Thursday, May 12, 2011

Two Movies

I like movies, and sometimes watch one twice or even three times. Here's two we watched in March of this year.

   High Noon (1952) [D: Fred Zinneman. Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly] This is one of the classics that holds up. If anything, it gets better every time I see it. Simple story of a sheriff who decides on his wedding day that he has to finish a job he started when he arrested a killer, who has been released, and is coming back for revenge. The one man who is willing to help pulls out when he finds out he’s the only one. The townsfolk back off from risking their lives, unwilling to accept that the killer and his cronies will destroy the town if they win. Cooper wins of course, and rides off with his bride, no doubt happy to leave the town to stew in its cowardice.
   The movie’s a fable, but it’s an unobtrusive one. The pace, the beautifully composed shots, the wonderful tonality of the black and white film, the use of natural sound, the haunting theme music, the conceit of making the movie exactly as long as the sheriff’s job, the desolation surrounding the town, the well-realised characters, all these combine to tell an astonishingly believable story. I’ve seen this movie at least three times that I can recall; I do not tire of it. ****

   The American President (1995) [D: Rob Reiner. Michael Douglas, Annette Bening, Michael J. Fox, Martin Sheen.] A love fantasy set in the White House, where widowed president Andrew Shepherd woos lobbyist Sidney Ellen Wade, while dealing with a reelection campaign. The plot is convoluted enough that a short summary is impossible, but the main line is clear enough: Boy meets girl, boy and girl have an affair, boy almost loses girl, boy and girl wed and live happily ever after. Well acted, competently paced and photographed, with just enough cliches bent off-kilter to provide freshness: we enjoyed this movie. Romantic love always gets me. I want to believe that everybody can be happy. The political games are well handled, too, and while they avoid getting too deep into the dirt and stay well away from the dark side, they feel true enough to make us believe the threats to Andrew and Sidney’s happiness, and how they resolve the ethical questions surrounding their relationship. **-½