The Drop Box

January 30, 2008

This Sporting Life (1963)

Richard Harris in This Sporting Life

Men collide into one another on a rugby pitch, a confusion of bodies and sounds; someone’s punched in the face, falls bloody to the ground, gets carried off – a distraction. The Hobbesian poetry of this opening scene could stand in for the entire film: full of violence, turmoil and confusion, ending in devastation. Directed by Lindsay Anderson, This Sporting Life is considered the last of the major British New Wave films; containing both an angry young man and a kitchen sink, the film was the Rank Organisation‘s late entry into the field, and when it failed financially, the social realist trend in British cinema essentially died.

 

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January 29, 2008

Bachelor Party (1984)

Filed under: Movies — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Toshi Yano @ 6:41 pm

Bachelor Party poster 

Coke, ‘ludes, hookers, trannies, T&A, S&M, a drug-addled donkey, an Indian pimp, Tawny Kitaen – and Tom Hanks? Is it good? Does it matter? 

January 27, 2008

Tracy Morgan Love, Part I

Filed under: General — Tags: , — Toshi Yano @ 10:28 pm

They Live By Night (1948)

They Live by Night poster

I’ve tiptoed around Nicholas Ray‘s movies for ages: I love the stuff I’ve seen, particularly Johnny Guitar and In a Lonely Place, but I haven’t seen a lot – something about the burden of expectations… But when Ray’s first feature, They Live By Night, was recently made available on DVD, I took a chance. It looks like an easy one, part of a cheapo double feature with Side Street, but the film is a revelation. An absolutely devastating noir starring Farley Granger and Cathy O’Donnell as Bowie and Keechie, the eponymous lovers on the lam, They Live By Night highlights in particular what a great director of actors Ray was, right off the bat. He’s no slouch with the visuals either: often noted for his expressive use of camera and color, here Ray works us over in black and white, following the misbegotten couple from the first bated breath of romance to its last gasp.

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January 22, 2008

Vanishing Point (1971)

Filed under: Movies — Tags: , , , , — Toshi Yano @ 9:32 pm

Vanishing Point poster 

Vanishing Point opens with a wonderfully slow 180-degree pan, beginning at an empty Shell station, passing over rural landscape and ending on an empty road. From the distance a police motorcycle speeds towards us, siren blaring, but we don’t follow it – the camera stays on the road. Two bulldozers creep across the screen; another police vehicle whips by, but again the camera refuses to budge – it’s focused intently on the bulldozers’ deliberate advance. A broken window with a tattered screen, the bulldozers reflected in a shard of glass – an old man mumbling to himself, watching the bulldozers pass – a handful of townsfolk eyeing the strange procession, vaguely curious… Finally the bulldozers stop and drop their blades to the blacktop, blocking both lanes of the two-lane highway. This title sequence is a near-perfect example of a certain kind of Seventies filmmaking – it’s contemplative, has a real pastoral quality and induces a strange longing – and it’s a shame because it’s the best part of the movie. It’s a shame, too, because the absurdity that follows does not feel nearly as enjoyable as it could have, coming on the heels of such a fine introduction.

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January 20, 2008

Speaking of 2007…

Filed under: General, Movies — Tags: — Toshi Yano @ 2:07 pm

A bit late, but here are my favorites (in alphabetical order):

Black BookEastern PromisesHot FuzzNo Country for Old MenSuperbadThere Will Be BloodZodiac.

Let me know what I missed.

January 19, 2008

The Orphanage (2008)

Filed under: Movies — Tags: , , , , , — Toshi Yano @ 5:08 pm

The Orphanage

The Orphanage arrives on these shores with Guillermo Del Toro‘s name above the title, using that “famous-director-presents” formula that Quentin Tarantino’s name figures in every now and then. Interesting to see Del Toro throwing that kind of weight around… Anyway, it worked on me – Del Toro made my favorite ghost story in years, The Devil’s Backbone; and here he is beckoning us to a new one from Juan Antonio Bayona, who seems to have a knack for it.

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The Best Movie of 2007?

Filed under: General, Movies — Toshi Yano @ 3:17 pm

For fans of There Will Be Blood…

January 18, 2008

The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three (1974)

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three poster
 

Walter Matthau is a particular favorite of mine. The greatest curmudgeon in movies (with the possible exception of W.C. Fields), Matthau brought his gruff wit to comedy classics like The Bad News Bears, The Odd Couple, and the highly underrated A New Leaf, but was equally at home in thrillers like Charade, Fail-Safe and the excellent Charley Varrick. His sense of timing is without equal, his vocal control is amazing, and his reactions are works of art – I’ve never seen such subtle double (and triple!) takes as the ones peppered throughout A New Leaf; Matthau can create meaning with the slightest motion of his eyes. And what a face!

Walter Matthau and Jerry Stiller in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

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January 16, 2008

Quote Of The Day

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , — Toshi Yano @ 10:39 pm

Side Street poster 

“You like poetry, hon? George hated poetry. He hit me once when I recited Robert Burns; he hit me right in the eye… George was no good.”

Jean Hagen (bottom left in the poster) in Side Street (1950) 

Marathon Man (1976)

Marathon Man poster

Dustin Hoffman has made a career playing characters with little Character – vague, watery men, incapable at times of even speaking, much less acting. Sometimes this works to his advantage, as in The Graduate, where the comedy is his haplessness, or Straw Dogs, in which he is forced to confront this weakness at an existential level. But other times, in place of Character, Hoffman lets loose with a barrage of tics and, taken to the extreme, he wins an Oscar for Rain Man.

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January 13, 2008

Watch This Space! (Norman Mailer vs Rip Torn)

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , , — Toshi Yano @ 3:18 am

We’re gonna be posting about stuff we watch: mostly movies, but also TV shows, YouTube videos, music videos – whatever catches our eye…

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