Monday Reviews: 1944 Triple Feature
So instead, as I advertised last time, I'm still idiosyncratically renting my way through 1944, and the yields get better and better. I wrote my long reviews this week about an unlikely trio, all of them keepers: Maya Deren's experimental classic At Land, reviewed here; Henry Hathaway's increasingly gripping wartime aviation drama Wing and a Prayer, reviewed here; and the luscious oddity The Curse of the Cat People, producer Val Lewton's quasi-sequel to his 1942 hit Cat People, co-directed by a young Robert Wise and pipped by legendary American film critics James Agee as one of the best times, if not the best time, he enjoyed in a cinema in 1944. My review for that one is here.
Are you enjoying these 1940s excursions? Is it a nice break from all the awards-circuit hubbub? I have got a brand-new and much-improved Top Ten List for 1944, though those of you with more contemporary concerns should take heart that I have one coming for 2009 very soon. I've also been updating my personal Oscar ballots for 1944 and 1945; who knew To Have and Have Not, which I just saw for the first time (!) and absolutely loved, didn't qualify for Oscar's ballot until 1945, and still failed to net a single nod? The exclusion of Bogart and Bacall from the singularly weak fields for the Best Actor and Best Actress Oscars that year is a particular travesty.
Anyway, though the format and timing of my Best of 2009 picks are less certain, I promise you'll get something. Despite my excitement about writing more reviews, and about delving more frequently than I usually do in January and February into earlier eras of cinema, I'm still eager to pay tribute to the peaks of last year's moviegoing experiences. Stay tuned next week for Monday reviews drawn at least partly from that trove... but hopefully I'll have another site update somewhere along the week between now and then.
(Incidentally, you'll notice that I have newly appended updated listings for the Cinematography and Screenplay categories in the Oscar-related section of my sidebar. I do enjoy following those categories as much as most of the others that are itemized there, I'm learning about more films I hadn't heard of by casting a refresher glance at those areas of the ballot, and as you'll note, the average Screenplay nominee has turned out, at least of late, to constitute a higher-quality outing than the average entrant in almost any other Oscar race.)