Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Movie Diary January-February 2007

Along about the middle of February, I decided to start a movie diary similar to my reading diary. Since I started late, I know I've missed a few. As with the books, this represents January and February; hereafter, I'll post monthly.

Movies seen for the first time are indicated in green.

  1. Children of Men (2006), Alfonso Cuaron. Well done, very moving. Don't know why they bothered to cast Julianne Moore, though, since she's onscreen for about 5 minutes.
  2. Shane (1953), George Stevens. See post Jan 31, 2007.
  3. Trouble in Paradise (1932), Ernst Lubitsch. Exquisite, funny, erotic masterpiece. A must-see, if only for the clothes and art deco everything.
  4. The Big Store (1941), Charles Reisner. Marx Brothers short. Some funny bits.
  5. Room Service (1938), William A. Reiter. Who knew the Marx Brothers could be so dull? Didn't bother to finish. Interesting early appearances by Lucille Ball and Ann Miller.
  6. Stage Door (1937), Gregory LaCava. A true classic. Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers shine.
  7. Shall We Dance? (1937), Mark Sandrich. Delightful Astaire/Rogers musical.
  8. Marked Woman (1937), Lloyd Bacon. Bette Davis burns up the screen. Humphrey Bogart, not so much.
  9. Alice Adams (1935), George Stevens. A rare Katharine Hepburn vehicle in which she's not humiliated for her independence. Scene in which the family entertains her beau too painful to watch. Hard to take Fred MacMurray seriously as a romantic lead, though. Also hard to feel sorry for the family's poverty with their houseful of Stickley furniture and art nouveau vases. Obvious tacked-on happy ending.
  10. Detective Story (1953), William Wyler. Saw about half an hour of this. Thoroughly unpleasant.
  11. The Big Country (1958), William Wyler. Enjoyably hokey grand-scale Western with everybody chewing up the impressive scenery. Even Gregory Peck shows signs of animation for once. Burl Ives won deserved Oscar.
  12. Jezebel (1938), William Wyler. One of my favorite movies. Nearly flawless (aside from a little casual racism).
  13. Only Angels Have Wings (1939), Howard Hawks. Odd but affecting movie about pilots. Exciting in places. Cary Grant sizzles. Although Hawks said it was based on his real-life experiences, very similar to a Clark Gable picture called Night Flight (1933, Clarence Brown), from a novel by Saint-Exupery.
  14. You Can't Take It With You (1938), Frank Capra. Daffy fun.
  15. If You Could Only Cook (1935), William A. Seiter. Predictable but enjoyable.
  16. The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (1936), Stephen Roberts. Screwball comedy trying to muscle in on Thin Man territory. Deservedly obscure.
  17. More Than a Secretary (1936), Alfred E. Green. Not great, but with an interesting feminist twist. Dowdy secretarial school owner (played of course by the beautiful Jean Arthur) transforms failing magazine, rises to associate editor; hero chooses her over glamorous bimbo.
  18. The Harvey Girls (1946), George Sidney. The usual stupid story, redeemed by great performances from Judy Garland and Angela Lansbury and some terrific songs, including the well-known "Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe."
  19. Random Harvest (1942), Mervyn LeRoy. Complete four-hanky job. The scene where Ronald Colman asks Greer Garson to marry him, not knowing they're already married, gets me every time.
  20. Jane Eyre (2007), Masterpiece Theater. Adequate production, lacking the necessary passion and scope of the book.
  21. Ruby in the Smoke (2007), Masterpiece Theater. Very blah. Weird color-blind casting; a black clergyman in Victorian England?
  22. Breach (2007), Billy Ray. See post Feb 19.
  23. The Glenn Miller Story (1953), Anthony Mann. I've seen this unconvincing biopic a surprising number of times considering how much I dislike it. June Allyson is terminally perky.
  24. Blue Skies (1946), Stuart Heisler. Not even Fred Astaire can put pep in the step of this leaden musical.
  25. Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005), Stephen Frears. Great credits, great clothes, and a few funny bits, but not really much to it. Is this really what Frears thought he'd be doing after My Beautiful Laundrette?
  26. Infamous (2006), Douglas McGrath. Very disappointing. Mines the same vein as Capote but hits much less ore. It does do a better job of conveying Capote's celebrity/socialite status and what drew him to the story; has some fun contributions from Juliet Stevenson, Sigourney Weaver, and Hope Davis. Daniel Craig is terrible as the killer Perry Smith.
  27. The Train (1964), John Frankenheimer. Stripped-down, unsentimental drama about French railway workers saving a trainload of stolen masterpieces from the Nazis. Has anyone ever been more manly than Burt Lancaster?

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