(fr) wrote: Finally, a film set in Canada that's not afraid to say it's set in Canada. Thank Gawd. What is this perceived American phobia about watching any story set up North? A gang of childhood buddies reunite in a remote cabin for a weekend of reminiscing and drinking but they are unable to escape the truth about their past or the kind of men they've become. One is a fitness narcissist, one is a cold, broken lawyer, one is an adulterer and one is a gay unemployed photographer. They're all so different you wonder how they'll survive one night let alone an entire weekend. But it is Ian Tracey's performance as the never-do-well gambling addict who steals the show. His bravado is so obviously fake, you immediately fear for him and his poorly hidden fragility. Martin Cummins also gives an excellent, if uneven, performance as the bitter lawyer. But he's better in his own indy film, 'We All Fall Down' and excellent in 'Love Come Down', which he won a Gemini award for.
(es) wrote: "Magnificent Obsession" is exaggerated, nearly ludicrous soap, but it knows it. It cackles when Jane Wyman's smooth complexion is interrupted by the urge to break into a violently dramatic monologue. It quakes at the nearest sight of pastel interiors. It even seems to be aware that "Magnificent Obsession" is a title that instantly evokes a feeling of excessive melodrama. For a casual viewer, it may be too overwrought for its own good; but to only watch it for its woeful theatrics would be a mistake. In the 1950s, the name "Douglas Sirk" certainly did not mean much to critics or audiences. He was a director of flamboyant tearjerkers, easy to chow down on yet ultimately difficult to value. But now that Bette Davis is a bad bitch again, vintage Coca-Cola ads are viewed as art fixtures, and film noir has turned into a singular, sexy alternate to old Hollywood, you can say that time has been kind to Douglas Sirk. What was overtly flashy back then is intellectually artificial now; dramatic performances come second to the aggressively Technicolor style. When viewing a Sirk directed film, there is a feeling of parodical intuition from behind the camera. Unlike many filmmakers of the time, Sirk knew that he was building an elaborate women's picture, doing everything possible to accentuate the slightly unbelievable tone of the tragedies traded off between characters. Take one look at the hospital in which much of the film takes place - artificially painted flowers greet incoming customers, big, blocky signs indicate who's the concierge and who's the cashier, halls resemble leftover corridors from a highly budgeted romantic drama - and you can only soak in the rich, comical illustrations that illuminate the adversarial people who drench themselves in drama. The film opens with millionaire Bob Merrick (Rock Hudson) zooming around on a speedboat, a blonde by his side. Surrounded by scenic waters, he is everything a dangerous romantic lead should be: fearless, fun, and arresting. His charms come to an abrupt halt, however, when he crashes, nearly getting himself killed in the process. Though resuscitated by nearby onlookers, he is guilt-ridden when he finds out that his elaborate rescue inadvertently caused the death of the local Dr. Phillips, who suffered a heart attack but was not able to be revived in time. His wife, Helen (Wyman) is devastated, unwilling to accept donations from the town's population to keep his practice up-and-running. Bob wants to make right, but Helen is much too angry; things only take a turn for the worse when Helen accidentally steps in the path of an oncoming car when avoiding Bob's advances. The accident leaves her blind. And as if things couldn't get more contrived, not only do Helen and Bob eventually fall in love (he uses the guise of a student to cover his true identity), but he decides that the only way to truly make up for his past mistakes is to become a doctor and continue Dr. Phillips' work. "Magnificent Obsession"'s slowly but surely becomes an overdone mess in terms of story, but Sirk's ornate eye for visual detail makes up for the silliness of everything else. The plot serves as a metaphor for overcoming literal and metaphorical blindness, but that all seems like hogwash especially if you have two objects on your face called eyes. For most of the film, I felt as though turning the sound off wouldn't effect the overwhelming artistry and impact of the expressive images. Sirk makes everything (and I mean everything) absolutely beautiful; but there is not a single image that doesn't manifest a penetrating feeling of portraited longing. Among the pretty people, the pretty houses, the pretty trees, the pretty cars, there is a deep despair waiting to be renewed. The plot doesn't tell us so: the expressions of the actors, paired with Sirk's evocative style, sting an exquisite sting. "Magnificent Obsession" is only notable because Douglas Sirk directed it. Without him, it certainly wouldn't look as good. Without him, it certainly wouldn't feel so luminous, so somber. Rarely can the appearance of a movie completely make or break its successes, but in "Magnificent Obsession," it is one of the most important components in its longevity and its vigor.