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Category: Movies Page 2 of 31

Good Old “Pillow Talk”

In the 1959 Pillow Talk, an unmarried woman in New York City (Doris Day) is exasperated by a playboy (Rock Hudson) with whom she perforce shares a telephone line. Later she dates the playboy without knowing who he is (the gent likes Doris’s looks). He’s a pretender, it so happens, but without pretending to actually respect the smitten woman.

It is not a superb plot, but the film’s content is often funny and, this being a screwball comedy, interesting. Little farce is demanded of the actors, especially Day, who are nevertheless right for the pic. There is nothing wrong at all with timing or voice quality. And of course it is all very innocent; after all, as Day scolds Hudson, “There are some men who don’t end every sentence with a proposition.”

Directed by Michael Gordon.

Naughty And On The Ship: “Alien” (A Second Review)

Lengthy space travel and death usually do not go together. How may men died during the moon landings? But in Ridley Scott‘s Alien (1979), several deaths do occur, because malevolence exists in the cosmos. The devil’s representative shows up on a planetoid. What is particularly awful is that an evil company on the earth hopes to weaponize a barbarous Alien and treats the movie’s spaceship crew as though they were men of the Tuskegee Experiment—or pro-Israel Jews. It dehumanizes the crew. Those who are hostilely alien to us are everywhere.

The film opened in U.S. theatres for its 45th anniversary. On the big screen, Scott’s clean direction is obvious. Derek Vanlint’s cinematography in dark areas never frustrates us, and the design team still pleases with its taste and industriousness. Alien is entertaining sci fi at its least complicated.

Deal-Breaking: “Farewell, Mr. Haffmann”

In France’s Farewell, Mister Haffmann (2021), “after the Germans occupy France, a talented jeweler, Joseph Haffmann, arranges for his family to flee the city and offers one of his employees the opportunity to take over his store until the conflict subsides” ( However, the conflict heats up and the Jewish Haffmann is forced to return to the store to hide in the cellar. The employee, Mercier, and his wife Blanche tend to him, except . . . what follows is a Gentile’s, Mercier’s, startling compromise as it turns into a burden, and then deal-breaking and what looks like sheer antisemitism.

Fred Cavaye directed and co-scripted what was originally a play by Jean-Philippe Daguerre. He is wonderfully expert at it, as such performers as Gilles Lellouche (Mercier) are at acting. The film’s ending is not quite convincing but still plausible. One can say oui to Adieu Monsieur Haffmann.

(In French with English subtitles)

“Match Point”: Ready For A Win, Woody?

A Woody Allen movie without humor, Match Point (2005) is meant to be a philosophically disturbing thriller. And it is, which is good, for all its imperfections. Allen’s dialogue usually threatens to break down, but a little less of that tendency exists here. Still, the talk ain’t great.

Neither does Allen score any points, match or otherwise, for originality. I like the intensity of several scenes, though, and the cast is admirable. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers works hard and is never false as the sexually unfaithful ex-pro tennis player, Chris. Scarlett Johansson is delightfully good-looking in face, hair and covered bosom; and is dramatically effective. If Emily Mortimer ever needs to transcend Allen’s material here, she does so. MP is a crowd pleaser, even if Chris turns out to be dumb enough, unfortunately, to get the Johansson character pregnant.

Love Coming? “Autumn Tale”

In the 1998 Autumn Tale, by Eric Rohmer, a widow, Magali, might find love through the machinations of her best friend, the married Isabelle. But she won’t find it through the efforts of young Rosine, who doesn’t quite want to lose the affections of Etienne, the older man to whom Rosine is steering Magali. And we find she doesn’t want to be replaced by a lover just as young, which Magali is not, as Rosine.

Intelligently does Rohmer handle the subject of personality in human relationships, and this is another of his low-key, morally conservative pictures. Captivating characters are played by talented thespians. Isabelle is all charm, Rosine is all mature concern; Marie Riviere and Alexia Portal, respectively, act them palatably. Beatrice Romand (Magali), Alain Libolt, and Didier Sandra are flawless in their savvy. Autumn Tale is a good opus from Rohmer’s autumn.

(In French with English subtitles)

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