Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Movies That I Haven’t Seen But Should Have - Part 2: Love Shack

There are a lot of movies I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never seen. But rather than pretend I’ve seen them or change the subject when they’re mentioned, I’ve decided to share them with you. These films that are cult classics or masterpieces that I have missed or avoided, I am sitting down to review. So today I take a film, a film often considered in the top 100 ever made, that I still haven't seen. This is The Apartment.

C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) owns a small little apartment in New York, a big city. He works at a small little in an office at a big firm. He's simply a small little man in a big world. However, he has a trick. He books out his apartment to some of his superiors at work as a place that they can bring women back to without their wives knowing. Baxter's superiors, in turn, put in a good word for him at the office. Soon, he finds himself offering his apartment to the top dog, Mr Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray), for his affair with an elevator operator, Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine). Baxter begins to fall for Miss Kubelik without knowing of her affair with Mr Sheldrake. Needless to say, Baxter encounters problems with both renting out his home and his fondness for Miss Kubelik, and their not easy hurdles to leap either.

This was the 60s. Long before saucepans.

I adore Jack Lemmon. I think he was absolutely fantastic in Some Like It Hot and this is also exceptional. That being said, it's a very different role. It's a subtle, refined, and simplistic character. It's also one of the most delightful, charming, but utterly heartbreaking characters that film has produced. Throughout all of C.C. Baxter's tumbles and falls, we can tell every emotion. Every tiny feeling. We can see when he's trying too hard to cover it up. We can see when it's eating him inside. It's an absolutely perfect characterisation and one that fully deserved the Oscar nod it received. the supporting cast are all outstanding too. There's not a flaw among them. Fred MacMurray is a wonderfully unconventional 'baddie'. While nothing he does is illegal or evil, though he is morally questionable, we, the viewer, find ourselves rooting against him and for the girls whose hearts he has broken and for Baxter. And Shirley MacLaine. Not only is she beautiful, she's perfect for her role. Completely ambiguous when it's needed, leaving the audience begging for more right until the credits roll, and even after.

I just really like this shot.

What really makes this film worthy of it's consideration as one of the best movies of all time is its absolutely unbeatable talent for combining genres. Is it a comedy? A satire? A criticism of the capitalist system? A romantic comedy? A drama? It is all of these things and more. It is, at risk of using a word thrown around too losely nowadays, a masterpiece. I found it captivating and dripping with charm, wit, and heart. I want to watch it again and again. Filmed in black and white, it may scare people away due to its age. Rubbish. This is how films should be made; colour makes no difference. Music is rarely used unless we see someone put a record on on-screen. I, personally, like this touch. It makes the soundtrack feel even more directly related to the film.

I could go on for hours about how much I enjoyed this film. It's rare that I come across a film such as this and want to watch it again straight away. A delightfully charming and clever piece of cinema that shows other films how they should be. While it is mostly light hearted, it looks deeply at love, greed, betrayal, and politics. It has everything  a film should have and leaves you wanting more.

Best Bit? Can I say all of it? Beh. Any scene between Baxter and Fran early in the movie. Touching, light hearted and delightful. Still too general? Fine. When Baxter makes spaghetti on a tennis racket. Had me in stiches.

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