Monday, July 14, 2008

Weekend Roundup: The Thin Man, and a Geography Lesson

This Monday finds me saddle-sore yet triumphant, since I rode my bike from Sunset Park to Rockaway Beach and back yesterday in a verrry poorly planned route that ended up taking me four hours and making me realize how hopeless I am with Brooklyn geography when subways are removed from the equation. Half the time I found myself thinking "Where the hell am I?" as little shopping districts gave way to mansions in areas I didn't know existed (though I suspect I may have been in Dyker Heights or the Flatlands at some point). Also, biking along Flatbush Avenue becomes a singularly difficult task circa Cortelyou Road, as the traffic is nightmarish. So I'm now obsessed with finding a better route, since Rockaway Beach is awesome.

After collapsing at home post-bike-ride, I watched The Thin Man and was slightly disappointed. I was all excited to see this husband-and-wife crime solving team but was annoyed by William Powell the whole time. I don't remember being annoyed by him in My Man Godfrey, which I liked, but here I found him irritating as all get out. Also, "husband-and-wife team," my eye. Powell does all the crime solving, such as it is, and Myrna Loy does jack squat except look great in evening gowns (really truly great in really truly lovely gowns) and act like a sassy, quipping game girl throughout. Powell also kind of treats her like an ass, which, while providing comic relief, also makes me go hmmm. And not in a good way. I mean, he treats the dog with more consideration. The mystery isn't really a mystery, more of a set up for Powell and Loy to cavort in like monkeys on a jungle gym. The acting is just average -- seriously, don't tell me Powell's mugging is magical -- and direction workmanlike and uninspired. Actually, most of the supporting cast is atrocious but I guess that's all just part of the charm. My main problem with the movie is that all the whimsy is hammered home so awfully hard that it ceases to be whimsy, if you know what I'm saying. This movie tried so hard to be sparkling, sophisticated entertainment but really, you can't sparkle if the effort shows.
Still, the final dinner party scene really is marvelously amusing, combining all the elements of a drawing room mystery/farce, and providing a nice backdrop for the genteel comedy of manners of our impossibly rich sleuths. (I also liked the cops dressed as waiters.) Evening gowns, again, were gorgeous.

Now I'm off to Google maps to look at satellite images of our fair New York town. I just realized that I was also in Red Hook (Ikea) and Willet's Point (Shea Stadium) at various points this weekend, making this one of my most intrepid outer boroughs weekends in a long time. I might also go up to my old stomping grounds in the next week or so to check out the new Maysles Institute cinema, a prospect that is exciting in and of itself (and also because I can get some roti at my old roti shop) and that makes me feel very well traveled indeed.


Levi Stahl said...

Oh, no--are you going to make me go back and rethink this movie? I've only seen it once, about five years ago, and I flat-out loved it, in part for its ramshackliness. But your criticisms are pretty convincing, and I wonder if I'd find it as charming a second time?

Andrea Janes said...

Oh no, see you're in the vast, vast, vast majority.

I'm in the teeny, tiny, cranky minority.

I fully expect everybody to shout me down on this one!