day seven comes just in time. many more days like yesterday and you might find me jellyin' up the sidewalk. fortunately, it's a new day and this is the sweet baby that's going to put us back on top.
i love the coen brothers' the hudsucker proxy (1994) more every time i see it. this viewing confirmed for me that it belongs in what i consider to be the top tier of their output. looking back, those first seven films were an incredibly strong way to begin a career, with this one being the dark horse. it has all of the hallmarks that made me fall in love with their work - the incredibly specific devotion to language, the dizzying camerawork, the playfully omniscient and wise narrator, the oddball sense of humor - and, for the first time in their career, it adds to that a layer of screwball comedy and movie magic the likes of which hadn't been seen in about forty years. even the opening credits promise something grand and the coens do not fail to deliver. the opening pan across the city is beautiful. everything in the boardroom gleams. even charles durning's suicide is majestic (and momentarily hilarious when he wipes his eye). the homages to preston sturges, katharine hepburn, et al. are loving and sharply executed. the film took a lot of heat upon its release for not having any heart but it seems that these critics never took into account the fact that this is satire. as for it being pastiche, sure, there's some of that. i wonder, though, why demonstrating a thorough knowledge and love of a certain genre from the thirties and forties is unacceptable when these same critics have multiple orgasms every time quentin tarantino cobbles together some whizbang nonsense in which literally every scene can be traced to an (often superior) antecedent from the golden age of the drive-in? hardly seems fair. ah, well, pay them no mind. the years are going to continue to be kind to this one. i'll stake my pulitzer on it. any time someone bemoans the state of filmmaking in our life and times, whenever you think to yourself "they just don't make 'em like they used to", remember this film. it's a pip.
we ring down the curtain on this edition of queue de grâce with stephen daldry's billy elliot (2000).
i guess this is a fine enough, feel-good way to go out this week. it seemed to me like just another in the long recent line of scrappy upstarts overcoming grim conditions in the UK. echoes of everything from the commitments (1991) to brassed off (1996) - my favorite of the lot, thanks primarily to the late, great pete postlethwaite - to the full monty (1997). and, like monty, this has spawned a musical in its wake as well. what makes this film special is obviously the kid. jamie bell does a fantastic job as billy. there's a character in his face that belies his tender years. he strikes a fine balance between the hard-won wisdom of someone who has seen their fair share of tough times and the perplexity that comes with adolescence, sometimes communicating the subtle difference between the two with just his forehead. i would recommend it based on his performance alone. otherwise, you've seen the story a dozen times.
round two is now in the books. thanks for reading along. i am now off to reclaim my television.