For those of you who think there’s been too much movie coverage here, not enough about comics — you’re right. I appreciate your patience and hope it will continue. There’s been a lot going on, and I haven’t had the time or focus to read works in depth, let alone talk about them. Films are easier.
I do have plans to attempt more comic coverage, but I make no promises, for fear of disappointing. Cross-country moves and house purchases are complicated, messy, time-consuming things. I hope regular coverage will resume by September.
The Great McGinty (1940) — A Preston Sturges film I’d never seen before, it turns out to be his first as writer/director. Then, the revelation of how crooked politicians were might have been more shocking, but today, the idea that a mayor, then governor started as a con-artist bum (Brian Donlevy) is no surprise. However, in reversal, the idea that he could be reformed by the love of a good woman (a single mother! Muriel Angelus in her last role) is harder to believe these days, because we so rarely see politicians do the right thing.
My Reputation (1946) — According to Robert Osborne, this melodrama was made a couple of years before it was released, which makes references to wartime rationing more sensible. Barbara Stanwyck is recently widowed, and everyone gets upset when she begins going out with an Army Major (George Brent, who isn’t quite up to Stanwyck’s level). I think this is somewhat explained by how, early on, a family “friend” takes her recent change in marital status as an excuse to hit on her, forcibly kissing her and saying his wife will never have to know. Apparently, widows who weren’t scrupulously correct were considered loose women. Maybe that’s why Stanwyck’s mother is still wearing black, 25 years after her husband died.
So, anyway, Barbara’s dating this guy who brings her out of her depression, left alone with her husband dead and their two preteen sons off to school, but that’s a bad thing, because all her former friends (except for the always-great Eve Arden) whisper about her behavior. Stanwyck’s performance is strong, but the movie isn’t much of anything but a time capsule about how much self-sacrifice was expected from women suddenly freed, even against their will, from the protective bonds of marriage and motherhood. Apparently, while you have kids, you shouldn’t have a love life.
Glee Season 2 (2010) — Features the Britney Spears episode and the fabulous “Rocky Horror Glee Show” episode, plus a bonus making-of about that particular plot. It doesn’t make any sense, logically. You’re concerned about the show being too sexy for kids, so you include “Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me” and start casting ADULTS to interact with them in that way? I mean John Stamos is neat as Eddie in black leather, but … I liked Jayma Mays’ quote, from the behind-the-scenes footage, “The children are singing, and they’re transvestites, and it’s wonderful.”
Other events: Sam (Chord Overstreet) and Lauren (Ashley Fink) join, and Blaine (Darren Criss) gets introduced with the Warblers during the Kurt/Karofsky bullying storyline. That leads to song high points “Teenage Dream”; the “Baby It’s Cold Outside” duet with Kurt; and “Raise Your Glass”. (Blaine really got the best songs this season.) There are a bunch of holiday — Christmas, Valentine’s, wedding — episodes as well as a Fleetwood Mac tribute. The focus this season is more on the music and the numbers than plot — which was never the strong point of the show anyway — and it’s all quite enjoyable.
There are more notable guest stars as well. In addition to Stamos marrying Emma, Gwyneth Paltrow shows up to make fun of Will’s song selections and sing “Forget You”. The post-Super Bowl episode is included, with the zombie halftime show to “Thriller”. There are drinking and sex episodes — but that latter is kind of redundant when it comes to this show. After rewatching the season in a great big chunk, I have a much greater appreciation for what Cory Monteith is doing as Finn.
The Jane Austen Book Club (2007) — Every time I watch this, I want to re-read the works of Austen. Then I really want friends like these, with the wise older woman with a gift for making new friends wherever she goes, and the adults struggling to discover or rediscover love.
The Net (1995) — I was feeling edgy and uncertain, so I put on this thriller to put things in perspective. At least no one is trying to kill me or steal my identity. And the now-old tech is funny. Then, ordering pizza and airline seats online was something antisocial nerds did. Now, it’s all mainstream. Weird, though, that the computers are so connected but this is a time before caller ID.
It’s kind of sad that Dennis Miller plays a sympathetic character and gets treated the way he does in the film. Between his mix-up and some of the tricks the self-aware computer played in Probe, it’s enough to send you to the country to live off the grid. Hey, there was a one-season series based on this movie in 1998! Anyone remember watching it?