In an attempt to break the funk that I'm in with my lack of posting, I figured I would cover another movie dump/round-up. I know I should be posting on Lonely are the Brave (which, for the record, I really enjoyed), but I'll probably wait for John or Ben to write something first. I don't know that I have too much to add to what Brandon and Jeff have already said. Anyway, here's what I've been watching recently...
This was part of the Pre-Code Hollywood Collection DVD that also featured Hot Saturday. Of the two films, I enjoyed Torch Singer a lot more. Claudette Colbert plays a woman who bears a child out of wedlock, and because she doesn't have the financial means, she is forced to put her daughter, Sally, up for adoption. Years later, we find Colbert struggling to make it as a torch singer; because I'm only twenty-five years old, I wasn't familiar with that term and had to look it up on Wikipedia (if you're like me, I advise you to do the same). Anyway, Colbert eventually gets a job playing a character on a weekly radio show for kids. As her fame grows, she begins to use this show as a tool to help track down her daughter.
Anyway, I won't say too much more about the plot because I don't want to spoil anything. There was one scene that truly surprised me, though, that I really want to share. As Colbert is trying to track down her daughter, she receives a letter from a little girl named Sally. Thinking that her search is now over, Colbert goes to the address; when she arrives at the home and knocks on the door, a little girl named Sally, who also happens to be black, answers. Colbert now knows that this isn't the little girl she's looking for, but she is still so happy to see her. And the little girl in the scene is incredibly adorable. Anyway, I bring that up because the scene was so beautifully endearing and heartfelt, and especially so, given the handful of racist depictions of black characters in the movies around that time and well-after that time.
Kiss Me Deadly
This was my first Aldrich film and it has set the bar pretty high. It also sets the bar pretty high as I continue to watch more film noir. Obviously most noir films need a tough leading actor, and I'm a big fan of those kinds of characters (as long as the actors don't overdo it). Maybe to some Ralph Meeker (playing Mike Hammer) overdoes it, but for me, I thought he was amazing. The tone of this film is perfect and Meeker fits in perfectly to the world created by Mickey Spillane and Robert Aldrich. I love the opening credits - that shot will stay with me for a long while. And then I especially love the ending. I can't wait to watch this film again!
Anatomy of a Murder
Jeff had a little write-up on this one and I completely agree with everything he wrote. The running time definitely seemed daunting when we put in the DVD, but Otto Preminger's film almost feels like a short when you're watching it. Of course, it feels that way because the film is so captivating. The title is incredibly accurate, what you get here is the meticulously complete anatomy of a murder; the trial covers every single detail and it's fascinating. And what else can you say about Jimmy Stewart that hasn't already been said? The man is a legend and he's remarkable in this role. It's also fun to hear Jimmy say that word "panties" three or four times. And without the deterioration of the Code, we wouldn't have a funny moment like that.
Where the Sidewalk Ends
I love the complexity of the script; the story is handled extremely well and I found it to be extremely compelling. Dana Andrews is one of those guys who pops up in movies every now and then, and you go, "hey, it's that guy." I enjoy seeing him in films because he has a great persona. I'm still warming up to Gene Tierney. I feel there's a lot to discuss about the film, and I could never do it justice in a little write-up like this. I'd love to talk about it with someone.
I was really looking forward to this Howard Hawks comedy, and had I been picked by Jason or Ben for our movie selection project, I would've considered picking this. I think the description and the first thirty seconds of the film led me to believe that I was about to watch something as zany as a Marx Brothers film (well, maybe not that much, maybe something more like Arsenic and Old Lace). I love the gag at the beginning where the fourth wall is broken down and Cary Grant is told to wait for the opening credits to finish before he can open the door. Anyway, I figured the rest of the film would be more like that, but I was slightly disappointed to find that that wasn't the case. At times it felt like the script lacked focus. But that's as far as my criticisms go; otherwise it was a fairly enjoyable experience. I like the relationship between Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers, playing a mature but fun married couple.
His Girl Friday
I've just recently discovered that the plot to this Howard Hawks film is a slight variation on the 1931 play/film The Front Page (written by Ben Hecht). Anyway, that's not important right now, what is important is that this an excellent screwball comedy. Rosalind Russell was perfect for the part of Hildy, very strong and smart. She and Cary Grant have a nice chemistry. No criticisms here whatsoever; a great film from beginning to end.
Ball of Fire
Quite possibly, I might like Ball of Fire even more than His Girl Friday. Gary Cooper is the perfect sort of rigid nerd for the role and Barbara Stanwyck is very loveable as the vivacious Sugarpuss O'Shea. Again, great chemistry...and not only between her and Cooper, but especially between her and the seven other nerds/dwarves. I love this film; an early favorite!
The Complete Works of Jean Vigo
Unfortunately, Jean Vigo died so young that he was only able to make four films. It truly is a shame; really the only fortunate thing about it is that one is able to watch all of his films in a single day (as I did). I wished I had watched Zero de Conduite before watching The 400 Blows, seeing as how it inspired one of my favorite scenes from Trauffaut's film (the children running through the streets when they're supposed to be sticking by their teacher). One of my favorite shots from Vigo's film is the conclusion of the pillow fight, in which feathers slowly float through the air and the children slowly march around the room (the slow-mo shot). A fantastic visual. Then of course, I was blown away by L'Atalante. What an enjoyable experience that was. I love all four characters and all the dynamics that played out between them. Michel Simon is the shit. I also loved the moments when he's walking around the ship with a cat clinging to his back. A great story. A great film.
Day for Night
I'm trying to see as many Truffaut films as I can; definitely an early fan. Day for Night is a film about a film, with Truffaut himself playing the director. Here we have a great behind-the-scenes look at the film process. More than anything, I view this film as a rare treat. We're given insight into the mind of a brilliant filmmaker and it's very compelling. And as Jeff mentioned to John during the Summer People show, there's a nice moment when Truffaut lays out books that he had ordered on a table - books on Hawks, Hitchcock, Bresson, Bunuel, Bergman, and a few others. It's a nice tribute to his idols.
I'm really happy that there are a bunch of Eric Rohmer films on Hulu plus (no offense to John's VHS tapes). I watched this over the weekend, and I'll probably catch a few more within the next week or two. So while I won't be going to Cinefest with you, John, maybe I can make up for it by watching some Rohmer films during that time. I love films that are dominated by interesting dialogue and I never tire of them. Claire's Knee was right up my alley. Beautifully shot and written, well-acted. I wouldn't change a thing.
Port of Shadows
I watched this last night because I had planned to see it at some point, and I knew John watched it recently. I finally got to read his thoughts, and he summed up the film much more eloquently than I ever could. Agreed, the Romeo/Bluebeard line is fantastic. Again, Michel Simon is the shit. There's also a definite irony to Jean Gabin's character and his desertion of war. He seems to end up in a place that is as equally violent and ugly as war. Another great film. Not sure that I can recommend this one to Jason Poole, though. Michele Morgan has beautiful eyes. I'd never want to be slapped by Jean Gabin. It would be the last thing that ever happened to me.
TV CLUB....(it's back, baby!)
I caught the entire series (2 seasons) before Netflix took it down with the whole "Starz" thing; this show was on Starz a couple years ago. Paul Rudd is credited as one of the creators, but I don't think he was too involved on the show. Anyway, that doesn't matter because the show is still hilarious and a lot of fun to watch. The cast includes Adam Scott, Ken Marino, Lizzy Caplan, Martin Starr, Ryan Hansen, and Jane Lynch. Jane Lynch had to leave the show after the first season because she landed the Glee gig, and then the show was forced to cancel when Adam Scott got the role of Ben on Parks and Recreation. Anyway, by the third episode I was completely hooked. It's about a catering company in L.A. composed of people who want to make it "big" one way or another. It's a hilarious show with an authentic look at Hollywood. I bought the first season on amazon for seven dollars while I was on trial of amazon prime. A steal, if you ask me.
I'm currently undertaking a project where I'm going to watch every single Seinfeld episode in order...similarly to what I've done with seasons 1 through 10 of The Simpsons. I'm considering ranking each episode, but I'm not exactly sure what I'm doing with it yet. Mainly I decided to do it just to re-live all of the laughs. I'm in season 2 right now and I can't wait to re-watch some of my favorite episodes. As of right now, my favorite episode is The Couch, but we'll see if that changes upon these re-watches.
Life's Too Short
I've seen the first two episodes on HBO. In terms of Ricky Gervais/Stephen Merchant projects, I've never finished The Office UK, but I did watch both seasons of Extras and the film. Extras is one my favorite shows and I recommend it to all of you. Anyway that you can get your hands on it, do so. Then there's An Idiot Abroad, which I'm also a fan of. Life's Too Short has humorous moments (like that clip with Liam Neeson that I posted awhile back), but mostly...I'm not that crazy about it yet. I'll stick with it, but hopefully it offers something more here soon.
Game of Thrones
The second season starts on April 1st. I cannot wait, and I'm going to spend some time this month re-watching the first season. It was nice to talk to Graham Feltham a bit about the books/show at the Summer People show. He's more than just a great moustache to me, John.
I'll never forget the time spent during my youth tuning into this show on the WB. That's right, I don't play this CW bullshit; I'm a WB purist through and through. Thanks for marathoning the show, John. Because of you I'm finally able to recall moments like when Lana is dating that weird, douchey guy who gave her an evil necklace.