08 August 2012

A few more recently viewed movies

9.   Fandango: A bunch of frat boys flee adulthood (marriage, the draft) after graduation for a last roadtrip through the desert.  One of them spends the whole time in the back seat reading philosophy.  Tarrantino apparently saw this five times in a week when it came out.  It's fun to watch and reasonably okay. (3)

10.  Grand Hotel: Two Barrymores, Joan Crawford and Greta Garbo costar in this ensemble piece that snapshots the ups and downs of a few guests at a high class Berlin hotel.  The bits with Garbo are almost painfully saccharine, but it might be worth watching for Lionel Barrymore's character, a terminally ill accountant who decides to have a good time before he goes (cf. Ikiru [5]).  (3)

11.  The French Connection: Drug bust caper.  The plot is linear and unsurprising.  I'm not sure why it won Best Picture or why Gene Hackman (whom I like a lot) particularly deserved Best Actor.  It has that cold, 70s photography that I associate with The Exorcist (same director and cinematographer).  It's a decent film, but the characters have little depth.  One nice thing is the lack of explanatory dialogue: no voiceovers to explain the net or the heist.  We just watch what happens.  (3)

12.  Modern Times: Charlie Chaplin navigates the difficulties of life in the 1930s.  Work on an assembly line.  Communist rallies.  Prison, poverty, anxiety,  etc.  It's a sharp (kind of bleak) portrait of the period that still manages to make you smile all the way through.  (4)

13.  Tootsie: Surprisingly good drag comedy.  Dustin Hoffman is a washed up actor with a bad reputation who jumpstarts his career by taking a female role on a soap opera.  Well executed. (3)

14.  From Here to Eternity: Private Prewett refuses to box after he's involved in an accident, and his captain puts him through hell for it.  Remember Pearl Harbor, that endless ooze of sap starring Ben Afleck and Josh Hartnett?  Well, this is like that, except that it doesn't have a second movie tacked on after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the plot/characters are less stupid. (3)

15.  The Dark Knight: After three viewings, I think it's well-done.  I think the Joker's lines are brilliantly written, and this makes up for weaknesses in Christian Bale's performance.  The plot is beautifully constructed. (4)

16.  Marty: A 34-year-old bachelor decides whether he wants to be alone for the rest of his life.  It's amazing, and hits a lot of the mundane realities of life in a way that's neither overly grim nor melodramatic.  Worth owning. (5)

17.  His Girl Friday: Newspaper editor's ex-wife comes to announce her imminent remarriage to an insurance salesman.  He does his best to pull her back into the newspaper business.  Extremely fast-paced slapstick.  It's like Twister, without the tornadoes and with more humor.  (3)