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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“Hacksaw Ridge” Review

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Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

**SPOILER ALERT**

An inspiring story about an unconventional hero? A graphic tale of the brutality of a war? A touching and believable love story? Mel Gibson can do it all, and, believe it or not – do it brilliantly – all in the same movie. His latest film “Hacksaw Ridge” tells the true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), a kind, deeply-religious young man who also happens to be a conscientious objector, enlisting to serve in an army, while having a deep conviction against the commission of violence/murder and would not even touch a gun. Nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director, “Hacksaw Ridge” is the kind of a film which one can easily define as “great”: a moving, heart-felt story is matched by a dedicated director and a committed actor who do their work exceptionally well.

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“Silence” Review

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Silence (2016)

**SPOILER ALERT**

This is not the sort of film you “like” or “don’t like”. It’s a film that you experience – and then live with” (Matt Zoller Seitz).

…wandering here over the desolate mountains – what an absurd situation!…I knew well, of course, that the greatest sin against God was despair; but the silence of God was something I could not fathom” (Rodrigues [Endo: 90]).

Martin Scorsese’s 28-years’ “passion” project culminated in the film “Silence“, based on the acclaimed novel by Shūsaku Endō. The film is about two 17th century Portuguese Catholic priests, Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garupe (Adam Driver) who decide to travel to Japan in search of their former mentor, Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson), who, most believe, betrayed his holy cause in the foreign land. Touching on delicate moral and religious issues, the film is powerful both in its vision and in its message, achieving its desired cinematographic goal to awe, thanks to Scorsese’s dedicated and masterful direction, breath-taking cinematography and inspiring original material. Although the plot is uncomplicated and could even be considered “thin”, underneath every action and thought of the main character lies (and could be sensed) a myriad of contradictory emotions; culturally-divisive inner turmoil; and dormant causes for the later spiritual/religious re-awakening. 

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“Indignation” Review

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Indignation (2016)

 “Indignation” is a directional debut of a screen-writer and producer James Schamus, known for adapting the script of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000) and being the producer of “Brokeback Mountain” (2005). Adapting the book by Philip Roth, in “Indignation”, Schamus presents the life of Marcus Messner (Logan Lerman), a bright lad who, while working as a butcher in his father’s store in New Jersey, receives a prestigious scholarship to attend a college in Ohio. What follows is the depiction of Marcus’s troubles of fitting into his new college environment as he simultaneously tries to deal with his socially-unacceptable abhorrence for organised religion and with the confusion of his sexual-awakening. Schamus’s film is a particular kind of a film which is heart-breaking in individual scenes and bitter-sweet in its overall presentation, and the director manages to convey the story masterfully, paying particular attention to the character presentation and dialogue.

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“The Handmaiden” Review

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The Handmaiden (2016)

The Handmaiden” is an award-winning erotic psychological drama directed by Park Chan-wook (“Oldboy” (2003), “Stoker” (2013)). Based on/inspired by the novel “Fingersmith” (2002) by Sarah Waters, the film centres on a young maid, Sook-Hee, who arrives to the estate of an affluent book-lover, Kouzuki, to be a servant to his niece Lady Hideko. However, nothing is as it seems, because Sook-Hee’s main employer is actually a conman, self-named Count Fujiwara, who made a deal with the young maid to con Lady Hideko out of her inheritance. Fiercely intelligent and provoking, “The Handmaiden” does three things brilliantly: it toys cleverly with its audience’s imagination, and challenges its formed beliefs and visual interpretations; touches a sensitive nerve with its poetic and erotic imagery; and provides a stunning cinematic experience.

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