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Entries in Paul Newman (30)

Monday
Aug262013

Wanted: Yankee Bandits

Are you joining us for this week's Hit Me With Your Best Shot movie? It's the penultimate episode of Season 4 and we're looking at the Best Cinematography winner of 1969, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid which you can Netflix Instant Watch before Wednesday night to join us. Just make your choice for best shot and post it. We'll link up.

Please note: The Bolivian police station needs to fire the sketch artist who made this Wanted poster in the movie - Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid are not played by the Brawny paper towel man and Patrick Swayze. Jeez. It's Robert Redford and Paul Newman and they're worth a lot more than this posters 'recompensa'

Just look at them. 

A million pesos doesn't even begin to cover it. Those faces! Those perfect perfect movie faces.

Friday
May312013

Visual Index ~ Hud's Best Shot(s)

I know it's my own fault since I failed to post on Fantasia last week but I was a bit sad that we had a lower than usual turnout for Hud for this week's "Best Shot" selection (the last of our weekly viewing assignments until the series returns in July for the second half of Season 4). If only so we could all enthuse together about one of the all time great taglines...

the man with the barbed wire soul

...and how it's not false advertising.  

I wish this fine western drama from Martin Ritt had a reputation as humongous as, oh, the one enjoyed by Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? which I reference primarily because it's also a electric quartet-powered black and white masterpiece from the 1960s and just as worthy of obsessing over.

The following shots, chosen by our wee club this week [more...]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May302013

Cold Eyes and Weary Bodies in "Hud"

For this week's Hit Me With Your Best Shot we're celebrating Hud on it's 50th anniversary

Though I readily concede that its my own prejudices as a Yank and a cityboy that get in the way, I rarely associate nuanced feeling with the western genre or artful dialogue with a Texas twang. So Hud (1963) plays like a miracle to me, a major one. This adaptation of Larry McMurty's novel (he would later write screenplays including Brokeback Mountain, which plays like a distant cousin to this 1960s masterpiece) never feels anything less than authentic in its Southwestern reality and yet its pure poetry. Consider this callous but perfectly sculpted line of dialogue from Hud (Paul Newman in arguably his finest hour) to his nephew Lon (Brandon deWilde) who is worrying about Homer's (Melvyn Douglas), the paterfamilia's, waning health. 

Happens to everybody - horses, dogs, men; nobody gets out of life alive

But I'm not really here to talk about the rough beauty of the dialogue in Hud -- though it's never far from my mind -- but the language of the eyes and the body delivering it. And, I rush to add, the award-winning cinematography and composition which package the unimproveable ensemble up so potently. Look at the shadows and the way Newman, bathed in light, become a handsome devil (essentially the truth of his character) his famous blue eyes less like inviting pools of water than icy death. 

But we'll return to close ups shortly. Much of Hud is shot in medium and long shot and everywhere you look, limbs are dangling and swaying and whole bodies are sneaking brief moments of rest, perched on porches, settling into chairs, or suggestively refusing to leave their beds. Melvyn Douglas and Patricia Neal, as the family's housekeeper Alma, both won deserved Oscars for their inspired work, and they beautifully capture not just the details of their characters but the physicality of people who've worked their bodies every day of their lives whether cattle rustling or scrubbing dishes. The younger characters Lon and Hud, are less exhausted, though there's still a kind of future arthritic effort to their jerky performative posing. 

runner up for best shot. Hud is a big deal

Lonnie: I'll go with you Hud.
Hud: What big deal you got lined up, sport -  a snowcone or something?"

Take one of the best scenes in Hud on the porch of the family house while the characters eat peach ice cream and enter and exit the frame without the camera following them (though Hud is quite cinematic, this particular scene is blocked like a play). Lon and his granddad have a fascinatingly evasive exchange about Hud's dead brother (Lon's dad) and why Homer dislikes his only living son "He knows. You don't need to." Douglas delivers each line with evasive though never rude gruffness, his cards held tight to his chest. When Hud enters the scene and announces a run into town, Lon shifts his attention to the uncle he idolizes but doesn't understand. There's this exquisitely telling funny shot of him mirroring Hud's pose -- while Hud mocks him but invites him to tag along anyway. How brilliant that it takes a second to even figure whose shadow is thrown onto the wall.

The withholding father and his ungrateful child finally  have it out in the film's centerpiece, a truly seismic emotional clash (the first hour being foreshadowing tremor and the second cruel aftershock) which Hud believes is entirely about his dead brother - the son Homer adored - which Homer denies. The righteous father tears into Hud as a man without principle, without empathy for his fellow man, without care for the world around him. Hud listens with silent hostility (he knows it's true) in one of the most gloriously lit and perfectly acted close-ups in all of cinema - my choice for best shot - as water from the well drips down his angry face. That's the closest he'll ever get to human tears in the film though Hud may have once shed them for the mutual loss that ripped them apart 15 years earlier. His cool eyes shift with a cruel smile as the room falls silent until he finds an unexpected nonsequitor to hurt both of them, and shoves the dagger in.

his mamma loved him but she died

My mamma loved me but she died."

This scene never fails to tear me up inside and deeply impress me for myriad reasons but precisely for the writing, the lighting, blocking and precise direction by Martin Ritt (Norma Rae, Cross Creek, Sounder) and the peak moment of Newman's indelible cold, cruel star turn.

Frank Langella the actor recently dissed Paul Newman's acting reputation in his memoir "Dropped Names: Famous Men & Women as I Knew Them" saying that while he was a great movie star he was not a great actor. His reasoning was that Newman lacked the one thing that Langella figures all great actors have - danger.  I can only surmise that Langella never saw Hud. For Paul Newman was both a great movie star and a great actor and Hud is the proof of it. Even if his career had ended there he'd still be legendary. There's enough danger in his hostile beauty in Hud to scar everyone in his orbit. 

Hud: I don't usually get rough on my women. Generally don't have to. 
Alma: You're rough on everyone. 

Other "Best Shot" Must-Reads on Hud For its 50th Anniversary

 

 

Tuesday
May282013

Curio: A Gallery of Paul

Alexa here, getting some art going for Paul Newman week - we're celebrating Hud (1963) tomorrow for "best shot". One of my favorite images from Cannes this year was seeing the venue christened with the hanging of the enormous image of Paul kissing Joanne. Martha Stewart may have avoided eye contact, but here are some distinct visions of the owner of those famous blues, by artists famous and unknown.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Mar242013

Thoughts I Had While Staring at the Cannes '13 Poster

• Does this mean Joanne Woodward is making an appearance at Cannes this year? If so... Yay!

• Not that it will matter to me as I never get to go. *sniffle*

Rachel Rachel (1968), Paul Newman's directorial debut, is an awesome movie and it's kind of crazy that he didn't really catch the directing bug after it. It was nominated for best picture and it's probably his best (directed) movie... so maybe he knew it was downhill from there and we needed him as a movie star instead?

• Speaking of Rachel Rachel, Estelle Parson is SO much better in that movie than she is in her Oscar-winning role in Bonnie & Clyde.

• If God loved me he'd part the oceanic waters and let me get to Cannes... by which I mean he'd buy me round trip plane tickets and lux hotel accomodations. 

• I'm sure can buy this as a poster but forget that. I want it painted like a mural on my ceiling so I can fall asleep hypnotized by Paul & Joanne every night.

• Now I'm dying to see if there's any vintage photos of Paul & Joanne AT Cannes

• True story: I just finished a box of Paul Newman bran cereal the morning before this poster was released which is a really weird coincidence because I haven't bought a box in years before that one.

• It Newman's Own products helped you look like Paul Newman, I would eat nothing else. 

Wednesday
Jul112012

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Road to Perdition" 

For this edition of Hit Me With Your Best Shot, TFE's signature series in which everyone playing along must choose one shot from a selected movie that they define as best, we're looking at Sam Mendes Oscar-winning Road to Perdition (2002) on the eve of its 10th anniversary. 

The film's sole Oscar win was a posthumous statue for the great cinematographer Conrad L Hall. He died in early January of 2003, just a few weeks before his tenth Oscar nomination was announced. Hall didn't have anything to prove this late in his career but Mendes sure did, given that it was his follow up to his Oscar winning debut American Beauty (1999). This crime drama is filled with frameable frames. It's majestic looking really, veritably dripping with prestige for better and worse, usually on account of both the lighting (one shudders to think how long Hall spent on each set up) and the intricate staging and compositions.

a terrific POV shot that doesn't cheat. That's so rare in the movies.

The bulk of the film's narrative spins dangerously from this eyewitness shot, a perfectly excellent choice for Best Shot -- I'm sure someone will choose it! -- if not (quite) mine. 

Michael Sullivan Jr (Tyler Hoechlin nine years prior to Teen Wolf fame) is our narrator and he's about to witness a murder that his father (Tom Hanks) has a hand in though it's the unstable Connor Rooney (Daniel Craig) pulling the trigger. Road to Perdition's title suggests that the movie is about irredeemable souls and it is to some degree. Mob boss John Rooney (Oscar nominated Paul Newman) says as much when he's screaming at Michael Sullivan Sr. (Tom Hanks) in the basement of a church -- "There are only murderers here" -- predicting that none of them will see heaven. But the truer topic is fathers and sons. There are three sets of them in this movie: The Sullivans, The Rooneys, and the closest of the lot, the non biological edition - the Sullivan/Rooney.

The introduction of Michael Sullivan Sr. He never turns to look at his son.

Sullivan Jr. and Sr as well as the Rooney Jr and Sr are often separated by great distances in the frame but note how Sullivan Sr and Rooney Sr are all tight in one of the film's most tender moments, a little piano duet at a wake.

That's all an elaborate set up to make my choice for Best Shot really hurt, to extend a little sympathy for the devil. The devil in Daniel Craig. In one of the film's least comfortable moments Connor glibly apologizes to the mafia bigwigs gathered about that murder that gets the film rolling. His angry father humiliates him right then and there. As the meeting adjourns Mendes and Hall's camera does a slow zoom in on Connor just as he's being abandoned by everyone visually. Connor goes out of focus the closer you get to him, the better to illuminate the father (Rooney Sr) and preferred virtual son (Sullivan Sr.) all chummy directly behind him.

Best Shot

The focus snaps back to Connor at this perfect shot's tail end. He's about to kill two more people as payback insuring tragedy for all (including himself). No, he's not going to heaven.

Or maybe I just love this shot so much because it mirrors the sudden focus shift in Connor's introduction earlier as he lays on a couch smoking.

Or maybe I just love this shot so much because Daniel Craig is a dangerous actor and the movie desperately needs his unique kind. Jude Law as the very sick photographer "Maguire" also manages but Tom Hanks, fatally miscast, is at a complete loss to convey it. Even his furrowed brow looks friendly --physiognomy as destiny. Sorry, Tom!

Or maybe I just love this shot so much because the next sharp cut (god bless Jill Bilcockfrom childish Connor seething with hate for daddy and adopted brother is to this:

 

"There are only murderers bloggers in this room"
Serious Film "blaze of glory"
F*** No, But There's a Poster "Meet Maguire"
Amiresque  best (gun)shot
Cinesnatch past, present and no future all in one image
Film Actually a father and son reunion
Encore Entertainment "when you raise a gun you get your own blood on your hands" 
Antagony & Ecstacy on one of the most beautiful pictures of the past quarter century 
Pussy Goes Grrr convergent diagonals, legible horizontals, phallic guns?
Okinawa Assault biking towards damnation, wading in crowds

I'm also happy to report that Rope of Silicon has joined the "Best Shot" party this week. Brad's series "Paused" which shares gorgeous screenshots from random movies will line up with ours here when we're both in the mood for the same movie. I'm sad I didn't think to do Alien when he covered it.

Next up on 'Hit Me':
07/18 PINK NARCISSUS (1971) *for adult audiences only*
07/25 THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS (2001) Wes Anderson's masterpiece?
08/01 HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE (1953) with Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable.