Well, I couldn’t do a Two Mules for Sister Sara Movie Quote of the Day without following up with an Ennio Morricone Musical Interlude to kick off this evening’s Watercooler, now could I? Of course not.

I was going to list some of my other Morricone favorites, but there are too many and it would be kind of pointless. All the usual suspects are there from Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy, through Once Upon a Time in the West and Duck You Sucker, some lesser known spaghetti westerns like Navajo Joe and Il Mercenario, through more modern classics like The Untouchables.

That’s all from me this week. Now it’s your turn. Has anybody gotten up to anything interesting movie-wise since last week? Lay it on me.

13 Responses to “Two Mules for Sister Watercooler”

  1. Splendid Morricone musical interlude! Certainly the all-time most prolific composer with over 500 films and television series to his credit, has a gift for melody, and no Morricone phrase fails to emphasize this. As you were pondering your own Morricone favorites, I’ll pull the trigger and provide a shortlist of my own. Ha!

    1. Once Upon a Time in America
    2. Cinema Paradiso
    3. Once Upon a Time in the West
    4. The Legend of 1900
    5. Days of Heaven
    6. The Mission
    7. Battle of Algiers
    8. Malena
    9. The Good the Bad and the Ugly
    10. The Untouchables

    The elegiac main theme of AMERICA, the rhythm of WEST and the shattering emotional phrasing in PARADISO are a movie lover’s nirvana. The poorly-reviewed LEGEND OF 1900 contains a ravishing main theme, which is one of the composer’s greatest creations.


    Lucille and I had another moderate week, though a stage play by John Patrick Shanley in Manhattan, two classics on the big screen and one new movie opening were still negotiated.

    The Dictator ** (Friday afternoon) Secaucus multiplex

    Grand Illusion (1937) ***** (Thursday night) Film Forum

    The 39 Steps (1939) ***** (Sunday afternoon) IFC Film Center

    Storefront Church (stage play) *** 1/2 (Saturday night) Linda Gross Theatre

    The stage work, STOREFRONT CHURCH is the first production to be presented in the Linda Ross Theatre on 20th Street by the Atlantic Theatre Company since the new renovation was recently completed. The third of a trilogy by John Patrick Shanley the production features Once Upon a Time and Breaking Bad star Giancarlo Esposito (who is long known for his roles in ?Do The Right Thing ?and The Usual Suspects, Tony winner Tonya Pinkins, Tony nominee Bob Dishy, Tony nominee Zach Grenier, Drama Desk winner Jordan Lage and Ron Cephas Jones. The play completes Shanley’s “Church and State” trilogy, which began with his Tony-winning play, Doubt. The show tells the story of a Bronx borough President (Esposito) who, forced by the mortgage crisis, must confront a local minister (Jones). The question in front of them is one that faces us all: What is the relationship between spiritual experience and social action? The drama has some powerful moments, and the cast is inspired, but it’s a mixed effort for the most part, and a far cry from the first famous installment.

    Sasha Baren Cohen’s crass and shameless shtick works in a few hysterical scenes (one a borderline conversation with an elderly couple on a plane) in THE DICTATOR, but outside of these and a buffo ‘dedication’ to start the film, the thin material wears thin, and even at 90 minutes you can’t wait for the movie to end. It’s rather a miracle that Ben Kingsley was persuaded to be in the cast. THE 39 STEPS and GRAND ILLUSION need to embellishment here, but I’ll only say that Renoir’s film was taken in for the umteenth time in an absolutely gorgeous restored print, that again had me loving the film all over again. The bedside sequence near the end with Raufenstein and the British soldier and the clipping of the window geranium provide for some of the most unforgettable moments in all of cinema.

  2. I loved the Legend of 1900 (the longer edit, the shorter one butchers the narrative), Sam. Thanks for reminding me of it – a film in which music plays a crucial role. As for the scores, I have a particular fondness for Days of Heaven and The Mission.

    Saw two films – The Conformist and White Material.

    It had been so long since I last saw The Conformist that it was like watching a new film. The cinematography and production design is superb but what struck me was the eccentricity of the story and film-making style at times. Once I reflected on this choice it made complete sense and there is so much subtle meaning to explore that the film warrants repeat viewings. It’s so good to watch a movie that makes no effort to compromise its artistic aspirations in order to appeal to a general audience.

    White Material stood out for me in two ways – Denis’ lyrical and emotional film-making style and Huppert’s screen presence and performance which is always riveting. Denis does justice to documenting the ravages of civil war in a former French colony and the complicated relationships between indigenous people and misplaced colonists. Even though I didn’t find some character motivations and behavior particularly convincing I thought the film’s strengths sufficiently outweighed my quibbles.

  3. This weekend I saw The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which I enjoyed. It had an all-star British cast, including Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, which made it worth checking out. And the role Dev Patel played was a nice fit for him.

    Also saw The Avengers today, which I enjoyed. I think I prefer the Iron Man movies – more RDJ in them. But this was good. I particularly enjoyed Mark Ruffolo as David Banner/The Hulk.

  4. I had the chance to attend an early test screening of “Cloud Atlas” a few days ago.

    I haven’t read the novel so I can’t comment on how good it is as an adaptation, but it’s a highly engaging and entertaining mixture of genres that somehow works as a cohesive whole. It’s nearly 3 hours long. Thematically it has some similarities to movies like “The Fountain” and “Youth Without Youth”. It intercuts 6 stories set in different centuries and shows us how a reincarnated spirit has an effect on each timeline. It’s hard to describe.

    Very good film though. It’s smart entertainment aimed at an adult audience. It’s inspiring, emotional and surprisingly funny. It’s a serious film but it doesn’t take itself TOO seriously. There’s a sense of cinematic fun to the entire project, especially with every actor playing multiple roles in heavy make-up (which sometimes looks cheesy, but also has a charm to it) Tom Hanks probably had a blast making this movie. He shows up in at least 5 roles. Jim Broadbent is also terrific and Hugo Weaving is awesome.

    Also nice to see that it was shot on 35mm film. It’s not a VFX heavy movie like “The Matrix” or “Speed Racer”. Most of it is shot on sets or on location. Only one storyline in a futuristic korea has trademark Wachowski CGI (unfinished in the cut I saw, but very VERY cool conceptually). Tykwer brings his style to his stories and it meshes very well with the Wachowski side of things. Everything is intercut, so it really becomes one. It’s a movie people will talk about it, for sure.

  5. Thanks for the early review Ari. I bought the book for my wife’s kindle after she really rated another of his novels. Neither of us have read it yet but the structure sounds fascinating and ambitious.

  6. I saw “The Avengers”, which seems to be controversial in these parts. Whedon handles the huge scale fairly nimbly for someone new to blockbuster enterprises, and the action is coherent and occasionally exciting. But, I don’t know, it’s prettymuch just a better-than-usual cover of what essentially boils down to the same ol shit.

  7. Sam, I couldn’t even make a list of my top 10 so I wouldn’t dare actually ranking them. If I was pushed and had to pick a favorite it would be Once Upon a Time in the West, as much though for my affection for the movie as anything. The music and pictures are inseparable.

    I know we talked about it, but I didn’t make it to The Dictator. Sounds like a future rental to me. Grand Illusion opened here in LA, but if I wait a couple of weeks it’ll be at a theater closer to my apartment and these days I prize convenience above all else.

    Sartre, I was drawn to White Material also, but I only got part way with it preferring 35 Shots of Rum. Still, I think it’s one I need to revisit.

    Alison, I keep thinking I ought to see Marigold… but I don’t know. Something about it is keeping me away. I figured you’d like Avengers at least to a point… I mean it’s got RDJ so how bad could it be? But yeah, I could see where you’d rather have had more of him. I didn’t like Iron Man very much (though RDJ made them highly watchable) so I found the extra variety of the characters appealing. Especially Hulk.

    Ari, did you get a sense of how complete Cloud Atlas was?

    Chuck, I pretty much completely agree with your take on the film, even if that amounts to more enthusiasm on my part. I keep swearing I’m done with these superhero movies and they keep changing them up just enough to draw me back in with varying results. Avengers was pretty much what I expected and wanted it to be.

  8. it was finished except for the CGI (which looked about 20 % done) and they used a temp score.

    I wonder if they change anything up before it comes out in december.

  9. Ari– does this mean that the film was divided into discrete sections, each independently directed by Tywker and the Wachowskis? I had been under the impression that they were working on all of it together. The way you describe it, the movie sounds more like an anthology film of sorts.

  10. 3 stories are directed by Tykwer. 3 stories are directed by the Wachowskis, and they each used separate crews. You’ll know which stories are Tykwer’s, and which are the Wachowskis. But all 6 stories are intercut. It’s not one after the other. The film is constantly cutting back and forth between them. The last 2 hours is almost like a huge extended montage. It’s a very interesting approach and the editing is superb.

  11. Chuck, I would have done a spit take if you said you loved Avengers. I think your comments on it are actually close to mine.

    Ari, thanks for the news on Cloud Atlas!! That is really exciting stuff and makes me far more interested than I was prior. I still have reservations, but at least it sounds as though they are trying to do something interesting with it.

  12. Craig, I understand your feeling toward Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and I actually had the same feeling. I ended up seeing it because I was visiting my mom and she wanted to see it. It’s nothing earth-shattering but I enjoyed it. There’s some good laughs and the cast is terrific.

  13. I’ll make an effort to see it. I’ve heard some other people talking about it positively yesterday too. I enjoyed Darling Companion which was also pitched at old people, but everyone else hated it, so who knows how I might respond to Marigold?

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