4 Shots From 4 James Caan Films: Lady in a Cage, The Godfather, Misery, Bottle Rocket


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 lets the visuals do the talking.

Happy birthday to one of the great American actors, James Caan!

In honor of this day, here are….

4 Shots From 4 James Caan Films

Lady in a Cage (1964, dir by Walter Grauman)

The Godather (1972, dir by Francis Ford Coppola)

Misery (1990, dir by Rob Reiner)

Bottle Rocket (1996, dir by Wes Anderson)

4 Shots From 4 Films: The 4 best Best Picture Winners


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 lets the visuals do the talking.

Today is Oscar Sunday!  Tonight, a new film will join the exclusive list of the 90 previous best picture winners!

Sometimes, we spend so much time focusing on the winners that shouldn’t have won that we forget that some truly great films have managed to take the top prize.  So, with this edition of 4 Shots From 4 Films, I’m highlighting for the four best Best Picture winners!

4 Shots From 4 Films

All About Eve (1950, dir by Joseph L. Mankiewicz)

The Godfather Saga (1972 and 1974, dir by Francis Ford Coppola)

It Happened One Night (1934, dir by Frank Capra)

West Side Story (1961, dir by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins)

4 Shots From 4 Christmas Films: The Godfather, Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, Die Hard 2


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 lets the visuals do the talking.

Merry Christmas!

Let’s get today started with….

4 Shots From 4 Christmas Films

The Godfather (1972, dir by Francis Ford Coppola)

Lethal Weapon (1987, dir by Richard Donner)

Die Hard (1988, dir by John McTiernan)

Die Hard 2 (1990, dir by Renny Harlin)

4 Shots From 4 Films: A Streetcar Named Desire, Reflections in a Golden Eye, The Godfather, Last Tango in Paris


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 lets the visuals do the talking!

In honor of Marlon Brando’s birthday, here’s…

4 Shots From 4 Films

A Streetcar Named Desire (1952, dir by Elia Kazan)

Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967, dir by John Huston)

The Godfather (1972, dir by Francis Ford Coppola)

Last Tango in Paris (1973, dir by Bernardo Bertolucci)

Playing Catch-Up With The Films of 2017: Paris Can Wait (dir by Eleanor Coppola)


Anne (Diane Lane) is the wife of Michael (Alec Baldwin).  Michael is an internationally renowned film producer.  As is established early on, their marriage is not perfect.  Michael is consumed with work and, at one point, Anne spots him deep in conversation with a young actress.  Anne’s reaction tells us all we need to know about Michael’s history as a husband.  While Michael obsesses on making the latest deal, Anne takes pictures of inanimate objects.  None of the pictures are particularly good but everyone in the movie raves about them.  I imagine that has something to do with the fact that Anne is based on Eleanor Coppola, who wrote and directed Paris Can Wait.

When the film opens, Anne and Michael are at Cannes.  Michael has spent the entire festival making deals but he’s promised Anne a Paris vacation afterward.  However, the day that they’re vacation is supposed to begin, Michael gets a call!  He’s needed in Budapest!  And Anne can’t fly because she has an ear infection…

No worries!  Their friend Jacques (Arnaud Viard) is willing to drive Anne to Paris and keep her company while she waits for Michael to return.  And so, while Michael flies off to Budapest, Anne and Jacques head off for Paris.  However, Anne soon finds herself questioning Jacques’s intentions.  Is he being flirtatious or is he just French?  When he stops off at every restaurant along the way and uses Anne’s credit card to pay the exorbitant bills, is he taking advantage of her or is he just being French?  When Anne isn’t doubting Jacques’s intentions, she’s questioning her marriage.  Is Michael really in Budapest to work on a movie or is he having an affair?

One of the good things about being rich is that you occasionally get to make a movie about how difficult it is to be rich.  That certainly seems to be the case with Paris Can Wait, which was written and directed by Eleanor Coppola, the wife of Francis Ford Coppola and the mother of Sofia and Roman Coppola.  Paris Can Wait is said to be autobiographical, which would seem to suggest that Eleanor and Francis aren’t particularly interesting human beings.

There are some positive elements to the film, of course. Diane Lane gives about as good a performance as one can when you’re playing an idealized version of a film’s director.  Also, Alec Baldwin manages to make it through the entire movie without bellowing.  In fact, Baldwin’s barely in the movie and that’s not a bad thing.  The French countryside looks beautiful but, quite frankly, it’s impossible for the French countryside not to look beautiful.  On the negative side, it just doesn’t add up to much.  You never really care whether or not Michael and Anne stay together.  You’re just thankful that you’ll never get stuck beside them on an airplane.

I think the main problem is that, as a director, Eleanor Coppola doesn’t really seem to know what she’s trying to say with her film.  For instance, I could imagine Sofia Coppola taking the exact same material and creating a movie that would be achingly poignant and full of ennui.  But, with Eleanor, it’s just another travelogue to nowhere.

A Movie A Day #264: The Cotton Club (1984, directed by Francis Ford Coppola)


The time is the 1930s and the place is New York City.  Everyone wants to get into the Cotton Club.  Owned by British gangster Owney Madden (Bob Hoskins), the Cotton Club is a place where the stage is exclusively reserved for black performers and the audience is exclusively rich and white.  Everyone from gangsters to film stars comes to the Cotton Club.

It is at the Cotton Club that Dixie Dwyer (Richard Gere) meets everyone from Dutch Shultz (James Remar) to Gloria Swanson (Diane Venora).  Shultz hires Dixie to look after his girlfriend, Vera (Diane Lane).  Swanson arranges for Dixie to become a movie star.  Meanwhile, Dixie’s crazy brother, Vincent (Nicolas Cage), rises up through the New York underworld.  Meanwhile, dancing brothers Sandman and Clay Williams (played by real-life brothers Gregory and Maurice Hines) are stars on stage but face discrimination off, at least until Harlem gangster Bumpy Rhodes (Laurence Fishburne) comes to their aid.

The Cotton Club was a dream project of the legendary producer, Robert Evans, who was looking to make a comeback after being famously charged with cocaine trafficking in 1980.  Having commissioned a screenplay by his former Godfather collaborators, Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola, Evans originally planned to direct the film himself.  At the last minute, Evans changes his mind and asked Coppola to direct the film.  After working with him on The Godfather, Coppola had sworn that he would never work with Evans again. (When he won an Oscar for The Godfather‘s screenplay, Coppola pointedly thanked everyone but Robert Evans.)  However, by 1984, a series of box office flops had damaged Coppola’s standing in Hollywood.  Needing the money, Coppola agreed to direct The Cotton Club.

Evans raised the film’s $58 million budget from a number of investors, including Roy Radin.  Roy Radin was best known for putting together Vaudeville reunions in the 70s and being accused of raping an actress in 1980.  Radin and Evans were introduced to each other by a drug dealer named Lanie Jacobs, who was hoping to remake herself as a film producer.  During the production of The Cotton Club, Radin was murdered by a contract killer who was hired by Jacobs, who apparently felt that Radin was trying to muscle her out of the film production.

While all of this was going on, Coppola fell into his familiar pattern of going overbudget and falling behind schedule.  This led to another investor filing a lawsuit against Orion Pictures and two other investors, claiming fraud and breach of contract.  When the film was finally released, it received mixed reviews, struggled at the box office, and only received two Oscar nominations.

With all of the murder and drama that was occurring offscreen, it is not surprising that the film itself was overshadowed.  The Cotton Club is a disjointed mix of gangster drama and big production numbers.  As always with post-Apocalypse Now Coppola, there are flashes of brilliance in The Cotton Club.  Some of the production numbers are impressive and visually, this movie has got style to burn.   However, among the leads, neither Richard Gere nor Diane Lane seem to be invested in their characters while the talented Hines brothers are underused.  The supporting cast is full of good character actors who are all in a search of a better script.  A few do manage to make an impression: James Remar, Bob Hoskins and Fred Gwynne as veteran gangsters, Nicolas Cage as the film’s stand-in for Mad Dog Coll, and Joe Dallesandro as Lucky Luciano.  The Cotton Club is sometimes boring and sometimes exciting but the onscreen story is never as interesting as what happened behind the scenes.

 

Growing Pains: YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW (Warner Brothers 1966)


cracked rear viewer

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Francis Ford Coppola  was still a UCLA film student when he made YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW, the 1966 coming of age comedy he used as his MFA thesis. The young Coppola was 27, and had gained experience working for Roger Corman ; indeed, Corman gave him his first break when he hired Coppola to write and direct the horror quickie DEMENTIA 13. But YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW was his first major studio release, and put him on the map as a talent to keep an eye on.

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Bernard Chanticleer is a 19 year old nerd with a way-overprotective mother and disinterested, authoritarian father. He works for Dad at a New York City library, and is constantly goofing up on the job. Dad thinks it’s time for Bernard to spread his wings and move on his own, much to Mom’s displeasure. She finds him a room at a house owned by Miss Thing, who’s tenants include conservative…

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