Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Couple of Movie Reviews

I tend to watch all sorts of movies. Here a a couple I caught off of TCM channel recently.

movie reviews

Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows

An interesting documentary on Val Lewton, narrated by Martin Scorsese. I'd often heard of some of his films, but had not seen any until recently so it was good to gain a bit of insight into the man's life as well some of the movies he'd made. He started out in Hollywood working under David O. Selznick who produced Gone With The Wind, and later was offered jobs at another studio by Selznick. Lewton was in charge of editing scripts and later went on to write them, producing films such as Cat People, I Walked With A Zombie, The Body Snatchers, and others. His films have a sort of melancholy atmosphere to them, which in some ways echoed his own life. Even though shot on a budget Lewton was able to make pictures that had a certain gravity and class to them that are still considered classic and studied today.

For a modern horror fan these films are going to seem pretty dated, and they may not have the patience to even watch them. But if you don't mind watching some of the seminal influences of the genre and probably influenced other films outside the horror mold as well, these films can be of interest. Of the films I've seen by Lewton, though I did enjoy Cat People, I enjoyed The Body Snatchers best. Like I said, it was fun listening to Scorsese commentary, and seeing scenes from some of these films.

movie reviews

The Wrong Man

Another good drama by Hitchcock that unfolds pretty quickly. Henry Fond does a fine job of acting as a family man and bass player in a nightclub band that gets accused of robbery. The world gets turned upside down for him as his alibis start to disappear as well. The whole time I watched this story I wondered if something like this could really happen, and since it's taken from a true story, evidently it can. (Plus check out the documentary by Erroll Morris, The Thin Blue Line, about a man falsely accused of killing a cop in Dallas, Tx.) I just wondered how true this story was to the original one. Either way, one can't help but identifying with Fonda's character and his family's plight as they try to find a way out of this dilemma.

movie reviews

The Snake Pit

Engrossing drama about a young woman whose problems with her mental illness spins out of control, and she has to be institutionalized. The whole story had a lot going for it, and I think the way they portrayed her condition was spot on: she hears voices, her paranoia and delusions, and so forth. The story starts out with her meeting a man, they fall in love, but something seems wrong from the onset with this woman. She's distant, yet seems to want what others have in life--a family, spouse, and happiness. Soon though her condition worsens and she gets put in the hospital. Once in the hospital, we get to see flashbacks from a bit of the woman's background and upbringing, and what may have caused some of her condition. All in all a well conceived drama. This reminded me also of the Jessica Lange film, Frances Farmer (1982), which is also another recommend.

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