Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My Week of Movie Watching

Criss Cross – Simply put, this 1949 gem from Robert Siodmak is one of the greatest of all Noirs. Burt Lancaster plays a man who returns to his home and rekindles an affair with his ex-wife (a stunning Yvonne DeCarlo). Things are complicated, however, by the fact she already has a man – nasty mobster Slim Dundee (Dan Duryea). The triangle leads Lancaster to agreeing to front a risky robbery in order to get himself out of an awkward spot.  Lancaster is a little bit wooden in spots, but he is wonderful in the films closing minutes, as he realizes that he’s been played like a fiddle. Highly recommended. An added note: This was remade by Steven Soderbergh in 1995 as The Underneath, and it is worth a look, as well.

Citizen Kane – I hadn’t seen this in several years, so I thought it was time for another look. The thing that always strikes me about CK is how imaginative its story-telling is. The story is non-linear, but easy to follow partly because of the use of the newsreel at the beginning to “pre-tell” the story.  There’s Welles’ use of the camera – high and low angle shots, his use of light and shadow, and depth of field are still stunning to look at today. One thing that doesn’t often get mentioned about Kane is the way sound is utilized to create effect – Consider the scenes in the vast Xanadu estate, where Kane and Susan are talking across a wide expanse, and the reverb of their voices amplify the emotional space between them. There is one strange plot point that I had forgotten about – Kanes son and first wife die in a car crash, and I find it a bit odd that the movie doesn’t do anything with that point – It’s mentioned, but then forgotten. Still, recommended – If you are a movie lover, you have to see Kane.

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