List List Bang Bang

March 31, 2011

2011 (January to March) – Screening Log

Filed under: 2011,Screening Log — misterjiggy @ 7:52 pm

MARCH 2011

Last Updated March  31, 2011

 

 

 


  • Enchanted April (1992 – Mike Newell) pro(-) (cable)
  • The Four Days of Naples (1962 – Nanni Loy) pro (cable)

A resistance “combat” film set in the waning days of WW2 as Germany attempts to occupy Naples and is confronted by steadfast rebellion from all walks of the Neapolitan citizenry from man to woman to child.  Loosely suggests a type of docurealism but the often meticulous formal technique doesn’t exactly convey raggedness and grit, it’s ultimately a far more slick and “professional” looking film than, say, Italian resistance standard bearer Open City (as was, I suppose Roberto Rossellini’s own WW2 Rome set resistance film Era notte a Roma (aka Escape by Night) from a few years earlier).  An urgent and emotional film where the individual is diluted, it’s the populace en masse that is the central character (despite some familiar faces to movie buffs today like Lea Massari (L’Avventura & Murmur of the Heart), Gian Maria Volonte (A Fistful of Dollars), Jean Sorel (Belle de Jour) and Frank Wolff (Once Upon a Time in the West).  The non-character driven approach suggests the work of the period of Francesco Rosi (Salvatore Giuliano in particular), the earlier French resistance film The Battle of the Rails or even the later Italian effort The Night of the Shooting Stars. Fittingly, the director of photography Marcello Gatti would go on to shoot the iconic resistance The Battle of Algiers – a truer stab at docurealism. The Four Days of Naples was an Oscar nominee in both the foreign film and original screenplay categories.

  • Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?) (2010 – John Scheinfeld) pro (DVD)
  • Never Let Me Go (2010 – Mark Romanek) pro(-) (Blu-Ray)
  • Four in a Jeep (1951 – Leopold Lindtberg) mixed (DVD)
  • Part-Time Work of a Domestic Slave (1973 – Alexander Kluge) pro (DVD)
  • Antichrist (2009 – Lars Von Trier) mixed (DVD)
  • I Clowns (1970 – Federico Fellini) mixed(+) (DVD)
  • The Messenger (2009 – Oren Moverman) pro(-) (cable)
  • Enter the Void (2009 – Gaspar Noe) mixed (DVD)
  • The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (2009 – Daniel Alfredson) con(+) (DVD)
  • WUSA (1970 -Stuart Rosenberg) con (DVD)
  • You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010 – Woody Allen) mixed(+) (Blu-Ray)
  • Smart Woman (1931 – Gregory La Cava) mixed (cable)
  • The Trial of Joan of Arc (1962 – Robert Bresson) pro (cable)
  • The Half Naked Truth (1932 – Gregory La Cava) PRO(-) (cable)
  • Safe in Hell (1931 – William Wellman) pro(+) (cable)
  • The King Steps Out (1936 – Josef von Sternberg) pro(-) (cable)

After recently watching Billy Wilder’s rather futile attempt at getting his Ernst Lubitsch on with the Austrian set musical comedy romance The Emperor Waltz (he would do far better at Lubitsch with the non-musical Love in the Afternoon), I tried another like spirited minor film from a major director, Von Sternberg’s Austrian set musical comedy romance The King Steps Out.  Von Sternberg’s post Marlene Dietrich period is as hit and miss as they come and this film has little if any reputation.  Perhaps it was low expectations but I found this film to be a fairly charming and entertaining – a more than passable Lubitsch facsimile.  The musical numbers aren’t particularly memorable but opera diva turned part time movie star “Miss” Grace Moore (her career limited to nine films all from the 30s, I know her from her Oscar nominated performance in One Night of Love) pulls off her flirting and singing with aplomb.  Walter Connolly provides winning comic relief as a beer loving Duke. A more than passable Franchot Tone, as (the mostly in cognito) Emperor Franz Josef,  is the love interest.

  • The League of Gentlemen (1960 – Basil Dearden) pro (DVD)
  • The Honey Pot (1967 – Joseph L. Mankiewicz) mixed(+) (cable)
  • The Shopworn Angel (1938 – H.C. Potter) pro (cable)
  • Get Him to the Greek (2010 – Nicholas Stoller) mixed (cable)
  • Term of Trial (1962 – Peter Glenville) mixed(+) (cable)
  • They Made Me Criminal (1939 – Busby Berkeley) mixed(+) (cable)

As far as John Garfield boxing themed movies go, this ain’t no Body and Soul. Here Garfield’s a depression era fugitive (no angel by any stretch, though innocent of the murder he’s being sought for) but it’s played with a lot less urgency and desperation than he would show as a fugitive in Dust be My Destiny from the same year or in his excellent premature swan song He Ran All the Way (1951).  In support are the ever familiar Dead End Kids/Bowery Boys whose delinquent sassing and hijinks grate on me even in their best supporting roles like those in Dead End or Angels with Dirty Faces.  In this film the kids are somewhat implausibly transported from the gritty urban environs of NYC to an Arizona fruit farm – stick-ballers turned migrant workers without moral support from a Pat O’Brien styled Parish Priest or a Ma Joad type.  In the end Garfield’s character enters the boxing ring for a type of redemption, even winning over the copper who tails him (Claude Rains).  Overall a fairly entertaining and propulsive film that bears little resemblance to Berekely’s earlier Warner Bros. work in urbane and ambitious musicals

  • The Emperor Waltz (1948 – Billy Wilder) mixed(-) (cable)
  • Mädchen in Uniform (1931 – Leontine Sagan) pro(+) (on-line)
  • I’ll Be Seeing You (1944 – William Dieterle) pro (DVD)
  • Silkwood (1983 – Mike Nichols) pro (cable)
  • Strange Days (1995 – Kathryn Bigelow) mixed(+) (DVD)
  • Dark Command (1940 – Raoul Walsh) pro(-) (DVD)

 

 

 

 


FEBRUARY 2011

Last Updated February 28, 2011



 


  • A Midnight Clear (1992 – Keith Gordon) pro(+) (DVD)
  • The Twilight Samurai (2002 – Yoji Yamada) pro(+) (DVD)
  • Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness (1927 – Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack) pro (cable)
  • Animal Kingdom (2010 – David Michôd) pro (DVD)
  • Backfire (1950 – Vinent Sherman) mixed(+) (DVD)
  • Five Star Final (1931 – Mervyn LeRoy) pro (cable)
  • Kid Galahad (1937 – Michael Curtiz) pro (DVD)
  • Black River (1957 – Masaki Kobayashi) pro(-) (on-line)
  • MacGruber (2010 – Jorma Taccone) con (cable)
  • The Crucified Lovers (1954 – Kenji Mizoguchi) pro(+) (on-line)
  • Fantastic Planet (1973 – Rene Laloux) pro (DVD)
  • 4 Little Girls (1997 – Spike Lee) pro (cable)
  • Page Miss Glory (1935 – Mervyn LeRoy) pro(-) (cable)
  • The Fourth Man (1983 – Paul Verhoeven) pro(-) (DVD)
  • The End of the Affair (1999 – Neil Jordan) pro (DVD)
  • La Habanera (1937 – Douglas Sirk) mixed(+) (DVD)
  • Sapphire (1959 – Basil Dearden) pro(-) (DVD)
  • Drôle de drame (1937 – Marcel Carne) pro (DVD)
  • Another Year (2010 – Mike Leigh) PRO(-) (Theater)
  • I’m Still Here (2010 – Casey Affleck) mixed(-) (cable)
  • Soldier of Orange (1977 – Paul Verhoeven) pro (DVD)
  • The Hanging Tree (1959 – Delmer Daves) pro(+) (cable)
  • Mother Night (1996 – Keith Gordon) pro (DVD)
  • Desert Fury (1947 – Lewis Allen) mixed (on-line)
  • Spanglish (2004 – James L. Brooks) mixed (DVD)
  • The Ghost of Yotsuya (1959 – Nobuo Nakagawa) pro (cable)
  • Farewell, My Lovely (1975 – Dick Richards) mixed (on-line)
  • The Whole Shootin’ Match (1978 – Eagle Pennell) pro (DVD)
  • Splice (2009 – Vincenzo Natali) mixed(+) (cable)
  • The Subject Was Roses (1968 – Ulu Grosbard) pro(-) (cable)
  • The Woman in Blue (1973 – Michel Deville) mixed(+) (DVD)
  • Payday (1973 – Daryl Duke) pro(+) (DVD)
  • Cat’s Play (Macskajáték) (1972 – Károly Makk) pro (DVD)



 

 

 

JANUARY 2011

Last Updated February 3, 2011

 

 

 


  • The Man in the Moon (1991 – Robert Mulligan) pro(-) (DVD)
  • A Modern Hero (1934 – G.W. Pabst) mixed(+) (cable)
  • 127 Hours (2010 – Danny Boyle) pro (Theater)
  • The Cameraman (1928 – Edward Sedgwick, Buster Keaton) pro(+) (cable)
  • Electra (1962 – Michael Cacoyannis) pro (DVD)
  • At Long Last Love (1975 – Peter Bogdanovich) con(+) (on-line)

An unfairly maligned one time bomb deserving of reevaluation and rehabilitation; or simply one of the worst films of all time (it’s included in the book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time (And How They Got That Way*)? The truth of the matter lies, as it almost always does, somewhere in between.  Though likely inspired by the Ernst Lubitsch musicals of the 30s (the director is a big fan of The Merry Widow); I found the homage happy Bogdanovich to still be in the mode of Howard Hawks (as he was with his earlier hit What’s Up, Doc?) in that the material strains for that “hanging out” vibe.  One of those films with an ensemble cast where the trifling plot is secondary and casual digressions from characters are encouraged.  None of it really works in this case as a good portion of the Cole Porter song book gets butchered by what passes for the director’s stock company (and I can’t see how the film’s direct recording conceit (the musical numbers are non-lip synched)  would be entirely to blame).  Eileen Brennan as a crass and sassy maid is kind of fun and I’m not generally averse to the idea of a non-polished attempts at musicals (didn’t mind Woody Allen‘s Everyone Says I Love You for instance) but I’m not ready to anoint this film with misunderstood “sleeper” status solely on the basis of its general unavailability on home video.  For me the underappreciated Bogdanovich 70s bomb remains Nickelodeon (black and white version).  If you simply must see a Burt Reynolds musical – stick with The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, at least Dolly can sing.  [* but then again the book also includes Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia and Ivan the Terrible to note just two films with more than a few credible supporters]

  • The Leather Boys (1964 – Sidney J. Furie) pro(-) (DVD)

Part of me was admiring Rita Tushingham’s transformation from the shy and plain pregnant teen in A Taste of Honey to the far more brash and obnoxious teenage newlywed in The Leather Boys – the other part couldn’t shake singular critic Manny Farber’s pitiless takedown of Tushingham’s acting style in his article “Pish-Tush”.  Farber also had the knives out for icons Jeanne Moreau (I’m a fan but he had a point) and Giulietta Masina (now that’s just uncalled for) in the same piece; but its poor old Rita the gets name checked the most.  Lovely Rita aside, I think this British new wave kitchen sink/angry young man effort with its marriage is a soul crushing trap theme (ala A Kind of Loving – a lust cautionary tale if there ever was one) succeeds largely because the key homosexual element (friendship as de facto marriage with doses of repressed sexual urges) is told with great sensitivity and with what then passed for cinematic realism.  Despite the once taboo subject matter (the film was made shortly after Basil Dearden’s gay themed Victim and then sat on the shelf for a year or two) the film never comes across as a message movie or provocation.  A great deal of that credit should go to the nuanced performances of lead actors Colin Campbell and Dudley Sutton.

  • The Brother from Another Planet (1984 – John Sayles) pro(-) (cable)
  • Love at the Top (Le mouton enragé) (1974 – Michel Deville) pro (DVD)

Gotta love the marketing department of the distributor of this film to English speaking countries, the generic English title is one hell of a misrepresentation.  How Le mouton enragé (The Angry Sheep) becomes Love at the Top is a matter best justified by the bean counters I guess.  I went in knowing very little about this film other than the attractive cast (Jean-Louis Trintignant, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Romy Schneider & Jane Birkin), expecting, at best, an adult drama or romance in the style of a Claude Sautet, Eric Rohmer or Claude Lelouch film.  Instead I found a rather dark and subversive comedy in the spirit of satirists and provocateurs of the period like Luis Buñuel, Bertrand Blier, and Marco Ferreri.  I loved every strange minute of this film which is anti-conformist with a “be careful what you wish for” twist.   Look forward to tracking down more of the director’s work.

  • The Keys of the Kingdom (1944 – John Stahl) mixed (cable)
  • Love (1971 – Karoly Makk) PRO(-) (DVD)
  • King & Country (1964 – Joseph Losey) mixed(+) (DVD)
  • The Silent Partner (1978 – Daryl Duke) pro (DVD)
  • The Crooked Way (1949 – Robert Florey) mixed (cable)
  • A High Wind in Jamaica (1965 – Alexander Mackendrick) pro (DVD)
  • City Streets (1931 – Rouben Mamoulian) pro(+) (cable)

When I saw and fell in love with Mamoulian’s masterpiece Love Me Tonight years ago I decided that in no way could it simply be a mere knock off of the highly similar Ernst Lubitsch Paramount musicals of the period.  Mamoulian simply must be some sort of auteur and genius.  Chasing that film buff buzz I sought out more Mamoulian films; but after various viewings of his later work (The Gay Desperado, Golden Boy, The Mark of Zorro, Silk Stockings) I was generally left unsatisfied.  There were hints in the less than perfect We Live Again (the Easter ceremony in particular) and surely Queen Christina is a great film but on the whole the search took the wind out of my sails.  Now, after recently seeing Applause and City Streets, two films which prove that early sound films need not be static, stage bound or merely functional, I realize that I should have worked backwards from Love Me Tonight not forwards.  Along with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde I’m left with the impression that Mamoulian may have had one of the best first four film runs of any Hollywood director.

  • Possession (1981 – Andrzej Zulawski) pro (DVD)
  • Full Moon in Paris (1984 – Eric Rohmer) pro (DVD)
  • Moonlighting (1982 – Jerzy Skolimowski) pro(+) (DVD)
  • The Unknown (1927 – Tod Browning) pro(+) (on-line)

Critic David Thomson’s imaginary alternate version of the plot of The Unknown set out in his book Have You Seen…?: A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films is compelling – offering perhaps a more interesting psychological tact the story may have taken – but the film as it is seems pretty perfect to me.  A straight forward, economical, emotional and exciting film.  More focused and elemental than Browning’s later circus set silent The ShowLon Chaney at is masochistic best and young Joan Crawford shows off a vulnerability and sex appeal largely absent from her later better known sound films (her strengths would lie elsewhere).  Nice to see that the strong man played by Norman Kerry was spared the Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hitcher gruesome ending.

  • The Lady with the Dog (1960 – Iosif Kheifits) pro(+) (DVD)
  • What’s Up, Doc? (1972 – Peter Bogdanovich) pro (DVD)
  • Applause (1929 – Rouben Mamoulian) pro(+) (DVD)
  • I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! (1968 – Hy Averback) mixed (cable)
  • Head (1968 – Bob Rafelson) pro (Blu-Ray)
  • Three Came Home (1950 – Jean Negulesco) pro(-) (cable)
  • Lydia (1941 – Julien Duvivier) pro(-) (on-line)

Note to self – seek out Duvivier’s earlier and reportedly highly similar but far better film Un carnet de bal because Lydia certainly suggests the potential for greater things.  This episodic Alexander Korda produced Merle Oberon vehicle is deliberately segmented to tell the story of a life from the vestiges of an aged woman’s memory and the memories of her thwarted (but still admiring) suitors.   It has a sort of Citizen Kane like structure but with much of that film’s gravity or urgency absent (plus the Kane connection is worth noting as Joseph Cotten has a key role in Lydia and Welles was an admirer of Duvivier’s work).  While there are scenes of great lyricism and technical brilliance (with one ball room segment featuring a recollection enhanced by fantasy that’s suggestive of Busby Berkeley) it’s a very uneven film – struggling to move from whimsy to tragedy and back again, all of which undermines the impact of what is intended to be the most bittersweet of endings (a finale in a sort of Letter from an Unknown Woman vein). Oberon is lovely as the young heroine; but her ultra phony sounding old lady voice drove me up the wall.

  • Pot o’ Gold (1941 – George Marshall) mixed(+) (cable)
  • Wife for a Night (1952 – Mario Camerini) pro (cable)

About 20 minutes into this period Italian comedy it dawned on me – this material is just like Kiss Me, Stupid.  Quick IMDB search later and lo and behold, Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond’s 1964 sex farce is indeed based on the same Italian play (Anna Bonacci’s L’Ora della Fantasia) (Kiss Me, Stupid was a critical and box-office failure in its day though its reputation, rightfully I’d argue, has been somewhat rehabilitated). Wife for a Night comes across far more sweet than the occasionally crass and smutty seeming Kiss Me, Stupid. The film is a vehicle for the ever sexy Gina Lollobrigida who is far more demure here than in her fiery performances in other films of the period like Fanfan la Tulip and Bread, Love and Dreams.  One might think Lollobrigida would be a natural for the hired “wife”/courtesan role (Kim Novak’s role in the Wilder film (subbing for an originally hoped for Marilyn Monroe) but she’s a winner in the real wife role (played by an excellent Felica Farr in the Wilder film).  A fun comedy worth seeing (with thanks to TCM).

  • Children in the Wind (1937 – Hiroshi Shimizu) pro(-) (on-line)
  • Soul Kitchen (2009 – Fatih Akin) pro(-) (DVD)
  • The American (2010 – Anton Corbijn) mixed (DVD)
  • Cyrus (2010 – Jay & Mark Duplass) mixed(+) (DVD)
  • Sinful Davey (1969 – John Huston) con (cable)

The deeper I dive into the “obscurities” in John Huston’s filmography the more unsatisfying his uneven career seems.  Not particularly shocking if you are going to seek out critical and commercial failures in some misguided aim at completeness. While I was never a huge fan of Tony Richardson’s new wave tinged take on Tom Jones, that hit is ten times the film of this like spirited semi-comic picaresque bore.  The lovely Pamela Franklin, so winning in her prior film from the same year The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, is wasted here as John Hurt’s character’s love interest and moral compass. Apparently Huston butted heads with producer Walter Mirisch while shooting and in post production editing (or lack thereof), but I can’t imagine the film improving much absent such friction. At least the location work in Ireland (as Scotland) is pretty.

  • Sound of the Mountain (1954 – Mikio Naruse) pro (on-line)
  • Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010 – Banksy) pro (DVD)
  • The Kids Are All Right (2010 – Lisa Cholodenko) pro (DVD)
  • The King’s Speech (2010 – Tom Hooper) pro(+) (Theater)
  • Hot Tub Time Machine (2010 – Steve Pink) mixed(-) (cable)
  • A Wife’s Heart (1956 – Mikio Naruse) pro (DVD-R)

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