The Cinema Cafe

Serving Cinema's Tastiest Treasures

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.)

 

The Ratings

1 chest: Definitely worth missing
2 chests: Okay to kill some time
3 chests: Not a complete success, but rewarding
4 chests: Well crafted, creative and memorable
5 chests: A real treasure, deep, profound and original

 

 

Busco novio para mi mujer (2016—Director: Enrique Begne)

There’s little to recommend this Mexican remake of the 2008 Argentinian hit film A Boyfriend for My Wife besides its borrowed premise: A belaboured husband hires a con-man to seduce and purposely run away with his nagging wife. This comedy’s production value and “sitcomish” atmosphere make the proceedings better suited for television’s more instantly gratified demographic. The con artist’s humorous exploits receive less attention than the feckless husband who as a result, gains only our slightest concern for his plight or his scheme's outcome.

 

 

Deadpool (2016—Director: Tim Miller)

Tim Miller’s directorial debut manages to engage due to Ryan Reynolds’ charismatic, career-defining lead performance. The “fourth wall” ­breaking jokes, (the ones that work that is), only make up for so many underdeveloped supporting characters who provide a negligible contribution to this blend of superhero revenge fantasy with romantic comedy. The result is a comic book satire filled with crass violence and aberrant sexuality that finally becomes the very thing it attempts to satirise.

 

 

Eddie the Eagle (2016—Director: Dexter Fletcher)

This biographical sports “dramedy" manages to capture the heartfelt inspiration of its real-life event, despite a few sports-film cliches, manipulative emotional payoffs, and stereotypical minor antagonists. The film boasts an impressive ensemble cast, with Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, and a refreshingly subdued Christopher Walken as stand-outs. Another significant contribution is Matthew Margeson's synthesiser-based score which appropriately enhances the story’s late 80’s setting.

 

 

Gods of Egypt (2016—Director: Alex Proyas)

The actors give their all in this fantasy adventure, notably an amusing Chadwick Boseman, a commanding Gerard Butler, and the dynamic duo of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Brenton Thwaites who collectively fuel the film’s adventurous spirit. What cannot be appreciated, however, is the utter disregard for production and visual restraint, tiresomely overbearing the narrative with excessive and unrealistic special effects. 

 

 

How to Be Single (2016—Director: Christian Ditter)

Expert cinematography and economical editing combined with a seasoned ensemble cast makes How to Be Single one of this year’s pleasant cinematic surprises. Director Christian Ditter sophisticatedly weaves the intertwining plot strands of Liz Tuccillo’s 2008 novel of rocky starts to satisfying closures, conveying each one’s unique emotional apex. All four female leads are accomplished but the real acting standout is Damon Wayans Jr, whose natural likability fuses perfectly with his character’s dramatic arc. 

 

 

The Witch (2015—Director: Robert Eggers)

The Witch climbs to the upper echelon of contemporary cinematic horror by way of its unrelenting and unwavering psychological tension, forcing its audience to cling to their seats from start to finish. Its authenticity extends to the portrayed time period especially by the use of antiquated English. The cinematography is subtle and sublime when the activities are quiet, ominous and abrupt when the horror emerges. British actor Ralph Ineson gives a fittingly large­r-than-­life performance as the family’s patriarch, and newcomer Anya Taylor-­Joy impresses as she brings out her character’s darker underpinnings. The stuff of nightmares should always be this enjoyable to watch. 

R.N.B.

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. 

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"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:

It may seem impossible to some that in one of cinema's most accomplished masterworks practically nothing happens. Besides what little does occur, namely an idle rich woman's disappearance on a small deserted island, is only incidental to this story's deep-rooted subject: A penetrating study of loneliness, desperation, and identity of the disappeared's girlfriend and her lover as they search for their missing companion. L'Avventura really lives up to its title's promise when one realises that the "adventure" or journey is its destination, i.e. the feelings, thoughts and concerns expressed by our couple is what really matters, more than the conclusions and landing place they reach.

Top Ten: Cinema's Most Treasured Image #61

Top Ten: Cinema's Most Treasured Image #61

Michelangelo Antonioni's masterpiece may have empty and lost souls searching for a more meaningful existence at his story's centre, but the filmmaker's evident passion in observing their manners and weaknesses is highly revealing to those who can see beyond life's superficial pursuits. One of the Top Ten: World Cinema Treasures this enigmatic, mature and deeply affecting "adventure" will begin on TCM Sunday May 8 at 11pm PST.        

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orson Welles

Orson Welles

Another of the Top Ten: World Cinema Treasures is Citizen Kane, a previous TCM recommendation here. Its "presence of greatness" will become apparent Tuesday May 10 at 5pm PST. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cinematograpy by Joseph Ruttenberg 

Cinematograpy by Joseph Ruttenberg 

A different kind of character metamorphosis will occur on TCM later in the evening: Victor Fleming's 1941 take on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This was previously reviewed here and will transform again on Tuesday May 10 at 1:30am (technically Wednesday morning) PST. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Ten: Cinema's Most Treasured Image #78

Top Ten: Cinema's Most Treasured Image #78

From the same director who brought us Citizen Kane comes another kind of cinematic hero (of sorts). Michael O'Hara, like the deeply flawed Kane, is flawlessly played by his creator, Orson Welles. Unlike Citizen Kane however, this film fell under its producer Harry Cohn's butchery with considerable footage lost and destroyed forever. Nevertheless what survives is vastly entertaining and not to be missed. The Lady from Shanghai was also previously recommended here and will reappear on TCM Monday May 16 at 3:15pm PST.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Humphrey Bogart, Agnes Moorhead

Humphrey Bogart, Agnes Moorhead

My next TCM endorsement is also this month's Blu-ray recommendation and will be reviewed below. It is Dark Passage and will commence on TCM Wednesday May 18 at 9am PST.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Ten: Cinema's Most Treasured Image #79

Top Ten: Cinema's Most Treasured Image #79

Scheduled for the same day is one of horror's finest: The chilling Eyes Without a Face previously reviewed here. One can "see" this genre masterwork Wednesday May 18 at 3:15pm PST.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant

Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant

For a perhaps needed change of pace, there's the hilarious Bringing Up Baby previously recommended here. The antics will begin on TCM Thursday May 19 (early morning) at 3am PST. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Ryan

Robert Ryan

If by chance one hasn't seen the explosively confrontational The Wild Bunch, remedy that May 20 at 9pm PST. For those who have, please see my review Opening Up a Treasure: The Wild Bunch, as to why it was, and still is, one of America's finest contributions to the cinematic arts.

 

 

 

 

 

Top Ten: Cinema's Most Treasured Image #63

Top Ten: Cinema's Most Treasured Image #63

Another American cinematic treasure, Double Indemnity stands at the top of the noir hierarchy. Like the preceding TCM recommendation it has been described as such in Opening Up a Treasure: Double Indemnity. One can "cash in their policy" Saturday May 21 at 5pm PST. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facing us (from left to right): Jack Watson, Ossie Davis, Sean Connery, Alfred Lynch, Roy Kinnear. Facing them is Ian Hendry.

Facing us (from left to right): Jack Watson, Ossie Davis, Sean Connery, Alfred Lynch, Roy Kinnear. Facing them is Ian Hendry.

My final TCM recommendation is Hidden Gem # 59 The Hill and has been previously "inspected" here. Its harsh reality will commence Saturday May 28 at 2:45pm 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 composer Danny Elfman who turns 63 on May 29th.

He is the musical artist behind some wildly creative film compositions. Some of his more notable credits include the scores to Edward ScissorhandsSommersbyDolores Claiborne, Mars Attacks!, Men in BlackGood Will Hunting, Proof of Life, Milk, Silver Linings Playbook, and American Hustle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The soundtrack recommendation this month is Alex North's monumental score to Spartacus.

This single CD consisting of the complete surviving stereo masters to one of the greatest film scores of all time was previously only available as part of a 6-CD, 1 DVD box set from Varese Sarabande. Now, for a far reduced price, one can hear all of Mr. North's rapturous music to this epic film, also brought to you by Varese Sarabande through their limited edition CD club. More information including international ordering directly from the manufacturer is available by clicking on the image. 

 

 

 

(To Be Continued)              A.G.

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

Capturing a Golden Moment #14

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

 

Ikiru (1952)

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Scene: "The Finale"

 

*Note: My approach to describing the following scene will be different than the preceding entries in this series. The dramatic effect of Ikiru's final moments is not as self contained as its predecessors and is cumulative in nature, relying on the narrative strength of what has come before it. I would therefore request that it be respectfully observed by those who have seen the entire film. Otherwise it would be like reading only the last pages of a literary masterpiece. Please pardon my reverential attitude here, but I consider this film to be cinema's finest, most spiritually profound masterpiece.

This final scene concerns one of the office workers. After expressing his wordless outrage at his bureaucratic colleagues returning to their former ineffectiveness, he's stared down by his superior and reluctantly retreats behind a mountain of paperwork. At the end of the day he looks down from an overpass at some children joyfully using the playground his deceased former colleague Watanabe, with great effort and perseverance, created. (Previously celebrating his glorious accomplishment, Watanabe sat on the playground's swing in the night's freezing cold, singing a most poignant song). Two children abandon the swing, the seats of which are empty; the shot is held there as they gently sway back and forth. The song's tune is heard on the soundtrack. Is this meant as a symbolic invitation for us to fill the empty spaces and become "creators" ourselves? The figure stares down at the park before finally walking off. As he walks across the bridge from above, notice how the filmmakers ingeniously capture him if only for a few seconds, in a pyramid shape of the swing structure, the chains of which can still be seen swaying. And as he walks out of this framing device and then leaves the scene completely, is he representative of time that passes regardless of how we choose to live our lives, suggesting the fleeting nature of man’s opportunity to give unto others? Watanabe is gone but his creation, his spiritual inspiration, endures. Its meaning however, and perhaps more importantly what will be done about it, is left up to us.

Time Out

Here's a bit of a Time Out within a Time Out. In this clip from Rio Bravo (1959), Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson sing a little song called "My Rifle, My Pony and Me". The tune was penned by the film's composer Dimitri Tiomkin (with lyrics by Paul Francis Webster) which interestingly enough comes from the same composer's music for another John Wayne / Howard Hawks western Red River (1948). The prominent theme is identified in the earlier film as "Settle Down".