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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Quick Reviews

Here's a quick roundup of the movies I've seen lately and my disorganized thoughts on them.

The French Connection- I don't know if the ending of a movie has ever changed my mind about it so thoroughly as it did here. Until the final seconds this is just an above-average police thriller with a formulaic plot-line and one or two phenomenal chase scenes. But the closing moments make it so much more. I don't want to give anything away, but Hackman's performance becomes much more impressive in retrospect, justifying his Best Actor and the film's Best Picture awards for 1971. 7.2 out of 10.

A Streetcar Named Desire- I was fairly bored by this movie and repelled by it's two main characters. Tennessee Williams wrote the play and it's clear that the prevalent censorship in Hollywood at the time made this movie much more confusing than it need have been. Marlon Brando is obviously a great actor, and his turn as the brutish Stanley Kowalski is worthy of respect, but the plot is so unnecessarily slow that Brando can't save it. Vivian Leigh chews the scenery as pathetic former socialite Blanche DuBois. I just couldn't get into this movie. 4.8 out of 10.

Suddenly Last Summer- Another Tennessee Williams play turned movie, this film's principal enjoyment lies in watching them try to make an entire movie about homosexuality without saying the word once. In 1937 New Orleans Katharine Hepburn plays a rich widower who wants psychiatrist Montgomery Clift to perform a lobotomy on her niece, Elizabeth Taylor. Taylor has been disturbed since witnessing the death of Hepburn's son, and has been telling crazy stories about what really happened to the beloved Sebastian. The whole movie consists of misdirection and hinting at what really happened. Clift sees that the lobotomy is unnecessary and tries to break through Taylor's resistance and get at the truth. Taylor's over-emotional monologue at the end of the movie is one of the strangest things I've ever seen in a movie, and makes so little sense that it is rather jarringly funny. 5.9 out of 10.

Little Miss Sunshine- I stayed away from this movie when it first came out, because I was sure that I wouldn't like it nearly as much as everyone said I would. Then I recently caught a scene on USA and laughed so hard I decided to give it a shot (It was the scene where Alan Arkin's character is giving advice to Paul Dano.) While the movie only rarely hits that extreme height of hilarity it is still an enjoyable film throughout, and touching at times without being cloying. All the principals are great, especially Carell, Arkin, and Abigail Breslin as the would-be beauty queen. 7.8 out of 10.

Stardust Memories, Mighty Aphrodite- I think I'm going to give it a rest with the Woody Allen movies. These are the last two I saw and I disliked them both. Stardust Memories is a take on Fellini which is just boring and absurd. Mighty Aphrodite was annoying, especially Mira Sorvino's prostitute with a Minnie Mouse voice. 3.8 and 2.0 out of 10, respectively.

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