mr casablancas

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Happy    Birthday    Claude    Rains   (11.10.1889)

Directing him was only a matter of giving a slight suggestion here, a gentle nudge there. He was an immaculate actor, clean, precise, and exact in everything he did. There was no floundering about until he got the feel of a role, but a studied analysis with a design in the background that built bit by bit until the total architecture became visible. It was not consciously Stanislavsky, but he was doing precisely what Stanislavsky had formulated in connection with building a character. He knew what he wanted and why; Claude had great concentration, knew his attitude in each scene, played with his partner, and created an inner life for his character.

He was a professional in the best sense of the word. While he came on the set prepared, he always allowed room for the director to create with him. As I reflect upon his career, I am amazed at the variety of roles he played and his fantastic versatility. Gentle fathers, suave villains, sharp politicians, evil doctors, compassionate doctors, sophisticated artists—there was no end to the list.

Recently, I was glancing through a book written by John Gielgud and was astonished to learn Claude had once taught him acting in London. Moreover, Laurence Olivier was also one of Claude’s students. Claude had never mentioned this to me, like many other things in his past. They did not seem important to him. His life was acting, the satisfaction of creating a memorable role.

-Dir. Vincent Sherman

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Favourite dead not-American actors: an Advent Calendar

Day 22: Claude Rains 

Dear Claude. Which of the powers that be was it that decided that he would never quite be the romantic hero? When he’s not being awesomely obsessed and increasingly insane (The Invisible Man) he’s the unloved suitor, (Mr Skeffington, Notorious), the kindly, no-nonsense authority figure (Here Comes Mr Jordan, Now Voyager), or the gay sassy best friend (Casablanca, The Adventures of Robin Hood). Perhaps this is why the ending of Casablanca is so satisfying: finally Claude gets the partner he wants. 

As with many of the great British actors of his generation, he belies his humble (in his case, cockney) origins and is the epitome of class, quality, substance, and sophistication. It’s not just the voice, of course, although that is marvellous; it’s his subtlety and understated playing, his ability to be at once completely natural and always charismatic. He is almost unique in Hollywood history in that he is a character/supporting actor who is also a star, and because of this he has a greater opportunity to play a wide range of characters, and to do some of his best work in non-heroic roles. Who else can show to quite the same degree the pain, stoicism and self-awareness of the man who knows that the woman he loves does not love him?

Bette Davies (in Mr Skeffington) says ‘you’re laughing at me’ and it’s this quality of delicious amusement that I love the most. At his most sublime, he glides through films like some kind of fairy godfather; effortless but never camp, dropping sparkling asides like glitter, elevating proceedings to a perfect, swishy level of glory. 

Favourite Role: Captain Renault in Casablanca (1942). It’s saying something that in a film with seven actors I like (two of whom I love beyond reason) Claude outshines them all. It’s a corker of a role, of course, and the film is the glorious sum of its excellent parts, but Claude’s lightness of touch, his worldly amusement, is simply perfection. 

Another good place to start: Alexander Sebastian in Notorious (1946), a remarkable performance of depth, subtlety and intelligence in a flawless film, one of Hitchcock’s best, with career-best performances from Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant too. In my life only two people have ever made me even fleetingly sympathetic towards a Nazi, and Claude is one of them.  Also you can’t go wrong with his Prince John in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938); fabulously delicious, endlessly amused by Errol’s exuberant Robin, and Basil’s intense Guy. 

“I’m glad they finally addressed Dick was facilitating Veronica’s rape (although not talking about his intention to rape Madison). But I still think is not enough. Dick was never punished for any of his crimes in the show. I hope they put something at least in one of the books to make it canon.”

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There’s always collateral damage between you and me. It’s our Paris.
—  The Master making a Casablanca reference while cosplaying Mary Poppins
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“I remember when I was younger, I went up to play Mr. Darcy [in an adaptation of ‘Pride and Prejudice. One of the execs at the studio told me quite categorically, ‘Every woman has an idea of who Mr. Darcy is, and I’m afraid you’re just not it.’ I was like, 'Fair enough.’ 

I’m obviously not a romantic lead, so I’m not going to focus a lot of my attention on being something that I’m not. I like to play people who’ve got a bit of range on them: a little bit of dark and a little bit of light.”  (x)

16 April 2015 | Child44 premiere, London | photos: Dave J Hogan

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Jason Dohring’s credit from the first two seasons is intriguing. While most of the other notebook pages seem to have a noir-ish drawing on them, Logan’s page has “Lilly” written on it twice with flowers in a stereotypically “girly” hand. This may or may not be the clue to a number of things, but whatever is intended, it reflects something about the place Logan has in Veronica’s (and the viewer’s) mind. In particular, the link provides some insight into Veronica’s reaction to Logan’s flings with Kendall Casablancas.

Veronica’s discoveries of and responses to Logan’s trysts with Kendall probably rank among their most charged and memorable scenes from the second season. The episodes in which these incidents occur are placed equidistant from the beginning and end (or both from the center) of the season: third from the beginning, and third from last, which probably links into the roughly chiastic structure of the season a whole, although that is not the main topic to be pursued here.

Veronica’s oft-remarked-upon jealousy and possessiveness when it comes to Logan are obviously present in both scenes (particularly the first). Veronica’s (usually quite entertaining, although the incident from 2x20 obviously leans much more toward “heartbreaking”) jealousy with respect to Logan is actually just one part of the equation here, and it is not, finally, the most important aspect. Both interactions point to something beyond romance.

In 2x03 (“Cheatty Cheatty Bang Bang”), confronts Logan after realizing he is having an adulterous (and illegal, although Veronica does not seem concerned with this) affair with Kendall. During that confrontation, she notes that Big Dick Casablancas, Kendall’s husband, will “break [Logan] in half” when he finds out about the liaisons. Logan is surely aware of the danger, as he had just gone the the gun range with the Dicks in the previous episode (“Driver Ed”). There are hints that Big Dick might be trying to scare Logan a bit (although, given that the older man loans Logan a gun later this is not necessarily the case). The point is that both Veronica and Logan are aware of potential consequences if and when the affair is discovered, although it turns out that the other circumstances around Mr. Casablancas (the real estate scam) means that Big Dick has bigger fish to fry.

“Look Who’s Stalking” is immediately preceded by “Nevermind the Buttocks” (2x19), in which Veronica discovers that Kendall is involved with other (perhaps even more) dangerous people – the Fitzpatricks. They even try to take out Keith. While the Fitzpatricks are not the obvious threat to Logan via Kendall that Big Dick might have appeared, it still makes the point again that Kendall symbolizes mortal danger.

Logan seems at least somewhat aware of this. In 2x19, he tells Veronica that he left Kendall quickly after one of their hookups in part because of “ her husband’s fondness for handguns.” Logan also seems pretty nervous when talking to Mr. Casablancas at the gun range in 2x02, where he utters a key line (for the purposes of these scribblings) in response to Mr. Casablancas: “I think my father has a similar philosophy.”

However much Logan is explicitly aware of all of this, the signal to the viewer is clear: Logan is flirting (ahem) with death. Veronica did not witness that exchange, but she has seen enough evidence of Logan’s death with in other contexts and witnessed how dangerous Kendall is to get the  picture. Veronica’s perspective, as it so often does, parallels that of the viewer, even if the viewer and she have different information at different times. Logan’s association of Big Dick and his father probably already occurred to Veronica, and should strike the viewer as well: Logan’s affair with a dangerous adult is just the sort of think what got Lilly murdered.

Speculating about Lilly’s precise motivations and personality is problematic (and unnecessary in this context), but it is probably not going too far to say that she and Logan share at least a few characteristics. Both Lilly and Logan are beautiful and charismatic. They are both simultaneously spoiled and mistreated at home. They are both reckless. Most importantly, they are emotional lynchpins for Veronica in ways that no one else quite becomes.

The name “Lilly” evokes innocence, and whatever one makes of Lilly herself, it points to Veronica perception of her own innocence prior to Lilly’s murder. She looks back at herself  (rightly or wrongly) as being not only naive, but emotionally open and vulnerable, something she now tries to downplay. From the beginning of the series, Veronica sees losing Lilly as the moment where her life completely fell apart, where she lost everything, and she now has no one other than her dad. She makes new friendships, but even Wallace is kept at a bit of an arm’s length. Veronica does not want to risk investing in someone again who would be so central as Lilly was, and then lose that person. For whatever reasons (and despite herself), Logan seems to penetrate her self-imposed barriers in a way no one else does after Lilly’s death.

Veronica’s 2x01 (“Normal is the Watchword”) recollections of her good (and bad) times during the summer with Logan have the same hazy, dreamy tint as all of her other recollections, especially those of Lilly. Some of the more emotionally intense “real time” scenes with Logan in season one seem to have that same dreamy quality. As examples one might point to the scene in Logan’s driveway in 1x19 (“Hot Dogs”), the scene on Veronica’s couch in 1x21 (“A Trip to the Dentist”), and the scene in the pool house from the same episode.

This can easily turn into an ramshackle interpretation of every related event in season two (or the entire series) with respect to Veronica’s feelings (explicit and self-denied) toward Logan and has gone on too long anyway. So it is probably time to just stop and sum things up:

Veronica’s responses to discovering Logan and Kendall probably evoked many feelings, but beyond her personal psychological state, both instances recall her “oh my god” response to discovering the truth about Lilly and Aaron. What frightens Veronica most about Logan is that he evokes the same sort of emotional response from her that Lilly did. Like Lilly, Logan’s recklessness (in his case, at least, a very clear death wish) could very well lead to his end. There is much more than can be said about this symbolic identification of Logan and Lilly, but to end on an obvious note: being emotionally involved with that sort of person and then losing that person again terrifies Veronica as much as anything else in the world.

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Julian Casablancas tomando una foto de Cucho de la conocida banda argentina Los Auténticos Decadentes !
—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-–
Jules taking a pic of “Cucho” (Gustavo Parisi) from a very famous band from Argentina - Los Auténticos Decadentes 

Es muy admirable la humildad & simplicidad de Mr. Casablancas :’)

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Pop Deal: Best of Warner Bros 100 Film Collection for $149.99 | Amazon

This week only, “Best of Warner Bros. 100 Film Collection” is 75% off its $597.92 list price. That’s under $2 per movie, and includes 22 Best Picture winners, a limited edition 27 x 40 poster, two Warner Bros. documentaries, and more. The set includes …

1. The Jazz Singer (1927)
2. Broadway Melody of 1929 (1929)
3. The Public Enemy (1931)
4. Cimarron (1931)
5. Grand Hotel (1932)
6. 42nd Street (1933)
7. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
8. A Night at the Opera (1935)
9. The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
10. The Life of Emile Zola (1937)
11. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
12. Dark Victory (1939)
13. Gone with The Wind (1939)
14. Wizard of Oz (1939)
15. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
16. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
17. Citizen Kane (1941)
18. Mrs. Miniver (1942)
19. Casablanca (1943)
20. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
21. Gaslight (1944)
22. Anchors Aweigh (1944)
23. Mildred Pierce (1945)
24. Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
25. The Big Sleep (1946)
26. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
27. An American in Paris (1951)
28. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
29. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
30. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
31. A Star Is Born (1954)
32. East of Eden (1955)
33. Rebel Without A Cause (1955)
34. Around the World in 80 Days (1956)
35. Giant (1956)
36. The Searchers (1956)
37. A Face in the Crowd (1957)
38. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
39. Gigi (1958)
40. Ben-Hur (1959)
41. North By Northwest (1959)
42. How the West Was Won (1962)
43. What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962)
44. Viva Las Vegas (1964)
45. Doctor Zhivago (1965)
46. Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
47. Cool Hand Luke (1967)
48. The Dirty Dozen (1967)
49. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
50. Bullitt (1968)
51. The Wild Bunch (1969)
52. Dirty Harry (1971)
53. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)
54. Cabaret (1972)
55. A Clockwork Orange (1972)
56. Enter the Dragon (1973)
57. The Exorcist (1973)
58. Blazing Saddles (1974)
59. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
60. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
61. All The President’s Men (1976)
62. Superman, The Movie (1977)
63. Caddyshack (1980)
64. The Shining (1980)
65. Clash of the Titans (1981)
66. Chariots of Fire (1981)
67. National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)
68. The Outsiders (1983)
69. The Right Stuff (1983)
70. Risky Business (1983)
71. Amadeus (1984)
72. The Color Purple (1985)
73. The Goonies (1985)
74. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
75. Lethal Weapon (1987)
76. Batman (1989)
77. Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
78. Goodfellas (1990)
79. The Bodyguard (1992)
80. Unforgiven (1992)
81. The Fugitive (1993)
82. Interview with the Vampire (1994)
83. Natural Born Killers (Director’s Cut) (1994)
84. Shawshank Redemption (1994)
85. Seven (1995)
86. L.A. Confidential (1997)
87. The Matrix (1999)
88. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
89. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
90. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
91. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
92. The Notebook (2004)
93. Million Dollar Baby (2005)
94. The Departed (2006)
95. 300 (2007)
96. The Dark Knight (2008)
97. The Blind Side (2009)
98. The Hangover (2009)
99. Sherlock Holmes (2009)
100. Inception (2010)

Amazon: Best of Warner Bros 100 Film Collection

Favorite Scene From Each Episode of Veronica Mars, Day 25: Cheatty Cheatty Bang Bang, or, Logan’s Jerkass Woobieness in Full Bloom

[Previous Installment: Favorite Scene From Each Episode of Veronica Mars, Day 24: Driver Ed, or, How Wallace Pized Away Perfection]

Between a couple of long trips and that darn FanFic Author Appreciation Week, it has been a while since I did one of these Favorite Scenes posts. I have not been missed, as a quick perusal shows that people like bibliophileiz, dieselpunkd, and others are producing far better written and more interesting stuff for susanmichelin’s game. But inferiority has never stopped me before, and since this tumblr (and I am sure this really sets it apart) is all about self-indulgence, away we go (once more).

If I were actually going to pick my favorite scene from “Cheatty Cheatty Bang Bang” at the moment, it might actually be the hilariously lame and awkward double date movie night  with Veronica, Duncan, Wallace, and Jackie. This episode has it all: Donut being a dork, Wallace andbeing way too concerned with what Veronica thinks about Jackie, and, maybe best of all, Veronica (in a hilarious shirt/sweater vest combo thing) getting annoyed at Jackie, and doing her possessive thing about Wallace, foreshadowing her going through the roof when she finds out about Logan and Kendall later in the episode. Honestly, how was Jackie so gracious through all this? Have we ever solved the mystery of why Jackie suddenly decided to go out with Wallace (see the previous post in this series)?

(Side note: as much as we talk about all over Veronica’s behavior being guided by her experience of exclusion and stuff, I think we have to give a fair bit of the “credit” for her jealously to being an only child. She is clearly not used to other people playing with her toys.)

If I was going to be more fun and stuff, that is the scene I would discuss. However, for some reason I feel compelled to do beat this Woobie Logan horse once more.

Logan is a jerk. “Jerk” may seem mild, but hopefully it gets the job done via understatement. Yet we also feel sorry for Logan, even at or close to his expressions of jerkassery. As is widely acknowledged, Logan Echolls is pretty much the paradigmatic (and arguably premiere) jerkass woobie in recent television.

Two scenes of his woobieness are quite jerkass-adjacent. These scenes are quite well-known and frequently discussed. I think they are linked, though, by just how badly Logan gets hurt in each scene, who does the hurting, and what it says about where he is at this point in the season.

First, we have the scene where Duncan and Logan are getting patched up by the school nurse (that is some school nurses office!) in the wake of their fight, spurred on by Logan’s asinine, but guilty-pleasure inducing comment: “Didn’t plug her right the first time, huh?”

For once, it’s hard to blame the Dick-meister.

Back to the nurse’s office: the first time I watched this scene, when Logan said “Oh, hell with Veronica. She’s in the rear-view mirror,” I was taken aback. What? Logan doesn’t care about Duncan basically waiting around for Logan to screw it up with Veronica then slip back in via cheesy fortune cookie? Logan is lying, right? Surely all the stuff about Duncan not having his back is a smokescreen!

On further reflection, although the Veronica issue probably added to Logan’s bitterness, on Logan’s end, I really do think it is almost completely about Duncan abandoning him. It is Duncan who viciously shoves Logan’s failings with Veronica into his face: “You lost her; I didn’t steal her.”

It now seems to me that Logan is being honest here: he wants to know why Duncan abandoned him during the worst summer of Logan’s already-less-than-awesome life. It is important to remember how Logan treats Duncan in the first season. Logan does his best to look out for Duncan and take care of him, even if Logan does not always do so in the best way (and sometimes makes things worse). The way Logan looks as Duncan walks away from him in both “Meet John Smith” and “A Trip to the Dentist” says it all.

I enjoy excessive mocking of and piling onto Duncan as much as all good-hearted people, but there is no need for that here. The situation speaks for itself. Logan is not asking why Duncan did not help him burn down the pool or anything like that. He is simply wanting to know why Duncan never contacted him in the aftermath of the horrific revelations about Aaron and Lilly, Logan being nearly beaten to death, and then arrested for the death of one of his assailants and becoming the “eye of the storm.” (Let’s leave aside Duncan’s indication to Veronica in “Leave It to Beaver” that he knew Logan was being abused.) Even at this moment, all Logan is looking for is some acknowledgment by Duncan that he actually cares about Logan. I really do think (and his behavior toward Veronica and Duncan after this episode, though hardly pristine, backs this up) he was willing to give Veronica up if that is what she and Duncan wanted. He really was willing to try and put Veronica “in the rear view mirror.”

Duncan has known Logan long enough to know what Logan is really asking. And while Duncan has clearly been through a lot as well, his response makes one wonder if Duncan is simply being narcissistic (by assuming that only he, and not Logan, suffered in the wake of Lilly’s death), or if he is being deliberately cruel, too (by throwing Aaron in Logan’s face, as if it were somehow Logan’s fault). “Your dad murdered my sister” (followed by walking out)  isn’t as brutal as Duncan’s eye rolling “you were there, too” response to Veronica confronting him about Shelly Pomeroy’s party, but it is a heck of a runner-up. Well done, Duncan.

The icing on the cake is Duncan’s nonchalant attitude after the whole confrontation. “Veronica, it’s no big deal, just what guys do sometimes.” Duncan really just does not get it, or worse, he does get it, and Logan’s situation is just a blip on Duncan’s radar.

The second scene I want to discuss is the memorable “poor little rich boy” scene (as I call it) or, as others call it, the “towel scene.” This scene has multiple dimensions. The one towards which I would normally be drawn – psycho-stalker jealous ex-girlfriend Veronica who gets angry with Logan for having sex with someone else even though she is sleeping with his former best friend (GOTZMINE) – is tremendous, but this time around I want to focus on something a bit more specific.

(Dig that the blue outfit of repression, cheshirecatstrut!)

First of all, keep in mind that this scene, coming about midway through the third episode of the season, is the first time Veronica has spoken to Logan in real time (that is, outside of flashbacks) the whole season. If this post was not already too long, I would go into that in more depth. For now, I will just note (and again, this issue itself could be a whole post, so this is not all there is to it) that this method of protecting herself also serves (unintentionally on her part, at least at first) to hurt Logan – it is as if she is wishing he (and the memories of their time together) would just go away from her “perfectly normal” world with Duncan and their fantastic double dates with Wallace and Jackie. Suffice it to say that there is plenty of pent-up emotion in this scene.

Despite her anger and denial, Veronica is right about one thing: Logan is being deliberately self-destructive. Leaving aside the moral aspects of adultery (and statutory rape on Kendall’s side): as Logan himself noted in the previous episode, the gun-toting Mr. Casablancas has a very similar life philosophy to Logan’s own murdering father.

L(The symbolic aspects of Logan’s affair with Kendall are manifold and too much to get into here. Off the top of my head: the symbolic revenge of cuckolding someone like his father just as Aaron did to him; the “revenge” on Lilly by showing he could do it, too; and most of all, his desire for self-destruction after his perceived abandonment by Veronica in order to follow Lilly, “the love of his life,” down the same path in order to join her in oblivion).

Logan does seem to finally be getting some sense of satisfaction by Veronica simply being there and acknowledging his existence. But it is not enough. Her jealousy, at least in the manner she cannot help but express it, seems to be purely sexual. From his perspective, Veronica did not come to find him until she knew he was having sex with someone else. Without getting into the details, the series makes it pretty clear that Logan can have great sex with pretty much anyone. He is used to being the object of lust. Whatever joy that brings to his life is hardly unique, though. He wants something else from Veronica. He wants her to trust him, care for him, and love him.

While Logan may put a smarmy, self-satisfied look on his face, Logan is clearly feeling something else on the inside as Veronica rants. Yes, Logan is being ridiculously reckless and obnoxious. He has not been trustworthy. But Veronica still manages to find a way to go above and beyond in her cruelty. Logan can accept being a  cliché, a “poor little rich boy with a death-wish.” Veronica goes one step further: “I used to think that it was bad luck that landed you in danger… The knife fight on the bridge and the drive-by in your car. But no, now I see you actually enjoy it, don’t you, Logan?”

Contrast this with Veronica’s (at least in her memories) reaction the night Logan came to her door. Logan said he woke up and Felix was dead, and that he did not kill Felix. Veronica believed him. Veronica’s rant in this scene implies that it was a “knife fight,” that she no longer believes him about that. Perhaps even worse, the drive-by in which not just Logan, but Veronica was also killed (which is implied to have spurred Logan on to the despicable act of burning down the public pool) is glossed by Veronica as something else Logan “enjoyed.” What Logan is hearing is that he is scum who does not even really care about her (when, in fact, she was one of the only things he still cared about; not the only thing, though, as we saw from the scene with Duncan, even if Logan was willing to give up Duncan for her; just as he now seems to be willing to give up Veronica for Duncan), and basically got what he had coming the night of the knife fight.

What Logan hears in all this, then, despite his cocky countenance, is that Veronica, like Duncan (and like everyone else Logan  has ever loved, at least as he perceives it), simply does not care about him.