Blog Directory CineVerse: November 2015

Meet the Drama Queen Supreme

Sunday, November 29, 2015

On December 2, you have a date with the Southern Belle of the ball, the princess of pout, the comeuppance kid herself, Scarlett O'Hara. CineVerse's Our Favorite Films series soldiers on with part 1 of “Gone With the Wind” (1939; 238 minutes),  directed by Victor Fleming, chosen by Danealle Kueltzo. On Dec. 2, we will view approximately the first 170 minutes of the film, taking one short break at the “Intermission” segment. Part 2 is set for Dec. 9.


Rest up for turkey day

Sunday, November 22, 2015

This week, it's time to give thanks, stuff up on turkey and all the trimmings, and take a break from movie discussion. CineVerse will not meet on Wednesday, Nov. 25 but will reconvene on Dec. 2.


We're on a mission from CineVerse

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Yes, there's "Ferris Buehler's Day Off," "The Fugitive," and "Risky Business." But the king of all movies set and filmed in Chicago has to be "The Blues Brothers," the zany rambling musical comedy from 1980 that made John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd superstars. Here's our analysis of this must-see Windy City flick:

It crosses over into several genres, including musical, comedy, action/adventure, road picture, and buddy film.
Its basic plot is threadbare thin; instead, the main narrative thrust are entertaining set pieces and vignettes in which the brothers encounter one unforgettable character/musical legend after another; strung together and enhanced by spectacular car chases and stunts, it the film is an example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
Those car chases and stunts are old-school fantastic; they look very destructive and expensive and real; no strings or CGI attached. With this bang-em-up approach, the film serves as a wish fulfillment vehicle for the viewer’s destructive, demolition derby-hungry tendencies.  
It’s the quintessential Chicago film: arguably more than any other motion picture, this movie represents the Windy City, including many of its famous landmarks and buildings, as well as its people, work ethic, dialects, and overall vibe, with accuracy and attention to detail. 
o DVD Verdict reviewer Dan Mancini wrote: “The impact on the quality of The Blues Brothers from its having been not only set in Chicago but made by men who knew and loved the city can't be underestimated. Saturday Night may have been live from New York, but The Blues Brothers is a Chicago movie, tried and true. It shares an anarchic distrust of authority with the film comedies of Chaplin, The Marx Brothers, and many, many others, but the Blues Brothers offers a specifically working class, Midwestern variety of anarchy. When informed by a cop that traffic is blocked by the American Socialist White People's Party, who have successfully sued for the right to parade (anyone who lived in Chicago in the '70s and '80s will remember the highly publicized court cases upon which the scene is based), Jake Blues casually observes that he hates "Illinois Nazis." There's no moral outrage in Belushi's classic delivery of the line, only a pragmatic disdain at having been inconvenienced by a bunch of fringe whackos—it's the low-key response of a Midwesterner, pure and simple. The entire film is loaded with similarly matter-of-fact, common sensical mockery of authority figures and their bureaucratic folly.”
It’s one of only a handful of movies featuring SNL alums that is actually well-made, entertaining and worth rewatching. 
Belushi and Aykroyd actually perform and are not dubbed over by professionals; Belushi sings, and Aykroyd sings backup and plays the harmonica. Additionally, the actors playing the band members are actual professional musicians from bands like Booker T & the MGs, Blood Sweat and Tears, and the Saturday Night Live Band.
There is no true villain in the movie, unless you count the neo-Nazis, police officers, and country/western band pursuing them. Additionally, there’s no drama between the brothers or contrived sibling conflict meant to ratchet up the tension. 
Interestingly, although the Belushi and Aykroyd are the famous comedic leads cast here, they play their roles as straight men who react “with the same deadpan nonchalance to the chaos that erupts around them,” wrote blogger Sam Dulmage, who added: “The two characters are very close to being a single character. For the most part, their actions and reactions are identical. But imagine a single character in their place reacting with the same nonchalant deadpan. Funny? Maybe. But not a tenth as funny as Aykroyd and Belushi deadpanning in unison. This is a highly nuanced clown double act.” 

Animal House
An American Werewolf in London
Trading Places
Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video
Coming to America

Gathering together of experts movies like The Dirty Dozen, The Seven Samurai, and The Magnificent Seven
The Blues Brothers 2000
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World


Sunglasses + SNL legends = Classic comedy

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Make plans to attend CineVerse on November 18 for part 17 of the Our Favorite Films series, this time featuring “The Blues Brothers” (1980; 133 minutes), directed by John Landis, chosen by Brian Hansen.


They don't make 'em like that anymore

Thursday, November 12, 2015

"Doctor Zhivago" is the kind of sprawling, majestic widescreen epic that Hollywood stopped making many moons ago. Watching the film now, 50 years since its original theatrical run, it's easy to see how movies have changed from a time when old-school craftsmanship and blow-em-away casting were part of the DNA of top shelf films. Although this flick shows its age, it also has a lot to teach us about narrative style, visual compositions, creative editing choices, and pre-digital artistry. Here is what our CineVerse group concluded about" Doctor Zhivago":


It’s lavish production values, thanks to a high budget, and A-list talent involved (director David Lean, stars Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Alec Guinness, Rod Steiger, and Ralph Richardson, and composer Maurice Jarre) put it in a high caliber and gave it a sheen and cache that prevent it from crumbling under its own weight.
It pays great attention to detail, benefitting from period authenticity as well as high artistry and realism imbued in the sets, props and costumes. 
It looks visually stunning and sumptuous—due to the vibrant color used, widescreen aspect ratio employed, and epic scope and scale. 
The characters and their actions aren’t written overly grandiose or important; they could have been crafted as major instigators in historical events, or, as Kenneth Brown, reviewer, put it, “iconic revolutionaries” who “lead a movement, inspire a rebellion or fuel the terrible events that come to bear on their lives.” Instead, they are flawed, utterly mortal, and ravaged by the rise of the Soviet machine around them.
It was also the first Hollywood movie to depict the Russian Revolution, later covered by films like Nicholas and Alexandra, Reds, and Anastasia. “Doctor Zhivago marked a new path for the historical epic. Previous films had simply focused on the scope of world-shaping events. With Zhivago, director David Lean and scriptwriter Robert Bolt brought a new romantic sensibility to the epic. That Victorian ideal would inform such later blockbusters as Mary, Queen of Scots (1971), Lady Gray (1986) and Titanic (1997),” wrote TCM writer Frank Miller.
Yet, it has been accused of trivializing history by placing momentous, bloody events like World War I, the Russian Revolution, and the Russian Civil War, as backdrop set pieces against which a soap opera-ish love story is played out.
Many have problems understanding the motivations, rationales and actions of characters, including Zhivago himself, who arguably doesn’t seem that fully developed and whose choices can be difficult to understand, making it harder to root for him. He can’t seem to decide which woman he wants to be in love with—Lara or his wife—and his vacillating nature can frustrate audiences.
Many also have ethnicity authenticity problems with the casting: Sharif, while an excellent actor, looks and sounds Middle Eastern not Russian; and the English accents used by the English actors cast is off-putting, too.
The runtime is extreme: approximately 200 minutes, which can be a long sit for many viewers who can grow bored and weary of an epic, especially if character threads aren’t fleshed out/resolved or elements become repetitive (such as the overuse of “Lara’s Theme”).
Also, having the brother Yevgraf be the voiceover narrator confounds the narrative for many because Zhivago appears to be more of a spectator in his own story. 
Some critics feel the film hasn’t aged well. Brown further wrote: “Doctor Zhivago isn’t teeming with modern sensibilities—embracing sentiment, reveling in majesty and extravagance, and focusing on star-crossed lovers above all else. It shows every one of its (50) years.”

Trains and trolleys
window panes, mirrors and glass
Cold weather, snow and ice
Coincidences, happenchance encounters, and good or bad timing

Gone With the Wind
The English Patient
Anna Karenina

1945 Blithe Spirit
1945 Brief Encounter
1946 Great Expectations
1948 Oliver Twist
1957 The Bridge on the River Kwai
1962 Lawrence of Arabia
1984 A Passage to India


The Doctor is in--for round two

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Don't miss CineVerse on November 11, when we'll view part 2 of “Doctor Zhivago” and also watch “Doctor Zhivago: A Celebration,” a 40-minute documentary on the making of and legacy of this film.


A Lean epic that isn't lean on entertainment

Monday, November 2, 2015

On November 4, CineVerse's Our Favorite Films series continues with “Doctor Zhivago” (1965; 197 minutes), directed by David Lean, chosen by Patrick McMahon. Following a movie trivia game to kick off the evening, we'll screen the first 100 minutes of the film. Part 2 of the movie is slated for Nov. 11.


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