Month: July 2017

The Magic Lantern: Episode 054 – Purple Noon

Patricia Highsmith’s creation Tom Ripley has had an extensive life. In addition to her novels, many film iterations have been made, and Purple Noon (Clément, 1960) stands as my favorite (The American Friend comes in a very close apples-and-oranges second place). Purple Noon towers over the rest of the competition with an irresistible backdrop of a quaint, sun-drenched, bare-skinned Italy, with an irresistible collection of gorgeous actors, with a top notch director of actors and artist of narrative structure, and with a screenplay that adds layers of delectable ambiguity to a tale of need, identity, and murder.

For something so elegant and so precisely crafted, it’s also a masterpiece of improvisation. Credit director René Clément for knowing when to add the right scenes in the moment, credit cinematographer Henri Decaë for a nimble and expansive camera, credit the actors for rising to the occasion. This improvisation resulted in key, unforgettable scenes, including the completely accidental plunging of Delon into the sea while trying to manage Philippe’s body and that murder itself.

It feels as if Tom is simply making it up as he goes along, seizing each opportunity without thinking much farther ahead. The audaciousness of the two murders comes in part from the fact that the first happens in the middle of the day, in the middle of the ocean. While not exactly a busy thoroughfare, Tom could have been seen, or caught. The second, happening during the day while children play outside, is also a crime of opportunity, with the very real fact of a large body to have to dispose of in the middle of a city. Plein soleil indeed. Both end with Tom ravenously satiating his primal yearning with food.

In his penultimate moment of freedom, Tom basks in the sunlight and in his own self-satisfaction. Or so Clément would have us believe. He did say that this ending, with Tom’s crime about to be punished, “somehow . . . reassures people.” I don’t buy it. I know Tom Ripley got away.

What you’ll find in this episode: what types of crime films we like, an extended disagreement on how personal these crimes may be to Tom, why the New Wave started a beef with Clément, and Ericca mentions Alain Delon’s beauty a lot.

– Cole

Links and Recommendations:
Check out Purple Noon on IMDB.
Ericca’s further viewing pick of Elevator to the Gallows.
Cole’s further viewing pick of Forbidden Games.
Purple Noon: A superior take on The Talented Mr. Ripley.
René Clément’s obituary.

GTGM Episode 57: Secret Admirer (1985)

Jamie and Doug’s expectations for School Afloat are tempered when their trip is delayed due to a student jumping off the boat. The whole ordeal sets back their schooling 24 hours and to this day, they don’t understand calculus.
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Film Baby Film: Episode 4 – Thingmar Bergdays – Secrets of Women

FBF welcomes Travis Trudell to discuss Secrets of Women, Ingmar Bergman’s 1952 film about the trials and tribulations of love and marriage. The best (and perhaps only) way to see this movie in the US is on Filmstruck. This is too bad, as Travis and Jon argue, because this movie marks a shift to the more mature and experimental Bergman.

From 0:00 to 24:00, we are introduced to Travis and his background in film. 24:00 to 40:00, Jon and Travis discuss Ingmar Bergman and his place in film history, and from 40:00 on Jon and Travis discuss the film Secrets of Women in-depth. This is not spoiler-free, so watch the movie first. #thingmarbergdays

Film Baby Film: Episode 3 – Trailer Trash – Dunkirk, Detroit, Atomic Blonde, Valerian, Brigsby Bear

First spoiler-free “5 Trailers” episode, where they discuss (you guessed it!) five trailers of upcoming films, and tell you whether or not they are excited to see them.

Jon is joined by attorney and former Arts & Living journalist Ryan Benharris for a free-wheeling discussion about Dunkirk, Detroit, Atomic Blonde, Valerian, and Brigsby Bear. They also get into the pros and cons of review aggregator sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

Film Baby Film: Episode 2 – A Ghost Story

Jon is joined by aspiring filmmaker Derek J. Power aka DJP to discuss David Lowery’s new existential film, “A Ghost Story.” A hit at Sundance, this movie stars Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck in a film about love, art, life, and death. Derek and Jon start with a quick, spoiler-free review of the film, and then go into an in-depth analysis.

Everyone should see this film, and everyone should listen to this analysis.

Film Baby Film: Episode 1 – The Beguiled

In the debut episode of Film Baby Film, Jon brings on close friends and fellow cinephiles Chris Madden and Sophie Besl. They discuss upcoming films, as well as an in-depth review of The Beguiled, including a focus on race and gender issues. Other films discussed: the 1971 version of The Beguiled, the 1947 classic Black Narcissus, and a brief comparison to Picnic at Hanging Rock. Note: this is an updated, edited version.

The Magic Lantern: Episode 053 – The Conversation

Francis Ford Coppola has a soft spot for The Conversation (1974) and so do I. When you hear him talk about it, there is a melancholy undercurrent in his voice that almost makes it seem like he laments getting caught up in the cycle of turning out one big project after another, while these smaller, more personal films fell by the wayside. I wanted to take this episode to shine our Lantern light on one of these types of films because I wish it was something we saw more of. I am frequently very fond of what came out of the old “one for them, one for me” arrangement that some performers and filmmakers entered into with studios. They came in all shapes and sizes – ramshackle gems that would only get one shot, bloated vanity projects that are astounding in their ambition and lack of taste or judgment, and films like this that could only get through thanks to the financial success of previous efforts. Where The Godfather (1972) was grand opera, this is Coppola’s chamber piece, something that takes more tenderness and care. I wish he had made more like this and, from the sound of things, so does he.

What you’ll find in this episode: paranoia, guilt, the state of the art in 1974 technology, our favorite scenes, convention karaoke, hotel safety tips, and the loneliness of the long distance bugger.

– Cole

Links and Recommendations:
Check out The Conversation on IMDB.
Ericca’s further viewing pick of The Parallax View.
Cole’s further viewing pick of The Lives of Others.
An astounding collection of surveillance equipment at The Spy Store.
Wired went behind the scenes at a wiretapper’s convention.

GTGM Episode 56: Dirty Dancing (1987)

Organic farmers, Jamie and Doug have developed the sweetest and most elongated watermelons due to the rich Catskills soil. The fruit seems to be a hit with the guests at Kellermans and in particular, the entertainment staff, who grab three nightly for their (Jamie and Doug assume) wild sex parties.


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The Magic Lantern: Episode 052 – Raiders of the Lost Ark

If you are over 30, you may have experienced something that is likely gone from this earth. You had to stand in line, outdoors, to get into a big, popular film, probably a blockbuster. You may have waited for hours, and you may not have gotten into the movie. Was the wait worth the film? Did your excitement build and build? Did you make friends with other folks in line?

I waited in such a line for Raiders of the Lost Ark (Spielberg, 1981) with my family. I probably didn’t know much about what I was about to see, but I knew once that immense boulder came rolling down from the ceiling, almost crushing our hero Indiana Jones, that my world wouldn’t be the same. Movies could do this?!? I could go see big adventure with scares and romance and near escapes and bad guys and brave ladies! I could re-enact it with my friends at home! We could fashion bullwhips from rope! We could dream of quicksand and lava and other deadly substances blocking us from our quarry! We could travel the world!

This was the film that made a film lover out of me. It didn’t inspire me to seek out the darker and more obscure, artistic corners of the medium, but as a young person, it just made me want more and more and more. Even though that line seemed interminable at the time, Raiders was worth the wait for me.

What you’ll find in this episode: our dream cast of 1936, Belloq’s motivations, the film’s connections to the golden age, what works and doesn’t for us, and the details about our newly launched Patreon.

– Ericca

Links and Recommendations:
Check out Raiders of the Lost Ark on IMDB.
Ericca’s further viewing pick of The African Queen.
Cole’s further viewing pick of Robin Hood.
Check out our Patreon!
Steven Soderbergh’s black & white version of the film to highlight the staging, compositions, and work of Douglas Slocombe.
A great Republic Pictures serial, The Crimson Ghost.