It’s President’s Day, so here’s a clip of a movie with a president in it. Patriotic duty: done!

Yes, I know that Peter Sellers’ Merkin Muffely is not the funniest part of Dr. Strangelove, but that’s exactly why I picked a clip with more George C. Scott in it. He owns every scene he’s in. If you actually listen to the words that he’s speaking, there’s very little about it that’s funny in a traditional sense, it’s all about his delivery. He exaggerates it just to the point where the absurdity of what he’s saying is highlighted, but the character himself isn’t aware of it. There’s no winking at the audience on Scott’s part to show he’s above it either. It’s not easy being subtle and a buffoon at the same time, but Scott nails it over and over again.

That literally is all from my end again this week, now it’s your turn. Has anybody seen anything worth talking about in the last week or so for better or for worse? Lay it on me in the comments section.

14 Responses to “President’s Day”

  1. George C. Scott was just amazing in this movie. He really does nail it over and over again.

  2. Also, I saw the Woman in Black this weekend. Not a favorite of mine but memorable because of how pretty damn scary a ghost story it was. The artistic aspects were admirable (costumes, etc.) and Hinds is always terrific.

  3. I’m thinking Scary + Hinds + Good Artistic Aspects makes Woman in Black worth looking into. Haven’t done it yet and might wait until video, but still…

  4. Dr Strangelove is a great movie and one that has rightly featured as a figurehead for the site at times.

    We finally watched Drive and ended up loving it. I have no problem with films that place style front and center when it is done so well. What an inspired choice the score was too! It played to the romanticism underscoring Gosling’s love interest and complimented the ’80s stylistic aspects to the visuals. I did think of Michael Mann initially but then went in a more French existential direction by way of comparison – not just Le Samourai but also flavors within 1981’s Diva with its great visuals, superb music, and enigmatic cool hero. I thought all the actors who had anything other than a cameo did a fine job, particularly Gosling who made the character a weird mix of gentle and vulnerable almost everyman, superhero, and unstable killer. He was like an Android whose emotions were too big for him to contain unless he kept them tightly under control. And Albert Brooks did fine work playing against type. The sequence where Gosling’s character wears the human-like mask was particularly powerful, as was the one where he beats the hit-man to death in the lift and then looks up at Mulligan’s character in anguished recognition of the likely impact upon her of what he just revealed of himself. This moment was made all the more unsettling by the extended and hyper-romanticized embrace between the two that preceded it.

  5. Yeah, Craig, it’s definitely one that you can wait for DVD for. Of course you may not find it as scary as I did. I’m inherently a scaredy-cat so it doesn’t take much.

  6. Alison… boo!

  7. lol, okay it takes a bit more than that.

  8. I catched up on my Oscar films… not only because of the awards coming up but because I want to know what is going on and what are people around me talking about…

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Not the best Fincher film but it was definately worth watching. I loved the book. I liked the original version. I believe that the actress there did a better job at portraying Salander. Ms. Mara seemed to have overdone it a bit with the eyebrows. Daniel Craig on the other hand did great – loved the way he portrayed the character even though I am not a big fan of his in general. All in all, liked the film a lot.

    The Descendants – Clooney was great. The script was solid and it was really painful to watch. I am not generally a fan on the “family drama” but in this case I have to admit they did an impressive job.

    Hugo – Loved the characters but the story seemed to me like the kind of thing you have to be a film fan to care about. Sure, I have seen all the early films but for some friends it was just weird to watch the story unfold. However, the characters all felt so real that I have to give thumbs up for Scorsese.

    Thinker Tailor Soldier Spy – It took me half of the film to get what was actually happening but this spy thriller had one very interesting and yet complicated narrative structure. Still, for me the best film I saw this weekend. Well shot and directed, and acted… Takes quite a while to get in but once you do, you definately want to know how it ends. All star cast for Britain and I’m not surprised it got the BATFA, although I have to admit that I am yet to watch some of the other contenders.

    Generally a nice weekend with solid films to watch but nothing I would consider extraordinary.

  9. Sartre, I’m a little less crazy about Drive than its large fanclub, but I have to admit I really warmed up to it after at first underestimating it. I’m not a fan of Refn’s work at all, but Drive is a lot of fun.

    The mask scene was impactful, but it seemed designed for that reason rather than being logical or meaningful. The actual act of wearing the mask accomplished very little as far as I could see. It was creepy and probably symbolic, but felt kind of nonsensical.

    Piro you’re the first person I’ve talked to who loved the book, liked the original movie and still liked the movie. I had a theory that it works best for people who either hated the original movie or who had not read the book or seen the movie. I think I was a little hard on the film in my review because I expected so much more. I at first felt like Rooney Mara actually did a more interesting job as Salander, but in retrospect I like them both but for totally different reasons.

    As for The Descendants, we’re in complete agreement on Clooney, even if we’re not quite on the film itself which really wound up disappointing me even though there were moments I liked a lot.

    One of the amazing things for me about Tinker Tailor is how compellingly watchable it is even though it’s not action packed or full of emotion. It really focuses your attention to try and understand what’s going on. I still believe part of the point is never being quite sure about what’s happening, but that’s hard to pull off in a film satisfactorily

  10. Craig, yes the mask scene was primarily about style. But I was ok with that.

    Did it make sense that he was wearing a mask? No.

    I do think it served a symbolic purpose, though arguably one that wasn’t needed. With the mask representing the fact that his external self did not fully represent his inner one and that his own face (often tightly controlled by his effort to suppress or hide emotion) was mask-like. I found that Gosling’s character wearing the mask also somehow heightened the violence and threat of violence within the scene.

  11. I have to agree that I’m in the minority but I believe that both the original and the US version managed to show even if slightly different nuances that were in the book. Initially I was also disappointed but after a couple of days and talking to a friend who liked it (not having seen the original or read the book), I think I appreciated it more.

    For Descendants, I had lower expectations, so yeah… I’m not crazy about the film but I still like Clooney and some parts of it. They managed to nail some comedy moments which wouldn’t have been seen if you just read the screenplay.

    “compellingly watchable without being action packed or full of emotion”. That’s the best description of TTSS for me :)

    P.S. I want to see Drive in the next few days. Glad to hear both Craig and Sartre liked it. Sounds very promising.

  12. Merkin Muffley isn’t the funniest part of Strangelove, but his one-sided telephone conversation with the drunk Soviet premiere is hilarious. Like Scott’s performance, it’s virtually all in the tone and delivery, not in the lines themselves (the various cutaway reaction shots that Kubrick inserts help). Not that we’re arguing or anything, because I’m 98% sure you agree.

  13. Sartre, yes the mask was his hero aspect which he so wanted to be yet tragically wasn’t. And yet, in a way he kind of was the way he sacrificed himself for the woman and child even though he knew he could not have them.

    Piro, I guess my thing with the Fincher is that it didn’t bring enough new to the material to make it interesting for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s well crafted, but it just felt like I’d seen it before. But your even more familiar with the material than me (I never read the book) and you found plenty to like about it. I look forward to seeing it again.

    Muffley is great, but I actually kind of prefer the Lionel Mandrake character. Sellers has more of an affinity for a stiff-upper lipped Englishman than a dopey but earnest American.

    But you’re right, the phone conversation is classic.

  14. Yeah Craig, Driver was an intriguing blend of heroic and psychopathic traits. The coexistence of the two – presented most compellingly in the extended elevator scene – evoked an odd kind of pathos.

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