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more quick shots

Posted by martinteller on August 25, 2014

By pure happenstance, I revisited two films from 1932 in the past couple of days, although they could hardly be more different.  The first was Dreyer’s Vampyr.  I still think the film is an absolute marvel when it comes to atmosphere, with such spooky and inventive camerawork by Rudolph Maté and a series of disorienting events.  However, I was slightly less enamored this time around.  While it’s not a movie that you enjoy for the narrative, there were occasional gaps in the plotting that were more confounding than enigmatic.  For example, the guys who run off to get the police are never heard from again.  Perhaps like all the other mysterious plot elements, it can be explained away as something supernatural, but at times it came off as sloppy.  Still, a terrific mood piece with glorious shots, a pinnacle of early horror.  Rating: Very Good (85)

The other 1932 rewatch was One Way Passage, which is such a dreamily romantic film.  Some onscreen couples work and some don’t, but man, the pairing of William Powell and Kay Francis here works like gangbusters.  Usually I like my romances to be built on a little more substance, but these two together makes me swoon.  Some of the bits with Frank McHugh (“Skippy”, the drunk pickpocket) are dumb, but also some of them are pretty great.  I had forgotten what a beautifully odd and ambiguous ending this movie had.  A simple film, but one with deep pleasures.  Rating: Great (90)

My viewing of the 1993 version of The Three Musketeers was, I believe, my first actual experience with the entire story.  I was a bit tipsy at the time, which probably made it easier to get into the fun of it.  And it is fun, although in retrospect I found that Kiefer Sutherland and Charlie Sheen did nothing for me.  For me, it was all about Oliver Platt and Tim Curry and (to a slightly lesser degree) Chris O’Donnell.  They were all pretty fun.  Sutherland and Sheen… meh.  A few of the one-liners fell flat with me, too.  Still, I enjoyed my time with it.  Rating: Good (70)

There’s no kind way to put this: Ella Enchanted is a steaming pile of shit.  Incredibly stupid pop culture references (some of which don’t even make sense).  Bad special effects, even for 10 years ago.  Plot holes you could fly a jet through as the film makes little effort to cohere to its own internal logic.  And the worst part is, it’s not a bad premise.  It’s just completely wasted on such unfunny, uncharming, idiotic pap.  You keep watching only to see what dumb thing will happen next.  Rating: Crap (22)

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