Some final thoughts about the TCM Classic Film Festival

It’s time for me to take a moment to reflect a bit on what I learned from my rather hectic but definitely fun and enlightening time at the TCM Fest.  As previously reported here and everywhere else, it turned out to be a fairly roaring success and is promised to be repeated next year in Hollywood.  Because of time constraints and because I wasn’t able to enjoy the truly titanic number of films seen by, say, a Dennis Cozzalio — currently working on a detailed and sure to be great summary of the event — I’m going to limit myself to a few random observations covering material I have not mentioned in prior TCM-centric posts. (Here, here, and here.) Naturally, it’ll still turn out to be much longer than I originally intended.

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Borgnine, Donen, Rainer

As someone with parents in their eighties and nineties, I’ve become especially interested lately in the way things work for people of a certain age. So it was with some some special interest that I listened to the words of 100 year-old thirties star Luise Rainer, 93 year-old star character actor Ernest Borgnine (“Marty,” “The Wild Bunch”), and 86 year-old directing great and one-time boy genius, Stanley Donen — best known for co-directing “Singin’ in the Rain” and other MGM musical classics with Gene Kelly but also an outstanding director in his own right of both musicals and “straight” films.

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Whining and the magical movie moment solution

I’m having a rough morning here. Not that it’s been all bad here at TCM Fest in the heart of Hollywood, in fact a lot of has been very good.  I did catch three movies yesterday, each in their own way fascinating: the unusually emotional Delmer Daves western, “Jubal”; the bizarre and fascinating inept and inapt once ultra-scandalous wartime British gangster film set in America, “No Orchids for Miss Blandish”; and the first public screening of the 1963 sci-fi/horror hit “Day of the Triffids” in a genuinely impressive restoration which would have been even better if I hadn’t been so sleepy — or if the introduction hadn’t been so long. (It’s hard to blame a film restorer for excess enthusiasm, but, well, the garages close here at 2:00 a.m.). A post screening discussion between Leonard Maltin and Ernest Bognine after “Jubal” earlier in the day, on the other hand, was another highlight. I’ll be posting about that one a bit later, I think.

But then there was the hour I just spent trying struggling with IT people to try and use the wi-fi at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. (Absolutely no knock on the hotel, where everybody has more than helpful and I seem to be the only one having the problem. Apparently they’re system and my lousy Vista using laptop computer are just having a bad relationship.) And, so, I find myself back at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf trying to tie up loose ends, including feeding this here blog beast. And I’m in need of a bit of cinematic comfort.

Fortunately, tonight the festival is coming to the rescue with some old personal favorites of mine and about a gazillion other people. So, now a movie moment from “Singin’ in the Rain” showing tonight at the Egyptian Theater with its great co-director, Stanley Donen, appearing afterward. I wasn’t sure about it as I’ve seen it a million times, but I can definitely use the cinematic comfort. And here’s it is….

…No, actually, here it isn’t because suddenly all the clips I can find on YouTube on “embedding disabled upon request.” It’s been that kind of a morning. So, instead, here’s a pretty great clip from 1935’s “Top Hat” which showed last night.

  

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Previews of coming TCM Fest attractions

I’m busy today preparing to hit the TCM Classic Film Festival, which opens tonight in Hollywood, California with a gala screening of a digital restoration of the 1983 restoration of the 1954 “A Star is Born.” Also screening tonight is the 1931 Frank Capra obscurity, “Dirigible,” an underrated Howard Hawks science-fiction comedy starring Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, and a newcomer named Marilyn Monroe, “Monkey Business” as well as an outdoor screening of 1949’s silly but fun (if memory serves) “Neptune’s Daughter.” That one features swimmer turned musical comedy star Esther Williams alongside a very, very pre-Khan Ricardo Montalban and comedian Red Skelton. The cool part of this is that Ms. Williams, and a real-live water ballet, are included with the price of admission. (I should add that single entries for the fest are very much on the pricey side, starting at $20.00. Students get in for half-price, so I suggest enrolling quickly.)

That’s just tonight. Below are trailers for a some shows I’m personally looking forward to catching. We’ll start with the closing night screening of probably the most significant film of the festival, the new and finally fully restored version of the original science fiction extravaganza, Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis.” (I’m slightly bummed to see this, like “A Star is Born” will be screened digitally. Assuming that celluloid prints of the new version exist, which may or may not be the case, that’s really how it should be shown.)

More after the flip.

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Late Friday night news dump

A few more items than usual may be slipping through the cracks this week as my iMac has let me know in no uncertain terms that it’s hard drive is ready to be sent off to the digital happy hunting grounds and has been temporarily mothballed.  In the meantime, I am writing to you now, dear reader, via my trusty, if Vista-laden lap top and minus a few links I’ve been saving up over the last couple of days.

But enough about me and my choice of blogging weapon, what’s going on as Hollywood’s denizens ready for the weekend by hit the bars and/or gyms?

* MGM is officially on the auction block, and the secret word to protect against bankruptcy, writes Sharon Waxman, is “forebearance.”

* I’ve never watched “Nip/Tuck” and I couldn’t get past the first twenty minutes or so of “Fantastic Four,” so Julian McMahon is a new name/face to me. Nevertheless, Heat Vision blog wants us to know that he’s in negotiations alongside Richard Dreyfuss and 92 year-old Ernest Borgnine to join an already very impressive cast on the action-espionage comic book adaptation, “Red,” which includes Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John C. Reilly, and Mary Louise Parker. Considering whose on board, director Robert Schwentke of “The Time Traveler’s Wife” really needs to step up his game. (H/t CHUD.)

* “Paranormal Activity” has past $100 million in grosses. I think Anne Thompson is correct that there are lessons here for other films. It’s true the movie is a one-off creatively speaking, but the slow roll-out and “by popular demand” tactics can definitely be transferred to all kinds of movies. It’s also silly to argue that the success of the movie was all the result of some kind of wide belief that it was “real.” In general, I’m a proponent of slow releases, except that there’s a problem — it works better with movies that are actually entertaining.

On a different note entirely, be sure to check out Ms. Thompson’s three part video interview with Michael Stuhlberg, the heretofore unknown star of  “A Serious Man.”

*Word has it that Nicolas Cage’s crappy streak appears to be ending in a big way with Werner Herzog’s “Bad Lieutanent: Port of Call New Orleans” which I’m really starting to looking forward to despite, or perhaps because, I was not a fan of the original film, much as I love Harvey Keitel. Via The Auteurs Daily, Manohla Dargis considers Cage’s career ups and downs. Good stuff, but, well, since Ms. Dargis mentions it, I can’t resist indulging in, well, you know….

  

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