September 27, 2009

In-Depth Reviews

Sullivan’s Travels
(Preston Sturges, 1942)
“You know that movie by that guy in Hollywood who made comedies?” asked a film-maker friend, standing in my living room. He waited for my response.

“What?” I replied.

“You know. That guy who made that one about the director, and it has that amazing actress in it.”

“Preston Sturges?” I guessed, taking a wild shot in the dark.

“Yeah. Oh man. That movie is really good. Way too good for Hollywood.”

“Yeah, Sullivan's Travels. It’s pretty awesome.”

So I rented it and watched it again, with Leah, on Saturday morning, both of us sitting on the couch bright-eyed as Veronica Lake electrifies one of the great screenplays.

Burn After Reading (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2008)
Watching it for the third time. Leah had never seen it. She had tears of laughter streaming down her face at the end. “Oh my!” she said. “That movie is so funny.” I spent half the film hanging onto Leah, roaring, trying to avoid falling off the couch.

The Long Goodbye (Robert Altman, 1972)
I love Altman, but get very little pleasure from this film. The camera moves in almost every single shot, and it's the only thing keeping the movie alive. And Elliot Gould, who is really funny. You know he worked with Bergman? Crazy.

Gosford Park (Robert Altman, 2001)
The first time I saw it I was in a theater filled with octogenarians and a row of my bible-school friends. It just seemed like a weird, forgettable little murder mystery. Re-watching it at 11pm on my couch with Leah cooking in the background last week I grinned all the way through. It's perfect.

Watched for the first time:

Lola Montez (Max Ophuls, 1955)
Mostly I remember sitting in class, trying to fall asleep rather than watch this awful woman on-screen. Ophuls' film Letter from an Unknown Woman, on the other hand, is stunning. And blissfully melodramatic.

The King of Marvin Gardens (Bob Rafelson, 1972)
I rented it ‘cos Rafelson’s Five Easy Pieces is a pretty big deal for me. I sat on our couch under a blanket at 11am on a rainy Sunday morning, bored. I shut it off after an hour. Not even Jack Nicholson’s performance could interest me. “How was your movie?” asked Leah, when I interrupted her Latin homework.


It wasn’t that awful. And the cinematography was nice.

Latin at 11am on a Sunday. Imagine that.


Leah finished reading Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse. She described her idea for a film adaptation. It's the best idea for a movie I've ever heard.

I'm beginning to work on a new short movie myself. And later this year I'll be making a 16mm film with one 11 minute shot. I'm scared.


Boyda said...

This is a terrific post. I've only seen- sigh- part of two of these films (Sullivan's Travels and Gosford Park). I like your "analysis."

I'm very interested in Leah's idea. And yours.

Matthew A. Wilkinson said...

Thanks Boyda.

I can't remember why I thought it was a good idea to reference an idea I wasn't going to explain, but I'm glad you didn't mind.

My film is still in development, conceptually. Leah's idea is too good to tell online. Sorry. Ha.