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 😀
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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.