Thursday, July 31, 2014

July 31: Birthday Surprise

The dying seconds of Birthday Eve, then the Big Day.

The date's not given onscreen, but the film is based on an obscure novel for young adults, published sometime last century. I managed to track down copy and figure out the date. Sleuth that I am.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

July 30: Down Memory Lane With Sam Quint

In fact, not June 29.

One week later, they dropped the bomb on Hiroshima.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

July 29: Orange Peel Fatal For Kindly Grandfather

So the oranges finally got him. Near miss outside that produce store, back in late '45 / early '46, with the poster for the January 11 Madison Square Gardens fight between Jake LaMotta and Tommy Bell looking on. But nine years later, those homicidal fruits were still waiting for him. (Or was it the pesticide? Was the grandkid in on the hit?)

The bigger question: when was the old guy born? The tombstone says April 29, so that's got to count for something. But back in 1941, according to The Grandfather Part II, his sons were celebrating his birthday on December 7. "What do ya think of the nerve of them Japs? Them slanty-eyed bastards, huh? Droppin' bombs on our own backyard on Pop's birthday here?"

I don't think Francis Ford Coppola was the kind of director to get too bogged down with dates. If you track these things, it seems that Sonny's toll-booth incident should be happening in 1948, maybe 1949. But he's listening to a ballgame on the radio: Bobby Thomson's Shot Heard Round The World, which occurred October 3, 1951. I figure they wanted a ballgame to play, that particular bit of audio was readily available (the radio call was released as a record, and sold a huge number of copies), so they used it.

Monday, July 28, 2014

July 28: Hangman Still Breathing

I think the Ten Commandments / Planet Of The Apes guy had a couple motives for his version of the original, which he filmed 22 years later. To get a crack at the irresistible lead role, and to restore the Common Man to the proceedings.

I can understand the temptation of the first, having succumbed myself. Still, his predecessor was better.

The second is worthy, and I'm glad he did it. Partly because we get to see Roy Kinnear's lovely performance in a delicious role. And more importantly, because it restores all those delicious dates. Such as, say, July 28th....

Sunday, July 27, 2014

July 27: Departure Date Set

Though a friend said I'd like it, the general reaction to this film ranged from tepid to critical, so I avoided it. Gave off the feel of being kind of dumb-sentimental, like the films at the lower end of the Robin Williams' spectrum.

I should listen to my friends. Watched this only because of the dates, and found myself quite drawn in. I recognize the qualities that put people off - including Spacey himself, whose performances are very love-hate - but for some peculiar reason Spacey's character here absolutely fascinates me. There's something in that detached-yet-engaged quality which may be mental illness, but may be the sort of non-attachment that is, well, spiritual. I'm very wary of movie messiahs: there was a time when people were playing Spot The Christ Figure with every work of fiction that came along. But sometimes they work for me, and it will take a good deal more reflection on my part to figure out why this one does.

Or maybe not exactly a Christ figure. Just someone who's found a stance toward things that intrigues me. Benign fascination, not caught up in it all, compassionate, intelligent. Fine line between that and condescension - which is definite Spacey territory. But it keeps me interested. Fascinated.

Your mileage may vary. Judging by popular response, it almost certainly will. But I must admit, this one got me.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

July 26: Movimiento 26 de Julio! Viva Cuba libre!

A montage of all the armband and banner scenes from this most cinematic of biopics. Not many movies where you can actually make an armband-banner montage.

A curious film. Some respond that it somehow take two of history's most charismatic, controversial and enigmatic characters engaged in an against-all-odds revolution and somehow make it boring. And they have a point: it's surprising how unexciting the whole thing is. And it's not like this director can't do exciting.

Others consider it brilliant, exhilarating - mostly from a purely cinematic/aesthetic perspective. First viewing, I was mostly in the first camp, while admiring it as art. But spending hours digging into the film for dates, looking closely, editing, viewing the film from that non-linear, peculiarly Date Movie perspective, it became a favourite. As did a number of other films that didn't entirely work for me when I first viewed them, the way I would normally view a film - for story and overall experience, as well as for artistry. Nixon and Zodiac both come to mind.

Friday, July 25, 2014

July 25: Dylan Plays Newport!

What a scene. What a film. What a film maker. What a subject.

It ain't history. It's art. Art about history.

In Date Movie terms, there's nothing better.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

July 24: Fifties Flick Lends Title To SciFi Inflected Daniel Amos Tune, Album

I didn't know if I should use this movie for July 24. The stuff that happens on August 12 is really swell too! There's a neat rocket ship that takes off just like Fireball XL5! Zowie! But hey, kids - you'll just have to watch the movie yourselves for all those thrills and chills.

This movie is delicious, and the delight in discovering movies like it is a large part of the my enjoyment in doing the Date Movie project. Before this, I knew the film mostly as the title (and probably inspiration) for a favourite Daniel Amos song on their sci-fi flavoured Vox Humana album, but had never sought out the (presumably) kitschy fifties flick. But once I found out it had DATES in it!...

The past year and a half, of actively tracking down such movies and finding their date references, has exposed me to so many films I simply would never have gotten around to seeing, and has brought a whole new way of enjoying film. Some I watch beginning to end, just as I would previously have done with any movie I chose to see. But plenty of others I sample, looking for dates - and get a more abstracted sense of a film. Story and character arc are secondary: what I see - and what is amplified when I then edit the clips - is predominantly visual and aural. Shot composition, camera movement, the way sound is used, the look and feel of movies as varied as... Well, you're seeing the range. Acting is still foregrounded, but in moments, gestures, presence, style more than in the journey of a character. Movie AS movie, perhaps.

In any case, this film was a wonderful surprise. All the nostalgic look and feel of the world as it was - or was imagined - a few years before I was born. But for all its primitive qualities, compared to later sf and special effects movies, there's something there.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July 23: London Calling

Movies don't get any better than this. I was going to save it until August 7, which is one of the great set pieces in all of film, for me. And it's actually a birthday party, and I do love to send these clips to people as birthday presents, so that would have been a lot more suited than this rather sniffly scene. But the greatest greatness of this movie is the acting, so heck, let's watch the July 23 part. And marvel. And then go back and watch the whole movie again.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

july 11-22 | catching up

Oops! I've been posting daily to Vimeo, Facebook and Twitter, but kinda forgot to put the new videos up here as well.  For now, a quick catch up, with proper daily posts to follow in due time…

July 11: Fun With Hydrangeas

July 12: Marching Bands Boost Tourism

July 13: Italian Perspective On Climate Change

July 14: Bad Music, Dancing Mar French National Fest

July 15: Couple Celebrates St. Swithin's Day

July 16: Weird Mouth Trick May Turn Tide Of War

July 17: Recovered Document Sparks Provenance Controversy

July 18: Charleston Harbor Outing No Day At The Beach

July 19: Send In The Clones

July 20: Climb Every Mountain

July 21: Evil Dead Cabin Destroyed

July 22: Twilight Prequel Unearthed

Friday, July 18, 2014

Montage | July 18

for kaitlin

...and for mel

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Thursday, July 10, 2014

July 10: Bus Survivors' Telephone Romance Thwarted

Many of these are up here because they're great movies, or at least great movie moments. Others less so.

This one's here because it was a great movie experience. A great Date Movie experience, in fact.

On July 9, 2006 I went to see this Sandra Bullock - Keanu Reeves vehicle. (The same could be better said about their previous film together). With my wife - a true movie date.

It's all about star-crossed lovers who live two years apart, but send each other letters through a mailbox on the property that they both owned at different times… Hard to explain. Frankly, hard to follow. Nevertheless, a film with a central preoccupation with time, and dates.

And there I am on the evening of July 9, 2006, and this scene comes along. "Call me on July 10, 2006 at 9:05 PM." And I'm going, "Hey, that's tomorrow night!" Yup, me and Sandra Bullock (not to mention Carole and Keanu), separated in time by one day.

I figured I should go back again the next night. I never made it. And now it's too late.

Closely follows a Japanese movie called Il Mare, equally preoccupied with dates. I'll show you a bit of that January 7 or 9 or 10, or February or March 11, or March 25, May 20, or December 22 or 28 or 29, or maybe event New Year's Eve, when the two films overlap! Time will tell.

Adaptation by David Auburn, who wrote the stage play Proof - also brainy, with a thing about fathers who die, and their kids - a pair of sisters in the play, two brothers in this film. Both stories set in Chicago if I'm not mistaken.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

July 9: "Dear Diary..."

In fact, the Frank family went into hiding July 6, 1942. Why the film says July 9, I have no idea.

It's the movies.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

July 8: Secret Weapon Turns Tide Of War

The only time I've literally fallen out of my seat laughing. I was sitting at the end of the row, so yes-- I was rolling in the aisles. Well, one of the aisles. And I didn't actually roll all that much.

At least I'm still alive.

Monday, July 7, 2014

July 7: London Bus Delayed

Brits have long prided themselves on the smooth and timely running of their transport. So when a classic double-decker gets behind in its rounds... That's news!

My wife went to high school with the director of this one. I was surprised she didn't get mentioned in Kathy's Oscar speech.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

July 6: Quarrymen Play Church Fete

In the Beatles calendar, July 6 ranks right up there with August 8, The Feast Of The Holy Crossing. Today, The Feast Of St John And St Paul at St Peter's…

Isn't Maggie Mae a perfect choice? And did you notice the photographer. Such a smart, deft piece of film making.

Definitely my favourite Fab biopic - with Backbeat following close behind. Chronologically, as well. A great double feature.

By the way, there's a book I really like - predictably enough, given this project, and the Beatles fascination. The Day John Met Paul, by Jim O'Donnell. Not just what was going on with the Fabs that day, but plenty elsewhere as well.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

July 5: Project Flashlight Ends

Love those post-apocalypse flix. Though if I had to pick the downunder rep to send to the End Of The World Cup, Mad Max would definitely be my first and second choices. To make a proper choice, I'd also need to check out On The Beach. Hmm, that one could have a place in the Date Movie project: looks like the Grand Prix scene is set on August 6...

Wait a minute. August 6?

Friday, July 4, 2014

July 4: A Day For Celebration

One of my three favourite films. But consider yourself warned: it's not all as sweet as this scene.

Happy birthday, south-of-the-border friends!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July 1: Adams Slams Fishing Rights

It breaks my heart to show Yankee history on Canada's birthday. But until someone makes The Great Canadian Film about the enactment of the British North America Act…

We're in a bit of a five-day run here, with Independence Days and U.S. history running like a red, white and blue thread through it all.

A most peculiar film. Not so far from my quip about the BNA Act. A musical, written for the stage, about the creation of the Declaration Of Independence. Not battles and intrigue, but negotiations, arguments and counter-arguments. Most of it takes place right there in that room. The guy who plays Ben Franklin is a dead ringer for Ed Wynn.