Basically, it’s Monday morning, the first Monday back after Christmas, and I’m feeling the blues a little. If I have to tell another person that I got rejected and have to hear "Aww, poor you", I think I may explode. So, a leetle diversion: going through all the movies I saw since the break of 2008!
The Reckless Moment (Max Ophüls, 1949)
Respectable little noir starring Joan Bennett as a Mildred Pierce-type mother who hides the corpse of her daughter’s lover, and then finds herself blackmailed. Suspenseful from start the finish, it also has an added strand of romance; as James Mason, as the blackmailer, begins to fall in love with his victim. The camerawork, direction and script are accomplished and taut, and although the finale is a bit crap, it’s worth watching for the chemistry between Bennett and Mason alone. B+.
Bigger than Life (Nicholas Ray, 1956)
Another film with James Mason, this time starring him as a teacher Ed Avery who takes a “miracle pill” to prolong his life once doctors tell him he is suffering a dangerous arterial disease, only for the drug to alter his behaviour and turn him into a Mr Hyde-type character. Fairly interesting movie, with another strong lead from James Mason, and a clear political parallel in the story, but overall a little far-fetched for my liking. B-.
Ladder 49 (Jay Russell, 2004)
A very uninteresting film. It’s true, fire-fighters risk a lot for the people they save, but did this film have to be so damn… clichéd?? Joaquin Phoenix and Jacinda Barrett are good, and John Travolta is less hammy than usual, but it really was boring. D.
In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950)
Satisfyingly tense movie made in the noir tradition, starring Bogie as a movie writer who’s suspected of murdering a woman he spent the night with. His next door neighbour, played by Gloria Grahame, supplies him with an alibi, and soon the two start dating. However, in doing so Bogie’s dark side comes out, and Grahame begins to fear her finacee, even suspecting him of the murder. Nothing new, but dark stuff nonetheless. B.
Bugles in the Afternoon (Roy Rowland, 1952)
Well, Westerns are my least favourite genre, and I found the fight scenes here terribly dull. What lifted it, however, was the love triangle. That’s it really. C-.
The Village (M. Night Shyamalan, 2004)
It’s been three years since I first saw this, and I feel it really does hold up on a repeat viewing. Just the fact that Shayamalan directed it will have the audience trying to second-guess the identities of these so called mythical beings in the woods, but if you just sit back and enjoy the movie, you have a deeply moving, beautiful and intelligent love triangle, a comment on the state of civilization today and scary movie, all in one. I feel the score really adds to the emotional resonance of the movie; the eerie violin in the background is perfect. Adrien Brody was kind of annoying (I suppose his character was meant to be), as was Judy Greer, but they are all secondary players to the key romance: Joaquin Phoenix and Bryce Dallas Howard. The former does his smouldering broodiness as well as ever but it is unblinking Howard who really steals the show; you really feel for her, are inspired by her bravery and touched by her devotion to Phoenix. Some found the final twist very annoying, I thought it genius. A-.
All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)
You’ll get a proper review of this movie when I get to it in my top 100 countdown, but in short, it is a biting and insightful look at how far some will go to get to the top. Celeste Holm is sympathetic as the friend who is originally taken in by Eve, Thelma Ritter adds another stellar performance to her already impressive list of supporting players, George Sanders is appropriately greasy and nobody ever did two-faced better than Anne Baxter. Writing is of top, top quality, even outdoing that of Sunset Boulevard. But the star of the film is the one, the only, Bette Davis, in the best role she ever played. A
Did anyone see any films this week worth mentioning?