Capsule digest #12

This latest post reaches back a little ways to March 3rd. I’ve been writing a lot and watching some things for fun, but the newly capsuled reviews are dominated by my journey through the Criterion Varda boxed set, of which I should have a fairly comprehensive review ready in time for the next digest post. I’m also trying to really pare down my kevyip (real heads know) and finally knocked out (and loved nearly every minute of) More Treasures from American Film Archives, with the other boxes in that collection to follow as soon as I can get to them. My issue as always is that there aren’t nearly enough hours in the day for me to see and write about everything I want to see and write about. All I can do is keep trying.

This period also encompassed the weirdest Oscars ever; I had seen none of the relevant films at time of ceremony (I’m still taken aback that Da 5 Bloods wasn’t a contender) and quickly knocked out the heavy hitters to maintain my status as the only kid on your block who’s seen every winner in the picture, director, writing and acting categories. At this writing I’m fully caught up on all the relevant films with the exception of The Father, for which Anthony Hopkins won his bonus-round Academy Award and which also walked home with Best Adapted Screenplay. I still think it would’ve been a better idea to just postpone the whole thing for a year, but what the hell do I know! Meanwhile, fully vaccinated and happy as a clam about it, I’m still harboring some hope of making it out to the movies again before much longer, though god knows what I’ll see. One of the many ironies of COVID in my own life was that the pandemic’s opening act occurred mere months after I started really loving the theatrical experience again and stubbornly making a habit of it. I miss it and hate all the time I spent complaining about bad screenings in the before-times.

Some big blog news here for you is that I’ve undertaken a major revision of the Movie Guide, although it won’t be ready for a while yet. I’m making three sizable changes —

1) I’m removing capsules for films I haven’t seen since I became an adult, since that was now twenty years ago, they were all written fifteen years ago, and it’s hard for me to feel comfortable standing by them with any sort of credibility. I will archive them somewhere and include the list of relevant titles and ratings on the main page. There are some, like Birdman of Alcatraz, that I will actually be restoring quite shortly (I bought the Blu-ray recently); and in fact, by the time I actually finish the project, that may have already taken place! At the moment, pre-2002 reviews in the Guide are noted with an asterisk; this will be shifted now to all pre-2012 (therefore, pre-Slices of Cake) reviews.

2) Something I’ve wrestled with off and on for a long time: I’m adding some very basic technical information about the films to the Guide. This is largely for my own quick reference because it will hopefully save me trips to the increasingly unreliable and unworkable IMDB. This will be discreetly incorporated on each film’s title line.

3) I don’t yet know how long this will actually take, but my intention is to port over the full archive of my DVD reviews from my old blog and link them to the Guide. This will of course only really be relevant to A+ or “highly recommended” capsules since I don’t make a habit of buying movies I’m ambivalent about, but it will give shape to a gargantuan collection of material that’s long needed it, and will make it easier for me to add on more while making it actually accessible to anyone who wants to look over it.

As I institute these changes, which may take up to a year, there may be some clutter around and about on the Guide pages. Please ignore.

Full reviews this cycle: Seeing 45 Years (Lboxd) a third time inspired me, and the words poured out. My essay on Pinocchio (Lboxd), despite its intimidating status as my first time writing at length about something that means the absolute world to me, is one of my favorite accomplishments of late. Two screwball comedies revisited for different reasons in odd juxtaposition: My Man Godfrey (Lboxd) then Libeled Lady (Lboxd). And finally, I didn’t really expect this to happen but for the second time in the past year, a Kevin Costner movie I already knew I absolutely hated sent me into a word-count frenzy, hence Field of Dreams (Lboxd). I hope this increased quantity of longer reviews keeps playing out.

Other films seen: Finally unboxed the Blu-ray of Vertigo, which I had not actually watched in almost a decade (!), and had some thoughts. Second encounters with Diary of a Teenage Girl and Blue Is the Warmest Color proved as rewarding as expected if not more so — Diary makes for a particularly interesting parallel experience with the TV series My Mad Fat Diary, mentioned below.

Non-feature or non-cinema screened:
– The time to get down to brass tacks with Agnès Varda’s short films is still in the future, but in the meantime I’d like to enthusiastically plug her pantyhose commercial (lamentably not on Youtube) and the extraordinary 7 P., cuis., s.de b… (translation 7 rooms, kitche, bath…), a surrealistic near-masterpiece that makes me wish she had explored her avant garde sensibilities more in the second half of her career.
– Amber and I imported the complete series DVD set of the British Channel 4 series My Mad Fat Diary and rewatched the first two series over the last several weeks. (We saw the first series on Youtube and caught the second as it aired through a VPN.) I do not exaggerate when I say that I believe it is the best television show ever produced. It is certainly, and by some distance, the best show about adolescence ever made, and this comes from a stalwart of Freaks and Geeks and Daria. On this second viewing I found myself even more taken with Claire Rushbrook’s performance as Rae’s mum, which is an absolute miracle of comic realism. The DVDs retain all of the music from the original airings — this being a period show set in 1996 Lincolnshire, it’s overflowing with the peak moments of Britpop, with its most luminous bands and albums frequently doubling as plot points in its central muso’s life, but I don’t think it’s just my targeted age bracket that determines this to contain some really prime moments in music-supervision history; the long, sad sequence with “The First Cut Is the Deepest” hasn’t left my soul since I first saw it — but if the music-neutered version on Hulu is the only way you can see the show, drop whatever you’re doing and get to it as quickly as you can. But I’m so, so glad we got the DVDs, which at the moment are still very affordable if you’re multi-region capable (and not to hector you, but if you’re the sort of person who enjoys this blog then you really ought to be!).
More Treasures from American Film Archives will, like the Varda set, get taken on in greater detail down the line. But it is full of some of the wildest, niftiest, weirdest shit you will ever see in your life, and might actually be better curated (and is certainly more eccentric) than its deservedly legendary predecessor. If you want to be startled, watch the Edison short The Teddy Bears; if you want to be wowed, watch Jay Leyda’s magnificent A Bronx Morning; if you want to be intensely moved, watch Zora Neale Hurston’s haunting “field work” footage; if you want to scream and maybe hate yourself, watch Charley Bowers’ indescribable comedy There It Is.
– Thanks to friends and coworkers, I have recently become obsessed with two Youtubers who join my beloved Techmoan as treasured subscriptions, and since most of my subscriptions are to people who collect clips of trucks destroyed by bridges and who unbox rare Beatles vinyl, this is high praise: the delightful Fundie Fridays and the scam revenge artist Kitboga. I also have decided I may retire this blog and become a full-time connoisseur of TV commercials of the 1980s and 1990s, which are in abundance on Youtube and oddly fascinating.
– The music video channels on PlutoTV are largely a sea of sludge, with annoying commercials besides, but I still sometimes prefer them to my routine of drinking on Friday nights and clicking around the ones on Youtube because I like losing all sense of control. I love Prince’s “Raspberry Beret” but haven’t had any occasion to watch the video in decades; seeing it again, I was overcome with an unexpected flood of sorrow and joy. Please join me.
– You might have guessed that a long dissertation on the Beatles’ cinematic history is forthcoming as part of my big, still gestating annotated discography for that band. But it’s going to be a while till I post that and everyone in the world is most likely sick of me talking about the Beatles, so I can use this inconspicuous space to share my notes from my recent sit-down with the footage of their first U.S. concert, please? Thank you for the indulgence. (The complete 38-minute film is owned by Apple and has occasionally been released on various digital platforms but is not presently sold on physical media; several copies are posted to sites like Vimeo. I used this one, but if the link’s dead when you try it, just poke around a bit.)

The Washington Coliseum show, the Beatles’ first full concert in the U.S., as videotaped by Lee Tannen and released in a short-term theatrical engagement by National General, is crudely shot, sometimes amateurishly edited and inevitably inherits the haphazard staging of the gig itself: because the Beatles are performing “in the round” at a boxing ring, Mal Evans and the venue’s crew turn Ringo’s riser around every couple of songs to face a different portion of the crowd. But this doesn’t matter — full of unmistakable zeal and excitement, the band lights the room aflame with one of the most energetic performances of theirs ever caught on film. At times, as during “I Saw Her Standing There,” they — George and Ringo in particular — seem to completely lose themselves, Ringo pounding his way right into the oblivion of a purely joyous moment. The crowd, smartly captured in various cutaways, is wholly in tune with the artists, and the atmosphere is absolutely electric. It’s wise to direct a link to this video to anyone who hasn’t successfully grasped why Beatlemania happened and what it actually was by now.

At the end of the show, Paul introduces a blistering “Twist and Shout” by plugging the Isley Brothers by name; they then pull out their occasional unplanned encore, “Long Tall Sally,” which at the time was reserved for especially enthusiastic audiences and had not yet been recorded by the group at EMI. By closing the show with two classic touchstones of Black rock & roll and R&B with full reverence and credit, the Beatles and the Washington spectactors that cheer the Isleys’ name and lose their collective minds dancing to these two gorgeously raucous performances underline the truth of what was happening in their cultural moment: youth were reasserting their control over popular music, and would not give it up again easily.

***

31 new capsules follow!

Mur Murs (1981, Agnès Varda) [hr]
Varda’s calmly tangential yet intensely dedicated travelogue of the murals of Los Angeles is just beautiful. I’m skeptical of still images as a foundation of great cinema until I see something like this which serves so well to enliven and explicate its setting, making it alive and present without invading it. Curiosity is the operative texture of Varda’s best work and so far I haven’t seen a more effective example of how that curiosity manifests as empathy and a bottom-line love of art (and artists).

Documenteur (1981, Agnès Varda) [hr]
This almost uncomfortably personal companion piece to Mur Murs isn’t as accomplished or as provocative as that film, but it could well be even more moving, a surprisingly raw evocation of loneliness in which Varda comes to terms with her own separation from her husband while working in Los Angeles, transferring her complex, lovingly rendered emotions onto Sabine Mamou, following her and her son (played by Varda’s son Mathieu Demy) around dingy apartments in L.A. looking for a home. The dread and pervading loss within the city and the protagonist’s own mind are expressed agonizingly well.

One Sings, the Other Doesn’t (1977, Agnès Varda) [hr]
An incredibly touching narrative of a friendship between two women whose commonalities mostly end with their sense of solidarity, which is radically positioned by Varda as enough to justify their closeness for all their physical distance. The film carefully gives them very different paths from which one can’t easily draw any sort of didactic conclusion; the soft feeling of uneventful life in the second half is more interesting than the tragedies in the first. The film’s thesis statement nearest and dearest to the writer-director is the utility of art in processing experience, specifically women’s experiences.

Women Are Naturally Creative: Agnès Varda (1977, Katja Raganelli) [r]
This tops forty minutes and was screened in festival settings so I’m logging it as a feature, even though it functions strictly as a companion to Varda’s One Sings, the Other Doesn’t. It’s wholeheartedly recommended to her fans and students, as it features some fascinating footage of her directing the movie’s final scenes as well as some footage of her at home and a typically insightful interview.

Nausicaa (1971, Agnès Varda)
Ambitious but unfocused Varda response to the Greek coup of 1967 was unfinished when its elements were confiscated by the government, and it’s a bit difficult to judge it by the rough workprint that survives. Much like Lions Love, it’s a busy fusion of reality and fiction and doesn’t really gel. It leaps back and forth between raw interview footage and a constructed narrative about college students taking in a refugee in France, plus some satirical sketches and even some material that heavily features Varda’s personal narrative about her father. Though noble and intriguing, it feels longer than it is.

Vagabond (1985, Agnès Varda) [hr]
A movie that doesn’t feel nearly as transgressive or original as it really is while it’s playing, mostly because Sandrine Bonnaire’s performance as the homeless Mona is so fully formed and hypnotically believable; the film’s masterfully wandering eye and poetic editing only register later, along with its tirelessly unsentimental registration of Mona’s day to day existence. Varda looks as dimly upon our collective attitude toward dirt and transience as Buñuel did in Viridiana, taking particular pleasure in Mona’s grimy shoes — like Boudu’s wet fingers — upon a rich woman’s white bedsheets, and if her manner is less abrupt it’s no less damning.

Jane B. par Agnès V. (1988, Agnès Varda) [c]
This love letter / birthday gift is probably a great joy to behold if you’re either the person receiving or creating it; in other words, if you’re Jane Birkin or Agnès Varda, this is the movie for you. If you’re most other people, well… it’s a cute concept — fake a clip show of performances for a well-loved movie star — but it’s mostly Varda just shooting whatever Varda feels like, so it has the unfocused messiness of her weakest narrative films combined with the sterile comedy and action of the “skits.” The only portions that really work are those in which Birkin simply addresses the camera directly and talks for a while.

Kung-Fu Master! (1988, Agnès Varda)
When this really leans into the uncomfortable absurdity of its premise — Jane Birkin is a divorced MILF who attempts an affair with gum-chewing, cigaratte-smoking prepubescent Mathieu Demy who prefers playing video games — it’s great, as close as Varda made to a Todd Solondz movie. But I can’t figure out for the life of me why she turns it into L’Avventura during the last third, or why anyone within the film’s narrative thinks that particular turn is a good idea. The kids, hired on essentially for their family connections, effortlessly upstage Birkin who doesn’t have much of a handle on the character, but to be fair, neither does the script.

Da 5 Bloods (2020, Spike Lee) [hr]
Everything ostensibly indulgent, corny or disorganized in Lee’s Vietnam requiem holds together impressively to form both a formulaic Hollywood homage (with a bit of Samuel Fuller) and a genuinely unpredictable genre-busting ensemble; of course it’s an overlong mess, that’s what you’re paying for, and I’d rather watch a true artist parade their eccentricities across the screen for almost three hours than sit through even five minutes of the world’s quirkiest corporate-mandated “world-building” exercise.

The Assistant (2019, Kitty Green)
At first this is formally intriguing and more than convincingly puts across its dire warning about living to work, and casting-couch misogyny: the claustrophobia and abstraction it renders from an average stressful work day and the pallid, desolate maze of dimly lit rooms at a lucrative production company’s offices is oppressive enough to get down to your bones, and Julia Garner is wonderfully nuanced and controlled in the lead. However, most of the actual narrative events that unfold feel hackneyed, unworthy of the impeccable atmosphere that Green renders. It would have been an extraordinarily unnerving and imaginative twenty-minute short.

The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967, Jacques Demy) [r]
Demy’s wistful, explosively colorful musical is a fervently optimistic build on The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, here with a Gene Kelly cameo in tow, though Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac carry the film almost entirely on their shoulders. The colors, choreography and the jazz score by Michel Legrand are a real joy; there’s so much exuberance here it’s hard to walk away in a bad mood, but it’s possible to come away a tad overstimulated, and the songs are an acquired taste.

Rock Rock Rock! (1956, Will Price) [c]
Cheapo jukebox musical from the first wave of rock & roll, of which it’s a remarkable if sterile document, is significant for the presence of emcee Alan Freed, Tuesday Weld in her film debut (with songs dubbed in by Connie Francis) and various filmed performers of varying luminosity miming to mostly minor songs of theirs. But the acting is uniformly inept and the “story” makes one yearn for the pleasantly insipid narratives of the traditional Hollywood revue of the early ’30s; Chuck Berry, Frankie Lymon and LaVern Baker lipsync engagingly, but somehow the thing you can’t get out of your mind is a random little girl screaming a song about lollipops.

Nicholas and Alexandra (1971, Franklin J. Schaffner)
At 188 minutes, Franklin Schaffner’s Sam Spiegel-produced drama of the final days of Tsarist Russia is anything but expedient, though often pleasingly composed with the unmistakable influence of David Lean and a similar lack of resistance to bloat. There is virtually no dramatic content in the film’s last hour that isn’t obvious from everything that came before it, and the death of Tom Baker’s outré Rasputin robs the movie of its only real notes of flavor or eccentricity.

Jacquot de Nantes (1991, Agnès Varda) [r]
This reenactment of Jacques Demy’s childhood, filmed by his wife Varda just before his death of AIDS in 1990, has all the detectably personal sweetness and wartime anxiety of Cinema Paradiso or Amarcord with less sentimentality. Varda harnesses Demy’s taste for complicated camera movements and crane shots while also indulging in her own preoccupation with the convergence of real life and cinema to craft a winning portrait of a young man’s zeal for creation as well as direct evidence of the mutual trust within a marriage. In the end it’s a direct missive between lovers, its larger meanings mostly unknowable to the outsider.

The Young Girls Turn 25 (1993, Agnès Varda)
Varda had some footage of The Young Girls of Rochefort being shot because of course she did. She combines it with documentation of a quarter-century commemoration of the film in the town of its setting plus some interviews with members of the cast and crew still alive as of 1992. She also adds some footage of local twins, because of course she does. It’s all engrossing enough — though more than a little sad (because of Demy’s then-recent death, not to mention Françoise Dorléac’s less than a year after the movie’s original release, which constantly casts a long shadow over the proceedings) — and probably more so to the film’s dedicated fans.

Airplane! (1980, Jim Abrahams/David Zucker/Jerry Zucker) [hr]
(Revisit; slight downgrade.) For nearly an hour, when the jokes are ruthlessly paced and before its tiresome third-act story obligations kick in, this is still one of the funniest movies ever made even if you’re not familiar with the air disaster film trend it’s parodying (see Zero Hour and Airport). The best “ZAZ” film easily.

The World of Jacques Demy (1995, Agnès Varda)
Straightforward mixture of talking-head interviews and film clips describing Demy’s filmography. Helpful and entertaining but nothing that would be particularly noteworthy if not for its director and/or her relationship with the subject of the film. The interviews with Mathieu Demy, Rosalie Varda, Catherine Deneuve, Jeanne Moreau and Harrison Ford (!) are particularly fun.

One Hundred and One Nights (1995, Agnès Varda) [c]
Varda’s last narrative feature and handily her worst, a fatally well-meaning, jumbled up mess of tribute and parody of the history of cinema, with far too many of its supposed jokes and homages reliant on just reciting the titles of famous films or occasionally invoking not-particularly-well-judged clips from same. Julie Gayet is fun in the lead role as a film student who interviews 100 year old “Mr. Cinema” (Michel Piccoli), a device twice as contrived as it already sounds; she figures in a plot of sorts — about her boyfriend (Mathieu Demy) trying to make his name in film — that falls totally flat whenever the movie remembers it exists.

The Clash of the Wolves (1925, Noel M. Smith) [r]
Rin-Tin-Tin movies were all that kept Warner Bros. off the dole in the ‘20s, and why not? He was more charismatic and fun to watch than most other male leads of this or any era. In this movie he’s cast as a half-breed wolf who gets tamed after an injury and then wanders into a dispute over a borax stake involving a pre-Borzage Charles Farrell as a guy named Dave. There’s lots of violence and dreadfully broad comedy — it truly is lowest-common-denominator entertainment — but the stunt sequences involving the dog(s) are still astounding and exciting, if somewhat suspect on an animal-rights basis.

Lady Windermere’s Fan (1925, Ernst Lubitsch) [r]
Ostensibly a comedy, from Oscar Wilde’s famous play, but stripped of Wilde’s dialogue it becomes a pretty grim affair, with its numerous acts of interpersonal deception and misunderstanding more stressful and harrowing than amusing. Lots of gorgeous compositions and generally terrific performances, but as Lubitsch silents go I prefer the now unjustly difficult to see Eternal Love, especially since his other major comedy of the period The Marriage Circle is equally mean-spirited.

Nomadland (2020, Chloe Zhao) [r]
An empathetic if slick narrative document of America’s forgotten and impoverished. Suffers from the hazy, telegraphed dramatics of fairly pedestrian modern awards bait, sure, but it’s also sensitive and (apart from the score) understated, with terrific acting — Frances McDormand and David Straitharn are both impeccable, and the injection of real-world characters never feels strained — and an appropriately bleak sense of atmosphere, even at the soul-crushing warehouses of Amazon. Vagabond it’s not, but it’s about as honestly distressing as you’d expect a mainstream film on this subject to get.

Promising Young Woman (2020, Emerald Fennell) [hr]
An engagingly uncomfortable comic thriller about sexual assault touching on themes of comeuppance and forgiveness, with an outstanding lead performance by Carey Mulligan. It’s not without contrivances, especially its final moments, but is generally barbed, vital and provocative, and admirably sidesteps most varieties of redemption for its characters. There’s real skin-crawling fun here as well as a frankly refreshing cynicism about human nature, plus a more developed sense of what forgiveness and guilt actually look like, and when and how they are actually productive.

The Gleaners and I (2000, Agnès Varda) [hr]
Varda enters the digital revolution upon being gifted a tiny camera and puts together an engaging, ultimately stunning essay on aging, scavenging, survival and art that invites participation, joy and reflection on a scale matched by few other films. You find what you want here; it might be bubbly and vital and it might be deeply upsetting. But this and Mur Murs are Varda’s craft at its most inventive: discursive, focused on a particular family of ideas but constantly probing at its limits… and confronting us endlessly with enough distinctive images to fill a week of dreams.

The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit (1964, Albert & David Maysles) [hr]
One of the most intimate documentaries about a rock band (at least with this level of fame) in existence. Maysles’ camera is inquisitive and captures numerous candid moments on the part of the Beatles and their manager as well as the hubbub that surrounded them in that explosive peak month of Beatlemania, February 1964. Less a nostalgic snapshot than a remarkable window into the nuts and bolts of how inordinately difficult it is to mount an event with this scale of demand and notoriety. Also a handy rejoinder to anyone who thinks A Hard Day’s Night and I Wanna Hold Your Hand are exaggerations.

Boyz N the Hood (1991, John Singleton) [r]
A brutal coming of age story set in South Central L.A. during the height of Reagan fallout in the early ’90s following an ensemble of young Black men attempting to navigate a maze of violence, addiction and expectations. As hard as the ensemble cast works to make this frequently compelling drama more than just a scold, a scold it pretty much remains, with little formal excitement to compensate; take away the West Coast rap and the R-rated banter and it’s essentially Blackboard Jungle fused with Stand by Me. But Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett are both excellent, and you get so wrapped up in it that it’s hard not to like.

Judas and the Black Messiah (2021, Shaka King) [hr]
Even if it isn’t especially deep or incisive, this hits hard as an engrossingly detailed historical narrative, regarding the betrayal and murder of Fred Hampton during the most powerful and visible years of the Black Panther Party. It looks great and the performances are exceptional, Lakeith Stanfield’s characterization of O’Neal as both an irredeemable rat and a believable human truly haunting even if not as bravura as Daniel Kaluuya’s deservedly Oscar winning performance as Hampton.

Interstate 60 (2002, Bob Gale) [c]
Former Zemeckis partner Gale’s directorial debut is a philosophical and episodic road movie — about a young man Finding Himself, naturally — stunted with hollow dramatics and juvenile attitudes, showing that he has no idea how to direct actors and seems to have spent his entire life stuck with the sense of humor of a twelve year-old. As fun as it is to see such a huge gaggle of celebrities who apparently owed Gale a favor or two, it feels like a post-adolescent film student’s work; only Chris Cooper comes close to redeeming it.

The Gleaners and I: Two Years Later (2002, Agnès Varda) [r]
An indispensable supplement to one of the most intoxicating documentaries of the century; it is just that, however — essentially a DVD extra that went to festivals because the first film was so major and beloved, as is well documented in this one. The revisits to scattered personalities from the original footage are interesting to see but don’t add much, not least because very little time has passed since we first met them and there are diminishing returns on the engagement Varda receives from her subjects. Much more interesting are her personal reflections on the film, but this still only deserves to be seen as an afterthought or an epilogue.

Ydessa, the Bears and etc. (2004, Agnès Varda) [r]
Almost entirely indistinguishable from an episode of Documentary Now; its eccentricity is such that it would be impossible to parody. If the twisted, menacing overkill of the exhibition itself (black & white found photos of people with teddy bears either in their foreground or periphery, an interesting enough conceit except that curator Ydessa Hendeles gathers such an absurd number of them that the effect is completely exhausting) wasn’t enough, there’s the convicted oddness of Hendeles herself and her insistence that her teddy bear exhibition with a Hitler cameo doesn’t have a “theme.” An extraordinarily bemusing and unsettling piece of work.

Minari (2020, Lee Isaac Chung)
Banal, overly mannered semi-autobiographical dramatization of a Korean family’s attempt to build up a farm in Cow’s Ass, Arkansas has some solid performances but looks ugly and suffers from an over-familiar, instantly forgettable script. Sadly the most interesting thing about it is that it’s an American-made film that’s primarily in a language other than English.

The 39 Steps (1959, Ralph Thomas) [c]
Thomas and a team of bland stiff-upper-lip British actors try to recapture Hitchcock’s magic, now in dull Eastmancolor, with some of the 1935 film’s additions to Buchan’s novel — major female characters, for instance — inherited along with most of the story beats, but virtually none of the excitement, eroticism or magic. Every single choice Thomas makes that diverges from Hitchcock is the wrong one, though he is quite good at mounting a chase scene. An illuminating experience for those who love Hitchcock’s film, at any rate.

******

See you in a couple of months! (Probably with several more long writeups in the interim.)

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