Sunday, February 25, 2018

What I'm Watching: Torn Curtain (1966)

There are only a few Hitchcock films I've not yet seen. Tonight, I'm ticking Torn Curtain off the list. Hitch makes a cute cameo with baby on the knee, which he switches to the other knee when apparently realizing the tyke has soiled his nappy.

This is a beautifully filmed movie, which would benefit from a sharper image. It's a tale of espionage and intrigue that drags in some parts, though Gromek's murder is worth the price of admission.

Paul Newman and Julie Andrews make quite the odd couple, but are still enjoyable to watch.

It may not be my favorite Hitchcock film, but I look forward to seeing it again someday. It's not hard for me to find something to enjoy about any Hitchcock movie. The only movies of his I've yet to watch are Topaz, Frenzy, and Waltzes from Vienna. While I enjoy many of his celebrated films, I also have a particular fondness for Murder!, Rich and Strange, Stage Fright, and Strangers on a Train.

Friday, February 23, 2018

What I'm Watching: Reservoir Dogs (1992)

It's been one of those days that's left me depleted. I don't know how I found myself watching this movie. I suppose it's because it was streaming on Amazon Prime and it was easy to click on after watching an episode of Dark Shadows. If I had scrolled to the right a few more times on my watchlist, I might have watched My Favorite Martian instead, but I have been curious to see this well-received film and went with the effortless choice.

I don't typically enjoy watching movies with people brutally killing each other, though my horror collection suggests otherwise, and it's to be expected from a cops and robbers movie.

I was surprised to enjoy this film. I enjoyed the visual style and the way the story was allowed to unfold. I also liked that not everything is explained, leaving viewers to wonder. I didn't enjoy the misogyny, the racist remarks, or torture and killing of innocents, but accept it as part of the depiction of these depraved characters, who get their just dues in the end.

It had its moments of coldblooded brutality that were unpleasant to watch, especially when paired with innocuous 70s music

The acting is well done and it's interesting to see each character develop. I can't help wondering if skinny ties will ever make a comeback.

I'm somewhat confused about who shot who in the standoff. It looks like Joe shot Mr. Orange, and Mr. White shot Joe, while Eddie shoots Mr. White, but who shot Eddie?

Everyone is dead, but Mr. Pink is in the pink. I'd like to think that he shot Eddie, but after looking it up, I found out that Mr. White was supposed to have shot him after shooting Joe.

I like the way we are left to determine the fate of Mr. Pink. I believe he was also taken out, due to the sounds of gunshots and sirens after he left the building. This is a movie that calls for a second viewing, after the chronology has been better understood from the first viewing, and because there's so much going on that I suspect there are details that may be seen on second viewing that were missed on the first.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

What I'm Watching: The Circle (1925)

I picked up The Circle in November 2016, and somehow this little comedy about marital infidelity ended up being my viewing choice for a blustery Sunday afternoon.

This movie attracted my attention because Joan Crawford has a small role at the beginning of the film as the young Lady Catherine, who leaves a note for her husband, Lord Clive Cheney, pinned to her sleeping little boy that explains she's running off with Hughie, who was Best Man at their wedding, to pursue a life of happiness.

30 years later, the little boy, Arnold, is now all grown up and is similarly wedded to a woman who wants to take off with some handsome lothario. Before she takes the plunge, Elizabeth Cheney decides to invite her hubby's estranged mom and paramour to see how well it worked out for them, causing all sorts of amusing discomfort for everyone in the household.

Lady Catherine and Lord Porteous are riding in their motorcar as they discuss their impending visit. Lord Porteous is foul mouthed, so we get to see how bad words are bleeped out in silent movies.

It's quite shocking how Elizabeth Cheney sits on her father-in-law's lap, stroking and sticking her finger in his ear, as she tells him that his ex-wife is on the way.

When the two arrive, the youngsters seem surprised to find out that 30 years passing has made the former young lovers old, pudgy, overbearing and crotchety. Arnold has to endure lots of kissy face from his mom, after she first mistakenly believes Elizabeth's paramour, Teddy, is her boy. Elizabeth fears she and Teddy are destined to become like the bickering, aging couple.

Youth! It's just a day of spring...and gone!" -Lady Catherine

Elizabeth catches the two old lovers cuddling on the couch, reminiscing about Venice, and regains a sense of hope about her planned elopement with Teddy.

Arnold makes a play to get his wife back, and she goes to Teddy and asks what he'd do if another man tried to take her away from him. He tells her that she has two lovely eyes and he'd blacken one and close the other, as Arnold listens in. She apparently interprets his threat of abuse as evidence of true love and they passionately kiss.

Elizabeth rushes to tell the old couple that she's going to run off with Teddy just as they did, which they do.

As they are riding along, their car has some apparent trouble, and when the driver pulls over, Arnold reveals he has been posing as the chauffeur. He tells Teddy he's going to blacken one eye and close the other, and he gets in some good punches, leaving him clutching his face by the side of the road as he drives off with Elizabeth.

Lady Catherine meets Elizabeth at the door, telling her she's glad she realized her mistake and came back.

She morosely joins Arnold as they head upstairs to retire to bed, while Hughie and Clive are ready to bust a gut over the way Arnold tricked the two lovers and got his wife back.


I'm not sure if that was supposed to be a happy ending or not. It's seems that Arnold is more interested in safeguarding his possession than preventing his wife from running off with another man out of any sort of love for her. His striding into the bedroom as he unties his robe at the end seems more like he's staking his claim than rekindling his romance, and Elizabeth seems doomed to live unhappily ever after in a loveless marriage.

There are some beautiful costumes and scenery to be enjoyed here, and the picture is quite clear. I enjoyed Lady Catherine's flamboyant style, and it was a tender scene when she snuggled with Hughie on the couch. The comedy is subtle as it explores the meaning of true love and marital bliss, as well as youth and old age, though I'm not completely sure what to make of it. The musical score delightfully complements the mood onscreen. It's interesting to see a film from the 1920s treat infidelity in such a cavalier manner, but it was adapted from a play by W. Somerset Maugham, who also wrote the novel The Magician was based on, which explains a lot.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

What I'm Watching: Night of the Living Dead Again

It was October 2016 when I last viewed this film, and at the same time learned that a 4k restoration had been made. After over a year of waiting, it is finally available for home viewing. Although I had the new Criterion Blu-ray version in my hot little hands on it's February 13th release date, I've waited until Saturday night to enjoy this long awaited print, to honor tradition. I expect it may feel like I'm seeing Night of the Living Dead for the very first time, even though I've seen it a hundred times before. Though I blogged as I watched last time, this time I'm putting the laptop away to give the movie my full attention. I'll be back after the flick with my impressions.

Friday, February 16, 2018

What I'm Watching

So much for making time to watch more movies. As I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to start keeping track of the movies I watch to motivate myself to get through all the movies I've acquired and not yet seen by the end of 2018. Yet here it is the middle of February and I still haven't gotten started with my posts. As usual, work and circumstances of life tend to interfere. I know how Henry Bemis feels. It's time to retreat to the vault. What's worse, or maybe better, is that I continue to acquire more movies (curse you Criterion Flash Sale! I mean, bless you!). 

I've been toying with the idea of logging my movie viewing for awhile, but haven't attempted it because it seems like something that will only be interesting to me. On the other hand, I've got some unusual and diverse viewing habits (I've seen Les portes de la nuit, They Live, In the Mouth of Madness, The Prince of Darkness, Tomorrow is Forever, Maigret Sets a Trap, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, Dawn of the Dead, and Lon Chaney: Before the Thousand Faces so far this year), and that might be somewhat fascinating to someone. So, I'm starting yet another soon to be forgotten feature that's brilliantly titled, What I'm Watching. I intend to post a short response with a few pictures, which will be a real challenge for me. We'll see if there's any longevity to this new venture.

I may include some TV shows, because I've got quite a few of those to go through as well, including Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer with Darren McGavin, the last season of Perry Mason, Decoy, The Defenders, The Dick Van Dyke Show and Season 7 of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Unfortunately, I have many other things to do besides sitting around reading books and watching movies, so we'll see how well I can keep up. Past history should cause readers to have low expectations. This blog is a testament to my unreliability in general. Hopefully the unpredictability helps build anticipation.