with the bold text in the example below:

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Messenger by Oren Moverman, 2009 (R)

with Ben Foster (Contraband, Pandorum), Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games, Game Change), Samantha Morton (Minority Report), Steve Buscemi (Fargo), Jena Malone, Eamonn Walker, Yaya DaCosta, Peter Francis James, Lisa Joyce

An injured soldier is paired with a by-the-book captain to notify families of their loss — a job that bonds them as they debate differing views on serving America. At odds at first, the two find common ground while facing life's variety of battles.

A different perspective on the army, after so many movies trying to portray the coming back of soldier after Irak, their disconnection to the "real" world, the distance in creates for good with  friends back home, the bound they have with other soldiers and the addiction the army somehow creates among its people, the rupture, the traumas, and finally death. How to deal with death and in this movie in particular, how to deal with the families of their deaths, how to relate without feeling responsible, how to behave when one is having a serious breakdown, how to not get attached, affected. It is a heavy movie, where nothing happy can happen. Still, they live again, they continue in this life, carrying each others, caring for each other. Very troubling.

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Summertime (Summer Madness) by David Lean, 1955 (NR)

with Katharine Hepburn, Rossano Brazzi, Isa Miranda, Darren McGavin, Mari Aldon, Jane Rose, MacDonald Parke, Jeremy Spenser, Gaetano Autiero

Dreams of romance for American spinster Jane Hudson (Katharine Hepburn) become a bittersweet reality when she meets a handsome but married antiques dealer (Rossano Brazzi) while vacationing in Venice, Italy. David Lean directed this sensitive portrait of an independent woman who finds that, even in a beautiful European city, her sense of loneliness is unavoidable, and her initial disgust with the idea of an illicit love affair doesn't last.

It was a strange thing to watch that movie. It a very stretched way, I felt I experienced a similar journey, but when I was 18. I went to the south of Spain, on my own, and realized soon enough that the beauty of the country and region couldn't help me forget how lonely I was. I met a lot of random people, and a man that really seduced me. But at my age, I wasn't ready to do anything with a stranger. There stop the comparison, only the loneliness. Then the movie goes on with the relationship she has with this Italian man, making her feel young again, alive, beautiful, seductive. But the movie made me uncomfortable in the sense of what to expect at the time of Italy, the snob attitude of wanting so badly not to be the typical American tourist, but falling inextricably into the cliché, with shots of the canals, stones, monuments, behaviors. Venice was indeed beautiful anywhere you would look. Perhaps it is just how Katharine Hepburn plays the woman facing the wonders, almost like in a silent movie, alternating in a very non-subtle way smile and sobbing... Exasperating...

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Granny's Funeral (Adieu Berthe ou l'enterrement de mémé) by Bruno Podalydès, 2012 (NR)

with Denis Podalydès, Valérie Lemercier, Isabelle Candelier, Bruno Podalydès, Samir Guesmi, Michel Vuillermoz, Pierre Arditi, Catherine Hiegel, Vimala Pons

In this offbeat comedy, Armand operates a pharmacy in Paris with his wife, Helene, but is carrying on an affair with the more sympathetic Alix. When Armand's grandmother dies, the distractions mount as he tries to plan an appropriate funeral for her.

I really do not know how to review this movie. Perhaps with more preparation, I would have been able to be more open to the surreal moments, but it took me by surprise and I didn't see the point in them, except to give the movie an edge it didn't need. The acting for the first half is excellent, with a great sense of humor, so irony and touches of absurd which were very well integrated. Even when we come to the most stylized funeral home you can ever imagine. Because it is part of the story. But when we come to see a circus show that do not bring anything to the story, as an exercise of style that failed, I disconnected. It is not that the fairy-absurd elements of the ending are not cute, and wrapping up the story in an elegant way, but sadly, it has lost a bit of the touch. And I am not talking of the bright full-screen text messages... My best moments really are the dialogues between Denis Podalydès and Valérie Lemercier, which recalled us all of the visitors undoubtedly when she makes fun of the bourgeois accent, and besides absolutely hilarious. I also enjoyed the mature relationship of Armand with Helene, who are seen by the mother-in-law are two kids, but definitely are very evolved in their emotions. So, to me, it is a matter of cutting the useless scenes to make it a perfect comedy.

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Tell No One (Ne le dis à personne) by Guillaume Canet, 2006

From the director of Little White Lies and Blood Ties

Eight years ago, pediatrician Alexandre Beck (François Cluzet) was the prime suspect in his wife's murder. He's put all that behind him, but now that two dead bodies have been found near his home, he's suspected of wrongdoing once again. The case takes an unexpected turn when he receives an anonymous e-mail showing his wife alive -- and eight years older -- instructing him to "tell no one."

This movie is great: interesting, intelligent, with an amazing cast including the best actors of french cinema, and not too french either, with a rhythm that reminds me more of American cinema. It is well structured, creating a great suspense, with an outcome that is unpredictable. All we expect from a thriller.

with François Cluzet (Little White Lies - Les Petits Mouchoirs, Paris), Marie-Josée Croze (Le Scaphandre et Le Papillon, Korkoro - Liberté), André Dussollier (On connaît la chanson - Same Old Song, Aïe, My Worst Nightmare - Mon Pire cauchemard), Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient, The Horse Whisperer, Bel Ami, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, Partir, Sarah's Key - Elle s'Appelait Sarah, Nowhere Boy), François Berléand, Nathalie Baye, Jean Rochefort, Marina Hands, Gilles Lellouche (Anthony Zimmer, Little White Lies - Les Petits Mouchoirs), Philippe Lefebvre, Florence Thomassin, Olivier Marchal, Brigitte Catillon, Samir Guesmi (Anthony Zimmer, Granny's Funeral - Adieu Berthe ou l'enterrement de mémé

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Bringing Up Baby by Howard Hawks, 1938 (NR)

with Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Charles Ruggles, Walter Catlett, Barry Fitzgerald, May Robson, Fritz Feld, Leona Roberts, George Irving, Tala Birell, Virginia Walker, John Kelly

Love runs wild for a hapless scientist and an unstoppable heiress in Howard Hawks's classic screwball comedy that ranks high on the American Film Institute's list of the funniest Hollywood films ever made. With her eye on paleontologist David (Cary Grant), heiress Susan (Katharine Hepburn) lures him to her home. But the hilarity begins when Susan's dog steals David's prize dinosaur bone and her pet leopard, Baby, is mistaken for a zoo escapee.

I believe this was a movie to fail from the reviews point of view, that had a huge success with the audience. I was a bit terrified to see that Cary Grant was again in this movie, after the experience of "The Philadelphia Story" but he turns out to be good and goofy in the clumsy scientist, probably slightly inspired by Charlie Chaplin. She is exuberant and tiring, as well as most of the cast. Everything goes very fast, people speak at the same time into a blurry loud noisy, but it turns out that I actually laughed a lot, it was refreshing and cute.

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Morning Glory by Lowell Sherman, 1933 (NR)

Not to confuse with Morning Glory (2010)

with Katharine Hepburn, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Adolphe Menjou, Mary Duncan, C. Aubrey Smith, Don Alvarado, Fred Santley, Richard Carle, Tyler Brooke, Geneva Mitchell, Helen Ware

Stagestruck but unseasoned actress Eva Lovelace (Katharine Hepburn) heads for Broadway's bright lights, where she eventually gets her break with help from a paternal thespian (C. Aubrey Smith), an ambitious playwright (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) and a womanizing producer (Adolphe Menjou). Hepburn's luminous performance in this showbiz drama resulted in the first of her four Best Actress Oscars and became the launching pad for her stellar film career.

It was an interesting film debut for an actress to start in a movie about young ambitious girl who starts a flourishing career, to fall into what could be called a Morning Glory, or perhaps not. I wonder how close it was to the reality, all I know is that later on, she was never that kind of person, wanting to be glorified (or perhaps a little, deep inside) by the press, the fans, the success didn't seem to change her so much. She was brilliant, perhaps knew it, allowed herself not to format to the conventions of Hollywood, and after some good and back luck, became one of these female heroes of the 20th Century. Impressive. About the movie, I felt they needed to deliver the lines so fast I got a bit stressed out. The character of Eva evolves from the naive opportunist to a talented opponent to the major stars of her time, the evolution being a bit overacted, just as the other actresses of the film, but the casting surrounding her, made of men of the Broadway industry, still stereotypes, are being much more sensitive in their acting, tempering the high energy of the women. I remained a bit clueless to whether I enjoyed the movie or not...

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Fair Lady by George Cukor, 1964 (G)

with Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway, Wilfred Hyde-White, Gladys Cooper, Jeremy Brett, Theodore Bikel, Mona Washbourne, Isobel Elsom, John Holland, Alan Napier, Marni Nixon
From the director of The Philadelphia Story, Pat and Mike, Adam's Rib, Keeper of the Flame...

In this classic cinematic version of the Broadway smash, Audrey Hepburn is at her most radiant as Eliza Doolittle, the Cockney flower girl transformed into a poised duchess by Professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison, reprising his Broadway role). The film won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

When I was in school, the English teacher (I am French), to make us work out our British accent, put us to learn "Why can't the English teach their children how to speak" and as a demonstration, the entire movie for several classes. No complain, since we didn't have homework in the meantime. I really liked the songs, the style, Huggins' house, the costumes for the race, the stiffness of the education, perhaps was a bit displeased with her being so predictably in love with her teacher, but the sense of humor was good enough it made me very happy Higgins had to change his macho attitude to get her. Anyway, refreshing, witty, a little bit deranging in the way social classes are depicted, but after all, a very good musical, specially looking at its competition. Definitely one of my favorite.

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Reader by Stephen Daldry, 2008 (R)

with Ralph Fiennes (In Bruges, The English Patient, Skyfall, The Hurt Locker), David Kross (War Horse), Kate Winslet (Titanic, Mildred Pierce, Contagion), Susanne Lothar (The Piano Teacher - La Pianiste), Alissa Wilms, Florian Bartholomäi, Friederike Becht, Jeanette Hain, Alexandra Maria Lara (Youth without youth, Farewell - L'affaire Farewell), Bruno Ganz (Youth without youth), Volker Bruch (The Red Baron - Der rote Baron), Karoline Herfurth, Hannah Herzsprung, Linda Bassett (Kinky Boots), Kirsten Block

Michael Berg (Ralph Fiennes) reflects on the formative sexual relationship he had with older woman Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet, in a Golden Globe- and Oscar-winning role) as a young teenager in this poignant drama set in post-World War II Germany. The passionate affair ended when Hanna disappeared. But years later, Michael learns she's on trial for horrific Nazi war crimes. David Kross plays the teenage Michael in this film based on Bernhard Schlink's best-seller.

Most troubling movie in a long time, perhaps most troubling movie ever. It is a beautiful story of coming of age, melted in a horrible context, which let its characters to become other, and eventually, the target of a bigger system they embrace, sometimes in the most innocent way, somewhat, in a inhuman manner, mixed between the authorities and their own sensibility. Seen from the eyes of a keen man, forgiving the human nature, it puts in question the even more irrational behavior of Nazis during world war 2 and their covering up afterward. Most of all, it is the contrast between what we understand of the childhood of berg and his coming of age in a world revealing itself ugly, in the most conflicting way. I don't remember crying, I guess I was still figuring out what that makes Schmitz, which perhaps I am still figuring out, four years later. How can someone be so ignorant, so stubborn, perhaps so responsible, so guilty, and at the same time, so innocent. How can we rationally judge, and how can we forgive, when there always one to blame, when something horrible happens. The cast is just perfect, most amazing. And the movie excels as much as the book, which I happened to read later on.

It is from the same director as the poignant "The Hours" and the movie I cried the most in "Billy Elliot". Looking forward to "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close".

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame by Hark Tsui, 2010 (PG-13)

Original Title: Di Renjie / Detective D

with Andy Lau, Bingbing Li, Carina Lau, Chao Deng, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Richard Ng, Teddy Robin Kwan, Lu Yao, Jinshan Liu, Jean-Michel Casanova

When unexplained spontaneous combustions kill a pair of dignitaries in 7th-century China, the nation's first female emperor, Wu Zetian calls upon the trusted Detective Dee to solve the mystery in this stylish action epic.

This movie was comparing itself to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", hum... The story is good, no doubt, the action is well choreographed, the landscapes and decors impeccable but my goodness, the acting... I wouldn't say Dee and the girl are bad actors, but the rest is like watching a children series on bad tv, the Spaniard is speaking as if he was a bad translator, the old people need to be so wisely outspoken it is risible, stereotypes of characters with little subtlety, moments with the voice of narration that feels completely overdone, conversation that almost go such as "I really love this house" to "Yes, the weather is nice", so at that point, you just make jokes of the rest of the film. Sad, because it is actually based on a Chinese tradition that would deserve much more respect...

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

The African Queen by John Huston, 1951 (NR)

with Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Robert Morley, Peter Bull, Theodore Bikel, Walter Gotell, Peter Swanwick, Richard Marner, Errol John, Gerald Onn

Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart), the booze-guzzling, rough-hewn captain of a broken-down East African riverboat, teams with a straitlaced, iron-willed missionary Rosie (Katharine Hepburn) to take on a menacing German gunboat during World War I.

A peculiar movie, it is a period piece in a way, but not from long before. But because it happens in west africa with missionaries, it really feels as if Rosie was from the previous century, cut out from her own country with proper manners and old-fashioned sense of herself as a missionary, devoted, a good soul, with perhaps not much excitement in her life. There come the Nazis, destroying everything, from her community to the church itself, and finally her brother, so she is left by herself, welcomed to the boat of the only man who can get her out of this, but really, who would believe they could possibly have anything in common. Turns out she needed some excitement in her life, and when the austere Rosie comes into colors, she is probably the wildest creature you could find, with still that sense of respect and honor, and with something else that is reckless, and perhaps feelings, over-boarding the African Queen. The beginning depict a certain reality of the time, somehow in a comical way, still with a primitive eye to what was western countries culture that Christianity have ignorantly eradicated. The rest is more interesting, a performance of two amazing actors and nature, with a relationship that create an equilibrium between two persons of different sex, learning to lean on each other, eventually surprise one another, and love each other. I am still not used to the idea of the steamboat captain ending up with the brother of the pastor, but the movie is convincing, they truly look like love birds in a shitty cruise, looking at the sky and everything around with the eyes of oblivion. I thought it would have a bad ending, but that was forgetting that this was a Hollywood movie from the very best of tradition, with a twist in the end.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Philadelphia Story by George Cukor, 1940 (NR)

with Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn (The Sea of Grass, Desk Set, Adam's Rib, Pat and Mike, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, State of The Union, Without Love, Woman of the Year, Keeper of the Flame, The African Queen), James Stewart, Ruth Hussey, John Howard, Roland Young, John Halliday, Mary Nash, Virginia Weidler, Henry Daniell
By the director of Pat and Mike (1952), Adam's Rib (1949) and Keeper of the Flame (1942)

Socialite Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn) prepares to remarry, but her ex (Cary Grant) and a tabloid reporter (Best Supporting Actor Oscar-winner James Stewart) have other ideas as they converge on her home for a fateful visit. The three stars form an incomparable trio in one of the most tantalizing screwball romances ever. And under the direction of George Cukor, this once-urbane Broadway comedy springs to life with precision and wit.

I am wondering how many people watched this movie and questioned the decision Tracy makes in the end. I think it is wrong. First because I really didn't like Cary Grant, I didn't find him either nice or having any sort of chemistry with Tracy. I did it, I just spoiled the movie. Anyway, might as well go on... James Stewart-Macaulay is really a modern man, with ideas of his own, a great vision, artistry, and eventually what is missing with Cary Grant, chemistry. He has charm but Tracy also sees what she is missing with the other men of her life, some humanity, not only the respect and distance you give to a god. Anyway, Katharine is really good, if I understood well, she played Tracy over a hundred times before in theaters, therefor it makes total sense. The story is a little bit simple and old-fashioned, but that is fine. A fine movie, which pissed me off in the end...

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Jeff, Who Lives at Home by Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass, 2011 (R)

with Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother, "Bad Teacher"), Ed Helms, Susan Sarandon ("Solitary Man", "You don't know Jack"), Judy Greer (The Descendants), Rae Dawn Chong, Steve Zissis, Evan Ross

Siblings Jay and Mark Duplass direct this comedy focusing on two brothers -- one a moderate success, the other still living with Mom. A trip to the store for glue, however, turns into an encounter with destiny for the stay-at-home slacker.

A very strange indie comedy about signs, let to a little bit of absurd, over a special day for the Duplass family. I watched it honestly in the plane, when coming back from the bathroom, I saw what the man in front of me was watching: Susan Sarandon kissing a woman. I had to see it. So, I looked again from time to time to figure out which movie that could be, while being slightly bored by "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen", and finally figured out which it was. Of course, when the kiss happens, my neighbor watches my film and a woman ask me what I would like to drink with my breakfast, while I have a mouthful of melon, and tried acting cool. Damned, that was the moment of the film. Anyway, the rest is a bit bizarre, kind of no life town, with strange characters, absurd motel and bar situations, finale who is so big of hugs that everything looks forced. But the indie tone of it saves it a little, and Susan Sarandon is as good as usual.

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Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Lasse Hallström, 2011 (PG-13)

with Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Amr Waked, Kristin Scott Thomas, Tom Mison (One Day), Catherine Steadman, Rachael Stirling, Tom Beard

A sheik with a love for the sport hopes to introduce fly-fishing to the Middle East and turns to uptight fisheries expert Fred Jones for help. Buoyed by the sheik's enthusiasm (and his comely English aide), Fred sets out to achieve the impossible. From the director of "Chocolat" and :( "Casanova".

It didn't take off. How sad, the idea, absurd at the beginning, develops to make more and more sense, in an environmentally responsible context, and it is great but a bit moralistic. The characters are longing for each other, but the chemistry is not there, and the characters do not have any personality aside from being nice, and him eventually not very good at communicating emotions. Anyway, the only good parts are when Kristin Scott Thomas enters a scene like a fury, with all the rush and pressure a prime minister PR person can have, with her dark sense of humor and practicality, to the relationship she has with the invisible husband and their kids.

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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by John Madden, 2011 (PG-13)

with Judi Dench ("J. Edgar", "Chocolat"), Maggie Smith (Harry Potter), Bill Nighy ("The Girl in The Cafe", "Wild Target", "Rango"), Penelope Wilton (The Girl), Tom Wilkinson (The Conspirator, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Duplicity, Michael Clayton, The Ghost Writer), Celia Imrie (Imagine Me and You), Ronald Pickup, Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire), Tena Desae, Sid Makkar

To make the most of their meager retirement savings, a group of British seniors moves to India to live out their golden years at the Marigold Hotel. But upon arrival, they discover the once-lavish resort has wilted considerably.

Very adorable movie, sensitive, with a gentle sense of humor from Great Britain, a nice mix of Indian and British culture, showing not only the aging of humans, but the existential moment they are in, by showing their loneliness, they attitude about life, their will to fight, their readiness to face death, dealing with issues that have taken too much space... It is also a shock of generation and culture learning to cohabit. In the end, it is full of life, happiness, not because it is naive, but because along their way, we've learned where to find that joy.

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Milk by Gus Van Sant, 2008 (R)

with Sean Penn (The Game, Fair Game, The Tree of Life), Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin (True Grit, American Gangster, Men In Black 3), Diego Luna (Contraband), James Franco (Rise of The Planet of The Apes, Eat Pray Love, 127 Hours), Alison Pill (To Rome With Love, Dan In Real Life), Victor Garber (Argo), Denis O'Hare (Michael Clayton, Duplicity), Joseph Cross (Lincoln), Brandon Boyce, Carol Ruth Silver, Stephen Spinella, Lucas Grabeel, Howard Rosenman, Kelvin Yu, Jeff Koons, Mark Martinez, Lynn McRee

Sean Penn (in an Oscar-winning role) stars in this fact-based drama about Harvey Milk, the openly gay activist and San Francisco politician who was murdered along with Mayor George Moscone (Victor Garber) by disgruntled city supervisor Dan White (Josh Brolin) in 1978. Emile Hirsch, James Franco and Diego Luna co-star in director Gus Van Sant's compelling biopic, which also earned Oscar nods for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor (Brolin).

Sean Penn is very much Sean Penn, and at the same time so Milk. The performances are perfect in order to make you forget these are actually major contemporary actors. The enthusiasm for politics has faded with lack of motivation, because there is still a gap with what are the rights for Heterosexuals and Homosexuals, and still a fight to continue. This movie gave some awareness to the even bigger gap there was in the 70's, with true insecurity, violence in the words of politicians as well as physically in the streets. It is revolting. And as every good real hero, Milk dies of the hands of hatred. Perfect movie.

What I loved most about the movie is watching it inside the movie "Circumstance" while the characters are dubbing it, it as a symbol of freedom in a still far beyond homophobic Iran.

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Agora by Alejandro Amenábar, 2009 (R)

with Rachel Weisz (The Whisleblower, The Bourne Legacy, 360, Dream House, Constantine, The Deep Blue Sea), Max Minghella (The Social Network), Oscar Isaac (Drive, The Bourne Legacy), Ashraf Barhom, Michael Lonsdale (Of Gods and Men), Rupert Evans, Homayoun Ershadi, Sami Samir, Richard Durden, Omar Mostafa, Manuel Cauchi, Oshri Cohen, Charles Thake

As Christianity gains steam in Roman Egypt toward the end of the fourth century A.D., a young slave weighs his desire for freedom against his growing love for his mistress, an atheist and professor of philosophy.

A perfect role for Rachel Weisz, not that she can put on any role and wear it as herself, such as in "Envy" where she plays the kitschest wife ever, or an independent single mum in "About a Boy", a UN woman in a corrupted war in "The Whistleblower", the woman of many centuries in "The Fountain", a clumsy bookworm in "The Mummy" or finally a woman before her time in Agora. The movie is intelligent, although perhaps using the contemporary codes of fear in religious extremists having one face over time and the beautiful landscape of earth looking like exploring the application Google earth. The rest in really tragic, probably quite accurate, with the sad story of war of religions destroying knowledge, science, and everything that gives the tools for a person to think for himself. The truth is, watching this movie made me understand how far we went, to go backward for the many centuries following. And in a way, having the knowledge is reversible, being a free woman is reversible, and it is scary. May we this time remember history and not repeat it.

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Desk Set by Walter Lang, 1957 (NR)

with Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Gig Young, Joan Blondell, Dina Merrill, Sue Randall, Neva Patterson, Harry Ellerbe, Nicholas Joy, Diane Jergens, Merry Anders, Ida Moore, Rachel Stephens

Bunny Watson (Katharine Hepburn) is a reference librarian whose tepid long-term relationship with television executive Mike Cutler (Gig Young) is fizzling. Enter Richard Sumner (Spencer Tracy), a no-nonsense computer genius who's created a new product named Miss Emmy to automate the work of Bunny and her co-workers. The two butt heads in the beginning, but soon their disdain for one another turns to romantic sparks.

The summary isn't very accurate, I would describe her as a genius dictionary, who is not so genius in term of relationships. Sumner is a genius of another sort, computer geek, not too bad at human relationship, definitely lucid about where he interferes and seeing the rare pearl in Bunny. Anyway, it is an interesting movie, first time this duet is in COLOR, changing media from Paper journalism to TV, with a cultural difference where people can flirt for years, kiss publicly without altering their respectability. The fun comes also from the ping pong of the dialogues, Katharine is full of life, emotions, knowledge, Spencer Tracy is more straight forward than usual. The scenes at her apartment and on the rooftop of the Rockefeller Center are just perfect, combined with the testimony of a time where it was suspected that machines, computers, would replace humans in a lot of jobs, which was true in a way, but the movie gives a nice positive perspective on it.

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Pat and Mike by George Cukor, 1952 (NR)

with Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Aldo Ray, William Ching, Sammy White, George Mathews, Gussie Moran, Babe Didrikson Zaharias
George Cukor is the director of "Gone With The Wind" (uncredited),  "Keeper of the Flame" and "Adam's Rib" (and "My Fair Lady", I have to start writing about it, I just love the movie, made me want to learn proper English, and drop my French accent... and country, oops)

Pat Pemberton (Hepburn), an athletic prodigy who's a natural in any sport except dating, meets her match in Mike Conovan (Tracy), a feisty promoter who takes her under his wing. Together, they set the sports world on its ear and find that opposites attract in director George Cukor's Oscar-nominated romantic comedy.

I am starting to be frustrated, I was hoping the chemistry between Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy was a little more seductive, sensual, than what I have seen so far. Between "State of the Union" where they are at the limit of divorce, "The Sea of Grass" where they are completely estranged, "Without Love" where they are not to demonstrate any sign of affection beyond friendship, "Keeper of the Flame" where she dies before anything could possibly even eventually happen, "Woman of the Year" where she has better things to do than being in a relationship and "Pat and Mike" where they are business of one another, I think the only one where they are actually sharing some moments of affection is "Adam's Rib". No wonder why in real life, people couldn't really figure what was going on. They have the familiarity of old friends, I would say...
Anyway, coming back to "Pat and Mike", it is a strange movie. It takes its time, does not hesitate to show you an entire golf game, or a tennis match. It is funny, he is very new yorker, she is very incredible, I mean, she is fifty and look better than a 20 years old woman, jumping, running, playing tennis, stretching, so fit and elegant, so full of energy, fascinating. Maybe I should add her in my list of incredible female characters (or start a new one with incredible actresses). On the down side it is a bit too theatrical, the way she changes mood when her weakness point in on sight (I won't spoil anything). Refreshing anyhow. And the two champs are cut together.

Watch trailer:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

State of the Union by Frank Capra, 1948 (NR)

with Charles Lane, Van Johnson, Katharine Hepburn, Angela Lansbury, Adolphe Menjou, Spencer Tracy, Lewis Stone, Howard Smith, Charles Dingle, Maidel Turner, Raymond Walburn, Margaret Hamilton, Art Baker, Pierre Watkin, Florence Auer

At the urging of power-hungry newspaper executive Kay Thorndyke (Angela Lansbury), industrialist Grant Matthews (Spencer Tracy) is persuaded to campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. To boost his public persona, Matthews reunites with his estranged wife (Katharine Hepburn). She quickly uncovers the corruption that's infected her once moral husband. Frank Capra directs this compelling adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play.

I loved the dialogues. There are witty, fast, intelligent, putting into context the movie in a perfect way, reminding us of a little history when the Republican were failing to be elected, and at the same time, developing on the power of the media, the politics, the failures of our election system with their primaries based on pressure and token of generous amounts. The movie reminded me of "Game Change" with Julianne Moore where we explore the pre-political campaign, the influence of the medias and the failure to be honest. In this story, the focus is on the relationship of Grant Matthews with his wife and lover, the game of influence that impact his career heading towards true belief of a Nation, and the political game of the Union representatives. Very Intelligent. I would love to mention on a lighter note how amazing Katharine Hepburn is at 41, she is beautiful as ever, with a great sense of fashion, elegant, feminine. She acts perfectly at all levels, whether as a hurt wife and mother, of as the perfect wife of the reckless kid in the first plane scene, with to me was hilarious, or drunken with a few glasses of I do not know what (the ones who drink it in the movie do not know either), and making great sense when it comes to practicality, from the beginning knowing her husband is into a run for president, by his side along the pre-campaign ect... The ending is a bit too hysterical, too much tears and screams, too much show, to much happy ending, but hey, those were the times, 1948 is about rebuilding our values in a world that just got out of a war.
Now I have  got to watch "Ides of March", which apparently has a very similar topic...

 Watch Trailer:

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Sea of Grass by Elia Kazan, 1947 (NR)

with Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Robert Walker, Melvyn Douglas, Phyllis Thaxter, Edgar Buchanan, Harry Carey Sr., Ruth Nelson, Robert Armstrong

Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn mark their fourth onscreen pairing as tyrannical New Mexico cattleman Col. James Brewton his reluctant wife, Lutie, in this sweeping Elia Kazan Western based on a novel by Conrad Richter. In a moment of misdirected passion, Lutie conceives a child with her husband's enemy (Melvyn Douglas). But years later, Lutie's grown son (Robert Walker) inadvertently brings the estranged couple back together.

The movie is very very very slow. And the way it is written, it is hard to know what the director means to go towards, what is the main focus. There is no climax, there are no real direction, it is very much like a summary of a book, which it is. The book must be amazing, but its summary takes too much time telling all the stories instead of focusing on developing the characters and their relationship. We get it at the end, subtly, in gets in you, these characters which had to choose a life that they didn't fit in, and live with their choice for a long long time. The movie reminded me because of the theme, of "Rango", yes! The issue told in Rango of Las Vegas is definitely similar what happened in The Sea of Grass, wasting grass land for greed. It also reminded me of "Giant", with the trio of the characters, the identity and misfit of Katharine Hepburn identical to Elizabeth Taylor, which in a way is the other way around, since Giant was shot long after "The Sea of Grass". It definitely affected me, since the story is quite poignant despite the coldness of the tone, with the parallel loss of children and husband for a mother and a wife, and the loss of such an amazing land for this man who had a vision, and nowadays so strikingly relevant for our actual environmental crisis. In a way, this movie reminds me of another movie, about a man who refuse to let the last piece of untouched land of Hawaii in "The Descendants".

Apologies, for this movie, there are no trailer available.

Without Love by Harold S. Bucquet, 1945 (NR)

with Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Lucille Ball, Keenan Wynn, Carl Esmond, Patricia Morison, Felix Bressart, Emily Massey, Gloria Grahame

Convinced that two people can have a meaningful partnership without the trappings of romance, pragmatic widow Jamie Rowan (Katharine Hepburn) asks scientist Pat Jamieson (Spencer Tracy) to marry her on condition that the relationship remain platonic. But Jamie's plan falls apart when an ex-girlfriend of Pat's shows up and makes a jealous Jamie realize that their union is no longer a marriage of convenience. Lucille Ball and Keenan Wynn also star.

I have to say this movie left me a bit clueless. The background of the story is interesting with the invention of the oxygen mask. Of course, It is a comedy, but with quite a seriousness to it. It has romance, but everything sounds off, from the moment they are supposed not to love each other where there is actually chemistry, to the moment where they are supposed to love each other which looks like they are cold friends. Perhaps the fault goes to the puritan cinema of the time that was only allowing them to either kiss coldly making sure their mouth were aseptically closed or hug in the way she would have to lower herself to look smaller and twist her neck along the way in a very peculiar way (by the way, what went wrong with this poster, Katharine Hepburn is completely upside down... Oh I just got it, probably a reference to the experiment they do about oxygen in altitude where she ends up upside down, funny). Anyway, besides that, I would like to comment on the man who plays the cousin Quentin, Keenan Wynn, he is amazing, his acting is so modern he looks like he comes from the future of cinema. He doesn't overact, his American is very contemporary, still manages to be in the tone of the movie with class, he is excellent.

Watch Trailer:

Cinema is growing old

When you see someone in a painting from the previous centuries, you do not think about whether they are dead or alive, they have a timelessness to them that freeze them in time. Nevertheless they are. I usually watch contemporary movies, movies for the oldest from the 80's. Recently, I came to discover more classics, even going to the black and white ones. You see the life of characters in motion, with their youth, and in a way, it only looks like a period piece, played by comtemporary actors. Well, perhaps they speak a bit differently, perhaps the style is sometimes odd, the lighting artificial, the technology poor. But still, they remain very much alive.
Then there are those actors we all know died, in tragic incidents, or getting older, they are separated from their role, and become these persons, with lives of their own, and they happened to die, just like everyone else.
Lately, I have been watching intensively the whole retrospective of the movies staring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. I think I've already watched five of them. They were in chronological order, so I saw them evolve, both in their acting, but also how the cinema industry was evolving as well. And then it stroke me. They are growing up, growing older, and eventually, all these people in the movie died, they all did, it was too long ago. But they are so alive, still, almost like the painting from the previous centuries. But this is a first, a document that is as alive as you and me, with people speaking, moving, laughing... Cinema is growing old, the first generation is already dead, so is the second one. We are creating those memories, documents of our past which seems more and more palpable, as if we could finally travel in time. It is beautiful, and sad at the same time. They gave their emotions, we feel attached very much to them, as if they were alive, close enough, growing old, but slowly, reachable. I would have loved to meet Katharine Hepburn, she looks like she was a wonderful lady, very creative, very devoted to cinema, with ideas that belong so well to our present time, almost as if we all were born too late, she was early, but she belongs here, now.
But all this is a fading image in a screen, it is the magic of cinema, the feeling for an hour or so that you are traveling, sharing, loving new people in a very intimate way, all characters of a bigger and longer story, humanity.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Keeper of the Flame by George Cukor, 1942 (NR)

with Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Richard Whorf, Margaret Wycherly, Forrest Tucker, Frank Craven, Stephen McNally, Percy Kilbride, Audrey Christie

While investigating the accidental death of revered war hero Robert Forrest, intrepid reporter Stevie O'Malley (Spencer Tracy) meets the man's wife (Katharine Hepburn) and learns a surprising truth about his subject's supposedly "patriotic" past. George Cukor directs this politically charged wartime thriller that marks Tracy and Hepburn's second onscreen partnership, just a year after their first pairing in the romantic comedy Woman of the Year.

"Keeper of the Flame" is not a romantic comedy, and is not portraying a relationship between Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, to start with. Which is a change. Probably the only movie of the duet... It is a crime movie, a drama, a movie that is very intelligent at that time, when sometimes the line between patriotism, cherishing of heroes and totalitarianism is very blurry. It reminded me in a way to what happened in California in the 70's, portrayed again in the German movie "Die Welle" (The Wave) a phenomenon that with ripple effect becomes a dangerous movement, if the leader's intentions are dark. It is well played, a little bit over-theatrical but I am guessing it is also the cinema of the time. Interesting nevertheless.

From the same director as Adam's Rib
There are no trailer available for this movie, to my great surprise...