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WNM Movie Night Liner Notes

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Search Title: Search Director: Year Seen:  

2020

Title: Director [Year]
"Bad Times at the El Royale" Drew Goddard [2018]
"The Guilty" Gustav Moller [2018]
"Sudden Fear" David Miller [1952]
"Sudden Fear" David Miller [1952]
"Sudden Fear" David Miller [1952]
"Sudden Fear" David Miller [1952]
"1917" Sam Mendes [2019]

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Liner Notes.

© 2020 WNM and the respective authors. "All Rights Reserved."


"Bad Times at the El Royale" [Drew Goddard] 2018

"Bad Times at the El Royale [2018] written and directed by Drew Goddard, starring Jeff Bridges.

"This is a stylish film, almost all taking place inside a 50s modern casino-hotel on Lake Tahoe that was a serious destination for celebs only a few years before. It is now the late 1960s. The hotel lost its gambling license a year or two before. Basically empty, it has only one staff person left on duty.

"Some critics treat this film as a Tarantino rip off. I disagree. If they are going to make that claim they ought also to bring in the Coen brothers, since it isn‘t just Tarentino-esque. A Manson-like character does appear, but this film was shot a year before Tarantino‘s "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" [2019].

"The pieces that make up the plot are a bit confusing. J Edgar Hoover is involved, seeking a reel of film shot at the hotel several years earlier. That is just the MacGuffin, which starts the ball rolling. The viewer is left to figure out what that film might be.

"Goddard is breaking out of his reputation as a good horror screenwriter, with such films as Cloverfield [2008], The Cabin in the Woods [2011] and World War Z [2013]. Bad Times is a solid step away from that.

"Bridges is the central character. He plays an old, ailing ex-con recently paroled. The performance he gives is pleasing and believable.

"The film was shot in Vancouver on sound stages where they recreated the interior of the old abandoned Crystal Bay (CalNeva) hotel. That hotel was a casino, now closed, on Lake Tahoe. The border does indeed bisect the hotel.

"This film is not going to be on the best 25 list for 2018. Critics did not like nearly as much as those who went to the theater to see it. It is a reasonable piece of entertainment if you don‘t mind the violence."

--ggf

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"The Guilty" [Gustav Moller] 2018

"The Guilty [2018] directed by Gustav Moller is a Danish film that caught fire with many critics here. It stars Jakob Cedergren who plays a police officer, Asger Holm, who has anger issues and faces a disciplinary hearing the next day. He is assigned temporarily to answering emergency calls.

"The entire film takes place in a small call center room and office. With rare exceptions, the camera is focused on Asger‘s face as he answers calls. Eventually a call comes in from a woman in a van being driven somewhere under duress. Dealing with this call is the focus of the entire film.

"Making a movie in real time restricted primarily to one room isn‘t new. Hitchcock did that with "Rope" [1948] and essentially in one continuous take, technically much more difficult than is the case here.

"Still, many critics seem enthralled by the novelty of this film. Unlike "Rope" this film concentrates almost entirely on Asger alone.

"Novelty by itself does not make a film captivating. The story and pace here are too slow for that. Some critics try to read deep issues into the film, giving is a ‘meaning‘. I do not.

"In my opinion "The Guilty" is not particularly exciting, although there is a plot twist toward the end. Is it worth the time? Yes if you are curious about what can be done under these restrictions."

--ggf

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"Sudden Fear" [David Miller] 1952

"Sudden Fear [1952] is a classic film noir directed by David Miller and starring Joan Crawford, Jack Palance and Gloria Grahame. Both Palance and Crawford received Oscar nominations for their performances.

"Crawford portrays Myra Hudson, an heiress to a fortune. Myra wanted to stand on her own two feet and became a successful playwright. Now in middle age and living alone, she is vulnerable to the idea of marriage. Her vulnerability is a weakness that is exploited by Palance, playing Lester Blaine, a somewhat successful actor who marries Myra.

"This film starts somewhat slowly. A surprise a third of the way in sets the plot in motion. The plot is more complex than typical for a noir, but it is handled well, building suspense and leaving the viewer unsure of the outcome until nearly the very end.

"This is a film worth watching. It is a noir often overlooked and it should not be."

--ggf

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"Sudden Fear" [David Miller] 1952

"Sudden Fear [1952] is a classic film noir directed by David Miller and starring Joan Crawford, Jack Palance and Gloria Grahame. Both Palance and Crawford received Oscar nominations for their performances.

"Crawford portrays Myra Hudson, an heiress to a fortune. Myra wanted to stand on her own two feet and became a successful playwright. Now in middle age and living alone, she is vulnerable to the idea of marriage. Her vulnerability is a weakness that is exploited by Palance, playing Lester Blaine, a somewhat successful actor who marries Myra.

"This film starts somewhat slowly. A surprise a third of the way in sets the plot in motion. The plot is more complex than typical for a noir, but it is handled well, building suspense and leaving the viewer unsure of the outcome until nearly the very end.

"This is a film worth watching. It is a noir often overlooked and it should not be."

--ggf

Back to the Top.


"Sudden Fear" [David Miller] 1952

"Sudden Fear [1952] is a classic film noir directed by David Miller and starring Joan Crawford, Jack Palance and Gloria Grahame. Both Palance and Crawford received Oscar nominations for their performances.

"Crawford portrays Myra Hudson, an heiress to a fortune. Myra wanted to stand on her own two feet and became a successful playwright. Now in middle age and living alone, she is vulnerable to the idea of marriage. Her vulnerability is a weakness that is exploited by Palance, playing Lester Blaine, a somewhat successful actor who marries Myra.

"This film starts somewhat slowly. A surprise a third of the way in sets the plot in motion. The plot is more complex than typical for a noir, but it is handled well, building suspense and leaving the viewer unsure of the outcome until nearly the very end.

"This is a film worth watching. It is a noir often overlooked and it should not be."

--ggf

Back to the Top.


"Sudden Fear" [David Miller] 1952

"Sudden Fear [1952] is a classic film noir directed by David Miller and starring Joan Crawford, Jack Palance and Gloria Grahame. Both Palance and Crawford received Oscar nominations for their performances.

"Crawford portrays Myra Hudson, an heiress to a fortune. Myra wanted to stand on her own two feet and became a successful playwright. Now in middle age and living alone, she is vulnerable to the idea of marriage. Her vulnerability is a weakness that is exploited by Palance, playing Lester Blaine, a somewhat successful actor who marries Myra.

"This film starts somewhat slowly. A surprise a third of the way in sets the plot in motion. The plot is more complex than typical for a noir, but it is handled well, building suspense and leaving the viewer unsure of the outcome until nearly the very end.

"This is a film worth watching. It is a noir often overlooked and it should not be."

--ggf

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"1917" [Sam Mendes] 2019

""1917" [2019] directed by Sam Mendes, written both by Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns. Mendes previously won Best Picture for "American Beauty" [1999]. Other fine films of his are: "Road to Perdition" [2002] and "Skyfall" [2012]. The leads in "1917" are George MacKay, playing Lance Corporal Blake, and Dean-Charles Chapman, playing Lance Corporal Schofield.

""1917" was nominated for nine Academy Awards and is considered to be among the few best movies about war. The story is based on an account related by Mendes‘ grandfather, who served as a messenger in WWI. Two men must cross somewhat contested territory to deliver a vital message to a Colonel to prevent two battalions from attacking into a trap.

" [Radio in WWI was still unreliable. When the war opened, the best radio sets the military had were placed in aircraft and had a range of only 2000 yards. Wired telephony was the reliable way of communicating on the ground. Since wires at the front were often cut by shell fire, the military used runners as a backup to deliver messages.]

"The visual technique used in 1917 is the form of a real-time continuous take on the main character, from the opening scene where Blake rests at the base of a tree before his ordeal, to his closing scene resting at the base of another tree. The shots were set up in such a manner that the cuts could be disguised by careful cutting and CGI work. This is so effective you don‘t notice it.

" [It should be mentioned that Hitchcock actually did shoot one continuous take for his film "Rope" [1948]. "Russian Ark" [2002] is shown as a single take. It used digital and steadycam but took three takes before the third take was deemed successful.]

"Some of the scenes, especially those at night in a battered and burning town are truly spectacular on a large screen. This film earned Oscars for best cinematography, sound and visual effects. Most of the battle effects in 1917 were real as opposed to CGI. Curiously, MacKay was not nominated for best actor even though he is on-screen for the entire film.

"Highly recommended."

--ggf

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Last update on Jan 15, 2010 at 12:15:10.