Monday, January 07, 2008


My mama used to say that whatever you do on New Year's Day is what you'll be doing for the rest of the year (so don't fuck it up). Maybe it's a self-fulfilling prophecy, but this year I went to see Juno on New Year's Day, and I've been seeing movies practically every day since. Six movies, six days of the year ... I can't keep this up and wouldn't want to because that would make me one of those movie nerd guys, you know? And they smell.

But for now, here's a list of a bunch of movies I watched.

Smiley Face

"You know who else loves lasagna? Garfield."

Technically I saw this when it was still 2007, but honestly, it was like two days before 2008, so I'm going to let it slide. Plus, I really need to mention how much I love Anna Faris and how great she is. I think she's a spectacularly funny person and a superbly talented comedienne, who wouldn't have been out of place in a 1930s screwball comedy (I could just see her holding her own opposite Cary Grant). Some discerning minds have even cited her performance as one of the year's best.


"I try really hard actually."

Way cuter than I thought it was going to be, this movie made me laugh a lot and cry about, oh, seven times. Quirky clever dialogue means nothing to my ovaries, who only want to look at pictures of cute babies and then make me cry. (My innards have never been discerning critics.) The brainier part of me loved Ellen Page (I forgive you for Hard Candy!) and the feminist in me was glad when when Juno didn't screw Vanessa over (and, admittedly, when stupid aging hipster Mark got his comeuppance). I love Michael Cera even though he was born(ed) in 1988. He has those long legs. I wonder if he's ticklish.


"How singularly innocent I look this morning."

So far, my favorite Preminger movie. I love Waldo Lydecker's quips, I love the way Laura shows up halfway through the investigation of her own murder, and I really love the way Dana Andrews' character becomes obsessed with Laura. Some wonder if her reappearance was only a dream or a wish-fulfillment fantasy conjured up in his mind. Like Vertigo, it's all about projecting your desire onto the object of it; Lydecker does it, McPherson does it, Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price) does it. Laura inhabits a swirling nexus of projections, looking out from the center, more portrait than person. It's interesting because Daisy Kenyon is kind of a projection, too, where each man loves something of the idea of her, but really has no idea who the person is inside there. Hm, maybe that's why they showed them together on a double bill. Duh.

Also, whenever I say or hear the word "Laura," I get the Scissor Sisters song in my head. It's in there right now.

Daisy Kenyon

"Funny thing is, I like him."

This was an incredibly strange movie, tonally. I am still getting used to Premigner's mix of the dramatic and the comically absurd. For some reason it wasn't all that jarring in Laura, perhaps because Lydecker got all the wisecracks, but in Daisy Kenyon it really stood out. Funny thing was, though, I liked it. I laughed whenever Dana Andrews was on screen, the way he called everyone "Honeybunch," and I liked how insane Henry Fonda was ("Come meet my family in Scarsdale!" he implores, after one date) and I liked Daisy's occasional daffyness, mixing metaphors ("Why did you throw in the sponge?") and crashing her car in the woods and feeling much better afterward. I liked the way the world would interrupt deep conversations on stairwells and in restaurants, creating moments of beautiful awkwardness. Thus I did love the occasional dips into the absurd and bizarre that make Daisy Kenyon so much more than a straight melodrama.

4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days

"Let's never talk about this again."

Otilia hoofs it all around Bucharest trying to help out her silly-goose of a roommate, helping her arrange an illegal abortion. And let me tell you, she goes way above and beyond the call of duty. This girl really takes one for the team. In between post-op ministrations, Otilia endures some incredibly surreal moments (like attending a bourgeois dinner party at her boyfriend's parents' place right after the harrowing procedure) and a terrifying flight through darkness in an attempt to dispose of the expelled fetus. Nightmarish, devastating.

Anatomy of a Murder

"The attorneys will provide the wisecracks. "

The greatest story ever untold. Preminger bobs and weaves his way around the details of the story, letting the viewer's mind fill in the holes like the fertile memory of an unreliable witness. I love the way he never really reveals the truth, just lets you speculate and speculate, dropping hints and suggestions that set the mind racing. Another brilliant thing: the whole defense is bunkum, I'm sure of it. Irresistible impulse, my eye. How brilliant that they got away with it and how wonderfully morally ambiguous it was, in that they were totally aware they were flim-flamming ("I love the small-town lawyer bit!").

The more I think about this movie, the better it gets. I love Preminger's ability to mix comedy and drama; he's a master at it. The courtroom lines really get me, as do the hilariously awkward flirtations between the fantastic Lee Remick and James Stewart. I like this bit, in which the Judge asks the lawyers to think of another word to use in lieu of "panties:"

Claude Dancer: When I was overseas during the war, Your Honor, I learned a French word. I'm afraid that might be slightly suggestive.
Judge Weaver: Most French words are.

Finally, the opening credits are great. I love 1950s-era commercial/graphic design, and these credits tickle me.

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