The watching things kind of malaise, day one

Sometimes when I get the late winter malaise, reading doesn’t feel very good and so I watch things; either endless rewatches of Midsomer Murders or Inspector Morse or Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, or things I have overlooked that want some attention. Not usually foreign language things; at least not on day one, because I might shut my eyes for a bit and miss something.

Yesterday I started to catch up on Murdoch Mysteries, had two episodes of that, but it didn’t fit my mood. So I watched some movies. Clicking on the images takes you to a trailer.

First I watched Crooked House, from 2017, with an intriguing role played by Glenn Close. I have read the book several times; it was one of the first Agatha Christies I read, because I was a kid and liked the title. I wasn’t sure if they kept the original ending, but was willing to be either pleasantly surprised or mildly annoyed. Either way, the reviews and ratings for it were all over the place, and after watching it, I can see why. (Here's a review that liked it more than I did.) It was super stylish, and had a groovy atmosphere with some fun performances. But the P.I. office conceit was more air than there; a little more could easily have been made of it. And the rest was oddly edited. I felt like I was watching something that could have been really great. Instead it was…unbalanced. Well, the story is meant to set you off balance. Just probably not in the way that it did. I'm glad I watched it, though. 75/100

Next, I watched An Inspector Calls, from 2015. This is based on an old play I had not read or seen before. I had a rough idea of the story, but was not prepared for it at all, which is a good thing. I looked up a few reviews first; The Spectator haaated it, so I thought perhaps that was a promising sign. They didn’t even bother trying to understand the context J. B. Priestley was concerned with, at all, but that’s par for their course. And it was nicely eerie, well-paced, and David Thewlis was terrific in his role.

The movie is not perfect; the nature of styling a film like a play sometimes makes a viewer feel sort of remote, but stlll it was stylish, gripping and thought-provoking, and I’d recommend it to people who can enjoy a fairly static setting and mostly dialogue. 85/100

Finally, I turned my attention to exploring some Tom Hiddleston roles. Lately I’ve been fascinated by him. I didn’t really get the Loki love, though I do enjoy that character, but after I saw him in The Night Manager, I was intrigued. And he’s a very interesting person to explore on YouTube. (This is a smart 17 minute conversation about adapting that book.) I maybe have thoughts now, about someone far too young (video) to be having thoughts about (images.) But I realized I hadn’t seen him in anything (maybe?) besides that and Crimson Peak, so I chose three movies I knew little about, read up on them, and then began with Only Lovers Left Alive, from 2013.

I liked it a lot. I don’t know who else I know who would; if you ever describe things as “too arch,” definitely not you. I think three, possibly four of my six offspring would dig it. Tilda Swinton was terrific, but of course she was. The Detroit setting is perfect, and though I haven’t been there in 20 years, I recognized it, which is something I appreciate. There are some wide streets there with empty houses on them that are simultaneously tragic and beautiful, and make you feel like you are in the middle of absolutely nowhere instead of on the edge of a large city. I hear they’re working on that, guess I hope so. 

Only Lovers Left Alive is a slow-paced stylish dialogue about day to day existence, what matters in it: love, mostly what doesn’t: everything else. And that’s about all. But I found it rich viewing, and might watch it again after a two cocktail evening to reexperience the mood/trance music in an extra relaxed frame of mind. 90/100  

Movies to love, movies for love: hearts united, broken and/or bloody, plus some good kissing

I love movies. I don't tend to categorize them into good and bad or by genre or period or country of origin. There are just the ones I really like, which is a lot of them, and the ones I don't, also a lot of them. I can tell the difference between quality and mediocre acting, direction, dialogue, production, etc. And I can discuss all that with you during my bruschetta and your risotto or whatever. But I am just as happy talking about the corner of a man's mouth or the way a couple's hands first meet and etcetera. 

I read some Valentine’s Day movie lists recently, and about the only thing we all agreed on was 10 Things I Hate About You. So I started writing some down, and wow, is that hard to do. I’m sure this list isn’t even personally comprehensive, but I wouldn’t know how to make it so without way more effort than I am willing to put into it. The name links are to places you can watch them for free (if they're underlined, they'll auto-play,) or at Netflix or for 3-4 dollars at Amazon, and the other links are to various articles about them. List

Looking it over, some obvious double features come to mind. I’d happily pair 10 Things with Drive Me Crazy. Make no mistake; the latter is not as good a movie as the former. Yet it’s easy to watch, endearing, and there’s plenty to both aw about and guffaw about. You can admit to enjoying it while making fun of it. Both these movies were released in 1999, which was kind of the apex in teenage transformation romantic comedies. And maybe Adrian Grenier was no Heath Ledger, but you would still want to ruffle his hair if you were standing near him, and he would be good to kiss (and something more, apparently, according to this sort of meta-trash article.)

I’d pair Moonstruck with Wild At Heart for an intense Nicolas Cage double feature, which is a sentence I could never have imagined writing before I just did. These movies are not alike. They just both have Nicolas Cage in them, and are from the same time period, and I think you could get down a sizeable volume of wine during your viewing of them. I’m not sure which I’d say to watch first; kind of depends on how you personally see life playing out. Best not to read too much about the latter before watching, just know it’s a little sexy, a little violent, a little gross, and also kinda sweet. You know, David Lynch. Not everyone would find Wild At Heart romantic, though, plus you have to buy it or watch carefully, so you could always watch Moonstruck with Big Night, which is a wonderful romance with food.

My favorite light romance of all just might be A Little Romance. (But it might not be; I don’t do favorites very well.) It’s both dreamy and cheesy, and if you have a soul, you won’t care about the cheesy parts. Or that you would be watching it for free since it's 38 years old and...worth it. Its most obvious double feature partner on this list is Moonrise Kingdom, but I know some people have a deeply inexplicable dislike for Wes Anderson films, so if that’s you, god help you, watch it with Roman Holiday, instead. 

For pure romance, I love Portrait of Jennie. For an intense double feature, follow it up with Love is a Many-Splendored Thing. I’m not a great fan of Jennifer Jones, but I appreciate her in these films, and a couple others. You could instead have a Jennifer Jones double feature which also features Joseph Cotten by pairing it with Love Letters, which is uneven, but ends satisfactorily. (Jones and Cotten were in four films together, and my favorite is actually Since You Went Away, only it is not a Valentine’s Day type of movie.) Or you could pair Portrait of Jennie with a Joseph Cotten/someone else film: September Affair if you lean bitter, I'll Be Seeing You if you lean hopeful. 

For a long evening of beautiful what ifs: In the Mood For Love (Korean) and The Remains of the Day. And Romantics Anonymous (French) and Monsoon Wedding (Indian) are probably best on their own, but would be fun together, or you could watch either one of them with Shakespeare in Love.  

Finally, for reasons I cannot begin to explain, I have watched What A Girl Wants so often I could recite its dialogue. It’s romantic mostly if you want it to be. It’s the B side of A Little Romance, I think, but it would be more fun with Sweet Home Alabama for a light-hearted look at 15 years ago, or with Say Anything for a more direct parallel and so that you can say you know what a good teen romantic comedy should look like. Or you could follow it up with A Single Man for a reminder of how good Colin Firth can be with great material, but there is no other common factor involved.

It took me awhile to decide whether all the title links should go to descriptions/reviews or places to watch, but I went with the latter because it felt most useful. After all, you can just go to IMDb and plug in all the names you want to see, like this

A Thing For Guys Called Jack

This morning after taking care of the usual morning items—a few dishes, tidying the living room, planning dinner, etc.—I happened upon a Jack Lemmon movie I’d never seen, called The War Between Men and Women. I suppose I could find it commercial-free online, but if I did that, I’d have to pay full attention to it instead of just having it on the TV for a little company while I do whatever else needs doing. And I’m not sure it’s worth anyone’s undivided focus. Screen Shot 2017-02-09 at 10.30.55 AM
I feel like this is the kind of movie my parents would have made an effort to see without me. As I’ve mentioned before, they seemed to have no qualms about letting me watch outlaws escaping to Bolivia, cynical cops chasing down French drug dealers, people attempting to avoid death on a capsized boat, or creepy TV shows about vengeful stepchildren, but no hint of sexiness was allowed, even the awkward Jack Lemmon kind. Dream
This is super funny to me for reasons that would be boring to go into. But parents were commonly like that back then, from what I understand. And I doubt they had any idea how wildly attractive I’d find late 40s rude schleppy swinging Jack Lemmon with greying, slightly overgrown wavy hair and glasses. Or maybe they did. Wedding
I’m not reviewing it, much. It’s watchable, but not great. Barbara Harris is terrific, and Lemmon is, as always, exactly what is required. Lisa Gerritsen, who played Phyllis’s daughter Bess on Mary Tyler Moore, has an important role as a girl with a stammer, and she performs that well. Jason Robards has a small key role as a character James Caan apparently decided to base his career on. The story itself is awkward and runs in more than one direction at the same time. I doubt James Thurber, on whom Lemmon’s character is loosely based, would have been impressed by it, but there are funny lines, touching moments and amusing animated sequences, and it’s a good fair look at 1972, which counts for a lot with me these days. This reviewer thought very well of it.
PS: one very good element of this movie is the scene near the end with Jack Lemmon and Lisa Gerritsen walking though animated pages of James Thurber's The Last Flower. I didn't find video just of that, but you can see the book itself here; mute it if you don't like the music.


Chatter about childhood and anti-heroes

The other day I was watching The Wild Bunch while coloring my hair. It isn't a favorite movie; a lot of violence and shouting, and the marginally likeable people all die. But it's a great film in many ways, and showed people the reality of mayhem in undeclared war, which previous westerns had either avoided or just touched on.

One concept that wasn't new but was just taking firm hold was the idea that sometimes the bad guys are more moral than the good guys. Sometime let's start to take up the difference between ethics and morality, and then change the subject for more shallow territory. Anyway. Holden's bunch certainly didn't have ethics on their side, but the groups of people working against them were largely immoral.

Oh, dear, please don't tell me in a Google Plus reply about how I did not perfectly state this because of some math that you know or something. I just couldn't bear it this week. Take my meaning, instead. In fact, always do that. I'm fingerpainting here; it's what I do.

The "anti-hero" was my hero from the moment I discovered him. Yes, him. They were all male, and at the time, it made sense that they were. They were mostly late 19th-early 20th century mavericks who bucked increasingly systemized thought and the people who used those systems to take advantage of weakness in others.

So many people relate to those characters and (often sheepishly) look up to them, yet in everyday life, and in what passes for the democratic process, they remain lazy or contented to let the hand-rubbing money barons run things for them. I've never understood that. It upsets me greatly, so I'm going to change the subject, only slightly.


I loved playing sheriff and also holding up the bank that was also my tree where later I talked to Jesus after I had First Communion and felt like a direct line should be established. When I was sheriff, I wore a denim vest with a tin star pinned to it that my mother made from layers of aluminum foil. But a neighbor complained there was nothing under the vest, and though I was five, this was apparently terrible.

Let's pause for a moment and reflect on a (very) large rural yard in 1970. If you are part of the always online generation, you can't begin to understand about that, and I want you to pay attention. It was a sweet wholesome life for a little kid. There were probably about as many nutballs per 100 as ever there have been, but they very rarely counted in our lives, because we did not have the world wide web telling us they were everyone except ourselves. What could you see beneath my vest in 1970? A narrow bit of skin between the two sides. And arms. Far, far less than any typical bathing suit of the time would display. But this person perceived something more. And what I want you to understand is that the person with the perception was the one I needed protection against. People who think five year-olds in play vests are on sexual display are akin to fundamentalists who never let siblings see a baby undressed. They have creepy attitudes about humanity and you should never pander to them.

But Mom didn't let me wear the vest alone anymore, and I've always hated layers, feeling trapped by sleeves and fabric clinging to my neck except during a brief Annie Hall fashion obsession a few years later, so I became a full time bank robber for awhile. I had money bags with fake bills in them of tremendous denominations, and six shooters with caps to stop anyone who tried to catch me. People who interfere with other people's happiness and dignity easily stood in for the bad good guys, and I tended to picture them like Jackie Gleason, which is nicely prescient toward Smokey and the Bandit, I do think. Or like Hamilton Burger, the D.A. in Perry Mason. He wasn't bad, but he was totally annoying, always assuming rotten motivations based on superficialities.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 10.48.41 AM

I'd build escalating stories in my head about someone who was in trouble for being misunderstood, and being taken advantage of because of it, and I'd rescue them between bank jobs, and give them some of the money.

There's no point to any of this, in case you've been looking for one. I just wanted you to know I haven't really ever changed much. When I was younger, I was usually filled with some sort of moral outrage toward people who behaved either from selfish motivations, or from lazy assessments of something without regard for the bigger picture, and whatever lies beneath their first glance. People who thought how they felt about something mattered more than whatever was actually there. Now, I'm just weary of it all.


Hey, as a sort of aside, are you a fairly clever person, but kind of linear, (which is okay, but I mean, balance, and so forth,) and you make a sort of joke or half-serious statement perhaps to make a point, and someone like me replies in a way that takes you off balance and so your initial assumption because you took (me) literally is that (I) didn't understand what you meant, and so you explain the joke, kind of ruining the whole thing for both of "us?" I'm sorry I never really get that about you, and I'll try harder to match my communication style to yours sometimes, be less oblique, etc., but also, I think you should be aware that this makes it seem like you think you are smarter than everyone, and that simply cannot be true, especially on the internet, where everyone's IQ is either 132 or 146, and also, there's maybe a pinhole in your intellect where lateral thinking resides. Just food for thought. You could maybe just put your finger over it.


How I Bought My Movie

You might have worked out that I like James Bond films a whole lot. I like each of them in and for their own era. Roger Moore's James Bond inhabited the grown-up world I was partial witness to. Pierce Brosnan's Bond inhabited the grown-up world in which my view was expanded. Daniel Craig's Bond exists between all that and a somewhat better world we're all trying to say we belong in.

On Saturday, the ION channels had a marathon of Bond films from GoldenEye through Quantum of Solace. Four Pierce Brosnans and two Daniel Craigs. The Judy Dench Years. I had them on while I did stuff, because I was oddly and pleasantly alone for much of the day. I fell asleep during Casino Royale, but of course I've seen it a billion times. Yesterday evening I watched the recording of Quantum of Solace, and then went straight to Netflix for Skyfall. It was not there.

It wasn't there? Now I know why (more on that in a minute,) but yesterday that was annoying, because it was on there for a long time.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I miss my blog. I have some ideas for refreshing it all, going to get to that, but in the meantime I wanted to type things and tell people stuff.

Last night I looked on Amazon. Various configurations of Skyfall were between 13-16 dollars. I didn't really want just a digital copy, and it wasn't even available to rent for $2.99. (In a minute.)

Today we looked it up at the library and both blu-rays were checked out. One DVD was lost, the other damaged. I went up to Target, because I felt suddenly as though this was an imperative. No copies. No Bond at all, actually.

The phone doesn't work very well at Target, but I looked at No results. Desperate, I went to Their copies all said September 15 pre-order, except one for $23. But that wouldn't be available til Friday. also said September pre-order, so I decided they were repackaging it before Spectre, and now I know it's being re-released in special steel boxes. Pre-order at Best Buy, a place I didn't think to call. Meijer, Walmart, and Best Buy are all together in a dreadful area for traffic known as Eastgate; big nonsensical highway project been going on forever. But also in that area is the mall, and my son suggested we call a store there called FYE. And they had a used DVD for $9.99. So I seriously went to the mall to get it. The store is near an entrance, so no actual malling had to be done. Mission accomplished.


Netflix and others would be made to pull it before a new release so that people will, you know, buy it instead. I just had bad timing. But I don't buy much new or for full price (this is my heritage) unless it's extra special, so this is okay by me.

I'll be honest. A whole lot of why I'm into it lately is for the Tom Ford of it all, et all, and also etcetera. I'm shallow like that. But also, spies and stuff. I saw two spy movies at the theater this summer: Spy and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. I love spy movies.

I'm gonna go watch my new used movie now. I have plans to do more with this page, that I hope will be enjoyable to others.


PS: No. I said I buy things used or at a discount. I don't pay nothing for something still easily available other ways. This is how we keep having nice things.

Oh, James

I've been watching James Bond films all month on Encore. I do that pretty much every year. I have my favorites, and there are a few I tend to avoid, and watching Bond interact with his contemporary society is always interesting. They aren't in order, so the view is sometimes amusingly jarring. Or not even all that amusing, as I discovered last night.

I had my 16 year-old watch Thunderball with me. Near the beginning, Bond is at a health spa, and someone tries to kill him with one of the machines designed with back alignment or something. The sexy spa attendant thinks he'll blame her and cause her to lose her job, so he suggests sex in the sauna as payment. She straight up agrees, and seconds later, you see their hands pressed against the glass.

My son kind of flipped out. Which, if you know him, is the actual jarring thing. He had just witnessed a woman blackmailed for sex, and he knew it. Later, when she's revealed to be a bad guy, I asked him if that made any difference. He said no, and mostly of course, I agree. I imagine there's a subtext of her having gotten under Bond's skin so he'd trust her, rightly played or not.

Later I pointed out to him that during the Roger Moore era, the solution was to just have all the women rabid for sex. Then during the Pierce Brosnan era, women actually have a sort of power to not take him seriously, but take what they want from him. That's how 70s, 80s, and 90s women were each represented in film.

Here's how the problem was managed with the 1995 GoldenEye "reboot," neatly, in two brief conversations. Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 3.12.55 PM

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 3.13.07 PM
There are two more conversations that address the reality of Bond having treated his life's work like a merry game; killing bad guys, having many women, and in the post-Cold War world, possibly less able to stop real problems.

Later on, Bond and the character Xenia are in this scene in which she clearly takes pleasure in a fight that mirrors quick and ferocious foreplay. It's a bid for control, and she loses, but not because she's a woman, but because it'd culminate with Bond losing his head.
In our Daniel Craig era, the films still generally reflect our times, and currently, female characters are offered up with more variation of character, but at the same time, they're still James Bond movies, and sex is still power, both the wielding of it and the yielding to it.

Personal Favorite Classic Holiday Films

This is partly a "best" list, but I can concede there are some good ones I left out, because they aren't personal favorites. If I were to make a real "best" list, I'd make it longer, to include a few more you might expect. Hover over the links to see which are video and which are text. Also, at least half of these are available complete on YouTube.

Perennial favorites I never miss:

It’s a Wonderful Life 1946: I've never not loved this movie, and I could watch it several times a year. I have it on DVD now, because I wanted to always see it without commercial breaks. We watch it every year on Christmas Eve while drinking eggnog and eating cookies.  I think it's kind of a perfect movie.

Holiday 1938: I first saw this as a teenager as part of a double feature with Bringing Up Baby, but to me, it pairs better with The Awful Truth, one of the funniest movies ever made. Holiday has more pathos and tension, and is not a perfect movie, but it is still very funny, and one to hug and adore. TCM is showing it three times in the next three months; watch or record it when you can.

The Man Who Came to Dinner 1942: has a wonderful cast and lots of funny moments. It's staged very much like a play, which is enjoyable. And it has a lot of in-jokes that are extra funny if you know the references, but are still funny if you don't. It was written by Kaufman and Hart, who also wrote the hilarious You Can't Take It With You, which was adapted for the screen in 1938.

Desk Set 1957: This movie is gorgeous. It teams Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, a pairing I'm not overly fond of, but I like the offbeat nature of it, and all the supporting cast. As not a Tracy fan, this is my favorite role of his. It looks like one kind of movie, but behaves like another. I have this one on DVD as well, and watch it a couple times a year.

The Bishop’s Wife 1947: This is more of a true Christmas film than the previous entries, and I think it's one of the best, because of the cast and the nearly gross sentimentality. It's tender and meaningful, but also humorous. Monty Wooley has a sweet role, completely opposite his role in The Man Who Came to Dinner.

The Shop Around the Corner 1940: I love the setting of this film, and the real caring nature of it. It also feels like a play, and could have been too stagey if not done just right, which it was. When I was younger, I really disliked Margaret Sullavan's character, but I appreciate her more now. I always appreciate Jimmy Stewart. Deeply.
I like these next four, but need to be in the mood, because I'm terrible at watching certain kinds of tension. Honestly, though, it's mainly me. I've watched them all with other people who don't get the same sensation from them, and I do make sure to see them each year.

It Happened on 5th Avenue 1947: In this movie, people without homes for various reasons all end up in a mansion together for the winter. Don't look up too much about it; the story is really fun if you don't know how it will go. I always have this "fear of discovery," but of course, it's a comedy. You know it will eventually all come right for every one. It's got kind of a ham-handed message, but that's part of its charm.

Holiday Affair 1949: This is really good; I'm just never a fan of Robert Mitchum. It's a charming light romance in which a woman ends up choosing the man I would turn down, but that's how these things go, and everyone else is happy in the end. The mother and child scenes are really very good.

Bachelor Mother 1939: David Niven and Charles Coburn are in this film, and I love them both. Ginger Rogers plays the woman mistaken for a single mother, and finds herself going along with the narrative assigned her. I don't generally enjoy stories which go that way, but she's so good and they're so good, and if you've never seen it, you'll laugh.

Remember the Night 1940: This stars Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray, who are devastating together in Double Indemnity, which was released a few years later. This one's mostly light-hearted, and they have real chemistry between them, which is why, I suppose, they did three more films together. But it's another thing wherein someone has to pretend to be someone they aren't, and a little of that goes a long way with me (which is why I hardly ever watch Christmas in Connecticut.) There's a fairly recent remake of this story, but I don't recall the name because I didn't like it.

And that reminds me to mention sometime this week I'm going to share a "contemporary" Christmas film list, but it will be all TV movies, because I enjoy those far more than the broad comedy ones that tend to appear on the big screen these days.

Saturday Morning TV

When I woke up awhile ago, I felt lazy, and for a lark, turned on the TV instead of getting out of bed to dress. On the screen were some cowboys and a woman, trying to keep a dinosaur calm, but he broke from his ropes and then sort of gnawed another dinosaur to death. Then it chased the people, and some rocks fell on it and knocked it out. One of the people was James Franciscus, who got a new rope around it and then they made a procession with it to a Mexican town, but before they got there, a witch and a little person told them the dinosaur was evil and would destroy them.

In the Mexican town, the woman has dollar signs in her eyes, thinking of world tours with the dinosaur. This upsets a British professor who apparently found the thing, and James Franciscus, who was in it only for enough money for a ranch in Wyoming. And love. He will not have both, it seems. Then a show begins in a large arena, and there is an elephant, and the little person works to sabotage the show, as the dinosaur is about to be released, apparently to gnaw the elephant to death.

But when the curtain is opened, the dinosaur is gnawing the little person, and then accidentally tails its giant cage open. Mexicans are hysterical and running from the arena. The bandleader tries to keep the music playing, but not for long.

Church bells are tolling, and as Mexicans run for safety, knocking over vegetable and flower stands, and Franciscus is thrown from his horse as he attempts to fire on the beast with his shotgun. He fails, throws the gun, and runs inside a massive cathedral with the townspeople. They force the great doors closed against him, but his tail of menace defeats them. As everyone runs out the back, James Franciscus attempts to trap the creature within the walls. But the woman and a cheeky boy are still inside. Franciscus yells at the dinosaur and throws things at it, taunting it. Then he engages it in a battle of wits with a red flag. He falls back against the pipes of a tremendous organ, which enrages the creature, and then he jabs the flag in its ear. Then he runs to see the boy and woman to safety, grabbing a torch along the way to throw at the dinosaur just as it reaches a highly flammable section of flooring. The fire quickly surrounds it and in its terror and confusion, it howls in agony. Some men push the back door of the cathedral open, those inside escape, and the cathedral begins to collapse, a fire consuming its floor too much for the structure to stand. The townspeople watching in awe as the dinosaur succumbs to its fate.

The End.

No, really. That was how it ended. I feel a little cheated, to be honest. The Valley of Gwangi.

Next, 7 Faces of Dr. Lao is on. I can't say much about that except Tony Randall was a champ. It's good in the sense's put together well and mostly interesting and stuff. And Barbara Eden has brown hair, which is nice. But I have things to do now, I guess.

Watch this part and thank me later:  

Pictures unrelated, of Rock Hudson with Richard Long, and Doug McClure with Clint Eastwood. Longhudson

2012 Movies and Me

(Edited to add a few links, proper blog-style)

Last year around this time I made a list of movies I wished to see during the year. I saw maybe 1/2 of them, plus a few others. 

Do I ever talk about how much I love movies? I really, really do. But in my own way. I do not love Citizen Kane, Casablanca, or From Here to Eternity, though I think they're all quite good. I never saw The Godfather or Bull Durham or The Deerhunter or Titanic. I adore Drop Dead Gorgeous, The Awful Truth, and Network. And Amadeus. I watch An American in Paris nearly every month. And so. 

2012 movies I saw, ratings A, B, C based only on how much I liked it, not how good I thought it was, except A+; I thought those were the best. I could write love letters to those two movies, and I just might do that sometime.

This Means War C
The Secret World of Arrietty B
The Pirates! Band of Misfits C
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen A
The Raven B
The Avengers A
Men in Black III B
Moonrise Kingdom A+
The Amazing Spider-Man B
The Dark Knight Rises A
Skyfall A
Quartet A
Amour A+

I also saw Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in January, but that was actually released in 2011. Where I live now…sigh. I liked it a lot.

2012 Movies I still want to get to asap: most of which were on last year's want-to-see list. I hope to do better with 2013's list, which I'll share next week sometime perhaps, but some of them take extra time to turn up here in the middle of the country. 

A Royal Affair
Monsieur Lazhar
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel  (listed as 2011)
To Rome With Love
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Hotel Transylvania
The Oranges
Wreck-It Ralph

Yesterday I saw previews for Brooklyn Castle and West of Memphis; I'd like to see both of those. And I'm looking forward to (finally) seeing The Flat next month. They also keep showing previews for On the Road. It looks good but not my kind of thing. You see from these lists I like quiet movies, quietly silly movies, and superheroes, pretty much. There's a certain kind of grittiness I work to avoid, with just a few exceptions.

Late Night TCM and Me: A tale of frustration and angst

The featured star on TCM this month is Joel McCrea. I love him. You might already know this. He had some of the best shoulders in Hollywood, though I am not sure he'd win against Bill Holden in a shoulder baring contest. Hard to say, as he was several inches taller. Anyway. 

I like his early comedies, some of his "working man" dramas, some of the spy things, some of the westerns. I'm not completionist about him, though. He was in a million things. Some of it isn't my groove. But I set up my bedroom DVR to record most of the films TCM is showing on Wednesdays this month, particularly the early "pre-Code" ones with which I'm less familiar. Tuesday night I started watching a really old one called Born to Love, from 1931, also starring Constance Bennett. It was a very early entry for both of them, and neither is very good, but they're endearing enough. And this movie was on in the wee hours of the morning, when they tend to show the films only a hard-core interest would find appealing.

It's set in London at the tail end of WW1. They meet, fall instantly for each other, and it is made clear they give themselves to each other just before he is to leave for battle, promising they'll marry upon his return. And then she is pregnant. If you don't know much about movies of that era, you can't have a complete understanding of how scandalous it is, because she isn't made out to be a bad girl. But she is paid back for her indiscretion.

At first, tragedy; her young man is dead! Then a savior; the rich lord who loves her agrees to marry her and raise the baby as his own. And then I fell asleep. 

Last night, I turned it on again. Let me back up first, and foreshadow how this ends for you. The movie is 75 minutes long, ordinary for that time. So is my recording. But the first 15 minutes of my recording are the end of the previous movie, and some previews. This never happens on TCM, so I assumed the movie was even shorter than I'd thought, which is sometimes the case, and the rest of the time slot is filler. 

Moving along. They baptize the baby in the lord's name. At the christening party, she receives a phone call. Her love is still alive! She won't see him. She tells her husband. She does see him! But rejects him for her marriage. She tells her husband. He doesn't believe her! They divorce. He takes full custody and kicks her out. 

Two years have passed. McCrea is back in London, everyone assumes Bennett has been with him, but he didn't even know of her divorce. She is in a crappy flat, clearly preparing to hock her necklace when he turns up. She pushes him away! If she doesn't, she won't be allowed to see the child, and she is about to for the first time since she was sent away. She pawns her necklace, excitedly buys a gift for her son, and rushes to her old home. Her ex-husband is there, and she asks, "Will I be able to see my child regularly now?"

He says, grimly, "I can never again interfere."

She rushes up the stairs and we see her run into the nursery, the crib in shadows. She gasps! And the TV asks if I want to delete the recording. 

This is the last thing I see on my screen. 
2012-05-16 23.45.47
 So, you know, I worked out what happened next. The kid is dead, the dad is full of regret, she runs off to kill herself. McCrea shows up at the last second, but I couldn't decide if he's too late or not. These movies used to go either way, you know. Reluctantly, I looked it up.