Thursday, September 15, 2005

1948. 1972. 2000

I've been doing much more movie-watching than music-listening, of late.

Last night: Hitchcock's The Parradine Case. A film of two halves: the first is lively, full of delightful dialogue ("I don't like being interrupted in the middle of an insult"); the second is somewhat stiffly stuck in the witness box's Q & A format. Still, the ensemble performance is more satisfying, to me, than in, say, Strangers on a Train, in which Farley Granger's character is in a loose-limbed comedy club while the others are at an old stiff-backed theater.

A few wonderful shots: the camera circles Mrs. Paradine's head as Latour enters the court, echoing an early shot in which the camera follows an exiting Sir Simon, as Mrs. Paradine recedes. A nice musical transition: the main theme is played symphonically and stridently over the opening credits, then reprised more delicately by Mrs. Paradine at the piano.

As is often the case, I was puzzled by the Horfields' relationship and their final scene, especially. Are they holding up an aged mirror to the Keanes? Something more?

And I'm totally infatuated with Gregory Peck. My kind of man. Or maybe IVN's kind of man, but after so long, her tastes have shaped mine. I don't know if the effect has gone both ways: I'll have to ask her about her taste in women.

Saturday: Peckinpah's Junior Bonner. IMDB comments and divergent 1972 reports (I much prefer the latter) show that there's no consensus around this one.

There's Junior, out of time, out of space (the cowboys seem decidedly as hemmed in as the beasts they attempt to ride or the horses they drag around behind their cars) and out of cause; there's Ace, a relic who refuses to bow to the new reality. Fairly straight-forward characters. But I found Curley, as a character, the most complex and interesting of the Bonner men. He represents capitalism and its tactics: he is the source of far more physical and moral violence than any of the cowboys (the destruction of his father's ranch, the control exerted over his mother); he knows that it's all about branding, and that it's easier to sell an image when the content has been razed and re-made. Buck Roan's rodeo business is small potatoes next to Curley's mobile homes. For all that, he's also a family man who hasn't missed too many meals and retains just enough cowboy in him to punch his brother, then have a beer with him. I was reminded somewhat of Gladiator's Emperor Commodus, the only character of interest - looking for love in all the wrong places - amongst the boringly honourable or devious masses.

The characterisation of Curley's wife is amusingly dated. While the intended effect of her asking Elvira Bonner, her mother-in-law, not to smoke around the baby is still conveyed, Ruth's request/command is one most of us, I imagine, would make, nowadays.

Sunday: Madonna and Rupert Everett in The Next Best Thing. Not my choice (but not unenjoyable, either, as Everett entertains), but it does end on an interesting and somewhat unusual note of uneasy optimism, even though nearly everything has been shattered. Mainly, it confirmed why I don't have nearly enough male gay friends: they all hang out with other gay guys or straight girls. This is problematic: I recently went to my first party dominated by gay guys, and this lack was made achingly clear by the great time I had. Maybe I should start going to gay bars. Alone, of course. I nearly forgot: Michael Vartan, baby! Will we find out who he "really" is? Will Season 5 extend the all-too-rare interesting bits of Season 4 or continue the string of disconnected and uninteresting missions (the one in Germany with the miniature helicopter is easily my "Worst. Episode. Ever.").