Movie Diary 12/14/2008

Day of Wrath (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1943). While it is good to keep an open mind about a movie, and allow it to blossom and improve as it goes along, the truth is with most movies you can tell within the first minute — often the first ten seconds — whether it’s going to be worthwhile, or at least whether the person in charge has “the vision thing.” Here’s an example. Of course, this isn’t fair; Dreyer’s classic shows its mastery in a variety of mysterious ways in the first shot. Seeing it in 35 mm. (for a run at the Northwest Film Forum) made the whole experience that much finer.

servant1The Servant (Joseph Losey, 1963). This Pinter-scripted mindgame offers a lot of angles;  one is as a horror film, its goblin (in the form of manservant Dirk Bogarde) always popping up behind the door or in the mirror. Between this and Performance, no wonder James Fox dropped out.

The Wildcat (Ernst Lubitsch, 1921) and Sumurun (Lubitsch, 1920). Both starring Pola Negri, who knocks about with abandon in these exotic items. Some great sight gags, plus Lubitsch plays a hunchback minstrel in Sumurun, where he mines unexpectedly 1980s-style comedy from his own comatose body being thrown around.

The Tale of Despereaux (Sam Fell, Robert Stevenhagen, 2008). Mouse with big ears = proven cartoon mojo. (full review 12/19)

Timecrimes (Nacho Vigalondo, 2007). Don’t read about it, don’t watch the trailer. If you have a fondness for time-travel thingies, see it as soon as possible. (full review 12/19)