Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

07 May 2008

I Have So Much Time!

Well, not really, but still. I wish I could spend every day watching at least one movie. It would be great.
I spent most of today painting the new roommate's room. His name is Ryan and he is an MFA director here and a very good friend. The last roommate Tim had done a little damage to the walls of the room, so it needed to be repainted and we spent the day painting it a lovely rich brown color called "Crunch Granola." We're all about the Earth.

BUT, I wanted to talk abut the movies I've seen recently, because there have been some good ones.

First off, I saw Jon Favreau's blockbuster Iron Man on Sunday morning for $4! And I really liked it. Those kinds of movies are not usually my kind of thing (Transformers, Spider-man 3, and even better ones like Casino Royale) because they don't have enough action in them. They get bogged down in sentiment and romantic subplots. The studios have also tended to cast very young actors in the parts lately, as well. And I lose interest when Superman and Lois Lane look younger than me. For my money, Iron Man fell into none of those traps. I thought it was nicely plotted, interesting, and never boring. There were about two minutes total of sentimentality. It wasn't always action-packed, but the times when stuff wasn't blowing up were filled with suspenseful moments and good acting. I liked this movie a lot. I know it made millions of dollars last weekend and hardly needs my blessing, but I think it deserves its millions. I'm a fan.

And a couple days ago I watched Edward Dmytryk's film noir (I've been on a kick lately) Crossfire. It's a kind of whodunit story where we know who the killer is after the movie is about half over. The rest of the film is about catching the bad guy: trapping him in his own lies. The film stars Robert Ryan, Robert Mitchum, Robert Young, George Cooper, and Gloria Grahame. What's cool about this film (from 1947) is that it's a movie about anti-semitism. Robert Young has this fabulous monologue near the end of the film that talks about hate and how it is like a loaded gun waiting to kill someone. I was worried that it was going to be preachy (like 1947's Best Picture winner, Gentleman's Agreement) but it's not; it's really great. I got a little teary-eyed during the speech, because it's about anti-semitism specifically, but it's also about homophobia or racism or prejudice of any kind that makes people hate one another instead of allowing people to live freely in the way they wish to live. Robert Ryan (who plays the film's main bigot) got an Oscar nomination for his work in the film, but Mitchum and Young are both great and Gloria Grahame is fabulous. My favorite performance in the film is a much smaller one from a much lesser-known actor, though. His name is William Phipps and he had a long career in television after this film, but his work in Crossfire is excellent and I wish he had made more films.

I also caught the great Lindsay Anderson's first film This Sporting Life, which stars Richard Harris as a British footballer who knows all the rules on the field, but can't seem to figure anything out off the field. It's a classic angry-young-man film and a really great one. I totally loved it.