The last several weeks, actually, since other viewing demands had me down to about a movie a week.
The African Queen (John Huston, 1951). There are a couple of oddities here. One was that I’d never seen this classic. Two is that I liked it, quite a bit in fact, and understood why it was a classic, but it never quite made that status for me. Not sure why, since I can’t think of much to complain about. #296 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of all time.
This Is It (Kenny Ortega, 2009). Michael Jackson demonstrates that he still had “it.” The lack of an audience is unfortunate, not only because we know that he never got to put on these shows that look so promising, but also because we don’t get to see Jackson interact with that audience. His dancing is great, his professionalism (as we see it … who knows what’s on the cutting-room floor) admirable, his respect for the band, dancers, and crew obvious. But he is never “one of them,” he is always their boss, always at a hand’s remove. He’s like Elvis without a Memphis Mafia to hang out with.
Sherlock Holmes (Guy Ritchie, 2009). Entertaining and forgettable at the same time. It works like a buddy film, with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law a fine, bantering pair, and Rachel McAdams is just as fine as “the woman.” Mark Strong is believably creepy as the bad guy. But the movie has more to do with modern-day action pictures than it does with Sherlock Holmes, and I’m guessing that $500 million gross didn’t include many fans of Conan Doyle. Not that it matters, I suppose. If you’re a fan of Guy Ritchie, you’ll enjoy this. I’m not a fan, but this gets my vote as his best movie, for what it’s worth.