Movie Diary 7/13/2021

Mirage (Edward Dmytryk, 1965). Only had a vague memory of this from the local-TV afternoon movie. Maybe that’s apt for a movie about amnesia, but it also says something about the film’s nondescript palette, and its generally less-than-urgent mood. The opening is cool: A Manhattan office tower blacks out, and Gregory Peck emerges with very little recollection of what he’s been doing there for two years; DP Joe MacDonald gets nice things going with some very pitch-black silhouettes, and the feeling is suitably disorienting. Diane Baker meets Peck in the dark, making veiled references to past events, and Jack Weston follows him to his apartment. After that, things slow down. The script is by Peter Stone, a couple of years after he wrote Charade, and there are snappy lines that sound like that world – but oh, what a distance there is between Cary Grant/Stanley Donen and Greg Peck/Eddie Dmytryk. There are kooks around: George Kennedy as a bespectacled heavy, Kevin McCarthy as a corporate man apparently escaped from a Billy Wilder movie, and Hari Rhodes as a sardonic cop. You could say Walter Matthau steals the movie, as a shambling private investigator on his first case, but the show is set up to let Matthau run away with his section of the picture (and of course he does), so it’s hardly theft. At one point Weston is talking about movies, and says, “Now that westerns have gone psycho…” which is a pretty awesome throwaway. The music is by Quincy Jones, who conjures up some avant-garde sounds justified by the story’s topsy turvy story. Overall, much flatter-footed than it should be, and Peck and Baker look like they come from completely different movie universes.

The Woman Who Ran (Hong Sangsoo, 2020). Another one of these. But I like that about Hong – they just keep coming. (Full review on 7/16)