An insufferable movie snob wanders off the beaten track, comes back and talks about what he has seen.
My Week of Movie Watching
February 17, 2015
All Night Long – This 1962 entry from Brit Basil Dearden was a nice discovery. The action all occurs over one night at a surprise anniversary party for a famous black bandleader (Paul Harris) and his ex-singer wife (Marti Stevens). An unscrupulous drummer (Patrick McGoohan) plots to break up the marriage so that the wife can join his new band. This film is built upon the plot of Othello, and is notable for the fact that inter-racial marriages are part of the story without BEING the story. This may also be the earliest example of drug use being depicted onscreen. Dave Brubeck, Charles Mingus, and John Dankworth all appear as themselves and contribute to a brilliant soundtrack. Highly recommended.
Killer of Sheep – This bargain-basement film from 1978 has gained a cult following over the years. It’s largely plotless – It is more a series of small vignettes laid end-to-end which illustrate everyday life in a poor black section of Watts. The central characters are a couple (Henry Sanders and Kaycee Moore) struggling to make ends meet on his meagre earnings from a slaughterhouse. Stan (Sanders) is morose, as he finds it impossible to get ahead. His wife worries about his depression, and the fact that he doesn’t seem to ever sleep. The scenes with the adults are intercut with scenes of their children playing, and of general community life. In addition, this is another soundtrack that is first-rate. It includes people like Little Walter, Elmore James, and Dinah Washington. Recommended.
The Double Life of Veronique – Strange and hard-to-penetrate 1991 drama from Krzysztof Kieslowski. Irene Jacob plays a double role as two characters (Veronika, a Pole, and Veronique, who is French). Both are talented singers, until one day Veronika drops dead during a performance. The film switches to Veronique, and then one day she gets a strange package containing links to her double. This leads to a meeting with a mysterious puppeteer. Double Life is fascinating, but is also somewhat frustrating, because it doesn’t tie everything together like the viewer wants it to. It’s never made plain what the puppeteer’s connection to the dead Veronica is. I guess I give this a recommendation, but it is a film that requires more than one viewing.