Thursday, February 8, 2007

February 8th Log

1944, Leo McCarey, United States
1st Viewing, DVD

Though probably more remembered today in The Bells of St Marry, Bing Crosby first sang and dance as the priest Father O'Malley in Going My Way, a film that in it’s release year of 1944 won seven Academy Awards (including Crosby’s only win for Best Actor). The Bells of St Mary probably holds up over time as the stronger film. Mostly because of the effortless direction of Leo McCarey and also the strong presence of Crosby alongside Ingrid Bergman. Going My Way seems less a McCarey film then it does a vehicle for Crosby. It’s full of sentiment and more forceful then McCarey’s finest work. McCarey is one of the truly underrated filmmakers of studio Hollywood, but Going My Way is not the finest example of his work. However, Going My Way finds its charm in the chemistry of the performances (Crosby, Barry Fitzgerald, Frank McHugh, James Brown, Gene Lockhart). I’d recommend The Bell’s of St. Mary’s over this film, especially for those interested in McCarey, but some nice performances and good songs do give this film some appealing qualities.

2005, Robert Schwentke, United States

1st Viewing, Encore

Flightplan is a thriller that can be effective if taken as it is. The film tricks or perhaps even cheats the audience in a way that can be involving as easily as it is frustrating. There is a fine line between succeeding and failing with this type of genre work and while filmmaker Robert Schwentke never reaches the level of Alfred Hitchcock, he does at least make a film that is watchable from beginning to end. There is plenty of ridiculousness here, but I’m curious to see how the film holds up on a repeat viewing. The idea behind the film makes for a thrilling setup, as it takes Hitchcock’s Lady Vanishes and puts it on a plane (replacing the old lady with a young child and throwing in some post-9/11 social ideas). While not of the mastery rhythm and editing of Hitchcock’s’ 1938 thriller, Flightplan’s greatest strength is in the overall pacing of the film, which does keep the viewer involved. There are some techniques (slow-motion) and moments (the overdone redemption of the epilogue) that could have been toned down, but you get the feeling Schwentke knows how to work within the conventions of the genre. Really the film falters just before it’s “revealing” twists, simply because it becomes predictable and unsure of itself. The audience becomes a step ahead of the film, and what results is a clichéd thriller with little suspense or imagination.


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