The Discreet Bourgeois

Possessed by an urgency to make sure all this stuff I love doesn't just disappear


The Last Ten Films I’ve Seen

  1. Pain and Glory (Pedro Almodóvar)
  2. Wild Strawberries (Ingmar Bergman)
  3. Mademoiselle Fifi (Mark Robson)
  4. The Iron Lady (Phyllida Lloyd)
  5. Parasite (Bong Joon Ho)
  6. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Theodor Dreyer)
  7. King Kong (Cooper/Schoedsack)
  8. Mad Love (Karl Freund)
  9. The Palm Beach Story (Preston Sturges)
  10. Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi)

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1- It is exciting to see a director become more and more in command of his art. Lately, every new film by Pedro Almodóvar has struck me as moving and brilliant in a way that that his early films didn’t prepare me for. I literally gasped at the end of Pain and Glory not for any shock, but because of the perfection it revealed.

2- Parasite! Oh man, what a movie. We are living in the Golden Age of a very weird genre: The politically subversive horror comedy.  These aren’t cute horror-lite films. These are full-out out terrifying films that are also hilarious. I am thinking of Parasite, Us and Get Out.  They are all brilliantly executed and scripted and pointedly political. If you have any recommendations for more of these please send them my way.

3- See my post about Jojo Rabbit

4- I am currently enrolled in a class where we will be reading the de Maupassant story of Mademoiselle Fifi.  I have seen the film several times mostly because the producer is my idol Val Lewton. See my post on him here.  This film is one of his few that is not in his usual spooky, gothic, horror mode.  It is a strange film because I think the censors got to it before it was released. I’ll let you know after I read the story.

5- Of course Meryl Streep is amazing in The Iron Lady because Meryl Streep is always amazing. I fear we take her for granted and don’t realize the luck we have to be able to see her in new things all the time.  What struck me as curious is that for the biopic of Margaret Thatcher (perhaps the only one that will be made for a long while) the focus was on her later years and her developing Alzheimer’s and not on the awful things done during her time as Prime Minister. The highlights and broad outlines are given, but they are not the primary focus. Yes….I know I always say you can’t fault a work of art for not being what it isn’t. I just think this was a curious choice.


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The Last Ten Films I’ve Seen

  1. The Roaring Twenties (Raoul Walsh)
  2. Official Secrets (Gavin Hood)
  3. House of Strangers (Joseph Mankiewicz)
  4. The Searchers (John Ford)
  5. Ad Astra (James Gray)
  6. Downton Abbey (Michael Engler)
  7. The Girl from 10th Avenue (Alfred E. Green)
  8. Brother John (James Goldstone)
  9. Isle of the Dead (Mark Robson)
  10. Blood on the Devil’s Claw (Piers Haggard)

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1- I was so satisfied with Official Secrets. A good, tight script based on a true event that I had no idea about.  Just the right length, just the right amount of suspense, just the right amount of history.  Well done!

2- I am beginning to thing that All About Eve was an outlier. That is such a work of genius and perfection. Not one false note, exhilarating story telling, acid wit, beautifully drawn characters. So far, every other Mankiewicz has paled.  House of Strangers was really weak. A slightly interesting story, developed in fits and starts, with tons of lacunae. Edward G. Robinson sporting an atrocious Italian accent. Why is it always ok to portray Italian-Americans so stereotypically?

3- Downton Abbey was exactly what you would expect it to be, no more no less. You have to decide for yourself if that is enough.

4- On the plus side, Ad Astra offers a view of the near future that isn’t your cliched dystopian apocalyptic vision.  In all likelihood, the near future will be like today, except with more tech.  The image of stations on the moon seemed interesting in that that they didn’t have a Jetsons air to them.  On the negative side, this is one of the bleakest films I’ve seen in a long time. It is kind of a riff on Heart of Darkness, but without the belly laughs.  But boy, Brad Pitt is aging well.

5- Continuing my exploration of every foot of celluloid that features Bette Davis, I watched The Girl from 10th Avenue. Thank you TCM. These pre-code films just knock me out. It really shows how much more realistic depictions of relationships were in the 20s and 30s and how reality retreated behind a curtain of self-imposed morality once Mr. Hays got his grubby hands on Hollywood.

6- Brother John is always mentioned with reverence when discussing the films of Sidney Poitier.  It sure is unusual. Poitier is playing a character who may or not be an angel or a messiah-like figure heralding the impending apocalypse.  Or maybe not.  The film makers seem skittish about committing.  Is this a facet of this kind of film – don’t confirm anything….keep it all ominous but ambiguous.  I get tired of that kind of fence-sitting.  But this was quite a fun watch.

7- October had the greatest of secular holidays – Halloween.  I celebrate every year by watching as many classic and not-so classic horror films as I can.  This year I kicked off the festivities by watching a sublime one, Isle of the Deadand a not so sublime one, Blood on Satan’s Claw.  The latter dates from early 70s and is surprising for its overt sexuality and unfiltered gore.  Very much in the vein of The Wicker Man. If you like murderous, devil-worshipping adolescents in the forests of 18th Century Olde Englande, this is the film for you!  Isle of The Dead might be the jewel in the crown of the Val Lewton oeuvre.  At 70 minutes it is so taut and the script moves like clockwork.  Superstition and ignorance and bigotry are shown in a way that explains how people cling to them.  And how about a posthumous Oscar for the amazing Helene Thimig, the vorvolaka-obsessed Madame Kira.  She gives the great Boris Karloff a run for his money.