Friday, May 09, 2008

My week of movie watching

The Return of the Secaucus Seven – I’m a nut for the work of John Sayles, but this early offering had slipped through my grasp till now. This is a character tale of 7 college friends who re-unite for a weekend, with past liaisons coming back to the forefront. It anticipates the bigger budget The Big Chill three years later. Cheaply made, but certainly worth a look for Sayles’ great knack for writing natural dialogue.

Juno – I was disappointed in this one. There are some good things here, like resisting Hollywood convention by not making Allison Janney’s step-mother a monster, and the young couple played by Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner. My problem was that every time Ellen Pages’ Juno opened her mouth I heard a screenwriter in the background. When a teenager utters a line like “You’re acting shockingly cavalier.”, it pulls me out of the movie, and I hate that.

Big Deal on Madonna Street – What a treat this one was! A comic riff on European caper flicks like Rififi, Big Deal doesn’t treat its bumbling thieves like clowns, and the film is richer for it. You could have taken the same plot, the same characters, and played it as a straight caper movie, and it would have worked fine. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a movie laugh to compare to the climactic moment that the gang breaks through the wall. Highly recommended.

Look Back in Anger – In the pantheon of British “Angry Young Man” films, this is the angriest of them all. Richard Burton gives a terrific performance as the abusive Jimmy Porter, well educated but trapped in a working class existence. His treatment of his wife (Mary Ure) is striking in its cruelty, and eventually just wore me down. I recommend this one, just barely.

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