Monday, September 7, 2009

Five Movies in Five Minutes (3)

Anna Karenina (1935)

Anna Karenina (1997)

This may be like cheating (giving you only four of the advertised five), but I’m going to discuss both versions of this movie in one paragraph. I loved this book for Tolstoy’s ability to describe the psychology underlying a situation, except for the motivation behind the driving action of the book: Anna taking up with Vronsky. I know I may be alone in this, but I never bought it. The 1935 movie did not disappoint me in this respect, as I found absolutely NOTHING to recommend Count Vronsky, the inconstant playboy, to me, the viewer. The 1997 version at least had me believing that Anna was very much sexually alive and that Vronsky was worthy of her attention (mostly due to the onscreen presence of Sophie Marceau and Sean Bean, respectively). So I found their relationship plausible, which I never did in the book and which I saw as the fatal mistake Anna made. Still, this is quite possibly a book that a movie cannot do justice to. [no ratings, more like research]

Born Yesterday (1950)

Even though she is a slow-talker, Judy Holliday cracks me up. I loved her in Adam’s Rib, and only recently heard of this movie. It’s terrific! Miss Holliday plays a Billie, a dumb blonde gal pal of an overbearing, below-board businessman. When her dumb ways are seen as a cocktail party liability, her boyfriend hires a writer to educate her and show her the ropes of Washington, D.C. During the course of said tutelage, Billie finds that she is not only not dumb, but also in love with her new knowledge and with the man who helps her discover it. Great scenes around Washington, lip service railing against selfishness, but overall a really good movie. [8]

Born Yesterday (1993)

Okay, so now I'm down to three of the advertised five, but I just had to see what kind of impact the passing of 40 years would have on the story line. I expected the worst, but was pleasantly surprised. Melanie Griffith played Billie and Don Johnson, the wise newspaper man cum tutor. The Don Johnson character actually did a better job explaining to Billie that she, not he, was responsible for her education. For a remake starring the erstwhile Mr. and Mrs. Don Johnson, it wasn’t half bad. Edward Herrmann as the soul-selling lawyer was good too. [7]

(500) Days of Summer (2009)

Despite the title, this movie is not about the character of Summer, played by the impossibly adorable Zooey Deschanel, but about, Tom. Tom, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, falls in love with Summer and proceeds through the roller-coaster ride of their relationship trying to get it right. The movie seamlessly integrates the use of flashbacks, line drawings, fake movie vignettes within the movie, a fun song-and-dance sequence, a great sound track, and a consistently titled numbering of the days that the Tom shares with Summer. It is a comedy that addresses the real heartbreaking issue of a lopsided love affair and how one boy becomes a man by rising from the ashes.

Not only did I love the message of this movie (that one is responsible for one’s own happiness), I loved the way it was done. For me, it was a completely enjoyable ride. [9]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I very much enjoyed "(500) Days of Summer" as well. I noticed a lot of "Romantic" elements that made ordinary action very meaningful and gripping, such as the dance and bedroom scenes.