Saturday, August 11, 2007

August 11th Log

1989, Steve Kloves, United States
1st Viewing, DVD

The Fabulous Baker Boys is an excellent and seemingly forgotten film. Opening with a moody jazz number over atmospheric images of Seattle night the film is an impressively visual work. The lighting and fluid camera movement is provided by acclaimed cinematographer Michael Ballhaus (most known for his excellent collaborations with Martin Scorsese). However, the beauty of cinematography is heightened by the skillful acting and most especially direction from Steve Kloves. In his directorial debut, Kloves effectively uses the strong performances within the visual patterns and mood of the film to create the drama and the subtle doses of humor. The cast is terrific. Real life brothers Beau and Jeff Bridges have a natural chemistry and Michelle Pfeiffer provides the sexy star power. As Susie Diamond, Pfeiffer is given a true star entrance here and she gives perhaps the best performance of her impressive career (also providing a great singing voice). The Fabulous Baker Boys wonderfully draws out the depth of each character (and there individual loneliness) through mood and visual compositions, and like the performances of the cast, nothing is overstated. The film is one that observes the presence of change and ultimately of handling change. After 31 years together, Susie Diamond represents change for the brothers. Beautifully performed, shot, scored and directed The Fabulous Baker Boys is an absorbing work that should not be overlooked.

2007, D.J. Caruso, United States
Repeat Viewing, DVD

I saw this in the theater a while back, but decided to give it another viewing on DVD. Alfred Hitchcock’s films continuously get remade in all sorts of forms, even if indirectly. Disturbia is not a direct remake, but certainly one that uses the basic premise of the 1954 masterpiece Rear Window. Here the film is transformed into a new age of technology and through young suburban teenagers. While nowhere close to the level of Hitchcock’s masterwork, Disturbia is actually pretty effective. At least for the first two thirds of the film, as the last portion resorts to the unsuspenseful “scare” tactics including sudden bursts of loud noise. What makes Hitchcock such as master is that he never needs to resort to such tactics, and instead he played with the minds of the characters and the audience. I guess it is unfair to compare this film to one of the greatest in the history of American film, so for the most part Disturbia is effective. There is a sexual tension to the film that might have been more fully developed (rather then implied) had it been rated R, but clearly this is marketed more for a teenage crowd- notably for the many young fans of rising star Shia LaBeouf. LaBeouf like the rest of the cast is not bad, but the best performances come from the supporting roles (Carrie Ann Moss as the mother, David Morse as the villain, and newcomer Sarah Roemer as the beautiful new neighbor/love interest). Surprisingly, it is Roemer that stands out most memorable. Above all the film is entertaining and gripping most of the way, before losing track in the finale.


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