Lisa’s Week In Review: 1/20/20 — 1/26/20

Well, this week kind of sucked.  Things started out okay but then I got massively sick on Thursday and I’m only now really starting to recover.  So, basically, I’ve been out-of-it for the last four days.  (Actually, it’s more like the last 4-and-a-half days because I first started to feel a little bit ill around Wednesday evening.)

Anyway, I’ve been forcing myself to rest and “get better” and all that good stuff.  It sucks because I’m not very good at resting but oh well.  Here’s what I was able to accomplish this week, despite being under the weather.  (I mentioned on twitter that I was “under the weather” and a total stranger responded with something about how there’s this huge conspiracy to control the weather and really, folks — don’t start that shit when you’re talking to someone who is already feeling ill and, therefore, not in a particularly indulgent mood.  I’ve never hit the block button so fast in my life.)

Films I Watched:

  1. Alibi (1929)
  2. Blue Chips (1994)
  3. Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer (2020)
  4. The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)
  5. Mercy Streets (2000)
  6. The Nomads (2019)
  7. The Path of the Wind (2009)
  8. Romeo and Juliet (1936)
  9. Sounder (1972)
  10. Wild Rose (2019)

Television Shows I Watched:

  1. 9-1-1: Lone Star
  2. 60 Days In
  3. Avenue 5
  4. The Bachelor 24
  5. Beverly Hills 90210
  6. Boston Stranger: The Real Story
  7. Cheer
  8. Conan
  9. Curb Your Enthusiasm
  10. Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours To Hell And Back
  11. It’s a Living
  12. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
  13. The Love Boat
  14. The Office
  15. The Outsider
  16. Seinfeld

Books I Read:

  1. Giant (2018) by Don Graham

Music To Which I Listened:

  1. Above & Beyond
  2. Armin van Buuren
  3. Best Coast
  4. Bikini Kill
  5. The Chemical Brothers
  6. Crud
  7. The Damned
  8. Jackie Lynn
  9. Jakalope
  10. The Jam
  11. Jimi Hendrix
  12. Kedr Livanskiy
  13. Maluma
  14. The New York Dolls
  15. Okay Kaya
  16. Selena Gomez
  17. The Sex Pistols
  18. The Slits
  19. Steve Aoki
  20. Twist Helix

Awards Season Links:

  1. DGA
  2. Annie Awards
  3. ASC
  4. USC Scripter Awards
  5. CAS

Links From Last Week:

  1. The former lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania is now doing stand-up comedy in California as ‘Mikey Stacks’
  2. Are new ‘Great Gatsby’ adaptations in our future? The classic’s copyright is set to expire in 2021

Links From The Site:

  1. Case reviewed The Perfection!
  2. Erin shared The Covers of Real Western and featured Charles Moore’s photograph of Martin Luther King, The Million Eyes of Su Muru, They Came To Rob Las Vegas, One Adam and Five Eves, Courage, The Trees, and the Judas Tree!
  3. Jeff reviewed Goin’ South, When Justice Fails, Dilemma, Gunshy, Lipstick Camera, Backstreet Justice, and RamboHe paid tribute to Terry Jones.  He shared music videos by Talking Heads, Monster Magnet, The Beastie Boys, and INXS!
  4. Pat shared some new movie posters that you need to see!
  5. Ryan reviewed Floppy and Wildest Dreams and shared his weekly reading round-up!
  6. I shared music videos from Best Coast, Okay Kaya, and Jackie Lynn!  I shared scenes from La Dolce Vita, Roller Boogie, and Mad Max: Fury Road!  I observed the birthdays of David Lynch, Jim Jarmusch, and Paul Newman!  I reviewed Alibi, Tender Mercies, Sounder, and Romeo and Juliet!  Finally, I wrote about 7 films that David Lynch turned down!

More From Us:

  1. At Days without Incident, Leonard wrote about Terry Jones.
  2. At Pop Politics, Jeff wrote about the New York Time presidential endorsements and the death of a former congressman.  He also reviewed Netflix’s Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez!
  3. On her photography site, Erin shared Society, Something In A Tree, Space Available, The Train, Truth, Try and Stop Me, and Twin Fans!
  4. On my music site, I shared songs from Armin Van Buuren, Above & Beyond, Jimi Hendrix, Twist Helix, Aoki, Best Coast, and Kedr Livanskiy!
  5. Ryan has a patreon, please consider subscribing!

Want to see what I did last week?  Click here!

For some reason, this just amuses the Hell out of me.

4 Shots From 4 Paul Newman Films: Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Cool Hand Luke, The Verdict, The Hudsucker Proxy

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!

95 years ago today, Paul Newman was born in Shaker Heights, Ohio.  He would go on, of course, to become one of America’s greatest film stars, an acclaimed actor who was active from the mid-part of the 20th century to the beginning of our current century.  He made his film debut in 1954 with The Silver Chalice (and subsequently paid for an ad in which he apologized for his performance in the film, which I think was a bit unnecessary as he wasn’t really that bad in the film) and he made his final onscreen appearance in 2005 in Empire Falls.  (He did, however, subsequently provide the voice of Doc Hudson in Cars, along with narrating a few documentaries.)  Time and again, he proved himself to be one of the best actors around.  According to most report, he was also one of the nicest.  When he died in 2008, the world mourned.

In honor of his cinematic legacy, here are….

4 Shots From 4 Paul Newman Films

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (1958, dir by Richard Brooks)

Cool Hand Luke (1967, dir by Stuart Rosenberg)

The Verdict (1981, dir by Sidney Lumet)

The Hudsucker Proxy (1994, dir by the Coen Brothers)

Scene That I Love For Australia Day: The Chase Begins in Mad Max: Fury Road

Time zones really suck!

I’m in America right now and the date here is currently January 26th.  Now, I look at that date and I think to myself, “Hey, it’s Australia Day!  I’ve got friends in Australia and, according to our site stats, this site has got quite a few readers over there as well!  I definitely need to wish everyone a good holiday!”

Except, of course, I’m a day behind Australia.  In Australia, it’s currently January 27th.  Australia Day was yesterday.

So, what can I say?  I’m a day late in wishing everyone a happy Australia Day and the time zones are too blame.  I’ve never understood why we need time zones anyways.  Don’t even get me started on the International Date Line, which I think was only invented to leave people like me feeling confused.

Oh well.  Happy belated Australia Day!

Today’s scene of the day is from the second-most financially successful Australian film of all time, 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road.  I don’t know if it’s possible to really describe just how exciting it was to see this film for the first time.  At a time when action films were typically unambitious and uninspired, Mad Max: Fury Road grabbed the world and said, “Wake up, dammit!”

Of course, the film itself is about more than just action.  It’s about empowerment and freedom and the environment and redemption.  It’s a film that seems to be taking place in another world.  That is, until you see all the cars and the spray paint and then you’re like, “Oh wait a minute.  This just humanity in the future.”  Mad Max: Fury Road was nominated for Best Picture and really, it should have won.  Does anyone remember which film beat it?  (The correct answer is Spotlight.)

In this scene below …. well, the chase begins!  And it’s an amazing scene, largely because there is no CGI.  There is no shaky cam designed to make things look more exciting than it actually was.  Those are actual cars, speeding through an actual desert and that’s an actual person playing a guitar that shoots out fire.  And you know what?  Give some credits to the drummers too.

This scene was, of course, directed by George Miller.  Check it all out below:

After Last Night, 1917 is your new Oscar front runner!

There were a lot of very important awards given out last night and suddenly, the Oscar race has become much, much clearer.  Yes, Parasite is a big contender and it’s certainly a big deal that it won at SAG.  It’ll probably win quite a few Oscars.  But, as of right now, the front runner for best picture is clearly 1917.

Not only has 1917 won the PGA award but, last night, Sam Mendes won the DGA.  1917 is coming on strong and it’s late release date is definitely working in its favor.  It came out just in time to wow the Oscar voters but also late enough that there wasn’t time for any sort of backlash to develop against it.  If I had to guess now, I’d say that 1917 is going to win Best Picture and we can at least take comfort in the fact that it’s better than the last Sam Mendes film that won.

Anyway, instead of doing like 30 different posts for each group that met last night, here’s a quick rundown:

The DGA (Director’s Guild of America) — Sam Mendes won Best Director for 1917.  Honey Boy’s Alma Har’el won for Best First Time Director.  The documentary award went to Steven Bogner and Julia Reichert for American Factory.

Annie Awards (Animation) — Klaus won Best Feature.  I Lost My Body won best indie feature.

ASC (American Society of Cinematographers) — Roger Deakins for 1917

USC Scripter Awards (Adapted Screenplay) — Greta Gerwig for Little Women

CAS (Cinema Audio Society) — Best Feature went to Ford v. Ferrari.  Best Animated Feature went to Toy Story 4.  Best Documentary Feature was won by Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound.

So, for all you people making your Oscar bets — well, who knows?  Listen, the Oscars are unpredictable.  GREEN BOOK WON LAST YEAR, PEOPLE!  So, anything’s possible.  One thing to remember is that Best Picture is determined by a preferential voting system so it’s a close race between two films, it could easily be everyone’s second choice that wins.  And that could mean an upset victory for something like Ford v Ferrari or even Little Women.

But, as for right now, 1917 is the front runner.

Music Video of the Day: Casino Queen by Jackie Lynn (2020, dir by Haley Fohr and Krzys Piotrowski)

One minute, you’re running through the desert.

The next minute, you’re winning everyone’s money.

Such is life, when you’re a Casino Queen.

Actually, I don’t know if that interpretation is correct or not.  This seems to be a video that’s open to multiple interpretations.  I guess a lot of how you react to it will depend on how you feel about casinos in general.  I find casinos to be depressing places, where people inevitably gamble away their futures while the local Elvis impersonator begs someone to drop a quarter in his guitar case.  Other people tend to see casinos as being a place where anyone can strike it big, if they just have the right combination of luck and skill.  I’m not sure if this video depicts someone getting lucky or cheating.  Maybe it’s a little of both.

Myself, I’ve never been much of a gambler.  For instance, I would never be able to do well at poker because I would constantly be asking the person sitting next to me if I had a good hand or not.  Blackjack is a lot more easier to play since all you have to do is just try not to go over 21.  Actually, if I ever did go on a gambling spree, I’d probably just hit the slot machines.  Or maybe the roulette wheel.

To be honest, whenever I hear the word “casino,” I think about Robert De Niro critiquing the blueberry muffins in the Martin Scorsese film of the same name.  The Ace Rothstein Dancers were my favorite part of that movie and I think they would appreciate this song because you can dance to it.

This video has a 70s-version-of-the-future feel to it, which I like.  If Logan’s Run had taken place in a casino, it probably would have looked a lot like Casino Queen.


Lisa Reviews An Oscar Nominee: Romeo and Juliet (dir by George Cukor)

You know the story that’s told in this 1936 film already, don’t you?

In the city of Verona, Romeo Montague (Leslie Howard) has fallen in love with Juliet Capulet (Norma Shearer).  Normally, this would be cause for celebration because, as we all know, love is a wonderful thing.  However, the House of Capulet and the House of Montague have long been rivals.  When we first meet them all, they’re in the process of having a brawl in the middle of the street.  There’s no way that Lord Capulet (C. Aubrey Smith) will ever accept the idea of Juliet marrying a Montague, especially when he’s already decided that she is to marry Paris (Ralph Forbes).  Things get even more complicated with Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt (Basil Rathbone), kills Romeo’s best friend, Mercutio (John Barrymore).  Romeo then kills Tybalt and things only grow more tragic from there.

It’s hard to keep track of the number of films that have been made out of William Shakespeare’s tale of star-crossed lovers and tragedy.  The plot is so universally known that “Romeo and Juliet” has become shorthand for any story of lovers who come from different social sects.  Personally, I’ve always felt that Romeo and Juliet was less about love and more about how the rivalry between the Montagues and the Capulets forces the young lovers into making hasty decisions.  If not for Lord Capulet throwing a fit over his daughter’s new boyfriend, she and Romeo probably would have split up after a month or two.  Seriously, I’ve lost track of how many losers I went out with in high school just because my family told me that I shouldn’t.

Producer Irving Thalberg spent five years trying to get MGM’s Louis B. Mayer to agree to greenlight a film version of Romeo and Juliet.  Mayer thought that most audiences felt that Shakespeare was above them and that they wouldn’t spend money to see an adaptation of one of his plays.  Thalberg, on the other hand, thought that the story would be a perfect opportunity to highlight the talents of his wife, Norma Shearer.  It was only after Warner Bros. produced a financially successful version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that Mayer gave Romeo and Juliet the go ahead.

Of course, by the time the film went into production, Norma Shearer was 34 years old and a little bit too mature to be playing one of the most famous teenagers in literary history.  Perhaps seeking to make Shearer seem younger, Thalberg cast 43 year-old Leslie Howard as Romeo, 44 year-old Basil Rathbone as Tybalt, and 54 year-old John Barrymore as Mercutio,  (In Barrymore’s defense, to me, Mercutio always has come across as being Verona’s equivalent of the guy who goes to college for ten years and then keeps hanging out on the campus even after dropping out.)

In short, this is the middle-aged Romeo and Juliet and, despite all of the good actors in the cast, it’s impossible not to notice.  There were few Golden Age actors who fell in love with the authenticity of Leslie Howard and Basil Rathbone is a wonderfully arrogant and sinister Tybalt.  Norma Shearer occasionally struggles with some of the Shakespearean dialogue but, for the most part, she does a good job of making Juliet’s emotions feel credible.  As for Barrymore — well, he’s John Barrymore.  He’s flamboyant, theatrical, and a lot of fun to watch if not always totally convincing as anything other than a veteran stage actor hamming it up.  The film is gorgeous to look at and George Cukor embraces the melodrama without going overboard.  But, everyone in the movie is just too old and it does prove to be a bit distracting.  A heart-broken teenager screaming out, “I am fortune’s fool!” is emotionally powerful.  A 43 year-old man doing the same thing is just not as effective.

Despite being a box office failure (it turned out that Mayer was right about Depression-era audiences considering Shakespeare to be too “arty”), Romeo and Juliet was nominated for Best Picture of the year, the second Shakespearean adaptation to be so honored.  However, the award that year went to another big production, The Great Ziegfeld.