July Prompt – Summer Blockbusters

Some of my fondest memories growing up were summer vacations at Emerald Isle in North Carolina. Being at the beach for a week had advantages in and of itself, but my favorite activity was trips to the local cinema and seeing the most recent Summer Blockbuster. Some of these were comical duds, e.g. Wild Wild West (those Jim West sunglasses from Burger King were on point, however). Some just escaped me, e.g. Men in Black. Some were just outright bad bad bad bad bad bad, e.g. Godzilla (but I do love that soundtrack), and a few, like Spiderman 2, would become my favorite films of all time.

The movies that fall into the category of “summer blockbuster” are an interesting breed. They belong to no specific genre, but at the same time they remain a genre unto themselves. They’re built for a massive audience via a delivery system of pure spectacle.

Over the years, the summer movie season has become something lesser. Remember the anticipation? The fevered rush to get tickets? Nowadays my excitement level hovers near zero regarding most summer blockbusters. I think there are two main reasons for this downturn, rampant disappointments and perpetual, regurgitated franchising that always lends an air of overfamiliarity.

Still, occasionally there are glimmers of hope. Low expectations transformed into awe. I can’t help but think about my glowing response to Edge of Tomorrow — and that was four years ago! Due to my lackluster attitude, I’ve been late to some summer blockbusters. I didn’t see Avengers until three years after its release, and I’m not referring to the one with Sean Connery in a teddy bear suit.

As for the guidelines in picking a movie for this Cinema Shame prompt, I think the only parameter for a potential selection is that it had be released between the months of May through August. It just has to *feel* like a summer blockbuster. Movies built on spectacle and pure entertainment value. My choices for this month will be watching the most recent films from the Planet of the Apes series: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes.

As always, submit your Cinema Shame Summer Blockbusters by tweeting your link to @CinemaShame or emailing us at cineshame@gmail.com. We look forward to your selections, conversation and good natured ribbing over these choices.

Please, someone, anyone watch Armageddon.

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As always add these banners to your post to make it Cinema Shame brand juicy.

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Broadway Melody (1929) – Musical Prompt

I’m a stubborn person, as my Mom would say I’m hard-headed. In stating that, I completely ignored the advice from @007hertzrumble and @hollywoodcomet regarding “Broadway Melody” the Best Picture winner from 1929 (you can check out their comments on episode 12 of the Cinema Shame podcast). An informative watch due to the historical context, but overall not really a film worth watching and should probably be removed from some shame lists. I’m far from a musical expert, more of a neophyte regarding the genre. Even though I’ve witnessed few, “Broadway Melody” is at the bottom of the barrel.

I was blinded by the gold beauty from the Best Picture statue on the cover of the DVD. Only the second film to receive the honor, it was the perfect follow-up after my shame statement on the first Best Picture winner “Wings”. I fear I’m sounding too harsh but there was little value in this viewing. The only positive was the beauty and an introduction to the film careers of Bessie Love and Anita Page. The film’s plot is best classified as a bad love story involving a pair of sisters who come to New York to be on Broadway. The sisters are Hank (Bessie Love) and Queenie (Anita Page), a small-town act from the western U.S. coming to the big city to take their vaudeville act to the next level. The sisters receive help from Eddie Kearns (Charles King), a songwriter and performer and Uncle Jed (Jed Prouty), their agent and family connection in the city. Eddie’s background and connection with the girls is where the confusion with the film starts. He knows the girls, but how well? I would say it’s between picking up a date from a newspaper ad to preparing to take a knee and pop the question. I assume the viewer is supposed to be so enamored by Queenie’s looks, that it is completely justifiable Eddie would drop Hank for Queenie. The reconnection between the three is played out in the hotel room, there is a pervy reacquaintance between Eddie and Queenie, who has blossomed into a woman, in which we are not given any details on when the last time Eddie saw her.  Eddie is supposedly the next big thing on Broadway and boasts his cred to the sisters when they come into town, promising them a large number in his musical.

The relationship of Eddie and Hank is never fleshed out with background information. I don’t need the whole story but for a man to state he intends to marry a woman I would like a little evidence to build a reality of this relationship. Eddie’s whole infatuation with Queenie is so over the top any viewer can tell where this plot is going. Eddie gets the audition for the ladies and it doesn’t go well. Hank argues and fights with the other dancers after her and Queenie’s performance is sabotaged. While their musical number was impaired, the overall dance routine was not remarkable. This is where the editing or story gets messy, I originally thought the sisters didn’t get the dance number but they show up on dress rehearsal performing with Eddie. They are then pulled from the show due to the slow tempo of the number. I have no idea about the tempo, I wasn’t entirely sure how a song about Broadway connected with a show set during the age of Romans. The main aspect of the plot is one sad love story. I find it hard to believe the intent of this production was to delivery a sad movie about isolation and failure. Being the first Hollywood musical, I would expect a more uplifting story. Eddie becomes obsessively attached to Queenie, gets extremely jealous when other suitors try to take her out. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be cheering Eddie on in this movie or to be repulsed. Is he the hero? Trying to protect Queenie from these Broadway producers who only want one thing, which is the same thing Eddie wants but somehow, he is the noble, deserving suitor. Hank is basically left out in the cold and realizes Hank’s infatuation with Queenie. She must watch Eddie pine after Queenie and witness the two get married. The two sisters break up the act. Queenie steps into the role of housewife and Hank partners up one of the dancers she fought during the audition. They start their own vaudeville act and prepare to tour the country. The only piece of emotion is shown near the film’s end, as Hank leaves New York and vows to return to Broadway, there is a shot of her face as she mentions Queenie. It shows her loneliness and heartbreak. It’s a subtle shot and I could be placing too much emphasis on the shot because her character’s romance with Eddie is never fully explained. We are even unsure her about her relationship with her sister, was it the performing that she loved or just being with Queenie.

In Richard Barrios’ book “Must-See Musicals,” “Broadway Melody” is included as one of the “50 show-stopping movies we can’t forget”.  Barrios states about Broadway Melody, “As with many Oscar recipients, it’s timely entertainment, not timeless art, and as a very early sound film, it now seems as primitive and remote as a relic from the bronze age. The dialogue sounds as though they were still trying to figure out exactly how movie talk should sound, cinematography is static, the musical numbers gauche, if charming, and the dramatics pretty threadbare.” I don’t know a lot about the technical aspects of many films, rarely do I judge classic films just on their technical aspects. “Broadway Melody” desperately needed a decent story, it lacked depth regarding the relationships of the characters. As for this being on someone’s musical shame list, I would suggest finding a different musical. I plan to follow this up with the recent Criterion’s release, “King of Jazz” which was released in 1930, it was also included in Barrios’ book.

June Prompt – Musicals

Happy Summer, Cinema Shamers!

I apologize for the delay in getting the June prompt posted. Nothing says “Summer” like Musicals and if you need proof for that statement, one is a little ditty called “Summer Nights” in a small musical called Grease and the other piece of evidence is one of the most highly anticipated movies of this summer, Mamma Mia 2. I said it here; therefore, it is fact. Mamma Mia 2 is one of the most anticipated movies of the summer. (I’m waiting for my pull quote.) People have been clamoring for more of Pierce Brosnan’s singing and the miracle that is the Hollywood studio system has answered.

The main reason for June having a Musical focus is the Shameless tie-in to TCM’s online course “Mad About Musicals.” If you have the time I would highly recommend enrolling http://musicals.tcm.com and taking a stroll through the history of Hollywood musicals. 

I completed their course on noirs two years ago and really enjoyed it. Progress at your own speed, watch a wide variety of movies you wouldn’t normally. I’m hoping this musical class and this prompt will lead to some new watches and hopefully some new favorite films. My personal viewing history of musicals is limited, a genre into which I’ve failed to deep dive. I’ve probably seen more modern musicals than classic. I hope to knock off two to three musicals from the ol’ shame list, with John Waters’ Hairspray which will also be my first John Waters film.

As always, let us know your Musical Shames by tweeting @cinemashame or emailing us at cinemashame@gmail.com. We look forward to the conversation and discussion this month.

Also, don’t forget to check out James Patrick (@007hertzrumble) and Jessica Pickens (@cometoverhollywood) on the most recent episode of the Cinema Shame podcast as they discuss Hollywood Musicals.

Until next month, Shamers….

–DB

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Episode 12: Musical Shamedown / Jessica Pickens

Jessica Pickens of Comet Over Hollywood returns. She selects a roster of Classic Hollywood Musicals beyond standard fare and we discuss how and why modern audiences aren’t necessarily receptive to the genre in 2018, using the polarizing La La Land as a case study.

Subscribe on iTunes / Stitcher Radio

Direct Download (right click, save as): http://traffic.libsyn.com/cinemashame/CinemaShame_Musicals1.mp3

CREDITS:

Talking Heads:

James David Patrick (@007hertzrumble) – Played trombone, once performed as a backup dancer for my friends’ band.

Jessica Pickens (@hollywoodcomet) – Has seen almost 600 musicals and blogs about classic movies (mostly musicals!) at cometoverhollywood.com.

 

Clips Contained in this Podcast:

Hollywood & the Stars – Those Fabulous Musicals

“That’s Entertainment” performed by Fred Astaire (from Band Wagon)

Clips from the trailer for Footlight Parade.

Frank Sinatra talking about Broadway Melody of 1940 from That’s Entertainment

Eleanor Powell’s speech at the AFI Tribute to Fred Astaire

“Tico Tico” by Ethel Smith (from Bathing Beauty)

Clips from the trailer for The Harvey Girls.

“I Left My Hat in Haiti” performed by Fred Astaire (from A Royal Wedding)

Clips from the trailer for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

“I Enjoy Being a Girl” performed by B.J. Baker (from Flower Drum Song)

“Well, Did You Evah?” performed by Burt Reynolds, Madeline Kahn (from At Long Last Love)

Clips from the trailer for Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

 

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Recorded on June 1st, 2018. Copyrights are owned by the artists and their labels. Negative dollars are made from this podcast.

A World of Pain–April shame prompt

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The April shame prompt was to watch and report on a film shown at the 2018 Turner Classic Movies Film Festival. Now this is an event in which I envy all who attend, since I probably never will. But I perused the list and knew right away which movie I had to see: The Big Lebowski. I have had no end of shame over not knowing anything about this movie, and never getting the cultural references that everyone else seems to get. So I got some popcorn, some raisinets, and settled in to learn something about The Dude, and why he abides. I had high hopes, as I am never disappointed in anything I see Jeff Bridges do.

 

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Hey, careful man, there’s a beverage here

 

The coolest thing about this movie is that it is impossible to put it into a slot. Some movies are dead on Noir, Action, comedy, horror, and so forth. This one was a mixed bag of tricks that surprised me. Loved it. I give it a four out of five stars, which is very good for me as I never give anything five except the movies I could watch over and over and never get tired of, like The Third Man, Groundhog Day, and The Big Sleep. Down-side? A bit frequent on the f-bombs, more than my taste, and a pedophile, but then who didn’t deal with pedophiles in the late 90’s?

It was all part of it–the sexually ambiguous 90’s. Nothing clear and standing out like the 50’s where you knew what was morally ‘right’ to society and what you were supposed to do. You knew your role. The 90’s had slackers and hackers, terrorists and sexual predators. Yeah, I know, every era has had them. But now the general public was aware, and bothered–and I would maintain, titilated by the whole situation we’d found ourselves in. But then, this is not an analysis sort of movie review. I really hate those. You know the ones that dig into Nietzsche and Freud and tell you what to think about film history. I know what I think, and I know what I like. I like movies that don’t look like every other movie–and surprise me.

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Speaking of The Big Sleep, I did not expect this movie to feel like a noir film. The premise seemed silly to me. Not that silliness puts me off. I love it. But I thought it would be a straight comedy. It totally wasn’t. What I like about the noir films that have caught my attention is their ability to tell a story and keep me engaged, without necessarily putting closure on the plot. Like life, you finish watching the movies knowing that life will go on with those characters, as it does for us.

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Mark it zero!

 

Oh, and there are femme fatales, of which this movie has two, depending upon your view.

The noirs of the 40’s were pulpy and fiction-y, and the moment and atmosphere felt more important than the plot. Like Raymond Chandler. Oh dear, I do love his writing. I know, I know, it is not Shakespeare. It is not even Ian Fleming or Grisham. It had it’s own style and is very quoteable, even by those who say they don’t like pulp fiction. But I have digressed from The Big Lebowski. The Dude. A lazy-ass sonofabitch who goes to the grocery store at the start of the movie and writes a check for sixty-nine cents.

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Which brings me to my final point about this film, and what I liked about it the best. The running gag, or point, or philosophy, if you must about the rug. The Dude brings it up at the most infuriating of times, to some, seeming to be a minor issue, this rug he feels ought to be replaced by the older, crippled, mega-wealthy Lebowski. I found it funny, odd, and something like I would do. After all, who wants to live in a world, where someone can just walk into your place and piss on your rug, with no consequences?

Well that was enough for me, and alone made the film entertaining, even without the bowling, the white russians, the nihilists, and the kidnapping. But maybe you feel differently. Maybe this film didn’t do it for you, or you prefer to see something deeper into the plot.

Yeah, well, you know, that’s just like, uh, your opinion, man.

your opinion

 

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You can also read me at  Are You Thrilled
or come and say hello to me on Twitter at @areyouthrilled for poetry and artsy stuff or @movielovebogart for movies and television

 

May Prompt – Shame Swap!

Seeing as how its already May 10 and we’ll have a shortened Shame cycle this month, I wanted to do something completely different. If it sets your Shameful hearts afire, that’s great and maybe we’ll do it again! If not, we’ll toss this into the bin for misfit ideas and forget it ever existed. You’re going to have to follow me on this idea. Ready?

I want you to find a friend. Yes. You need friends for this exercise. You’ll also need to communicate with your friend. Once you have that friend, you’ll swap Shames! You’ll watch their most favorite movie that you haven’t seen. They’ll watch your most favorite movie that they haven’t seen.

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Got it?

For example, let’s say my “friend” has a Top 100 list on Letterboxd.com. I scan his list and note that the first movie on this list that I haven’t seen is his 12th favorite movie, Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942). That’s my pick.

Now, my “friend” scans my Top 100 list on Letterboxd.com and recognizes his first unseen movie at #15 — Let It Ride (1989).

He watches Let It Ride and I watch Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Any questions? Once you’ve watched you’ll craft a nice little writeup and share it with Cinema Shame by tagging us on Twitter or emailing the link to cinemashame@gmail.com.

Use the following images to spread the Shame!

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April Shamedown

Due to the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival and related shenanigans, the Shamedown is a little tardy this month, but we’ll get things back on track forthwith. Thanks to all of our April contributors and moviewatchers! If we missed any of your posts, please send us the link at cinemashame@gmail.com or tag us on a tweet featuring your link.

April Prompt: Movies from the 2018 TCMFF

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@movielovebogart abides with a first time watch of The Big Lebowski -https://cinemashame.wordpress.com/2018/05/10/a-world-of-pain-april-shame-prompt/

@007hertzrumble saddles up Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the Westhttp://thirtyhertzrumble.com/once-upon-a-time-in-the-west-cinema-shame/

 

Shamedown:

@RaquelStecher overcomes some old TCMFF-related SHAME! with a first-time watch of Fiddler on the Roof — http://www.outofthepastblog.com/2018/05/cinema-shame-fiddler.html

@Realweegiemidget Midget watches a non-Bond Roger Moore classic North Sea Hijack (aka Ffolkes) — https://weegiemidget.wordpress.com/2018/04/19/north-sea-hijack-1980/

@007hertzrumble finally embraces the concert film/performance art that is Stop Making Sensehttp://thirtyhertzrumble.com/stop-making-sense-cinema-shame/

@TakingUpRoom goes deep sea diving with Voyage to the Bottom of the Seahttps://takinguproom.wordpress.com/2018/04/12/voyage-to-the-bottom-of-the-sea/

 

Podcast:

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CinemaShame goes to the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival –https://cinemashame.wordpress.com/2018/05/02/episode-11-tcmff-2018-raquel-stecher-jessica-pickens/