Our Greatest Living Film Critic, XVI

March, 2020

The Anderson Tapes (1971)

Watched The Anderson Tapes (1971), a comedy heist movie where burglar Sean Connery finds that after 10 years in prison, the world has changed into a farcical surveillance state. Dyan Cannon appears in the movie, and then disappears from the movie. I’m not actually sure what all the surveillance stuff meant, because despite taking up a lot of space, it had only a minor effect on the plot. Very few things are paid off. Sean Connery bravely acted without a hairpiece for the first time. A motif on synthesizer plays whenever there’s electronic equipment on screen. I wonder whether Dyan Cannon dropping the glass was on purpose or not. Not one animal in sight. Pops had a real Brooks Was Here vibe, glad things turned out well for him in the end. I give it 2 museum quality elephants out of a possible 5 museum quality elephants.

Charade (1963)

Watched Charade (1963), a witty caper movie where Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, and some bungling assassins are all trying to find a stolen fortune in Paris. Hepburn’s character is always ordering food but never eating it, and Cary Grant takes a shower with his suit on. Great script: dialog takes on a different meaning when you know the plot. Due to an error, this movie was never under copyright. Is having a clamp for a hand a superpower? Audrey Hepburn and Katherine Hepburn were not related. Low stakes, high charm movie. I give it 4 Ham, Juniors out of a possible 5 Ham, Juniors.

Hold the Dark (2019)

Watched Hold the Dark (2019), Jeremy Saulnier’s horror crime movie about Alaska. Jeffrey Wright is a retired wolf expert asked by Elvis Presley’s granddaughter (Riley Keough) to kill the wolf that killed her son. Only, she IS the wolf: metaphorically, and in naked masked form. Peter Skarsgard is typecast as the unsettlingly intense cipher. Jeffrey Wright should do his version of Taken (2008) next. Normally, if somebody coughs in a movie, it means they’re about to die of cancer. Symbols include: wolves, boots, the sky, throats, masks. Possible symbols: telephones, spaghetti, blondes, knives. The sheriff was planning on taking a trip with his wife. I give it 3.5 salt and pepper beards out of a possible 5 salt and pepper beards.

The Hot Rock (1972)

Watched The Hot Rock (1972), a comedy caper movie directed by Peter Yates. Robert Redford plays a thief who is the best, but due to bad luck he always gets caught. He assembles a team to steal a jewel, and then when it goes missing he has to plan several more increasingly elaborate heists to get it back. George Segal is good in this. So is Zero Mostel. Memorable helicopter sequence over a smoggy Manhattan skyline, as the World Trade Center is being constructed in the background. The man who directed Krull (1983) also directed Bullitt (1968). Donald Westlake wrote the novel this was based on, and William Goldman wrote the script. I give it 3.5 banana stands out of a possible 5 banana stands.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)

Watched Portrait of a Lady On Fire (2019), Celine Sciamma’s historical love story about French ladies. Marianne goes to an island off the coast of France to attempt to paint the portrait of Heloise, who does not want to be painted because she knows that the painting will convince a rich Milanese guy to accept her mother’s offer to marry her off. Gorgeous movie: talk about every frame a painting! The presence of the servant Sophie undercut my sympathy for the protagonist by reminding me that there were people in the 18th century with harder problems than whether they’d be unhappy in a chateau or a villa. Several outstanding tricks were played on the viewer. Good revision of Orpheus and Eurydice. I don’t think I was meant to laugh when she caught on fire. I give it 4 green dresses out of a possible 5 green dresses.