Thursday, February 2, 2012
Leave her to hell
Brandon, thanks for your response. The burn-out from watching too many movies in a short period of time is apparent, but you're right, I feel revived after a days rest or so. Because I definitely want to watch so many movies; it's not that I'm forcing myself ever. I enjoy using any free time to myself to watch a movie. Making lists is just a great excuse to watch a bunch of awesome movies.
I definitely respect and appreciate RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES for all the reasons you gave and the reasons John gave as well. I'm not knocking it. It's good for what it is (and better than a lot of the shit blockbusters one could have seen this past summer). Like Chris said, I wasn't bashing it by calling it ridiculous, just describing it.
Is one of the long takes in LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN you are thinking of the stairwell crane shot at the opera? I guess I didn't spot any specific long takes because I'm so used to them in his films. Everything stood out. I know that Le PLAISIR has that elaborate crane shot of the front of the brothel, LA RONDE has that opening tracking shot, and THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE... has too many insanely complex shots of movement through seemingly confining interior space, so maybe I did miss the big ones from this. Which shots are you thinking of? Agreed completely on Ophüls here though. Calling him a visual genius is an understatement, but he also knew how to use his peerless talent to match the story.
Anyway, before I get to LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN, I forgot to mention in that roundup that I had watched two of your favorites recently as well: GUN CRAZY and THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY.
GUN CRAZY is incredible. A doomed romance about our obsessions and the strange places they can lead us. The only thing that Bart is more obsessed about than guns is Annie and the only thing that Annie is more obsessed about than guns is a man who isn't afraid to use one. The mixing of sexual desire with violence, crime, and danger must have seemed shocking at the time (if anyone even saw it much then). Lewis directs the thing with lots of style and energy; it's exciting, highly sexual, and always compelling. We care about Bart. He's basically a good, moral person who is bewitched by Annie's handling of a gun (Hey, get your head out of the gutter!).
Ah, the things one will do for sex and love. Great film.
I first heard about THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY right after I joined film club. I was searching through your blog history and found a post you had on it from 2009 under the "my essentials" heading: http://poopnoises.blogspot.com/2009/04/my-essentials-secret-life-of-walter.html
Anyway, I've been wanting to see it since then, but it's not on netflix at all (and TCM hasn't shown it all year) so I never thought I would. Luckily, I happened to be searching youtube for old movies the other day and found the whole thing in superb quality on there. Which I'm really glad about because I loved it. I think your post on it is awesome, and I really couldn't add anything to it. I loved the idea of a guy using fantasy and daydreams to escape the reality of everyday life; it's almost a metaphor for how we watch movies. As someone who frequently daydreams, I thought the film was a really fun and hilarious look at how we imagine ourselves in various roles. Kaye is wonderful as Walter, Virginia Mayo is gorgeous as always, and the rest of the cast does terrific comedic work (some of the best scenes involve Walter's interaction with people around him once he's been caught in some ridiculous situation or other). All of the fantasy sequences are really inventive and beautifully realized. The whole movie is basically a blast as there are so many different elements and genres at work. A joy to watch. Let's hope that Ben Stiller remake falls through.
All right, let's get one thing straight: Gene Tierney is completely beautiful and seeing her in THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR or HEAVEN CAN WAIT you just imagine her as one of the loveliest and sweetest women around. So boy was I surprised to find her as an insane monster in LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN. Brandon warned me that she was indeed ugly in this one, but I was still shocked by how truly horrific she was. She's absolutely repulsive in this film, which only makes me appreciate her as an actress so much more. What a transformation. The first time Richard gets an idea of her wild jealousy, the camera cuts to a close-up of her face and she looks absolutely demonic. Who would have thought those green eyes could look so terrifying? Amazing performance by Tierney, and an absolutely chilling and shocking noir in general (could probably qualify as a horror film actually). The use of color is remarkable as well and the interior lighting often looks deep orange as if the sun were constantly setting; it's highly effective and unsettling.
1960 list! Can't wait.