Monday, September 19, 2016

Twelve more movies

[Or nine movies and three television series, really. But is it television if it streams on Netflix? Anyway, no spoilers.]

Making a Murderer (dir. Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, 2015). Small-town America at its worst: an outsider family, vengeful localites, crooked police. If you don’t know the name Steven Avery, watch this documentary series with no further introduction.

*

To Catch a Thief (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1955). No early-Hitchcock miniatures here, only gloriously real scenery: Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, and the French Riveria, the last often seen from the sky.

*

Don’t Bother to Knock (dir. Roy Ward Baker, 1952). Marilyn Monroe as a fragile, just-released-from-an-institution babysitter, Anne Bancroft as a lounge singer, Richard Widmark as the man in the middle. Bonus: Elisha Cook Jr. as Monroe’s uncle. Bonus: Bancroft singing “There’s a Lull in My Life.”

*

The Short & Curlies (dir. Mike Leigh, 1988). Hairstyles, courtship, and jokes. “What’s round and really violent? A vicious circle.” With Brenda Blethyn, Wendy Nottingham, and David Thewlis. It’s at YouTube.

*

Five-Minute Films (dir. Mike Leigh, 1982). The Birth of the Goalie of the 2001 F. A. Cup Final , Old Chums , Probation , A Light Snack , Afternoon . Small slices of life, with glottal stops. I’m running out of things to say about Mike Leigh films. I just like them. At YouTube.

*

The Zen of Bennett (dir. Unjoo Moon, 2012). Tony Bennett, singing and talking, with emphasis on the making of an album of duets. We see, among others, Amy Winehouse (tragically insecure and self-abasing), Lady Gaga (vivacious — and that’s a deliberately old-fashioned description), John Mayer (a jerk). The best moment: a spellbinding partial chorus of “The Way You Look Tonight,” just Bennett and his quartet. More of that, please.

*

Grown-Ups (dir. Mike Leigh, 1980). With Phil Davis, Lesley Manville, and Brenda Blethyn. Lunacy and tea.

*

Home Sweet Home (dir. Mike Leigh, 1982). Postmen, domestic relations, unhappiness. “Stop treading on the rug — you’re squashing it.” With Timothy Spall and many others.

*

O. Henry’s Full House (dir. Henry Hathaway, Howard Hawks, Henry King, Henry Koster, Jean Negulesco, 1952). A very mixed bag. Hawks’s “The Ransom of Red Chief” (Fred Allen, Oscar Levant) is a dud. Negulesco’s “The Last Leaf” (Anne Baxter, Jean Peters) is haunting. John Steinbeck introduces each film, but there isn’t a Blackwing, Blaisdell Calculator, or Mongol pencil in sight on his desk.

*

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (dir. Andrew Jarecki, 2015). Robert Durst, the son of a wealthy real-estate developer, is a casual, confident, curmudgeonly liar who blinks and twitches after almost every utterance. The final minutes of this documentary series are unforgettable. If you don’t know the name Robert Durst, watch with no further introduction.

*

Stranger Things (dir. Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer, 2016). Reason enough to stream Netflix. It should appeal to the twelve-year-old boy in everyone, former boy or no. A small town, supernatural realities, banana-seat bicycles, walkie-talkies, Christmas lights, and waffles. And tropes. Many, many tropes. Ghostwriter meets E.T. A total delight.

*

Wheel of Time (dir. Werner Herzog, 2003). Documenting great Buddhist gatherings in Bodh Gaya, India, and, more briefly, in Graz, Austria, with the director’s narration. Crowd scenes of staggering human variety, solitary pilgrims traveling prostration by prostration, the making and unmaking of a mandala. I found a scene with the distribution of gifts (trinkets) most revealing: it turns into a scene of looting. Everyone wants!

What would you recommend?

Related reading
All OCA film posts (Pinboard)
Fourteen more : Thirteen more : Twelve more : Another thirteen more : Another dozen : Yet another dozen : Another twelve : And another twelve : Still another twelve

comments: 2

Fresca said...

The micro- (50 seats) theater in town is showing early Mike Leigh films. Thought of you.

Whenever you post your movie round-ups, which I always enjoy, it nudges me to do my own. Double thanks.

Michael Leddy said...

Lucky town! (I meant to say something yesterday, but doing so got away from me.)