Movie Diary 5/11/2009

Kid Galahad (Michael Curtiz, 1937). Fight promoter Edward G. Robinson and longtime galpal Bette Davis have a new fighter to promote, much to the irritation of rival Humphrey Bogart. Wayne Morris plays the boxer, and the actor is even greener than his character is supposed to be — Morris looks as though he’s not quite clear on whether or not there’s a camera in the room. Which somehow works for him.

The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle (David Russo, 2009) and Humpday (Lynn Shelton, 2009). Two Sundance-tested titles, both made by Seattle filmmakers, soon to play in the Seattle International Film Festival.

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (Todd Haynes, 1987). Haynes’ second-best film, done with Barbie dolls and plenty of theory. Prepping here for an upcoming talk in the Magic Lantern series (more info here).

iconfess2I Confess (Alfred Hitchcock, 1953). I have long been intrigued by Hitchcock’s “problem” period, from The Paradine Case to this movie (exempting Strangers on a Train, which is not really a problem); I like the strange experimental stuff in Under Capricorn and Stage Fright. Re-visiting I Confess after many years, it feels like the least interesting of the bunch, stubbornly resisting the occasional flickers of vitality that crop up here and there. In theory it should have worked: Montgomery Clift’s priestly vows operate in the same limiting way as James Stewart’s wheelchair in Rear Window.  Plus, it’s Clift in his prime. But it doesn’t.

Seas Beneath (John Ford, 1931). The love story bit is bizarre, but the at-sea footage (and there’s a lot of it) is often mind-boggling.

Summer Hours (Olivier Assayas, 2008) and Still Walking (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2008). Family gatherings at the country home in these oddly similar new films by major directors. I’ll take the Assayas.