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Old January 13 2011, 05:45 AM   #52
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Re: Movies Seen in 2011

My strategy was to go to solid letter grading, which lasted all of two seconds. A straight C was just too high for STAR TREK V...

1. Walk Hard (A)
2. Adam’s Rib (B)
3. There’s Always Tomorrow (B)
4. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (C-)

Walk Hard: This might be the best film Judd Apatow has been associated with (here he is producer and co-writer), so it’s a shame it did so poorly upon release. Not only does it so deftly eviscerate the conventions and clichés of the musician bio-pic, but it has a terrific soundtrack, too. Most of the songs (with a few hilarious exceptions, like “Let’s Duet”) would be perfectly at home in a straight bio-pic. And that’s what makes the film work so well, I think. It’s just a tinge off from being serious, which makes it that much more funny, and crap like Country Strong so much harder to take seriously.

Adam’s Rib: Hepburn is on fire in every scene, and Tracey is acceptable, though I must admit I had a hard time not wondering how much more fun a Cary Grant type would have been in the role. Still, it’s quite a funny courtroom comedy, and a having a male character who is clearly gay in a prominent supporting role seems pretty bold for the period. The ending is a little darker than I would have liked. I never really buy that things could go so wrong for the couple—this is a comedy after all—so spending so much time after the case is decided with the two arguing rings a little false. Still, at times, it is absolutely hilarious.

There’s Always Tomorrow: If ever there was a film and a director (here, Douglas Sirk) where you could make a case of visual style elevating the written material, it would be here. The story isn’t anything special for a melodrama (a husband caught in a loveless marriage sees romantic possibility when an old flame comes back into town), but it’s filmed so brilliantly that it rises above itself. I didn’t know what to make of a Sirk film in black and white (his color melodramas, like Written on the Wind, are more famous), but the director does well for himself, trapping his characters in a frame full of harsh vertical and horizontal lines, as well as clutter that fills the entire three-dimensional space. It’s a shame this isn’t available on DVD in the U.S. the proper aspect ration (at least, the last time I checked).

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier: In some cases, better than I remembered; in others, far worse. Still, it never suffers the problem of Star Trek: The Motion Picture—it may be dumb and sometimes poorly acted (Shatner can’t direct himself, and some of the supporting cast deliver performances that are rather weak, like the Romulan Ambassador), but it manages to hold onto a sense of fun. The script is a huge mess, of course, but that’s to be expected from a half-baked story idea that was rushed into filming due to an impending writer’s strike. It’s a shame the movie doesn’t live up to Jerry Goldsmith’s score, which is truly exceptional.
"This begs explanation." - de Forest Research on Star Trek

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