Digital Monkey Shines

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Weekend Movie Report #3

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Weekend Winner

Sweet Smell of Success (1957 MacKendrick)

This film presents the most prominent performance of Tony Curtis’s career and glowering, refined menace from Burt Lancaster.  It’s not easy to put yourself in the time and place of this film without understanding the history of Walter Winchell, but it is an easy recommendation for a film canon.

Weekend Loser

St. Trinian’s (2007 Parker & Thompson)

This film stayed safely in the British market for almost four years before being released on DVD in the U.S.  Thus the young cast has experienced some career ascendancy in the interim (Look for Cole and Arterton, who are already becoming bigger names).  It’s not truly bad, but is hopelessly frantic and jumpy, as if we can’t believe a film is about teens and pre-teens if it hasn’t been edited rapid-fire.  Beneath the overloaded cast there is an echo of that old Ealing black comedy flavor.

Honorable Mentions

How to Train Your Dragon (2010 DeBlois & Sanders)

This is an overachiever that’s hard not to like.  I think much of the film’s success relies on vocal talent that is nearly imperceptible and extra attention paid to visual textures throughout the screen, including background terrain.  Dreamworks has been busy making quality films below the radar for a few years.

Napoleon Dynamite (2004 Hess)

This film utterly cheats with its anachronisms, but it is aging well on the merits of its overall presentation, gorgeous open Idaho backdrops, and surprising insight into the world of the teen misfits and outcasts.

No Impact Man (2009 Gabbert & Schein)

Five minutes into No Impact Man, you want to toss a certain self-righteous idealist off the roof of the nearest NYC coop.  Then you see his wife is apparently having the same thoughts, and you can allow yourself to be entertained.  The best moment, perhaps a bit underplayed, is when a sixties activist questions the lack of collective action on issues of the environment in favor of personal action.

Topsy-Turvy (1999 Leigh)

Topsy-Turvy is the best film I’ve ever seen about live theater.  Note the space given to performance and the slow pacing documenting the processes of staging, like rehearsal.  Kevin McKidd’s surprising turn as a vain actor is a nice surprise.

Dishonorable Mentions

A short list and reviewing selection bias leave me with no dishonorable mentions this week.

Written by Bill

October 19, 2010 at 12:30 am

Posted in Movies

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