Loading Notifications...

June film thread (2020)

Please Register as a New User in order to reply to this topic.

The Night of the Iguana (John Huston, 1964)

I've been slowly getting into Tennessee Williams recently, and also started worshipping at the altar of Deborah Kerr, so when I noticed that there was Tennessee Williams adaptation starring Deborah Kerr, I had to see it!
What I know of Williams is: Baby Doll, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and A Streetcar Named Desire. 
I wasn't sure what to expect from Night of the Iguana given that it is set outside his usual Deep South milieu. 
Quick plot recap - a disgraced church minister is eking out a living in Mexico, as a bus tour guide for the most shoestring operation around. He's at a pretty low ebb - alcoholic and unable to resist the temptations of young women. Under threat of losing his job due to a dalliance with an underage girl, he desperately tries to mask his indiscretion by holing up at an old friend's failing out-of-town hotel. 

All sounds pretty bleak eh! But I was pleasantly surprised to find huge amounts of humour and wit (mostly of the cynical and sarcastic variety, admittedly) at least in the first two thirds of the film. The set-up feels as much Graham Greene as Tennessee Williams, which I liked. 
And when the "plot" gives way to the usual Williams "soul searching" dialogue and character studies, wow, just wow. Actors arguably at the very top of their game, bringing to life dialogue from one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century, in a handsome production directed by a master, that's as good as it gets. Even  Ava Gardner, who was never held in the highest regard for ACTING (not compared to a giant like Richard Burton), is perfect here (arguably playing a version of herself, but if so, then respect is due for playing along with that)

I think it is one of the best films I've ever seen. 


10/10

Report
 Offwidth 04 Jun 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Cheers.. not seen it so I will keep a look out

Report
In reply to Offwidth:

You're welcome. I am not posting many reviews; you may remember that I mostly only post reviews of things I've seen in the cinema; obviously there is no cinema viewing now, and weirdly it doesn't quite feel the same to write a review without thinking of the cinema experience. 

I might have a Tennessee Williams weekend, I got a cheap box set a while ago with The Night of the Iguana, Baby Doll, The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone, and Sweet Bird of Youth. 

Watched the 1951 A Streetcar Named Desire a fortnight ago in advance of watching the National Theatre's version on YouTube (no longer on YouTube) and loved it enough that I've now obtained the 1992 filmed play (Jessica Lange, Alec Baldwin, Diane Lane, John Goodman) and await delivery of (on VHS!) the 1983 Ann-Margret / Treat Williams film! But I will hold off on watching those as 4 Streetcars in a month is a bit much. 

Report
 nufkin 04 Jun 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Having fallen for the common (though often justified, I think) trap of judging Netflix content by its screen tile, I'd been avoiding Arctic for a while, but finally saw most of it a couple of days ago. 
I thought Mads Mikkelsen was great as the lead, understated but 'investable', and gave a nice portrayal of unglamorised determination. I also like how spare the film was with explaining what was going on (though that might just have been me missing a couple of bits) and what Overgård was thinking/feeling. And the director seemed to do a good job of making the landscape and weather a part of the story, rather than just an incidental background detail.

Might be best saved for cooler weather, though, for maximum appreciation of the situation

Report
 Offwidth 04 Jun 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Getting up early to climb again now (and updating our notes) so not watching as many films in the late evening.

Report

Sweet Bird of Youth (Richard Brooks, 1962)

More Tennessee Williams with heavy-hitting credentials! Fun. 

This is the one with Paul Newman playing the failed actor returning to his small home town, to a very frosty reception, with a sozzled faded former real movie star in tow. Local bigwig wants him driven back out of town forever, due to sketchy history between Newman and local bigwig's daughter. 

I am a fan of Brooks the director (In Cold Blood, The Professionals, Elmer Gantry, Lord Jim etc) but it's fair to say that he pads things out a bit. What I like about the few Tennessee Williams things I've seen is that the past is spoken about in dialogue but never in massive detail. I'm not sure whether Sweet Bird of Youth was a bit different, as there are a few scenes of flashback dialogue which I felt were unnecessary especially as they are accompanied by filmed scenic flashbacks. Notably a long scene between Newman and the daughter (Shirley Knight) although this is the scene where she gets to shine. 

ANYWAY overall this is solid Williams stuff. All the usual "larger than life" Southern characters; Ed Begley as the corrupt power-mad local bigwig is a great characterisation both in the writing and the performance. Newman seems a little stiff but that could well be the character. Geraldine Page is astonishing as the faded star, and her final showdown with Newman is incredibly enjoyable. Special mention also to a young Rip Torn; I've only known him as an older "character actor" mostly in second-rate fare so it was a nice surprise to see that he was once a proper actor in proper dramas. 

As a film it is weakened a little by having to have changed two significant aspects of the story to soften the play for the film censors of the time, especially because with the second of these (right at the end) it is obvious what should really be happening. 

I'll still give it 8/10 though. I'd be surprised if Manchester by the Sea didn't take a little inspiration from this. 

Report
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Saturday's Tennessee Williams effort. 

The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone. Not adapted from a play but from a novel, which may explain why the dialogue wasn’t up to scratch. The whole thing was quite a yawn aside from the odd experience of seeing awesome Vivien Leigh play a version of herself at the same low ebb in real life, as the character is at. Warren Beatty’s embarrassing attempt at an Italian accent was too distracting. Dull direction. Lovely location shooting in Rome though, with cool 1960 cars all over the place .

4.5/10

Report
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Final Tennessee Williams for a while...and revisiting the first one I ever saw (actually I bought my 4-film box set a few years mainly for this one)

Baby Doll (Elia Kazan, 1956)

Wow! How they thought, shooting this in 1955, that there would be nothing controversial about it, just beggars belief. It strikes as me an incredibly bold bit of storytelling. An amalgamation of two Williams short plays, it is a typical WIlliams set-up (somewhat "grotesque" flawed characters living at the low end of society in the Deep South), but arguably taken to extremes. Awesome dialogue and acting, and really well shot. 
Premise is that a middle-aged loser has married a vacuous "child bride" (not quite a child, they married when she was 18) on condition that the marriage is not consummated until her 20th birthday, which is 2 days away as the story opens. His business (milling cotton) has failed and he lives with "Baby Doll" in a large dilapated house that he can't afford to maintain or even furnish; she sleeps in a child's cot in the house's former nursery - seeming most of her time!
Events bring a slick business rival to the home for a day whilst the husband is out for the day, and we get some wonderfully uncomfortable scenes for quite a while (Eli Wallach and Carroll Baker are absolutely outstanding in this). I don't want to spoil any plot points, so I can't say too much. 

It does drag on a bit in the final act, so I'll give it 7.5/10 or 8/10
 

Post edited at 13:06
Report
 Tom V 12 Jun 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Da Five Bloods

Very watchable, a bit jumpy plotwise, good cast, but not Lee's best. 

Today's offering in the Netflix BLM collection.

Report
In reply to Tom V:

Watched this tonight and thoroughly enjoyed it. Rip-roaring polemic with spectacular visuals and great Marvin Gaye songs. 8.5/10 for me. After sitting through The Stranger only to suffer its crappy ending and giving up on White Lines when it hit the doldrums halfway through, this  made the Netflix subscription seem almost worth the money. 

Report
 nufkin 13 Jun 2020
In reply to Andy Clarke:

I was pleased Isiah Whitlock was permitted a Senator Davis 'sheeeeeiiit'

Report
 Tom V 13 Jun 2020
In reply to nufkin:

The most anticipated moment in the film

Report
In reply to Tom V:

watched Juggernaut, probably my third viewing. Mostly excellent (and still weirdly gripping even though you know the outcome). Treats the audience with respect, very little spoon-feeding. Some peculiar aspects such as why the cruise already looks a bit crap to start with, and (as much as it pleases me) the Shirley Knight character seems somewhat out of place and shoehorned in, and I am 50-50 about the "punk fade" ending eschewing the usual post-event analysis. 
But on the whole, great old fashioned solid "meat and potatoes" film making, which is a real departure for Richard Lester 

(this is Juggernaut from 1974, aka Terror on the Britannic) 

Report
 John2 17 Jun 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

I have only seen the stage version of The Glass Menagerie, but that is quite heartbreaking. I see that there are three film versions available - you can't call yourself a Tennessee Williams completist if you haven't seen at least one.

Report
In reply to John2:

I am not calling myself a Tennessee Williams completist. 

Report
 Offwidth 17 Jun 2020
 Tom V 17 Jun 2020
In reply to Offwidth:

I suspect a troll

Report
In reply to Tom V:

> I suspect a troll

Shills. And Rotten Tomatoes being a bit crap in general anyway 

Report
 Tom V 19 Jun 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Hereditary.

Mostly well received horror ( "the most terrifying...in years") with  a few genuinely scary moments but it descends into incomprehensible gibberish in the last ten minutes ( for me, anyway). 

Post edited at 09:37
Report
In reply to Tom V:

Agree wholeheartedly. It is like the final 5-10 minutes just throw away everything that had been great about the previous two hours. You almost get the feeling that Ari thought "I'll do exactly what the audience least expect or want". Toni Collette's performance was TOWERING. I didn't feel that the ending was incomprehensible. Just rubbish (or to borrow a phrase that you like, a "cop out"). I didn't really think of Hereditary as horror, more an in-depth character study. 
Luckily Ari vastly improved with Midsommar, by NOT doing this. 

Post edited at 10:01
Report
 Tom V 25 Jun 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Driveways.

Understated brilliance: a beautiful film that I can't fault in any way at all.

Report
In reply to Tom V:

Good old Brian Dennehy! Just saw him last night in Butch and Sundance: The Early Days (turned off early as it is pretty dreary!) 

Report
In reply to Tom V:

> Da Five Bloods

Enjoyed it. Could pick holes in it all day, but it worked for me as a redemption story and also telling a story of being black in America, now and 50 years ago.

Report
 Tom V 26 Jun 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

He definitely couldn't ask for a better film to finish his career with, which it more or less is. I suppose knowing this adds to the poignancy but his performance and that of the other two stars are excellent in their own right. The photography and soundtrack  add to the  muted atmosphere in a  natural way. I'm  very tempted to watch it again, now.

A one line summary might make it sound like another Gran Torino but it is very far removed from that film.

Report
In reply to Tom V:

> A one line summary might make it sound like another Gran Torino but it is very far removed from that film.

Hopefully Gran Torino for grown-ups like how Leave No Trace was Captain Fantastic for grown-ups  

Report
 Tom V 27 Jun 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

As an adjunct, one of the characters recites from dementia ridden memory part of a poem which genuinely intrigued me.

I've found that it was "Thanatopsis" by William Cullen Bryant, more established in the US then the UK.

My father was a confirmed atheist who spent the last years of his life in a mild state of bitterness and despair: I wish this poem had been known to me then so that I could have at least run it by him.

Post edited at 21:29
Report
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Watched Leaving Las Vegas (1995) last night. Ive been meaning to watch this film for ages as I like Nic Cage and adore Elizabeth Shue.*

I wasn't disappointed. Superb acting, cinematography and editing. Unlike some professional reviewers I didnt care too much for the score.

What this isn't is any way a feel good film so without revealing spoilers, don't do as I did and watch it late before bed. I kept waking up all night thinking about the film, feeling really sad. Still on my mind this morning. 9/10.

*I just want to take Sera home and look after her.

Post edited at 08:02
Report

Please Register as a New User in order to reply to this topic.