Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Week of Movie Watching

Stage Fright – Another Hitchcock crossed off my list. SF was made in 1950, and was the last film before Hitch began his Golden Age with Strangers on a Train. This one centers on a man (Richard Todd) hunted for the murder of the husband of his lover (Marlene Dietrich). Stage Fright is interesting for the peculiar romantic quadrilateral that develops between Todd, Dietrich, Jane Wyman as Todd’s other girl friend, and Michael Wilding as an investigating detective who falls hard for Wyman. This one is interesting for about three quarters of its length, and then it falls off the rails. Dietrich’s character spends the whole movie acting as guiltily as she can, and then the movie throws a big curve at us, and it just feels contrived. A lukewarm recommendation.

Lacombe, Lucien – This 1974 Louis Malle film centers around a young Frenchman who is seduced to join the German police at the tail end of WW2. Malle makes Lucien a blank slate – He doesn’t seem to have any great affinity for the Gestapo, he just likes the idea of carrying a gun and seeming important. The core of the film is the boys’ relationship with a Jewish tailor and his beautiful daughter. The tailor (Holger Lowenalder) has lived a comfortable life, and is quietly realistic about what his future holds. Lucien begins by clumsily trying to seduce the daughter, but begins to build a cautious friendship with the old man, as well. Beautifully acted and photographed, and a harsh indictment of French corroboration. A great film.

Dinner for Schmucks – Some pretty good laughs here, mainly from Steve Carrell. The film centers around a corporate ladder-climber played by Paul Rudd who needs to bring a guest to his slimy boss’ “Dinner for Idiots” in order to secure his promotion and get a posh new office. When he meets Barry (Carrel), whose hobby is creating dioramas out of dead mice, it seems like a match made in heaven. The performances of the two leads reminds a bit of the great Planes, Trains, and Automobiles for the way it mixes a sweet doofus with a chronic tight-ass. The film kind of goes down the trail you think it will, but it’s a fun ride, nonetheless. Recommended.

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