2019 Shame Statement

Another year, another list of cinema shame. I’m going to start with knocking off John Carpenter’s “The Thing”. I think this movie has been on my list for at least the past three years, so it is time to retire this one from the list. I’ve owned this on DVD and Shout Factory’s Blu-ray edition, sitting on my to-watch pile since that purchase. Below is my shame statement and a little bit of background on why I picked them.

 

  1. “The Thing” – It is time for me to watch this, as much as I loved Carpenter’s “Prince of Darkness,” then I should be ready to watch this masterpiece.
  2. “Body Heat” – Currently own and was listed in Danny Peary’s “Cult Movies 3.”
  3. “The Stunt Man” – I’ve had the special edition DVD for a while and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Peter O’Toole film.
  4. “Lawrence of Arabia” – Well if I’m going to see Peter O’Toole, then I need to see the best.
  5. “Ride the High Country” – This quote from Neil Fulwood’s book, sold me on it,  “The Films of Sam Peckinpah” really sold me on it, “ What he achieved was masterful, a low budget picture which MGM treated like a B-movie but which had a quality of acting, cinematography, intelligence and moral complexity that made it stand head and shoulders above most of the A-pictures fo the day. It elevated the western to art and established an intellectual blueprint for Peckinpah’s career as a film-maker.
  6. “The Quiet Man” – John Ford + John Wayne + a pricey purchase of Olive’s Signature Blu-ray release = I need to watch this.
  7. “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” – Pure Cinema Podcast’s recent episode on Martin Scorsese made me realize there are huge gaps in his filmography I am overlapping. Which is kind of crazy because along with Sam Peckinpah, Scorses was an early influence in my early film loving days. “Goodfellas” and “Casino” were constant repeats or discussion points with friends. I decided to go with some early work and some of the big films I have missed.
  8. “New York, New York” – Musical + Scorsese = I’m not sure what to expect.
  9. “Cape Fear” – Didn’t realize until a recent trivia contest that De Niro received an Oscar nominator for this performance.
  10. “Age of Innocence” – Keep the Scorses train rolling with this recent Criterion release.
  11. “Nashville” – Long time cinema shame that has been on previous yearly lists, time to take this Altman classic down.
  12. “Tom Jones” – Need to watch more Albert Finney, enjoyed his performance in “Under the Volcano.”
  13. “Moonlight” – I’ve seen bits and pieces of this film and they were mesmerizing. I need to give Mr. Jenkins the respect he deserves and watch this film.

 

Alright, I think I have enough to last me for the year. I’m sure there will be plenty more to add, as we start the prompts and hear everybodies lists. Here is too many more discoveries over the year and to a neverending list.

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Calling All 2019 Cinema Shame Statements

A new year is upon us, which means another year of knocking off those unwatched films that might bring out a little bit of shame. It doesn’t matter where they come from, it could be a movie gathering dust on an unsteady ‘to-watch’ pile, or a film you’ve heard mentioned on multiple podcasts, or a film you just haven’t found the time to watch it.

This month we request contributors to proclaim the films they plan to take on in 2019. Create your list, post it and we will share it (shame it but in a loving manner). Feel free to add some background details for your picks, such as why you are picking it or the reason you haven’t had to chance to view this film.

I will be stating my shame this weekend, building my list from books (Danny Peary’s multiple books), podcasts (Cinema Shame’s episode on Hammer Horror and Pure Cinema Podcast’s recent episode on Martin Scorcese’s filmography), and some statistical data (letterboxd).

If you need ideas, you can check out the Shame Statements from previous years.

As the months roll around we will provide a specific prompt which may focus on an unwatched film from a specific genre, a favorite director or a favorite actor or actress. We still want you to discuss the films from your shame statements these prompts are meant to increase discussion of films and hopefully help everybody uncover some hidden gems.

Contact us by email cinemashame@gmail.com or tweet at us @Cinemashame.

Class of 2018 Cinema Shame

We are at the cusp of ending another successful year of Cinema Shame. The flurry of everyone’s best of lists for 2018 is starting to fall upon the internet. David Ehrlich’s release of his top 25 countdown is what I view as the first signal of this time of year. I think the end of the year gives us a perfect opportunity to focus on recent releases and announce our views on what current releases will be future Cinema Shames, years down the road. Does the cinematic class of 2018 include some future Cinema Shames? We need to know.

If you have a list of your top five, top ten, or top whatever feel free to shout them out on Cinema Shame. If you want to focus on several movies from this year, write up a post and let us know what needs to join the ranks of future Cinema Shame lists. I look forward to sharing my favorites from 2018 and I hope to hear about yours I missed from our contributors.

Submit what you think will be future Cinema Shame by tweeting  @CinemaShame or emailing us at cinemashame@gmail.com.

Only Angels Have Wings

“Only Angels Have Wings” was inducted into the National Film Registry in 2017. I didn’t know it was held in such high regard, its release on Criterion should have been a hint. I watched this directly after “His Girl Friday,” a screwball comedy directed by the masterful Howard Hawks. Knowing “Only Angels Have Wings” starred Grant, I was thinking it would be a natural follow-up to “His Girl Friday.” I went in completely blind and was expecting a comedy with a dash of romantic elements, the Criterion cover art should have clued me in that it was more action-oriented. “Only Angels Have Wings” could easily be classified as an early precursor to “Top Gun.” An action, adventure movie spilling over the brim with masculinity, pilots proving themselves by flying dangerous missions in some South America village. Jean Arthur plays Bonnie Lee, a character who arrives by boat to the tiny village. A simple layover ends when she becomes enchanted with Geoff Carter played by Cary Grant, the lead pilot of Barranaca Airways. Lee pines for Carter and tries to understand him and why he chooses to fly these ridiculous missions. As a viewer, we don’t get any real reasoning for their need to fly, in fact when Lee asks The Kid (Thomas Mitchell) his response is “I couldn’t give you an answer that would make any sense.” Basically, it’s dangerous or being one with the sky, or to touch the limits, or insert any type of daredevil statement. I find it easier imagining Humphrey Bogart giving a no response and throwing back a shot versus the responses from Mitchell and Carter. While I found the story to be a letdown, the action is top notch. There is pure craftsmanship in the flight scenes, remarkable effects that build a lot of tension as you wonder if they can land the aircraft. One amazing scene is the landing of a plane on a plateau, still an impressive feat 79 years later.

Jean Arthur should have put this film over the top for me. However, after watching “His Girl Friday” I was expecting a groundbreaking female character like Hildy Johnson. Bonnie Lee had no real purpose besides pining over Grant’s character. Arthur’s performance is good, she brings a lot to of a character to one that is basically one note. I read there were issues between Arthur and Hawks but in the end, I think it was the screenplay that hampered her versus direction or acting. All the males in this film are the same, stoic men unable to emote until they are on their deathbeds. The inability to show emotions reminds me of the recent release of “First Man,” where Neil Armstrong struggles to discuss his feelings with anyone. Another movie around flying and men. Maybe the correlation is that a career in flying impacts emotion instead of gender.

I didn’t dislike “Only Angels Have Wings” just disappointed. “To Have and Have Not”  fits in the same genre and does a better job of creating more realistic and interesting characters. I wonder if the World War II backdrop adds more gravitas to the movie versus mail delivery in South America. The stakes were higher with a war backdrop instead of trying to win some contract for postal service. I look forward to a rewatch of “Only Angels Have Wings”  (seems to be the case for a lot of Cinema Shame films) and hopefully I won’t hold this up so closely to “His Girl Friday.”

“His Girl Friday”

The director of “The Big Sleep” and “To Have and Have Not” is not who I would expect to be the director of “His Girl Friday”, a fast-paced, screwball comedy. Not to say there aren’t comedic moments to those first two films mentioned. The encounter between Bogart and the Acme book clerk in “The Big Sleep” shows comedic undertones, even though its covered by a thick layer of seduction. For Hawks to go from a classic standard of noir to a screwball comedy is a big leap in my view. The change to various film genres embodies the skill Hawks had as a filmmaker. Several features on the Criterion edition reiterate this point, stating his ability to work in a wide range of genres. Hawks was a director who placed a lot of emphasis on a good story and characters.

In “His Girl Friday” we have Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) appearing with her new finance to break the news to her ex husband and former boss, newspaper editor Walter Burns (Cary Grant). Burns is shocked, not by the fact she will have a new husband but by the fact that she is leaving the newspaper business to be a housewife. Burns recognizes Johnson’s skill as a reporter. The wheels start churning for Burns to prevent her from leaving the paper. Burns hatches multiple plans, lies, and schemes to draw Hildy in with one more story.  Once Grant and Russell are on the screen together, the movie kicks into high gear, with its overlapping dialogue and multiple storylines. A lot of the reviews give more positive words to Grant but I think Russell The one aspect I was surprised by regarding the story, was the lack of views from characters stating that a woman couldn’t be a reporter or shouldn’t be in his business. She was viewed as an equal by the other reporters and viewed as the best by Burns. A surprising development considering the movie’s release was in 1940. Not to say that Johnson’s new beau doesn’t expect their marriage to be following the more stereotypical gender roles, such as him being the breadwinner and her staying home with the kids. Excluding Bruce, everyone defines Russell as a news reporter, not by her gender or as a female reporter, she is their superior if not their equal. Her peers state disbelief in the fact she could only be a housewife, the newspaper business is a career she could never leave behind.

The film’s pace and dialogue are insanely fast. This will require will require a rewatch because I’m sure there are jokes and even storylines I wasn’t able to comprehend or completely missed. As soon as Russell and Grant appear together the movie is moving along at a breakneck speed, slowing down only when Russell interviews a convict. This slowdown could be a potential way to place emphasis on skill as a reporter. The introduction of new characters is nonstop. Not simple characters stating a few lines and then never to be seen again. We get characters who get involved and drive the story. A few examples include Johnson’s new mother-in-law, the sheriff, the mayor, the waiter, the convict’s friend, and even the waiter at the local restaurant play parts in moving the plot forward.

I definitely recommend everyone to check this movie out. It is worth your money and time. Criterion’s version comes with the original film “His Girl Friday” was based on “The Front Page”, here is a link to the release on Barnes and Noble website, which is currently having their 50% off sale (https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dvd-his-girl-friday-cary-grant/3622238?ean=0715515189514).  I’m looking forward to a rewatch of “His Girl Friday” and deeper dives into the filmographies of Rosalind Russell and Howard Hawks.

November – Criterion Collection and Film Struck

For the month of November, the focus for Cinema Shame will be films released through the Criterion Collection and ones available on Filmstruck. With the recent disappointing news of the beloved streaming service discontinuing on November 29, 2018, it would be a great opportunity to support this platform during its final month. If we crash the service from overuse maybe it’ll at least make a statement about the importance of classic film. There have been a lot of recommendations floating around the web on what to watch before the service ends and those suggestions are listed below.

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With the holiday season rolling around, you can always count on Barnes and Noble’s 50%-off Criterion Sale, which starts November 2nd and runs through the entire month. ‘Tis a joyous time when my twitter feed becomes flooded with people stressing about the small things in life… such as which Criterions to purchase, multiple failed attempts to get the clerk to accept a coupon, or the lack of selection at your particular B&N. After those small quibbles, photos appear of recent hauls, creating envy, and influencing wish lists. Should I purchase the Ingmar Bergman box set? My wife says no, but the Internet says YES, A THOUSAND TIMES YES (but only after you’ve sold your already owned Bergman’s to cover the cost). The Criterion sale is a beautiful celebration, but also a double-edged sword of film consumerism.

You may be asking yourself, “So wait… I have to spend money to participate in this Cinema Shame prompt?” Of course not. If you’re like me, someone who owns a large quantity of unwatched Criterions beautifully gathering dust on a shelf, there is no need to purchase more than you already own. (But I probably will.) I know the following discs are upstairs waiting for me: Gilda, Nashville (a long time Cinema Shame), Cat People, His Girl Friday, The Last Temptation of Christ, just off the top of my head.

Gilda

As you prepare to pick your Cinema Shames, don’t forget to share watch recommendations and maybe even a few potential blind buys. There is always room on your Criterion shopping list.

A petition has been going around to “Save Filmstruck.” If you enjoy classic cinema I highly recommend signing it. It can’t hurt to let these soulless media conglomerates know that classic film matters. Here’s a link to the “Save FilmStruck” Petition – https://www.change.org/p/warnermedia-keep-filmstruck-alive

FilmStruck Recommendations:

A Classic Film Blog’s Recommendations – @classicmovieblg – https://www.change.org/p/warnermedia-keep-filmstruck-alive

Alicia Malone’s Watchlist on Letterboxd – @aliciamalone – https://letterboxd.com/aliciamalone/list/my-filmstruck-watchlist/

New York Times Recommendations – https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/29/movies/filmstruck-closing-best-movies.html

If you have a Filmstruck To-Watch-Before-Service-Ends List, tell us on twitter @CinemaShame and we’ll send it out through the loudspeakers.

Don’t forget to check out Episode 16 of the Cinema Shame Podcast where James Patrick and Dan Day, Jr. discuss Hammer Horror:

Subscribe on iTunes / Stitcher Radio

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

-campbelldropout

October Prompt: Horror, if you must

October is here which brings us to our prompt focusing on the genre of films involving the United Nations to celebrate United Nations Day on October 24th!

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Hold on. I’m getting word that nobody cares about United Nations Day. You goddamn xenophobes. It’s about what? Horror? Well, alright then. Horror it is.

For me personally this is a genre that I’ve always overlooked, I assume its because I’ve seen more bad horror movies than good. I grew up with middle of the road horror in the late 1990s and early 2000s, such as the return of the teen slasher film (Halloween H20, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legends), a large influx of PG-13 horror movies  (The Ring, What Lies Beneath, Darkness Falls) and a flurry of remakes (The House on Haunted Hill, House of Wax, 13 Ghosts).

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Due to my bad choices, I have some gargantuan Cinematic Shames to hack off the list. This is going to be the month I eviscerate some big ones off the list. Such as John Carpenter’s The Thing, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre and Browning’s Dracula (1931).

The saddest part of that incredibly sad confessions is that I own all of these films. The Thing has been sitting on my self for two years collecting dust. I’m hoping these films will give me a broader foundation for the horror genre. I want to be better!

If you want to do an extreme challenge for this month there is the Hooptober Cinco rules (https://letterboxd.com/cinemonster/list/hooptober-cinco-your-terror-is-a-locked-room/) created by The Cinemonster. There are rules and guidelines but the overall objective is to watch 31 horror films during October. You can view 007hertzrumble’s post about his October plans here.

Let us know what horrible and terrifying Cinema Shames you have planned. Along with that, throw in your Halloween costume ideas. Submit your Shames by tweeting your post to @CinemaShame or emailing us at cinemashame@gmail.com. Use the banners below to tag your posts and spread the horrific October Shame! Or UN Shame. Either way.

-NB

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