- Morning for the Osone Family (Keisuke Kinoshita)
- Peewee’s Big Adventure (Tim Burton)
- La Collectionneuse (Eric Rohmer)
- Inside Out (Pete Docter)
- Frozen (Chris Buck/Jennifer Lee)
- Le Beau Serge (Claude Chabrol)
- Swing Time (George Stevens)
- The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (Woody Allen)
- Grand Illusion (Jean Renoir)
- Bolshoi Babylon (Nick Read/Mark Franchetti)
1- Watching Morning for the Osone Family drives home the point that the Japanese did way more than the Germans did in engaging their collective guilt right after WWII. It is astounding to realize that it came out in 1946, which means that production must have started not long after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I realize all films that came out at this time had to be approved by the American occupying forces. Still, I can’t think of a single German film that indicts the Nazi past the way this film indicts the way the militarists ‘mislead’ Japan.
2- Watching La Collectionneuse made me want to yell ‘Shut up!’ continuously at the screen. These young, self-important and pretty shallow young and beautiful French people never stop talking. I think maybe 30 years ago, I would have found it sophisticated. Today, it grates.
3- Le Beau Serge is often cited as the first film of the French New Wave. I’m not sure how they determine that, but it is quite downbeat. On the bright side, it doesn’t have all that annoying youthful exuberance one expects from the nouvelle vague. For that reason, it felt as if belonged to an earlier era. In fact, it seemed very Italian neo-realist. I guess I don’t care much for the genre.
4- I watched Inside Out and Frozen to get an idea of what the Disney experience as well as the ‘children’s entertainment’ experience is like nowadays. By the time I was adolescent, ‘Disney’ had become a synonym for wholesome, safe and, perhaps, saccharine. One could have reverence for the great animated classics like Snow White and Pinocchio, but subsequent stuff was decidedly uncool and perhaps out-of-date. I did watch Beauty and the Beast when it came out and found it beautiful and sensed a conscious effort on the part of the writers to strengthen the character of the female lead, a laudable trope which continues to today in Disney films, despite the nauseating and quite dangerous proliferation of the ‘Disney Princesses’. What seems to have happened over the years is that sweetness and innocence, for better or worse, is completely gone. Sweet and good heroines who heal the world through kindness have been replaced by sassy young women. I’m not complaining. I just note a trend. Also, a lot of the humor is weighed down with double-entendres which would have been shocking thirty years ago and would have set Walt spinning in his grave. I think what it comes down to is that these pictures seem pitched more to the adults taking their kids to the movies than to the kids themselves. But, because the kids are exposed to the more adult humor, the become prematurely worldly. There is a hipness and cynicism that seems out of place in entertainment aimed at pre-teens. I guess I don’t know enough pre-teens to verify if this is true or not. Frozen was very satisfying entertainment. Inside Out made me quite uncomfortable. Anyone care to comment?
5- Is there anything today that compares to Swing Time? Don’t worry. I am not lamenting for a golden age that has passed by. What I am saying is that surely with the resources studios have, a new film that is as thoroughly entertaining and classy as Swing Time could be produced. Smart adult dialogue, amazing songs, entrancing dance numbers, intoxicating costumes and sets. And all of it fun. Nothing deep at all here, except for the level of artistry. The story, like most of the Astaire/Rodgers stories, is so flimsy that it barely supports the weight of the enterprise. But everything else is of such high quality. Even the comic relief couple of Victor Moore and Helen Broderick blow most contemporary comedians out of the water. Trust me, I am not being Miniver Cheevy. I don’t want a retread of Swing Time for 2015. I want something new, but providing equal satisfaction.
6- The Curse of the Jade Scorpion was not as bad as I hoped it would be. I had come to expect any ‘recent’ Woody Allen movie, i.e., anything after Hannah and her Sisters, to be insufferably creepy and sloppily executed. Well, this was an adequate, slight entertainment, neither profound nor offensive. It reminded me of a Warner Brothers comedy from the 30s that my cable guide would rate two stars. The big flaw is the casting of Woody Allen in the central role, a flaw he is the first to acknowledge. He looks old and tired and not a romantic hero (ok, romantic schlepp) by any stretch of the imagination. Yet, it did entertain. Doesn’t it seem like there are thousands of Woody Allen films that you never heard of?
7- I want to say that I love The Grand Illusion, but it always makes me feel like I am taking medicine. I know it is good for me. Rules of the Game is much more to my aesthetic taste. Movies about equality and brotherhood so rarely work.