In today’s Journal, Charlene Yi finds love in PAPER HEART, Bradley Cooper screws it up in THE WORDS and Mamie Van Doren just likes a stallion between her legs in BORN RECKLESS. In all of these films, love is on the horizon. And yet, other people seem to always get in the way. Sometimes it’s the fault of someone in the relationship, and sometimes it’s someone butting in where they shouldn’t. Sometimes, love is the most important thing and other times, people get swayed by their own ambitions. Funny how these things all tie together, isn’t it?
DAY 25: FEBRUARY 23, 2013
BORN RECKLESS (1958) – first viewing – Kelly Cobb (Jeff Richards) starts making his name at rodeos across the country. He would like to retire to a nice spot of land, but he knows that his time in the business is limited. Eventually, his number may be up and he could wind up crippled or worse. Trick rider Jackie Adams (Mamie Van Doren) falls for Cobb, but she knows that she doesn’t only need to save him from the undesirable elements on the rodeo scene. She’ll need to save him from himself.
I like Mamie Van Doren. She’s a swell gal, has great screen presence and it’s always a delight to see her on screen. But often, she was compared unfavorably to Marilyn Monroe and hence, a lot of her roles weren’t really the best. BORN RECKLESS is a film where Van Doren gives her all, but the film itself just isn’t up to snuff. Whenever she’s not on screen, which is often, the film hits the snooze button.
I was just not interested in Richards or his character. Moreover, if you’re making a film about cattle roping, the footage of the events should be much better than this. Would you watch a film about auto racing if they showed footage that wasn’t even up to ESPN standards? No reason to watch this either. ★½ (out of ★★★★)
PAPER HEART (2009) – Charlene Yi is the most adorable person on the planet and here, she interviews various people about love and relationships. At the same time, Yi feels like she is incapable of love, so this is a foreign concept she’s trying to learn about. But then she meets Michael Cera and the two hit it off. Unfortunately, her “director” (actually it’s Jake Johnson from THE NEW GIRL and SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED) is so concerned with making the film that he threatens to get in the way of their budding relationship.
Charlene Yi is, as I said, completely adorable. Austin and I reviewed this back on our original Film Geek Central podcast. It made my Ten Best List of 2009. Now that I watch it, I still love it and it makes the perfect Valentine’s Day viewing, even if you hate Valentine’s Day like I do. It’s lovely and touching and hilarious and fun. However, it does get a bit indie-conscious at times – in other words, they try to sell whatever was big in indie cinema at the time, for instance with awkward humor. Nevertheless, things are kept refreshingly non-obnoxious and the film can make even the most jaded cynic twitterpated. ★★★½ (out of ★★★★)
THE WORDS (2012) – first viewing – A young, frustrated writer is beginning to feel like a complete failure. One day, he finds an old manuscript in a leather case his wife bought for him. He reads the book and is completely transformed by it. Without fully realizing what he is doing, he copies the manuscript, submits it and watches as it and he become an overnight sensation.
THE WORDS is told through many different narrative strands. There is the bookending story in which an older writer (Dennis Quaid), who may be the young writer all grown up, deals with his own demons. Then there’s the main story in which our young writer (Bradley Cooper) risks losing his wife (Zoe Saldana) when he puts words above his marriage. Then there is the story of the book, told by the real author (Jeremy Irons), which turns out to be autobiographical.
A film that could have easily wound up slipping into cloying sentimentality winds up being an emotional, entertaining and profound piece of work. The screenplay by Ben Klugman and Lee Sternthal is fantastic – complex and wonderfully paced. There might be a small misstep in the narrative here and there. But overall, I was bowled over by how much this film effected me. It’s a winner. ★★★½ (out of ★★★★)
THE AMBASSADOR (1985) – first viewing – Robert Mitchum plays the American ambassador to Israel, who is trying to ease tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. However, his neglected but still loving wife (Ellen Burstyn) is carrying on an affair with a mysterious figure (Fabio Testi) who may have ties to the enemy. When footage of Burstyn’s illicit trysts is used in a blackmail scheme, a cohort from the CIA (Rock Hudson in his last theatrical role) tries to get to the bottom of things.
MARTIN’S DAY (1985) – first viewing – Richard Harris plays a convict who longs to see the lake where he grew up, a place where the modern world and all it’s trappings didn’t intrude. When his parole is turned down, he escapes prison and takes a young boy (Justin Henry) hostage. Together, they make their way to the lake and the convict and boy wind up enjoying each other’s company.
And of course, these are 1985 films so you know darn well that you’re not going to hear what I thought of them here. Instead, you have to check out our podcast FILM GEEK CENTRAL PRESENTS: THE FILMS OF 1985 and wait for us to cover it. Remember to check out all our previous episodes and check out the schedule so you know what’s coming up.
Total films watched in 2013 so far: 83
My soundtrack for February 23, 2013: