tongue-tied lightning

2010 Viewing Log #9 (5/16-5/22)

“I’m a fiend for mojitos”

Demonlover Sadly this is the first Assayas film I haven’t been blown away by.  It has it moments but in general it comes off as a bit half baked.  In some interviews written at the time he claimed he was going for stream of consciousness filmmaking, which shows.  However, that isn’t always a good thing.  **

Ruggles of Red Gap Has any filmmaker has as good a decade as Leo McCarey did in the 30’s?  Duck Soup, Ruggles of Red Gap, The Awful Truth and Make Way for Tomorrow are all exceptional films, and Love Affair isn’t too shabby either.  The comedy here is just as effective as that in Duck Soup and The Awful Truth.  McCarey has a hand for comedy I’ve only seen matched by Lubitsch and Sturges.  Exquisite.  ****

Days of Being Wild You can really see the trademark style that would carry Wong through to 2046 coming together here.  The sensual compositions, the obsession with time, the theme of a love that isn’t quite there.  It’s also his first collaboration with Christopher Doyle who would also carry him through to 2046.  A beautiful film, more primitive than those that would follow but no less enjoyable for that.  ***1/2

Scarface The opening shot had me expecting a much better film than  I was to get.  It’s significantly better than DePalma’s remake, but like that film it feels quite dated and is dragged down by its supporting performances.  I doesn’t feel as distinctly Hawks’ as his later films would.  **1/2

Miami Vice (rewatch) I don’t understand the general response to this film.  It’s a stylistic exercise hung on a paper thin crime plot.  Based on that description I’m not loathe to compare it to Godard’s Breathless.  That’s not a completely fair comparison because of external factors but the films themselves are very similar.  There’s also alot of exquisite non-verbal storytelling going on, and it looks fantastic.  ***1/2

Duck, You Sucker! Probably Leone’s sloppiest film, but no less fun for that.  It’s strange that as much as Tarantino praises Leone I’ve never heard him mention this film and I find it to be the one that has the most in common with his style.  There were segments and shots that wouldn’t have seemed out of place in Inglourious Basterds.   An extremely entertaining film.  I’m just depressed now cause I’m all out of Leone.  ***1/2

Grand Illusion (rewatch)  I appreciated this much more than I did the first time I saw it.  As a filmmaker Renoir was operating on a level few others were at this time.  Mixing sound, technically difficult shots and great performances and editing everything together in a way that doesn’t belie the fact that cinema was still in it’s infancy in 1937.  The antiwar message and the subtext on class is also very subtly delivered.  Still, I feel it’s lacking a certain something to propel it from the realm of great films to that of the masterpieces.  ***


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