- The Heartbreak Kid (Elaine May)
- Chushingura (Hiroshi Inagaki)
- The Guard (John Michael McDonagh)
- El Sur (Victor Erice)
- Sunrise (F.W. Murnau)
- The Nanny (Seth Holt)
- Bedlam (Mark Robson)
- The Exterminating Angel (Luis Buñuel)
- Chikamatsu Monogatari (Kenji Mizoguchi)
- The Body Snatcher (Robert Wise)
1- I had never seen The Heartbreak Kid so I was glad to catch up with it on TCM. I think it would be interesting to write something on how the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s backfired and instead liberating them actually made them more neurotic and depressed about sex. Just being able to talk more freely about sex is hardly liberation enough.
2- I had recently watched The 47 Loyal Ronin of Kenji Mizoguchi made during WWII. This historical tale seems to be Japanese culture what The Iliad or The Odyssey was to the Greeks: a sprawling saga filled with fascinating characters and digressive incident. I imagine a Japanese audience can fill in the lacunae of any film adaptation of the work. Seeing the 1962 version, Chushingura, helped me to get better idea of how huge this corpus of legend is. I found it interesting to see that incidents hinted at in the Mizoguchi version are more spelled out here, and vice-versa. Apparently there are tons of films based on this legend. Hopefully I won’t have to watch the recent Keanu Reeves version!
3- Victor Erice has made only two feature films and one documentary in over 40 years. His first film Spirit Of The Beehive is legendary. His follow-up some 15 years later, El Sur, is equally stunning but a little more incoherent due to producer interference. The question is why so few films? They answer might be that he only has one film to make and he has made it twice, magnificently. Could that be enough?
4- I love Hallowe’en. It is the greatest holiday in the calendar. I always indulge in great and not so great horror films. I have written about how much I love the Val Lewton films. This year I decided to review some of what I thought were lesser films in the corpus: Bedlam and The Body Snatcher. Bedlam has all the hallmarks of the great Lewton productions: literate, fascinating script, atmospheric sets, great performances, especially from Boris Karloff. The Body Snatcher misses the mark, even though Karloff is brilliant here and there is a delicious cameo by Bela Lugosi.
5- I know I am supposed to love The Exterminating Angel, but I feel that it overstays its welcome by about an hour. The whole time I was watching it I kept telling myself that I wished I was watching The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie again! That is a shaggy dog story as well, but a masterpiece. The Exterminating Angel feels like he was workshopping the idea for the later film.
6- I am glad to learn and see more of Kenji Mizoguchi. I had always heard that Chikamatsu Monogatari, aka The Crucified Lovers,was one of his greatest. I was not disappointed. But man, what a bleak worldview. His world is more relentless than Bergman’s. His artistry is stunning.