Some Like it Hot

Four Rooms

The release of Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel has me ready for a vacation. Preferably one where I don’t have to sleep with Ralph Fiennes. Fortuantely, a century of movies has offered a reasonable amount of alternatives by way of postcard porn. On the lam, on the case or on holiday, there are a lot of films that take us away from our normal lives and into the sweet embrace of resort living — in places real and fictitious. Since it’s the weekend, let’s all grab some sunglasses and an animal mask for a little virtual getaway.

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Some Like It Hot

Looking for any excuse, Landon Palmer and Scott Beggs are using the 2012 Sight & Sound poll results as a reason to take different angles on the best movies of all time. Every week, they’ll discuss another entry in the list, dissecting old favorites from odd angles, discovering movies they haven’t seen before and asking you to join in on the conversation. Of course it helps if you’ve seen the movie because there will be plenty of spoilers. This week, they think subversively about Billy Wilder‘s men-in-dresses comedy Some Like It Hot since everything seems to have a “secret gay agenda” these days. And because you can’t bend genders without making romance a little interesting. In the #43 (tied) movie on the list, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon play musicians who foolishly witness the Valentine’s Day Massacre. Trying to hide out, they get into drag to join an all-female band traveling to sunny Miami where they both court love with Marilyn Monroe and Joe Brown. But why is it one of the best movies of all time?

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Eternal-Sunshine-of-the-Spotless-Mind-eternal-sunshine-scene we love

Every movie site and its grandmother does a list of favorite romantic films or scenes on Valentine’s Day. I thought I’d do something different in anticipation of the lover’s holiday this year and highlight some great anti-Valentine’s Day scenes set on or otherwise involving the Hallmark holiday. They’re not necessarily against love and romance, but they do take shots at the enforced occasion for love and romance. Some of these scenes include death, one is about the end of the world and another features the ignorant poisoning of a beloved comic strip character. If you haven’t got a date for Thursday, don’t want a date for Thursday or have no need for a holiday that tells you to be especially romantic with your significant other on Thursday, the following six scenes and their films are for you. 

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Alex-03

“Movie House of Worship” is a regular feature spotlighting our favorite movie theaters around the world, those that are like temples of cinema catering to the most religious-like film geeks. This week, guest submitter Ethan Schaeffer shares one of his favorite theaters. His comments are those quoted. If you’d like to suggest or submit a place you regularly worship at the altar of cinema, please email our weekend editor. Name: Alex Theatre Location: 216 North Brand Boulevard, Glendale, CA Opened: September 4, 1925, as a vaudeville and movie house called the Alexander. Reopened on December 31, 1993, as the Alex Theatre Performing Arts & Entertainment Center. No. of screens: 1 Current first-run titles: none

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Culture Warrior

Tomorrow, the Sacha Baron Cohen-starring, Larry Charles-directed The Dictator opens. Unlike the previous two docu-prank collaborations between Charles and Cohen, the humor of the fully staged Dictator doesn’t so much rely on the reactions of ‘real people’ to an idiosyncratic foreigner as it uses its fish-out-of-water arc to chronicle the pseudo-enlightened changes that its eponymous character experiences (this is all based on the film’s advertising – I have yet to see it). With its riches-to-rags narrative, The Dictator seems to be the newest iteration of a long tradition in Hollywood comedy: the story of the redeemable asshole. It’s rather appropriate that the teaser trailer for Anchorman 2 will be premiering in front of The Dictator.  Will Ferrell has made the redeemable asshole into something of an art form in his collaborations with Adam McKay. Ferrell’s often narcissistic, privileged, ignorant, and empathy-challenged creations should, by any measure of any other genre (audiences are far less tolerant of asshole protags in, say, dramedys) be reviled by audiences. But we ultimately find something redeemable, even lovable, in Ferrell’s jerks, even if this surface-level redemption overshadows the fact that they never quite achieve the level of self-awareness that would actually redeem one from assholedom. These are characters we would likely avoid in nearly any real-life circumstance, but yet we go see movies about them learning life lessons which add up to little more than common knowledge for the rest of us. The redeemable asshole is often a white male who is conniving, manipulative, entitled, […]

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There are few directors that had a career like Billy Wilder‘s. There are probably none that reached his level of skill and notability while staying as diverse as a storyteller. The man did drama and comedy with equal acuity, but his dominance of filmmaking almost didn’t happen. Born in what is now present-day Poland, Wilder left for Paris during the initial rise of the Nazi party in Germany and soon left for the States. He got out early, yes, but it’s difficult to think about the magic he’s delivered without being reminded that but for a few years he may have found himself a victim of the fear-mongering and murder that befell European Jews at the height of Hitler. Fortunately, he did get out and did go on to craft some of the best scripts and movies of the era (and, you know, of all time). His breakout was writing the hilarious Best Picture nominee Ninotchka; success he translated into a fruitful writing/directing career which produced a truckload of notable classics like Double Indemnity, A Foreign Affair, Lost Weekend, Sunset Blvd., Stalag 17, Some Like It Hot, The Seven Year Itch, The Apartment, Witness for the Prosecution, Sabrina and more. The man was seriously prolific. With six Oscars and a ridiculous list of incredible films under his belt, he’s a perfect director to take a few tips from. So here it is, a bit of free film school (for filmmakers and fans alike) from a legend.

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Criterion Files

The 1980s proved to be an interesting and difficult time for auteurs of the 1960s and 1970s. Directors like Copolla, Scorsese, De Palma, Altman, etc. offered works that were far from their classics of the previous decade, but many of these films have aged well and proven to be compelling entries within the respective ouvres of these directors precisely because they aren’t part of their canon. While British director Nicolas Roeg did not play a central part in New Hollywood in the same way as the directors I listed, his 1970s work was certainly part and parcel of this brief countercultural revolution in narrative storytelling. I see Roeg as something of a British equivalent to Hal Ashby: someone who made brilliant entry after brilliant entry throughout a single decade, only to fade out of the spotlight once the 1980s began. But unlike the late Ashby, Roeg has continued making films during these years, and The Criterion Collection has taken one of his most perplexing entries from the era of Reagan and Alf out of obscurity. Insignificance (1985) is a strange film about a strange time. Based on the play by Terry Johnson, Insignificance stages an impossible meeting between iconoclastic minds as the likenesses of Marilyn Monroe (Roeg’s then-wife Teresa Russell), Albert Einstein (Michael Emil), Joe DiMaggio (Gary Busey), and Sen. Joe McCarthy (Tony Curtis) move in an out of a hotel room as they share a variety of 50s-topical dramatic scenarios.

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Over Under: A New Perspective on Films New and Old

Billy Wilder’s career is a lengthy one, full of highly acclaimed features. But out of all the great films that he made over the course of forty some years, Some Like It Hot may be the most famous. And when you talk about what his masterpiece was creatively, it’s often mentioned right up there with movies like Sunset Boulevard and The Apartment. But I guess that’s no surprise, it’s got Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis acting like ladies and Marilyn Monroe slinking around in cocktail dresses. That’s memorable stuff. Ted Kotcheff’s career was a lengthy but unspectacular one. He mostly did TV work and is probably best known for being the guy who directed the original Rambo film First Blood. But what I best remember him for is a movie about two guys and a dead dude called Weekend at Bernie’s. I must have watched it about a million times on HBO when I was growing up. These days, when you mention it, people talk about it like it’s a joke; but I guess that’s because Jonathan Silverman and Andrew McCarthy didn’t quite become Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis, and Terry Kiser is no Marilyn Monroe.

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While some lucky individuals have already had the chance to see Simon Curtis’ peek into the life of a sex icon My Week with Marilyn at the New York Film Festival, the rest of us plebeians have to wait until November for our own chance. Now, early buzz for the Michelle Williams (Marilyn Monroe) vehicle has been favorable, however that is not what’s piquing my interest in the project. Rather I’m curious to see the maudlin-looking Williams’ embodiment of the sexpot. Williams is of course a stunning actress when she’s dressed for award season, but we rarely see that beauty on screen as she tends to embrace homely, makeup free characters. Clearly she will add an intriguing element of wistful sadness to the woman many of us wish to be.

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While insanely different, the words “raunch” and “camp” often get confused or misused when describing films. They both are expressions for a type of subculture within explicit films; Camp stemming from a “love of the unnatural” (Susan Sontag, “Notes on ‘Camp’”) and often used to reference gay-themed or identified films, while “raunch” originally meant anything that was highly vulgar or obscene. Both words have evolved over the decades from their harsher, more exact meanings to softer, even fluffy uses today. How many times have you used raunch to describe a slightly suggestive moment in a film, where in fact you probably meant risqué or gauche? Hell, I did it last night when discussing the new film Horrible Bosses, which is what spurred this whole exploration of the two phrases. Before Sontag named and defined it in the 1960s, the manifestation of camp elements in Hollywood went all the way back to the invention of the medium. Comedies like Charlie Chaplin’s 1916 film Behind the Screen presented cross-dressing and male-male loving. The “gay” kiss between the two main characters is later revealed to be a straight kiss between Chaplin and his co-star Edna Purviance. This film was controversial, but audiences embraced the over-the-top antics of Chaplin (arguably one of the purveyors of “camp”) and flocked to the theaters to see more from the mustached tramp and his pre-Code/pre-Talkie contemporaries.

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This Week in Blu-ray

After a few weeks of hellish uncertainty, This Week in Blu-ray is back to being on time. That is, if you count being available at some point on Tuesday as being “on time.” Which I do, for the record. Moving on, the most important thing to remember is that we’re back with some advice in one of the most diverse weeks of Blu-ray releasing so far in 2011. We’ve got a new one from Criterion, a few classics, action films for people who wish they were Jason Statham, horror films, an animated superhero epic, and a movie starring Kat Dennings. There’s something for everyone this week. Pale Flower (Criterion) I must differ to Roger Ebert for a moment, as he says it far better than I ever could: Pale Flower is “one of the most haunting noirs I’ve seen, and something more; in 1964 it was an important work in an emerging Japanese New Wave of independent filmmakers, an exercise in existential cool. It involves a plot, but it is all about attitude.” What Masahiro Shinoda created in 1964 is an enduring and indelible excursion into Japan’s underworld. It’s also a relentlessly cool film for its time. Criterion, to their credit, has gone to great lengths to preserve it and restore it for HD Blu-ray. They’ve included an uncompressed monaural audio track, brand new video interviews with the director and a new (and allegedly improved) English translation. As this is my first experience with Pale Flower, I can’t say how […]

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Every day, come rain or shine or internet tubes breaking, Film School Rejects showcases a trailer from the past. If there’s one thing that movies have taught us, it’s that when you witness a mob killing you have to dress like a woman and join an all-girl jazz band that’s touring the sunnier areas of the country. Also, you just might find love with Marilyn Monroe. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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Whether you’re trying to avoid the releases this week or augment them with even more movies, your alternate box office offers some options for movies that would play perfectly alongside of (or instead of) the stuff studios are shoving into the megaplex this weekend. This week features Adam Sandler getting sand in his career, a couple of gnomes only Shakespeare could love, a desperate search for a piece of metal, and an immoral ambulance chaser growing a heart three sizes larger.

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oam-somelikeithot

Joe and Jerry are two musicians who see a mob murder and decide to go into hiding in an all-female band. The gorgeous Sugar Kane Kowalcyk is part of the troupe, which might just be two good reasons to stay in hiding.

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You might want to play it over and over. A quick video of some iconic movie titles delivered by the movies themselves.

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published: 12.17.2014
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