Wednesday, April 28, 2010

American movies, 1970-1979

from Michelangelo Antonioni's The Passenger (1975)
A little bit of a cheat this time, but then again, maybe not. Jack Nicholson is the American part of this international production, which was directed and co-written by an Italian who wrote it with an African and an Englishman, and it was filmed in several different countries with a cast from all over the world.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

My moviegoing: 2003

from Andrew Jarecki's Capturing the Friedmans (2003)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

First movie/last movie: Samuel Fuller

I Shot Jesse James (1949)
Street of No Return (1989)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

American movies, 1970-1979

from Robert Altman's Nashville (1975)
Most Altman fans pick Nashville as the man's greatest work, though I'd choose McCabe & Mrs. Miller, California Split, The Long Goodbye, 3 Women, Brewster McCloud, and possibly even Secret Honor and Popeye over Nashville. Geraldine Chaplin's character is so ill-conceived and idiotic that not even an actress of her caliber can do anything with it other than turn it into a shrill cartoon, the film has very little to say about the real city of Nashville but pretends to anyway, and a handful of characters are underdeveloped and poorly used. Still, it's got an atmosphere and tone that's unlike anything else I've seen, about a half-dozen scenes that are just about perfect, performances from Lily Tomlin, Gwen Welles, Ned Beatty, Barbara Baxley, and Henry Gibson that just nail it to the wall, a mood you can physically feel like weather, and I couldn't stop picking out images, including the one moment when Chaplin's really able to do something with the one-note caricature she's saddled with. I don't love this movie as a whole, but I love it anyway.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

My moviegoing: 2003

from Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity (1944)
Austin Film Society's European Directors in Hollywood series
When I saw this film, some of the audience laughed with smug, knowing condescension at an admiring comment Fred MacMurray's character tells Barbara Stanwyck's about the value of her home. I have to paraphrase, but he said that a house as nice as Stanwyck's must have set her back about $30,000, which caused a portion of the audience to react with that exaggerated, self-satisfied laughter you sometimes have to hear when you see an old movie in a theater. Look at how sophisticated we are compared to these 1940s rubes. Let us laugh at them with their foolishly reasonable home prices. We live in a more refined era, an era in which we pay grotesquely inflated prices for basic housing. Yes, that's right. We're laughing at them. Stupid old-timey rubes.
Other than those few moments of irritation, seeing this movie on the big screen was an absolute pleasure.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

First movie/last movie: John Frankenheimer

The Young Stranger (1957)
Reindeer Games (2000)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

American movies, 1970-1979

from Woody Allen's Love and Death (1975)

Friday, April 02, 2010

My moviegoing: 2003

from Aki Kaurismaki's The Man Without a Past (2002)

Thursday, April 01, 2010

First movie/last movie: John Ford

Straight Shooting (1917)
7 Women (1966)

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