Saturday, May 21, 2016

Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936)

IMDb plot summary: An American boy turns out to be the long-lost heir of a British fortune. He is sent to live with the cold and unsentimental lord who oversees the trust.
Directed by John Cromwell. Starring Freddie Bartholomew, Dolores Costello, C. Aubrey Smith, and Guy Kibbee.

Goodness gracious, this is as cheesy as can possibly be. And yet, it has a certain charm in all its extreme predictability and lack of nuance. I think Freddie Bartholomew's rather solemn performance as the child himself has something to do with it. If he had been a more cheerful young child, he would have grated on me far more, but his calm, polite demeanor, even in the face of bullies attacking him, was far more endearing than I expected and it made the moments when he did veer into obnoxious precociousness a little more palatable. As far as "children change the lives of old cranky people around them," this is one of the less annoying versions of that story. None of this sounds like a recommendation, and I'm not sure it is, particularly, but I found myself sort of begrudgingly enjoying it.

2 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Little Lord Fauntleroy < A Little Night Music
Little Lord Fauntleroy > Mr. Holland's Opus
Little Lord Fauntleroy > Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World
Little Lord Fauntleroy < Larry-Boy and the Fib from Outer Space
Little Lord Fauntleroy < Ghostbusters
Little Lord Fauntleroy < Deceived
Little Lord Fauntleroy > Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Little Lord Fauntleroy < Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen
Little Lord Fauntleroy > Live-In Maid
Little Lord Fauntleroy < Star Trek: Nemesis

Final spot: #1510 out of 2456.

Party Girl (1958)

IMDb plot summary: Lawyer Thomas Farrell is a defender of crooks. Vicki Gayle encourages him improve his reputation, but mob king Rico Angelo insists otherwise.
Directed by Nicholas Ray. Starring Robert Taylor, Cyd Charisse, Lee J. Cob, and John Ireland.

What a weird little movie. It starts off with what seems to be a traditional MGM musical set up and then veers wildly off track into being hardly a musical and not about the titular party girl at all. That being said, it's kind of an enjoyably weird ride, and it's certainly unpredictable. I have no desire to ever watch it again, but it held my interest for most of its run - though I don't know if that would have been the case if I had known what genre it actually was going in.

2 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Party Girl < A Little Night Music
Party Girl > The Boss
Party Girl > What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Party Girl > The Adjustment Bureau
Party Girl < Crash
Party Girl < Revengers Tragedy
Party Girl < Batman Begins
Party Girl > Quitting
Party Girl < 21 Up
Party Girl < Marie Antoinette
Party Girl < Mystic River
Party Girl > The Game

Final spot: #1370 out of 2455.

To Have and Have Not (1944)

IMDb plot summary: During WWII, American expatriate Harry Morgan helps transport a Free French Resistance leader and his beautiful wife to Martinique while romancing a sexy lounge singer.
Directed by Howard Hawks. Starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Walter Brennan, and Dolores Moran.

(Some spoilers ahead.)

I'm having difficulty pinpointing this genre. Emotionally, for me, it comes closest to noir, but the heroes seem like pretty straightforward good guys rather than antiheroes or seriously flawed characters, and it ends positively. But when I say it comes closest to noir for me, that isn't said in a positive way, unfortunately. I find noir, as a whole, a very boring genre, and that's how I felt about this. The conflict didn't feel very important, the resolution felt anticlimactic... The best part of this was the Bogart and Bacall interaction, but even that didn't wholly work for me, as it seemed to be more banter than substance. Overall, I'm glad it was chosen for me because it's a movie I really should have seen already and I would never have been motivated to seek it out on my own, but unfortunately I didn't like it much.

1.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
To Have and Have Not < Dreamgirls
To Have and Have Not > The Boss
To Have and Have Not < Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World
To Have and Have Not < Bounce
To Have and Have Not < Run Lola Run
To Have and Have Not > The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
To Have and Have Not < The Fugitive
To Have and Have Not > Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted
To Have and Have Not < Sarah, Plain and Tall
To Have and Have Not > The Hiding Place

Final spot: #1789 out of 2454.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Marty (1955)

IMDb plot summary: A middle-aged butcher and a school teacher who have given up on the idea of love meet at a dance and fall for each other.
Directed by Delbert Mann. Starring Ernest Borgnine, Betsy Blair, Esther Minciotti, Joe Mantell, and Augusta Ciolli.

(Mild spoilers.)

Overall, I really liked this movie. I am very drawn to stories about people who are perpetually single because they are just not terribly attractive, as that's how I felt for the majority of my life. The chemistry between Marty and Clara is charming; you can really tell they feel they've found that one person who really "gets" them, and it warmed my heart to see that play out. I think, however, that there were definitely some elements that kept it from fully hitting home for me. For one thing, while obviously the movie is named after Marty, I wish we'd gotten to see a little bit more of Clara's perspective. The scene where she talks to her parents about her date with Marty was really moving for me, but from that point on she's out of the movie almost entirely, despite the fact that a lot of the plot still revolves around her. I also felt like the movie kept lightly hitting on potentially important themes and topics without actually resolving them -- particularly the mother/son relationship angle -- and that left me feeling unsatisfied. I could have used another 10 or so minutes to wrap up a few of these topics. I enjoyed it, but I felt like it was just a scene or two away from me enjoying it much more.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Marty > A Little Night Music
Marty > American Outlaws
Marty < Breakfast at Tiffany's
Marty < Nightcrawler
Marty < The Sessions
Marty > Zodiac
Marty > Flushed Away
Marty < Mad Max: Fury Road
Marty > Bandits
Marty < Notting Hill (although this was a very close one)

Final spot: #550 out of 2453.

Green Room (2015)

IMDb plot summary: After witnessing a murder, a punk rock band is forced into a vicious fight for survival against a group of maniacal skinheads.
Directed by Jeremy Saulnier. Starring Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Patrick Stewart, and Mark Webber.

(Spoilers ahead.)

I think the people who saw this movie and recommended it to me saw it very differently than I did, not necessarily in terms of quality - I thought it was good - but in terms of what kind of movie it actually was. It was sold to me as a low-budget disturbing psychological horror flick. I was picturing something like Bug or It Follows, something with slow creeping tension. Instead, it was more reminiscent of a one-room thriller like Panic Room. I kept waiting to be scared, and while the suspense was definitely there, it wasn't chilling or scary the way I'd been led to expect.

All that being said, though, it's a *good* mostly-one-room thriller. It takes awhile for any of the characters to take on a personality, and a few of them die off long before I cared who they were, but by the end of the movie you're emotionally invested in the remaining survivors. I was also intrigued by the cinematography, which featured shots more reminiscent of visually stunning artistic dramas than thriller/horror. Interesting and worth a watch, but not anything that blew me away.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Green Room > A Little Night Music
Green Room < The Artist
Green Room < Laura
Green Room < Die Hard
Green Room > My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Green Room > Kiki's Delivery Service
Green Room > Cinema Paradiso
Green Room > Killing Season
Green Room > To Rome With Love
Green Room > Short Circuit
Green Room < Cast Away

Final spot: #1074 out of 2452.