(fr) wrote: Far Out Man is the story of an aging hippie (the immortal Tommy Chong) whose still stuck in the 60's, high off his gord, and saddened over his ex-girlfriend (real life wife Shelby Chong) along with their son (real life son Paris Chong) who are now with C. Thomas Howell (playing himself) in basically a 99% autobiographically telling of Chong's life. With the help of his other daughter, Rae Dawn Chong, from another marriage, as well as Martin Mull, as a seedy therapist, Chong embarks on a journey of being a roadie again, with Paris accompanying him, neither knowing their true relations. For the most part, this movie if pretty unfunny, but it has its moments, thanks in part to a surprisingly good supporting cast that help Chong stagger about this entire film stoned off his ass. Most notable appearances from from the likes of 80's black comedian Reynaldo Rey (as Chong's seedy boss), Cheech Marin (in a surprise cameo as himself), Police Academy noise-maker Michael Winslow (as an airport cop), and Mull and Howell in their perspective roles. Judd Nelson also pops in as himself in a slightly comical battle between C. Thomas Howell, whom both were at about to make the big drop in popularity shortly after this film. Hmm, what else, Shelby Chong has a nice (but very brief) showing of her titties, as does B-movie actress Peggy McIntaggart. So, in conclusion, a couple of small laughs and some small titty shots does not help Tommy Chong capture any sort of glory he may have had when he was apart of Cheech & Chong. Don't feel too sad, he's definitely made a notable comeback lately.
(br) wrote: There is a lot about Stanley Donen's Funny Face that has not aged well. Audrey Hepburn's Jo spouts inane made-up pseudo-intellectual nonsense about "empathicalism" vs. existentialism in a way that is either supposed to ring intelligent to the viewer or is a subtly sexist pat to the head of women's naivete. Then there is the fact that she is dressed down as a bookshop employee in glasses and thereby implied to be ugly -- hence, "your funny face." And finally there is the romance between the Jo and the much older Dick Avery (Fred Astaire), which rings not only false but slightly creepy. But then, we are not in it for any of that. This is a Stanley Donen musical using Gershwin songs, and in that respect, it is marvelous. Gloriously staged dance numbers and beautifully shot musical set pieces with charming performances from Astaire, Hepburn, and Kay Thompson make Funny Face, despite all its flaws, pretty hard to resist.
(nl) wrote: Playing With Perspective I rather suspect that the only reason anyone still cares about this movie, aside from being a footnote in the Raymond Chandler catalog, is its interesting experiment in filming. While it starts out with Phillip Marlowe, played here by Robert Montgomery, sitting behind a desk and talking to us face-to-face, for most of the movie, we are literally seeing through Marlowe's perspective. The trailer indicates that this will revolutionize film as much as sound did (wisely failing to discuss the advent of colour), which of course it didn't. This is why I don't go along with the idea that 3D is definitely going to change everything. Any time someone comes up with something new, that's the assumption--all film will eventually be done that way. And sometimes, they've been right--currently, silent and/or B&W films are mostly done for novelty. Widescreen is now so ubiquitous that TVs and monitors are widescreen. But you know, this didn't catch on--and neither did 3D, the first go 'round. Of course, we all know who Marlowe is going in, but he fills us in a bit anyway. Seems he's also submitted a story to a magazine, and the lovely assistant editor, Adrienne Fromsett (Audrey Trotter), calls him in to offer him $200 for it. All things considered, he doesn't quite trust this. (To put it into perspective, Stephen King was always excited about thirty years later when he got paid that much for a story he'd submitted somewhere.) Turns out he's right not to; she doesn't want a writer. She wants him to track down the wife of her boss, Derace Kingsby (Leon Ames). Chrystal (Ellay Mort) is missing, and Adrienne would quite like to find out what happened to her. What Marlowe quickly works out is that she wants this so she can force Kingsby's hand to get a divorce and marry her instead. After all, if Chrystal has run off with suave Southern charmer Chris Lavery (Dick Simmons), so much the better for Adrienne's chances, right? But of course, things in a Chandler story are never that simple. Mostly, I thought the perspective trick worked. It did get a little silly in places--whenever they want to show us how busted up Marlowe is, they have to show us in a mirror. Sometimes, it feels as though mirrors are thrown in because the shots don't work otherwise. It is, of course, impressive that the camera is never in the shot, though there are a couple of places where the picture stutters a little which I assume to be that way so the camera can get out of the way. The only serious problem I have is that, when there's action or Marlowe is otherwise incapacitated, it looks a bit silly. Watching the camera crawl across the ground isn't quite as effective as watching every move of the femme fatale as he's waiting for a double-cross. However, it is very effective in that latter. Not practical for movies in general, but surprisingly so here. Chandler's relationship with Hollywood, like that of many of the writers of his day, was a complicated one. He did the obligatory stint as a screenwriter himself, though he only had one original screenplay make it before the cameras. Being in Hollywood meant doing what the studios wanted you to, so he did an early draft of [i]Strangers on a Train[/i], which he apparently thought an improbable story at best. His own work, however, has been fodder for many a movie or TV show, unto the Coens borrowing from him for [i]The Big Lebowski[/i]. If you believe Wikipedia, at least. Marlowe has been played by everyone from Robert Mitchum to Elliott Gould. But in the public mind, Chandler blurs in with Dashiell Hammett, and both lose their names entirely. There is this giant thing called Noir, and these days, it's all the same. If he's played by Humphrey Bogart and is the good guy, does it matter what the character's name is or who wrote the original book? It's all the same thing, isn't it? Noir is one of the genres I enjoy winding through. Unlike my bizarre fixation with Blaxploitation, it has a certain respectability. Arguably, however, they appeal to some of the same baser instincts. After all, you spend the entire first half of the movie waiting for a body. Sure, they drink instead of smoke marijuana, and Robert Montgomery did not seem inclined to kick anyone in the head, but a lot of it is still the same. You could trust Cleopatra Jones, but in most Blaxploitation, you can't trust the women. You can't trust women in noir, either. Even if it turns out you live Happily Ever After at the end, you can never know at any point leading up to that if that's how it's going to be. Could be she'd stab you in the back soon as look at you and has killed five people already. In some ways, I'd say the world of Noir is worse than that of Blaxploitation. The latter tends to end with hope restored and Good triumphant. In Noir, there's just a pause in the action before more crap gets dumped on them.