Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Fifth Cord. 1971.

A mundane, meandering mess. This Giallo film from 1971 should have been much better than it is. The plot is so confused and sloppy that I’m still not certain who the killer was. Starring the very appealing Franco Nero, who is still making movies to this day and good for him, but the big problem with the movie is with the script (not that I’m looking for or expecting literature from this genre) which is very bad. A shame because the film looks terrific with cinematography by the great Vittorio Storaro who brings way to much of his talent to this undeserving film. The supporting players are all mixed together with out much flesh to their characters and most of the women look the same which only adds to the general confusion of who got murdered. That said the murders are relatively calm and not gory, no Argento here but they’re so bland and uninteresting, except for one scene towards the end that involves a little boy in an empty house that is scary and suspenseful which is what this film is lacking throughout its running time. With Pamela Tiffin and if you don’t blink you might make out Edmund Purdom. The score by Ennio Morricone is not memorable and as usual with Italian films the dubbing is pretty bad.

Black Orpheus. 1959

This might be the most beautiful color film ever made. An ingenious interpretation of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, set in Rio de Janeiro during carnival. Put together by Marcel Camus with a groundbreaking score by Luiz Bonfá & Antonio Carlos Jobim which made Bossa Nova known throughout the world. I love this film in spite of the left pounding on it at the time of its release as condescending to Brazil and the poor people who live in the slums of Rio. No matter, the film does not glamorize the poor living conditions any more than a movie like Dead End made the slums of the east side look inviting. Its a superb mix of dance, music and riotous color and movement with elegant performances by the beautiful two leads Breno Mello and Marpessa Dawn who ironically died within weeks of each other in 2008. Also notable is Lourdes de Oliveira as Mira the jealous girlfriend of Orfeo who it seems is in constant motion throughout the film. And if the ending of the film doesn't make you cry don't come knocking at my door. This film is so beautiful it almost hurts. One of the ten best films of 1959.

Black Narcissus 1947

No this might be the most beautiful color film ever made. This is the one about all those nuns stuck in some remote palace in the Himalayas. The group lead by Deborah Kerr all have problems, but Kathleen Byron in a great performance as the demented sister Ruth takes the cake. Dreamlike and surreal this for me is the film of the year, in a great year for movies that saw among other things the apex of film noir. The film was entirely made in a studio with mattes and miniatures and this is a must see especially for artists but also of course for anyone who loves movies. The cast also includes an achingly beautiful Jean Simmons, along with Flora Robson, a very good-looking David Farrar and Sabu. Oscar winning cinemagtography by the great Jack Cardiff, and the new Criterion restoration is amazing.

Greenberg 2010

I don’t know why Noah Baumbach would think that anyone would want to spend some time with such a nebbish character like the one Ben Stiller plays in Greenberg, Baumbach’s latest little failure of a movie. Ok here’s where I confess that I don’t like Ben Stiller never have and I never will, and I usually avoid his films. However since this was a Baumbach movie and I did kind of liked The Squid and The Whale I thought I would hold by nose give it a go. I did not enjoy my time spent with this unpleasant bore who at 40 has not done a single worthwhile thing with his life and when the film opens has returned to L.Awhere he grew up from New York City where he had some sort of nervous breakdown. Don’t any African Americans or Latinos live in L.A.? You would never know that from this film. He takes on the responsibility of house and dog sitting for his rich brother who is off to Viet Nam for a family vacation, (why anyone would trust this wreck of a man to watch over his house and dog is beyond me). I also have to admit that I find Ben Stiller to be one of the most unattractive actors to ever appear in films, and I mean ever. If he was working in the 30’s, 40’s or even the 60’s he would be doing nice character and secondary parts, but at this time in American movie making this unappealing homely guy is a bona fide big time rich movie star. In a way I should be pleased that someone as ordinary as Stiller could be a star, but I’m not. I find it hard just to look at him. I feel the same way about Adam Sandler, Owen Wilson or Vince Vaughn. I just don’t enjoy these guys and try very hard not to see anything that they do. The film is very laid back and very dull and predictable, I mean when the female lead winds up with an unwanted pregnancy you know you are in Déjà vu land. Of course I know that there are many films with unlikable characters, but there has to be some meat and potatoes on the plate and not just tofu as this director is serving up. The one good thing in the film is the authentic and quirky performance of Greta Gerwig who plays the assistant of Greenberg’s brother. This is an actress to watch, she’s not drop dead movie star gorgeous but has a marvelous loopy real person presence ( watch her as she enters a restaurant) I was also uncomfortable with her somewhat masochistic relationship with Stiller and his unpleasant misogynistic treatment of her.



Post a Comment

<< Home

Site Meter