Laura is Ghost and Mrs. Muir star Gene Tierney, and she is dead. Detective Dana Andrews (moving up from playing the mob guy in Ball of Fire) is the detective, inviting Laura’s friend Clifton Webb to join the investigation since he’s a writer who loves murder cases. Prickly gossip columnists make good movie characters. Our chief suspect is Laura’s fiancee Vincent Price, but Dana keeps up the heat (incl. some weird tactics: one time he gets everyone over to drink cheap whisky then dismisses them a minute later). Laura turns out to be alive, a friend of hers having been shotgunned in the face and presumed to be her, and at her still-alive party, jealous Webb is outed as the killer.
“Dames are always pulling a switch on you.” I like Andrews – he has an interesting face, but he underplays hard in this. He’s better than Dorothy Adams as Housekeeper Bessie, who must’ve improved by the time she appeared in The Killing, since I don’t remember anyone derailing that movie like this. It’s one of those perfect-looking 40’s films – besides all the great closeups and composed shots there’s such smooth camera movement.
One of two new Hamaguchi movies. I wasn’t over the moon like I was with Asako, but these kinds of dramas are refreshing, and he’s playing with the same kinds of identity issues, and his next one is a Haruki Murakami adaptation, so I should keep up with these.
No time or screenshots, so briefly, it’s three 40-minute short stories. First, Hyunri likes a new guy, tells her model friend Kotone Furukawa about it in a cab, Kotone realizes it’s her ex Ayumu Nakajima and confronts him at his office. Next, a bitter ex-student of an award-winning professor Kiyohiko Shibukawa (a minor Miike regular) sends his girlfriend Katsuki Mori to seduce the prof and get him into trouble, which ends up fucking over everyone involved. Finally, after a megavirus has knocked out the internet (!), former classmates attend actual reunions again instead of liking/blocking each other on facebook. Kawai Aoba sees old friend Urabe Fusako and their catchup meeting turns into wistful reminiscence and play-acting when it turns out they never knew each other.
Vadim Rizov in Filmmaker:
Wheel is greater than the sum of its individual stories, building an intricate system of echoes across three stories of frustrated relationships, each told in three or four long scenes, primarily in prolonged interior exchanges between two characters … the structure and tone were directly inspired by Eric Rohmer’s 1995, three-part anthology film Rendez-vous in Paris.
Ford directed at least 25 movies in the 1930’s – this one was made soon after Judge Priest. We watched this for Jean Arthur (a couple years before Easy Living), and a bonus was the really impressive dual acting by Edward G. Robinson and all manner of effects used to make him into two people: a bland office worker, and a bank robber nicknamed Killer. Robinson is turned into the cops by busybody Donald Meek (Stagecoach, etc), so the cops give him a signed letter saying he’s not the killer but a lookalike – of course this gets into the newspapers, since everything back then got into the newspapers, so Killer comes looking for his lookalike, steals the letter and forces the bland Robinson to cover for him. But Bland Robinson’s secret is that he’s a creepy stalker for his lovely coworker Jean Arthur, so when she’s endangered by all this activity, our man steps up and saves the day. I wouldn’t necessarily have thought crime comedies to be in John Ford’s wheelhouse, but dude’s wheelhouse was extremely large.
I’d like to say I sought out an Israeli movie in New York during Hanukkah, but really I watched this because of the dance scene in David Ehrich’s top 25 video.
Neatly divided into three sections. In the first, an Israeli father (Lior Ashkenazi of Late Marriage and Footnote) and mother (Sarah Adler of Notre Musique and Jellyfish) are visited by military flunkies and told their only son has died during his military duty. This turns out to be a mistake, and the enraged dad insists the military immediately bring his son home to visit. In the second part, their son Jonathan is on assignment with a handful of others at a remote roadblock. We observe their bored routine, stopping and humiliating drivers before letting them through the little gate, then the morning after a horrible accident that kills four innocents, Jon is taken away to visit his family. In the final part some months later we learn the son died in a crash that morning, the parents have been separated, and they’re together for a few minutes hashing some things out.
Shot with such flair, artfully designed without being quirky or showoffy. The tension and despair on display is absolutely wrecking, but the film compensates with an abundance of humor (light and dark). Maoz’s second film after the acclaimed Lebanon, which I guess I need to check out. Played Venice this year with Human Flow, Ex Libris, Three Billboards and champion The Shape of Water.