Recently Watched

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)
Starring Rex Harrison and Gene Tierney

I always loved Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady, but I had no idea he was so hot looking 60 years ago. Check this out:

No wonder Mrs. Muir let him stay in her bedroom. (And, if you check out Gene Tierney, it's no wonder he wanted to. He was dead, not blind. She looks a little odd in the picture on the DVD box, but in the movie she's GORGEOUS.) This film totally confirms my opinion of romantic "comedies" in the '40s vs. those in the '50s, by the way. It's an utterly romantic movie, but she lives alone for at least forty years in it. She doesn't marry someone else just to have a husband, commit suicide to join her ghostly sort-of lover, or take up black magic in order to get him a body, or get "bailed out" by a handy/annoying plot twist. (Why couldn't Just Like Heaven manage something like that?) He even stops visiting her after the first year, to give her a chance to have a "normal" life (yes, apparently it's a scare quotes entry today), and there's no...well, there's no whining, or even much real implication that she needs a man, ghostly or otherwise, to be complete. Or if there was, it passed over my head, which is almost as good. None of the women from Three Coins in the Fountain would have dared to live in Gull Cottage even without any hint of a ghost. Brava, Mrs. Muir, and bravi to everyone else connected with this movie.

Pas Sur la Bouche [Not On The Lips] (2003)
Starring Sabine Azéma, Isabelle Nanty, Audrey Tautou, Pierre Arditi, Lambert Wilson, and Jalil Lespert

This was adorable, really. I didn't necessarily want to sing along with the songs, but I do love that whole '20s/'30s upper-class dissipation thing, and this movie captured it perfectly without ever becoming the least bit cynical or enervated. In fact, I'd have to call the whole thing frankly charming.

Kuch Naa Kaho (2003)
Starring Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan

Hee! This movie was so great -- everything I wanted and more. I enjoyed every bit of it, even the (heh) monsoon slip'n'slide. Well, okay -- the dances and songs dragged a bit, IMHO. Veer-Zaara's were better. But all the rest? Bollywood fun to perfection. And, thank god, not only was the hero actually hot instead of theoretically hot, but he wasn't Sharukh Khan! Hallelujah!

Raincoat (2004)
Starring Aishwarya Rai and Ajay Devgan

This was not at all what I was expecting, but I can't say it wasn't a good movie. It was very O. Henry, and not Bollywood at all (to my eyes, anyway). Just...unexpected. Well done, though.

I Capture the Castle (2003)
Starring Romola Garai, Rose Byrne, Bill Nighy, Henry Thomas, Marc Blucas, and Tara Fitzgerald

Awwww. You knew I'd love this movie, and I so did. Except...Henry Cavill was both incredibly hot and adorable as Stephen, and he ended up as the only one who didn't get a shot at Life With The One He Loves. I so wanted Stephen to get a better ending. But he didn't end badly, really, he just didn't get Cassandra, poor guy, and he's probably well out of that, no matter how incredible Romola Garai's skin was. But -- quite a good little movie, and I very much enjoyed it. Anyone impatient with the British trying-to-be-upper-class or the rich of any nation during the '30s would be well advised to steer clear, though.

Veer-Zaara (2004)
Starring Preity Zinta, Shahrukh Khan, and Rani Mukherjee

Shahrukh Khan's terrible "palsied" aging and the incredibly cheesy court-applause scene at the end notwithstanding, I loved this movie, and I may have to buy it even if it is $30.00 or something. The scenery? Breathtaking. The dancing? Fabulous -- and fun! and colorful! Preity Zinta? Could. Not. Tear. my eyes away. And the dedicated young female kick-ass lawyer -- very awesome, and a beautiful young woman in a movie without a love-plot of her own. Well done, Yash Chopra. I also really liked the depiction of interplay between India and Pakistan -- no doubt very idealized, but it seemed more hopeful than anything else. I'm pretty much always open to the message that ordinary people need not be entangled in the divisions caused and endorsed by their governments. And I loved, loved, all the scenes where Veer is showing Zaara the Indian countryside. *sigh* I want to see this again.

I could do with a break from Shahrukh Khan's nose, though.

Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
Starring Dorothy McGuire, Jean Peters, and Maggie McNamara

Dear God. Why is it that the '40s could give us such fabulous romantic comedies as His Girl Friday and The Philadelphia Story, in which the female protagonists actually interact with the other characters as though they have brains and not just ovaries, but the '50s give us blatant "Look how amusing it is when women compromise every shred of their integrity in order to get married! Hah hah, those career girls, they'll do anything to get a ring!" claptrap like this? I mean, yes, it goes with the genre territory, but I've watched a damn lot of romantic comedy movies and seeing this one was like being hit in the face with a two-by-six with the words ''FIND A MAN, LOSER' engraved on it. I just couldn't believe the things that were portrayed as being utterly fucking normal, like how the two other (and they are 'other' -- their waists must be twice the size of Jean Peters's. Did she even have a lower intestine? She certainly didn't look -- or act -- like it.) girls chip right in to help Anita do "research" on her chosen Italian Prince, so that she can pretend that her every opinion and preference is exactly the same as his. And she does a horrible job of being someone who shares his tastes; a blind, deaf, and intellectually sub-par potato could see that she has no conversation after she's oh-so-artlessly let fall that yes, veal saltimbocca is her favorite meal too! And then Her Royal Twit falls for it! And then he gets mad! (After being completely taken in by a ruse that wouldn't fool a home-schooled kindergartner.) And then they break up! And then...they get back together! For no goddamn reason at all, so that means it's TRUE LOVE. Jesus Christ!

And meanwhile, her "friends" Maria and Frances -- the latter called "Miss Frances" by the other characters to make sure we know that she's some ten or fifteen years older than her co-stars, that is, in her thirties, and therefore A SPINSTER -- are pining for an Italian translator and an American expatriate self-centered precieuse author (is that redundant?), respectively. So after ignoring/pining after/ignoring these men for god knows how many years, they both decide to fall in love in what seems like one weekend. With ensuing, heh, abortion rumors and a mortality-motivated immediately-rescinded marriage proposal (which Miss Frances accepts, because A) she loves him, B) she can go on taking care of him this way, and C) the housekeeper just gave her a kitten OH GOD SHE'S NEVER GOING TO GET MARRIED SHE'LL DIE AN OLD MAID SURROUNDED BY FIFTY CATS). And also one drunken fountain-wading scene, because it's set in Rome and you have to have one of those. And then they all embrace and the movie ends. Moral? Get married, girls, no matter what. Also, make sure you look cute when you confess to your almost-fiancé that you've been lying every single time you've opened your mouth in his presence.

Other than that it is, as billed, a charming romantic confection with lovely views of the Eternal City. Enjoy!

Dilwale Dilhanie Le Jayenge (1995)
Starring Shahrukh Khan, Kajol, and Amrish Puri; directed by Aditya Chopra

This movie is tons of fun, but I still hold that Raj is kind of annoying -- just too over the top, and I don't care what kind of an act it is; that's the point, too much act -- and not really handsome, either. Not good-looking in the way that Simran is beautiful, anyway.

X-Men 3: The Last Stand (2006)
Starring Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellan, Patrick Stewart, Famke Janssen, etc.

heh. This was so much fun. And for once I revel in my ignorance: I've never read the comics, and I'd only seen the second X-Men movie before this. I just went to see stuff blow up and to see people with cool mutant superpowers kicking the sh*t out of each other, and the movie totally delivered. It may be the platonic ideal of a summer holiday weekend blockbuster, at that. This will just thrill the studio, or it would if they were ever likely to know about it, but I may go back and rent X-Men 1 & 2 just to see what happened and get another fix. Of course, I hear the budget was way higher for the third movie, so the SFX won't be as good in 1 & 2. (Yes, I know I've seen the second one. It was a while ago, and I only saw it once. I didn't exactly memorize the plot.) I doubt I'll notice, though, so it should just be good times. If I remember to do it.

In the Mood for Love (2000/2001)
Starring Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung; directed by Wong Kar-Wai

This movie is not only at the top of my Favorite Movies Ever list, it's also one of the best movies I've seen -- an important distinction for someone who unabashedly enjoyed The Saint (yes, the one with Val Kilmer. Shut up.), America's Sweethearts, and Tank Girl to make.

But seriously, In the Mood for Love is a good movie. Everything about it comes together perfectly: acting, plot, script, music, wardrobe, color palette, rhythm and pacing...they all fit each other just the right way, and come together to make an exquisitely finished whole.

Necessary plot & setting synopsis: In (crowded) 1962 Hong Kong, two young married couples happen to move into sublet rooms in neighboring apartments on the same day. We only see half of each couple, Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow, since their respective spouses are both away on business trips. It becomes apparent, as we watch them going about their daily routines, passing each other in the hallway and interacting with their landlords, that their spouses are too often away and too often away at the same time. Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow (they are not called anything else in the course of the movie) come to realize that her husband is having an affair with his wife; in struggling to understand how their wandering partners could take such a step they develop a deep affinity for each other. Their feelings eventually threaten to grow past the point of friendship, but they are equally determined to preserve propriety and their own faithfulness.

And this is where I really fall in love with this movie: it purposely avoids becoming torrid melodrama, satirical farce, romantic tragedy, or even Consciously Artistic Illustration of Soul-Crushing Normal Life. Chow and Chan live and love and try to do the right thing; they succeed, mostly, and suffer for it, but never with an excess of overwrought drama or pedantic earnestness. The whole movie is a lyrical homage to restraint, from the precisely structured plot to Cheung's and Leung's understated yet grippingly affecting acting to the delicately evocative score, and it's one of the most beautiful and satisfying films I can ever remember seeing.

After the Thin Man (1936)
Starring William Powell, Myrna Loy, James Stewart, Elissa Landi, Jessie Ralph, and Alan Marshall

This only seems to be available for purchase now as part of The Complete Thin Man Collection (which I would totally love to own), but Netflix has the individual DVD.

You know, I really love the juxtaposition of the names and figures on this movie poster. One could almost believe that Myrna Loy is a very distinguished-looking fellow with the latest in supercilious sneers, and that William Powell has a lovely auburn bob.


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