Sunday, October 10, 2010

Classic Soup #2: Brazil, Rebecca, & Clemetine

REBECCA
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock
Written by: Robert E. Sherwood & Joan Harrison
Novel By: Daphne Du Maurier

What I find most memorable about Rebecca is not the direction, or the writing, or even the mood. It is the characters which Hitchcock and company so wonderfully bring to life. Each maintaining an air of mystery, deceit, and love, with pasts left open to the viewers imaginations.

Olivier and Fontaine create such a unique countering couple, equally romantic and unromantic at all times. With Judith Anderson there flawlessly to supply the deep emotional strain. The constant worry and angst that goes with unrequited love, even in a relationship, amplified onto the big screen, I have to say I was hooked. Especially towards the latter half, as the film really began to suck me in.


That does mean the opening left me a bit wanting. Too much talk + cut + talk + cut again for my liking, but as the film progresses, and smooths out, it becomes the classic everyone has told me it is. Equally thrilling, dark, and realistic, with varying degrees of cinema exaggeration, Rebecca is a great cinematic experience. One that has taught me one thing: I need more Joan Fontaine in my cinematic diet.

Overall Score: 8.75/10

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BRAZIL
Directed By: Terry Gilliam
Written By: Terry Gilliam, Tom Stoppard, & Charles McKeown

Brazil is one of those movies that when it connects, I am laughing, loving, and enjoying it to the greatest of degree. Unfortunately that does imply that when it doesn't connect, I sit there solemnly starring at the screen begging for it to get on already. Don't get me wrong, the cast is great, and the direction is quite captivating, especially in terms of cinematic vision. I just found its plot, if I dare even call it that, to be jaded, and boring. 

The characters are way over the top, and I never really cared about them. The central Lowry -> Layton romance feels incredibly rushed. Though I feel this is more of a sentiment of Gilliam himself, rather than the film. Gilliam creates these wondrous worlds, but always seems more captivated by his side, fantasy within a fantasy, world. It makes for great visuals, just not a great story. Which is generally what I look for.

Of course, Robert De Niro being around to ham it up a bit is always appreciable (except for Rocky and Bullwinkle), and Jonathan Pryce is always a delight. The supporting cast handles the material well, even though Kim Greist does come off flat. I enjoyed seeing all the wonderful cast of actors, many of whom are currently highly praised, goofing off. I just didn't care enough to want to venture into the world anymore than I already have. Though it should be noted I saw the Director's Cut, not the original one.

Overall Score: 6.00/10

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MY DARLING CLEMENTINE
Directed By: John Ford
Written By: Samuel G. Engel & Winston Miller
Book By: Stuart N. Lake

What I found my pleasing about Ford's My Darling Clementine is that, while it does highly romanticize the events, it takes the time to build the character dynamics. We deal with the Earp and Doc Holliday character clashes. The varying stories that build their history. The town of Tombstone, its many dreamers, and aspiring moneymakers. Ford handles them all with great precision... then again, would you expect anything different?

Fonda is always great as the leading man. He has a natural atmosphere that makes all his characters seem as if there is something hurting behind their eyes. Victor Mature adds a wonderfully, more intellectual, look at the dynamic Doc Holliday. Of course, when your main villain is played by Walter Brennan, there's no real need to even mention greatness, it's just a given. Linda Darnell and Cathy Downs as local bar girl Chihuahua and Clementine, respectively, even make great showings with their limited screen time.

One thing I will say, is I feel that, at times, Ford loses sight of the main plot, due to the many distractions of the surrounding town life. It's understandable, and hardly frustrating, but I feel as if it would have added more backstory, and depth to the finale. Which comes rather abruptly I must say. Though as westerns go, this one is a real gem of a time.

Overall Score: 9.00/10

Classic Soup is a sporadic series on LiE as I continue my never ending journey through the old school films as I experience, some, for the first time.

3 better thoughts:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Brazil is one of the few Terry Gilliam movies I've just never connected with either.

Clarissa Draper said...

Rebecca is one of my most favorite books and film. I read once that Hitchcock told Fontaine that everyone hated her on the set. That's why she was so timid and shy on camera.

CD

Alex said...

It makes me so sad that you didn't love Brazil since it's like my second favorite movie. So sad.

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