Movies reviewed this week: Pale Flower, King Rat, Shadows in Paradise, and Putney Swope.
1/2/2023: Pale Flower (1964): ****
Perfectly pared down noir: just a criminal and the woman he falls for despite the fact that he knows better. Unlike your average American noir, this guy doesn’t have any hope. When he does one last job it’s not for the final score, it’s just that someone has to do it and it might as well be him.
1/3/2023: King Rat (1965): ***1/2
Bryan Forbes directing a slew of excellent actors in a story that gains strength from Clavell’s actual experiences in a prison camp? That’s a good recipie right there. Beats mouse deer any day.
The black and white cinematography is a good match for the skin and bones actors. I’d love to know how Forbes convinced everyone to drop that much weight. You feel the endless grind of the prison camp.
The approach to class is interesting. Marlowe is Clavell’s stand-in, firmly upper class. Grey isn’t a villain, per se, but he’s the antagonist, and when he’s gloating about his class voting Churchill out you know what side Clavell is on. King, too, is lower class and he doesn’t have the wisdom to know what he had in Marlowe’s friendship. Clavell knew the British Empire was ending but he certainly didn’t approve of that fact.
1/6/2023: Shadows in Paradise (1986): ****
That’s the most morose romantic comedy I’ve ever seen. Just a grimy slice of Helsinki served up with the depressing realities of working class life. Side order of pop music, please.
I love Kaurismäki’s stock cast so much.
Boofest 2023: first movie.
1/7/2023: Putney Swope (1969): ***
Effectively biting here and there, but the irony of dubbing Arnold Johnson’s voice because Downey didn’t trust the actor is a bit much. Also Daisies beat this to the theaters by three years in a somewhat less safe environment, so this gets zero stars for being ahead of its time.
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