Movie 8/24/2009

breakingthewaves2Breaking the Waves (Lars von Trier, 1996). Another one I’m revisiting for this event. I suspected this was some kind of great movie when I first saw it, and a second viewing clinches it. The central idea is very interesting – not so much about faith in god as about committing completely to something – but above all else this movie is alive in every moment. It separates viewers the way Inglourious Basterds does: you either recognize that the film’s exaggerated world is a fable along near-biblical lines, or you find the characters psychopathic and beneath interest. Also, in some ways this movie isn’t about the people played by Emily Watson and Stellan Skarsgaard, but about the skeptical sister-in-law played by the late Katrin Cartlidge.

Criss Cross (Robert Siodmak, 1949). I don’t know why I remembered so little about this movie, except for the blur of the robbery sequence and how cool the final shots are. Dan Duryea’s multi-roomed club alone makes it worth seeing, and Yvonne De Carlo is exactly right as a bad girl. Burt Lancaster is a complete sap here – his voiceover narration keeps hinting at fate and bad timing as the cause of his misfortunes, but by the end of the picture you realize he’s just making excuses for himself.

Horror of Spider Island (Fritz Bottger, 1960). German exploitation, with mutant monsters, quicksand, and a man hanging in a giant spider web. I didn’t see the Mystery Science Theater version of this, but it sounds like a good fit.

The Answer Man (John Hindman, 2009). Jeff Daniels as a famous self-help author, in a tidy indie effort featuring a series of pretty unbelievable situations. (full review 8/28)