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

Advertisement

Just My Luck

By BrianOrndorf

May 12th, 2006

“Just My Luck” is such a tedious romantic comedy, it can only come from the poisoned touch of director Donald Petrie. I’m all for Lindsay Lohan trying to act silly, but this picture is such a hollow, charisma-free endeavor that whatever effort she’s putting into the film is wasted on material that should have never seen the light of day in the first place.


Ashley (Lindsay Lohan) is a PR worker bee with an amazing gift of good luck. Finding everything goes her way, Ashley manages to score a big record company account with the promise of a lavish party. At this party, she meets Jake (Chris Pine, “Princess Diaries 2”), a wannabe band manager with a wicked case of bad luck. Drawn together by fate, the two kiss, exchanging their luck in the process. Now cursed, Ashley’s life falls quickly to pieces, and she embarks on a hunt across New York City to find Jake again and forcibly take her good luck back.

Lindsay Lohan wants to grow up. Perhaps tired of the grind and responsibility of making films for tweens, “Just My Luck” entrusts her with a role in which she can play a bona fide adult. Whether or not Lohan is ready for such a leap is the larger question that plagues this laborious and mind-numbing romantic comedy.

There’s little doubt that Lohan is a charmer; she’s single-handedly propped up crud like “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen” and “Mean Girls,” and her raspy quirks were put to good use in last smmer’s “Herbie” reprise. “Luck” pushes Lohan to the next stage of comedienne, organizing slapstick sequences for her that should be lightweight fun, however each one seems worse than the last. “Luck” goes for a Lucille Ball feel, putting Lohan in situations that require comedic chaos to get her into trouble, and a blinding smile that acts as her personal “get out of jail free” card. I have no problem with Lohan desiring to be Lucy, but she’s got to find a better director than the torturous Donald Petrie to help get her to that level.

Petrie is a notorious studio hack, churning out such unimaginative fare as “Welcome to Mooseport” and “Miss Congeniality.” He’s a filmmaker without an inch of personality in anything he makes. “Luck” furthers his creative headlock as Petrie aims for the lowest entertainment level possible for every scene in the film. The director encourages his talent to mug for the camera, fills the supporting cast with actors free of inspiration or charisma, and when the multitude of wacky set-pieces with Lohan and Pine fail to bond due to Petrie’s sledgehammer touch with humor, he has a wealth of animal feces jokes to back him up.

What Petrie ignores in his pursuit of inconsistency is the bridge between Ashley and Jake. “Luck” is a film heavily controlled by a screenplay that Petrie fully believes contains all the cinematic ingredients for easy direction. Watching “Luck,” there’s not a moment where the two leads ignite their spark. Pine plays his role with boy scout naiveté, while Lohan keeps her attention on pratfalls and “did I do that?” faces. It’s the script that brings the characters together, not actor chemistry or meticulous directorial attention, and it cheats the film of the one thing it needs the most: a sweet and engaging romance.

Strangely, “Luck” is also a 100 minute commercial for an English power pop/emo band called McFly, who play the struggling group Jake is managing. Playing a rather large and unexpected role in the film, the band is described a “cross between the Beatles and Blink 182.” That loosely translates into “bottomlessly awful.” Come to think of it, I guess they do fit in with everything else going on in “Just My Luck.”

My rating: D-