The Jack Lemmon Blogathon: Days of Wine and Roses (1962)

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Critica Retro and Wide Screen World are hosting the Jack Lemmon blogathon, and I thought I would jump in and contribute since Jack Lemmon was such a great actor, and I particularly admire his versatility and dedication to the screen. He was cast in such well-known films as “Some Like It Hot” (1959) and “The Apartment” (1960), but I thought I would talk about the more controversial and serious “Days of Wine and Roses” (1962). I would also like to thank Paul at Paul’s Cinema & TV Reviews for recommending that I watch this film after my previous review of similar-themed “The Lost Weekend” (1945). 

Days of Wine and Roses (1962)

upgkztid“They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate;
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.
They are not long, the days of wine and roses,
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.” (Ernest Dowson)

The film’s title was taken from this poem by Ernest Dowson, and the film’s story is about Joe Clay (Jack Lemmon), a public-relations man who does not mind to indulge in drinking as part of his job arranging and going to parties. When he meets beautiful Kirsten Arnasen (Lee Remick), both become smitten with each other, and Joe soon introduces Kirsten to the pleasures of drinking by pouring a crème de cocoa in her brandy. After their marriage, however, the pair’s slide into booze-madness gets steeper, and their drinking intensifies, until both of them do not see any way out.
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“Nocturnal Animals” Review

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Nocturnal Animals (2016)

After directing critically-acclaimed “A Single Man” back in 2009, Tom Ford has decided to try his hand in directing something darker and more complicated, an adaptation of the novel by Austin Wright “Tony and Susan”. “Nocturnal Animals” is a drama/thriller containing two stories running in parallel: one in which Susan (Amy Adams), an art gallery owner, receives a manuscript from her ex-husband, Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal) and the impact that his forthcoming novel has on her; and another one in which the story in Edward’s manuscript is told. In that story, Edward and his family are fighting off the deadly advances of a gang on the way to their vacation, and the result of their on-the-road struggle is a horrific crime and a painful detective work. 

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“Christine” Review

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Christine (2016)

**SPOILER ALERT**

Christine” is a drama by Antonio Campos, based on the real life of Christine Chubbuck, a TV reporter in the 1970s in the US, whose troubled professional and personal life leads her to commit one of the most chilling and gruesome acts on live television. In this film, the lead character is played by Rebecca Hall (“Vicky Christina Barcelona” (2008), “The Prestige” (2006)), and her performance is rightly considered by some to be one of the best performances by a leading actress of 2016. Overall, the film presents the story of Christine powerfully and resolutely, although there is no escaping the feeling that the film is both too long and hypocritical.

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“The Neon Demon” Review

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The Neon Demon (2016)

 “Beauty isn’t everything. It’s the only thing, says Roberto Sarno inThe Neon Demon. Director of this movie, Nicolas Winding Refn, seems to have taken this statement close to heart, and crafted a film where visual beauty is, indeed, the only thing worth paying any attention to, seemingly forgetting that, in film-making, visual representation is never the only thing that counts. Refn (also director behind critically-acclaimed “Drive” (2011)) is now here also the writer, and his story is about Jesse (Elle Fanning), an underage aspiring model, who comes to LA to try her luck in show-business. After gaining initial success, Jesse realises that the climb to the top is thornier than she had previously imagined it to be, especially when a group of fellow models start to covet her natural attributes and instantaneous success. Despite its outstanding visual effects and a promising premise, “The Neon Demon” is preposterous and misguided, that kind of a film which one can easily stop watching half way through, never really caring about the ending.

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25 “Must-See” Biographical Films

In no particular order:

1.  Schindler’s List (1993)

2. The Aviator (2004)

3. Elizabeth (1998)

4. Gandhi (1982)

5. Milk (2008) 

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Studio Ghibli: “Only Yesterday” (1991) and “Kiki’s Delivery Service” (1989)

“…What drives animation is the will of the characters” (Hayao Miyazaki).

Only Yesterday” and “Kiki’s Delivery Service” are two completely different in plot animations, but both were produced about the same time by famous Japanese Studio Ghibli, an animation film studio known worldwide for the quality of their animations. While “Only Yesterday” focuses on grown-up concerns and largely targets teenager/adult audience, “Kiki’s Delivery Service” is a completely child-friendly movie, which also has important messages to deliver.

OYpostOnly Yesterday (1991)

Only Yesterday” has a plot filled with highly emotional undercurrents and intelligence: a 27 years old unmarried woman, Taeko, from Tokyo, visits countryside while reminiscing over her childhood of when she was a shy and creative fifth grader at school. Through her nostalgia, we get to learn about many situations which have had the biggest impact on her up until her present life, and get to understand her past choices, hopes and regrets. Directed by Isao Takahata (“The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” (2013) and “Grave of the Fireflies” (1988)), “Only Yesterday” is a beautiful animation which touches upon such often overlooked in films/animations topics as the “grip” of persistent childhood memories and their traumatic or positive impact on one’s later life and development, the benefit of re-discovering oneself in a different setting, the importance of staying true to oneself no matter the circumstances, and the imperative of letting go and forgiving “one’s former self”, as well as people from one’s past, to be able to carry on and lead a happy, fulfilled life.  Read more of this post

Dan Callahan: “Beauty and the Beast” flounders most on the miscasting of several crucial roles

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This is a review of “Beauty and the Beast” (2017) by Dan Callahan published here. As for me, I cannot agree more. 

“The 1991 Disney version of “Beauty and the Beast” was perhaps the best and most melodic hit the studio had during its renaissance period for animated features, and it in turn spawned a long-running stage musical. This new mainly live-action Disney version of the often-told story directed by Bill Condon feels largely perfunctory. Where it flounders most is on the miscasting of several crucial roles.  Read more of this post

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