Movies (#SFWApro)

Watching Libeled Lady a couple of weeks ago prompted me to dig out the other non-Thin Man teaming of Myrna Loy and William Powell, I LOVE YOU AGAIN (1940). Powell stars as the most boring small-town pompous cheapskate imaginable, until a blow to the head reveals he’s been amnesiac for the past decade and is in reality a master grifter. His new impeccable standing guarantees he can pull off the con of a lifetime, except that Myrna Loy is about to cause a scandal by divorcing him (back when much of America considered that scandalous) because he’s a boring, small-town, pompous cheapskate. Can he win her back? Can he pull off the con? The results are delightful. “Just because a guy takes his shoes and socks off to go wading doesn’t mean he’s planning to swim the Atlantic.”
Rewatching John Sayles’ movies I’ve realized that the ones he writes and directs emphasize community, whether it’s the White Sox in Eight Men Out, the reuniting friends in Return of the Secaucus Seven or the City of Hope. PASSION FISH stands out as it’s more of a two-person show—the focus is overwhelmingly on Mary McDonnell, a paraplegic actress retreating in bitterness to her Louisiana home, and Alfre Woodard as the nurse who becomes both her caregiver and sort-of a friend. The powerhouse performances (Woodard has a quieter role but she’s damn good in it) make the movie work, though it suffers from the usual Cinema of Isolation cliches (McDonnell’s real problem is that she can’t get over her self pity). And some of Woodard’s personal story feels shoehorned in awkwardly at the last minute. David Straitharn plays a local hunk and Angela Bassett a former colleague of McDonnell’s. “You can’t go one day without a drink and you’re not even a drunk yet.”

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