Movie Diary 8/17/2009

Shorts (Robert Rodriguez, 2009). Maybe not quite up there at the level of the same director’s Spy Kids 2, but this is a slaphappy comedy full of crazy, unfiltered Rodriguez ideas. The non-chronological structure is odd, but pays off in some cool ways. Plus, great opening short about a staring contest. (full review 8/21)

The Marc Pease Experience (Todd Louiso, 2009). Jason Schwartzman and Ben Stiller operate in a similar spirit, and both have their moments in a movie bracketed by high-school performances of The Wiz, as so much of life itself is. (full review 8/21)

Lady Killer (Doy Del Ruth, 1933). Cagney is in a wonderful antic jumping-jack groove here, full of unexpected line readings and boundless energy. The plot is a wacked-out story about a criminal who becomes a movie star, and nothing in it is taken very seriously.

Loving (Irvin Kershner, 1970). Forgotten variation on Revolutionary Road territory, with George Segal as a scattered narcissist who can’t keep wife Eva Marie Saint and various other women in separate rooms. The central character is opaque, but Kershner comes up with offbeat ways of “seeing” the story.

Born to Kill (Robert Wise, 1947). Very close approximation of actual pulp spirit, sometimes downright filthy in its appreciation of a cold-blooded bastard (Lawrence Tierney) and the divorcee (Claire Trevor in excellent form) who can’t keep away from him. Despite Wise’s tasteful camera sense, there’s something really tawdry about the movie, in the best possible way.

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