Welcome to the 548th Edition of my series. Next weekend is my play MURDER AT THE GAZEBO at the Goldspace Theater where I play the detective. Information is on the photo at the end of the blog. If you want tickets, message me on Facebook. Yesterday, we continued our filming for PIGFOOT in Columbus. We finished a lot and we look to finish in a couple of weeks when I return to the town. It was quite an experience and quite different to the theater that I'm used to doing. Earlier in the week, I met of up a local filmmaker in Muncie to talk about a new project which is another horror movie called THE VENGEANCE SQUAD where it looks like I will have my second film project of the year so my "no musicals until 1776" rule has paid off a lot. I will get to my selections now.
Moulin Rouge (2001): Baz Luhrman directed and co-wrote this very unusual musical. This takes place in the year 1899 and the musical numbers are mostly music from the 20th century in which they work in very well to make me believe it was that year. Ewan McGregor stars as Christian who is a poet making his way to Paris to and joins up with a group of Bohemians. He goes to the nightclub of the Moulin Rouge and is mistaken for the Duke by Satine, played very well by Nicole Kidman, who is supposed to meet up with the Duke but finds Christian instead. They slowly form a very dangerous affair as the Duke, played by Richard Roxburgh, covets Satine. Jim Broadbent stars as Harold Zidler who runs the Moulin Rouge and is very amusing in his role, especially his cover of Madonna's LIKE A VIRGIN. John Leguizamo, David Wenham, Jacek Koman, Kylie Minogue, and many others co-star in this film. It is interesting how when I show this movie to friends, their first though is that he is the villain due to things like his outgoing personality and the kind of place he runs. He really is not the villain and does what he must and is pretty caring towards his employees like Satine even if he does not want to be. My favorite scene is the scene when he covers the Queen song THE SHOW MUST GO ON and it shows his more human side. This also has some amazing cinematography with very good performances. I have been known to karaoke a few of these songs and have no problem telling anyone. It is a beautiful and complex love story and one I never get tired of seeing.
Dear White People (2014): Justin Simien wrote and directed this satire on race from within an Ivy League school. Tessa Thompson stars as Sam White who is a bi-racial film major and wins the election for the head of house for an all black house on campus which makes tensions rise a lot. She also does a very unusual film project making a parody of A BIRTH OF A NATION. Tyler James Higgins co-stars as Lionel who is a gay black man trying to make it at the prestigious university. Kyle Gallner, Teyonah Parris, Brandon P. Bell, Brittany Curran, Justin Dobies, Marque Richardson, Malcolm Barrett, Dennis Haysbert, Peter Syvertsen, Brandon Alter, Kate Gaulke, and many others co-star in this film. I think this is partly an homage to Spike Lee like when Sam makes a counter film to A BIRTH OF A NATION, Lee did something similar in 1980 by making a student short called THE ANSWER. This is not going to be enjoyed by everyone but is a really good look at racial tensions that is quite funny at times and uncomfortable at other times. This would be a really good watch and discuss movie to watch with a group.
Main Street (2010): John Doyle directed this small town slice of life movie which was written by Horton Foote. Colin Firth stars as Gus Leroy who comes to a small town with a rather controversial idea to help the decaying town. The rest of the story is centered around the citizens connected to this new idea. Ellen Burstyn stars as Georgianna who owns the warehouse that Gus is renting out that she mostly inherited from her husband while Patricia Clarkson co-stars as her niece Willa who has a lot of concerns about Gus starting this industry. Orlando Bloom co-stars as Harris who is a police officer in the small town dealing with his own personal conflicts. Amber Tamblyn and Brat Pack alum Andrew McCarthy also co-star in this movie. This has went to some very mixed opinions. I found it to be a good look at small town life and looking into the future. It probably could have stood to add a little more time to it for things like more character development, among other things. This is available to watch on http://www.hoopladigital.com which is a site that has streaming and can sign up with a public library card.
The Movies (1925): This is my silent comedy short for the week which was directed and written by William Goodrich which was actually an alias of Roscoe "Fatty Arbuckle who had been mostly blacklisted for some legal issues even though he was acquitted. This features silent comedian Lloyd Hamilton who is in a dual role as himself and as a country boy who moves away from his country home with the demand of his father to stay out of the movies but ends up meeting Lloyd Hamilton in a restaurant who needs a double. This is my first time ever seeing Hamilton but he did do some funny stuff in this one. There is also a priceless shot at the movie studio with actors sitting together looking like George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.
The Lady from Shanghai (1947): This is part two of my two-part Orson Welles series. Last week I featured his most known work of CITIZEN KANE, now I bring a film noir. Welles is the uncredited director and wrote the screenplay based on the novel by Sherwood King. He also stars as Michael O'Hara who is a seaman who ends up in a bizarre murder plot. Rita Hayworth co-stars as Elsa who is the wife of corrupt attorney Arthur Bannister, played by Everett Sloane, but seems to like Michael more. This is a rather complex film that is really hard to describe without giving it away. It was one that was full of many twists and came down to a very clever climax at the end.
Gay Purr-ee (1962): I was looking for something to record from TCM and saw this animated movie of cats so sounded interesting. What I did not know is the Judy Garland did the voice of the main character Mewsette and the Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg wrote the music. Mewsette and Jaune-Tom, voiced by Robert Goulet, are cats living in the French countryside and the naive Mewsette decides she wants to check out Paris. When getting to Paris, she meets Meowrice, voiced by Paul Frees, who is a cat that is not on the level and takes advantage of Mewsette's naivety. Jaune-Tom, along with Robespierre, voiced by Red Buttons, set out to find Mewsette. Mel Blanc also lends his voice to this animated movie. This is a rare Warner Brothers feature from this era but was still pretty fun to watch and worth it to see Judy Garland starring in a cartoon.
The Killing (1956): This is part one of a two-part Stanley Kubrick series. A very versatile director early in his career looking into the heist film. Sterling Hayden stars as Johnny Clay who has just gotten out of prison and has a vision of a very elaborate heist at the horse track. Much of the film goes into the planning of the daring heist and looking to the job of each person, even those that he needs for a distraction. Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards, Jay Flippen, Ted de Corsia, Marie Windsor, Elisha Cook Jr., Timothy Carey, and many others co-star in this film. I was very drawn into this film where the pre-planning went just as well as the heist scene. I have always been a fan of Sterling Hayden and this one might be his best performance. This is Kubrick's third film and would go onto do many classics though the years. An interesting fact is that Kirk Douglas really liked this film to the point that he sought out Kubrick to direct PATHS OF GLORY.
Life of Brian (1979): In this week, I have managed racial satire and now religious satire brought to us from the legendary Monty Python group whose movie MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL was featured last week. This was not an intentional back to back thing but came across this dvd at the library so decided to revisit this one. The usual guys are back including Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Eric Idle, and Michael Palin. Chapman stars as Brian who is born on the same day as Jesus but takes a different path. He joins a political resistance group hoping to get the Romans out of Judea and through other events is seen as a prophet much more than he wants. It has a great opening sequence that parodies James Bond. This time watching it, I picked up on some SPARTACUS references that I had not noticed before. There is also the famous music number ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE. This, like last week's feature is good for a lot of laughs.
Made in Dagenham (2010): Nigel Cole directed this dramatization of the 1968 women's strike where women demanded equal pay to men in the United Kingdom. Sally Hawkins stars as Rita O'Grady who leads the strike. Some might right way think NORMA RAE but keep in mind, these events started before that of NORMA RAE. Bob Hoskins co-stars as Albert who is another worker and supports the rights of the women. Andrea Riseborough, Jaime Winstone, Lorraine Stanley, Nicola Duffett, Geraldine James, and many others co-star in this film. This is a fictional version of the event though there were actual people from the strike to advise. It is still enjoyable and even humorous at times against the backdrop of a rather serious issue. This was not just a strike against the plant but of England in general for their labor laws. Hawkins does great as O'Grady. One I had not heard of until I came across but glad to get it on the radar. This was also turned into a musical in 2014.
Those Among Us (2016): I end the week with this short film which features my Facebook friend Kelsey Zukowski. Justin Paul wrote and directed this horror short which stars Billy Grandy and Gareth Thomas as a couple men living in isolation which kidnap and torture, even kill their victims. Zukowski and Anna Ross co-star as the two victims of the men. it seems like some conventional horror film but then the twist in my opinion did add some interest. This, among other work in film and modeling from Kelsey can be viewed at the website http://kelseyzukowski.com where she can also be contacted for work.
Well, that is all for this week. Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eddie Redmayne, more Stanley Kubrick, and many others.