Movie Diary 1/17/2009

pelhamNew in Town (Jonas Elmer, 2009). The quaintness of Minnesotans, accidental shotgun mishaps, beer cheese soup. (full review 1/30)

The Student of Prague (Paul Wegener, Stellan Rye, 1913). As early as it is, there’s some striking stuff in this influential version of the man whose doppelganger bugs him. Wegener was a beast.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (Joseph Sargent, 1974). Walter Matthau in his great period (plaid shirt and yellow tie), plus some very unfussy treatment of police work. Matthau ups his business — the New Yawk honk, the reaction looks — as though he knows the material isn’t top-drawer and needs a little extra oomph. Pauline Kael’s take on Matthau in this one has always stuck in my mind: “He’s the New York hero, sour yet self-satisfied.”

The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974). Back when Coppola still had three names, he made this self-contained little art movie, a good representative of its time. Gene Hackman’s performance is as scrupulous as his eavesdropping character.

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