La Carrière de Suzanne

La Carrière de Suzanne. Éric Rohmer. 1963.

I’m reading a collection of articles from Cahiers de Cinema, and Rohmer is one of the peeps involved with that magazine, which makes this even more interesting. I mean, to me. It’s a movie just made just a few years after the articles I’ve been reading…

And this is obviously a very… er… early movie. His second? It’s made with amateur actors and without sound (added later in the studio) and it’s short, so this is a very low budget movie.

But it’s so charming. Everybody’s smiling!

It’s also really uncomfortable to watch. It feels like too real. The story’s kinda nasty. I mean, it’s about a total asshole, a nerd, and an awkward girl, and it’s just painful. On purpose.

L’amour l’après-midi

L’amour l’après-midi. Éric Rohmer. 1972.

I was going to watch yet another movie from the box set of public domain movies from the 40-ish, but I just couldn’t face it, so here I am watching a movie from mah (current) favourite, Éric Rohmer.

His movies are just so… I think I once called them “pedestrian, but in a good way”? That is, they’re all “Bonjour, ça va?” They feel like a version of boring actual life, but fun. I can’t watch his scenes without smiling.

But this isn’t one of his better movies. It’s basically a Magic Pixie Dream Girl movie, and it’s not very subtle about it. I do love the parade of turtlenecks (very funny), but the further along we get in this movie, the less it’s holding my interest.

But then the movie bounces back and sort of approaches Rohmer’s ineffableness (that’s a word).

Weirdly enough, this movie was called Chloe in the Afternoon in the US, which is oddly reminiscent of Varda’s Cleo from 5 to 7. OK, that’s not weird at all.

Crimes and Misdemeanors

Crimes and Misdemeanors. Woody Allen. 1989.

I’ve just got a few more Allen movies to go in this box set. (I get too enthusiastic and buy box sets and then I get annoyed with them because they take forever to watch. It makes no sense, I know.)

This was one of the movies that made me stop watching Allen movies back in the late 80s. It’s yet another Upper West Side drama about people fucking around.

The main distinguishing point of this one is that it’s got All The Actors. It’s like watching a Robert Altman movie, except with not as good direction.

I’m liking it a lot more this time around. The plot it a pretty squicky “well what if” wish fulfilment thing, but the guy with the er problems is such an obvious loathsome guy that it’s not that eye-rolley.

I loved the oldee-tymey dinner scene. Very Bergman.

Black Tights

Black Tights. Terence Young. 1961.

Well, that’s one way of doing letterboxing: By putting some purple stuff on top and below the movie.

This doesn’t even really pretend that much to be a movie: It’s a series of ballet scenes with a narrator in between. It looks like it may very well have been a lovely movie, but this has been sourced from a VHS taping of a broadcast, and that takes the enjoyment out of looking at these no doubt very good dancers.

Perhaps?

Target of an Assassin

Target of an Assassin. Peter Collinson. 1977.

Huh. I thought this was from that box set of public domain movies… but this is from 1977? Perhaps they got a few really cheap movies in there as well? I mean, this is from:

Which doesn’t sound very high toned.

Hm… It’s shot in South Africa and so there are drums all over the soundtrack.

My god, this is dreary. I’m bailing on this. Perhaps it’s fabulous really? But I’ll never know.

Murder With Music

Murder With Music. George P. Quigley. 1941.

This movie is… it’s… it’s indescribably inept. I’m guessing that it’s made by somebody with no movie making experience, but with access to a large number of surprisingly enthusiastic singers and dancers?

It’s a no budget B movie. But the dance numbers are kinda enjoyable. It’s got more energy than talent, but it’s got a Plan 9 kinda vibe: It’s so awful that it’s fascinating.

There’s just a couple of sets, and probably filmed in the same room. It’s uper cramped, and they just seem to move fittings around to create the different set-ups.

I may be talking it up a bit here: It’s not a good movie, and you shouldn’t see it, but it does have charm.

Reaching for the Moon

Reaching for the Moon. Edmund Goulding. 1930.

Yes, I’m back to plowing through the box sets of public domain movies after a luxurious 4K break.

The version I have is 25 minutes shorter than the IMDB length, so I guess this is… the very un-restored version?

Irving Berlin… Douglas Fairbanks… Bebe Daniels? Is she famous? Oh, indeed she was: She did a buttload of stuff in the teens and the twenties, but only a dozen or so things in the 30s, and then she kinda disappeared, which probably explains who I can’t remember the name. I mean, other than my old timer’s disease.

Oh, I’ve seen her before in a horrible movie, made in the same year as this one.

This has Edward Everett Horton! My favourite!

It’s an odd movie. I was expecting some kind of cookie cutter screwball thing, but it’s not that: Instead it’s a movie in search of a plot. It’s got some great performances, but it’s just hard to not zone out. It’s just incomprehensible. Perhaps the missing 25 minutes had the plot bits?

Hm:

The film was originally intended to be a musical with songs written by Irving Berlin but problems soon developed. From the start, Berlin found Edmund Goulding, the director, difficult to work with. Also by mid-1930 the studio realized that the public’s demand for musicals had disappeared. So Goulding jettisoned many of Berlin’s songs from the score

That doesn’t explain why the plot is impossible to follow, though.

I likes all the scenes with Horton.

Godzilla II: The King of the Monsters

Oh the irony!

Godzilla II: The King of the Monsters. Michael Dougherty. 2019.

I have to say that there’s bits of this that doesn’t make that much sense. Those bits are: The beginning, the middle, and the end.

But it’s Godzilla, so it’s not like I was expecting anything else, really. The attraction is seeing some CGI monsters tear down some CGI cities while some Japanese guy talks about the Earth being out of balance and stuff. And it delivers on those points, although disappointingly enough, so much of the CGI takes place at night, under water, during a snow storm (i.e., the ideal environment for cheaping out on the CGI).

I mean, the budget was only $170M.

This movie hits all the notes of a Godzilla movie: Sometimes it’s so on the nose that you wonder whether they’re doing this as a parody of a Godzilla movie, but it’s not.

If you’re not into Godzilla, you’ll find it a total bore. But I give it all thumbs up.

Men in Black: International

Men in Black: International. F. Gary Gray. 2019.

I only vaguely remember the first movie. Or were there two? It was… Fresh Prince and that Tommy Lee guy?

So this is … not a reboot but a sequel with new characters? The concept is basically “Bond, but with funny aliens” so it seems well suited for a series.

Oh! And here Chris Hemsworth (one of the Chris people) does play a Bond parody.

It’s a bit frustrating to watch. Every scene is like “oh… I see what they want this scene to be”… It’s so close to being fun and exciting and cool, but it’s like everything is just slightly out of phase. I can’t even pinpoint what is wrong: The effects are great, Hemsworth is very Chris and Tessa Thompson is a great smartypants rookie, and the plot is satisfyingly over-complicated.

It’s just not … sharp? It needs to be turned up a bit? Is it made for the Chinese market? It’s produced by Tencent?

I like the deadly assassins. They’re super cool.

This movie is inexplicably boring.

Oh, here’s the explanation:

The film went through a troubled production due to frequent clashes between director Gray and producer Parkes, which started when the executive overseeing the project, Sony’s executive vice president of production David Beaubaire, exited the studio in the summer of 2018, and was not replaced. […] Parkes’ new script pages stripped away the early draft’s modern sensibilities, and were newly sent, daily, to Hemsworth and Thompson, who were both so confused that they hired their own dialogue writers. […] The studio tested two cuts — one put together by Gray, the other by Parkes — with the version by Parkes being chosen as the theatrical cut.

But perhaps Parkes isn’t the bad guy here:

Parkes and Gray also clashed over the color-correction process during post-production.

Because the colour grading looks great! Rich, deep and fresh colours.

Alita: Battle Angel

Alita: Battle Angel. Robert Rodriguez. 2019.

The title character is CGI, but moves around in a non-CGI environment. (Well, FSVO.) It’s pretty good! I mean, the CGI. As usual, they animate the hair list a bit too much: Not modelling how greasy hair (and all hair is greasy to some degree) just doesn’t move that much.

So it’s a novelty movie based on a Japanese comic book. The weird thing is that the performances by the human actors (like Christoph Waltz) are even more stilted than the CGI performances.

That’s pretty incomprehensible. Not the tomatometer: That sounds about right. But 93% of the audience liked it? Odd.

Because this is pretty dull stuff. I mean, it looks good, but it’s just hard to find anything here that’s interesting. Perhaps if you’re a fan of the comic book, then it’s exciting to watch this version of it? I don’t know?

I expected the big action scenes to be as exciting as watching video games on Youtube. But they manage to make you forget you’re watching CGI creatures in a CGI world. Either that, or it transcends the entire thing into a cartoon. It’s kinda exhilarating, anyway. It’s when they’re not fighting the movie has a problem.

So I liked the last half of the movie a lot more than the first half. But it did feel a bit like the pilot season to a TV show. Unusually with movies these days, it actually felt a bit on the short side?

It cannot be!