Friday, 5 December 2008

Random Notes #6

North By Northwest (1959 - Alfred Hitchcock) - Is it me or does Philip Glass' music from "Koyaanisqatsi" sound just like the final music in the Mount Rushmore chase scene? It sure seemed like it to me as I re-watched NxNW the other night, but I suppose my muddled brain could be making wrong connections again.

I know, I know, hard to believe that could possibly happen, eh?

As much as I liked it the first time I saw it a few years ago, this repeat viewing was even better - everything coalesced into one perfectly drawn out plot. It's possible that I feel that way since my need to see the film again was driven by reading a Q&A screenwriter Ernest Lehman did at the AFI over 30 years ago, but it doesn't change how great everything flows together and how perfect the characters are.

The Anderson Tapes (1971 - Sidney Lumet) - I know many people like the cheesy aspects of the film, the heist itself and of course Connery's performance, but I found it just never settled into any kind of decent tone or feel. It had its moments and Cannon and Connery together were pretty fun, but it never gelled for me. And the heist seemed very poorly planned with way too many gaping holes in it. I suppose that isn't a good enough reason (since many, many heist films can be picked apart), but the initial plan and intent of the robbery seemed to indicate that it was going to be so much more meticulously planned.

It does attempt to capture a certain paranoia about Big Brother though, with all the various public and private cameras and recording devices. It's a solid idea and seemed to beat Coppola's "The Conversation" to the punch by a couple of years, but again, it just isn't handled very well - the bleeps and blurts popping up on the soundtrack every few minutes at distinctly higher volumes than everything else were far too annoying to get across any of the subtle aspects of being watched. And it unfortunately REALLY dates the film...

Christopher Walken's first ever film appearance was pretty cool to see though - he felt almost fully Walken-ized out of the box.

Lumet is just so inconsistent for me...From brilliance to baffling. This one fits somewhere in the middle.

Libeled Lady (1936 - Jack Conway) - Myrna Loy is one seriously sensual woman (those smoky eyes and easy confidence are a great combo).

She's also incredibly classy, charming and strong in this tale of a rich heiress getting her name "dragged" through the papers and the way overly complicated plot to get her not to file a lawsuit. The whole film zips along nicely and even gives you a couple of zigs and zags. But it's all about the dialogue and the characters - Loy and William Powell were in 14 films together, so their banter is easy, natural and filled with jibes.

Chosen Survivors (1974 - Sutton Roley) - One of the best things about this 1970s sci-fi-ish tale (about a group of people who have been chosen to live in a large underground facility to continue on the human race after a full nuclear war has decimated the Earth above) is the sets - pretty much the entire film takes place in the underground living quarters, so we get to spend lots of time in the shiny metallic walled corridors and differently coloured rooms.

There's also this guy:

That's Richard Jaeckel. He's been in, well, everything. Mostly known for his TV work from the 50s-80s (even snuck into the 90s with some Baywatch appearances), he also appeared in buckets of Westerns, "The Dirty Dozen" and got an Oscar nomination for "Sometimes A Great Notion". He's just one of those actors whose face you're always happy to see on screen.

And damn if he can't fill out a bathrobe nicely...

Ok, not quite as great as this guy, but that's tough competition. He sure does have a great eye for coordinating his bathrobe to the walls though. That's harder than it looks.

The film also has lots of mega-close-ups!

Yes, those are bats in that last screencap. Vampire bats to be exact.

So yeah, the story is filled with holes, the acting is sometimes too over the top or just kinda bad and some moments fall flat. But it doesn't mean you can't still have a good time with it - which is just what I did.

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