Okay, here we go, with Barb’s final picks for her (written-years-ago) movie list (now with added CRAFT sections for extra educational-ness):
Jane Fonda’s performance is one for the books. Anger, pain, hurt… she’s just so damned good in this neo-noir.
CRAFT: Seriously, look at Fonda and Sutherland’s performances. She’s a wild creature, hurt and wounded. He’s a stoic rock, ready for her waves to constantly crash against all she needs to crash– but he’s hardly unfeeling. They’re two great performances– but hers is much harder, and nonetheless greater, even if we factor out any bonus points for her having the harder job of it.
Interesting, original, and always entertaining Asian film. Almost impossible to categorize.
CRAFT: Look at the pacing! Look how they keep you interested at all times in what’s basically (kind of? basically?) a legal story!
A first. A contemporary feminist werewolf film. Scary, funny, and original.
CRAFT: Wow, such good acting from Bridget’s actress. But try to get the version where you get to watch the deleted scene where the girls’ mom is driving the car and reacts (to Bridget) about how Mom thinks that her daughters have been killing people (in a non-supernatural way, I mean) and that Mom still loves them and is determined to cover up for them. It’s maybe the best piece of acting in the movie, and that is saying a lot.
Tony Perkins’ best mental-issues-challenged character. Tuesday Weld is just plain evil (and hot as a furnace) in this film!
CRAFT: Seriously, the script is so good. And Weld is so good at acting it, and so is Perkins. They’re both scary believable and Perkins makes his character so likeable… and he’s so in over his head….
Strange French science fiction detective film from the 1960s. Neat.
CRAFT: Look at that cinematography!
Beautiful, sad, funny film about childhood. Unblinkingly honest in tone.
CRAFT: Look at that cinematography!
CRAFT: Look at the special effects! The light! The… I dunno, the color palette! They were like “we need to make people believe that this is what it might look like if you could get inside the inner reality of a computer program, so it needs to look and feel really different” and sure enough, thanks to technical wizardry, they pulled that off. It’s amazing that they did that, that well, in those days.
I’m an Auntie Mame nut. What more can I say?
CRAFT: Okay: look at the writing! Look at the writing! And then, more specifically, look at the characterization! What does this film say about snobs? About motherhood? About bigotry? About small-minded people? But it’s also so funny!
Cook and Moore do the Faust legend. Hilarious comedy by two former University lads…and you can tell. Clever clever and clever.
CRAFT: Look at the writing! But also, specifically, look at what it says about religion! Well, Christianity, especially… And, I suppose, also, about human nature… But I think the hardest job might be Dudley. His transition from the little underdog guy to the sophisticated smooth talker…!
—Band Of Outsiders
Idiosyncratic French neo-noir. Joyful instead of cynical, which is weird for a noir. Anna Karina is lovely as a rose in all of her films.
CRAFT: Look at that cinematography! But also, look how this film uses narration, how it breaks “the rules…”
Elaine May’s script, Williams and Lane, a nice message about tolerance. Sweet.
CRAFT: Look at the pacing! But better yet, look at the characterization! Okay, mostly just look at the loving couple at the heart of it all. It’s seldom that one sees that kind of portrayal of a couple who’ve been together that long. It’s quite different from a couple who’ve only known each other for a short while. But wow, acting-wise, the comedy that Williams and Lane also pull off…!
—Curse of the Demon
Mature, sophisticated British horror with a tip of the hat to Val Lewton horror films.
CRAFT: I guess the biggest piece of craft in this, to me, is that they have to sell you on an impossible idea, and how they do it… how they commit to it.
—David and Lisa
Mental patients in love. Deeply affecting, very watchable.
CRAFT: Oh, so lovable. Both our boy and girl do a very good job acting. Thematically so much in common with Pretty Poison, or so you’d think, but it’s really so, so different..
Bizarre film. I guess it’s in the suspense category, as it’s a nail-biter. Unique.
CRAFT: Good cinematography, good selling you a world where… the rules are just a little different…
—Freaky Friday (original)
Yeah, yeah, a Disney farce. But Barbara Harris and Jodie Foster are great in this film!
CRAFT: The best thing craft-wise is the acting. You forget that these two actresses’ characters have not really swapped minds. That’s hard! And they both really commit to it– although Jodie Foster was so emotionally mature at that age, I think Barbara Harris has the harder job.
—Grace of My Heart
John Turturro and Illeana Douglas make a flawed but interesting film into something great. They’re both incredible.
CRAFT: It’s good writing, and good acting! Probably especially on Illeana Douglas’ part.
—Love at First Bite
Slight, silly, but truly funny vampire farce.
CRAFT: Yeah it’s very silly, but it’s still kind of romantic and touching! The sillier it is, the harder it is to make it also romantic and touching, but they pull it off (enough)!
Robert Preston! He brings up the quality of anything he’s in.
CRAFT: Look at Robert Preston act! Okay, maybe he’s not acting, exactly. That’s just kind of what Robert Preston seems to really be like. But look at Alex Karras acting, as the bodyguard! He’s doing the most acting, I think, and he does a really good job of it.
Lovely liberal values! Great film. Hard to stop watching.
CRAFT: The pacing is good (though it’s easy to stop watching in the short time before Don Knotts shows up at the house). But Tobey McGuire does a good job, and Joan Allen does a very nice job as the mom.
—To Wong Foo: Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar
I can’t help it. I like this film. I can’t explain why, just that I like the characters, in spite of myself.
CRAFT: Talk about writing that gives you a lot of what you want. The shining(est) star, though, I think, has just got to be Patrick Swayze. Man, he’s good.
—What’s Love Got to Do with It?
One of the all time great bio-pics.
CRAFT: Wow, look at her act. That’s acting. Look at her. Seldom in the history of films has someone so yelled at the screen when a woman is finally pushed to fight back: “YEAH GET ‘IM, GET ‘IM, GET ‘IM AGAIN! GET ‘IM, GIRL!”
—What’s Up Doc?
On an objective level, this film is probably just failed neo-screwball comedy, but it was the first one I ever saw and I laughed a lot. If I hadn’t seen it, I probably wouldn’t have gotten into classic screwball comedies. Besides, I still watch it when it’s on TV.
CRAFT: Look at that writing! Look at the speed! This is another movie where trying to watch it at 1.5 would be too fast, and I don’t feel that way about most movies. And man, say what you will about him, but O’Neal has a very hard job of playing this straight man as stone-faced, and he does it very well…
—3:10 To Yuma (original)
This film is perfect and something a little different: a film noir Western with a villain you like as much (if not more) than the hero, in spite of his evil ways. Basically, it’s a psychological showdown between lawful good and lawful evil with a nice “will there be a shoot out or not” climatic scene. Great stuff.
CRAFT: The acting! The writing! It’s subtle! It’s powerful! Both the acting and the writing, I mean!
—The Brady Bunch Movie
—The Wedding Singer
Sure, neither of these films are likely to win any awards, but they’re both funny, sweet little pieces of pop culture that make me smile every time I see them. After all, this is a favorite movie list, not a best-films-I’ve-ever-seen list.
CRAFT: Okay first, it’s bizarre that Carol Brady turns out to be a role that Shelley Winters was born to play, but here we are. Same goes for Mr. Brady and Marcia’s actress. But also, the writing of both movies! And finally, wow, I find Drew Barrymore lovable, but she manages to be extra-lovable in this. It’s romantic! It encourages me to feel things, instead of trying to manipulate me into feeling what the movie wants me to feel! And the weird-period-piece elements of each film just… somehow never get tired?! Amazing!
Barb, asking about the three-part list you have just read: “…What’s on that old list, anyway?”
Park: (I take a deep breath and read every title really fast)
Barb: “…Wow, that was 2007. Half those things would be replaced by other things now.”
Park: “Wanna make a new list?”
Barb: “Ugh, I don’t have the energy. Maybe someday… I mean… there’s no giallo films! No Mexican horror! No Let The Right One In! No Trollhunter!”
Park: “You change a lot every year. You practically become a new person all the time.”
Barb: “Well I guess so!“
Okay, that’s it for now! Come back someday for Barb’s new-and-improved updated list!