Here are some brief musings on things I’ve watched recently:
Laura (1944) [pictured] – Otto Preminger’s Laura is currently enjoying a small re-release courtesy of the BFI. It’s a wonderful piece of cinema from 1944 that’s full of all the wit, intrigue and tight plotting that’s familiar from the best films of that period. Dana Andrews plays the detective investigating a murder, with all the suspects connected to a seductively likeable and beautiful woman named Laura (Gene Tierney). It sits somewhere between a noir and a melodrama, is expertly written, directed and acted, and is indeed very good.
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005) – Tommy Lee Jones needs to direct more movies. His only theatrical release as director is seriously brilliant. It’s very Cormac McCarthy, despite the author not being involved in any way. It’s best watched not knowing much about the plot, but it’s based in a tough world on the Texas/Mexico border much as McCarthy’s border trilogy is, and contains some of the dark humour found in the Coen brothers’ adaptation of No Country For Old Men, despite some quite heavy themes. Guillermo Arriaga infuses his original screenplay with a McCarthy-esque worldview whilst carrying over the clever narrative structures and themes of loss, longing and alienation from his previous work, which includes Amores Perros and 21 Grams. Jones directs superbly, with a hint of Coen brothers.
A Dangerous Method (2011) – On paper the combination of Cronenberg directing Mortensen and Fassbender in a film about Freud and Jung should work really well, but it doesn’t quite come together. The film feels quite flat, and doesn’t go anywhere really interesting or provide particular insight into their relationship. Fassbender has an affair with his patient (Keira Knightley), Freud gets a bit unhappy about it, Fassbender gets a bit annoyed that Freud is always relating things to sex, and they both talk quite a lot. Originally a stage play, it would have perhaps worked better in that format. As a film it lacks structure and emotion.