I had a busy week of writing, editing, and indexing, so less time for films than usual. Nonetheless, I have three mini-reviews to share:
Arch of Triumph (1948): The second teaming of Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer offers a more complex and less effectively edited tale of France in 1938, in the last days before Nazi occupation. I can imagine it turned off audiences of the post-war era, feeling it perhaps “too soon” to relive this era. Nonetheless, I found the self-destructive characters powerful and I cried at the ending. For secondary roles, my biggest gripe is the poor casting of Charles Laughton as a Nazi (I’ve never seen him in a role I didn’t like until this), but Louis Calhern was quite charming as a Russian doorman. RECOMMENDED and keep the hanky handy.
The Brasher Doubloon (1947): I finally forced myself past the opening scenes of this lesser Philip Marlowe flick, and I’m glad I did. I got used to George Montgomery’s youth and found his square-jawed jauntiness delightful by film’s end. Nancy Guild is very B, but I also blame the script. The original Raymond Chandler tale (“The High Window”) is both simplified and twisted in odd directions, and the desire for romantic coupling means Guild’s character simply cannot play up her fear of men and inability to be touched. All it takes is a few “lessons” by Marlowe, and she’s putty in his hands. NOT RECOMMENDED, though I didn’t mind it.
Captain America: Civil War (2016): I’m not a fan of the Avengers movies for their sexism, lack of effective plotting, and constant violence. The films are certainly spectacles, and this new one won’t disappoint…if that’s all you’re looking for. I will praise the small bits of humor, the casting and character of Spider-Man, and that Black Widow (Scarlet Jo) finally got to do some ass-kicking to make up for the sexist offense that was Ultron. Honestly, I’m just bored of this configuration, of Captain America’s Reaganesque masculinity, of the fight-club atmosphere without the Fight Club insights into masculinity and homoeroticism, and the lack of narrative worth tuning in for. Maybe it’s partly that this is an election year, and the Cap feels like a RWNJ. If I give the film 7/10 stars, I’m being generous. NOT RECOMMENDED, but most of y’all will go anyway. (As for me, I’m waiting for the next season of Jessica Jones.)