Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Week of Movie Watching

Man Hunt – This Fritz Lang film from 1941 stars Walter Pidgeon as a man pursued by Nazis as part of a plot to frame him for an assassination attempt on Hitler, as a pretext for going to war. It’s notable for how it weaves real events like the Reichstag fire and the invasion of Poland into the plot. In essense, this was Lang’s “fuck you” to Nazi Germany. It’s terrific in some spots, like the beginning passages, as Pidgeon struggles to escape from a smooth Nazi officer (George Sanders). There’s a terrific sequence on the London underground where he is stalked by yet another Nazi, this one played by John Carradine. The film lags, however whenever the spy stuff pauses and the relationship between Pidgeon and a cockney prostitue played by Joan Bennett takes over. Still, heartily recommended.

The Big Combo – So-so Noir from 1955 concerns a cop(Cornel Wilde) in pursuit of a slippery gangster (Richard Conte). This film still gets talked about, and it’s always for the same thing – The oh-so-peculiar relationship between Conte’s two henchmen as played by Lee Van Cleef and Earl Holliman. They are drawn in fairly standard terms for much of the movie, but when Van Cleef is awakened for a job, and he turns over to wake Holliman in the next bed, it’s a great WTF moment. In the same vein is the great line by Van Cleef as they hide out from the law – “They’ll be looking for us in all the closets.” Cinematography is by John Alton, who also lensed Noir landmarks Raw Deal and T-Men.

The New World – Terence Malick’s take on the Pocohontas story is a bit of a muddle, which is really too bad. On the plus side, it’s visually gorgeous, with almost every frame suitable to hang on your wall. On the minus side, like all Malick films, it is heavily narrated throughout. Voiceover narration was a strength in early Malick efforts like Badlands and Days of Heaven, but not here. Much like his most recent work The Thin Red Line, it suffers in the voiceover sections, because you can hear a screenwriter trying too hard.. Therefore, it’s a split for me – Lovely to look at, frustrating to listen to.


Squish said...

Good quickie review for The New World. It's on my zip list, recommended as a film where - every single shot is a different place, a different time, than the last one. It's beautiful. I still plan on checking it out.

Squish said...

A Trip to The Moon!