Saturday, November 26, 2011

Movie Update 30

Here are some Alfred Hitchcock movies! And a couple others too I guess!


Alfred Hitchcock's first sound film is a pretty decent one. It features a lot of elements that would become his signatures - normal people in great distress, tension building as the result of bad decisions, dramatic climaxes in famous locations. It also seems remarkably dark for the period, with the plot kicking into full gear as the result of murder to avoid a sexual assault. It still feels like a silent movie in some ways, with many scenes going on for ages with little happening, but Hitchcock shows a lot of ability in not just his first attempt at a sound picture, but one of the first ever.


Chicago is a pretty poor choice for Best Picture, not just in its year but probably most. Laughable, even. But it's not a bad movie. I have a feeling the voters wanted to give the award to a musical again, and the most acclaimed one since Cabaret was a decent opportunity. It's actually sort of the opposite of that film stylistically, with most of its musical numbers being fantasies in the protagonist's head rather than regular performances at an actual music club, but that's not really terribly important. The plot is simple and I have no idea why I'm actually supposed to be sympathetic with Renée Zellweger's character, and some of the pieces being a bit simple for the medium of film. But the acting is pretty good and there's an energy to the movie that's enjoyable to watch. Definitely not bad.

Easy Virtue

An even earlier Hitchcock movie, still stuck in the silent era, and unfortunately this one doesn't show a whole lot of skill from the Master. My main problem with the movie is that nothing happens in it. It begins with a woman going through a messy divorce, and then she meets a new man somewhere else, but eventually her past catches up to her. There's nothing really interesting about any of it, the fallout isn't exactly dramatic and the movie doesn't even really seem to care if you're sympathetic or not. All it really seems to be saying is that women shouldn't do inappropriate things if they want to be happy. Which uh... okay?

Foreign Correspondent

Released the same year as Rebecca, Foreign Correspondent isn't as good, but it's still a solid example of what Hitchcock could pretty much do in his sleep. A reporter gets caught up in a web of spying and secrets that could eventually lead to a World War (paralleling the one that was actually happening), but his ability to tell the truth is compromised when he falls for a girl who's a little too close to the conspiracy. It's one of the weaker American films I've seen by him, but I eventually warmed up to it, especially after its surprisingly exciting climax. It's really more comedic than his work tends to be, maybe because Joel McRea is the lead, and it took me some time to adjust, but it's a fine little international caper.

Rumble Fish

Boy, Francis Ford Coppola's post-70s career is hard to get a bead on. It almost seems like he's a different person. A lot like Tetro, Rumble Fish is a black and white film with splashes of color that partially exists to examine the director's own relationship with his older brother. Matt Dillon plays a young punk who looks up to his brother, played by Mickey Rourke, and who has difficulty finding a way to fit in with the world around him. He hangs out with friends at a pool hall, gets into gang fights,  and treats his girlfriend played by Diane Lane like crap. Eventually things start going badly for him, and I can't say I really minded. It's just kind of a weird movie, but some parts worked well enough that I wasn't bored.

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