Category Archives: TV and Film

Forgotten Filmcast Episode 101: Brain Donors

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On this episode of the Forgotten Filmcast, Todd is joined by Jesse from Retro Revelations to discuss a film that does the unthinkable…it dares to remake a Marx Brothers movie. John Turturro, Mel Smith and Bob Nelson take over for Groucho, Chico and Harpo in the 1992 film Brain Donors.

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Show Notes:
Retro Revelations
Jesse at Twitter

Movies Discussed:
Brain Donors
12:01
The Three Stooges

Music:
“Protofunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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The Savage Innocents

This article is from Forgotten Films. Click the title to hop over there.

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With so many different styles of movies out there, I know that there’s one thing that has consumed your mind all these years…the fact that there just aren’t enough eskimo epics out there. I feel you pain, man. Fear not, though, film fans, for today we’re traveling back to the year 1960 for an eskimo adventure courtesy of director Nicholas Ray. Bundle up for The Savage Innocents.

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The film centers on a simple-minded and lonely eskimo hunter named Inuk (Anthony Quinn). Though Inuk manages fine on his own, he is anxious to have a woman to “laugh’ with. I think it’s fair to say that laughing has a slightly different connotation in this particular culture. When visiting a friend, Inuk meets the man’s nieces, either of whom would make a fine wife. At first Inuk fancies one who ends up being romanced by another man, but he soon finds that he truly loves the other girl, Asiak (Yoko Tani). The two head off into the icy landscape to live together, with the mother-in-law in tow.

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From there we follow Inuk on various adventures. He soon starts focusing on hunting foxes because he hears that the white men like their furs and will trade him furs for a gun. This little family starts to grow, also, as Asiak gives birth to a son. Trouble soon comes to Inuk, though, when he accidentally kills a white missionary who refuses his offer to “laugh” with Asiak. Now, Inuk is pursued by law enforcement officials (one of whom is played by Peter O’Toole, but with his voice dubbed) determined to bring him to justice.

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The Savage Innocents is an interesting film, though it’s not without some aspects that don’t entirely work. There are some sequences of the film, including the opening, that feature a very clinical narration that makes the film feel a bit like those scratchy educational films we used to watch on days when the 4th grade teacher didn’t feel like teaching. The narration does provide some important information that comes in handy as the film progresses, but it still comes across as a bit awkward.

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Anthony Quinn’s performance is one that I quite enjoyed, but I have a feeling some people may find it a bit grating. To me he came across as a very genuine character, a gentle giant of sorts. He’s a simple man who just wants someone to love. At the same time, there is a childish aspect of his character that can wear a bit thin. There’s a bit too much weird giggling, not to mention some over-the-top reactions to the simplest of things. I can understand how some might be annoyed by his performance. I, however, found Inuk to be, for the most part, a charming character, especially in his interactions with Yoko Tani as Asiak…probably the best performance of the fim. Peter O’Toole is also fine, but, full disclosure, between the fact that his voice is dubbed and he’s buried under a giant fur coat, I didn’t realize it was him.

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The highlight of the film is definitely the photography. There are some truly awe inspiring shots of the snowy landscape and some incredible wildlife photography. One sequence has Inuk and another man hunting walrus, which leads them to a small island of rocks covered in literally hundreds of the giant creatures. All the walruses then start streaming into the water in an effort escape the approaching hunters. I simply have never seen a sequence quite like this before. It was quite impressive. Of course, not all of the film could be shot on location in the harsh wintry landscape, so there is also quite a bit of a soundstage work. Though these scenes are quite obviously shot on a soundstage, I’d still say these sequences are integrated with the location material quite well.

I did find The Savage Innocents to be an interesting film which does an effective job of transporting the viewers to a world that most will never experience first hand. There are a few hammy aspects that some viewers may have trouble warming up to, pun intended, but there was enough to make this film worthy of rubbing noses with.

Note: The Savage Innocents was recently released on DVD and Blu Ray by Olive Films.  Thanks to them for giving us a chance to check out the film.

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Nutcracker: The Motion Picture

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At the elementary school I attended it was a tradition that the third grade classes presented a production of The Nutcracker each year. No, it’s wasn’t the ballet, it was just a simple play. There were kids who played candy canes, snowflakes, sugar plum fairies, and all the various ethnic dancers. I ended up with one of the parts that all the boys coveted…I was a mouse! We got to fight the tin soldiers with cardboard swords. It was awesome! Granted, though, our production didn’t quite have the production value of our film today, which attempts to bring to the screen a ballet production of the story. With direction by The Black Stallion’s Carroll Ballard and story input from Where the Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak it’s 1986’s Nutcracker: The Motion Picture.

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The story concerns an adolescent girl named Clara (Vanessa Sharp) who is given an intricate toy castle from her creepy toymaker uncle Drosselmeyer (Hugh Bigney) for Christmas. Inside are dancing figures that come to life, but she soon becomes more entranced by a nutcracker figure that falls off the Christmas tree. However, her brother Fritz soon breaks the little soldier figure. Later that night, strange things start to happen in the girls’ living room as a battle rages between the nutcracker and his army of tin soldiers and a group of nasty mice.

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After the battle is won, the nutcracker transforms into a handsome prince (Wad Walthall), and Clara transforms into a more shapely adult version of herself (Patricia Barker). The couple then board a boat and sail off to a mystical kingdom ruled by a strange Pasha (also Hugh Bigney) who tries to impress Clara with an assortment of exotic dancers in an attempt to woo her away from her nutcracker prince.

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Now, this movie is at its core a filmed version of a stage production. The Pacific Northwest Ballet is the company putting on the production. The choreography, staging, and sets are all quite lovely. However, I don’t know that director Ballard really does that much to elevate this to a more cinematic level. Perhaps I’m slightly biased for having just watched the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense recently. That is another “stage production” brought to the screen, but Jonathan Demme’s camera is used so creatively in that particular film. Here I feel like Ballard has about half a dozen shots that he cycles through as the film progresses. Sure, the dancing on its own is wonderful, but it’s not captured in a very awe inspiring way.

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One thing I found very intriguing about this version of the Nutcracker is that it goes to some strange places that I don’t remember seeing in other versions of this material. At various points in the film there is narration by Julie Harris, as the voice of an adult Clara. To put it simply, this narration made me more than a little bit uncomfortable. It seems to suggest a somewhat inappropriate dynamic between the young Clara and her bizarre toymaking uncle. This is heightened by the way Hugh Bigney plays Drosselmeyer as a leering creep. Things are taken to an even more uncomfortable level when later in the production the Pasha is clearly supposed to be Drosselmeyer in a turban trying to get busy with the now womanly Clara. All this will surely go over the heads of most of the kids in the audience, but mom and dad may squirm a bit.

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I guess this film is one that is a more satisfying if you don’t try to go too deep with it. As I said before, the dancing is beautifully done. Patricia Barker was especially enchanting with her interpretation of the material. Taking the kiddos to an actual ballet production can sometimes be a bit of a challenge, so this is a perfectly fine way to experience this sort of production with the youngsters. However, if you let this film sink into some of the darker corners of your brain it can be a bit more disturbing than you may want in your average Christmas family movie. It certainly goes to some places that my third grade production of the Nutrcracker never went.

Note: Nutcracker: The Motion Picture was recently released on DVD and BluRay by our friends at Olive Films. Big thanks to them for letting us check out the film.

Go to Source – Forgotten Films



Walt Sent Me Episode 88: The Preacher’s Wife

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It’s time for this year’s Walt Sent Me Christmas episode. This year we discuss the 1996 remake of the The Bishop’s WifeThe Preacher’s Wife, starring Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston. We also look at the 1952 short Pluto’s Christmas Tree.

Also, be sure to check out Kristen’s other podcast, Ticklish Business, which will be posting an episode in the coming days on the original 1947 film, The Bishop’s Wife.

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Forgotten Filmcast Episode 100: The Day of the Locust

This article is from Forgotten Films. Click the title to hop over there.

The Day of the Locust

The Forgotten Filmcast has made it to 100 episodes! For this milestone Todd is joined by Tony Cogan from Coog’s Reviews to discuss the 1975 film The Day of the Locust.

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Show Notes:
Coog’s Reviews
Tony on Twitter

Film’s Discussed:
The Day of the Locust
Paddington 2
The Wild Party

Music:
“Protofunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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Walt Sent Me Episode 87: Casanova

This article is from Forgotten Films. Click the title to hop over there.

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On the new episode of Walt Sent Me, Kristen and Todd talk about an odd film from 2005. Released by Disney’s Touchstone label, Heath Ledger stars in Casanova. They also take a look at the 1932 Silly Symphony short Flowers and Trees…the first every color cartoon.

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