...more recent posts
“CRIME AND PUNISHMENT” on skateboards — that was one of the early tag lines floating around the production of “Paranoid Park,” the new film by Gus Van Sant. Based on a novel by Blake Nelson, the story follows a teenage skateboarder in Portland, Ore., who accidentally kills a security guard and is then left to ponder his guilt in a void of suburban amorality.
watched The Philadelphia Story which for me was the equivalent of a gateway drug in terms of my interest in classic film. and after numerous viewings it still retains its intoxicating allure. in rock the question is often posed "do you prefer the stone or the beatles?" similarly one might ask the same of jimmy stewart or cary grant. ive always leaned towards the image of cosmopolitan sheen of grant versus the stuttering boyish cornfed all-american stewart. but its hard not to be charmed by stewarts oscar winning performance even if his character loses out in the end (a little to readily to my taste) to the more inwardly cynical grant. meanwhile hepburn is at her best here in a part she brought with her from broadway to save her flagging film career. watching grace kelly attempt to fill hepburns shoes in the musical adaptation, High Society, fifteen years later makes clear the excellence she brought to the role, to say nothing of the pallid performances of bing crosby and frank sinatra as the stand-ins for grant and stewart.
didnt watch any movies yesterday except for the first half hour of lubitschs version of To Be or Not To Be starring carole lombard jack benny and a remarkably youthful robert stack. im much more familiar with the mel brooks remake which is pretty faithful to the original but is more campy as most brooks films tend to be. that this film is made during world war ii gives it more bite than the remake. also lombard dies in a plane crash while out collecting money for war bonds three weeks after filming ended the knowledge of which adds an elegiac air to the political satirical.
then this afternoon i watched parts of two versions of Mutiny on The Bounty, the 1935 academy award winner for best picture starring clark gable (lombards husband) as the dashing mutinous mr christian and charles laughton as the excerable capt bligh. that was followed by the 1962 three hour epic starring marlon brando as a foppish christian and trevor howard as a colder, martinet bligh. this version fared less well critically and at the box office. supposedly mgm almost went down with the ship because of it. and brandos reputation as more trouble than he was worth was cemented with this effort. but i think over time this film has risen slightly in esteem as its judged on its merits. some sharp dialogue and sparkling technicolor although at times seemed like a tahitian travelogue.
while i still have the time i thought id try to chronicle the movies that i watch. many opportunities for embarassment but when has that ever stopped me. oh right, most of the time. dont know if ill rate them or have much to say but...ill add a turner classic synposis if available
one thing that unifies these three films is the lack of overacting and schmaltz. thats saying alot for this movie as it costars matthew mcconaughey and is directed by forrest gumpmeister robert zemekis. the first contact was somewhat anticlimactic but the tension between science and faith was well considered. bonus points for jena malones first major role as a young jody foster.
A group of disparate passengers battle personal demons and each other while racing through Indian country.
Cast: John Wayne, Claire Trevor, George Bancroft. Dir: John Ford. BW-96 mins, TV-G
usually when i see john ford and john wayne on the schedule i surf on. in fact i rarely brake for westerns but i thought id give it a whirl if only to scratch them off of my mental checklist. as usual the injuns get short shrift and the characters are caricatures but at least it was well acted, and like mcconaughey john waynes worst characteristics were muted. according to robert osborne this was waynes first starring gig and what vaulted him to the a-list so its not a big surprise that his performance lacked the excess swagger. standout performance was from thomas mitchell as doc boone who won the best supporting actor oscar for this role.
Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
A team of flyers risks their lives to deliver the mail in a mountainous South American country.
Cast: Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Rita Hayworth. Dir: Howard Hawks. BW-121 mins, TV-PG
thomas mitchell was in this film as well. really great character actor. 1939 was a banner year for him as he appeared in:
# The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) .... Clopin
# Gone with the Wind (1939) .... Gerald O'Hara
# Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) .... Diz Moore
... aka Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (USA: complete title)
# Only Angels Have Wings (1939) .... Kid Dabb
# Stagecoach (1939) .... Doc Boone
heres a richer point of view gleaned from imdb. from what i understand the critique of hawks holds true for ford the director of stagecoach. bonus points for a 20yo rita hayworth in a supporting role.
This film is relentlessly male and relentlessly American. It functions brilliantly within the Hawksian "system" where male bonding is key, and where Woman is an outsider. Where romance is a minor part of life and where love is expressed through symbols and not through language. The group of professionals and their easy, jocular interaction is the beating heart of this film and all the group scenes are brilliantly directed. I also like the element of screwball comedy (a genre in which Hawks is one of the few masters) which presents itself in Grant and Arthur's "coffee" scene. It shows how much Hawks trusts his actors and his material in that he knows that such changes of tone can strengthen, rather than weaken, the key drama. I love this film even though its presentation of the world is not the one I'm the most sympathetic to. The film is not incredibly strong in psychological nuances - not when compared to directors like Sirk, Fuller, Welles, N. Ray, etc...and the basic tone is that of a stoicism which occasionally cracks (slightly) under pressure, but which almost immediately reestablishes itself. It's an attractive world view, but not one I'm incredibly comfortable with. There is no place here for ambiguity - not on any deep, non - localized level. I've been reading some Hawks interviews, and I now understand why Hawks was uncomfortable with being labeled an "artist". His attitude towards films and film-making is clearly the same as the attitude of the men in this film towards their work and their lives (and deaths). It's simple: you're either good enough or you're not, and you're only as good as your last flight. This identification between the man (Hawks) and his production (Only Angels Have Wings) helps to illuminate the greatness of the film, but it also explains its emotional and aesthetic limitations.
oscars tonight. place your bets.
near mortal locks:
best picture - no country for old men
best actor - daniel day lewis
best supporting actor - javier bardem
up for grabs:
best actress - julie christie
best supporting - ruby dee
best director - coens though i wish it were someone else. that movie wasnt that good. maybe theyll get rejected for that crap ending.
original screenplay - tamara jenkins would seem like the favorite but i bet diablo cody gets it as a consolation prize for juno.
what say you?