Bernardo Villela is like a mallrat except at the movies. He is a writer, director, editor and film enthusiast who seeks to continue to explore and learn about cinema, chronicle the journey and share his findings.
It’s late to be getting this post up, but I have been getting some Oscar nominated, so here’s the rundown. I will keep it update throughout the month. One my aims annually is to see 31 films and 100 nominations I had yet to see.
Most of the viewings so far have animated shorts on The Criterion Channel, they total four nominations (naturally) and one win. The win was Neighbours and very well deserved.
Windy Day (1968)
The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film(1959)
The feature viewing so far was
West Side Story(2021) and it’s absolutely spectacular from start to finish.
It’s funny how similar in conclusion and resolution this is to the other Kazan film I saw (Panic in the Streets above). Another thing that struck me is that it handles a lot of similar elements much better than the later The Town That Dreaded Sundown.
There are givens in this film: Julie Andrews is great, the intelligence of the dialogue that ensues regarding gender and sexuality is sparkling, the music is toe-tapping. The film is highly entertaining. I’m not sure if its part of the slapstick that the illusion of Victoria being Victor isn’t sold more say with more fitted clothes, shooting in black & white or any number of methods, but that does allow for some distraction in frequent buffering of your suspension of disbelief, wherein you have to convince yourself that most of the unseen masses in this fictional land buy the illusion. It’s a small thing that snowballs into a bigger one, but it’s still a good film that should be seen and discussed more than it is.
I, like many, have seen many a version of Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol it’s one of the Great Stories that we all become accustomed to and can analyze individual adaptations based on interpretation and choices more so than for the narrative itself. This version is a musical that is penned by the renowned Leslie Bricusse and for as closely as it sticks to the structure of the story for the most part offers as change of pace with songs, many of which were new. The songs are well-spaced allowing the drama to unfold adequately between numbers and also many are half-sung which lessens the theatricality of it. When watching 31 Days of Oscar I like to try and guess the nominations, if I don’t know them already and I guessed right on Art Direction and Song and was not surprised by the costuming being included. This is a very enjoyable rendition of the tale that ought not be overlooked.
This is a film that is pretty intriguing while its players are all fogbound in the airport and their disparate stories are interesting but when the story extends to a second day and incorporates another locale it loses steam and fast. I can’t say I guessed that this was a supporting actress win for Margaret Rutherford but it makes the most sense, however silly her character and plot-line were.
This film was not on Turner’s line-up this year. Instead I acquired it form the Warner Archive Collection. This film was out of print for sometime despite its brilliance and it being one of the rare films to win a young actor the Juvenile Award. Not only is it likely to be my favorite film of this month but it’s also one of the best films I’ve seen in quite some time. The set-up is simple: a boy who cries “wolf” once too often is witness to a murder and doubted at every plea for help and in danger because of it. If you didn’t know that this was based on a story by Cornell Woolrich you’d guess, it plays like a kids’ introduction to Rear Window and that’s not a wonder as the one of Hitch’s DPs (Ted Tetzlaff Notorious) directs here. Combine Woolrich brilliant story with a man who worked with the Master and you get something very close and a film so suspenseful you hope it’ll last. I’m not embarrassed to admit this film actually had me talking to the TV and shouting interjections at times that’s how into it I got. Yet all this is accomplished in a little over 70 minutes. It’s not a wonder this film also earned an editing nomination. Not a shot, not even a moment is wasted in this film. I’ve talked about this film more than most in this rundown and and I think you can see on and clearly I could go on. One could call many Academy decisions into question but Bobby Driscoll’s Juvenile Award is not one of them, not in the least. He is absolutely pitch perfect in this performance. It embodies all his abilities as a young performer yet all things are in service to the story it’s not a star vehicle per se.
Oscar Nominations/Wins: 1/0* (One academy award win for Bobby Driscoll as this film is cited for his Juvenile Award win). Score: 10/10
This is the first film of this year that landed with a resounding thud to me. To get too far into it would be too give to much away. Despite the fairly good narrative flow, likely the first great leading turn of Davis’ career and seeing a young Henry Fonda, anothr great Max Steiner score, I still didn’t like the movie much at all mostly due to the narrative and the handling thereof.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this film is the fact that it contains some really amazing sermons, which are even greater if cribbed from real life and more impressive. Now preaching is generally verboten in film, however, one exception is when your lead is a priest. Some of the thoughts conveyed are great and even applicable to current times, one reminds me of Stephen Colbert’s recent point about being a Christian country. It gets a little languid towards its inevitable conclusion but the cinematography is great as are some of the performances.
When I become familiar with a filmmaker part of my scoring indicates how the film fits on their scale. Hitchcock was the first director I started to watch religiously. I always avoided this film based on the description. It’s better than I thought it would be but still not what I’d recommend to anyone as where to start as a starting point. It is enjoyable though.
This is one of the more surprising titles of this year’s festival. I knew some things about some of the talent involved but not the film itself. I was surprised on many occasions. I knew Vincent Korda was a great art director but these sets may be his best. I didn’t know the story was such an enjoyable fantasy. You typically pick up on common names in the fest other not as well-known artists make their presence felt, especially musicians. This year it was Alfred Newman and Miklos Rosza, nominated for this film. Sabu, recently given an Eclipse set by Criterion, stars in this film but there’s also Conrad Veit. It’s a very fun, enjoyable movie with great effects, amazing for the era.