Sunday, July 22, 2007

Revisit: High Sierra

A Warner Brothers picture 1941

Directed by Raoul Walsh

Writing credits:
W.R. Burnett (novel & screenplay)
John Huston (screenplay)

Roy 'Mad Dog' Earle (Humphrey Bogart) is broken out of prison by an old associate who wants him to help with an upcoming robbery.

The film that made Humphrey Bogart a star, High Sierra also put film-noir on the top of Hollywood's to do list. A tense crime caper with a dark, bloody ending, it's no surprise that Dillinger is mentioned in the trailer - Sierra was loosely based on his life, despite his name being high on the blacklist of topics too taboo for mainstream cinema. The film also features Ida Lupino, who despite being one of the first female directors in Hollywood doesn't quite get the recognition she deserves. She's a great actress, and a fine director to boot. The picture is pretty straight forward, but it's great to see a pre-Casablanca Bogie perfecting his hard-ass image.

Revisit: Jesus is Magic

A Black Gold/Roadside Attractions film 2005

Directed by Liam Lynch

Written by Sarah Silverman

Narrative digressions on sex, race, politics, and more from comedienne Sarah Silverman.

Essentially a Sarah Silverman stand-up special, Jesus is Magic doesn't veer far from the traditional three shot format of most comic films, but it does have some added benefits: a few suped-up musical interludes, and Sarah Silverman, whose uncouth, obnoxious J.A.P. persona is actually a better schtick on stage than in sketch shows or straight narratives. Everyone knows that girl, the kind of oblivious, self-centered show off whose heart is full of sentiment but in all the wrong places, and Silverman works it to perfection. The jokes are fierce and funny, and it certainly helps that she's a looker. But if you're not into those so-called 'alternative' comedians, this probably won't be for you. I can't help but add that I was disappointed by Liam Lynch's lackluster direction - the musical interludes look great, but he simply plopped the camera down for the stand-up, which could have benefit from some variety in terms of movement. Surely there are more ways to shoot a comedian on stage than just close-ups and medium shots, but this film isn't look to push the format any farther.