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Tag Archives: Laurence Olivier

Flick Clique: September 16-22

Carrie (1952). A good turn-of-the-century drama from director William Wyler with some outstanding performances by Jennifer Jones and Laurence Olivier. Jones’ character, Carrie Meeber, is a naive young woman who moves from the tiny midwestern town she grew up in to live with her sister in Chicago. When circumstances force her to find lodging elsewhere, she turns to a brash salesman (Eddie Albert) whom she met on the train arriving in town. He invites her to live at his apartment, and they (implicitly) become lovers. Dining at the fanciest restaurant in town, they become friendly with the manager (Olivier), who eventually becomes smitten with Carrie. The two fall in love, despite his never revealing that he’s married. After they escape to New York City, she winds up discarding him like a used tissue and moving on. Based on a scandalous Theodore Dreisel novel, the film was evidently watered down a lot to fit the Production Code, but it still has some surprisingly candid aspects. The fact that Jones has two lovers and faces no punishment for it is an eye-opener. Although I normally find Jones too mannered, she’s excellent here. So is Olivier, who is especially touching and vulnerable in the film’s achingly beautiful final scenes.
The Company of Wolves (1984). Neil Jordan’s cult retelling of the Red Riding Hood folk tale supplied our Saturday night viewing. I always wanted to see this film. It was weird. Taking the form of a pre-teen girl’s dream, the film takes place in a rural English wood as a ripe young woman (Sarah Patterson) is advised by her superstitious grandmother (Angela Lansbury) not to trust any man with one eyebrow. She then tells the tale (a flashback within a dream?) of a young newlywed couple whose lives were altered when the man (Stephen Rea) got bitten by a cursed wolf on their wedding night. It certainly is unique, with interesting production design that uses a ton of vegetation and animals galore to create a world that shares a few similarities to Tom Cruise’s stomping grounds in Ridley Scott’s Legend (1985). Like that overproduced opus, Company is flawed yet interesting enough to watch simply because it takes a lot of stylistic risks. It had a lot of confusing scenes, however, which are (sort of) explained on the film’s IMDb faq.
Kassim the Dream (2008). Sometimes compelling, often inconsistent documentary about champion boxer Kassim Ouma. This was reviewed for DVD Talk, where my impressions of the film are reported in more detail.
World on a Wire (1973). Bizarre, long but worthwhile sci-fi: Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s multi-part German TV production depicts a near-future society in which computer programmers have been able to create a virtual reality so realistic that its inhabitants believe they and the world they inhabit are real. An ambitious project its authors call Simulacron, the leader on the project suddenly goes crazy and kills himself. His successor, a Dr. Stiller (Klaus Löwich, something of a German Ralph Meeker), eventually comes to figure out what was gnawing at him – perhaps this world is a constucted virtual reality, as well. This film, which mostly went unseen since its original broadcast until Criterion released the home video version this year, is not without its faults. It’s willfully offbeat, dialogue-heavy, plodding (especially in the second half), having weird, canned music and clunky performances (the latter of which was probably on purpose). Still, Fassbinder’s unique touches (women who look like drag queens! A chef played by a black bodybuilder!) and the retro-futuristic production design (lots of spacey Italian plastic and scenes filmed in gleaming shopping centers and offices) makes it worth a peek for fans. World on a Wire‘s source material also formed the basis for the 1999 feature The Thirteenth Floor, which I enjoyed a little more than this one – despite this production’s lead actor being sexier.

DVD Talk reviews:
A Double Life (1947) – Recommended
Kassim the Dream (2008) – Rent It