That title reads better — or gets read better, anyway — with Orson Welles’s voice. So here’s a little snippet on mortality from F for Fake that I pretty much adore in this video.
Orson Welles in F for Fake, Chartres
Go on singing, indeed. This week saw the death not only of comedy great Gene Wilder — Scott’s obit is here — but also character actor John Polito, whose turn as the Italian mobster Johnny Caspar in Miller’s Crossing is a big part of why that film sits firmly in my all-time Top 10. Critics of the Coen Bros. sometimes say that they make movies about movies instead of movies about life. Maybe so, but it’s done so well here that it seems a thoroughly worthwhile approach. Caspar’s opening monologue on ethics beautifully echoes the opening of The Godfather, both in the way it looks and the way it sets the theme.
Alas, they won’t be bringing Miller’s Crossing back into theaters to honor Polito’s passing, but they will be showing two Gene Wilder classics: Blazing Saddles and the famed children’s Nazi parable Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. And while we’re on the subject of posthumous big screen honors, please let me put in another plug for the Digital Gym’s Abbas Kiarostami retrospective, which focuses this week on Like Someone in Love. Five — count ’em, five — stars from Mr. Marks.
A final word (for now) on death and the movies: Woody Allen was once told that he was a happy child until about age five, which he recalls as the age when he figured out that he was going to die. And so began a knock-down, drag-out tragicomic boxing match between Allen and the Reaper. Death has certain victory on his side, but Allen has gotten in some excellent shots along the way. Netflix has a fine intro-to-Woody documentary available right now, titled simply, Woody Allen: A Documentary.
The Light Between Oceans
Perhaps to avoid distracting from Wilder Week, the new release schedule is thin in terms of both quantity and quality. Best bet is probably Disorder, a PTSD drama that makes the case for Matthias Schoenaerts as the star of a John Rambo TV series. (Heard a couple of my fellow critics tossing the idea around before a screening, and dang if it wouldn’t make good contemporary television — the First Blood entry, anyway. Call me, FX execs, and I’ll put you in touch with the proper parties.)
After that, you’ve got not one but two disappointments featuring the normally compelling Rachel Weisz: midlife-crisis pic Complete Unknown and the suffering-drenched The Light Between Oceans. This is why we can’t have nice things, I guess.
Oceans also stars Alicia Vikander, who was so good in last year’s Ex Machina, which was so much better than this week’s female-AI flick, Morgan.
After that, there ain’t nothing left but The Hollars, which Scott might review if he’s feeling brave.