Weekly Mishmash: August 10-16
Yasujiro Ozu’s Good Morning (1959). Interesting and subtle film about the goings-on with several families in a Westernized ’50s version of a Japanese suburb. Adults gossip and fret over their impending retirements; children goof off, learn English lessons and throw tantrums over not having a TV set. It’s a movie about nothing, and yet Ozu is so finely attuned to every nuance of the people onscreen so that a gesture speaks volumes. Lovely use of color and composition, too.
Kylie Minogue — Hits +. Got this really cheap and only because I was curious about Ms. Minogue’s “wannabe indie rock chick” period from 1994-97. For a hits compilation, this is awfully skimpy — six singles and a bunch of previously unreleased stuff which deserved to stay in the vaults. Those six singles are pretty good, however, so I don’t feel like the two bucks spent was a waste. Highlights: “Some Kind of Bliss,” “Breathe.”
Nightfall (1957). A late-period film noir from Jacques Tournier got a rare screening on Anne Bancroft’s Summer Under the Stars day. This was Bancroft’s film debut, but the movie really belongs to the brooding Aldo Ray as an ordinary guy who is accidentally drawn into the world of two sick criminals (Brian Keith and Rudy Bond). This had an excellent screenplay with several suspenseful scenes, several swell location shoots in and around ’50s L.A., and Bancroft gets to wear a few swanky Jean Louis gowns. I haven’t seen too many Aldo Ray films, but boy he was a hottie and this underrated gem was a good showcase for him.
Please Don’t Eat the Daisies (1960). Funny that I saw this Doris Day vehicle in the same week as Good Morning, both domestic comedies from the same era but as different as night and, er, day. Where the Ozu was small and pleasurable, this one is overblown and artificial. Day and David Niven strain credibility as a married couple coping with a home renovation, a brood of bratty boys, and his job as a New York theatre critic. I never once bought Day and Niven as marrieds, and their stories are so separated from each other that it renders the whole film into a vaguely dull mess. The only part I wholeheartedly loved came when Doris sings “Any Way the Wind Blows” in the manner of Elvis Presley musicals of the time. There’s no reason why her character would perform an impeccably arranged pop tune in the middle of a small town theatre rehearsal — with dumpy looking extras clapping and singing along — but that’s why the number is so bizarre and good.
Quiz Show (1994). Haven’t seen this one since it came out in the theatres. Still good.
The Youngest Profession (1943). A forgettable bit of b-movie fluff in which a star-struck teen (Virginia Weidler) and her daffy friend (Jean Porter) track down visiting Hollywood celebrities while keeping a hyperactive family and snoopy housekeeper at bay. The movie star cameos are amusing, but the rest of the movie was ultra-contrived and boring as all get out. One can tell that MGM was trying to launch a female version of the Andy Hardy series here, with the family having the stock wise dad (nicely played by Edward Arnold), patient mom and bratty little brother. Only it doesn’t work, and the giddy enthusiasm of Weidler and Porter is the sole element which keeps the film afloat.