I’ve gotten back into writing mini-reviews of every movie I watch thanks to Letterboxd. You can follow me there at this link. However, I’ll also be putting all of my mini-reviews here every Monday for the previous week, so you can just wait a bit and find out what I have to say. I’ll always arrange them in order of best to worst. Any questions? This week we have some musicals and a space action movie. Nothing incongruous there!
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg – 1964
Dir. Jaques Demy – Catherine Deneuve, Nino Castelnuovo
A simple love triangle blown up to melodramatic heights like no other when every word is sung. And there is little effort to make these words into real songs with rhymes and stuff. It’s weird at first but it grows on you until you can’t imagine it happening any other way. It’s French so you know there’s some true love to be had and you know there’s some heartbreak, too. What Demy does wonderfully is balance the two so it feels like a thing that might really happen, you know, if there wasn’t so much singing. The ever present score highlights each turn of the story. It feels very much of its time, which is great. Deneuve is, as always, gorgeous and easily charismatic. It’s also nice to see her not going crazy (Repulsion), but rather having a pretty ok time, all told. The end is a perfect distillation of everything that has come before. Every movie should end in snow. 9/10.
Star Trek Into Darkness – 2013
Dir. J.J. Abrams – Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto
Too much fun to care about the iffy script. The action is fun, the design is great, and the characters are still really great to hang out with for two hours. All the actors are doing good work, Chris Pine and BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH(!) in particular. Yeah, the story is kinda silly and the stakes all but disappear with one crucial mistake in the script but who cares? There will probably be a better summer movie this year and maybe one or two that might be more fun and they might even have better scripts. I’ll still enjoy going back to this on blu. 8/10.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch – 2001
Dir. John Cameron Mitchell – John Cameron Mitchell, Michael Aronov
This is maybe not my scene. I’m not huge into glam rock (though I can’t deny some greatness from the genre) and I can’t really claim any angst over my sexual identity. Still, this is a really great movie full of songs that work both within and outside the film. The Origin of Love sequence and song is a strong highlight. I love a good creation story. John Cameron Mitchell wrote all the talky bits from what I understand, and directs and acts in the lead role. He’s pretty awesome and I’d like to see more of this side of him in the future. The story is a little threadbare. That’s not to say uninteresting, of course. Thanks to the music I was never bored. However, this isn’t a film to watch for the compelling twists and turns. It’s a pretty standard showbiz story of wronged lovers and artistic problems. That’s fine, it’s still a supremely enjoyable film, one I’m glad I finally got around to watching. 8/10.
Cabaret – 1972
Dir. Bob Fosse – Liza Minnelli, Michael York
Liza Minnelli is a force of nature. Even in the opening number where she only appears halfway through and stays mostly in the background the camera catches her face and the celluloid lights on fire. The movie suffers anytime she isn’t onscreen. It can’t quite handle the long periods without the music stuff, either, because although the story is fine and a new-ish take on the old rise of the Nazis framed by a love triangle tale, it turns torporific five minutes after any given musical number. But boy howdy those musical numbers. They’re all good, some all-time great, and Fosse employs a wonderful technique of intercutting the stage stuff with the real-life stuff in such a clever way that I found myself wondering how such an inherently cinematic method would work in a stage play. Not that it really matters, but it’s great to see a director work not only great dancing and choreography but also camera placement and movement and editing into such a kinetic work. It’s too bad the non-music stuff doesn’t hold the same sense of movie-making wonder. 8/10
And that’s it! Do you like this new feature? Do you have anything to say about the movies I watched? Leave a note in the comments!