What We’re Watching – 2/28/2011

Sweet Smell of Success (1957):

If there is one thing to say about the recent Blu-ray release of Alexander Mackendrick’s Sweet Smell of Success, is that it is absolutely gorgeous to look at. Cinematographer James Wong Howe’s photography here captures the stark black and white world of New York City; the image is crisp and clear, popping right out of the screen. The noirish style of the film works perfectly in telling the story of gossip columnist J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster), a dominating and power hungry man who wants everything his way and on his own terms. Through his written words in the newspaper, Hunsecker can literally make or break anyone’s career, and he uses all his might to prevent his sister from falling in love with a talented jazz musician. He hires ambitious, up-and-coming publicist Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) to do his dirty work, and win his approval. These are two great performances by Lancaster and Curtis. Lancaster, with his tall frame, sharp jaw, and rigid glasses, is absolutely intimidating in his portrayal of Hunsecker. Curtis is great as Falco, wanting all the success possible, but hating himself for doing the things he has to do to attain it. This is a film that should be mentioned more often; it is an unrelenting look inside the dark and seedy world of show business.

The Wire, Season 1:

Ok, obviously this isn’t a movie, but I thought it was worth mentioning. If this were a TV-centric website, I wouldn’t be here, because truthfully I have not seen a lot of television shows. But I’ve made it my mission to watch at least a few every now and then, and it has been recommended to me that I catch the HBO series The Wire. I’ve heard a lot of things about this show, even some people calling it the “greatest show ever made.” I don’t know about that, but I can tell you this: after seeing only the first season, this show has already proven itself to be very strong and impressive in my eyes. The writing, directing, and acting are all in top form here, as we watch a rag tag team of police officers, including James McNulty (Dominic West), attempt to take down a huge drug racket led by Avon Barksdale (Wood Harris). After a somewhat slow first few episodes, the season really took off. One the most impressive aspects about the show is how we see the drug racket and the drug enforcement bureau from literally every level. We see Avon, Stringer, Wee-Bey, and the top of the gangster totem pole, all the way down to the dealers, and the customers addicted to their drugs. We also see the top of the police force, the crooked judges and politicians, and how their decisions affect the actions and abilities of McNulty and his fellow officers out there on the street. And then, there’s Omar (Michael K. Williams). If you don’t know about him, you better ask somebody. I’m glad I finally got around to seeing this show, and I look forward to seeing how it progresses in later seasons.

Pages: 1 2


Allen is a moviegoer based out of Seattle, Washington. His hobbies include dancing, playing the guitar, and, of course, watching movies.

You can reach Allen via email or Twitter

View all posts by this author