Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Thoroughly Modern Millie

(1967)

I saw this in Hollywood at the Cinerama Dome when it first came out. I was enchanted, and still am. I’ve always loved Julie Andrews, even in that sappy The Sound of Music. Films like The Americanization of Emily, Mary Poppins, and Victor/Victoria show her range, but she is best when she is singing and dancing ... Read more »

Madame Rosa

(La vie devant soi, France, 1977)

Translates as The Life Ahead. Simone Signoret is the title character. She is an elderly French Jew, a former prostitute, an Auschwitz survivor. She lives in the Belleville neighborhood of Paris, which at that time (maybe still, for all I know) was a real ethnic mix. She babysits for the whores on the street, and has two young men who live with her full time: ... Read more »

Broadway Melody of 1936

(1935)

The story is totally clichéd. The script is lame. The acting is second-rate. Robert Taylor looks puzzled as to how he ended up on this sound stage at MGM when he was supposed to be at Universal filming Magnificent Obsession.

What’s good about it? The choreography is nice. Frances Langford is a pretty good singer. Buddy Ebsen, in his first film, does his ... Read more »

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

(卧虎藏龙) (Wòhǔ Cánglóng, Taiwan, 2000)

I was hoping that viewing this a second time, I might possibly get what it is that everyone seems to like so much about this film, which I thought was pretty silly the first time I saw it. Sorry, it looks even sillier now. I had to watch it when Lee was out of the house, because she said she wasn’t going to subject herself to it again. She was wise. But since we are soldiering through all ... Read more »

Kolya

(Kolja, Czech Republic, 1996)

Louka is a cellist who, because of an ill-advised political statement, has been reduced to playing dirges in the balcony at funerals, before the coffin is rolled into the crematorium. These were the days before the Velvet Revolution, when the Soviets were still in control of Czechoslovakia and other Eastern European countries.

He is persuaded into a sham marriage with a Russian ... Read more »

Character

(Karakter, Netherlands, 1997)

Winner of the Best Foreign Language Oscar for 1997. I have to say that though this was a watchable and sometimes entertaining film. I don’t see it as Oscar-worthy. Well, it wasn’t the first time the Academy made a mistake, and it wasn’t the last, either. For all I know the four other nominees were no better, but I’m unlikely to ever see them. It’s about a young man whose father is a ... Read more »

42nd Street

(1933)

Though Busby Berkeley had previously choreographed huge musical numbers, including his trademark overhead kaleidoscope of chorus girls, and he would go on to direct even larger numbers than what we see here, this one, to me, is the granddaddy of huge musical films. It’s the one that has lasted the longest, and has become a classic. It contains all the lovely clichés of the backstage ... Read more »

Big Night

(1996)

When we were traveling in our motor home we hooked it up at the Ocean Breeze trailer park in Oceano, California. We were about a hundred yards from the beach. Next to the park was an empty building. People started renovating it, which took an amazingly long time, but when it opened it was a pizza parlor. Behind it all was an old man who spoke no English, and whose plan was to introduce ... Read more »

The Walls of Malapaga

(Italian: Le mura di Malapaga; French Au-delà des grilles (Beyond the Gates), Italy, France, 1950)

First, I have to say a word about VHS and box televisions. How quickly we get spoiled!!! Our odyssey through all 69 of the Best Foreign Film Oscars has to include a few VHS tapes, because they are only available in that format in the World’s Best Video Store, Movie Madness in Portland, or anywhere else. We feel lucky that MM has them at all. But I’ve been having trouble getting a VHS to ... Read more »

Indochine

(France, 1991)

Here is one of the prettiest movies you will ever see, with stinking ugliness just under the surface. It tells the story of an old French family who have lived in French Indochina for generations, stealing rubber and exploiting the locals. Catherine Deneuve is Éliane Devries, who runs the plantation, and who I instantly hated. She refers to her indentured workers as “coolies,” but “slaves” ... Read more »