Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Worst Witch

The Worst Witch (The Movie) I really like Fairuza Balk. I really like Tim Curry, and Diana Rigg can be fun. This unbelievably hokey production, however, can't be worth much. It's very pre-Potter, though. Much of it reminded me of the newer franchise, including the boarding-school/castle thing, and several of the classes.

I think this movie makes a good nostalgia piece, but it's impossible to take seriously. They sing

The Boys are Back

The Boys Are Back Meh. I found the story interesting enough, especially the ending, but I'm just not enthusiastic about it. Perhaps nothing strikes my fancy that isn't more whimsical or surreal. I think the story was simply too mundane for my taste. I liked the emotionality. I appreciated the acting skill. I thought the characters/actors had a great chemistry. Positive, but not exuberant.

Me and Orson Welles

Me & Orson Welles For a film that Rotten Tomatoes really loved, I found the ending somewhat unsatisfying, although just possibly because I ducked out of the room at that point; I'm moving in a week and I've been organizing stuff all day. My room, twenty minutes to midnight, is a disaster area, and I'm tempted to sleep on the couch.

Anyway, back to the movie. Orson Welles is so obviously the villain of the piece, and that makes me a little uncomfortable. So many characters simply say he's a genius, but we aren't given the specifics of how. Those of us who have studied his work are pretty sure he was a genius anyway (however insufferable and egotistical), and yet I didn't see it here.

I liked the film, and I would certainly give it a positive review, but it didn't dazzle me.

All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front (Universal Cinema Classics) I hate war movies. Really, I'm the absolutely wrong person to analyze this, or even summarize since to me, war movies all have the same plot: a little zealous patriotism followed by a couple of hours of shooting, polka-dotted with tear-jerking dead/wounded scenes of stupidity and heroism. War movies never end well; as the great and eternal evil, they can't.

This one might be more picturesque than some. It might have some interesting effects. It has some very raw moments, but very few. It feels primitive. I think it deserved the award, though.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Cimarron

Cimarron Another in a string of early films that can't quite decide into which genre they belong, this film might satisfy a number of human cravings. It might, but it probably won't. It's also another in a long line of undeserving Oscar winners. Loved Irene Dunne, though.

Rotten Tomatoes calls it rotten, with a sad 57%, but it's pretty easy to see why. Give this one a miss.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Psycho

Psycho (Collector's Edition) Brilliant. The only negative critique on rottentomatoes.com seems to be that it's not shallow enough, which I think the film can handle.

I wouldn't call this work perfect, by any means. The explicatory speech given at the end by the psychologist seems to dull the impact somewhat, but we know that Hitchcock jonesed for resolution, never fully embracing Modernism. He also seems to be somewhat of a Freudian Hack.

Besides that, though, this movie is amazing. Anthony Perkins is attractive and endearing - the quintessential . . . (it's a classic. Forgive the spoilers). . . serial killer. Janet Leigh plays a nuanced but only marginally sympathetic victim. The movie provided horrors that frighten even when you look at them straight, unlike most thriller stories, which look a little too. . . chocolate syrup? . . . when you face them completely.

I loved this movie, and it was with great joy that I discovered Netflix reserved the rating, which allowed my mother to allow herself to watch the thing with us. Honestly, the R rating could only have been thematic, because this film contains little that would offend - but plenty that might disturb sensitive viewers.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lili

Lili For many, many years as a child this was my favorite film. It was so much my favorite that I bought the book as a paperback (Love of Seven Dolls by Paul Gallico). Although many seem to love both stories, after reading the book I could only see the deep flaws. Rewatching the movie, I see many of those flaws reflected, and I find myself unable to relate to the childhood part of me that loved this film. Let me explain why.

Although the stage-like filming kept that feeling of carnival pretending, the emotions running through this film felt much too real. This mightn't be a flaw -- it could be the most important factor, making the emotions the only "real" thing in the movie -- if only the rest of the movie treated emotions more realistically.

As in the book, the character of the puppeteer proved much too violent and problematic to allow for romance to develop without severe conscience issues, unless you want to admit that you'd encourage someone to enter or stay in an abusive relationship. In the book, the puppeteer is repeatedly physically violent, but even in the hideous fifties that wasn't appropriate on screen for a romantic film, so Paul Berthalet only strikes Lili once while the rest of his abuse is verbal and emotional. And yet the script obviously wants the audience to buy into the romance of the film; we want to buy into it. Mel Ferrer plays a strong man with emotional depth and tenderness. But in reality, if a man can't express his depth or tenderness, it's useless. It withers and dies, and in the shadow of violence, it's meaningless from the outset.

Abuse is abuse. That character accuses Lili of only seeing his anger, but the man never showed anything else to her, except through puppets, and how is a person to know what is real if it goes through a filter that thick? It's as likely that Paul faked kindness in his puppets as that he really meant what his puppets said. How is Lili to tell the difference? Should she distinguish between them? Abuse is abuse, regardless of how the abuser finds to express any "other" side of himself.

Ultimately, although interesting and nuanced, this film has much more adult themes that make the ending all too problematic for a mature audience, and to a child, it could be teaching some dangerous ideas, like the tolerance of violence, and the same dangerous helplessness that characterizes so many of the Disnified fairy-tales.