Monday, May 11, 2009

My Week of Movie Watching

The Innocents – Jack Clayton’s quirky Victorian horror story from 1961 with Deborah Kerr as a governess who encounters a couple of ghosts in a gigantic mansion – or who may just be insane. This film walks the line between reality and hallucination, and to its credit, it never tilts it one way or another. Wonderfully photographed by the great Freddie Francis. Highly recommended.

War of the Worlds (2005) – Here’s a great example of how a second viewing can change your perceptions. The first time around on this one, I was awed by the images. This time, I realized how thin the human story is. It seemed that Spielberg didn’t know how to resolve the dynamic between Tom Cruise and his son, so he just removed the son from a large chunk of the movie, and then dropped him back in at the end. I still love the visual artistry of this film, but love the movie a wee bit less.

House of Wax (1953) – Starring the King, Vincent Price. I saw this when I was a kid, and it scared the shit out of me. It’s still a pretty well crafted little movie. The scene where Price pursues Phyllis Kirk through the streets (below) is marvelous. It clocks in at less than 90 minutes, so there’s no fluff here. I recommend it as a good Friday night “popcorn” rental.

A Mighty Heart – The story of the kidnap and murder of journalist Daniel Pearl as told from the point of view of his wife Mariane (Angelina Jolie). Jolie is fabulous here, completely disappearing into the character. The film is matter-of fact about the events, and points up the frustration of racing against time to pry information out of the terrorist network that has Pearl. For me, the lasting image of this film is a white board used to track leads, and how it illustrates how vast and untracable the enemy is. Highly recommended.

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