an idiot abroad, season finale
if they move, kill 'em! steven, jeff & phil count down their favorite films

what i watched last week

I’m going to be part of a new project on Facebook that I wanted to mention here. I’ve written on several occasions recently about Phil & Scott’s Top 100, where Phil Dellio and Scott Woods walked us through their 100 favorite songs, beginning at #100 and working their way to #1. Phil still has the itch, and so, beginning next Monday, he, along with myself and Jeff Pike (among other things, Jeff, like Phil and Scott, are occasional commenters on this blog), will be counting down our 50 favorite films. This will all happen on a Facebook Group … I’m not entirely sure what they are, but they work (the music list was via a FB group). So, if you are on Facebook and would like to be a part of this, let me know and we can add you to the group. Scott and Phil felt that the comments were what made their music lists especially worthwhile, so the more people reading and the more people commenting, the better. The group hasn’t been officially created yet, so I’ll post a reminder when it finally exists, which will be before March 21, since that is when we will begin. My weekly “what i watched last week” posts here will continue, of course, but for the next six months or so, “what i watched” will include 50 of my favorites. Meanwhile:

The Producers. It’s interesting just how ugly this film is, visually. However Mel Brooks might have developed as a director, in this, his first film at the helm, his skills haven’t caught up to his writing. This is especially unfortunate in the case of Zero Mostel, who is such an overpowering presence he’s like a 3-D actor even if he’s far away … Brooks constantly sticks Mostel in close-ups, and they do him no favors. There are funny bits here and there, although too often you can imagine how much funnier they probably seemed when they were first thought up (Brooks’ movies tend to make for great trailers, because you get the cream in three minutes without having to sit through the rest). Oddly enough, the one time the staging works is for the “Springtime for Hitler” production number. Brooks draws on our memories of show-stopping musicals of the past, and offers a pastiche that is funny, vulgar, and appealing all at the same time. That the song is a paean to the greatness of Hitler only makes it better/worse. In 1968, such content was still shocking, but in this context, it only shows how mild the central plot of “creative accounting” is. #485 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the Top 1000 films of all time. 6/10.

On the Town. An exhausting musical that never stops to breathe, except for a mid-film “ballet” that makes one welcome the return of the frenetic pace of the rest of the movie. That might sound like a fun movie, and in fact, On the Town is considered a classic by many (it’s #551 on the TSPDT Top 1000 list). So your mileage may vary, but me, I didn’t mean “exhausting” in a positive sense. It only runs 98 minutes, but it has just as many musical numbers as longer films, so it comes off as overstuffed. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that a movie with both Gene Kelly AND Ann Miller would beat us to death with exuberant energy. A little of Miller goes a long way, and I’ve always been an Astaire man. 6/10.