Friday, October 31, 2008

Weekend Rental Picks

A weekly series in which I try to help emerging cinephiles reduce their anxiety by pointing them in the right direction at their local Blockbuster.

The Letter (William Wyler, 1940)
On the surface, William Wyler's The Letter may not seem like anything groundbreaking- a woman (Bette Davis) shoots an acquaintance because she claims he attacked her, but the real reasons soon come out- but its actually one of the finest melodramas Hollywood has ever produced. Add to that the fact that it contains one of Bette Davis' greatest performances and The Letter is definitely a must see.

Roger & Me (Michael Moore, 1989)
Before Michael Moore really hit the big time with Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11, he made Roger & Me, an indicting film about how when GM left Moore's hometown of Flint, Michigan, the city fell apart (and is still trying to recover from). The film is everything you would expect from a Michael Moore film: thought provoking, a strong point of view and, above all else, wildly hilarious.

The Shop on Main Street (Jan Kadar, 1965/6)
The Shop on Main Street is a grim, powerful Holocaust drama, but not in the "triumph of the human spirit" vein. Josef Kroner is a lazy Nazi hoping to make a quick buck by taking over the button shop of an old, eccentric Jewish lady (Ida Kaminska). The shop makes no money, but Kroner grows to sympathize with Kaminska and when the Nazis come to round up the Jews to take them to concentration camps, he has a hard time letting that happen. It's during these last 30 minutes or so, where Kroner debates with his conscious whether or not he should hand the old woman over, that the film really makes an impact. It's a fantastic film that more people need to see and not just write off as another Holocaust film.

1 comment:

J.D. said...

The Shop on Main Street is seriously disturbed. Loved it.