Sat, 31 January 2015
Fresh off of our discussion of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, we set our sights on My Man Godfrey, another comedy from 1936. Directed by Gregory La Cava, the film is a satire of the lives of the naive and wealthy family residing in their Park Avenue and the merry misadventures that occur when they employ a new butler, Godfrey, who teaches them a few life lessons before the film's conclusion.
La Cava's films are laced with similar social and political satire, such as Gabriel over the White House (1933) and She Married Her Boss (1935). Commentary aside, My Man Godfrey's true charm is that it still holds up today. Several editions, many with questionable quality, have been released on DVD, but obviously the Criterion Collection edition remains the best.
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Sat, 24 January 2015
When you mention Frank Capra, most people will thank of It's a Wonderful Life, or any of a handful of other movies starring James Stewart. In the 1930's, however, Capra was probably Hollywood most prolific director, earning a string of Oscar nominations for his charming screwball comedies with traditional American values.
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town was another notch on Capra's belt after his film It Happened One Night hit the grand slam after winning all four major Academy Awards. Featuring Gary Cooper as the titular character from a small town who is thrown into a frenzy of money-grubbing New York lawyers and businessmen, the movie was hugely successful and earned Capra another Oscar for Best Director. Fun aside fact: it's also fetaures the first instance of the word "doodle", which soon found itself in the English vernacular. The film is readily (and cheaply) available on DVD.
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Sat, 17 January 2015
After penning Dogme 95, a manifesto urging filmmakers to subscribe to a particular method, Danish director Lars von Trier made Breaking the Waves, about the ways of rigidly living by a particular religious dogma. The film follows the rules set down by von Trier, but for a select few shots that are beautifully touched up by computer imagery and graced with pop music from the 1970's.
Based on a fairy tale von Trier read as a child, the story follow doe-eyed Bess (Emily Watson) as she marries oil rig worker Jan (Stellan Skarsgard) and copes with the tragedy that follows, both with the rigid religious rules laid down by the elders of her small Scottish village and the frustrations of sexuality. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. The film is now available on Blu Ray and DVD via the Criterion Collection.
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Sat, 10 January 2015
Considering the number of films that Bollywood has spawned, it's surprising that there's a dearth of them in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. One of the few inclusions is Deewaar, a 1975 (somewhat musical) drama directed by Yash Chopra and featuring Indian superstar Amitabh Bachchan.
"Deewaar" translated into English means The Wall, in this case referring to the divide between two brothers, one who has joined the police force and the other who has chosen a life of crime. Whether you consider yourself a fan of Bollywood or not, you have to admit it's a great drama, even if you don't enjoy the musical bits that are so characteristic of the genre. Deewaar is available on region-free Blu Ray from some international retailers.
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