Still Hot After All These Years: McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Vertigo

Consider this review a ‘cleanse the palate course’ after the Oscars (which I thoroughly enjoyed and was pleased about) and the new movie season.

Two films I saw last week were McCabe and Mrs. Miller at my very close confidant’s big screen and then Vertigo on an even bigger screen at the hip Sarasota Cinmeatechue space.

And while they were made 13 years apart (1971 and 1958 respectively), they do have commonalities. First, both directors (Robert Altman/Alfred Hitchcock) while nominated, never received an Oscar.

Perhaps another similarity and larger slight is that neither cinematographer even received an Oscar nomination for these films. Vilmos Zsigmond DID win for Close Encounters, yet in McCabe and Mrs. Miller, I was mesmerized by the snowy landscape and the ending scene with Warren Beatty becoming one with the snow. Pure fascination!

Likewise, in Vertigo, I was transfixed by the camera angles. And yes, I realize a lot of this was ‘Hitch’, but Robert Burks must have had something to do with it as well. Another gripping scene (pun intended and not) came at the film’s end, as Jimmy Stewart, way out of his good guy type casting, man handles Kim Novak up the stairs of the mission to recreate the crime. Even more orgasmically suspenseful is the creepy black shrouded nun at the top of the stairs. Watching this, I totally forgot the creation’s year was 1958, the suspense felt new.

Both films also built the physical and romantic desire to titillating heights. In McCabe and Mrs. Miller, we witness Warren Beatty spellbound by Julie Christie’s voracious appetite, his mutterings of how enervating she is (yet his angst proof that he loves her) and her imploring that he settle affairs or at least seek safe shelter. In Vertigo, Kim Novak utters the sultry film noiresque line, “One person can wander around, but two people doing that are going places.” Hummina, hummina.

So if you’ve got nothing to do, wander over to your tv and rent one of these classic beauties. Or if you’re on a date that’s ‘going places’, both McCabe and Mrs. Miller and Vertigo are pretty darn good foreplay.

Shoplifters (a Foreign Film up for Best Oscar) Will Steal Your Heart

If Shoplifters directed by Hirokazu Koreeda does not bring you to tears, can you call me? Because I’ll bet if you’re not moved, the next time you check the box “I’m Not a Robot”, you’ll be discovered for your cold internal wires.

I’m not saying Shoplifters is perfect (editing definitely was an issue), HOWEVER, seeing this make shift family navigate the sometimes brutally cold Japan (both in temperature and social/economic climate) and sweltering (you’ll see pitted sweat shirts and sweaty post coital nudity) will make your heart ache.

It’s about who really is your family, how titles such as biological mom and dad are not always accurate or healthy. Best of all, you’ll feel for this family and forgive them their trespasses.

Shoplifting doesn’t look so bad when loving human bonds and play bring joy. Lily Franky is a genius as the loving but wayward father as is Sakura Ando as his romantic (and the children’s maternal) counter part.

In preparation for my Oscars guest role on Gus Mollasis’s At the Movies Facebook Live show (airing tonight at 630 pm EST 2/21/19), I decided to count the poignant beats in my favorite movie of the year (tune in to find out which one it was that scored 7). In Shoplifters, I’ll list the same:

1. Lily Frank’s sweet “we’re connected here (heart) not just here (crotch)”
2. the subtle nuanced love making scene and shower scene
3. the beach scene (“grandma telling her she’s turned out to be beautiful)
4. women’s fitting room scene
5. sex trade woman hugging the mute customer, sharing self-abuse stories
6. Lily Frank and his ‘son’ played so well by child actor Jyo Kari in the ocean and at the movie’s end

Just a fantastic film that you need to have patience wading in slowly, but you’ll come out awash in emotion and tenderness….if you’re really not a robot (smiley face). American film makers should start taking notes!

Cold War(s), Worm Heart

Shakespeare’s noted for the Hamlet proverb, ‘brevity is the soul of wit,” and Cold War, written and directed by Pawel Pawlikowski is certainly a film of which The Bard would be proud. Briskly paced at 90 minutes, we’re taken on a European musical escapade through starkly frigid Poland, austere Yugoslavia and comparatively freewheeling Paris.

Shot in black and white, star crossed lovers Joanna Kulig and Tomasz Kot are genuine and tortured by the confines of post-World War 2 communism. The monochrome film adds not only to the nostalgia of lost love, but also to the bleak surroundings. The cinematography moves like a stately photo album filled with clips; the couple’s cloaked embraces, a wind-swept field tiff, and raucous bar gyrations.

Much like many Shakespearean plays, characters Zula and Wiktor do not live happily ever after, or do they? Depending on your level of faith and ability to identify with unrequited love, may determine your adoration or lack thereof for Cold War. If nothing else, the film is tremendous eye and ear candy with conversational inspiration about the nature and duration of true love.

Perhaps our modern day’s frenetic speed has me craving more constructive and redemptive stories since in total Cold War did not impress me and wasn’t what the media had my ‘hype’ it would be.