Movies, books, music and TV

Category: General Page 1 of 274

One Of Our Candid Comedies: “My Super Ex-Girlfriend”

If you want it, you got it.  A surfeit of sex jokes, that is.  Maybe adolescents want it, for this Ivan Reitman turkey, My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006), IS an adolescent film.  (It also moves at a rather leaden pace.)  In fact, the two principal females, played by Uma Thurman and Anna Faris, are easy lays.  That’s right, both of them.  We have something scurrilously demented here.

Cover of "My Super Ex-Girlfriend"

Cover of My Super Ex-Girlfriend

Searing And Meaningful: “Gabrielle”

On Gabrielle (2006):

From France, this Patrice Chereau picture borrows Joseph Conrad’s fine 1897 story, “The Return,” for cinematic treatment.  A wife, Gabrielle, leaves her home to run off with a recent lover, but abruptly changes her mind and returns to her husband.  It does Jean the spouse no good at all.  Self-confidence goes; the expected confusion and wrath arrive.  The film has to do with desiccated lives and not merely a desiccated marriage.  What happens when marriage is the only thing a person can fall back on?  Nothing.

Isabelle Huppert plays Gabrielle in a performance perfect and great: the core of a person, of a broken aristocrat, is captured.  Equally powerful, emotionally wrenching, is Pascal Greggory as Jean.  The actors are superior to the director’s style, what with the occasional unnecessary music and the transitions from color to black-and-white.  Even worse are the arty intertitles.  But Gabrielle is no letdown, searing and meaningful as it is.  Huppert and Greggory are not its only strengths.

(In French with English subtitles)

Cover of "Gabrielle"

Cover of Gabrielle

Nice Is “The Good Fairy”

 

Cover of "The Good Fairy"

Cover of The Good Fairy

Ferenc Molnar probably wrote a delightful play when he wrote The Good Fairy, since it was turned into a delightful 1935 movie by William Wyler.  With cool subtlety Margaret Sullavan (once married to Wyler) enacts a friendly, callow girl raised in an orphanage and encouraged there to practice good deeds.  She does one, willy-nilly, for a professional man (Herbert Marshall), a lawyer whose integrity is sadly losing him money.  But to accomplish this, Sullavan’s “good fairy” has to lie to a love-hungry CEO (Frank Morgan), who is generous enough to bestow wealth on the man he believes to be Sullavan’s husband—the lawyer.

Both men are needy in their own way, albeit Sullavan, or Luisa Ginglebuscher (her character’s name), can help only one of them.  The CEO is privileged regardless, and it impresses that the film does something many modern-age people would disdain.  It looks through a positive lens at “men of privilege.”  Yes, the lawyer is poor but, as an educated man, he could gain privilege—and wealth—at any time.  And he does.

A true artist, Preston Sturges, wrote the screenplay for Fairy, and even though it isn’t one of his “personal” works, no doubt he understood what Molnar was doing.

Hitchcock Gets Even With Women: 1972’s “Frenzy”

Hitchcock’s Frenzy (1972) is excellently directed rubbish, without even the gripping force of Psycho and The Birds.  Anthony Shaffer’s script has to do with a psychopathic rapist-murderer in London, and there’s nothing wrong with the movie’s realism per se.  But, directorially, the man obsessed with and rebuffed by Tippi Hedren (and others?) is intent on getting even with women, and this renders the film loathsome.  Murdered females lie dead with their tongues hanging out.  The corpses of women are desecrated in one way or another, and female nudity is somewhat overdone.  Every woman but Vivien Merchant—Merchant is too good for this tripe—is at least close to being bitchy.

Shaffer’s writing is far less than first-rate, but morally the film itself is barely third-rate.

Cover of "Frenzy"

Cover of Frenzy

A Look at the Late ’60s Film, “Bullitt”

Peter Yates’s police drama Bullitt (1968) is poorly written in several ways but is engrossing nonetheless.  It has to do with killers and witness protection, and it contains enjoyable action, but it’s a mostly quiet film.  Proceedings are quiet, as they frequently are in life.  Only now and then do people get noisy.  Correlatively, the hero—Steve McQueen’s Frank Bullitt—is a loner.

Also, it’s a profoundly American film.  The manly loner lives in a place of obvious, nonstop manufacturing, of urban construction and extensive roads.  He has an English girlfriend, however, played by Jacqueline Bisset, whose celebrated beauty is another reason Bullitt is worth seeing.

It beats me why Frank Bullitt isn’t a better protector of his witness, but this movie is fun and interesting in spite of itself.

Bullitt

Bullitt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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