Thursday, February 2, 2023

Favorite (four), eighty-seven

Just like in my other eighty-six 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.

Sam Peckinpah's Ride the High Country
Timing is a critical part of appreciating certain works of art.  Sometimes you discover them when you're too young, sometimes when you're too old, and sometimes the timing is just right.  I have probably watched this early Peckinpah western 2 or 3 other times, never quite clicking with it like some of my peers.  But this time it was different.  As can be expected with Peckinpah, it takes you into some dark, uncomfortable places (Elsa's wedding night!)  What's less expected are the final minutes, the depth of humanity of Peckinpah's characters and the weight Peckinpah is finally able to leave you with as he pays tribute to the slow disappearance of a certain kind of main in a certain kind of world.

Robert Wise's Executive Suite
Wise could very well be an unfair victim of the auteur theory.  Although I have seen no where near his entire body of work, I'm a huge fan of The Set-Up and really like The Day the Earth Stood Still.  I watched this because it's one of Rosenbaum's 1000 essential films and man is it good.  It's unique in its exploration of corporate America and seems like a clear predecessor to Lumet's 12 Angry Men.  

Henry King's The Gunfighter
An extraordinary western that is most impressive in how many later noir films and later westerns it prefigures in its fatalistic setup.  King's direction is concise and sharp and it is the emotional weight he infuses into the story that makes the greatest impact.    

Jonathan Demme's Stop Making Sense
One of these films I thought I had seen until I watched it again.  The real star is Byrne who you can't take your eyes off of.  And if the measure of a good concert film, and I haven't seen many concert films in general, is if it entertains you while giving you a better sense of what the band looks and feels like then Stop Making Sense is hugely successful. 

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