We continue to make our way through the alphabet, and we’re entering the homestretch.
Ordinarily I make a note of my thoughts on a movie a day or two after viewing. But with the ‘T’ movies, I didn’t. Let’s see if I can remember anything about these 15 films. Here they are in rough order of how much I liked them.
- The Testament of Dr. Mabuse — 1933. Brilliant old German film by that famous director, Fritz Lang. This concerns a criminal genius who is so evil that his ideas continue to pervert and corrupt even for the many years when he’s catatonic in a mental hospital, and even after he dies. The concept of this character seems so deeply iconic that I can’t believe I never heard of him before. Apparently he’s had quite the fictional life in Europe, in film and literature, but has never hit it big in America for some reason.
- Tape — 2001. Two and then three people in a hotel room, talking, pretty much in real time. That it’s gripping rather than boring is a tribute to the writer, the actors, and director Richard Linklater.
- That Obscure Object of Desire — 1977. Subtle French surrealism, the last picture by Buñuel. The tale of an affair between an older man and a younger woman is surprisingly conventional but well-told. The surrealist conceit is that the role of the woman, Conchita, is played by two different actresses, changing from scene to scene. This was driving Xy crazy at first. I’ll confess I didn’t even notice until she pointed it out! We watched this Lundi Gras evening, and I was pleasantly surprised by the resonance between Buñuel’s work and the rituals of Societé de Sainte Anne which we observed the next day.
- To Sir, with Love — 1966. This is one of those classic movies that even I can’t believe I never saw. But that’s the point of this project, after all. Even though I hadn’t seen it, I knew what it was about, and I imagine everyone else does too, so I won’t bother to describe it, except to say it’s a fine film.
- Trouble in Paradise — 1932. By way of contrast, consider this film. According to Netflix, none of my friends have rented or rated this movie. Anyone who likes comedies of this vintage should definitely check it out. It’s classic Ernst Lubitsch, witty and sophisticated and sharp and stylish and funny. The story concerns two thieves who fall in love and combine forces to rob a perfume executive. Nothing too serious, but great fun.
- Time After Time — 1979. I vaguely remember the hype around this movie when it came out. I was in middle school then. Almost thirty years later, I finally get to see it, and what a treat this movie is. Jack the Ripper travels through time from Victorian England to contemporary San Francisco, pursued by H. G. Wells. Need I say any more? Oh yes: Malcolm McDowell!
- Touch of Evil — 1958. I know some people are put off by Charlton Heston’s impersonation of a Mexican, but if you can get past that, this is a pretty good little film noir. Actually I found the nutty hotel clerk more offensive to my intelligence than Heston’s pseudo-Mexican turn. However, Orson Wells and Marlene Dietrich and the general atmosphere of seedy corruption more than make up for these shortcomings.
- Tin Men — 1987. Danny DeVito and Nick Cage play rival aluminum siding salesmen in Baltimore. Pretty funny and engaging.
- Tenacious D: Complete Masterworks — 2003. A grab bag of music videos, concert footage, short films, mini-documentaries, and so forth, featuring the world’s greatest rock and roll band.
- Tom Jones — 1963. The cinematic definition of the word “rollicking.” Albert Finney runs wild through merrie olde England, but this is very much a film of the early 60s. There’s something charmingly disconcerting about an actor in period dress winking at the camera.
- Tron — 1982. My friend Greg had a cat named Tron. This film is dated and goofy, but those could be endearing qualities if you’re in the right mood.
- The Thing — 1982. Straight up science fiction action adventure.
- Tuck Everlasting — 2002. The idea of a family of immortals hiding away in the woods is immensely compelling to me. This film adaptation of the children’s novel is serviceable but nothing special.
- Truly, Madly, Deeply — 1991. Maybe it was because a friend of mine recently passed away, but I found this tale of a woman longing for her departed husband and his return from the other world kind of mawkish and creepy. The again, maybe it was the guy’s mustache.
- Time Code — 2000. Four intertwined stories are shown at the same time on the four quadrants of the screen. I find experiments like this interesting. The amazing thing is that this is watchable at all. Alas, the stories themselves are forgettable, leaving only a memory of the experiment itself.
Obligatory footnote: You might wonder why don’t mention such notable ‘T’ movies as The Three Musketeers and Three Kings and To Be or Not to Be and To Kill a Mockingbord and Trainspotting and Tampopo and This Is Spinal Tap and Time Bandits and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The Triplets of Belleville. Well, it’s simply because I’d already seen those movies. The main focus of this project is watching movies I haven’t seen. Although come to think of it, I had already seen Tron, probably in the theater when it was first released, but I didn’t remember much of it.