List List Bang Bang

September 30, 2011

2011 (July to September) Screening Log

Filed under: 2011,Screening Log — misterjiggy @ 2:08 am

September 2011

Last Update –  October 3, 2011

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

  • Contagion (2011 – Steven Soderbergh) pro (Theater)
  • Back Street (1941 – Robert Stevenson) pro (cable)
  • Annie Get Your Gun (1950 – George Sidney) pro (cable)
  • Le Beau Serge (1958 – Claude Chabrol) pro (Blu-Ray)
  • Our Very Own (1950 – David Miller) mixed (cable)

If you can get past both the idea that there was once a stigma surrounding adoption and the extended opening set piece drenched in suburban wholesomeness (if someone put little pig tailed Penny Macauly (12 year old Natalie Wood) in a burlap sack and tossed her in the river no court would convict them), this somewhat unique Samuel Goldwyn produced drama has some distinct rewards.  Specifically the two scenes featuring Ann Dvorak (here at the tail end of her notable film career) as the woman from the other side of the tracks who gave up her baby for adoption.  Each scene is played with a certain nuance suggesting both an edge and sensitivity – a sort of emotional realism devoid of stock villainry, easy answers or tidy resolution (the first scene is with the adoptive mother played by Jane Wyatt, the second with the child, now a high school senior, rather nicely portrayed by Ann Blyth – in sort of a 180 degree turn from her most famous role as the icy and petulant Veda Pierce).  The class and social differences between the Wyatt/Blyth characters and the Dvorak character are accented, but with a certain diplomacy.  Shame the rest of the film couldn’t match these key scenes for depth and interest.  The bulk of the rest of the film is serviceably populated with teenage love affairs (Farley Granger plays Blyth’s unimpeachable love interest), graduation preparations and sibling rivalry. The theme of adoption would play a key role in a very different sort of film from 1950 – Robert Wise’s Three Secrets, a film that borrows the structure from A Letter to Three Wives.

  • King Solomon’s Mines (1950 – Compton Bennett & Andrew Marton) mixed(+) (cable)
  • Things to Come (1936 – William Cameron Menzies) pro(-) (cable)
  • The Red House (1947 – Delmer Daves) mixed(+) (on-line)
  • Police, Adjective (2009 – Corneliu Porumboiu) mixed (DVD)
  • The Kennel Murder Case (1933 – Michael Curtiz) pro(-) (cable)
  • Tamara Drewe (2010 – Stephen Frears) pro(-) (DVD)
  • Employees’ Entrance (1933 – Roy Del Ruth) pro (cable)
  • Visions of Eight (1973 – Various) pro (DVD)
  • The Adjustment Bureau (2011 – George Nolfi) mixed (DVD)
  • Bright Leaf (1950 – Michael Curtiz) mixed(+) (cable)
  • The Descendants (2011 – Alexander Payne) PRO(-) (Theater)
  • The Story of Temple Drake (1933 – Stephen Roberts) pro (cable)
  • Win Win (2011 – Thomas McCarthy) pro(-) (Blu-Ray)
  • Harriet Craig (1950 – Vincent Sherman) pro(-) (on-line)
  • The Clouded Yellow (1950 – Ralph Thomas) pro(-) (on-line)
  • The World of Suzie Wong (1960 – Richard Quine) mixed (DVD)
  • I Walk Alone (1948 – Byron Haskin) pro(-) (cable)
  • The Testament of Orpheus (1960 – Jean Cocteau) pro (DVD)
  • Moneyball (2011 – Bennett Miller) pro(+) (Theater)
  • The Bellboy (1960 – Jerry Lewis) mixed (DVD)
  • The Plumber (1979 – Peter Weir) pro(-) (cable)
  • The Breaking Point (1950 – Michael Curtiz) pro(+) (cable)
  • The Warped Ones (1960 – Koreyoshi Kurahara) pro (DVD)
  • In a Better World (2010 – Susanne Bier) pro (Blu-ray)
  • Of Gods and Men (2010 – Xavier Beauvois) pro (DVD)
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011 – Joe Johnston) pro(-) (Theater)
  • Leur dernière nuit (1953 – Georges Lacombe) pro(-) (cable)
  • Source Code (2011 – Duncan Jones) pro(-) (DVD)
  • La vérité (1960 – Henri-Georges Clouzot) pro (DVD-R)

Brigitte Bardot’s star power has always far outweighed the films of value in her filmography, but I imagine La vérité registers on the top end of the quality range.  It appears that many reviewers and commentators feel La vérité contains her best (least decorative) performance.  It’s certainly a performance that, while still in a nymphet mode, demonstrates some range, and the grim black and white photography, downbeat storyline and gritty urban setting offers little of the colorful and scenic distractions of a film like …And God Created WomanJean-Luc Godard in employing Bardot in Contempt, from the Producer mandated bare derriere opening to death by sports coupe finale, was in complete control of the Bardot image as film content.  Seemingly simultaneously celebrating, subverting, indicting, and deconstructing Bardot’s status as a sex icon, her star power never dominates Contempt to the extent that the director’s authorial stamp is diminished in any way.  I’m not sure the same can be said of La vérité, a film structured in flashbacks around the trial of a young feckless and impudent woman (Bardot) charged with murdering her former lover (Sami Frey), a boy on society’s “right track”.  While the opening moments in the court room, offering an extremely cynical view of the French legal system, scream a sort of Clouzotian misanthropy, once the focus shifts to Bardot, her every glance and gesture dominate the screen to the point that Clouzot, the director of such distinct style and voice (though certainly in 1960 terms on the outside of the nouvelle vague), fades into the background (at least until the memorable but rather pitiless conclusion).  For better or worse, Bardot becomes, if you will, the film’s auteur.  Examinations of youth culture (and related idleness and delinquency) was the rage around world cinema at this time, and the rather obvious subtext to the story is that not only is the character Bardot plays been put on trial by the moralistic establishment; but the image of Bardot the actress and pin-up and the youth culture it represents (convention defying, hedonistic, modern) has been put on trial.  Needless to say, the film is sympathetic to the emerging counter culture and to rebellious youth in general; though the Bohemian café society of Bardot and cronies in the film seems rather benign when compared to more aggressive activities (rape, assault, robbery) in the youth and “sun tribe” films emerging from Japan at the time (see for instance Nagisa Oshima’s Cruel Story of Youth or Koreyoshi Kurahara’s The Warped Ones) or the Italian delinquent films scripted by Pier Paolo Pasolini (see for example Mauro Bolgnini’s La notte brava, Bernardo Bertolucci’s La commare secca, or Pasolini’s own Accattone).

  • The Lady is Willing (1942 – Mitchell Leisen) pro(-) (cable)

Preposterous fluff, but real a fun film, at least until it’s almost derailed when the story turns just a tad too serious in the final act (baby on the verge of death! – shades of Carole Lombard foregoing her usual screwball hijinks for maternal worry in the climax of  1939’s Made for Each Other).  Marlene Dietrich plays a Broadway diva who gets a sudden maternal itch and ends up finding (more like abducting!) an infant by and entering into a marriage of convenience with a science minded child hating doctor (Fred MacMurray, director Mitchell Leisen’s go to actor for 9 films).  Leisen made some excellent films in this period (usually for Paramount, this one is for Columbia) and The Lady is Willing is certainly not the strongest (Leisen’s MacMurray / Rosalind Russell gender reversal romantic comedy Take a Letter, Darling from the same year, while minor, is a slightly better bet), but I guess I’m a sucker for Dietrich the comedienne, I find her timing impeccable  (see also winning turns in Destry Rides Again, The Flame of New Orleans).

===============================================================================

August 2011

Last Update – August 31, 2011

===============================================================================

  • Vigil in the Night (1940 – George Stevens) mixed (cable)
  • Intimidation (1960 – Koreyoshi Kurahara) pro (DVD)
  • Everybody Does It (1949 – Edmund Goulding) pro(-) (cable)
  • Let’s Make Love (1960 – Geogre Cukor) mixed (DVD)
  • Juarez (1939 – William Dieterle) mixed(+) (cable)
  • Remorques (1941 – Jean Gremillon) pro (cable)
  • The Spy in Black (1939 – Michael Powell) pro(-) (cable)
  • Gueule d’amour (1937 – Jean Gremillon) PRO (cable)

My first Gremillon film, and it’s a stunner. Critic David Thomson doesn’t always get it right in his Biographical Dictionary of Film (he can frustrate and provoke as much as he can inspire), but with his Jean Gremillon entry he’s 100% correct when he writes: “Gueule d’Amour leaves one in no doubt – Gremillon was a remarkable director…This is a cinema of inner, emotional realism, with subtle, secretive performances and an eye that invests objects and places with poetic meaning. The film is unerringly modern and it makes one want to see anything by Gremillon.”  The film contains the best Jean Gabin performance I’ve seen to date (and from the year of no less than Grand Illusion and Pepe le Moko !) in a somewhat challenging role where he must at various times communicate good humor, total confidence, rebellion, bitter defeat, obsession and overwhelming anger.  Gabin’s co-star from Pepe le Moko, the enchanting Mireille Balin, plays the pathologically unpredicatble love interest to excellent effect.

  • Ride the Pink Horse (1947 – Robert Montgomery) pro(+) (on-line)
  • Maria Chapdelaine (1934 – Julien Duvivier) pro (cable)
  • Midnight in Paris (2011 – Woody Allen) pro (Theater)
  • The Unholy Three (1925 – Tod Browning) pro(-) (cable)
  • Horrible Bosses (2011 – Seth Gordon) con (Theater)
  • The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1972 – Paul Newman) pro (cable)
  • Teresa Venerdi (1941 – Vittorio De Sica) pro(+) (Theater)

This pre-neo-realist Italo-screwball is a rather amiable but chaste sex farce with Vittorio De Sica playing a debonair lay about physician who, on the verge of financial ruin and after trying the patience of his once indulgent father, is forced into public service – specifically, an appointment as the health inspector to a girl’s orphanage.  To complicate things he is pursued by three rather distinct women – a gold digging showgirl (a delightful Anna Magnani, in a small role leaving audiences begging for more), a mattress company heiress and wannabe poet of limited depth and talent (Irasema Dilian), and the titular orphan girl, a nurse in training who oozes goodness and romanticism (an absolutely lovely Adriana Benetti, best known for Alessandro Blasetti’s4 passi fra le nuvole).  Teresa Venerdi is an extremely funny and charming film more indicative of the comedies De Sica appears in as an actor (like Luigi Comencini’s Bread, Love and Dreams or Blasseti’s Too Bad She’s Bad)than his more serious minded international successes as a director (De Sica rarely acted in the films he directed).  Despite the dashing De Sica and the impressive troika of female talent, it’s Virgilio Riento as the doctor’s slightly bumbling man servant the steals every scene he’s in.  Screened at the Ontario Cinemateque as part of an Italian Neo-Realism series; but if there’s any neo-realism present in form, content or tone, it’s at the most embryonic stage.  More appropriately, the film seems to serve the series as an example of the type of Fascist government controlled studio product that provided the entertainment of the day – hinting at the transformation to come from the artifice of the middle class soothing Telefono Bianco (white telephone) style to a mode of grit and naturalism, with themes of resistance against the political order.  De Sica’s portrayal of the orphanage at least suggests sympathy to the poor and mild resistance to fascism.  De Sica would make his big stylistic jump in 1944 with The Children are Watching Us.

  • Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928 – Herbert Brenon) pro (cable)
  • West of Zanzibar (1928 – Tod Browning) pro (cable)
  • Life Begins at Forty (1935 – George Marshall) pro (cable)
  • East Side, West Side (1949 – Mervyn LeRoy) mixed(+) (cable)
  • The Secret Fury (1950 – Mel Ferrer) mixed (cable)
  • The Great Race (1965 – Blake Edwards) con (cable)

Based on those ever reliable comments on the internet this film seems like it has a rather solid reputation as a crowd pleasing mainstream comedy.  A manic film in an “epic” form, seemingly inspired by the box office success of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.  I found it tiresome, rarely funny (lots of moldy sub-vaudevillian gags) and bloated (with overture, intermission and exit music it’s 160 minutes long, dragged down by a sluggish Prisoner of Zenda “look a likes” sub-plot).  Jack Lemmon (in full ham) and Tony Curtis play adversaries (Professor Fate vs. The Great Leslie) competing in a turn of the century around the world automobile race and their re-pairing brings none of that Some Like it Hot magic.  Natalie Wood as a feisty suffragette and journalist in training is along for the ride and approaches the material with some straight faced gusto despite reportedly hating the experience.   Filmed very much like a live action cartoon, which is certainly an irreverant style up director Blake Edwards’ alley; but the film could have had a few more Frank Tashlin like knowing winks. If epic pie fights get you knee slapping (“the largest pie fight ever staged”) – maybe this will work for you.

  • Tormento (1950 – Raffaello Matarazzo) pro(-) (DVD)
  • Kisses (1957 – Yasuzo Masumura) pro(-) (on-line)
  • Brighton Rock (1947 – John Boulting) pro(+) (on-line)
  • The Big Street (1942 – Irving Reis) pro(-) (cable)
  • Palm Springs Weekend (1963 – Norman Taurog) con(+) (cable)
  • The Crowd Roars (1932 – Howard Hawks) pro(-) (cable)
  • The Private Affairs of Bel Ami (1947 – Albert Lewin) pro(+) (on-line)
  • Keeper of the Flame (1942 – George Cukor) pro (cable)
  • Secretariat (2010 – Randall Wallace) mixed(+) (cable)
  • Bird (1988 – Clint Eastwood) pro(-) (cable)
  • Portrait of Madame Yuki (1950 – Kenji Mizoguchi) pro(-) (on-line)
  • X-Men: First Class (2011 – Matthew Vaughn) pro (Theater)
  • Marriage Italian Style (1964 – Vittorio De Sica) pro (Blu-Ray)
  • No Man of Her Own (1950 – Mitchell Leisen) pro(+) (on-line)
  • No Sad Songs for Me (1950 – Rudolph Mate) pro(-) (cable)
  • Ice Station Zebra (1968 – John Sturges) mixed(+) (cable)
  • Life During Wartime (2009 – Todd Solondz) mixed(+) (Blu-Ray)
  • Daybreak (1931 – Jacques Feyder) pro (cable)

========================================================================

July 2011

Last Update – July 31, 2011

============================================================================================

  • They Won’t Forget (1937 – Mervyn LeRoy) pro (cable)
  • Taza, Son of Cochise (1954 – Douglas Sirk) pro(-) (DVD)
  • Dallas (1950 – Stuart Heisler) pro(-) (DVD)
  • Double Indemnity (1973 – Jack Smight) con(+) (DVD)
  • The Good German (2006 – Steven Soderbergh) mixed (DVD)
  • The King and Four Queens (1956 – Raoul Walsh) mixed (cable)
  • Band of Angels (1957 – Raoul Walsh) pro(-) (cable)
  • Mon oncle d’Amérique (1980 – Alain Resnais) pro(+) (cable)
  • Heat Lightning (1934 – Mervyn LeRoy) pro (cable)
  • Tom Horn (1980 – William Wiard) pro(-) (DVD)

Watching this late period Steve McQueen vehicle (his penultimate film) just after another 1980 Western – the more highly regarded Walter Hill film The Long Riders – was a gentle reminder of the impact of star power.  Hill’s film has a certain formal rigor that highlights his skill with artful compositions, dynamic action sequences (with, in this case, certain shades of the best in Sam Peckinpah films) and his ability to elicit subdued performances.  The type of film that auteurist segment of the film buff set tends to eat up.  In contrast, Tom Horn , with its poor critical reception, failure at the box office, cancer ridden star and an extremely muddled production history that would suggest a lack of central vision (reportedly five directors worked on the movie – with McQueen running the show) would seem to have little going for it.  While it may have been my low expectations going in, I found the film an entertaining and generally compelling end of the gun slinging West story.  While Hill’s film may have a more consistent visual look, more appealing editing rhythms and a more impressive action set piece, I found little in the look of Tom Horn to sneeze at (it was lensed, after all, by the great DP John Alonzo).  What Tom Horn does have is the indelible personality of McQueen more than a decade removed from the peak of his King of Cool persona. Even here as a terminally ill 50 year old playing a raggedy and simple minded army scout turned hired gun by a hypocritical consortium of ranchers – the icon delivers.  McQueen exhibiting the kind of charisma that the stunt casted army of brothers (the Carradines, Keachs, Quaids and Guests – though creditable actors all) in The Long Riders couldn’t cumulatively match.  I tend to pick my movies by director, but here is a reminder that there often times when it’s just as rewarding to pick your film by the star.

  • In the City of Sylvia (2007 – Jose Luis Guerin) pro (DVD)
  • The Long Riders (1980 – Walter Hill) pro(-) (DVD)
  • The Golden Stallion (1949 – William Witney) mixed (cable)
  • Grown-Ups (1980 – Mike Leigh) pro(-) (DVD)
  • Return of the Secaucus 7 (1979 – John Sayles) pro (DVD)
  • That Brennan Girl (1946 – Alfred Santell) pro (on-line)
  • Lightning Over Water (1980 – Wim Wenders) mixed (DVD)
  • Split Second (1953 – Dick Powell) pro(-) (cable)
  • Essential Killing (2010 – Jerzy Skolimowski) mixed(+) (DVD)
  • Chains (1949 – Raffaello Matarazzo) pro(-) (DVD)
  • The Sheltering Sky (1990 – Bernardo Bertolucci) pro (DVD)
  • Two O’Clock Courage (1945 – Anthony Mann) mixed (cable)
  • My Mother’s Castle (1990 – Yves Robert) pro(-) (DVD)
  • Follow Me Quietly (1949 – Richard Fleischer) mixed(+) (cable)
  • Vincent & Theo (1990 – Robert Altman) pro (DVD)
  • The Dinner Game (1998 – Francis Veber) mixed(+) (VHS)


Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: