9/14/08

My Week In Film (9/8 - 9/14)

Let's see how this works.



In A Lonely Place (1950)
(Directed By Nicholas Ray)

A fine noir with Bogie starring as a Hollywood screenwriter with a bad temper. The story follows him as he's accused of a murdering a checkgirl. However, that bit of plot isn't what's interesting at all. The film is much more about the Bogie's personality. This guy is tough. He gets into fights all the time, his relationships are explosive and he's incredibly self-destructive. It's all highlighted with his relationship to his neighbor, a glorious Gloria Grahame. Their love is kinda tragic, not least for Grahame who wishes she could overlook her fear of of Bogie's character and just be with him. This time, it's not the world that keeps from being happy but Bogie's own temperament. It's tragic and well worth watching.

★★★★


That Obscure Object of Desire (1977)
(Directed by Luis Bunuel)

This last film from the Spanish master skillfully shows his wicked sense of humor. The film follows Fernando Rey as he becomes infatuated with a Spanish girl named Conchita. While they do fall in love, Conchita won't give in and have sex with him which drives him mad. But that's just a start. The genius of the film lies in the casting of two different actresses for the part of Conchita. Sometimes, they switch in between the same scene. One goes to the restroom, another one returns. What makes it interesting is that both are completely different. One is lively and carefree while the other one is more restrained and stately. Just who is Conchita and why does Rey desire her so? That's just part of the game, man.

★★★1/2


Wild Strawberries (1957)
(Directed by Ingmar Bergman)

I remember seeing Woody Allen's Deconstructing Harry quite a few years ago and reading reviews about how it was basically Wild Strawberries but filtered through a crude and hateful sense of humor. Well, now I have finally seen this film and I can tell you that although they share similar structures and concernes, they both go about it in completely different ways. This film probably goes more for the heart. It's a film dripping in emotion. The dream sequences are obvious and are meant to manipulate (in the best way possible). But what makes it great is the acting. The swedish director Victor Sjöström (The Wind, He Who Gets Slapped, The Phantom Carriage) plays Isak Borg, an old professor. He's to receive a honorary degree from a university. It's in his face and his actions and Bergman's characterizations of the people around him that make this film a great one and make me be on the verge of tears by the film's end. Looking forward to more Bergman.

★★★★




Johnny Guitar (1954)
(Directed by Nicholas Ray)

What a fun film! So many things going on. A gleeful mix of genre conventions, gender reversals and just plain wackiness, Johnny Guitar has pretty much everything going for it. Sterling Hayden plays Johnny Guitar, a guitar player who gets around without any guns. While Joan Crawford plays Vienna, the toughest woman you ever saw. Their relationship is great but at the heart of the film is the stare downs between Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge. The women are the ones that matter here. The men are in the sidelines. Sure, there's a definite campiness when the films switches from locations to sets to projections and the McCambridge pretty much going crazy in her role but that doesn't change the fact that Johnny Guitar is a singular experience and definitely one of the funnest movies I can remember.

★★★★


Bigger Than Life (1956)
(Directed by Nicholas Ray)

A savage critique of the American 50s way of life, Bigger Than Life brims with such purpose and intensity that by the end of the film you can't believe your eyes. James Mason gives a towering performance as a elementary school teacher who has a serious health condition. To combat it, he has to take cortisone. However, the drugs has unintended consequences. Most of the film's power is derived from Mason's change in nature. He turns to an alpha male. His vision of what he'd like to be if he wasn't encumbered with so many responsibilities and rules and whatever. Plus it's got a kickass ending. What else can be said.

★★★★

Jhon's Film of the Week is... Johnny Guitar.

Maybe Johnny Guitar isn't the best but I gotta show Nick Ray some love.

3 comments:

face said...

I'm very confused as to why you didn't make the lone 5 star film, also a Nicolas Ray film, the film of the week.

roujin said...

Because I made a mistake. It wasn't supposed to be a 5-star film. Those are extremely rare!

sean said...

Personal Ray marathon?

My reaction to Johnny Guitar was much the same, but I would have given it that 5th star just for being so freakin' weird.