Watchmen in Wonderland (Weekly Links)

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Salute the Comedian.

My reviews for the Herald this week. My take on Watchmen is that it’s overly faithful, poorly acted, and has absolutely no perspective on its own ideas. A lot of it’s enjoyable anyway.

Watchmen. “Not ‘Sounds of Silence’ again!”

Phoebe in Wonderland. “She’s so unusual.”

Cherry Blossoms. “A somewhat aggressively nice film.”

Rem Koolhaas: A Kind of Architect. “Too busy by half.”

Movie Diary 3/2/2009

Everlasting Moments (Jan Troell, 2008). I haven’t seen one of Troell’s films since 1996’s Hamsun, a strong one, and it’s pleasant to be around another of his thoughtful period pieces. Here, a woman recalls her mother’s domestic triumph by means of a camera. (full review 3/13)

aftertomorrowAfter Tomorrow (Frank Borzage, 1932) and Young America (Frank Borzage, 1932). The latter film has some moments, although the storyline is so fraught with melodrama it almost pretzels itself to death. But After Tomorrow is amazingly effective, a Depression-soaked story of two dear young lovers (Charles Farrell and Marian Nixon) putting off their marriage because of economics and some dicey family dynamics. Affection and decency, two things in short supply in movie romance, have the ring of truth here.

The Last Laugh (F.W. Murnau, 1924). If the downfall of the hotel doorman is that he needs to believe in fictions, including the fiction that his magnificent uniform is his identity, or his value in life, then in some ways that need is mirrored in the film’s final section: the ending, avowedly an arbitrary reversal of fortune on the part of “the author,” is a satirical view of how we all need to believe in those fictions at times. Given Germany’s need to believe in such fictions in the years after this movie was made, the ending might be more sobering than it first appears.

Watchmen (Zack Snyder, 2009). Is the violence so intense because there’s relatively little action? And by “action,” I don’t mean the anatomically correct Dr. Manhattan. The graphic novel’s there, all right, but is a movie? (full review 2/5)