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Josee, the Tiger and the Fish

Josee, the Tiger and the Fish (2003): Japan – directed by Isshin Inudou

Not rated by the MPAA – contains some language, nudity, and sex

Note: this review is to fulfill a request by Jurgita Pichon that I watch this movie

Josee, the Tiger and the Fish is a little difficult for me to review.  It’s not the type of movie I would typically seek out to watch, but it does contain some interesting elements.  It comes off as a romantic dramedy, centered around several romantic relationships but without being happy enough or having enough funny moments to qualify as a romantic comedy.  It is, I suppose, more of a character study of several young people.

Tsuneo (played by Satoshi Tsumabuki) is a young college student.  He works at a mahjong parlor while pursuing various romantic endeavors.  I suppose he goes to class occasionally, but this is rarely mentioned or shown.  He apparently has a girlfriend at the beginning of the film, but as soon as she mentions that he might be able to land another more attractive girl he races off to do just that.  And the previous girl doesn’t seem to mind.

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005): United Kingdom – directed by Mike Newell

Rated PG-13 by the MPAA – contains fantasy violence, some mild language, and a little mild sexual innuendo

It was hard for me, this time around, to forget the book while watching the movie.  I’m not saying that the book is a literary classic, just that it gets quite dense and lengthy.  Any sort of attempt to cram the essential elements of the book into a film would be difficult, and this time I’m afraid the filmmakers were not up to the task.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban [review here] was quite successful in paring down the book into a manageable length, while maintaining an exciting and engaging narrative.  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, however, manages to be lengthy without being exciting, and hardly manages to be coherent at all.

The story for Harry Potter’s (Daniel Radcliffe) fourth year at Hogwart’s involves the Tri-Wizard Tournament, a competition designed to increase international magical cooperation.  Forthwith, we are introduced to students from two foreign schools: Beauxbatons in France and Durmstrang from up north.

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Oliver & Company

Oliver & Company (1988): United States – directed by George Scribner

Rated G by the MPAA – contains dogs getting electrocuted

Oliver & Company opens with a long shot of New York City, gorgeously drawn in an almost impressionist manner.  The camera flies into the city where we find some hand-drawn characters, mostly kittens.  They’re in a box, waiting for people to take them away.  All the kittens get picked as the day wears on; everyone except Oliver (voice of Joey Lawrence).

He soon finds himself alone in the big streets of New York, trying to find some food and a friendly face.  He runs into a couple mean dogs and a mean hot dog vendor.  Finally he meets Dodger (voice of Billy Joel), a shifty con artist dog.  Pretty soon they’re ripping off the hot dog vendor and running off with a link of sausages.  However, since Dodger is so shifty he stiffs Oliver out of his share.  That’s life on the streets of New York City.

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Shadows (1959): United States – directed by John Cassavetes

Not rated by the MPAA – contains some mild language and mature themes

Shadows is a movie way ahead of its time.  Or, perhaps there has never been a time for a movie like this.  Either way, it was a dramatic directorial debut for John Cassavetes (best known by me for his role as Guy Woodhouse in Rosemary’s Baby) and an important milestone in independent American filmmaking.

Shadows reminded me of Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless in a lot of ways.  Released a year apart (Shadows had been partially shot a couple years before its release) they both share a lack of any concrete narrative structure.  And, like Breathless, Shadows‘ style and mere existence are more important than its plot.  However, what makes Shadows different is that it deals with some weighty themes that were rarely discussed back in the late fifties.

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Night Nurse

Night Nurse (1931): United States – directed by William Wellman

Not rated by the MPAA – contains old-timey underwear and some off-screen violence

This movie sure couldn’t have been made two years later.  It’s one of the rare gems from the brief pre-Code period, when they made gritty gangster movies and other racy stuff.  Then Will Hayes got involved and nothing was ever the same again.

Night Nurse was directed by William Wellman, who also made the pre-Code gangster flick The Public Enemy with James Cagney and the highly respected Western The Ox-Box Incident with Henry Fonda.  Here he teams up with Barbara Stanwyck and Clark Gable (in a supporting role) to bring us a fairly good medical thriller.

Well, I’m not too sure if medical thriller is the best way to describe it.  It starts out as a drama/comedy when Laura Hart (Stanwyck) attempts to get a job as a nurse.  Since she hasn’t finished high school she is not allowed, but after bumping into the prestigious Dr. Bell (Charles Winniger) she is granted permission to begin the program.

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