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Recognition, by Bob Connally

3 Jun

“The brains of people are more interesting than the looks, I think.” – Hedy Lamarr, 1990

One of the fascinating aspects of loving movies from Hollywood’s “Golden Age” is noticing how certain stars of the past are widely remembered today while others go largely forgotten, even if they were huge in their time. Even people who have never seen a Katherine Hepburn movie could probably tell you she was a popular actress of the 20th century. It’s likely they’ll have at least heard of Bringing Up Baby or Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Throughout the 1940s, Hedy Lamarr was considered by a great many people to be “the most beautiful woman in the world.” However, films such as Algiers, Boom Town, Ziegfeld Girl, and Dishonored Lady are really only known today by the most dedicated classic film aficionados. Lamarr herself is no longer widely known as a classic film star. But based on Alexandra Dean’s new documentary, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, the Austrian woman born Hedwig Kiesler would probably be delighted to know that she is now remembered for something far bigger. Something for which she was denied recognition during her lifetime.

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Maximum Effort, by Bob Connally

22 May

Two years ago much was made about the surprisingly massive success of Deadpool. Many attributed it to the film being a highly irreverent and decidedly R-rated superhero comedy that subverted expectations. This somewhat reductive view made me concerned that we would begin to be inundated with knockoffs made by people who didn’t really understand just what it was that made Deadpool work. I could practically hear studio heads saying, “A superhero who swears a lot and makes pop culture references?! That’s gold, baby! We gotta get us one of those!”

On top of that, Deadpool wasn’t even the first highly irreverent, decidedly R-rated superhero comedy that subverted expectations. It wasn’t even the first this decade. Both Kick-Ass and Super (which was directed by a pre-Guardians of the Galaxy James Gunn) had gone that route relatively recently. What made Deadpool special and such a wildly funny and entertaining movie was the passion and personality that star Ryan Reynolds brought to it.

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Classics Through the Cracks: Hud, by Bob Connally

2 May

Citizen Kane. Casablanca. Lawrence of Arabia. Dr. Strangelove. Films considered by virtually all movie buffs to be amongst the greatest ever made. Classics. But there are so many wonderful movies that for one reason or another have fallen through the cracks and don’t get the recognition they truly deserve. In this series I will be writing about and hopefully encouraging people to discover the classics that they’ve been missing. Movies like Real Life, Bad Day at Black Rock, and L.A. Story just to name a few. I’ll be looking at the film, the era in which it was released, and other popular movies released in that era. For my third entry in this series I will be writing about 1963’s Hud, directed by Martin Ritt.

Through its opening shots, Hud conveys the stark, dying West that its characters inhabit. While the film was set in the present (1963), it is the story of people either hanging onto, kicking against, or simply existing in a corner of the world that has been left behind by the rest of it. While Hud Bannon (Paul Newman) is the movie’s titular character, Martin Ritt’s film is really concerned with the heart and mind of Hud’s 17-year old nephew, Lonnie (Brandon De Wilde) and what path he will ultimately choose.

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Next in Line, by Bob Connally

2 Apr

In March of 1953, the Soviet Union had been gripped by the Great Terror for two decades. With each new enemies list, Premier Joseph Stalin had more Soviet citizens exiled, arrested, or executed without trial. With even the most conservative estimates suggesting that Stalin was responsible for the deaths of 20 million people, there’s a sense that the opening sequence of Armando Iannucci’s new satire is not as outlandish as it may seem.

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Good Boy, by Bob Connally

1 Apr

I remember my excitement when I found out how much my little nephew loved 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. Not only because it’s such a wonderfully fun and delightful movie but because it meant that I could say that my nephew and I were both Wes Anderson fans. Even if he was far too young to see- let alone understand- any of the director’s previous five films. I just assumed he would come to see and love those in due time.

It has been nine years since Anderson’s first stop motion animated film and with two more live action movies under his belt in that time- Moonrise Kingdom and my favorite film of 2014, The Grand Budapest Hotel– he returns to a format that he is uniquely suited for amongst today’s auteur filmmakers. No one is expecting or needing Paul Thomas Anderson or Christopher Nolan to delve into stop motion. (Though I wouldn’t say no to one from the Coen Brothers now that I think about it.)

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Extra Life, by Bob Connally

30 Mar

In 2011, author Ernest Cline’s highly entertaining science fiction adventure novel, Ready Player One became a modern day pop culture sensation. The book’s popularity was due in large part to Cline’s affinity for the pop culture of the 1980s. The wave of movies and TV shows either set in or heavily influenced by the ‘80s had barely gotten going yet but seven years later the film adaptation of Cline’s novel joins what has become, for better or worse, a tidal wave. 

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Classics Through the Cracks: Bad Day at Black Rock, by Bob Connally

14 Mar

Citizen Kane. Casablanca. Lawrence of Arabia. Dr. Strangelove. Films considered by virtually all movie buffs to be amongst the greatest ever made. Classics. But there are so many wonderful movies that for one reason or another have fallen through the cracks and don’t get the recognition they truly deserve. In this new series I will be writing about and hopefully encouraging people to discover the classics that they’ve been missing. Movies like Real Life, Hud, and L.A. Story just to name a few. I’ll be looking at the film, the era in which it was released, and other popular movies released in that era. For my second entry in this series I’m writing about a film that balances multiple genres while addressing racism in a far more thoughtful and nuanced way than many movies which address it today. From 1955, Bad Day at Black Rock.

In its opening shots, Bad Day at Black Rock introduces us to a speeding locomotive roaring through a desert. It is a simple but incredibly effective way to get the audience’s attention while indicating that this is a movie that will waste no time. Quickly, this opening credits sequence gives way to the sights of the small western town of Black Rock. There are seemingly few residents, none of whom appear to have done much for a long time other than to sit outside and peer into the desert. Even before a character explicitly states it on screen it’s clear from the reactions of the townspeople that the train hasn’t stopped in Black Rock for years. Despite not cutting an imposing figure, the man who steps off the train, Macreedy (Spencer Tracy) fills the citizens of this town with trepidation.

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The Bob Award winners!

21 Feb

It’s here. The biggest, most important movie awards ceremony on the planet that is named after a person whose name is a palindrome (Take THAT, Pip Awards!). There are no trophies, there is no red carpet, but there are gift certificates to Red Mill Burgers in Seattle at stake (recognized by GQ for having officially the Best Onion Rings in America). So please, allow me to save you three and a half hours that will ultimately lead up to an envelope kerfuffle. Here are the winners of the Bob Awards for the films of 2017. Enjoy!

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The 2018 Bob Awards!

29 Jan

As a film fanatic in my teens I began taking part in the time honored tradition that so many of us do. Waking up at 5:30 AM to watch the Oscar nominations and immediately begin complaining about them. After a few years of this I decided that if I wasn’t happy with the Academy’s choices then I should create my own awards. So I started the imaginatively named… Bob Awards. (It only occurs to me now that had I been named Oscar I’d have had a problem. Bullet dodged. Thanks, Mom and Dad.)

For the second year in a row I will be sharing the Bob Award nominations as a writer for More Than One Lesson. I really hope you enjoy them. If you don’t like these nominees then by all means create your own movie awards. Go on. Do it! I dare you!… No, really, you’ll feel better. It works for me. (If your name is Bob or Oscar though then I’m so sorry, but you’ll just have to accept these.) Of course I still complain about the Oscar nominations. But slightly less. And I guess that’s something.

I will be back before the Oscars to reveal the winners in not only these categories but several other fun ones.

Best Picture
Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Coco
Dunkirk
Get Out
I, Tonya
Lady Bird
Lucky
Molly’s Game
Phantom Thread

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Master Weaver, by Bob Connally

22 Jan

Through 21 years and 8 features, Paul Thomas Anderson has been making his mark time and again as a singular filmmaker. Often celebrated for his shot compositions and the level of bravura he brings to each project, what often gets lost is his extraordinary ability to create unique characters with incredible dimension. While his casting choices are impeccable there’s a reason the greatest actors of our time are so eager to work with him. For one actor in particular, Daniel Day-Lewis, Anderson’s latest film turns out to be (at least for now) an unexpected swansong. Few actors or actresses have had a better one.

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