Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: August 2012

Friday, August 31, 2012

Underrated: James Caan in Thief (1981)

by Tony Dayoub


[This is an entry in the TCM Summer Under the Stars Blogathon hosted by Jill Blake of Sittin' on a Backyard Fence and Michael Nazarewycz of ScribeHard on Film.]

Michael Mann had shown some early promise in the TV world as a writer for such classic crime shows like Starsky & Hutch and Vega$. But despite showing an easy familiarity with the criminal subculture borne out of the prison yard in his first telefilm, The Jericho Mile, it is still astounding to see how well he put together his theatrical directorial debut, 1981's Thief. It's an embarrassment of riches, featuring a propulsive score by Tangerine Dream, smart casting of novices who'd go on to bigger and better things like Jim Belushi, Dennis Farina, Willie Nelson, Robert Prosky (and if you don't blink, William Petersen), and effective use of little-seen neighborhoods from Mann's own hometown, Chicago. Watch his subsequent films, and you'll see these are the hallmarks of a formula he repeatedly returns to. But most of the success of Thief lies in the lead performance by James Caan.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Quadrophenia (1979), Margaret (2011) and more

by Tony Dayoub


Sometimes, when things seem bleakest, you discover a reason to keep watching movies. 2012 hasn't been a bad movie year. But perhaps being mired in the ins and outs of my wife's new business has distracted me from seeing some of the very best it has to offer. It has certainly been harder to get out to the theater. And at home, I find myself gravitating to old TV series I'm fond of, a televisual comfort food of sorts, rather than catching up with some of the better reviewed 2012 offerings I've missed. Here are four recent offerings on DVD and Blu-ray which I mostly liked.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me at 20

by Tony Dayoub


Months before Twin Peaks' national TV premiere on ABC, its pilot debuted at the Miami Film Festival, where one reviewer correctly predicted its ultimate fate:
...the series may lay an egg on television because of its drawn-out and deliberate pacing, brutality, sex with violence and a hint of something else... something deadly, yet unseen and probably repulsive.
True enough in the long term. But short term, its first 6-episode season—in which FBI Special Agent Dale B. Cooper (Kyle Maclachlan) comes to town to investigate the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee)—managed to enthrall the nation. The season finale, a cliffhanger in which Cooper is shot in the chest at point blank range by an unseen assailant, was sufficiently newsworthy to prompt Saturday Night Live to invite Maclachlan to host the show's 16th season premiere and propel the show's co-creator, David Lynch, onto the cover of Time magazine in anticipation of Peaks' 2nd season premiere. What are the chances either of those occurrences might ever happen again?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My Nominees for Top 10 Films of All Time

by Tony Dayoub


Every decade, Sight & Sound polls critics and directors, arriving at a consensus to compile what some may call a definitive list of the top 50 movies of all time. The House Next Door polled its own writers (or at least those of us who weren't invited to contribute to Sight & Sound's poll) publishing each writer's alternative top 10 throughout the month of August.

My list was posted earlier today. After the jump, I give you a hint about what films you'll see over there, using screen captures that share a common theme. Leave a comment if you can guess what I'm going for, and name the movies I've selected (no fair peeking).

A link to my list is posted below the stills.