Friday, September 7, 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum, The Freshman, Trouble in Paradise

I apologize to one and all for not updating this blog, but work commitments have kept me busy. So rather than a long blog, here’s a quick rundown of some recent movie viewing of mine. I hope to get back on track next week and stay that way for a while.

I saw “The Bourne Ultimatum” over the Labor Day weekend and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Personally, I could do with less jerky camera movements but this is a very exciting film. I’ve enjoyed all three Bourne movies, and was especially impressed by its brevity. Director Paul Greengass takes his story through many cities and over several continents and still manages to bring the film in under two hours. Would that other directors take note of this.

I was also amused by Bourne’s invincibility throughout the film. I think when the series started the film’s producers were looking to make an anti-Bond film and show a more vulnerable spy. All well and good, but Mr. Bourne survives the many attempts on his life with a shrug of the shoulders and one especially grueling car chase where his car receives several hard hits, goes over a guard rail, falls several stories into several parked cars, and Bourne emerges from the car and continues the chase on foot. What a superman!

If they make a fourth Bourne movie, they might want to consider making him less Bond-like. Just a thought.

Rating for “The Bourne Ultimatum”: Three stars

I’m a big fan of Harold Lloyd, the silent film comedian and one of his most enjoyable films is “The Freshman” (1925), where he plays the title character, a likeable chap who’s so anxious to make himself liked by everyone in college that he becomes the campus laughingstock. There’s a football climax where he takes part in winning the game and it’s a lot of fun.

Between this, the Marx Brothers’ “Horse Feathers” (1932) and the classic Three Stooges short “Three Little Pigskins” (1936) I use to think that football and physical comedy were a match made in heaven. That is, until I saw Adam Sandler’s “The Waterboy” (1998), one of the worst “comedies” I’ve ever sat through.

Lloyd is probably best known today for the famous image of dangling from the hands of a clock in “Safety Last” (1923). It’s probably his most famous movie, but its not his best. Instead, I would opt for the aforementioned “The Freshman”; “The Kid Brother” (1927), a marvelous blending of comedy and sentiment; “Hot Water” (1924), which includes the famous segment where poor Harold wins a live turkey in a raffle and attempts to transport it home in a street car; and my personal favorite, “Girl Shy” (1924) with a chase sequence that is as exhilarating as it is exhausting.

Rating for “The Freshman”: Three and a half stars.

For a comedy masterpiece of another kind, I sat happily transfixed by the glorious “Trouble in Paradise” (1932) directed by the great Ernst Lubitsch. Two con artists played by Herbert Marshall and Miriam Hopkins take rich innocent dupes throughout Europe and are having a fine time until they decide to part wealthy Kay Francis from her jewels and Marshall begins falling for her.

83 minutes of pure joy. Any movie that has Edward Everett Horton and Charlie Ruggles as romantic rivals is just dandy with me. Robert Grieg has a memorable role as Ms. Francis’ butler who becomes more and more exasperated as the movie goes on. There are several scenes where he descends the stairs and makes all kinds of harrumphing noises. It’s hilarious the first time, even funnier the second time and screechingly funny the third time. I don’t think the noises change at all, but by the third time it happens I was on the floor.

I taped it off TCM, but its available on DVD on the Criterion label, and it’s definitely on my “To Get” list.

Rating for “Trouble in Paradise”: Nothing less than four stars.

1 comment:

Dees Stribling said...

Ah, Robert Grieg, the movie butler. And also chamberlain in The Adventures of Marco Polo, I believe.