Flick Clique: August 19-25
Hey, do you think I should continue with the Flick Clique? It’s starting to feel redundant to me, since I’m repeating a lot of the stuff here that get a more in-depth analysis on DVD Talk. I dunno, I’m just getting into one of those moods where I feel that Scrubbles.net in general has run its course (nobody’s linked here in ages) and I need to take time off, regroup and start anew with something else.
Child’s Play (1972). Disappointing, draggy drama set at a boy’s Catholic school that stars Robert Preston, James Mason and Beau Bridges. This was a new release from Olive Films that I reviewed for DVD Talk; full review here.
For Pete’s Sake (1974). Fluffy, halfway entertaining Barbra Streisand comedy with Babs as a cash-strapped housewife who resorts to ever-more-drastic measures to secure money for the pork belly enterprise that her husband (the very ’70s Michael Sarrazin) has invested in. Although saddled with a ridiculous climax (shot on the Warner Bros. backlot!), I was surprised at how cute and entertaining this film was. Barbra was quite appealing, and (on a shallow note) I loved the funky brown-and-white decor in the living room of the couple’s apartment (the horrific lavender-walled bedroom was a different story). The animated title sequence in this film sets the scene nicely, with a bouncy song from Barbra that unfortunately isn’t on any of her music collections:
Mimic (1997). I used to get this “insects gone horribly wrong” opus confused with the “revitalized ancient lizard god run amok” opus The Relic, since they both came out around the same time. We actually saw The Relic when it was originally released, but I didn’t get to catch Mimic until casually perusing the Netflix instant offerings last weekend. Mimic has director Guillermo del Toro’s atmospheric, slimy visual stamp all over, which makes it the clear winner of the two. When a virus carried by cockroaches ravages New York City, sexy etymologist Mira Sorvino and hunky fellow scientist boyfriend Jeremy Northam develop a mutated roach that was bred to kill the offending roaches then die off. A few years later, they are shocked to find that the new roaches adapted themselves into giant-sized roaches with a taste for human blood – and they’re breeding! Silly but a whole lot of fun, although I can see why del Toro has (sort of) disowned it. Some of the characters are too cut-’n-dry and the ending smacks of studio interference, sure, but for an hour of so I was totally drawn into this world and its terrifying creatures.
The Music Room (1958). I picked this blu-ray out to buy at a local chain store which thankfully stocks the Criterion Collection discs. Since I’ve never seen a film from the acclaimed Indian director Satyajit Ray, this was a good place to dive in – the blu includes both the feature film and a long documentary about Ray’s life and career. The Music Room concerns a prideful landlord named Biswambhar Roy (played with poignancy by actor Chhabi Biswas) who flaunts his wealth and status via concerts in his beloved music room. He gets too complacent, however, and when a neighbor seizes the rights to the river that flows near Roy’s home, Roy is eventually forced to sell off jewelry and furniture to keep his lifestyle going. Despite tragedy and dwindling assets, he summons up his remaining staff to prepare one last gala concert. This was excellent, beautifully acted, and it has some unique musical segments which are notable in that they don’t look like stylized Bollywood numbers. I can’t wait to check out they Satyajit Ray documentary as well.
The Suffragette (1913) and The Eskimo Baby (1918). These two German silents were part of Four Films with Asta Nielsen, a DVD set that I’m currently reviewing for DVD Talk. They actually give a good indication of the versatility of this tall, intense looking but naturalistic actress who was one of the biggest film stars of her day. In The Suffragette, she plays a crusading feminist who has a crisis of conscience after placing a bomb in a despised politician’s home. After discovering that the politician is the man she once loved, can she stop the ticking bomb and save the man’s life in time? The Eskimo Baby is a complete turnaround with Nielsen as a simple native girl from Greenland who is brought to Germany as the “souvenir” of a scientist-explorer. The man’s family is rather perplexed by this new visitor, but what becomes truly upsetting to them is when she starts showing romantic feelings towards the guy. The story might be a little too condescending for modern viewers, but Nielsen is fascinating to watch. She approaches the character like a curious child, completely uninhibited with Western modes of behavior. It’s quite a remarkable and funny performance. Although her work in The Suffragette is more typical of melodramas from that era, I enjoyed her work in that film as well.