ALWAYS KEEPING AN EYE ON HOLLYWOOD!!!

Monday, February 28, 2011

JER AND JOHNNY CHAZZ CHIME IN ON THE ACADEMY AWARDS

JER: I came into this year’s Academy Award presentation already disappointed. I knew that my choice for Best Picture: INCEPTION, didn’t have a chance due to the inside buzz from critics and experts alike. With that said, it still didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the ride!

Hosts: Franco and Portman
THE HOSTS: I honestly enjoyed the fresh angle of having two of Hollywood’s brightest stars host the show, that being Best Actor nominated James Franco and Anne Hathaway. Moving in a good and steady pace, the evening provided laughs, tears and one “F” bomb dropping (thank you, Melissa Leo!) but. Overall, the hosts didn’t provided or offer anything special or memorable to take away from it…I mean, neither of them ain’t no Billy Crystal or Johnny Carson!

The night’s presentation flowed well with beautiful set designs and lighting. A great number of the Awards’ history was wonderfully highlighted including The Roosevelt Hotel: location of the first ever Academy Awards presentation and Bob Hope: record held for most times hosting the Awards.

INCEPTION
 I was personally pleased to see INCEPTION win four Technical Awards throughout the presentation. It would seem as if the major films got recognitions they deserved and it was spread across evenly throughout the night.

ALICE IN WONDERLAND: Not my favorite film…at all,,, but, I have to admit it was visually pleasing and rightfully bestowed with both Art Direction and Costume Design wins.

THE WOLFMAN: I was very proud of Rick Baker’s MakeUp Award win for yet another ‘wolf’ film (He won the first ever MakeUp Award for 1981’s AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON)

THE FIGHTER: Best recognized for its powerful players, received kudos for its Supporting Cast: Melissa Leo and Christian Bale.

Portman: BLACK SWAN

BLACK SWAN: some will agree that Mila Kunis deserved a Supporting Role nomination, but Natalie Portman was crowned the swan of this lake by receiving Best Actress.

TOY STORY 3: Definitely a “hands down” win for Best Animated Film… period. It also pulled Original Song by Randy Newman.

SOCIAL NETWORK: It didn’t win the prestigious Best Picture award, but it did take Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing and Original Score.

THE KING’S SPEECH: Top honors would be given to his Royal Majesty, Colin Furth for Best Actor, Director: Tom Hooper, Original Screenplay and the winner of the evening’s crowning jewel: Best Picture!

To sum it up…the evening was fun and well done with honorable mentions for excellent staging and set designs. Some segments works, others failed. The hosts were great but not hilarious or memorable, but I was able to stomach the loss of my film and watch with delight and reflect as to why I love movies and films like I do…because of the surprises and wonders the industry has to offer. In a field of dry crops, there manages to exist some eatable items to last us until next year’s harvest! Devoir all you can!

JOHNNY CHAZZ: General impressions of tonight's show were marginal. I was quite pleased with two tributes in particular: The Roosevelt Hotel early on in the show and the tribute to jazz great and innovator Lena Horne.

The gowns worn this evening during the red carpet parade were well balanced according to this critic. The 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld looked marvelous choosing a ball gown by Marchesa that she helped design with designer Georgina Chapman.

Now, not a fan of Celine Dion, but wow she looked stunning in her gown.

Virginia Madsen looked absolutely ridiculous and reminded me of the Black and the White Swan at an all-u-can eat buffet on the Vegas Strip. Cate Blanchett looked like something from "Battlestar Galactica" however - what was with that circle thing in the middle of the yellow and blue dress??? Bizarre.

Firth wins for THE KING'S SPEECH
Well, the night belonged to "The King's Speech" in the end - and to no real surprise considering all the hype in the final weeks before the awards. Colin Firth was probably deserving of the Best Actor award and so was Natalie P. in the Actress category. As for the supporting roles, Christian Bale was a solid choice and his performance was deserving of the nod, but unfortunately Hailee Steinfeld was overlooked in the Supp. Actress category to my dismay.

“Inception" held its' own tonight in the Sound and Visual Effects categories and I was pleased to see that film take home at least 3 to 4 Oscars.

Newman's song to "Toy Story 3" only won due to the name of the composer (Newman of course) - yet the song really was quite sub-par and there were easily 2 or 3 others that were far superior this evening. This award was not deserving.

Alice in Wonderland" won a couple of awards tonight, but "The Social Network" only took home three - how is that even possible? "The Social Network" was completely ignored tonight and that was a true shame...

I am a little bitter about what I consider one of the most crucial categories at the Oscars - Original Screenplay. "King's Speech" took the award tonight, but "Inception" and "Winter's Bone" seemed to have stronger writing elements working in their favor.

"Black Swan" was also a tremendous piece of work in virtually all aspects of cinema and should have taken home at least 1 or 2 more awards this evening. When it gets to the point where Toy Story 3 wins more awards than "Black Swan", well.....we know we have arrived in a sad and desolate place.

Leo & Bale: THE FIGHTER

The "Social Network" faced some formidable competition from the likes of “The King’s Speech”, “True Grit”, and “Black Swan". Unfortunately, it came up short in most categories. This is precisely where I will wrap-up my afterthoughts on this year's Academy Awards. In retrospect, I can only think of 5 (maybe 6) films once again that deserved the nod for Best Picture ("Social Network", "King's Speech", "Black Swan", "Winter's Bone" and "Inception" - and possibly "True Grit".) So why are we continuing to nominate 10 films in the Best Film category? Toy Story had no business being nominated, nor did "127 Hours" or that 'Kids are All Right" disaster. We must return to the days of old - yes, the days of nominating the 5 top films.....keep it simple, and keep it real folks.

Until next year- Make sure to return back next Wednesday, when it’s my turn to pick a topic for discussion with Jer. Thanks for always checking in with us! SEE YOU NEXT WEDNESDAY


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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

JER'S TURN- WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO DIRECTOR: JOHN LANDIS?

John Landis is SCHLOCK
JER: It would seem as if there were (still are) some great Film Directors that came out for my generation to appreciate and enjoy the fruits of their labor. During the late 70’s and throughout the 80’s, Hollywood gave us a multitude of talented, young filmmakers such as: Steven Spielberg, Francis Coppola, Martin Scorsese, David Cronenberg, Brian DePalma, Stanley Kubrick, Joe Dante…just to name a few.

Now, as successful as some of their works have been and rightfully taking their place in the pages of Hollywood film history, it still bothers…no, irritates the hell out of me, that some of these great filmmakers have either taken on ‘below their expected’ level of film projects or have simply fallen off the radar screen altogether. One such great director that must be mentioned is John Landis.

Actor Vic Morrow

TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE
I recently found my well hidden theatrical movie poster of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE and highly recognized Landis’ name as one of four directors who all contributed segments for the film. At the age of 15, I lived through the highly publicized accident that occurred on the Landis-directed set that tragically decapitated actor Vic Morrow and two child extras from a low flying helicopter used in a scene. A lawsuit came forth and in 1986, Landis and four others were acquitted of all charges…some would argue that this may have been the beginning of the end for Landis’ career.

John Landis’ earlier films consisted of ground-breaking, box office hits including the hilarious spoof-filled KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE (1977), the introduction of John Belushi in ANIMAL HOUSE (1978), the dynamic duo of Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as THE BLUES BROTHERS (1980) and then came the blending of humor and horror for AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981). With a strong and very successful career blooming, more doors began to open including directing Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy in TRADING PLACES (1983), Aykroyd, joined by SNL pal Chevy Chase in SPIES LIKE US (1985), the memorable trio of Chase, Martin Short and Steve Martin as THE THREE AMIGOS! (1986).
THE THREE AMIGOS!
On a separate note, recognition has to be brought forth to the man responsible for the ever-groundbreaking mini-movie/music video, MICHAEL JACKSON’S “THRILLER” in 1983! The concept and film-like style changed the appearance and approach of the music video and MTV would never be the same! Landis would try to capture that lightning twice by directing Michael Jackson in his controversial video BLACK AND WHITE in 1991. A shorter version would air, omitting much choreographed crotch-grabbing and racial slurs spray painted on an abandoned car that would see Jackson destroy with a baseball bat!
One of the most popular MTV videos: Here's THRILLER!

INNOCENT BLOOD
Considered to be the last of the ‘box office’ hits for Landis would be Eddie Murphy’s COMING TO AMERICA in 1988. Other films to follow would be the less-than-successful try of Sylvester Stallone’s comedy OSCAR (1991) and another attempt at comedy/horror with INNOCENT BLOOD (1992).

The undeniable downward spiral of bad film choices for John Landis would begin to put the nails in the coffin with clunkers like BEVERLY HILLS COP III (1993), Tom Arnold in the aptly titled THE STUPIDS (1996) and the ill-fated BLUES BROTHERS 2000 (1998).

Sadly, Landis would turn to television work in the late 90’s and into the 2000’s including “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show” (1999) and numerous episodes of “Psych” (2007-2008).

THE BLUES BROTHERS
So, is it really that hard for a once high-profiled director who has worked with some of the most talented comedians in the industry to make a comeback? If not, why sink yourself into a deeper pit? Take a break, re-group mind and spirit and come back strong! I would be the first to line up at my local theater and plunk the outrageous cash-ola requested to enter into the multiplex palaces of today for one good John Landis film! Landis, where are you? We miss you…I MISS YOU! Come back, please. The industry needs your eye for capturing the right kind of comedic timing and visuals that only you can provide again! I’ll be waiting…cash in hand.

JOHNNY CHAZZ: Well, there is no doubt that John Landis will go down in history as one of the well respected Directors for his time. This at least seems to be the consensus. Yet, to compare Landis to the likes of Spielberg, Kubrick and Scorsese may be stretching it a bit.....no, a great deal actually.

COMING TO AMERICA
This is CINEMA: COUNTERPOINT, and I am pressed to offer a counter-point here. Looking back at all of the Landis films that you have mentioned here Jer, as entertaining as they were to audiences then - and perhaps now, I am not sure there is a single film mentioned above that I would include in my DVD / Blu-Ray collection. "American Werewolf" I can probably make a case for, but the other films? This may sound brutal, but many of the works of Landis are what I view as forgettable comedies for the majority of the 80's including "Spies Like Us”, and "Three Amigos!" These are what I call "screwball" comedies, and as film works.....well they really don't work on too many levels.

The early eighties may have been his brightest hour with the "Blues Brothers" and "American Werewolf" which were both significant and offered some substance. As an added note, "Animal House" was probably his best moment of the 1970's.

The "Twilight Zone" movie was basically a disaster and ranks very low on my list...especially being a lover of the Serling series in the 1960's. However, as we move into his films of the late 1980's and into the 1990's the Landis films become increasingly less creative, and almost appeared desperate in a sense for an audience reaction. "Blues Brothers 2000"??? "The Stupids"???

TRADING PLACES
Landis is not a director that I can truly endorse, marked primarily by mild box office hits. A comeback? The career of Landis seems to be one that simply spiraled downwards from decent / mediocre movies to disastrous ones and abysmal attempts at comedy on screen. To place Landis on a level anywhere near the great directors of the 70's and 80's is outlandish. Personally, I do not miss the films of Landis as they were terribly limited in what they had to offer and as time marched on the films became more and more stale. To line-up for a Landis film today would simply not happen. Why? Shrewd audiences simply have no confidence in his films. Landis had his day in the sun and that was roughly 30 years ago with a couple of films that were marginal at best. With that in mind, there is no reason for this critic to ever hope for a Landis return to the screen. As a matter of fact, I am not even sure it is warranted.

AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON
JER: This critic would greatly appreciate the return of a great Landis comedy as apposed to the crap we are passing off as entertainment…my “Exhibit A” will be anything by Tyler Perry! What has happened to the paying audience that any and all of his films open Number One at the Box Office time and time again…have I become some crotchety fuddy-duddy that just doesn’t get today’s humor? Is that what they are still calling it today?…humor? Let’s not forget that ANIMAL HOUSE pushed the envelope of “bad taste” humor for its day and is the grandfather of films like VAN WILDER and even THE HANGOVER! AN AMERICAN IN WEREWOLF is another example of both creative and Award winning Make-Up Effects (Rick Baker) and had audiences guessing twice as to whether it was OK to laugh at a horror film or be scared in a comedy!

ANIMAL HOUSE
Granted, JC, that Landis is not of the same level of comparisons to the likes of Kubrick and Scorsese…but that is NOT where I was going with this article. I merely pointed out the statement of the eras that brought us great directors with great vision. I stand firmly that John Landis belongs on the respected list for the films he had provided us. We are not talking PORKY’S or POLICE ACADEMY…which seem a little “screwball” by name than Landis’ films. There was substance to the storyline, surprising for comedies at the time, but he gave us some memorable characters that have become pop-cultural icons!

I will plea my case and leave it to our readers to hear their opinions…let us know your thoughts of John Landis, today’s comedy films, comedy films of the 70’s and 80’s or anything else we have covered here.

Stay tuned for next week’s special look at the outcome of the ACADEMY AWARDS! Until then…to quote straight off a well-known inside joke that can be found in most John Landis films…SEE YOU NEXT WEDNESDAY!

JOHN LANDIS

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Friday, February 18, 2011

JER's PERSONAL NOTE: RECOGNIZING JOHN BARRY 1933- 2011

It is, with a very heart, my reflections about the passing of one of my most favorite Film Composers: Mr. John Barry. Dead at 77, Mr. Barry passed away on January 30th, 2011.

I began to recognize and understand the themes that Mr. Barry was composing for his films, early in my life, when becoming a huge James Bond fan. I would see Mr. Barry's name appearing in just about all of the Bond films (except for a couple, actually) and then understanding the use of strings primarily with the soft use of horns as a secondary. John Barry himself stated that he was unaccredited for the orchestrations of the first Bond film DR.NO, but would be credited for others that followed including THUNDERBALL, GOLDFINGER, MOONRAKER and THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS...just to name a few.

There was a sadness in his themes. A very romantic and heart-breaking approach to his compositions. One of the most noticeable soundtracks that created quite an impact on me at a very young age was KING KONG (1976). Say what you will about the production of the film and the Kong effects (credit to Mr. Rick Baker) but the score was undeniably touching!

On a personal note, some of the most memorable scores that followed were Disney's THE BLACK HOLE (1979), SOMEWHERE IN TIME (1980), Robert Downey Jr. as CHAPLIN (1992) and...my guiltiest of guilty pleasures....HOWARD THE DUCK (1986).

John Barry would win Academy Awards for Best Original Score for THE LION IN WINTER (1968), OUT OF AFRICA (1985) and most deservingly for DANCES WITH WOLVES (1990).

Mr. Barry, Hollywood lost a strong voice with your loss, but you will continue to live on through the magic of film and for new audiences and music lovers for generations to come! Rest In Peace...


Have you visited the official CINEMA: COUNTERPOINT page on YOUTUBE? Check out classic and contemporary trailers, scenes and other great trips down memory lane! Just click the link and check out the "Favorites" on our site! Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

JOHNNY CHAZZ' TURN- FILM RECOMMENDATION OF THE WEEK= THE TALKING HEADS: STOP MAKING SENSE

JOHNNY CHAZZ: In the early 1980’s, Director Jonathan Demme was not exactly a household name. Still, he would follow-up years later with powerhouses such as: “Silence of the Lambs”, “Philadelphia” and even full-length concert features of recording artists such as Neil Young and even The Pretenders.

This week we take a look back to 1984 – and I would like to both recommend as well as examine this extraordinary film / documentary: Talking Heads- “Stop Making Sense”. A blend of rock, blues, funk, punk and soul are intertwined here with stunning photography, camera movement, creative sets and highly energetic choreography. The location? The Pantages Theater in Hollywood. The result? Probably one of the most dynamic rock concerts captured on film.
Demme was the one who initially approached lead singer of the Talking Heads, David Byrne, with the idea of putting a concert together in “cinematic” fashion. Knowing that all of the members of the band were extremely charismatic by nature, this only added to the film’s appeal – and of course to Byrne’s interest. Both also worked closely to storyboard virtually every aspect of the film to create such visual gratification. Thus, this was to be a “performance film” – not just a concert for the screen.

One of the wonderful aspects of “Stop Making Sense” is the lighting, and the play on shadows. Each song and set offers a different mood through balance of contrast and shade, light, sound and shadow. This is what is so beautiful and precisely what makes this concert differ from any others. Sets also vary from simple (opening track “Psycho Killer”) to quite complex. We are presented soon with tremendous staging such as what we see on “Burning Down the House”. The choreography is also intense and is perfected by the band in conjunction with Demme’s vision for the film.

The camera footage was pieced together from several different concert performances, using six cameramen. The camera shots and the editing had to be absolutely precise as well during the making of the film. One example was the task of minimizing the number of cameras in the frame. Some shows were shot from one side of the stage, and the next night the opposite side of the stage was utilized.

In sum, “Stop Making Sense” stands firm against the test of time. It is a celebration of energy and synergy. It is creative and innovative. As a whole, the film is beautifully framed and the performances are first-rate. The experience alone is worth the recommendation. Perhaps you are not a fan of the Talking Heads, or possibly you have never heard of them. Still, it is a safe bet that after viewing this piece of work by Jonathan Demme, you might find yourself loving this band immensely while asking yourself, “How did I get here?” **PICTURE POINTS: 8/10
This is my cue for "Once In A Lifetime" from the film


“Stop Making Sense” can be viewed with heightened visuals and audio thanks to the 2009 release (25th Anniversary of the film) of this performance on Blu-Ray.

JER: Wow! Great first selection, JC! We have actually spoken about this film in our "non-blog" days...so I was hoping this film would pop up sooner or later.
Having a strong love for music (I was an "on-the-air radio personality" for about 10 years) and an even stronger love for the 80's, this film marked a fantastic time for music and its marriage into a maturity of music-video making!

Back in 1984, MTV (a music videos ONLY channel, then) began to promote the release of STOP MAKING SENSE. I remember how innovating and film-like the presentation appeared. Demme was coming from the world of music video directing prior to this and other film successes he would later have. Most memorable, New Order's: "The Perfect Kiss." A very simple, yet structured video having all 4 members playing their instruments without that "rock-star" stare or glare into the cameras. But we're here to talk about STOP MAKING SENSE.

 
Byrne kicks off the film with "Psycho Killer"
Because of its limited release, I wouldn't see the film until its VHS release months later. As a movie fan, I immediately recognized the film stock used. This was not shot with that "glossy" high-quality video stock appearing in all 80's music videos of the time. The timing, angles and stage direction was appearing to look more like a film. I'll add some of my personal opinions to the bulk written by my counterpart.

To begin, the striking appearance of lead singer David Byrne walking onto the Pantages stage was shot with an angel focusing only on his feet then finally capturing the cassette player/ boom box he has in one hand and his acoustic guitar in the other. He places the player down and presses the large 'play" button to begin the pre-recorded percussion of "Psycho Killer." As Byrne begins to strum the guitar and sing into the single standing mike in the middle of the stage...we soon find out this is NOT to be an average performance film as Bryne begins to convulse between singing and then quickly pull himself together to continue his vocals without missing a beat.
Here is David Byrne opening with "Psycho Killer"

In a very theatrical manner, we are soon introduced... one song after another, to the core members of the Talking Heads. Tina Weymouth (bass), Chris Frantz (drums) and Jerry Harrison (lead guitar).

Footnote #1: Husband/ Wife team of Weymouth and Frantz had a successful run on a side project with their band, Tom Tom Club and their one-hit wonder hit "Genius Of Love!"

The foursome is quickly joined by a few back-up vocalists and other musicians shortly thereafter.

The New York based group traveled through a post-punk era of the mid to late 70's (see Blondie and The Ramones, for example) which created a large category of funky-experimental songs (Burning Down The House) to more established feel-good tunes (Road To Nowhere).

The band involves itself with great set pieces, jazzy choreography and mood settings from the lighting schemes.

Footnote #2: the lighting design was done with all white lights without color gels to not distract the performance for its raw intensity!

The 'big suit' in "Girlfriend Is Better"

The most recognizable image caught in STOP MAKING SENSE is the now 'cult classic' appearance of David Byrne shuffling onto the stage with shoulders bobbing up and down in an oversized business suit during "Girlfriend Is Better!" This is just one of many wonderful scenes that cannot be missed and would be enjoyed by all!

JOHNNY CHAZZ: So glad to see that we both completely relish the way the show opens with Byrne standing solo performing "Psycho Killer". You also spoke about the film stock used, and you are 100% on target with that statement Jer.....completely "film-like" and not the glossy, polished look of the 80's videos we were seeing on MTV (thinking of "She's a Beauty" from the Tubes for some bizarre reason).

Oh, and glad you mentioned the "Big Suit" - as David said, he just wanted his head (his Talking Head at that) to look smaller. So glad that you have an affinity for this film as I always will Jer. The question remains, which is better - the film or the music? Certainly the two together have created a powerhouse performance.
"Burning Down The House" for STOP MAKING SENSE

As always, please feel free to chime in and offer us your comments and opinions about what you think and what would you like to see us discuss? You can always catch a new blog entry weekly…..until then…SEE YOU NEXT WEDNESDAY ;)

Have you visited the official CINEMA: COUNTERPOINT page on YOUTUBE? Check out classic and contemporary trailers, scenes and other great trips down memory lane! Just click the link and check out the "Favorites" on our site! Enjoy!

 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

JER'S TURN- FILM RECOMMENDATION OF THE WEEK: ONE FROM THE HEART

We want to thank everyone for checking out our blog! I hope you can see how we are trying to make this different than any other film/ movie blog site by looking at two very distinctive perceptions. Remember to check in every Wednesday for New Blog Posts! I, Jer, won the coin toss this week... so I get to elect the first blog topic follow-up. I choose RECOMMENDATION OF THE WEEK!

I can always go with the 'safe' films to recommend: "Raiders", "Lord of the Rings" and even "Star Wars"...but that would be way too easy and cheating you, the reader, of some great lesser known films. With that said, I'd like to kick it off with Francis Ford Coppola's 1982 film ONE FROM THE HEART!


There is a great 'story behind the story' to be told in regards...Coppola had basically lost himself, both physically and mentally, while making APOCALYPSE NOW a few years prior and wanted his next project to be a complete opposite. ONE FROM THE HEART is the romantic story of a Las Vegas couple (Teri Garr, Frederic Forrest) who, after five years, have a lover's spat that leads into a split. While apart, they both find romantic interests (Raul Julia, Natassia Kinski) but in the city of neon lights and fortunes made or lost at the throw of the dice...can they really walk away or place all the chips on the table for one more shot at their love?

Coppola had bought a studio in Hollywood and created his own production company he amptly named: Zoetrope Studios. ONE FOM THE HEART was one of a few 'experimental' films he made through his company that eventually led to bankruptcy through the early 80’s. Some of these films included THE OUTSIDERS and RUMBLE FISH. ONE FROM THE HEART was unique in that all of the exterior, including the famous Freemont Street and neighboring casinos in Las Vegas were meticulously recreated indoors and filmed entirely on the stages at Zoetrope. Financial support was not strong, which caused many construction delays and even pay- cuts for the cast and crew. Becoming a labor of love to reach completion, everyone agreed to a minimum salary and ONE FROM THE HEART was finally done! The film opened to lukewarm reviews and was a box office failure.

Through the eye of appreciation, the film offers so much visual candy to stare at…due to the excellent and striking Cinematography by Academy Award winner Vittorio Storano (THE LAST EMPEROR, LADYHAWKE) and the Academy Award nominated music by Tom Waits. The gravel-like, bourbon-fused vocals jazz up the film’s score with the sweet accompaniment of Crystal Gayle as well. The dialog between actors comes across very improvisational, but that may have been Coppola’s wish to ‘keeping it real’ between the movement of the story and the interaction of characters. Las Vegas comes alive throughout the film…to the point that you forget that it’s not really Vegas at all! This will be a hard find in most video stores, so you may want to check out Netflix or Amazon for a copy…This ONE is definitely worth a view!


JOHNNY CHAZZ: Being a long-time resident of Las Vegas, I am quite critical of any film that pertains to this city. What Coppola and his team did at Zoetrope studios was just phenomenal. To recreate such a city in respect to the colors, the sounds, the lights and especially the mood were ultra-impressive and probably saved the film. This, no way, overrates the cinematography in this film- a true work of art weaving in various hues, lights and creating photoplay within a picture. For Coppola to experiment in this fashion- or the fact that he took a chance at was in all likelihood, a real turn-off to audiences. As a side-bar, Kinski and Stanton would re-unite 2 years later in one of my all-time favorite films-“Paris, Texas.” Still, what is key here is Coppola taking a real gamble, rolling the dice and producing a combination that, in dire fashion, tries to keep that roll alive.

The jazzy and bluesy musical score (Waits/ Gayle) to this film works, but only to a point. The songs are fairly romantic and convey a sense of despair and loneliness. I can see people re-visiting this film, rushing to Amazon.com to purchase the soundtrack, but halt! There are flaws in the musical score to this film as there is nothing complex about the way they are written and many tunes are written in the same tonal scale, having similar timing and lacking any type of interpretation- or better yet, improvisation. I truly feel that the only reason this soundtrack works is that the film lies in the fact that the visuals on screen are what give the soundtrack a sense of style and substance.


Still, it is one thing to "look good" and to "sound good" (just take a look at your local salesman) but does this film provided the audience with real substance? Although the plot here is quite simple really - almost too thin… really requiring the audience to rely on strong performances to carry that plot. The screenplay is also weak and predictable. The casting for this film also seems to be a bit suspect: Maybe Teri Garr's cute and detectably sexy personae work here, but her performance here hardly jumps off the screen. Also, the "circus-like" caricature of N. Kinski was almost a spoof - and as striking as she is, and I am not too sure why or how this persona was developed for the role. Perhaps "innocence" and a "child-like" attitude was what the screenwriters were after, but this role truly needs a re-vamped style and a whole new look. Raul Julia may have been my favorite in the film. Still, his role was limited in this picture - and that is a shame. Frederic Forrest was well casted in his role and seemed to wear it well.

With "One From the Heart" we see Coppola intertwine Broadway theater with cinema which is blended in with the cool colors, the mirror effects, the dreamy sets and the various types of homage paid to the City of Sin. In sum, this is certainly nowhere near Coppola's best work, but I do respect any director willing to experiment with style and form. The film at its core lacks substance and the film knows that - thus, the visuals and the score inevitably become the focus of the film. If you want Vegas in its true mood and nostalgia - see "Leaving Las Vegas" or "Casino". If you want Coppola, go see any of the Godfathers, Apocalypse or The Conversation. If you want eye candy, then visit Netflix.com and type in "One from the Heart" in the search bar. *** PICTURE POINTS: 5.5/10

JER: I will agree with you that Coppola did a wonderful job in the homage paid to early television/ theatre in the film’s development, how it plays out and presents itself. I think that it was brilliantly executed…especially when Coppola’s approach to his script readings has always resembled the way that stage rehearsals are done. I also think you took this film heavier than it was intended to be taken as. True, this isn’t Coppola’s ‘best’ film…but it definitely was an achievement, when presented in an art-house format.

Therapeutically, this was made to free him of the horrors presented while filming APOCALYPSE NOW…the harsh weather conditions, the on-again off-again relationships with the local government to supply helicopters and such…plus, the fact that Martin Sheen suffered a heart-attack in the middle of production can only drive a man to the brink of insanity! It’s no wonder he needed a controlled, indoor environment like ONE FROM THE HEART.

The screenplay is what it is, but I think Coppola purposely intended improvised moments and freedom with the script. He trusted his actors and it lends a hand to the ‘experimentation’ process he was looking for. One more note…I think the soundtrack plays as an important character of the film…it’s both a narrator and accompaniment to the story that assists with the various moods that the film plays through…love, lust, curiosity and uncertainty.

JOHNNY CHAZZ: True - perhaps I did take the film a bit more "heavily" than I should have, as it really is nowhere near Coppola's finest work. An achievement? Yes, I will grant that. You also mention that the films "freed" Coppola of the harsh conditions during "Apocalypse", but the truth is that it is the film itself that we are studying here, not what the director was going through personally. And when you refer to the screenplay as "it is what it is" - then we really do see it for what it is...plain, simple, predictable, and resoundingly unimpressive. Still, it was an experiment for both Coppola and his fellow players and its own silly little way, well - I guess it works on a couple of levels. However, that is also to say that it does not work on a couple of levels. I will also agree with you that the music serves as a third main character in the film - but isn't that the case in 5,000 other movies? There is no way that I can refer to this score as being "brilliant" as the music - albeit appropriate for the film, remains relatively simplistic and a bit too dreamy. The "mood" conveyed by the set design (exteriors ever so more than interiors), the hues, the lighting, and the homage paid to retro-Las Vegas are what keep this picture somewhat intriguing. This is a classic "fairy tale" that we dove into this week Jer - and it was fun. Thus, audiences today should take a look at what you have recommended here as there are some real plusses in the film. On the flip side, the fun appears to be short-lived and borderline forgetful.

JER: Music is and will always be a vital piece to any film…if done right. The lyrics help with the character’s settings and moods. The one thing to keep in mind is that it is a “fairy tale” or a “fable” that takes place in the city of lights and illusions. Is Vegas real? Or is it all bulbs and showgirls…merely in place for our fantasies to be made into potential reality? If so, I never wanna leave!

As always…please give us your comments and opinions about what you think…what would you like to see us discuss? You can always catch a new blog entry weekly…until then…SEE YOU NEXT WEDNESDAY ;)


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