I've always enjoyed Rancho Notorious. Fritz Lang complained that Dietrich kept going into her trailer and coming out more glamorous and youthful each time, negating what he was trying to do with her character.
This film has been a favorite of mine for many years. Hayao Miyazaki adapted it from a novel, which has been out of print for I don't even know how long, but a new English translation of the book is being published tomorrow. This is the first time I have been able to obtain a copy of it. I have it on the way from Amazon, and am both curious and slightly nervous to read it. I love Kiki as a character, and her story is so inviting and relatable, so the idea of spending more time in her company is very appealing.
That being said, my understanding is that the movie is substantially different from the book, and I wonder how I will feel about the changes. I know this isn't really logical, because the book came first and the movie is the thing that changed it. But that's where I am at right now. I hold the movie in such high regard, and always have, that the idea of something different with this character is simultaneously exciting and a little scary. Does that make any sense? Although I am genuinely looking forward to reading it, I also hope that the book does not change my perception of the film too much.
So I watched the movie tonight, in advance of getting the book, because I wanted to have one last experience with it where the movie is all that I know.
Although I have no problem with reading subtitles and do that frequently, I have a soft spot for this dub because I saw it first when I was younger, so often watch that. Kirsten Dunst is so good in this role; she is warm and inviting and expressive, and instantly makes Kiki empathetic and relatable. Phil Hartman is hilarious as her cat, Jiji. And as a bonus, this was the first movie I ever saw with Debbie Reynolds in it. Before I grew up and became more aware of film history, if you had asked me when I was younger who Debbie Reynolds was, I would have told you she's the voice of Madame in Kiki's Delivery Service. She is terrific too and makes a real impact in only a few scenes.
Of course, the movie is beautifully animated and remains highly effective whichever language you view it in. A friend of mine recently said he felt it was "too young-skewing and slow to get into," but I think its simplicity is one of its strongest assets. Although Miyazaki has made a lot of equally terrific movies within more complex fantasy realms like Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle, this movie being far more straightforward allows it to really focus in on Kiki's emotional journey and personal growth without having to do a lot of heavy lifting to introduce us to a world that is greatly foreign to our own. Her struggles with her independence, friendships and building self-confidence feel authentic to things that happen in our world, even when she is flying off in fantastic visuals and talking to her cat. She is a great heroine who you really root for and with whom it is a pleasure to spend time. I have seen this any number of times, and it is always endearing and investible every time. Especially given the strange time in which we currently find ourselves, spending time with Kiki in this world is a pure pleasure. I usually cry at the end, and this is no exception.
Oh, and the Blu-ray release from Gkids absolutely sparkles. I said a couple weeks ago when I got Portrait of a Lady On Fire that you could almost pause any frame of that movie and have a piece of art that would be worth framing, and I feel the same here. The animation is just stunning and the transfer replicates it beautifully. Gkids has returned the film to theaters a couple times in the last few years as part of an ongoing partnership with Fathom Events, and even though I own the Blu-ray and they charge too much for tickets, I always go when I can. It's a great experience on a big screen in a crowded movie theater, and the kind of thing I miss having right now. But certainly the Blu-ray is about as good as you can get at home, and they've done an excellent job with this release. I've heard, around the internet, some people complain about it sounding like Kiki and other characters are speaking through a fan, but I don't hear that when I watch it, in that it sounds perfectly normal to me.
Hamilton (Disney+) Undoubtedly a work of genius and unbounded, youthful energy. Almost exhausting to a point because it hardly ever stops, but when it does, there are moments of beautiful reflection. A truly timely history lesson.
Wish it were heeded. Fists in the Pocket (Criterion BD) 1965. This film might have been my first introduction to Morricone's music. It was also my introduction to Marco Bellocchio's films since this was his debut film, and a great work it is. A portrait of a family doomed by genetic deficiencies and a brother's desire to rid himself of the undesirable elements. Lou Castel's performance in this quasi-horror movie is riveting. A 4K restoration. Pittsburgh (Kino BD) 1942. Dietrich, Scott and Wayne ride, love and fight again. The locale changes from Alaska to the Pennsylvania coal mines (later steel yards for the war effort). Dietrich emotes well and looks really good; Scott is the stalwart hero this time around; Wayne is a weasel, unconvincingly redeemed by the final reel. It's just not as good as The Spoilers, though the PQ is as good.
I *thought* I had a BR of this one but, nope - that's the remake I have on BR, so DVD it was... Still looks pretty good outside the TV content bits. That's the steelbook which has a copy of both the "Extended Director's Edition" and Theatrical. Time difference is around a minute and I'm not familiar enough with the film to know just what all might be different between the versions.
A movie I've loved since I first saw it in the early 60s.
All revisits: The Tingler (Indicator BD) 1959. Absolutely absurd premise but absolutely absurd fun! And Price is convincingly good in the absurd role. He's so professional: every inch of his absurdly lanky frame and fruity voice. Judith Evelyn is very effective in her silent part. This film must have been a scream in its original Percepto presentation. Very good trasfer. Dark Victory (WB BD) 1939. The first time I saw this as a child I remember crying my eyes out, tears streaming out uncontrollably. I saw it repeatedly (masochist) over the years, culminating in 1973 when MoMA showed a 35mm nitrate print. Of course, by then I realized that brain tumors didn't kill that beautifully nor painlessly in less than an hour; but Davis was still effective as the doomed heroine, and Brent was still stolid. However, now we can appreciate Geraldine Fitzgerald's great supporting performance, so natural compared to Davis's somewhat mannered performance. The transfer is admirable. Ninotchka (WB BD) 1939. I saw this in my mid-teens in a 35mm print shown in 1.85 (gasp!) as part of a Garbo festival where I was introduced to 4 of her great films (and to her and Lubitsch). I've also seen this film a number of times and its charm and brilliance remains undimmed. To think that in 1939 Lubitsch directed this and The Shop around the Corner as well...Excellent transfer.
prior to ordering that Criterion Bruce Lee set during the upcoming B&N sale , needed to see that fight again, and it has me pondering a question, in dialogue from the script, who do you think the "kickboxer" is that Lee mentions in his rant?
Storm Center (Criterion Channel) 1956. First time viewing in its OAR and in a very good transfer that shows off Burnett Guffey's lighting. Bette Davis shines in this story of a librarian who refuses to buckle to censorship and intolerance. Her foe is an unprincipled man who uses her stand as a springboard for a political career, using innuendo and lies about her, her life and the life of a young boy be damned. For some reason, this sounds vaguely familiar... But I'm a Cheerleader (Criterion Channel) 1999. Campy satire of gay conversion therapy camps. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The cast is game: Natasha Lyonne, Clea DuVall, Cathy Moriarty, Bud Cort, Mink Stole, RuPaul (not in drag), Michelle Williams, Julie Delpy, etc. So if this is not your cup of tea, skip it... The Wild Goose Lake (Film Movement DVD) 2019. I wish this had been a BD: the cinematography and the textures cry out for it. The new China, a gritty China, not the sleek, modern China. And it takes place in Wuhan! A story of biker gangsters. One is on the lam. A mysterious woman latches on to him. He (and we) doesn't know who is trustworthy. Have members of his own gang turned against him? Are there undercover police chasing him? Who is who? It goes where it needs to go in its inexorable pace. But it ends in a satisfying note.
Watched S01E01 of the television series Rake on Netflix. Stars Richard Roxburgh as a colorful lawyer in Sydney, Australia. The premiere episode was a lot of fun. It was a very quirky, light comedy with some real oddball characters in it. Sort of felt like a cross between Californication and Better Call Saul. Not precisely of course, but it does feature some of the same sort of absurdity one would find in Californication, and it does deal in a pretty light manner with the legal profession. Definitely going to continue with this series.