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  • Writer's pictureRonny Duncan Studios

What I've Been Watching (July 28-August 4, 2020)

High Noon (1952) (Greatest Movie of All-Time Podcast) - Starz

- Listen to the podcast on Anchor, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Breaker, Overcast, Pocketcasts, and RadioPublic

The Artist (2011) - Netflix (2011 Best Picture Winner)

- Without a doubt the best silent film of the last decade. Ok, I stole a joke, but whatever. Still a decent film, but it does drag a bit after the silent part gets outplayed. Jean Dujardin gives a great albeit limited performance in the title role, and Berenice Bejo is a wonderful counterbalance throughout the film. So, if you're a true film connoisseur like myself or an Oscars junkie, this should be on your list. However, this is not something I think the average person needs to seek out.

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) - TCM (AFI 100 - 2007)

- A great representation of the life of George M. Cohan, this semi-musical depicts the origination of several of our most patriotically well-known tunes. This could easily be played every Memorial Day, 4th of July, or Veteran's Day so long as we take out the token black-face scene. I'm not sure why every song and dance movie before 1950 seems to have one, but we need some cultural appropriation on that. That being said, James Cagney is wonderful in his portrayal here of the music legend, and really stretches himself beyond the traditional characters he played like mobsters, lawmen, and tough guys. A good, fun, classic to watch at any time that would make any American swell with pride over its final minutes.

Do the Right Thing (1989) - Peacock (AFI 100 - 2007)

- Spike Lee's most famous and likely most powerful film, Do the Right Thing tells the story of a neighborhood block in Brooklyn centered around a Pizzeria on an extremely hot day in the middle of summer. As the heat index rises, so too does the racial tension that is evident from the jump until it all boils over into a scene that looks all too familiar today. However, Lee doesn't invite his own opinion in the end, but that of the viewer to make up their own mind as to the best means toward racial justice in the end. A must-see movie before George Floyd's death, it is that much more of a "watch it now" film in 2020.

Wuthering Heights (1939) - Prime (AFI 100 - 1998)

- William Wyler continues to impress me with every movie of his I see. While this is not a story for every one, it is a great story of unrequited love that can certainly jerk on the emotions. A gifted performance yet again by the legend, Laurence Olivier, it is a great classic to absorb that isn't even two hours and can be easily enjoyed in a single sitting.

The Life of Emile Zola (1937) - TCM (Best Picture Winner)

- A certainly forgotten Best Picture winner, this tale overviews its core subject, Emile Zola, but primarily through the lens of one of his most central events, the Dreyfus affair. While a ton of Bio-Pics get attention even today, most do not have the courage to do them well like this. Most are bland overviews of the life and times, but this film takes the majority of the movie to make a rather well done commentary on journalism, the stubbornness of government and its institutions, and justice itself. There are several areas where this would be a much different movie if remade, but I definitely enjoyed the quality it gave me and the message it was trying to put across that is definitely still relevant in 2020.

You Can't Take It With You (1938) - TCM (Best Picture Winner)

- Frank Capra must have really hated capitalists and corporate interests. It's come up in all four of his biggest movies I've seen (It Happened One Night, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and It's a Wonderful Life), and that's just fine with me. One of two Capra Best Picture winners and with great performances by Jean Arthur, James Stewart in one of three of his Capra movies, and the especially talented Lionel Barrymore, this is a charming old movie that could easily slide into anyone's collection.

Grand Hotel (1932) - TCM (Best Picture Winner)

- It must have been a good week for Lionel Barrymore movies because this was the second big one of his that I saw. Another of the first decade of Best Picture winners, I spent a lot of time not liking him as a character due to the only portrayal of his that I really ever saw; the villainous Mr. Potter in It's a Wonderful Life. However, after his great but lovable performance here, I wish there would be more with him on my project list. He is so great, and had such range. As for the movie itself, it is a hodge-podge of smaller stories through the first part of the film, and it was hard to follow. Yet, the last hour of the movie is where this makes its mark. With a "I didn't see that coming" twist ending, it's a fun but likely forgettable Best Picture winner during the early experimental days of "talking pictures".

My Weekly Shows:

Perry Mason (Ep. 1.7) - HBO Max

- We are dangerously close to the end of the season, and we had another big Perry Mason moment in the beginning of this episode. However, this felt like a bit of a dud again given how it built up to a rather flash-bang ending. I do think there have been great performances in this show, but the writing and plotline have really been what has held it back. For a detective then lawyer show, there should be a lot more played up drama that has better reveals, but it is often too hard to follow the reveal when it's about a detail last brought up three episodes prior. I again repeat that this would have been a much better bingeable show than a weekly, but we will have to see how the show might hopefully redeem itself next week in the season finale.

Holey Moley! Season 2 - The Sequel - ABC/Hulu

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver - HBO Max

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