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May 1, 2011


Free-Talking on Cinema, Movies, and Film (May, 2011)


[Note: The monthly Free-Talking post is updated every five days, give or take a day every now and then.]


Starting next week the “free-talking” running post will be broken out into weekly posts, beginning with the monthly discussion question on the first Wednesday of June.





Review of Tony Richardson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968) at Ferdy on Films

The Cooler examines Morgan Spurlock’s latest doc in “On the Money: POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) review at Noir of the Week

Radiator Heaven on Something Wild (1986)

The Blue Vial examines the place of The Shamrock Handicap (1926) in John Ford’s filmography, while Ferdy on Films reviews the recently rediscovered Ford silent Upstream (1927)

Review of Yasujiro Ozu’s Passing Fancy (1933) at Only the Cinema



Title card for Billy Wilder's film noir classic "Double Indemnity"

Fred MacMurray as insurance salesman Walter Neff

Barbara Stanwyck as unhappy trophy wife Phyllis Dietrichson

Edward G. Robinson as Neff's colleague Barton Keyes, ace claims investigator

Cameo by co-screenwriter Raymond Chandler, credited by Wilder with much of the crackling dialogue

Sizing the other up

Plotting murder in an innocuous setting

The murdered man is on the railroad tracks stage left

A triangle made in murder

Crime doesn't pay: Walter narrating his story from behind bars

Last Month: The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005)
Coming Next Month: The Killer (1989)



Here in the Midwest, May is an especially beautiful month. Spring flowers. New leaves. Blue skies. In honor of the season, this month’s discussion topic is movies that look like a million bucks. I’m talking the best looking, gorgeous, visually stunning movies. Because I was inspired by the flowers, let’s stick with color films.

It could be the cinematography that puts them over the edge. Or the art direction or locations. Maybe the director’s painterly compositions. What’s on your list?


Free-Talking Series: Prior Post

18 Comments Post a comment
  1. May 1 2011

    In terms of cinematography, colour schemes, and overall emotional power (and in no particular order):

    Terrence Malick’s “Days of Heaven”, Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”, Akira Kurosawa’s “Kagemusha” and “Ran”, Powell and Pressburger’s “The Red Shoes” and “Black Narcissus”, “Baraka”, David Lean’s “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Dr. Zhivago”, Michelangelo Antonioni’s “Red Desert”, Guillermo del Toro’s “Hellboy 2”, Cy Endfield’s “Zulu”, Tarsem’s “The Fall”, P.T. Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood”, Satoshi Kon’s “Paprika”, Kenneth Branagh’s “Hamlet”, and Wong Kar Wai’s “In the Mood for Love” and “2046”.

  2. Ken
    May 1 2011

    It’s the opposite of flowers in spring, etc., but the first movie that came to mind was Lawrence of Arabia. I watched it a few months back and was reminded of how good it looks.

  3. May 1 2011

    Most Terrence Malick movies would be on my list: Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line most notably.

  4. May 2 2011

    I was just listing Lawrence as a colour film that stands out, but you’re right. The only film that I can think of that would even remotely invilve the Spring is the classic “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring” from Kim Ki Duk.

  5. Helen
    May 2 2011

    On mine as well. “Days of Heaven,” “The Thin Red Line,” and “The New World” are all astonishingly beautiful films. Makes you excited for “Tree of Life,” doesn’t it?

  6. Helen
    May 2 2011

    Spring blooms not required. :) “Lawrence of Arabia” is a stunner. Poles apart in the location but another film with breathtaking landscapes is “Himalaya.”

  7. miriam
    May 3 2011

    “In The Mood For Love” has the rain of Spring, if not the flowers, and is beautiful as are all of Wong Kar Wai’s films. Asian directors seem to use color so well, and then there are all those gorgeous fabrics to play with in the historical films. “Umbrellas of Cherbourg” is rich with color as is the throwback ‘woman’s movie’ “Far From Heaven”; they both use the colors of changing seasons to advance the story and convey emotion. But my pick for the movie that revels in color and is suffused with Spring’s joy and exuberance has to be “The Adventures of Robin Hood”.

  8. May 3 2011

    Another great colour film from Akira Kurosawa that not many have seen and definitely should is “Dreams”. It’s a bunch of short stories that deal with dreams and look like dreams but are just darn good shrot stories. And the colours and seaosns are gorgeous.

  9. May 7 2011

    post updated May 7 with Connections: Double Indemnity

  10. Helen
    May 7 2011

    Great picks all! You know I love “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” since I chose it for the illustrative still. :) Wong and The Archers have to be tied at number one in the list of filmmakers who make insanely gorgeous movies.

    When you brought up “Adventures of Robin Hood” I suddenly thought of “Rivers and Tides,” the 2001 doc about artist Andy Goldsworthy. The serene beauty of spring to “Robin Hood”‘s exuberance.

  11. May 7 2011

    @Double Indemnity, this film and The Killers (1946) are the definitive film noirs. Double Indemnity is essential viewing for hard core fans of film noir and Billy Wilder’s films (I believe to be the most successful filmmaker in Hollywood history), like myself.

  12. Helen
    May 8 2011

    Needless to say my group loved it. I picked it for “movie of the month” because it’s a primer on film noir AND an incredibly entertaining film. Discussing classic films with people who haven’t seen much if anything from the studio era can be frustrating sometimes because they don’t have the film history/cultural context, but not in this case. Wilder’s mix of cynicism and sentiment still plays really well.

  13. May 8 2011

    They might also really enjoy Stalag 17. :O)

  14. Helen
    May 9 2011

    Who wouldn’t? ^_^

  15. May 9 2011

    Absolutely. Wilder’s got a slew of Oscar winners and a huge selection of classics. The Apartmanet, Irma la Duce, Some Like it Hot, Sunset Boulevard, The Lost Weekend (which I’ll eventually review for CT :O)), Ace in the Hole (another that I’ll review), Sabrina, 7 Year Itch, Witness for the prosecution, The Fortune Cookie, the Private Life of Sherlock Holmes…

    I also own many of those. :O)

  16. May 12 2011

    post updated 5/12/11 (“a few good blog posts”)

  17. May 17 2011

    post updated 5/17/11 (“trailer of the month” Yojimbo)

  18. May 23 2011

    post updated 5/23/11 (format change announcement)