Quadrophenia (1979, Franc Roddem) [r]
* Not that I really need to spend time thinking about a movie that dissects The Legend of The Who from highbrow intricate angles, but I sure did enjoy Sting as the Pinball Wizard. Creepy as shit! And pretty good trash as a whole, this movie.
Quai des Orfèvres (1947, Henri-Georges Clouzot) [hr]
The tense, lovingly shot, sometimes morbid but strangely symmetrical tale of a murder investigation in which the prime suspects are a singer, her jealous husband and a Midge-like compassionate onlooker, this resembles Hollywood noir more than the rest of Clouzot’s classic thrillers. The script, cowritten with Jean Ferry, is notable less for its adaptation of an overly neat story than for its impressively taut, evocative dialogue, a lot of it delivered by their splendidly cranky investigator Antoine (Louis Jouvet), who cries out for a franchise revival.
The Queen (2006, Stephen Frears) [r]
A crash course on public relations, delivered in the surprisingly dramatic context of the struggle by new PM Tony Blair to mitigate the widespread scorn toward the monarchy’s silence in the days after Princess Diana’s sudden death. This isn’t very cinematic, but neither are most of Frears’ films; rather it’s an incredible showcase for its actors — Helen Mirren yes, but also Michael Sheen as Blair and the delightful James Cromwell as Philip — and for writer Peter Morgan’s remarkable ability to streamline a complex situation into a relatively lean and often sardonic script.
Queen Christina (1933, Rouben Mamoulian) [r]
Pre-code costume drama and showcase for Greta Garbo’s formidable androgynous image is more artistically pedestrian than Mamoulian’s other works of the period, despite the resources at his disposal under MGM. It is hugely entertaining hokum, at least if you can look past the total mess it makes of a fascinating individual, the Queen of Sweden who reigned from 1632 (at age six) to 1654. Her ambiguous sexuality is very fitting for Garbo as an actress, but the script spins this into Hollywood goo that has the inaccessible monarch turning to putty at the hands of an envoy and makes her sophistication and eccentricity into a big joke. There isn’t much separating this from other MGM fantasies of wealth, and it looks trite compared to the likes of The Scarlet Empress and The Private Life of Henry VIII.
Queen Kelly (1929, Erich von Stroheim) [hr]
A sex-starved queen is made a mockery when her malicious fiancee finds himself enchanted by a schoolgirl (Gloria Swanson) and her panties, and that’s just the start. Audacious and unstoppably entertaining; a cousin to G.W. Pabst’s films with Louise Brooks but scrappier, more fatalistic and morbid. Hardly alone in the director’s filmography, it’s a vision stymied, but what’s here is fascinating in its eye for weirdness and frustrated, longing sexuality, hidden yet seeping from everything.
Quelques veuves de Noirmoutier (2006, Agnès Varda) [hr]
In the original exhibit, fourteen screens ran simultaneously; in each a widow talked of her late husband’s life and death as well as her own life since his loss. Fourteen corresponding chairs were positioned in the room with headphones, so that you established a kinship with “your” widow while being conscious of the others. Varda was dissatisfied with this more conventional consecutive edit of the interviews, but it’s one of her most probing and humanistic works. As an interviewer and an editor, she is unflinching toward matters of loss and uncovers a breathtaking spectrum of human experience from this small slice of geographic and emotional space.
The Quiet Man (1952, John Ford)
Ireland-set comedy starring John Wayne is forced wackiness, stunted by Wayne’s usual claustrophobic self-importance and the film’s rampant misogyny. Result feels dull to me, and hard to sit through.
A Quiet Place (2018, John Krasinski) [r]
Well-directed and economical horror silliness from the beloved sitcom star about a family terrorized by monsters who attack if they hear a single solitary sound. This is an opportunity for something that at least shoots for classic Pure Cinema ideals, since it depends on something besides dialogue; and as goofy as the story itself is, it does lead into some fun setpieces closer to thriller than horror that offset some of the dramatic clichés about the Importance of Family.
Quiz Show (1994, Robert Redford) [hr]
The story of the rigged game show 21 may not sound like the stuff of high drama, but in Redford’s film it’s made riveting by its very human qualities. The intelligent, never overblown script takes on every aspect of the famous case with sympathy and wit, and we end up with a moving portrait that leaves each of its three main characters with a masterfully ambiguous fate. The success here is in not allowing any of the characters to be the bad guy.
Quo Vadis (1951, Mervyn LeRoy) [r]
Surprisingly entertaining trash on the traditional Hollywood epic scale via MGM, audacious and playful despite being approximately on the dramatic level of an ambitious school play. Parallel stories of hubris track the hated Roman emperor Nero — courtesy of a dynamically decadent, funny and flamboyantly wardrobed Peter Ustinov having an absolute field day — and a lusty Christ-skeptical general played with brazen, you-can’t-look-away incompetence by Robert Taylor. Add to this the breathtaking production values and some of the most eye-popping crowd scenes in history and, despite the usual overlength, how can you really object?
Quo vadis, Aida? (2020, Jasmila Zbanic) [r]
It’s hard to object to any formal aspect of this assaultive drama about a UN translator trying to protect her family during the 1995 Bosnian War; it strikes a well-earned note of outrage and lament. But if it seems cynical to draw lines to other films about chaos and massacre, since it implies that you as an audience member view these tragedies interchangeably, perhaps it’s worth asking whether the repeated tackling of these large-scale murders while striking essentially the same notes portrays to us the limits of cinema as a tool for conveying all this loss, guilt, misery, evil.