Tuesday, February 16, 2010

DVDs/What Are You Watching?

This week's DVD selection is pretty paltry. so I'm going to bolster this post by reviewing titles I've seen on the small screen.


Black Dynamite: This spoof of blaxploitation films got some positive notice when it came out, 

Clint Eastwood: 35 years, 35 Films at Warner Bros: This massive box covers every movie the former mayor of Carmel, California released under the WB - although that leads to the odd split of Flags of Our Fathers (A DreamWorks title) not being included, while its companion piece, Letters from Iwo Jima, is. Much as I admire Eastwood, I already own many of his films I want, and besides all that, I don't know if I really want to say I have his orangutan films in my collection.

Coco Before Chanel: I like Audrey Tatou, but am not much of a fashion maven and reviews of this film about the fashion designer were never high enough to spark my interest.

Law-Abiding Citizen: You know, Gerard Bulter is a very talented guy, but his choice of scripts (also including the regrettable The Ugly Truth) makes him look like a reverse barometer of quality lately. And yes, that means I can't honestly say I'm looking forward to The Bounty Hunter with Jennifer Aniston.

What I'm Watching

Baby Doll: This 1956 Elia Kazan film hasn't worn quite as well as some of his other picture, primarily because it was tearing the envelope of the Production Code - and the movie knows it. So what might have seemed shocking back in the day seems a touch self-conscious and overheated today. Still, it's well worth seeing for its powerful performances, especially by Carrol Baker in the title role. GRADE: B+

Cleopatra (1934) Good 'ol Cecil B. DeMille has a high old time vamping it up with the story of the ancient Egyptian queen, and Claudette Colbert's performance in the title role is strong enough to keep the enterprise from seeming too silly. I still haven't watched the notorious 1963 version with Taylor and Burton, but I'm willing to bet its not as entertaining as this. My favorite moment - a sex scene cover-up that turns into something akin to a Busby Berkeley number. GRADE: B+

Deception: Made by the same stars (Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Paul Henreid) and director (Irving Rapper) behind  Now, Voyager, this strangely unheralded melodrama is almost as good as that more famous movie. Davis stars as a woman torn between two men: her long lost cellist lover (Henreid) and a fiery temperamental 
composer. Rains is particularly outstanding, and his performance here is a potent reminder he was one of the best character actors of the Golden Age. GRADE: A-

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: I watched this as a double feature with Baby Doll,  I suppose because I was in the mood for overheated melodrama by way of Tennessee Williams. On the whole, it's an excellent film with Paul Newman and Liz Taylor exerting a riveting push/pull dynamic - and that helps overcome the fact the story was slightly neutered from its original intentions. GRADE: A-

In the Loop: As the chant at football games goes: O-VER-RATED. This film clearly means to be kind of the board room version of Dr. Strangelove, but it's more like the bored room version of Dr. Strangelove. There are some good performances and a few good dialogue exchanges, but it's turgidly paced and fatally self-satisfied. It's a movie made by and for the "hipper than thou" crowd. GRADE: C-

The Paradine Case: Quite possibly the most disappointing Hitchcock picture I have yet seen. It boats a decent story and strong performances, but courtroom dramatics are not Hitch's strong suit, because they rely too heavily on dialogue and not heavily enough on visuals. This movie tells much more than it shows, and that doesn't suit the best director of pure cinema. GRADE: C+

A friendly reminder: Whenever I post my list of movies I've been watching, readers are always welcome to tell me  what movies you've been watching, on the big or small screens. Tell us what you've seen


HollyGoKimsy said...

I made it a goal to watch 4 new films during TCM's 31 Days of Oscar. I've done 2 so far - "Kiss of Death" and "War and Peace". I'm still trying to figure out how the Russians became British and American, and Audrey shines wherever she goes.

I've also seem two WONDERFUL foreign films lately - "Departures" and "The Girl who Leapt Through Time". Departures could be one of the best films I've ever seen.

I have "Crazy Heart" on my radar, provided the plethora of snow here on the East Coast someday melts.

Kim said...

Well I have been going through a terrible withdrawal because my VHS/DVD player croaked - ACK!!! So I have been waiting around for a little extra cash to replace. I just ordered a DVD/Blu-ray player from Amazon- so I guess I'm crossing over too, Eric - lol! It was the special features thing that got me - it's cinematic blackmail! Don't know what I will do about that big VHS collection - I guess I will finally have to let them go. Kills me! Will cost a forture to replace them too! PS - it was fun to run into you at the cafeteria the other day. :)