Spoiler Theater: In Curtis Hanson’s beautiful, haunting and unsettling romantic thriller, it’s a case of Boy meets Girl, Boy gets Girl and Boy, Oh Boy, does Boy lose Girl, But That’s Sort Of A Good Thing? Night Tide is a dark and moody film set by the Pacific, with an old pier carnival and its seaside surroundings as the main setting and what could be seen by some today as a few problematic elements in some of its troubled characters. I still think it’s an excellent film, mind you. But after watching it with a few friends recently, I see it’s also a film where some viewers applying more modern thoughts to its story may find an issue with their overall enjoyment. You’ll see.
A young sailor on leave named Johnny Drake (Dennis Hopper) goes to a seaside amusement park at night. He pops into a jazz club where he sees a lovely woman (Linda Lawson) sitting alone enjoying the music. He crosses the room, asks her if he can sit at her table because he can’t see the musicians from where he is, then proceeds to sit facing the woman, not the musicians. He tries to strike up more conversation, but she asks him to let her listen to the tunes instead. He then tries to buy her a drink twice, but she refuses both times. Suddenly, a strange, middle-aged black-clad woman (Marjorie Cameron) comes into the club, approaches the other woman and starts speaking an untranslated foreign language (Greek?) to her. The young woman is upset by this and quickly hands Johnny some cash to pay for whatever she was drinking and rushes out of the club.
My first memory of Doris Day was her long-running TV series that ran on CBS from 1968 to 1975, which I understand she initially wanted no part of. Although I can’t recall a single episode (I was four years old when it premiered) other than each one I saw being as blandly wholesome and clean-cut as it gets with the usual sitcom of the era comedic flourishes (well, up until the last two seasons when network programming drastically changed).
I’d forgotten Billy Wilder’s forever brilliant The Apartment was a perfect seasonal movie for those of us isolated types looking for a lift as well as anyone else who has cold and loathsomely lonely winters. Granted, the first time I saw it (I think I was maybe 10 or 11), I was too young to understand much of what was going on. During these darker days as I age none too gracefully, Jack Lemmon is sort of my spirit animal, so this five Academy Award-winning film has become a personal favorite.
Poor C.C. Baxter (or “Bud” to some) toils away at his data collection job at a huge New York City insurance firm, often keeping late hours with no overtime thanks to his nearby apartment being used as a hot spot for a trio of philandering company executives, Mr. Dobsich (Ray Walston), Mr. Eichelberger (David White), and Mr. Vanderhoff (Willard Waterman). Baxter is hoping to climb the corporate ladder a bit faster by doing this (yes, he even has a calendar to keep track of who gets his place and when). But he’s also so accommodating that he even cleans up afterwards and takes suggestions from his cheating superiors such as restocking his liquor supply and buying cheese crackers without asking for a dime in return. Things get even more complicated after the big boss Mr. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray) gets wind of Baxter’s bachelor pad and dangles a big promotion over his head if he can get access to the place for his own affair. Baxter agrees to the trade, but finds out that Sheldrake is romancing Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), the cute elevator girl he’s been chatting up.
Ugh. I was in bed the entire day thanks to not feeling so hot, but now that I’m up and find out Jerry Lewis has left the building, I’m wanting to go crawl back under the covers for a bit. Anyway, the first film that sprung to mind that I think you should catch was The Bellboy, written, directed and starring Jerry as Stanley, a silent bellhop hardly working at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. It’s weird and funny as hell with a few fun cameos and a corker of an ending.
There’s way too much to say about the man from his comedic talents (and some fine dramatic work in film and on TV) to his charity work that a great deal of today’s younger folks probably have little to no idea about (those MDA telethons used to be wonderful family time gatherings back in the day).
I suppose I could say a few more words, but it’s late in the day and I’m gathering a few thousand other writers have popped their own opining up. Me, I haven’t yet read my email since yesterday evening. Anyway, go watch some of his work at some point if anything just to see how remakes often don’t do the originals much justice.
It’s a good news/bad news thing today. The good news: time travel DOES exist, ladies and gents. Final Fantasy VII is finally getting a remake for the PS4 and possibly PC. The Last Guardian is now a PS4 exclusive (as I predicted a while back) Shenmue 3 was announced yesterday evening at Sony’s E3 event as a surprising show-announced Kickstarter project for PS4 and was COMPLETELY funded in about twelve hours (breaking a Kickstarter record). Even King’s Quest and HITMAN are making comebacks (and sooner than you’d think).
Microsoft’s formerly forward-looking only Xbox One gets Xbox 360 backward compatibility and legendary developer Rare is releasing 30 of its classic arcade and console games for $30 in a crazy must-have bundle this August (exclusively for the console, of course). Between this and the return of DOOM, the acceptance of indie retro games as necessary for part of a console’s success and other interesting developments, it’s a huge win-win situation for gamers with a good deal of disposable income. And no, I didn’t forget Nintendo in all this. I’m just holding out for a separate post on their always nostalgic ways and means of getting loyal fans continually hooked in. Give me a bit of time on that as it’s still construction central here with more to come.
Now, the bad news: In reality time travel DOESN’T exist at all. With all those new games coming (and this post doesn’t count the VR games invasion happening soon), no one will actually any free time to play them all unless their Doctor has a certain “timey-wimey” prescription that allows them to have their fun and return to reality not having missed much sleep or even a day of work. Oh well…
“My hobby is stuffing things. You know, taxidermy. And I guess I’d just rather stuff birds because I hate the look of beasts when they’re stuffed…”
(You Know Who as You Know Who from You Know What, You Know When)
Okay, so it’s not perfectly rolled golabki at all (and YES, I added a bit to a lot more pureed tomato before popping both dishes in the oven). But that what I do when my brain is boiling over at stupid stuff others do. I cook something to relax or pretend I’m cooking my problem to relax or something. Nope, I’m not going to eat all that stuffed cabbage. Some will go to mother dear and I’ll probably freeze the rest. Given that it’s only the second time I’m making this dish (using bits of a few online recipes just to mix things up) I think it’ll turn out as well as the first time or even better. Results will appear in about an hour and a half or so. Maybe I’ll put up a second post… but don’t bet on it. I have a few fish to fry before the evening is over (and I’m not talking about actual fish).
Um, anyone else want to come over for dinner? Sixteen pieces of stuffed cabbage can serve about four more hungry folks and I put some potato slices in both dishes just because I had two spuds left and they do go well with cabbage…
And he had a kind of cooler and stranger time machine, too! Yeah, you learn something new every day, kids. Granted, that’s also what you call “VERY desperately running out of ideas” in Cartoonland speak, so although this episode is hilarious (you HAVE to love how that “time machine” works), it’s clear that Elzie Crisler Segar was spinning in his grave when this 1960 cartoon popped up on the tube wherever he ended up when he passed on in 1934. Anyway, enjoy and yeah… you KNOW you want that Picasso/Dali-esque clock thing in YOUR living room.
Of all Akira Kurosawa’s films set in contemporary Japan, The Bad Sleep Well (Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru) and High and Low (Tengoku to Jigoku*) are probably my two favorites. Nope, I can’t choose between either as better thanks to both doing what they do so darn well in the hands of the master director. I’ll get to the latter film in a separate post, so let’s get to some “Bad” business from this point on.
In addition to powerful performances from a great cast led by Toshiro Mifune, the film packs one of Kurosawa’s most abrupt and shocking twists in exactly the right spot that’s still one of the best collective gasp moments I can recall in a film that wasn’t a jump-scare packed horror flick. I first saw this during its revival in the 1980’s and the big twist sucked all the air out of the small theater and had people talking about it afterwards in a coffee shop afterwards as they debated the scene’s impact and how “un-Hollywood” it was.
While it clocks in at a hair over 2 1/2 hours, Kurosawa’s assured direction makes every single moment count. A great deal of intriguing ground is covered as the film lets loose on Japan’s corporate culture of the era, mixing in film noir, romance and detective story elements before a quietly dramatic finale that demands you’ve paid attention to everything that came before. If you’re one of those types who hops up to hit the restroom or get snacks at home, make sure to stomp on the pause button on your DVD player, as missing a few seconds can mean you might not grasp another scene’s impact later on…
*For the next few days, I’m going to add a random film the great Ray Harryhausen worked on. The legendary special effects MASTER passed away on May 7, 2013 at age 92 in London and yes, the film world has lost a true giant as well as a fine and talented gentleman…
OK, I don’t “hate” The Three Worlds of Gulliver at all, but as a kid, it did take me four attempts to sit through this classic family film without falling asleep. Sure, Ray Harryhausen’s “Superdynamation” effects and that lovely Bernard Herrmann soundtrack make this another perfect one-two punch for movie fans, but something about this flick has always rubbed me the wrong way.
It’s probably a combination of a few things from the silly refrigerator magnet names Johnathan Swift came up with being too nonsensical even for a kid to wrap a brain cell around (Brobdingnag? Glumdalclitch?), some languid pacing and seeing too much of Kerwin Matthews’ over-sized head (even when he’s normal-sized, his melon is a moon on his neck). Or it’s probably because Ray’s work here is “limited” in terms of the amount of stop motion effects (but you do get some great matte shots). The other technical work is fine, mind you – it’s just that compared to his more popular fantasy films, this one seems somewhat tame… Continue reading →
Based on what transpired after it hit theaters back in 1960, one could almost say that career suicides don’t come any better or more stylish than acclaimed director Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom. Controversial immediately upon release in the UK, the film was banned for many years from public showings in some countries, but took on a life of its own as the years passed and is seen as a genre classic by many horror fans today.
Despite its age, there are some extremely intriguing psychological themes and visual elements some easily upset types will probably find shocking. That said, it’s not as if Powell planned on his directing life in Britain going down the drain with this film. He was simply applying his well-honed talents all too well to a screenplay that happened to be extremely well-written and precise in its portrayal of a very troubled photographer and his special camera… Continue reading →