FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Frank Capra |||
Frank Capra

It goes without saying that Capra is one of the greatest and most beloved directors of all time, especially renowned for his madcap romantic comedies. He is one of the few directors who ever managed to balance whimsy with meaningfulness without loosing the ability to entertain.

Only Frank Capra, with his light hand and good sense of allowing the actors to be their roles, could carry off this tale of a naive average American used by an unscrupulous politician through a nationwide goodwill drive. No one was ever better at having strong yet vulnerable women not only aid, but often come to the rescue, of the leading man.

Frank Capra's final film is a hilarious translation of a Damon Runyon tale set in 1930s New York, as gangster Glenn Ford repays street peddler Bette Davis for her "good luck" apples by passing her off as a well-to-do society lady for her visiting daughter (Ann-Margret in her film debut). This excellent and thoroughly enjoyable remake of his own 1933 "Lady for a Day" is a beautiful swan song to a master storyteller. Widescreen!

In this black comedy about two sweet old ladies whose basement holds a murderously funny secret, Capra utilizes star Cary Grant to his zany, patented “double take” best. Capra’s brilliance in comic casting is demonstrated with such reliable character actors as Raymond Massey, Peter Lorre and Jack Carson who manage to play their parts to the hilt without chewing up the scenery.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (EdwardHavens)

By EdwardHavens

May 6th, 2009

Neil Young once asked if it was better to burn out than to fade away? In the case of Jonathan Levine's long-delayed feature debut "All the Boys Love Mandy Lane," the answer is crystal clear: fade away, as quietly as possible.

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (EdwardHavens)

First screened at the Toronto Film Festival in the fall of 2006 and delayed from theatrical release once again as of May 6, 2009, "Mandy Lane" is one of those low-budget horror movies that'll become more infamous, not unlike "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation," for having been an early starring role for some of its leads than for anything within the film itself. Not that I am insinuating Amber Heard will become an Oscar-winning actress like Renée Zellweger or Michael Welch will become a rom-com whore like Matthew McConaughey. Heard is a pretty enough girl, but that's all she has going for her, and Welch, to be completely honest, is a lost memory. Not just two and a half years after seeing the movie, but even the very next day. In fact, everything about "Mandy Lane" was so awful -- the acting, the writing, the direction, the camerawork, the sound mix, the costumes, the music and everything else in between -- I have willingly chosen to avoid anything anyone connected to this movie has completed since then. It's going to take something really special to make me change my mind.

As for the plot, it revolves around a group of high school kids who head out to a secluded ranch to party, only to find themselves being knocked off one by one for something that happened during the movie's preface. And being a modern mystery/thriller, "Mandy Lane" can't just be a straightforward treatise. It must have itself a plot twist somewhere that throws the story in a different direction. But what happens when the writer throws that twist in too early in the story, like before the first half of the film is over? Well, you just know it's a fake-out and the real twist is coming later, and you'd be correct. In a nutshell, it's just a bunch of dumb, horny, drunk and drugged-out privileged kids getting some kind of twisted comeuppance for being they are dumb, horny, drunk, drugged-out and privileged.

That's a basic summary: dumb kids doing dumb things for dumb reasons. You might actually see for yourself someday, when it finally makes its belated DVD premiere somewhere down the road, but don't say I didn't warn you.

My rating: F