Movie Diary 4/14/2019

Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Bi Gan, 2018). If someone mentions the phrase “bravura hour-long 3D tracking shot” I am always going to be up for it, and the sequence in this film does not disappoint. (About twenty minutes into it a character makes a demand that relies on another character sinking a ball in a pool game, and there doesn’t seem to be any CGI involved – stuff like that goes on.) The preceding 70-odd minutes of film (in 2D) are densely-wrought but frankly pretty mystifying, to an extent that rather undercuts the splendid effect of the 3D section. The whole thing feels just a bit like a stunt, though pulled off by a very smart and talented filmmaker.

The Alphabet Murders (Frank Tashlin, 1965). A randomly-selected title for weekend viewing, and an utterly bizarre misfire. Tony Randall plays Hercule Poirot in an Agatha Christie adaptation played for slapstick (presumably influenced by the success of the first couple of Inspector Clouseau movies?), set in London with Robert Morley as a bumbling Scotland Yard sidekick and Anita Ekberg as a mystery woman who keeps slapping Poirot around. Tashlin comes up with a half-dozen spot-on sight gags, but that’s about it. Randall seems to enjoy the false nose, baldcap, and fruity accent.

Ride Lonesome (Budd Boetticher, 1959). One of the best of the films Boetticher made with Randolph Scott. Among the ways it tweaks our expectations is the finale (spoilers here, I suppose), where a long-awaited reckoning with bad guy Lee Van Cleef is executed in amazingly quick fashion, and a long-awaited showdown between Scott and sort-of bad guy Pernell Roberts is short-circuited entirely, to everyone’s great relief.