Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pocketful of Miracles (1961)

Notes: 12/30/10
Love the talented casts that Frank Capra always assembles.
Love Bette Davis! Love Glenn Ford!
Ann-Margret's film debut.
Bette is terrific in the letter scene. Pleading for the letter and reading the news.
Peter Falk is great with the wisecracks. Memorable sidekick character.
Bette Davis is the emotional centerpiece. When the plot strays a bit from Apple Annie, the film loses its verve. When all the characters are together, the film works quite well. When the focus is just Bette, the film is unforgettable.

Review: B
Frank Capra's final film is a glossy remake of his 1933 film Lady for a Day. Bette Davis is moving and heartbreaking as Apple Annie, a beggar who gets a make-over in order to impress her worldly daughter. When the film's focus veers away from Davis, it becomes less entertaining, despite a colorful ensemble of character actors. Peter Falk is quite amusing as the wise-cracking Joy Boy. Ann-Margret makes a charming film debut. Capra is a master at assembling his casts and this film benefits greatly from the direction he gives these performers. In all, a very well-made comedy with almost enough heart to be a classic.

Friday, December 24, 2010

King of Kings (1961)

Notes: 12/24/10
I'm kind of surprised to be liking this type of movie. I did enjoy Ben-Hur and Spartacus so I guess this is along those same lines.
Strange to watch Jeffrey Hunter play Jesus Christ. He's good though.
Harry Guardino is awesome as Barabbas.
Not flashy or overdone. Pretty straightforward and expertly handled.
Must be awesome on the big screen.
Memorable final shot. Cross shadow.

Review: B+
Majestic production values elevate this sweeping depiction of the Christ-tale. The cinematography and music stand out, along with the vivid storytelling and memorable narration by Orson Welles. Not always particularly involving, but certainly not boring. This is perhaps the most succint telling of the life of Christ, with expert performances and fine direction.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

On the Double (1961)

Notes: 12/16/10
Melville Shavelson directs. This looks promising. I get him confused with Frank Tashlin.
Was a bit skeptical about a Danny Kaye movie but this looks fun.
Doubles. Clever title.
Variation on The Prisoner of Zenda. One of my favorite stories.
Funny and entertaining.
Dana Wynter is quite pretty
Danny Kaye is very talented.

Review: B-
Funny showcase for Danny Kaye, allowing him to play a dual-role. The film is a slight variation on The Prisoner of Zenda set in World War II Scotland. Dana Wynter is beautiful and quite good. For fans of Kaye, this is a definite pleasure, while others will still find this comedy quite entertaining.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Blast of Silence (1961)

Notes: 12/15/10
Train coming out of tunnel. Great way to begin.
Narration is interesting. It actually creates tension and keeps the plot moving.
The character Ralph is awesome. Authentically seedy.
Very good performance by Larry Tucker.
Bare little film noir has quite a neat little style and exciting music
The love story is a bit of a bore. Luckily, it's not a distraction.
Life to death. Cold black silence.

Review: B-
Stylish suspense film relies heavily on narration to tell its story, while incorporating film noir elements to create tension. Spare production benefits from authentically seedy NYC settings and a memorable performance by Larry Tucker. Some of the story isn't always as involving as it could be, but the artistry is clear and that makes this worth seeing.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ahoy, Cinema Adventurer!

One of the main reasons I don't blog more is that I often get too focused on the content of what I want to write about that I forget to just write until a theme develops.

Not sure why I created a blog called Slept Like a Blog and thought that it might allow me more creative freedom. With a name like that? Seriously?. I kept the blog and changed the name to Cinema Adventurer. I look at this blog as a more in depth take on my Adventures Through Movies. There is so much to document about this adventure of mine that I feel the need to, first of all, patent the title (both the project's and mine, of course).

I feel that if I want my adventure to be studied and replicated, I need to gain some credibility. Sharing what I like and what I follow in the world of film and other arts allows me to develop my own voice. Perhaps this blog will make some kind of impact. Perhaps a book deal!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A New Level of Adventure

I've put a lot more emphasis on the appreciation and discussion of films in my recent movie-watching adventures. For my 1961 films, I've taken notes throughout my screening that sometimes border on the perverse. I've summarized my notes on the film and thoughts on the experience into a tiny review. A grade is assigned to the film based upon my own personal movie ranking. Somehow I have found a great way to enjoy watching movies and also get the opportunity to share it. The feeling I get from writing about movies becomes a passion all its own. So much dynamism.

Taking films seriously is one way of describing my adventure, but really I think I've found another. Experiencing the passage of time through film, but 50 years before, is astonishing. Watching films grow as I grow and considering how my parents grew, for example, or how American grew. The adventure is very much a life experience. It's so worthwhile.

And, of course, I think this adventure is FUN. The research I do, and all that I learn and discover, is, ironically, the most fun. I also get a kick out of the order I watch movies and how I go about tracking them down. So many are from Netflix or YouTube that it allows me to watch movies without the aid of my Dad's film collection, which I once depended on. There are still at least 30-40 films per year that are only available at my parents' house. I like watching titles that I don't really enjoy, only because it reminds me how good certain other films are.

1961 has given me some pretty cool movies to sit through and write about. I will continue with the mini-reviews and then, perhaps, more content relating to the year in film.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)

Notes: 12/9/10
Lots and lots of backstory and characters who pretty much don't matter.
I don't think I like that I'm a third of the way through and I haven't seen Oliver Reed yet.
Oh ok so tranformation scene...could be cool...but we don't see it.
83 minutes in and we finally have a transformation scene! Nice make-up!
Leon's love interest is way too dull for him.
Pretty cool bell tower finale. I'll give it that.

Review: C-
The only Hammer horror film featuring the werewolf myth is, unfortunately, rather pointless. Most of the characters disappear or are reduced to mindless roles. All is forgiven when Oliver Reed is onscreen proving what a marvelous presence he is (Those dreamy eyes!). The make-up effects are impressive, as is the bell tower finale, but both prove to be missed opportunities thanks to a lousy screenplay.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Il Posto (1961)

Notes: 12/6/10
Opening scene gives a terrific sense of what this family is like. In less than 2 minutes.
Shot of brother walking towards the camera that's following him while the younger brother runs away from him towards the house. Cool.
Very personal. Everything Domenico goes through is something I can relate with. His experiences take me back to my own experience doing the same thing. Wonderful characters and interactions. Perceptively amusing and heartbreaking.

Review: A-
A young man comes of age as he enters the working world, meeting various people and learning tough life lessons along the way. Wonderful Italian film is perceptively amusing and heartbreaking as we follow Domenico from his family's Italian village to his new city job in Milan. His relationships with his family and coworkers are so beautifully portrayed, showcasing memorable characters and interactions that are instantly relateable to the viewer. Brilliantly subtle direction makes this an excellent film for anyone who's ever had a job. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

General Della Rovere (1961)

Notes: 12/4/10
The prison cell scene with the writings on the wall is unsettling.
Air raid outside of prison. De Sica commands other prisoners to have courage.
Interesting character study. Bardone's experiences in the German prison cell bring out shades of growth in the character. He is finally a man among men.
The ability within us to be a respectable human being. A hero. This is a redemption story.
I should watch more of Rossellini's films

Review: B
Character study of con-artist who must perform a con for the Nazis. The talented Vittorio de Sica gives a performance that anchors the film with feeling and emotion. Roberto Rossellini looks at WWII Italy over a decade after the war had ended and sees both flawed and heroic characters in the mix. Some nicely written scenes make the film move along through various setpieces. A well-told story.