Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Celluloid #106

In Theater

Last weekend I had the pleasure of seeing two out of print films at the Castro Theater's noir festival...

Gaslight (1944) Cukor - In this B-movie noir, Paula falls in love with the shady Anton. He convinces Paula that they should move into the house that she has recently inherited from her dead aunt (whom Anton obviously killed). Once they arrive, Anton goes about convincing Paula that she is going crazy as a way to keep her confined in the house and in order to keep control over her. All in all, a pretty fun film. 4/5

Strangers in the Night (1944) Mann - This film was even more in the B-movie vein and had a plot that you could predict almost immediately (with perhaps one small twist). In any case the over-the-top performances make this short hour-long movie worth watching. Johnny has just been released from the Marines and has come to track down the girl who has been writing him letters. When he arrives at her address, he finds only her elderly mother and the mother's companion. The mom, Hilda, is a comedic, campy treat in her crazed expressions and her willingness to kill everyone around her in order to protect the secrets surrounding her daughter. It's totally ridiculous and gets wrapped up a little too fast. 3.5/5

In Home

Coal Miner's Daughter (1980) Apted - Sissy Spacek reminds you that in the 1970s and 80s, it was possible to be "weird-looking" and a great actor. She does a splendid job portraying the life of Loretta Lynn. Loretta got married at 15 and had four kids by her early 20s. Her husband initially encourages her to pursue singing at the local honky-tonks and then helps her get a song on the radio. However, with fame comes family strife. 4/5

Deliverance (1972) Boorman - Four friends from the Atlanta suburbs decide to take a canoe trip in the backwoods. Apparently the hillbillies are evil and commit violence and sexual assault for basically no reason. I don't really see what is supposed to be so great about this film. It tries to straddle the line between the men having conversations about philosophy, politics, and the environment, but then we are presented with such cartoonish villains. It just seemed like it was taking itself too seriously. 2/5

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