Friday, October 28, 2011

Movie Update 26

Sometimes movies are all you really have to talk about, you know? You've got other stuff going on, but there they are. Movies.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

One of the original horror movies, and a pretty good one. Dr. Caligari is notable for its early use of a twist ending and famous for the abstract design of its backgrounds, but it would be pretty effective even without those. The story is a bit slight, but the movie tells a fairly entertaining tale about a Frankenstein-esque mad scientist and his murderous somnambulist creation. Some nice creepy images, and just a solid mood that would help lead to more sophisticated takes on the genre concept. An important silent movie that manages to be watchable.

My Darling Clementine

Another black and white John Ford western, though I really didn't like this one as much. It had some nice scenes, but it was mostly just kind of slow. Henry Fonda plays an amiable Wyatt Earp, but that's about it. It's the story of the OK Corral, with a lot of inaccuracies and changes that don't really improve the drama of the story or make it more interesting. Ford knows how to shoot movies, and for its age Clementine is well shot. But sometimes he just forgets to make a truly entertaining movie, and this is one of those times. I think Westerns are among the genres most hurt by being confined to 4:3 black and white boxes, and while it didn't bother me much with Stagecoach, I think it definitely was to this film's disadvantage. I would have liked to have seen how it would have turned out ten years later.

The Palm Beach Story

Like the other Preston Sturges movies I've seen, Palm Beach Story is kind of weird. It's more overtly weird though, in that the plot ends up being completely silly. It's a pretty normal screwball comedy featuring the guy from Sullivan's Travels and the girl from It Happened One Night, only their story is one of a marriage falling apart rather than one coming together. Of course things end up about how you'd expect for them, but the ending kind of throws that away with a kind of bizarre plot twist. Like other Sturges movies it has solid actors delivering a lot of fun dialogue very quickly, but there's not much else besides that.

Pierrot le Fou

Sometimes I wonder who determines whether a film will be internationally known by its original title or a translation. It took a few tries, but I found a Jean-Luc Godard film that I really like. Fou combines some elements from other work by him that I've seen, like the vibrant yet natural cinematography of Contempt and the existentialism and fourth-wall breaking of Breathless, but puts them in a story I actually found interesting. The star of the latter film and Godard's eventual ex-wife play a couple that runs away from their responsibilities and some Algerian gangsters with a bunch of their money. It's not quite as exciting as that sounds, but the course of their relationship is intriguing and it's just kind of a fun movie to watch. Definitely very French, but not in a bad way.

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