The Cinema Cafe

Serving Cinema's Tastiest Treasures

End Credits #47: Cinema's 2016 Lost Treasures

These are some of Cinema's sad departures of 2016 taken from my personal notes soon after the tragic events took place: 

 

Four important film directors have sadly passed away this month. All had a firm interest in keenly probing their film characters' true nature and interactions with one another. Although each filmmaker made those perceptions in distinctively different ways, they will all be sorely missed. 

 

 

Garry Marshall, one of the most versatile talents working in show business, has died at age 81. He was a hugely successful writer, director, producer and actor creating a host of wildly popular TV shows and films. His hit TV series (as executive producer) included The Odd Couple (1970 - 1975), Mork & Mindy (1978 - 1982), Laverne & Shirley (1976 - 1983), and Happy Days (1974 - 1984). Marshall often contributed as a writer on the aforementioned shows plus The Lucy Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show (both 1964 - 1966) amongst others. His film directorial credits include the superb coming of age movie The Flamingo Kid (which he also co-wrote), Beaches, Pretty Woman, Frankie and Johnny, Runaway Bride, The Princess Diaries, and (released this year) Mother's Day. As an actor, he made memorable appearances in Grand Theft Auto (as an Underworld Boss), Lost in America (pictured here in a wonderful cameo as a Casino Operator), Soapdish, A League of Their Own (directed by his sister Penny Marshall), Never Been Kissed, Orange County, and Race to Witch Mountain amongst others. Garry Marshall (November 13, 1934 - July 19, 2016) R.I.P.

 

 

 

 

 

Argentinian director Hector Babenco has died at age 70. He was known for his intense explorations of character typically under brutally severe environmental circumstances and influences. His first feature-length film credit was as co-director of the 1973 documentary O Fabuloso Fittipaldi concerning the world champion Grand Prix racing driver. Babenco wrote and directed the two fictional feature films that followed: O Rei da Noite (1975) and Lucio Flavio (1977); the first concerning the odd romantic exploits of a Sao Paulo bohemian, the latter about the brazen Brazilian bank-robber Lúcio Flávio, a politically daring film for the filmmaker because of the country’s military dictatorship and the real Flavio’s indictment of the notorious Brazilian Police death squads before being killed in prison. It was 1981’s Pixote that afforded Babenco the most international notoriety about the harsh criminal life of a boy in the streets of Sao Paulo. The critical success of that film allowed the aspiring filmmaker to make Kiss of the Spider Woman based on Manuel Puig’s novel which was adapted by the author into a play and first staged in 1985, the year the film was released. That film's awards and acclaim led Babenco to direct amongst others: Ironweed, At Play in the Fields of the LordCarandiru, and his last, 2015’s My Hindu Friend. Hector Babenco (February 7, 1946 - July 13, 2016) R.I.P.

 

 

 

 

 

The prestigious Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami has died at age 76. He began his filmmaking career at age 30 and became perhaps his country's most important director. In addition to feature-length films, he was recognised for his substantial contribution to the art of photography, short and documentary films, and poetry. His filmmaking style was unique and stylised, he rarely relied on a script, often mixing fantasy with reality to create a more poetic form and like the famous French filmmaker Robert Bresson whom he admired, often used non-actors to provide a more natural improvisational appearance. He was a Jury member at the Cannes Film Festival in 1993, and in 2005 was its president. Some of his lauded works as both writer and director include Close-Up (1990), Taste of Cherry (1997), The Wind Will Carry Us (1999) and Certified Copy (2010). Abbas Kiarostami (June 22, 1940 - July 4, 2016) R.I.P.

 

 

 

 

 

Academy Award-winning director Michael Cimino has passed away this month at age 77. Before making his directorial debut (getting his big break assignment from star Clint Eastwood) on the hit film Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Cimino co-wrote the scripts to the sci-fi cult favourite Silent Running and the first 'Dirty Harry' sequel Magnum Force. Then it was on to his biggest critical and commercial success, 1978's The Deer Hunter which won its bold visionary an Oscar for both directing and co-producing the Best Picture winner of 1979. In 1980 Cimino's professional reputation took a tremendous fall with the enormously budgeted, mammoth western epic Heaven's Gate. Its colossal commercial failure caused many of the artist's planned projects to be thwarted. He did write and direct Year of the Dragon (1985) containing his customary sudden realistic outbursts of violence, and direct with a typical stylised visual and fatalistic aesthetic The Sicilian, Desperate Hours, and The Sunchaser, his last feature-length work in 1996. After quitting directing, he published two highly successful novels while living in Paris, France. Michael Cimino (February 3, 1939 - July 2, 2016) R.I.P.

 

 

 

 

21st Century Treasure Quest #5

Our contributor Renard N. Bansale has completed 11 more contemporary film reviews for your consideration. The rating system he'll use is devised primarily to give those who are trying to decide which films to see, a fun and easy way of (hopefully) choosing a more pleasurable movie-going experience. For a more thorough introduction to this series please see 21st Century Treasure Quest #1. (A.G.)

Read More

"Now Listen to Me..."

Just some thoughts on current happenings:

 

There are 10 recommended films to watch on Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. this month:

The Searchers is one of the finest Westerns ever made and perhaps director John Ford's most artistically accomplished film. It has been previously reviewed in Opening Up a Treasure: The Searchers and will begin on TCM Tuesday, July 5 at 6:45pm PST.  

 

 

 

 

 

Another Top Ten Western (The Searchers is #2) is Sam Peckinpah's elegiac Ride the High Country coming in at number 4 on the list here and will ride into TCM territory Wednesday, July 6 at 5pm PST. 

Randolph Scott as Gil Westrum (on the left) and Joel McCrea as Steve Judd

Randolph Scott as Gil Westrum (on the left) and Joel McCrea as Steve Judd

 

 

 

 

 

Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake

Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake

From one of America's greatest westerns, star McCrea "travels" to one of the country's best comedies, Sullivan's Travels, a prior Blu-ray recommendation here. His adventure will begin on TCM Friday, July 8 at 5:30am PST.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then there's one of film noir's finest representatives: The estimable The Asphalt Jungle, a standard-bearer for all heist films. This monumental work has reaped much praise here and will also avail itself on Friday, July 8 (later in the day) at 2:30pm PST. 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving right along to the cream of another genre, horror, TCM is showing the British anthology film Dead of Night. This not only stands at the head of its class, the film remains one of Britain's finest cinematic achievements. A previous TCM recommendation was written here. Dead of Night will reappear on Sunday, July 10 at 6:45pm PST.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trevor Howard, Celia Johnson

Trevor Howard, Celia Johnson

Another British cinematic treasure, this time in the romance category, was reviewed as such in Opening Up a Treasure: Brief Encounter. Director David Lean's emotionally stirring "encounter" will begin on Monday, July 11 at 7pm PST.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(From the left) Bruce Cowling, Robert Taylor, Paula Raymond

(From the left) Bruce Cowling, Robert Taylor, Paula Raymond

Then it's back to westerns, another Top Ten (#3) and Hidden Gem #19, Devil's Doorway. Anthony Mann's staunch indictment of the U.S. Government's harsh and unfair treatment of native Americans is one of the most uncompromising films on the subject. It has been "inspected" (reviewed) here and will make its stand Tuesday, July 12 at 11pm PST.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Director Don Siegel's follow-up to Dirty Harry was a little crime caper that comparatively few took notice of perhaps because its title didn't suggest anything too exciting on the cinematic menu. The fact that it starred the often comedic Walter Matthau may have also contributed to the public's confusion over just what kind of film Charley Varrick was. U.S. TCM subscribers unfamiliar with this film have the chance to find out Saturday, July 16 at 7pm PST. It is also my Blu-ray recommendation this month and is briefly reviewed below.

 

 

 

 

 

The next to last TCM recommendation has been reviewed in Opening Up a Treasure: The Night of the Hunter. This highly expressionistic Grimm-like fable appears as if conveyed from a child's point of view. The "hunter" will appear Monday, July 18 at 10:30pm PST.

 

 

 

 

 

(From the left) Eli Wallach, Mary LaRoche, Cheryl Callaway, Robert Keith

(From the left) Eli Wallach, Mary LaRoche, Cheryl Callaway, Robert Keith

My final TCM film to see is The Lineup. Like this month’s earlier TCM recommendation Charley Varrick, this tightly-woven little crime caper was directed by expert craftsman Don Siegel. Released in 1958, its focus, on the ongoing thoughts and behaviour of its criminals, makes The Lineup exemplary of film noir’s concluding classic timeline (1940 - 1959).

(At left) Vaughn Taylor, Eli Wallach

(At left) Vaughn Taylor, Eli Wallach

The story begins as a police procedural and even though its setting is San Francisco, moves quickly, and vividly utilizes some of the city’s prime locations, this initially looks like a rather dull affair with a few nondescript cops trying to solve the mysterious activities of a deceased drug smuggling cab driver. After a spell, however, the perspective abruptly shifts from the investigators to some of the craziest and most distinctively deplorable perpetrators of crime seen in all of film noir. Eli Wallach stars as Dancer, a sort of collector/hit man for the mob. His method of retrieving shipments of heroin, hidden in various tourist’s belongings (unbeknownst to them), is really no method at all, since it consists of doing whatever it takes, even murder, to get the goods. Nothing stands in his way and he’s got one helluva nasty temper to boot. Like director Don Siegel’s later cinematic degenerates, i.e. the hitman Lee in 1964's The Killers, the Scorpio Killer in Dirty Harry and Molly in Charley Varrick, Dancer is more than willing to take out his psychopathology on any perceived adversary including a helpless child, disabled employer, or even his partner in crime. Watching the complex Dancer alternately exhibit inquisitiveness, rage, vulnerability, even fear when doing his occupational “dance” provides riveting fascination and suspense especially when plans go awry. Assisting him is Julian, played by Robert Keith who has a morbid obsession with writing down the last words spoken by Dancer’s victims! This is one of several narrative nods to existentialism with its feeling of pre-determined destiny for both the evil doers and their unwitting drug smugglers. Both groups appear to be involved in circumstances beyond their control or even awareness. The immediacy of the violent events portrayed for both victims and victimizers emphasise the here and now over some concept as to what the future holds especially when everyone’s circumstances can (and so often do) drastically change in the blink of an eye. The truest example of this French philosophy’s (and come to think of it noir's) theme of fatalistic absurdity is, however, saved for the almost literally cliff-hanging finale when our trio of baddies, driven by a no-nonsense Richard Jaeckel, attempt their “fast track” getaway on a freeway under construction that leads to nowhere. Taken from Sterling (In the Heat of the Night) Silliphant’s concisely composed script, this is bravura Siegel: Efficient, intense and memorable. The “lineup” will commence Saturday, July 30 at 8:15 PST. 

 

TCM's current monthly schedule can be confirmed by clicking on any of the above images. For those who live in parts of the U.S. other than the western region, the time zone can be adjusted in the upper right-hand corner of TCM's programme.

 

 

 

 

 

A Happy Birthday shout-out to the wonderfully talented Canadian-born actor Donald Sutherland who turns 81 on July 17th.

The wildly diverse range of characters this consummate actor has vividly portrayed is a true testament to his amazing versatility and total commitment to the acting profession.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The soundtrack recommendation for July is the recently released 2 CD set of Thomas Newman's emotionally wide-ranging and rich score to the popular film The Shawshank Redemption.

More information on this limited release from La-La Land including ordering is available from Intrada Records by clicking on the image.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seldom do I recommend a Blu-ray whose release has been restricted to outside the U.S. but in this case, Don Siegel's dynamically potent crime thriller Charley Varrick issued only on high-definition in Germany at the present time, is worth special mention.

Walter Matthau

Walter Matthau

Siegel's top-of-the-line craftsmanship is on full display in this tightly organised crime drama that delivers with bravado a royal flush of suspenseful thrills and chills. First-time viewers are bound to be fooled by the film's laid-back opening of mundane awakening life in a small New Mexico town and the subsequent arrival of an elderly looking gentleman (played with subdued but formidable seriousness by Walter Matthau) at the municipality's nondescript bank. Once the title character's true intentions are revealed, however, and Lalo Schifrin's music kicks into high gear, the suspense goes off the rails, especially when the situation gets chaotically out of hand for these bank robbers as they attempt their speedy getaway. Not even after the tragic death of Matthau's wife and two of the bandits' successful escape are the dramatic surprises over. In fact, they've just begun: Although the gang only expected a small take, the bank they robbed was used as a money-drop by the mob, and they've hit the mother-lode, triggering a "mother" of a deadly and decisive response.

 

John Vernon

John Vernon

Economical, precision filmmaking in crime's raw and gritty milieu is Don Siegel's forte and there is simply no one better at it. He cuts all the fat off the bone. There's not a scene or even a shot wasted. The attention to detail is meticulous. Everything times out perfectly, the narrative's transitions are as smooth as a baby's bottom. His perfectly chosen cast (including a surprising array of holdovers from Dirty Harry) have responded with lively, fully dedicated performances. Siegel's past noir accomplishments in the classic time period, not to mention his early montage work for Warner Brothers helped him earn a richly deserved auteurism that he proudly displayed in the latter part of his career and can be seen in the opening credits of this, "a Siegel film".

 

Joe Don Baker

Joe Don Baker

The Blu-ray is from Koch Media and is Region B locked with removable subtitles. It is available from Amazon Germany who ship internationally. It sports an all-around excellent transfer and can be ordered by clicking on the Blu-ray image below. In addition, Amazon.de has supplied an English-friendly version of their site which is accessable by clicking "In English-Beta New!" at the top of the page.

A.G.

21st Century Treasure Quest #4

Our contributor Renard N. Bansale has completed 10 more contemporary film reviews for your consideration. The rating system he'll use is devised primarily to give those who are trying to decide which films to see, a fun and easy way of (hopefully) choosing a more pleasurable movie-going experience. For a more thorough introduction to this series please see 21st Century Treasure Quest #1. (A.G.)

Read More

Capturing a Golden Moment #15

In this series, I'd like to present some exceptional scenes inspired by cinema's most gifted artists of yesteryear.

 

Guys and Dolls (1955)

 

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

 

Scene: "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat"

 

Stubby Kaye as Nicely-Nicely Johnson sings this showstopping song fabulously, perhaps as a result of perfecting the role and number on Broadway during the show's 1200 performances. Guys and Dolls won the 1951 Tony Award for the Best Musical. With such lively and exuberant characters and songs like the one seen here, it's easy to see why.   

 

 

Guys and Dolls  is available on Blu-Ray here:

Guys and Dolls [Blu-ray]
$18.49
Starring Various

 

It is also available for U.S. download here:

A.G.

21st Century Treasure Quest #3

Our contributor Renard N. Bansale has completed another batch of more contemporary film reviews for your consideration. The rating system he'll use is devised primarily to give those who are trying to decide which films to see, a fun and easy way of (hopefully) choosing a more pleasurable movie-going experience. For a more thorough introduction to this series please see 21st Century Treasure Quest #1. (A.G.)

Read More

Top Ten: Cinema's Most Treasured Images Part 8 (#71 - 80)

I'll continue with some of cinema's most treasured images. For those familiar with the scenes represented they're bound to invoke a strong emotional response. Like the previous selections, these will be listed in order of greatest impression with #71 as the most iconic. The narratives' indelible moments are the primary reason these captures were selected. 

Read More

Treasure Trivia: Quiz #6

Treasure Trivia:

The Cinema Cafe has a chat room on Facebook that readers are welcome to join here. On Mondays we have a movie trivia game called "Match-up Mondays" where the object is to name the common denominator between all of the captures provided and also identify each of the films pictured. 

My most recent post seems to have stumped even our most knowledgable and regular members as to the common denominator, so I thought I would post it here and offer a prize to the first person who can identify (in the comments section below) what the following film characters share in common. 

91v-TYZveTL._SY679_.jpg

There are 6 characters, all of whom have been identified correctly by various chat room members and confirmed on the "Match-up Monday" post. One may use whatever resources are available to answer correctly and guess as often as possible. The prize selected is one I believe most film buffs don't already have but should: A new and sealed Region A Blu-Ray of Hidden Gem #17: The Matrimony a.k.a. Xin zhong you gui (2007, China)  which will be internationally airmailed to the winner. 

 

 

Here are the 6 previously identified film characters (Good luck!):

 

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

21st Century Treasure Quest #2

Our new contributor, Renard N. Bansale has completed another small batch of more contemporary film reviews for your consideration. The rating system he'll use is devised primarily to give those who are trying to decide which films to see, a fun and easy way of (hopefully) choosing a more pleasurable movie-going experience.

Read More