‘Separate Tables’

separatetablesDelbert Mann’s Separate Tables is probably one of the best hidden gems I’ve checked out recently. It’s available to stream on Amazon Prime Instant Video, so definitely check it out.

I saw it only knowing that David Niven won his Oscar for his performance in the film, but he wasn’t even the best part of it. Wendy Hiller, Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr and Rita Hayworth were all stunning. Hiller and Niven deserved their Oscars, but this is one film that should have had three winners. Kerr gives this her all as Sibyl.

If you haven’t seen this movie, you are in for a treat.

Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Une femme mariee’

une femme mariee

Une femme mariee, fragments d’un film tourne en 1964 en noir et blanc (A Married Woman: Fragments of a Film Shot in Black and White), a film from Jean-Luc Godard, is more like an essay, devoid of any traditional film language. Then again, if you expect anything ‘traditional’ in a Godard film, you’ve never heard of him. 

Une femme mariee was far different by even Godard standards. As I noted, anything an audience usually expects in a film is not here. In a sense, it’s a film without a beginning, climax and an end. There is no action. It focuses on Charlotte (Macha Meril), a married woman torn between her husband, a man romanticizing the past, and an actor. She seems committed to neither of them and Godard appears to be more interested in the effects of consumerism on her life.

Charlotte is one of the most interesting female characters in Godard’s cinema. She’s older than Anna Karina’s characters in Bande a part and Alphaville, the two films Une femme mariee is sandwiched by. Charlotte is an individual not tied to anyone, even though she loves her husband’s child (she is not the mother). Still, I don’t think she is not happy with her life, especially after reading page after page of magazines and seeing what life is “supposed” to be like.

The film was made in just four weeks and even without a script, but you wouldn’t get that feeling upon seeing it. Raoul Coutard’s cinematography has never been better, perfectly capturing the unique images in Godard’s head.

While MoC may be the Criterion Collection of England, they do things a little differently. Une femme mariee does include Godard’s trailer, but that’s it. The rest of the bonus material is the 80-page book, filled with some fascinating essays. I still haven’t even read through it all yet!

MoC has put together another fine package with Une femme mariee. I can’t wait to get another one of their releases soon. If you are a fan of Godard in the U.S., get this now.

Quick ‘Argo’ Thoughts

argopicIt took literally months, but I finally saw Argo. Ben Affleck has now scored wins from the Director’s Guild, the Screen Actor’s Guild and the Producer’s Guild, meaning that it’s the one film riding momentum heading into the Oscars. Of course, a lot of noise is being made about how he wasn’t nominated for an Oscar, which I still think is a big deal.

I’m not doing a full review but here are some quick thoughts:

  • How great is that opening? The storming of the embassy is a master stroke…quite possibly the best part of the movie.
  • Affleck may have gotten robbed, but Bryan Cranston was robbed of a Best Supporting Actor nod. I know people love Alan Arkin (he got the best lines), but Cranston was amazing as Affleck’s superior.
  • Great soundtrack.
  • I have to say, it was really cool to see that old ’70s Warner logo on the big screen.
  • The last twenty minutes were exhilarating. This movie is book-ended by two great sequences.

See this movie in theaters while you can. It comes out on Blu-ray the Tuesday before the Oscars, but this begs to be seen on the big screen. As for whether or not this movie deserves to win Best Picture … I’m still rooting for either Lincoln or Silver Linings Playbook.

Photo: ArgoTheMovie.com

Warner Archive Titles: ‘None But The Lonely Heart,’ ‘The Merry Widow’ & ‘The Fugitive’

ImageBack in November, I finally got my first Warner Archive titles during one of their big deals. I picked up None But The Lonely HeartThe Merry Widow (1925) and The Fugitive (1947). I’d been a little apprehensive because of the entire DVD-R thing, but I have to say I was pleased with the quality of all three.

I covered None But The Lonely Heart extensively in my TheCelebrityCafe.com post. It was the only remastered title I bought. That film is obviously in pretty rough shape if that was remastered.

Erich Von Stroheim’s The Merry Widow is an incredible film that I know I would never had a chance to see without Warner Archive. I was absolutely stunned by the film, which I saw after seeing TCM’s last airing of Greed. Von Stroheim was really a master of the medium and it’s an absolute shame that I can’t see more of his work. Mae Murray was gorgeous in this.

As for The Fugitive, I think Ford might have gone a little too far on the art angle. Light and shadows seemed a little more important in that film than the story of a priest on the run. Still, even as lesser Ford, it’s a great film. Henry Fonda gives a touching performance.

My Cinematic 2012

slpIt’s time for me to really start posting regularly. I’m starting now with this roundup of 2012 in movies for me.

  • One of the perks of working at TheCelebrityCafe.com is getting to write my Film Friday column. In 2012, I’ve covered everything from the obscure to the silly, to the classics to the soon-to-be-classics
  • I just sent a series of Tweets on the films I saw in theaters. Check that out.
  • I’ve seen far too many other films thanks to TCM. I’ve also got this Roku box now, so now I can catch all that Netflix and Hulu has to offer.

Thoughts on what I saw in theaters:

  • My review on David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook can be read here. I truly believe that Jennifer Lawrence is a new force to be reckoned with. Her performance on this and Joaquin Phoenix’s performance in The Master were the best of 2012.
  • Prometheus was a big disappointment, but enjoyable. I still don’t understand what made me buy that on Blu-ray…
  • Moonrise Kingdom was another stunner from Wes Anderson. To me, the fact that it was only nominated ofr its screenplay was the biggest crime of the Oscars.
  • What can you say about Lincoln? Daniel Day-Lewis gives the performance of a lifetime here and, while I love Phoenix and SLP‘s Bradley Cooper, he’s got the Oscar wrapped up.
  • I had fun seeing The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers in theaters.
  • Django Unchained was everything I could want from a Western directed by Tarantino.
  • I also saw Zero Dark Thirty earlier this month, but it’s a 2012 movie, so I’ll mention it. Bigelow’s direction was top-notch…I’m not sure how she was snubbed by the Academy. And I love Jessica Chastain. I feel bad for her because if SLP and Lawrence didn’t come out in 2012, she’d have the Oscar.

My big regret is not seeing Ben Affleck’s Argo. I don’t have an ability to go to the theater every weekend and when Affleck didn’t get the Oscar nod, I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal to skip it. I’ve got the Blu-ray on pre-order, so I’ll at least get to see it a few days before the Oscars.