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Pe Werner im Jazz Club


NewsHubThe year is coming to an end, which, to some is a sad time, to others it’s a huge relief. To most, it’s a time to swap out the calendar and have yourself a symbolic fresh start. If you’re choosing a movie to watch this December 31, you might want to choose one that has something to do with the holiday itself, and here we have provided a list of a few titles to help you out. These range from the melancholy to the cheerful, from funny and escapist to downright sobering.
Rounding out the list, we’ve picked some of the best movies of the past year, including a very strange, imported dry comedy; a very strange animated movie, a couple of documentaries that explore the world, a colorful comic book movie, a colorful children’s book movie, and an excellent thriller that unexpectedly became one of the most foreboding movies of the year. Whichever you choose, we wish you the most peaceful of New Year’s Eves, and a 2017 filled with hope, luck, kindness, and wishes granted.
Featuring a heartbreaking New Year’s Eve sequence, Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush (1925) was, in its day, a true event. It’s difficult to explain today just what an enormous presence Chaplin once was; he was a popular entertainer, but also a great artist. He was a famous actor, but also a brilliant director. His last film had been a serious drama in which he did not appear ( A Woman of Paris ), and the moviegoers hadn’t seen him in four years, since his groundbreaking The Kid (1921). So, released in the summertime, The Gold Rush was a great big hit. It had some impressive special effects, such as a cabin teetering near the side of a snowy cliff, and a man turning into a giant chicken, but its focus was on humor and heartstrings.
Chaplin plays a lone prospector in the Klondike. He falls in love with a dance hall girl (Georgia Hale), and becomes stranded during a snowstorm in a cabin with Big Jim McKay (Mack Swain). The film includes the famous “dance of the dinner rolls,” as well as many other iconic comedy moments. This one is more of a fantasy than Chaplin’s other films, with a more escapist ending, but it’s rooted in his own genius, focusing on visual conflicts within a poetic frame. FilmStruck offers two versions of the film, Chaplin’s preferred 1942 version (72 minutes) with his own music score and his spoken narration (great for kids), as well as the original 1925 silent version (88 minutes) with intertitles.
If you watched The Thin Man (1934) over Christmas and laughed at the present-opening antics of Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy)—she with her fur coat and he with his B. gun—then you may want to follow it up with this fun sequel, which starts with a New Year’s Eve celebration. Nick and Nora return to San Francisco (the exterior of their home is Coit Tower!), only to find a “surprise” party going on in their home. So they head to a dull dinner party with Nora’s relatives—most of whom despise Nick—only to discover that Nora’s cousin Selma’s husband is missingThat leads them to a nightclub, where they ring in the New Year, and where the husband is murdered. Who did it? The original story of After the Thin Man (1936) came from Dashiell Hammett, so the mystery is a pretty good one, although director W. S. Van Dyke continues the successful formula of the first movie, complete with the gathering of all the suspects for the big denouncement. It also feels a bit less scrappy and spontaneous, and slightly more polished, but still loads of fun; these movies balanced humor, romance, and mystery like nothing else at the time. And, of course, Asta the dog returns. James Stewart has an early, crucial role here before he achieved leading man status a few years later.
Another New Year’s Eve story, Holiday (1938) is based on a1928 play and was not a success in its day. But, as directed by George Cukor, the movie remains subtle and sophisticated as well as weirdly timeless. Cary Grant stars as the energetic and jovial Johnny Case, a self-made man who now plans to take off from work and explore, looking for the meaning of life. (It’s an interesting idea to consider at the end of a year.) But first he wants to marry Julia (Doris Nolan), a woman he has just met. It turns out that Julia is rich and her family wants to throw a huge engagement party.
Johnny ends up spending most of the party in the “playroom,” the only fun room in the entire house, along with Julia’s kooky sister Linda (Katharine Hepburn), her brother Ned (Lew Ayres), and an older couple, the Potters (Edward Everett Horton and Jean Dixon). Of course, Johnny discovers that Julia doesn’t really care for his plan, and that Linda is actually the one for him. Unfortunately, at this time, Hepburn had been in a string of flops and was considered “box office poison.” Grant and Hepburn also appeared in another misfire, Bringing Up Baby, the same year, but would go on to break the bad streak with The Philadelphia Story .
Vincente Minnelli’s An American in Paris (1951) won six other Oscars, including Best Picture, but today it seems a bit underrated. For one thing, it was not as “serious” as its fellow award contender A Streetcar Named Desire , and for another thing, it’s generally, unfavorably compared to Singin’ in the Rain , which came out the following year and received no Oscar nominations. Then, not long after, the trend for musicals switched from light, airy little fantasies, to big, overblown, expensive behemoths. But I love An American in Paris for all that it is; it’s pleasant and transporting, as any good musical should be.
Gene Kelly plays the title American, Jerry, a struggling painter, who lives in the City of Lights near a struggling piano player (Oscar Levant). Jerry meets a benefactor (Nina Foch), but falls in love with an adorable French girl, Lise (Leslie Caron). Unfortunately, Lise is already involved with a French singer, Henri (Georges Guétary). The cheerful George and Ira Gershwin songs include “I Got Rhythm” and “’S Wonderful.” The movie ends with one of Minnelli’s specialties, a glorious 17-minute ballet with no dialogue, representing a fantasy of Jerry’s feelings about Lise; it was a daring piece of experimental filmmaking inserted into a mainstream Hollywood entertainment.

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