Sunday, April 22, 2012

Citizen Kane (1941)

From a technical perspective I cannot praise it enough. This film is a cut above most. It's absolutely brilliant. The use of contrast in lighting, leading for particular characters to appear as silhouettes while others in the scene remained the same, was brilliant. The extreme camera angles to express distant relationships... And the camera being literally sat down in the floor at some points, looking up at powerful characters, or vise versa, having the camera look down at those more diminutive. All around, simply genius Cinematography, and filmmaking in general. Citizen Kane should be required viewing for anyone perusing the art of film, or those captivated by the beauty and magic of film in general.

On the other hand, the story itself left a lot to be desired, in personal opinion. *Spoiler alert* What most likely ruined my viewing experience was being aware that "Rosebud" had been the sled, which took the joy of mystery out of the film. Had this not been known, perhaps the ending would have been seen as a surprisingly bittersweet conclusion. This man had everything; money, power... yet these things could never buy back that which was lost. Those blissful childhood days spent out in the snow with Rosebud. Ah, the sentimentality! It's an amazing film, an intricately told storyline. But I prefer things to be much more Capraesque. Charles Foster Kane was an ambitious, bold and charming young man who spoke for the people... and we slowly watch, in a biographical format, as he deteriorates into a needy, egotistical, cold old rich man forever alone. It does not even have the merit of being a tearjerker sort of sad, it's just plain depressing.

What is impressive and admired, is that Orson Welles, in his mid-twenties at the time, had total control over this picture; from Directing, Producing, Writing and Acting. Not to mention, this was his first feature film!

Other info about this picture can be found at IMDB, and Wikipedia.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lord Love a Duck (1966)


I had watched this film for one reason, and one reason alone. That reason, was Roddy McDowall. Other than the fact he was in it, there were no other expectations. Though, I wouldn't have been disappointed had there been. This film, in my opinion, was magnificent.

Roddy plays Alan "Mollymauk" Musgrave... an extremely brilliant young man who finds himself madly in love with Barbara Ann Greene (Tuesday Weld), a fellow student at their school. Mollymauk promises Barbara Ann that he will get her anything she wants; sweaters, popularity, etc. And subsequently follows through with his word every time.

Regardless of everything Alan has already done for Barbara Ann, she has got her eyes set on Bob (Martin West). So once again, it's the cunning and charming Mollymauk who grants her the wish, and soon those two are hitched.

But when Barbara Ann wants to go have a screen test for a movie, her new husband disapproves... Which leads to her wanting a divorce from Bob. Mollymauk goes above and beyond just granting Barbara Ann a divorce... he's going to kill Bob. There are then many unsuccessful attempts made. Soon enough, Bob transforms from that arrogant schmuck you despise, into this really helpless, abused, pitiful guy, who you feel rather bad for.

It cannot be denied a huge part of what made this such an appealing and delightful film had been my extreme partiality toward Roddy McDowall. For us fans, Lord Love a Duck is definitely essential for viewing, as it's a wonderful vessel to show off his incredible talent. Mollymauk is as much lovable as he is diabolical. Truly, an absolute treat to watch.

That being said, this is certainly not a film for everyone. It's a dark comedy, and satire of popular culture from the then 1960's. You'll see the extremely dated, typical cheesy beach party scenes, and other odd stuff. From the perspective of someone who likes extremely corny, low-budget, terrible movies though, the addition of these hysterical elements are happily welcomed.

Other characters in this film include Barbara Ann's mother, Marie (Lola Albright) a self-deprecating cocktail waitress. And then there is Bob's eccentric mother, Stella (Ruth Gordon), who Alan turns into a boozer.

Yes, quite a wickedly lovely film, indeed.

Lord Love a Duck was Directed by George Axelrod... you may find the rest of the cast and crew credit, along with other info, at IMDB, or Wikipedia.