not a beautiful or unique snowflake (nothings) wrote,
not a beautiful or unique snowflake
nothings

movie log

I'm not in the mood to think too hard about these.

  • His Girl Friday
  • Wit
  • Titanic
  • Clash of the Titans
  • Four Rooms
  • Notorious

His Girl Friday

Classic screwball comedy (adapted from a play, I think) with Cary Grant. I've never been able to get into classic screwball comedies--I've tried to watch Some Like It Hot twice and couldn't stand it. But I thought I'd give this one a try since Netflix was giving it a high rating. But I was pretty eh about it. There were a few moments that I giggled at--the description of divorce using the cliche mock-the-marriage language, and it was interesting watching Grant's character manipulate, but it just didn't really move me. Rating (-4 to 4): 0

Wit

Emma Thompson is dying of cancer in this HBO movie directed by Mike Nichols, adapted from a play. My father went through chemotherapy for lung cancer, so some of the horror was familiar to me. Anyway, it's a curious idea, to focus on a very anti-social character through this intense experience, even if it is just grafted on with a kind of obvious growing-to-be-friends-with-someone plot. And then the whole Donne thing. Hrmm. Rating (-4 to 4): 1

Titanic

Ship hits iceberg. Sigh. A lot of this is so well done--the CGI Titanic I didn't buy, but otherwise, it's amazingly convincing--and the action (when it gets there) is pretty good. But, sigh, I was just constantly rolling my eyes when the antagonists were just caricatured up there--oh, WE all know Picasso turns out to be a big deal, let's all laugh at the foolish upper class twit who thinks otherwise! And it just KEEPS GOING like that. And it seems such a shame because it could have been good. Cameron knows what he's doing in so many ways--obviously we know the ship sinks, so that can't be much of a surprise, so he adds on this framing story that sets up a little mystery, the mystery of what happened to the necklace. And when I realized, in the prologue, that that's what was going on, I was like, "wow, why did I assume this movie was going to suck? Cameron obviously knows what he's doing." And then the romance plot is just such a pile, for the aforementioned reasons, and he doesn't really stick to his framing story properly--we see some activity Rose should never have known about (in the end--early stuff that happened to Jack he could have told her about), and then, supposedly she's telling this whole story to the diamond hunters, and it's obviously in the story that it ended up in her coat and hence she had it, so (a) that bit at the end is no surprise, and (b) if she actually told that whole story to the diamond hunters, they should have known she had it. Also, I'm sorry, you can't do this little "funny" bit where the old Rose says, "did we do it? no, he was a perfect gentleman", and then ten minutes later THEY DO IT and she's presumably telling them about it. Sheesh. Rating (-4 to 4): -1

Clash of the Titans

Poor Ray Harryhausen. A few of the effects are decent, but a lot of the combined live-action and stop-motion stuff has severe lighting/color/contrast mismatch; the movie gets off to a bad start with a bird flying during the credits sequence; the jerkiness of the one composited in in a few shots is ugly. The plot is pure cheese (the river Styx?!?). Too bad I didn't see this when it came out and I might have been able to appreciate it. Rating (-4 to 4): -1

Four Rooms

Tim Roth is Ted the bellhop in four stories on a New Year's Eve at an LA hotel. Four at-the-time up-and-coming writer/directors provide four segments. Tim Roth's horribly overdone mugging and twitching is incredibly distracting, but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt--perhaps necessary to make the character really seem the same character despite four different scripts. Anyway, for some reason, I'm going to judge these pretty much entirely on story. And that judgement goes:

1. Tthe first segment, about the witches' coven, is utterly forgettable. For the most part, the other movies focus on Ted as the POV character, and this one doesn't, which makes it a mismatch. But worse yet, it's just dumb. A dumb dance, a dumb goal, and at the end, hey, look, they did what they said they were going to, and... there's no punchline, no point. (Unless I missed something.)

2. "The Wrong Man"--this doesn't really work at all for me, since it's all frantic "you've got the wrong guy" stuff without ever any explanation for what was going on--and if that's because that's not the point, then I'm not really sure what the point was. (I'm reminded, in some ways, of how I didn't like After Hours, although that movie rarely reached the intensity of this scene.)

3. Antonio Banderas takes his wife out on a date, leaving his kids under Ted's watchful eye. This just goes for straight-out comedy. I'm reminded of a critic's description of the TV show Fawlty Towers: at the start of each episode, things are a bit of a mess for Basil Fawlty, and by the end, they're 10 times worse. This episode has that same sense of rising misfortune, although in a far less ambitious sense (THAN A TV SHOW?!?!), although, admittedly, when we get to the end, it's really quite beautiful how much has gone wrong. My favorite episode of the movie, and probably my favorite Robert Rodriguez work--he seems to work well with kids, so I guess I should move Spy Kids up in my queue (I had moved it back after being disappointed with both Desperado and From Dusk Til Dawn)

4. Quentin Tarantino is "The Man From Hollywood". I tried to figure out why all the random goofy chatting didn't really work for me; aren't I allowed to give the man some space to do stuff? But I guess it's that it doesn't really establish character, it's not really in service in any way to the story. Then it dawns on me: really what this is is a shaggy dog story. It's all a bit of misdirection and setup so when the main bit lurches to life--recreating of a memorable moment in Alfred Hitchcock Presents--we're set up for an unexpected moment. Even a hilarious moment, hilarious in its unexpectedness. (To be honest, though: it's exactly what I'd do if I as a filmmaker were to recreate that moment. It seems like the obvious way to go in this modern day and age. But I guess he gets credit for thinking of doing it at all.)

Overall rating: (-4 to 4): -1

Notorious

Cary Grant sends Ingrid Bergman to spy on some Nazis. Man, Hitchcock was really the bomb. Creating suspense by cutting to a bucket of champagne bottles. Really. The ending is crafty, but not, to me, entirely satisfying. Rating (-4 to 4): 2
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