Monday, June 21, 2010

My Week of Movie Watching

Hoop Dreams – I’d seen this when it first came out, and loved it then. Loved it again this time. It always gets said that HD is about much more than basketball. That happens to be true. It’s the perfect microcosm of big-city African American family life. The stories of supporting characters like Arthur Agee’s here-then gone father, William Gates older brother Curtis, and especially Arthur’s mother are every bit as compelling as those of the two boys. If you were scared off by the three-hour running time, you shouldn’t be – The film just flies by. Recommended.

Is Paris Burning? – Rene Clements’ 1966 retelling of the French Underground and the liberation of Paris in WW2. The pros: Some amazing location shooting and a terrific performance by Gert Frobe as a German officer charged with an impossible task – Defending the city against the unstoppable Allied tide. The cons: Unlike Hoops Dreams, this movie is 3 hours long, and SEEMS like it. Also, it’s jammed with high profile cameos, and they tend to distract. Oh, look! Kirk Douglas! Hey, Simone Signoret! Still, I recommend this one.

The Baron of Arizona – I guess I was expecting this Samuel Fuller work from 1950 to be more or less a standard Western. It has elements of that, but it’s also a bio and a Noir Western (It was photographed by the great James Wong Howe). Vincent Price plays James Reavis, who tries and almost succeeds in carrying out a swindle that would net him the whole state of Arizona. This is loosely based on a true story. It’s somewhat interesting and I give it lukewarm recommendation.