Unlike other notable Ozu movies, say Late Spring and Tokyo Story, this ends on a happier note. It is not storybook, nor Hollywood happy, but upbeat nonetheless. Instead of closing with the struggle and loneliness that is sometimes an inevitable part of life, we conclude with the bittersweet joy of being reminded that life carries on despite the changes we encounter.
On the other hand, Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, has in past 30 years or so lost some of that tension with the ending of the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union. God send that it never return to haunt us again! The humor and awkwardness in Dr. Strangelove arose from the juxtaposition of incompetence in the bureaucratic political sphere and military poised against the high stakes of a nuclear stand-off between superpower states.
Their encounters have an electricity borne of sweltering heat, low light, and raw animal magnetism. Neff is inexorably drawn in until he can't turn away even after it becomes clear she's not looking for a dalliance or even a divorce, but wants help in accomplishing her husband's death. Which, again Dear Reader, you knew was coming because you're familiar with the tropes of the noir drama.
In a plan that is clearly long-established and coldly calculated, Tony blackmails an old college classmate with a criminal bent into being his semi-willing assistant. He threatens exposure of his past crimes along with the bait of a large cash payment and secures someone to do the deed while Tony is busy establishing an air-tight alibi. The plan is thoughtful, cautious, executed with care, and runs into serious problems. It is a Hitchcock film, after all.
This month's entry that's a repeat from the Movies You Might Have Missed series is this classic starring Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, and Claude Rains. Once again Rains and Henreid are on opposite sides of the fence. This time it isn't politics and war separating them, but Davis.
Every submarine movie in the last 40 years is just commentary on Das Boot.
There are also certain similarities with The Matrix, but this was the earlier of the two films. Here Rufus Sewell as John finds himself in a world that has stopped making sense. He begins to wonder if he has lost his grasp on reality or if there is a secret hidden behind a facade. William Hurt is the cop chasing him, Keifer Sutherland is a mysterious doctor who may know more than he's telling and Jennifer Connolly is John's wife(?) who doesn't remember him.
The whole thing is a well-crafted masterpiece of absurd silliness from start to finish. It is a lean, mean, comedy machine. Even the quick, almost throwaway asides sparkle and you might find new jokes when you watch it a second time because you laughed right through and over them the first time. Some of the jokes have been obscured by the nearly 90 years of distance, but pratfalls and mocking the rich and politically powerful will never grow stale.
The key to the enjoyment of this movie, because it is nearly 100 years old, is to be able to enter into the story. One must understand that the way people behaved and, more importantly, thought was very different from today. The cliché of the past being a different country exists for a reason.
You'll enjoy this far more if you're familiar with Errol Flynn as Robin Hood, if you're ready to accept people bursting into song at the slightest provocation, and aren't bothered overmuch by sets that are pretty obviously sets. Still, I think with an open mind, you too can gasp with laughter at this movie.