Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Set-Up

Robert Ryan (Bad Day at Black Rock, On Dangerous Ground, The Naked Spur) plays a washed-up fighter named Stoker Thompson who wants one more shot at making a boxing career. His wife implores him to hang it up. His manager fixes the fight to go against him but neglects to fill him in because he doesn't want to share the payoff. He figures that Stoker keeps losing all the time anyway so why bother to share the money?

Of course, this is the night that Thompson is on his game! Which, of course, leads to some problems for Stoker later in the evening.

Director Robert Wise (editor of Citizen Kane, director of The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Sound of Music, and the first Star Trek movie) is a talented man. The film looks amazing. Every single frame of the 72 minutes run time is a pleasure to watch. The script is all Jim Thompson gritty and film noir fun. A fun little movie.

Directed by Robert Wise
1949
TCM

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Namesake

In July 2006, I reviewed the book. I wrote, "The Namesake is fully fleshed out and a heartbreaking, engrossing read. Lahiri was clearly honing her craft with her earlier short stories but I'd take the novel anytime. I look forward to the upcoming film adaptation because nothing says drama like the dude from Harold and Kumar."

Unfortunately my joke about Kal Penn turned out to not to be true. He was fine and all but he just doesn't have the acting chops to pull off this role. Maybe the film needed more narration from Gogol to give us a sense of what he was thinking. If not, the movie needed a better actor to show us how he was feeling non-verbally. Nair must have thought that Penn was subtly doing that throughout the movie but he wasn't. If I hadn't read the book, I don't think I would have had much of a sense what the character was about.

That being said, the movie still got to me. I must have teared up a half dozen times. What a tear-jerker! Irfan Khan played Gogol's father and he was amazing in the role. Anytime he was on the screen, he carried it. There were many great little moments in the film, some of which I don't remember from the book, like the one where Gogol's mom tries on her soon-to-be husband's shoes before meeting him for the first time.

Overall, this is a solid but not all that inspiring adaptation of a very good book.

Directed by Mira Nair
2007
DVD

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Detour

What a great set-up! A man decides to hitchhike from NY to LA to meet up with his girl. He gets picked up a well dressed man with some fresh wounds on his hand, money to burn, and a line for every woman.

After dinner, the stranger falls asleep and ends up dying by accident when the good guy opens the door and the stranger hits his head on a rock. Might as well hide the body, take his wallet, and steal his fancy car, right? I mean, the cops are going to think he did it anyway so might as well reap the rewards.

The guy keeps heading west to meet up with his girl. Unfortunately for him, he picks up a woman hitchhiker who after a few minutes asks him what he did with the body. Bam! What a great start to the movie!

Unfortunately, it can't quite keep up the amazing pace of the first 30 minutes. But oh well, the movie is only 70 minutes. The second half has its moments and the ending is classic film noir with the message of fate swooping in to fuck with you - there's nothing you can do about it - just got to go along with it.

Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer
1946
DVD

Monday, December 10, 2007

Girl Shy

Some good bits to this one but not the first Harold Lloyd I'd recommend to a newbie. It does have a fun trolley chase scene that anticipates scenes from the much better Speedy released four years after this one.

And the racing to stop the wedding scene reminded me of The Graduate.

While I was on You Tube looking for my favorite bit of this film of Lloyd trying to stop a car for a ride to be turned down, to then jump in, only to see the driver turn into his driveway a few seconds later turned up this fun gem from a short film that was part of the DVD.

The scene I was looking for that led me to that clip can be found here at the 2:10 mark.

Directed by Fred Newmeyer and Sam Taylor
1924
DVD

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Italian

SHR gave this 25 minutes before calling it quits. I gave it 50 minutes before I got on the phone with Erik to talk about squash and gym memberships. I kept watching it (god bless subtitles!) but I can't say I was really paying attention.

A Russian orphan is about to get adopted by a nice Italian couple but skips out in an attempt to be reunited with his real mom. The movie isn't bad by any stretch. It looks good. The acting is good. It simply bored me.

Directed by Andrei Kravchuk
2005, U.S. Release: 2007
DVD

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Tin Drum

I'm not sure how much I liked this film but I'm not sure if I'll ever forget it. So incredibly bizarre.

The movie is about a three-year-old who stops growing and uses a tin drum to pound on or his voice to break glass when things around him get too crazy. Of course, as he grows up during the 30's and 40's in Germany, there's a lot of pounding and screaming necessary.

There are parts of this film that are quite good and some that remind me of a mediocre Fellini ripoff. I still am not sure what to make of this film. As I was watching it, I was looking forward to the end. But now that it has been a few weeks, I almost want to go back and give it another shot.

The actor who plays the main character is bizarre as hell. Director Volker Schlöndorff knew he has a good thing when he saw it. The actor David Bennent must have been nine-years-old or so yet he is supposed to be a three-year-old (or even younger at the very beginning as he plays a fetus) who ends up being a teenager by the end of the movie. If you're confused, it all makes sense when you watch it. Sort of.

The world is one messed-up place and it doesn't get more messed-up than Germany during this era. So making a movie as messed-up as this movie definitely makes sense. My head hurts just thinking about this movie - in a good way ... I think.

Who else out there has seen this movie? What did you think?

Directed by Volker Schlöndorff
1979
DVD