I’ll give you five good reasons to check out a movie this week. I’m not talking about the titles I mention below. I’m talking about the cold and/or cloudy weather predicted for Monday through Friday this week. Cheer up with this comedy-stocked week at the cinema:
Monday, May 12: The Lady Vanishes (Riverview Theater)
For my money, this is the most enjoyable of all movies Alfred Hitchcock directed before he skipped across the pond in 1940. Actually, it very well may be among the most enjoyable movies he ever made. I’d say only Rear Window and Notorious can compare. (Alright, though I’m not a major fan, North By Northwest certainly merits a mention as well.) Bubbly and enjoyable in a way that very few of Hitch’s Hollywood films ever managed, The Lady Vanishes stars Dame May Whitty as a dowager who charms the daylights out of Margaret Lockwood while the two are crossing the country via train. She mysteriously disappears and Lockwood, along with Michael Redgrave, take it upon themselves to investigate the mystery when no one will even admit to having seen her aboard the train in the first place. A pure Hitchcockian premise gets a rousing rendition in this frothy thriller.
Monday, May 12 and Tuesday, May 13: The Lavender Hill Mob (Trylon Microcinema)
The highly deserving winner of the Academy Award for best original screenplay, The Lavender Hill Mob is certainly among the foremost of director Charles Crichton’s comedies for Ealing Studios, and a stunning two-hander for stars Alec Guinness and Stanley Holloway. Between this and The Lady Vanishes, Brits are sure to chase away your gloomy-weather blues this week.
Friday, May 16 & Saturday, May 17: Fateful Findings (Uptown Theatre)
And if either of those two well-made intentional comedies don’t do the trick, you could always take in a poorly-made unintentional comedy. Though I’m not convinced that there can ever be (or ever needs to be) another The Room, this nonsensical cinematic non sequitur seems ready to step to the plate as the next great cult travesty. Don’t believe me? Check out the, um, preview?
A pair of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival favorites make their return this weekend for full-tilt theatrical runs. Both Ilo Ilo (directed by Anthony Chen) and Blue Ruin (by Jeremy Saulnier) were at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, and the former even won the Camera d’Or prize. Jonathon Sharp will review Blue Ruin later this week, and you can check out his review of Ilo Ilo here: “What makes Ilo Ilo more than just another family drama is the nuance with which writer/director Anthony Chen builds his characters. While each one appears based on a stereotype (the commanding mother, the shy maid, the troublesome son), they also have certain flaws or attributes that make them, as individuals, appear much more human than the usual fare that alights in family dramas, which are so fatally prone to melodrama. … Honestly, I’m actually a little sad that this film wasn’t nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, as it is certainly stronger than some that did get the nod.”
Sunday, May 18: Show People (Heights Theater)
It must be summer. We started this week with something fizzy, and now we’re ending it on something fizzy. King Vidor’s Show People stars the somewhat infamous Marion Davies (i.e. the person who history remembers as William Randolph Hearst’s ingénue protégé whose dubious performing bona fides were lampooned in Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane) opposite the even more infamous William Haines, who decided to leave show business rather than deny his homosexuality, decades before declaring such a thing would be considered safe. A goofy look at the state of Hollywood on the cusp of the sound revolution, Show People also boasts a number of superstar cameos from, among others, Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin.