Random Film of the Week Quickie: Falstaff (Chimes at Midnight)

Falstaff (Chimes at Midnight) MPA few years ago, I was sitting in a diner waiting for a few friends to arrive and overheard two guys in the booth behind me debating whether or not Orson Welles was a good filmmaker. Wait, what?  My ears perked up as one of the guys noted that he thought the only film he ever saw from the director was one he felt was overrated (and nope, it wasn’t Citizen Kane). He was talking about Chimes After Midnight.

It turned out both were film students who had a teacher who wasn’t a fan of the director, had shown the film in his class, and yep, both were new to Welles’ work while also in that uncomfortable place in one’s youth where one questions too much without searching for the proper answers. Eh, I think they were entitled to their opinions, but I’d loved to have sat down with them and made a few points on some of the man’s work they were clearly missing thanks to their biased instructor’s babbling and their lack of seeing more of his output.

The discovery a few years back of a fantastic quality print plus a few other things falling into place means we now have a superb high quality home video version of Orson Welles’ 1965 masterpiece Falstaff (Chimes at Midnight) which just so happens to be one of the better (and looser) adaptations of Shakespeare put on film. Even if you’re not into The Bard’s work, seeing a cinematic genius like Welles pull this off on a low budget while also creating one of the most effective and chaotic battle sequences set to film makes this a must-see movie. Welles, Jeanne Moreau, Margaret Rutherford, John Gielgud, Kieth Baxter and the rest of the cast all give perfect performances, the editing manages to make the year plus it took to put this together even more brilliant and overall, it’s a great film that’s influenced quite a few others that ended up becoming modern (and better remembered) classics.

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The Criterions, Collected (But Not As You’d Think)

radio days

I was walking down the street one day…

So, this happened a few months ago, but I took my time in writing it because well, among other things, I didn’t have any photos for the article and I want to NOT reveal the location of where the shop noted is because they do have some nice pre-owned movies from time to time. Just not these movies as you’ll soon see. ‘Other things’ would be needing to look up photos on the Criterion site and fitting in references and links, something I didn’t want to do initially because I do need to get some of these films and that reminder pokes at my poor wallet each time I look at the site.

Note: I initially chopped down the story significantly because it’s the holidays and you really don’t need to read a lot here because you’ll be putting a bike together, or setting a digital clock on something, and you won’t have time to do more than throw your hands up and throw a badly written instruction manual in the trash, only to retrieve it when you realize the layout was backwards or a page was printed out of order and upside down. I restored the text because when I thought about it, you may as well have a hearty laugh today at my expense because someone will likely roll over your foot with that new bike or attempt to shoot your eye out like Moe Green in The Godfather (or was it in A Christmas Tale?*) if you got them that BB gun they wanted so badly.

Anyway, take a leap below the jump, and prepare for a fall in which we stick the landing, just not the landing we expected.

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Go For Broke! Everyone’s Having Year-End Sales (No Sleigh Needed)

(Thanks, BadfishKoo!)

Short and to the point because I’m buried in stuff and you have mass quantities to consume, or something. Here are a few big sales you might be interested in because some neighbor kid made me laugh today when she asked her Tired Mom in the elevator today why people need to shop when “Santa is supposed to bring everything!”. 

Uh, about that…

“Well, this is going to be good,” I thought with a mild chuckle bubbling up. Sales first., story and cookies later.

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Criterion’s Upcoming Godzilla Box May Make Me Sell an Organ

Holy Crap

My exact expression when I found out Criterion was making a dream box set of mine come true.

Wow. My wallet just jumped out the window when I saw that Criterion is issuing its 1000th set in glorious style with Godzilla: The Showa Era Films (1954-1975). The funny thing is, last month, all these flicks popped up on a cable channel and I caught most of them while wondering at one point if they were going to be fully remastered and *BOOM* – along comes this news and my wallet taking a dive onto the pavement.  *Sigh*… it looks as if it’s time for another DAF game collection fire sale, as this one’s bound to sell out fast on the pre-order front and nope, I’m neither paying some ebay scalper way too much money nor holding out for the cheap knockoffs that will pack that site and fool a few folks thinking they scored a deal from some “clueless” reseller from overseas.

Color me and me inner eight-year old thrilled. Yours too, I’d bet.

Marty and the boys

“Hey, Marty! Whatcha doin’ tonight?”

-GW

Random Film of the Week: High and Low

High and Low 24_BD_box_348x490_originalBased on the 1959 crime novel King’s Ransom: An 87th Precinct Mystery by Ed McBain (Evan Hunter), Akira Kurosawa’s 1963 film Tengoku to jigoku (Heaven and Hell or High and Low to western audiences) is one of those great police procedural films that’s a must for crime drama fans. With perfect casting, a gripping story of a kidnapping gone wrong thanks to a case of mistaken identity and the rush to find the kidnapper before things go further south, Kurosawa’s film is a multi-layered masterpiece worth seeing multiple times.

When “wealthy” businessman Kingo Gondo (Toshiro Mifune) and the company he works for decide to snap up the National Shoe Company, there’s a divide between executives on how to close the deal. Gondo prefers the company stick to making well-made and reliable stompers for the masses but other big shots want shoes for all that are cheaply made and thus, more profitable because they’ll need to be replaced more often. With all the back and forth debating going on, Gondo has a master plan he’s hiding from his peers. He’s mortgaged everything he owns and plans to pull off a leverage buyout of National Shoes that would put him in charge for good and keep National doing what they do best.

Little does he know he’s being watched by a few pairs of far more evil eyes looking up at his “castle” from the lower depths… Continue reading

ALL THAT JAZZ & All That Jazz You Need To See, Thanks To The Criterion Collection!

Bob Fosse’s 1979 semi-autobiographical musical masterpiece finally gets the Criterion treatment and if you’ve not see it yet (or have and it’s been a while), NOW is, as they say… the TIME. This is one of those one of a kind films that while not exactly an autobiography, is about the director’s own struggles, vices and other issues, cutting very close to the truth of his wild life on many levels. Compare this to the formulaic pap most Hollywood biopics have turned into over the decades and it’s no wonder this one makes plenty of lists of people’s favorite films. Of course, it also made me never want to do more than five things at ones, kept me away from drugs and smoking, so it’s also kicking it as a cautionary tale. Yeah, I’ll get to writing up a Random Film of the Week on this one in a bit – I actually want to see this new transfer to check out how good a job was done on it first. To the backlog you go, Gideon!

Fantastic Mr. Fox Gets The Criterion Collection Treatment. BUY IT.

 
Ooooh… I hate you (again) Criterion! Granted, I really DON’T hate these guys and gals because they do some incredible work with their hove video versions of some great and not so great films, I just hate that they charge a premium for all that hard work 9as they should). I didn’t buy Fantastic Mr. Fox on any format yet because I got busy, was too lazy to look it up when I wasn’t busy and then I heard Criterion was doing up a special “Director-Approved” version (drool!), meaning there goes an arm or leg if I now want the definitive version. This wonderful flick and Moonrise Kingdom are my current two favorite films from Wes Anderson, so perhaps that one is next up on the block to get this special treatment?

Yeah, I “hate” you, Criterion… but you’re doing film fans a major solid (at least in territories where you sell your fine products). This one’s available February 18, by the way…

You Don’t Need Six Reasons To Get These Two Films From Criterion…

But here they go, trying to convince you you need convincing:

Look, if you’ve never seen Stanley Kramer’s It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World by now, you NEED to and Criterion’s five-disc Blu-Ray is a must buy, period.

 
As for Michael Mann’s Thief, yeah, it’s a more modern classic as well as a brilliant film that’s a great keeper.

So yeah, short post because it’s snowing like hell and they’re kicking people out of the library. Go buy one or both of these and thank me later. I hate you, Criterion for making me want to spend more money. Boo. And Yay. You’re just TOO damn good at what you do these days…