Not as interesting as Sam Fuller’s later I Shot Jesse James, but a lot better than I’d expected. Maybe I can enjoy a Western more than I’d thought. Some story differences, too… for instance, Fuller’s movie has Bob Ford re-enacting the murder as a play pretty much the same way it happened, while Lang’s has the Fords camping it up onstage and acting the heroes. Don’t know which really happened, but each version was well-suited to its own movie.

Henry Fonda is James, hears news of Jesse’s death and sets out with young Jackie Cooper (not Jackie Coogan) to get Bob Ford (a nervous bearded John Carradine) and brother Charlie.

Not technically the last Fritz Lang film I have to see, but the last one available until Human Desire shows up on cable again. That’s 36 down, 1 to go! Guess I’ve been trying to watch all of Lang’s movies since college, so seven years. At around five per year, it didn’t go nearly as fast as my Sam Fuller quest. Even if I didn’t pick up on the geometric patterns hidden within Lang’s mise-en-scene that auteurists wet themselves over, it was neat to see forty years of cinema from one director’s perspective. He covered 1920 to 1960, the period I know least about, and Sam Fuller was 1950 to 1990. And they both made so many movies… gives me a convenient handle on chronology. Oh, 1953, that was the year Pickup On South Street and The Big Heat came out. Anyway, on now to Bunuel, Rivette, Marker and Resnais for a western european perspective.

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Ah, Preston Sturges movies… always worth watching over and over.

You’d think I’d really know who Henry Fonda is, but you’d be wrong. Anyway, now after this and Return of Frank James, I could probably pick him out of a lineup. Terrific, funny cast between him, Barbara Stanwyck, Charles Coburn as the card shark and William Demarest (the dad in Morgan’s Creek) as Muggsy. Writing is at least as good as the acting… was beaten for an oscar by a Robert Montgomery / Claude Rains comedy.

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Henry’s been up the amazon collecting snakes and meets Stanwyck on the ship back home. They fall in love while she’s conning him out of some money with partner Coburn, and when he finds out about the con he leaves her wanting payback. She reinvents herself as The Lady Eve and gets invited to his family estate via mutual monocled friend Eric Blore (played a valet in Sullivan’s Travels). They get married then she runs off and reappears as her card-playing self to have an “affair” with Henry… the end. Overcomplicated, but a proper comedy should be.

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Did Katy like it? Don’t know for sure but I’d think so.

Update Jan 2015: Katy definitely likes it.

Ashouk marries Ashima and takes her to NYC where they have kids Gogol and Sonia. Gogol is frustrated from having a funny name, dates a rich girl for a while, ends up marrying another girl who leaves him for her French ex. Changes his name from Gogol to Nikhil, confused by his parents’ choice of name until his dad finally tells him about the Gogol-reading train-accident that originally led him to the States.

Movie never gets bogged down in story, constantly exploring its theme of living in a foreign country, of cultural differences, leaving and returning home, families split and together. Uses color and music, costumes and props to develop further… every element serves the themes and characters perfectly. Lots of movies attempt this “foreigner moves to new place, sees it from a fresh outsider perspective, finds similarities between cultures/people, eventually fails/succeeds to fit in” idea, but hardly any have succeeded with such a smart, human story. I fell for it completely.

Saw again with Katy, still love it, she liked it too. Says the filmmakers seemed to have more compassion for the characters than the author of the novel.

What this movie has in common with Children of Men:
– nice monster long-shot opening the movie
– cool shootouts and motorcycle chases with no edits

What this movie has in common with Infernal Affairs:
– a cellphone chase between hero and villain
– actress Kelly Chen (the psychiatrist in IA), who I didn’t like in this one with her one facial expression, the “I’m in control” impassive look with the head-down eyes-up intensity.

Pretty good action hostage flick, ridiculous in parts, a fine waste of time. Not one but TWO fat comic-relief characters… and one farts a lot, so he’s the funniest. No cops die, all the baddies die (despite their inexhaustible supply of grenades). Most of the movie is set is a huge ugly apartment building. Oh and the title refers to the media manipulation going on by both sides. The media turns out to be very easily manipulated, and come out as the big losers in the end… by me, at least… that’s not a point the movie makes.

Good enough intro to Johnny To’s world. Still have to check out Election sometime.

Part of Bunuel’s really good stretch, this came between Viridiana and Simon of the Desert. Glad I finally watched it… probably one of my favorite Bunuel movies now.

After a dinner party, about twenty ridiculous upper-class people (and one waiter) are mysteriously unable to leave the room. And nobody outside can enter the house. They do get out, over a week (and three deaths) later, by recreating the moment when it first happened, standing in the same position they were at 3am the first night. Then they all go to church together and it happens again.

In between, we’ve got chicken feet in a woman’s purse, mountain vistas in the bathroom, dreams and voiceovers, sheep and bears running through the house, morphine, lovers dying mysteriously, and the total breakdown of high society.

Hard to keep track of who’s who most of the time, except for the gay guy who complains a lot. I occasionally recognized Silvia Pinal (the hostess, Tristana). The steward Julio is Simon of the Desert, and a few other actors from this one were in Simon (incl. Silvia as the devil). A couple of these guys were in Bunuel’s early Mexican movies, one woman was in Brainiac, and two people were in Samson vs. The Vampire Women, released the same year!

A Brazillian movie won the Golden Palm at Cannes that year, beating Exterminating Angel, Cleo from 5 to 7, L’Eclisse and The Innocents. The IMDB is probably stretching when it says this movie was referenced in both A Nightmare On Elm Street and The Blair Witch Project.

Resnais at the Venice Film Festival described the movie as “recording the anger of a so-called happy civilization. A new world is shaping. My characters are scared of it and can’t deal with it. We witness a real impregnation of the world. Muriel invites us. The movie grows like a plant. The characters start to live away from us. Imagine a letter on a piece of blotting paper. The movie is this blotting paper. The audience is that mirror that allows the image to be seen. Muriel appeared in the middle of the ink stains.”

Helene to Alphonse: “Well, did we love each other or not?”

Bernard is the nephew, Marie-do is his girlfriend, Robert is his war buddy.

Italian movie Hands Over The City beat this one at Venice, along with Marker’s Le Joli Mai, Kurosawa’s High & Low, a Louis Malle, Billy Liar and Hud.

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A female-directed movie where both the male leads get naked, heh. Of course I saw this cuz Bonnie Will Oldham plays Kurt. Vaguely adrian-brody-like guy named Daniel London plays Mark… was apparently in Minority Report and Patch Adams.

The title comes from the line “sorrow is nothing but worn-out joy”. One of the few lines in a very quiet movie. Peaceful, especially once they get to the hot springs. Supposedly it’s “about” two old friends trying in vain to reconnect their dying friendship. I did not have this feeling of regret and woe hanging over my head, found it to be a profoundly happy movie.