Movie Diary 8/3/2009

killersThe Killers (Don Siegel, 1964). Reagan as the bad guy (pinched and sour, the way he looked when he’d be challenged in debates), Lee Marvin in his prime, Clu Gulager repeatedly pausing to take a moment (and making you think, how’d this guy not hit it big?), Angie Dickinson – who cares if it doesn’t have much to do with Hemingway. Siegel’s hand is steady, even if the production values (and some of the settings – racetrack, go-karts) give it the look of a coeval Elvis picture.

The Garden (Scott Hamilton Kennedy, 2009). Chronicle of an L.A. land deal that smells funny, and the South Central people who got thrown off their small urban farming plots as a result. An excellent job of marshalling the facts in a sad case. (full review 8/7)

Not Quite Hollywood (Mark Hartley, 2009). The “other side” of Aussie filmmaking in the 70s-80s, an unabashedly enthusiastic account of low art full of sexploitation, exploding heads, and chunder. Also Dennis Hopper during the bad times. (full review 8/14)

The Red Ensign (Michael Powell, 1934). Early Powell picture about a visionary shipbuilder (Leslie Banks) trying to boost the British industry on a wing and a prayer (possibly reflecting the same philosophy in filmmaking?), proposing his own stimulus plan. And getting people to believe in it. Made on a low budget during the “quota quickie” period, 65 minutes long, very good for all that.