In which changes are discussed.
In which changes are discussed.
In which a new movie is discussed.
Two characters talk. A third suffers.
A confrontation occurs.
Rick reveals something.
It’s startling how fresh the original version of Paddy Chayefsky’s Marty feels, even if it’s been over a half-century since it aired, likely because we live in an era when Hollywood vomits a stream of by-the-numbers “romantic comedies” featuring beautiful people with beautiful people problems. Rod Steiger’s performance as the title character, a lumbering guy in his late 30s who’s tired of familial and societal pressure to get married, is restrained and heartfelt at the same time. Avoiding the clichés of romance on the screen, Chayefsky’s choice to show love in its realest, rawest form is enthralling.
This one has coffee mugs.
This one has sadness.
THE HUNGER GAMES (2008)
I’d be able to better appraise this book’s strengths if I wasn’t as familiar with Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale and its various media adaptations. As it is, this is a tidily-written, exciting-in-spots young adult novel about a bleak future in which teenagers are forced to fight to the death for the amusement of the masses and to remind everyone that the (obviously) evil government is in charge. The best bits lie not in the intentionally-stilted romance (that I am assured gets better,) but in how bluntly Collins uses and writes about violence, particularly compared to its peers.
RESCUE DAWN (2006)
I don’t think I’ve ever felt a more intense sense of joy at the end of a movie before. Survival stories are nothing new, but Werner Herzog’s spare style, when combined with engaging performances (even from Steve Zahn) makes this well worth watching, even if you’ve already seen the documentary that recounts much of the same story. Cinephiles are likely already familiar with the German auteur’s willingness to pit cast and crew against nature (see Fitzcarraldo,) to get what he wants, but the game is notably upped by Christian Bale, a man who’s proven that he’ll work hard for his paychecks.
SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS (1957)
Lightning-quick and feeling especially contemporary in our celebrity-addled culture, Mackendrick’s tale of a desperate press agent (Tony Curtis) and the newspaper columnist (Burt Lancaster) to whom he owes an especially odious favor is alternately pithy and poignant. A thoroughly cynical take on America’s media culture that benefits from sharp performances and a vernacular-laden, witty screenplay by Odets and Lehman (based on his novella,) it wouldn’t feel complete without James Wong Howe’s cinematography. His deft touch makes this a movie that showcases New York City’s high and low life just as much as does its well-realized characters.
SHOCK CORRIDOR (1963)
Written and directed by Sam Fuller based on a story idea he’d had kicking around since the 1940s (and had pitched to Fritz Lang,) this look at America’s mental health industry couched in a murder mystery is about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the chest, but I couldn’t help but love it. It uses its low budget to great effect with a cast of wooden b-listers (including James Best) inhabiting a spare but fully-realized world. Darren Aronofsky should probably send checks to Fuller’s estate for basically creating the template for his entire filmography decades before the fact.
Here’s another comic.
I’m not even trying anymore, am I?
I’m sure there is. I mean, if there were no reason, then we’d have one, right?
(Seriously, though, I’ve been re-re-reading the original material and it’d be perfect for the 15-minute slots they’ve been using for the last few years or, even better, as a half-hour companion to The Venture Brothers. Someone needs to get on that. Or tell me to get on that and give me money. So much money.)