Looking Backward: Second Looks, Friday, May 31

2 Jun

To begin: at the risk of gushing…

newleafMy glee in watching A New Leaf was theoretically palpable to anyone, for tears of joy (etc.) could indeed have been touched if they hadn’t already been absorbed by my fingertips.

There. I said it. That’s not hyperbole. It’s fact.

I want less to talk about the specifics (the perfection of the acting ensemble, the howls I settled into during Mattheau’s scene with his lawyer that continued through May’s every tick as Henrietta, only paused while I wept openly and shamelessly through the whole fern-naming scene) than I want to go out and grab strangers on the street and bring them to my house to watch it. 

Also, the dialogue: ‘She’s unscrewing my Montrezzini!,” almost everything out of George Rose’s mouth, “Heavens!” A thing of beauty. And yet I still dream of the darker director’s cut. Though I’m nothing but happy with this.

Lee & Mifune 1941I’d like to take a look at the director’s cut of 1941, too, but it was a pleasure to watch again for the first time in probably 30 years, since the days when it was on cable every 20 minutes between Beastmasters. Still a mess, still too much screaming, but I still did a lot of laughing. Also, Mifune and his glove gesture. A master in everything he did. And let’s lament again the premature losses of Belushi and the underappreciated Wendy Jo Sperber.

thoselipsThose Lips, Those Eyes very much has the sentimental sensibilities of its era in a Summer of ‘42 way, but is very sweet and mostly you’re signed on for Langella’s tremendous performance. A lot of actors-playing-actors-sentimentalizing-A-Life-On-The-Stage movies collapse into a romanticism that bugs the crap out of me (full disclosure: I make a living as a stage actor), but this is more of an elegy to someone trying to maintain that romanticism than it is a celebration of it. Which is a pleasant surprise, as is the intriguing father/son relationship of Hulce & Stiller.

absolute-beginnersAbsolute Beginners was more touch & go for me than the rest (Fascist Dude: “That’s the last white breath you’ll draw!” Which, what does that even mean?), but despite marrow-level tonal problem, the Gil Evans score, the performances of Bowie and Ray Davies (!!) and the general stylishness have their cheesy 80s charms- I had to give up early on as far as my historical geekery is concerned (“’So What’ and ‘Boogie Stop Shuffle’ are both from 1959!”), though the Bowie number really finally morphed into a Donen-esqueness.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my Friday nights until Second Looks returns (which I’m led to believe is likely – and TCM would be foolish not to bring Illeana Douglas and this spotlight feature back as soon as they can).

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