Kehr’s Weekly Recap: Picnic (1955)

The sometimes underrated Joshua Logan made his directorial debut with this overripe 1955 Daniel Taradash adaptation of a characteristically hyperbolic William Inge play, and the surprising thing is how much of it works—at least until the climactic dance scene with William Holden and Kim Novak, when camp and hysteria tend to take over. Jo Mielziner does such a formidable job of adapting his own theatrical set designs to homespun midwestern locations that you wonder at times if he—and maybe cinematographer James Wong Howe—shouldn’t be credited as codirectors. The secondary cast—Rosalind Russell, Susan Strasberg, Betty Field, Cliff Robertson, and Arthur O’Connell—also keep things pretty lively. 115 min.

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Indy in reverse

Kehr’s Weekly Recap: The Shop on Main Street (1965)

Sentimental dramas about the Holocaust aren’t my favorite genre; this one is a little less offensive than most, but it still takes too much advantage of the emotional reservoirs built into the theme (1965). During the Nazi occupation of Slovakia, a village handyman is appointed as the Aryan overseer of a button shop belonging to a little old Jewish woman; a friendship grows between them, and then one day the Germans announce that the Jews are to be deported. With Ida Kaminska and Josef Kroner; Elmar Klos and Jan Kadar directed, in the sweet, lightly depressed tone that was the hallmark of the Czech New Wave. 128 min. In Czech with subtitles.

Kehr’s Weekly Recap: One Hour With You (1932)

One Hour With You (1932)

A musical remake (1932) of Ernst Lubitsch‘s silent The Marriage Circle, directed from a detailed Lubitsch plan by George Cukor. Maurice Chevalier is a doctor happily married to Jeanette MacDonald but temporarily distracted by Genevieve Tobin. Every so often, Chevalier interrupts the story to ask the audience for advice with the plaintive “What Would You Do?”—demonstrating that you could get away with things in a comedy that most people still won’t accept in a drama. Very funny and very highly recommended.

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Kehr’s Weekly Recap: Band of the Hand (1986)



Band of the Hand VHS box

A group of Miami street kids is whipped into a lean fighting unit by an Everglades Indian and set upon the city as a scourge to lawbreakers. Michael Mann (Miami Vice) produced this exercise in fascist chic, and it plays like a TV pilot filled out with a few cusswords and strokes of excess violence. Director Paul Michael Glaser (was he Starsky or was he Hutch?) can’t be bothered with characterization: he counts on our familiarity with his obvious models (which run the gamut from Dead End to The Dirty Dozen) to do his work for him, and all of the necessary steps in the narrative (the kids learning self-respect, community values, moral imperatives) are glossed over in the clumsy rush to get to the next illogically planned, indifferently executed action sequence. With Stephen Lang, Michael Carmine, Lauren Holly, and Leon Robinson.

Kehr’s Weekly Recap: Jonah — Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000 (1976)

Jonas - Who Will Be 25 In The Year 2000

Alain Tanner‘s affectionate study of a group of 60s radicals trying to make the transition to the 70s. Tanner combines Godard‘s intellectual responsibility with Renoir‘s faith in the resiliency of the human spirit, resulting in a film that is both enlightening and encouraging. Funny, moving, and instructive, Jonah is that rare thing: a political film that speaks to the heart as well as the mind. Recommended (1976).

Kehr’s semi-Weekly Recap: The Aviator’s Wife (1980)

The Aviator's Wife (1981)



A perfect film. Eric Rohmer began his series titled “Comedies and Proverbs” with this 1980 tale of romantic entanglements, disappointments, and ever fresh possibilities, all set in a verdant Paris. Shot in 16-millimeter, the film has a simple, open visual style, yet its construction is extremely complex and pointed, as Rohmer abandons the first-person perspective of the “Six Moral Tales” in favor of an elegant, intertwining pattern of shifting points of view. The title character never appears but instead precipitates a chain of events that pull a young postal worker (Philippe Marlaud), his older girlfriend (Marie Riviere), and a teenage gamine (Anne-Laure Meury) together and apart. Charming, languorous, piercing, discreet—quintessential Rohmer, and more.


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