Movie Diary 9/3/2019

Mary Burns, Fugitive (William K. Howard, 1935). Sylvia Sidney is a small-town gal, owns the local cafe. She doesn’t know that boyfriend Alan Baxter is a wanted criminal, a Dillinger type whose escapades make her a suspect in the eyes of the law. This trim Paramount offering is from the playbook of I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang and other early-30s pictures, but it gives Mary a shred of hope in the form of a blinded adventurer (Melvyn Douglas) – this is complicated to explain, but she’s acting as nurse for him after she breaks out of the Big House. (She and Douglas have a wonderful conversation about Popeye.) Sidney is a fully empathetic presence, and Brian Donlevy steals his scenes as the gangster’s second banana.

Aquarela (Victor Kossakovsky, 2018). High-definition contemplations of water, from a frozen Russian lake to the open sea. A spellbinding experience. Dedicated to Alexander Sokurov.

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