We watch a lot of movies around here, and sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. We’ll also note any particular recommendations we have that are available on Netflix Instant Watch in either the US or Canada by putting a direct link below the capsule.
A Streetcar Named Desire
1951 USA. Director: Elia Kazan. Starring: Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Stanley, Karl Malden.
This is me knocking one more film off my List of Shame – as a huge classic film buff, there’s no excuse for not having seen A Streetcar Named Desire yet. I’d been putting it off because of its root as a play (which don’t always translate to film well), my apathy towards Marlon Brando and Elia Kazan, and not a small amount of rebelling against its reputation. But sometimes reputations are deserved, and this one totally is. Vivien Leigh plays Blanche duBois as a fading Southern belle, almost a “Scarlett O’Hara ten years later” sort of approach, with nervous energy and intentional theatricality. She’s desperate, and desperate not to seem desperate. Then when Brando steps into the frame as her brother-in-law Stanley, I suddenly understood why everyone idolizes him so – I never really got it until now, but he is utterly magnetic here, holding a languid tension that seems always ready to burst into passion or violence, and yet also ready with an irresistible cocky smile. Brando’s naturalistic Method acting and Leigh’s old-school theatrical style do not belong in the same movie, and yet somehow when the two meet on screen, sparks fly and the very contrast becomes part of their characters, their relationship, and the texture of the film itself. The film is an odd combination of realism and heightened gothicism, much more unusual in tone and feeling than I expected, and much more compelling.
2010 SPAIN. Director: Guillem Morales. Starring: Belén Rueda, Lluís Homar, Pablo Derqui, Francesc Orella, Joan Dalmau.
A sleekly made Spanish horror/thriller, Julia’s Eyes tells the story of woman afflicted by an illness that is slowly rendering her blind, but who is never-the-less determined to discover the culprit behind her sister’s death, ruled by the police as a suicide. Produced by Guillermo del Toro, whose name will no doubt be a big draw for foreign audiences as was for 2007’s The Orphanage, the first thirty minutes of Julia’s Eyes are not particularly impressive; the dialogue is clunky, and first time feature director Guillem Morales relies far too heavily on the film’s overly dramatic score to provide cheap jump scares. However as the film progresses the suspense is laid on thicker and thicker, culminating in a spectacular tense and rather ingenious finishing act and magnificently staged final confrontation. It’s (probably) only a matter of time before this film gets an American remake, so be sure to catch the original so you can snobbishly remark to your friends how much better it is.
Would you like to know more…?