Movie Diary 6/7/2010

The Devil and Daniel Webster (William Dieterle, 1941). A real oddball movie that leaves an impression if glimpsed during childhood. The impression in adulthood is that it’s a neat picture that would’ve been smarter at 85 minutes instead of 105, and that the lefty inclinations of many Hollywood artists of the 1930s were still expressing themselves here. Dieterle brings in his Expressionistic heritage at various points, but not as many as you might expect. Made at RKO same year as Citizen Kane; Bernard Herrmann did the music.

Get Low (Aaron Schneider, 2009). It doesn’t much matter that Robert Duvall has done many a coot in his time, not when he has it down pat, and Bill Murray hits just the right notes here. (screen at Seattle International Film Festival 6/13)

Hipsters (Valery Todorovsky, 2009). This will very likely be somebody’s cup of borscht. Soviet youth singing and dancing in the 1950s. Overall, though: WTF? (screens at SIFF 6/10, 6/12)

Angel at Sea (Frederic Dumont, 2009). Screwed-tight, somber little study, mostly proving how strong all the important technical aspects of a movie can be within the Euro-system, even when the film itself has problems. (screens at SIFF 6/13)

Lazybones (Frank Borzage, 1925). Great visualization of a small-town world, nice central performance by Buck Jones, final third a letdown if only because at that point the conventions of the storytelling get the upper hand over the sunny atmosphere (it’s the other way around in the first 2/3 of the picture). Still awfully good.