Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Movie Update 17

And here's the rest of the current crop. I think I'll be watching at least four movies a week for the next six weeks, so... yeah. Busy.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High

This was the first movie Cameron Crowe wrote, although it was directed by Amy Heckerling. Kind of a standard high school sex comedy, but a well-written one, and I think it probably set a lot of standards for that particular genre. Jennifer Jason Leigh is the female lead and I thought her character was an interesting examination of a late bloomer type of girl, but I thought the standouts were Judge Reinhold as her older brother, who's just kind of a likable guy, and Sean Penn especially as the stoner Jeff Spicoli. It's not that it's a particularly difficult part to play, but I thought he actually brought a surprising amount of sadness to the role. Weird comment I guess, but hey, the movie has that scene where Phoebe Cates takes her red bikini top off.

The Lady Eve

Much like Sullivan's Travels, Preston Sturges' The Lady Eve is a good old comedy with some odd touches, like the opening credits featuring an animated snake. Henry Fonda is a rich heir to an ale fortune, and on a boat ride back to home a father and daughter pair of con artists attempt to take him in a high stakes card game. But the daughter, played by Barbara Stanwyck ends up falling for him after she sees how earnestly he feels towards her. Of course things get complicated once Fonda realizes who she really is. What follows is a mix of romantic comedy and some noir elements (mostly revolving around the femme fatale archetype) that generally works. Fonda's character is a bit too dumb to be believable and the plot sort of gives up on justifying the characters' actions at a certain point, but the dialogue and main performances are strong enough to pull it all together into a solid movie anyway. Flawed, but fun.

The Last Picture Show

I liked this one a hell of a lot, for reasons I'm not sure I can totally explain. It's another coming of age movie, although it treats the sexual subject matter with a lot more frankness that most movies, even ones made today, do. There's a certain melancholy about the whole thing, with characters passing and businesses closing, it sort of reflects the idea of small towns disappearing without getting too preachy about it. It's also notable for featuring a performance by an extremely young Jeff Daniels, before he had fully mastered the art of acting. The movie drifts a bit and is far from the most easily entertaining one on this list (in fact it's pretty easily the most humorless), but it just worked for me.

Roman Holiday

A nice movie about a gorgeous girl and a handsome man having fun in a beautiful city. Audrey Hepburn plays a princess of some country who's visiting in Rome, when she gets fed up with her controlled lifestyle and decides to run away for a night. She ends up spending time with a reporter played by Gregory Peck, who at first just wants a story, but changes his mind once he starts having feelings for her. He also has a photographer friend he abuses rampantly without repercussion. It's not the funniest comedy or the most emotional romance, but it's a good film all around, and it features one of the best endings I've ever seen in this type of movie. They often sacrifice realism for the sake of the story, but that's not the case here, and it works extremely well. It was definitely the part of the film that impressed me the most.

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