Friday, January 12, 2007

January 12th Log

2006, Richard Eyre, United Kingdom
1st Viewing, Theater

Notes on a Scandal is a film this unflinching in it's pursuit of dramatic force. This both helps and hurts the film. It works in favor of the star Judi Dench who under the direction of acclaimed theatrical director Richard Eyre, can let her performance fly. She does and for the most part, Dench does so quite effectively as a bitter woman with two aggressive sides of personality. I love Cate Blanchett and she is terrific as always in a very difficult role. Blanchett can be convincing as anything, but she does evoke a presence that makes her a bit unsuitable for this role, simple because this character is weak and unintelligent, two characteristics that embody the complete opposite of Blanchett. As a said, it is a difficult role for her in this sense, but she does a solid job especially with her chemistry amongst the rest of the cast, be it her husband (Bill Nighy), the student she is having an affair with (Andrew Simpson), or her friendships and her duels with Dench. Sparks especially fly when this two battle it out as the film takes predictable dramatic turns. The film is very theatrical and as such often overdone. Adding to this is a heavy-handed score by the usually reliable (though sometimes forceful) composer Philip Glass. I like Cate Blanchett to much not to enjoy the film, but this does have it's good and poor qualities.

1932, Jack Conway, United States
1st Viewing, DVD

Red Headed Woman is featured as part of Turner Classic Movies 3-film ‘Forbidden Hollywood’ collection, which celebrates three notorious films of the Pre-Code era. From the opening image, Red Headed Woman is all about Jean Harlow. The film opens with a series of montage shots of Harlow changing, beginning with the opening shot of Harlow asking “So gentlemen prefers, do they?” Though she was well known as a platinum blonde goddess, Red Headed Woman stands as a tailor-made Harlow role, as a fast-talking, determined, gold-digger who uses her good looks as her ticket to high society. Harlow shines in every possible way here, and it is her biting comedy and sexually aggressive behavior that makes Red Headed Woman such a wonderfully appealing Pre-Code film. There are plenty of weak plot points here, but the film is funny, sexy, and entertaining throughout. Harlow gives the entire film a sexual tension and energy that makes it a definitive Pre-Code work.

1959, Yasujiro Ozu, Japan
Repeat Viewing, DVD

Ozu's 1959 Good Morning is a loose remake of his monumental 1932 silent film I Was Born, But.... As with any Ozu film it's simplistic techniques do not discourage the complex depths and themes which result. Ultimately, Good Morning is a delightful film of contemporary Japanese society and consumerism within a suburban household. It's a comedy which is presented with satire, but it never becomes political and the calm and intelligent filmmaking from Ozu results in an equally profound and funny film (though there is a bit too many "bodily function" jokes for my taste). Ozu is one of the very greatest directors of children and the children here are outstanding (notably in their expressive vow of silence). Ozu presents the film in glorious Technicolor and it's beauty wonderfully captures the atmosphere and energy of the film, the suburbs of Japan, and the characters of the film.

- More on Good Morning @ A2P Cinema's Yasujiro Ozu website HERE


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