My Week in Film (1/4 - 1/10)

Thou Shalt Not: Sex, Sin and Censorship in Pre-Code Hollywood (2008)

eh, pretty boring. Just typical talking heads thingie.


Night Nurse (1931)
(Directed by William A. Wellman)

Pretty good. Stanwyck was lots of fun. She plays a young lady who signs up to become a nurse, learns the ropes and then all out of nowhere stumbles on to a murder plot. The whole movie kinda rests on her performance pretty much, but that's OK because she's awesome in this movie. There's this one scene where she tries dragging a drunk woman across the floor and can't and so she just watches disapprovingly, her arms akimbo, being awesome. Clark Gable is all lean and mean as the chauffeur behind the plot, keeping the ladies dead drunk so they don't notice that their children are dying, and slapping girls when it needs to happen. Basically, Stanwyck is awesome. I need to watch Baby Face. She sleeps her way to the top! oh, roujin!


La Libertad (2001)
(Directed by Lisandro Alonso)

Gonna have to disagree with wormerino on this one. I didn't find much to like about this. The film follows some young Argentinian woodsman doing his thing. He goes out, chops down some trees, strips them, goes back to his hideout, makes himself a meal, takes a nap, goes and sells them, blah blah blah. There's like maybe three dialogue exchanges in the entire movie. Mostly, it's about observing process. It's about seeing a tree get cut down, it's about seeing a porcupine get gutted and eaten, it's about making a fire. IT'S ABOUT NATURE, YO! But, honestly, I found the presentation of it rather lacking. Most of the time I felt the framing was rather inexact and unengaging. The worst part of the movie is when the dude takes a nap and the camera goes around floating around the trees randomly without any sense of conviction of purpose behind it. Basically, a complete disappointment.


Up in the Air (2009)
(Directed by Jason Reitman)

eh, nothing special. George Clooney is pretty good but that's to be expected of him. Vera Farmiga is cool and all that nonsense, blah blah blah. It's basically about an asshole who learns to love. Okay, not really. More or about realizing that those personal relationships that you've shunned all those years, well, they may have something of value. Who will attend your funeral, roujin? It goes about doing that showing how empty Clooney's life is - his apartment barely has anything in it (a marker of stability? nah, impossible). People are important. What? I hear they support you when you're fired. Where did I hear that? I heard it from this movie. Yeah, really. Who dares go through life alone? You don't want to get married? WTF? That's obviously wrong. Life, it's just these things we gotta do and then be disappointed by, and these commitments and bonds that we form with others that ultimately mean nothing because "we all die alone." *chuckle* Really, just not a very interesting movie outside of the actors and stuff and that only gets me so far most of the time. How does it all fit together? People are meaningless.


Theodora Goes Wild (1936)
(Directed by Richard Boleslawski)

I like Dunne enough that I don't think this was a waste of time, but that asshole needs to stop his goddamn whistling!


Lili (1953)
(Directed by Charles Walters)

Leslie Caron plays Lili a 16-year-old girl alone in the world. She follows some random guy and joins a carnival. She tries to make it in the carnival world by doing some waitress job but she's horrible at it and fails. She has no money and then plans to kill herself. Until she's talked out of it by some puppets. The whole movie is about this weirdly innocent girl and about how she has no idea what the hell is happening around her and she gets so lost talking to these puppets that she even forgets that there is a puppeteer behind the screen saying all the things they're saying and Leslie Caron has this one weird fantasy sequence that's totally this awesome sexual fever dream where she tarts herself up to attract the attention of this one playboy magician working at the carnival and, of course, Lili goes through some sort of therapy sessions with the puppets (or something) and it feels completely like a musical, and yet there's only one song. I liked it though. Things are weird here. So weird.


Born to Dance (1936)
(Directed by Roy Del Ruth)

Eleanor Powell is a gal new to the city looking to make it big in Broadway. Jimmy Stewart plays a Navy dude who's looking for love now that he's on shore. Things happen. Jimmy Stewart sings and dances! But, although he's awesome, he's not really the star of the show here. Eleanor Powell isn't that great of an actress but goddamn she can dance. I didn't really realize how great she was until the ending which is basically this ridiculous virtuoso performance where she tap dances you into submission and then makes you grin like an idiot. And, damn, those legs! And she kicks them high, way high. So, that's pretty much it. Jimmy Stewart makes all the other scenes good and Eleanor Powell makes the dancing ones good (I loved when she spun around in that heart thingie), but everything else didn't really land with me. Most of all would be all that Miss James stuff and the media manipulation or whatever. Eh, I haven't lost yet.


Ceiling Zero (1936)
(Directed by Howard Hawks)

Pretty much a trial run for Only Angels Have Wings but that doesn't mean it isn't great on its own. While I liked Cagney a lot in The Public Enemy and The Roaring Twenties, I loooooooved him here. Those short clipped sentences, playful banter with the ladies as he eyes them up and down, that goddamn moustache - he's superb. The first half of the film is more or less the same thing as His Girl Friday - a single room, lots of telephones, lots of one-liners, but then the film takes a startling turn that reminds the viewer of the dangers of flying. I'm not sure if the switch will work for a bunch of people, but it sure worked for me. There's a mysterious beauty to Cagney in this film, and I'm pretty sure it's all in the moustache, but even without that, I can't resist his magic. You need to put a banging donk on it.


The King of Comedy (1999)
(Directed by Stephen Chow + Lee Lik-Chi)

Unlike the image above might suggest, this is not some self-reflexive film about Chow the comedian or anything like that. Somehow I'm disappointed. But, it's still really funny either way. Chow is a serious actor, big on the theory, but not with a lot of experience. He constantly goes to the movie set to try to get work as an extra and somehow always messes up (this leads to a really hilarious John Woo parody with guns blazing, doves everywhere and Chow as a dead priest who just won't die). This stuff about Chow acting and teaching others to act is hilarious. The scene where he teaches a Triad member how to collect money is frame-for-frame hilarious. Sadly, the film's tone is completely all over the place. Not that I really expect consistency or anything, but it still seemed wildly erratic, even for me. I think this has to do with the whole love story aspect of it. The scenes between Cecilia Cheung and Chow are actually really touching, even for this lug, but, I don't know, the way they're incorporated into the movie feels weird. It feels like a separate thing and some of the plot turns and shit feel very strange to me (like that totally out of nowhere undercover stuff at the end). So, I don't think it's a masterpiece like some poor misunderstood soul does, but it's Chow, so it's a whole lot of fun either way. Just some little shit in love with your eyes, Chow.


Kiss Me Kate (1953)
(Directed by George Sydney)

Lots of fun. Divorced Broadway couple reunite to stage The Taming of the Shrew all while their long-simmering rivalry/romance spills over to the stage along with a couple of gangsters and some alterations. I had no use for Howard Keel until he put on that crazy ass makeup and earring. He just bugs me for some reason. But I really loved Ann Miller in this movie. She's a ton of fun in this movie just in the way she carries herself and how she shows off her legs in the beginning. The whole thing is pretty colorful and delightful and everyone here at casa roujin had a gay ole time. But it's just me. More films should use spanking women's behinds as a plot point :)


Throwdown (2004)
(Directed by Johnnie To)

What a weird movie. It's about this disgraced former Judo champion or whatever that does nothing but drink and gamble all day but then this random guy comes in and challenges him and everything changes. I don't think I've ever seen a Judo film (still need to see Sanshiro Sugata, a film that's referenced here a lot apparently) but it's kind of a weird looking. Why? Because it gets kind of comical seeing people being thrown on the floor over and over again. I think To understands that which is why this huge brawl that starts out in a nightclub and spills over into the HK streets feels as much as musical number as it does a fight set piece (is there really a difference?). The film's tone is very strange, too. There are a lot of playful scenes where the gang steals money from gangsters (gangsters that hang out at arcade stores beating kids at fighting games) and then there are scenes that are extremely sentimental, bordering on mawkish. What happens then? I don't know. It just felt weird and at the end of the day I was unsure of what it added up to.


The Quiet Man (1952)
(Directed by John Ford)

A nuanced and realistic portrayal of the Irish people.

Okay, not really. I actually kind of loved it. It's basically this totally sentimental and nostalgic version of an idealized homeland. John Wayne is a boxer who comes back home to Innisfree to settle down in the cottage where he was born, but he sees this heavenly apparition in the figure of Maureen O'Hara (who is really great) as she herds the sheep in the rolling countryside. It's really wonderful. It's a beautiful moment but. . . too bad that the DVD is total shit. There is a ridiculously beautiful film somewhere here and I could see moments of it here and there (the wind in the house where the door opens and John Wayne pulls O'Hara close, and the flat-out brilliance of the graveyard kiss part, I cried) but I can't even begin to imagine the power of this film's technicolor greatness can have in a version that doesn't completely suck ass. Also, the film's final 20 minutes are completely hilarious. Yay, Ireland!


My Man Godfrey (1936)
(Directed by Gregory La Cava)

Lots of fun. Liked it more than The Thin Man. William Powell plays the titular character, a bum living in the city dump who through some strange coincidences becomes the butler of some very rich people. William Powell is a lot of fun. He serves everyone, keeping quiet, deflecting trouble as long as he can, but trouble is inevitable, and so is a social conscience. Or something. What? Who? What is it? And who are you, roujin? Carole Lombard is fun here, too, though she got on my nerves a bit too much. There are laughs to be had here. I had to find them in the rooms and in the drapes or hidden in drawers or under mattresses that can be easily flipped over. So what is going on here? Nothing. Just some words.


A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)*
(Directed by Steven Spielberg)

This is my new favorite Spielberg film. I don't dislike Spielberg. I think he has a lot of really good films (most of them during this decade. . .). He's an excellent craftsman and visual storyteller and can make me cry like a little girl about nothing. So, A.I. is about, I guess, what makes us "human" and all that stuff since, well, Osment wants to become a real boy that involves actually laying out what would make him human. Deep stuff or something. I can't help but stand in awe of this film as it goes on ahead in its own scary route and as the film's brilliant 15 or so minutes play on, I'm almost in tears (this is not a happy ending, it's bitterly fucked) because WE WILL ALL DIE.


Jhon's Movie of the Week is... Ceiling Zero

No comments: