Thursday, June 23, 2011

Movie Update 8

I watched half of these in a single day when they were about to expire from Netflix streaming. That was pretty wacky.


Although I didn't particularly enjoy watching it, this was a pretty interesting film. The focus on the actual composition of the images a lot of the time seems unusual for the period, and the way the plot changes away from what you'd expect it to do over time does as well. A woman goes missing during a get together, and her fiancee and friend grow close as they look for her. Monica Vitti is certainly a beautiful woman, and she manages to keep the movie from getting boring mostly by herself. Apparently Italy can do low-key stuff after all.

Cleo from 5 to 7

It starts out pretty great with an overhead color shot of a tarot reading, but I thought the rest of it didn't quite live up to that inventive beginning. Still, a pretty good movie despite the lack of real action. Cleo is a singer who is afraid that upcoming test results will show she has cancer, and the film follows about an hour and a half of her life in real time as she meets with a few people and deals with the possibilities of the future. Very simple, but mostly watchable nonetheless.

Jules and Jim

A French film about a friendship between a man from France and one from Germany, which is disrupted and poisoned over many years by a woman who enters their lives and turns out to be a pretty significant nutcase. It's amazing how generally enjoyable the movie is to watch despite the amazing amount of dysfunction that's put on screen. It's almost hard to believe that the book it's based on was at least somewhat autobiographical. But still, a well acted, interesting film. Francois Truffaut plays around with a lot of different techniques, and his use of things like freeze framing is pretty innovative. The kind of movie that makes you glad foreign cinema exists, because I have trouble imagining it getting made here.

The Kid

The first full length film directed by Charlie Chaplin is a pretty enjoyable one, though I don't think it had the skill of some of his later work, and there just aren't a ton of comedic set pieces of much note. The tramp finds an abandoned baby in an alley, and instead of doing the proper thing, he ends up trying to raise it himself. Years later he uses the kid as an accomplice to commit crimes for petty cash, and forces him to fight another child. Later when the proper authorities try to return the child to its mother, he kidnaps him and tries to keep him from his biological family. I know it's a comedy and there's a very sweet, loving relationship between the tramp and the kid, but hey, that's what happens in the movie.

King Kong

The original film, which it turns out Peter Jackson was quite faithful to. After seeing that this seems like kind of a student project summarizing a bigger story, but it is pretty noteworthy for the effects, which must have been pretty impressive in 1933, because I haven't seen much from a long period after that that looks significantly better. The combination of stop motion and compositing has a lot of obvious flaws today, but still manages to sell the dangerous adventure everyone goes on pretty well. There are some aspects of the movie that it could do without, like casual sexism and racism, but it's pretty darn watchable for when it was made. And the ending really is pretty affecting, even if Jack Black managed to deliver the final line better than the first guy.

Love in the Afternoon

The first film from Billy Wilder I didn't truly like. I mean, it's not bad at all, and it's remarkably successful for what it is. The problem is that it's a romantic comedy that's not very funny or romantic. When it goes for laughs it usually works, but the film is mostly preoccupied with the central relationship between Audrey Hepburn (who I can confirm is gorgeous but probably as responsible as anyone for the trend towards ultra-skinny women) and Gary Cooper. The problem is I don't know why I should be rooting for them. Cooper seems like a fine actor, but he's too old here for me to understand why she's attracted to him, and his personality doesn't help at all, with him being an aloof womanizer for the vast majority of the picture. Just kind of a weird movie.


Not quite as good as A Man Escaped, but Robert Bresson shows a lot of the same skill at creating a ton of tension and excitement out of very quiet protagonists performing perilous yet otherwise simple tasks. Several of these movies were kind of existential, and this definitely fits that. There's a certain dryness to the movie, but it lends it an air of realism that works well with the simple plot. A very well put together film, with a few lasting images throughout.


This is pretty easily the earliest Alfred Hitchcock movie I've seen, and for some reason my expectations weren't that high. In some ways, it's very much a product of its time. But I ended up loving it about as much as my other favorite Hitchcock films. The story takes a while but eventually goes to some pretty unexpected and shocking places, Judith Anderson is totally creepy, and George Sanders is as always amazingly slimy. Really good stuff.

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