September 8: Murder by Death
This was a fun movie, very much like Clue, which I also love. “Flames…flames…on the side of my face.”
I remember finding that in Family Video and renting it on VHS! Thank Buddha we’ve advanced to Netflix. I don’t have to dress down to go to the shops, I can stay in my overly pompous clothing in my chic lounge and stream, stream, stream! Marvelous. Anyway, this review has nothing at all to do with Clue, aside from being in a similar vein. It’s a parody of detective movies. I was familiar with most: Miss Marple, Poirot, Charlie Chan, and of course Nick and Nora of The Thin Man fame. There was another, but I didn’t know him. They all had different names (Dick and Dora) and played exaggerated versions of themselves, which is hilarious for film buffs like myself. I can’t really describe the film because it was purposely convoluted. There was a blind butler, a deaf and mute cook, a demented host, a doorbell that screams, robots, corpses, scorpions, fart jokes, invisible soup, one million dollars, and. A lot of laughs. I highly recommend this one. It wasn’t a perfect picture, but it was good fun. [My Rating: 9/10]
September 9: Charlie Chan in Egypt
This picture was so dreadful that I could hardly stay focused on it. Even now, I barely have a clue what it was about–all I know was that I was bored. I shouldn’t have been, I love nothing more than ancient Egypt, archaeology, and a murder mystery, but this was so drawn out and dull that it wasn’t worth it. Avoid. [My Rating: 1/10]
September 10: Too Hot to Handle
Clark Gable and Myrna Loy, two of my favorite talents from old Hollywood, starred in this stinker. I should know by now that anything that takes place in the jungle is going to be dreadful. For some reason, we have to spend so much time on the natives. Not that I have anything against the natives, it is just endlessly tiring watching them bang their tribal drums and mutter incoherently about cannibalism. I want more actual adventure! Clark Gable is a newsreel director trying to create sensationalist stories to send back home from one exotic location or the other. While doing a very dramatic scene, he comes across Myrna Loy’s character, an aviator. They fall in love, I guess, and then they hurry off to headquarters to get funding for an expedition to the Amazon to locate Myrna’s lost brother. This is going along fine until there is some scandal regarding the authenticity of the reels Clark made. They are now the laughing stock of society and are no longer taken seriously. Myrna is crushed and goes away. Clark feels bad about it, so he sells his cameras and then covertly donates the money to her cause. Back then, $8000 was enough to buy a plane and plan a well-funded expedition to the depths of the Amazon. $8000 will barely get you a week at a luxury resort these days. There’s a bunch if natives, too much voodoo, scenes that went on for what felt like days, and then it was finally over. Dreadful picture. [My Review: 2/10]
September 11: Grey Gardens
Over the years, I’ve heard a lot about this documentary. It’s often referenced and I like to be in on the jokes, so it was high time I filled myself in. I didn’t have a clue what I was getting into and I’m still not sure what it was. I didn’t care for it last night when I was watching it, but this afternoon, I feel a kind of lurking affection for the characters. I think this is one of those things that you have to watch a few times to fully appreciate it. I won’t do that now, but I’m sure over time I will see it again. Watching the documentary, it takes a while to get into it, it shifts and the camera angles always seem a bit too invasive, but once we get to know the two women, it began to make more sense. The stars are Edith (79) and her daughter Edie (56), close relatives of Jackie O. They live in a crumbling mansion in East Hampton called Grey Gardens. Isn’t that a beautiful name? I love it. The mansion has been wounded over the years, it is as much a character as the two women. Beautiful woodwork has been covered in garish paint, garbage is strewn about, raccoons live in the attic, too many cats live in the house, there is no running water, nature is close to reclaiming the property. It’s tragic, but you can see what it must have been like in its prime. Someday, I too will have a coastal manor. The two women are strange, there’s no denying it, they are suspicious of the outside world and no longer go out in it. They are recluses that rely on each other. Edith still thinks she can be a great singer, though she can only warble off tune. She’s content, though. Edie, on the other hand, is the one that captured my attention. She dresses absolutely ridiculously. Always in a bathing suit or something inappropriate for a woman of her age and a scarf wrapped tightly around her head. She doesn’t seem to accept that she is a mature, nearly elderly woman. She thinks that she can still go to New York City and live the life of a twenty year old. It’s childlike and sweet, but also terribly sad. She is not at all in touch with reality. She talks constantly of New York and how she was on the very brink of fame. She was assuredly not. But, she still believes it and it makes her happy. She hates Grey Gardens, but just can’t leave. She is trapped by her mother and by herself. They are basically destitute. It’s sad and beautiful and as I write this now, I realize that I loved it. I’m Edie. I want to be free to peruse my desires, but I can’t and I can’t only because of myself. [My Rating: 10/10]
September 12: Les Girls
For some reason, I had thought that Liza Minelli was in this picture. I was excited for that since I love her mother. Not sure if I have ever seen a Liza feature…don’t think so. I have Cabaret on the DVR, but haven’t started it, yet. Should do that. I love the French & Saunders parody of it.
Anyway, Liza was not in this picture, but Gene Kelly was, so it wasn’t a total loss. Unfortunately, this comedy was not comedic at all. It was directed by George Cukor, who was known for his fabulous women’s comedies, but this just felt bland. The plot had an interesting structure, the same story told from three different viewpoints, but that was the only interesting thing about it. The women star as dancers in the Les Girls nightclub, a take on the Lido or the Moulin Rouge. I’ve yet to go to one of those shows, I really should sometime. Just to say I have. There is a story I’m developing that involves fashionable nightclubs, so I need to get some primary material. Anyway, years pass and one of the dancers writes the story of her life, unfortunately, this ruins the reputations of another of the girls, who has married well and is very happy with her life. So, they go to court and the writer, the libeled lady, and Gene Kelly, the show’s director, reveal their sides of the story. Good setup, but no interest. I’m really not sure what the woman’s problem was–she was a dancer. People have done worse things with their life. I was bored with how tediously dull the entire affair was. [My Rating: 3/10]
September 13: The Beast With Five Fingers
A few months ago, I watched a Peter Lorre film where he played a brilliant surgeon who grafted the hands of a murderer onto those of a famed pianist. I found it stunning how many similarities there were between that picture and this one. So much so, that it made me wonder if Old Hollywood was pathetically churning out the same nonsense like we are today? I have come to realize that most movies are dreadful, and since I have such low expectations, I am delighted when I find something great. This wasn’t, but it certainly was not awful. The setting was an old Italian palace in a tiny village. Peter played, well I never could figure out what he was doing, he seemed to be a companion to the crazy old man who owned the house, yet he also seemed to be a crazed researcher looking for the lost magic of the ancient world. Who doesn’t want to find that? Anyway, the crazy old man is in love with his hired companion and she wants to escape with a faux antique dealer. The crazy old man, who is also a pianist, is killed, and his severed hand begins haunting the house and killing everybody. It was ridiculous, but yet, the atmosphere was gorgeous, the soundtrack great, and the acting was excellent. I really can’t critique anything but the flimsy plot. [My Rating: 6/10]
September 14: On the Riviera
In general, the movies this week sucked. This is not an exception. This is an example. A man who sings too much impersonates a businessman so well that problems arise. Avoid. [My Rating: 1/10, only becuase the opening credits were alright.]
FILM of the WEEK: Grey Gardens It’s grown on me tremendously. I need to see it again. And I just read that there is a new version of it starring my beloved Jessica Lange. Putting that on the queue at once.
Grey Gardens : 10/10 *_*
this film is just fantastic ! and the 2009 version with Lange and Barrymore is perfect too. 😉
I’m looking forward to watching the new version. I adore Jessica Lange.