What I've Been Watching (August 19-August 25, 2020)
Sleepless in Seattle (1993) (Greatest Movie of All-Time Podcast) - HBO Max
- Listen to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Breaker, Overcast, Pocketcasts, and RadioPublic
The Man Who Knew Too Much (UK) (1935) - HBO Max
- To paraphrase Hitchcock himself, this version was the work of an amateur, and his later remake was when he was in his prime. I love the 1955 US version with Doris Day and James Stewart, and you can really tell the elements he was starting to work with and then masters by the time that he remakes this movie. His storytelling is better, the sound quality is better, the cinematography is much better, the pacing is better, and, most importantly, the suspense is better. That's not to say this was a bad version, but, most are going to compare them and there is no dispute in quality. A great exercise however in watching a master honing his craft.
Foreign Correspondent (1940) - HBO Max
- It was another Hitchcock week as this one also made it into my view. An interesting concept that, to a degree, you can see several elements on in other more classic Hitckcock works in his later career. Ultimately, the last half an hour of this film is unbelievable in that is doesn't work at all with a modern audience that brings a different set of knowledge into the film. The plane would have crashed a lot harder than to allow a water landing not to mention the other issues with that sequence. Moreover, the second half of the story breaks down really easily. Thus, this is a nice one to see for the sake of Hitchcock fans, but I don't think this will make an essentials list.
Dumb and Dumber (1995) - HBO Max
- One of the biggest glaring holes in my movie watching career, this was one of the bigger films that a lot of people didn't know how I hadn't seen it given my cinephile status. Well, check another one off for me. And surprisingly, given that my dad was the reason I hadn't seen it before since he hates Jim Carrey, I actually liked it. It made me laugh. I'm not usually a dumb humor type of guy, but some of the best parts of this are Jeff Daniels somehow playing the straight man despite his status as a buffoon in the title. It honestly could be one that I watch again in the right mood and setting. Not bad.
The Princess Bride (1987) - Disney+
- On the other hand, this was the movie I hadn't seen that really shocked people. I'm not honestly sure why I hadn't seen it other than my parents weren't really fans of it, and we never owned it. My verdict: why the hell do people love this movie. I didn't think it was funny. It's premise is over the top (although I get that it is supposed to be), and, while I did like most of the actors in this, Robin Wright and Chris Sarandon are terrible in this movie (and I like Robin Wright). Thank god this was a shorter movie (wish more were in this vein), and thank god I'm only going to have to watch this one more time for the podcast.
Se7en (1995) - AMC
- Have you ever known a huge pop cultural reference movie that is so widely known that you end up knowing the ending before you've ever put it on, and, because of that, it kind of ruins the whole experience to begin with? This is now the second time that has happened to me with The Sixth Sense being the other. I thought it was a good movie. I can definitely see some of the same aesthetic that Fincher has in his later movies (one of which has already been a feature on the Greatest Movie of All-Time podcast). This is a decent movie albeit not one without quite a few holes and flaws, but enjoyable and worth seeing for the sake of being part of the pop-culture moment at the end.
Suspicion (1941) - TCM
- An incomplete Hitchcock movie that ends abruptly. While this does a good job of building the tension particularly with his signature camera work style and the great performance of Joan Fontaine, this is ultimately a miss for me even though its better than several of his earlier movies that I highlighted above. I do believe this is also a case where the studio getting involved ruins the movie given that they changed the ending to give Cary Grant the star treatment. I think a layered actor would have been much more mysterious and charismatic, but, instead, we got another sacrificial lamb. However, again you can see the ever-improving work of a master as the glass of milk scene seems like the early experience needed for the thrilling Martin Balsam stairs scene from Psycho. I will say it again, Directors are the real artists in movie making even though stars get the attention.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012) - AMC
- I personally think this gets too much hate. It's still a better Batman movie than any outside the other two Nolan movies, but, because it was going to be impossible to follow the Dark Knight with anything close to that level, this movie gets shorted. I still think its a fun movie, that is works for the most part even if the story isn't as complete an idea as the other two movies, and that, despite the comical nature of Tom Hardy's Bane, we still get a better villain than something truly campy. If you've seen the other two movies, finish the trilogy. This is every bit as good of a third movie as Return of the Jedi was.
The Holiday (2006) - Prime
- Before Hallmark and Co. stole the Christmas season with their rom-com of the day, we had two all-time great Christmas rom-coms that I personally love watching in The Holiday and my personal favorite Christmas movie, Love Actually. Great performances all around (with a greatly charming performance by Eli Wallach and a its-great-to-see-him-normally Jack Black) from an all-star cast. If you want to earn brownie points with your girlfriend with a movie that won't really make you cry and isn't intolerable especially around Christmas, this is your movie.
The Graduate (1968) - Peacock TV
- I didn't appreciate all the subject material that this movie delved into when I first watched it. Frankly, I don't think anyone before maybe 25 or probably 30 should watch this movie like I did because they can't relate as well, but there are still so many offputting things about this movie that haven't aged well. I'll save my in-depth comments for the eventual podcast, but I will say this: even with the benefit of experience that answered many of the questions I remember about this movie, it raises so many more now that I can't possibly answer. It is a work of art and a classic that film studies should watch, but the general movie watcher is definitely not going to understand this.
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