November 17: The Thin Man Goes Home
Did you know that I still have not received a thank you note from Debra Messing? I know! The audacity not to at least acknowledge that I put her name in a magazine read by millions of people around the country and well known to those in the entertainment business. It was freaking Entertainment Weekly–my celebrity bible. How very dare she! I’ll get over this injustice someday, but I no longer know if I can approve of her taking on the Nora Charles role in the Thin Man reboot. I don’t even know if I can approve of Johnny Depp as Nick Charles. It just doesn’t feel right, you know? He’s a genius actor, but this just doesn’t feel like the right part for him. These films are classics for a reason, unlike many other tragic failures in the cinema of history, these were good the first time around, they don’t need recreated. The husband/wife sleuths are one of my favorite genres of book and film, so I suppose I approve of a revival. Anyway, I can’t really tell you much about the story in this film because that would give it all away. Nick and Nora return to Nick’s familial home for a break from detective duties and the strain of the city life. Nora is bored by this and is bothered that her father-in-law doesn’t seem to respect his son’s career. So, she hopes there will be a case to solve. Conveniently, there is, and it revolves around a boring painting of a mill. I can’t say any more. It’s an alright installment in the Thin Man series, but it wasn’t my favorite. [My Rating: 6/10]
November 18: On Moonlight Bay
This picture seemed to be a transliteration of Meet Me in St. Louis, a superior picture. This one was alright, but just seemed stale and quite uninteresting. Doris Day was the star and she didn’t sing nearly enough. I love her music, I don’t understand why she only burst into song a few times. Completely illogical. Doris’s family moves to a new, roomy, luxurious home in a nicer side of town and everybody but father is pissed about it. Those bitches were all complaining and saying that the house was too big, that they would have to spend all their time cleaning it, that they didn’t have enough furniture to fill it up. INGRATES! SCUM! DISGUSTING CRETIN! Had I been the father in this situation and had just purchased a stunner of a house for my family that was absolutely perfect for them and they treated my decision like this…I would have exploded. They could all go back to the crummy house on the other side of town while I luxuriated in the comforts of my mansion! How could they not enjoy a mansion? Who wouldn’t love a mansion? I live for the day when I have a big house with room after room after room. Whatever. Doris’s character is a tomboy, so her parents have no hope of her ever marrying and moving on, but she becomes interested in an annoying fellow who doesn’t believe in marriage or banks or the war. Yawn. She’s madly in love with him, but her parents don’t approve. You see where this is going, right? There’s a bunch of tedious scenes in the center while we wait for the resolution. Doris breaks her leg. Doris’s brother sullies his father’s reputation. Father learns a lesson from his aunt. Yawn. Finally, Doris and her fellow try to get married, but it’s stopped and Doris is beyond pissed, but her lover finally changes everything about himself and her father approves and they are engaged. I was irritated. I didn’t like her lover, but he shouldn’t have changed all his ideals just to marry Doris. I would adapt to somebody’s desires and interests, but I wouldn’t ever change who I was. That’s silly. [My Rating: 5/10]
November 19: The Miracle Woman
I’ve become an admirer of Barbara Stanwyck this year. This was a stupid resolution to watch a movie ever day for a year, it’s impossible actually, I’ll be watching films into January, but I am alarmed at how much I’ve learned. Last year I would have heard of Barbara, but never would have recognized her or would have been able to give examples of her work. Even if it’s a meaningless skill, I’m still rather proud of all the movies I’ve seen (even the vast majority which sucked.) She was a great actress. She had a real ability to become her character that not every actor or actress has–she ceases to be Barbara. That isn’t an insult to other actresses like Marilyn Monroe who always remained Marilyn Monroe. Even Bette and Joan had this problem, they were bigger than themselves. Does that make sense? It doesn’t make sense when I see it written, but I think you know what I mean. Wherever they went, there they were. Barbara was different. In this role, I completely believed her as a scheming evangelical preacher. She did a marvelous job. After her father, a preacher himself, dies, she is offered a role in what is basically a con artist’s business. They hold huge rallies and tour around the country spreading the gospel. Barbara’s character is great at this, and she no longer has any faith in humanity, so she doesn’t mind deceiving her rapturous audiences. (I wanted to use a phrase like “pulled the muslin over the eyes of” but I don’t know if that’s a real phrase or not. I googled it, but no hits. Hmmm…curious.) All of this changes when she meets John, a blind man who was on the verge of killing himself when he heard her words and decided to live. She changed his life and he therefore changed hers. She falls in love with him and realizes that she wants out of the nasty business. It’s quite a beautiful film and I highly recommend it. The clip above is the full film. Enjoy. [My Rating: 9/10]
November 20: The Body Snatcher
Absolutely dreadful. Waste of time. Boris Karloff was rarely a hit and mostly a miss. I hate writing this, but it’s true. I thought I loved him, but I’ve liked him in so few films. SO VERY FEW: The Bride of Frankenstein…and that was it. I think I had him confused with Vincent Price, who also made his fair share of crap, but at least had talent. All Boris has is a great voice and creepy eyes. I wonder if he hated that. I bet he did. I mean all he ever was was Frankenstein. Typecast as a monster. How dreadful. I suppose I’d be appreciative of having a recognized role, but as a mindless monster…it would be a bit awful. Bela Lugosi was in this one, too, but his role was so small and unimportant that it doesn’t merit mentioning. The whole film doesn’t merit mentioning. Boris kills people off the streets and gives them to a doctor to do experiments on. That’s it. He haunts the doctor. It goes on and on and on. [My Rating: 1/10]
November 21: Darling, How Could You!
FINALLY! A GOOD MOVIE! A REALLY GOOD MOVIE! It happens so rarely. My good friend (you’re probably getting sick of hearing about all my celebrity friends!), Joan Fontaine was the star and she was magnificent in her role as a clueless, loving mother. The entire cast was perfect. The story was perfect. It was just wonderful. It was sweet and innocent and I highly recommend it. Of course, like all the films I seem to recommend to you, they aren’t easy to get ahold of. You can stream it on Netflix, so there’s that. The story is about Olivia’s character and her husband who are doctors working on the Panama Canal. They have a strong sense of duty to help people, so they’ve been away from their children for five years. This seems ridiculous these days, but in the setting of the picture they were still taking luxurious steamers, so it wasn’t convenient to hop on a plane. I can’t wait to someday take a long, sumptuous cruise. I will be so alive. I’ve told you all about this before in other blogs, though! (Quick refresher: custom suit, pink champagne, onboard romance, shuffleboard, cigars in the gentleman’s lounge, dinner with the captain, midnight on the deck. It’s basically An Affair to Remember without the sadness.) They finally realize it’s time to go home and start being the parents they should have been for years. The children don’t really remember them and are worried about what they’ll be like. None of them are sure of how to react to each other, but the reunion is particularly awful for Joan’s character. She means well, but she just messes everything up. Thankfully (or not, depending on your viewpoint) the children had been taken to see a risqué play by accident and the eldest daughter is now convinced she knows everything about “the seamy side of life.” It’s amusingly innocent, but it sets up the entire picture. The daughter becomes suspicious that her mother is carrying on an affair and is determined to save her reputation. She is convinced that life is really like the play she had seen. Of course, her mother is not having an affair, she’s deeply in love with her husband, the gentleman is a doctor friend of theirs! Amusing incidents follow when the daughter dresses up in imitation of an older woman and tries to save the family from ruin. It’s very sweet. I loved it. [My Rating: 10/10]
November 22: Count Yorga, Vampire
Just kill me. I should have known better. Vampires + 1970s = shit. Don’t bother. Nonsensical plot. Oversexed vampires. Poorly cast. Poorly acted. Poorly written. Should not exist. [My Rating: 0/10]
November 23: The Guilt Trip
I expected more out of this picture. Barbara was wonderful, but that was the only true highlight. The rest was just a tired formula that was rather disappointing. It had moments that showed that it could have been better (an amusing scene at the Grand Canyon, for example), but sadly, these weren’t frequent enough to redeem it from anything other than a mediocre outing. If you’ve seen the trailer, which you should have as I posted it above, you know what it’s about. Son and mother take a trip across our lovely country and have awkward incidents that bring them closer together. Yawn. Barbara was a dream, but why didn’t she sing? She’s known for her amazing voice. She could have done a drunken song at the bar or something at least. Seth Rogan’s character was an annoying prick who was way too overconfident for being a total loser. Barbara was an overbearing mother, but it was charming, not awful like it could have been. I really don’t have much to say about this movie. It wasn’t my cup of tea, I suppose. [My Rating: 4/10]
FILM of the WEEK: Darling, How Could You! Absolutely lovely and quite funny. Very recommended.