Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Another roundup

I've been watching too many movies. This roundup only covers some of the movies I've watched in the past week or so. I'm too lazy to write more. Hopefully all that January posting didn't burn me out. I don't really have anything insightful to say about any of these. Sorry:

The Descendants - Better than I expected it to be, if only because it tries to give most of its characters a fair shot instead of just painting them with one brush and leaving it at that. At times too cliched, but with a few surprising moments of actual pathos/tenderness that make it rise above being merely Dan in Real Life 2. It won’t crack my top 10, but I at least liked it, which I guess is a victory for the film considering I thought I’d hate it. If anyone wants to talk more about it, we certainly can.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes - Ridiculous but earnest. Wisely tries to limit its scope (unlike most modern blockbusters) and doesn’t feel like the money-grubbing, soulless venture it could have been. Suffers from being too cliched and poorly written at times, but like I said it mostly feels genuine, and for that it gets a pass.

Gilda (Vidor, 1946) - Is there anything more beautiful than snow in black-and-white? Rita Hayworth in this movie.

I Was Born, But... (Ozu, 1932) - Terrific silent comedy from Ozu about the clash between the young and the old and the differing forms of hierarchy they find themselves trapped in. Good Morning is supposedly a loose remake of this. There are certainly similar elements between the two, but they are completely distinctive I’d say. The scene where the boys have to watch their father’s antics for his boss is wonderful. The horror on their faces says more than any words ever could.

Early Spring (Ozu, 1956) - Another miracle from Ozu. A film filled with sadness and tenderness for nearly all the characters involved. The wife who is cheated on gets the most sympathy and deservedly so. We sense the growing distance between her and her husband and the empty space he leaves through his constant absence. It’s terribly sad. Luckily, the affair isn’t treated as a necessary or amusing fling but something of guilt and failure, which is exactly what the film needs.

The Talk of the Town (Stevens, 1942) - A fun and funny political comedy, that I’d say is one of Steven’s best efforts. I’m not a huge fan of him as a director (like Brandon and John), but I can get on board when he makes a charming film like this and has a talented cast to work with. Grant, Arthur, and Colman are a joy together.

Letter From an Unknown Woman (Ophüls, 1948) - Complete masterpiece of technique and storytelling. Complex, intricate, emotional–it stands alongside The Earrings of Madame de... as Ophüls' finest work.

The Naked Spur (Mann, 1953) - Mann and Stewart made a great team, and this is perhaps my favorite of their movies together (that I've seen). A little like The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, which is a wonderful thing. Mann does a lot and tells a lot with seemingly so little; it’s almost like a great stage play. Beautiful locations too.

Pursued (Walsh, 1947) - Another incredible Noir-Western from Raoul Walsh. Just as good if not better than Colorado Territory, in my opinion. A complex story that only gets more involving as it goes along. At one point I tried counting how many layers of vengeance the film was working on but I started to loose track. A brilliant film, I’d say, as well as being exciting and emotionally involving. Plus, Robert Mitchum is the coolest. Highly recommended.

Hiroshima Mon Amour (Resnais, 1959) - When it focuses on being a documentary or philosophical musing on the unspeakable crime that was committed on Hiroshima, it’s fantastic and haunting. The love story feels empty though. A beautifully shot and staged and highly intellectual film, but one that spends too much time asking us to care about the wrong thing.

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