It’s my 42nd birthday today. I’ve had a nifty neat-o day. The festivities started last night, when Christopher bestowed me with several gifties off my Amazon wish list. He also had the day off today, so we went to the lunch eatery of my choosing. I chose Chili’s, a mainstream chain but I hadn’t been there in years and was salivating for a peppercorn burger, and chips with hot queso dip. We got all that and a free brownie with ice cream on top, accompanied by our server’s enthusiastic “Happy Birthday To You.” I guess he was new and didn’t know about copyright laws.
We are actually going to be away from computers and keyboards for the next few days, so there will be no Weekly Mishmash. Instead, I present an early Mini Mishmash for October 3-7:
- Bottle Rocket (1996). Typical ’90s indie comedy. Normally I hate Wes Anderson’s cutesy, fussy films (the overlapping dialogue heard in this one is one reason why), but this one was unexpectedly sweet. Owen and Luke Wilson were both very appealing.
- Garbo Talks (1984). Going satellite free has allowed us to check out the oddness of our local channels, like the independent station that seems to show nothing but Patty Duke Show repeats and a buttload of never-on-DVD vintage movies. Such as Sidney Lumet’s Garbo Talks. This was a rather glum drama chronicling repressed accountant Ron Silver’s efforts to fulfill the dying wish of his colorful ma (Anne Bancroft) to meet her idol, Greta Garbo. Bancroft’s soliloquy to Garbo was certainly award-worthy; the Manhattan locations and a variety of stage actors in support add a lot to its quirky appeal.
- A Letter To Elia (American Masters, PBS). Should have more accurately been called Martin Scorsese’s Fawning Homage To The Elia Kazan Films Of His Childhood. Luckily the half hour of interviews at the end almost redeems the barfy obsequiousness that came before.
- That’s Entertainment, Part 2 (1976). A sentimental favorite, and I must be the only person on earth who enjoyed the new bridging sequences in this film with Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire on a candy-colored set (not to mention Saul Bass’ still delightful opening credits). The clips maddeningly lack context, but years of TCM viewing has deepened my appreciation of certain segments such as the James FitzPatrick TravelTalks montage or the parade of scenes involving songwriters implausibly writing classic tunes in no time flat. Above all, what these clips teach is that Gene Kelly had the finest ass in classic moviedom.
- Troubled Water (2008). Compelling Norwegian drama about a youth, released from prison for murdering a child, who attempts to redeem himself by becoming a church organist. The child’s grieving mother happens to come across the man, then things get twisted. Well made, with nuanced performances and lovely photography. The film turns standard and thriller-like near the end, but otherwise a moving experience.