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Marion Davies: A Second Look

In this very special episode of “The Online Movie Show,” we offer a new appreciation of the much-maligned actress Marion Davies, who is now receiving a long overdue reconsideration thanks to the re-release of three of her long-unseen silent features on DVD and Blu-ray. Film historian and composer Ben Model joins us to celebrate the beauty and talent that Marion Davies brought to the silver screen.

The episode can be heard here.

“The Online Movie Show” is produced at the Platinum Wolfe Studios.

The Revenant (2015)

The-Revenant

With “The Revenant,” Alejandro González Iñárritu pulls off a wonderful vision with amazing cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, posing the wilderness of South Dakota as something of an omnipresent force that works against every single character from the moment we step on to the snow covered woodlands. “The Revenant” works around a simple tale of revenge and enduring the elements all to convey the sheer unforgiving world that protagonist Hugh Glass has to venture across simply to avenge his own son. The weather and terrain holds no prisoners and garners zero bias, enduring the war of man and being covered in the blood of the violated while offering as much punishment as it’s dealt. Director Iñárritu’s “The Revenant” is a grueling epic that views what lengths main character Hugh Glass is willing to go through to ensure justice is served.

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Gone with the Wind (1939): 75th Anniversary [Blu-ray]

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Director David O. Selznick’s civil war drama epic about an upscale socialite is one of the many cinematic masterpieces I’m not very fond of. Visually, it’s a stunning work of art, with sweeping splashes of bold colors that help to establish the power of the love for the South, and character Scarlet O’Hara’s ability to take from her beloved land to rebuild her empire. But underneath the gloss and brilliance of the cinematography, “Gone with the Wind” really doesn’t garner much of a complex narrative beneath its seams, relying on very unlikable and vapid characters that serves their purpose all too well. While they could really complete a story about the inner turmoil of the wealthy in the war torn South, the characters of Scarlett and Rhett really offer nothing interesting to the narrative, and most of the interesting tidbits are handed over to character Mammy.

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Taken (2002)

1sjQQiZThe 2002 Spielberg fueled mini-series “Taken” is one of the few mini-series I’ve ever watched two times in a row. It’s at least fourteen hours in length. And I watched it two times in a row. “Taken” is just that good. The epic mini-series aired in the summer of 2002 on the Sci Fi Channel here in America, and on the 25th anniversary of “Close Encounters of The Third Kind.” While Science fiction was never really my niche as a pop culture fan, “Taken” is a whole new level of the genre that defies any and all conventions. It’s a mini-series that doesn’t just build up to something humongous, but it leads somewhere pretty incredible.

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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

crouchingtigerThis is what the “Star Wars” prequels should have been. An amazing young warrior torn by lust for power by an evil master, and honor and duty by a noble master, both of whom are fighting for the young soul’s innocence. If only, folks, if only. In the end though, Director Ang Lee’s masterpiece made me wish Director George Lucas would have just paid attention and taken some notes! That said, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” is beautiful, it’s wonderfully acted, and yes, it’s a masterpiece. “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” is a beautifully layered and complex storyline with numerous sub-plots, all of which never go unresolved and under explored.

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Avatar (2009)

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Watching “Avatar” is like watching a magic show. There’s lights, and sounds, and smoke, and hand waving and it’s mesmerizing if you watch without caution, but if you manage to go back stage and see what’s really happening, you’ll find that what show there is is all just an illusion, it’s all just razzle dazzle with an empty center. That’s what James Cameron’s phenomenon is like sitting through. An exhausting two and half hours basically amounts to nothing more than a carnival ride, an experience that’s interesting sure, but easily forgotten once you’ve decided to move on to the next light show waiting for you. I’m not one to besmirch Cameron for giving us this movie because no matter what I say the general consensus has been that American audiences and movie goers around the world have accepted it, but I’m one of the few who see behind Cameron’s smoke and mirrors and just craved more.

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Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut (DVD)

“Why a third version of Alexander? The best answer I can manage is, I couldn’t get it out of my system. It’s a film that’s been haunting me since the theatrical version first appeared in November 2004 in the U.S., followed by a Director’s Cut on DVD in July 2005.” Oliver Stone

Jesus Christ, Mr. Stone, why? Why can’t you just leave that gaping wound alone? Why can’t you just let it heal? Why can’t you just leave well enough alone and accept that you made a really bad movie? You made a bad movie! There was no homophobic conspiracy, no boycott against you. You made a neo-“Caligula,” a film that takes itself so seriously it can’t even realize it has a huge “Kick My Pompous Ass” sign on its back. While we chortle in the distance, you’re still hung up on this figment that we just can’t accept a film about a hero who is bisexual. So, you grace us with three cuts of the same crappy film. Stone, know when to stop breathing air in the infectious cavity. You win some, and you lose some. You lost big with “Alexander” and you only help increase the sentiment with this “final” cut. You’re off your game, face it. And worst of all, Stone wants to cater to his audiences rather than accept defeat. There was the original cut (175 min.), then the trimmed down cut which increased the action and pulled back on the homosexual overtones (167 min.), and now there’s this “Final Cut.”

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Alexander (2004)

After the failure of “Alexander”, Stone, always the conspiracy buff, used this excuse: “Alexander failed because of conservative opposition to homosexuality.” Which answers the question, what does a conspiracy theorist do when they fail? Make their failure in to a conspiracy. “No, it wasn’t my fault, it’s the government!” But if a heavily homosexually driven film like “Brokeback Mountain” could succeed why couldn’t a film with mild homosexual themes make it? Answer that one, Stoner. Did you ever think that perhaps your movie really sucks? Because it does. Never since “Caligula” have I seen such a cheesy, ridiculous, and utterly boring “epic” that fails to be as good as it tries to be. From Anthony Hopkins typical dramatic narration spelling the film out for us, right down to the sickeningly grandiose style it’s unashamed to flaunt, “Alexander” is a bad movie that will show all that the gladiator fad is over and done with. So quit it, y’hear?

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