Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Potiche @ Venice

Premiering next week at the Venice Film Festival, new Ozon, Potiche.

Monday, 30 August 2010

The Illusionist (L'Illusionniste) (2010)

The Illusionist (L'Illusionniste) (2010), Slyvain Chomet’s latest animated feature, is a quieter, more melancholic affair than his debut film, the wondrous Belleville Rendez-vous (2002). But it has a similar quirky charm, a magic touch that casts a spell over the viewer. Magic, as it turns out, is one of the new film’s concerns. Based on an unproduced Jacques Tati story (and there's lots here for Tati buffs to enjoy), the movie’s focus is on a Tati-esque protagonist, the illusionist of the title, who’s plying his trade in a remote Scottish hamlet when he meets a young girl, Alice, who believes that he really has magic powers. The pair set off for Edinburgh where the Illusionist, Alice believes, will have more opportunities to practise his art.

Chomet’s distinctive animation style, with its mixture of elegance and grotesquery, captivates throughout The Illusionist. The movie is the best argument for hand-drawn over computer animation that you’re likely to see this year. The city-scapes of late 1950s Paris, London and, especially, Edinburgh are stunningly, lovingly rendered. Dialogue is minimal and, mostly, mumbled; Chomet’s physically expressive characters certainly don’t rely upon language to communicate. The central relationship between Alice and the Illusionist is presented with tenderness, but without sentimentality. Chomet’s concern is with the passing of time, and, in particular, changes in entertainment and cultural tastes; the Illusionist’s art, it’s made clear, is being superseded by flashier pastimes, by cinema and rock n roll.

The Illusionist isn’t exhilarating in the way that Belleville Rendez-vous was, and at times it has the (to me)slightly frustrating quality of Tati’s work: almost really funny, but not quite. Even so, Chomet’s style has its own great off-hand wit. And what the movie lacks in Belleville-esque exuberance it more than makes up for in soul. One of the year’s best.

Heartbreaker (L'arnacoeur) (2009)

Alex (Romain Duris) is in the break-up business: he’s a professional “couples-splitter” who, along with his sister and brother-in-law, is employed by rich parents to stand in the way of their daughters and undesirable beaux. The snag comes when Alex is assigned to romance Juliette (Vanessa Paradis), a wine expert who’s engaged to a Brit that her father dislikes, and finds himself falling for her for real.

Pascal Chaumeil’s enjoyable romantic comedy bounds along infectiously; it’s no great shakes but a fun entertainment: daft, glamorous, and, by, current Hollywood rom-com standards, quite classy. The director's approach certainly can’t be called subtle, but the interludes of broad, slapstick comedy are well-judged. The performances add to the charm, though the characters never become too conventionally likeable. Paradis gives an engaging, understated performance, and having brooded for Bretagne in films from The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005) to Dans Paris (2006), it’s fun to see Duris cut loose with a full-on physical comic turn here. Chaumeil exploits the actor’s silly side that surfaced now and then in Moliere (2007), and offers some amusing, parodic riffs on his previous performances, too. (He's also spectacularly coiffured and styled throughout.) A US remake of Heartbreaker is in the works, though it’s interesting to note how the  cultural references in this version are all British or American, not French; a stand-out sequence has our couple recreate the central dance scene from Dirty Dancing (1987). The Polish audience with whom I saw the film seemed to enjoy themselves, appreciating in particular a comic sequence in which Alex’s brother-in-law masquerades as … a Polish workman.

The Mammoth Movie Meme: Day 31

Day 31 - Scene that made you stand up and cheer - Strictly Ballroom (1992)

Am I stuck in the early 1990s for these final selections, or what? No matter. “Lee-sen to the ree-them!” Scott (Paul Mercurio) and Fran (Tara Morice) take to the floor in Strictly Ballroom’s (1992) joyous, emotional finale.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

The Mammoth Movie Meme: Day 30

Day 30 - Saddest death scene - Leonard Bast (Samuel West) in Howards End (1992)

In James Ivory’s magnificent film of Howards End (1992), the death of Leonard Bast (Samuel West) feels as swift and brutal, as shocking yet inevitable, as it does in the novel. Still, for me, the moment that moves the most occurs a few seconds before the death itself, when Leonard steps into Howards End for the first (and last) time, and sees Margaret (Emma Thompson). “Miss Schlegel, Mrs. Wilcox, you’ll have forgotten me.” “No, Mr. Bast, I have not forgotten you.”

The Mammoth Movie Meme: Day 29

Day 29 - Movie you have watched more than ten times - Paradise (1991)

Aside from Home Alone (1990) - my first big film obsession - Mary Agnes Donoghue’s Paradise (1991) was the film that I returned to most throughout the 1990s. An adaptation of Jean Loup Hubert’s Le Grand Chemin (1988), in which a city boy (Elijah Wood) stays with his mother’s grieving friends (Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson) for a summer, it’s still one of my favourite films of all time, a movie that I recall with tremendous affection and pleasure. What I responded to in Paradise as a 12-year-old is hard to recall precisely, but I certainly remember feeling that this was a movie with characters that felt totally authentic to me, characters that I could relate to, whose problems and concerns echoed my own. I loved the film’s sense of intimacy, its look, its flow, its deep compassion and sly moments of humour. I see Paradise now as a transitional film, in the sense that it bridged the gap between kids movies and adult cinema for me; indeed, the gaps and parallels in adults and children’s emotional experience of the world is one of the film’s themes. Donoghue handles the material with delicacy, wit and tenderness, and gets from her four principal actors (Thora Birch plays Billie, who befriends Wood’s character) some of their best ever moments on screen. After her beautiful work here, it’s a shame that Donoghue never got the chance to direct another movie. Still, at least there’s always the opportunity - one I intend to take up quite soon, in fact - to return to Paradise.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

The Mammoth Movie Meme: Day 28

Day 28 - Most Over-hyped Movie

Since “hype” is pretty much  the default mode of 21st century culture, there’s no shortage of candidates for this category.  These days, so many cultural products arrive in an oppressive publicity and marketing blitz that serves less as an incentive to consume them than an inducement to head for the hills to avoid them. Despite fierce competiton, Avatar (2009), James Cameron's bloated, tedious Pocahontas rip-off , just takes the prize for me. Altogether now: "We will blast a crater in their racial memory so deep they won't come within a thousand clicks of here ever again!" Ouch.

Friday, 27 August 2010

The Mammoth Movie Meme: Day 27

Day 27 - Best villain

Robert Patrick’s morphing, mutating T-1000 in James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). Certainly the most formidable Nanomorph mimetic poly-alloy assassin the screen has ever seen.

"Are You Happy Now?" by Richard Shindell

"Cinderella checked her watch..." Not long to go now until Shindell's UK shows.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

The Mammoth Movie Meme: Days 24-26

Day 24 - Quote you use most often

Well, I can't say I use it all that often but in the marvellous Mr. Fields’s “Godfrey Daniels!” you have an exclamation to suit all occasions.

Day 25 - A movie you plan on watching (old or new)

Derek Jarman’s Edward II (1991) is by the player.

Day 26 - Freakishly weird movie ending

Less freakishly weird, perhaps, than charmingly odd:  Alain Resnais’s wonderful Wild Grass (2009) goes loop-the-loop.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The Mammoth Movie Meme: Days: 21-23

Day 21 - Favourite romantic couple -

Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung - In the Mood for Love (2000)

Leung and Cheung as the thwarted lovers in 1960s Hong Kong. Sumptuous visuals, Nat King Cole on the track; very, very special.

Day 22 - Favourite final scene/line -

“Nada es sencillo” (“Nothing is simple”). Sadness and hope fuse in the perfectly judged finale of Talk to Her (2002), at once an ending and a beginning.

Day 23 - Best explosion or action scene  -

Well, "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker!" Bruce on the loose in Die Hard (1988).

Tuesday, 17 August 2010


Lightening the mood...

The Mammoth Movie Meme: Day 20

Day 20 - Favourite kiss

Nicole Kidman and Viggo Mortensen - The Portrait of a Lady (1996)


"[T]he next instant she felt his arms about her and his lips on her own lips. His kiss was like white lightening, a flash that spread, and spread again, and stayed, and it was extraordinarily as if, while she took it, she felt each thing in his hard manhood that had least pleased her, each aggressive fact of his face, his figure, his presence, justified of its intense identity and made one with this act of possession. So had she heard of those wrecked and under water following a train of images before they sink. But when darkness returned she was free." - Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

James rewrote the final encounter between Isabel and Caspar Goodwood in later drafts of The Portrait, creating a much more intense and erotic conclusion to Isabel’s journey. Jane Campion evidently took note: “Kissing and the absence of kissing are central to this story.” In her superb adaptation of the novel, and never more so than in its stunning final moments, Campion comes up with intoxicating visuals to match The Master’s prose. Kidman and Mortensen’s brilliant performances and  Wojciech Kilar's extraordinary score help too.

The Mammoth Movie Meme: Day 19

Day 19 - Best movie cast

John Sayles’s Sunshine State (2002). Like Robert Altman (whose Nashville [1975], A Wedding [1977], Cookie’s Fortune [1999] or Gosford Park [2001] were serious contenders for this category) Sayles’s egalitarian approach to story-telling means that a large cast really gets used in his movies. One of Sayles’s friendliest, loosest and most immediately likeable works, Sunshine State takes place in a Florida beach community under threat from developers, and performers both young and old, established Sayles collaborators and new faces (Timothy Hutton, Edie Falco, Ralph Waite, Angela Bassett, Mary Steenburgen, Mary Alice, Gordon Clapp, Jane Alexander, Bill Cobbs, James McDaniel) all get moments to shine. I’m always happy to spend time with these wonderful characters, each drawn and played with sympathy and depth.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Review: Le Refuge (Ozon, 2010)

The cinematic equivalent of a perfectly constructed short story, François Ozon’s magnificent Le Refuge (2009) is a film distilled to its essence. Awarded the Special Jury Prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival, it is, I think, one of Ozon’s finest, most fully realised movies, a work that will mean as much to some viewers as Under the Sand (2000) and Time to Leave (2006) have come to mean over the years. Like those films, Le Refuge is a movie that you can’t help but take personally. If you respond to it, it’s at a very private, intimate level, as a very personal statement indeed.

While it’s easy to admire some of the more flamboyant, satirical manifestations of Ozon’s genre-hopping - and the fact that you never know what kind of film you’ll get from him next - it’s notable that much of his most enduring work has been on a small canvas, one that still allows plenty of space for the subversive, perverse undercurrents that are his trademark. The provocative “red thread” that Jeanne Moreau has identified as uniting Ozon’s diverse output is present in Le Refuge, in a subtler hue than ever, to be sure, yet still unmistakeable.

The sober, minor-key mood of the new film certainly evokes that of the “first-person” dramas cited above. But in terms of content Le Refuge more properly belongs to the “duet” strand of Ozon’s output (Regarde La Mer [1997], Swimming Pool [2003]), focusing as it does upon the relationship between two characters in a confined, domestic location. Following the death of her boyfriend, Louis (Melvil Poupaud, briefly resurrected from Time to Leave), from a heroin overdose, a young pregnant woman, Mousse (Isabelle Carré), retreats to a country cottage owned by a former lover to assess her feelings about her survival and her pregnancy. (Louis’s mother is adamant that she should abort the child.) There she’s joined by her boyfriend’s brother, Paul (Louis-Ronan Choisy), passing through on his way to Spain. A few other characters come and go - the most significant being a boyfriend for Paul. But Mousse and Paul’s growing intimacy is the central focus of Le Refuge. It’s an odd, makeshift partnership that’s among the most “functional” yet depicted in Ozon’s cinema, which is more usually given to merciless critiques of the paradigm of the couple.

The central relationship develops at a steady, believable and pleasing pace, and, shooting in HD for the first time, Ozon presents it with simple, unadorned elegance. The movie is as pure and economical, yet as full of feeling, as the piano ballad that Paul performs for Mousse. (Choisy, a composer and singer, wrote the piece on set.) Even so, the film demonstrates Ozon’s uncanny ability to bring tension to his scenes, and to twist them in unpredictable directions: there’s a marvellous sequence in which Mousse decides to go home with a man with a pregnancy fetish.

Admirers of the director will also enjoy spotting resonances to his other works throughout, both in terms of major themes (motherhood, mortality, loss, the fluidity of sexual orientation) and small moments: scenes set on the beach, a wonderful dance sequence, a challenging look to camera. (Then there’s the film’s ending which suggests the conclusion of Regarde La Mer reshaped for catharsis rather than terror.) Yet these elements never seem tired or regurgitated; rather, the film feels fresh, spontaneous, organic. Ozon seems to have responded intuitively to what the performers have given him here (indeed, the movie stems from his stated desire to film Carré’s pregnant belly), and Carré and Choisy reward him with compelling characterisations that nonetheless tap into the core of opacity which seems central to the director's conception of human personality.

In return, Ozon films his actors with a tender, frank regard that is utterly disarming. No director I know is better at conveying what it feels like to inhabit a human body, or at capturing sensual experience on screen. (A scene in which Mousse lies in the bath, touching her stomach, could be by no other filmmaker.) Less overtly sexual than much of the director’s output, Le Refuge still exhibits Ozon’s concern with the vagaries of desire and sexual identity, and his camera can’t help but caress all that it looks upon. When Mousse and Paul end up in bed together it feels like a totally natural development, an inevitable consequence of the affection and caring that has developed between the characters, and another small step on their parallel journeys to working out their futures after loss.

Ozon is sometimes charged with solipsism, but there’s a bracing tenderness and compassion to his work here that defies that accusation. Ultimately, it’s the movie itself that’s the refuge, inviting the viewer into a quiet, contemplative space in which to observe these characters, their problems and their interaction, without judgment. You may find that you emerge from the film thinking about your own life, your dilemmas and decisions, what to embrace, what to renounce.

Gainsbourg (2010)

Joann Sfar’s  deluxe biopic of Serge Gainsbourg is consistently enjoyable and inventive without ever becoming completely satisfying. The movie’s subtitle – “Vie Heroique” - implies hagiography, but Sfar’s approach is, thankfully, quirkier and more idiosyncratic than this suggests; among the movie's more surreal conceits is to have its Gainsbourg (the superb Eris Elmosnino, from Father of my Children [2009]) pursued by a chatty alter ego, “The Mug” (Doug Jones, of Pan's Labyrinth [2006]), who externalises his doubts about his appearance. The film romps through some of the major incidents in the singer’s controversial life with style, wit and insight, though its rhythm is curiously "off" in some sequences, which arrive without notice and depart without follow-through, and may reflect Sfar’s directorial inexperience. (A particularly weak scene captures a record promoter’s eyebrow-raised chagrin as he listens to "Je T’aime... Moi Non Plus" - but the wider response to the recording isn’t documented.)

Elmosnino’s performance is a phenomenon, though, and one that holds the movie together. There’s good support from Laetitia Casta, who, as Brigitte Bardot, gets the most memorable movie entrance in some time, and from the late Lucy Gordon as Jane Birkin. Though the film is nowhere near as radical (or as successful) as Todd Haynes’s I’m Not There (2007), it’s endeavour to move the biopic out of its comfort zone is admirable. Sfar makes no claims to definitiveness throughout - indeed, he’s stated that he constructed much of the film out of Gainsbourg’s “lies.” The result is a patchy but dynamic and entertaining piece of work; the movie’s eccentric, haphazard approach matches up well with its subject.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Bruno Cremer (1929-2010)

Indelible (both to the viewer and to Charlotte Rampling's Marie) as Jean, the absent-yet-present spouse in Ozon's melancholy masterpiece, Under the Sand (2000).   

The Mammoth Movie Meme: Days 13-18

Day 13 - Favourite animated movie

Beauty and the Beast (1991). Quoth Elaine Showalter. “She wants adventure and he wants commitment; he holds a mirror and she hugs a book. Beauty and the Beast was the first feminist Disney film, a liberated love story for the ’90s [that also] gave the musical a new lease of life … But I bet there are nights when Beauty looks at her prince and misses the Beast who got away.”

Day 14 - Favourite film in black and white

It’s almost impossible to choose. But one which never, ever loses its appeal to me (and also because Hitchcock really needs to cameo on this list about now)  is The Lady Vanishes (1938). 

Day 15 - Best musical

Frank Oz's Little Shop of Horrors (1986). From Rick Moranis’s delightful nebbish to Steve Martin's unforgettable appearances, and of course the great, witty, sometimes touching songs, there are few musicals that give me more pleasure than Little Shop of Horrors. And I for one am happy that they don't get eaten at the end.

Day 16 - Your guilty pleasure movie

Tom Holland's Child's Play (1988), which terrified me as a kid and still does, quite a bit. Or  David Seltzer's irresistible Shining Through (1992), in  which Melanie Griffith’s intrepid, movie-schooled secretary Linda infiltrates Nazi Germany. Mein Gott!

Day 17 - Favourite series of related movies

These days, I'm not sure that I have one. But a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, it would have been the Star Wars films.

Day 18 - Favourite title sequence

I've blogged briefly about the wondrous opening sequence to Jackie Brown (1997) before and would put it in a tie with Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia (1999).    

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The Prince of Homburg, Donmar Warehouse

The Donmar Warehouse’s current show (running until 4 Sept) is a production of Heinrich von Kleist’s 1811 play The Prince of Homburg in a new version by Dennis Kelly and directed by Jonathan Munby, who previously scored a big hit at the Donmar with his production of Calderón’s Life Is A Dream. The protagonist of Kleist's play is the young Prince Artur (Charlie Cox) - a young man given to sleep-walking and “in love with the moon” - who falls foul of the Prussian military when he disobeys an order at the Battle of Fehrbellin and finds himself court-martialled by the Elector of Brandenburg (Ian McDiarmid) and facing death for insubordination - this despite the fact that his reckless action resulted in victory for Prussia over their Swedish enemies.

The play might seem something of a museum piece, but, thanks to Kelly’s supple, poetic translation, an austere, uncluttered design by Angela Davies and the intimacy of the Donmar’s great space, it has moments of power and insight, allowing Kleist’s nuanced critique of the military ethos to resonate clearly. The strongest moments pit the Prince against McDiarmid’s Elector, a father-figure to the young man, who, nonetheless, proves a stickler for the military’s philosophy of discipline, order and rule. There’s a marvellous theatrical daring to McDiarmid’s performance here, and he gives the proceedings a shot of energy every single time he appears.

Critics have complained about Kelly's addition of an altered ending that changes the meaning of the play. But for audiences unfamiliar with the original text, the production’s principal flaws are a slight lack of fluidity and some erratic performances. As the Prince, Mr. Cox (who was the hero in Matthew Vaughn's Stardust [2007]) holds the attention through sheer matinee-idol handsomeness; he works hard and looks every inch the dashing romantic prince. The performance ultimately proves solid rather than exceptional, but he does have one memorable, affecting sequence, when pleading desperately for pardon to the Elector’s wife (Siobhan Redmond). Some of the supporting roles lack definition and are performed without distinction, though Redmond, David Burke and Harry Hadden-Paton each work well with what they have. Still, the evening ultimately belongs to McDiarmid, whose wily and continually surprising performance is easily the best reason to see this show.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

"Tattooed Love Boys" by The Pretenders

"A good time was guaranteed for one and all..." You said it, Chrissie.

The Mammoth Movie Meme: Days 7-12

From running behind to leaping ahead - though not as far ahead as the venerable Mike Lippert at You Talking To Me? who’s already completed the whole thing [http://mikesyoutalkingtome.blogspot.com/2010/08/movie-meme.html]; days 7-12 of the Movie Meme.

Day 07 - Least favourite movie by a favourite actor or actress

Notes on a Scandal (2006) - Judi Dench. The spectacle of the divine Dame Dench playing "bad" as the portentously named Barbara Covett seemed like a revelation to some people, who, presumably, had the actress pegged as a sweet old dear and weren't familiar with her often harsh and always uncompromising performances elsewhere. Within  Notes on a Scandal's  limited schema Dench gives a consummate performance, but one that, for me, doesn’t redeem Patrick Marber’s clumsy script ("You've done my brain in") or Richard Eyre’s tendency to make everything obvious, right down to an embarrassingly predictable and TV movie-ish ending in which Barbara moves on to her next potential victim. Most problematic of all, though, is the film's pretty ruthless pathologising of an older, single woman as an object of pity and fear.

Day 08 - Movie that should be required high school viewing

Both Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Julie Taymor’s wild Titus (1999) offer a good counter to the "Shakespeare is boring" argument, I've found. 

Day 09 - Best scene ever

There’s only one viable way to answer this one. A glance at my DVD library … The first film that catches my eye  is Vincent Gallo’s Buffalo 66 (1998). OK. So … Christina Ricci’s tap-dance in the bowling alley to King Crimson's "Moonchild". Is the best scene ever. Official.

Day 10 - A movie you thought you wouldn't like but ended up loving

Tony Gilroy's Michael Clayton (2007) exceeded my expectations in every way. George Clooney’s seemingly endless bid to atone for Batman & Robin (1997) has resulted in “serious” films of dull worthiness (Good Night and Good Luck [2005]) and epic confusion (Syriana [2005]) but Michael Clayton deftly avoids those traps, offering smart, taut, gripping and thoughtful entertainment from beginning to end.

Day 11 - A movie that disappointed you

WIth the exception of Ivan's Childhood (1962), I'm afraid that every Tarkovsky film I've seen so far has disappointed me. Watching his movies stoned must really be the only solution.

Day 12 - Best soundtrack/background music in a scene

Throughout Wonderland (1999), Michael Nyman's gorgeous score, by turns exuberant and melancholy, adds magic and lyricism to Michael Winterbottom’s gritty London images.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Blue Eyelids (Parpados Azules) (2007)

There are suggestive, magical undercurrents to Blue Eyelids (Parpados Azules), Ernesto Contreras’s debut film. Dubbed an “anti-romantic comedy” by the director, this strange and engaging little movie charts the courtship between two individuals in Mexico City. The timid Marina (Cecilia Suarez) is a factory employee who wins a holiday for two in a competition at work. Lacking anyone to accompany her after a falling-out with her sister, Marina runs into Victor (Enrique Arreola), a former schoolmate. She invites him on the vacation but the film's focus is not the trip itself. Rather it's a series of dates that the pair go on in order to get to know each other better prior to the holiday.

Blue Eyelids is gentler in tone than much contemporary Mexican cinema; in some ways, it’s a movie that feels oddly out of time. I kept expecting the film to turn funnier or wilder than it actually does, but Contreras seems content simply to observe his two characters as they meet in a park, a bar and (in the film’s best sequence) a cinema. The result is an affecting, wry portrait of urban isolation and the challenges of connecting with others. Suarez and Arreola make an oddly appealing duo, and though the movie is rather underpopulated, its visual richness and well-judged soundtrack more than hold the attention. The film’s pace and framing may put you in mind of Aki Kaurismaki and Tsai Ming Liang's work at times, while its scenes of social awkwardness occasionally evoke early Mike Leigh. But the sensuous, dreamy ambience is all Contreras’s own.

Friday, 6 August 2010

The Mammoth Movie Meme: Days 1-6


I'm running behind on the 31-day movie meme that’s going around for this month. Here are my choices for the first six categories.

Day 01 -Sequel that should not have been made

Sex and the City 2 (2010). I consider it a technicality that I haven’t actually seen Sex and the City 2. Given the marketing and promotional blitz that made this movie pretty much unavoidable a few months back it really, really feels like I have seen it. Furthermore, enough people whose judgment I trust blasted this femininity-as-drag-show, feminism-as-consumerism freak-show to convince me that it’s an apt choice. The biggest mystery, though, is why on earth they went to see it in the first place.

Day 02 - Movie that you think more people should see

I’d be very happy if more people saw  Rage (2009), Sally Potter’s acute and soulful multi-vocal meditation on corporatism, celeb culture, work, the Internet and much more besides. An urgent, resolutely contemporary film that’s also, I believe, one for the ages.

Day 03 - Favourite recent Oscar-nominated movie

Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon (2009). I don't think it's Haneke's best or most profound movie by any means, but the stealthy control of pace and atmosphere make it a singular experience, and one that’s hard to shake off. However, if we’re talking Best Picture nominees only, then I vote Up (2009).

Day 04 - Movie that makes you laugh every time

Well, how to choose between Bringing Up Baby (1938) and All About Eve (1950), The Naked Gun (1988) and The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), Never Give A Sucker An Even Break (1941) and What About Bob? (1991) - and so many more? So instead I’m going to pick a movie that practically no one else likes but that seems to me to get funnier every time I see it: James Foley’s Who’s That Girl (1987). A Bringing Up Baby throwback down to its mischievious cougar named Murray, Foley’s film is usually derided as one of the Madonna movies that viewers should avoid at all cost. Well, don’t believe it. From its witty animated credit sequence to its madcap wedding finale, this boisterous screwball cartoon is terrific fun. Madonna’s performance is inventive and quirky, even as it riffs on a history of cinema icons; Griffin Dunne scales delirious heights of comic desperation as the stuffed-shirt who’s liberated by her (he’s never funnier than when surveying a ruined Rolls and yelping “There was a Patagonion Felus in here!!”); and there’s also a gem of a performance from Haviland Morris (of Sixteen Candles [1984], Gremlins 2 [1990], and, all-too-briefly, Adam [2009]) as Dunne’s ostensibly demure fiancee who, it turns out, has been “had” by cab-drivers all across New York. Add to the mix two bungling henchman, a John Mills cameo in the film’s lovely middle section, and a few witty, well-aimed pot-shots at American class and social politics, and you have a delightful comedy. Now, there must be more closeted Who’s That Girl fans out there... Mustn’t there?

Day 05 - Movie you loathe

Inglourious Basterds (2009). Its superb opening sequence notwithstanding, Tarantino’s offensive amalgam of Jewish revenge movie, revisionist WWII fantasia and cinephilia self-indulgence seems to me to have been misconceived on almost every level, a folly on a grand scale.

Day 06 - Movie that makes you cry every time

George Miller’s Lorenzo Oil (1992), especially the scene in which Susan Sarandon’s Michaela, holding her sick and suffering son in her arms, gently tells the boy to give up his struggle for life. A moment of heart-wrenching poignancy, directed with care and sensitivity, and impeccably performed. Runner-up: The Sixth Sense (1999), for the scene in the car between Toni Collette and Hayley Joel Osment near the end.

For your pleasure: Rage's great trailer.