Tag Archives: The Good the Bad and the Ugly

50DMC #7: Favorite Soundtrack

The 50 Day Movie Challenge asks one question every day, to be answered by a few paragraphs and a clip, if possible. Click here for the full list of questions.

Today’s prompt: What is your favorite movie soundtrack?

This one took me a while to think about, and I’ll probably change my mind five minutes from now. I mean, first of all, there’s the question of original instrumental scores vs. song-based soundtracks, both of which I assume are included within the scope of the topic. Then there’s the fact that a lot of my favorite instrumental soundtracks depend strongly on existing classical music, like the Tree of Life soundtrack pulling from Smetana’s Ma Vlast or True Romance‘s score based on Carl Orff. Of course, using existing music well is a huge bonus to a lot of movies, and I really respect directors/composers who do that.

But I think for now I’ll go with Ennio Morricone’s score for The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, which is both totally original, unique, and incredibly influential. All of Morricone’s scores are awesome, but there’s none more iconic than The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. And it’s one of the few instrumental scores I own and listen to regularly.

Film on TV: May 31-June 6

good-the-bad-and-the-ugly.jpg
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, playing on TCM on Monday.

On Monday, TCM pays tribute to Clint Eastwood, showing all three of his Man With No Name Leone films, plus a couple of the Dirty Harry films, and others in between. If you’re an Eastwood fan, be sure to check out the whole schedule at TCM.com. Then on Wednesday, IFC has Lars von Trier’s latest Antichrist – it’s at the very least another solidly-made and thought-provoking if somewhat offputting entry in that provocateur’s filmography. Most everything else are repeats, but some very good ones.

Monday, May 31

8:00am – TCM – A Fistful of Dollars
The first of the Leone-Eastwood “Man With No Name” trilogy has Eastwood loping into a small Texas town out nowhere and finding himself caught in the middle of an ongoing feud between the two powerful families that run the town. In true revisionist Western style, he wavers back and forth between amoral mercenary desires and noble actions – he’s not classical Hollywood’s Western hero, but he draws on that mythology, breathing new life into the genre.
1964 Italy. Director: Sergio Leone. Starring: Clint Eastwood, Marianne Koch, Gian Maria Volonté, Wolfgang Lukschy.

9:45am – TCM – For a Few Dollars More
The follow-up to A Fistful of Dollars, which I have not yet seen myself; but I bought it recently on the cheap, so I really have no excuse. Soon.
1965 Italy. Director: Sergio Leone. Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Gian Maria Volonté, Mara Krupp, Klaus Kinski.
Newly Featured!

10:00am – IFC – The Good German
Steven Soderbergh’s attempt using 1940s equipment and filming techniques didn’t actually turn into a particularly good movie, but as a filmmaking experiment, it’s still fairly interesting. And has George Clooney and Cate Blanchett in gorgeous B&W as former lovers/current spies, if you’re into that sort of thing.
2006 USA. Director: Steven Soderbergh. Starring: George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Tobey Maguire.
(repeats at 12:15am on the 1st)

12:00N – TCM – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The final film of the Leone-Eastwood Man With No Name series, and possibly the height of the spaghetti western genre. Here Eastwood and Eli Wallach as feuding partners-in-bounty-rigging stumble upon a promise of hidden treasure along with Lee Van Cleef and try to get to it while skirting the edges of the Civil War. Breathtaking on nearly every level.
1966 Italy. Director: Sergio Leone. Starring: Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef.
Must See
Newly Featured!

9:45pm – IFC – Black Book
Paul Verhoeven invests Black Book with just enough of his signature over-the-top brashness to give the WWII story of a Dutch Jewish woman infiltrating the Gestapo for the Resistance a healthy dose of panache. Every time you think it won’t go the next step, it does, and it’s ravishingly entertaining the whole time.
2006 Netherlands. Director: Paul Verhoeven. Starring: Carice van Houten, Sebastian Koch, Thom Hoffman.

12:15am (1st) – TCM – Dirty Harry
Eastwood hung up his spaghetti western spurs and picked up a cop’s sidearm to play Harry Callahan, a cop who doesn’t always play by the rules but definitely gets what he’s after; in this case, a serial killer who begins to play a cat-and-mouse game with Callahan.
1977 USA. Director: Don Siegel. Starring: Clint Eastwood, Harry Guardino, Reni Santoni, John Vernon, Andrew Robinson.
Newly Featured!

Tuesday, June 1

6:15am – IFC – Paranoid Park
I go back and forth on whether I think Gus Van Sant is brilliant or a pretentious bore – maybe some of both. But I really quite liked the slow, oblique approach in this film about a wanna-be skateboarder kid who relishes hanging out with the bigger skateboarders at the titular skate park – but there’s a death not far from there, and it takes the rest of the movie to slowly reveal what exactly happened that one night near Paranoid Park. Gets by on mood and cinematography.
2007 USA Director: Gus Van Sant. Starring: Gabe Nevins, Daniel Lu, Jake Miller, Taylor Momsen, Lauren McKinney.
(repeats at 11:15am and 5:05pm)

8:45am – TCM – The Asphalt Jungle
The Asphalt Jungle was really MGM’s first foray into noirish crime films. Being MGM, it’s more polished and, to me, less interesting than the crime dramas that Warner Bros. and the smaller studios were putting out, but hey. It’s still pretty good. And has a really young Marilyn Monroe.
1950 USA. Director: John Huston. Starring: Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, James Whitmore, Sam Jaffe.

1:00pm – TCM – Some Like It Hot
After musicians Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon unwittingly witness the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, they have to escape the mob by impersonating women and joining an all-girls band. The fact that Marilyn Monroe is the band’s lead singer doesn’t help them stay undercover. Easily one of the greatest comedies ever put on film.
1959 USA. Director: Billy Wilder. Starring: Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Joe E. Brown, George Raft.
Must See

1:30am (2nd) – IFC – La Jetée
Very few short films become classics (outside of silent films and arguably Looney Tunes), but Chris Marker’s La Jetee, told entirely in sequences of still photographs, is one of them. In a postapocalyptic future, a man is sent back in time to try and stop WWIII from happening. But he both falls in love and is haunted by a childhood memory – two things that are fatefully interconnected.
1962 France. Director: Chris Marker. Starring: Jean Négroni, Hélène Chatelain, Davos Hanich.

Wednesday, June 2

9:30pm – TCM – The African Queen
One of several films John Huston and Humphrey Bogart made together pits Bogart against the Amazon river – and straight-laced missionary Katharine Hepburn, who is forced to travel with him to escape Germany enemies. Well, boats are small, and one things leads to another, you know.
1951 USA. Director: John Huston. Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Robert Morley.

12:00M – IFC – Antichrist
Lars von Trier’s latest film isn’t exactly what I’d call fun to watch, but it definitely has its compelling moments in its story of a couple grieving over the death of their son and the lengths the husband will go to in order to help his wife recover her sanity – and the lengths to which her sanity is gone. Extremely strong performances from the two principals and von Trier’s way of mixing arthouse mood with extremely disturbing content make Antichrist hard to forget.
2009 Denmark. Director: Lars von Trier. Starring: Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg.
Newly Featured!

4:35am (3rd) – IFC – Pi
Darren Aronofsky’s first feature is this fever dream of a mathematician searching for the numeric patterns that will unlock the secrets of the stock market – paranoid, fearful of human contact, and beset by terrible headaches, he’s also pursued by Wall Street factions and Hasidic Jews, each seeking the results of his formulas. It’s heady stuff, but Aronofsky’s the right guy for that.
1998 USA. Director: Darren Aronofsky. Starring: Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis, Ben Shenkman.

Thursday, June 3

6:15am – Sundance – Paris, je t’aime
I have a huge soft spot for Paris – basically any movie set there I will like to at least some degree. So an anthology film with eighteen internationally-renowned directors giving their take on Paris with eighteen short films all mashed together? Yeah, instant love. Obviously some sections are far stronger than others – the Coens, Gus van Sant, Alexander Payne, Isabel Coixet, Tom Tykwer, and Wes Craven turn in my favorites.
2006 France. Director: various. Starring: many.
(repeats at 11:45am, and 12:00N and 5:25pm on the 5th)

6:30pm – IFC – The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Any half-decent film about three drag queens driving a bus through the Australian outback in outlandish costumes (and sometimes lipsynching to opera while sitting in an enormous shoe strapped on top of the bus) pretty much has to be fabulous, and this one is. Hugo Weaving is the one with the secret former marriage and son, Terence Stamp the aging one who tends to be somewhat bitter but can also be the consummate lady, and Guy Pearce is the flamboyant youth. As they move through the Outback toward their next proposed gig as lipsynching dancers, they run into mechanical difficulties, bigotry, and interpersonal conflicts that get into more thoughtful territory than you might expect.
1994 Australia. Director: Stephan Elliott. Starring: Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce, Terence Stamp, Rebel Penfold-Russell.
(repeats at 3:00am on the 4th)

Friday, June 4

4:00pm – TCM – The Women
The cattiest, most man-less film ever made. Several of Hollywood’s greatest female stars, from established divas like Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford to up-and-comers like Rosalind Russell and Joan Fontaine to character actresses like Mary Boland and Marjorie Main (and even non-actresses like gossip columnist Hedda Hopper), give their all to one of the wittiest scripts ever written.
1939 USA. Director: George Cukor. Starring: Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Joan Fontaine, Paulette Goddard, Virginia Weidler, Mary Boland, Marjorie Main, Hedda Hopper.

Saturday, June 5

8:00pm – IFC – Kill Bill Vol. 1
A lot of people would point to Pulp Fiction as Tarantino’s best film, and I think Inglourious Basterds is right up there, too, but I vote Kill Bill Vol. 1 for sheer amount of fun. He homages spaghetti westerns, Hong Kong fighting flicks, and revenge-sploitation, and ties it all together with incredible style.
2003 USA. Director: Quentin Tarantino. Starring: Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Daryl Hannah, David Carradine.
Must See
(repeats at 3:00am on the 6th)

8:15am – Sundance – Metropolitan
If Jane Austen made a movie in 1990 and set it among entitled Manhattan socialites, this would be it. The film follows a group of such entitled teens from party to party, focusing especially on the one outsider, a boy from the blue-collar class who has to rent a tux and pretend he likes to walk to avoid letting his new friends know he has to take the bus home. Though they find out soon enough, they keep him around because his intellectual nattering amuses them. In fact, it’s quite amazing that this film is interesting at all, given the amount of pseudo-intellectual nattering that goes on, from all the characters. But from start to finish, it’s both entertaining and an incisive look at the American class structure.
1990 USA. Director: Whit Stillman. Starring: Edward Clements, Chris Eigeman, Carolyn Farina, Taylor Nichols, Dylan Hundley.
(repeats at 3:45pm)

12:00M – IFC – Evil Dead 2
The sequel/remake to Sam Raimi’s wonderfully over-the-top demon book film, set in the same creepy wood-bound cabin, with even more copious amounts of blood and a lot more intentional humor. I’m still not sure which I like best, but either one will do when you need some good schlock. (I still haven’t seen Army of Darkness, I’m shamed to admit.
1987 USA. Director: Sam Raimi. Starring: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks.

Sunday, June 6

10:15am – TCM – Strangers on a Train
Guy Haines is a tennis star all set to marry into a posh, loving family, if it weren’t for that pesky and annoying wife he’s already got – a problem that fellow train-passenger Bruno has a solution for: all Guy has to do is kill Bruno’s troublesome father and Bruno will take care of Guy’s wife. This criss-cross setup begins one of Hitchcock’s best films, full of memorable shots and set-pieces, not to mention one of the most mesmerizingly psychotic performances in all of cinema in Robert Walker’s portrayal of Bruno.
1951 USA. Director: Alfred Hitchcock. Starring: Farley Granger, Robert Walker, Ruth Roman, Patricia Hitchcock, Leo G. Carroll, Laura Elliott.
Must See

5:15pm – TCM – Funny Girl
Barbra Streisand tied Katharine Hepburn, no less, to win an Oscar for her role as Ziegfeld comedienne Fanny Brice, and well-deserved, too – she captures Brice’s mannerisms and her combination of winsome self-deprecation mixed with raucous comedic talent perfectly. The film is crafted strongly around her, too, with Wyler (with one of his last films) filling the widescreen beautifully and not letting the film, despite its long running time, stray too far into indulgence.
1968 USA. Director: William Wyler. Starring: Barbra Streisand, Omar Sharif, Kay Medford, Anne Francis, Walter Pidgeon.

8:00pm – TCM – Old Yeller
One of the great tear-jerker family films, about a family in the old west who adopt a stray dog, growing to love and depend on the animal in the absence of their father (away on a cattle drive). Ah, yes, the good old days, when kids movies weren’t all happy-peppy all the time.
1957 USA. Director: Robert Stevenson. Starring: Dorothy Maguire, Fess Parker, Tommy Kirk, Kevin Corcoran.

Film on TV (Nov 10 – 17)

Monday, 10 November

7:25pm EST / 6:25 CST – IFC – Clerks
Kevin Smith’s debut film is little more than a few convenience store clerks chatting, but its fresh feel fits right in with the mid-’90s indie scene. And the film introduces Smith stock characters Jay and Silent Bob, so there’s that.

Tuesday, 11 November

7:55am / 6:55am – IFC – Solaris (1972)
The original Andrei Tarkovsky version, not the George Clooney remake. I haven’t seen either, but I’ve heard really great things about the Tarkovsky, and it’s on my to-watch list.

12:15pm / 11:15am – AMC – The Bridge on the River Kwai
British military discipline in the form of commander Alec Guinness doesn’t mesh well with being in a WWII Japanese prison camp – or maybe it does, as Guinness puts his all into building the titular bridge for Japanese use, while American prisoner William Holden plots to blow it up. David Lean’s 1957 Best Picture winner doesn’t hold up for me as well as some of his other films, but it’s still got legs.

9:00pm / 8:00pm – TCM – This is the Army, Hollywood Canteen, Stage Door Canteen, and Thousands Cheer
None of these are good movies, let’s state that up front. But they’re a special genre of Hollywood war effort films featuring tons of cameos by famous stars, which makes them an interesting snapshot into the studio system of the time. This is the Army is based on an Irving Berlin Broadway revue, which donated virtually all of its box office returns to the war effort. Hollywood Canteen and Stage Door Canteen are named after famous USO locations in Hollywood and New York, respectively. Thousands Cheer is more story-oriented, but ends with a revue featuring numbers by Judy Garland, Virginia O’Brien, June Allyson, and others. The other one I would’ve put in this programme is Thank Your Lucky Stars, notable mostly because it makes Warner dramatic stars like Bette Davis and Ann Sheridan try to sing, which is just unavoidably amusing.

Wednesday, 12 November

10:00pm / 9:00pm – TCM – Strangers on a Train
Farley Granger meets Robert Walker on a train and jokes with him about exchanging murders – Granger’s unloved wife (who is in the way of Granger’s love for Ruth Roman) for Walker’s tyrannical father. Except Walker wasn’t joking. One of Hitchcock’s most intense films, with some of his most memorable shots and set-pieces (carousel, anyone?).

10:00pm / 9:00pm – Sundance – This is England
Shane Meadows’ film about a young boy in 1980s Britain becoming involved with skinheads got outstanding reviews from all quarters last year. I missed it in theatres, but definitely want to get a shot at it now.

1:30am / 12:30am (13th) – TCM – Blowup
In Michelangelo Antonioni’s first English-language film, a London photographer thinks he may have captured a murder on film, but he can’t be quite sure. What might have been a routine detective story becomes something else – a mystery without an answer. Related in a way to surveillance ethics stories like The Conversation, Antonioni brings his detached intellectualism to the film, making it quite unlike most anything else ever made.

Thursday, 13 November

9:45am / 8:45am – IFC – Amarcord
One of Federico Fellini’s four Best Foreign Film statuettes is for this film, and though I rail against many of Oscar’s choices when it comes to foreign films, Fellini deserved all of his. Amarcord is a slice-of-life film showcasing a small 1930s Italian village, with Fellini’s typically flair. [Playing again on the 14th at 5:50am EST]

11:00am / 10:00am – AMC – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Sergio Leone’s most definitive spaghetti western finishes off his “Man with No Name” trilogy starring Clint Eastwood. It’s not necessary to see the other two entries (A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More) first.

12:45pm / 11:45am – TCM – The Shop Around the Corner
The original version of You’ve Got Mail has James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan as feuding employees of a shop who are unknowingly exchanging romantic letters. Ernst Lubitsch directs, bringing his warm European wit to bear.

8:00pm / 7:00pm – AMC – Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Remember when Steven Spielberg liked aliens? Contrary to many opinions, I think, I prefer Close Encounters to E.T. Maybe it’s the fact that the aliens communicate with such a distinctive musical phrase. I don’t know.

Friday, 14 November

9:30am / 8:30am – AMC – Pillow Talk
More recent movies have tried to replicate Pillow Talk‘s combination of innocence and sex (notably the near-remake Down With Love), but I haven’t found any that manage with the aplomb of the original. Accept no imitators!

4:00pm / 3:00pm – TCM – Rear Window
My all-time favorite film. Hitchcock, Stewart, Kelly, voyeurism, fashion, murder, paranoia, sarcastic nurses, I can’t get enough. Ever.

3:45am / 2:45am (15th) – TCM – The Haunting (1963)
There’s The Haunting and then there’s The Haunting. And this is the good one, not the overblown 1999 remake. Robert Wise’s original is creepy, disturbing, and, like, good.

Saturday, 15 November

8:00pm / 7:00pm – TCM – Paths of Glory
In this early Stanley Kubrick film, soldier Kirk Douglas has to decide what to do when three of his men are charged with cowardice (a capitol offense) for refusing to obey orders to make a suicidal charge at the enemy. The film is not only an historical exploration of the shift from pre-WWI tactics to post-machine gun tactics, but also a pointed inquiry into military ethics.

8:00pm / 7:00pm – AMC – The Godfather
If AMC is still doing commercial breaks in their movies, don’t watch The Godfather now. But sometime. Somewhere. Even if it’s just to say you have, like it is for me. Someday I’m going to watch it and actually love it. [Playing again on the 17th at 7:00am and 4:00pm EST]

11:30pm / 10:30pm – TCM – Kiss Me Deadly
I actually didn’t love this well-respected hard-boiled noir film as much as I wanted to when I saw it last year, but I’m throwing it in here because it is reasonably solid, and one of those films you have to see to count yourself a competent film noir fan. If, you know, being a competent film noir fan is on your shortlist of things to do with your life. Which it is for me.

12:00am / 11:00pm – AMC – The Godfather Part II
See above re: The Godfather. Except one of my shames as a film buff is that I’ve never seen Part II. I sort of doubt I’m going to on AMC, though, just throwing out the possibility to you. I’m shooting for the new Coppola Restoration DVDs. [Playing again on the 17th at 11:30am and 8:00pm EST]

4:30am / 3:30am (17th) – AMC – The Usual Suspects
“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing people he didn’t exist.” And The Usual Suspects pulls a similar trick, placing it forever on the list of greatest twist films ever.

Sunday, 17 November

8:00am / 7:00am – IFC – The Seventh Seal
Ingmar Bergman dramatizes an actual chess game between a medieval knight (Bergman regular Max von Sydow) and Death. Heavy stuff, not that that’s unusual for Bergman.

9:45am / 8:45am – IFC – The Virgin Spring
One of Bergman’s I haven’t yet gotten around to seeing – maybe because the description “Swineherds seek shelter with the father of a girl they raped and killed” (from IFC’s site) sounds even more depressing than usual for Bergman? But I intend to see all of his eventually, so its time will come.

10:00pm / 9:00pm – Sundance – Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Every time I see this frenetic Guy Ritchie crime comedy, I like it a little more. A young man gets into a gambling debt that his casino-running father refuses to bail him out of, so he hatches a poorly-planned scheme to steal and sell some priceless antique shotguns. Add in some other hoods working on other crimes and a few hitmen running around, and pretty soon the whole thing spirals out of control. Add in cockney accents and you’ve got a zany good time that’s hard to beat.

2:00am / 1:00am (18th) – TCM – Diabolique
A man’s wife and his lover plot together to kill him, but get a surprise when he shows back up soon after. Ghost? Madness? Who can say? Taut thriller from Henri-Georges Clouzot.