Friday, June 20, 2008

Recent flicks

SPOILERS!! Be careful, now, if eyes are sensitive, shield them. Inline update: well, this was really too spoiler-y, so I have revised it a little.

I seem to have run into a bunch of heist movies lately.

Flawless: Michael Caine and Demi Moore steal all the diamonds from the London diamond exchange, then get £100,000,000 ransom from an Evil Capitalist insurance man. The diamonds are, eventually, found, and returned to the exchange so that life can go on, but the stress of the whole thing gives the Evil South African Capitalist who runs the diamond exchange a heart attack. Demi, of course, uses the filthy lucre for the Cause of Good. (Demi: "Do you have any idea have hard it is to give away £100,000,000?" You could just write one check to the Red Cross. They would probably be able to figure out what to do with it.) Thieves win.

Firewall: Harrison Ford fights off home invaders who want $100,000,000 from the bank where he works. In Seattle, in the rain. By hacking into the bank's computers. Thieves lose.

Slow Burn: Someone not identified until the end steals, yes, here it is again, $100,000,000 from everybody. This seems to be a dreamscape version of L.A., but it might be Seattle, except for the lack of rain. Much in the spirit of The Usual Suspects, in that one does not know what's really going on until the kicker at the end. Thief wins.

Chaos: Someone not identified until the end steals (move that decimal!) $1,000,000,000 from everybody, again, in Seattle, in the rain, by hacking into a bank's computers. As above, much in the spirit of The Usual Suspects, in that one does not know what's really going on until the kicker at the end. Thief wins.

These are all quite adequate in their way. Nothing to get excited about, sort of like, I was going to say Travis McGee novels, but maybe Parker would be closer, only not quite so deep. Not sure that I like this trend of thieves winning.

Other recent flix worth mentioning:

Human Desire: Glenn Ford and Broderick Crawford get bent out of shape over Gloria Grahame. Ford is an engineer, of the train-driving variety, Crawford the assistant manager of the railyard. Grahame is Crawford's wife, who has a history with an important investor in the railroad. Watching this movie is, as they say, like watching a trainwreck: you wish you could look away, but you can't. Every time a character has the opportunity to make a decision, he or she chooses the wrong one. It just keeps getting worse, and building in tension, until Glenn Ford does the right thing, close to the end. And, by that point, it comes as a surprise. Everybody has been making the wrong moves, so when one character breaks out and does the right thing, it's startling. Something that Grahame does to display the nature of her character is that trick with lipstick that squicks me every time I see it, painting a cupid's-bow larger than one's actual lips. She looks in every scene as if she had just dipped her mouth in the pudding. None of these characters starts out bad, in the sense of evil or wicked; their weaknesses cause them to fall into a vortex that spins out of control. Nice clickety-clack motif in the score.

The Bad and the Beautiful: Wow. An amazing film. I may have to watch this a couple more times to squeeze some more juice out of it. The score alone is worth the rental. (Blake, you studied with the composer of this? I may never talk about music again. Nah, I will, but, wow.) That muted horn part (valve trombone?) at 58 minutes in, while Lana Turner is wandering around the deserted soundstage, is especially nifty. I see from IMDB that there is a Kazan-Pinter-De Niro version of The Last Tycoon. I wonder how that would compare to this in terms of characterization. I'm not even going to try to summarize this. It's the heck of a movie: see it if you can.


blake said...

Yes, sir. David Raksin.

He was not a great teacher, in the sense that he didn't analyze the various dramatic moments, such as the one you point out in B&B.

But, man, what a great guy just to be around. He got his start with Charlie Chaplin fercryinoutloud!

Hitchcock pissed him off.

He had some run-ins with Nicholas Ray.

If you want a real treat, try to find The Day After with his score on it. It turns the movie from a so-so bit of TV melodrama to something superior. They pulled the score because they didn't want it to look like they were, you know, taking sides.


Hector Owen said...

I'll look for that version of The Day After.

blake said...

Might be an alternate soundtrack, so check "special features".

blake said...

Wait--seriously? Michael Caine and Demi Moore are in "Flawless"?

Hector Owen said...

In the 2007 heist movie, yeah. Not the other one with Hoffman and DeNiro, from 1999.

blake said...

Wow, I probably would've gone to see that just based on the "Blame It On Rio" factor.