Friday, April 19, 2013
Netflix This Movie! Vol. 22
Roman Holiday (1953; dir. William Wyler) I love the spirit of Roman Holiday. Much of this has to do with the stunning Audrey Hepburn, who is so charismatic that it’s hard to put into words. Hepburn, like the movie itself, can be sweet and fun but then in an instant make your heart ache with melancholy. Gregory Peck is really charming here, too. He’s almost an audience surrogate (he might as well be film audiences meeting and falling for Hepburn) and you can tell he’s enjoying the hell out of working off of her. Roman Holiday also features one my favorite endings to a movie: 10 minutes of people saying "I love you" without saying "I love you." All Show Don't Tell. It destroys me. Another Audrey Hepburn classic, Sabrina, is currently on Netflix streaming. Both movies are well worth your time.
Side By Side (2012; dir. Chris Kenneally) Patrick and JB did an entire episode devoted to this documentary about the debate that exists between film and digital. I recently caught it on Netflix and thought that by the time it was over I'd have a clear idea of which was the better medium. When the proponents of digital are speaking, they make an excellent case. Then when the film guys talk, they present a very valid argument as well. The truth is that there is no easy answers for this subject, but Side By Side does a worthy job of presenting both viewpoints in a very easy to understand (but still passionate and intelligent) format. The one confusing thing for me is the involvement of Keanu Reeves. Is this his project? Has he merely been hired for this job? His narration frustrates me because he's so slow and deliberate, and it takes him ages to get a sentence out. My wife, on the other hand, found his delivery to be warm and soothing, and she liked his presence in the film. So that can mean only one thing: a moratorium on Keanu Reeves movies in the Holland household.
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962; dir. John Ford) One of the rare films to receive more than about a 7 on IMDb's user ratings, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is among my favorite Westerns, right after The Searchers and The Wild Buch, neither of which is available on Netflix, the bastards.
Every bad nightclub comic impression of John Wayne featuring the Duke calling everyone "Pilgrim" emanates from this film, in which last-of-the-true-cowboys Tom Doniphon (Wayne) looks after and protects newly arrived lawyer (and Pilgrim, apparently) Ransom Stoddard (Jimmy Stewart). Featuring a great supporting cast: Edmund O'Brien (who gets the film's best line, "This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."), Vera Miles (Marion's sister in the original Psycho), Ford regular John Qualen, soon-to-be Peckinpah regular Strother Martin, and Lee Marvin as one of the nastiest villains in Western history.
Oddly enough the song "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," inspired by the film and a Top Ten hit for Gene Pitney, is not actually featured in the movie. The song is catchy as all hell.
I have always secretly thought that The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance would be much more popular if it were just in color. Check it out for yourself, pilgrims!
Drum (1976; dir. Steve Carver) With Django Unchained out on DVD and Blu-ray this week, it's a great time to check out one of the insane slavesploitation movies that clearly inspired Tarantino. Drum, a pseudo-sequel to 1975's Mandingo, is crazy and ugly and tasteless, filled with weird sex and violence with a cast that includes Yaphet Kotto, Warren Oates and Pam Fucking Grier. The whole thing plays like Mandingo in poorer taste, if you can even imagine that. Not everyone will have the stomach for it, but if you loved Django Unchained, you owe it to yourself to check it out.