Top Fifty Films of the 40s — Number Fourteen

#14 — Meet Me in St. Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 1944) By the time I was paying attention, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” was a holiday standard. The song, written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, has been recorded countless times, usually presented as a sentimental ode to the joys of of the Christmas season, the tender melody imbued with sedate good cheer. That’s partially attributable to finessing done to the lyrics over the year, but I still found it remarkable, even jarring, when I first experienced the song in its original context, as one of the numbers in the movie musical … Continue reading Top Fifty Films of the 40s — Number Fourteen

Top Fifty Films of the 50s — Number Twenty-Three

#23 — The Bad and the Beautiful (Vincente Minnelli, 1952) There was a time when Hollywood was all klieg lights and high glamor, at least in its calculated depictions of self. It was lucrative to preserve the myth of happy creative miracles, dreams captured on celluloid for all to enjoy. By the nineteen-fifties, some cynicism was starting to creep in, and filmmakers allowed that their chosen business had a corrosion at its heart. Some of this was surely attributable to the general social shell shock felt in the post-war years, but I think there’s also the slide of Hollywood itself to … Continue reading Top Fifty Films of the 50s — Number Twenty-Three

Cretton, Hood, Kanin, Minnelli, Sturges

Next Time I Marry (Garson Kanin, 1938). The earliest film that gave Lucille Ball star billing casts her as bratty heiress who needs to marry the right man to secure her inheritance, the sort of dilemma that only exists in the movies. Arriving a few years after It Happened One Night, the film is transparently a riff on the Frank Capra hit, with Ball’s entitled scold being tamed by the regular joe (James Ellison) she impulsively weds to get her money. They road trip across the country in a race to secure an annulment, director Garson Kanin staging everything with … Continue reading Cretton, Hood, Kanin, Minnelli, Sturges

Spectrum Check

The mad rush to the end of the year continues at Spectrum Culture. Everyone’s been doing their best to pull together various “best of” features while still making sure we still continue to crank out the regular new material. It’s fun (especially for a dork like me who enjoys wedging his media interests into list form, which the tags over there on the right certainly indicate), but a little exhausting, too. And it’s made even more busy when a feature we’ve been working on for ages comes to fruition at the exact same time. It took over a year for … Continue reading Spectrum Check

Spectrum Check

I was irritated that I had a day this past week when I plainly gave up on writing a post for this space. Here’s part of the reason why: I wrote an awful lot for Spectrum Culture this week. First, I wrote about the new album from Washed Out, which I think is a significant improvement on the full-length debut from a couple years back. I asked for the release because it’s a little different material for me, and I thought it would be a good stretch for me. When I sat down to write the review last weekend, I … Continue reading Spectrum Check

Spectrum Check

My week at Spectrum Culture started with a review that took an atypically long time to show up, or at least longer past the original release than is usual for us. I received my copy of Andrew Bujalski’s Computer Chess after it opened, not at all the norm. Plus it arrived before a short week where the site took a couple days off, so there’s a layer of dust on the movie by the time the review showed up. Of course, that’s always the case here on the good ol’ Coffee for Two page, but it felt weird for me … Continue reading Spectrum Check

Buñuel, Meehl, Penn, Minnelli, Rohmer

Buck (Cindy Meehl, 2011). Cindy Meehl’s measured, steadfast documentary focuses on Buck Brannaman, a renowned horseman who primarily makes his living traveling around the country and delivering ranch seminars intended to help people develop better relationships with their problem animals. Meehl was actually inspired to make the film after her own positive experience in one of those group training sessions. Her film, understandably then, comes across like the work a true believer, which is both its strength and weakness. It’s an intimate, compelling portrait of a man who’s found his way through significant personal hardship to create a professional life … Continue reading Buñuel, Meehl, Penn, Minnelli, Rohmer

Jason, Milestone, Minnelli, Scorsese, Shelton

Humpday (Lynn Shelton, 2009). While I don’t always give the background on my viewing choices, I will note that this finally made its way from out queue to our screen in preparation for watching Lynn Shelton’s excellent follow-up. I’m mostly sharing that to give myself a public chastisement. Humpday is pretty terrific, providing a surprisingly plausible narrative progression to an utterly implausible scenario. Mark Duplass and Joshua Leonard play old college buddies whose reunion after several years apart winds up involving an odd pledge to make a man-on-man pornographic film together, in direct opposition to their heterosexual tendencies, for Seattle’s … Continue reading Jason, Milestone, Minnelli, Scorsese, Shelton