Thursday, March 15, 2007

March 15th Log

1977, Woody Allen, United States
Repeat Viewing, DVD

Woody Allen's 1977 Annie Hall contains come of the most memorable comic moments in American film history. It's a film that broke rules and stretched the boundaries of screen writing. There really are no rules, and for this the film is as fresh as ever! Annie Hall is also so refreshing because it displays a brilliance in cinematic ambition, creativity, and exploration. The film has moments of truly unique and ultimately hilarious comedy: taking characters back in time to stand in the room with their past, split screens, educator Marshall McLuhan suddenly appearing to defend himself against a know-it-all critic, animation, and even people in the street randomly commenting on the film. Annie Hall also contains profound dramatic elements, as it showed the pain of romantic longing unlike most similar genre films before it. The performances are all good, even Allen. He's generally not a great actor and can get annoying at times, but this is definitely his best performance. Much of the humor may be considered snobbish, but to me, it never fails. This is the essential Woody Allen film in detailing a humorous yet insightful look at relationships. Not only human relationships, but also relationships with a city. Here New York becomes a reflection of the character and of the filmmaker (this expression is hilariously heightened by the contrast of Alvy’s visits in LA). Annie Hall is a genuinely clever, hilarious and memorable masterpiece that easily ranks among American cinema's greatest comedies.

1952, Otto Preminger, United States
Repeat Viewing, DVD

Directed by one of the greatest master filmmakers of noir, Otto Preminger, Angel Face stands among the most intense noirs ever made. A blend of melodrama and even some of the courtroom drama of Preminger’s 1959 masterpiece Anatomy of a Murder, this film is trademark Preminger. Every detail is stylized under his classic noir direction, which includes his unconventionally constant camera movement. The casting here is perfection. Robert Mitchum gives a defining performance in his traditionally understated acting style which works pitch-perfect with the films most radiant presence, Jean Simmons in one of the greatest femme fatale performances. Her fragile innocence flawlessly captures the film sexual undertones and sense of doom as her presence radiates both seduction and evil. Her performance is heightened alongside Mitchum in both an emotional and physical manner. Mitchum physical presence and subtle acting contrasts that of Simmons frightening innocence, and ultimately he becomes unraveled under her complex psyche and emotional web. This sense of doom undercuts the entire film straight to the ending sequence that is the work of absolute mastery filmmaking and acting. The ending to this film deserves mention among the very greatest in the history of noir an Preminger adds a haunting touch to the very final image. Angel Face is top-notch filmmaking. It is a film of subtle complex yet complex layers both on emotional and visual levels. The performances are outstanding (and that includes the supporting roles, like that of the always great Leon Ames), but of course it is Mitchum and especially Simmons that are most memorable. The ending alone puts this film among the great masterpieces of 1950s noir, as Angel Face marks yet another classic film from Otto Preminger.

2006, Matthew O’Callaghan, United States
Repeat Viewing, HBO

Curious George is good old-fashioned plain and simple animated filmmaking. Highlighted by a cheery and bright animation that perfectly captures the essence of the original source artwork. The real strength of the film comes from the loveable charm of George. George is so adorable that you can’t help but be drawn into this world, no matter what age you are. Adding to the simplicity and tenderness is the music of Jack Johnson, who’s lyrics seem to reflect the general moral of the film (which is that you learn by experience). Above all Curious George is a smart film and a whole lot of fun to watch. It is a refreshing animated film in an era loaded with overtly pop-cultured referencing animation films (such as Shrek). This film has a whole lot of appeal and I think it has a timelessness quality that will allow it to age well with repeat viewings.


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