Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Movie Diary


Thunder Rock(1942) Michael Redgrave is a lighthouse keeper on Thunder Rock in Lake Wisconsin. A former war correspondent who has become fed up with the apathy and entropy of the outside world, he lives alone and doesn't even leave his post to cash his paychecks. For company he spends his evenings among the ghosts of immigrants who drowned on the lake 100 years earlier, although the movie mentions that these are constructs of his active imagination who have taken on their own life. Through the life stories of the (imaginary) ghosts, he comes to the conclusion that he's given up on life prematurely. The ending should feel sappy and treacly, but feels redemptive after the persistent grimness of the rest of the film. James Mason gets second billing despite appearing only briefly in the beginning of the film.

Husk(2011) Convoluted beyond belief, but let me try to sum it up: a loner, outcast farm boy kills his more popular brother and hides his body as a scarecrow. Now, many years later, his spirit possesses whoever wanders into his cornfield and turns them into other scarecrows. He uses these husks to terrorize future travellers, and the cycle continues. The good news? He can only possess one scarecrow at a time. The story's inner logic holds, I guess, but it's never explained WHY any of this is happening, or WHY the rules are there, or WHY one of the victims keeps having flashbacks to the killer's childhood. This last question is a particularly annoying plot point that was obviously put in place by a writer who couldn't come up with any other way to advance the story, and there is absolutely no payoff to it whatsoever.

The Threepenny Opera(1931) Highly entertaining adaptation of the Bertolt Brecht/Kurt Weill opera. Cuts out some of the songs, but of course keeps Ballad of Mack The Knife(along with other personal favorites Pirate Jenny and The Cannon Song). It's hard to imagine an American version of this highly cynical and bleakly funny tale. None of the characters are redeemable, least of all Mackie Messer, a pedophile, thief, arsonist, murderer, pimp and rapist. Or Peachum, or rules the many homeless beggars of England by extorting from them large fees for the right to beg. The ending of the film(and opera) give these, and other undeserving characters, a ridiculously happy ending while the true poor and unprivileged shuffle back into the shadows.

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