Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

COMPULSION (1959)
Riveting crime drama based on the Leopold and Loeb murder trial. Bradford Dillman and Dean Stockwell are excellent as the sociopathic college students who commit "the perfect crime" in order to prove how intelligent they are. There's a lot of subtext going on, but the film never loses sight of the emotional state of the characters or the mechanics of the investigation, bringing in Orson Welles in the film's second hour as a Clarence Darrow analogue who makes an impassioned plea against the inhumanity of capital punishment. ****

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (2009) ****
THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE (2009) ***1/2
THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST (2009) ***
Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy plays really well all in one day, though the returns do diminish over time (I felt Hornet's Nest was mainly the trial mopping up the relatively more action-oriented dealings of Fire; it was compelling, but a little more static). I think Noomi Rapace is very human and intriguing as Lisbeth Salander, and I like the weary humanity of the whole thing. It's not slick, but it's organic, and I like that very much.

INSERTS (1974)
Interesting, bizarre, angry film about a silent film director reduced to making pornos in his living room for hustlers. Richard Dreyfuss stars in a performance that is interesting but at times a little too modern for the level everyone else is pitched at. I was surprised at not only how graphic this flick was, but how really intense and psychosexual. It's also stagey, taking place in one room in real time, but that wasn't a drawback to me because so much of the dialogue carried it, and particularly the performances of Bob Hoskins and Veronica Cartwright. Not totally a success, but it at least tries to be a serious movie about sex, which is hard to pull off. ***

CUTTER'S WAY (1981)
Great, modest, character-driven thriller about a man who may have witnessed a murder (Jeff Bridges as Richard Bone) and his friend (John Heard as Alex Cutter), a war veteran and alcoholic who is more or less drifting through the days and who becomes obsessed with uncovering the murderer's identity. It really is a fantastic thriller, but the film is more interested in the characters and their relationships, and that adds a unique layer and an edge of sadness to the proceedings that is riveting. John Heard's performance is tremendous. This feels like something of a lost should-have-been classic. Is this even a cult movie? It deserves to be. ***1/2

THE HAPPY HOOKER (1975)
Extremely dull and not insightful, but Lynn Redgrave is charming. *

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