Films Worth Viewing

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Due to circumstances I can't control; I am forced to give up my computer. This is my last post. Sorry.
 

storrsroars

Exiled in Pittsburgh
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Due to circumstances I can't control; I am forced to give up my computer. This is my last post. Sorry.
That's a helluva sign-off. Thanks for the content and hope all turns out well for you.
 
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Mmm, tough to pick the best Wayne performance I'd rank The Quiet Man and True Grit ahead of this.
I mentioned before that Red River and The Searchers were two of John Wayne's best performances, I watched The Quiet Man again last night on TCM. Yup, I'd have to throw in this one as well to make it a trio for Wayne.
 
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I have hopefully fixed my computer problems, so I will try to return to regular posting. It will be a couple of days.
 
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"The Life of Emil Zola"-1937-William Dieterle

This film won the Oscar for best film. I didn't remember that. This is an old style biography featuring arguably
the best film actor of the '30's, Paul Muni. The first about 40% deals with Zola's early professional life as a struggling novelist/journalist. (There are some historical lapses here and at the very end of the movie, but before the action starts, there is a disclaimer which acknowledges that changes have been made.) Zola became the leading man of letters in France in the late 19th century. Then comes his involvement in "The Dreyfus Affair," which tore apart French society.

Dreyfus was a captain of artillery and a member of the French General Staff. (The fact that he was a Jew is glossed over in the film, but is was a major part of the furor.) He was accused of being a spy/traitor based on
a letter discovered discussing secret military information given to the German Military Attache. He was tried by a secret military tribunal and sent to Devil's Island for life. Dreyfus's wife approaches Zola for help.

By this time substantial information had emerged which very strongly indicated that another individual, Count
Esterhazy, was the real culprit. Zola writes an open letter to the President of France titled "J'accuse" where he indicts the French General Staff for a false conviction and a later cover-up.

Why you might find this film interesting even compelling is its relevance to our contemporary politics and judicial matters. Additionally, you get to see Muni in one of his signature roles. For those interested he was the original "Scarface" which is considerably easier to find than "... Zola." Highly recommended; it has aged surprisingly well, and the performances are almost universally excellent.
 
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I haven't seen "...Zola" but I have seen a few other Paul Muni films, including "Scarface" and "I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang", both of which are also quite good. All of these movies get shown from time to time on Turner Classic Movies.
 
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"Gettysburg"-Ron Maxwell-1993

I debated the pros and cons of previewing this film. Probably many/most of you have seen this film,and I'm kind of a Civil War nerd so my own interest is suspect. However, this is well worth coming back to if you have seen it, and if you haven't, it's your loss. This is the first film that Turner produced for a theatrical showing. It is based on Michael Shaara's classic novel, "The Killer Angels." It took more than 15 years to bring to the screen.
Because of its length, 4 and 1/2 hours, it had only a limited showing in theatres, Turner made the money back with the huge success on cable and video sales. Perhaps the best story connected with
the film is told by Martin Sheen who played Robert E. Lee in the film. At the premier in Atlanta, Sheen was disturbed by an individual sitting behind him who was continually commenting on the action; he was prepared to make some comments, when he discovered at intermission that said disturber was the former president Jimmy Carter.

The film was made using 15,000 Civil War Re-inactors. One of my best friends was one of this large group of dedicated individuals who travel the country bringing their own weapons, uniforms, tents, and even historically accurate foodstuffs to the sites. Those who participated in the filming paid their way and saved the film hundreds of thousands dollars in costumes and props.

The plot should be familiar, but a few quick points for those who aren't particularly interested in history. Lee led The Army of Northern Virginia deep into the North. The plan was to draw the Union army out into the open to force a decisive battle. A Confederate victory would perhaps end the War; the Confederacy hoped that Lincoln would be forced to sue for peace. Gettysburg was of no strategic importance, but it was the hub of five roads. The Union troops were following a parallel path to Lee's forces. Union Calvary Commander, Buford, discovered the Confederate army. His two brigades of cavalry held up the Confederate advance so that the Union troops were able to occupy the high ground.

The next two days of battle had the Union forces holding the highpoints, but Lee's army was able to return to Virginia without further battles. Meede, the 6th Union commander of the Army of the Potomac, didn't pursue aggressively. The death toll for the battle on both sides is roughly equal to American deaths in Vietnam about 60,000.

The film follows almost exactly Shaara's novel. I should mention that some of the best parts of the film are the conversations between the principals. My favorite are those between Joshua Chamberlin, the Union hero
of the battle of Little Roundtop, and an Irish sergeant. They discuss what they are fighting for, and their views of humanity and God. This is Jeff Daniels best performance.

The battle scenes are enormously effective. It is disconcerting to see how close up most of the fighting and
dying was. Interestingly enough, another equally important battle took place simultaneously in Vicksburg, Mississippi where the Union army successfully ended the siege. Lincoln famously remarked that "the Father of the Waters flows unvexed into the sea." This was the begining of the end of the war. On July 4th 1863,
Lincoln was able to see the the hoped for reunion of the states. In November of 1863 Lincoln delivered one of the greatest speeches in English at the opening of the National Cemetery. He wasn't even the principal speaker, but that's another story.

The extras and the commentaries are excellent. This an excellent choice for a family viewing party for Memorial Day or the Fourth. See this again or for the first time, you won't regret it. One final note , it has been argued that the film doesn't deal with slavery in an adequate manner. The national view of the Civil War has changed, when the film was made no one thought of Lee as a traitor, and Civil War monuments weren't being torn down.
 
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"Groundhog Day"-Harold Ramis-1993

This film has definitely entered into popular culture. What can I say which isn't superfluous? Only Bill Murray could have played this role with the obnoxious nastiness the role required. The real turning point in the movie is when he attempts to help the homeless man. Up to that point all of Phil's actions have been about himself.
Phil asserts that no one would die on February 2nd; he fails in that one case. However, he finds and keeps appointments rescuing citizens of Punksatawney from choking, falling from a tree, breaking up at the alter, and dealing with a flat tire. We know that he is no angel, he gripes that the boy he catches falling from a tree never thanks him. Still this Phil has become a better person. Yes, he has acquired some amazing skills:snow and ice sculpture, professional level piano playing, and superior skill tossing cards into a hat. He has even cured a man's back problems, and his coverage of the groundhog's emergence has become so expert that all the assembled media use his coverage of this event. The auction at the Groundhog Day Ball shows that other people see him differently, Rita, his producer, has to pay top dollar for him at the bachelor auction.

It is interesting that many different religious groups found the film relevant and uplifting. His relationship with
Rita is central to his transformation. Jack Nicholson remarks in another film: "You make me want to be a better man." Rita, Andie McDowell, does that for Phil. Roger Ebert remarks in his review in volume 3 of "The Great Films" that Phil has not become an angel but that he can now see the angel.

The gags are still funny, and like the instances where they change like stepping off the curb into the puddle, they still have an element of surprise. The final instance when he wakes fully clothed in bed with Rita and hears "I've Got You Babe" on the radio, has it really become February 3rd? He goes to the window and sees no crowds heading to Gobbler's Notch, yes, he now has a life with a future.

This film is one of my all-time favorites; I included it in my list for the 'Yard tournament. Hopefully, this intro will convince you to return to the thrilling days of yesteryear, Groundhog Day in Punksatawney, Pa. One final note; it was filmed outside of Chicago.
 
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"Groundhog Day"-Harold Ramis-1993

This film has definitely entered into popular culture. What can I say which isn't superfluous? Only Bill Murray could have played this role with the obnoxious nastiness the role required. The real turning point in the movie is when he attempts to help the homeless man. Up to that point all of Phil's actions have been about himself.
Phil asserts that no one would die on February 2nd; he fails in that one case. However, he finds and keeps appointments rescuing citizens of Punksatawney from choking, falling from a tree, breaking up at the alter, and dealing with a flat tire. We know that he is no angel, he gripes that the boy he catches falling from a tree never thanks him. Still this Phil has become a better person. Yes, he has acquired some amazing skills:snow and ice sculpture, professional level piano playing, and superior skill tossing cards into a hat. He has even cured a man's back problems, and his coverage of the groundhog's emergence has become so expert that all the assembled media use his coverage of this event. The auction at the Groundhog Day Ball shows that other people see him differently, Rita, his producer, has to pay top dollar for him at the bachelor auction.

It is interesting that many different religious groups found the film relevant and uplifting. His relationship with
Rita is central to his transformation. Jack Nicholson remarks in another film: "You make me want to be a better man." Rita, Andie McDowell, does that for Phil. Roger Ebert remarks in his review in volume 3 of "The Great Films" that Phil has not become an angel but that he can now see the angel.

The gags are still funny, and like the instances where they change like stepping off the curb into the puddle, they still have an element of surprise. The final instance when he wakes fully clothed in bed with Rita and hears "I've Got You Babe" on the radio, has it really become February 3rd? He goes to the window and sees no crowds heading to Gobbler's Notch, yes, he now has a life with a future.

This film is one of my all-time favorites; I included it in my list for the 'Yard tournament. Hopefully, this intro will convince you to return to the thrilling days of yesteryear, Groundhog Day in Punksatawney, Pa. One final note; it was filmed outside of Chicago.
A wonderful movie. Also, Chris Elliot has an excellent supporting role as the cameraman.
 

ZooCougar

Shut Up Carl.
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"Gettysburg"-Ron Maxwell-1993

I debated the pros and cons of previewing this film. Probably many/most of you have seen this film,and I'm kind of a Civil War nerd so my own interest is suspect. However, this is well worth coming back to if you have seen it, and if you haven't, it's your loss. This is the first film that Turner produced for a theatrical showing. It is based on Michael Shaara's classic novel, "The Killer Angels." It took more than 15 years to bring to the screen.
Because of its length, 4 and 1/2 hours, it had only a limited showing in theatres, Turner made the money back with the huge success on cable and video sales. Perhaps the best story connected with
the film is told by Martin Sheen who played Robert E. Lee in the film. At the premier in Atlanta, Sheen was disturbed by an individual sitting behind him who was continually commenting on the action; he was prepared to make some comments, when he discovered at intermission that said disturber was the former president Jimmy Carter.

The film was made using 15,000 Civil War Re-inactors. One of my best friends was one of this large group of dedicated individuals who travel the country bringing their own weapons, uniforms, tents, and even historically accurate foodstuffs to the sites. Those who participated in the filming paid their way and saved the film hundreds of thousands dollars in costumes and props.

The plot should be familiar, but a few quick points for those who aren't particularly interested in history. Lee led The Army of Northern Virginia deep into the North. The plan was to draw the Union army out into the open to force a decisive battle. A Confederate victory would perhaps end the War; the Confederacy hoped that Lincoln would be forced to sue for peace. Gettysburg was of no strategic importance, but it was the hub of five roads. The Union troops were following a parallel path to Lee's forces. Union Calvary Commander, Buford, discovered the Confederate army. His two brigades of cavalry held up the Confederate advance so that the Union troops were able to occupy the high ground.

The next two days of battle had the Union forces holding the highpoints, but Lee's army was able to return to Virginia without further battles. Meede, the 6th Union commander of the Army of the Potomac, didn't pursue aggressively. The death toll for the battle on both sides is roughly equal to American deaths in Vietnam about 60,000.

The film follows almost exactly Shaara's novel. I should mention that some of the best parts of the film are the conversations between the principals. My favorite are those between Joshua Chamberlin, the Union hero
of the battle of Little Roundtop, and an Irish sergeant. They discuss what they are fighting for, and their views of humanity and God. This is Jeff Daniels best performance.

The battle scenes are enormously effective. It is disconcerting to see how close up most of the fighting and
dying was. Interestingly enough, another equally important battle took place simultaneously in Vicksburg, Mississippi where the Union army successfully ended the siege. Lincoln famously remarked that "the Father of the Waters flows unvexed into the sea." This was the begining of the end of the war. On July 4th 1863,
Lincoln was able to see the the hoped for reunion of the states. In November of 1863 Lincoln delivered one of the greatest speeches in English at the opening of the National Cemetery. He wasn't even the principal speaker, but that's another story.

The extras and the commentaries are excellent. This an excellent choice for a family viewing party for Memorial Day or the Fourth. See this again or for the first time, you won't regret it. One final note , it has been argued that the film doesn't deal with slavery in an adequate manner. The national view of the Civil War has changed, when the film was made no one thought of Lee as a traitor, and Civil War monuments weren't being torn down.

I saw this movie in the theater with some fraternity brothers. I went to college in the south and these guys were southerners. They liked the movie but they felt that Lee was portrayed as almost a crazy old man so they took issue with that. Knowing what I know now, I wonder how much of “The Lost Cause Movement” infected The Killer Angels and softened the Confederates mightily. But for every piece of suspect southern propaganda there is twice as much of that on the Blue side and this is definitely Jeff Daniels’ movie in retrospect.

It’s funny how time can change perspective. Turner is a Liberal Democrat and he made this movie! This movie is not getting made in in 2019.

I thought Tom Berenger played a lights out Longstreet. That was another reason my frat brothers didn’t like this movie, Longstreet is a scapegoat for the defeat and this movie made him look clairvoyant.

Sam Elliot is perfect as Buford, which was basically a cameo role imo.

Stephen Lang plays a great and tragic Pickett. It was hard to not feel a little anguish watching Pickett’s charge. Lang also plays Stonewall Jackson in the sequel/prequel Gods and Generals, which wasn’t as good unfortunately.
 

nwhoopfan

hopeless West Coast homer
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"Groundhog Day"-Harold Ramis-1993
Kind of amazing how many the "Groundhog Day" of ___ genre of movie this has inspired. A few off the top of my head--"Edge of Tomorrow" (sci fi), "Before I Fall" (teen drama), and "Happy Death Day" (horror comedy). One of those was adapted from a book and I think another from a manga, but the creators must have been aware of Groundhog Day. Not only do each of those include being stuck in a loop and repeating the same day over and over, but in each the central character eventually undergoes introspection and endeavors to become a better person and get the day right finally.

Do you happen to know, was it a completely original concept, or did they borrow it from something else?
 
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The original script was something new as far as films are concerned. It started in the middle, Ramis added the prequel. I think the film works better that way; it is crucial to seeing just how obnoxious Phil was. The second interesting choice is that no explanation is offered for the forever February 2nd, but while we are led to believe that forever ends because of Phil's changes, but this is never explicit.
 
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"Mona Lisa"-Neil Jordan-1986

This was Neil Jordan's breakthrough film. Bob Hoskins plays George, recently released from prison. He served seven years for an undisclosed crime. Mortwell, played by Michael Caine, is the crime boss George served. George is given a job as a driver foe a high class prostitute, Simone. She is young, tall, elegant, and black. She and George don't get along. Simone, Cathy Tyson in her first film role, finds George rude, boorish, and poorly dressed. George finds her snobbish and condescending.

George lives with his friend, Tom. Tom repairs cars and surrounds himself with strange things, plastic sphagetti being one of the less strange. As the relationship with Simone develops, George tries to explain things to Tom. George is also trying to re-establish a relationship with his young teenage daughter; she doesn't know
why he left her and her mother. George will only tell her that he was a bad man.

Despite being a criminal, George is an innocent. Hoskins makes George sympathetic despite his nasty temper and his use of violence. Simone manipulates George into searchng for her friend Kate , in an area of sex shops and brothels.
Mortwell wants George to reveal what goes on between Simone and a rich Arab customer. Simone says they drink tea, and pictures are provided which George shows Mortwell. George hasn't realized just how twisted Mortwell's business is. Not only does he run sleezy clubs, but he is directing blackmail schemes, drugs, and vicious hoodlums who keep everything in line. George asks Tom to get him a gun. Tom, Robbie Coltrane, gets the gun . George now carries the gun on his forays into the dark side of Soho.

When George finds Kate, he helps Simone and Kate runaway to the seashore. They are followed by Mortwell's
thugs led by Anderson Kate's current and Simone's former pimp. Anderson is played by Clark Peters, well known to HBO fans. The first ending is very violent, but George finds out that Simone really is the Mona Lisa
of the Nat "King" Cole's song. She loves Kate and has used George. The second ending finds George back at Tom's garage, dressed in a mechanic's uniform working on a car.

Is this film neo-noir, a failed romance, suspense or what? The answer isn't clear, what is clear is that this is a terrific film with complex characters. Neil Jordan supposedly filmed a sax scene between Simone and George, it was cut, thankfully because it preserved the integrity of the characters.

It's available on DVD, I didn't find any streaming options with a quick search. Check your local library.

Are you real Mona Lisa or just a lovely, lonely work of art?
 
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"The Producers"-Mel Brooks-1968

This was Mel Brooks' first film. Brooks scripted the film and wrote the songs. It looked like the film wasn't going to be released after a disastrous preview in Philadelphia, but by chance Peter Sellars had a private viewing. He was knocked out by the film, and he took out full page ads in the trades filled with fulsome praise.
The film had a very limited release in a few major cities where it had very long successful runs. ' I saw the film in it's initial release, I can't remember where. What blew me away was the scene where the fountain in front of Lincoln Center erupts. Leo Bloom declares "I want everything I've ever seen in the movies." This was the last scene filmed. The critics were not kind; the last line line in the New York Times critic Renata Adler's review reads: " 'The Producers" leaves one alternately picking up one's coat to leave and sitting back to laugh." Roger Ebert was one of the few critics to champion the film. Thirty plus years years later he included it in his second volume of The Great Films."
I could stop here, all of you have seen this film, right? Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder are a comedy match without peer. Mostel has a face which can reveal every emotion known to man; Wilder is a mass of insecurities and yes hysteria. Together they come up with a plan to produce the worst play imaginable so that it will be a guaranteed failure. The plan has them raising vastly more money than needed and pocketing the money. This is supposedly the first use of the term "creative accounting." During an exhausting night, they discover the worst play in the world, "Springtime for Hitler."

Mostel ventures into "little old lady land" to raise the money, together they sign the author, a Nazi living in New York, and the worst director in New York, a transvestite whose plays never make it out of rehearsals. There are spasams of uncontrollable laughter for the audience in this extended set up. They happen upon the worst possible Hitler, Dick Shawn as LSD. A moment's reflection upon the production, it is absolutely wonderful and hilarious. The tribute to Busby Berkeley, an overhead shot of stormtrooper dancers forming a swastika, is brilliant.

Naturally, the show becomes an instant hit, and the consequences are dire. In an attempt to close the show prematurely, Bialystock and Bloom and the author Franz Liebkind attempt to blow up the theater. Of course this fails, and the trio end up on trial. Don't worry, the laughs don't end here and there is yet another terrific song, "Prisoners of Love."

Many years later the movie becomes a hit Broadway musical taking twelve Tony's and running for over 2,000 performances. The movie of the musical doesn't compare to the original. This is a great film, I find it difficult to criticize anything, i'm laughing too hard.

I neglected to mention that if you are looking to buy "The Producers" make sure that you get the two disc edition; the extras are excellent. If you're not a film nerd, what are you doing here, the single disc edition is
okay.
 
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"The Producers"-Mel Brooks-1968

This was Mel Brooks' first film. Brooks scripted the film and wrote the songs. It looked like the film wasn't going to be released after a disastrous preview in Philadelphia, but by chance Peter Sellars had a private viewing. He was knocked out by the film, and he took out full page ads in the trades filled with fulsome praise.
The film had a very limited release in a few major cities where it had very long successful runs. ' I saw the film in it's initial release, I can't remember where. What blew me away was the scene where the fountain in front of Lincoln Center erupts. Leo Bloom declares "I want everything I've ever seen in the movies." This was the last scene filmed. The critics were not kind; the last line line in the New York Times critic Renata Adler's review reads: " 'The Producers" leaves one alternately picking up one's coat to leave and sitting back to laugh." Roger Ebert was one of the few critics to champion the film. Thirty plus years years later he included it in his second volume of The Great Films."
I could stop here, all of you have seen this film, right? Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder are a comedy match without peer. Mostel has a face which can reveal every emotion known to man; Wilder is a mass of insecurities and yes hysteria. Together they come up with a plan to produce the worst play imaginable so that it will be a guaranteed failure. The plan has them raising vastly more money than needed and pocketing the money. This is supposedly the first use of the term "creative accounting." During an exhausting night, they discover the worst play in the world, "Springtime for Hitler."

Mostel ventures into "little old lady land" to raise the money, together they sign the author, a Nazi living in New York, and the worst director in New York, a transvestite whose plays never make it out of rehearsals. There are spasams of uncontrollable laughter for the audience in this extended set up. They happen upon the worst possible Hitler, Dick Shawn as LSD. A moment's reflection upon the production, it is absolutely wonderful and hilarious. The tribute to Busby Berkeley, an overhead shot of stormtrooper dancers forming a swastika, is brilliant.

Naturally, the show becomes an instant hit, and the consequences are dire. In an attempt to close the show prematurely, Bialystock and Bloom and the author Franz Liebkind attempt to blow up the theater. Of course this fails, and the trio end up on trial. Don't worry, the laughs don't end here and there is yet another terrific song, "Prisoners of Love."

Many years later the movie becomes a hit Broadway musical taking twelve Tony's and running for over 2,000 performances. The movie of the musical doesn't compare to the original. This is a great film, I find it difficult to criticize anything, i'm laughing too hard.
Great movie! One of my two favorite Mel Brooks movies (Young Frankenstein is the other one). As for my wife, this is probably her favorite film comedy of all time.
 
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"The Seventh Seal"-1957-Ingmar Bergman

I have spent some quality and non quality time watching films for this effort. I have eliminated some well known films from consideration, "Farewell My Concubine: is one for instance. Some others I passed on after re-viewing. There are some directors one has to confront directly; I've fiddled with Fellini recently, grappled with Renoir, ignored Ray (but he and Renoir are coming) declined to preview "The Search" and still Bergman was a cloud on the horizon. So here I am dealing with my Bergman ambivalence. "The Seventh Seal" is virtually a right of passage for serious fans of my generation. No film was more widely shown by college film societies, and art cinemas; no film was more discussed with appropriate seriousness. As you probably aware, this intro probably means that my commentary isn't going to conclude that watching this film is one of the five things you must do before you die.

I've delayed enough. Bergman has stayed near the top of any list of great directors for more than half a century for some very good reasons. His images, particularly those from his black and white films, have a way
of becoming part of your personal image memory. The opening scene of the chess game between Death and the Knight has never left me. Think back and from all the films you have seen, how many have given you a visual memory that is still fresh and vivid?

After many years crusading, Antonious Bloch and his squire return home to Sweden. It is the mid 14th century;
if returning after 10 years of killing with the feeling that the Crusade had no value, and the questioning of your moral values isn't bad enough, the knight and the squire are confronted with the Plague. In the medieval church the Plague was considered to be a punishment from God. We see a horde of flagellants egged by a monk preaching end of days; the burning of a witch, attempted rape, bawdy songs, disturbing paintings, and the normal disruptions of life: infidelity, mob violence, theft, and I could go on; critics argue that there is humor and life affirming substance in this film. There is, but for me the entertainment value of
Bergman has always been far in the background. I acknowledge that the questions he deals with in this film are among the most important in life, but using Sturges' "Sullivan's Travels" as a counterpoint; isn't it important to Laugh?

Given a very limited budget, $150,000, and primitive equipment this is a striking visual film, the music score I find pedantic, the acting is world class. Bergman has adeptly dealt with these major questions of Life, Death,
God, the nature of humanity, and done it within a tight story structure. The characters are not billboards for a point of view; they are surprisingly believable. The elements of the supernatural are grounded in the story.

Unlike Kane the Knight has a potential future. The Knight diverts Death's attention from the minstrel family.
They escape; the Knight believes that his action gives meaning in a moral sense to his life. Has Death really been diverted? Perhaps it isn't the family's time? The Knight desperately wants answers to profound questions; Death tells him he has no answers. The Knight struggles, searches, works to find answers despite his growing feeling that he will never find answers, and in fact there may be no answers at all.

That's just my take; is this a "great" movie, probably. It wouldn't be my choice to show to friends as the starting point to a fun filled weekend.
 
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"The Seventh Seal"-1957-Ingmar Bergman

I have spent some quality and non quality time watching films for this effort. I have eliminated some well known films from consideration, "Farewell My Concubine: is one for instance. Some others I passed on after re-viewing. There are some directors one has to confront directly; I've fiddled with Fellini recently, grappled with Renoir, ignored Ray (but he and Renoir are coming) declined to preview "The Search" and still Bergman was a cloud on the horizon. So here I am dealing with my Bergman ambivalence. "The Seventh Seal" is virtually a right of passage for serious fans of my generation. No film was more widely shown by college film societies, and art cinemas; no film was more discussed with appropriate seriousness. As you probably aware, this intro probably means that my commentary isn't going to conclude that watching this film is one of the five things you must do before you die.

I've delayed enough. Bergman has stayed near the top of any list of great directors for more than half a century for some very good reasons. His images, particularly those from his black and white films, have a way
of becoming part of your personal image memory. The opening scene of the chess game between Death and the Knight has never left me. Think back and from all the films you have seen, how many have given you a visual memory that is still fresh and vivid?

After many years crusading, Antonious Bloch and his squire return home to Sweden. It is the mid 14th century;
if returning after 10 years of killing with the feeling that the Crusade had no value, and the questioning of your moral values isn't bad enough, the knight and the squire are confronted with the Plague. In the medieval church the Plague was considered to be a punishment from God. We see a horde of flagellants egged by a monk preaching end of days; the burning of a witch, attempted rape, bawdy songs, disturbing paintings, and the normal disruptions of life: infidelity, mob violence, theft, and I could go on; critics argue that there is humor and life affirming substance in this film. There is, but for me the entertainment value of
Bergman has always been far in the background. I acknowledge that the questions he deals with in this film are among the most important in life, but using Sturges' "Sullivan's Travels" as a counterpoint; isn't it important to Laugh?

Given a very limited budget, $150,000, and primitive equipment this is a striking visual film, the music score I find pedantic, the acting is world class. Bergman has adeptly dealt with these major questions of Life, Death,
God, the nature of humanity, and done it within a tight story structure. The characters are not billboards for a point of view; they are surprisingly believable. The elements of the supernatural are grounded in the story.

Unlike Kane the Knight has a potential future. The Knight diverts Death's attention from the minstrel family.
They escape; the Knight believes that his action gives meaning in a moral sense to his life. Has Death really been diverted? Perhaps it isn't the family's time? The Knight desperately wants answers to profound questions; Death tells him he has no answers. The Knight struggles, searches, works to find answers despite his growing feeling that he will never find answers, and in fact there may be no answers at all.

That's just my take; is this a "great" movie, probably. It wouldn't be my choice to show to friends as the starting point to a fun filled weekend.
Good flick but I liked Aquaman better.
 
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"The Seventh Seal"-1957-Ingmar Bergman

I have spent some quality and non quality time watching films for this effort. I have eliminated some well known films from consideration, "Farewell My Concubine: is one for instance. Some others I passed on after re-viewing. There are some directors one has to confront directly; I've fiddled with Fellini recently, grappled with Renoir, ignored Ray (but he and Renoir are coming) declined to preview "The Search" and still Bergman was a cloud on the horizon. So here I am dealing with my Bergman ambivalence. "The Seventh Seal" is virtually a right of passage for serious fans of my generation. No film was more widely shown by college film societies, and art cinemas; no film was more discussed with appropriate seriousness. As you probably aware, this intro probably means that my commentary isn't going to conclude that watching this film is one of the five things you must do before you die.

I've delayed enough. Bergman has stayed near the top of any list of great directors for more than half a century for some very good reasons. His images, particularly those from his black and white films, have a way
of becoming part of your personal image memory. The opening scene of the chess game between Death and the Knight has never left me. Think back and from all the films you have seen, how many have given you a visual memory that is still fresh and vivid?

After many years crusading, Antonious Bloch and his squire return home to Sweden. It is the mid 14th century;
if returning after 10 years of killing with the feeling that the Crusade had no value, and the questioning of your moral values isn't bad enough, the knight and the squire are confronted with the Plague. In the medieval church the Plague was considered to be a punishment from God. We see a horde of flagellants egged by a monk preaching end of days; the burning of a witch, attempted rape, bawdy songs, disturbing paintings, and the normal disruptions of life: infidelity, mob violence, theft, and I could go on; critics argue that there is humor and life affirming substance in this film. There is, but for me the entertainment value of
Bergman has always been far in the background. I acknowledge that the questions he deals with in this film are among the most important in life, but using Sturges' "Sullivan's Travels" as a counterpoint; isn't it important to Laugh?

Given a very limited budget, $150,000, and primitive equipment this is a striking visual film, the music score I find pedantic, the acting is world class. Bergman has adeptly dealt with these major questions of Life, Death,
God, the nature of humanity, and done it within a tight story structure. The characters are not billboards for a point of view; they are surprisingly believable. The elements of the supernatural are grounded in the story.

Unlike Kane the Knight has a potential future. The Knight diverts Death's attention from the minstrel family.
They escape; the Knight believes that his action gives meaning in a moral sense to his life. Has Death really been diverted? Perhaps it isn't the family's time? The Knight desperately wants answers to profound questions; Death tells him he has no answers. The Knight struggles, searches, works to find answers despite his growing feeling that he will never find answers, and in fact there may be no answers at all.

That's just my take; is this a "great" movie, probably. It wouldn't be my choice to show to friends as the starting point to a fun filled weekend.
To each his own. I am just very captivated by the images that show up in this film. I find it all very watchable, and because of that, in a very odd way, enjoyable.
 

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