Notable Viewings From the Past Weeks

20 05 2009

If I’ve seemed to slow down in the past couple months that because I did. My last semester of high school has been pretty hectic, leaving me with little to no time to write my usual “capsules” or “reviews” or whatever else you want to call them. But now, I’m done! I still have all the celebratory stuff to go through, but my workload? Completely empty. It be pretty difficult, if not impossible, to go through every single film I’ve seen in 2009 but didn’t write about. Instead, I’m just going to mention a few films that I’ve seen in the past couple of weeks that were special.

Battleground (William A. Wellman, 1948)

Unfortunately, I sent the disc back to Netflix before I could get any decent screen captures from this postwar Wellman masterpiece. It’s a shame, too, because it is one of Wellman’s most visually impressive films. Easily, my favorite Classic Hollywood war film, but I definitely need to see more. This isn’t quite as impressive as Wellman’s Yellow Sky, which would come a year later, but it’s pretty close.

Stage Door (Gregory La Cava, 1937)

It seems I forgot to take screenshots for this film, too. It isn’t as great of a crime, as La Cava’s film isn’t a wonder to look at like Wellman’s is, but I was still very impressed. This is definitely one of the best movies I’ve seen about show business. Great cast, too – Katherine Hepburn, Ginger Rodgers, Lucille Ball, and Adolphe Menjou, among many others. I can’t explain why I was so taken by it, but I’d like to think that La Cava had a very close relationship with all of his actors, as they all seem comfortable. Even when the story takes a turn for the melodramatic (at the end, especially) Hepburn manages to come off as genuine, not to mention extremely lovable. It be oversimplifying things to call this merely a screwball comedy.

Three Comrades (Frank Borzage, 1938)

More great stuff from Borzage, this time Margaret Sullavan steals the show. As one would expect from Borzage, the film looks great. No notable complaints that I can think of – highly recommended!

Nadare / Avalanche (Mikio Naruse, 1937)

This early-ish Naruse is best remembered for having two giants of 50s Japanese cinema in its crew – Akira Kurosawa and Ishiro Honda. Somewhat ironically, very little has been written about the film itself. It’s a fascinating nonlinear study of a marriage, only one year old, beginning to crumble. Kusaku is married to Fukiko but is in love with Yayoi. A nice little film (runs under an hour) that features some flashes of the future Naruse. Some thriller elements, as well, which (to my knowledge) Naruse wouldn’t return to until The Stranger Within a Woman. It’s a bit more pronounced in that film, though. This is more like a warm up for Repast, less complicated and less complete.

Maria no Oyuki / Oyuki the Virgin (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1935)

Like Avalanche, there are some writings on this film and they seem to exclusively focus on its relationship with other filmmakers or films. The story is famously based on Kawaguchi Matsutaro’s adaptation of Guy de Mauspassant’s “Boule de Suit” (or Lump of Fat) which provided the inspiration for John Ford’s Stagecoach. I suppose some comparisons with Ford’s film are inevitable but not exactly overwhelmingly. Personally, I think Hiroshi Shimizu’s Arigato-san, made two years later, has more in common with Ford’s film. Mizoguchi’s film seems a little incomprehensible at times, but it might just be a side effect of the print.

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2 responses

20 05 2009
nate

i saw beguiled last week on your recc. soo fucking funny. thanks man

24 05 2009
another film blog

As far as Hollywood war films are concerned, I think you would really dig Decision Before Dawn

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