Weekend Viewing Roundup

Hello folks, I’m assuming it’s a short week for most of you? For sure I won’t miss this 3-4 day work-week like this come January when the hustle and bustle returns at the office.

Well, The Dark Knight Rises trailer pretty much sidelined this post, but I still want to give y’all a rundown of the movies I saw this week. I’ve been averaging about 4-5 movies a week since my Gregory Peck marathon started and I’m still having a blast watching his movies!

I’ve posted my Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol review so here are my mini reviews of the others:

Twelve O’Clock High (1949) 

I actually saw this the week before but forgot to include it in my roundup post

Peck played a tough-as-nails general who takes over a bomber pilot unit suffering from low morale and whips them into fighting shape. Those who think Peck as the romantic Joe Bradley or calm-as-a-cucumber Atticus Finch will see a whole different side of him here, he lends credibility to Brig. Gen Frank Savage who’s based on a real life General Frank Armstrong, and the fact that he looks ruggedly handsome in those bomber jacket is a major plus 😀
His performance was nominated for an Oscar (his fourth in five years) and I wish he had won. His transformation from the stern, uncompromising leader to the moment of his breakdown at the end is compelling to watch… it’s a controlled performance Peck is known for, and the supporting cast is great as well, especially Dean Jagger and Hugh Marlowe.  There’s not a heck of a lot of air battle scenes despite the title but the ones that appear in this film were actually  photographed in actual combat by members of the United States Air Force and the German Luftwaffe, as stated in the opening. No wonder Savage’s leadership style is used as an example in US Navy and Air Force schools, as well as leadership training in civilian non-military seminars. Even though I’m not generally a fan of war films, I really enjoyed this one as it’s more character-driven and focused more on the psyche of the troops.

The Valley of Decision (1945)

Ok, back to the sweet & romantic Gregory in this one set in 19th Century Pittsburgh. Oh man, talk about a fairy tale, forget Cinderella, I want to be Mary Rafferty!! Get this, she came from a poor family of steel mill worker, when she goes to work as a maid for the wealthy Scott family, the eldest (and of course the most gorgeous) son Paul Scott falls for her. 29-year-old Peck turns on the charm big time, in only his third film, he displayed such magnetic presence on screen. His romantic scenes with Greer Garson just made me melt, and it’s really impossible for you not to root for these two to be together.

This is the first time I’ve ever seen Garson (never even heard of her!) but she comes across very likable, I might check out her other films after this. She reminds me a bit of Lucille Ball with curly her hairstyle and giant eyes, and she had a nice chemistry with Peck. I confess that even if the story is terrible, it’s still well worth buying this DVD just to stare at Gregory, ahah, but fortunately I find the story really engaging. Paul & Mary’s romance is complicated by the bitter strike among the mill workers, and a tragic incident involving both their families. Lionel Barrymore co-starred with Peck again here as Mary’s father, but his character is pretty much a variation of Mr. Potter. In any case, this one now stands as one of my top 10 favorite Gregory Peck movie now. Boy, it’ll be tough to make that list as he’s got so many great classics.

Bourne Supremacy (2004)

The second installment is perhaps my favorite of the Bourne franchise. Yes perhaps the presence of the über hunky New Zealander Karl Urban as the baddie Kirill has something to do with it, but I think the film is just more enjoyable than the first. We’ve got British director Paul Greengrass at the helm this time and the movie starts off with a dynamic chase scene almost right away. Damon confidently reprises the title role, growing more weary and exasperated by the relentless pursuits of the CIA. Of course he always managed to get one step ahead of them every single time.

Urban as Kirill

Bourne is on the run once again, this time flying solo across Goa India, Berlin, and Moscow. Hot on his trail is the CIA led by Deputy Director Pamela Landy (the always excellent Joan Allen) who’s immediately suspicious that Ward Abbott (equally compelling Brian Cox) knew more about the ‘Neski files’ case than he let on. The battle of wills between these two are great to watch and once again this film benefits from a great combo of gripping action and tight script, woven together nicely by Greengrass’ dynamic directing style. It’s also nice to see Julia Stiles’ getting more screen time this time around also. Both she and Allen are such underrated actresses.

Btw, my favorite action sequence is this killer car chase scene in Moscow, with Bourne driving with only one arm after Kirill shot him. Oh man, it’s downright gripping and it stands as one of my favorite movie car chases of all time!

Helvetica documentary (2007)

A documentary about typography, graphic design, and global visual culture.

As graphic designers naturally the subject matter appeals to us and we both love typography. This documentary focuses on evolution of the ubiquitous type formerly called Neue Haas Grotesk, it’s developed in 1957 by Swiss typeface designer Max Miedinger with Eduard Hoffmann. You may not know what type face that is but you sure are surrounded by it, everywhere you look you’ll likely to find a Helvetica type face being used, whether in an ad or in a street sign. The doc also shows the origin of this type face and feature various interviews with type designers from mostly Europe and the US.

The history stuff is quite insightful and captivating, but I think the execution falls a bit flat for me. I was bored a lot of the time watching this 80-min doc, which is a shame as it could have been handled in a more dynamic way. Still, it’s worth a watch and I’d still give a similar documentary on product design called Objectified a shot, it’s also directed by Gary Huswit.

Well, that’s my weekend roundup, any thoughts on any of them? Feel free to share about the movies you saw this weekend.

38 thoughts on “Weekend Viewing Roundup

  1. Ted S.

    Besides MI-4 I didn’t see any other films over the weekend. I’ve never heard any of those Peck’s films but then those films are from the era that I don’t tend to know much about.

    The Bourne Supremacy is my favorite of the three films too. I also like the second book of the trilogy, the film version is totally different from the book though. Love that car chase near the end, probably top 5 when it comes to car chases in films, I can watch that scene over and over.

    I always wanted to see that Helvetica documentary, might give it a rent.

    1. Hey Ted, I know you’re not into b&w movies but you should give Twelve O’Clock High a chance, I think you’ll enjoy it. I have the movie so you can borrow that anytime.

      Oh glad Bourne 2 is your fave, it’s just excellent all around isn’t it? Hey we should do a top 10 fave car chases man, I LOVE car chases, I guess that’s the result of growing up w/ two brothers 🙂

  2. Hi, Ruth and company:


    So pleased that you’ve offered your point of view to one of Gregory Peck’s best, most tamped down roles in 12 O’ Clock High . I would have liked to have seen win an Oscar for his Colonel, then General Frank Savage. Though I understand and applaud Dean Jagger’s win as Savage’s XO, Major Harvey Stovall. Without Stovall’s meticulous humanity, Savage would have been far more rigid and far less interesting.

    1. Hi Jack!

      any new upcoming guest posts from you on a classic film. Here, or at FrontRoomCinema, or elsewhere?

      btw, today I put up a poll of some classic proportions tailored to a bit of your liking on Time To Vote Tuesday 79. We’d love your input!

      1. Hi, ScraletSp1der and company:

        I have a guest review of little known Dustin Hoffman film, Straight Time , from 1978; that should be posted tomorrow over at Nostra’s ‘My Filmviews’.

        Ruth also has my review of Battle Los Angeles that’s awaiting tweaks and final touches.

        1. Hi Jack, thanks for that Battle LA review, I’ll post that sometime next year. I’d love to get a classic review from you, maybe starring one of your favorite classic actors like Burt Lancaster or Myrna Loy?? 🙂

    2. Hi Jack, I knew you’ve seen this film and glad you loved it. Yeah I think Dean Jagger deserved his win, but Peck’s performance is just as good IMO. I mean his scenes w/ Marlowe when he was berating him and the one in the hospital really displayed his versatility. Plus that breakdown scene, man that was quite a performance.

  3. Matt Stewart

    I LOVE Gregory Peck!! I haven’t seen very many of his films, but his performance in To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my all time favorites!

    The Bourne series is also fantastic, the final installment (well, not anymore) is probably my favorite action film ever.

    1. Woo hoo, you had me at that first line, Matt. He is truly remarkable, the more I learn about him (now that I’m reading his biography), the more respect I have for him. I recommend you checking out his other films besides ‘Mockingbird’ as there are equally excellent ones in his resume.

      Glad you love the Bourne franchise too.

  4. Greer Garson’s best known film was the WW2 drama ‘Mrs. Miniver,’ a Best Picture winner and considered by many to be highly influential in morale for the war effort. Worth seeking out.

  5. To go off on a slight tangent, perhaps the most interesting Greer Garson film I have seem is Random Harvest.

    As for weekend viewing I watched ABC Family’s holiday show marathon. Also caught The Man Who Came to Dinner, It Happened on 5th Avenue, Thee Shop Around the Corner, and A NIGHT AT THE MOVIES, A: MERRY CHRISTMAS! (documentary). Basically stayed in bed and loused around 😉 My reward for finishing up the holiday shopping early!

    1. Oh no you’re not going off on a tangent at all. What’s Random Harvest about? Sounds interesting.

      Wow, what a wonderful marathon you have there Iba, I’m hoping to see The Shop Around the Corner this weekend, I love James Stewart! Props for finishing up holiday shopping early, good for you!

      1. You haven’t seen Random Harvest, Ruth??!! Oh, you MUST!! It stars one of my favorite classic starlets Greer Garson!! You must watch it!, that, and Mrs. Miniver! (I believe she won an Oscar for Mrs. Miniver)

        but Random Harvest is one the her absolute best.

        1. Wow, two votes for Random Harvest. Ok, I’ll look into it. I’m hoping to venture into other films of Gregory’s co-stars, and Greer Garson is one of them. I had no idea you’re a huge fan of hers, T, she has such a unique name doesn’t she? She comes across very likable as well.

            1. WOW!! That is awesome! Well if I could get my way, if I had a son I’d love to name him Gregory but I don’t think it’ll fly with my hubby, ahah. He’s having a hard time as it is w/ my constant GP marathon, tumblr-ing + reading his biography & stuff I’m doing now.

  6. You make me want to rewatch the Bourne series once again! hmm, marathon anyone? 🙂

    This weekend I didn’t really watch anything else other than Sherlock Holmes 2. Oh, yeah, and I watched The Santa Clause again! haha!

    1. Did you get the Blu-ray set T? It’s really worth it I think, TONS of special features on ’em too.

      Santa Clause was fun, but I think my fave Tim Allen role is still Galaxy Quest. In fact I have that movie but haven’t got around to seeing it again.

  7. Only a short working week for me as well (2 days left). Nice to see that you watched Helvetica. I liked the personalities and wouldn’t have thought people could be so passionate about a specific font! Bourne Supremacy was a good movie (just like the rest of the trilogy). Haven’t seen the other movies you mention.

    1. Ahah, yeah they’re die-hard typography fans, I mean there’s one guy who reminds me of John Malkovich and he’s so passionate about Helvetica 🙂

  8. You lot and your short weeks… I am working until friday 12pm…. grrrrrr

    Not Fair!!

    Anyway, loving your work Ruth!! The GP Marathon is going really well huh? I applaud your dedication. I wish I had half of your skills

    Thanks matey for this, Merry christmas

    1. I’m working all day Friday matey, so no need to be jealous. I’m just using my vacation as I can only carry over 5 days next year.

      Thanks matey, yes the GP marathon has been a blast, so many great movies he’s done in career. Plus I’ve been reading his biography and get great insights into each film he’s done.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours, my bff!!

  9. PrairieGirl

    I had always known about the movie Twelve O’Clock High, but never was interested because it was a war film. But that was BEFORE the Gregory Peck era which started only about 2 months ago… and now is AFTER GP, which changes everything. Can’t wait to see it now 😀
    And Valley of Decision, one of his very first… count me in!

    1. Ahah, the GP era, I love it! Yeah, I never would’ve been into Westerns if it weren’t for him. Fortunately he hasn’t done too many dark, depressing movies though I’d venture into those too probably if he’s in it 😀

      You should check out Twelve O’Clock High, I’ll bring that in w/ Valley of Decision. He’s just so watchable in both of them, plus the stories are fascinating.

  10. The Bourne Supremacy was surprisingly good compared to the first two movies. I really enjoyed it.

    Over the weekend I saw:

    – Sherlock Holmes 2: The review is on AM
    – Jane Eyre: I was very pleasantly surprised by this flick. I’m usually no fan of these type of British-set period movie but Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender are quite excellent in their respective roles.
    – Black Book: Solid WWII movie about a Jewish singer living in Holland during the German occupation and becoming a spy for the resistance.

    1. Yeah I’ve read your SH2 review Cas, I’ll rent that one for sure. Hey, glad you saw Jane Eyre. It’s well-done in terms of production quality, though having seen other adaptations, this is not my fave. I still prefer Timothy Dalton’s portrayal as Rochester.

      Black Book sounds intriguing, I might check that out. There are endless possibilities when it comes to WWII dramas isn’t it? So is this based on a true story?

  11. Ahhh, I really need to check out the Bourne movies. Somehow those have eluded me over the years.

    Glad to hear you are still having fun with the Peck marathon. How many movies do you have left now?

    I have been watching a lot of movies this month; some good, some bad. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to catch up with my writing on them. Hopefully I can get a few posts ready over the weekend.

    Hope you have a great holiday weekend, Ruth!

    1. Wow Eric, I can’t believe you haven’t seen any Bourne movie! You ought to get on that man.

      Well he’s made over 50 films so I don’t think I can get to ’em all, I’ve seen about 19 of them now, I still have about a half dozen or more to watch so when it’s all said and done I’ll watch half of his work. I might watch his later works after that.

  12. Hahaha GP is still your main attraction of the week 😉

    Ah… I havent seen Bourne Supremacy, I always missed when the TV showed it. I will see it one of these days.

    Unfortunately I didn’t watch anything last weekend. Something bad happened, I will watch 13assasins this Sunday.

    Happy holiday Ruth 🙂

    1. He’ll be a ‘main attraction’ for a while Nov, I think I’m beginning to rival your fascination with Cillian 🙂

      Hey I just sent you a DM, hope you’re ok… you got me worried there girl.

  13. I recently watched Sherlock Holmes, more complex on the story but too complex for me.
    I wanted to watch Helvetica documentary for so long, since I used to learn graphic design. I enjoyed my typography classes. Looking at your review reminded me how I wanted to see it.
    And it’s nice to see that you seem to enjoy those GP movies, Ruth

    1. Hi Andina, I’m assuming you’re referring to the movie and not the TV show of Sherlock? As for Helvetica, if you love typography I think you’ll appreciate that film.

      Yes, I love GP and his movies, and there are still more to be watched 🙂

  14. I love The Valley of Decision. You’re going to have to fight me on being Mary Rafferty because I always wanted to trade places with her when Paul is looking at her with those eyes of his. I never miss an opportunity to sit and watch it when it’s on TCM. I didn’t know it was on DVD.

    Also, I prefer the Bourne Supremacy overall, but my favorite fight sequence of the Bourne series is in Algiers in the third one.

    1. Oooh, I’m glad someone’s seen Valley of Decision… I know right? He’s just soooo dreamy in this one and the way he looked at Mary and held her is just… too much! I just got the dvd back from my friend today, can’t wait to watch it again. It’s really worth buying as I’ll watch that one over and over.

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