Friday, March 28, 2014
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Thursday, March 20, 2014
The Korean War. Lieutenant Gregory Peck and his men must hold a hill that has no strategic importance. It's a great film, shot in gritty black and white. It has the chance of going in a really dark direction towards the end. It doesn't quite do that, but it's still a surprisingly realistic film about the price of war, and Peck is very good.
History of the World: Part 1 by Mel Brooks
Not one of Brooks' best ones - it has dated quite a bit, even having a referance to the old On the Road films. But Brooks tries so wholeheartedly to entertain you, that it's difficult to dislike, and he has some good gags in the French Revolution part. There are the usual suspects from his previous films, but I never really found Madeline Kahn and Dom DeLuise to be that funny. Where was Gene Wilder?
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
A big, visually appealing book with lots of photos and drawings. It's a slightly frustrating read as Anderson doesn't like to dissect his movies too much, answering long questions with a simple "hmm". And Seitz never asks, so hey, what's with all these centered compositions? But, most importantly, the book makes you want to rewatch all of Wes Anderson's films.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Yes, it's very good, Dickensian, well written and all that. The 700 pages zip by. Daringly, Tartt ends the story with the main character giving us the moral of the book, normally something that should be left to the reader, but she gets away with it. The Amsterdam sequence is maybe my least favourite part.
Running with the Bulls by Valerie Hemingway
An interesting book, getting an outside view of Ernest Hemingway in his later years, as seen from his secretary / personal assistant, who after Hemingway's death married his estranged, bipolar, cross-dressing son Gregory.
The Horror! The Horror! by Jim Trombetta
A collection of old non EC horror comics from the 50s. The covers are a lot of fun. The stories are maybe less interesting, often not bad in a fun way, but just bad, Basil Wolverton being an exception. And reading this stuff, I can actually understand why some parents were worried at the time.
Last Night by James Salter
A collection of short stories, exquisitely well written, of course. But the characters can be a bit annoying, the sort of upperclass people you find in Woody Allen films, who talk about books or art exhibitions or the meaning of life, but never worry about the phone bills. The title story is the real stunner of the collection.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Yes, it's a good book and a remarkable story. Don't wait for the movie!
The Old Castle's Secret by Carl Barks
Some good stories, some less so, but Donald Duck is still not a very interesting character to me. Why do I enjoy Barks but love Hergé? Is it all based on nostalgia? If I had read Donald Duck as a kid instead of Tintin, would my drawings be different?
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Ah, rich people! One character is more annoying and spoiled than the other, calling each other "darling", their only problem being sunburned, and you just want to puke. I'm sorry, but it's very hard to care what happens to these assholes. Is there a more British actor than David Niven? Here we're supposed to believe that he's a Frenchman. I haven't read the book, but the film came out in 59, the same year as The 400 Blows, and should probably have been a Nouvelle Vague film rather than an oldfashioned Hollywood drama. Seberg is not bad, though, despite the stilted dialogue she is given, and sometimes looks a lot like Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby (or the other way, since that film came out ten years later).
Saturday, March 15, 2014
A great, little caper film, from 72, a couple of years after Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Redford is at the peak of his Robert Redfordness. The victory skip / walk he does at the end is a real movie moment. Period films set in the early seventies often exaggerate how ugly the fashions were, with wide lapels and garish suits, but it wasn't that bad, at least based on this film. If I have one complaint, it's maybe that they could have tried to find a part, somewhere, for Walter Matthau. Actually, the film would make a nice double feature with The Taking of Pelham 123.
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
It's kind of slow, this film, with German accents galore, and Gregory Peck hamming it up as Mengele. The story is probably more believable in a book than in a movie. But there is some fun in spotting actors that will go on to more famous parts. There's Aunt Mary, Sibyl Fawlty, Alfred the butler, Adolf Hitler in Der Untergang and even a young Steve Guttenberg.
In the Heat of the Night by Norman Jewison
It's a pretty good film. Okay, it's about race, but you're not constantly hit over the head with it, like some films I could mention, cough crash cough. The dialogues ring true, the characters aren't there just to make a point and Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier make a cute couple.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Monday, March 10, 2014
Okay, the film looks amazing. The images have the kind of clarity you get when you get a new pair of glasses. There are some lovely, hypnotic sequences, but at some point you wonder, shouldn't there be a story as well? I don't really see one. What do we learn in the film? Women dance and twirl a lot and men knit their brows and look off into the distance. They think in poems. They spend a lot of time in wheat fields at magic hour, looking at horses. They don't wash the dishes or worry about paying rent. It's just hard to relate to anything that happens. They don't feel like real people.
This is probably totally unfair, but I can't help but think that the multiple voiceovers that Malick has used in his recent films are a mistake. I imagine Days of Heaven in that style, how it would completely ruin the film. In his two first films, the voiceover was done by one person, and that voiceover said something about that character. I guess Malick is more into spiritual journeys these days. But sometimes it leaves the viewer on the outside, the key lost somewhere in the wheat field.