4 Shots From 4 Films: The Star, The Oscar, In & Out, Tropic Thunder


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films is all about letting the visuals do the talking.

4 Shots From 4 Films

The Star (1952, dir by Stuart Heisler)

The Star (1952, dir by Stuart Heisler)

The Oscar (1966, dir by Russell Rouse)

The Oscar (1966, dir by Russell Rouse)

In & Out (1997, dir by Frank Oz)

In & Out (1997, dir by Frank Oz)

Tropic Thunder (2008, dir by Ben Stiller)

Tropic Thunder (2008, dir by Ben Stiller)

Lisa Reviews An Oscar Nominee: The Accidental Tourist (dir by Lawrence Kasdan)


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I have to admit that I was tempted to be a little bit snarky in my review of the 1988 Best Picture nominee, The Accidental Tourist.  I was going to say that The Accidental Tourist was a perfect example of a genre of film that has always been oddly popular with the Academy, the emotionally stunted man in New England learns to love again genre.

But, then I realized that I was wrong.  The Accidental Tourist does not take place in New England.  It takes place in Baltimore which may be located up north but which is technically considered to be part of the mid-Atlantic.  But, even with that in mind, it was impossible for me to watch The Accidental Tourist without thinking of other New England-set Oscar nominees, such as Mystic River and Manchester By The Sea.

As for the film itself, it’s about a man whose depressing life would be unbearable to watch if not for the fact that everyone around him is so extremely eccentric.  Macon Leary (William Hurt) is a travel writer.  He’s writes books giving people advice on how best to behave while seeing the world.  Throughout the film, we hear snippets of his prose.  Macon warns people about overpacking.  He warns them about arriving late at the airport.  He warns them about not properly planning out their trip.  He suggests that travelers bring a book to read but not too many books.  And don’t bring magazines because they get wrinkled too easily.  Now, to be honest, I liked most of Macon’s advice but then again, I’m OCD and I spend most of my time trying to make sure that everything I own is properly organized and can be equally divided.

A year ago, during a fast food robbery, Macon’s son was shot and killed.  Withdrawing from the world, Macon barely reacts when his wife, Sarah (Kathleen Turner), leaves him.  After breaking his leg while trying to convince his dog to climb down the stairs into the laundry room, Macon ends up moving in with his three siblings: autocratic Porter (David Ogden Stiers), slightly less autocratic Charles (Ed Begley, Jr.) and sweet but neurotic Rose (Amy Wright).

And so it goes.  Even when his agent, Julian (Bill Pullman), starts to date Rose, Macon can’t bring himself to open up emotionally.  Fortunately, Macon meets Muriel (Geena Davis), a quirky dog trainer.  Though it takes a while, Muriel starts to pull Macon out of his shell.  Soon, Macon is spending his nights over at her apartment and bonding with her sickly son.

(Why does every single mother in these type of movies have a sickly son?  Just for once, couldn’t a single mother be portrayed as having a child who is well-adjusted, popular, and healthy?)

But, just when everything seems to be perfect, Macon’s phone rings.  It’s Sarah and she wants to give their marriage another chance…

Just judging from the tone of this review, you’re probably thinking that I disliked The Accidental Tourist.  Actually, nothing could be further from the truth.  While the film’s mix of grim reality and relentlessly quirky supporting character can be a bit overwhelming at first, the film works if you stick with it.  That’s the thing — you have to stick with it.  When William Hurt first stares at the camera with his dead eyes and starts to drone about the importance of not spending too much money while in Paris, it’s tempting to just give up.  But, as the film progresses, it improves and so does Hurt’s performance.  By the time he finally worked up the strength to hold Muriel’s son’s hand while walking the boy home from school, I had tears in my mismatched eyes.

The Accidental Tourist is low-key but rather sweet film.  While the film centers around the performances of Hurt and Geena Davis (who won an Oscar for her work here), my favorite performances came from Bill Pullman and Amy Wright.  I honestly would happily watch a film that was just about their characters.

The Accidental Tourist was nominated for Best Picture but lost to Rain Man.

Scenes That I Love: “Come on, Oscar! Let’s get drunk!” from The Star!


In this scene, from the 1952 showbiz melodrama The Star, Bette Davis plays a faded film actress who has found the perfect drinking companion.

Interestingly enough, Bette Davis was nominated for an Oscar for getting drunk with Oscar.

 

Welcome to Oscar Sunday!


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Happy Oscar Sunday!

Today is an unofficial holiday among the humans.  Today is the day that rich people give awards to other rich people and the whole world watches on TV!

Have a wonderful Oscar Sunday and be sure to remember: awards don’t make a film great.  Greatness makes a film great!

Plus, how can you take any awards show seriously when there’s no category for Best Animal Performance?  This year’s winner?  Keanu the Kitten!

The Academy has spoken.

This year's winner for Best Animal Actor!

This year’s winner for Best Animal Actor!

Enjoy the Oscars on ABC at 7 eastern/4 pacific!  And check back on the Shattered Lens for a whole day of Oscar-related stuff (and maybe some non-Oscar related stuff as well!)

 

 

A Movie A Day #56: The White Buffalo (1977, directed by J. Lee Thompson)


whitebuffalo1977The year is 1874 and James Otis (Charles Bronson) is traveling through the Dakota Territory.  Everywhere that James Otis goes, someone tries to shoot him.  This is because James Otis is actually the infamous Wild Bill Hickcock and everyone this side of Deadwood has a reason to want him dead.  Hickcock has returned to the territory because he is losing his eyesight and he fears that he may be dying.  Hickcock has been having nightmares about a giant albino buffalo and believes that it is his destiny to either kill it or be killed himself.

Meanwhile, a young indian chief (Will Sampson) is also seeking the White Buffalo.  The buffalo previously attacked his village and killed his son.  The chief must now get revenge or lose his power in the tribe.  He is now known as Worm.  Before the buffalo attack, his name was Crazy Horse.

Crazy Horse eventually teams up with Hickcock and a one-eyed hunter named Charlie Zane (Jack Warden).  They work out an uneasy alliance but who, of the three, will finally get the chance to kill the buffalo?

When Dino De Laurentiis produced The White Buffalo, he was hoping to combine the popularity of Jaws with the star power of Charles Bronson.  It should have been a hit but instead, The White Buffalo was one of the many flops that temporarily killed the western as a commercial genre.  (Before there was Heaven’s Gate, there was The White Buffalo.)  The reason why is obvious: while audiences loved to watch Bronson shoot muggers in New York, they were less willing to sit through a pseudo-intellectual western version of Moby Dick that featured more conversation than gunplay.  The obviously fake buffalo did not help matters.

I still like The White Buffalo, though.  Because of the movie’s cheap sets, fake snow, and some inconsistent rear projection work, The White Buffalo is sometimes so surreal that it could pass for a Spaghetti Western.  (When I saw Bronson, Sampson, and Warden huddled in a cardboard cave while it fake snowed outside, I immediately thought of Sergio Corbucci’s The Great Silence.)  Charles Bronson, always an underrated actor, gave one of his best performances as the haunted Hickcock.  The White Buffalo was, up until his small role in Sean Penn’s The Indian Runner, the last time that Bronson would allow himself to appear as anyone other than Charles Bronson on-screen.

When watching The White Buffalo, keep an eye out for several Hollywood veterans in minor roles.  Kim Novak plays a prostitute.  Stuart Whitman is a thief.  Slim Pickens drives a stagecoach.  Clint Walker’s an outlaw and Ed Lauter plays the younger brother of Gen. Custer.  The town’s undertaker is John Carradine.  The cameos don’t add up too much but it’s still good to see everyone.

Lisa Makes Her Oscar Predictions!


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Okay, here’s the moment that I’m sure you’ve all been looking forward to!

It’s time for me to make my Oscar predictions!

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Yay!  It’s good to see that everyone’s excited!

Here is who I think will win tomorrow night:

Best Picture — La La Land

Best Director — Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Actor — Denzel Washington, Fences

Best Actress — Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Best Supporting Actor — Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress — Viola Davis, Fences

Best Original Screenplay — Manchester By The Sea

Best Adapted Screenplay — Arrival

Best Animated Feature — Zootopia

Best Art Direction — La La Land

Best Cinematography — La La Land

Best Costume Design — La La Land

Best Editing — La La Land

Best Makeup — A Man Called Ove

Best Sound Mixing — La La Land

Best Sound Editing — Hacksaw Ridge

Best Visual Effects — The Jungle Book

Best Original Song — “City of Stars” from La La Land

Best Original Score — La La Land

Best Documentary Feature — 13th

Best Foreign Language Film — The Salesman

Best Animated Short — Pear and Cider Cigarettes

Best Documentary Short — The White Helmets

Best Live Action Short — Timecode

To be honest, the only prediction that I’m 100% comfortable making is that this year’s Oscar ceremony is probably going to be the most political one in history.  Some people will love that.  Some people will be outraged.  Me, I just care about movies.

The Oscar air tomorrow on ABC, at 4 eastern and 7 pacific.  I will be live tweeting the awards and, of course, we’ll be posting Oscar-related stuff here on the Shattered Lens all through Sunday!

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Even Charles Foster Kane is excited!

And by the way, if you want get a head start on next year’s Oscars, why not check out my way too early predictions for January and February?

Enjoy!

The Dollars Trilogy Pt 3: THE GOOD, THE BAD, & THE UGLY (United Artists 1966)


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THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY is the GONE WITH THE WIND of Spaghetti Westerns, Sergio Leone’s masterpiece, and definitely in my Top 5 Favorite Films. After turning the genre upside down with A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS and inside out with FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, Leone’s final entry in his triptych of films starring Clint Eastwood as The Man With No Name is an ambitious epic about greed, revenge, and the futility of war, told with a warped sense of humor and plenty of action. Besides Eastwood and FEW DOLLARS co-star Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach joins the cast in a performance that should have won the Oscar.

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We’re first introduced to Angel Eyes (Van Cleef), who’s one mean mutha. Sent to find information on the location of stolen Confederate gold, he kills his informant, then kills the man who hired him, and begins his search for “Bill Carson”. Meanwhile…

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