Friday, December 13, 2013

The Lady Vanishes (1938)

Beefing on Hitchcock
The Lady Vanishes

Iris Henderson meets a cast of characters including an elder governess, Miss Froy, whilst boarding a train to England. After getting to know Miss Froy, Iris takes a short nap and upon awakening finds the lady gone. The people around her and all throughout the train insist they don't remember the woman at all, and believe Iris to be insane. Soon, Iris finds the obstinate man she met the night before and enlists his help to find the lady, as he is the only person who even remotely believes her story.

The Lady Vanishes was the last of Hitchcock's British films before heading to the States. Despite the prior three films doing poorly, it was this movie that caused producer David O Selznick to want Hitchcock for his own company. This was a deal that would ultimately benefit both Selznick and Hitchcock... as well as motion picture history, because what followed would become regarded as some of the best films ever made and would affect the way people made movies from then on.

Back to The Lady Vanishes however, I could safely say it's a nearly perfect film. The premise, plot, character, and macguffin set-up in the first act is practically flawless, and even things you don't quite realize will be important are slipped in quickly and quietly. The second act leaves you wondering, along with the rest of the characters, if Iris actually is crazy. You want to believe her, because after all you saw the woman too... but you can't help but wonder if Hitchcock isn't just playing tricks on the audience at the same time. (Something he would actually do in a few later films, showing you something only to spring it later that it was all in the mind of the character.) The third act is a good solid pay-off, wrapping up all of the elements shown earlier into one big bow of an ending.

It's no wonder the movie impressed Selznick, and it is a fantastic end to Hitchcock's British era. I would gladly recommend the Criterion blu ray release to anyone wanting to see the best possible transfer of this film, with the best set of features included. It satisfies everything you'd expect from any of the best Hitchcock films, and it leaves you happy with the end product as a whole.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Young And Innocent (1937)

Beefing on Hitchcock
Young And Innocent

Alfred Hitchcock's Young And Innocent begins with an argument between an actress and her ex-husband, in which he accuses her of having a relationship with a young man by the name of Robert Tisdall. The next day, Tisdall finds her dead body washed ashore and as he runs to get help, two women arrive and see him running away. The women accuse him of the murder, and Tisdall is arrested, the incriminating evidence being a raincoat belt used in the strangling.

After an encounter with the Chief Constable's daughter, Erica, and a meeting with the half-blind and very incompetent legal aid assigned to his case, Tisdall finds a perfect opportunity to escape and search for proof of his innocence. He hijacks Erica's car, and the two of them begin a search for his missing raincoat, which would prove his innocence if the belt is still attached.

This film has many of the typical cliche Hitchcock movie elements -- the wrong man accused of a crime he didn't commit, a reluctant attractive female who eventually sides with him, a chase over various countryside -- but it still seems to feel absolutely fresh and exciting. The on screen chemistry between the leads feels natural and honest, and the story has an almost perfect refined pace. You almost get the feeling Hitchcock could have just churned these movies out from a machine template, and they'd still all stand out from one another somehow.

The main driving goal of the story here is to find a coat and, hopefully with it, a belt. A typical "macguffin" in that the important story element isn't the coat or belt, but the relationship between the male and female leads. The search for the belt is what brings the two together... It could have been anything really that they went to look for. As long as there's something to drive the romance. Much of the suspense in the film comes from the uncertainty that even the viewer has about if they will find the belt with the coat or not.

Young And Innocent is famous for a specific crane shot, which Alfred has spoken very proudly of in multiple interviews... and while it is technologically and visually incredible, an important thing to notice is that it's used to build a bit of suspense leading up to the reveal of the real murderer. An amazing shot which still has a purpose to relaying the story.

Despite this being another of the public domain films that you can find in any "10 films for 5 bucks" sets in horrendous quality, this might be one of the more important Hitchcock films. I know I've been saying this about most of the more recent films I've viewed, but it really is a damn shame that we don't have an good remaster of this one. This movie is as worthy, if not more, of a blu ray release, as The 39 Steps or the up-coming The Lady Vanishes.

If you own a copy of Young And Innocent but haven't bothered watching it yet, you're missing out. Go watch it.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Live-Beefing LOST: Season 3, Disc 4

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't watched LOST, you may be confused or apathetic about the following post. Please go watch the series through at least once before bothering with my writings. Thank you.

s03e16 - One Of Us

Well, it's been a couple months. Life got all busy and stuff, and I was too busy watching Japanese action shows. What the hell is going on upstairs?!? Geez. Okay, done with the "Previously On..." nonsense. Juliet is so much better on this than she is on Revolution. I wonder why that is... Although I'm worried I might notice that same vacant expression she has all the time on Revolution on THIS, and then I'll start to hate her as Juliet too. I hope that doesn't happen. Kate sure is a nosey ninny. Juliet is listening to Downtown in the car too. She really only ever listens to that one specific song, apparently. Aside from Juliet never coming back or contacting her, her sister seems to have a relatively happy ending to her story. Ooo, Jack is all protective of Juliet.

Clah is sloiping and Cholly is having to take care of the boy-bee. That's what I'm getting from this scene. Well that was an important scene, I guess. Earhart Aviation. That's never a good sign. Juliet didn't seem to hesitate much in chugging the juice... I have to wonder why anyone ever actually WANTS to leave this island. There are a million fans that would kill to go there, and I'm not talking just where they filmed it either. Oh yeah, the name thing with Sawyer. I forgot about that. Jack's back. Everyone always returns to the camp from that one direction. No matter where they are coming from, it's always that one part of the beach.

Poor Hurley got nominated to go find out stuff on Juliet. I think someone needs to write a Lost novel giving some background info on the fertility issues. People seem to feel uninformed about the what and why of the whole thing. If Ben has never actually talked to Jacob, how did Rachel's cancer get cured? Or did she just never have it return in the first place? Very smart of Sawyer to ask who promised to let Jack go. He ain't no dummy. Clah is bleeding and sick and it's all Juliet's fault!

This is a good episode for people who have never seen this show up until now. Juliet's just describing season 1 to us. Oh great, flashbacks to season 1. I think this was during the writer's strike. "We can't write anything... CLIP SHOW!" Juliet's banging Goodwin. I wish I had sunflower seeds. Juliet mad! JULIET SMASH!!! Sawyer and Sayid's Vigilante Justice. This fall on ABC. Juliet knows an awful lot about them. She's like psychic or something. Oh here's Downtown again. And she's not sick of this song?! More clip show stuff. "So I guess I'm out of the book club."

Oh thank goodness we can trust Juliet. She's not a mole or anything... Wha-huh?!? This is all just a ploy?!? What a twist!!! Okay, next episode. Maybe I should go get some soda and chips first. Yes, I like this plan. Hold on.

s03e17 - Catch 22

Alright, I have chips and salsa... and a ginger ale. I'm set for the next episode! It's probably a good thing I lost track of Charlie almost-deaths, because this episode is full of them... and actual deaths. Well, flashes of death. Either way, Charlie was supposed to die. Fresh out of the gate, and he gets an arrow to the neck. I love it when a show smacks its fans in the face like that. Jack may be the hero of this show, and the story is "his" story... but Desmond is the vessel with which that story is told. Plain and simple. And that's why Desmond episodes are always the best.

Hurley is the best at secrets. Kate is all getting dressed. Boy, I love a girl with no figure whatsoever! ... Well, Saywer ain't getting any. Man, this roasted salsa is fantastic. I'm glad the guy talked me into buying it. This episode is really grainy. I though blu ray was supposed to have amazing image or whatever. This looks really grainy. Hmm... Stupid Lost.

Abraham taking Isaac to kill him... It's why they call it a leap of faith, Jack. Hey yourself. I think Kate's trying to reel Jack back in after hooking Sawyer already. Stupid Kate. And because she sees Jack and Juliet all together, she jumps Sawyer again. Really classy. One of the best things ever: Jin telling ghost stories in Korean and Hurley still gets scared. "I love the part about the bird. There was a bird, right?" They could have passed over any other love story on this show, and only had Desmond and Penny... and it would have been just fine. Well, the helicopter crashed in the ocean. Lapidus definitely wasn't flying that one... He would never have let it crash.

Charlie hates true love apparently. Any real romantic would have jumped at the opportunity to help Desmond find the person from the chopper, because it might just have been Penny. Ruth was cute, but "Desmond and Ruth" doesn't sound right. I'm coming for you Ruth. It doesn't sound right. I understand she's hurt over being dumped before the wedding, but she's not all that supporting of Desmond's whole monk thing. He's better off without her.

Why was the satellite phone dead?! Really, what good would it have done for Naomi to have a dead satellite phone?? Oh, Sawyer sees right through Kate's mopey jealousy sex. He ain't no dummy. Okay THERE is the romantic Charlie. That's better. Why he didn't deduce earlier that Desmond thought the person might be Penny is beyond me. 108 cases of wine. 108 is one of the common Lost numbers! Oh yeah, this is Lost... Desmond just got fired from being a monk. Considering the picture of Mrs Hawking on the head monk's desk, I wonder how much he knew of where Desmond was "truly supposed to end up" or whatever... Or maybe she was just pulling the strings and he fired him on a favour. This Superman vs The Flash argument is one of the nerdiest things ever to end up on this show.

When Desmond Met Penny. Anyone who didn't get invested in their relationship is a moron. They're just the cutest thing. Penny's changed! A lot.

s03e18 - D.O.C.

Jack was gonna hit Sun over the head and abduct her, like Charlie did. Oh, no, it's just a house call. Close though. Jin's mother is about as insane as Locke's mother. Hurley's really great at really bad timing. I probably shouldn't have eaten so much salsa. My belly hurts now. Boy was it good though. Geez, Kate is worse with secrets than Hurley is. Oh yeah, this is when Sun started getting annoying. From here on out, she was pretty much just a one-note character. Especially in seasons 5 and 6, when all she ever says is "Has anyone seen my husband?" Oh hey, Mikhail's back... and alive.

This is also when we see how badass Jin is when it comes to fighting. "As your friend pointed out, I already died once this week." Jin's father is so great. I just want to hug him. Looks like Juliet is gonna hit Sun over the head and abduct her. Oh, she's taking her to a hatch. Close though. Ah, so it's Sun's fault Jin had to do that dirty work for her father. She has no right to complain about it then. I really like all these hatches. There should have been more of them. We'll let Mikhail go, but we're keeping the phone.

I still think the baby is Michael's, but that's just me trying to spread fanfic rumours... based off a semi-abandoned side-plot. I think I will watch the last two in a few days. Three episodes today is good enough. I have dinner to make and other things to do, but I can't if I am having to type all of this while I watch. Also, I'm tired. Sun's really sexy when she's dangerous. I feel like I could fall asleep right now. Maybe I won't make dinner, and I'll just eat a bowl of cereal instead. Yep. I'm healthy.

Wait, 815 was found and everyone had died?! DARLTON LIED TO US!!! This is solid proof that they're all dead and this is purgatory!! They answered it way back in season 3. Why did they even HAVE any more seasons?!??!?! I wasted my whole life. ROAR!!!!!!1111111oneoneoneoneonetwo.

s03e19 - The Brig

Okay, I took a couple weeks between this episode and the prior one. Sorry, it's hard to fit in 5 episodes while doing nothing else but typing and watching and eating chips or popcorn or whatever. Also, I have so many other things that I HAVEN'T seen already that I want to watch and/or read... but hey, here we are again Losting. That's a word, right? It should be. I like to Lost. A Locke episode. These are always good. Wow, the last post I made in this series was back in August. Sure, the END of August, but still... Okay I need to keep up on these better. I'm making no promises though. Right right, this is the episode where all the people who were certain that the previous episode PROVED they were all dead decided that THIS episode proved that the Island was definitely Hell, simply because one character stated it as such.

Oh right, the Kate/Sawyer nonsense. I'm just going to take this moment to read my email. Oh never mind... Hurley and Jin are trying to be inconspicuous. Locke is pretty good at lies and manipulation too. Good old Cindy. What?! The Magic Box is a MATEPHOR?!? Blasphemy!!! The Magic Box is real, because they said so on TV! I want nachos. Did I have nachos earlier in this post?? I feel like I did, but I don't want to scroll back up. I think I might pause and make nachos.

Hurley and Charlie reeeeeally suck at being nonchalant. Ooh, Locke hit a sore spot. I always run out of cheese on my nachos. Haha not this time, bitches! I piled it so high there's more cheese than chip. That's the way it should be. Yes Hurley, can I help you? I like the references to the ARG's, right now specifically the "Find 815" blog. I think absolutely everyone on this show knows how to manipulate Locke without even the blink of an eye. Ah the Black Rock. Wait, that's not Ben. That's not Ben at all!

So Sayid tells Kate, who invariably goes to Jack despite being told strictly NOT to. She's such a moron. This Locke encounter with Rousseau is fantastically simple. "Why did you throw Locke out of a window?" Sawyer puts things together VERY quickly. He ain't no dummy. Looks like Sawyer found his six-fingered man.

"Don't tell me what I can't do, John." This is reminiscent of Locke getting left behind at the walkabout... Locke's dad is a real dick, even when he's tied to a post. Hell does that to a man. And now he's REALLY in hell. Good riddance, I say. You kinda suck, Kate. I mean yeah, you have a good point... but you're worse than Hurley at this whole secrets thing. Any Sawyer and Locke scene you know is going to be good.

s03e20 - The Man Behind The Curtain

Ben's birth. I love it so much when they try to make us think that something is on Island, only to reveal that it's in the normal world. Good old Horace... Obviously before he went all earthy and joined Dharma, judging by his car. Oh Ben's not happy one bit. Now I want some cocoa. Cocoa goes with nachos, right?? Ben lies so very very much in this episode. Maybe even more than in any other. That's an understatement, Horace. Another thing I wish they had answered for certain, even if just in deleted scenes... what happened to Annie. "I thought you were dead." I guess everyone thought that. It's so great how no one intervenes in Locke beating up Mikhail. Oh and now Ben's own "daughter" is giving Locke a weapon. I guess everyone is a bit tired of Ben's leadership.

What the hell was going on with the hostiles? I guess Widmore's leadership enjoyed skirmishes with Dharma? Or maybe it was over the existence of one of the many hatches. Ben is kind of panicking here in his lies, isn't he? Roger Workman is also kind of an ass. I'm figuring the appearance of Ben's mom is one of the Smoke Monster's apparitions. I doubt it was the Island acting on its own here... Seems more Smokey, especially compared with when Smokey was Richard's wife.

Ben and his damn bunnies. Why does Richard look so scruffy here and he never does at any other time? Perhaps he was just made up that way in case someone saw him... I don't know. It all seems kind of weird to me. This really is the ONLY time he looks like this, even with all the time traveling. Maybe it's just a production error in continuity. Oh neat. The cabin. I am actually wondering if Ben was actually surprised to find this cabin, but just tried to hide it. It's great to watch this scene again, knowing that Ben is really just faking it right now. This Island just got craaaazy!! That was NOT Jacob. That was the Smoke Monster.

Oh hey, a little bit of honesty from Ben. That's rare. Sometimes I really do feel quite sad for Roger. This is definitely after the Incident and after Ben's acceptance into the hostiles... This was a pretty intense episode when it first aired. So much happens all in one hour. I call this all Dharmacide. Why did Richard even need a mask?? "I did what I had to do." Such a great episode! Okay I'm done with this for now. I'll try to get back to do another next week. Namaste.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Sabotage (1936)

Beefing on Hitchcock

"Sabotage, also released as The Woman Alone, is a 1936 British thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It is based on Joseph Conrad's novel The Secret Agent. It should not be confused with Hitchcock's film Secret Agent released the same year, or his 1942 film Saboteur." (Wikipedia)

Want to make your movie releases confusing? Make a movie called Secret Agent and then follow it up with a movie based off a book called Secret Agent, but instead of having THAT film be named after the book, call it Sabotage.

I really don't know why I'm complaining about that... After all, it's a fantastic movie with a pretty decent story, although not much of a mystery. What you do get is a relatively run-of-the-mill wartime film about how being a spy for the enemy can go horribly, horribly wrong and will result in the inadvertent death of little children that you care about... and eventually yourself. While that seems a bit trite and not all that creative, it's still incredibly well written and keeps you on the edge of your seat through much of the latter half.

One of the bolder moves in this film Hitchcock has actually admitted is one of his biggest regrets. (If you aren't fond of spoilers for 75-year-old movies, skip the rest of this paragraph.) In one of the best bits of tension and suspense, he puts a little boy (one of the main characters) on a crowded city bus, unwittingly carrying a time bomb... and uncharacteristically of Hitchcock, the bomb actually goes off. In his interview with Francois Truffaut, he states that in hindsight he would have done that scene differently. I don't know how the final act would have worked without it though, but I'm sure he could have come up with something.

Anyways, it's a good movie that can hold up pretty well to the test of time... as long as you can get past the heavy-handed fear mongering. Another one that can't really be found in any really great image/sound quality, I hope Criterion or someone maybe does a release of his 3 main "war/spy" films.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Secret Agent (1936)

Beefing on Hitchcock
Secret Agent

Three British agents are sent on an undercover mission to assassinate an enemy spy, but when they kill the wrong man, there is internal conflict between patriotism and conscience.

Despite a rather simple plot and what might be one of Hitchcock's darker stories, Secret Agent might just as well been called "Witty Banter: The Movie" I can't recall another film by Hitrchcock with even half as much banter... but that's not a bad thing. It's what keeps this movie really watchable.

The story got off to a relatively slow start, at times being a tad vague on what the plot was really going to be, but after a while it was clear that there wasn't all that much of one. A guy gets sent on a secret mission, along with a beautiful female spy posing as his wife, and a trained killer called The General. A love triangle forms between the man, woman and a dashing young man staying at the same hotel. Pretty standard spy movie fare, and not all that outstanding. Even when they discovered the man they had targeted and killed wasn't the man they were actually looking for, the movie really wasn't all that intriguing.

The best part of the film was the actually build-up to the aforementioned murder, even though you don't know by that point that it was misguided. As far as you know, the poor little old man was truly the target, so no big deal... but the cutting back and forth between locations, along with the reactions from the dog, made the entire scene incredibly eerie and unsettling.

After the error is discovered, two of the three secret agents have a hard time coming to terms with the mistake they've made in murdering this elderly gentleman who had done no wrong. The woman, upset about the ongoing search for the spy, runs off with the other man and only just before the other agents discover that he was the actual target all along. Chase ensues, a confrontation...

The witty banter between the characters was the only truly entertaining part of Secret Agent. At times it almost felt a bit out of place, contrasted with the serious tone of the story, but it works. It works really well actually, because that was the only thing keeping the movie from just being too dark and too serious.

I'd recommend this one anyways, because in the end, it's a fairly decent film with terrific dialogue and on-screen chemistry. Peter Lorre is fantastic as always, and many times he simply steals the scenes. While not as good as The 39 Steps, it's still a good spy movie and needs a decent remaster.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The 39 Steps (1935)

Beefing on Hitchcock
The 39 Steps

Whenever Alfred Hitchcock adapted a book into a movie, they frequently tended to stray far from the original source material. For those unaware, this was always a conscious effort on Hitchcock's part to make something more unique and merely "inspired" by someone else's story than to attempt a mere re-telling that would undoubtedly fail to live up to the original. What happened many times though was that Hitchcock's film, loosely based on a story, would end up overshadowing the book.

The 39 Steps is an example of a film overshadowing the book it was based on. It helps that the budget was exceptional (for the time) and it had some terrific publicity and internationally known actors as leads. In a bold attempt to bridge the Atlantic in film, Gaumont-British decided Hitchcock would be the one to bring British movies to the United States. Little did they know, the director would eventually bring his British film-making as well as himself to the States.

One thing I couldn't help but notice while watching was how Robert Donat, as the lead character Richard Hannay, seemed almost a prototype for the future roles Cary Grant would play in later Hitchcock films. His mere self-assurance and attitude of disregard in spite of the fact that he was handcuffed to a beautiful woman... The way he just brushed off her hatred for their situation by flaunting that, for all she knew, he might very well be a dangerous killer... it was pure Cary Grant through and through.

Many elements of future Hitchcock films appear very strongly in this one, and it could actually very easily be seen as an early British North By Northwest, due to the entire story of an innocent man on the run from the law over a continent, across sweeping landscapes, boldly standing up to the face of danger along the way.

Another element I found most interesting about the story is that only one person in the entire film believed him on face value alone. Nearly every person Hannay met, especially those he thought he could trust the most, turned out to be lying to his face and against him... except for the farmer's wife, who never asked for proof, protected him even when her husband would undoubtedly be angry with her, and even seemed to long to be on the run with him.

In the end, of course, the "wrong man" proved his innocence at the very last minute, because that's what we want from a movie filled with misunderstandings and suspense. I'd definitely place this in the "must see" category of Hitchcock films, along with the most famous and best regarded.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Live-Beefing LOST: Season 3, Disc 3

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't watched LOST, you may be confused or apathetic about the following post. Please go watch the series through at least once before bothering with my writings. Thank you.

s03e11 - Enter 77

Sawyer looks a little out of place. "I just make myself a salad and move on." Of course, Paulo is going to use the facilities. It's nice that they gave the random new characters running gags. Sayid is a tad whiney when he thinks he knows better. A cow. We have cows. Correction: We have a farm... and a man with an eye patch. I guess Locke was right, Sayid... You ARE headed in the right direction. So shut up.

This whole "no nicknames" thing was really stupid. Let's take one of the most redeeming parts of any scenes with the most annoying people interacting with Sawyer and then get rid of it. Kate is also very whiney... pretty much all the time. I think I pretty much just hate that whole "I'm not really tough but I'm going to try mega-hard to act tough" nonsense that she puts on-- OH FOR THE LOVE OF... Not this episode. These Sayid flashbacks annoy the hell out of me. Maybe it's because the weird Iraqi woman talks weird and through her nose. She tilts her head upwards and snarls every time she starts a sentence... sometimes mid-way through the sentence as well. They can't pick non-annoying actors for their minor roles?! Great, Sayid got shot, and now Kate wants to run out and get shot too. More power to her, I say. Damn. Mikhail didn't shoot Kate.

Mikhail does a pretty good job at lying. He's apparently studied with Ben. Oooh, Locke is going to play Global Thermonuclear War against a computer. These people and their lines. The hostiles have a line fetish. I'm just going to zone out during these flashbacks. Amira is too annoying, and Sayid's whimpery sob-fest is even worse. As the series progressed, he just got more and more teary-eyed and blubbery.

Of course, Kate just wants to jump right into fighting. She has no sense of timing or judgement. Oh thank heavens we're back at the ping-pong game. Oh hell... Back to The Flame. Yeah, I'm Kate. I'm super mega-tough! Take THAT! ...and back to Sayid crying in storage room. Back to the pissing contest between Sayid and Locke for a moment... aaaand back to whimpering Sayid.

Oh good, the snarling nasal woman is here now too. Even better, the husband is now whining too. Maybe she should blow her nose... use one of those nasal cleansing things? Saline solutions? Perhaps some Sudafed? I'm hungry.

Yes Locke, leave the unconscious enemy alone so you can play a computer game. You have a problem, man, and you need to seek some help. Okay, I have nachos now. Did I miss anything? Ahh, Pierre Chang... Yes! Bash Kate's head into the floor!! Oh man, Sayid has to ruin all the killing. Mnyeh, I'm Kate. I'm gonna get mad and punch people. She tends to act without actually thinking. She and Jack are perfect for each other.

"Get bent, Hugo." Why can't this episode spend much more time on the beach? I mean, I guess I get the whole "need for story progression" and whatever... but still. It's far more interesting and far less annoying. And now cat lady is back on screen. Stop talking upwards!! Here comes the glassy eyed Sayid sob scene. Yeah, he's sobbing now. Even the subtitle says "whimpering"... Geezus. She forgives him. She forgives him, but I do not. This scene is almost unbearable. Emotional acting does NOT mean being as annoying as possible.

Locke is good at blowing things up.

s03e12 - Par Avion

Goth Claire! That wasn't the best look for her, but it sorta works. Throw Momma From The Car. Charlie and Claire are so cute. Claire gets distracted so easily. Look at the pretty birds.

Cholly just shot down Clear's bird idea. Poor Clear. Kate's a miss busy-body nosey-poo. She's also not on the list. "You are not on the list because you are flawed..." Turns out that's why people ARE on the list. Great Rousseau, interrupt the big reveal we as viewers already know. Ooh hey, that looks like some sort of sonic fence thing. I have finished my nachos and now I am eating cinnamon disc candy. That was important information to the series.

Aunt Lindsey isn't very compassionate towards Clear. I get that he sister is all comatose or whatever, but she could be a little more understanding about Clear wanting to clean up a little. Guilt probably isn't very helpful after an accident like that. Ooo secret money! That sounds secretive. Desmond just ruined the bird capture. I think Clear thinks Cholly is cheating on her with Desmond... or something like that.

Hahaha, perfect example of Kate being impulsively braindead! She just goes charging her way towards the barrier pylons, without any regard for what they may or may not be. I bet she stuck her hand into toasters a lot as a child. Eww, blood spurting from his ear. Why didn't I notice that before? Hooray for hi-def! "Sorry."

Kate's getting mad at Locke for being impulsive? Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black... Kate wants to jump the sonic fence. Okay. Clear is angry at Cholly now, and he's not allowed near the boy-bee anymore... again. This is getting a bit repetitive. It's as if there was a writer's strike or something. Clear gets to meet her real dad, Jack's dad. It was at this point where I proposed the theory that he was actually in fact the biological father to everyone on the island, thus resulting in some weird romantic entanglements. The message boards weren't fond of my theory.

This is the worst lean-to in history. Oh, it's a ramp, never mind. The internet got all crazy about Locke looking up at Kate's ass... but I have to point out that she really doesn't have one. Good luck getting answers from anyone on this show, Clear. I even proposed that Christian was Locke's dad... People asked how that would work and I answered "Time travel." People then told me that there was NO time travel in the show. How wrong they were. Who's laughing now?!

Now Clear knows the truth about Cholly's imminent death. The Island just wants Cholly dead. ...Also, imagine if Christian turned out to have ben Eko's biological father too! It's a good theory. Our group has found the barracks and, what?! Jack's playing football!? The horror!!!

s03e13 - The Man From Tallahassee

"I don't care what Jack said." is pretty much Kate's mantra, isn't it? I enjoy the reveals that Locke is NOT in the wheelchair. It's a fun reversal. Wait, maybe when Jack told me not to come rescue him, he MEANT it... No, no, I refuse to even think that for one moment more. I must go save him from what appears to be a mild semblance of happiness.

Wow, Locke is a voice of reason. That's... not a first. Hehe, Locke is watching Exposé. This episode should have been called The Great Rescue. Pulled it off without a hitch, I tell ya what. Man, Kate really knows how to mess absolutely everything up in the span of a minute.

Oh THAT submarine. I'd totally lock myself in a closet with Alex. I'm thinking bacon and eggs will make a great dinner tonight. If I could stop eating candy, that is. Ben is on to Locke's plan for blowing things up. Locke is good at blowing things up. Jack has come to play good cop with Kate. "I didn't think you meant it." You mean you didn't LISTEN. And there's nothing new there. And you think this might maybe teach Kate to not just act without any thought or regard for if she maybe SHOULD... but no. She never learns anything.

"We have two giant hamsters running in a massive wheel at our secret lab." Ben mentioned a magic box... IT MUST BE LITERAL! ... That's my impersonation of fans. It's raining pretty hard now... with thunder and lightning. I'd better save this. There, saved. Locke is about to go flying through a window. It's a pretty incredible scene if you ask me. "I don't wanna hear what you can't do." Ben is really good at manipulating people.

Locke is good at blowing things up.

s03e14 - Exposé

Possibly the most underrated episode of Lost ever. The makers took a couple of despised, ill-included characters and made a fantastic episode around their demise. I honestly implore any and every Lost fan who hated (or even liked) this episode to re-watch and think two words: Hitchcock homage. From the opening jolting moment, the music alone just screams Hitchcock... From the "macguffin" of the diamonds, to the closing POV shot from inside a live grave. It's filled with Hitchcock tribute. That is all I am going to say on this... Now for the normal crap I write about these things.

Nikki had some great cleavage; I think we can all agree on that. Too bad the actress wasn't that great at, you know... acting. I do find something funny about a bad actress portraying an even worse actress. "Razzle dazzle!" This is by far the most self-aware episode of Lost. "Who the hell's Nikki?" Of course there's gunk under her fingernails... They always have gunk under her fingernails. "Who the hell's Paulo?"

Boone!!! Oh yeah, and Shannon. Boone!!! They really beautifully inserted Nikki and Paulo into all these old scenes. A lot of attention to detail in this thing. Arnst! This is a great little mid-series reunion episode. In fact, it was almost exactly half-way through the series. Ethan is always a great returning dead character too. "Boone. Boone took the water." And we re-live Jack's speech, of course. Nina and Pablo... That was one of my favourites!

"If I go up there, that thing's gonna fall." I guess Paulo had a bit more sense than Boone. I think Nikki wore the pants in that relationship. Of course, Hurley is an Exposé fan. "THE PIGS ARE WALKING!"

I got caught up in watching this episode... Aww, poor Charlie. He decided to come clean to Sun about her fake abduction. And Paulo using the bathroom again. "And who the hell are you?!"

s03e15 - Left Behind

I really love seeing Kate get the crap beaten out of her. Ugh, I hate it when my girlfriends meet each other and help each other out with con games. It never turns out well for me. Everyone Kate knows goes with the Others! It makes me laugh at how confused she must be.

Hurley's playing his own little con game with Sawyer. He's frighteningly really good at it. I guess this is just shortly after Kate's murder of her step-dad... and just right after the escape from the feds. Now Kate is cuffed to Juliet... in yet another con game for this episode. What is that, 14 now?

So the feds couldn't realize it wasn't Kate until after they took off the hat?! They aren't very good at their jobs. Oh come on Juliet, don't tell me you don't know what the smoke monster sound is. "I ain't kissin' no damn baby." This really is about the least annoying Kate episode in quite a while. I have to say I don't mind any of it all that much. SHE is still annoying, but I don't groan and roll my eyes every three seconds when she's on screen.

Kate is reeeeeeeally bad at listening to others... This episode is definitely Sawyer's biggest defining turning point in character. If you don't love him by now, I don't know what is wrong with you.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

Beefing on Hitchcock
The Man Who Knew Too Much

A man and his wife meet a foreigner who turns out to be a French spy. The spy is shot and, before dying, reveals a piece of information to the man. The couples' daughter is taken hostage by the assassins, ensuring the man's silence. The couple heads back to England to investigate on their own, uncovering a plot to assassinate a European dignitary during a performance at an opera. The wife does her best to foil the plot, while the man attempts to rescue his daughter, both leading to a huge gun fight between the assassins and the authorities.

Finally out of the earlier, lesser-known films in the catalog, The Man Who Knew Too Much starts an incredibly long stretch of very famous and incredibly highly regarded films by Alfred Hitchcock. This movie and the following film (The 39 Steps) most definitely caught the eyes of many Hollywood film producers, eventually leading to Hitchcock's migration over to the States. One might even go so far as to say that this was "the beginning of the end" for his British film making... which is anything but as ominous as it sounds.

This film marks the first of many English-speaking roles for Peter Lorre, who had just fled Nazi Germany and actually learned his lines phonetically. A later interview with Lorre recounted his amusement with pretending to understand English for Hitchcock's sake, agreeing and laughing when he felt he should during many of Hitch's many stories. He not only didn't speak English, he barely understood it... yet on screen, this is hardly noticeable.

While I won't go into much detail yet on the later remake for American film, the only remake of his own films that Hitchcock would ever make, one major difference between the two versions is the shootout at the end of this earlier picture. Based on a famous gun battle near where Hitchcock grew up, the Sidney Street Seige, it was probably far more recent in his and the British public's mind in 1934, and the similarities would have been more apparent, than it would have in 1956 to an American and broader international audience.

In all, this is quite an amazingly grand picture, not just for the 1930's, but for any era. I watched the newly released Criterion blu ray, and their work is as outstanding as ever. One of the most important features on the disc is actually a featurette regarding the entire long remastering process for this particular film. The extensive hunt for a usable, early-generation print of the film took years upon years, and between warped copies and waiting for technology to catch up with what was needed to even transfer the film, it took nearly a decade to actually get this film remastered.

I for one would like to thank Criterion for not giving up, and eventually succeeding in making this movie as beautiful as ever possible.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Waltzes From Vienna (1934)

Beefing on Hitchcock
Waltzes From Vienna

The story of a young Johann Strauss and his endeavour to write The Blue Danube. Living in the shadow of his father, the elder Johann Strauss, the younger Strauss sets out to prove his talent and love of music. Having his confidence shattered publicly by his self-righteous father, "Schani" (as the younger Strauss is known) is commissioned to write a new march by a beautiful alluring Countess Helga von Stahl... much to the chagrin of his young fiance Rasi. Rasi becomes increasingly jealous of the Countess, and Schani's allegiances are torn between respect for his father, his love for his fiance, and his love and desire for his music. Things become even more complicated when the Countess conspires to make the young Strauss finally prove himself and gain the respect she knows he should have.

Hitchcock's one and only musical film, Waltzes From Vienna stands out from the catalog in so many ways. His first film after his departure from British International Pictures, the difference is obvious. Gone are the cheap sets and poor, stifled cinematography; in come the elaborate, gigantic sets with sweeping, grandiose camera work. This is the first film that immediately just "felt" like a Hitchcock film.

What I find rather sad is that Hitchcock called the film "the lowest ebb" of his career, and only made the movie because he had no other projects. Maybe because of that, or the fact that it relied so heavily on music, it often gets overlooked. In fact, I had to download a copy online to really obtain it. Luckily, the quality is near pristine... but there really should be a lot more recognition of this picture.

Hitchcock's sense of humour and personality makes its way almost immediately into the film; the opening scene following a wedding cake around a crowd, as the man carrying it scrambles to find somewhere to set it. This typical brand of quick, dry humour that Hitchcock fans are familiar with extends through the entire film, allowing it to be classified essentially as a "romantic comedy."

The story of Strauss writing The Blue Danube actually acts as somewhat of a "macguffin" to the ever-present love triangle. What really got me thinking was that the actual love triangle wasn't really between Strauss, his fiance and the Countess... but in fact between Strauss, his fiance and his art: his love of music. The Countess, who had only mild romantic feelings towards Strauss, acted merely as representing his love of music and goal of becoming a great composer. She was his path to fame, and both she and Strauss knew it. The one person who didn't quite realize this was the fiance, Rasi, who simply did not trust or understand the real intentions of the Countess.

As for casting, everyone was fabulous, including of course Edmund Gwenn, who appeared in 3 other Hitchcock films... but to me, the real stand-out performance came from Jessie Matthews, who played Rasi. She was just absolutely adorable and despite the character's ignorance and arrogance, I still just couldn't help but love it whenever she became indignantly jealous.

There was, of course, a happy ending... and I found myself uttering the words "absolutely wonderful" as the movie came to a close. To hear that Hitchcock himself was so down on this film is quite disheartening really, because it very quickly catapulted up into the stock of my personal favourites. I would love for Criterion to get their hands on this picture, and maybe someday the rest of the world will be more aware of this rare gem by one of the most famous directors of all time.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Number Seventeen (1932)

Beefing on Hitchcock
Number Seventeen

I've spent the past week trying to figure out what to say about this movie. I'm going to keep this short and quote the Wikipedia entry:
On its initial release, audiences reacted to Number Seventeen with confusion and disappointment. The film is not often seen nowadays, but continues with generally negative reviews with critics from Rotten Tomatoes noting the film as, "highly entertaining but practically incomprehensible" and as an "unsatisfactory early tongue-in-cheek comedy/suspense yarn". In the Hitchcock/Truffaut book (see above), Francois Truffaut has a similar verdict, telling Hitchcock he had found the film "quite funny, but the story was rather confusing".
I think that about sums it up. If you want a story summary, the Wikipedia page provides that as well... although I hardly was able to make any sense of it. To use the word "convoluted" is a bit of an understatement. I actually watched the film twice in hopes that maybe it would seem a bit less cluttered, but alas... It still felt like a good half of it should have been left out to streamline the story just a touch.

From what I've heard, Hitchcock had no desire to make this film at all, but was made to do it as a sort of "punishment" for the failure of his prior films. It's really no wonder this was his final movie with British International Pictures. He was never fond of the lack of freedom in story choices, and if anything they clearly were a stifle to his talent.

So yeah... Obviously, I would never ever recommend this movie to anyone. Maybe someday I'll gain some appreciation for it, but I don't see that happening any time soon.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Live-Beefing LOST: Season 3, Disc 2

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't watched LOST, you may be confused or apathetic about the following post. Please go watch the series through at least once before bothering with my writings. Thank you.

s03e06 - I Do

Oh yes, I think this is the Nathan Fillion episode. Also known as "Kate Gets Married" to some fans. One of my favourite Kate episodes. "Hey yourself." I really would like to know how many times that was said through the series. This was after Sawyer got his "pacemaker" right? I forgot what I saw last time... It's been too long. This episode really reveals everything you would ever need to know about Kate's personality. Faced even with the most perfect life and escape from her incessant pursuit by the authorities, she still has to run. She just can't stop. Oh yes, dead Eko. I don't think I hated Nikki and Paulo quite as much as most people. The characters were actually quite interesting. The actress who played Nikki was horrible though. Paulo wasn't that bad at all however.

Compound breach. It's a rogue Alex with a slingshot. Poor thing; she thinks they killed Karl. Kate really doesn't look too bad in a wedding dress. Maybe she should wear that all the time. Well, if anyone could convince Jack to do something he doesn't want to, it would be Kate. The Others really have a smart intuitive way of doing things. A lot of foresight too... I mean, building a runway for an off-chance that a plane will need to land there in a few years. WHO ARE YOU WORKING FOR?!?!

Mmm I want tacos. Maybe I will get some tacos tonight. I need to implement my own "taco night"... I really don't know why Sawyer is the one person Pickett decides to focus all his rage on after his wife was killed by someone who wasn't Sawyer. That never made much sense to me. Oh hey, the Eko funeral. Mr Eko's jesus stick gave Locke a message. Always listen to sticks, that's what I always say. "Who the hell's Ben?" The continuity on Sawyer not knowing who people are is always great and amusing. Kate's annoying when she's desperately angry. Okay, so that's one of the many instances in which she's annoying. She's also annoying when she's trying to be desperately sexy here.

Everyone flies Oceanic. It wasn't until after the crash that anyone flew anything but Oceanic. Maybe if I had been trapped on an island with crazy people, I'd find Kate attractive. Not having much to choose from, I guess you can't be too choosy. And now the great set-up to get Jack to see Kate and Sawyer so he'll agree to do the surgery. Talk about a long con. I'd like to think Ben had this planned from the start, and not just reacting on the moment. "I need to get the hell off this island." Okay, they'll just take you back to the other island.

Nothing quite like a pregnancy scare to make a girl drug her husband and run away. The famous Ben surgery scene... or something. Jack wasn't on Jacob's list?! Wait, Jacob had a list?!? Oh great, Danny's gonna go all rogue-like and stuff. And Jack counters by sabotaging the surgery. It's like a chess match filled with ignorance of the other side's moves... "This is for Colleen" ...who you didn't kill. I was really happy when Juliet shot Danny. Despite Jack not knowing they were on a different island, this was really a brilliant move on his part. Although, I can't believe he actually had to TELL Kate to run.

s03e07 - Not In Portland

This was another great WTF opening for Lost. Juliet walking down the flickering greenish hallway, greeted by Ethan... She MUST be on the Island. she's an Other, and so was Ethan. There was NO way this was not taking place on the island. Wa-huh?!? Miami?!?! Oh, I guess we're gonna recap the previous episode now, despite the recap already recapping... Smart. Yeah, take THAT Pickett. Asshole. I bet Sawyer enjoyed smashing his head into the electrocuting button. But wait, I thought Juliet WANTED Ben dead during the surgery. She is so fickle... Women.

Ed, Juliet's ex. Such a great smarmy character. It's almost too bad we didn't get to see more of that guy. Oh, I bet Jack feels a bit dumb now. Oh god, Pickett needs to shut up. Someone shoot him fast. Alex to the rescue! I love that girl. And Tom. Everyone loves Tom. Ed really is just a sleaze. Aw man, Alex has a boyfriend. What a rip. I'm loads better than that Karl guy. "I'm Tom by the way..." Mittelos Bioscience. These Lost people definitely like their anagrams. You want your ex-husband to be hit by a bus? We can make that happen!

Hey look! It's Mac! And not Fat Mac either... Really young skinny Mac, and he's going by the name of Aldo! Ah, Room 23. I need to make my own Room 23. Maybe when I get married, I'll keep this apartment, just turn it into a brainwashing room and show the Room 23 video in loop. I like this plan. I like this plan a lot. "Because you're insufferable and you're mean... Well, you asked me for the truth mom..." Best death scene on the whole show. Although the most satisfying is coming up here in a moment...  Thank you, Juliet.

I am loads better than Karl. Oh, the "counting to five" story makes its third appearance. Technically, Kate kept her promise that she'd never come back to that island for him. She went to the barracks instead. Technicalities.

s03e08 - Flashes Before Your Eyes

Another great episode... and one of the most confusing for casual viewers, I would assume. Any Desmond episode is a fantastic episode though, really. Poor Claire. This is why people should never go for walks by the beach. The water just comes and sucks you right in. Now Claire's got a thing for Desmond, right? I think the show could use a good love triangle. Geez, Charlie is so suffocating! They're going to try to out-drink a Scotsman. Brilliant plan.

Oh Charlie hit the wrong button there. And speaking of hitting buttons... A lot of people think this is a different version of the whole "sideways world" but I've always been 100% certain this always happened, much in the same vein as The Constant. And that episode only solidified my belief of that. Except, instead of his past consciousness being merged into the current, it happened the opposite direction (and not so completely) here. Little bits of his future are bleeding through into his memory. "Just had a bit of deja vu, that's all." And of course, this all happened before he joined the military. I guess his stint in the military and the subsequent military jail was a very short period... between this and the race around the world just mentioned by Widmore. Many people also wonder how much about Desmond's future Widmore actually knew, considering how much Daniel's mother knew. How ironic... Charlie singing an Oasis song. "This is why we don't do drugs."

Poor Desmond. He just gets trashed on constantly. Hahaha. Constant. See what I did there? Ahh Eloise Hawking. Her picture was on the desk of Desmond's monk guy's office. Another of the few really unanswered questions is how Eloise knew all these bits of information about Desmond's life. The pushing the button and race and all that could have been gained maybe through her son at some point, specifically after getting his journal... but would he have known all the bits about not proposing to Penny? Or was that part maybe planted into Desmond's thoughts by Hawking to manipulate what ended up happening? But then how did she know about the guy with the red shoes? That would imply that she had done this a few times, but we can be fairly certain that didn't happen... This episode really is one of the few that leaves the most open-ended questions.

The famous photograph of Desmond and Penny was taken in front of a fake background. I have to wonder if that is meant to imply something... It seems like such a clue of some sort. It looked real enough, but it wasn't. "Don't you dare re-write history." Such a great line! Just give me a whole show about Desmond and Penny and I'd be happy. Make your own kind of music, Desmond. If there's any (human) character on the show that actually had the ability to affect time in any real way, it would be Desmond. Naked Desmond running through the jungle yet again. Sorry Des, you can affect time, but you can't change it. Charlie has been destined to die since day 1 on the Island. I've lost count, but it's definitely in there since the beginning. "No matter what I try to do... you're gonna die, Charlie."

s03e09 - Stranger In A Strange Land

And now, for the worst episode of the series. I am going to see if I can find anything in this that makes it NOT worth skipping. Kate and Sawyer arguing... Kate insists they can't leave Jack behind... Okay so far, so annoying. At least there's Karl... who I am loads better than. I hate Bai Ling. Although I guess it proves Jack has a thing for rail-thin strange-looking women. They couldn't find a pretty Asian woman for him to hook up with?! They had to get the most painfully bizarre one they could find. Ah yes, the sheriff woman... Who is really important... and yet we never see or hear from her ever again. This episode really is stupid. "You have back yards?"

Ah the old "It's complicated" argument. Or should I say NON-argument. Oh god, we're back to the Achara story. Wow she's so fucking weird looking... It actually makes me mad at how strange she looks. Can we get Ana Lucia back please!??!  Are her teeth transparent??? Or just rotted? This sheriff lady... It's like they reeeeally wanted Jane Curtin but couldn't get her. Isabel. We never ever ever see Isabel ever again. Luckily, after this episode, we don't see Achara ever again either. Is this the same office we see in season 6? Or was it 5? Whenever the Ajira flight lands and there's that annoying Tina Fey wannabe lady...

Oh hey, it's Cindy! There's an attractive woman in this episode! The girl with the weird teeth wants to know how Ana Lucia is doing. How cute. That was probably one of the most uncomfortably awkward scenes in this entire series. Karl's sobbing. I am so so much better than him! Alex should go out with ME instead. "We had an excellent surgeon, Jack. His name was Ethan." Yeah, whenever I'm mad at a woman and want to hurt her emotionally, I force her to give me a tattoo. Oh no! Juliet is going to be marked! ... Whatever that means. This episode is retarded. Oh great, Sawyer and Kate are arguing again. At least he seems to be able to see what a whining little selfish twerp she really is.

Okay yeah, this episode was pointless and useless. I should have skipped this one. Oh thank heavens that's done with.

s03e10 - Tricia Tanaka Is Dead

No "Previously on...", Hurley as a kid, and Cheech Marin means this episode is a good one. "In this world, son, you gotta make your own luck." says the guy who immediately runs off, possibly to never return. Poor Hurley and poor Libby. So a dog brings you a decaying human arm... That's a good sign, right? Hey look, a van! Tricia Tanaka is kind of a bitch. Aww, Johnny ran off with Starla? Stupid Johnny. He wasn't a good friend at all. Well, Tricia Tanaka is dead. I guess that finishes off this episode. Oh wait... there's more?

Well, Nikki would have gone with Hurley to get the car running, but Paulo wouldn't let her. Ow! A dart in the foot. Ow! Ow! Ow! Oh hey everyone! Kate and Sawyer are back!! Hurley's mom is so great. Oh hey, dad's back. Roger Workman... aka Ben's dad. "I'll be damned, you found yourself a hippie car." Kate is really good at listening and following orders. Wow, scary-looking psychic lady. Not as frightening as Achara though. Hugo ain't no fool. He catches on pretty quick, really.

"I came to ride shotgun." There isn't a lot of meat to this episode, and many dismissed it as "fluff" way back when, but it marks a great turning point for Hurley and the series as a whole. Especially in regards to the ending and Hurley's status with the Island. Just a great happy episode. How could that not make you happy? And now Kate's off to find the French woman... but you don't find the French woman, she finds you. And shoots you.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Rich And Strange (1931)

Beefing on Hitchcock
Rich And Strange

A young married couple, Fred and Emily, inherits some money and goes on a voyage around the world. After Emily begins an affair with a wealthy bachelor, Commander Gordon, Fred meets a German princess for an affair of his own. They both decide to leave their spouse and run away with their new-found loves, but when Gordon informs Emily that the "princess" her husband loves is really conning him, she decides to return to Fred only to find his money all gone. The couple returns home as poor as they began.

The fourteenth motion picture by Alfred Hitchcock is quite unique. Rich And Strange is practically a hybrid between the older silent films and the newer sound films at the time. The film uses many of the older techniques of film-making that were phased out with the introduction of sound, namely the make-up, broad exaggerated style of acting, and excessive use of inter-titles setting up and explaining scenes. Honestly, I've never quite seen a movie made in this fashion. Everything about the movie screams "silent film" except for the fact that sound is used quite properly throughout.

As for the story and characters, this is easily one of the best and most entertaining of Hitchcock's few romantic comedies. There are no real plot twists that catch you off-guard, no suspense, no mystery... It's just a fun romp across the globe on a luxury liner, with a pretty decent love story filled with lies and betrayal. The dialogue is quirky and funny, and there is plenty of unspoken slapstick that adds to the enjoyment of the film.

My personal favourite part of the film is the fifth character, a bumbling old maid who is simply out to get a man, no matter who it might end up being. She acts as mere comic relief through the entire film, and does a fantastic job at stealing many scenes. The actress, Elsie Randolph, was terrific and actually appeared in one more Hitchcock movie 41 years later in 1972's Frenzy. I'll be sure to keep an eye out for her next time I watch.

I really have no complaints about the movie whatsoever. Even the awkward line walked between silent and sound film techniques wasn't distracting and just felt comfortable and right for this movie. While I wouldn't place this in his top 10, Rich And Strange definitely grabs a special spot in the Hitchcock motion picture catalog. I definitely suggest finding one of those "20 movies for 10 bucks" box sets with the film included and give this a watch.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Skin Game (1931)

Beefing on Hitchcock
The Skin Game

I think it's fair to say that 1931's The Skin Game is easily the worst film on the list to date. This is mostly due to the technological constraints at the time, as sound was still relatively new to film. Pretty much all of the dialog was spoken way too fast for comprehension, and the volume spiked at the start of every sentence only to trail off suddenly into nearly inaudible levels. While most of Hitchcock's early sound films didn't suffer from this issue, it seems pretty common for the time. Production companies had quickly moved from silent to sound, and a lot of the actors apparently had yet to learn enunciation for movies.

The camera work is another problem with the movie, and the term "steady cam" hardly applies at all. There were more than a few noticeable panning shots where the camera moved quickly past the intended target, only having to backtrack to properly center. The auction scene makes a person almost nauseous from all the whipping up and down and back and forth, and none of it slowly or smoothly. I am not entirely sure how much panning and camera movement was used in film before this, but it came across like the cinematographer had just learned a new trick and was over-utilizing it any chance he got.

The story was a tad interesting, but not enough to stand up against the crap quality of the film-making. It was a somewhat standard class war tale, with a twist that the poor family came off as more of an antagonist than the wealthy. In the end, nobody really came out on top, and the suicide of a pregnant woman with a spoiled reputation easily makes this one of the more depressing movies Hitchcock ever made.

On a different note, actor Edmund Gwenn not only fantastically reprises his role as Mr Hornblower from the 1921 film of the same story, but he also appears in a couple of Hitchcock's later films: 1940's Foreign Correspondent and 1955's The Trouble With Harry.

From what I recall from his interview with Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock wasn't all too fond of The Skin Game either, and I'd have a hard time recommending it to anyone who wasn't intent on seeing absolutely every film he made.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Live-Beefing LOST: Season 3, Disc 1

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't watched LOST, you may be confused or apathetic about the following post. Please go watch the series through at least once before bothering with my writings. Thank you.

s03e01 - A Tale Of Two Cities

Oh hey, an eye. We've never seen THAT before. Uhm, you put that CD in upside down, Juliet. Yeah, I am fairly certain this Amelia is Ethan's mom... especially the way she just mocked him about the plumbing. This was always a bit of a mind-blowing season opener. It kind-of set the bar for their season openings from here on out. Far more of a "WTF?!" than Desmond in the hatch. Of course, Jack listens to Glen Miller as he sits around in a car stalking his ex. Because who wouldn't? Doctor in a shark tank. It's a fitting "torture" for someone who just has to be in control of his surroundings at all times. "Kate, you're not my type." Fans went wild on the "Tom is gay" theories, so much the writers eventually just caved. Carl! WARNING! ...aaaand back to Jack. This is like Saw, only different. In Saw, Michael Emerson was watching on a video monitor. Oh wait, that's exactly like this. Never mind.

Jack's ex isn't that great at NOT rubbing it in. Seriously, she's kind of the active cause of his paranoia and obsessive behavior. I was never a Jack/Juliet shipper. He and Kate kind of deserved each other with their stubborn impulsive natures. Juliet and Sawyer was really the only shipping (shipment? Yeah, let's call it shipment from now on) that I was ever actually interested in. Kate looks like a 12 year old boy in a dress. Okay, she has a LITTLE bit more chest... and long hair. But really, not much of a figure going on there. Who wouldn't want to have a beach breakfast with Ben?! That looks like a calm, relaxing, good time. Why Sawyer first? Well, it's alphabeticaaaa-- wait, no, it's not. Never mind.

Yeah, very slick detective work there, Jack. "Why is Sarah calling you, Dad?" Because they had a fling, of course. His dad's lack of answer kind of solidified that in my mind. That and his insistence on calling Ana Lucia "Sarah" doesn't help much. "Let it go, Jack." Yeah, you're definitely a repo man, Jack. Actually right now with the sleeveless t-shirt, you kinda look the part. I really hope Elizabeth Mitchell's horrid acting on Revolution doesn't make me start hating Juliet as much during this re-watch. Great escape plan, Carl. Of course Juliet and Sawyer got together later on. You always end up with the girl who shoots a stun dart into your neck.

Jack is in full stalker mode now! Following his dad into his AA meeting to confront him. It's good to know Jack has a nice history of becoming paranoid and unhinged, because it comes into play after he leaves the island too. I think Jack has a thing against being told to "let it go"... it's like his "Don't tell me what I can't do!" Because if there's anyone who you can believe completely, it's Ben. Yeah, good going Jack. Now you're drowning.

"Hey! You got yourself a fish biscuit. How'd you do that?!" Oh great, Kate is all whimpery again. THEY MADE ME WEAR A DRESS!!! (sob sob sob) Don't give her your fish biscuit! She just had breakfast on the beach!! Selfish woman. The shark tank is called The Hydra. ANSWERS!!! Sarah apparently doesn't understand that sometimes a guy just has to put a face or name to the thought that his wife cheated on him, otherwise it will eat at him for the rest of his life. It's called "closure" Sarah. Geez. She's uncaring and selfish too. At least Jack's beyond that now. But then again, this show was never about the characters... only the mythology and mystery. And now they've officially broken Jack. "Good work, Juliet."

s03e02 - The Glass Ballerina

Oh, they weren't joking when they said "glass ballerina"... There it is right there, and now it's broken. Good job little-Sun. The maid did it. Sure. Sayid and his damn signal fires. That's apparently his thing. What should we do now? Start a signal fire and stick to it!! That is a really well-cleaned wall in the shark tank. It looks brand new. "I want that boat." And what Ben wants, Ben gets.

I really hate Danny Pickett. I was so happy when that asshole died. Sun cheating on Jin knocks her "holier than thou" attitude down quite a few notches. Despite all his flaws, I really like Sun's dad. He's no fool. "Shocked. I said shocked." Kate, you're not really in a bargaining position here, so don't bother trying. I think Sun's dad was having a really hard time keeping this a secret from Jin. His sense of pride and his sense of honour were a bit conflicted... also I honestly believe he felt Jin deserved better than what Sun was doing to him. Look, a dock! And why does the dock have only four toes?!

I love Alex. She's so cute! Stupid Pickett. NO TOUCHING! Oh yes, Sayid's starting another signal fire. GET A NEW THING! I guess season 3 is the season of marital problems. First Jack and Sarah, now Sun and Jin... Okay maybe it's not just this season. But 2 episodes in and each of the flashbacks revolve around the couples' problems and the marriages falling apart. So much lack of communication too. I guess the message is "Communicate more... and with signal fires." When did Jin start to understand English!??! Perhaps it was the immersion into an all-English speaking (semi-)deserted Island...

Kate doesn't have much in the way of strength for cutting rocks. NO TOUCHING!!! Danny just likes shocking Sawyer... actually I think he just has rage and violence issues in general. It's not healthy. People are on the boat, Sun. Get your gun! There was a lot of speculation about whether Jin knew who the bald guy was, in regards to his wife... but I'm fairly certain the bald guy knew who Jin was. And the greatest question is if the guy killed himself, or if he was thrown out by another of Sun's dad's agents... sent to make sure the job got done right. I am thinking it wasn't suicide. Some people even speculated it was Sun that did it, but I seriously doubt that one. "It is not my place to tell him." I reeeeally like Sun's dad.

It's great that of all the people, Sawyer read Juliet as the one who would have shot Kate with no problem... Gasp! They're being monitored! You have NOT lived on this island all of your life, Ben. I guess it's no shock that he'd lie, even when being "honest." This was another great way to toss in a bit of a shock. The Others not only have access to the outside world, but they have video of it as well. Ben will take Jack home... with him. White lies aplenty.

s03e03 - Further Instructions

A naked Desmond running through the jungle. That's always a good thing to wake up to. What I want to know is when Nikki and Paulo are going to show up! "Are they off being mute and building structures as well?" Locke needs to speak to the Island. It's called "communing" Charlie. There's a lot in Eureka, John. A lot of weed. It's also a great place for seafood. They did a decent job of making Hawaii look like Humboldt County though. Locke has hair. "I wouldn't want you to have to start punching yourself in the face." Charlie has some great lines in this episode.

Boone!! It always makes me happy to see Boone show up. This was a really trippy drug-trip sequence here with Boone. One of my favourite sequences in the show, really. SO well-directed and edited. That tent just spat John out like a piece of rotten broccoli. Locke's got himself involved in a pot-growing community. Who doesn't like Geronimo Jackson, really? Dharma Lady... great song. First shot of the imploded Swan hatch. I wish we had more detail on that, but from a production standpoint, it makes sense why not. GREAT reveal of Hurley! "Dude..."

How could anyone NOT get that this kid was a plant?! He just screams "cop trying to hard to fit in undercover" He even looks like a young cop. Not a lot going on in this episode. Naked Desmond again... and they're looking for Eko and a polar bear... but Locke episodes have never been jam-packed with action. They're usually more deep with back-story and philosophy. Jan is really weird looking. She needs dental work really bad. And she should probably lay off the smoking too... Yeah, Locke. These people are real winners. You really choose your friends wisely.

Oh yes, Desmond and his visions of the future. That poor man's mind gets thrown all over time... It's no wonder he seems kind of unhinged at times. Well, they have Eko now. I guess he can go ahead and die soon. I finished my cake. Now what do I eat?! Oh, pizza. Yes. Of course. Amenable for coercion. That sounds like a really bad band. I think it's about time for another Smoke Monster appearance. What say you, writers of Lost? Okay, some creepy dialogue from an unconscious Eko works. Oh hey, Nikki and Paulo. Who the hell are these new people?!? Are we supposed to just believe they've been here the whole time?!?! RAAARGH!! Oh, Locke's aforementioned speech! There's something weird about that Desmond guy...

s03e04 - Every Man For Himself

Desmond is creeping on Claire and the baby. I think he's gay-imprinted on Aaron. You know, like on Twilight... only gay. And on Lost. And there's no vampires (that we know of)... Okay, so it's probably nothing like that. Jack gets to watch cartoons?!? And I'm here stuck watching this. What a rip. He doesn't even WANT to watch cartoons... So ungrateful. Yeah, they make decisions together, like Jack and Locke did in the hatch. Oh Pickett ain't gonna be happy at Sawyer... Someone else killed his wife. That makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

Another good "long con"-ish flashback for Sawyer. I love Sawyer episodes. Ben's pretty good at beating people up, for someone who's continually had his ass beaten on this show. Ben's con on Sawyer is really fantastic. He really knows how to break people. "Hippity hop! Hippity hop!" I love that scene so much!! The casting of Michael Emerson was the best thing to happen to this show. Yep, Kate definitely has the body of a 12-year old boy. Not that I've seen many 12-year old boys' bodies. Well, not recently anyways... When I was 12, they were everywhere. Okay I'm done talking.

I can't believe she actually pressed charges against him for his big long con job!! A baby too?! She's needy. Clementine?! Who names their kid Clementine?! Is this woman living in the 1800's??? And Pickett's wife just flat-lined. Sawyer's gonna get it for this. Yep, Sawyer is definitely to blame for Sun shooting your wife, and Jack not being able to save her. Blame correctly assigned there, I'd say. Why does everyone try to include Sawyer in their poor escape plans?! First Carl, and now Kate. Kate needs to forget that "live together" phrase. I bet Jack regrets saying it every time he hears Kate spout it out. Especially the way she says it... it comes out more like "Live together and we'll die alone" not "OR"... Stupid Kate. I hate Kate. It rhymes too.

Desmond is a man imprinted... I mean, obsessed. Whatever. Or maybe he can just see the future. Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's that one. "Congratulations, Ford. You just lied and cheated your way out of prison." Only Sawyer could successfully con his way out of jail. And only Ben could con Sawyer that successfully. "Don't you read?"

s03e05 - The Cost Of Living

And season 3 marks the entrance of 5 episodes per disc. Let's hear it for blu ray! Oh yes, the Eko episode. Didn't I mention a bit ago that he would die soon?! I'm pretty sure that's coming in this episode. I wonder if that nun understands that's not how real confession works... If she doesn't then maybe she needs to go back to seminary, or whatever it's called. Oh, it's a dream recollection of memory... I was wondering why it suddenly seemed so fast-paced! I hate it when my dead brother wakes me up in the middle of the night and sets my tent on fire. I think Walt started that fire... but Billy Joel did not.

White funereal robes. I should NOT have eaten all those beef sticks after a bunch of cake. I really do love Jack when he's confident. "Alright. I'm ready when you are." Maybe they mis-underestimated Jack...  I also really like Sayid when he's dry and sarcastic. "This is fascinating." Ooo a Jack Bender directed episode! These are usually good. As further proof that the main point of this show is "redemption"... We see Eko's journey towards redemption really starting at the death of his brother. It is complete when he refuses the Smoke Monster's attempts at breaking him down, when he becomes at peace with who he is and what he has done.

"Don't mistake coincidence for fate." Eko could have easily told these thugs who he was; instead he chose not to, because he was on a path to atone for his sins. They definitely pissed off the wrong guy though! I hear Smoke Monster. Oh, it's following him. Oh crap! Eko saw me! Quick, hide the smoke!

No no no, Ben... you don't REVEAL your con mid-con. That's not how it works. Oh, he's resorted to begging. I guess that works too. Oh, touchy about his brother. Please, keep it PC. African-American markets. Oh, he doesn't plan to help these people at all! He's going to sell the vaccine and leave! Such a bad man. He will do the right thing in the end, though. I am sure of it. I'm so glad Nikki and Paulo got to come along on this trek. The beautiful bright light that Locke saw was most likely "the source" we see at the end of the series. There was definitely a bit of foreshadowing going on. Even if they didn't know exactly how they would go about it, I'm pretty sure they had that part figured out by this point.

If only this thug knew who he was threatening... If only these villagers knew how much blood has ever been spilled in churches, they wouldn't be quite so shocked at this. And of course, Paulo was in the bathroom. Woah hey! A guy with an eye patch! How exciting. Maybe that's what Elizabeth Mitchell needs on Revolution to not be quite so annoying... Lip gloss. Get that woman some lip gloss! They just trapped the kid inside the church. Oh, just because some men were killed in the church doesn't mean you can't still use it. These people have a warped sense of what sacred means. Of course he speaks to you as if you were his brother... you've taken his form, you dolt. Hello Smokey. Well, that's some exciting Eko death. Oh, ALMOST death. It won't be long though. I really feel for Nikki. I know how close she was to Eko. "He said we're next." Well that's uplifting.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Murder! (1930)

Beefing on Hitchcock

An actress Diana is discovered, her clothing covered in blood, in a daze beside the dead body of another actress. After long and entertaining jury deliberations, Diana is found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Sir John, a juror on the case and a famous actor-manager, feels a mistake has been made and sets out to investigate and find the real killer. Evidence starts to point to another actor in the company, and Sir John devises a trap to snare the killer.

Murder! is another great step in Alfred Hitchcock's film catalogue, giving us a well-written and well-acted murder mystery that commands your attention from start to finish. The story is nicely revealed, keeping the viewer somewhat in the dark until the moment the hero discovers the truth, and still manages to develop some suspense from then on.

There are some pretty bad editing cuts, but nothing atypical for 1930. A few can't help but jump out at you, mostly due to the sudden cut in the audio. Considering the use of sound was still really early, I can't hold that against the film... but it also makes me wonder how much better and more known the movie would be if the transitions had been smoother. Perhaps Criterion will get a hold of it someday and do some of their fantastic restorations.

One ground-breaking fact: Murder! was the first motion picture to include a characters thoughts as part of the soundtrack. As ADR (dubbing) was yet to exist at this point, the lines had been prerecorded and played live while filming, an orchestra playing from behind a wall to provide the music to the soundtrack. It was probably innovative things like this that eventually forced the dubbing process to be created.

As a whole, the movie is great and quite entertaining. It moves a bit slow at times, but from a technological stand-point, it's a must-see.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Juno And The Paycock (1930)

Beefing on Hitchcock
Juno And The Paycock

Okay, I will get straight to the point and just say that there is no way I will be posting a summary of the story here. For an accurate and extensive summary, feel free to use the Wikipedia link below. My reason for this is simple: There was just too much going on in this movie to easily summarize.

Juno And The Paycock was a popular Irish stage play by writer Sean O'Casey. It surrounded an Irish family and their individual struggles. The mother simply trying to make ends meet, while her husband is a useless drunk. The son finds involvement in both sides of the Irish Civil War, and the daughter courts two lovers and becomes pregnant from one.

Well hey, I suppose I was able to quickly summarize. Either way, at times there seemed to be too much going on to properly work as a movie. Perhaps because of its being written for stage, there were so many stories going on (at least one per character) that it felt too crowded for film. From what I've heard in interviews, Hitchcock felt about the same way as time went on, but these were the early years of sound film and there was much to learn.

I suppose if I was more well-versed on Irish culture and dialect, I might have enjoyed the movie and the story a bit more... That's not to say I didn't enjoy it though. I found it quite entertaining once I had read the summary so I could understand just what was happening on screen.

What you basically end up watching is an Irish stage play made into an Irish film, with Irish actors using Irish terms about Irish topics. This is a piece of Ireland captured on film, and for that alone it should be held in high regard... but it wouldn't appeal all too well to a broader audience, and that's one thing I think Hitchcock tried to avoid as his career moved on.

If I ever find a better transfer of Juno And The Paycock, I'll probably be adding it to my collection (replacing my horrible copy), but I still don't see myself watching it often.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Live-Beefing LOST: Season 2 Unanswered Questions

So, a brief summary of the season... We discovered the tail-section survivors (what was left of them), killed off a few of them as well as Shannon... We learned more about the Others as well as introduced Ben... Several of our main characters are now hostages, and a few of them imploded the Swan hatch. In all, it was a pretty exciting season, but most of that was at the start and finish of the season. The middle dragged a bit, but not as much as season 1. Okay, on to the questions:

Season 2 Unanswered Questions

Season 2 has 106 total mysteries, 17 unanswered mysteries.

Man of Science, Man of Faith
What is the vaccine that Desmond injects himself with?
-  Unanswered/Debatable
[Live Together Die Alone, The Little Prince, Sundown (It has not been confirmed what "sickness" the vaccine supposedly prevents, but it may be related to the Sickness caused by the influence of the monster, which alters the mental state of the victim)]
How did Walt appear to Shannon, dripping wet and speaking backwards?
-  Unanswered
[I chalk this one up under Walt being "special" that we will probably never really ever find out what the plan was. Based on "The New Man In Charge", I personally think Walt was really "chosen" by the Island for some supernatural purpose. This is what happens when you have a show with a kid who hits puberty.]

What is the current status of Alvar Hanso and the DeGroots?
-  Unanswered
[In the Michael-centric episode "Meet Kevin Johnson" we actually see (and the camera momentarily focuses on) an unconscious man in the bed next to Michael's. That man looked very similar to (ie, exactly like) the man cast as Hanso in promo photos, videos, etc.  According to the "Where Is Alvar Hanso?" ARG between seasons, Hanso was last known to be in a coma somewhere. We can pretty much deduce that man in the bed was Hanso. As for the DeGroots, they might still be in Ann Arbor. It doesn't seem to matter to the big picture though, does it?]

The Other 48 Days
Who did the glass eye in the Arrow belong to?
-  Unanswered
[More deductive reasoning can be applied to assume that the glass eye is Mikhail's, considering we have a glass eye and a character who is seen with an eye patch. Still... it doesn't really matter otherwise.]

What Kate Did
How did Wayne seemingly talk to Kate through Sawyer?
-  Unanswered
[Magic. The Island. The Smoke Monster. Hallucination?! Who cares?]
Why was the orientation film spliced and put in the Arrow?
-  Unanswered
[Radzinsky didn't want anyone to see that bit? I don't think this matters all too much either. I am not worried about it.]

The Hunting Party
Who was Sarah having an affair with?
-  Unanswered
[Aside from Jack's dad? It was that guy we saw across the street waiting for her when she bailed Jack out of jail that time he tried to beat up his dad in the AA meeting... She even states that it doesn't matter who he is, and if it DID matter, they would have told us a name.]

How did Henry Gale die?
-  Unanswered
[Apparently this doesn't matter either. It could have been the Others; it could have been herpes. What difference does it make?]

How did Dave appear to Hurley on the island?
-  Unanswered
[Magic. The Island. Smoke monster. Hallucination?! Whatever... a lot of people appear to a lot of other people on this show.]
Why was Libby in the mental institution?
-  Unanswered
[This is one I actually wish I knew... but yet again, to the big picture, it doesn't matter all too much. We just know what she was there.]

Three Minutes
What are the "tests" the Others made Walt take?
-  Unanswered
[Maybe they were doing some of the tests they would have done on Locke when he was a kid, had he passed the few they DID throw at him... My bet would be to figure out why/how he was special, and if he was to be the next leader.]

Live Together Die Alone
What did Desmond do to be dishonorably discharged from the military?
-  Debatable/Unanswered
[I'm pretty certain it was his going AWOL to get Penny's number (and all the other events/behaviour surrounding that) when he was jumping consciously through time.]
Who built the statue and why?
-  Unanswered
[I am not even going to try to figure that one out. I think it's just to imply that people from all civilizations over every period of time have found some form of access to the Island, and that most of them figured it some form of connection to a deity or supernatural power.]
Why did Radzinsky splice the orientation film?
-  Unanswered
[Pretty much the same question as above... I'm not even sure we could count this one twice, but whoever comprised the list did.]
Why did Radzinsky start drawing the blast door map?
-  Unanswered
[Did you SEE the episodes with Radzinsky?! That guy was unhinged from the get-go. Let's just leave it at that.]
Why did Radzinsky supposedly kill himself?
-  Unanswered
[Same answer as above.]
How does Penny know about the island and its electromagnetic properties, and that Desmond is on it?
-  Unanswered
[Maybe she pestered her father until he told her, after Desmond had been all weird in the past about the date he would contact her, followed a while later by his disappearance during the race around the world... Or Walt appeared to her in a vision. This would be a good one to know, really, but it doesn't keep me up at night.]

Well, there's that. Feel free to comment below with your own thoughts/opinions on the questions, or with comments about my own answers. If there's any from season 2 that you feel were left off this list, they were probably listed as "Answered" and if you ask them below, I will search out the documented answer for you gladly!