Four more movies that weren’t in local festivals, and that I didn’t officially review. I just paid my ticket (or the home video equivalent) and watched the movie.
A Summer 1993 (2017), Shattuck
This amazing film about children, but not for children, slipped into theaters below the radar. That’s too bad, because it’s very much worth catching. It has no story in the conventional sense and shows its world at a child’s viewpoint. After her mother’s death, Frida leaves Barcelona to live with relatives in a beautiful, rural house with gardens and a nearby stream. But Frida, who has an unnamed medical condition (it’s left to the audience to figure it out), is a little monster. She’s horribly spoiled. She won’t even tie her own shoe laces. Worse than the tantrums, she’s a mortal danger to her younger cousin. A clear-eyed view of childhood.
B+ 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Castro
This Jules Verne adaption carries a surprisingly moral complexity for a Disney movie of its time. The villain, Captain Nemo (James Mason in one of his best performances), is a decent man turned mad by war and human exploitation. He can, at times, behave with kindness. Kirk Douglas plays the sort-of hero as a man who rarely thinks of anything but himself. Paul Lukas and an unusually cuddly Peter Lorre have major roles. John Meehan’s beautiful art direction, a major inspiration for streampunk, evokes a strange and pleasing mix of the 19th and 20th centuries. But several scenes suffer from Disneyfication – I swear by my tattoo.
B+ Analyze This (1999), DVD
I loved this movie when it was new in theaters. Not long after that, I bought a used DVD. I recently revisited that DVD.
This very funny comedy almost works as a serious Mafia film. Robert De Niro plays a godfather experiencing an emotional breakdown. So he turns to a psychiatrist played by Billy Crystal. But working for a mob boss isn’t like a regular medical practice; this one patient brings in a whole different kind of head shrinking. Day and night unscheduled sessions mess up his regular practice and his personal life (including his wedding). And saying the wrong thing could get the doctor killed. Director Harold Ramis is smart enough to keep much of the mafia stuff serious. There’s real danger, and violence, here. Both stars play comedy and drama very well.
The film was successful enough to launch a sequel, called Analyze That. Bad reviews kept me from seeing it.
C+ The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), FilmStruck
This far-from serious take on one of Britain’s most important monarchs stars Charles Laughton in a comically over-the-top, but Oscar-winning performance. The movie starts with the execution of Anne Boleyn (wife number two), which is where most movies about Henry VIII end. Instead, it concentrates on his last four wives, but mostly on wife number five, Catherine Howard (the second and last he beheaded). Binnie Barnes plays her as a scheming social climber eager to marry the king while having a lover on the side. As Henry, Laughton’s real-life wife, Elsa Lanchester, plays a very funny turn as wife four, Anne of Cleves.