The Third Man (dir. Carol Reed): A repeat viewing, and of course utterly delightful. Diagonals, blacks, greys, and tilts. Noir created a new and mysterious universe, and here Reed, Greene, and Welles made it weirder and more off kilter. We’d begun to know what to expect, and they turned the tables on us. Jagged and excellent.
It’s A Wonderful Life (dir. Frank Capra): Annually obligatory, but delightfully so. This time in b&w, thankfully, and upscaled on the Oppo BD player. Am struck this time around with how great Donna Reed is. You have to love her to love the movie, and she makes it easy. And, this time, am thinking it’s more complex in terms of postwar American socioeconomics than earlier. Implications of socialism and capitalism are blurry at best. It’s more about answered prayer than that, anyway.
Star Trek (dir. J.J. Abrams): It got less good as time passed since the last viewing, but the first sequence reminds one afresh of its lore-shattering greatness. The sequence may well be too good for the movie itself, which becomes awkwardly aw-shucks with the appearance of Leonard Nimoy, who’s willing to reduce the likelihood of young Kirk-and-Spock’s success for the “greater” good of getting them to bond through adventure. Odd now to embrace Zachary Quinto as Spock after now knowing him better as Sylar in Heroes. Despite the underbite, he does okay. Impossible not to love McCoy, though.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (dir. Chuck Jones): The infamous, notorious Scrooge, the anti-Santa at his best. Colors are bright and unambiguous, like the Grinch and the Whos of Whoville. A simplistic story, to be sure, but we all get it, or should. Animation like this is lost on the CGI generation nowadays. Thank you to Ron Howard and Jim Carrey for eternally confirming what we already knew: a remake of this would suck.
White Christmas (dir. Michael Curtiz): Still fun, still watchable, still good, even. Am reminded of its male chauvinist tendencies again, vilifying some women and dismissing others as dumb wannabe Marilyns. Plot is contrived – obvious, since it famously was built around songs, or just a song. This makes the main conflict more difficult to sit through each time and suggests that some annual viewings perhaps shouldn’t be quite so annual.