Weekly Round-Up: December 06-12, 2015

 

  • A Night to Remember (1958) – Considered by many to be the definitive Titanic movie, this drama tells the story of the ship’s fateful last hours from the perspectives of RMS officials and passengers of all classes. While visually impressive and there were several elements that clearly inspired James Cameron’s version, I found its narrative unfocused and couldn’t make an emotional connection. NOT RECOMMENDED.
  • Aparajito (1956) – This second film of the Apu Trilogy sees the Ray family relocated to urban Benares. Apu enters school and excels in his education, as his relationship with his mother grows in complexity. At once more joyful and more tragic than its predecessor Pather Panchali, I am very eager to see how Apu’s story concludes in the third and final film Apur Sansar. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  • Holiday Inn (1942) – Cute musical about a retired showman (Bing Crosby) who opens a Connecticut club open only 15 days a year – the holidays. Several memorable numbers (some for the wrong reasons) including the introduction of the classic “White Christmas” make this film RECOMMENDED.
  • Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997) – Offbeat comedy about two pals who pretend to be successful at their high school reunion. Driven by strong performances from the two leads (Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow) plus a dry sense of humor, it’s easy to see why this has become a cult classic. RECOMMENDED.
  • The Woman in Question (1950) – A sort of Laura meets Rashomon, this drama unfolds the mystery of a murdered fortune teller from multiple perspectives – both admirers and enemies. The keystone (the victim herself) is portrayed terrifically by Jean Kent, essentially playing multiple characters in the hyper-stylized flashbacks. Unfortunately, this movie loses steam about halfway through but the first half is wholly compelling. RECOMMENDED.

What did you see last week?

Bus Stop (1956)

Bus Stop is the wildly underrated story of two young people at a crossroads (both figurative and literal) in their lives. She is hustling from the Ozarks to Hollywood, and he is journeying from his native Montana down to Phoenix to become a rodeo champion. It also presents a powerful message on the growing feminism of the era and how it can coexist and even thrive within more old-fashioned ideas about gender roles.

He comes from a small town and has seen very few “gals” in his life. From the instant he sees Marilyn’s character, he falls instantly (and foolishly) in love with her and decides to make her his bride. She is flattered by his chivalry while also fearful of it; having only known men as semi-abusive clients, she is unable to deal with men who treat her well.

This seemingly perfect pairing deteriorates as their journey continues; his once-chivalrous ways become obsessive and she regrets having accepted his courtship. She asserts herself by denying herself to him, seeing him as an obstacle to her Hollywood dreams. To deter him, she cites her past of having “many boyfriends” as a foil to his pureness and virginity.

This conflict inspires one of the best movie lines of the 1950s. He reassures her that her past does not reflect poorly on her or his feelings for her. “I like the way you are, so what do I care how you got that way?”

The film is ultimately about compromise and sacrifice. Neither has exactly the future they had envisioned for themselves, but by the end they don’t see it as a sacrifice but rather a new future just as promising as their original dreams.

A bus stop is a single point on a greater journey. It is a place of interaction, collision, and reflection. After all the action takes place though, the trip must continue, progressing ever onward toward a better place.