March 2015: Viewing Diary

Supernatural, Season 2, Episode 14 “Born Under a Bad Sign” (2007; J. Miller Tobin). A re-watch for my re-cap.

Tales of Hoffmann (1952; Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger). Saw a screening of the lushly-colored new restoration print at the Film Forum, and then interviewed the legendary Thelma Schoonmaker, who supervised the restoration.

Supernatural, Season 8, Episode 17, “Goodbye Stranger” (2013; Thomas J. Wright). I re-watched this one to watch Dean’s body language during the fight scene with Castiel. This was in connection to the fight scene in “Born Under a Bad Sign” which I was in the process of writing about and I wanted to make sure my memory of it was accurate. Listen, I don’t mess around.

Call the Midwife, Season 1. My friend Kate had sent it to me a couple of years ago, which is her way of saying, “YOU MUST WATCH THIS.” She did that to me with Slings and Arrows too, and I will forever be in her debt. I am in love with Call the Midwife and have now started watching the rest on Netflix. One of the main things I love about it: It’s a mostly female cast. All of the women live and work together. And while the series itself has TONS of drama, the drama is not amongst the women. They collaborate, they support, they care about each other, they work together, they are not “out to get” each other. It’s a hospital show, basically, but it just goes to show you that you can actually have a show featuring relationships between women that does not include cattiness/competition for men/passive-aggressive bullshit – whatever. I’ve only watched two seasons, so maybe there’s more to come, but as of now, it’s just so refreshing to see women … get along! And you DON’T sacrifice ANYthing when you have women get along. It’s wonderful.

The Bigamist (1953; Ida Lupino). I had never seen this one before. I love Ida Lupino as an actress but I am even more interested in her groundbreaking career as a director. This film is on Youtube in its entirety and it’s really interesting. It’s extremely sympathetic towards “the bigamist” which is like, What? Come on, guy, pick a woman, and stay with it. Joan Fontaine is pretty under-used, but Ida is great, and I really want to hang out in that weird Chinese restaurant.

Whiplash (2014; Damien Chazelle). Had been having a lot of conversations about Whiplash so decided to watch again. It’s a masterpiece of editing, and I just now learned that the editor is a friend of my sister. And J.K. Simmons is a friend of my cousin Mike’s. So it’s all very exciting when people one-degree away from you win Oscars. I liked the film a lot. I especially liked the look of it, it’s dark greens and blacks.

Call the Midwife, Season 2. I continue to enjoy the series very much.

Muhammad and Larry (2009; Albert Maysles). I re-watched this the day after I heard of the passing of Albert Maysles. It was one of my favorites of the entire 30 for 30 series (which is fantastic already). I highly recommend checking it out.

The Last King of Scotland (2006; Kevin Macdonald). A well-deserved Oscar for Forrest Whittaker. I’m borderline obsessed with Idi Amin, and it was interesting to see how much of the footage here was a direct copy of Barbet Schroeder’s unforgettable and chilling documentary. Those ridiculous medals on the chest.

Sorry Wrong Number (1948; Anatole Litvak). Barbara Stanwyck is the most energetic bed-ridden victim I’ve ever seen! The film is moody as hell, though. I’ve always enjoyed it.

JFK (1991; Oliver Stone). You know, I realize it’s not a history lesson, so there’s no need to remind me of that. What I treasure about this film is its editing. The collage aspect of its footage. There are a couple of things that grate (Costner looking right at the camera – every time I watch it, I think, “Oh, Oliver, no!”). I love the acting performances too. It makes me miss John Candy!

48 hours – the Ryan Ferguson case. Allison saved that one up for me so we could watch it together.

Home Sweet Hell (2015; Anthony Burns). Terrible. I reviewed for Roger Ebert.

Treading Water (2015; Analeine Cal y Mayor). Strange little movie, but I enjoyed a lot of it, especially its strangeness.

Going Clear (2015; Alex Gibney). I saw that at an HBO screening. I’d already read the book. It premiered on HBO on Sunday night. To those of us who have been watching that organization for years and years on end, the events of the last, say, 5 years, have been nothing short of mind-blowing. We can’t believe what has happened.

Ali (2001; Michael Mann). A rather lugubrious tone for such an inspirational figure. Will Smith’s “Ali” is great – his vocal quality has changed, his body language – he has clearly done his homework – but there’s something missing here. Maybe WHY everyone loved Ali so much.

Design for Living (1933; Ernst Lubitsch). Love this movie! Someone had mentioned it on Twitter and it had been a long time since I’d seen it. Gary Cooper, Fredric March and Miriam Hopkins … living in Paris in an ongoing menage a trois situation … bohemian and free. Can it last?? So good.

The Best of Everything (1959; Jean Negulesco). In a recent Vanity Fair piece, Matthew Weiner (creator of Mad Men) talked about the list of movies he made his cast watch, in preparation for the series. The Apartment was high on the list, of course, but so was The Best of Everything. I love this movie. I love the New York exteriors, I love the friendships between the women, I love Joan Crawford – humanizing her “villain” role in ways both touching and unexpected. The film is a dream to look at.

Mildred Pierce (1945; Michael Curtiz). I read James Cain’s book for the first time this month, and then began a mild obsession with the movie. I’ve seen it before, of course, but I watched it three times in three days this past month. Good times.

5 to 7 (2015; Victor Levin). A sweet and very different romantic comedy, written and directed by Victor Levin, whom I interviewed for

The Central Park Five (2012; Ken Burns). Blood-boiling watching this damn thing.

Supernatural, Season 10: Episode 15, “The Things They Carried.” Phone call for Tim O’Brien. An improvised homoerotic (but not enough) sweat lodge. Squirming disgusting worms. PTSD. Doesn’t quite hold together.

Humoresque (1946; Jean Negulesco). One of my favorite Crawford performances. Watch it back to back with Mildred Pierce and then tell me she “only played herself.” I dare you. And John Garfield is a hunk. Ruth Nelson, his Group Theatre colleague, is heartbreaking and great as his mother. Very good film.

Les Bonnes Femmes (1960; Claude Chabrol). So depressing. That ending. Ugh. I adore Chabrol.

Dial M for Murder (1954; Alfred Hitchcock). I love how much talking is in the film. “Here is what I will do. Here is how it will go. You will walk here. You will do this. You will stand here.” And then, of course, one tiny thing goes wrong … and the perfect murder runs off the rails. I find it very entertaining and Ray Milland is totally creepy in his matter-of-fact-ness.

Holiday (1938; George Cukor). I’ve had a bit of a rough month. Holiday is like comfort food. I fall into its mood of magic and possibility, humor and escape. I love every second of it.

Supernatural, Season 2, Episode 15 “Tall Tales” (2007; Bradford May). Re-watched a couple of times in preparation for next re-cap. Very behind though. I have two film festivals this month, Tribeca and Ebertfest. So … it will have to wait. “Tall Tales” is one of my favorite episodes ever.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007; Andrew Dominik). I don’t think it entirely holds together, but I treasure it for Roger Deakins’ cinematography, and Casey Affleck’s performance. I’ll write about it one of these days.

The Ocean of Helena Lee (2015; Jim Akin). The latest film by Jim Akin and Maria McKee (their first being After the Triumph of Your Birth, which I reviewed here.) I will write about The Ocean of Helena Lee as soon as I can because I love to highlight good personal work that resists classification and carries with it emotional weight.

30 for 30: The Price of Gold (2014; Nanette Burstein). It was painful to re-live this whole Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding drama! I was living in Chicago at the time and we were OBSESSED with the winter Olympics that year. Tonya Harding remains staunch that she knew nothing about the planning of the attack. Kerrigan was not interviewed for the doc. I remember Pat saying to me once (because he was obsessed too), “I don’t think Kerrigan is as nice as everyone says she is.” Like, that was the level of gossip we all had descended to.

30 for 30: June 17, 1994 (2010; Brett Morgen) I’ve seen most of the 30 for 30 series. This one is the best. It is unlike anything else. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Although talk about bringing up memories. Jeez Louise. And it was in the same year as the winter Olympics. A great year for sportsmanship and heroes!

The Jeffrey Dahmer Files (2013; Chris James Thompson). Focusing on three people whose lives intersected with Jeffrey DaHmer (the detective who got the confession, his neighbor, and the medical examiner), this documentary takes a sideways look at a horrible event we all know well. It’s very good.

Dreamcatcher (2015; Kim Longinotto). Documentary about Brenda Myers-Powell and her organization Dreamcatcher Foundation, which helps gets prostitutes off the streets. I reviewed for

Goodnight Mommy (2014; Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala). An Austrian art-house horror film featuring two identical twin boys and their mother, whose head is wrapped in bandages. Tremendously creepy, really really uneasy film about identity and masks. I interviewed the two directors last week and it will eventually go up on when the film gets a release. It’s great.

Mildred Pierce (2011; Todd Haynes). The Mildred Pierce obsession continues. The mini-series is great, and is much more faithful to Cain’s book (like, word for word faithful, even to the insane last exchange between Mildred and her first ex-husband). Winslet is great. I loved the film.

The Girl Is In Trouble (2015; Julius Onah). A first feature from Onah, who is now helming God Particle for Paramount and J.J. Abrams. He’s rising quickly as someone to be watched. I reviewed the film for The Dissolve and that should go up sometime this week.

Supernatural, Season 10: Episode 16. “Paint It Black.” WTF. No, seriously, I’m asking: WTF.

Many many episodes of Intervention. Like I said I’ve had a rough month. Intervention gives me perspective that things aren’t all that bad. At least I’m not shooting heroin in an abandoned house with an infected nose ring and my eyes rolling back in my head. Kidding aside, I think the show is kind of brilliant.

Song of Lahore (2015; Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Andy Schocken). A documentary about a group of jazz musicians from Pakistan. It will be playing at the Tribeca Film Festival (press screenings going on this week and next).

In My Father’s House (2015; Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg). Another documentary seen in Tribeca press screenings, about the Oscar-nominated rap artist Rhymefest and his quest to re-build a relationship with his homeless alcoholic father.

Palio (2015; Cosima Spender). Another Tribeca documentary about the Palio, the oldest horse race in the world. Also maybe the fastest and most violent horse race in the world? Most of these films are under a press embargo until they premiere at Tribeca, so that’s all I’ll say for now.

Gored (2015; Ido Mizrahy). Another Tribeca documentary about Antonio Barrera, a matador who has the honor of being the most gored matador in history.

Call the Midwife, Season 3, Episode 1. Continuing on …

Cartel Land (2015; Matthew Heineman). Documentary about the drug cartels in Mexico. Tribeca Film Festival. Under embargo.

Democrats (2015; Camilla Nielsson). Documentary about the 2013 contentious cross-party creation of the constitution in Zimbabwe. Tribeca. Under embargo.

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31 Responses to March 2015: Viewing Diary

  1. Jessie says:

    Holiday always makes me feel better, too; it’s got so much melancholy in it but the vitality underneath! the spark! Believin’ in those peanuts!

    Going Clear — yikes. Our jaws were on the floor for the whole second half. I almost wish the metaphysics (and Cruise and Miscavige’s stage productions) weren’t so ridiculous because you wanna laugh to get some relief from the awfulness but you just can’t.

    I hope April, as busy as it’ll be, brings some peace for you!

    • sheila says:

      Jessie –

      In re: Holiday: that little play room with all the toys! Hepburn’s gangly desperation. Grant’s determination – I love how he doesn’t back down. He honestly believes he can get what he want in this situation. And, one of my favorite parts of it all – Lew Ayres as the dissipated brother. It’s such a TRAGIC performance and yet it is also HILARIOUS. (I love when he drunkenly enters the room, senses a confrontation is going on, and immediately turns around and leaves.)

      Love it so much!!

      Last King of Scotland: yes, James McAvoy! His blue eyes are stunning. I thought Forest Whittaker really captured that “thing” about Amin – his stupidity, his brutality, his insecurity at not being Top Dog in every field of life. If you want a real freak-out, see if you can rent Barbet Schroeder’s documentary about Idi Amin. He hung out with him. Idi Amin was idiotic enough to believe the portrait would be flattering. It’s CHILLING.

      Here’s something that’s creepy: I used to write about the cult all the time, and my friend Alex and I were so obsessed with it that we actively tried to get recruited. We tried to see how far in we could get without having to put money down. This was what we did for fun whenever we were in the same city. And I would write about our adventures on my site. This was 5, 6 years ago – before everything really started falling apart for them. One day, I noticed that someone from Clearwater, Florida, had been on my site for over 24 hours. They were going through my enter site, reading every single page. That’s over 10 years of posts. I saw that and I was still afraid of them at that point – they will stop at nothing – so I took a lot of the posts down in a panic. That was the end of that.

      Cut to: two weeks ago I saw the doc at a screening. I posted some reactions on Facebook and I am still so paranoid that I do not name the organization. I call it “the cult” or “the organization” and I did the same thing on Facebook. I posted some thoughts, based on my history with said organization – that I thought they covered the bases incredibly – and I was curious at two of the things they left out (the fact that Mr. Miscavige’s wife has not been seen for 7 years. Where is she?? That’s the main reason that Leah Ramini eventually got out because she wouldn’t stop asking that question and she kept getting the run-around. – and the other thing they left out was Lisa McPherson – maybe the blackest mark against the cult in its entire history.) Anyway – it was just a brief FB post, and I never mentioned the name of the organization.

      The next day – the next DAY – I got a promotional email from Freedom Magazine (the cult’s internal magazine). You know, as if it were Good Housekeeping or Salon or something – letting me know about the magazine and its contents and would I like to subscribe.

      I cannot believe that is a coincidence. I’m still somehow on their radar. I am also paranoid enough to think that they might have a “mole” in HBO and I was targeted because I was on the screening list. Like, this is how these people operate.

      I’m not scared of them anymore. They are dying. In public. It’s just incredible to watch!! The doc is a major major moment. It’s thrilling. So many people have been getting out!

      • Jessie says:

        I’ve read speculation that Gibney had enough awful ironclad material to not include the stories about Miscavige’s ex or mother-in-law in case they gave the org’s lawyers enough leverage to scupper the thing. As it was it seemed a very careful documentary. And no wonder. Your story is crazy!! I would be so creeped out. I occasionally idly think about getting a personality test or whatever from our local chapter, for a lark, but you know, I have the suspicion that they’ll tell me I’m stressed and need help somehow. Spoiler!

        It’s just mind boggling what they get away with — what lies at the root — and the current megalomania. It’s so well documented. How do they get away with it? So the current consensus is that they’re in their death throes? Thank god!

        Meanwhile, if you’re wondering why someone in the boondocks has been staring at your Stalker review continuously for the last week, it’s not me being a stalker myself, I just have it open in a tab for when I have time :-D

        Lew Ayres is just the best in Holiday!! I love the way he walks. I love how fiercely he loves Linda! I love how Linda really does care about Julia and wants her to be happy. I love how Johnny brings life into that house without even understanding what he’s doing for Linda. The whole thing is just perfect.

        • sheila says:

          // Meanwhile, if you’re wondering why someone in the boondocks has been staring at your Stalker review continuously for the last week, it’s not me being a stalker myself, I just have it open in a tab for when I have time //


          Ooh, Stalker!! Good movie!

          There’s been a lot of commentary about how this HBO doc will be the “tipping point”. I definitely think it will introduce the abuses to people who have not been following along. But in a larger context, the tipping point I think came a couple years ago, with two events:

          — there was a series of articles in the St. Petersburg Times a couple of years ago, interviewing the top execs who got out, who all told of the abuse at the hands of Miscavige. The musical chairs, the whole thing. Now people have been getting out of the cult for years and telling their stories. What made that series of articles so notable (Anderson Cooper did a whole show on it!) was that these were people in the #2, #3 spots in the whole organization. And they were TALKING. The cult has never been the same since. It was easy for them to discredit members who weren’t so high up – but to discredit Miscavige’s #1 lieutenant? Who was in the organization for 30 years? Not so easy to do because – if he’s such a villain, then why did you put up with him for 30 years? So there was that.

          — the Paul Haggis open letter. Which ended up getting picked up by every newspaper in the entire freakin’ world. Which then led to Lawrence Wright’s book. Paul Haggi’s open letter was another major moment – bigger than anything else I’d seen in my years of watching. Because he was a beloved celebrity, an Oscar winner no less – his letter was so unbelievably damning. So specific and intelligent. Again, I don’t think the cult has ever regained its equilibrium since.

          Those were the two death blows – at least from my observer’s standpoint. And the ground had already been softened by the South Park episode, and Tom Cruise’s own insane behavior, and all that.

          In re: Miscavige’s wife: I had wondered if it was something like that, that they wanted to avoid the legal ramifications of pure tabloid speculation. So they just stayed away from it.

          Lisa McPherson is harder to understand.

          It seems to me that one of the main purposes of the documentary was to focus on its protected tax status – and to hopefully start the conversation towards removing that protection. So maybe with that focus – which has a very clear purpose – they decided to leave Lisa McPherson out. That whole situation is worthy of an entire documentary all by itself.

          I am just so glad this day has come. They still own so much real estate – but those buildings are EMPTY. The last time I tried to get recruited (I can’t seem to stop) – I walked into the enormous building in Times Square – and it was like … crickets. I was the only visitor. Nobody else was there. It’s a skeleton – and this is major major prime real estate. You’re paying a ton of money in order to sit there, emptily, in the middle of Times Square.

          It’s eerie. Their focus has been on real estate for a long time. They practically own Hollywood Boulevard. But …
          why, ultimately? So they can look really important. It’s all just so EMPTY, ultimately.

          That’s what Jason Beghe said in his fascinating exit interview (it’s 2 hours long, and it’s on Youtube in its entirety, if you’re interested). He was only 8 or 9 months out and was still de-compressing when he did the interview. You can actually SEE him start to think critically again at some points. It’s amazing. But at one point he said, “I have a sense of loss for investing so much time and energy in something so empty.”

          (Very glad to see him featured in the documentary! He’s my favorite!! “All Scientologists ….. are full of shit.” )

          • Jessie says:

            I didn’t really understand, at first, why such large sections of time were devoted to what initially seemed to be a gossipy discussion of Travolta and Cruise. Travolta comes off as a victim, but without his testimony it’s all second-hand and hinting — but he serves an important precedent to what amounts to an exposé of Cruise and the way he allows himself to be used for such nefarious purposes.

            I really appreciated all of the talking heads in the documentary. It felt really current, really personal. Their bafflement and shame..the weight of lost years is so obvious. Particularly Haggis because he was so articulate and because I love Due South so much and the connection was bumming me out. And Behge with his swearing and animation provided some much-needed pep!

            All those empty buildings….the guy in our local chapter just seems to sit in there alone and read all day. Hopefully they’ll lost their status soon and the whole apparatus can get dismantled and sold off to pay fines and damages and Miscavige won’t see another red cent.

          • sheila says:

            I definitely think Travolta is a victim. They have dirt on him and he is terrified of them using it against him.

            His wife …

            She makes my blood run cold, that one. I actually feel sorry for him.

            // the guy in our local chapter just seems to sit in there alone and read all day. //

            Ugh, these poor people.

            The last time Alex and I walked into one of their buildings – it was totally empty – and they were so excited to see us that literally 5 people were put in charge of “handling” us. I started to write that story out on my site – but that was when I noticed the traffic coming from Clearwater and I figured I don’t want to be a hero, and I took it down.

            Yes: I actually wouldn’t care so much what they did if they were not classified as a religion and had tax-exempt status. Fine – charge for your bullshit auditing, that’s your business. It’s a free country.

            The “disconnection” has to stop, that’s for sure.

            I don’t know – they only have 60,000 members now or something – despite their claims. It’s like this gigantic looming PAPER dragon. Like, there’s nothing there anymore.

          • sheila says:

            Jason Beghe was brave enough to get out. He was brave enough to realize they were making him sick, that they were actually driving him crazy (literally) … and somehow had the balls to step away. And to not only step away, but start talking. Start telling his story.

            I think one of the most powerful things about people getting out and telling their story – is that it emboldens others. People trapped in the cult-like mindset –

            Tory Christman (one of my heroes – her Youtube channel is called ToryMagoo44) – she was in the cult for 30 years, and she finally got out. She was chased across the country by cult execs – who tried to stop her plane from taking off – literally – and then when she landed in Florida to a cult-watch group who told her to come right to them, they would take care of her – the police were there. Like – insane. This was in 2001, 2002.

            Anyway, she and jason Beghe and others – who are visible critics, people who were really involved and then got out … I think their testimony carries so much weight BECAUSE of their deep involvement. The cult can brush off wackos like me, who are just observers – but it is much harder to brush off someone who was such a celebrated and devoted member.

            Powerful stuff.

        • sheila says:

          // I love how Linda really does care about Julia and wants her to be happy. //

          Yes!!! So important!

          I also love Johnny’s friends: “Maybe we should just change our name to Porter.” hahahaha

          • Jessie says:

            I love that couple — what a team — they’re like a Very Unimportant Nick and Nora or something!

          • sheila says:

            How the butler takes his shoes away, by accident.

            Ha! I could so see something like that happening to me at some fancy event.

    • sheila says:

      // I almost wish the metaphysics (and Cruise and Miscavige’s stage productions) weren’t so ridiculous because you wanna laugh to get some relief from the awfulness but you just can’t. //

      I know !!!

      The Nazi imagery, the bad dancing, the flag-waving … These internal videos are just incredible. And yeah, you do want to laugh – but it’s representative of something so awful, that I just end up wincing. That “rally” to celebrate bringing the IRS to its knees …


  2. May says:

    Call of the Midwife — this keeps showing up in my Netflix recommendations, but I always skip over it. I will have to add it to my list!

    Going Clear — I’m going to have to figure out a way to see this one! I don’t have HBO and so far it doesn’t look like HBO Canada has a web-only subscription. And I refuse to get cable!

    My list of things to watch and read just keeps growing and growing.

    • sheila says:

      May – I’m sure eventually Going Clear will be streaming online.

      They found some footage I’ve never seen before – an absolutely insane interview Hubbard gave to Grenada TV while he was cruising around in his yacht in the Mediterranean, unable to return to the US because of his issues with the IRS. This footage is so … psychotic … he is so frankly out of his mind – it’s so scary. Gibney talked a little bit about tracking that footage down – through a TV station in Grenada, etc. – and what a find it was.

      There’s one moment where Hubbard starts laughing uproariously and his teeth are black.

    • sheila says:

      and yes, May, I am really enjoying Call the Midwife.

      Lots of pretty graphic childbirth scenes – and some pretty queasy scenes, in general – women giving birth in cockroach-ridden hovels – but I really like the group dynamic, the period clothes, and the sense of collaboration between the team of mid-wives. Really good acting!

  3. Maureen says:

    I love The Best of Everything! I saw Diane Baker several times last week at the TCM Film Festival-and she looks incredible. She seemed to be very gracious with the fans.

    The clothes in that movie make me drool…and Suzy Parker?? Can’t take my eyes off her!

    • sheila says:

      Maureen – I was experiencing TCM Fest vicariously, through all the posts on Twitter and Instagram – It looks like it was wonderful!!

      So nice to hear about Diane Baker!

      Yes, the clothes in Best of Everything !! I love Hope Lange, too. I loved her relationship with Mike Rice. Even though he was a limited man, and obviously a raging alcoholic … there was something about him that was different. He was a man who was actually capable of being friends with a woman. Of course he also wanted her, and desired her, but he was actually able to put that aside. I liked that dynamic a lot.

      Thought Crawford was great too!

    • sheila says:

      Maureen – I was also so fascinated by how Crawford took what was obviously written as a Dragon Lady role – and added those small touches of pathos and humanity to it.

      I have heard that was on her insistence – she didn’t see her as just a villain – this woman had given stuff up to get where she was – and she wanted the film to show that. That certainly shows her smarts as an actress.

      I love her!

  4. Jaquandor says:

    What exactly IS it about Ali, anyway? I absolutely love the guy, and I don’t remember EVER liking boxing as a sport. When he was revealed as the athlete lighting the Olympic flame in Atlanta in 1996, I nearly burst into tears. (Never saw the Will Smith movie, but your brief mention of it here made me wonder anew about Ali, who is just awesome.)

    • sheila says:

      // What exactly IS it about Ali, anyway? //

      hahahaha I know, right?

      He was just such an incredible figure – and the events of his life … you can’t even believe it all went down that way! The people he intersected with, the stands he took …

      Also that public persona: so light, so funny, the speaking in rhyme thing …

      He was a star. You know? One of those people who just IS a star.

      I think Will Smith is good. There was something lacking in the movie as a whole, though … maybe a sense of energy. What is fascinating is the psychology of Ali, and how it developed. More so even than “what happened”, if that makes sense.

    • sheila says:

      Ali’s journey – and who he intersected with – is just greater than fiction. The Sam Cooke connection, the Malcolm X connection, the Vietnam moment …

      I am not a boxing aficianado enough to understand what it was about him that made him so great – but I think it had to do with how fast he was, how he could dodge anything, he disoriented his opponent by NOT punching him to death, by just dancing around in front of him, ducking and weaving. He was beautiful to watch.

      I still remember him showing up on Johnny Carson and other talk shows when I was a kid – and he was always so charming, so friendly and funny.

      In the Maysles doc, one of his sparring partners – a young kid, really – was talking about how Ali would speak in rhyme, doing all of those jokey rhyming things that Ali did – and the kid said, “Now if I did something like that, it would be corny – but when he does it …”

      Which is so true.

      Ali was a sui generis figure. Nobody else quite like him.

  5. Kim says:

    I love Call the Midwife, (I love how it looks, the colors, camera angles) a bit behind, watched season 2. I discovered this crazy Arctic Circle murder mystery called Fortitude (talk about beautiful) with Stanley Tucci – one of the actresses looked so familiar so of course I Imdb’d her (I think that word will end up in the dictionary someday)- it is Jessica Raine, who plays Jennie Lee in Call the Midwife

    I watched Going Clear the other night & was so creeped out by that Muscavige dude I had a nightmare he became president of our board. Arggh, still creeped out!

    Last King of Scotland – a very young James McAvoy in that, I remember really liking him. Of course the wonderful Forest Whitaker, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him give a bad performance. I still remember him from the Crying Game as the young British soldier.

    Looking forward to when you get Tall Tales up, that’s a fun one.

    • sheila says:

      Kim – I love this Jessica Raine actress! She’s lovely – I love all of them ! Some story lines don’t interest me – not really into Sister Bernadette’s whole thing at the moment – but in general, it’s a really strong show. I love the nuns. I love the look of it too. All of those nuns and midwives barreling down the streets on their bicycles. Wonderful ! (I have clocked a couple of Elvis references too – and in one of the most harrowing sequences yet – I couldn’t even watch – Elvis’ completely eerie “Blue Moon” was the soundtrack.)

    • sheila says:

      // I had a nightmare he became president of our board. //

      HA !!! That’s horrible ! He is a horrible man. He is so rarely seen in public now – like, almost never – and I’ve seen most of the footage of him that there is, but there was some new stuff in the documentary I had never seen. The IRS rally I had never seen.

      I am so curious about the relationship between Cruise and DM now – I know they were very close, but I get the sense that Cruise might have backed off in the last couple of years. Just a spidey-sense. I am sure he is still one of the people responsible for propping up the cult financially – but I just wonder about his experience of it all, in the wake of his divorce. Katie Holmes left the cult – and Cruise still sees her, and still sees his kid – which, as the documentary shows, is not the case for all of these other poor families who go through “disconnection.” And was not the case for poor Nicole Kidman, who was shut out of her own family. So I do wonder if Cruise has backed off of the relationship with DM. I am sure he is still deeply involved – but he seems focused on being a movie star again (and I’m glad of it.)

      But the documentary definitely makes the case that at some point there is no excuse for not knowing what kind of organization you are promoting. Paul Haggis made that point repeatedly. yes, the celebs are protected and pampered … it’s a “love bomb” situation, which is very difficult for human beings to resist, let alone famous people. But the doc is very very strong in calling out Cruise and Travolta.

      It’ll be interesting to see how this all ends up playing out.

    • sheila says:

      and yes, Kim, Tall Tales is so entertaining – I can’t even deal with it!!

      “You’re too precious for this world!!”

      … dying.

  6. Maureen says:

    Sheila, I love Joan in BOE! She is so strong, yet poignant-trying for a life that I imagine most women thought they should have had during those times.

    Funny-saying I love Joan is like saying “I love breathing”, she is such a favorite of mine.

    Hope Lange is awesome, and I feel like she isn’t known enough today. I loved her in Peyton Place, she was heartbreaking in her role.

    The TCM Film Fest was wonderful, though we really did miss our dear Robert Osborne. I saw Imitation of Life on the big screen, and I am not ashamed to say I cried like a baby. The wonderful thing about the film fest? To be crying unashamedly, and to be passing Kleenex along the aisle to complete strangers. LOVE the community of classic film fans.

    • sheila says:

      In re: Joan in BOE – yes, she has that moment where she’s in her own kitchen, preparing some drinks, talking – and then she comes out and finds the whole room empty. She’s been talking to herself. Poignant.

      And Hope Lange is wonderful! I love her as Elvis’ psychiatrist in Wild in the Country, as bizarre as that may sound. They’re great together in that.

      And oh, Imitation of Life!! It’s coming to the Film Forum in a couple of weeks and I cannot WAIT. That movie absolutely kills me!

      // to be passing Kleenex along the aisle to complete strangers. //


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