Monday, January 15, 2007

Me So Corny

Ever since I've been on the Nickelodeon Film Selection Committee, I've been one of the ones who vote for the out-of-the-way, daring and hardcore stuff no one will watch or which is sure to bring controversy. Recently I voted that we show Shortbus, which I saw yesterday and pretty much loathed all the way through.

I knew that it was really, really graphic, which still came as a shock nonetheless, especially during this gay group sex scene that was so raw and loud I couldn't even bear to watch, especially when it came to analingus. I am not opposed to this activity, of course; it's just that ever since Two Girls and a Guy I've been of the opinion that any cinematic depiction of it should probably involve Heather Graham.

What I also didn't know is that the movie as a whole would be so touchy-feely, so sappy, so self-conscious, so deeply in love with it's own hip self.

Some movies are so intense that I dread having to get up to pee. With this one, I took the first opportunity and washed my hands about fifty times.

Hate to sound so conservative and repressed and so on, but I think this movie may have rendered me temporarily impotent. I left thinking "OK, no more movies with dicks and pussies, especially dicks."

And that's when I remembered I haven't watched all of the Capra collection that I got for Christmas.

In fact I got a lot of cool stuff for Christmas I haven't talked about, but this one is especially cool and I look forward to watching a little more of it tomorrow, to help de-Shortbus myself.

It has five Capra films: American Madness, It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and You Can't Take It With You.

So far I've seen two, one for the first time: American Madness, from 1932, which has to be one of the all-time great movie titles. It's about a run on the bank, sort of like the back-story in It's a Wonderful Life. Walter Huston plays a saintly but strong-willed bank president who makes loans on trust, which is always putting him in hot water with his board of directors, and which puts him in serious trouble when there's a robbery. This leads to a panic where all the investors start withdrawing thir money, and old Walter and his employees have to do some fancy footwork to keep away impending disaster. It is a wonderfully fast-paced comedy that spins like a top, and while it teeters a little near the end it never falls over. Huston is a marvel -- what a strong force of personality every one in that family has. As soon as he strolls into the bank, you KNOW the Board of Directors aren't going to win, because Huston carries himself with such confidence. Weak link: Constance Cummings as Huston's supposedly desireable wife, and who looks like Jack Lemmon in drag in Some Like It Hot.

The other: It Happened One Night -- So influential in so many ways. Template for one road movie after the next, from Roman Holiday to The Sure Thing to ... The Graduate -- which is not a road movie, but which does end with a bride ditching her groom for the man she loves, as does this one. Gable and Colbert are, as always, perfect.

The set does not include It's a Wonderful Life, but here's a post-yuletide thought on that old warhorse. It is a rather unconsciously ironic title, as George Bailey's life is anything but.

He starts out as a young man who dreams of adventure, of tackling a big wide world, of finally escaping the dull, provincial little town, only to find that he is condemned to repeat the life of his father: the nice guy savings and loan manager who will be all that stands between the town and Potter, the predatory businessman who wants to bleed the town dry. George, much as he might wish to avoid it, finds himself saddled with being the Jesus of Bedford Falls: the one who has to put aside his own dreams in order to save this little corner of humanity.

1 comment:

Reel Fanatic said...

I enjoyed John Cameron Mitchell's Hedwig and the Angry Inch, but I don't think I'll be touching anything shown in this movie with any length of pole .. thanks for the warning