Cinema Mishmash

A personal and random look at movies, past and present

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Entries from February 2009

Viridiana

February 26th, 2009 · No Comments

Without nudity or profanity, and but one instance  of offscreen violence, Luis Buñuel’s Viridiana managed to be denounced by the Vatican and banned in Spain, where Buñuel had returned to make the film after two decades in exile. The film also won the 1961 Palme d’or and was the turning point in the director’s career. Viridiana [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Comedy · Director · Drama · Foreign Language

Days of Glory

February 25th, 2009 · No Comments

The opening sequence of scenes in Days of Glory, a film about the colonial African men who fought and died for France in World War II, contains an intimate exchange between a mother and son in a poor, dusty village. She’s begging him not to enlist, “I’d rather be poor than lose you,” and the physicality [...]

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Tags: Biographical · Capsule · Drama · Foreign Language · War

Young Mr. Lincoln

February 24th, 2009 · No Comments

Released in 1939, an astonishing 9 short years after D.W. Griffith’s Abraham Lincoln, John Ford’s dramatic portrait shows us Lincoln prior to his rise to the national political stage. Acted in a large style that was likely accepted as genuine in its time and seems less so today, the film stars a young Henry Fonda [...]

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Tags: Biographical · Capsule · Director · Drama

Oscar Winners

February 23rd, 2009 · No Comments

= Winner
Best Picture
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Frost/Nixon
Milk
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire 
Best Directing
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: David Fincher
Frost/Nixon: Ron Howard
Milk: Gus Van Sant
The Reader: Stephen Daldry
Slumdog Millionaire: Danny Boyle 
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Eric Roth, Robin Swicord
Doubt: John Patrick Shanley
Frost/Nixon: Peter Morgan
The Reader: David Hare
Slumdog [...]

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Tags: List

Oscar Winners (Shorts)

February 23rd, 2009 · No Comments

 = winner
Best Documentary Short
The Conscience of Nhem En: Steven Okazaki
The Final Inch: Irene Taylor Brodsky, Tom Grant
Smile Pinki: Megan Mylan 
The Witness from the Balcony of Room 306: Adam Pertofsky, Margaret Hyde
Best Animated Short
La maison en petits cubes: Kunio Kato 
Oktapodi: Emud Mokhberi, Thierry Marchand
Presto: Doug Sweetland
This Way Up: Alan Smith, Adam Foulkes
Lavatory – Lovestory: [...]

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Tags: List

Gore Vidal’s Lincoln

February 22nd, 2009 · 2 Comments

Starring television stalwarts Sam Waterson and Mary Tyler Moore as Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, this 3 hour telefilm, Lincoln, is based on Gore Vidal’s historical novel. Unlike John Ford’s imagining of the Young Mr. Lincoln or D.W. Griffith’s sweeping pastiche, here we see only the presidential Lincoln, from the moment his train rolls into Washington  for the first time [...]

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Tags: Biographical · Capsule · Drama

Encounters at the End of the World

February 21st, 2009 · No Comments

I submit that Werner Herzog is one of the greatest living filmmakers, a man with a unique and compelling perspective on the human condition. I equally submit that Encounters at the End of the World, while a treat to experience, is not among the best of his work. Some of the underwater photography he was able [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Director · Documentary

Abraham Lincoln

February 21st, 2009 · No Comments

Abraham Lincoln is one of only two “talkies” directed by a giant of the silent era, D.W. Griffith, a man who is credited with 535 films (although due to the technology and convention of filmmaking at the time, most of them are technically “shorts”). I’m no scholar of Griffith, but like most people associate him [...]

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Tags: Biographical · Capsule · Drama

Changeling

February 20th, 2009 · No Comments

For all of the outrage, frustration, and horror evoked by the actual events that inspired Changeling, there is something about director Clint Eastwood’s creation that left me cold. In part I think it is the casting of Angelina Jolie as the single mother whose nine-year-old son disappears one afternoon, only to have a boy clearly not [...]

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Tags: Biographical · Capsule · Crime/Noir · Drama

The Naked City

February 19th, 2009 · 3 Comments

While I haven’t seen all of the other nominees from the 1949 Academy Awards, there can be little doubt that The Naked City deserved to win its two awards, for editing and cinematography (back when there were separate awards for color and black-and-white).  The stylized voiceover and gritty storyline show that the 1948 film was certainly of [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Crime/Noir

Milk

February 18th, 2009 · 4 Comments

On the way home after seeing Milk, I was struck first by how well-composed this film was, how it struck the perfect tone. Gus Van Sant and Sean Penn told me the story of a man I knew next to nothing about, and did so in a way that balanced exuberance and restraint in a [...]

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Tags: Biographical · Capsule · Director · Drama · Ensemble

Frost/Nixon

February 18th, 2009 · No Comments

Having taken my seat with a suspicion that there was something uncinematic about the subject matter of Frost/Nixon, I was surprised to find how compelling this film was. It didn’t hurt that the act of interviewing, and the role of preparation, is akin to that of a litigator (my profession), and the cavalier attitude that [...]

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Tags: Biographical · Capsule · Drama

Red Road

February 17th, 2009 · No Comments

Not until the closing credits of Red Road did I realize that the characters of the film were conceived by Dogme stalwarts Lone Scherfig (Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself) and Thomas Anders Jensen (The Green Butchers,as well as the writer of Wilbur and many others). Then I came to learn that the film is another of Lars [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Drama · Thriller

Art School Confidential

February 15th, 2009 · No Comments

I am at a loss to fully describe just how utterly awful a film Art School Confidential is. What is more confounding is that, according to the DVD extras, a roomful of sycophants at the Sundance Film Festival actually applauded following the film’s debut screening. There is something incredibly beautiful, though, about the fact that a film [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Comedy · Drama · Romance

The War Tapes

February 14th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Had it not been for the popularity – and resultant unavailability – of several films ahead of it in my Netflix queue, The War Tapes may have never made it into my DVD player. I know exactly how and when I added it to my list, but since that time a lot has happened, and [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Documentary