Friday, August 14, 2009

My Week of Movie Watching

Smile – Darkly hilarious little gem from 1975 that brilliantly skewers the beauty pageant industry. On the periphery are Bruce Dern as a car salesman/judge, and Barbara Feldon as a former beauty queen who works as a consultant for the girls. The movie does a great job of peeling back the chipper veneer that everyone puts up. Dern has to deal with his son taking clandestine nudie photos, and Feldon with a suicidal husband. But hey, the show must go on. Recommended.

La Bataille du Rail (The Battle of the Rails) – Rene Clement’s salute to the French resistance workers who helped sabotage the Germans during the lead-up to the Normandy invasion. Shot with non-actors, the film feels utterly authentic, and it’s a great snapshot of the works of the French underground. Recommended.

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia – This Sam Peckinpah number from 1974 inspires more widely divergent opinions that almost anything else I can think of. Ya either love it or hate it. Me, I love it. Peckinpah liked stories about men who felt obligated to follow a personal code, no matter how nonsensical and destructive. This one, with Warren Oates delivering a severed head to a Mexican gangster, is Peckinpah distilled down to his grimy best.

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