White Heat (1949)
James Cagney seethes evil as the gangster Cody Jarrett. He has no moral compass other than a messed up mother complex that would have made Hitchcock proud. When the police place an undercover cop in Jarrett's gang, the tension mounts until the inevitable explosive ending. And as Jarrett shoots friend and foe alike with no regard for his own safety, my only thought was "Heath Ledger's got nothing on Cagney."
La Vie en rose (2007)
I watched this film knowing nothing about French singer Edith Piaf, and once the film was over, all I knew was she had a big voice, liked to drink, and loved an already married boxer. The story is annoyingly told out of chronological order, so there is no sense of when anything is happening and what has already happened. People pop in and out of Edith’s life with no explanation as to where they went or how they came back. And if things start to get interesting, the film jumps to a completely different time period with no common thread to tie the scenes together. It is as if the editor misread the slates, and when they said "Day 1" he thought they meant "Scene 1," so edited the film in the order in which it was shot. And to make matters worse, half the film is woefully underlit. Granted, I watched the film on my computer screen which was already dark, but when half the scenes are at night (for no apparent reason) or in dimly lit interiors, the fault is not solely in my computer hardware.
Coming up next: a couple alternate versions of already established movie characters.