Category Archives: Archived Movies

CUP, THE






Buddhist monasticism gets roughly the same kind of treatment
that the Catholic priesthood did in “Going My Way” in Khyentse
Norbu’s pleasant but unremarkable “The Cup.” Set in a house
inhabited by Tibetan refugees near the Indian border, the movie
tells the story of how one rambunctious novice (Jamyang Lodro),
who’s addicted to soccer, persuades the preceptor or novice
master (Orgyen Tobgyal) and abbot (Lama Chonjor) to allow the
members of the community to pool their resources to rent a
satellite TV on which they can all watch the World Cup finals.
A bit of political commentary is inserted by way of the fact
that one of the teams in competition is from France, which, as
it’s occasionally pointed out, supports Tibetan independence
from Chinese control.

There are moments of real charm in “The Cup,” and a few truly
touching sequences as well; but for the most part it’s content
to glide along on a cloud of whimsy, presenting the denizens
of the community like cuddly teddy-bears. One doesn’t get any
real sense of the religious life of the monastery, or the
belief system that undergirds the ritual and prayer, any more
than one does with Bing Crosby’s Father O’Malley. Instead the
story concentrates on a few novices, portraying them as rather
typical mischievous scamps of the “Dennis the Menace” variety,
and thereby loses the possibility of creating a real contrast
between the traditionalism represented by the abbot and
preceptor and the changes being forced upon the community by
political necessity and technological advancement.

Still, though “The Cup” lacks depth or resonance, it’s amiable
enough, and its cast of non-professionals gives it a nicely
realistic ambience. And, I’m happy to note, very little
attention is given to the televised games themselves; the
focus remains, as it should, on the monks, so at least there’s
no Rocky-style rah-rah conclusion to contend with. The modest
finish is characteristic of a picture which isn’t overwhelming
but manages to remain mildly sweet without becoming saccharine
or heavy-handedly sanctimonious.

REAR WINDOW

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A

There’s no need for anybody to go on at length about the
absolute brilliance of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 thriller, which
represented the first stunning cinematic statement about the
effects of the kind of modern voyeurism associated with film
itself (Michael Powell’s later “Peeping Tom” is another
example). The story of the photographer (James Stewart), laid
up with a broken leg, who comes to suspect that one of the
neighbors (Raymond Burr) he’s been watching during his
confinement is a murderer, and who gradually entices his fiance
(Grace Kelly), nurse (Thelma Ritter) and police-detective buddy
(Wendell Corey) to become involved in his ever-more-obsessive
search for the truth, remains every bit as remarkable as it was
nearly half a century ago.

Now, however, you have the chance to experience the picture in
a wonderful new reconstruction by Robert A. Harris and James
C. Katz, who did a similar job on “Vertigo” several years back.
The result, with its luscious colors, is visually entrancing,
and the soundtrack has been digitally enhanced too, so that
Franz Waxman’s jazzy score makes an immediate impact. With its
great script by John Michael Hayes (based on the fine story by
Cornell Woolrich), its first-rate cast (Thelma Ritter’s machine-
gun delivery still works beautifully) and the director’s
unsurpassed gift for generating tension and suspense, “Rear
Window” remains a winner all the way, an absolute joy for all
its 112 minutes. (The Paramount logo is kept at the beginning
and end, by the way, even though the reissue has been financed
by Universal.)

This time around, take special pleasure in watching how
Hitchcock tells much of the story through camera movement
alone, exhibiting a fluidity which virtual no modern filmmaker,
even with all today’s technical improvements, can even begin
to match. And, especially in terms of the protagonist’s
obsessive behavior (marvelously catch by Stewart), savor the
thematic connections the picture has with the later “Vertigo.”

“Rear Window” is one of those classic pieces of cinematic
perfection in which new sources of amazement arise with each
repeated viewing. And this glowing reconstruction allows one
to savor it all the more. Don’t miss the opportunity of seeing
it on the big screen; the film is just too emotionally large
for a TV-sized image.