Tuesday, December 30, 2014

MEMENTO (2000)

(Post 11 of 11)

Christopher Nolan's Memento is a challenging film about a man with short term memory loss that is looking for the man that killed his wife. The scenes from the movie are for the most part told in reverse chronological order. This is a good film to see every few years as the intricate details of the plot slip away from your mind and a good one to see as you get older for the same reason. This marked the third time that I had seen it and could remember the general plot that I listed above from the last time I saw it a few years ago, but I was a little hazy on the details including who the murderer was. So I could really relate to the main character! I definitely will watch this again in about five years and enjoy it anew!

Don't forget to have a Happy New Year!

Obituary of person with NO 1001 movie connection I can find: Hedy Lamarr. And no, Harvey Korman's role in Blazing Saddles doesn't count. That's Hedley Lamar. The real Hedy played Delilah to Victor Mature's Sampson in Samson and Delilah. She also played the female lead in Algiers, which was a remake of the French film Pepe Le Moko.  Pepe did make the 1001 list, but the practically carbon copy Algiers did not. Neither did perhaps Hedy's most famous role in Ecstasy, a 1933 film that is remembered mostly for Hedy's nude scenes.

Maybe next edition.

And don't forget to have a Happy New Year! Wait-Did I say that already?

Hedy Lamarr
"Hedley Lamarr"

Saturday, December 27, 2014


(Post 10 of 11)

This one was hard for me to watch. I actually started it a couple of times and couldn't get through much of it. A movie about people that fight dogs is really tough for a dog lover like me to take. But I finally did watch it and have to admit it's a very good film. I'd even say it's an excellent film. Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu later received praise for Babel, but I think Amores Perros is even better. The first hour is also a little difficult because the characters are mostly unsympathetic, but I admit this multi-layered, multi-character drama became a pretty riveting piece by the second half of the film and should definitely be on the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die List. You just might not want to see it twice.

Obituary of person with 1001 movie connection: Ring Lardner Jr.(1915-2000) was a screenwriter who came to Hollywood during the 40's and won an Academy Award for Woman of the Year in 1942. He was later blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Commission and was unemployable in Hollywood for many years. He finally achieved the recognition he deserved for another Academy Award for his adaptation of Richard Hooker's novel for the movie MASH. Of course, this was a Robert Altman film which means Lardner's dialogue was often changed or sometimes removed altogether. Regardless, Lardner has still got to be considered an important part in the success of that film.
Screenplay by Ring Lardner Jr. credit
on one of the great movie posters of all-tim

Thursday, December 25, 2014

YI YI (2000, TAIWAN)

(Post 9 of 11)

Yi Yi

You ever have a movie that you think you'll really like and simply can't get into even if it is the type of movie you thought it would be? That's Yi Yi for me. I usually like multi-character character stories, but I just found this one too long and too confusing. Perhaps I should give this one another chance some day. You win some, you lose some.

Obituary of person with 1001 movie connection: When I was looking over the obituaries from 2000, I came across the name Billy Barty (1924-2000) and really wanted to include him somewhere on this list. Billy began his career as a child actor and had an acting career that lasted in spite of (or maybe because of) his short stature of 3' 9."

I first heard of Billy on talk shows on the 70's whenever a short joke seemed to pop up, he was often used as the punch line. To Billy's credit, he always seemed to be able to take a joke in some of the sillier roles he took, but had a long marriage, a family and a more successful career than most actors of greater height.

Billy's movie and TV credits are two numerous to name, but I did need to find a 1001 movie with his name to be official. I came up with two: Billy as an uncredited baby in Bride of Frankenstein and as a baby in Goldiggers of 1933. Close enough.

I did want to mention his most memorable role for me. That was as Sigmund in the early 70's Saturday morning Sid and Marty Krofft kid show Sigmund and the Sea Monsters that I watched. If you were a kid watching TV in the 70's you probably have very fond memories of this one. If you don't fit into that category, you might find this show more than a bit lacking. You probably had to be there for this one.

That's Billy Barty as Sigmund
in Sigmund and the Sea Monsters

Monday, December 22, 2014


(Post 8 of 11)

Ali Zaoua is a hard-hitting movie about Moroccan street kids and their daily struggles. It is reminiscent to me of Children of God, only on a different continent. But the troubles are the same. The kids have to be tough to survive and if they don't give in to the local gang leader, their life could be in danger. They find hope where they can, but hope is always fleeting and usually hard to maintain. An effective film and the first taste of Moroccan cinema I've ever had.

Obituary of person with 1001 movie connection: Alec Guinness (1914-2000) was known to me and I think most movie goers for three things. First, he was in several of the Ealing comedy classics of the 40's and 50's like Kind Hearts and Coronets and The Ladykillers. He was also known for his more dramatic turns in David Lean films like Lawrence of Arabia, Great ExpectationsThe Bride on the River Kwai (where he won a well-deserved Oscar) and Doctor Zhivago. And of course, he was also Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars.

All of the above films are on the 1001 list and provide a great opportunity to see Mr. Guinness at work.

Alec Guinness in Bridge on the River Kwai

Friday, December 19, 2014


(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


(Post 6 of 11)

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.


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


(Post 5 of 11)

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.


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


(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.

Sunday, December 7, 2014


(Post 3 of 11)

Requiem for a Dream
Requiem For a Dream has been one on my "to see" list for some time. I got my wife to watch it with me and I have to admit that it isn't exactly your traditional date flick. Four characters involved in different forms of drug abuse (legal and prescribed) enhanced by director Darren Aronofsky's quick edits, odd angles and speeded up and slowed down film sequences. It's a jarring film and definitely worth seeing once, but I'm not sure I'll pop Requiem in the old DVD player too often in years to come. Off-beat casting includes Jennifer Connelly as a heroin addict and Ellen Burstyn (who would have been my choice for the Best Actress Oscar that year) as Jared Ledo's amphetamine addicted  mother.

As far as my wife goes, maybe we'll just watch Sleepless in Seattle next time.

Obituary of person with 1001 movie connection: When I think of Julius Epstein (1909-2000) or Phillip Epstein, I think of the writer named McKee in the movie Adaptation calling their screenplay for Casablanca the greatest screenplay of all-time. I wouldn't argue with that, but Julius also had a lot of other screenplays to his credit including: The Male Animal, Arsenic and Old Lace and Mr. Skeffington. Phillip died in 1952, but Julius kept on writing into the 70's and 80's with the Walter Matthau films Pete n' Tillie and House Calls, Sam Peckinpah's Cross of Iron, and an adaptation of Jacqueline Susann's 70's feature Once is Not Enough! He did end his career on a high note, with the quirky 1983 film Reuben, Reuben (which has one of my favorite endings of any movie, which I like to think Mr. Epstein was responsible for.)

I think you can find the Epstein Brothers screenplay credit 
on this poster below if you have a magnifying glass or if you
squint hard enough. Never mind the writer, they only make up 
the damn story in their head!

Thursday, December 4, 2014


(Post 2 of 11)

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

I remember during the 80's watching Kung Fu Theater, whose episodes were mostly badly dubbed Asian flicks featuring most improbable action sequences that usually defied the laws of physics. I must have missed the transition these films took to become high-brow entertainment like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Crouching Tiger is essentially an historical fable with a plot involving a mystical sword and a doomed romance or two. But the action is pure Kung Fu Theater done with special effects that were a little more sophisticated than the ones I saw back in those old flicks. The first time I saw these characters jumping over roofs and sword fighting in trees, I was a bit taken aback. But once I accepted this as part of the film's universal law, I accepted and enjoyed the whole adventure. 

Obituary of person with 1001 movie connection: The career of Loretta Young (1913-2000)  had a most interesting symmetry to it. She began in silents as a teenager, including a nice part in Lon Chaney's Laugh, Clown, Laugh. She then became a front-line leading lady before she was twenty and continued to have prominent starring roles throughout the thirties and forties, including The Bishop's Wife and The Farmer's Daughter, for which she received an Academy Award in 1947. By the time she hit forty, she made the transition to the new medium of television and starred in the anthology series The Loretta Young Show for ten years. Then at the ripe old age of fifty, she retired and lived in retirement until her death at the age of 87.

Orson and Loretta in The Stranger
Her 1001 connection? The only 1001 listing I can find from Loretta's 100 plus movie credits is as Orson Welles's leading lady in the film noir thriller The Stranger.

Monday, December 1, 2014


(Post 1 of 11)

O Brother, Where Art Thou 

The Coen Brothers Great depression adaptation of Homer's Odyssey is one of their films I enjoyed when I first saw it, but didn't like it as well as some of their others. But the last two times I have viewed it, I have liked it better each time and now regard it as a favorite. It's a lot of fun, the music is catchy, the film is acted by a cast having a great time (special commendation to Tim Blake Nelson as Delmar) and don't forget to look for all the Odyssey references (the cyclops, the sirens, the suitor, etc.) This would definitely be in my book now.

A nice musical companion piece to O Brother is The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (and friends) 1970 classic album Will the Circle Be Unbroken.

Obituary of person with 1001 movie connection: Jason Robards (1922-2000) was known for his performances in stage adaptations such as Long Day's Journey Into the Night and film roles such as A Thousand Clowns, A Boy and His Dog and Oscar winning role in Julia.

1001 entries for Robards include: Another Oscar winning role as Ben Bradlee in All the President's Men, the lawyer that fires Tom Hanks Philadelphia and as a terminal patient in Magnolia. But my favorite Robards role has to be Cheyenne in Once Upon a Time in the West.-You know what? If I was you, I'd go down there and give those boys a drink. Can't imagine how happy it makes a man to see a woman like you. Just to look at her. And if one of them should pat your behind, just make believe it's nothing. They earned it.