Wednesday, January 3, 2007

January 3rd Log

2006, Tommy Lee Jones, United States / France
Repeat Viewing, DVD

After watching Sam Peckinpah’s Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia yesterday, I decided to revisit a film heavily influenced from it, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (which I’d rate among the best films I’ve seen from 2006). Tommy Lee Jones and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga owe much to Peckinpah’s film in both style and obviously theme. However, this is undoubtedly an original work and that really gets verified with repeat viewings. This is my third viewing of this film, and with each one I’ve learned more about it’s complex, and mysterious depth. Clearly the film has a theme of the human body and soul, and it’s connection with land and with death. There are also complex themes of friendship, masculinity, honor, redemption, and culture. There is an irony and sense of humor to this film that make it really special. The openness of the ending leaves for interpretation as far as Melquiades life. This is a atmospheric film of feeling, and it's beautifully captured through Chris Menges' sweeping CinemaScope photography. Jones performance as the grief-stricken Pete Perkins is flawless, and probably the finest of his career. But it is his direction that is most unforgettable here. The Three Burials is a moving, haunting, humorous, and rather poetic film experience that takes the viewer on a memorable emotional journey.

1932, Rouben Mamoulian, United States
Repeat Viewing, DVD

In it's style, it's inventiveness, and it's cast (as well as the time period and production studio), Love Me Tonight can certainly be confused for a film from the great Ernst Lubitsch. While the comparisons are understandable, Love Me Tonight still transcends them to become a wonderful film of it's own. Featuring an outstanding cast (highlighted by Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald in the leads and Myrna Loy and Charles Ruggles in supporting roles) as well as masterful direction and absolutely lovely music, everything just works to perfection here. From the very opening scene (in which Paris comes alive to a rhythmic beat) Love Me Tonight is full of elegance, warmth, and beauty. The songs are very memorable (especially "Mimi" and "Isn't It Romantic?") and the production is never overdone. There are so many clever visual and sound techniques which set this film apart and put it well ahead of it's time. This is simply a masterpiece of filmmaking and a joyous, lively, and endearing classic of American cinema. Love Me Tonight is a beautiful film to cherish. I would undoubtedly rate this among the very best musicals of the 1930s, which places it among the greatest ever!!


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