Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Food, Inc.

It took SHR and I months to actually get through this. It wasn't because we didn't like it. We did. It just was a tough movie to watch - especially the first half. It always felt like we weren't in the right mood to watch it. I'm glad we eventually did though because I really enjoyed it.

It was more entertaining and less preachy than I expected it to be. It lets the devastating facts and images tell the story. The cinematography was stunning, the interviews illuminating, and the storytelling clear and concise. This is a very good movie.

Directed by Robert Kenner
2009
PBS

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Act of Violence

I really can't get enough Robert Ryan. In this one, he plays a World War II vet out for revenge on Van Heflin who was responsible for a betrayal that led to the death of many in a German prison camp. Ryan plays the role with the right amount of menace as he stalks his prey with a pronounced limp - you know - war injury.

I haven't seen too many Van Heflin films but the last one I saw was quite enjoyable in its strangeness. This film wasn't nearly as bizarre but it was still pretty good. Janet Leigh is good as Heflin's wife and the conclusion of the film satisfies. The film is nothing that special but a pleasant enough diversion for people obsessed with these sort of noirish type films such as myself.

Directed by Fred Zinnemann
1949
TCM

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sunset Boulevard

This was the third time I've seen this film and I have liked it more with each viewing. The first time I saw it was sometime in the mid 90s - I think when I was living with my parents before I moved to NYC. I liked it but for some reason didn't love it. I don't think I really knew what to make of it. In particular, I didn't quite get the brilliance of Gloria Swanson.

By my 2nd viewing a number of years ago at Film Forum, I was ready for it. Plus, seeing it on the big screen made a big difference.

This third viewing blew me away. This movie is easily one of my all time favorites at this point. It is absolutely brilliant.

Everything from the dead body in the pool at the beginning to the unbelievable last shot (the best ending shot in film history?) is pure genius. Every line is perfect. Every Gloria Swanson raised eyebrow is stellar. The card game with Buster Keaton is incredible. I loved Erich von Sroheim. I loved Cecil B. Demille as himself. William Holden was good as well.

And to top everything off - the film features one of the best lines in movie history. When it was mentioned to Norma that she used to be big - she retorted, "I AM big. It was the pictures that got small." YES! HELL YES!

Directed by Billy Wilder
1950
DVD

Monday, September 06, 2010

The Swimmer

I loved this movie when I saw it with SHR a number of years ago. And I loved it upon reviewing it on a Tuesday with Bart.

Based on a John Cheever short story, The Swimmer stars a middle-aged buff Burt Lancaster in the CT suburbs. The movie begins with him appearing in a friend's backyard and deciding to take a quick lap in their pool Apparently, he has been gone for a while but it isn't clear where he's been.

In a moment of existential crisis, he decides he's going to attempt to swim all the way home. Not really but sort of. His plan is to run from house to house and take a dip in all of the swimming pools at his friends' houses. The problem arises when it becomes quite apparent that not all of his friends want to see him.

Things get stranger and stranger and Lancaster clearly is a bit messed up. I don't want to get to into the plot details for those who haven't seen it but you need to remedy this and see it for yourself. This is a fascinating time capsule. It could never have been made during any other era. It is so incredibly 1968. Absolutely perfect and so damn odd.

Directed by Frank Perry
1968
TCM