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Man, I don't know what my deal is.
I can't seem to sit down and deliberately compose a full post or movie review. Since this summer I've seen a number of films that I wanted to write about, and I started to, but jeez, I couldn't stomach how any of those reviews were turning out and I just, well, gave up.
Yes, lame.

In the meantime, on Facebook, where a status is supposed to be fairly short (not necessarily as short as a tweet, but still...), I'll occasionally just start rambling about some shit.
Which is why I'm posting my second Facebook ramble. In a row.
Since it is my second consecutive spontaneous ramble, I've decided to just embrace the habit. Even if I'm posting a ramble rather than a full-out review, at least I'm posting SOMETHING.

Also, I've debated in the past about regularly posting about my impressions of films that I see only fragments of when I'm channel surfing on TV. Usually, the most interesting films I catch are when I check in on Turner Classic Movies. I was gonna call them "Drive-By Reviews".
So, I'm gonna.
That is, I'm gonna: 1) probably post any spontaneous film-related ramblings I may make on Facebook and 2) post my so-called "Drive-By Ramblings" which aren't really full reviews but a thought or two that may have occurred to me while catching a few minutes or more of something on TV.
So, I'm not completely giving up.
I'm merely quasi-lame.

As Bob would say: "Baby steps!"
[NOTE: "Bob" as in Bill Murray in WHAT ABOUT BOB, not Bob, one of my cats. Not Bob, our dainty hippo, who's a little dim, and his squeaky meow would more likely mean, "Baby food!" or some variation of "Feed me!"]

Again, such posts are merely a "supplement" to my regular full-length reviews. That is, I'm still hopeful to actually posting some genuine movie reviews in the (near) future.
The films I've recently seen and have in mind to review are (in part): DEATHSTALKER and DEATHSTALKER 2, THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE and, uh, jeez... I'm sure I've seen more than that, but my mind's a blank. Well, there's also a whole bunch of horror films (feature length and short subject) that I caught at the recent 2012 Buffalo Screams Horror Film Festival (which I wrote about in my last post) that I wanted to discuss.
So, there's a bunch of stuff, yo!

Anyway, here's my Facebook post:

This past Saturday, I took a break from doing some chores around the house (man, washing dishes seemed to take FOREVER!-- among other things...), so I took a peek at what was on TCM and Producer/Director Stanley Kramer's JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG was on. In a way, it's similar to A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS (1966) with Paul Scofeld (one of my favorite films) in that the real star is the script. Both films boast great casts and really fine performances, but ultimately, I don't think they're particularly cinematic films, with the focus of both films' being the scripts and their ideas.
Writer (and Oscar winner) Abby Mann's choice of picking a later round of Nuremberg trials, specifically where the civilian German judges were the defendants, rather than the notorious upper echelon of Government or the military, that's what makes this film great. Mann is focusing on exploring accountability at the more mainstream level of society, not the people who designed the Holocaust but the society that allowed it to happen. Yet, Mann also brings up points that shows his focus is not just on the German civilians but, really, how responsibility applies to all humanity.

So, I happened to catch a courtroom scene where they were talking about how sterilization was officially being used by the Nazis as a way to punish their political enemies. The Defense Attorney, played by Maximilian Schell (who also won an Oscar), reads from a quote justifying the use of sterilization on certain citizens in another country, with the shocking revelation being the "other country" is the United States, and more specifically, the state of Virginia, and the quote is from Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.
There are other thoughtful points Mann brings up. For instance, through the character of the Prosecuting Attorney played by Richard Widmark, whose desire to punish the defendants is almost single-minded, yet with some sadness and disgust he mentions that the American people are barely interested in what was happening at the trials, even though the war had only ended two years previously. It made me think of 9-11, how on that day you'd think the event would burn in your thoughts every day for the rest of your life, and now, except for those people who lost loved ones on that day, had family members or friends who went to Iraq or Afghanistan, or lived in that neighborhood, it seems that horrible day is only a long ago memory.
And the final scene between Spencer Tracy and Burt Lancaster, especially with Tracy's final lines, is an excellent and simply put conclusion to this long, emotionally complex film.
One cool thing about JUDGEMENT that I remember from when I first saw it long ago (it happens earlier in the film), is writer Mann's transition from using both German and English languages in the courtroom to just the English language. True, I'm assuming it was Mann's idea written in the script, although, I can't say for sure. Perhaps it was director Kramer's idea or even a collaborative solution arrived at between the two. Whatever the case, it's clever, poetic and rather cinematic. A similar device is used in THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER. In both films, the filmmakers establish that two languages are being used at the beginning of the film.
In JUDGEMENT, German and English is spoken at the trial and they have headphones to listen to the interpreters. In HUNT, during the first scenes in the Russian sub, the crew only speaks Russian. But then in both instances, an English quote is used, by a German (Maximillian Schell) and by a Russian (I forget who in HUNT-- Sean Connery? Sam Neill? One of those non-Russky Russkies!), and I think both times the camera dramatically zooms in during the quote, and then it pulls out and by magic, only English is spoken for the rest of either film. It's a neat gimmick in order to achieve having your cake and eating it, too. You want to establish some realism (uh, your cake), plus, in both films, both languages are also important to the context. In JUDGEMENT, presiding Judge Spencer Tracy is trying to understand the social and cultural context of how the Holocaust could happen, so the German language is part of that culture he has to wade through. HUNT is more of an entertainment by comparison to the drama of JUDGEMENT, but there's a Cold War vibe and a Russia vs. U.S. feel. Sean Connery's Russian sub commander character is possibly defecting, but he hasn't formerly notified the U.S., so maybe he isn't and he's aboard an (apparently) rogue nuclear sub. So, there's also cultural issues being dealt with here and Alec Baldwin's character, who is an expert on the sub commander's career and life, and using that knowledge, Baldwin is trying to correctly interpret what the truth is behind Connery's unexplained actions.
Having said that, going back and forth with interpreters in JUDGEMENT and using subtitles throughout HUNT would prove problematic (at least arguably) with mainstream audiences, so this is an interesting and really, magical, cinematic device to allow us to hear everybody speak the same language (thus, "eating" the cake, too, but we've established our realism so we're still "having" our cake).
Okay, of course, if you start arguing realistic continuity, then the whole thing blows up in your face and it really is a ridiculous magical gimmick.
For instance, it works in JUDGEMENT, particularly in the courtroom. What Mann has done is streamlined the exchanges so we don't have to wait for interpreters, etc. But, at the end of the film (as someone pointed out on IMDb.com), Spencer Tracy and Burt Lancaster speak face to face, and there is no interpreter. Similarly, when the Russians eventually interact with the Americans in HUNT, they all conveniently speak English.
It's the magic of film, baby!

Oh! It was also cool seeing actors in small parts before they became famous in their signature roles in JUDGEMENT. William Shatner (pre-Captain Kirk) has a small part and Werner Klemperer (who would later get a chance to display his comedic talents so successfully as Col. Klink in the comedy series HOGAN'S HEROES) plays one of the judges on trial.

Then I went back to doing some laundry.

Finally, here's the trailer for JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG.
What I think is jarring about this trailer is the copy and narration-- it's rather sensational by comparison to the subject matter. I don't think it quite works.
PS. For those purists out there (of course, THAT'S a comical notion because it presumes some sort of readership for my rather impotent blog) I actually did a bit of re-editing here on my original Facebook post.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 11th, 2012 03:16 am (UTC)

Bitte entschuldigen Sie meine schlechte Grammatik. Ich genieße Ihre Bewertung. Es ist interessant, die Konvention der Dreharbeiten und Übergänge von Sprache in diesem Film und seinen Vergleich zu Jagt auf Roter Oktober. Aber Herr Ryan spricht Russisch, damit es nicht so schrill, ihn mit Kapitan Ramius sprechen. Es ist leicht anzunehmen, die russicchen Offiziere sprechen Englisch, vor allem, wenn sie auf defecting geplant.

Nun müssen Sie sich vorstellen, die Kamera immer erschreckend nah an meinem Gesicht, wärend ich etwas tief und bedeutungsvoll sagen.

"A man a plan a canal Panama."

How's that for topsy-turveydom? Now get that camera away from my face!

The convention used here and in Red October makes me slightly curious to see how many films prior used it once the film audiences accepted the use of both languages.

I watched the trailer and it's pretty interesting to see what a handsome fellow Schell was back then. My introduction to him was with "The Black Hole", and ever since he's only worn the bushy beard.

I will need to keep an eye out for this movie and also try to pay a little bit better attention to TCM. I usually don't have the patience to surf and find good old movies, love them as I do.

Thanks for the review! Keep them coming!

Nov. 11th, 2012 04:58 am (UTC)
Thanks for the great comment!
I saw the German-- well, the foreign language, actually-- and I assumed I received more spam! I'd been getting a steady stream of foreign comments about ugg shoes from other countries..!
But I looked a little closer before I deleted the comment and then I realized it was you!
And nice comment!
And thank goodness for free translations on the internet so I could make out what you were saying!

Yeah, I'm not sure if Abby Mann was the first to use the device to bridge languages thusly in a film. If you do happen to do some research and find out earlier examples of this idea, I'd be grateful to learn what they are.

For a while there it seemed that TCM was batting 1.000 for me in that every time I'd check it out, I'd come across something interesting (either something I'd seen before or something new for me) and I'd watch it for a few minutes at least. But the last year or so, it's been hit or miss. Sometimes they'd be showing some really old films that just didn't interest me. But then, they'd have a bunch that would be really great.
Another nice feature they have occasionally is where one star will reflect on another older performer, and they repeat those every now and then. They occasionally add a new one, too, and then add that to the gradual rotation list. Some favorites: Burt Reynolds talking about his idol, Spencer Tracy; Jane and Peter Fonda talking about their father, Henry, sometimes emotionally; Christopher Walken on Gene Kelly; John Frankenheimer on Burt Lancaster; and several more.

Re: Maximilian Schell. Yeah, either because I'm getting older or since my mom died, or both, sometimes I find it really poignant seeing older films and seeing some of the great stars so young and so handsome/beautiful. Every time I see Robert Redford in his youth, I can't get over what a great looking son-of-a-gun he was. TCM recently aired a special hour long documentary on political films, and among the highlights was Redford in THE CANDIDATE and ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN.
I saw BLACK HOLE when it first came out, but I forgot Schell was in that. I mostly remember him (with his beard)in a supporting role in THE FRESHMAN with Marlon Brando and Matthew Broderick. For some reason it amuses me to quote Schell's goofy line (when he first see Broderick, with Frank Whaley): "I see two boys. Carmine said one boy, but I see two boys."

Thanks again for checking in!
I'll zoom out now... ;)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )



The Last 10 Films I've Seen (so far, seen 30 in 2010)

30. BRUCE CAMPBELL VS. ARMY OF DARKNESS (Director's Cut) --on DVD (1992, w. Sam Raimi and Ivan Raimi; d. Sam Raimi; Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz, Marcus Gilbert, Ian Ambercrombie, Richard Grove, Bridget Fonda)

29. TRICK R' TREAT --on DVD (2008, w/d. Michael Dougherty; Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Lauren Lee Smith, Britt McKillip, Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Alberto Ghisi, Isabelle Deluce, Samm Todd, Tahmoh Penikett, Leslie Bibb)

28. SHE-DEMONS OF THE BLACK SUN --on DVD (2006, Canadian; w. Robbie Ribspreader; d. Sv Bell; Isabelle Stephen, Jan Pivon, Melantha Blackthorne, Costa, Michael Brunet, Suzy Loraine, Kerri Taylor, Marie-Claire Benoit, Penelope Jolicoeur, Ivan Judd, Dan Veilleux)

27. 300 --on DVD (2007, w. Zack Snyder& Kurt Johnstad and Michael B. Gordon (based on graphic novel by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley); d. Zack Snyder; Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, David Wenham, Dominic West, Rodrigo Santoro)

26. [REC] --on DVD (2007, Spanish; w. Jaume Balaguero, Luis Berdejo, Pacp Plaza; d. Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza; Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terraza, Jorge-Yamam Serrano, Pablo Rosso)

25. TRACK OF THE MOON BEAST --on DVD (1976, w.Bill Finger, Charles Sinclair; d. Richard Ashe; Chase Cordell, (Donna) Leigh Drake, Gregorio Sala)

24. RAPE OF THE VAMPIRE (LE VIOL DU VAMPIRE) --on DVD (1968, w/d. Jean Rollin; Solange Pradel, Bernard Letrou, Catherine Deville, Ursule Pauly, Marquis Polho, Louis Horn)

23. SLIME CITY MASSACRE --at the theater (2010, w/d. Greg Lamberson; Jennifer Bihl, Kealan Patrick Burke, Debbie Rochon, Lee Perkins, Robert C. Sabin, Roy Frumkes, Brooke Lewis, Michael O'Hear, John Renna)

22. DEAD GIRL --on DVD (2008, w. Trent Haaga, d. Marcel Sarmiento, Gadi Harel; Shiloh Fernandez, Noah Segan, Candice Accola, Eric Podnar, Jenny Spain)

21. PATHER PANCHALI --on DVD (Indian, 1955, w/d. Satyajit Ray; Karuna Bannerjee, Subir Bannerjee, Uma Das Gupta, Kanu Bannerjee)


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