OTB#67: Singin’ in the Rain


Singin’ in the Rain. Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen. 1952. ⚅

Hey! We’re no longer on #75! It was a 16-way split, so we stayed on the same number for a while. #67 is only split between… eight movies…

Oh well.

I’ve seen this movie a bunch of times, but it’s been a few years since I seen it last, and I was surprised at finding this movie on this “best ever” list: It’s the only musical on the list (I think?), it was a huge commercial success, and it’s a breeze to watch. And if I were to pick one musical to put on the list (I wouldn’t; I’d pick more) I’d pick something with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

But then I started watching this movie again, and I’d totally forgotten that it’s about making movies, and people into movies love movies about making movies. And Kelly is a very manly, muscular dancer, so it makes this the… acceptable musical for this audience?

[time passes]

I’d also forgotten how full of little background gags this movie is. It feels so opulent: There’s so many throwaway bits that the movie’s mesmerising. And Donald O’Connor is wonderful as the funny side-kick.

It’s such an exuberant movie. When you think they’ve done enough wonderful stuff to fill the movie, the put the Gotta Dance thing in… for no dramatic reason what-so-ever, but presumably just because they could.

Today’s leftover liqueur coctail is Periscope, which uses almost as much St. Germain as gin! Exciting!

And more egg white than usual.

Hm! It’s interesting…

This blog post is part of the Officially The Best series.

OTB#75: M

M. Fritz Lang. 1931. ⚃

Oh! It’s German? I really thought I’d seen this before and that it was an American movie? Perhaps I was thinking of the 1951 Losey movie… but… I do remember Peter Lorre being in it?

I’m all kinds of confused.

Anyway, this is a very narrow movie. I mean, format wise. This 2K restoration is 1.19:1… and the interwebs says that it’s 1.2:1, so perhaps they’ve shaved off some pixels to stabilise the movie horizontally? In any case, 1.2:1 is pretty narrow, too — most movies around this era were 1.3:1, weren’t they? (That is, 4:3.)

[time passes]

The opening scene is really horrifyingly strong, but then there’s a lot of scenes that follow that seem… kinda… sloppy? Hm…

Right:

A Variety review said that the film was “a little too long. Without spoiling the effect—even bettering it—cutting could be done. There are a few repetitions and a few slow scenes.”

It was originally 117 minutes long, but then cut down to various lengths, and the 98 minute version was the one that was commercially available, and I guess that’s the version that’s landed it on this Officially The Best list. I’m watching the restored, 110 minute version, though, so perhaps that explains the flabbiness.

Every scene looks great, though, and especially in this restoration. The framing and the busy sets are wonderful.

It’s funnier than I’d expected: The smoke-filled rooms where serious men are discussing things slowly get ever more smoke-filled until it’s all a fog.

Lang may be a genius, but I think the pacing here is way off.

Can’t fault Peter Lorre.

Today’s leftover liqueur coctail is Old Friend, where, once again, I’m trying to make a dent in the St. Germain. But this recipe only calls for .7cl of it, so it’ll take… a bunch of these to make a dent in it.

It’s OK. It mostly tastes like Aperol.

This blog post is part of the Officially The Best series.

OTB#75: Battleship Potemkin

Potemkin. Sergei M. Eisenstein. 1925. ⚅

I’ve been looking for the Pet Shop Boys version of this movie, but that’s apparently never been released, so I watched this movie while playing the CD and things probably didn’t line up perfectly… I mean, it can’t because silent movies have a kinda vague connection to timing anyway…

The 2K restoration of the movie looks pretty awesome.

[time passes]

What a fucking amazeballs movie! I basically cried all the time. It’s just fantastic, and not in a “well, it’s good for a movie made back then”, but it’s just totally flabbergastingly amazing.

It’s so unusual, too. There’s no character development or anything like that. It’s like from a different continuum of movie making, where everything was better.

I did try listening to the original Edmund Meisel score, but it’s… horrible. It’s horrible. The Pet Shop Boys score is magnificent. This movie landed at #75 on the Officially The Best list, but that’s probably because people hadn’t seen this movie with he Pet Shop Boys score. If they had, it’s would have been #1.

This blog post is part of the Officially The Best series.

OTB#75: The General

The General. Clyde Bruckman / Buster Keaton. 1926. ⚃

Lobster? Who are they, then? Over the years, the companies doing releases and restoration of classic (and not-so-classic) movies has been ever-changing. Let’s see… there’s Criterion, of course, who’s been going all along. And BFI, doing more and more stuff, presumably gummint-funded. But I was thinking of… Arrow… and Tartan… and Carlotta… And… oh, yeah, Artificial Eye! They were awesome. Hm… Eureka? All these companies doing releases I would just snap up if I saw them somewhere, and most of them gone now.

Anyways, this has been restored pretty nicely… there’s some juddering and brightness differences between frames, but it looks pretty good. Hm…. Are they doing mostly public-domain stuff?

Hm:

At the time of its initial release, The General, an action-adventure-comedy made toward the end of the silent era, was not well received by critics and audiences, resulting in mediocre box office returns (about half a million dollars domestically, and approximately one million worldwide). Because of its then-huge budget ($750,000 supplied by Metro chief Joseph Schenck) and failure to turn a significant profit, Keaton lost his independence as a filmmaker and was forced into a restrictive deal with MGM.

But it’s more well-liked now:

In the decennial Sight & Sound poll of the greatest films ever made, international critics ranked it #8 in 1972 and #10 in 1982. It ranked #34 in 2012.

But what about 1992 and 2002!? Shame on you Wikipedia!

I’m not quite sure why it’s so highly rated. I’m not expert in 20s movies, but I’ve seen my share, and if it weren’t for it not having sound, I would have guessed it was a later movie: It’s incredibly technically accomplished. If you sit there thinking “but how did they do that with those huge cameras they had in the 20s” then it’s very impressive indeed.

I guess I agree somewhat with the contemporaneous reviews:

The Los Angeles Times reported that the picture is “neither straight comedy nor is it altogether thrilling drama” and goes on to state that the picture “drags terribly with a long and tiresome chase of one engine by another”.

There are bits here that are funny, and I laughed out loud at two scenes, but it does suffer from just going over similar scenes, again and again. Still, it’s thrilling to see the amazing scenes on the trains: They look so dangerous and out-of-control. It’s an achievement for sure, but I think the reviewers in 1926 were basically correct.

OK, this get-rid-of-liqueurs cocktail has more St. Germain. But Love On Sale also has dry vermouth…

… and I think I just don’t like dry vermouth?

OK, I tasted the stuff separately, and it’s just not very pleasant.

There. Gone.

This blog post is part of the Officially The Best series.

OTB#75: There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood. Paul Thomas Anderson. 2007. ⚂

Is this one of those movies designed for an actor that acts big to be allowed to be totally over the top so that he can win an Oscar (see all male actor Oscar wins ever)?

Oh it is:

The standard joke is that the craft awards should be “most” instead of “best” (“most editing” always wins), but the same can be said for the male acting award.

Those movies are seldom much good, but Paul Thomas Anderson has done some good movies (like Inherent Vice), so perhaps this is better than you’d assume…

[time passes]

This is an intriguing movie. It doesn’t seem to have any… structure… so I have no idea where all this is going or what’s up, and that’s so unusual and fun.

The religious stuff is so in-credibly boring. I mean, I can’t credit anything with being as boring as those bits are.

[more time passes]

OK, I’ve lost all interest in this movie. I thought the oil bits were interesting, but then the movie focuses on the protagonist’s personal problems (which gives Day-Lewis plenty of opportunity to earn his Oscar), but which are just plain snooze-worthy.

I can totally see why these people rate this movie highly, but it’s not a good movie. The cinematography’s occasionally fun (with all the symmetrical scenes and the screen mostly filled with #000), and it starts off with lots of interesting bits, but then it peters out. I guess the reveal is supposed to be all shocking and stuff? I seemed kinda obvs to me…

In the leftover booze series, I’m trying to get rid of all these bottles, but particularly the St. Germain. Unfortunately the
Left Bank Martini
only uses a smidgen.

And it’s not very good. The dry vermouth dominates.

This blog post is part of the Officially The Best series.

OTB#75: A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange. Stanley Kubrick. 1971. ⚂

I’ve seen this before, but it was in my teens and I don’t really remember much about the actual movie. But everything from it is part of popular culture now, so it all seems so familiar anyway.

Surely those bar tables aren’t very practical.

Virtually no critics thought much of this movie, and watching it now, I sort of get why… There are so many striking, iconic shots in this movie, but it’s oddly paced. We get all the super-cool ultra-violence and rape in the first… half hour? 45 minutes? Yes, yes, it’s supposed to be appalling and stuff, but Kubrick makes it look fun and appealing. Who wouldn’t want to live the lives of this droog?

But then there’s a couple of hours of McDowell in the prison system, and that’s definitely less striking. And then three hours of McDowell getting his comeuppance, only we’re supposed to be somewhat sympathetic? For some reason that’s never explained?

What I’m saying is that the last nine hours are tedious.

The plot is really kinda stupid? It’s just based on coincidences that beggar belief.

The film was a huge worldwide commercial success:

The film was a box-office success grossing more than $26 million in the United States and Canada on a budget of $2.2 million.

[…]

The movie was the most popular film of 1972 in France with 7,611,745 admissions.

The novel sounds smarter than the movie:

There are sentimentalities: where in the book it was his drugs and syringes that he was shocked to find gone when he got home, in the film he has been provided instead with a pet snake, Basil, whom his parents have wantonly and hypocritically done in. Above all, Alex is the only person in the film who isn’t a caricature, the only person the film is interested in; whereas in the first-person narrative of the book, Alex was the only person Alex was interested in.

o

This is a bad recipe for getting rid of liqueurs, because there’s nothing here I want to get rid of, really. Well, the Triple Sec is probably getting a bit long in the tooth… So… Mezcal Margarita

But I poured the rest of the Midori out. That stuff just isn’t very good.

And this cocktail is rather meh.

This blog post is part of the Officially The Best series.