My August movie viewing (NOT a ten-best list)by Stephen Murray
Sep 1, 2005
Popular Products in MoviesThe Bottom Line I was most impressed with "The Unknown," "Umagi," and "Seppuku," which are contenders for a list of best melodramas.
While waiting for epinions to supply Garrett and/or the CLs with the tools to add general movie (comparison) categories, I decided to use this all-but-empty one (two four-year-old not very apt lists) for my August list. Most of the movies are melodramas, though only "Unknown," "Umag,i" and "Seppuku" would be a contender for a real list of all-time best melodramas.
It's starting to look like I will manage to list all the movies I watch in a year, though I lost my file for the first two weeks of August and its backup was corrupted. I again saw many movies, including some great Japanese ones and some good American noirs.
Jottings on them chronologically by their initial release years:
For me Tod Browning has always been the maker of "Freaks" (1932), but before making that and the 1931 Bela Lugosi "Dracula," Browning directed 57 silent movies. What is generally considered the best of these, The Unknown (1927, 4.3 stars) is one of the many deeply twisted, obsessional loves that Lon Chaney played full-throttle. In "Unknown," he does not have heavy makeup but is playing an armless knife-thrower in a one-ring gypsy circus in Spain. The owner's daughter is his assistant, and the knifes reveal a young Joan Crawford in bikini (the bottoms of which reach over her navel). As usual, the ingenue whom Chaney loves is unaware of his hopeless passion. and he goes through agonies as a more conventionally handsome man (Norman Kerry) wins the prize he desires. Every turn of the plot is obvious far in advance, but this lack of suspense does little reduce the horror of what the viewer knows is going to happen. It is almost as good as "Laugh, Clown Laugh" and "He Who Gets Slapped," other Chaney tragedies in circus milieu. (A wonderfully restored print of this long-lost movie with a very effective contemporary techno musical score is available as part of the "Lon Chaney Collection." Some scenes may be missing, but the main arc of the plot is very, very clear.)
Strangers May Kiss (1931, directed by George Fitzmaurice, 2 stars) is of some sociological interest as a representation of the 1930s vision of a fallen woman (Norma Shearer, left by the cad played by Neil Hamilton whom she chose over the charming one played by Robert Montgomery. Other than her skin-tight Adrian gowns, there is nothing sexually graphic on display, but such sexual abandon was blocked from American movies a few years later, making this (and "A Free Soul" for which Shearer won an Oscar in another binge of lovers and hysteria) a document. As drama, it seems silly and more than a little turgid.
The Bachelor Father (1931, directed by Robert Z. Leonard, 3.2 stars ) by contrast is at least mildly entertaining, with Marion Davies showing her comedic flair. She plays one of three adult children (a bland Ray Milland is another) who are summoned to the estate of an aging English lord (C. Aubrey Smith) who in his wild youth impregnated three different women whom he did not marry. The movie is mostly a drawing-room stage comedy in which the old geezer is melted by the brash New Yorker daughter.
Son Of India (1931, directed by Jacques Feyder, 2.9 stars) is a piece of Orientalist kitsch, with Mexican) Ramon Novarro (the original Ben Hur) playing a South Asian of varying fortune but a commitment to gratitude even above one to love (to Madge Evans). Novarro was a silent-era star who could talk.
Daybreak (1931, also directed by Jacques Feyder, 2.8 stars) is a piece of pre-Code froth involving a playboy Austrian officer. Ramon Novarro, who was remarkably boyish at the age of 32 and had more of a Spanish accent than I noticed in the other two 1931 MGM vehicles for their Mexican American star (plus their Swedish one in "Mata Hari") played Lt. Willi Kasder. Helen Chandler was almost as dull a match for Novarro as Madge Evans in "So of India" (though neither was much bound by conventions of propriety for unmarried women). The movie was based on a novel by Artur Schnitzler, but lacks the edge of the author. (C. Aubrey Smith appeared in both of these Novarro movies, too, in this one as a crusty Austrian nobleman colonel.)
Rockabye (1932, directed by George Cukor, 2.4 stars) could have been a good romantic comedy judging by the great scene in which Constance Bennett wakes up to her bedroom filled with balloons and Jobyna Howland (as her mother) intimating that Joel McCrea is trying to steal her earrings, but, alas, the movie is primarily a weepie about losing a child (June Filmer, whose lack of charm makes her loss something to shrug off).
One-Way Passage (1932, directed by Tay Garnett, 3.3 stars) is a peculiar combination of tearjerker romance and comedy. Before becoming the debonair detective Nick Charles, William Powell played a succession of very gallant criminals, including "Jewel Robbery" also with Kay Francis. She was at the height of her career in 1932 (Trouble in Paradise) and did not fare well after the Production Code banned representations of adult sexual relationships. In this outing, she played a terminally-ill woman trying to get back form Hong Kong to die at home, and he is playing a fugitive being returned to be executed for murder. (Is this a tear-jerker set-up or what? They'll always have Honolulu, but for them "always" is going to be a matter of days...) The comedy is supplied not by Powell or Francis (both of whom could do comedy in general and arch repartee in particular) but by Aline MacMahon and Frank McHugh both of whom play characters who are adept pickpockets among their other criminal skills.
Fashions Of 1934 (1934, directed by William Dieterle, 4 stars) is a romp through the haute couture business (Depression? What Depression?) with William Powell finding new cons (first knocking-off Paris fashions, then launching a revue to restore ostrich feathers to fashion, then opening a chic Parisian store) aided by a young, blonde, and initially pert Bette Davis. She was already smoking a lot. (For once, William Powell was not putting away streams of alcohol.) The delirious production number with the ostrich feathers and a whole lot of buxom blondes in bikinis (showing navels and cleavage) waving them was directed by Busby Berkeley. The "legitimate" businessmen are every bit as conniving and unscrupulous as Powell, with none of his charm and ease.
It's difficult to believe that Riptide (1934, written and directed by Edmund Goulding, 3 stars) was once seen as scandalous. It was approved by the new Hollywood censorship office and began a line of many movies in which marriages are preserved (in contrast to the pre-Code Shearer vehicles in which the infidelities of her husbands sent the wife off to a live of debauchery). Robert Montgomery played one of the alcoholic charmers he excelled at playing, Herbert Marshall the stuffy husband who did not believe his wife when he should have (so that the husband is still responsible for the wife's going off). The soap opera played out against art deco sets with Shearer in a succession of striking Adrian gowns (though not as skin-tight as in her pre-Code adventures). Sternberg's (1932) Shanghai Express did the male surrender (and too-late trust of a woman once devoted to him) far better with a whole lot more going on.
For a screwball comedy Theodora Goes Wild (1936, directed by Richard Boleslawski, 4 stars) is a fairly staid screwball comedy. It picks up when Theodora Lynn (Irene Dunne) flings off her respectability, reveals that she is the author of a steamy best-seller, and turns the tables on Melvyn Douglas, the Big City sophisticate (Melvyn Douglas) who had been the screwball urging her to cut loose, but is very discomfited when she does so (or appears to do so). Dunne and Douglas went on to play in more imaginatively directed vehicles (The Awful Truth, My Favorite Wife, Ninotchka) and Spring Byington played many more addled and hypocritical busybodies. (It was a surprise to see that the movie was based on a story by Mary McCarthy.)
Who knew that Joan Crawford and John Wayne would always have Paris to remember in a movie made the same year as "Casablanca"? Reunion In France also has African American musicians and a storyline about getting someone away to combat the Nazi occupiers. (1942, directed by Jules Dassin, 3 stars). The plot of "Reunion" is very complicated. And it involves some very implausible casting. Joan Crawford is convincing as a clotheshorse, but is completely unconvincing as a Frenchwoman and French patriot. John Wayne's role is that of an American (from Wilkes-Barre, PA), who appears nearly midway through the movie. That someone who worked so hard to stay out of danger during World War II was playing someone so eager to get into danger that he joined the RAF in 1940 is ironic. (It's also odd that he was lent to MGM for a part that could have been played as well or better by many of its own contract players.)
The stars don't have much chemistry together. (Sparks of an entirely nonromantic kind jump between Crawford and the Paris Gestapo commander played by the similarly very American John Carradine.) That there was an organized French Resistance in 1940 is also counterfactual. The ease with which the Gestapo could be outwitted was a staple of wartime American movies, including Above Suspicion in which Crawford also starred, "To Be or Not to Be" and many others.
Crawford got to turn back into a shop girl (spurning the easy life of a collaborator's mistress/fiancée), but already had a house (even if it had been commandeered by the Nazis) and a closetful of haute couture (in which Wayne nestles). I'm not sure if reducing the amount of padding in the shoulders of jacket (padded with dollars) is an inside joke at the Crawford look.
From Dassin's wartime studio movies. I much prefer the jaunty and sentimental comedy about Robert Young and other GIs billeted in a English manor haunted by Charles Laughton ("The Canterville Ghost," which has little relations to Oscar Wilde's story). There is plenty of propaganda in both, but none remotely interpretable as communist. "Reunion" has less wit than one might expect from a Joseph L. Mankiewicz production (but, then, he did not write it). Franz Waxman provided generic movie music for the enterprise (incorporating "Frère Jacques" and "Le Marseilles."
Goupi mains rouges (["Red-Handed" Goupi is a character and the red hands are literal descriptors not a metaphor; an American title for the movie is " It Happened at the Inn"] 1943, directed by Jacques Becker, written by Pierre Véry, 3.8 stars) is a (dark) comedy, with a dollop of romance to go with the jealousy of a displaced suitor, with touches of a murder mystery or two. Although made during the Nazi occupation of France, the movie thoroughly subverts the mythologization (by French fascists as by their German and Italian equivalent) of the countryside as the homeland of virtues.
The urbane Parisian, Eugene Goupi (Georges Rollin), summoned to meet his father and his father's brothers, a nattily-dressed Parisian is the innocent compared to the wily and resentful relatives he had never before met. Despite incessant internal squabbling, when confronted by the state (in the form of a policeman), the warring Goupis come together to present a united front of denial. Indeed, they are a more effective gang than the one in Becker's later (and greater) Casque d'or.
The country folk are far more concerned with the emergence of a new calf than the arrival of the son of the owner of the inn, and what he finds in the deserted house sends him fleeing again (having already fled the hut of the uncle who picked him up from the train station).
There is a famous scene (a clip of which I had seen before) of "Tonkin" (a former infantryman in French Indochina played by Robert Le Vigan) is treed (whether also freed is open to interpretation).
Perhaps for its rural locale as much as for the sinister doings in the countryside, With Friends Like Harry. I guess the two movies are also about finding out who may be trusted. There is some twisted humor in "With Friends Like Harry," but that movie verges on being a horror movie, whereas the Goupis are more like the eccentrics in "Cold Comfort Farm."
I saw "Groupi" in a series, "French Cinema Under the Occupation" curated by director Bertrand Tavenier, whose 2002 movie "Safe Conduct" portrays French film-makers during the Occupation. According to Tavenier, "'Groupi' subverts the theme of return to the landone dear to the Vichy regime." "Groupi" is an ensemble piece, like Becker's last movie, Le Trou, but unlike the two other Becker movies available on DVD. Tavenier praised the "splendid camera work [of Pierre Montazel] that is never too formal." There are some formal tableaux, but they are not held long; there is lots of cutting within every scene.
He Walked by Night (1948, credited to the otherwise undistinguished Alfred Werke, though Anthony Mann supposedly took over directing it without being credited; it definitely showcases the genius of Mann's recurrent noir master cinematographer John Alton, 4 stars). It is one of the quasi-documentary movies about mobilizing state of the art technology and dedicated agents to put dangerous criminals out of business (usually with bullets). In this instance it is the LAPD frustrated by but doggedly seeking to find a psychopathic loner with no criminal record played by Richard Basehart. It's black and white in more ways than one, with none of the moral ambiguity essential to cinema noir. What is noirish are two attempts by the police to catch the murdering thief.
The pedestrian cop whose shoe leather eventually leads to finding Roy was played by Scott Brady (best known for playing the Dancin' Kid in Nicholas Ray's delirious "Johnny Guitar). I remember Richard Basehart from watching the tv series "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" during the mid-1960s. A decade earlier he memorably appeared in two Fellini movies, "Il Bidone" and the masterpiece "La Strada." During the 1950s he also played Ivan Karamazov in Richard Brooks's adaptation of The Brothers Karamazov and as Ishmael in John Huston's adaptation of Moby Dick. One of his last roles was as the Soviet ambassador in Being There.
Too Late for Tears (1949, Byron Haskins, 3.5 stars) is a not particularly visually stylish noir that has archetypal performances by noir regulars Lizabeth Scott and Dan Duryea.
It's hard to believe that American Guerrilla in the Philippines (1950, directed by Fritz Lang, 3 stars) was made after World War II. I guess it was MacArthur propaganda for the Korean War, as much as it resembles movies made during WWII in portraying Americans as omnicompetent and Japanese as brutal but incompetent (yeah, I know that "Bridge on the River Kwai" did the same for the British seven years later still). Aside from Lang's interest in technology, the movie is of interest because it was filmed in color in the Philippines, and for a quite good performance by Tyrone Power (who fought in the war, unlike chicken hawks of that day such as Ronald Reagan and John Wayne who evaded serving in the real war while being heroic in reel simulacra).
The Verdict (1950, directed by Don Siegel, 4 stars) provided Sidney Greenstreet a very meaty role (as a disgraced Scotland Yard chief inspector) and Peter Lorre an amusing neurasthenic one. A crisp revenge/whodunit movie with no particular visual flair, but with very satisfying acting.
Kansas City Confidential (1952, directed by Phil Karlson, 4 stars) is a very hard-boiled cops and robbers flick with a noirish look and the noir atmosphere of duplicity, complicated betrayals, and moral confusion that defined the genre (along with being filmed in black and white). The movie deserves high marks for plot ingenuity. As Bill Jones noted, the movie goes soft literally in the last minute.
The Key (1958, directed by Carol Reed, adapted and produced by the heavy-handed Carl Foreman, 3.5 stars) combined an outstanding naval action movie (particularly the final tugboat/submarine duel) shot by Oswald Mosley with mystical mumbo-jumbo and an impossible role for the young Sophia Loren as a numb coffee-maker for doomed captains (including Trevor Howard and William Holden).
La Commare secca (1961, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, 3.5 stars) is not much of a whodunit but is a visually stylish neorealist slice of Roman life showing a day and a night of suspects in the murder of a prostitute. Bertolucci's fast start continued with "The Spider's Stratagem" and "Before the Revolution," greater and more clearly Bertoluccian films.
Vincente Minnelli's movies usually had some visual flair and loving attention to set decoration (e.g. "The Reluctant Deubtante", Gigi). They often also had a mix of wooden and over-the-top performances and tediously complicated back-stories. Two Weeks in Another Town (1962) is a movie about not-very-nice people making movies. It is much less entertaining trash than "The Bad and the Beautiful" in which Minnelli directed Kirk Douglas a decade earlier. Claire Trevor supplied the harridan excesses as the wife of end-of-his-tether director Edward G. Robinson (delivering the worst performance I've ever seen of his). Kirk Douglas and George Hamilton veered between somnambulistic and extremely histrionic, while the romantic leads, Cyd Charisse and Daliah Lavi, seemed to be embalmed. Leslie Uggams has a song in what seems to be a Hollywood hallucination of a brothel. And there is a ludicrous fast drive with Douglas at the wheel. When the tyrants is struck down, egos are put aside and the whole gang pitches in and cooperates so the show can go on, though the movie (within the movie) that they are shooting seems even more pointless than "Two Weeks" is. (1.6 stars)
Seppuku ("Harakiri," 1962, directed by Kobayashi Masaki, 4.8 stars), is a bit too long. It takes a while to get going, but becomes enthralling (if more than a little horrifying), and all too relevant to organizational dissembling in other times and places than Pax Tokugawa Japan ca. 1630. Like Kobayashi's excellent and excruciating Human Condition trilogy, the movie's convincingness depends on the great Nakadai Tatsuya (who also played the gunslinger in "Rashomon," the police detective in High and Low, and the central roles in Kurosawa's last great historical movies, "Kagemusha" and "Ran"). Samurai Rebellion, in which Nakadai played an important part, but (Toshiro) Mifune played the central role akin to Nakadai's in "Seppuku" is not quite as horrifying (it is similarly withering a critique of the bushido code that the humiliated heroes live and die by). As the younger ronin Akira Ishihama is also extraordinary. The alternation of Toru Takemitsu's haunting, spare music and lack of any background music is very effective and the visual compositions are very impressive (as in Kobayashi's even greater Samurai Rebellion" which has even more geometrical). The suppressions and explosions of emotion are very Japanese, as are the seppuku rituals, the glorification of suicide, and the rigidly frozen assemblies. A forbidding masterpiece, but definitely a masterpiece.
Porcile (Pigsty, 1969, 2 stars) is Pier Paolo Pasolini's most opaque movie and one that rivals "Salo" in disgustingness. It was the last of Pasolini's movies to be released in the US for good reasons.
"L'Argent de poche" ("Pocket Money," titled Small Change though "Loose Ends" would be my title for it, 1976, directed by François Truffaut, 2.8 stars) is rambling if fitfully engaging (sit-com-like) piffle about Theirs schoolboys capped by a sermon supposedly given to the children but unlikely to be comprehensible to them. I didn't find the return to childhood magical, as some have, and the whole is less than the sum of its parts. (I did enjoy the girl who gets the neighbors to feed her after her parents leave her home to punish her for her petulance, although I sympathize with their frustration.)
"Narayama bushiko" ( Ballad of Narayama, 1983, directed by Imamura Shohei, 4.7 stars) seems to me to run on too long (130 minutes). Set in 19th-century Hokkaido, the movie shows a mountain village in which any population increase would lead to starvation. Those who reach the age of 70 are taken up a mountain to die, so that the young may eat. Orin (Sakamoto Sumiko, who puttered around talking to her dead husband in the form of a large goldfish in Imamura's (1966) "The Pornographer") is very eager to do her duty, though she is still able to work (and better than anyone else around at catching fish). Tatsuhei (Ken Ogata, who played Yukio Mishima in Paul Shrader's biopic and the father in Peter Greenway's "The Pillow Book") is reluctant to end her life. Life is harsh for the humans and for the prey of hawks and owls. (Carrion-eating crows are abundant and frequently shown, too.) The movie contains some gorgeous nature photography counterpoised to the representation of the harsh culture. The sex is brutish (naturalistic rather than realist) rather than bawdy as in some later Imamura movies. Even carrying his bother on his back to Narayama, Tatsuhei is somewhat sentimental, but Orin is determined to make a good death on schedule before winter begins. Their trip is particularly scenic (the movie begins and ends with helicopter shots of a village blanketed in snow in a mountain valley.)
Colonel Redl (1984, directed by Istvan Szabo, 4 stars) showed again what a great actor Klaus Maria Brandauer was. The quite opulent production provides a background for an interesting take on the supposed treason of the model officer of the Hapsburg army and the maneuvering of the heir apparent, Archduke Franz Ferdinand (very convincingly and nastily played by Armin Mueller-Stahl, another formidable German actor). The film seems to me to take for granted knowledge about the Hapsburg Empire in its last years that few Americans have, though the dynamics of the basic intrigue does not require it. Redl's sexuality is more a cypher than in John Osborne's homophobic "A Patriot for Me." The Austro-Hungarian army was very homosocial, and Brandauer's Redl exhibits some feelings for males and females, but is primarily devoted to work (whatever sublimations that might indicate). It does seem to me to run on a bit longer than necessary.
"Sinnui yauwan" (Chinese Ghost Story1987, directed by Ching Siu-Tung, 2.7 stars) has a reputation as a classic that puzzles me. Smooth-faced Leslie Cheung showed that he could do comedy (doomed romance he showed he could do in many movies), and there is some deft wire work, but the horror components are unimpressive.
My Antonia (1995, directed by Joseph Sargent, 3.4 stars) has ultra-green summers and bleak, snowy winters in Nebraska, with Jason Robards and Eva Marie Saint as grandparents of Neil Patrick Harris's (Doogie Howser. M.D.) portrayal of Jimmy Burden, Willa Cather's alter ego in her novel, loving but never having a Bohemian emigrant girl (Elina Löwensohn). A bit slow, and Harris lacked charisma, but the made-for-tv movie is lovely to look at.
Phantom Lover (1995, directed by Ronny Yu, 3.8 stars) is plenty romantic, but much less a horror movie than various western versions of "Phantom of the Opera." As musical Romeos, Leslie Cheung and Huang Lei are fine as actors, less satisfactory as singers (and Cheung's songs are unimpressive).
Unagi/The Eel, 1997, directed by Imamura Shohei , 4.7 stars), adapted from the novel Yami Ni Hirameku (Sparkles in the Dark) by Yoshimura Akira, is quirky movie about guilt and redemption with many comic touches and an antihero (Yakusho) who prefers his eel (which never tells him what he doesn't want to hear and always listens to what he says) to humans, though humans persist in taking an interest in him
"Hai shang hua" (Flowers of Shanghai, 1998, directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien, probably the world's most overrated director, 1.6 stars) is a deadly movie about prostitutes in Shanghai "flower houses" of the 1880s. There is not a close-up or a long shot or a tracking shot in the nearly two hour running time, nor any exteriors. In each scene set in a brothel chamber, the camera pans back and forth, so that the speaker is sometimes not even in the frame (the camera is moving towards him or her). As boring as the movie is to watch, I wondered how the charactersboth the prostitutes and the patronsavoided dying of boredom, even with opium on which to float. (The transfer of the exquisite gilded images to DVD is not impressive either.)
Capt. Pantoja and the Secret Service (2000, directed by Francisco J. Lombardi, 4 stars) is not as funny as the Vargas Llosa novel (few things are!) but is quite funny. It shows how formal rationality digresses from substantive rationality as Captain Pantoja's organization abilities are applied to providing prostitutes to troops in the Amazon jungle. Salvador del Solar is superb as the efficient captain and there is some striking location photography.
"I want to be you"/ Infernal Affairs, 2002, directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, 4.2 stars) builds slowly (and confusingly with small English subtitles flashing very briefly) has police/gang moles played by Tony Leung (similar to his earlier role in "Hard-Boiled") and Andy Lau (similar to his later role in "The House of Flying Daggers") trying to identify each other (and hold on to their identities contrary to their roles). I don't really see that as a justification for making it so difficult to sort out the police from the drug runners in the big set piece confrontations. (The Chinese title means "No Way Out" which is a metaphor for eternal hell with continuous suffering. Like Melville's "Le cercle rouge" this drama is framed by Buddhist sutra quotations.) Living a lie wearies both leads. The long-played false role eventually engulfs one of the two and the other is shot.
I wish that the neo-noir comedy Testosterone (2003, directed by David Moreton, 2 stars) worked. Sonia Braga in haute couture is entertaining as the mother who has whisked her son Pablo (Antonio Sabato Jr.) back (from LA) to Buenos Aires and duty, away from his lover (of ten months) a graphic novelist played by Dean Seagrave (David Sutcliffe). Speaking no Spanish, he follows and attempts to reclaim his great love. A major problem is that this great love he is supposed to feel is not apparent (though Dean is not the first person to lust after Antonio Sabato Jr.) A second is the incredibly complicated relationships between Dean and another of Pablo's former lovers, Marcos (Leonardo Brzezicki) and Marcos's sister Sofia (Celina Font) who implausibly helps Dean (for reasons that escaped me if they were alluded to). The movie could have used more Sabato and Brzezicki and Dario Dukah nudity (Dukah plays a randy bellboy in the Buenos Aires hotel where Dean lands), more Jennifer Coolidge (she plays Dean's agent), but most of all needed a more plausible story line(/s). A more likable protagonist wouldn't have hurt either. I enjoyed the deleted scenes and macabre alternate ending on the DVD.
Better Luck Tomorrow 2003,. made on a shoestring by Justin Lin, 3.3 stars) is a sometimes amusing movie about overachieving and remarkably unsupervised Southern California Asian American teenagers. No parents, no teachers, no bosses (for the lead character who, for a while has a fast-food job), no police attention (for many crimes) or DEA agents, no chaperones (for a scholastic competition in Las Vegas?!), and (for four of the five main male characters) no morals... and too many would-be epiphanies. In an impressive ensemble cast, Parry Shen (as Ben Manibag) does the heaviest lifting, including narration. And although Karin Anna Cheung's part is underwritten, but she makes it memorable. Is the movie a wake-up call? Well, hopefully to those making decisions about funding Asian Americans to make movies.
Beautiful Boxer (2003, written and directed by Ekachai Uekrongtham, 4.2 stars) has much of the formulaic sports triumph movie mixed with a sensitive portrayal of a boy, played by Thai kick-boxing champion Asanee Suwan, seeking gender realignment surgery. Besides fine acting all-around, it has ravishing cinematography by Choochart Nantitanyatada.
A Home at the End of the World (2004, directed by Michael Mayer, 3.8 stars)review coming some day.
Ray (2004, directed by Taylor Hackford, 3.7 stars). In addition to two exceptional performances of the title role (C.J. Sanders as the child and Jamie Foxx in as phenomenal impersonation of the adult one) , this movie has many fine supporting performances and lots of music. I found the childhood scenes riveting (despite their phony look), but the movie goes on for far two long (more than two and a half hours) and only covers the first half (the down and dirty half) of the long and successful life of Ray Charles. The hallucinations of water didn't work for me. However, the business aspects were particularly well dramatized.