Saturday, September 25, 2010

Almost the end of September.

Like so many classics, my viewing of His Girl Friday was long overdue.  Like so many classics, I appreciated the film but felt underwhelmed.  I recognize the brilliance of its breakneck pacing and snappier than snappy dialogue.  I'm not going to argue over any of it, but I think I like my screwballs a little screwier.  His Girl Friday still runs circles around Date Night.

If I was a bit underwhelmed by His Girl Friday, that's okay because Hawks' Only Angels Have Wings surpassed every wild expectation that I had.  The plane scenes are tense and the buddy stuff feels genuine even when the romance stuff feels just a little like a screenwriter's fantasy.  I really loved this movie and am excited to watch Rio Bravo soon.

The Fallen Idol.  The butler/child interactions are good even when the rest gets tedious.  The way that the child is all wrapped up in lies at the end is effective, if not explored as fully as I would have liked.  This Reed/Greene collaboration is pretty solid even if it's not The Third Man.  I can't remember who the cinematographer was, but Reed really knew how to pick 'em.

I already wrote about Tall in the Saddle.  I watched it with the girls - their first John Wayne Western! The girls really like cowboy movies.  I don't know why I'm not watching more with them.

Abigail and I have been watching Smallville Season 1 on DVD (the Broome library downtown has a small and only okay feature film collection, but it's got a great TV on DVD selection - I'm hoping to slowly get through Smallville and then Mad Men).  We're six episodes in right now.

The first episode of Smallville aired on October 16th, 2001, ten days after our wedding.  We watched it back then and watched most of Season 1, but gave up on the show because of the lame villains of the week and also because I couldn't get past the fact that Tom Welling looked older than me and was playing a high school freshman.  Re-watching the series now, I'm able to forgive these elements.  The pilot especially, but also some elements of later episodes, contains some really great visual storytelling.  With a little bit of tinkering, Smallville could work as a silent serial.  Seriously.  

The lame villains are still lame.  The characters all still look too old, but it's easier for me to suspend my disbelief now that I can look at the characters and they at least look younger than me.  Finally, surprisingly, the soap opera elements of the story are what work best and the show really shines in these character moments.

Speaking of TV, The Office season 7 premiere was a lot of fun.

I almost forgot: I got paid to see Salt.  "I almost forgot" about it pretty much sums up my opinion of the film.

The watching of these movies and some good TV was a refreshing change from the past month or two of mostly so-so Redbox/Blockbuster Express 2010 rentals.

Which brings me to my confession.

I restarted my Netflix account.  

I haven't watched all of my DVDs or met any other goals, but I did get rid of enough DVDs at Cocoanuts to make $72 and change.  Being proud of this and tired of terrible Redbox rentals, I signed back up for Netflix, but to compromise and prompt myself to keep working on getting rid of DVDs, I signed up for the terribly not good enough 2 a month $5 plan.  

I intend to watch at least one owned DVD and at least one borrowed DVD each week for the rest of the year.  Pete, that Decalogue set is getting watched before the year is over!  As I get rid of more DVDs, I'll feel better about signing up for a real Netflix plan.

My first Netflix rental was La France, now available on Region 1 DVD for the first time, three years after its French theatrical release and two years after its extremely limited run in the States.  

I saw La France at Cornell in mid-2008 and reluctantly fell in love with it then.  Not at first.  Only slowly.  Slowly, after being away from the film for a while, I realized that I couldn't shake the music out of my head.  Joined to the music were images of a world weary of war.  Of lost men struggling toward a half-remembered idea of home that may not exist any longer; to Atlantis.  Homesick for heaven.  The juxtaposition of 60's style pop music with WWI wartime creates a jarring mash-up of unlikely bedfellows.  The title is also important.  In some sense, this film is a portrait of France.  But I don't understand much about this film.  Je ne pas parle francais.

At home now is Sweetgrass.

Next in the queue?  Gentleman Broncos.

Since writing the above, I made $25 today selling DVDs. I cheated a little and bought two $5 Westerns at Wal-mart, but I've been good nevertheless.

Unrelated, Peter Bogdanovich just started posting lists of his favorite films from 1929 to 1962.  The 1929 list is up:

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