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  • May 20, 2012

    Brooklyn Film Festival

    Brooklyn Film Festival

    Brooklyn Film Festival

    This week Reel 13 celebrates the Brooklyn Film Festival. All three of our short film contenders are past BFF selections. The 15th annual Brooklyn Film Festival will take place June 1-10, 2012, and will present over 100 film premieres from around the world.

    Be sure to watch each of the films and vote for your favorite – voting continues through Tuesday, 5/22 at 5pm. The winner will be broadcast this Saturday, May 26th along with our Classic and Indie features, Bullitt and Beneath Clouds.

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  • May 11, 2012

    Best Movies by Farr: The Big Sleep

    by John Farr

    John Farr explains why The Big Sleep could be his favorite of the four Bogart-Bacall films.


    The Big Sleep (1946)

    What It’s About:
    Private investigator Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) gets tangled in a seedy web of murder and vice when he’s hired by wealthy scion General Sternwood (Charles Waldron) to investigate a pornographer with incriminating photos of his daughter, Carmen (Martha Vickers). Marlowe finds the man dead, but this is only the beginning, as plot twists-and bodies- pile up fast. At first, the detective is intrigued by the general’s other daughter, the ravishing Vivian (Lauren Bacall), but keeps her at a safe distance. Events will soon conspire to bring them closer together.

    Why I Love It:
    Scripted by William Faulkner from Raymond Chandler’s complex detective novel, Howard Hawks’s “The Big Sleep” is a Hollywood whodunit of the highest order. Bogart famously cemented his trench-coated, tough-guy persona tackling the role of Chandler’s shamus protagonist, Philip Marlowe, co-starring alongside soon-to-be wife Bacall. “Sleep” piles up so many dense subplots that ultimately you may lose track of who killed whom- apparently, even Chandler lost track of one culprit. Still, that Bogart-Bacall wattage and Hawks’s expert direction are such that you don’t much care.

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  • April 23, 2012

    Montclair Film Festival

    Montclair Film Festival

    Montclair Film Festival

    This week Reel 13 celebrates the Montclair Film Festival. All three of our short film contenders are from Montclair FF directors. Be sure to watch each of the films and vote for your favorite – voting continues through Wednesday, April 25th at 5pm.

    The winner will be broadcast this Saturday, April 28th along with our Classic and Indie features, The Great Train Robbery and In the Weeds. The Montclair FF runs from May 1 – 6, 2012 – be sure to visit the Festival’s website for more information!

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  • April 13, 2012

    Best Movies by Farr: How about Howard Hawks?

    by John Farr

    Howard Hawks is certainly known for his comedies, but he’s just at the helm of adventure stories with plenty of intrique.


    Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

    What It’s About:
    Classic Howard Hawks picture concerns Geoff Carter (Cary Grant), operator of an air freight service in South America’s fog-enshrouded Andes Mountains. Confronting treacherous flying conditions with regularity, Geoff must make life-or-death decisions about when his men can fly. Further complicating life on the ground is the arrival of Bonnie Lee (Jean Arthur), a showgirl in transit who’s socked in by weather, and Macpherson (silent star Richard Barthelmess), a pilot harboring a dark secret. Macpherson is also joined by young wife Judy (Rita Hayworth), who’d once been involved with Geoff. The plot thickens along with the fog.

    Why I Love It:
    Elements of drama and romance co-mingle with the serious business of men being men in this involving, exciting adventure story. Grant stretches his screen persona effortlessly as a tough guy with little humor and no polish, and Arthur makes a spunky love interest. Hayworth looks particularly stunning in a pivotal early role, and Thomas Mitchell also shines as Kid Dabb, a loyal older pilot who’s losing his bearings. This heroic outing soars.


    To Have and Have Not (1944)

    What It’s About:
    Harry Morgan (Humphrey Bogart), an American skipper in Martinique during the World War II, seems like the self-interested type, but ultimately shows his true colors by aiding the Free French. Still, this risky bit of intrigue is mere pretext for the smoldering romance that ignites on- (and off-) camera between Morgan and alluring chanteuse Marie (Lauren Bacall, then just 19).

    Why I Love It:
    Director Hawks wagered Ernest Hemingway he could make a hit movie out of his worst novel. The author took the bet and once you watch “To Have and Have Not” (1944), you’ll know Hawks won. Still, the only elements Hawks keeps from the book are the title, the hero’s name and the fact he makes his living on the sea. Never mind, the film remains a gripping adventure tale with stand-out performances from the stars and supporting players Walter Brennan and Hoagy Carmichael. But above all, it’s very much a romance: just watch the famous “Just Whistle” scene. Bogie and Bacall fell in love on-set, and married soon after.


    Red River (1968)

    What It’s About:
    Bitter, unyielding cattle breeder Tom Dunson (John Wayne) has been forced to take his large herd through treacherous territory to save his business. His adopted son Matthew (Montgomery Clift, in his film debut)-orphaned years ago in an Indian massacre-joins him, but when the two cross swords over Dunson’s obsessiveness, the older man loses his powerful temper and expels his ward, vowing to kill him if and when he next sees him.

    Why I Love It:
    Director Howard Hawks gave western icon John Wayne another indelible, ruggedly stubborn character to play in his masterful “Red River,” a high point of their many collaborations. Populated by colorful supporting characters, including the salty Walter Brennan as camp cook Groot Nadine, “River” combines psychological drama, action, and suspense in a stirring, expansive western landscape. The final settling of scores between Wayne and Clift is unforgettable.


    Visit Best Movies by Farr for more reviews of the best movies.

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  • March 30, 2012

    Best Movies by Farr: Super Sixties Musicals

    by John Farr

    John Farr considers three of the sixties’ superb musicals.


    Mary Poppins (1964)

    What It’s About:
    Based on P.L. Travers’s books set in early twentieth century London, the story tells of the unruly Banks children, Michael and Jane (Karen Dotrice, Matthew Garber). The mischievous pair have run through a succession of nannies, when who floats down but a heaven-sent caregiver named Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews). Though the Banks parents (David Tomlinson, Glynis Johns) are initially bewildered by Mary’s unconventional ways, the kids are blissful, as they embark with Mary and new friend Bert, a chimney sweep (Dick Van Dyke) on a series of fantastic escapades. Over time, even stern Mr. Banks comes to recognize Mary’s value- and the important lesson she teaches everyone about how to live life to the fullest.

    Why I Love It:
    Disney’s triumph expertly blends live-action and animation, and boasts a delightful score by the Sherman Brothers, including “A Spoonful Of Sugar”, “Chim-Chim-Cher-ee”, and “Feed The Birds”. Veteran troupers Ed Wynn, Reginald Owen and Arthur Treacher lend colorful support, and Van Dyke is an appealing song and dance man, though his Cockney accent fails him. The real draw of course is the irresistible Andrews, who won the Oscar in her first starring role. Best for younger children, and young-at-heart parents.


    Funny Girl (1968)

    What It’s About:
    William Wyler’s adaptation of the hit Broadway musical depicts the rise and reign of larger-than-life star Fanny Brice (Barbara Streisand), a popular stage comedienne and singer during the 1930s. Hardly considered a paragon of beauty and grace among the chorines she competed against, Brice worked her way to the top from Manhattan’s Lower East Side slums thanks to sheer talent and tenacity. At the height of her career, she was headlining the Ziegfeld Follies and performing to sold-out crowds. But she had less control over her tumultuous love life, particularly her passionate but doomed relationship with gambler Nick Arnstein (Omar Sharif).

    Why I Love It:
    This exuberant musical launched the screen career of Barbara Streisand, who’d originated the role onstage and who’d win an Oscar for her film debut here. Although brimming with splashy costumes and razzle-dazzle musical numbers, this is hardly a frivolous romp: Funny Girl is a surprisingly moving film that deals soberly with the pitfalls of celebrity and misguided romance. Forget that the film takes significant liberties with Brice’s real story, or that the Egyptian Sharif and Jewish Streisand don’t exactly seem like a match made in heaven; the story still holds you. That said, ultimately what makes this “Girl” triumph is Jule Styne’s fabulous score, and the young lady with the pipes who puts it over. Don’t rain on this parade!


    Oliver! (1968)

    What It’s About:
    In this musicalization of Dickens’s classic, young orphan Oliver Twist (Mark Lester) escapes a hellacious workhouse in 19th Century London to become a street urchin in the employ of shady Fagin (Ron Moody) and his brutal partner Bill Sikes (Carol Reed). In his cramped, filthy, but warm dwelling, Fagin houses a band of young thieves, led by The Artful Dodger (Jack Wild). But fate has more in store for Oliver than to become a common pickpocket. But whatever good may happen, can Oliver put his past behind him?

    Why I Love It:
    The considerable talents of British director Carol Reed and composer/lyricist Lionel Bart combine to create an exuberant musical worthy of its revered source. The cast, both young and old, excel, and songs like “Consider Yourself” and “As Long As He Needs Me” stand the test of time. “Oliver” won six Oscars, including Best Picture, a rare feat for a musical. Watch this and you’ll say: “Please, sir, may I have some more?”


    Visit Best Movies by Farr for more reviews of the best movies.

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