Monday, May 30, 2016

Ball of Fire


1941, US, directed by Howard Hawks

Wonderful big-screen outing, and despite my love for both Hawks and Stanwyck this was a first-time viewing for me. There's such a strong association these days between Hawks and the more manly genres that it often comes as a surprise to be reminded that he directed several of the great screwball comedies, although there's certainly some overlap in terms of the director's interests in the world of work and the various professional codes and behaviours that he contrasts to amusing effect when juxtaposing the academics and the gangsters. Occupying a role in between both groups, Barbara Stanwyck owns the film even when surrounded by a galaxy of fine character actors.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Une Nuit


2012, France, directed by Philippe Lefebvre (aka Paris By Night)

A solid French thriller set over the course of a single night, with a possibly corrupt cop doing the rounds of the nightclub circuit. The rhythm is intriguing, with moments of adrenaline interrupted by deliberate longueurs as the characters spend time in the car on the way from one place to the next; there's a real Melvillian echo to the central character, a single-minded individual with his own morality. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Face Behind the Mask


1941, US, directed by Robert Florey

Terrific crime melodrama, with Lorre in top form as a new arrival in the US dealt a terrible hand by fate after he is disfigured in a fire. While there narrative gets a touch overheated by the end, I was struck most forcefully by the depiction of the US as an immigrant's nightmare, very much in opposition to the usual narrative of opportunity and success. 

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Man Up


2015, UK/France, directed by Ben Palmer

Friday, May 06, 2016

Begin Again


2013, US, directed by John Carney

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Whiplash


2014, US, directed by Damien Chazelle

Impressive on every level: performances, construction, visuals, and with a final payoff that's intense and emotionally fraught (the almost unspoken depiction of a kind of masochistic self-abnegation, both in pursuit of success and in terms of the willingness to submit to the Svengali-type, is quite exceptional). Chazelle also orchestrates an enjoyably percussive editing style, with brisk conveying of information. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Er ist wieder da


2015, Germany, directed by David Wnendt (aka Look Who's Back)

When I was in Berlin last year, there were posters everywhere for this but I couldn't make my schedule work to take it in; I'd heard of the book, which posits Hitler inexplicably awakening in modern-day Berlin, and read mixed things about the success of the film, though it's certainly worth a look as a curiosity and a muddled commentary on modern German pop culture (as well as the continued efforts of Germans to deal with their country's past). The land of Goethe and Schiller has no equal in its ability to plumb the depths when it comes to reality TV culture, and the film makes a good deal of hay with this, but what's most notable is the exceptional commitment of Oliver Masucci as Hitler, staying in character in the unscripted, public sequences to a quite extraordinary degree. Obviously, there's a debate to be had as to whether you can effectively use Borat-style tactics when you're dealing with an actual historical figure rather than an invented Kazakh lunatic, but there's an unfakeable discomfort that comes from the bizarrely warm embrace with which "Hitler" is met in so many quarters.

Index

List of all movies

Most of the images here are either studio publicity stills or screen captures I've made myself; if I've taken your image without giving you credit, please let me know.

About Me

Boston, Massachusetts, United States