SPAIN, JAPAN AND THE U.S.A – MORE SHORT TAKES

Rick’s Journal  (MY FILM CAREER)

The Spirit of the Beehive  –  Spain
Victor Erice
1973

Two young sisters in a remote Spanish village are affected in surprising ways after seeing the original American film Frankenstein at the town auditorium.  The theme eludes me, but the film is at least in part about its own mood and pace, its wondrous silence and its setting, marvelously captured in muted colors.  Reviewers greatly admire the performance of young Teresa Gimpera (the younger sister).  Beautiful and fine though she is, she is so young that I suspect that the performance is at least as much an achievement of editing (and directing) as of acting.

Miss Oyu   Japan
Kenji Mizoguchi
1951

A matchmaker sets up a meeting between one of her family members and an available bride; but the young man falls in love (at Western first sight) with the young woman’s older, widowed sister.  He does marry the younger who, suspecting his feelings for her sister, suggests, on their wedding night, a celibate marriage.  In the course of events the couple sees much of the sister to the point of a ménage à trois without sex.  I find this highly regraded film repetitious and overlong.  The acting is subtle, but I never really believed that the sister does not realize the trouble she is causing in the marriage; and I grew tired of the suffering of characters not especially likeable to begin with.

Me and Orson Welles  –  U.S.A.
Richard Linklater
2008
screenplay Holly Gent Palmo
from the novel by Robert Kaplow

This is a charming romantic comedy/drama (shades of Polonius).  Expertly crafted and acted, it is irresistible for anyone with interest in film or theater.  Claire Danes is very good, and Zac Ephron seems ideally cast.  In film biography of the famous, the key question is always to mimic or not to mimic.  Michelle Williams made no effort to mimic Marilyn Monroe.  Todd Haynes’ very concept for I’m Not There was presenting rather than mimic-ing Bob Dylan.  Here Christian McKay is thoroughly convincing as mad genius Welles, but I think it is a performance of superb mimicry rather than acting.

A good writer friend of mine considered Welles the most over-rated of all filmmakers.  She said, “He made one success and never finished anything else.”  This film, from a novel, has me remembering her comment.

Outstanding on current screens:  Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz and Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station.

NEXT FRIDAY POST December 6

Until then,
See you at the movies,
Rick

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