Inspired by the recent Movie Quote of the Day, this week’s Watercooler musical selection is Anton Karas’ memorable work from The Third Man. This is the film’s dryly melancholic final scene and the music is a quieter, sadder reworking of the jaunty, bemused opening theme. The change in moods fits Holly Martins’ character arc to a tee. In the beginning, he’s the optimistic, can-do American who fancies himself the hero of one of his cheap novels, but by the end of the film, the desperation and cynicism of once-elegant Vienna beaten down by years of world war (hauntingly captured by the stark lines of leafless winter trees along either side of the street) has sapped his reserve of positivity. Holly ends the film much the way he started it minus the hope of something better around the corner. He doesn’t even get the girl despite being the only one who seemed to care about her fortunes. He’s just an awkward American, out of place and finally awake to the inadequacy of his best intentions.

That’s all from me this week, so the rest is up to you. You know the drill: let us know what you’ve been up to at the movies since last Sunday be it good, bad or ugly.

12 Responses to “Watercoolers, Zithers and Third Men”

  1. Karras’ zither music from THE THIRD MAN is iconic, and a spectacular way to lead off any post!

    unusually busy week with film openings instigated a spirited run at the cinemas that resulted in the negotiation of seven (7) films, including a special TCM one-night nationwide anniversary run of the beloved classic CASABLANCA, complete with interviews and introduction by film historian Robert Osbourne. Lucille accompanied me to all the screenings except the aforementioned CASABLANCA, which I saw with Dennis and my son Sammy at our Edgewater multiplex:

    21 Jump Street * 1/2 (Monday night) Edgewater multiplex

    The Hunger Games **** 1/2 (Friday afternoon) Secaucus Kerasote Cinemas

    Jeff, Who Lives at Home **** (Saturday afternoon) Montclair Claridge

    The Deep Blue Sea **** 1/2 (Saturday afternoon) Montclair Claridge

    The Raid: Redemption ** 1/2 (Saturday night) Union Square Regal Cinemas

    Salmon Fishing in the Yemen *** (Sunday afternoon) Montclair Claridge

    Casablanca (1942) ***** (Wednesday night) Edgewater multiplex

    But the seven films above did not consitute the only viewings this past week, as two my kids and I were moving forward with tremendous enthusiasm on completeing the entire (glorious) first season of GAME OF THRONES, an engrossing and ravishing fantasy series created by HBO from the novels of George R.R. Martin (the series is known as A Song of Ice and Fire) that bares some comparison with Lord of the Rings in setting and political focus. But really it’s an original hybrid, that really kicked into gear with Episodes 5,6, and 7. As I write this, I need to see the final three episodes (8,9 and 10) and possibly could do so later tonight when my family returns from our weekly Sunday visit to my father’s home at the other end of town. In any case I was enthralled by what I saw in the last episodes, especially a number of stupendous set pieces. The court room sequence with Peter Dinklage, some startling sexual encounters and some power grabs and betrayals kept us riveted, while still waiting for a vital plot clue to an earlier attempted murder. The three buffo episodes were titled “The Wolf and the Lion,” “A Golden Crown” and “You Win Or You Die.”

    21 JUMP STREET is loaded with dick jokes, crude attempts at humor, and a plethora of embarassments, in a textbook example of what is truly wrong at the multiplexes these days. Looks like the critics bought it, perhaps because there is so little out there to embrace. The film eventually grows into mindless and juvenile tedium. My two older sons laughed but admitted to me the next day it was forgettable. SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN has a great title and another remarkably lyric piano and flute-dominated score from composer extraordinaire Dario Marianelli, but it struggles to keep it’s story interesting, taking way too long to establish an emotional connection with the audience. It’s achieves that in a stirring finale, but it took far too long to manage it. It’s tolerable, but far from Bill Forsythe’s quirky and engaging Local Hero, which it seemingly strives to emulate. THE RAID: REDEMPTION is remarkably orchestrated and choreographed, but what in the end is it in the service of? It’s a lesson on how to dispatch people creatively and with incredible physical agility. In the end it’s just another repellant, tedious and overwrought movie that is memorable for the number of bodies it piles up in all kinds of gruesome executions. Thanks, but no thanks. Still composer Joseph Trapanese’s eerily disonant score is quite effective, and the young star does inspire some guilty pleasure rooting interest. JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME is a quirky, comedy that seems to hit most of the right buttons, and concludes marvelously. I didn’t care much for the previous two films by Jay and Mark Duplass (Cyprus and Baghead) but this time they find the right tone in a film about domestic and family issues, and how people make emotional connections. THE DEEP BLUE SEA is the latest from British master Terrence Davies is rife with gorgeous dreamy compositions in a story of romantic decadence that in the end hits a profound emotional chord that is more-plot-oriented than any of the director’s previous works. No surprise since it’s based on Terrence Rattigan’s celebrated play, but Davies brings intensity to the drama and an intricate emotional underpinning. THE HUNGER GAMES is a big winner, though the anti-multiplex people will look for all kinds of reasons to knock it down to size after the mostly excellent reviews and spectacular box-office. But square can be beautiful too, and the (long) film is briskly paced, engagingly plotted, impressively designed, and acted and boasting a futuristic story that while not quite as provocative as it could have been, still resonates intellectually and emotionally, and makes some apparently wise alterations on the novel it is adapted from. (one I have not yet read) And TCM’s special anniversary presentation of CASABLANCA on nationwide screens was a consummate job, both for the print and the big-screen presentation complete with interviews and fascinating anecdotes.

  2. Nice piece Craig on how the variations in the iconic film score informs the viewer’s emotional understanding of the lead character as his story progresses.

    Sam, glad you’re enjoying GoT. I’ve read all the books in the series and I think the television series for the most part has been as faithful as it’s budget and the format allows. I’m not a Terrence Davies fan but you and Craig have me curious about The Deep Blue Sea.

    We finished and thoroughly enjoyed the BBC Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy series. I’m a big fan of both it and the recent film adaptation, with each having its strengths.

  3. sartre, sad to say I haven’t read the books, which gives you a defining perspective. But I’m seriously thinking of acquiring them now. Great to hear you relished TTSS as well.

  4. I watched this movie this weekend! (The Third Man I mean) It’s available on Netflix streaming. I also revisited Key Largo on TCM. Love Edward G. Robinson in anything.

    Bogey and Bacall goes without saying, of course.

  5. Lol Sam, I WARNED you that The Raid was just an excuse for elaborate action sequences! That was enough for me and I would gladly watch this again 12 times before I ever see Hunger Games again. Having said that, I totally get how the movie left you cold and I can’t really argue with you about it.

    Really glad you fell for Jeff Who Lived at Home though. I’m also with you on Deep Blue Sea even if it moved me maybe just a teeny bit less. I think it’s time for me to revisit Davies’ Of Time and the City, a film as you well know I kind of hated. Perhaps I’ll see it in a different light this time.

    As for Game of Thrones, I rushed through the first novel just about concurrent to watching Season 1 with the novel coming in under the wire a few weeks before the season finished. I liked it, but kind of had difficulty keeping up interest in it and wound up never seeing the last couple of episodes. I’m looking forward to the next season because I’ve had about 9 months distance from having read the 2nd book and I think it’ll seem fresher and more interesting this time.

    Sartre, now you should read Tinker the novel! My Tinker experience was exactly the opposite of yours. I read the novel first, then watched the mini, then saw the feature film and I tend to like all three in descending order but with plenty of admiration for each in its own way.

    Alison. Edward G. is one of my personal all time favorites. he’s great as a bad guy and he’s great as a good guy. He’s even great as kind of a sap in something like The Woman in the Window.

  6. “Lol Sam, I WARNED you that The Raid was just an excuse for elaborate action sequences!”

    Oh yes, you did warn me indeed on that. The others in my group are saying I was way too harsh, in fact they also went along for the ride as you did.

    Would love to hear what you think of your return to GAME OF THRONES.

  7. I’m not sure if I’d say you’re too harsh or not. You can’t really argue against your gut instinct. If the film didn’t appeal to you, it didn’t appeal to you. You simply aren’t valuing as highly the same things as people who disagree with you.

    I went into it wanting pretty much what I got.

  8. Craig, I think you should still watch the last two episodes from Season 1. The 9th episode (which led Dinklage to win his Emmy Award) is easily the best from the entire season with all the stuff going around.

  9. It’s been long enough since I read the book, I’ll probably catch up to the episodes I missed now just for kicks.

  10. Sam, I’m surprised you hated 21 JUMP STREET so much, as I thought it was pretty much a textbook on how to do this kind of comedy RIGHT. I generally don’t go for movies like that, but 21 JUMP STREET seemed to hit the nail on the head.

  11. Matthew, you are not the only one who feels this way (heck the reviews were exceedingly favorable across the board) and I certainly don’t begrudge you that. I’ll admit I saw this at the latest showing.

  12. I’d rather be hit on the head myself than watch Jump Street again. I’m with Sam.

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