Weekly Mishmash: March 9-15
You know, it’s been four weeks since the Weekly Mishmash has started, and there hasn’t been a single comment on anything in them. Do you like these? Are they lame? I’m getting lonely!
An Affair to Remember (1957). A so-called romantic classic that has eluded me until now. Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr are great together, and the early shipboard scenes have an undeniable sparkle. Then it gets awfully treacly with a simpering old biddy, a multiracial kiddie choir and Kerr flaunting her “nobody could love a cripple so I’ll sit here and be a perfect lady” schtick. Barf.
Good Night, and Good Luck (2005). This, on the other hand, was excellent. I loved the cast from David Strathairn on down and the ’50s settings appeared nicely authentic considering the film’s low budget. George Clooney builds a sense of mounting tensions as it goes along, and it seemed somewhat obvious to me that he was drawing parallels between McCarthy-era hysteria and today’s political climate.
Michael Largo — Final Exits: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of How We Die. A compendium of bite-sized examples of how people died throughout history. Entertaining enough to forgive the book’s slapdash design (heavy on the clip art) and several mistakes. For example, it states that the woman with the famous “I Told You I Was Sick” tombstone was buried in Littleton, Colorado — when she’s really located in Key West, Florida. I know this because I saw it last October!
Mama Steps Out (1937). How happy am I that Turner Classic Movies is back in the groove? Last week I was excited to find a half-day of Guy Kibbee movies on the schedule (apparently I wasn’t the only one), and so this B-level comedy which pairs Kibbee with the wonderful Alice Brady got added to the TiVo playlist. This was produced by MGM, scripted by Anita Loos, and has a strangely gorgeous and young Dennis Morgan in the supporting cast, so how bad can it be? Well, as much as I dug Guy and Alice doing their thing, the director forgot to tell the cast to dial this stagey romp down for film. The plot (mostly about an “ugly American” family adjusting to European culture) is fun and very screwball, but it plays much too shrill for my comfort level. I’ll have to check out a good ‘n gritty old Warner Bros. feature for my next Guy fix.
Twilight Samurai (2002). A Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award nominee, this is less a typical samurai film than a probing family drama which deals with distinctively Japanese themes that might seem alienating to an English-speaking audience. The film unfolds slowly with a dialogue-heavy script at first, but eventually it wound up being a semi-rewarding experience. Well acted.