The Film Yap’s 2013 Summer Movie Preview
Y’all love it- it’s the Film Yap’s 2013 Summer Movie Preview with Christopher Lloyd joined by special guests Richard Propes, Bob Bloom, Matthew Socey and Edward Johnson-Ott
CRUMB (1995) – Out of respect to Roger Ebert. One of the few films he provided commentary for, an excellent documentary about artist R. Crumb, his work and his family. A valentine to alternative art and a film that makes you feel better about your own family. We hope.
HOWARDS END (1992) – Out of respect for screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, who died last week. One of the best of the Merchant-Ivory films, a complex drama of two families from two different sides of the tracks whose paths cross intentionally and unintentionally. Well-deserved Oscars for Emma Thompson (Best Actress) and Jhabvala for her screenplay adaptation. If one is a fan of DOWNTON ABBEY and hasn’t seen this film, get on it. Look out, Coby.
JAI ETE AU BAL (1989) – Out of respect for documentary filmmaker Les Blank, who died last week. Fascinating, insightful documentary about the history of Cajun and Zydeco music and its culture in Louisiana. Excellent music footage. Makes me want to punch Adam Sandler’s Cajun Man even harder.
PETULA (1968) – Very good drama with George C. Scott (divorced doctor) and Julie Christie (socialite married to cad Richard Chamberlin) and a non-linear look at their relationship. Directed by Richard Lester, cinematographer Nicholas Roeg capture late 60s San Francisco unlike any other film. Fans of non-linear films (PULP FICTION, ANNIE HALL) should check this out.
I’m not hosting FILM SOCEYOLOGY, obviously. I’m getting ready to perform in BAREFOOT IN THE PARK at Richmond Civic Theatre. However, even though I’m not hosting today, I still have an opinion. So there.
Well-made but stylistically flawed drama about a group of children’s journey on their own. However, these are the children of a Nazi officer right after the fall of Germany at the end of World War II. Mom and Dad flee and the oldest daughter (age 15), who is coming of age, must take care of her younger sister, two even younger twin brothers and an infant while heading for their grandmother’s house on foot.
The film is a bit of a challenge for the viewer on the bleak journey these children make at the end of World War II. Where they travel, who they meet and dealing with each other. The trip, however, does not go into Lars Von Trier territory. It looks like it may that path, but not quite. However, the film is marred by enough slow motion and classical music that would make even Terrance Malick say “get on with it.” Not quite the Spike Lee tracking shot irritating, but it does distract.
A minor flaw shouldn’t get in the way of a serious journey, anchored by a solid performance by Saskia Rosendahl. The teen having to be a grown-up will give filmgoers some Jennifer Lawrence in WINTER’S BONE flashbacks. Not the best date film, but worth checking out.
“Now that was a good movie!”
April 5, 2013
Roger Ebert would have liked my film selections this week. Last Saturday, I watched LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. On Easter Sunday, I watched THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST (yes, I’m that guy). Thursday was a double bill of HOWARD’S END and THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL. Then I found out about Ebert’s death yesterday. He and Gene Siskel were the reasons I got interested in cinema. You can thank/blame them for a part of who I am.
I will never forget the first time I saw SNEAK PREVIEWS back in 1979 when I was nine years-old. They had split opinions of ROCKY 2 and MORE AMERICAN GRAFFITI. I couldn’t believe two people got to talk about films on TV and get paid for it. I watched them religiously and always looked for films they praised and they panned (was it really that bad?). Growing up in Flint, Michigan, not all the films they voted yes (or later Thumbs Up) to see came to town. My father (the third face on my film upbringing Mt. Rushmore) and I would often travel to the Detroit suburbs. Thanks to Siskel & Ebert and my chauffer dad, I experienced films like DINER, DAS BOOT, MONTENEGRO, TENDER MERCIES, KAGEMUSHA, LOCAL HERO and MY DINNER WITH ANDRE. Yes, I was 11 and saw MY DINNER WITH ANDRE. Did I get it? Not at first. I was stunned and actually amazed someone made a film about two guys talking over dinner.
Ebert’s reviews were something I always strived for and have never come close. Then again, nobody else has come close. I did share the love of writing or telling people about how great or how awful a film is. I learned to champion lesser known films whenever possible. I also learned that there could be well-made blockbusters and lousy independent films.
I got to meet Gene and Roger, separately, at the 1995 Chicago Film Festival. They were receiving a career achievement award and I was working for the festival as a driver. I told them I was originally from Flint and they’re faces lit up and asked how the city was doing (don’t ask) and genuinely cared.
My validation as a film geek happened with Roger. In the spring of 1996, I was covering the Chicago Film Critics Awards for Film Threat magazine. After he asked me if I was the Film Threat writer who had written disparaging things about him (I wasn’t), I got to correct him on one of his rules. Ebert had compiled a terrific list of film rules, clichés, etc. He had a rule that any film featuring M. Emmet Walsh or Harry Dean Stanton can’t be all bad. I informed Roger about the then released godawful Canadian thriller NEVER TALK TO STRANGERS starring Rebecca DeMornay, Antonio Banderas and Stanton.
“Yes, you’re right. That’s the second rule of mine squashed today,” he said.
“What was the other one?” I asked.
“I write no good film ever had a scene with a hot air balloon. I forgot about THE WIZARD OF OZ,” he said.
“Oh, yeah,” I replied.
OK, it wasn’t the Rolling Stone Interview, but for a few minutes I was a slight-peer to a Pulitzer Prize winning writer.
In 2001, I was one-half of a film critic duo on Fox 59 AM. He was the stuffy, pompus Englishman and I was the shaggy Yank. That lasted a year and a half. We were not Siskel & Ebert. Far from it.
Film is an art form. Art criticism is an art form. Now every critic on the planet has a lot of slack to pick up. Thanks, Roger, for helping me love film and to spread the word of cinema.
P.S. Your eulogy should be delivered by Werner Herzog.
- Matthew Socey
Christoph Waltz is awesome
Pam Grier is timeless; so says this show
BY THE LIGHT OF THE SILVERY MOON (1952)
Frothy musical set around World War I, starring Doris Day and George MacRae as young lovers falling in and out (but not too far) of love while Day’s family has their own lightweight adventures. Ice skating, a pageant show, a little misunderstanding and some musical numbers keep the show lively. Plus any film where the family housekeeper is played by Mary Wickes is worth checking out.
SHE-DEVILS ON WHEELS (1968)
All-female biker film from director Herschell Gordon Lewis (WIZARD OF GORE, THE GORE GORE GIRLS). They ride (not very fast), they treat men like pieces of meat (Girl Biker Power!) and they get into scrapes with a rival male biker gang. Not the blood-splattered usual fare from Lewis. Looks cheaper and not as much action as a Roger Coreman biker film. However, many of the cast were members of a real gang, so there’s that.
HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX (2007)
Honestly, once I reviewed the final Potter film, I had no desire to visit them again for a while. Except for splitting the last book into two films, I’ve enjoyed the series overall, but I was just ready to move on. Then there’s the Kids Film Correspondent who is knee-deep into the series. If anything else, the film’s biggest standout is Imelda Staunton who owns the film as a villain who could have worked under the Bush administration.