The wheels turn, the days spin away, and the movie count continues. I’ve managed an eye watering 98 film since I was discharged from the hospital, with just under a fortnight to ago until this accursed cast is abandoned – hopefully – and I can then waltz into my local cinema and hopefully catch up on the
three four movies that are awaiting my attention. In the meantime here are some movies I’ve been enjoying on the small screen;
Bad At Day Black Rock – This transplanted, modern-day Western from 1955 sees Korean veteran Spencer Tracy investigating the mysterious disappearance of a Asian colleague in a beautifully rendered widescreen small town America, Ernst Borgnine, Lee Marvin and the slithering Robert Ryan compel as the local racist conspirators in an early, rare Hollywood take on post war discrimination. This is just a great, compact, lithe little thriller with Tracy an early exemplar of the hard as fuck mysterious hero whom the local goons stupidly think they can overpower, just because he’s got the use of only one arm. Perfect Sunday afternoon fare.
Wuthering Heights – I have a bit of a weird personal tradition in that every year I strive to read one ‘classic’ novel, and a couple of years ago I did finally finish Emily Brontë’s windswept romantic tragedy, alas to be honest I can’t say it provoked much of a reaction in me other than some distant admiration for the barren atmosphere she managed to evoke. This most recent adaption of the novel however is phenomenal, a powerful film from fantastic talent Andrea Arnold (you may recall she won acclaim for Fish Tank a couple of years ago), with her furtive, nervous camera brilliantly coaxing out electrifying moments captured in time, from a casual backwards glance to the way that a curl of hair can dance in the morning sun, it’s a film of passion and memory, all set against the beautifully tragic Yorkshire moors. Primordial and powerful, my god it will make you glad you didn’t live in the 19th century unless you have a particular predilection for mud, rain and frequent beatings, its several gradients more effective and moving than the usual heritage, BBC drama take on classic British literature.
Shadow Of A Doubt – There has been a brief season of Hitchcock movies on Channel 4 which I’ve dipped into in glorious HD on their impressive satellite channel, this was also screened on Film4 which as a lesser known Hitchcock served as a companion piece to the established classics of the mid to late Fifties and early Sixties. Supposedly his favourite of his entire career, maybe because it’s particularly cruel and subversive even by today’s standards, with the beloved Uncle Charley a murderer of rich widowers whom our young and impressionable heroine Teresa Wright idolizes, with more than a little injection of the Oedipal complex going on for good measure. Whilst we are on the subject of Leytonstone’s portly son made good, this unsurprising news has got fiendish plotting motivations going and I’ve got five movies in mind, spread from his early UK talkies to his final decade of operations some forty years later, so that’s something to look forward to along with potential appearances of Tippi Hedern and more impressively Bruce ‘The Driver, Silent Running, The ‘Burbs,’ Dern, which is jolly exciting. Here’s an update on the two movies in production, apparently the Beeb have also made a biopic which is scheduled to air over the Summer, quite frankly this over-exposure is positively criminal…
Se7en – Three simple things struck as I endured the first of Fincher’s established trio of serial killers trilogy. First of all was the impeccable film making, with the emphasis on the impeccable. I can fully understand why people may be turned off and reject this tough film but you cannot deny the craft, the sheer brilliant skill from the photography and designs, down to the performances and script. Second was how it really hasn’t dated, other than the lack of mobiles or much in the way of CSI investigative cheating it could have been made a couple of years ago, it’s almost a timeless film which is a testament to the almost mythic grandeur, like a foisted bleak . Finally I’m still struggling to comprehend how it actually got made intact, without some of the extremely excessive elements diluted or neutered, for aq mainstream, bigish budget SPOILERS – Here is a film whose only good, whose only ‘saintly’ character gets her fucking head cut off and, actually.. wait a second… scratch that, she is the only ‘saintly’ and pregnant character who gets her fucking head cut off and Fedex’d to her husband in a finale which still stuns in its formula busting audacity. I still have issues with Pitt’s overacting in some scenes but this is an absolute masterclass in film-making, both from a technical and defending your risqué material perspective, plus it made over $300 million which proves that there is an audience for adult, envelope polluting material which is as rare as John Doe’s fingerprints these days…..
The Last Detail – It doesn’t get much better than this, a low key tale of two naval grunts (Jack Nicholson and Otis Young who seemed to go AWOL) escorting a naive kleptomaniac (Randy Quaid) to the brig for a seven year stretch after he stole a few dollars from the local church. Nicholson is at his absolute best, a performance equal to Cuckoo’s Nest or The Shining, Robert Towne scripts, and the late lamented Hal Ashby directs with his customary restraint which avoids any moralising, any ‘lessons learnt’ or obtuse criticisms of the military life, it’s more a bittersweet and poignant slice of working class life, back when such a social milieu wasn’t anathema to those permatanned Hollyweird executives.
Crazy Stupid Love – What madness is this? Has the exposure to too much daytime TV warped Minty’s Estrogen count to the point where is actually promoting a romantic comedy? Well, maybe, but this is a very funny piece with more than the requisite five laugh quotient and a solid cast – Steve Carrell, Julianne Moore and the Gosling, the latter playing a louche Lothario who takes Carell under his wing when his marriage collapses. What can I say, it has some genuinely hilarious moments and although it maps to the usual rom-com formula it doesn’t quite descend into ridiculous territory with a final resolution that realigns all the plot rhythms. Plus its got Marisa Tomei in it and I can watch her in anything….
Heat – And finally to reassert my masculine credentials, I also watched Heat again in glorious HD, a film I revisit each year. Despite knowing every scene and every story beat it’s just one of those unimpeachable classics, one of the all time great crime films, an operatic study a criminal tragedy, all unfurling upon the mean streets of the city of fallen angels. It’s slim pickings for scenes from the film on YouTube other than the robbery scene which I’ve already posted here at least half a dozen times, so for a change of pace the above is something I stumbled upon by accident which kinda evokes the feeling of Mann’s films and I found it strangely hypnotic…