Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What We've Been Watching: Flower Girls, Trains, and ... Zombies

The Station Agent


A sweet and quirky film about a dwarf, a refreshment stand operator, and a reclusive artist connecting with one another at an abandoned train station in rural New Jersey.

We watched this highly acclaimed film fairly soon after it originally was released and were not impressed. So slow, so obvious, nothing happens.

However, we were very different movie viewers then than we are now. So we took another run at it and liked it much better. The themes of community, loneliness, and normalcy are nicely interwoven and the acting is quite good. I especially liked the fact that the most outgoing, talkative, friendly person also was very lonely. And that is what makes the ending scene so perfect.

Rose wrote a review of this at Double Exposure which I recommend reading.



When disc jockey Grant Mazzy reports to his basement radio station in the Canadian town of Pontypool, he thinks it's just another day at work. But when he hears reports of a virus that turns people into zombies, Mazzy barricades himself in the radio booth and tries to figure out a way to warn his listeners about the virus and its unlikely mode of transmission.

Genius. Sheer genius. This has been called the thinking man's zombie movie and I can't argue with that. Not that there isn't blood. Because of all those zombies.  But any violence was well telegraphed so I could look away. There are a couple of problems with the third act, but nothing that I couldn't live with. (haha)

3:10 to Yuma (1957) 


Dave Evans (Van Heflin), a small time farmer, is hired to escort Ben Wade (Glenn Ford), a dangerous outlaw, to Yuma. As Evans and Wade wait for the 3:10 train to Yuma, Wade's gang is racing to free him.

Glenn Ford, you wicked devil, you! I didn't know you had such a subtle, serpent-like performance in you. Well done!

This was a fascinating encounter between two men who have chosen the opposite ways to approach life. Both have regrets, both wrestle with how to live — all in the context of this lean Western.

I know Roger Ebert said that the 2007 remake was better but I'm hard put to see how.

UPDATE: Having seen someone here say this ending is happy and the new one is not was a worrying sign. So I went to Wikipedia for a more indepth "new Yuma" plot summary. Holy moly, I suppose the skeleton of this movie is there but, in typical modern style, it looks as if it gained about 50 pounds and dyed its hair. No thanks. I'll stick with this one.

My Fair Lady


A misogynistic and snobbish phonetics professor agrees to a wager that he can take a flower girl and make her presentable in high society.

As with many older films, I thought I remembered everything. Rewatching it for a movie discussion group I realized I'd forgotten just how wonderful Hepburn's acting is, how much Harrison makes us love someone who is horribly selfish, and the sharp, sparkling satire of the whole piece.

I certainly hadn't recalled that Eliza is the one who begins the experiment by asking the professor for lessons. Her will is just as strong as his, though it isn't exhibited in as many ways. I did remember the songs and costumes and basic plot, all of which were as wonderful as I recalled.

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