Thursday, June 30, 2022

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is a 1993 animated movie. It stars Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Abe Vigoda, Stacy Keach, Dick Miller, and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. Don't let it fool you. This is a serious character study. I watched it on HBO Max.


The Verge has a positive review and says it's "surprisingly complex in its characterization of its protagonist." Roger Ebert's site has a glowing review. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 85% and an even higher audience score. Empire Online gives it 5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Fantasia (1940)

Fantasia is a 1940 animated Disney musical anthology film featuring various pieces of classical music. I've seen it several times, having had it on VHS when the kids were little. This time I watched it on Disney+. It was expensive to produce and was a box office failure. It's a must-see but doesn't in my opinion reward re-watching.


Film Site has an article and an extensive summary. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 95%. It's listed in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The Producers (1967)

The Producers is a black comedy satire directed by Mel Brooks (whose 96th birthday is today) and starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. I don't see it free anywhere. I'm always surprised at the movies that are unavailable except for rental or purchase. I tend to watch what's available free or through the services I'm already paying for. This film is hilarious, though, and I recommend it if you have access to it.


Here's a screenshot for the Tea Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering:

Monday, June 27, 2022

The Waif Woman

The Waif Woman is a 1914 short story by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Repressed by Stevenson at his wife’s insistence, “The Waif Woman” –published posthumously (and only after Mrs. Stevenson’s death)- is an adaptation of a ghost story told in chapters 50-55 of the Icelandic Erybyggja Saga. The story certainly is scandalous, even by Stevenson’s standards, and presents perhaps his most brutal indictment of material greed yet. -from Old Style Tales
You can read it online here or listen to it read to you at the bottom of this post. It begins,

This is a tale of Iceland, the isle of stories, and of a thing that befell in the year of the coming there of Christianity.

In the spring of that year a ship sailed from the South Isles to traffic, and fell becalmed inside Snowfellness. The winds had speeded her; she was the first comer of the year; and the fishers drew alongside to hear the news of the south, and eager folk put out in boats to see the merchandise and make prices. From the doors of the hall on Frodis Water, the house folk saw the ship becalmed and the boats about her, coming and p. 6going; and the merchants from the ship could see the smoke go up and the men and women trooping to their meals in the hall.

The goodman of that house was called Finnward Keelfarer, and his wife Aud the Light-Minded; and they had a son Eyolf, a likely boy, and a daughter Asdis, a slip of a maid. Finnward was well-to-do in his affairs, he kept open house and had good friends. But Aud his wife was not so much considered: her mind was set on trifles, on bright clothing, and the admiration of men, and the envy of women; and it was thought she was not always so circumspect in her bearing as she might have been, but nothing to hurt.

On the evening of the second day men came to the house from sea. They told of the merchandise in the ship, which was well enough and to be had at easy rates, and of a waif woman that sailed in her, no one could tell why, and had chests of clothes beyond comparison, fine p. 7coloured stuffs, finely woven, the best that ever came into that island, and gewgaws for a queen. At the hearing of that Aud’s eyes began to glisten. She went early to bed; and the day was not yet red before she was on the beach, had a boat launched, and was pulling to the ship. By the way she looked closely at all boats, but there was no woman in any; and at that she was better pleased, for she had no fear of the men.

When they came to the ship, boats were there already, and the merchants and the shore folk sat and jested and chaffered in the stern. But in the fore part of the ship, the woman sat alone, and looked before her sourly at the sea. They called her Thorgunna. She was as tall as a man and high in flesh, a buxom wife to look at. Her hair was of the dark red, time had not changed it. Her face was dark, the cheeks full, and the brow smooth. Some of the merchants told that she was sixty years of age and others laughed and p. 8said she was but forty; but they spoke of her in whispers, for they seemed to think that she was ill to deal with and not more than ordinary canny.

Aud went to where she sat and made her welcome to Iceland. Thorgunna did the honours of the ship. So for a while they carried it on, praising and watching each other, in the way of women. But Aud was a little vessel to contain a great longing, and presently the cry of her heart came out of her.

“The folk say,” says she, “you have the finest women’s things that ever came to Iceland?” and as she spoke her eyes grew big.

“It would be strange if I had not,” quoth Thorgunna. “Queens have no finer.”

So Aud begged that she might see them.

Thorgunna looked on her askance. “Truly,” said she, “the things are for no use but to be shown.” So she fetched a chest and opened it. Here was a cloak of the rare scarlet laid p. 9upon with silver, beautiful beyond belief; hard by was a silver brooch of basket work that was wrought as fine as any shell and was as broad as the face of the full moon; and Aud saw the clothes lying folded in the chest, of all the colours of the day, and fire, and precious gems; and her heart burned with envy. So, because she had so huge a mind to buy, she began to make light of the merchandise.

“They are good enough things,” says she, “though I have better in my chest at home. It is a good enough cloak, and I am in need of a new cloak.” At that she fingered the scarlet, and the touch of the fine stuff went to her mind like singing. “Come,” says she, “if it were only for your civility in showing it, what will you have for your cloak?”

“Woman,” said Thorgunna, “I am no merchant.” And she closed the chest and locked it, like one angry.

Then Aud fell to protesting and caressing her. That was Aud’s practice; for she thought if she p. 10hugged and kissed a person none could say her nay. Next she went to flattery, said she knew the things were too noble for the like of her—they were made for a stately, beautiful woman like Thorgunna; and at that she kissed her again, and Thorgunna seemed a little pleased. And now Aud pled poverty and begged for the cloak in a gift; and now she vaunted the wealth of her goodman and offered ounces and ounces of fine silver, the price of three men’s lives. Thorgunna smiled, but it was a grim smile, and still she shook her head. At last Aud wrought herself into extremity and wept.

“I would give my soul for it,” she cried.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls is an award-winning 2016 dark fantasy drama film starring Liam Neeson and Sigourney Weaver. I watched it solely because of those two actors and didn't know what to expect. I wasn't expecting such a touching film, though, or one so sad. I watched it on Netflix, at that time the last movie in my Netflix watchlist. I've added to the list since then.


Rolling Stone calls it "extraordinary" and closes its review with this:
Evocative, mysterious and shot through with bruising humor and heartbreak, A Monster Calls gets you where you live and where there’s no place to hide. There’s magic in it.
The Guardian has a positive review and says, "This is not just a film about grief; it’s a film that immerses you in grief’s journey." Empire Online says, "if you let the film in, it’s unlikely to let you leave the cinema with dry eyes." Roger Ebert's site calls it "a metaphorical allegory of childhood, illness, death, and grief. And an often very powerful film." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 86%.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Singin' in the Rain

Singin' in the Rain is a 1952 musical film, often considered the best musical ever made, starring Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, and with Cyd Charisse. You can't ask for a more feel-good film than this. Just thinking about this movie brings a smile to my face. And I'll watch anything with Gene Kelly in it. It's on HBO Max, though I have the DVD around here somewhere...

Empire Online says, "The most enjoyable 102 minutes you’ll ever encounter in a cinema, Singin’ In The Rain is dazzling in its perfection". Roger Ebert put it on his list of Great Movies and says, ""Singin' in the Rain” is a transcendent experience, and no one who loves movies can afford to miss it". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 100%. It's listed in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

Friday, June 24, 2022

It's a Dark Day

I live in a state with a trigger law if Roe v Wade is overturned banning abortion unless the mother's dying. Our new law makes providing or attempting to provide an abortion a Class C felony and states that:
As enacted, enacts the "Human Life Protection Act," which bans abortion in this state effective on the 30th day after the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade or an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to allow states to prohibit abortion; creates exception for situations where the abortion is necessary to prevent the death of pregnant woman or prevent serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of major bodily function; prohibits prosecution of a woman upon whom an abortion is performed or attempted.
Tennessee Lookout says,
Tennessee’s law makes abortion a crime: a Class C felony for physicians – or anyone else – who performs an abortion, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

It has one exception: abortions necessary to prevent death or “serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.” Physicians in those circumstances must be prepared to provide proof as a defense to criminal prosecution.

Women seeking an abortion face no criminal penalties. And a woman’s mental health is explicitly excluded as a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment.

A physician performing an abortion under these circumstances would also have to be ready to provide proof that he or she made a best-faith effort to deliver the fetus alive, unless the doctor could show that doing so would cause death or grave harm to a woman.
The gleeful and patronizing public statements provided by our governor and our two U.S. senators -Blackburn and Hagerty- are horrifying.

I'm venting on Facebook, as those of you who are my friends there can attest, but here I'll just share where this leaves us in Tennessee -not in a good place.

I welcome discussion, but I don't welcome drive-by smirks or gloating or suggestions that adoption is a substitute for bodily autonomy.

Umberto D.

Umberto D. is a 1952 critically acclaimed award-winning Italian film. It is the story of a man in post-WW2 Italy struggling to survive on his insufficient pension after having worked in civil service for thirty years. It's depressing to think we're re-living late 1940s-era Italy, but the evidence is before our own eyes. It's a touching film, not sad in the make-you-cry way, but your heart will go out to him. I watched it on HBO Max.

via Daily Motion:

Deep Focus Review opens a thoughtful article with this:
Vittorio De Sica’s Umberto D. envelops us in a seemingly futile search for dignity, within a hopeless, unsympathetic world almost incapable of recompense and riddled by indifference toward the individual. Presenting a sentimental version of Italian neorealism, the cinematic movement in which De Sica made his name, the director embraces the common man through everyday struggles, but also through the heart’s journey to find some reason to endure. Even while structuring his narrative around the emotional validation of one man by way of his best friend, a dog, the drama never feels artificial or maudlin, as common as such a story may be. Opening on a demonstration held by a crowd of aged pensioners, the film begins with citizens shouting for “justice” and higher annuities. Police break up the rabble in jeeps, honking at the men and chasing them from the square in Rome like a flock of pesky geese. De Sica sets his stage with various shots of protesters, among them the anonymous face of Umberto Domenico Ferrari (Carlo Battisti), shown briefly here and there. Without a permit to rally, the pensioners are waved away, though most can survive on their allowance anyway. Umberto cannot, probably for the first time in his life.
Roger Ebert has it on his list of Great Movies and says, "It may be the best of the Italian neorealist films -the one that is most simply itself, and does not reach for its effects or strain to make its message clear." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus rating of 97%. It's listed in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Chickamauga: a short story

Chickamauga is an 1887 short story by Ambrose Bierce. Bierce was a prolific and influential journalist as well as a story writer, poet, and American Civil War veteran. In 1913 he went to Mexico to cover their civil war. He was never seen or heard from again. His year of death is unknown but is generally considered to be 1914.

You can read this particular short story online here or here or have it read to you at the bottom of this post. It begins,
One sunny autumn afternoon a child strayed away from its rude home in a small field and entered a forest unobserved. It was happy in a new sense of freedom from control, happy in the opportunity of exploration and adventure; for this child's spirit, in bodies of its ancestors, had for thousands of years been trained to memorable feats of discovery and conquest--victories in battles whose critical moments were centuries, whose victors' camps were cities of hewn stone. From the cradle of its race it had conquered its way through two continents and passing a great sea had penetrated a third, there to be born to war and dominion as a heritage.

The child was a boy aged about six years, the son of a poor planter. In his younger manhood the father had been a soldier, had fought against naked savages and followed the flag of his country into the capital of a civilized race to the far South. In the peaceful life of a planter the warrior-fire survived; once kindled, it is never extinguished. The man loved military books and pictures and the boy had understood enough to make himself a wooden sword, though even the eye of his father would hardly have known it for what it was. This weapon he now bore bravely, as became the son of an heroic race, and pausing now and again in the sunny space of the forest assumed, with some exaggeration, the postures of aggression and defense that he had been taught by the engraver's art. Made reckless by the ease with which he overcame invisible foes attempting to stay his advance, he committed the common enough military error of pushing the pursuit to a dangerous extreme, until he found himself upon the margin of a wide but shallow brook, whose rapid waters barred his direct advance against the flying foe that had crossed with illogical ease. But the intrepid victor was not to be baffled; the spirit of the race which had passed the great sea burned unconquerable in that small breast and would not be denied. Finding a place where some bowlders in the bed of the stream lay but a step or a leap apart, he made his way across and fell again upon the rear-guard of his imaginary foe, putting all to the sword.

Now that the battle had been won, prudence required that he withdraw to his base of operations. Alas; like many a mightier conqueror, and like one, the mightiest, he could not curb the lust for war, nor learn that tempted Fate will leave the loftiest star.

Advancing from the bank of the creek he suddenly found himself confronted with a new and more formidable enemy: in the path that he was following, sat, bolt upright, with ears erect and paws suspended before it, a rabbit! With a startled cry the child turned and fled, he knew not in what direction, calling with inarticulate cries for his mother, weeping, stumbling, his tender skin cruelly torn by brambles, his little heart beating hard with terror--breathless, blind with tears--lost in the forest! Then, for more than an hour, he wandered with erring feet through the tangled undergrowth, till at last, overcome by fatigue, he lay down in a narrow space between two rocks, within a few yards of the stream and still grasping his toy sword, no longer a weapon but a companion, sobbed himself to sleep. The wood birds sang merrily above his head; the squirrels, whisking their bravery of tail, ran barking from tree to tree, unconscious of the pity of it, and somewhere far away was a strange, muffed thunder, as if the partridges were drumming in celebration of nature's victory over the son of her immemorial enslavers. And back at the little plantation, where white men and black were hastily searching the fields and hedges in alarm, a mother's heart was breaking for her missing child.

Hours passed, and then the little sleeper rose to his feet. The chill of the evening was in his limbs, the fear of the gloom in his heart. But he had rested, and he no longer wept. With some blind instinct which impelled to action he struggled through the undergrowth about him and came to a more open ground--on his right the brook, to the left a gentle acclivity studded with infrequent trees; over all, the gathering gloom of twilight. A thin, ghostly mist rose along the water. It frightened and repelled him; instead of recrossing, in the direction whence he had come, he turned his back upon it, and went forward toward the dark inclosing wood. ...

Wednesday, June 22, 2022


Tsotsi is an award-winning 2005 South African film. I watched it on Paramount+.


Roger Ebert opens his positive review with this: "How strange, a movie where a bad man becomes better, instead of the other way around. "Tsotsi," a film of deep emotional power, considers a young killer whose cold eyes show no emotion, who kills unthinkingly, and who is transformed by the helplessness of a baby." Rotten Tomatoes has an audience consensus score of 86%.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

The Giant Wisteria

The Giant Wisteria is an 1891 short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. You can read it online here or here or have it read to you at the bottom of this post. It begins,
"Meddle not with my new vine, child! See! Thou hast already broken the tender shoot! Never needle or distaff for thee, and yet thou wilt not be quiet!"

The nervous fingers wavered, clutched at a small carnelian cross that hung from her neck, then fell despairingly.

"Give me my child, mother, and then I will be quiet!"

"Hush! hush! thou fool-some one might be near! See-there is thy father coming, even now! Get in quickly!"

She raised her eyes to her mother's face, weary eyes that yet had a flickering, uncertain blaze in their shaded depths.

"Art thou a mother and hast no pity on me, a mother? Give me my child!"

Her voice rose in a strange, low cry, broken by her father's hand upon her mouth.

"Shameless!" said he, with set teeth. "Get to thy chamber, and be not seen again to-night, or I will have thee bound!"

She went at that, and a hard-faced serving woman followed, and presently returned, bringing a key to her mistress.

"Is all well with her-and the child also?"

"She is quiet, Mistress Dwining, well for the night, be sure. The child fretteth endlessly, but save for that it thriveth with me."

The parents were left alone together on the high square porch with its great pillars, and the rising moon began to make faint shadows of the young vinc leaves that shot up luxuriantly around them: moving shadows, like lit-tie stretching fingers, on the broad and heavy planks of the oaken floor.

"It groweth well, this vine thou broughtest me in the ship, my husband."

Please join me a beverage of your choice -mine's hot tea:

and see what the other T Stands for Tuesday bloggers are sharing.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

The Ritual

The Ritual is a 2017 British horror film. I watched it on Netflix. Piece of advice: Never cut through the forest.


The LA Times says
“The Ritual” is efficient and highly effective in its style, relying on sound, creepy production design, and the men’s own fear and misjudgment to create the sense of pervasive doom. We don’t see the monster in too much detail, leaving the mystery intact, but the creature design is stunningly original.
Forbes concludes, "if you like horror, sure, I’d give it a shot." Roger Ebert's site calls it "atmospheric" and "effectively moody".

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Alice 42

from Chapter 12 Alice's Evidence of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland:
At this moment the King, who had been for some time busily writing in his note-book, cackled out ‘Silence!’ and read out from his book, ‘Rule Forty-two. All persons more than a mile high to leave the court.

Everybody looked at Alice.

I’m not a mile high,’ said Alice.

‘You are,’ said the King.

‘Nearly two miles high,’ added the Queen.

‘Well, I shan’t go, at any rate,’ said Alice: ‘besides, that’s not a regular rule: you invented it just now.’

‘It’s the oldest rule in the book,’ said the King.

‘Then it ought to be Number One,’ said Alice.

The King turned pale, and shut his note-book hastily. ‘Consider your verdict,’ he said to the jury, in a low, trembling voice.

Friday, June 17, 2022

The Ladies Man (1961)

The Ladies Man is a 1961 Jerry Lewis comedy film. I only started it because it's listed in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die -maybe it's only listed as representative of Lewis as a cultural icon- and I was willing to give it a try. I gave up a third of the way in. I'm not a Jerry Lewis fan, and this is too silly by far for me. It was on Amazon Prime, but I saw it right before it left there.


Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus rating of 100%. Go figure. Slant Magazine gives it 4 out of 4 stars, says it's "a wild, exuberant reflection of Lewis’s diverse comic tones (slapstick, absurdism, blackout sketches), but it is also perhaps Lewis’s definitive take on his cinematic alter ego’s perpetually thwarted priapism" and calls it a "masterpiece". The New Yorker gives it a positive review and says, "In the end, the movie exalts the modest pleasures of everyday people, but, along the way, Lewis reveals the madder music within that they whistle while they work." Senses of Cinema has a fascinating article.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

The Departed (2006)

The Departed is an award-winning 2006 crime thriller directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, and Alec Baldwin. I watched it because it's listed in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, otherwise that 2 1/2 hour length would've given me pause. It's available on HBO Max.


Roger Ebert closes a positive review with this:
I have often thought that many of Scorsese's critics and admirers do not realize how deeply the Catholic Church of pre-Vatican II could burrow into the subconscious, or in how many ways Scorsese is a Catholic director. This movie is like an examination of conscience, when you stay up all night trying to figure out a way to tell the priest: I know I done wrong, but, oh, Father, what else was I gonna do?
The Hollywood Reporter says, "The Departed is a robust piece of storytelling and his best film since Casino in 1995. Everything is rock solid". The Guardian closes a positive review by saying, "Scorsese has hit his stride again, and he has produced something with as much as gusto as his best films of 20 or 30 years back; it grips and shocks and entertains ...". Empire Online says, "Back to the streets and with a stellar cast, Martin Scorsese proves once again that he’s the master of urban storytelling — and of thrillingly violent filmmaking." Rotten Tomatoes has a 90% critics consensus score and an even higher audience rating.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

The Moving Finger

The Moving Finger is an 1901 story by Edith Wharton. Won't you join me in a cuppa and perhaps read with me? (I'll be participating in the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.)

You can read it online here or listen to it read to you at the bottom of this post. It begins,
The news of Mrs. Grancy’s death came to me with the shock of an immense blunder–one of fate’s most irretrievable acts of vandalism. It was as though all sorts of renovating forces had been checked by the clogging of that one wheel. Not that Mrs. Grancy contributed any perceptible momentum to the social machine: her unique distinction was that of filling to perfection her special place in the world. So many people are like badly-composed statues, over-lapping their niches at one point and leaving them vacant at another. Mrs. Grancy’s niche was her husband’s life; and if it be argued that the space was not large enough for its vacancy to leave a very big gap, I can only say that, at the last resort, such dimensions must be determined by finer instruments than any ready-made standard of utility. Ralph Grancy’s was in short a kind of disembodied usefulness: one of those constructive influences that, instead of crystallizing into definite forms, remain as it were a medium for the development of clear thinking and fine feeling. He faithfully irrigated his own dusty patch of life, and the fruitful moisture stole far beyond his boundaries. If, to carry on the metaphor, Grancy’s life was a sedulously-cultivated enclosure, his wife was the flower he had planted in its midst–the embowering tree, rather, which gave him rest and shade at its foot and the wind of dreams in its upper branches.

We had all–his small but devoted band of followers–known a moment when it seemed likely that Grancy would fail us. We had watched him pitted against one stupid obstacle after another–ill-health, poverty, misunderstanding and, worst of all for a man of his texture, his first wife’s soft insidious egotism. We had seen him sinking under the leaden embrace of her affection like a swimmer in a drowning clutch; but just as we despaired he had always come to the surface again, blinded, panting, but striking out fiercely for the shore. When at last her death released him it became a question as to how much of the man she had carried with her. Left alone, he revealed numb withered patches, like a tree from which a parasite has been stripped. But gradually he began to put out new leaves; and when he met the lady who was to become his second wife–his one real wife, as his friends reckoned–the whole man burst into flower.

The second Mrs. Grancy was past thirty when he married her...


Monday, June 13, 2022

Where Are My Children?

Where Are My Children? is a 1916 silent anti-abortion film which tells the story of a district attorney who, while prosecuting a doctor for illegal abortions, finds out that society people, including his wife, used the doctor's services. The film was popular here, though there were court cases trying to block it from being shown and it was banned in at least one state. (The book burners of their day, I imagine.) Lois Weber, the director, is now considered one of the most important and prolific film directors in the era of silent films and one of American cinema's first genuine auteurs. She died destitute of a bleeding ulcer in 1939 at the age of 60.

Film School Rejects says, "First-wave feminism sprung from the birth control movement, which is on full display in Weber’s controversial 1916 film. ... Thanks to Weber’s insistence on bringing tough realities into narrative film, we can see how women viewed the subject of birth control and abortion more than one hundred years ago ... The outdated morality within the plot of Where Are My Children? is vastly different than what is believed today in terms of a woman’s right to abortions and why birth control is important."

The Science History Institute says the film's "central question —who “deserves” access to reproductive rights— still resonates today" and
To a modern audience a movie that is pro–birth control but antiabortion, and advocates for certain women to have children while others should not, seems odd, if not outright offensive. However, Lois Weber created Where Are My Children? within a eugenics framework, and when viewed from that perspective, the film makes more sense.

via YouTube:

Sunday, June 12, 2022

The Philadephia Story

The Philadelphia Story is a 1940 romantic comedy starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart. I'm not a fan of romantic comedies, but a classic is a classic. It's hilarious! It had me laughing out loud.

Although all the attention seems to be on Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart, my favorite in the film is Virginia Weidler. She's a delight! She was a popular child actor but retired from film when she was 16 years old. She married and had 2 children. She had a heart ailment and died of a heart attack at age 41. There's a Remembrance Society that celebrates her legacy. Here's one of my favorite scenes from this movie:

I watched this film on HBO Max.


BBC says,
Eighty years after its release, The Philadelphia Story's grace, wit, and sheer romanticism doesn't just mean it stands out as one of the best films to emerge from the classic Hollywood era, but that it also might be the definitive romantic comedy, too. That's if it's even a romantic comedy in the first place. ... some people believe that The Philadelphia Story is a screwball comedy, rather than romantic comedy, as it uses various tropes of the sub-genre ... Even that's up for debate, though. By the start of 1941 the screwball genre was already in decline, as the tastes of audiences were changing thanks to World War Two. At the same time, The Philadelphia Story's dialogue is much less quickfire, and it has a sentimentality, sincerity – and, some might even say, sophistication – that sets it apart from other screwball films.

Filmsite calls it "an intelligent, sophisticated, classic romantic comedy-farce (part screwball) of love and marriage, human growth and class distinctions." Slant Magazine closes by calling it "a studio picture far deeper and richer than its whimsical surface style might lead you to believe. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 100%.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

The House of Asterion

The House of Asterion is a 1947 short story by Jorge Luis Borges. Borges was an Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator. The Wikipedia article on his life and work is interesting. His eyesight began failing when he was in his early 30s, and he was completely blind by the time he was 55. His religious questioning towards the end of his life is thought-provoking. He died of liver cancer on June 14, 1986, at the age of 86. You can read this story online here or you can listen to it at the bottom of this post. It begins,
And the queen gave birth to a child who was called Asterion.

I know they accuse me of arrogance, and perhaps misanthropy, and perhaps of madness. Such accusations (for which I shall exact punishment in due time) are derisory. It is true that I never leave my house, but it is also true that its doors (whose numbers are infinite) (footnote: The original says fourteen, but there is ample reason to infer that, as used by Asterion, this numeral stands for infinite.) are open day and night to men and to animals as well. Anyone may enter. He will find here no female pomp nor gallant court formality, but he will find quiet and solitude. And he will also find a house like no other on the face of this earth. (There are those who declare there is a similar one in Egypt, but they lie.) Even my detractors admit there is not one single piece of furniture in the house. Another ridiculous falsehood has it that I, Asterion, am a prisoner. Shall I repeat that there are no locked doors, shall I add that there are no locks? Besides, one afternoon I did step into the street; If I returned before night, I did so because of the fear that the faces of the common people inspired in me, faces as discolored and flat as the palm of one's hand. the sun had already set ,but the helpless crying of a child and the rude supplications of the faithful told me I had been recognized. The people prayed, fled, prostrated themselves; some climbed onto the stylobate of the temple of the axes, others gathered stones. One of them, I believe, hid himself beneath the sea. Not for nothing was my mother a queen; I cannot be confused with the populace, though my modesty might so desire. The fact is that that I am unique.

Friday, June 10, 2022

A Patch of Blue

A Patch of Blue is a 1965 drama film about the relationship between an educated black man and an illiterate, blind, white 18-year-old girl against the backdrop of the growing civil rights movement. It stars Sidney Poitier, Shelley Winters, and Elizabeth Hartman. This was Hartman's first film. She retired from film in 1982. Having suffered from depression for most of her life and after years of treatment, she killed herself by jumping from her 5th floor apartment building. She died on June 10th, 1987, at the age of 43. I watched this movie on HBO Max.


Variety describes it as "a touching contemporary melodrama, relieved at times by generally effective humor" and describes Hartman's debut performance as "exceptional". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 89% and an audience score even higher.

Thursday, June 09, 2022

Pale Flower

Pale Flower is a 1964 Japanese film noir yakuza movie. A tragic story -it's film noir, after all.

via Internet Archive:

Criterion calls it a "cool, seductive jewel of the Japanese New Wave". High on Films says it's "Shinoda’s first masterpiece, a film that chronicled the existential dread of a middle-aged yakuza". Senses of Cinema says, "Pale Flower/Kawaita hana is both a genre movie and an art movie. It is a contemporary yakuza film, made at the start of the golden age of the genre (which lasted from 1963 to 1973)".

Roger Ebert has this on his list of Great Movies and says,
"Pale Flower" is one of the most haunting noirs I've seen, and something more; in 1964 it was an important work in an emerging Japanese New Wave of independent filmmakers, an exercise in existential cool. It involves a plot, but it is all about attitude.
Rotten Tomatoes has both critics and audience consensus scores of 91%.

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Gidget (1959)

Gidget is a 1959 comedy film I'm posting in honor of James Darren's birthday today. He's having a long and varied career, and I was happy to see him become a part of the Star Trek universe as Vic Fontaine.

The movie Gidget was one of his early roles. In it he plays Moondoggie, Gidget's romantic interest. Also in this film are Sandra Dee (as Gidget), Cliff Robertson, Arthur O'Connell, Yvonne Craig, and Doug McClure. You can watch it free at Tubi.



I was a huge fan of his in the TV series Time Tunnel. Here's the first episode:

It only ran for one season, because network decision-makers were clueless.

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Captains Courageous

Captains Courageous is an award-winning 1937 coming of age drama film based on the Rudyard Kipling book by the same name. It stars Freddie Bartholomew, Spencer Tracy, Lionel Barrymore, Melvyn Douglas, Mickey Rooney, and John Caradine. I watched it on HBO Max, though I'd seen it more than once on television over the years, and I have posted it to the blog before.


Filmsite says,
One of cinema's greatest classic adventure stories is director Victor Fleming's Captains Courageous (1937). ... The classic MGM, coming-of-age children's film acquired four Academy Award nominations ... with Spencer Tracy taking home his very first Best Actor Oscar (he experienced back-to-back wins when he also won Best Actor the following year for...
Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 94%. It's listed in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

Here's a screenshot from early in the film to share with the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering:

though I'm still on staycation and not doing my usual blog visiting. This week is filled with rain, so all those outdoor outings we were planning (zoo, Botanic Gardens, etc.) will not happen.

Monday, June 06, 2022

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 musical film adaptation of the L. Frank Baum children's book. I post this today in memory of Jack Haley, who played the Tin Man, and who died on this date in 1979 at the age of 81 of a heart attack. He had remained active until the week before his death.


Here's the scene where they find the Tin Man:

I have always considered this a horror movie, the first horror movie I ever saw. I remember Mother sitting me and my sister in Daddy's recliner with a blanket to watch it on TV. It was years before I could watch it all the way through.

Sunday, June 05, 2022

The Sixth Sense

The Sixth Sense is a 1999 M. Night Shyamalan film starring Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment. I'm not sure how I never saw this one, but I never had. CJ and Erika gave me encouragement on Facebook, and I'm glad I watched it (on Amazon Prime). It is a powerful movie about love and loss and unfinished business.


Spirituality and Practice says, "This psychological thriller has vibrant emotional clout given the astonishing performances by Haley Joel Osment and Bruce Willis." Roger Ebert opens a positive review by saying, ""The Sixth Sense" isn't a thriller in the modern sense, but more of a ghost story of the sort that flourished years ago, when ordinary people glimpsed hidden dimensions." Rotten Tomatoes has an audience consensus score of 90%.

Saturday, June 04, 2022

Friday, June 03, 2022

The Forest (2016)

The Forest is a 2016 American supernatural horror film about a young woman whose twin sister has disappeared into the Japanese suicide forest. She goes in search of her. I watched it on Netflix.


Poorly reviewed, but I didn't think it was that bad.

Thursday, June 02, 2022

One Sings, the Other Doesn't

One Sings, the Other Doesn't is a 1977 french film written and directed by Agn├Ęs Varda that focuses on the lives of two women over 14 years against the backdrop of the Women's Movement in 1970s France. I watched it on HBO Max.

Agnes Varda (May 30, 1928 – March 29, 2019) died from cancer at the age of 90. According to Wikipedia: Her pioneering work was central to the development of the widely influential French New Wave film movement of the 1950s and 1960s. She was the first female director to be feted with an honorary Oscar. In 2019, the BBC polled 368 film experts from 84 countries to name the 100 best films by women directors. Varda was the most-named director, with six different films on the list. Varda's work is often considered feminist because of her use of female protagonists and her creation of a female cinematic voice. In 1971, Varda was one of the 343 women who signed the Manifesto of the 343 admitting they had had an abortion despite it being illegal in France at the time and asking that abortion be made legal.


Slant Magazine says,
Reflecting on 15 years of second-wave feminism, One Sings, the Other Doesn’t is a poetic homage to the strength of women as they fight a protracted battle for liberation—one that’s made all the more relevant given the new generation of feminist activism that’s confronting a fresh wave of assaults on women’s rights.
Criterion says, "The film embraces maternity while insisting that women must have the right to decide when or if to bear children" and
Not only did Varda make her subject the most crucial and vexed issue of the feminist movement, at that time as it is today—a woman’s right to control her body, specifically her reproductive system—she also fashioned a narrative that is as rife with contradictions and reversals as freedom struggles always are.
Roger Ebert calls it "one of the most appealing films by a French director whose best work has always found a balance between the heart and the mind" and says,
Varda works close to the human grain; she insists whenever possible on making documentaries between each of her feature films, so she can stay in touch with reality and not fall for the stylistic excesses of the big fiction films.
Spirituality and Practice calls it "a valentine to female friendship and the worldwide family of women."

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Gaslight (1944)

Gaslight is an award-winning 1944 drama film directed by George Cukor and starring Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten, and Angela Lansbury. This was Angela Lansbury's first film.

The term "gaslighting" comes from this movie. The word is often used in politics, as when journalists used it to describe the actions of Donald Trump (our gaslighter-in-chief) during the 2016 presidential election and during his term as president. You can find many examples of how his behavior fits this term by using a simple search for the words Trump and gaslight. Vox has a good explanation of what the term means:
The term “gaslighting” comes from the movie, and so its definition is rather specific: when a person lies for their own gain to another person so repeatedly and with so much confidence that the victim begins to doubt her own sanity. And, as the film puts it, a bit of Stockholm Syndrome develops as well: The victim, now uncertain that she can perceive reality correctly, becomes dependent on the gaslighter, more attached to him than ever.
You can watch it free on Roku.

It's also available via Internet Archive:

Filmsite has some information of the history of the film and a detailed plot description. The Hollywood Reporter has a positive review at the time of the film's release. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 88% and an even higher audience score.