A Chinatown (1974)
Roman Polanski was at his best when he made this neo-noir tale of intrigue and double-crosses set in 1930s Los Angeles. Writer Robert Towne fictionalized an actual scandal involving southern California water rights (which actually happened decades earlier), mixed in a few personal scandals, and handed the whole story over to Polanski, who turned the script into the perfect LA period piece. Yes, Polanski got away with child rape, and you must make up your own mind about whether you would watch one of his films.
A Gun Crazy (1950)
No, this movie isn’t about Fox News and the NRA. Written under an assumed name by blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, Gun Crazy combines the crime thriller with a love story. Peggy Cummins and John Dall play a loving couple as excited by firearms as they are by each other. Naturally, their proclivities do not keep them within the law. Both are crack shots, but Dall’s character can’t bring himself to shoot a living creature. Suspense and sexual tension burn through this low-budget masterpiece.
B+ Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
The setup suggests a ’30s or ’40s screwball comedy: When the boy brings his girlfriend home, she discovers his family is filthy rich and his mother doesn’t approve of the match. But the comedy never reaches the madcap intensity of screwball. In fact, if you’re only looking for laughs, Crazy Rich Asians will disappoint you. The film’s pleasures come from the likable characters; especially the super-smart heroine (Constance Wu) who must overcome the formidable and snobbish mother (the great Michelle Yeoh).
B Cowboys & Aliens (2011)
The title tells you exactly what you’re going to see, but it doesn’t tell you that it’s much more entertaining than you’d expect. Cowboys & Aliens comes very close to being an excellent neo-classic western. The plot, especially in the first act, offers vague suggestions of Rio Bravo and other classics without going over the line. But then the aliens attack, and it gets kind of silly. It’s still fun, both because the alien action scenes are well done, and because by then we’re invested in the characters – played by Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell, and others. Read my full article.
? American Pie (1999)
I haven’t seen this film in maybe 20 years and never reviewed it about it, so I’m not entirely sure it’s as good as I think it was. It’s easy to dismiss a Hollywood-financed horny teenager comedy as commercial schlock–especially one followed by two sequels. But this story of four male high school seniors determined to lose their virginity manages to be both raunchy and sweet, as well as very funny. And while it’s very much about the male gaze (just look at the image above), it also deals (slightly) with what the girls want. Despite the Hollywood polish, it’s a reasonably accurate look at young male sexuality. I know; I’ve been there.
Here are all the movies going away March 1.