June 2002

 

FITZCARLDO (1982, 157 min.)

Werner Herzog’s FITZCARLDO is the story of one man’s magnificent obsession to bring European opera into a remote section of the Amazon jungle, where he owns some acreage around a land-locked lake.  In order to carry out his wild vision, he organizes a small army of pirate-like roustabouts and Indians to transport a huge steamboat, piece by piece, over a mountain.  “Fitzcarldo may well be a madman’s dream,” writes critic Vincent Canby, “but it’s also a fine, quirky, fascinating movie.”

 

ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO NEST (1975, 133 min.)

Near the end of CUCKOO (from Ken Kesey’s novel of the same name) the asylum inmates (with Jack Nicholson) are shown lounging helplessly in the doorway to freedom created by the silent, giant Indian (Will Sampson) when he crashed through the wall.  He alone was able to break free when the opportunity presented itself.  When faced with completion, even what we love, we restrain ourselves.  I wonder why that is.  Maybe as Paul Simon sings, “…the nearer your destination, the more you’re slip sliding away.”

 

 

 

ACTION FILMS

It is the little boy in me, I guess, loving the action thing, the thrill of surrogate danger and suspense.  One of the best, most suave examples of this genre is Alfred Hitchcock’s NORTH BY NORTHWEST, with Cary Grant and Eve St. Marie.  Of the James Bond movies, I like best DR. NO, LIVE AND LET DIE, and GOLD FINGER.  The original French version of LA FEMME NAKITA is special, too. –BJ

 

“C’mon, do I look like the mother of the future?” –Linda Hamilton’s character (Sarah Connors) in THE TERMINATOR

 

“In a little hilltop village, they gambled for my clothes, I bargained for salvation and they gave me a lethal

DR. NO (1962, 100 min.)

One of those relatively neglected gems of a genre, this first of the bit time James Bond movies has a fine, funky aura about it.  Its tense plot unfolds in a soft Caribbean island atmosphere, where serious dangers lurk unseen.  No problem for the man of the hour, “007.”  He is smoothly adequate for any and all occasions blessed with an overabundance of coolness and nerve, not to mention the toolbox of fancy spy gadgets.  And Dr. No himself is pretty laid back and self- assured, a cultured gentleman seeking to destroy the world.

 

THE CRYING GAME (1992, 112 min.)

The long panning shot toward a carnival in the distance, blended with the song “When a Man Loves a Woman,” is one of the most effective opening scenes I have ever seen.  From then on, complexity, duplicity, loyalty and, of course, that all-time trouble-maker, dear sweet love, are all abundantly on hand to reveal a thoroughly original, ‘though tough and potentially disturbing, scenario, set amid the chaos of conflicts in northern Ireland.  This film is more for the heart, though than it is for the history books.  Incredibly beautiful, a real soul wringing tear jerker!

 

“There are only a few great movies. With most films, it doesn’t matter whether you see them or not.”   JOHN MALKOVICH

 

EVE’S BAYOU (1997, 109 min.)

Through the eyes of a ten-year old girl, we see the colorful variety of intermingled joys and sorrows.  Samuel L. Jackson’s performance is superb, equally so those of several highly talented, less well known black actresses, including – especially – Eve herself, the brilliant Jurnee Smollett!

 

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joynerbill28@gmail.com

 

SHORT SUBJECTS

As projectionist at the Lyons State Theater, I used to splice various “short subjects” onto the first reel of the show – newsreels, “Time Marches On,” etc.  On Saturdays, of course, there would always be another segment of a cliff-hanging serial, most likely starring someone like Buster Crabbe.  If I were planning a film program today, I would use “short subjects,” such as music videos, excerpts from features, and short films, to amplify or diversify the program.  One of the very best short films is OCCURRENCE AT OWL CREEK BRIDGE.  The pristine, primal clarity of this civil war incident and its unpredictable outcome is simply unforgettable! It might accompany any number of films with semi-dark themes, perhaps McCABE AND MRS. MILLER or THE MAGICIAN. –Bill Joyner

 

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