Been watching a lot of movies lately, as the baseball season has ended and I’m trying to clear space on the tivo for Bravo’s rerunning of the whole last season of The West Wing next week.
The Shop Around The Corner – Very good romantic comedy that’s more about the Shop than the Romantic Comedy. I imagine the remake, You’ve Got Mail, was dreadful largely because it failed to focus on the environment and the supporting characters, but I’d have to watch it to find out and that isn’t going to happen. A great, low-key performance from Jimmy Stewart, who was in the midst of a great string of performances (Mr. Smith in ’39 and this movie and The Philadelphia Story in ’40).
A History Of Violence – One of the best movies of the year thus far, and the best David Cronenberg movie I’ve seen. People seem to either love it or hate it. It’s a lot more complex than the haters seem to think it is. My working theory is that it’s about repression, how it’s both good and bad, which seems to be one of the major issues Cronenberg likes to deal with. great performances by Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello, and I think the son was on The OC last week.
Serenity – About what I expected it to be, which given the hype and how much I liked the series, is about all I could hope for. I think it worked better as a series, but that’s just because it was conceived as one. I imagine you’d like it without having seen any of the episodes first, but not as much as if you had, which you should because they’re great.
The Battle Of Algiers – Good, almost eerily relevant. Sad to think that our method of combating terrorism have not evolved since the 1950s (kill a bunch of people and torture the rest). Very effective use of the neo-realist/cinema verité style to create a real documentary feel to the film. Jean Martin is great as the Jack Bauer-esque paratrooper Colonel who implements the torture policy to eliminate the terrorist networks.
Black Narcissus – Another great Powell and Pressburger film about nuns who move into a Himalayan castle and all go a little insane. Great performances from Deborah Kerr as the leader of the nuns and Kathleen Byron as the craziest nun of all. Great looking, like all Powell and Pressburger movies. They topped it a year later with The Red Shoes, but not by much.