My Week of Movie Watching
The Crimson Rivers – 2000 drama from France stars Jean Reno and Vincent Cassel as a mismatched pair of cops who work to solve a couple of grisly murders in a secluded University town. This has been on my want list for some time, but I was a bit disappointed by it. Technically, it’s wonderful – The location is unique and creepy, and the acting and cinematography are for the most part first-rate. The problem is that the movie gives us this sensational set-up, and then the ending falls completely flat. After it was over, I still didn’t understand what had happened. The plot revolves around the denizens of this college, and how years of seclusion have let to the village becoming in-bred. There are vague allusions to Nazism, and a plan to genetically breed a new race, but those ideas are so badly articulated that I just gave up. Shame.
Angel Face – Terrific Noir from 1952 stars Robert Mitchum as a good-natured ambulance driver who gets involved with a shady heiress (Jean Simmons), then finds himself enmeshed when her wealthy step-mother dies in mysterious circumstances. On the surface this is almost a boilerplate Noir plotline, but I love what writer Frank Nugent and director Otto Preminger do with it. First of all, Mitchums Frank is not a naïve shlub in over his head; He pretty much sees what Simmons’ Diane is doing every step of the way. Diane is the ostensive Femme Fatale, but the film also twists in such a way to also make her the Noir protagonist: that is, she’s the one who experiences guilt and has to pay the final price.
Capricorn One – This film is from the 1970’s wellspring of conspiracy thrillers that also includes stuff like Three Days of the Condor and The Parallax View. All these movies require a certain suspension of belief, but Capricorn is really a lulu. It involves a conspiracy to fake a Mars landing while keeping the astronauts hidden away. When the actual unmanned rocket is destroyed on re-entry, the men need to be eliminated. James Brolin, Sam Waterston, and O.J. Simpson play the 3 astronauts, and Elliot Gould plays a nosy reporter who begins to suspect that something is up. The plot is interesting, but unfortunately, it’s got holes you could fly a rocket through. You just start to wonder why a government would go to all this trouble. Not really recommended.