Friday, September 15, 2017

A Special Announcement...

It's Agatha Christie's birthday!

The Queen of Crime was born on this date in 1890, 127 years ago! More than 41 years after her death, she is still the world's best-selling fiction author - but, more relevant to what we do here, she is also experiencing a cinematic comeback! For not one, but two films based on her works are coming to the screen this winter. One is the first ever adaptation of her infamous crime thriller Crooked House; the other is the fifth screen version of one of her most famous novels, Murder on the Orient Express:

Mom was right: prayer does work! I've been wishing and hoping for a resurgence of silver screen Agatha Christeries for ages. Sure, we've had the recent Poirot, Marple and Partners in Crime series to keep us company - in addition to the new miniseries of And Then There Were None and The Witness for the Prosecution - but the last time Christie was on the big screen* was 1989's Ten Little Indians, a re-working of her most famous novel that transferred the action from a British island to an African safari., we have two!

(*I'm speaking strictly American/British releases. I am well aware that India and France have had a number of theatrical adaptations in the past decade, but none of them seem to leave their respective continents.)

Let us celebrate properly. Throughout the month of October and into the first week of November, we're celebrating the on-screen works of Agatha Christie. Every Tuesday, a Casting Coup, in which we dream-cast adaptations of some of her most popular works. Each week, a set of films to watch so we may explore her characters, interpretations of them, and their international appeal.

The schedule, after the jump:

Monday, September 4, 2017

I Have Some Thoughts

Here's what I've been watching since last we talked about 2017...

Ingrid Goes West
dir: Matt Spicer
scr: David Branson Smith & Spicer
Vicious, uncomfortably funny takedown of social media stardom, fandom, and LA's bright young things. Works like a slow-drip poison. Chilling, chuckle-worthy - highly recommended.

Girls Trip
dir: Malcolm D. Lee
scr: Kenya Barris & Tracy Oliver, story by Eric Rivinoja and Barris & Oliver

Generous, hilarious ensemble of women, buoyed by smart, sincere writing! Hard to choose a best in show, but know I laughed non-stop - as did everyone else in my theater.

Okja (옥자)
dir: Bong Joon-ho
scr: Bong and Jon Ronson, story by Bong

Sincere An Seo Hyun shares unbelievable chemistry with CG beast. Haunting, inventive sound design. So-so script. Embarrassing Gyllenhaal.

Thoughts on Atomic BlondeDunkirk, and more, after the jump....

Friday, September 1, 2017

Part Two: 1986 Retro Hollmann Awards

Previously, on the 1986 Retro Hollmann Awards...

A Room with a View led the nominations, with twelve....

Aliens and Peggy Sue Got Married lead in wins so far, with two apiece...

Overall, the Top Ten films have been dominating the proceedings, though Top Gun and Legend snuck in with wins of their own...

And now, Part Two - beginning with....

Best Supporting Actress

Maggie Smith as Charlotte Bartlett 
A Room with a View

2. Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet; 3. Dianne Wiest in Hannah and Her Sisters; 4. Judi Dench in A Room with a View; 5. Mia Farrow in Hannah and Her Sisters

The key scene for Charlotte Bartlett comes late in the movie, when Lucy realizes her cousin has blabbed about her and George's kiss in Italy. "I shall never forgive myself," Charlotte insists, going back to a regular phrase that usually sets people right. Instead, Lucy snaps, "You always say that, but you always do forgive yourself." You see a shift in Charlotte's eyes, and not only is she suddenly vulnerable, able to express both warmth and realize that Maggie Smith has actually kept much of her face...not immobile, but calculated. Slight eyebrow-raise here, a firmness of the jaw there, but otherwise Smith maintains Charlotte's mask of wide-eyed innocence, something that helps when doling out insincere remorse calculated to make the injured party comfort her. That she went two hours with limited movement conveying all - and still getting the best laughs in the film - says it all. She is one in a million.

Isabella Rossellini wins second for her portrayal of the sadistically abused yet confusingly masochistic chanteuse Dorothy Vallons. Dianne Wiest comes in third for her portrayal of the sister searching for herself wherever she can, whether it's in an audition or up her nose. Judi Dench places fourth for her pretentious romance novelist that loves her voice and mind. Mia Farrow is in fifth as the strong-willed, helpful sister who keeps her own frustrations buried deep.

Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Song, Best Actor...and Best Picture of the Year...after the jump