Tuesday, May 12, 2009

did I just see that?

I caught some of the Johnny Depp/Roman Polanski movie The Ninth Gate last night and tuned in just in time to see one of the stranger scenes, where Emanuelle Seigner flies to Depp's rescue on the banks of the Seine. The movies is adapted from just the supernatural aspect of a novel I really liked by Arturo Perez-Reverte, The Club Dumas.It made me think of some other movies that I have watched more than once because of a perplexing scene, performance, plot, or all of the above. These mysteries actually make the films more appealing - a riddle you can never quite decipher.

River Phoenix's performance and his interactions with Samantha Mathis make Peter Bogdonavich's The Thing Called Love something beyond a youthful romance picture. Ostensibly about young musicians trying to break into the country music scene (and there's some great music), the film really becomes a struggle to understand why this romance sometimes just won't, and sometimes does, work. I can never totally figure it out, and it seems, neither can they.

The Big Sleep and Beat the Devil are two puzzlers from Humphrey Bogart. Maybe not the greatest of his movies, but definitely enjoyable to watch him parry with his costars, especially Lauren Bacall and Jennifer Jones (pretending to be Vivien Leigh?).

I remember watching Elia Kazan's The Last Tycoon a few times, trying to work out why Robert DeNiro couldn't quite understand or hold onto an elusive girl. It's from an unfinished story by F. Scott Fitgerald, which might be a factor, but more, I think, this movie illustrates the elusive, temporary nature of all movies and why we come back for repeat viewings, to re-experience them. Sort of like reliving memories. Or past romances. It also has one of my favorite scenes about the power of movies.


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