the book, but some of the bits -- the deguelo singalongs (but in German of course), the slomo & freeze frames, the laughter in the face of death, women & men in hot tubs -- all seem to be Wild Bunch call outs*. (Cross has James Coburn, Maximillian Schell & James Mason as Wehrmacht on the Russian front near the end of WWII)
On TCM (but available via other sources) started but might not finish Of Mice and Men (1939), mostly to catch Burgess Meredith’s performance; director Lewis Milestone, & based on the short novel by John Steinbeck everyone used to read in high school. The Aaron Copland music has so far seemed a little overbearing; I did like how the creators use cowboy regular Bob Steele as a bully motivated by feelings of inferiority over his short stature. Sort of nervous about those puppies. Steinbeck movies! East of Eden, Grapes ...
*Left out of the Wild Bunch call out list: the kids feeding the scorpion to the ants in the opening echoed by the Nazi children's chorus in the opening credits of Cross.
*I kno it can, hanks was in 'Cloud Atlas' a miserable movie adaptation of a great book
Pardon me if I do, after another bad night. Leigh Bardugo, the YA author, has written 2 horror/supernatural novels taking place in New Haven. I've read the first, Ninth House, set in the 90s, probably when she was at school at the local uni, when the shop around the corner of York & Broadway was a WaWa, the corner store was a Rosenberg's cheaper-than-J-Press suit store -- heroine lives above the retail store where the tailoring was actually done IRL. Rosenberg's was next door to the Yankee Doodle luncheonette sorely missed, where I sometimes breakfasted on the way to work. Enjoyable big nostalgia hit for me. The sequel, Hell Bent, I have not read, but concerns the mouth of Hades opening below the university library where I spent my career cataloging. Doubt it could ever be plausibly made into a movie since the university jealously protects its brand & wouldn't permit photography, but I can dream. That libraries are the gateway to the bad place has become a popular trope these days.
Beyond that, I'm largely agnostic on the question. Some books are turned into good movies and some are turned into bad movies. I don't think the success or failure has much to do with the book itself. Like any movie, it's all about whether that magical thing happens where everything just works -- the right cast, the right script, the right director.
I suppose the books that are most likely to be entertaining movies are those heavier on plot; hard to imagine making a riveting movie out of something that's mostly internal monologue (though there are moments when a good actor can convey three paragraphs of "he thought about" with a single facial expression).
?1 favorite movie "King of Hearts" "the grave of fireflies" "the secret of Roan Irish" "night at the opera" "the front" "when harry met sally"
?2 who do you love Tom Hanks Meryl Streep, Glen Close, Amy Adams, George Clooney Kat Blanchett, Judy Dench, Maggie Smith, Colin Firth
?3 On your own Island See ?1 the first three of those. Waking Ned Devine, Prescilla, queen of the desert, Harold and Maude
?4 Romantic Comedy when harry met sally, princess bride, French Kiss, shakespear in love, Notting Hill
?5 Movie Marathon: all the movies directed by Mel Brooks
?6 Character actors not sure, Im awful with actor names; but Ill recognize them
?7 remakes I generally dislike remakes with some exceptions: the new Little Women was brillant . Another adjacent ? would be spoofs: young frankenstien, airplane, top secret, Hot shots part deus,Holy Grail, Dead Men Dont Wear Plaid
?8 favorite movie adaptation: Little Women, "The Man Who Would Be King"."Sleuth" "one Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest":
Martin Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon is just under 3 1/2 hours long, and audiences are grumbling that they need a pee break. The studio has been stomping down on a few theaters who have added an intermission of their own to the movie, and some fans have decided they'll just wait for the movie to arrive at Apple TV+, so they can hit pause whenever they like.
Do you remember the glory days of intermissions? As movies get longer, do we need to bring them back?
Here is a link to an interesting article onthe subject.
Back in the days when intermissions were a thing, movies were made with that in mind. Just as TV episodes are structured around commercial breaks, a movie can be structured to build to a good pause point. But I'd agree with Scorsese and the studio that just adding an intermission to a movie that wasn't made with one in mind is going to be disruptive to the flow of the movie, and shouldn't be done.
I can understand why theaters would want to, though. With a three hour movie, adding a 15-minute intermission isn't going to cut a screening out of your day, so you don't lose any box office. And you give everyone a chance to make a return visit to the snack bar, which is where theaters reportedly make most of their money.
One interesting theory for why movies have gotten so much longer in recent years has to do with digital projection. It used to be that movies had to be physically shipped to theaters. The number of film reels that would fit into the standard shipping box allowed for a movie of up to 100 minutes or so; a movie longer than that would require two boxes, doubling the shipping costs. But now that everything's done digitally, it doesn't cost any more to deliver a 210-minute movie to the theater than it does to deliver a 90-minute movie, so directors are given more leeway to stretch/bloat their movies.
I wonder if this might not be a small piece of the puzzle in the relative slowness of the movie theater bounceback after the COVID shutdowns. As the average movie length continues to grow, people would rather watch at home, where they have more control over taking bathroom breaks, or even watching long movies in multiple sessions. I remember when The Irishman was released at Netflix, several websites offered "miniseries" timings for viewing, telling you where the best places were to break the movie into three manageable chunks.
Sounds like a marketable app, maybe; a "where to break" listing for any movie over 2 hours long.
"Acquiring Hulu gives Disney a streaming service aimed at adults, as opposed to Disney Plus, which caters to younger viewers. The move had been considered likely based on recent comments from Disney CEO Bob Iger. Disney faced a deadline to acquire its remaining stake of Hulu from Comcast or sell it."
We're well into "Awards Season," with serious Oscar contenders now playing in theaters and on assorted streaming services. Which of the Big! Exciting! Movies! of the year are you most eager to see?
Another potential award winner might be Eo by Jerzy Skolimowski; technically a 2022 feature, but I've seen it on 2023 lists. Arguably a very free "re-make" of Au Hasard Balthazar by Robert Bresson, but it seemed more like a donkey's eye view of contemporary Eastern Europe. Cinematic donkeys retrospective festival: Balthazar, Eo, Shrek and the elusive #4 -- Time Out cites 2 other donkey films, though: Banshees of Inisherin & Triangle of Sadness. Started Banshees without thought of the donkey list, but haven't finished it. Does Banshees qualify for 2023 nominations?
Sometimes I think I'm too old to look forward to seeing "the latest" -- I'm more eager to catch up on the films I missed in my younger days before I become the latest -- films often suggested by Peter Bogdanovich's interviews with his auteur heroes. But with regard to the cinematic latest ... Tar was available on a couple of streaming services but I couldn't get off the schneid; not sure if I'll have to rent, apparently it has appeal for codgers & geezers. Barbie the Movie might turn up on HBO/MAX before the end of the year; doesn't seem like something I'd like, but Greta Gerwig has done some interesting things, e.g. Little Women, so you never know. I've seen another animation film, Cameron's Avatar: the way of water all the way through, but the trite eco-philosophy & anthropology seemed a more college level version of the Spider-Man movie; hard to get into that mindset. I've liked most of the Christopher Nolan movies I've seen, but bio-pics usually aren't my cup of tea; will probably catch Oppenheimer streaming or on cable when it becomes available. I have debated whether I could sit through Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon in a theater, but I haven't yet gotten through The Irishman on Netflix! I'm still very much behind on Scorsese catch-up watching. The one with the missionaries in Japan is still in my streaming queue.
Possible future list discussion? For people of a certain age ... Films you missed when they came out that you'd still like to watch at some point. Or, films you can't remember you watched till you re-watched them -- this just happened to me with Edgar Ulmer's The Black Cat. Recently watched Laura all the way to the end, but honestly couldn't remember whether I'd ever watched it all the way through before.
American Fiction, an adaptation of the Percival Everett novel Erasure, starring Jeffrey Wright
May December, the latest from Todd Haynes
Rustin, a Bayard Rustin bio starring Colman Domingo
All of Us Strangers, a gay romance/ghost story from Andrew Haigh (his movies Weekend and 45 Years are overlooked gems worth looking for).
Currently in theaters, and deserving the awards buzz they're getting:
Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon (it is long, and I felt every minute of it, but Lily Gladstone and Robert De Niro are both superb)
Alexander Payne's The Holdovers (I always want to call it either The Leftovers or The Hangovers)
Justine Triet's courtroom drama/marital drama Anatomy of a Fall.
Worth catching from earlier in the year, though the Academy will ignore most of them:
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret
The Blue Caftan
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
A Thousand and One
You Hurt My Feelings
"Nothing about this final product suggests that Levy or Knight were the right choice to bring this story to the screen. Their vision for Doerr's novel is shallow, messy, and, most unfortunately, instantly forgettable." rogerebert.com
on the plus side, the two young actors who played Maria were just perfect. I hope to see them again
Esther Zuckerman. NYT, 11/04/2023: Are ‘Elf’ and ‘Love Actually’ the Last Holiday Classics We’ll Ever Get? "With a few exceptions — like 2019’s “Last Christmas,” based on the Wham! song — there doesn’t seem to be much of a home for holiday entertainment in theaters, unless it is somehow profane or bloody."
(*-- Actually, Warhol didn't tell us that. The line was fabricated for the catalog of a museum exhibition of Warhol's work by the curator and the catalog author.)
Every so often, we see an alarmist article decrying the unwillingness of Those Kids Today to watch older movies. "They won't watch anything more than ten years old," comes the cry, "and they certainly won't watch anything in black and white."
What's your relationship to movies from the past? Do you think there really is less interest in older movies these days? Do you have a few favorite oldies that stir warm nostalgic feelings? Do you actively seek out the classics, or hunt down fascinating obscurities? Or are you busy enough keeping up with what's new to spend much time on movie history?
Marvel comics were not part of my childhood, and probably most of the recent hits are based on childhood fandom that postdated my youth. Always startles me to see folks reminiscing about films of the 80's, 90's, 2000's -- maybe having such a long period of life on my part to watch this & that weakens the emotional hold of nostalgia. My childhood was in Honolulu, a relative wasteland for American movies (Ben-Hur) played at the local prestige theater for over a year,) but with its large Japanese-American demographic, I was able to watch a number of samurai movies & even artier Kurosawa stuff back then (Honolulu then as I believe now had a Japanese language TV channel w/Japanese language serials & revivals of old films).
I like both old & new films, but at my age, especially with so many books to be read, I don't feel compelled to seek out the latest thing people are talking about. Also distracting to have access to so many streaming services that provide ready access to film history. For the most part, I'm not into Young Adult fare or rom-coms; old age, I 'spect. Recently caught parts of Captain Marvel on TV & found the convoluted plot intriguing -- I could see watching the whole thing; on the other hand, the 2023 Spiderman currently streaming on Netflix just had too many Young Adult tropes to compensate for the extraordinary animation.
Guardian, 11/13/2023: The Red Shoes: behind the scenes of the classic Powell and Pressburger film – in pictures.
I didn't really get to discover movies as a kid. The nearest theater was a 30-minute drive away, and neither of my parents were moviegoers. Things got a little better in college, but those are busy years, and there's not always a lot of time to get to the theater.
So it wasn't until I finished grad school and moved to Los Angeles that I could really dive into the world of movies. Finally, I had time and plenty of theaters that I could easily get to! So my knowledge of mainstream cinema is fairly comprehensive from the 90s on, but there are lots of weird gaps in the late 70s and the 80s that you wouldn't expect for a person my age.
So every month, I check the TCM schedule and the "new on Criterion Channel this month" list, checking to see what's coming up that isn't readily available on some screening service so that I can make a point of getting to it while it's there.
I love going to the movies, but the film industry has changed so in the last twenty years that I go less often than I once did. The mid-budget adult drama has largely disappeared, and I gave up on the Marvel Entertainment Empire several years ago, when I realized that every new movie was going to require homework in the form of catching up with the two movies and three TV series that were its precursors.
So a higher percentage of my movie diet these days is older movies, and I'm perfectly happy with that.
I'm unable to decipher the headline, even though I've read much of the article.
So this experiment has been going on for about three months now, and my sense of it is that it's not accomplishing much. There are only three or four people responding to most questions, and it's pretty much the same small group. I think that this particular LT Group just doesn't have the critical mass of active participants needed to generate more lively discussion. And maybe that's not surprising; LT is principally a book forum, after all.
For me, category 1: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood; the TV series The Wire & the 2nd half of the Game of Throne series (too chicken to watch the blood wedding episode); and all those A24 movies I never get around to catching though keeping my fingers crossed; can't even remember what's in my Netflix, Amazon Prime, & Criterion Channel queues. And as noted above, Moonlighting on (inaccessible for me) Hulu.
category 2: Spartacus (I'm pretty sure this came out after I was born, but still ...) -- then there's the subcategory of movies I can't remember whether I've seen or not: The 10 Commandments? Gun Crazy?
category 3: I haven't had a chance to re-watch Tokyo Story. Yet. And I'd like to take another look at Weekend & The Bride of Frankenstein & Detour, & the TV series Orphan Black ...
Re old movies: saw a ton of them when they werent so old on tv many times, it was always a treat for our family to watch them. Loved Marx brothers movies It was in college that I got to explore further, with the New Loft theatre near the university that had regular classic movie night. also saw a lot of indie movies like King of Hearts or Grave of the Firefly. also saw a few silents that got me started looking for them at the video stores, then discovering TCM which opened my worlld up to them.I misss tv shows about movies like Siskell and Ebert. granted they werent older films but it gave me a chance to check out what was playing
Just thought of something. We have Avid Reader. Change the title to Avid Watcher or something like that.
Catherine Porter. NYT, 11/24/2023: France Scoffs at an Englishman’s ‘Napoleon.’
Here's another French opinion:
Agnès Poirier. Guardian, 11/24/2023: Like the rest of France, I couldn’t wait for Ridley Scott’s Napoleon. Then I actually saw it.
Articles keep piling up; I'm enjoying it:
Adam Gopnick. New Yorker, 11/29/2023: The French Are Not Happy About “Napoleon.”
1. Killers of the Flower Moon (which he likens to Eyes Wide Shut for what it's worth
2. Asteroid City
4. All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt: "Spanning half a century in the life of a woman in rural Mississippi, Raven Jackson’s first feature unites family lore and the legacy of history with a breathtaking romantic melodrama"
5. Showing Up: "a sculptor preparing her work for a show while also working at an art school, Kelly Reichardt explores the bonds and the conflicts of a tight-knit community"
6. Passages: "Ira Sachs’s turbulent melodrama set in Paris—in which a German movie director married to a British man embarks on a reckless romance with a French woman"
7. Civic: "a young man’s return home (to South Central Los Angeles)" (20 min. feature)
8. A Thousand and One: "two decades in the life of a mother and child in Harlem"
9. Earth Mama: "Savanah Leaf’s début feature, the drama of a young woman’s fervent efforts to regain custody of her children and to maintain a bond with her newborn"
10. Pinball: the man who saved the game: documentary of the legalization of pinball in NY
11. The Wonderful World of Henry Sugar - The Swan - The Ratcatcher - Poison: Wes Anderson adaptations of Roald Dahl children's stories on Netflix
12. Menus plaisirs - Les Troigros: Frederick Wiseman doc about a French restaurant
13. Petite Solange: "coming-of-age story of a teen-age girl in a small French city against the backdrop of her parents’ divorce"
14. Ferrari (Michael Mann biopic)
15. Orlando, my political biography: "a docufictional and reflexive adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s historical fantasy “Orlando,” features more than twenty trans or gender-nonconforming actors in the title role"
16. Walk Up: Life in a Seoul multistory building; director Hong Sangsoo
17. Origin: "how the journalist Isabel Wilkerson wrote her nonfiction book “Caste”
18. Priscilla: biopic of Priscilla Presley
19. The Color Purple: musical based on the novel
20. Our Body: "Claire Simon’s documentary, set in the gynecology ward of a French hospital, explores a vast range of women’s-health and gender-related concerns"
I just realized Brody does not include Oppenheimer
PS: For example, I have a Criterion Collection DVD of Yi Yi, and the product numbers on my LT record, in this case, are for EAN, UPC, or ASIN; one of them must have been somewhere printed on the container barcode.
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