Friday, December 19, 2014

THE GLEANERS AND I (2000, FRANCE)

MILLENNIUM MONTH (MM): MOVIES FROM THE YEAR 2000...
AND IN MEMORIAM
(Post 7 of 11)

The Gleaners and I
Gleaners  is a term used to describe one who gathers the crop or other materials left after the main crop is gathered. In searching for this movie on vimeo, I came across a documentary about gleaners in California, which I watched and found most interesting. Then I found The Gleaners and I. I didn't know anything about it going in. French director Agnes Varda put together this film that does indeed have gleaners picking up after the main crop, but it has more than that. She shows others in society that gather the leftovers of societies from junk piles, literal and figurative and some that live that way. She intersperses this with occasional footage of herself and emphasizes repeatedly the process of aging. I like the scene where she gleans an old clock with no hands to depict the non-passage of time. And I think the paintings of the gleaners of crops and how they are used here are lovely to look at.

I honestly don't know precisely what the point of this movie is supposed to be, but I do know that I suddenly feel like doing some recycling!


Obituary of person with 1001 movie connection: Walter Matthau (1920-2000) won an Oscar for his role in The Fortune Cookie, one of many movies he made partnered with Jack Lemmon. But none of these made the 1001 movie book. Not even The Odd Couple! Other Matthau films absent from the list include:  The Bad News Bears, The Sunshine Boys, Plaza Suite, A New Leaf, The Guide for the Married Man (a personal favorite) or even his earlier supporting parts in such films as Fail Safe.

Matthau with Kevin Costner in JFK
1001 entries for Matthau include: In fact, the main entry I can find for Matthau in the 1001 catalog is JFK. But in this film, his depiction of Senator Russell Long lasts only about a minute. He also has a small part in Nicholas Ray's Bigger Than Life, but I think a true film fan has got to put a little more Matthau on his viewing resume than that.




Tuesday, December 16, 2014

KIPPUR (2000, ISRAEL)

MILLENNIUM MONTH (MM): MOVIES FROM THE YEAR 2000...
AND IN MEMORIAM
(Post 6 of 11)

Kippur
Kippur is an Israeli war film depicting the 1973 Yom Kippur War which attempts to put the viewer in the center of the film. It has a documentary film feel with a lack of overtly dramatic flourishes and there is certainly no playing of Ride of the Valkyries or the Rolling Stones as helicopters swoop into enemy territory. This made it seem a little plodding at times, but I think that was kind of the point. The scene that I thought was the most effective was the clumsy rescue of an injured soldier on a stretcher that seemed to take forever. The scene lacked any background score and was better off because of it.

2000 IN MEMORIAM


Obituary of person with 1001 movie connection: If John Gielgud (1904-2000) isn't the greatest English speaking actor of the twentieth century, he is certainly near the top of the list. His many stage roles, Shakespearean and otherwise are legendary, but what about his film roles? He didn't appear in too many films until he hit his fifties, but from that time on, he built quite a resume. High brow Shakespearean films (Julius Caesar, Prospero's Books) and high brow TV (QBVII, Brideshead Revisited) seemed to be his specialty. He was also called on to appear in supporting roles in critically acclaimed productions such as The Elephant Man, Gandhi, Chariots of Fire, and Shine (all in the 1001 book).

But despite all this, Gielgud is remembered by some of us (and I'm guilty of this) for his Oscar winning role as Hobson, the snobby butler in Arthur.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

GLADIATOR (2000)

MILLENNIUM MONTH (MM): MOVIES FROM THE YEAR 2000...
AND IN MEMORIAM
(Post 5 of 11)

Gladiator
2000's Academy Award Winning film Gladiator certainly owes a debt to previous films like Spartacus and Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, but the story of General Maximus, the Roman leader turned gladiatorial slave certainly has a lot going for it in its own right. Epic story from Oscar nominee David Franzoni turned into a most memorable ancient Rome by Oscar winning director Ridley Scott and highlighted by the the subdued Oscar winning performance from Russell Crowe make this one an all-around success.


2000 IN MEMORIAM


Obituary of person with 1001 movie connection: I know I'm cheating with this one, but I'm listing Oliver Reed. Oliver (1938-1999) technically died in 1999, but since he was in Gladiator and is given a memorial credit in the end credits, I'll go with it. Oliver had many acting credits in the 60's, but the earliest movie I can remember him in is as the evil Bill Sikes in Oliver! in 1968. He was also in Ken Russell's The Devils (a 1001 movie entry) and played Athos in the fun Three Musketeers and Four Musketeers. He played Ann-Margaret's husband in the Who's Tommy, though his singing in that film may be best forgotten. His credits from the late 70's and beyond were a bit on the cheesy side, including the horror films Burnt Offerings and The Brood and the awful Two of a Kind. But one of his best roles was his last, as the before mentioned Proximus in Gladiator. He plays the ringleader of the gladiators who cares only about the show and the profits until later (as the line in the movie goes) when he succumbs to the temptation of becoming an honest man.

Or does he? Reed died during the filming with several of his scenes left to shoot. Expensive computer generated imagery of Reed was used to complete the film and his death scene was filmed from the back (Fake Shemping?) Despite these handicaps, it is a nice final film role for Mr. Reed.

Oliver Reed (I think) in Gladiator

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (2000, HONG KONG)

MILLENNIUM MONTH (MM): MOVIES FROM THE YEAR 2000...
AND IN MEMORIAM
(Post 4 of 11)

In the Mood for Love
The feel of In the Mood for Love is understated in the same way that Hong Kar-Wai's Chungking Express is.The plot of In the Mood for Love involves two married spouses having an affair. The twist is that the characters we see and certainly sympathize with are the spouses being cheated on! It's a fairly penetrating character study and I like the unusual point-of-view.


Richard Mulligan
Obituary of people with 1001 movie connection: Richard Mulligan (1932-2000). I remember Richard Mulligan mostly for being my favorite character on the late 70's TV show Soap. But let us not forget his most memorable performance as George Armstrong Custer in Little Big Man. Mulligan plays the General as an self-aggrandizing lunatic. And rightly or wrongly, that's the way I still think of Custer. 


David Tomlison
David Tomlison (1917-2000). David Tomlison was almost certainly best known for playing Mr. Banks in Mary Poppins. And the fact that the recent movie about the making of that film is called Saving Mr. Banks doesn't hurt. But I also remember Disney's early 70's attempt to recreate the success of Mary Poppins with Bedknobs and Broomsticks. A magical main female character, animation interspersed with live-action have made some (perhaps unfairly) dismiss Bedknobs as nothing more than a Poppins knock-off. But I like the fact that Bedknobs brought back the blustery Mr. Tomlison in one of the lead roles. And to be honest with you, I kind of prefer Bedknobs and Broomsticks to Mary Poppins.