Friday, November 7, 2008

My 2008 Movie Odyssey - Part IX

I need to post these faster. There are only two months left in the year.

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (2008)
I did like seeing a conservative film taking the Michael Moore approach to an issue, this time being intelligent design versus evolution, but the downside is that it ended up preaching to the choir, with naysayers dismissing it as right-wing propaganda. I did think it was rather ironic that in the final interview with noted atheist Richard Dawkins, Dawkins was adamant that there is no God, and anyone who would believe in a creator is an utter fool, but he seemed quite excited that life on this planet started through alien seeding. Gee, that sounds a lot like intelligent design to me...

Carnival of Souls (1962)
I can see why this film is a cult classic. It has some wonderful visuals, and the carnival is rather creepy, but the story is the type of thing Roger Corman would cook up, keeping it from rising much above B-movie territory.

The Public Enemy (1931)
In my attempt to educate myself on early gangster pictures, I started with this one, and was not disappointed. James Cagney is at once both charismatic and utterly vile as Tom Powers, a young man who gets mixed up in the mob which leads inevitably to his death. I had heard about the shocking violence in the film, and was surprised at how little I was shocked by the whole thing, but that is because this one was the trend-setter, and I have seen a multitude of later imitations.

Beauty and the Beast (1946)
The visuals in this film are amazing. Jean Cocteau creates a wonderful world that exists halfway between dreams and reality, with the beast’s castle acting as one of the main characters in the film. Everything in the castle is alive, and the long corridors lit by dozens of human arms holding candelabras is wonderfully visually evocative. Even if you don’t care for the story, this film is worth watching strictly for its visuals.

Arthur (1981)
I had been told that Dudley Moore is one of the great funny drunks in this movie, but frankly I found him merely obnoxious and embarrassing. Fortunately for me, once he sobered up, he was quite funny. Liza Minnelli plays her standard free-spirited role, who causes Arthur to grow up just by being herself (as opposed to Arthur’s fiancee who is one of those annoyingly delusioned women who think they can change a man by marrying him). Of course the true great performance in the film is John Gielgud who is hilarious as Arthur’s British butler and manages to have an even drier wit than even John Cleese could manage.

Coming up next: 3 overrated classics (one vastly, one minorly) and two summer blockbusters.

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