Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Week in Review

  • Dracula (Terence Fisher, UK, 1958)
  • Singin' in the Rain (Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly, USA, 1952)
This was the first opening night film at Melbourne Cinémathèque, a brand new print from the BFI in the UK. The print was excellent, but I'm not a big fan of the horror genre, and this film is quite camp. The acting is quite staged. I found the film enjoyable enough, but forgettable.

I've been snowed under with my day job, so was too tired to stay for Night of the Eagle (Burn, Witch, Burn!, Sidney Hayers, UK, 1961). I'm told it was a better film, but c'est la vie.

Singin' in the Rain (Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly, USA, 1952)
I wanted to see this, knowing it's David Stratton's favourite film. I suppose some kinds of movie magic only happen once, and maybe DS is attached to the effect this had on him as a child (I don't know, I'm only hypothesising). For me it did nothing. In fact, I nodded off a couple of times. I'm not a big fan of musicals, and this is just a movie, a film to entertain the masses with its Hollywood stereotypes of love, conflict, struggle and success. To it's credit - and this is something I've always appreciated - this and similar films have stars who are genuinely talented, even if those talents are better suited for live performance on a stage. Their dancing and singing is infinitely better than the showbottle charlatans in Chicago, for example. I just don't take to the fairytale plots.


Y Kant Goran Rite said...

I think you're doomed once you start looking for plot development or realism in MGM musicals. That said, I think the storyline in Singin in the Rain is as engaging as anything that came out of Hollywood in the 50s (and I feel several of the most engaging cinema storylines came out of Hollywood in the 50s).

I don't think it's DS's favourite film purely because of a sentimental childhood attachment - many other people rank it among the greatest of all time (I don't think I've seen an all-time Top-100list without it, and it often lands in Top 10s). For what it counts, I was in my early teens when I first saw it, which was a time when I first saw a lot of masterpieces, but very few I preferred. I got a chance to watch it again this past Tuesday morning: I broke into a probably-silly-looking grin as soon as the titles (and Gene Kelly, and Debbie Reynolds, and above all, Donald O'Connor) popped up, and even if I tried, I doubt I could have gotten rid of it before the closing credits. In fact, I spent most of the day grinning and humming the tunes (and I never hum tunes).

Much as I love and champion my squalid realist Romanian abortion dramas, I don't look at witty, buoyant, enchanting Hollywood escapism as a lesser form of art. And there's definitely a place in cinema for naturally charismatic performers who can dance and carry a tune.

Paul Martin said...

Goran, I accept that there's a place in cinema for this type of film and performance. I also understand that it's very popular, as was Chicago (which I hated, and was one of only a very few films I have walked out on). It just does nothing for me.