Monday, February 8, 2021

Favorite (four), seventy-two

Just like in my other seventy-one posts in this series, I want to take a second to single out the highlights of my recent film viewing.  Most of the films I have been glad to see but only a very few have stayed with me.  This series is my filter for those and my hope is one or two will be good to you as well.

Ernst Lubitsch's Angel
Lubitsch's sophisticated touch is on full display in almost every second of the final thirty minutes.  It is a sophistication that is sexy, leaving the viewer on edge unsure how the characters will work out the knots that their lives have become.  Although it is the only time Lubitsch worked with Dietrich, he taps into her elusiveness, her allure, her power.  And I can't recall Herbert Marshall ever being in fuller command of the screen.  

Emmanuel Mouret's Love Affair(s)
Mouret proves himself very adept at tackling the romantic comedy genre while finding ways to make it feel updated and modern  His most interesting contributions come by way of his parallel narrators and the way he continually subverts our expectations.  While I wish his use of music a bit more restrained, this is a strong new entry for French cinema, in the footsteps of Desplechin and Assayas, and alongside Civeyrac. 

Clint Eastwood's Richard Jewell
If there was nothing else but the acting - the lead performance and the performances by Rockwell, Wilde and Bates - I would encourage people to run down Eastwood's latest work.  The acting is strong.  And for the umpteenth time, Eastwood once again delivers a compelling story in a style that remains supportive, straightforward, barely visible.  

John Dahl's Rounders
Every now and then I will see a reconsider film, a movie that forces me to rethink how I feel about an actor, a director or several of its cast or crew.  Although adhering closely to the path set out by The Hustler and countless other films about redemption, and certainly not seeking to be high art, Rounders made me for the first time rate Dahl and Norton, both of whom I have always felt lukewarm about.  It has to be the greatest film yet about poker.