Movie Diary 8/10/2009

The Phantom Light (Michael Powell, 1935). So many of ’em are born directors. You watch this thing, silly script, goofy premise, unusual cast, low budget – but Michael Powell is a film director, and it just moves like a snake. Among other things, the timing is superb throughout. (It’s about a “haunted” lighthouse on the coast of Wales.)

lostpatrol2The Lost Patrol (John Ford, 1934). A WWI platoon at a Mesopotamian oasis, getting picked off by an eeriely unseen enemy. The haunted quality is real, and Karloff is in wild form. Too much Max Steiner music this time out, however.

The Upturned Glass (Lawrence Huntington, 1947). Odd one produced by and starring James Mason, about a medical professor essentially bragging about his own very serious misdeed. Too many holes in the plot, but it certainly has an all-the-way ending.

Bad Girl (Frank Borzage, 1931). So far not my favorite Borzage from this period, but a sweet-natured portrait of regular folks getting by, hoping in their lives to move a few stories up in the tenement building before they die. Sally Eilers and James Dunn are an interesting couple.

An Education (Lone Scherfig, 2009). I’ve seen three of Lone Scherfig’s movies (the others are unattainable and Danish) and she has yet to take a wrong step: Italian for Beginners is her Dogma fling and Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself is a completely delightful English-language debut. Easy to point out her gift with actors, but just about everything else is right, too.

Ponyo (Hayao Miyazaki, 2009). He keeps at it, this Miyazaki fellow is going to get good. This is right up there with his best. (full review 8/14)