August 2019 Vieiwng Log

  1. Smiles of a Summer Night (55, A): As someone who had no idea Bergman even had a funny bone, this was such a delightful surprise. 8/1/19
    1. It’s so horny on main too, which I didn’t expect but probably should have, given the genre and plot. And such gorgeous emotions to it – the moments it really takes itself seriously are so moving.
    2. Not enough great things can be said about the cast. Dahlbeck, Jacobson, Björnstrand, and Andersson are beyond perfect in this. The more I see of Andersson’s filmography the less I understand how she was never nominated for an Oscar.
    3. Tommy loved it too! Took some convincing to get him to join but it was great watching it with him. First thing we put on together in Chicago. What a moment.
  2. Peyton Place (57, B-): Sudsy, multi-threaded ambition feels like it should be more worth lauding? Shame the direction hobbles it so much. 8/1/19
    1. It’s certainly watchable, but makes sense it was a cultural hit that stayed in its moment. And I haven’t been bored by an Oscar nominated performance the way I was bored by Diane Varsi in a loooong time.
    2. Mark Robson did Peyton Place *and* From the Terrace? Oh lordy
  3. Nausicaä and the Valley of the Wind (84, A-/A): Rivals Mononoke for thematic complexity and sheer, majestic toughness. 8/1/19
  4. Sweet Smell of Success (57, B): Dissonances in approach between its artists intrigues without totally satisfying. Gets better as it goes. 8/1/19
    1. Between Sweet Smell of Success, The Defiant Ones, and Some Like It Hot, I’m not sure I get the appeal of Tony Curtis
  5. Knife + Heart (19, D+): I really couldn’t stand a lot of its set pieces or Paradis. Not without style or ideas but it all feels so cheap. 8/2/19
  6. The Bachelor Party (57, B): Introspective and melancholy, all the more impactful for being so mundane in tone. Solid cast. 8/2/19
  7. The Tarnished Angels (57, B+/A-): Sirk in a sadder, less overtly glamorous mode than I’m used to. Depression era regrets and character-specific compromises, with a heavy weight in its shoulders and a light touch to make us feel it. 8/3/19
    1. I don’t know if I’d write about Malone as a supporting actress – she’s more of a co-lead – but she’s so moving in a very different part from Written on the Wind, as are Robert Stack and Rock Hudson. Whole cast is strong, and gorgeously photographed without being pretty.
  8. Forty Guns (57, B+/A-): An eighty minute Western about Barbara Stanwyck, her dragoons, shifty brother, and stoic love is somehow as vicious, lean, and entertaining as it sounds. 8/4/19
  9. Witness for the Prosecution (57, B): Smart pacing and sleek production values, if not always cinematic. Wyler and Christie’s sensibilities merge well. 8/5/19
    1. The twist is so amazingly fun, and likely Dietrich’s best scene. Even the code ending kinda works? Tommy loved it too. Wild that she got a leading Globe nomination for this, which absolutely would not happen today.
  10. The Souvenir (19, B): Lots to admire about Hogg’s choices in shaping this story, but her construction intrigues more than her tale. 8/6/19
    1. Tom Burke’s insinuating, distanced performance is the only part of the movie that really connected to me, though I liked Byrne a lot too. It’s clearly a smartly made, beloved object, and I’m excited to see the rest of Hogg’s filmography. Just not taken by its sensibilities.
  11. Throne of Blood (57, B+/A-): A chamber drama compact in size with a vicious, bloody heart. Mifune, Yamada aces. 8/6/19
  12. Sayonara (57, C-): Egregiously limited Western POV, ultimately closer to fetishization than respect. Odd as acting showcase. Deadly pacing. 8/7/19
  13. The Maltese Falcon (41, A-): Moves as fast as it talks, adding and revealing layers of wit and nastiness. Brilliantly directed. 8/8/19
  14. Nothing But A Man (64, A): The kind of achievement that makes you realize how much great art it’s responsible for, even as its own achievements stand brilliantly tall. Sensationally shot and acted. Knowing about people and their politics. 8/9/19
  15. Night of the Demon (57, B+): Story of a skeptic cursed by a cult leader greatly elevated by Tourneur’s direction. Camera, sound its peaks. 8/11/19
  16. The Story of Esther Costello (57, D+): Self-congratulatory of Crawford and itself in taking on Esther’s journey. Grows more unpleasant. 8/11/19
    1. Sears is alright, but like Umeki in Sayonara, feels limited by her role as conceived and the film she’s in. Of that year’s Globe/Oscar nominees, Mildred Dunnock’s few sequences in Peyton Place is very much the fullest characterization of the bunch.
  17. The Prince and The Showgirl (57, B-): I went from crabbily resisting it to pretty swayed by its charms. Monroe really makes it work. 8/12/19
  18. Edge of the City (57, B+): Acted and directed with great depth and feeling. Lovely portrait of interracial friendship. Best off the waterfront. 8/12/19
  19. The Pajama Game (57, B/B+): Compelling romance gives way to a surprisingly resolute pro-union stand-off. Well-made across the board. 8/13/19
    1. I cannot imagine the hay made about this if it originated today. It’s just so uncompromisingly *for* its politics without being in any way being a self-consciously “political” film, or shifting its style once it becomes primarily about the union. Amazing.
    2. This is also the musical famous for making Shirley MacLaine a star, replacing eventual Tony winner Carol Haney on the night a Hollywood agent came to see Haney. I wouldn’t trade MacLaine’s career for anything, but Haney’s an absolute hoot in a small, delightfully showcased role.
  20. The Burglar (57, B+): Tough, grimy, expertly cut noir. Keeps adding layers to its characters and scenario. Tense as hell. 8/13/19
  21. Love Affair (39, B+): A gorgeous romance, succinctly deepened by Dunne, Boyer, and McCarey. Losses some charm after The Incident. 8/14/19
  22. Joy (18, A-): Stunning, casually effective portrait of systemic and individual forces operating in global sex trafficking. 8/15/19
  23. An Affair to Remember (57, B-): McCarey a little broader, more picturesque the second time around. Smaller peaks, but it works. 8/16/19
  24. Tokyo Twilight (57, B-/B): Ozu’s sense of rhythm and pacing never serve this script as well as they might. Yamada quietly elevates it. 8/16/19
  25. Kanal (56, A): Grimy, harrowing story of one company’s endless, doomed retreat. Exceptionally crafted without becoming a showcase. 8/17/19
  26. Bridge on the River Kwai (57, A-): Stunning, grandiose filmmaking. Theme, story don’t gel immediately but second half a doozy on all sides. 8/17/19
    1. Ngl this grade feels *slightly* disingenuous cuz I was absolutely laughing at the Guinness character for a lot of his monologues about British military duty and shit.
    2. Waving the Geneva Convention at Saito is one level of being brave, proper, and fully stupid. Quashing all attempts to sabotage the bridge being built as a showing of British military might is just mind-boggling.
    3. “Sir don’t you wanna tell our superior officers that we fucked their shit up as best we could while we were prisoner?” “Don’t you want to make something that’ll last forever knowing you did the best job possible?????”
    4. I would’ve liked these passages better if we got some sense of dissent among his soldiers, who had the restraint not to kill Nicholson in his sleep. The movie really pulls its shit together after that scene but god. It takes a while.
  27. Woman in a Dressing Gown (57, B): Not quite novel in form or trajectory, but attunes to its specific characters without taking sides. 8/19/19
    1. Most valuable as a dueling study of performance styles, where Sylvia Sims comes across as a 40’s drama romantic lead despite being the other woman, and Yvonne Mitchell‘s gloriously highwire take on her scatterbrained housewife feels sprung from a Mike Leigh film.
  28. The Lower Depths (57, B+): Oddly stagy at times, but unusual structure and community makes its raggedness ever more fascinating. 8/19/19
  29. Black River (57, B): Smart eye on corruption and misogyny, even if it could reach farther. Nakadai embodies these concepts scarily well. 8/20/19
  30. Sorry Angel (18, B): The more people we meet, the more we learn about them, and the more they get to know each other, the more I appreciated this film. 8/21/19
  31. Pinocchio (40, A+): Clean, charming animation. Morality play with a real point of view. Storybook tale that really feels magical. 8/26/19
  32. Night Nurse (31, B/B+): Tight, 70-minute yarn could risk being a little pulpier, but damn do I wish more films were this tough and concise. 8/29/19
    1. Stanwyck’s good in this, but it’s even more fun seeing Joan Blondell play the kind of character Stanwyck would normally get cast as once she hit her stride.

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