By Sheer coincidence the real Ariane Elder waits until Brian gets back from the meeting. While she waits she gets a surprise visitor, Brian’s parents. She met them when Tara invited her to Thanksgiving for her own amusement.
I’m tempted to believe that Tara’s one of Ariane’s spies but she probably wouldn’t have warned her because it’s funny that way.
Word of warning while this link and image is safe, Ariane can be a very naughty girl so best not to check out the page while you’re at work.
The main point of my selection was courtroom drama, but as I viewed them I found them to be wonderfully similar to each other. Both featured lawyers stuck in their personal limb who are given a case provides them with a chance to start again, and most notably featuring two of Hollywood’s best loved actors.
The first film on the List, Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder features Jimmy Stewart as Paul Beilger a Michigan based attorney who has been in semi retirement for the last two years spending most of his time fishing and listening to Jazz Albums.
He is recruited to defend an abusive Army lieutenant Frederick “Manny” Manion (Ben Gazzar) awho had murdered his wife’s rapist. Manson has admitted he’s done it but believes he’s justified. Beilger takes the case beginning an uphill battle. To make matters worse he’s up against ace assistant attorney general, Claude Dancer, played brilliantly by George C Scott in his second film role.
I loved every minute of this film. I always like the films where Stewart doesn’t play Stewart. In this case he plays almost a parody of himself. At first glance Beilger comes off as another one of Stewart’s golly gee american pie types but at the same time he’s not at all like that. He has an ammoral streak doing whatever it takes to win a case and is a huge Jazz fan (nothing wrong with that of course but still suspect in the fifties and makes for useful shorthand)
There isn’t a single bad performance in this film along with Stewart, George C Scott is brilliant. The camerawork is amazing and following up with Beilger’s love of Jazz, we have a terrific soundtrack by Duke Ellington (as well as a fun little cameo.)
The next film on my list was Sidney Lumet’s The Verdict with a script by David Mamet. Paul Newman play’s Frank Galven a washed up and alcoholic attorney who hasn’t won case in four years and now is left trolling funerals.
A friend gives him what should be an easy case. A malpractice suit in a hospital run by the Boston Archdiocese where a lucrative settlement is in the bag. But something about the case leads him to actually care about it and he chooses to fight for the clients (whether the clients want him to do it at all.)
However he is completely outclassed against the Archdioceses law team led by Ed Concannon played brilliantly by James Mason who is able to preasure just about any witness Galven needs (as well as the Judge)
This is a great performance from Newman. He makes this whole story as a study of redemption starting in a drunken pit, gradually regaining his passion.
As people may guess from the Rhapsodies annual Christmas story, Santa Claus has always been the favorite part of Christmas. When I was growing up I took great pleasure in deluding myself over his existence. (Technically I still do but it’s harder to fool myself these days.) I love all of the little details people have come up with over the years trying to explain all of the things that makes the myth believable.
I’ve watched most of the Christmas movies featuring Santa Claus but there were still a few remaining so I decided to finish my holiday selection I decided to go with one of the best and one of the worst (but still entertaining.) of the jolly old elf.
Ever wonder how Santa Claus delivers all those toys in one night? How he gets down the chimney, how old is he really? Well it turns out it’s done with a giant sleigh the size of a small city and an army of paramilitary elves who can leave toys at a speed of eight seconds a house. Santa himself is mostly a figurehead who delivers a single ceremonial present in each city. And Santa’s a dynasty with the Santa Claus we know and love being the twentieth one.
But he’s getting old and tired and it is assumed that the mantle of Santa shall be passed down to his oldest son, Steve who has been pretty much running the operation for years. But he has a younger son Arthur who loves Christmas dearly… but because he’s a bit of a goofball he’s left working in the mailroom.
However when a single child is missed do due to a slight snafu it’s up to Arthur to deliver the last present with the help of his grandfather, the previous Santa, and Bryony an elf from the wrapping department who takes her job way too seriously.
This is a great film both technically and artistically the attention to detail is amazing. You can spend hours watching this thing on freeze frame just to catch all of the details that Aardman sneaks into this.
On the other side of our coin we have Santa Claus Conquers the Martians a film I’ve seen just the tiniest bits of over the years which I was simultaneously didn’t want to risk seeing.
The film tells about Martian children intercepting earth television and becoming listless because they never were able to experience being children. To deal with that. The Adult martians travel to the North Pole to kidnap Santa and bring Christmas to Mars. However other Martians worry that Santa is a corrupting influence and try to kill him.
Make no mistake this is a very bad film. It has a shoestring budget , stupid script, and Santa Claus comes off as mildly psychotic.But at the same time it’s strangely charming and as a mostly forgettable film aimed at little children it actually works in a brain dead kind of way.
Since the holidays are upon us I decided to go with Christmas movies or in this case christmas-ish films since in both of their cases to call them Christmas films is a bit of a stretch. With one taking place at Christmas and the other one while technically a Christmas isn’t much of one.
My first film Billy Wilder’s The Apartment was one of those films I knew about for years, but despite being a Billy Wilder fan, had never gotten around to seeing it. (To be perfectly hones I think I used to get it mixed up with Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger)
Jack Lemmon plays a CC (Buddy Boy) Baxter An office drone working at an insurance firm. His life isn’t really going anywhere with the only thing resembling a private life is an infatuation with a cute elevator operator played by Shirley MacLaine, who he is completely not stalking (he just happened to find out her dress by chance) As a sideline he lends out his apartment to several of his managers on evenings for their extramarital affairs. In this capacity he is taken for granted and it’s beginning to stretch him thin (having to make several phone calls to have one night to sleep when he catches a cold when he’s accidentally locked out for a night.
Just as it seems like things can’t get any worse an even bigger boss played by Fred McMurray outbids the rest of the higher ups for the use of the apartment. Things get even worse when CC finds out his current fling is the elevator operator.
This was a fun and cynical film.
My next film was Capra’s Meet John Doe. Tells the story of Ann Mitchell a columnist (played by Barbara Stanwyck) who has just been downsized by her paper. In a fit of pique she finishes her last column with a quote from a bogus letter by an unemployed “John Doe” who plans to commit suicide on christmas eve as a protest against an unjust society.
Much to everybody’s surprise the column becomes a media sensation. Ann is rehired to continue the facade as well as hire a “real” John Doe, a hobo named Long John Willoughby (played by Garry Cooper.) The success continues creating a John Doe movement based around being a better neighbor… Gradually Willoughby begins to believe the hype that has been written for him. When he discovers that the movement has been funded by a newspaper executive as a road to the White House things go badly.
I had mixed feelings about this film. It’s very much up to Capra’s standards in both art and craft but at the time it’s very much a movie with an agenda and gets very preachy several times. Still the be a better neighbor part is a very good message even if it’s frequently heavy handed.
But Cooper and Mitchell give a performance that makes it work.
My favorite part is when a group of people coming to Willoughby with the story of how they made friends with neighbors who they never knew, or even liked for a long time simply by talking to them.
I hadn’t done Wuxia for a while (to be honest I’m not sure if I’ve really done it at all the one time I did it I technically had it labeled under tragedy. This time I decided to go truly epic with John Woo’s Red Cliff, the story of the climactic battle of the Chinese classic The Romance of The Three Kingdoms.
This was a two parter, so technically counts as a double feature but truthfully it doesn’t feel like one. For the most part it feels like one solid five hour film that it took me two nights to watch… but in a good way.
In the first part of the film chancellor Cao Cao bullies the emperor of the Kingdom of Wei into making him the general of the kingdoms army to attack the “rebels” Liu Bei of the Kingdom of Shu-Han and Sun Jian of the Kingdom of Wu.
Terribly outnumbered much of the half consists of the two trying to put together a coalition army that will stand against Cao Cao’s juggernaut of an army.
We end with them gaining a temporary victory against one of Cao Cao’s battalions using a “tortoise” formation. (Which consists of them creating a rats maze out of soldiers and shields that divides and crushes the other army.) but while this was good for the southern coalition’s morale it is made clear this is just a minor set back for Cao Cao and we end our first part with the north’s huge fleet of ships ready to cross the Yangtze river to attack the southern camps at Red Cliff.
The second part starts a little slower going back and fourth between the two camps as both sides prepare for the inevitable. We are shown a lot of Cao Cao’s day to day preparations through the eyes of a spy. And on the southern comic relief of several of our bad ass warriors spending their down time practicing their calligraphy and teaching children.
We have a real cool sequence of southern strategist Zhuge Lange “collecting arrows” by taking a group of boats out in the fog in order to bait the northern archers to shoot at them into the haystacks the boats are lined up with until they return to the camp with 10,000 arrows.
But all this pales before the final conflict as the southern army makes it’s move and attacks Can Cao’s forces!
This was a fun movie. I was endlessly impressed by the sheer scale and pacing and the two hour and change length of each part didn’t seem two long at all. For all of it’s epic quality it was surprisingly low key keeping the “romantic” elements of The romance of three kingdoms relatively restrained to the point I almost forgot that this was a Wuxia film. But then badass warrior Guan Yu shows up and reminds us by defeating twenty soldiers single handed.