Movie Diary 12/7/2008

Catching up on movies watched since Thursday (and yes, if you’re counting, The Reader makes three consecutive films photographed by Roger Deakins, although Chris Menges shares the credit on that one).

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The Doll: Ossi Oswalda

The Reader (Stephen Daldry, 2008). A very literary property and a very literary treatment, with (given the Holocaust context) some rather unusual choices for dramatic emphasis. (full review 12/25)

The Doll (Ernst Lubitsch, 1919) and The Oyster Princess (Lubitsch, 1919). Two funny and meticulously directed comedies from the moment Lubitsch was beginning to get international attention, both starring goofy Ossi Oswalda. Among other things, Lubitsch’s use of giant rooms for comic purposes is weirdly similar to what Jerry Lewis would do four decades later.

The Looking Glass War (Frank Pierson, 1969). Odd and clumsy late-Sixties spy-movie artifact, with Anthony Hopkins and Ralph Richardson and lots of anti-war sentiment. Christopher Jones plays the central role, just before he went off to help capsize Ryan’s Daughter. Pierson next directed one of the best made-for-TV movies, The Neon Ceiling, which meant an awful lot to me as an adolescent, and then, to whatever extent anybody actually directed it, Streisand’s unspeakable A Star is Born.