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September 12th, 2003

A night at the movies. [Sep. 12th, 2003|09:17 am]
Okrzyki, przyjaciel!
After breaking down, finally and buying a DVD player, I checked out some movies from the library, and watched 2 last night.

Mr. Deeds Comes to Town is a Frank Capra classic, but in my opinion not as good a movie as some others, notably "It's a Wonderful Life" and "You Can't Take It With You." Not that it's not a great movie, but it has some pretty slack editing in the last reel -- a sense that it's 10 minutes too long. The pleasure of Capra for me is the effortless way he uses editing to pace the story, but that seems to come after this movie.

The story itself, and Gary Cooper's reading of the character, are deliciously odd. Cooper is supposed to be showing 'boyish charm' in this movie but he really doesn't go out of his way to make Deeds likeable. Jean Arthur really shines, though. There's a scene where she and Cooper sit on a park bench and talk that is arresting -- both Arthur and Cooper as fully inside the skins of their respective characters that the whole movie's emotional tone hinges on them right there on that bench. What might have been strictly knockabout farce becomes something more.

I saw the Adam Sandler remake of this last year, which was frankly is the nadir of his movies so far. The most interesting thing I learned from seeing the original is this: The random outbursts of violence that seemed so jarring in the 2002 version are there in the 1936 version. In both cases they seem like errors in tone; in the Capra film's case it seems like the fisticuffs are there to make Deeds, a poet and musician, seem like a regular guy.

Bagdad Cafe is a really freakin odd little movie. CCH Pounder always makes a strong impression whenever she turns up -- lately she's on a lot of cop shows, including "Law And Order" and "The Shield." In this movie she spends the first 45 minutes of the show stomping around, yelling at everyone. Her intensity is impressive, but it's a huge relief when she finally chills out a bit. The movie's real star is Marianne Sagebrecht, who is a German tourist that ends up at Pounder's crappy desert motel after ditching her creepily Bavarian husband, moves in, and takes over. Jack Palance is the German Tourist's love interest, whose silk shirts and flouncy demeanor are every bit as goofy as everything else in this movie.

I guess the idea of the movie is the German woman moves in and for reasons not entirely clear, injects 'magic' into their lives, both literally and figuratively. Whatever. This movie, though enjoyable to watch, is the same sort of random sack of eccentrics that "The Royal Tenenbaums" was; ultimately the story seems to never really coalesce enough to tell itself coherently. But while it's happening it's involving enough, and I'm a huge sucker for any movie where there's no death, violence, misery or overt evil.

So what is it with CCH Pounder? Did The Man take away the vowels in her first name? Or is her name 'See See Aitch'?
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