The Rare Review

Movies, books, music and TV

Attention Must Still Be Paid–To Orson Welles

The other night I saw the 1946 Orson Welles film, The Stranger, about the tracking down of a Nazi war criminal in a small American town.  It’s a seriously flawed picture, but one which ought to be seen for the same reason The Magnificent Ambersons, The Lady from Shanghai, and Othello ought to be seen (never mind Touch of Evil)–it was made by Orson Welles.

Whatever their defects, these films remind us of Welles’ concern about the distinction between art and craft in cinema.  They show us what style, however flamboyant, in old-time moviemaking really means, and how much Welles cared about the sorrow and gravity of dramatic tragedy.  Just like Citizen Kane, of course.

English: Screenshot of Orson Welles in The Lad...

English: Screenshot of Orson Welles in The Lady from Shanghai trailer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eighties Commies: “Invasion U.S.A.”

The invasion of America is effected by bloodthirsty Soviet and Cuban terrorists. Invasion U.S.A., a Joseph Zito film, was released in 1985.

This is my fellow conservative John Nolte’s favorite Chuck Norris picture, referred to on, as well as my only Norris picture to date. Norris’s Matt Hunter is an agent perfect with a firearm and imperturbable in vexing situations. Watch the police bust into his motel room to arrest him for anti-terrorist vigilante acts and notice how calm he is. (Hunter is the good guy. It reminds me of when U.S. officers are made to get tough with conservatives merely because of their conservative causes.)

Do I agree with Nolte’s words of praise for the film? Substantially, yes. Norris is a dull actor but others in this eye-opener, such as Richard Lynch and Melissa Prophet, are energetic enough to hold us. I like the no-b.s. action, the gunplay power. It’s fun.

French Film—For The Ages: The 2020 “De Gaulle”

It is compelling to hear in the French De Gaulle (2020) the grave arguments over whether France should sign an armistice with Hitler’s Germany or persist in warring against it. General De Gaulle is there and so is Petain, both men admirable, in a distressing national situation similar, really, to that in Ukraine in early 2022. Although De Gaulle, unlike Petain, wants heroic action, the French fighters are not there and he himself does only what he can (and it isn’t taking up arms). It’s a fairly sophisticated flick, with striking outdoor shots, directed by Gabriel Le Bomin.

One is obliged to say that a certain tidiness, a constrictedness, in De Gaulle prevents it from resembling life as well as it should. Still, with prowess Lambert Wilson enacts a tough soldier and anxious family man, De Gaulle; and from Le Bomin comes intelligent sensitivity. The film is wonderfully watchable.

(In French with English subtitles)

A Farcical Parlor, Bedroom And Bath

Buster Keaton triumphed in his early talkie, Parlor, Bedroom and Bath (1931), since it is replete with the physical comedy he had always been doing and is based on what is probably an entertaining stage farce by C.W. Bell and Mark Swan. Keaton plays an utter naif and know-nothing who is, to me, not a very interesting character, but the well-paced (and slight) farce waxes hilarious—and still serves Keaton effectually. The rest of the cast makes the grade as well.

“Unplanned,” Then Aborted

In the 2019 film Unplanned, causing a human fetus to “fight” for its life is the moral equivalent of inflicting fetal pain, unless what is presented is fetal pain. Both courses of action, to be sure, are vile. Surely fetal pain has galvanized legislators to pass the strong, sometimes too strong, anti-abortion laws we have recently seen. The fighting, the struggle, of an unborn child galvanizes Abby Johnson (Ashley Bratcher) to quit her job as a Planned Parenthood clinic director in this artistically unsuccessful but palpably interesting faith-based movie.

Remember The Camp of the Saints?

Last month, October 2022, more than 230,000 illegal immigrants were arrested at the U.S. border. How many will there be this month? How many immigrants this month will decide to overstay their visas? Will all these people, so often low-skilled, find work in the near future? Indeed, will they all want to find work since birthright citizenship for children brings welfare money?

Time to get serious.

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