Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Fortune Cookie (1966)

The first film to pair Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, and their interaction is the best part of the film. Overall the film drags a bit, but there are some very funny moments that make it worth sitting through. The climactic moment where the secret is revealed is extremely entertaining. 3.5 stars.

The Misfits (1961)

There are some very odd moments in this movie. The dialogue seems stilted (Arthur Miller, what happened?) and Marilyn Monroe is not nearly as good as she was acclaimed to be in this. Clark Gable, however, is fabulous in what turned out to be his last role. The story picks up in the last 20 minutes, with a truly phenomenal series of scenes where the characters set out to capture some wild mustangs. There's depth and beauty to that entire sequence, something that seems to be missing from most of the rest of the movie. (One example of how disjointed this movie is in the first hour and a half - Thelma Ritter's established as an important side character, then abruptly disappears from the story and never reappears. Nothing is made of this. She's just suddenly unimportant.) The three stars I give this movie are solely for Clark Gable and the last 20-30 minutes. 3 stars.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Avanti! (1972)

I vaguely remember enjoying this movie as I watched it, but now, a few days after my first viewing, I have very little memory of it. Billy Wilder is seldom a BAD writer/director, but this is not one of his more memorable ones, although it does have a few good moments. 2.5 stars.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)


This is one of those movies that's praised in all critical circles as not just being a meaningful satire, but being a genuinely funny comedy. So I watched it expecting to enjoy it. I think I laughed MAYBE one time in this film, and smiled one or two more times. Mostly it seemed disjointed. And I just wasn't amused by Peter Sellers' cast of characters. (But then I am not a fan of one actor playing multiple characters in general - it becomes less about making them themselves and more about making them NOT like the others.)

I'm clearly missing something here, but I found very little to enjoy in this movie. Very disappointing. 1 star.

No Highway in the Sky (1951)

(Some mild spoilers.) The first half of this movie is absolutely fascinating, and seems to be set up as a Hitchcockian closed-room suspense... then that suspenseful moment ends and we're in the middle of a very different movie that's far less interesting than it was at first. Not to mention it ends on possible the least ending-like note ever. However, Jimmy Stewart is worth watching all the way through. He's completely charming as a geeky, socially awkward scientist. It's not a bad movie, it's just not what it could have been. 3 stars.

Kiss Me, Stupid (1964)

This was panned when it came out, partly because a lot of people were really upset with how bawdy it was. It does not deserve its terrible reputation. It is not one of Wilder's best but the first 40 minutes are thoroughly entertaining in a zany screwball comedy kind of way. This is also hands-down the best thing Dean Martin has ever done. He is hilarious here as a very unsubtle, sleazy parody of himself. It goes in too many directions at the end, but overall not at all the terrible film it's purported to be. I thoroughly enjoyed it. 3.5 stars.