Friday, February 29, 2008

Love with the Proper Stranger (1963)

Love with the Proper Stranger is not at all what I expected going in, however it was still a very good film. Steve McQueen plays Rocky Papasano, a struggling jazz musician in New York who while at what seems to be a job fair he is paged by a young woman, played by the beautiful Natalie Wood, who tells him that she is pregnant with his child. Angie Rossini, the young woman, works at Macy's and lives at home with her mother and three overprotective older brothers who drive her crazy. At first when Rocky finds out that she is pregnant he is obviously stunned, but as he comes to his senses he realizes that it is his responsibility. They seriously consider abortion, but decide against it, and he decides to marry her. However Angie has no desire to be in a loveless marriage that would leave everyone unhappy. For the time being this suits Rocky just fine, until they both come to realize that they are in love with each other even if they won't admit it to anyone but themselves. A very well done film by director Robert Mulligan in his follow-up to To Kill a Mockingbird, and fantastic performances by Wood and McQueen make this film worth seeing. Hopefully they will release it on DVD sometime soon. Overall 3.0/4 Stars Grade = B

Thursday, February 28, 2008

L.A. Confidential (1997)

L.A. Confidential is a very good film. Set in 1953 Los Angeles it tells the story of deep police corruption and murder. Guy Pearce plays Ed Exley, a Lieutenant who is not well liked within the force for snitching out his fellow officers when they beat a bunch of prisoners who were accused of beating a cop. Exley, however, is a very smart and incorruptible cop who is good at his job. Russell Crowe plays Bud White, also a good cop but in much different ways than Exley. White is a hot head that will beat the truth out of a witness and has a penchant for violence. When there is a murder at a local coffee shop in which White's former partner is killed the mystery begins. The case gets solved but something doesn't smell right. White does his own behind the scenes investigation, while Exley works with Sergeant Jack Vincennes, a narcotics officer who does a lot of behind the scenes dealings with tabloids, to try and figure out exactly what is going on. White and Exley hate each other for various reasons, but when all this stuff goes down they are forced to work as a team. L.A. Confidential is a great homage to the 1940's film noirs, and has fantastic performances from Crowe, Pearce, Spacey, Basinger, et al. Definitely a film that everyone will enjoy, succeeds at everything that De Palma tried to do with The Black Dahlia and failed. Overall 3.5/4 Stars Grade = B+

Tree of Hands (1989)

Tree of hands is a very mediocre film. Helen Shaver plays Benet Archdale, an American writer living in London. Lauren Bacall is her manic-depressive mother, Marsha Archdale, who has come to visit and meet her three-year-old grandson James. On her first night there Benet is forced to rush James to the hospital, where he dies some hours later. Benet is obviously devastated, and her mother is doing everything she can. While on her way back from a lunch date Marsha sees a lone child wandering the street, and picks him up and brings him home. When Benet finds out the child, Jason, has been abducted she is very upset at first and feels he must be returned. However when she goes to give him a bath she sees that his entire body is bruised and badly beaten. She does a little investigating of the family and comes to the conclusion that the child is really much better off with her. This film is almost impossible to find, and not really worth going to the trouble unless you are a Bacall completist like myself. Gone Baby Gone by Ben Affleck has a very similar subject matter and is a far superior film. Overall 2.0/4 Stars Grade = C-

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969)

Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice is quite possibly one of the funniest films I have ever seen. The gorgeous Natalie Wood and Robert Culp play Bob and Carol a couple who have just returned from a sort of psychological retreat where they have learned to really be open with each other. Elliott Gould and Dyan Cannon play their close friends Ted and Alice. Bob and Carol are really hyped up about this new way of life they are living and really want to share it with Ted and Alice. Bob has an affair while on a business trip to San Francisco. He returns home feeling guilty and upset and proceeds to tell Carol all about it. Much to his surprise she is actually quite pleased. This makes for one of the funniest scenes in cinematic history. The film is so totally ridiculous that it is fantastic. A definite must see in my opinion. Overall 3.5/4 Stars Grade = B+