Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Movie Diary


Black Orpheus(1959) Adaptation of the Greek tale of Orpheus and Eurydice set during Carnaval in Rio. New to town, Eurydice stays with her cousin, who lives next to Orfeu, a young man engaged to be married. The two begin a romance, set against the constant festivities of Carnaval. The film follows the myth pretty closely, with Eurydice dying at the hands of a costumed man who follows he through most of the film, and Orfeu following Hermes to a religious service that promises to bring Eurydice back. The finale offers it's own take on the Maenads who tear Orpheus apart. The film gets a lot of mileage out of the locale(the wooden shacks in the hills above the city), the constant bossa nova rhythms, and the incredibly likable leads.

The Mummy(1959)The film is an official remake of the original Universal film, although in this film the mummy is an instrument of revenge for a third party, rather than a resurrected man trying to revive his lost love. There are several scenes in The Mummy that are particularly creepy, like the image of Christopher Lee in fully Mummy garb rising slowly from a moonlit bog, but for most of the film it looks like someone wrapped a wetsuit in brown plaster of paris. Hammer stalwart Terrence Fisher does his usual job of keeping things lively, even when we get to see the same flashback three separate times.


Topper(1937) I've always found Cary Grant to be a little... off. I can't quite put it into words, but he never seems quite right in any of the films I've seen him in. Sure, he has charisma, and he seems perfectly likable, but he never seems to relax into any of his roles. It's fortunate, then, that the heavy lifting in this film are prompted by Constance Bennet as his wife. Grant and Bennet play George and Marion Kerby who, following a fatal car crash, try to perform one good deed and get into heaven by enlivening Roland Young's suppressed banker. A perfectly charming film that spawned a slew of sequels and a television series.

The Producers(1968) Subtlety has never been one of Mel Brooks' strong suits, yet this would almost qualify as such when compared to his other films. Sure, Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel flail and shout constantly, but there are no puns to be found, and there's only one notable moment of breaking the fourth wall.

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