by Sachin Gandhi
Love and Romance are emotions that often escape logical explanations. When one is hard pressed to understand why one person loves another, the phrase “Love is Blind” or “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” comes to the rescue. Once these phrases are uttered, no further explanation is required. No one will ask to dissect the meaning of these phrases and instead nod their head in agreement. As a result, these phrases can also result in an airtight screenplay, where a writer/director can use these phrases to have a plot that cannot be questioned. Not surprisingly, such phrases can be gold in the hands of the right writer/director. Preston Sturges’ The Lady Eve, based on a story by Monckton Hoffe, utilizes these phrases in such a clever manner that one cannot fault anything but instead laugh and admire the effort. In the film, Charles Pike (Henry Fonda) falls for the same woman twice, blindly following his heart and shutting down his mind even though all evidence points to him staying away. Continue Reading »
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by Ed Howard
Far From Heaven is Todd Haynes’ loving, flawlessly constructed tribute to the cinema of one of his favorite directors, Douglas Sirk, and especially to Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows. That film, about a society widow who invites gossip and disgrace by developing a friendship and eventually a romance with her younger gardener, provides the germ of the idea for Haynes’ own take on Sirkian melodrama. Sirk also provides Haynes with a window through which he can look back on the 1950s, not as it truly was, but as it might have been, refracted through the ornate stained glass of Sirk’s melodramas. Everything bathed in lurid pastel lights and colors, everything a facade as patently artificial as a Happy Daysset. This artificiality is part of the point. This vision of the 50s, a TV fantasia with relentlessly cheerful wives, clean-scrubbed kids, and hard-working husbands, is an artifice so obvious that it’s just begging to be peeled back. What Haynes finds when he digs through a few layers is barely concealed racism, sexual ignorance, and families held together by tradition and appearance rather than any real feeling or communication.
This turns out to be especially true for Cathy (Julianne Moore), the happy wife of successful advertising executive Frank Whitaker (Dennis Quaid). The couple are models for their friends and indeed their entire suburban Connecticut town, throwing well-loved parties, raising their two children, and generally projecting an aura of contentment and success to all who see them. This happy facade falls apart when Cathy discovers her husband in the arms of a man, a sign that he is diseased in some way: he’s “one of those.” But this is only the beginning of Cathy’s troubles, as she soon finds that her developing friendship with her black gardener — a friendship that, like the one in Sirk’s film, is tinged with unarticulated desire — causes even more problems, stirring up hateful gossip around the town. Haynes is here borrowing from both Sirk and Rainer Werner Fassbinder, whose Fear Eats the Soul already paid homage to All That Heaven Allows by widening the age gap between the protagonists and making their primary difference racial rather than class-based. And just as Fassbinder roots this relationship in the political and social climate of its period, 1970s Germany with its concerns about Arab immigration and integration, Haynes makes Far From Heaven squarely about the civil rights movement. There are numerous references to the NAACP and to the crisis in Little Rock regarding the resistance to school integration. It is in this context, far removed from the nation’s most overt expressions of racism but nevertheless far from integrated as well, that Haynes’ melodrama plays out. Continue Reading »
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Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knighley in a capture from John Carney’s charming “Begin Again.”
Screen capture from 1949 Film Noir classic GUN CRAZY by Joseph H. Lewis
by Sam Juliano
With today’s posting of the Number 51 film in the Romantic Countdown, Fried Green Tomatoes, we have officially approached the half way mark of the project. The schedule calls for October 6 as the day to unveil the poll position choice. Until then it will continue to be every Monday through Friday. I would like to thank those who have been generous with their appearance and comments during the countdown, and am most pleased that it is doing so well in every sense.
Again I want to thank our guardian angel Dee Dee for keeping things spirited on the side bar, especially with all the latest developments in Film Noir, including the presently-running Femme Noir Festival at Manhattan’s Film Forum, where Lucille, Sammy and I have attended eight (8) of the offerings so far with several more planned for this coming week.
A terrific, comprehensive John Waters Retrospective is slated for Lincoln Center in September, while the Film Forum will be running both a festival on films made from Tennessee Williams’ plays, and one on the American icon Frank Capra. One week runs for Rome Open City, That Man From Rio, The Conformist and Fedora are also slated also with a five film roundup of the films directed by Leos Carax. Continue Reading »
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