Starring Robert Stephens, Colin Blakely, Christopher Lee, Genevieve Page, Tamara Toumanova
Years after his death, the letters of Dr. John H. Watson, one of literature’s most famous narrators and chronicler of the eminent Sherlock Holmes are found. In them, he relates a Sherlock Holmes story theretofore untold, deemed to private for the public. In Sherlock’s most personal case of his career, a strange and beautiful woman with amnesia winds up on his doorstep. Deducing that she’s looking for a missing husband, Sherlock sets out to solve the mystery, all the while falling for the woman. This is a later work from Billy Wilder, and probably his last great film. It’s beautifully, lavishly constructed sets, wit, and style belie the poignant sadness at its core which make it a special take on the character. A late sequence featuring a Morse code message by way of umbrella is an indelible, agonizing image.
Starring Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway, Jeremy Brett, Wilfrid Hyde-White
Henry Higgins (Harrison), a renowned phonetics professor wagers that he can turn a common flower girl, Eliza Doolittle (Hepburn), into a duchess by improving her speech. A musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s play, Pygmalion, and it’s tops for me. The dialogue which is predominantly Shaw, the lyrics, the music, the costumes, the art direction, staging, the performances, are all exceptional. Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle are two of my favorite characters across all entertainment. They are both heavyweights, equals, and watching the two spar is a joy to me. Easily my favorite variant of the Pygmalion story, and probably my favorite musical.
Starring Hayley Mills, Brian Keith, Maureen O’Hara
Long lost twin sisters (Mills) meet at a summer camp and collude to get their divorced parents back together. The biggest problem, their dad’s new girlfriend, the young and attractive Vicky. The acting, production values, and script all stand-out. One of the best Disney live-action films.
Starring Topher Grace, Rob Riggle, Taye Diggs, Anne Heche, Alona Tal, JC Chasez
A production manager (Grace) deals with an assortment of problems concerning his aging leading lady (Heche), womanizing star (Chazez), ex-girlfriend (Tal), and back-up dancers (Diggs and Margherita) competing for the new guy all on the opening night of their new show. The cast is solid. The musical performances are all well-done. There’s a lot of creativity, but my basic problem beyond that the film seems so slight, is that the fake Broadway show in the background of the movie could have been better than the backstage drama which makes up most of Opening Night.
Starring Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Luis Guzman
An implosive and lonely bathroom supply salesman, Barry (Sandler), constantly bullied by his seven sisters, finds love when he meets one of those sister’s coworker, Lena (Watson). It’s probably too strange for the mainstream, and some might find its peculiar soundtrack grating, but this is a great movie. The movement, that soundtrack, and the suspense of watching an always on-edge Sandler give the film a sense of energy and a tone sustained to the end. I think it’s the best depiction of the anxiety and desperation that can sometimes come with love.
Starring Eugenio Derbez, Salma Hayek, Kristen Bell, Rob Riggle, Rob Lowe, Raquel Welch, Michael Cera
Determined never to work after seeing his father work his whole life and then die tragically, Maximo (Derbez) latches on to a wealthy heiress entering her golden years. Fast forward 25 years and Maximo is out on the street after his wife throws him over for a younger model. Looking to rebound with an even wealthier grandma (played by Raquel Welch), Maximo stays with his estranged sister (Hayek) and her 10 year old son. Not well received by critics, I found Maximo’s exploits highly enjoyable and sporadically funny. Derbez is great fun as the pompous gold-digging male.
Starring Tsutomu Yamazaki, Nobuko Miyamoto, Kōji Hashimoto, Ken Watanabe
Two truck drivers help a widowed noodle shop owner achieve her dream of creating the perfect ramen dinner. Thrown into the mix are random group of vignettes, sometimes funny, sometimes erotic, sometimes just weird. This is one of the strangest films I’ve ever seen. It throws a number of things onto the screen, and still manages to be charming, if not coherent.