Movie Diary 3/31/2014

Underworld (Josef von Sternberg, 1927). From JvS’s memoir: “In spite of all the concessions I made to popular taste, I had fooled neither the author nor the sales force. Without a moment’s hesitation they had detected a sinister artistic purpose and had recognized it for what it was – an experiment in photographic violence and montage.” That’s about right. The author was Ben Hecht, who asked that his name be taken off the film after he saw what Sternberg had made, and later collected an Oscar for it.

The Musketeers of Pig Alley (D.W. Griffith, 1912). Sheer, utter command of the screen. Still pretty awesome after 100 years. It’s an early one for Lillian Gish, and the main gangster is played by Elmer Booth. He would die three years later as a passenger in a car driven by a drunk Tod Browning.

Anita: Speaking Truth to Power (Frieda Lee Mock, 2013). Worshipful. (full review 4/4)

The Racket (Lewis Milestone, 1928). Sags a little after a while, but there’s some exciting stuff in the early going, including good hurly-burly on a dance floor and a gangland shooting.

Nymphomaniac Vol. II (Lars von Trier, 2013). Among other things, confirmation that this movie should be seen as one sustained thing, not two films. Other than that – hmmm. This part seems less about female sexuality than about how the rest of the world looks at someone doing what she wants to do without compromises. (full review 4/4)


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