ClassicViewer

LEAST & MOST FAVORITE of the week...

1,117 posts in this topic

Several movies this week. The original Bedazzled benefits from a very good performance from Peter Cook, though I find it hard to imagine someone giving up his soul for Eleanor Bron. The Adventures of Robin Crusoe is an interesting film. It is one of Bunuel's more obscure films, yet it is the one with the most Academy love (getting a nomination for Best Actor, while The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie only got a screenplay nomination as well as Best Foreign Film). Escape from New York is another one of John Carpenter's movies that are only marginally interesting. Drums along the Mohawk shows many of John Ford's qualities: the attempts to show community life and emotions that lack overall resonance, as well as the witless humor (though Edna May Oliver is good). So the movie of the week is Electra, my Love. It isn't as dynamic as Red Psalm or The Red and the White, and its choreography isn't fully thought out, but it is worth watching.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The first movie I saw over the last two weeks was This is not a Film by Jafar Panahi, which he made under house arrest. Since there's not much one can do under house arrest there isn't as much human interaction as there are in the other Panahi movies I've seen. But it does improve by the end when Panahi has a long conversation in an elevator with a fellow tenant in his apartment building. Dead End has interesting aspects, and Project A 2 is an OK example of its Hong Kong genre. The interesting thing about Boomerang is how solicitous its prosecutor is of the defendant's innocence. It's hard to believe they would be now under the Roberts court. Mad Love starts off interesting. The murderer's final words before he is guillotined are actually a good scene. But Lorre's character becomes increasing hysterical over time. I had problems with Take Shelter, since the dynamics of a movie where the character is insane are different from one who appears to be but actually has special insight. So there isn't any real doubt that Michael Shannon's character was right in his premonitions. So the key movie of the last two weeks was The Legend of Suram Fortress, another stunning movie from Sergei Paradjanov.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

The Miracle Woman is an early Capra movie, and it's sort of watching Elmer Gantry without Burt Lancaster. It's a little soft since its subject probably would have sued them for libel. Places in the Heart has such Almendros cinematography that one might think it is a better movie than one might think. But it's not a good movie at all, and I'm afraid Sally Field is a major problem. She doesn't really give any life to her cliched role, and Robert Benton was too loyal to his family to really think this vaguely autobiographical film through. Three Comrades was, as one would expect, much better, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was a good movie. If not a great one, it's better than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as the intelligent Christmas thriller of 2011.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Hill starts off very well, though Lumet uses some fashionable sixties camera movies that have dated badly. David Holzman's Diary did not impress very much: solipsism is not one of indepedent cinema's most promising areas of study. Michael Haneke's original Funny Games is skillful and empty: beware of Germans who overintellectualize their sadism. So clearly the best movie I saw last week was The Deep Blue Sea. So if only the academy can remember Rachel Weisz eight months from now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Three Faces of Eve struck me as one of those shallow movies about mental illness that give actresses easy oscars. I couldn't really pay enough attention to The Blot. My Girlfriend's Wedding did not leave an interesting impression on me. Young Bess is somewhat more interesting than I thought it would be, with Charles Laughton having a great deathbed line. The two Vidor movies, The Citadel and An American Romance had interesting aspects, even if having an immigrant worker become an important auto executive was not actually very plausible. Tuesday, after Christmas was a highly received Romanian movie about adultery. And indeed the scene when the wife finally finds out about the adultery is very powerful. On the other hand, a key scene where the adulterous couple and the man's unknowing wife and daughter are all in the same room because the man has brought his daughter to his lover, who's a dental technician, to arrange his daughter's braces, didn't come off to me. Obviously, the man and technician are not widly ecstatic that the wife is there. On the other hand it is so underplayed that I didn't feel any tension. (It didn't help the subtitles were not always very visible.) So the movie of the week was reseeing 2 or 3 Things I know about Her.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Least favorite: THE GHOST WRITER. This was on TMC one night and seeing all of the positive reviews for it on Rotten Tomatoes, I had to take a look.

 

Some compared it to Sir Alfred's thrillers, but for me it was more like Hitch-schlock. A thriller is supposed to be thrilling, isn't it? You're not supposed to have time to think about the the implausibilities while it unravels. There were plot holes big enough to drive a BMW through and there were certainly enough of both. I was writing to hear that my mileage may vary and that I can lease one at my tri-state BMW dealer.

 

The protagonist here was in the long run as dumb as the one played by Warren Beatty in THE PARALLAX VIEW, but with the latter I'm compelled to keep watching rather than to keep looking at my watch.

 

My dissatisfaction has nothing to do with personal prejudices against Polanski or the film's politics.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Only two movies a week ago, but six this week, and none of them bad or mediocre. A Chinese Ghost Story is a very striking action movie, and would be even more so if I didn't have to watch it on youtube on my unreliable computer. Stroszek is not my favorite Herzog movie (and does everybody in Wisconsin wear cowboy hats in 1977), but it has a nice weird ending. Les Carabiniers is another fine Godard movie, even if one of his lesser known sixties movies. The Four Days of Naples is another good movie, making a good, if not brilliant war movie. The King of Marvin Gardens has another fine performance from Jack Nicholson in those days when he was still a serious actor. On Dangerous Ground is also good, and War Horse is one of Spielberg's more tolerable sentimenal movies. But the winner of this week is clearly Moonrise Kingdom.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Four movies this week: Christmas in July and The Great McGinty were not bad, though not my favorite Preston Sturges. Zoolander is sillier and more inventive than most Hollywood comedies. No Man's Land isn't a bad drama, and since The Small Back Room defusing a mine is always good cinema. But it suffers from a predictable ending.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Four movies also this week. Operation Crossbow doesn't seem very promising, and people who loathe Around the World in Eighty Days aren't going to be too sympathetic to something made by Michael Anderson. But there is a clever twist about 60% of the way through the movie and a surprisingly dark tone to it. Eight Men Out by contrast is less impressive, showing John Sayles' lack of cinematic imagination. But the movies of the week are clearly two Possession and Bellflower two love stories disguised as delirious grand guignol something elses (bloodbath supernatural film in the first, apocalypic postuting in the second). I should add that Possession may seem to be a joke, but as Michael Atkinson points out, the director is as serious as cancer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Five movies this week: My Favorite Year is the last of the five best actor nominees from 1982, and Peter O'Toole is clearly the least impressive of the five. For a start, his role is really a supporting role, and it's obviously easier for O'Toole to play a drunken ham, than for Dustin Hoffman to play an arrogant New York actor pretending to be a confident plausible Southern woman. I enjoyed The Count of Monte Cristo when I read it when I was 11, but the Robert Donat version didn't make that much of an impression of me. Of Human Bondage was slightly better, though it only shows Bette Davis at the beginning of her talents. I suppose I should take more interest in Samuel Fuller, but The Naked Kiss didn't entirely work for me. So clearly the movie of the week was City of Life and Death the Chinese movie about the Rape of Nanking.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Some good movies seen in the last couple of weeks. The Battle of Chile is well worth watching, even in its four and a half hour version. (I also saw the post-Pinochet documentary Obstinate Memory, made by the same director.) You can also catch Frantisek Vlacil's follow up to Marketa Lazarova on youtube: The Valley of the Bees, and I strongly recommend that you do. A Free Soul has a classic oscarbait performance from Lionel Barrymore, but that doesn't mean it's worthless, and Norma Shearer is pretty interesting. The Hurricane is interesting as a John Ford film, since as it takes place in the south seas there is no need for patriotic kitsch. And the actual hurricane scenes are still impressive. The 1934 Treasure Island is also pretty good. Le Doulos is another excellent film from Jean-Pierre Melville. Troy starts off interestingly, though it soon bogs down into portentousness, manipulative scriptwriting, and pointless changes from the Illiad. I didn't really warm to Pale Rider but that doesn't mean it's not a serviceable film.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Six movies this week: I remember reading The Mysterious Island when I was eleven, and not being all that impressed with it. But I suspect the original plot, in which the castaways use Yankee ingenuity to remarkable effect while facing clues that lead them to Captain Nemo, would be better than The Mysterious Island's giant crab, bee and other animals. It could be a sort of A Man Escaped if done in the right hands. I remember The Golden Arrow appearing as a Saturday matinee at my local theatre when I was a child, and not having the chance to see it. It looks OK, although the leads are the least plausible Arabs imaginable, and the movie uses a plot device straight out from the original The Thief of Bagdad. The Three Worlds of Gulliver isn't entirely successful for me. I'm disappointed that the third world is neither Laputa or the land of the Houynhmms, but England. Also, the fact that the movie can't spend all of its time with Gulliver in the same frame as the other characters means that the illusion of gigantism or dwarfism can't really be well sustained. McLintock! is more John Wayne as self parody. How to Marry a Millionaire is intermittently amusing, and William Powell is one of the best things about it. So the movie of the week is Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Clearly the best movies of the week were H.M. Pulham, Esq and The Strawberry Blonde. Clearly they don't make movies like that anymore, since they don't have directors like King Vidor and Raoul Walsh anymore. Having not seen many Hed Lamarr movies, I'm struck by how reasonable her performance was. Better than expected also was The Devil Doll. I have problems with many classic horror films of the thirties, and Todd Browning's Dracula suffers real problems once Bela Lugost gets to England. But Lionel Barrymore gave a suprisingly understated and measured performance with was more impressive than the horror idea behind it (a scientist wants to solve the problem of hunger by shrinking people to the size of dolls. The complete non-sequitur of this is more interesting than the actual idea.) Vincente Minnelli's Madame Bovary was less successful. Apparently the adaptations by Renoir and Chabrol aren't more successful. Minnelli does do a good ball sequence, but the film lacks the novel's stringency. James Mason would be a good choice to play Flaubert, but the real Flaubert would never be as crude and sentimental as Mason is here. Homais is played as a fatuous buffoon, but in the novel he was also cunning and sinister in his triumph. Van Heflin's Charles gives up the clubfoot operation, whereas in the novel of course Charles botches it. And Charles' own death is completed ignored. Also not quite up to scratch was the first half of Soderbergh's Che. Considering that the last two Soderbergh movies I saw were Contagion and Sex, Lies and Videotape I'm inclined to think that he suffers from limiited emotional resources. Out of Sight has so much charm by George Clooney that it hides Soderbergh's limitations. Traffic, his most honored film suffers in retrospect. The war on drugs is not going very well, and we should do something about it. But we have no specific ideas. The problem with Che is not so much a lack of sympathy with its main character, as a lack of connection. One wonders why he made the film in the first place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

*3:10 to Yuma* - my first but not last time

*The Strawberry Blonde* - never tire of this one.

*Bowling for Columbine* - another first timer and I found it engrossing.

 

I didn't really find anything I disliked last week.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Clearly the movie of the week was the Astaire/Rogers Shall we Dance which I realize I've seen before. But even if it's not as good as Top Hat or The Gay Divorcee it's still worth watching. But that's not to say The Sundowners and the silent The Scarlet Letter didn't have their virtues as well. The Sundowners has the virtues of Zinnerman's competency, his interest in processes (most obviously evident in The Day of the Jackal, but also seen in The Nun's Story and A Man for all Seasons as well). Che: the Guerilla is not unreasonable on its own terms. But one wonders why Soderbergh. As a two hour exercice in futility it resembles Lost Patrol movies, except unlike such movies only Guevera had much of a character, as does Tania, who of course is easily recognized as the only woman.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

We start with three movies with Eva Marie Saint: A Handful of Rain, Exodus, and Loving. The first strikes me as the kind of serious fifties social issue movie which doesn't very well. Exodus is more interesting, but it's also clearly propaganda that makes no effort to appreciate the Arab side. Loving is one of those serious seventies movies about difficult relationships and collapsing marriages, only less interesting. The Message was an interesting movie, though the fact that the movie couldn't show or hear Mohammed, so every now and then the movie would turn to the camera and awkwardly try to talk to him. Invitation to the Dance is not considered a great MGM musical, but it has Gene Kelly dancing, and I think it's fine, the best movie I saw last week. The Testament of Dr. Mabuse is also pretty worthy. Inherit the Wind was as dreadful as I thought it would be. The Fortune Cooke wasn't bad, and Walter Matthau is good, but Wilder made better movies after this one.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Let's see the Norma Shearer Marie Antoinette was very pretty, and pretty shameless in its historical distortion. Tthe most obvious one is that in the movie the Flight of Varennes is immediately followed by the royal family's imprisonment. In reality they were soon reinstated on the throne, the National Assembly pretended they had not broken with the revolution, and they ruled for another thirteen months during which they betrayed France. I'm not a big fan of Elia Kazan, but after seeing watch The Night of the Iguana I must give him credit for making a watchable movie out of a Tennessee Williams play. Whether the problem is the director, or whether it's a bad idea to have Richard Burton play a struggling alcoholic, and Sue Lyon as an insufferable tease, this is a movie where only the last half hour is really worth watching. I'm not the biggest Michael Mann fan, and I suppose Thief would have worked better had I given it my undivided attention. A comparison with Straight Time is enlightening, and not to Thief's advantage. So the movies of the week are Elena and Her Men which is colorful, amusing, and certainly the funniest movie ever made about an unsuccessful proto-fascist coup. The other movie of the week is Rosetta, aptly described by J. Hoberman as a great Marxist remake of a Robert Bresson movie.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Several movies this week. The Hands of Orlac has interesting aspects, and so did The Rain People although I must confess that neither had my full attention. I've seen other Karusmaki films and I might have liked Shadows of Paradise more if I had paid attention at the climax. Tillie's Punctured Romance wasn't too bad, though it's clearly a good thing that Chaplin decided to be his own director after this. So I suppose the movie of the week was The Turin Horse which was interesting if less so than Satantango or Werckmeister Harmonies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looking over the past two weeks, the Colbert Cleopatra is clearly less interesting than the Taylor one. For a start, Harrison, Burton and even McDowell are much more interesting than their 1934 equivalents. Numero Deux is from Godard's less seen seventies period, and it shows the collapse of a working class marriage seen via two video monitors. It's interesting, as all Godard movies, and suprisingly sexual. Mission to Mars is another one of De Palma's disappointing movies. There are too many problems with acting and characterization that can't be solved with some nice tracking shots. Two-Faced Woman and Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow are amusing movies. But clearly the best movie I saw recently was The Letter Never Sent. You might find this movie about a Soviet geological expedition somewhat flourid and conventionally pro-Soviet. But that should spend when you see about fifteen minutes of tracking shots in the middle of a forest fire

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

MOST Favorite this week was Yesterday, Today and Forever. I was definitely entertained. I love Sophia Loren in ANY movie!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Clealry the best movie I saw in the past two weeks was the only movie I saw the week before last, Lonesome a classic 1928 film, not entirely unlike Sunrise, recently released on DVD by Criterion. It's odd that this film is relatively unknown, and one hopes TCM will change that. It's a pity the other two movies on the Lonesome DVD collection, The Last Performance and Broadway are much less interesting. The Mummy, notwithstanding Boris Karloff's striking appearance is a rather awkward early sound film with a needlessly abrupt conclusion. As I said before Me and My gal is now my favorite Spencer Tracy movie. Which is not to say that Man's Castle is not a good film in its own right. Mannequin also has its strengths, though it is less successful. The Master is an interesting enigmatic film about someone who wants to dominate and someone who wants to be a servant, and yet not quite connecting. Once upon a time in Anatolia is the third film by the Turkish director Nouri Belge Ceylan, and I can't say that I've warmed to his style, a sort of neorealism at a new level of prosaicness. Open Range is not a particularly brilliant movie, but it does have some advantages over Pale Rider despite a similar plot, and Robert Duvall's perfomrance is the most important of them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Last week I saw Nicholas Ray's Party Girl, which showed many of the ambiguities that I have with Ray as a director. It has Robert Taylor and Cyd Charisse giving interesting performances as, respectively, a crippled mob lawyer and the dancer who falls for him. It has Charisse dancing, twice. The characters do not always take the moral choice the audience would want them to make. On the other hand, a wife is introduced for Taylor's character, is actually allowed to make an appearance, and then is divorced off screen. And how does get acid get spilled on Lee J. Cobb's character. So plot convenience ultimately overwhelms nuance. Lucky Day is another interesting Borzage film. One Foot in Heaven is an exercise in Hollywood piety, designed to such up to the Protestant ministers who wouldn't see the film at all but still want to cripple it for other people. (When Frederic March's characters justifies Christianity to deal with the cruelty of the first world war, which America has just joined, I wish the skeptical doctor would point out that both sides are equally Christian, and for all good that does everyone.) Sittin' Pretty is more of a sitcom than a real movie, though Clifton Webb is, of course, good, and it does allow me to distinguish him and Richard Hadyn. My Joy may be the movie of the week, though this Ukrainian/Russian movie is violent, cruel and strange.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Four good movies this week. Villon's Wife is actually a Japanese movie, which gets its title because its immediate postwar Japanese poet resembles the French's poets disreputableness in his adultery, alcholism and attempts to committe suicide. The wife actually won several awards for her performance and it's not bad, and arguably as good as the performances the Oscars honor. Contraband, as one might expect from Powell and Pressburger, is a witty intelligent thriller, and shows Conrad Veidt in a surprisingly charming leading role. Boy's Town, of course, is utterly shameless, but that doesn't mean it's a bad film. And although Tracy's performance was not the best of the year, or even the best of those nominated, one can appreciate why he was honored for such professionalism. And finally The Romance of Astrea and Celadon, Eric Rohmer's final film shows his intelligence and subtlety in portraying the classic Frnech novel, show surprising warmth in its final scenes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Four movies this week. Salt is not a movie that survives much scrutiny (surely the first rule of Super Secret Soviet Sleeper Program is don't tell people that such Super Secret Soviet Sleeper Program exists.) Fists in the Pockets is an abrasive 1965 Italian movie about a perverse, disintergrating family. It has a high reputation among those who've seen it, but I think you can take its epilepsy, murder and incest and leave it. Two movies, coincidentally enough, from Maurice Tourneur this week are more promsing. There's Carnival of Sinners which he made after the second world war, and the 1920 version of The Last of the Mohicans. Westerns have a reputation of supporting simple minded stereotypes against Indians. Such a reputation is easily overstated. By the time of Drums Along the Mohawk, They Died with Their Boots on and Fort Apache there's a clearly guilty conscience among Hollywood about the subject. And of course many westerns have nothing to do with Indians. On the other hand this interesting, exciting movie does contain an actual Indian massacre.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us