There will be no Moviedrome Monday entries this week because I feel like I need to relax a bit, but never fear dear readers, I will be back with a new one for Monday, July 27, 2020 🙂 Have a great week my dear readers 🙂
Moviedrome Mondays will resume next Sunday – I was so busy with Easter that I just hadn’t had the time to prepare, but do not worry, I will be back with a new one next Sunday 🙂 I hope all of my dear readers had a Happy Easter as well 🙂
P.S. my Wednesday post might interest all of you – read the link here 🙂
I am very pleased that most (If not all) of my regular readers were able to comment on my two blog entries relating to actress Kim Cattrall’s Criterion title choices (read here and here) and how it related to my number one favorite Robert Altman film. Since I asked all of you for your opinions, I sincerely feel that it is only fair If I give my opinions on not only her Criterion picks, but also what she says as a whole in the video. Nevertheless, allow me to divide my thoughts into two categories. The first will cover what films she picked from the Criterion closet and the second towards my extra thoughts.
1.) Heaven Can Wait (1943) (Dir: Ernest Lubitsch)
I too love Ernst Lubitsch like she does. One of these days when I update my blog entry of my favorite Lubitsch films, I will place Heaven Can Wait at number 2 or something. This was Lubitsch’s first Technicolor film and it is most certainly a marvel. A shame that Lubitsch could not have lived longer – it would have been interesting to see how often he would have shot in Technicolor. That Lady in Ermine would have been his second had he not died during production – director Otto Preminger ended up finishing it. Read here for my favorite Ernst Lubitsch films.
2.) Fanny & Alexander (1982) (Dir: Ingmar Bergman)
Though I still consider Persona (also a Criterion title) to be my number one favorite Ingmar Bergman film, I do love Fanny & Alexander as well and yes, it can be viewed as (among other things) an examination of the major changes that happens in a family when an immediate member of it dies. Cattrall sums it up better in that video than I do here 🙂 In case, anyone is interested in what I consider to be my favorite Bergman films, read here. Also, I highly recommend blogger Mitchell’s invaluable guide to the aforementioned director from five years back in 2014 (read here). Read here for my favorite Ingmar Bergman films.
3.) Cat People (1942) (Dir: Jacques Tourneur)
I would be interested in hearing what she loves about this masterful horror film since she did not really delve much into it here. In fact, I wrote a review of it last year on this site (read here). Read here for my favorite Jacques Tourneur films.
4.) Limelight (1952) (Dir: Charlie Chaplin)
I adore Charlie Chaplin’s sound films as much as his silent work and Limelight ranks high up there. I probably would have chosen 1931’s City Lights (another Chaplin title in The Criterion Collection), but all of Chaplin’s work is perfect. Read here for my favorite Charlie Chaplin films.
5.) The Complete Jacques Tati (1949-1974)
Considering that this box-set includes all of Jacques Tati’s work – and I think all of his short films – nobody could go wrong with this choice. Read here for my favorite Jacques Tati films.
6.) A Taste of Honey (1961) (Dir: Tony Richardson)
Admittedly, director Tony Richardson’s films have not aged well – though I still love The Border. Nevertheless, A Taste of Honey and Tom Jones are films that I greatly admire If no longer adore. Still, I do agree with Cattrall that actress Rita Tushingham was fantastic in the former.
7.) Tom Jones (1963) (Dir: Tony Richardson)
Read number 6.
8.) Nashville (1975) (Dir: Robert Altman)
I love this film for the exact reasons Cattrall states in the video link. Not since Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game, has an ensemble piece been this thought-provoking. By now, everybody is probably aware that I just love this film, so once again, read my review right here. Read here for my favorite Robert Altman films. Also, read here for me and fellow blogger Cindy Bruchman’s piece of Altman from a month ago.
9.) Jules and Jim (1962) (Dir: Francois Truffaut)
Anyone who read my blog entry regarding my favorite Francois Truffaut films (read here) is probably well aware that I rank this one very highly. With all that said, I laughed out loud when Cattrall cited Jules and Jim as her first three-way 🙂 What made it funnier is that she said it with a gentle voice 🙂
10.) Repulsion (1965) (Dir: Roman Polanski)
She chose my second favorite Polanski film (the first is Chinatown of course). Interesting bit of trivia: she actually has a supporting role in Polanski’s 2010 thriller The Ghost Writer. Read here for my favorite Roman Polanski films.
11.) Bicycle Thieves (1948) (Dir: Vittorio De Sica)
I would have loved to have heard her thoughts on Bicycle Thieves since it is an undisputed classic of world cinema. Read here for my favorite Vittorio De Sica films.
12.) Sullivan’s Travels (1941) (Dir: Preston Sturges)
I hope The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek gets the Criterion treatment one day, and while The Lady Eve and The Palm Beach Story rank higher for me (the last two are Criterion titles), I do love Sullivan’s Travels a lot. As with other fans of the film (including Cattrall herself), one’s love of it stems from it’s plot of someone who yearns for significance, but in the end, learns that humor has a way of impacting people as well. Read here for my favorite Preston Sturges films.
13.) Wanda (1970) (Dir: Barbara Loden)
I love Wanda every bit as much as Cattrall does. Nevertheless, I can’t do justice here in describing her insightful words on it – just watch the video link.
What I really found interesting about the video was Kim Cattrall’s background concerning her love of films. As anybody who watched the video is aware, Cattrall’s mother was an usherette at a movie theater and she may have influenced Kim in a significant way. Once again, here is that Criterion Collection video link below.
I wanted to follow-up on my blog entry from yesterday (read here) with something that involves a little more creative participation on the part of my readers. Nevertheless, participation on the part of the reader is optional here and you do not have to participate If you do not want to. After all, just look at the title of this blog entry 🙂 Now some of my readers (that is If you decide to take part in this) may not have seen any of the Criterion titles that actress Kim Cattrall picks out here, but If you have seen them, let me know in the comment section below what your favorite choices of hers are. Also, what aspects of the video came off as the most interesting to you? Once again, here is that Criterion video link I showed you all yesterday.
Though I have never really made it known on here, I am a regular visitor to The Criterion Collection website. I mostly visit there to see what interesting new release will await me for that month and whether or not it is a film I love so much that I will buy. And yes, I own a lot of Criterion Blu-Rays/DVD’s 🙂 But that is beside the point. Any frequent visitor to that site is probably aware by now of their Closet Picks series, which consists of both high and low-profile celebrities being honored the luxury of choosing whatever Criterion title they want to take home with them. Of course, their is probably a limit to the number of Blu-Rays/DVD’s that they can take 🙂 As to whether or not they are supposed to keep them, I am not sure. Well, in one of the most recent entries, actress Kim Cattrall (yes that Kim Cattrall) was given access to the closet to choose a limited number of Criterion titles (that she loves) to take home with her either permanently or temporarily. Again, I am not sure If it is the former or the latter. Although I loved all of her choices, the one that made me the most happy was her pick of director Robert Altman’s Nashville. As many of my loyal readers know, two weeks back, I collaborated with blogger Cindy Bruchman on a blog entry regarding our top 3 favorite Altman films (read here) and Nashville was my number one favorite Altman film. In the link to the video below, she starts talking about it at the 1:39 point. And If you saw the film, here is a link to my review for it.
I am collaborating with blogger Cindy Bruchman today (cindybruchman.com) on one of her L13FC blog entries. This one is entitled L13FC: Director Robert Altman (read here). If any of you readers are interested, please click on that second link and read what me and Cindy have to say regarding our favorite Robert Altman films. Enjoy 🙂
There will be no Moviedrome Monday entries tomorrow because I am taking a little vacation from this blog this week. Nevertheless, readers can expect to see a new Moviedrome Monday entry by late Sunday of next week – July 14th 🙂
Upon reaching new creative heights with his previous Monitor entry The Debussy Film, director Ken Russell decided to end his career there on a quieter note with Always on Sunday, which aired one month later in June of 1965. For those interested, The Debussy Film’s original airdate was 05/18/65, while Always on Sunday’s was 06/29/65. Even so, Always on Sunday remains significant for reportedly being Russell’s first television documentary/docudrama to come off as a pure dramatization of a famous artist’s life (read here). Following broadcaster Huw Wheldon’s departure from the aforementioned programme in 1964, Russell was now free (at least for the most part) to expand upon his creativity as a filmmaker – The Debussy Film’s film-within-a-film format stands out in particular. As with Elgar, Russell tells his story in a similarly straightforward fashion, but unlike that earlier effort, Always on Sunday finds him taking a more laid-back approach to it at the same time.
Whereas Elgar and (in some ways) The Debussy Film centered on the lives of famed composers, Always on Sunday centers on the life of late 19th-century to early 20th-century French post-impressionist painter Henri Rousseau (1844-1910). Oliver Reed serves as the film’s narrator (seriously, what a mesmerizing voice), while James Lloyd handles lead acting duties as Rousseau. Annette Robertson (Gaby from The Debussy Film) also lends welcome support as (yes) pint-sized French symbolist writer Alfred Jarry (1873-1907), whose voice is dubbed here by an uncredited male actor. The scenario was concocted by Melvyn Bragg, who previously collaborated with director Ken Russell on The Debussy Film.
If I can name one thing that director Ken Russell does really well in Always on Sunday, it would lie in the sincere simplicity of his storytelling. Prior to his flamboyant later films, Russell had continuously proven himself to be a master of subtlety with his early television work at the BBC (1959-1970). This one, Elgar and Song of Summer (my personal favorite) notably demonstrates this aspect. Always on Sunday’s slow but steady pacing debatably resembles Russell’s way of appreciating the finer things in life. One memorable running gag involves Rousseau hauling around one of his paintings around the countryside back and forth in a wagon of sorts. Another involves Rousseau placing one of his paintings in a museum it the hopes of rivaling the work of some of his contemporaries. The action then cuts to some examples via their individual artwork: Camille Pissarro, Paul Cezanne, Vincent van Gogh, Georges Seurat and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
As is occasionally typical of his work, Always on Sunday sometimes feels like a semi-autobiographical account of it’s director Ken Russell. An early sequence depicting French elitists ridiculing Rousseau’s paintings foreshadowed the hostile relationship between Russell and his critics. At the same time, he sees a little bit of himself in Alfred Jarry (a reported supporter of Rousseau). One such scene comes in the form of Jarry’s irreverent play Ubu Roi – a scathing satire on the bourgeoisie. Another example occurs when one of Rousseau’s neighbors complains to Jarry that his pistol firing (he carries two of them) is endangering her children. Jarry’s response is delightfully insulting – If that should be the case madam, we’d hope you get some new ones, the bedroom’s over there. For some odd reason, I can’t help but feel that Russell would applaud his response.
Capturing all of Elgar’s simplicity and none of The Debussy Film’s originality, Always on Sunday is like a warmup to director Ken Russell’s subsequent television films. The following year in 1966, he directed an entry for Sunday Night (Don’t Shoot the Composer) and a stand alone (Isadora Duncan, the Biggest Dancer in the World). The others were episodes of Omnibus – Dante’s Inferno in 1967, Song of Summer in 1968 and Dance of the Seven Veils in 1970. Those last four titles (I have not seen Don’t Shoot the Composer) arguably rank as major works on Russell’s resume. Always on Sunday may seem minor compared to them, but as with all of Russell’s films, it is a great one regardless of ranking.
* * * * (Out of * * * *)
Here is a link to Part 1 of the film
Here is a link to Part 2 of the film
Here is a link to Part 3 of the film
Once again, similar to that of a restaurant host/hostess, I just wanted to see If all of you dear readers are enjoying my Ken Russell posts so far? I will post my review of Always on Sunday sometime this week 🙂
Originally, I was going to post a review on another film, but I am currently suffering from a case of writer’s block on that right now. In the meantime and in an attempt to get my mojo back (so I can finish that review), I am going to post reviews on something a little more simpler, but no less complex. In this case, a series of TV bios on famous composers (among other types of giants).
When anybody hears the name Ken Russell (1927-2011), the first words that come to mind are either flamboyant or controversial. A majority of the time, one could say that both terms can apply to him all at once. According to wikipedia’s entry on legendary British filmmaker Ken Russell (read here), these are at least two proper descriptions that can be applied to him. Nevertheless, let us rewind the clocks back to 1959 – 10 years prior to his 1969 breakthrough film Women in Love – a critically acclaimed adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s equally controversial 1920 novel of the same name. From 1959 to 1970, Russell made documentaries/docudramas on celebrated composers (among other figures) for the British Broadcasting Corporation (a.k.a. the BBC – read here). He directed at least 22 of them for Monitor (1959-1965) and 3 of them for it’s official/unofficial successor Omnibus (1967-1970). In between his last for Monitor (Always on Sunday) and his first for Omnibus (Dante’s Inferno), Russell contributed one for BBC’s Sunday Night (Don’t Shoot the Composer) and another as a stand-alone TV film (Isadora Duncan, the Biggest Dancer in the World) in 1966. The following year, he would helm his second feature film (his first was the 1964 comedy French Dressing) entitled Billion Dollar Brain – a British Spy thriller for the American-based studio United Artists. Two days after Billion Dollar Brain’s American premiere (December 20, 1967 – read here), Dante’s Inferno (Russell’s first for Omnibus) premiered for UK television viewers on December 22 of that same year. Based on my calculations alone (read here), Russell directed at least 27 television bios for the BBC. Out of the 27, only 6 of them (at least to my knowledge) are available for home viewing in North America. They are in a 2008 DVD collection entitled Ken Russell at the BBC (read here). The available titles are: Elgar (1962), The Debussy Film (1965), Always on Sunday (1965), Isadora Duncan, the Biggest Dancer in the World (1966), Dante’s Inferno (1967) and Song of Summer (1968). The first three were for Monitor and the last two were for Omnibus. As I mentioned earlier, Isadora Duncan was a stand-alone TV film for the BBC. Russell’s last work for Omnibus during this period entitled Dance of the Seven Veils is not included in the box set. That last title incited a huge ton of controversy due to it’s portrayal of famed German composer Richard Strauss (1864-1949) as either a Nazi or Nazi sympathizer (read here). This angered the Strauss family so much that they withdrew the music rights for it. Apparently, the ban expires sometime this year in 2019 (read here). Currently, the only way one can watch it is on a faded print posted on youtube.
Famed U.S. film critic Pauline Kael (1919-2001) once said of late master filmmaker Robert Altman, that he could make film fireworks out of next to nothing (read here). This sentiment can also be applied to that of director Ken Russell. Compared to Russell’s more outrageous later work (The Music Lovers, The Devils and Lisztomania to name just a few), the style of his early television films may initially come off as subdued on the surface. Deep down though, each of the available six films prove to be every bit as radical (albeit different) to those previously mentioned titles. Even with their low-budgets, Russell amazingly managed to break the rules on what was widely accepted within the documentary format. Instead of traditionally relying on still photographs and old film footage alone to tell his story, Russell would not only dramatize it through a re-enactment, but he would also (in the case of Elgar) use different actors to portray the lead character as he/she ages (read here and here). And this only marks just one of Russell’s many talents at successfully making the most out of very little.
My full review of Elgar – the first of director Ken Russell’s six films in the aforementioned 2008 DVD collection – should be up sometime by tomorrow.