Thursday, May 01, 2014

top five movie sweaters (pre 1962)

The weather may finally be turning for the better, but it's never too nice out for a good sweater.

no. 5
James Dean in East of Eden (1955)

no. 4
Buster Keaton in College (1927)

no. 3
Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)

no. 2
Jackie Coogan in The Kid (1921)

no 1.
Jean-Pierre LĂ©aud in Les quatre cents coups (1959)

honorable mentions:

Doris Day in Pillow Talk (1959)

Harold Lloyd in The Freshman (1925)

Alec Guinness in The Ladykillers (1955)

Ed Wood in Glen or Glenda (1953)

top five movie sweaters (post 1962)

sorry, but Freddy Krueger and Ferris Bueller didn't make the cut.

no. 5
Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club (1985)

no. 4
Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski (1998)

no. 3
Steve McQueen in Bullitt (1968)

no. 2
Jeanne Moreau in Jules et Jim (1962)

no. 1
Danny Lloyd in The Shining (1980)

honorable mentions:

the cast of Ordinary People (1980)

James Wilby and Hugh Grant in Maurice (1987)

the cast of Chariots of Fire (1981)

the cast of Brideshead Revisited (1981) and (2008)

the Harry Potter series (especially Mrs. Weasley and her brood; although Neville is certainly rocking that worsted knit vest next to Hermione's cardigan)
Go Neville!

Jim Carrey and Natascha McElhone in The Truman Show (1998)

the cast of Pleasantville (1998)
Eddie's favorite songs in movies (non-musicals)

This list was submitted by my frequent correspondent, codelincuente and brother from another mother, Eddie. There's not much to argue with here although I do prefer The Tracks of My Tears in The Big Chill (1983) and Across 110th Street in Across 110th Street (1972) slightly more. And I do mean slightly. My God, is Sexy Beast ("Boulder!") really 14 years old?? Seems like I only saw it for the first time yesterday. A classic never grows old; I guess that's why they call it a classic. For the most part I can't stand The Who either but I'm surprised Eddie didn't go with A Quick One, While He's Away ("You are forgiven...") from Rushmore (1998) and I've already expressed to him my own deep, personal regret at not having thought of the Slim Pickens scene from Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) first (Knockin' on Heaven's Door). You can keep Krumholtz's panties. Oh, well...we'll always have Forbidden Zone.

no. 10 
Peaches by The Stranglers 
in Sexy Beast (2000)

no. 9 
Across 110th Street by Bobby Womack and J.J. Johnson; performed by Bobby Womack
in Jackie Brown (1997)

no. 8 
So This Is Love by Al Hoffman, Mack David and Jerry Livingston
in Walt Disney's Cinderella (1950)

no. 7 (Tie)
Hundred Mile High City by Ocean Colour Scene (OCS)
I Wanna Be Your Dog by The Stooges 
in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

no. 6 (Tie)
Don't You Just Know It by Huey "Piano" Smith and the Clowns
Golden Brown by The Stranglers
Hernando's Hideaway by The Johnston Brothers
Lucky Star by Madonna
in Snatch (2000)

no. 5 
The Tracks of My Tears by Smokey Robinson, Pete Moore and Marv Tarplin; performed by The Miracles
in Platoon (1986) 

no. 4 
Luck Be a Lady by Frank Loesser; performed by David Krumholtz
in Slums of Beverly Hills (1998)

no. 3
Search and Destroy by The Stooges
in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

no. 2   
Happy Jack by The Who
in the 2005 Hummer commercial

no. 1 
The End by The Doors
in Apocalypse Now (1979)

honorable mentions:

Knockin' on Heaven's Door (Bob Dylan) in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973)
Nothin' in the World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl (The Kinks) in Rushmore (1998)
Linus and Lucy (Vince Guaraldi) in A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Atlantis (Donovan) in Goodfellas (1990)
Magic (Mick Smiley) in Ghostbusters (1984)
One Vision (Queen) in Iron Eagle (1986)
Squeezit the Moocher (Danny Elfman as The Devil) in Forbidden Zone (1980)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

five favorite Hoskins

      The passing of Bob Hoskins seems a bit confounding. I had recently made several references to his indelible performance in Mona Lisa (1986) right here on this blog. Then he up and bloody dies? Mona Lisa is a wonderful film, and one of my all-time favorites. It's filled with sadness, longing and (like all great noirs) more than a few twists and turns. Perhaps there's just something about the rain-swept streets of London's red light district that makes me ruminate more than usual.

I always saw something of myself in Hoskins' portrayal of George. Although he's an ex-con (which I am not), he truly does have a good heart and believes in seemingly extinct values like honor and loyalty (which I do). We know George is a tough guy physically, but when his heart gets trampled on it becomes almost too much for us to bear. That's the beauty of Hoskins' performance. He is able to make us genuinely care for a guy that for all intents and purposes could easily be just another goon. Hoskins did this effortlessly in countless films. Whether it was his straight-up gangster in The Long Good Friday (1980), or his tough but fatherly Sergeant-Major in Zulu Dawn (1979).

Of course there were the more popular roles in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Mermaids (1990) and Hook (1991) and I'd be remiss without mentioning his awesome portrayal of J. Edgar Hoover in Oliver Stone's ambitious but flawed Nixon (1995). One of my favorite Hoskins roles came without much exposure in Shane Meadows underrated Twenty Four Seven (1997) featuring Hoskins as a Northern English boxing coach. He wowed me again a couple years later in Atom Egoyan's Hitchcockian Felicia's Journey (1999) as an outwardly chipper man obsessed with watching his dead mother's cooking show.

His "We'll be back..." cameo in Terry Gilliam's Brazil (1985) won't be forgotten anytime soon either (above right).  Last Orders (2001) and Unleashed (2005) proved that Hoskins was still in fine form toward the end of his film career. He retired from acting in 2012 and had been suffering from Parkinson's disease at the time of his death at age 71. Hoskins also played Mr. Micawber (perhaps my favorite literary character) in the BBC David Copperfield (1999) opposite Daniel Radcliffe -- though they still couldn't seem to get Micawber's bald head correct. Like the irrepressible Wilkins Micawber, Hoskins was a hard man to keep down. I met an acquaintance who once worked with him and said "Bob" was as ordinary and likable a guy as you could ever hope to meet. It would seem his George in Mona Lisa wasn't that much of a stretch after all.

Bob Hoskins
1942 - 2014

Pennies from Heaven (1978)

Zulu Dawn (1979)

The Long Good Friday (1980)

Mona Lisa (1986)

Twenty Four Seven (1997)

ten favorite songs in movie musicals

Goodbye Old Girl by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross; performed by Robert Shafer and Tab Hunter
in Damn Yankees (1958)

a simple, straight-forward melody. A middle-aged baseball fanatic (who has made a pact with the Devil to become a young athlete) is singing his farewells to his sleeping wife. It's so honest it almost hurts.

On Broadway by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill; performed by George Benson
in All That Jazz (1980)

everything Bob Fosse had to say about the creative and financial battles of dance, theatre and life is right here in this film. Equal parts Fellini and pure Fosse, this was the great showman's penultimate film but his true last hurrah. He even foresaw his own death seven years later. The opening scenes set to Benson's rendition of this classic song are electrifying.

There's Got to Be Something Better Than This by Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields; performed by Shirley MacLaine, Chita Rivera and Paula Kelly
in Sweet Charity (1969)

a musical adaptation of Fellini's Nights of Cabiria (one of my all-time favorite films starring the immortal Giulietta Masina), Fosse's film has a few moments that truly soar. The rooftop dance number with MacLaine, Rivera and Kelly is the stuff legends are made of.

Sign by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin; performed by Albert Finney and Carol Burnett
in Annie (1982)

too many songs to count as simply perfect in John Huston's film. Considering this is Carol Burnett's finest film performance (and she wasn't even nominated for a Supporting Actress Oscar) and Albert Finney is THE definitive "Daddy" Warbucks, it's pretty clear why I chose their show-stopping scene together for this list.

The Boy Next Door by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane; performed by Judy Garland
in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

another film that is absolutely perfect from beginning to end. This beautiful song that made its debut in the film may have become overshadowed by The Trolly Song as well as Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, but it's the real heart and soul of the production. A Technicolor love letter to a bygone era.

Nature Boy by eden ahbez; performed by John Leguizamo
in Moulin Rouge! (2001)

while not an original song written for the film (it was first published in 1947) this version that bookends Baz Luhrmann's lurid recalibration of the screen musical was for me the absolute apex. Maybe it's just 'cause I love the old melody so much. It all seemed to go downhill from there.

On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe by Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer; performed by Judy Garland
in The Harvey Girls (1946)

Johnny Mercer is one of my favorite songwriters (any era) and this song (while covered best by Mercer himself) is still one I find myself humming along to when it's stuck on endless repeat in my head (as it often is). I apologize in advance if I ever let the train whistle part slip past my lips on accident. 

I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe; performed by Richard Harris
in Camelot (1967)

Richard Harris was THE immortal screen King Arthur. This particular song was his gift to us mere mortals, and simple folk. Rest in peace, my King.

Ol' Man River by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II; performed by Paul Robeson and men's chorus
in Show Boat (1936)

Robeson was a force of nature, on and off the screen. He effortlessly owns every frame of this film (and Irene Dunne certainly holds her own). On the shortlist of movies that matter.

Pretty Women by Stephen Sondheim; performed by Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman
in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

well, I certainly didn't expect to still be thinking or writing about this film almost ten years later (never was a big fan of the stage version -- sorry, Dame Lansbury). Depp and Rickman (not to mention director Tim Burton) must have somehow known that this would be the last best thing they'd be doing for a while. Their duet verges on the divine.

honorable mention:

Ya Got Trouble by Meredith Willson; performed by Robert Preston
in The Music Man (1962)

being a lover of film musicals, you can imagine how hard it was coming up with this list. Especially since there are so many great scenes that keep jumping to mind (how could I leave out Don't Rain On My Parade from Funny Girl; not to mention Everything's Coming Up Roses from Gypsy; An American in Paris; Funny Face; Easter Parade; the majority of West Side Story??). Alas, these were the first ten that occurred to me, and in hindsight this eleventh entry could very well top them all. If you ever want to see a singular performer bring the house down while doing it outdoors, look no further.