Thursday, January 7, 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Downstairs People


Alright, so it's time to start the year anew and that means it's a whole new set of Thursday Movie Picks to fawn all over and I am determined to actually get all these done this year!  New year, new format, new movies, new life...let's go!

So this weeks theme is Downstairs People, and my first thought was Mole People and then I read the fine print and I thought GOSFORD PARK and then I thought of nothing else for a long while and figured that one was going to be a HUGE pick this week so I opted to wrack my brain and come of up three that might get scarce recognition this week.  So here goes nothing.

The Innocents (Jack Clayton, 1961)
Haunting, terrifying, unsettling, chilling, thought-provoking; this Gothic horror film is one of the most spectacular examples of using atmosphere to bolster the intensity of a story, and what a story this one has!  Brilliant performances all the way around, especially from Kerr and young Martin Stephens, The Innocents is a classic horror staple. 

The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1972)
Unfolding much like a stageplay, there is a naturalness to Fassbinder's tale of the brutal effects of unrequited love in so many splintered directions that it is completely consuming from start to finish.  Bold and highly engaged, The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant introduces us to a pool of rich female characters that are hard to shake.

The Remains of the Day (James Ivory, 1993)
My first Merchant Ivory production, and still my favorite, The Remains of the Day remains in my heart, forever.  This beautifully woven tale of love, loyalty and integrity couldn't be more intricately developed.  It still has the power to take my breath away.

30 comments:

  1. I have seen none of these. lol They all sound like they'd films I'd enjoy though. I'm going to throw them in my Netflix queue.

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  2. Haven't seen any of these. They all sound interesting, but the one you actually got me excited for is The Innocents. Gonna try to get to that one sooner rather than later. Great post!

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    1. It's a brilliant film, and it slays a bit at my 1961 Fisti Awards:

      http://afistfuloffilms.blogspot.com/2015/03/the-1961-fisti-awards.html

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  3. lol at Gosford Park being your first thought - it was mine too! Well, after Downton Abbey anyway.

    LOVE The Innocents. It almost matches the strength of Henry James's The Turn of the Screw, which is really saying something.

    I haven't seen the other two, though. I need to get started with Fassbinder. I have the beautiful BRD Trilogy Criterion box set just waiting to be watched, and I will do so at some point. I tried to read the book The Remains of the Day and was bored to tears. I really hope the film won't do the same. I love Hopkins and Thompson too much.

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    1. NOOOO! The Remains of the Day is one of my favorite novels. Seriously, if I listed my 10 Favorite Novels...it would be on there.

      My wife hated the film, though, for the same reasons you hated the book...but I say you should see it regardless because it probably missed my 100 Favorite Films list by a sliver.

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  4. Welcome back!

    Haven't seen Bitter Tears, I've heard of it of course but really know very little about it.

    Sorry to say I hated Remains of the Day and was so disappointed that I did. I sat down to watch it with great anticipation, it's not to much to say I adore all the other Merchant/Ivory's and the previous pairing of Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins resulted in my favorite of those films, Howards End but ROTD was akin to watching paint dry on a wet day. I blocked the story from my mind I disliked it so.

    The Innocents is a brilliant choice! So thick with atmospheric dread and an amazing performance by Deborah Kerr, one of her very best and that's saying something.

    I also thought of Gosford Park first thing and despite my love for it decided to forego it because I was sure it would be title of the week, which it looks to turn out to be. I reached back a bit further than that but never left the British Isles.

    The Maids (1975)-Sisters Solange and Claire (Glenda Jackson & Susannah York) work as maids for a woman they detest, known only as Madame. Whenever she’s out they take turns dressing in her clothes and demeaning each other as Madame does to them. An adaptation of a Jean Genet play that was itself based on a famous pair of murders committed by the Papin sisters in 30’s France. Produced as part of the American Film Theatre but released theatrically this is very much a filmed play that features two award caliber performances from its lead actresses. I know we discussed this before, were you ever able to catch up with it?

    The Servant (1963)-Tony, a wealthy young man moves to London and hires the seemingly docile Barrett to be his all-around servant. Barrett at first seems quite competent and yielding but Tony’s girlfriend Susan is made uneasy by him and advises Tony to send him away. Once Barrett brings his sister Vera to work there too the situation spirals downward and ultimately the question is who the servant is and who’s the master?

    The Fallen Idol (1948)-A young British boy, Phillippe, worships his father’s butler, Baines (Ralph Richardson) and Baines spins stories of his great adventures to amuse the boy. However Baines is stuck in a loveless marriage and when an accident occurs which Phillippe misconstrues his attempts to protect his hero only lead to bigger troubles for Baines. Directed by Carol Reed and winner of a slew of awards this is a great film.

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    1. I haven't seen any of your picks!!! Funny story, I THOUGHT I was watching The Servant a few months ago and was very confused as to why it was about an aspiring priest and then I realized I was watching The Cardinal instead.

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    2. That is quite a case of confusion! I've seen The Cardinal, don't know what you thought but I thought it was pretty bad even with that highly eclectic cast. Knowing something about your taste I think you'll enjoy The Servant much more.

      You MUST see The Fallen Idol! It would be my pick for that year's best picture and Ralph Richardson is amazing, again my choice for best actor.

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    3. Um, The Cardinal is...pretty...and Carol Lynley is really good in it...but other than that is was messy and kind of uninteresting despite everything going on.

      I will seek out this Fallen Idol ASAP!

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  5. To my shame it took me a minute to figure out what was meant by "Downstairs People". What can I say...I'm an idiot! :)

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  6. I haven't seen any of these, but they all sound interesting, especially The Remains of the Day. A film starring Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins can't be anything but great.

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    1. I personally think it's a treasure, but a few above have voiced issues with the pacing. I find the story so rich and engrossing, so I highly recommend you give it a shot.

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  7. OMG-The Innocents! Perfect film and so, so creepy. I haven't seen the 2nd film but it looks a little S & M to me:) I almost picked Remains of the day because I felt it dealt with repression in so many different ways especially his emotions. Love that movie and that scene when his dad is serving made me feel so bad and say ewwwwww all at once

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    1. LOL, Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant isn't S&M...hehe, but I can see how the picture might make it seem that way. It's a lesbian love/obsession story...but done with such class and attention to character development in the most brilliant ways.

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  8. I need to rewatch The Remains of the Day, I remember liking it but it's been a while. It might be my first Merchant Ivory production, too!

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  9. Oooh. The Innocents. Never even considered that one. Good choice, it's a damn creepy film.

    I also picked The Remains of the Day.

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    1. Yeah, I saw you picked Remains and I love that!

      The Innocents is such a brilliantly creepy film. So happy to see all the love for it here.

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  10. The Remains of the Day is a wonderful choice. I haven't seen the others.

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  11. I haven't seen any of your picks but they sound interesting. The Remains of the Day seems like it's something I'd enjoy. Great picks!

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    1. I hope you get a chance to check them out!

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  12. You got me on these, man. Never seen any of 'em. But they all sound great.

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  13. I saw the Innocents recently and I just could not get into it. Kerr is way too old for the character and so her character's naivety was just not believable for me.

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    1. TEARS!!!

      I love Kerr in the film!!!

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  14. LOVE! Great picks man, as always. The Remains of the Day is my favorite Merchant Ivory film as well. ;)

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