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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd

 

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Entries in Oscars (80s) (87)

Thursday
Aug152013

Revisiting "The Color Purple" With Oscar-Tinted Glasses

When I selected The Color Purple (1985) for the Best Shot series I was motivated not only by recent conversations about Oprah Winfrey's big screen return and dim memories of her debut as Sofia but by my own remembered shrug towards the movie. For such a widely beloved movie it's not one I ever warmed to -- though I remember loving the "Miss Celie's Blues" scene -- which turned to be the magnet for our Best Shot club. I knew it was time to revisit since how can you ever warm to something you're never in contact with? I hadn't watched the film since I was sitting in the movie theater in 1985 as a newborn Oscar fanatic (!) if you can believe it.

my favorite of the movie's self-consciously beautiful moments

1985 was a crucial year in my Oscar fanaticism. It was the first year in which I consciously remember reading about movies through a golden statue lens and wondering about what might get nominated months in advance. This hardly seems worth noting except that this was unusual at the time. That's something that people do much more loudly now -- like 10,000 times more loudly -- than they ever did publicly before, say, the early mid 90s when the sea change began (brought on by both the rise of campaign-crazy Miramax and the Internet). By the late 90s Oscar had fully become the long seasonal circus we recognize today as opposed to a One Night Only event that people talked about for one month of the year. It seems like such an innocent time actually -- the only articles about Oscar were in monthly or weekly entertainment magazines until basically the week of the ceremony when things got loud. At least that's the way I remember it. 

I bring up the Oscars primarily as a window to personal history and how my opinion has both changed and stayed the same. [more]

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Aug142013

Visual Index ~ The Color Purple's Best Shot(s)

For this week's edition of Hit Me With Your Best Shot I challenged participating blogs (you should join us next week for The Bad and the Beautiful!) to rewatch Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Alice Walker's THE COLOR PURPLE (1985) and make their choice for "best shot". The cinematography by Allen Daviau was Oscar-nominated, as were its central trio of actresses Whoopi Goldberg, Margaret Avery, and Oprah Winfrey (who returns to the screen in The Butler this weekend). The Color Purple famously lost all of its nominations but remains a touchstone film for many moviegoers and a divisive one for others.

All of which makes it an ideal candidate for this series. Here's what the various blogs chose so click on any of the pictures for the corresponding article. They're mostly in chronological order though I've had some strange html issues that have altered the look of the post which I can't quite figure out so I apologize for the wonkiness. I always marvel when different sets of eyeballs coalesce around the same images and scenes in films as visually showy as this one. 8 of the 13 participants chose the same scene and its aftermath.

The Film Experience

Nick's Flick Picks

More best shot choices after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jul112013

Best Shot: Dead Ringers, Conjoined in Shadow

Hit Me With Your Best Shot happens each Wednesday night and usually spills on over into Thursday morning. Next week (July 17th) we're all looking at the practically perfect "Mary Poppins." This week: David Cronenberg's masterpiece...

Dead Ringers (1988)

For the uninitiated Dead Ringers (1988) is the 'Saga' of 'The Fabulous Mantle Brothers,' twin gynecologists Beverly (Jeremy Irons) and Elliott (Jeremy Irons again) and the 'destructive force' Claire (Genevieve Bujold) that separates them. I've put the air quotes in the synopsis since that's how Elliott, the more theatrical and dominant twin, and the elder by a few minutes, describes the movies from its insides. I don't want to spoil the movie if you haven't yet seen it but if you haven't (*cough* 25 years later) get on that! If you ask me Jeremy Irons deserved the Oscar he wasn't nominated for for this career topping performance(s). 

My earliest favorite movie was The Parent Trap (1961) which I watched on television countless times as a child. Though I realize it's hardly a unique fascination, twins have always done it for me. There's so much to explore and even more to never understand about the possible psychologies of two distinct people who are, genetically, the same person. Though I've seen David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers about four times now I confess that I usually have trouble differentiating Beverly and Elliott. But not this time. Visually, the clarity of their separateness, even though they're loathe to experience it as such, was riveting. Even the old trick of dividing the same actor on two sides of a clearly divided frame doesn't even feel like a sad necessity but the point.

Cronenberg's direction is so assured that you can pick a corker of a shot in virtually every scene as the Best Shot participants have done. Any number of shots will reveal top notch production design (also robbed of Oscar attention) by turning half the spaces into something out of a medical illustration, with intricate lines, weirdly sterile immobility and sleek curves and flat color. But this time through the shot that resonated most was simpler. And I don't even feel like it's cheating that I've chosen twin shots, one of Elliott and one of Beverly, which I've displayed in reverse chronological order. 

These shots are close in proximity in the narrative and each features one of the Mantle Twins reacting to Claire talking to him about the other Mantle Twin. Elliott (up top) is angry that Claire has entered the picture and attempts to intimidate her and seduce her but she won't be cowed. Nevertheless he's too cool and too controlled to lose his composure. The shadow only augments his sinister handsomeness, like a flattering accomplice in seduction and plotting. But Beverly, more emotional and more fluid, who so yearns for separation that he hides Elliot from Claire until this very scene, is also terrified by it. In this simple but brilliant shot he has been found out. Claire has uttered Elliott's name. This shadow neither conceals nor flatters; it merely wipes out his identity. Who is he without Elliott anyway?

For 12 other takes on this movie, please check out the rich array of articles provided by this week's Best Shot club in the visual index

Wednesday
Jul102013

Dead Ringers ~ Visual Index

If you haven't been playing along with the Hit Me With Your Best Shot series, the idea is simple: a film is selected by your host (c'est moi, Nathaniel). Then he and any blogger who would like to join in watch the film do so and write up their choice for "best shot". It's a way to celebrate and mimic the collaborative beauty of motion pictures.

"You've cured me!"

This week's topic is David Cronenberg's 1988 masterpiece Dead Ringers (1988) which is a troubling complex movie and one that demands repeat viewings. I like it more each time I see it. We chose it for three reasons: first, it needs a bigger audience as one of the finest films of the 1980s; second, we like to correct Oscar wrongs in our imaginations and this film, which received zero nominations, deserved at least a handful of them and; third, this film plays a key role in "The Desiring Image", the first book written by our friend and brilliant critic Nick Davis.

After the jump see The 13 Best Shots from the film...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jul062013

"I'm not going to be ignored, Dan"

I wish I had a close friend named Dan so I could quote Fatal Glenn all the time.

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