Saturday, November 26, 2022

Three Films Make A Post: Satan Has Returned For Her!

The Devil’s Daughter (1973): I’m not usually in a mind to enjoy movies for their camp factor, but Jeannot Szwarc’s unofficial, “twenty-five years later” TV move sequel to Rosemary’s Baby has some moments in this regard that make it very, very difficult to stick to my guns there. I blame the combination of delicious scenery chewing by Shelley Winters and – of all people – Abe Vigoda as middle-aged Satanists with the glorious words of “Hail Diana, Princess of Darkness” and the very sensible looking orgy full of old people, as well as the hysterically melodramatic tone in which the tiniest little problems are presented. Also of note is an incredible final shot of Joseph Cotton as the Big Demon Daddy himself.

The Brasher Doubloon (1947): This John Brahm adaptation of a Philip Marlowe story by Chandler is not generally canonized as one of the great ones, but it is a rather delightful hard boiled detective tale, with the mandatory extremely convoluted plot and central mystery, and many a scene of our hero coping with the very peculiar people he encounters. Unlike in many other Chandler adaptations, there’s a certain sardonic humour to the film’s sense of the grotesque; it also features a romance – between Marlowe and a character played by Merle Davis – that permanently wavers between what we’d read as “problematic” today and something quite interesting and original. I could take or leave George Montgomery as Marlowe, but he certainly has his own idea of how the detective works; that it’s not always an idea I share isn’t his fault, and doesn’t negate his performance.

Cha Cha Real Smooth (2022): On one hand, I understand the general praise this Apple TV original wavering between comedy and coming of age drama has acquired. Writer/director/lead actor Cooper Raiff certainly knows what he’s doing in all three of his roles, presenting surprisingly complicated ideas in a very slick and entertaining way while also subverting some of the tropes of the romantic comedy (and his audience’s knowledge of them) in a controlled manner. Plus, Dakota Johnson again proves that she’s rather woefully underpraised by most critics.

On the other hand, I despair at a world where young filmmakers don’t make blistering paeans to Big Romantic Love anymore, but argue for bourgeois domestication as the one and only way to properly grow up; hell, I’m not happy with a world where young filmmakers believe properly growing up is a good thing. These kids really should leave that particular kind of nonsense to their elders.

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