Sunday, July 05, 2009

Viewing Log #1: Settling OK [6/24/09 to 7/4/09]

by Ryland Walker Knight


[I hope to make this a weekly feature, for me as much as for you, since it seems I'm able to watch a lot more over here, and I'd like to track my thought a little better than simply within my moleskins since, in theory, among other things, the internet is forever. And I don't want to use Twitter for this for some reason. I must say: watching all these, that is being this indulgent, has been super fun.]


  • Laura [Otto Preminger, 1944] Knotty and endlessly interpretable. One of those movies you can tell straight away is sure to be a classic. Also, the whodunit is hardly a hard puzzle, and that is hilariously on point.
  • Christmas in July [Preston Sturges, 1940] # Kind of perfect, and surprisingly pictorial for Sturges. Really appreciate both how prol-trumpeting and how brisk the picture winds up: luck is swift, and stretches beyond class; in fact, it may even leaves class behind. Perfect for the 4th.
  • Ishtar [Elaine May, 1987] Really doesn't deserve the bad rap. Elaine May is smarter than most movie people, especially the brand of comedy coming out of Ho'wood now. All her pictures are about the world, not just bedrooms.
  • Ma Vie Sexuelle... [Arnaud Desplechin, 1996] # (scattered twenty minutes) For fun, but chiefly for an image.
  • Daisy Kenyon [Otto Preminger, 1947] This made me sad. Dana Andrews is good, and Joan is something else, but Henry Fonda is spectacular. Also, I hate phones, too.
  • Public Enemies [Michael Mann, 2009] # Second time was better. More soon elsewhere.
  • Esther Kahn [Arnaud Desplechin, 2000] # (twenty more minutes) For an ongoing project.
  • Holiday [George Cukor, 1938] # Oh, I want that life. Cary Grant, man, is undoubtedly the best.
  • Transformers 2: Rise of the Fallen [Michael Bay, 2009] I said plenty, if not too much over here.
  • Marnie [Alfred Hitchcock, 1964] # (scattered hour or so) Was interrupted a lot. Its formal rigor still amazes me.
  • Rebecca [Alfred Hitchcock, 1940] # Too long, too talky. Still, some great stuff, as ever, but Selznick's fingers are felt too much.
  • Bonjour Tristesse [Otto Preminger, 1958] Simply fabulous. So wobbly and ironic. Nivens is too, too good for his own (the movie's) good. And Seberg... why hello.
  • The Passionate Friends [David Lean, 1949] Better than Brief Encounter. Yup, I said it. I mean, come on, this one has Claude Rains. Perfect for early AM grogginess and transitional sadness.
  • Esther Kahn [Arnaud Desplechin, 2000] # (maybe twenty minutes) For an ongoing project.
  • A New Leaf [Elaine May, 1971] # One of the great films, I'm fairly certain. Why can't there be more black as hell comedies? I'd like to write more about this one, and about comedy in general, and why the best ones organize money in complicated ways.


  1. I'm with you 100% on THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS, glad to find another fan.

  2. re: Christmas in July. The "surprisingly pictorial" quality is likely the result of opening up: the film is based on Sturges's unproduced play "A Cup of Coffee." The play was published a few years ago and is now widely available in libraries--I read it before watching the film and have to admit that I preferred some aspects of the play more, though anyone who reads it after seeing the film will likely find the play a much lesser work.