Due to my keen ability to function for long periods of time without sleep, I was able to go all the way through this night without a moment of rest and knock out my science project, a reading of Death of a Salesman, and some tricky French. Even more exciting, I got a double feature in during this time thanks to my multi-tasking skills (though in hindsight I probably could have fit some time for sleeping in if I had turned off the tube and actually focused). Why am I such a procrastinator? If I had any sort of sense...and sensibility...I would have started this project at any point during the two weeks I had to do it. But unfortunately, I have none. That's why I'm trying to cram movies in during these early months of the year so I don't end up in a frantic scramble come December. With all the work still ahead of me, though, I foresee a mad December dash anyway.
I kicked off the night with The Thin Man(1934), a light murder mystery story clearly coming from a different place and time. The hero and heroine, a married couple, were shown sleeping in separate beds...what a wild departure from this year's nominees' vivid sexual imagery! It seems to me that much of what is emphasized and explored today in contemporary films was understated and subtly played in the distant classics, like this picture.
Throughout the movie, I kept wondering if the recent "Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist" featured title characters with stolen names (if you've never seen this one, the two crime-soliving main characters are named Nick and Nora). I also wondered why they always had that dog following them around. And while I did find myself chuckling at a few humorous turns, I just don't know if early 30's cinema is really my scene...but I guess I'll find out when I sift through the other nominees and winners of the time.
I chased that one with Ninotchka (1939) and found it significantly more entertaining. Perhaps this is because 1939 was just a golden year ("Gone With the Wind" popped out this year and is still going strong in the movie world) or because this movie is simply better. Either way, I spent a lot less time writing my science paper and a lot more time staring wide-eyed at the screen during these 110 minutes than when "The Thin Man" was blazing across my living room.
I'd heard the name before, of course, but this was the first time I'd seen Greta Garbo in action. She seemed simultaneously cold and endearing in her role as the suave Russian envoy of the title, bringing to life a deft, humorous story of romance in high society Paris. This was one of the first American films to portray the Soviet Union under Stalin, though it does so under the translucent cover of comedy. Despite that groundbreaking fact, it went home completely empty-handed from the 1939 Academy Awards (not really surprising considering Wind was sweeping through the ceremony). There's a little history lesson for you...don't worry, it's free.
In other movie news, 127 Hours was released on DVD and BluRay (but who actually has a BluRay player??) today, and I rushed home from school to buy my copy. It may have gone home sans a statuette on Sunday, but "Citizen Cane" didn't win either, and look how it's doing now.