I kind of dropped the ball on my Weekly Screening Roundup these past few weeks, so here’s a roundup of the new-to-me movies I watched in April:
Creed (2015)– A rousing second half makes up for the choppy first half. Solid performances from Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson. Stallone was also great, but the Academy made the right decision when they gave the Oscar to Bridge of Spies’ Mark Rylance. RECOMMENDED.
Shane (1953)– So glad I finally watched this iconic Western. The events of the story unfold from a child’s perspective, which elicits a more tender emotional response one usually doesn’t expect from this genre. And it was great to see my girl Jean Arthur in her final movie role. ESSENTIAL.
Gidget (1959)– This fun little teen beach movie got me in the mood for summer. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. RECOMMENDED.
All is Lost (2013)– The prospect of watching Robert Redford alone at sea for 1 hour and 45 minutes may not seem ideal, but the story and performance gripped me from beginning to end. This film is proof that you don’t need dialogue to tell a compelling story. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
To Have and Have Not (1944)– My first Bogart and Bacall film—can you believe it? There are shades of Casablanca in this one, though it’s not quite up to par. But the film benefits from Bogart and Bacall’s palpable chemistry. ESSENTIAL.
Pennies from Heaven (1981)– Loved the musical numbers and the overall look, not so much the narrative. Christopher Walken steals the movie with one number. Steve Martin’s dancing is impressive, too. Put the kids to bed before you watch this one, though. It may be a musical, but it earns its R rating.
The Harvey Girls (1946)– A second-rate effort from MGM trying to capitalize on the success of Oklahoma! I wanted to like it—heck, Judy Garland and Angela Lansbury star—but the story and the songs (with the exception of the insanely catchy “On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe”) just didn’t do it for me.
While You Were Sleeping (1995)– Cute Romantic Comedy set in Chicago during Christmastime. The premise is bizarre, but the charming cast makes it work. Bless you, Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman. RECOMMENDED.
Cry ‘Havoc’ (1943)– Present-day Hollywood could take some cues from this compelling female-driven ensemble drama based on the true story of Army nurses stationed in the Philippines during World War II. The main cast is all women and they remain front and center, and the conflict is driven by themes such as leadership, duty, strength in the face of death and danger, and sacrifice for the greater good—issues that are rarely depicted as significant to women, especially in war films. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Grand Hotel (1932)– With an all-star cast (cinema’s first!), multiple intersecting story lines, and beautifully composed shots, this movie is, well, grand. All the elements come together terrifically. ESSENTIAL.
Hello, My Name is Doris (2015)– Sally Field is remarkable in the title role in this endearing redemption tale. It’s a shame that movies like this—in which an actress over a certain age plays a complex female character—are so rare. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
What did you watch in April?