RSS feed for Catherine
  • Vertigo 1958

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 01 Dec, 2014 2

    From Top Ten By Year: 1958 (#1): cinenthusiast.wordpress.com/2014/12/09/top-ten-by-year-1958-2/

    What do you even say about a film like Vertigo? What strikes me most upon revisiting is it’s the rare film (if anyone can think of others do let me know) that manages to retain its sense of eerie discovery. However well we know the narrative, its almost supernatural hold remains. The ‘mystery’ goes beyond story; it’s pumping in the blood of the thing. It is here that Hitchcock, the definitive deliberate…

  • Bonjour tristesse 1958

    ★★★★½ Watched 05 Nov, 2014

    From Top Ten By Year: 1958 (#2)
    cinenthusiast.wordpress.com/2014/12/09/top-ten-by-year-1958-2/

    I had been looking forward to seeing Bonjour Tristesse more than anything else on my watchlist. Turns out my hopes were not unfounded. After Otto Preminger launched Jean Seberg into uncertain fame with the much maligned Saint Joan, he put her through his tyrannical ways again with an adaptation of Françoise Sagan’s steamy and scheming coming-of-age novel. Teardrop stained minimalism courtesy of Saul Bass segues into the dour partying of a black-and-white…

  • The Tarnished Angels 1958

    ★★★★ Watched 22 Oct, 2014

    From Top Ten By Year: 1958 (#3) cinenthusiast.wordpress.com/2014/12/09/top-ten-by-year-1958-2/

    Douglas Sirk transports the stock players and the baggage of melodrama from the previous year’s Written on the Wind into desolate black-and-white territory with a longtime dream project; an adaptation of William Faulker’s Pylon. It’s about post-WWI identity but feels dislodged from time. Trading a suburban setting for death-defying airshow attractions, a pilot (Robert Stack), his wife (Dorothy Malone), and mechanic (Jack Carson) all live in a sort of lost haze where…

  • Bell, Book and Candle 1958

    ★★★★ Rewatched 15 Nov, 2014

    From Top Ten By Year: 1958 (#4) cinenthusiast.wordpress.com/2014/12/09/top-ten-by-year-1958-2/

    Shot after Vertigo, Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak reteamed for Bell Book and Candle, a supernatural comedy that retains Stewart’s obsession with Novak, but trades all of that torment for eccentric frothiness. In the film, Novak casts a literal spell on Stewart. Gillian works for herself, and owns her manipulations, regrets, and the circumstances that lead to her decision (I also love the novelty that someone like Kim Novak is convinced she…

  • Touch of Evil 1958

    ★★★★ Rewatched 10 Sep, 2014

    From Top Ten By Year: 1958 (#5) cinenthusiast.wordpress.com/2014/12/09/top-ten-by-year-1958-2/

    This refers to the reconstructed version of Touch of Evil, put together by editor and audio engineer Walter Murch, producer Rick Schmidlin and critic Jonathan Rosenbaum according to Orson Welles’s famous 58-page memo to Universal which details the ways in which (through both editing and sound) the studio chopped up his vision.

    There are only a handful of films that make me want to take a shower afterwards. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre…

  • Auntie Mame 1958

    ★★★★ Rewatched 19 Nov, 2014

    From Top Ten By Year: 1958 (#6) cinenthusiast.wordpress.com/2014/12/09/top-ten-by-year-1958-2/

    Why is it that the happy-go-luckiest film from this group is the most difficult to write about? Auntie Mame doesn’t impress so much as it does slap you silly with celebration. Don’t look too hard at those encrusted jewels and turbans or it all falls apart; luckily, the devil-may-care surface is the thing. It’s got a daring lack of conflict. When something major does happen, like, oh, say, poverty or death, it’s…

  • Murder by Contract 1958

    ★★★★ Watched 01 Sep, 2014

    From Top Ten By Year: 1958 (#7) cinenthusiast.wordpress.com/2014/12/09/top-ten-by-year-1958-2/

    An assassin who doesn’t like guns. Prepping over doing. Kicking your feet up and seeing the sights. Those who’ve seen Murder by Contract know how singular it is (Martin Scorsese is chief among them, citing this as a major influence), that it zags where others zig. Removed from almost everything going on in American cinema at the time, it’s a B-movie sunken in its own mellow groove even though the hit job…

  • Anna Lucasta 1959

    ★★★★ Watched 18 Oct, 2014

    From Top Ten By Year: 1958 (#9) cinenthusiast.wordpress.com/2014/12/09/top-ten-by-year-1958-2/

    As written, “Anna Lucasta” (inspired by” Anna Christie”) centers on a Polish-American family and an estranged daughter-turned-prostitute returning home. But it was originally performed and adapted by the American Negro Theater, opening in Harlem with an all-black cast in the 1940’s. Fifteen years and one Paulette Goddard film later, an adaptation of the African-American production was released.

    Nobody talks or writes about Anna Lucasta. Nobody seems to have seen it (it’s available…

  • Gigi 1958

    ★★★★ Rewatched 17 Nov, 2014

    From Top Ten By Year: 1958 cinenthusiast.wordpress.com/2014/12/09/top-ten-by-year-1958-2/

    Some Came Running, Vincente Minnelli’s other 1958 film, may have more meat on its bones, but Gigi is home to personally preferable Parisian frills. The many reasonable criticisms leveled against it play heavily into why I find myself so smitten with it. It is, overall, an admittedly inconsequential story. It’s a musical with nary a dance to be found (and let’s be honest, no real singing either). The protagonist is an impossibly rich…

  • The Babadook 2014

    ★★★★½ Watched 29 Oct, 2014

    "It is altogether rare when a horror film works as equal parts psychological character excavation and a genuinely scary piece of cinema (to be fair, not all horror aspires to both). In Jennifer Kent’s debut film The Babadook, the two are bone-chillingly inextricable by making a grief-ridden mother-son relationship the nucleus from which a storybook monster’s infiltration is born. Statements like this are not usually in my deck of words, but after seeing this heartbreaking and deeply disquieting tale of woe, it is hard to deny that The Babadook is the best horror film of the decade so far."

    Full review over at Criterion Cast: criterioncast.com/reviews/catherine-reviews-jennifer-kents-the-babadook-theatrical-review

  • Man of the West 1958

    ★★★½ Watched 08 Oct, 2014

    “When you were a boy?”
    “I don’t know what I was”

    I was considerably unprepared for Man of the West, the Straw Dogs of studio westerns — that is, if you replace the invaded home with a derelict barn that symbolizes a tense union between past and present. Twenty minutes in, Gary Cooper’s reformed criminal, Arthur O’Connell’s gambler, and Julie London’s dance hall girl wander off together after an unfortunately timed train robbery. I thought ‘oh lovely; it’ll be about…

  • The Big Country 1958

    ★★½ Watched 07 Oct, 2014

    A joint project with Gregory Peck (he and William Wyler produced) about what happens when a man challenges, through refusal to kowtow, the social norms of his environment. The two families-in-a-long-standing-feud story carries the kind of history stewing that befits a film of this scope. And what a scope. Shot in CinemaScope, Franz F. Planer drowns the characters in vista without, critically, losing the human intimacy that often evaporates when working in widescreen framing. Lots of Westerns showcase beautiful landscape…