Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Return of the Cinephile Native

It's been a long time since an update here and I apologize. Spring Break for schools in this area runs a full week and two days so today is the first day back. I've got plenty so say, which I'm working on, but for now it's probably best to just get out whatever unedited, unformed thoughts on movies I have in my head to break the long silence.

*A couple of weeks ago my wife and youngest went to see Mon Oncle at the AFI and I maintain that not only does Jacques Tati work on the big screen (and with a cheerful audience) where he may be slightly mystifying on the small screen, but he triumphs. The film was a delight, yes, but visually Tati is a brilliant observer lacking in all sentiment. It was my wife who noted, "There's not one close-up in this movie." There is not and as she also noted, during the wagon ride scene, it's in close-up that sentiment works its magic. Without it we are only observers to the scene, and the scene thus carries only delight and no goopiness. What a terrific movie! If you ever get the chance to see it on the big screen I highly recommend it.

*My wife and I were watching Keys to the Kingdom the other night on TCM and both remarked that Gregory Peck's relentless solemnity made him perfect for roles like this, and perhaps not much else. He had a great, deep and resonating voice, one made for missionary priests and righteous lawyers (To Kill a Mockingbird) but I don't care for him much outside those limitations.

*Also while watching Keys to the Kingdom we received an alert from the Associated Press' International Duh Division: Thomas Mitchell is one of the best character actors that ever lived.

*Some of those old ABC Mysteries (Columbo, McCloud, McMillan and Wife) were pretty good. We watched some on Netflix Instant and had a great trip down memory lane in the process.

*We also watched some Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Not as good as I remember but one of the ones we watched, Our Cook's a Treasure, with Everett Sloane and Beulah Bondi, was terrific.

*Hell, we watched a lot of classic tv quite frankly. Maybe Spring Break put us in a nostalgic mood but we also watched Kolchak: The Night Stalker and The Rockford Files.

As to the first, it's about as hit or miss as they come and it was quite clear the network was just throwing shit together to hook in the horror/supernatural crowd. The lizard man in The Sentry doesn't even resemble a man in a Halloween costume, he resembles a man in a second-hand, discounted, retrieved-from-the-dumpster Halloween costume. The Trevi Collection, however, about a witch trying to take over the world of fashion, was fairly decent and achieved low levels of creepiness with the mannequins coming to life.

As to the second, it's too bad James Garner couldn't have stayed young forever and had one new show after another throughout the decades. The Rockford Files may be an average detective show, and is, but Garner's charisma makes each episode worth watching. And the opening credits, with the still photos fading one into the other, just may make a special tv version of "Opening Credits I Love."

Finally, Dennis Cozzalio has chosen poorly. Maury Chaykin responds: