Bring Out the Gimp

Musings on pop culture by freelance journalist Shawn Conner

Movies last week – Sexy Beast

Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in Manhattan Murder Mystery

Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993).

Also: Manhattan Murder Mystery, Inland Empire, Dr. Strangelove

Missed writing an entry last week, and barely awake enough to write an entry tonight, but here goes:

Dr. Strangelove (Netflix) – Watched last Sunday, inspired partly by watching 2001, which had been on TCM the day before. Everyone regards Dr. Strangelove as a masterpiece but I have my reservations. Still, there are some great bits, particularly George C. Scott – who for my money is just as funny, if not funnier, than Peter Sellers (Sellers is actually at his funniest when he’s playing “straight” – the British army officer and the President – as opposed to the caricature of Dr. Strangelove).

Inland Empire (library DVD) – Finished watching this after a false start last week. David Lynch‘s follow-up to Mulholland Drive is a bit of a slog – it’s three hours and makes little sense, and the tonal shifts are jarring (the bleakest, darkest scene might be followed by a song-and-dance routine). This is definitely for hardcore Lynch-o-philes, the fans dedicated enough to endure repeated viewing to parse the movie’s meanings (if there are any – sometimes I feel with Lynch the more you put into it the less you’ll get out of it; best just to let it wash over you). At least Mulholland Drive has its surface kicks – some really great, strong scenes; Naomi Watts. Inland Empire is much more impressionistic. Still, I’m glad I made it through – I feel like I’ve earned a merit badge.

Sexy Beast (library DVD) – Very happy to come across this at the ol’ library as I’ve been wanting to watch it again (maybe since seeing Ben Kingsley in Hugo over Christmas). Anyway, Kingsley’s performance as the thuggish Don Logan is what people remember most about this 2001 English crime movie, but it has myriad other pleasures, including Ray Winstone as a retired criminal, and a subtle portrait of a makeshift crime family living peacefully off their ill-gotten gains. It’s less a heist film than a character movie, and on that level it’s an unusual success.

Manhattan Murder Mystery (Netflix) – The actual murder mystery is kind of ludicrous, but watching Woody Allen and Diane Keaton as a (more or less) happily married New York couple is what really makes this 1993 minor Woody effort. That, and the hysterically funny scene with Allen fumbling with a cassette tape – maybe as funny as any other physical comedy he’s done. It also stars Angelica Huston and Alan Alda and, more weirdly, Joy Behar, Zach Braff and Aida Turturro (Tony Soprano’s sister).

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