Welcome to my 12 Days of Christmas series! I thought I'd introduce some of my favorite anti-Christmas-spirit movies and a few proper Christmassy ones to celebrate what is actually my favorite holiday. (Food, pretty lights, and it lasts practically all month! It's really just the, um, people I don't like much.)
This is my entry in the delicious Food in Film Blogathon, hosted by Silver Screenings and Speakeasy. Check out the many treats from Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3! Let’s just start by acknowledging that Peter Greenaway‘s “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover” is not for everyone. And that’s okay.
"North by Northwest" (1959) ticks off a lot of Hitchcock’s favorite boxes: a Sexy Blonde; modes of transit (in spades); elaborate chase scenes; espionage; and a Wrong Man. And yet, it seems always to have lingered in the shadow of "Vertigo" (1958).
#2 You probably don't spend as much time as I do thinking about how amazing Robert Ryan is, but you might, if you watched this movie. One of Ryan's specialities is a barely suppressed rage that's constantly in danger of erupting into violence.
Takashi Miike has a great eye, and he constructs breathtakingly beautiful mise-en-scènes. "Over Your Dead Body" is no exception: It's gorgeous. Of course, the other thing Miike is known for is gore, often sexual in nature. "Over Your Dead Body" is also no exception in this regard.
Lang is a master of mood and lighting (assisted by some fantastic cinematographers), and this carries "Secret." It doesn’t hurt that it stars Joan Bennett (a sometime Lang favorite) and Michael Redgrave, but the plot is so goofily Freudian that if Bennett and Redgrave weren’t adrift in Lang’s parallel universe, it probably wouldn’t work.
Lang's protagonists are often less involved in a plot than they are trapped in a psychologically overwrought context, an atmosphere rather than a real place. Even before we know what sort of trouble Neale will get himself in, there is an unnerving emphasis on the passing of time. The film opens on a clock.
One of the great—and somewhat overlooked—films about World War I was originally made for television in Britain, filmed entirely on a claustrophobic set with a small budget and a tight schedule (just under a month). Directed in 1964 by Joseph Losey, an American ex-pat across the pond, "King and Country" is based on a fictionalized memoir.